Weeks passed with no more murders. Some of us were relieved about it…others, like myself, presumed the worst. I knew the killer was waiting to strike. I knew I had to act soon.
It was three weeks after Vito’s death when Commissioner Mason called me and Brock in to discuss his theory on the murderer. I came in at eight o’clock and hung my jacket up on the rack. “So what’s the story?” I shouted across the room to Brock.
“Mason wants to brief us on who he thinks the killer is.” He called back.
I hung my hat up and proceeded towards the conference room. “Sounds great,” I shouted, “pick me up a coffee and meet me in the conference room in five.”
I had the kid trained well…he was there with four seconds to spare. The table was about ten feet long with chairs along the sides. Mason stood tall at the end of the table opposite from us. “Thank you for meeting with me, gentlemen.” He said with his hands locked behind his back. “I’d like to share my findings with you.” he told us.
I took a quick sip of my coffee. “Cut to the chase,” I told him, “who’s the killer?” I went to take another gulp.
I nearly choked on my coffee. “Boss,” I told him, “you didn’t see him there! He was in shock.”
“Here’s a hired killer, Jack.” Mason was quick to offer a rebuttal, making me uneasy. “He kills without remorse; I’m guessing he can control his emotions out there.”
I bit my lip and let him carry on.
“Now,” he said, taking the notepads from the crime scene and sliding them across the table. “The blood stain on the first notepad came up dry. Apparently it belonged to Louie Russo. No evidence on the second one.” He began to pace back and forth. “Now, since there was no forced entry, we can presume that Roberto could have slipped into their rooms without arousing suspicion, giving the perfect cover up to the killings.”
Brock raised his hand questioningly, “Boss,” he said, “what’s his motive?”
“I was getting to that,” Mason replied, masking his annoyance. I knew he was wrong. He had to be…he wasn’t there. He didn’t see the look in Roberto’s eyes.
“Roberto worked under his brother for years. Being younger meant he would have to wait until his brother died before he could be the head of the family.” He took a long sigh and continued. “It can be assumed that he grew tired of waiting, so he killed his brother and all the higher ups, giving him the rights the family once his Father passed away.”
Finally I had enough. “What’s your proof?” I questioned.
“Forensics put the time of deaths for Vito’s lackeys in accordance to their rank. They were killed in the order of how important they were; least to greatest.” He was quick with another rebuttal. I had to prove him wrong.
“But his Father’s still around,” I told him, “so why didn’t he whack the bastard yet?”
Mason slapped a newspaper down on the table and again slid it in our direction. I read the headline. “BRUNO ‘BOSS’ LOMBARDI FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES. TRIAL TODAY.”
“Exactly,” Mason told me, “He’s waiting until he’s out in the open, so he…”
I took a second glance at the paper. I noted the name of the article’s author…it sounded familiar yet I couldn’t quite place it. I stared blankly at it as all my surroundings became meaningless. All that mattered was that name….that name…Chris Nicolson…
“He’s the killer…” I whispered.
“Were you even listening?” Mason replied, slightly annoyed.
“No, look, Chris Nicolson! He's your killer!”
Brock shot me a confused look. “What makes you say that?
I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts. Everything fell into place. “I remember his name. Years ago he wrote a scathing article in the paper about the Lombardi family…his wife and kid were killed a few days later.” Memories flooded into my brain like a broken dam. “I was the one that found Louie Russo! I brought him in, but he was found innocent!”
Brock’s mouth dropped. “So you’re saying he did it?”
I licked my lips and continued, “That’s EXACTLY what I’m saying. Think about it. Why would Roberto kill a random hit man? He doesn’t benefit from that!” I shoved the paper in Brock’s face. “But he does.” I frantically leapt from my seat, eager to make my point. “I saw him again! A few weeks ago after the first murder!” I remembered the lean reporter with the press pass that rainy night. His photo rang clear in my head. “He was heading to the hotel when Louie Russo died!” I snapped my fingers frantically, “but how would he have known Russo was dead a few hours after he died? It hadn’t been released to the public yet!”
“HE KNEW!” Brock shouted.
“Exactly!” I pointed at him, “and the notepad? Nicolson carries one everywhere! I saw him with one outside Vito’s mansion with other reporters!” Eagerly I grabbed the notepads Mason had tossed to us and flipped through them. “The killing of his family…it’s on both notepads. We have a motive!” I shouted.
“That doesn’t explain how he would have been able to get in undetected.” Mason said.
“Simple,” I had a quick rebuttal, “The head of their family, Bruno Lombardi, was arrested, right?” I tossed Mason the newspaper. “He could easily have slipped in under the pretenses of interviewing them about their boss’ capture!”
I started toward Mason until we were face to face, and I eagerly hammered home my final point. “And why would he wait so long to kill Bruno?” I asked rhetorically. “Simple.” I answered for myself, “Bruno has his first court appearance today…the place is going to be swarming with reporters…where everyone expects him to be.”
Mason’s jaw dropped. “Brock! Jack! Get to your car and get over to the courthouse now!” He barked. “I’ll dig up what information I can on Nicolson and report back!”
We ran out as fast as our legs could take us. I couldn’t stop thinking. We found the killer. We know who he is…nobody else dies.
In the back of my mind, I knew I shouldn’t have become a cop in Chicago…it was going to be the death of me.