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Monday, May 29, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 51


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By the time Luna finished her phone call, Dmitry agreed to hunt down all the surveillance equipment that “Janyet” needed and would call her back when the list was complete.
Her spirits raised a little bit, Luna ate a big breakfast in the hotel restaurant, then went back to her room and began to dig deeper into the evidence she was amassing which showed that Patrick Brogan had not committed suicide, but had been murdered. It had been impossible to investigate certain elements of this over the weekend, but now that it was Monday morning and everyone was back at work, she could get the information she needed.
She made half a dozen phone calls and located the Pittsburgh-based industrial supply company that the Allegheny County Jail had used fifteen years ago, which happened to be the same company they still used today. The firm supplied nearly all the jail’s disposable paper and plastic products, including the toilet paper and the rolls of plastic wrap used by the kitchen staff.
By the time she finished picking the brain of one of the company’s salesmen, she was ninety-nine percent sure that her theory about how Patrick Brogan was murdered was correct, and she had some solid evidence to support it. Even through the sealed evidence bag she could see that tiny bits of plastic wrap were still stuck to the cardboard roller that was found in Patrick’s jail cell. She was sure a proper CSI tech could quickly verify that the cardboard roll was from a plastic wrap roll rather than a toilet paper roll.
She decided that the best course of action would be to try to scare either Thomas Tutter or Lonnie Hendrix into telling her that they’d been contracted for the murder of Patrick Brogan by someone else—namely, Spyro Leandrou. Since she had set foot in Pittsburgh, Luna had not mentioned Spyro Leandrou’s name to a soul. As of right now, the man was completely unconnected to Patrick Brogan’s death. If either Tutter or Hendrix brought Spyro’s name up on their own, it would not only put a firm nail in Leandrou’s coffin, but also confirm that Kathy Brogan was telling the truth.
The state of Pennsylvania still carried the death penalty for first degree murder, and that included contract killing. If she could convince either Tutter and/or Hendrix into thinking they could save their own skins and receive a lesser sentence by fingering the man who hired them to do his dirty work, they would give her Spyro Leandrou on a silver platter. It might be enough for Leandrou to be arrested and charged with first degree murder the next time he set foot in the United States, and from information provided by Homeland Security, that was almost once per month. In that case, Elaine could drop her undercover assignment and they could simply wait it out.
Luna needed to find Lonnie Hendrix as soon as possible and then put the pressure on both him and Tutter.


Chapter 60

Within the hour, Luna was on the road again, driving towards Baltimore, Maryland, Lonnie Hendrix’s last known location. She had the name and address of the gay club where Hendrix had done some kind of dance routine. That was five long years ago. After that time, Hendrix seemed to have completely fallen off the radar, which was a bit bothersome. She hoped he hadn’t left the country. According to Homeland, he had not traveled on his U.S. Passport since then, but he could certainly be traveling on a fake one.
Her desk research into Lonnie Hendrix had revealed that the man was one slimy piece of work. Born to an alcoholic single mother in Columbus, Ohio, who Luna guessed was a prostitute, he must have realized early in his life that his unusual good looks and sexual electricity were his ticket to wealth. His first criminal act occurred at the tender age of sixteen, in which the young Lonnie had an affair with his gym teacher, a male, and then attempted to blackmail the man out of house and home, threatening to get him fired and put in jail for having sex with a minor. The gym teacher turned himself in to the police, and did serve some time in prison, though in court Lonnie was clearly shown by the defending attorney to be the aggressor, although he adamantly denied blackmailing the man afterwards.
Had that been the only such incident, one might have blamed it all on the gym teacher, but it was just the beginning of a pattern that would repeat itself over and over again for decades. After the affair with the gym teacher, he dropped out of high school and left home, drifting from one city to another and living on the streets, perfecting his sexual trade. At age twenty, he seduced the CEO of a large automotive parts supplier, a married man with five children, and slowly blackmailed him out of over sixty thousand dollars, threatening to send obscene photos that he’d secretly made to the man’s wife and his business partners. This was in Detroit, Michigan. The executive, who was smart enough to record an incriminating phone conversation with Hendrix, eventually broke down and went to the police to file blackmail charges. Hendrix managed to walk on a technicality, thanks to a hotshot lawyer he hired with the blackmail money that had already been paid.
The pattern continued. Lonnie had apparently learned to stay one step ahead of the police by moving to a new city after each blackmailing incident and learning to operate effectively under fake identities. Two years after the Detroit scam, he was arrested in Minneapolis under the alias of Reginald Stewart for soliciting a male undercover cop in a prostitution sting operation. He only served a few days in jail. A short six months later, he was arrested in Chicago, operating under the alias of Lawrence Kavanaugh, and charged with blackmail by the owner of a large chain of fast food restaurants. Again, through the use of a slick lawyer hired with cash presumably gained from pervious scams, he merely paid a fine and served no jail time.
Over the next ten years Hendrix had similar brushes with the law in Atlanta, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Nashville and Indianapolis, operating under various aliases and occasionally being charged with prostitution, carrying false identification, and blackmail, usually a combination thereof. From the way Thomas Tutter talked, Luna half-wondered if the man seduced the arresting officers and judges, too.
He also seemed to have done a stint as a male porno star, working for a small producer in New Jersey. His stage name was King Long, and Luna would have laughed had she not already detested the man. While using the alias Lawrence Kavanaugh, he had also worked as a gay male stripper with the stage name “Florence of Arabia.” But neither of these “careers” lasted long—apparently Hendrix found that blackmailing paid much better than show business.
Luna guessed that Lonnie got away clean with the majority of his blackmailing crimes because most people in prominent positions could not afford a scandal and simply paid him off. From his arrest records, she surmised that he met most of his “marks” at upscale gay clubs, parties, and at five-star hotel bars.
Another pattern Luna noticed was that over time, Hendrix went after bigger and bigger fish, which she supposed was only natural. His blackmail demands and takes grew larger and larger until they moved well up to six figures. When he scored big, he partied his ass off for a few months and thoroughly blew the spoils, living high on the hog and spending obscene amounts of cash. Shortly after his thirty-third birthday, he chartered a fully crewed, one hundred foot yacht to the tune of $50,000 a week and sailed around the Mediterranean for three months. A year later, in between scrapes with the law in Miami and Birmingham, he rented a castle in the Scottish Highlands for $75,000 a week and stayed in it all summer. Two years after that, he spent the winter skiing and rubbing elbows with the elite while holed up at a $5,000 a night luxury suite in St. Moritz, Switzerland. All this was easy for Luna to uncover—he often traveled internationally and booked plane tickets and hotel rooms under his real name with his real passport.
Yet, oddly, and in stark contrast to all this, after he had blown all his money and went in search of his next victim, he preferred living in trailer parks in low-income, rural areas just outside of the cities. Perhaps this was for privacy.
Despite the great amount of cash that passed through his hands, and his lavish spending of the same, Luna was a bit shocked to find that Lonnie Hendrix paid no income taxes and had never filed a tax return. Luna had no idea how he got away with his tax evasion, unless he had seduced some higher-up at the IRS, too.
The more she learned about him, the more obvious it was that Lonnie Hendrix very much fit the mold of the man that Kathy Brogan claimed to have come to Greece at least twice to blackmail Spyro Leandrou. Was it possible that Spyro Leandrou was bisexual and had originally been one of Lonnie’s blackmail victims?
One thing that bothered Luna was that from what she could unearth, Lonnie Hendrix did not have a physically violent bone in his body, just as Thomas Tutter had told her. There was no record of Hendrix resisting arrest or behaving in any way that could even be considered physically aggressive. He engaged in BDSM activities, of course, but those were games played between consenting adults.
Yet, as she drove towards Raleigh, thinking it all through, Luna realized that the murder of Patrick Brogan had not been violent, either. If Hendrix had carried out the killing in the way that Luna had imagined, and had simply bound Patrick while asleep to the prison cell bed, firmly, head-to-toe, using the plastic wrap, the murder would have been as simple as putting one more piece of wrap over Patrick’s nose and mouth and then waiting a couple of minutes. Patrick would have silently struggled and perhaps let out a muffled wail or grunt, and then lost consciousness and died of asphyxiation. Being such a master of BDSM games that he had been known as “Mister Switch,” Hendrix would have had plenty of experience in taking his willing partners to the edge and then back again. This was just a matter of playing a game and taking it one small step further.

Chapter 61

Luna arrived in Baltimore at dinner time and quickly got a bite to eat at a fern bar in Mount Vernon—she had been to the city before and knew the basic layout. While she ate, she used her laptop to check out the gay bar scene and located the club where Lonnie Hendrix had performed, The Fairy Godfather.
She checked into a relatively inexpensive hotel in Fells Point, then she headed to The Gallery Mall to buy a new, highly specialized outfit for the purpose of tracking Lonnie Hendrix down.
For Elaine’s protection, she had to do this work undercover, too—she couldn’t risk Hendrix informing Spyro Leandrou that a federal agent was hunting him down.
At the mall, Luna devoted a couple of hours to finding just the right outfit. She finally settled on a man’s black pin-striped suit, complemented by a pair of black wing tips, pale blue shirt, bright red necktie and a short-brimmed black fedora hat. The hat she’d chosen incorporated a red feather in the band, just to add a little more eccentricity. At the mall’s drugstore she also bought a stretch bandage to bind her already modest breasts flat against her chest.
When she returned to her hotel and donned the tight-fitting outfit, her muscles bulging underneath the thin fabric, she added some brown lip-gloss and a little eyeliner, and then stepped back from the mirror and assessed her overall impression. With her broad shoulders, flat stomach and tight, narrow waist, she certainly looked male, but with the makeup, and the hat, like she was trying too hard.
It was just the effect she wanted.
Before she went out the door, she turned back to the mirror and glanced down at the smooth and unimpressive crotch of her trousers. No, that won’t do, she thought.
She went to the bathroom and stuffed it with a softball-sized wad of toilet paper.
“Now we’re talkin’, baby,” she said to her reflection in a deeper-than-usual bass voice. She laughed at the prominent bulge between her legs. “You’re quite the stud, you know that?”
As she went out the door, she shuddered to think of the ribbing that Tony would give her if he could see her now.
Then again, maybe she would take a selfie with her phone and email it to him, just for his amusement. 

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