“The body. It’s Pete Mendoza!”
Shock seized him when he heard the name. He dropped the cell phone as he sprang straight up in bed—he was wide-awake. He reached down and grabbed the cord that was still attached to the Android, and pulled it back up from between the nightstand and the bed where it had fallen. He brought the phone back to his ear and tried to speak, but the words didn’t come.
Lieutenant Nick Greer and Sergeant Sonny Madison were both homicide detectives for the Phoenix Police Department. Up until four months ago, Pete Mendoza had been their captain.
“Nick, Nick, are you there?” Sonny’s voice came through the speaker.
“Uhhh . . . yeah. What?” Again, Nick was speechless as the shock of the news echoed throughout his entire being. “You’re telling me Pete is dead? Pete Mendoza? Our Pete?”
“Yep, and there’s more, Nick,” Sonny said. “I really need you here. You have to see this.”
“What do you mean, more?”
“Nick, not now. When you get here.”
Nick felt the intenseness in his friend and ex-partner’s voice and said, “I’m on my way.”
Nick pushed the end call button on his phone. By now he was sitting on the edge of the bed. He stretched out his tired arms and stood up as he tried to mentally digest the news. Not only had Pete Mendoza been their captain, but he was also a long-time friend. He had been Nick’s first training officer. He and his wife, Elena, were godparents to Nick’s youngest daughter.
Nick Greer was born and raised in Phoenix. He graduated from Moon Valley High School and obtained a basketball scholarship to Arizona State University where he then earned a master’s degree in criminology. He had been scouted by several professional teams, but during his last year in college, he blew out his knee, keeping him out of the draft. He didn’t mind so much, because, though he loved the sport, he didn’t want to play basketball forever. The more he learned about criminology, the more he wanted to be a cop. Upon graduation, he had been offered a position as a field agent with the FBI. He knew a career with such an organization would be exciting and could take him to many interesting places, and he fully considered their offer. But he loved the city he grew up in, and it was his love for Phoenix that was the deciding factor in his choice to join the Phoenix Police Department.
Agapito Mendoza had retired as a captain from the Phoenix Police Department a little over four months ago. He was an avid gun collector and a gunsmith. It was his fascination for firearms that caused him to open a gun store in Phoenix. He was so happy. Nick remembered what his friend had said the day he opened the gun store: “I am finally living my dream!”
Pete’s Pistols ’N Parts was a new store. But due to his association with the Phoenix police, and friends he had with the Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Department and other city police departments, it was off to a great start. Police were known to support their own, and this was no exception.
Sue Kim was standing at the foot of the bed, holding a towel. As Nick stood up, she tossed it to him and said, “Go ahead and take a shower.
I’ll make you some coffee.” He looked at her with puzzled eyes. “You had your phone on speaker,” she said. “I heard it all. They need you. Go!”
Sue Kim was born in Okinawa. Her parents immigrated to San Diego, California, when she was two years old. The only child of a software engineer, Sue Kim studied music and forensic science at Stanford University and held a degree in both. She loved her job as a crime lab technician, but her real passion was her music. She was a concert cellist and a proud and respected member of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
Her first job had been as an assistant in the Maricopa County morgue.
It was there she first met Nick Greer. Although their relationship had gotten off to a rocky start, they had been together now for a little over a year. She knew the long hours and the middle of the night calls that plagued the life of a police detective had cost Nick his first marriage. She understood the nature of his job and was supportive.
He quickly showered and threw on a shirt and jeans. As he left the bedroom and walked into the kitchen of the townhouse, he saw her standing there with a thermo-cup of coffee in one hand and his car keys in the other. He kissed her and said, “Thanks, sweetie. I don’t know when I’ll be back. Tell the kids—”
“Go,” she said. “Don’t worry about it. The kids will be fine. Call me when you know anything.”
The ringing of his cell phone jolted Nick Greer out of a deep sleep. He had driven in from Disneyland late last night. He'd been dead-tired and his head had no sooner hit the pillow than he had fallen asleep.
He reached out and groped the nightstand until he felt the edge of the cell phone. Grabbing it, he almost ripped it from its charger. His fingers felt the vibration of the hostile ringing. Through sleep-deprived eyes, he glared at the large blue letters on the screen. It read: Sonny. The time read: 3:57 a.m.
Though still groggy, he knew it was Sunday. Why the hell would Sonny be calling him in the middle of the night? His thumb found the answer button on his Android. “This better be important. I’m still on vacation, and it’s the middle of the goddamn night!”
“Oh, it’s important all right,” came the response from the other end. I need you to meet me at Forty-Third Avenue and Peoria. They just fished a body out of the canal and you need to see it.”
“Come on, Sonny. You can handle it. I’m on vaca—”
" BEYOND THE HORIZON" & "All the Bishop's Men" & "The Vein To The Heart" & "The Nemo Murders"