Chico had a brother named Jacob Towers, whom everybody called Little Jake. It was assumed by most that he was Chico's younger brother. He was indeed smaller, but a year older. The assumption most likely stemmed from the fact that Jake always deferred to Chico. Although Chico functioned easily enough on his own, Jake was rarely seen alone. Whenever he left the house they shared, he was Jake's shadow. Wherever they went, Chico always did the talking. He relied on his brother for his basic existence.
Jake's IQ was tested in his eighth and last year of school. His score was 74, which gave him the designation of Borderline Intellectual Functioning.
The address on Chico's driver's license was out of date. The new tenant had been there eight months and no idea where Chico and his brother were, or at least he wasn't saying. The landlord said the boys vanished during the night, owing four months rent.
Sergeant Victor Rodriquez was assigned to track down Jake. He was also one of the men at the gas station incident with Chico. He decided to call in a big favor from a bartender he knew in Tulare. He was called in on a disturbance one night in the run down bar. After breaking up the bar fight, it was determined that two of the combatants were underage. Victor gave everybody the benefit of the doubt and sent the boys home with a warning after having them promise to pay for the damages to the bar. The bartender, a man called Sailor, was extremely grateful. He wasn't the owner of the establishment, but it would have meant the loss of his job if the owner knew he was knowingly serving minors.
"Afternoon, Sergeant Rodriquez. Get you fellas a drink? A soda? On the house of course." Sailor offered Victor and his partner.
"Just a bottled water, if you have it, would be fine. Actually I came by to ask you about somebody?"
"Am I in trouble for anything?"
"No, sailor. We're all good. I was just hoping you could help me find somebody, Jacob Towers. He had a brother named Chico."
"Had a brother? Oh, aint he the one that got wasted by the cops out by the 99?" Sailor said, then caught his tongue too late. "I mean...well, you know."
"That's ok, Sailor. Yeah, he's dead. But it was a CHP who shot him. After he almost blew one of my guy's head off. Now I need to find his brother."
"I just bet you do. Yeah, they have both been in here. Kinda weird though."
"What was weird, Sailor?"
"The kid, the little brother, I checked his ID and he was older than the other one. Said he was 22 and his big brother was 21. And he never said much, acted kinda slow. He would mumble to his brother every now and then, but never spoke to anyone else. Just sat in the corner looking at the floor while his brother played pool."
"Sounds like them. When was this?"
"Month ago maybe."
"Any idea where they live?"
"Not a clue."
"Did they spend time with any other customers. Think hard."
"Not that I remember...no wait. This guy Chico was playing pool with. They acted like they knew each other, maybe even neighbors. Just saying."
"Who was the other guy?"
"Don't know his name, but he comes in a few times a month. Never any trouble."
####, Victor thought.
"But I do know where he lives."
Sometimes you just get lucky. Sailor explained that the man had gotten so drunk one night that him driving was out of the question. The man didn't have cab fare, so Sailor took him home.
Victor knew the place. It was trailer park in a somewhat rural, if not isolated area. A couple times a year somebody got picked up for child support and the occasional biker could be found hiding from the law, but it was fairly quiet, as far as those places went.
Victor went directly to the manager's office, which was the mobile home nearest the entrance.
"Yeah, I heard about his brother. That's a shame." Seeing Victor's look, he amended his statement. "A shame for Jake I mean. It don't surprise me about Chico. That kid was trouble."
"So, is Jake around now?" Victor asked.
"Yeah, I have never seen him go anywhere on his own. I doubt if he even knows about his brother. Just sits in the trailer. Seems harmless enough."
Things aren't always as they seem, Victor knew all too well. He decided to call for backup before proceeding further. Two more patrol cars soon arrived, containing four more men, which would seem like overkill to bring in a mentally challenged young man, but after the incident with Chico, Victor was determined to not put his men at unnecessary risk. He was hoping it was overkill indeed and that the kid would simply walk out with him.
They started by knocking on doors, telling neighbors to please stay inside, at least until this was over. Victor spread his men around the trailer, having them watch the windows and rear door.
"Hey, Jake. My name is Victor Rodriquez. I need to talk to you. We mean you no harm." Victor said after knocking on the door.
"Go away. I aint allowed to talk to nobody." answered a scared sounding voice.
"You can talk to me, son. It will be alright, I promise."
"No. Brother told me not to talk to nobody, especially cops."
"Your brother sounds like he cares for you. He wants to keep you safe, doesn't he?"
"My brother is the best. Now go away. I aint supposed to be talking to you."
The kid doesn't know his brother is dead and now sure isn't the time to tell him.
Victor tried the door knob. It wasn't locked.
"Jake, I'm coming in. Just go easy now. I'm not going to hurt you. I think your brother would tell you it's ok."
"No, I mean it. Just go."
Victor cautiously stepped inside, his hand on the butt of his .45, holster unstrapped. Safety off. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he motioned for his partner to join him inside.
It was a sigle wide mobile home. The door opened directly into the living room. The two men faced an empty couch. A closed door was to the right, presumably a bedroom. The kitchen was on the left and a hallway ran beyond.
"Jake? Come on out now. Don't make this hard. Nobody will hurt you. You have my word." Victor announced as he eased toward the bedroom door, gun drawn, aimed toward the floor.
"Hey, Vic, over here." his partner said quietly.
Victor turned around to see Jake coming down the short hallway, stopping at the small kitchen table, the only thing between them. Jacob was small of stature. Five feet, six inches, maybe seven. No more than a buck twenty. He looked closer to fifteen than twenty-two.
"Hey there Jake. My name is Victor. This here is my partner, John. Like I said, nobody means you any harm."
At first glance, the kid seemed docile enough. But there was something in his eyes that bothered Victor. It wasn't malice. It was something else. Something that said he would be difficult, if not impossible to reason with.
"You made a mistake coming in here. Brother says nobody can be here. He told me what to do if it ever happened."
"What did he tell you to do?" Victor asked, not sure if he wanted to know.
Jacob raised a pistol. It was a small semiautomatic. Maybe a .25 caliber.
"You don't want to do that son. Nobody needs to get hurt here." Victor said gently.
John had drawn his pistol, and like Victor, still had it aimed at the floor. Looking to Victor for guidance, he recieved a slight nod and they both slowly raised their pistols.
"Listen to me Jake. You can't shoot both of us, and I know your brother doesn't want you to die. So how about we all walk out of here together?"
"I'm supposed to shoot you guys, but I can't do it. I couldn't do it in the store either. Brother will be mad at me." He was visibly upset now, crying freely.
"Jake, no!" Victor screamed as Jake put the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.
Nothing happened. It was either jammed or had no ammunition. Victor exhaled a sigh of relief as he and John relaxed somewhat and approached the young man.
"Just go away." Jake said, aiming the gun at John and squeezing the trigger. This time it went off, catching John in the left arm. John returned fire, missing wide and right. Jake pivoted left to shoot at Victor, but he wasn't there.
Victor had dropped to one knee, assuming a two handed grip, and fired at an upward angle, just clearing the tabletop. He kept firing until he saw the boy drop. Five big .45 slugs riddled the small torso. Overkill, he thought for the second time that afternoon.
"John, how bad is it?" he shouted at his partner, his first concern. He hated having allowed a man to get hurt on his watch.
But John wasn't listening. Having forgotten his own wound, he was mesmerized by the gory sight of the decimated body on the floor before him. Their ears were ringing from the deafening shots in the enclosed space and the coppery smell of spilled blood mingled with the bitter odor of the cordite. Victor took John's good arm and gently guided him out the door.
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Harry took a ride down to Tulare to pay a courtesy call on the wounded officer and to speak with Sheriff Rodriguez. Hopefully he would have some insight on Jacob Towers from the time he spoke with him, however brief.
Victor was in the hall outside John's room when Harry walked down the hallway.
"We have to stop meeting like this, detective." Victor said as he extended his hand.
"I hate it as bad as you do, sheriff. How is your man?"
"Clean shot, in and out. No bone. That's fortunate. Those little twenty-fives can be nasty sometimes."
"Yeah, you're right about that. If you've got a minute, maybe we can sit down for a cup after I visit John."
The two men talked over tacos at a small cafe a mile from the medical center, with Victor recounting the encounter with Jake.
"When he said he couldn't do it in the store, did you believe him?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, you had to be there. It was like a death bed confession. I think it went against that kid's nature to hurt anybody. Sad, really. I feel like I killed a puppy."
"You had to, man. But after he said he couldn't shoot you guys. he fired on you anyway."
"Yeah, I've given that alot of thought. I think his desire to please his brother overrode everything in the end. And I'll tell you something else. When he had the gun under his chin, I'm convinced he never tried to fire. I never heard a click. We tested the pistol afterward and there is nothing wrong with it."
"So you think it came back to his brother? As much as he hated shooting somebody, pleasing brother took priority."
"Exactly. And I still second guess my decision not to tell him his brother was dead. Could have made a difference, but I'll never know."
"Could have made it worse, too. He may have thought you were lying to him and become even more unstable."
"Yeah, thought about that too. What the hell ya gonna do, ya know?"
"You did good, Vic. Don't worry too much about it. Easier said than done, I know. But I want to tell you something about the Mega Mart deal. We found out something about one of the vics. Will be on the news soon enough."
"How could it get any worse?" Victor asked.
"Here goes. The pregnant woman that was killed? She was not only pregnant, she was deaf."
"Jesus." Victor said. "A jury is going to love this guy."
"Tell me about it. It corroborates Manuels account of firing over their heads. He said she just walked around the corner. Said he didn't mean to shoot her."
"Makes sense. She was around the aisle. Couldn't hear all the commotion. What about the other vics?"
"My money is on Chico. I know it sounds like a case of blame the dead guy, but I think it fits. I think I'm safe ruling out Jake, based on what you have just told me."
"What about the woman? What does she have to say?"
"Anything she thinks might save her own hide. Now she is saying she never left the car. Probably tue, but initially she was awful quick to give an eye witness account. Completely unreliable if you ask me. At least you guys ended up taking out half the gang for me. I hate seeing your man and the CHP hurt, but I'm thankful nobody got killed."
"Comes with the job. Harry. You guys up in the big city ever need anything, don't hesitate to call me. I mean that."
"You could have slept in, boss, but you said not to wake you, so I couldn't tell you. Anyway, the next truck is running late. Bad wreck somewhere south of Chattanooga in the fog early this morning. Road shut down. Been all over the news. He's stuck in the mess. So if you want to eat breakfast before you leave, go on ahead. No need to rush." the foreman informed Ricky.
Country ham with red eye gravy, buttermilk biscuits, eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese and grits was the special of the day, all washed down with coffee and chilled orange juice.
"I'm starting to feel human again. Some real sleep and this excellent food could make a girl feel giddy." Joey said with a wink.
"Aint much more a fella good ask for than a well rested, giddy girl with a full belly on a beautiful spring morning. Could make a man have impure thoughts." he answered with a wink of his own.
"Well we can get just as impure as you want country boy." Joey said, having removed her shoes under the table and placed her bare feet between Ricky's thighs.
"I love a girl who knows how to use her toes." he said with a straight face, causing Joey to erupt in laughter.
"Where's your next load going?" she asked, suddenly changing the subject, but maintaining a grin and keeping her toes busy.
"There is no next load. Not until I'm ready for one, anyway. I was kinda hoping you would let me show you around home for a spell, if you can take the time, that is."
"I'd be delighted. You might have a hard time getting rid of me. I would like to call Hector, though."
Southbound on I-75 Joey used Ricky's phone to call her cousin in Miami. She told him there had been a slight change of plans and she could be at least a few days later arriving than originally planned.
"Take your time sweetheart. I trust you are in good hands. Your father said it is safe to call him now. The cops are no longer monitoring his phone. He is so worried about you. He tried to call you, but couldn't get through." Hector told her.
"Uh, well there was a little problem with my phone. Did he say anything about Manuel?" Joey asked.
"I'm afraid it's not looking so good for him, but I'll let your father explain it to you. The important thing is they are no longer looking at you. That whole thing was so awful. I'm just glad you're alright."
"Thank-you, cuz. I'll call him right now, and I promise to stay in touch. Love you, bye."Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
Ricky's mailing address was in the small town of Springfield, Georgia, about twenty miles from the Savannah city limits. What was once a stereotypical blink-and-you'll-miss-it-burg had become a growing community in recent years. The state highway was now lined with with strip malls, chain restaurants, and car dealerships. Signs advertised "Country Living Estates" and "Home sites available". Acres of farmland and pine trees were being rapidly by replaced tract homes and Starbucks.
Ricky's modest two bedroom home was eight miles down a county road sitting on seven acres of sandy soil, one of which was occupied by a pond which he allowed his neighbor to fish any time he pleased. He liked the place to look occupied during his frequent absences. Off to the side was a two car garage/shop which housed his most prized possession, a 1967 Mustang GT fastback. His old Chevy pickup rested beneath a hundred year old oak tree.
Joey treated herself to a luxurious tub bath while Ricky rolled the Mustang out of the barn to check the oil and rinse off the fine layer of dust that had settled since it was last driven.
Having tended to his steed, he sat out on the back deck sipping on a cold beer he found in the refrigerator. Sensing movement behind him, he turned to see Joey standing in front of the open French doors. She wore a simple, white cotton top, cut off just below her breasts, exposing her flat, tanned belly. Her faded jeans were cut off to near bikini length. Her feet were bare and he noticed for the first time the tiny lavender flower inked on her left ankle. Her thick, dark hair was still damp, combed straight back and glistening in the afternoon sun.
It was at that precise moment that Ricky thought I can't let her go. But he knew it would be unfair to voice this, as much as wanted to. Unfair to her. She had a future. One that didn't involve being dragged down by him.
An hour later they had their toes in the sand out on Tybee Island, which was relatively free of tourists this time of year.
"This is nice, country boy. Hard to find this on the west coast. The public beaches are so crowded, and the private beaches are...well, private. I always thought the ocean should be available to everybody."
"I'm glad you like it. I'm glad you're here, too." Then he added, reluctantly "They have nice beaches in Florida, too."
"Maybe they do, but I don't think I would find company this nice. And to be honest, I'm not in such a big hurry to get down there."
The Fresno Herald
Betty McCormick, Staff writer
The sentencing phase of the ongoing Mega Mart murder trial concluded today. Manuel Ruiz,23,of Fresno was charged with first degree manslaughter for the death of thirtyfour year old Angela Bream of Los Angeles. MS Bream, who was pregnant at the time, was also deaf. She was a special needs counsellor at UCLA, visiting her parents in Fresno.
Manuel was also charge with possession of an unlicensed firearm in the commission of a felony, and with conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Judge Arlen Brown sentenced him to thirty years at Folsom.
Rhonda Burke,28,of Oxnard was charged with aiding and abetting a felony and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. She was sentenced to fifteen years at the womens facility in Chowchilla. Burke had a lengthy prior record of prostitution and narcotic related offenses.
The two other gang members, Jacob "Little Jake" Towers,22,and Charles "Chico" Towers,21,brothers from Tulare both died in separate shootouts with police just days after the robbery.
Forensics experts determined bullets from a .380 caliber pistol in possession of Charles Towers at the time of his death matched the ones found in the other two victims, Margaret Snelling,41,of Fresno and George Lamas,50,of Maderas.Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
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