Rebels and Thieves Excerpt

Chapter 1

     Detective Sergeant Rick Malone took a drag on his cigarette and blew out a cloud of smoke. He looked down at the corpse. The deceased was a white male, mid-thirties, about five-foot-ten, and close to two hundred pounds. “If Miami wasn’t one of the worst crime-infested cities in America, it would be a sun-soaked paradise.”   

      Officer Tim Jones cleared his throat. “It looks like the same killer has stuck again.”

     “Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Malone knew this crime scene was different from the last one they had investigated. The deceased wore a blue button-down shirt, black slacks, black dress shoes, and a gold Rolex watch. “We’re dealing with a different perpetrator.”     

     “Oh, come on, Sergeant.” Officer Jones let out a long exasperated sigh, as if to say this was an open and shut case. “I mean, it looks like the same killer’s MO to me.”

     “Is there any identification on him?”

     Officer Jones gave him a cocky look. “Someone stole his wallet, just like the last victim.”  

     Malone got the picture. The rookie cop thought he was in a league all by himself. “That doesn’t mean the murders are related. Don’t jump to conclusions.”

     “I haven’t missed anything.” Officer Jones sounded irritated. “It’s as plain as day.”  

     “It takes a keen eye to work a crime scene.”

     “Tell me about it.” Officer Jones raised his chin defiantly. He was average height, with fair skin, short red hair, and brown eyes. He was dressed in full police uniform. He kept looking at his watch, as if he had a better place to be. “It doesn’t take me long to put the pieces together.”

     Malone felt frustrated. “So, you think the victim was robbed?” 

     “Like I said before, I never miss a beat. I have a sixth sense, so to speak.”

     “Think again.” Malone pointed at the deceased. “Look at his gold Rolex watch.”

     Officer Jones turned up his palms and shrugged. “Oh, I didn’t see that.”

     Malone could tell the rookie cop was distracted. Given his reputation, he had a good idea what was bothering him. “All right, let’s hear it. You might as well get it off your chest.”


     “You have a big gambling debt, don’t you?”

     Officer Jones clenched his jaw. “I had a run of bad luck, that’s all. No big deal.”

     “Twenty grand is a lot to be in the hole for, especially for a guy as young as you.”

     “How did you find out about that?”  

     Malone felt a flash of anger. He needed officers in the field he could trust. “You have a monkey on your back. And it’s interfering with your ability to conduct your job.”

     Officer Jones’ face reddened. “That’s not true, Sergeant. You’re wrong about that.”

     “You can’t pay your bills. You’re always preoccupied, worried about your debt.”

     “No, I’m not, Sergeant. I’m focused on doing my job and nothing else. I bet you this stiff took two slugs in the chest, just like the guy who was shot to death last week.”  

     “Let’s find out.” Malone took a drag on his cigarette and blew out a long stream of smoke. Being careful not to contaminate the crime scene, he crushed the cigarette under his shoe and dropped the butt into his blue blazer’s coat pocket. He slipped on a pair of latex gloves, stooped to his knees, and unbuttoned the victim’s blue button-down dress shirt. There were three deep stab wounds in the left portion of his chest. “Look at that,” Malone said, pointing at the knife wounds. “He wasn’t shot in the chest, just like the last victim.”

     “So, I made a mistake.” Officer Jones gave him a hard look. “That’s not a big deal.”

     Malone looked back at the corpse. “From the angle and position of the knife wounds, I’d say the killer is left handed and about the same height as the deceased.” 

     “I’ll take your word for it, I guess.”

     “I’m open to theories.” Malone stood up and faced him. “In fact, I’d like to hear yours.”

     Officer Jones waved him off. “What’s the use?”

     Malone felt his face growing hot. He was determined to get his point across. “Don’t dodge the question. Go on. Shed some light on the investigation for me.”

     “Why should I? You won’t listen to me anyway.”

     “That’s because I’ve been doing this job for over twenty-five years.” Malone looked around the crime scene. His fellow police officers were running crime-scene tape, taking pictures, and shooing away onlookers. Two TV news vans raced into the parking lot and came to a screeching halt. Malone was happy his team was working hard to solve the crime. 

     “I graduated at the top of my class, Sergeant. I was a rising star at the police academy.”

     “That doesn’t mean anything to me.”

     Officer Jones smirked. “It means I’m a lot smarter than everyone else.”

     Malone knew he was fighting an uphill battle. The rookie cop couldn’t see the forest through the trees. “Textbook knowledge doesn’t impress me. It’s more important to have street smarts, a keen eye, and good instincts.”

     “Don’t sweat it.” Officer Jones gave him a big grin. “I have a ton of those qualities, too.”

     “Stop living in a dream world.” Malone moved to a park bench, combed through the tall grass, and picked up a cell phone. Using his thumb, he pushed a few buttons, checking the call log. He noticed over ten calls were made to the same number. “Pay more attention to the crime scene. I’m not going to tell you again.”

     Officer Jones looked down at his feet. “I would have seen it, Sergeant.” There was a note of anxiety in his voice. “I mean, I was just getting ready to search that area.”

     “Knock it off, will you?”      

     Officer Jones glared at him. “You make me nervous. In fact, it makes me ineffective.”

     “Don’t blame your problems on me. That’s not why you joined the force.”

     “I didn’t sign up to get criticized, either.”

     “Remember, that’s part of the learning curve.” Malone knew Officer Jones was going to confront ruthless criminals in Miami. If he didn’t get his act together, he would probably end up dying in the line of duty. Malone bagged the cell phone in a clear plastic baggie and handed it to him. “This is a hard business to be in. I’ve seen a lot of people die over the years. Have you ever thought about changing careers?”

     “That’s a terrible thing to say to someone, Sergeant. Stop giving me the third degree.”

     “On the contrary, I’ve been being too nice to you.”

     Officer Jones’ jaw dropped. “You can’t be serious, can you?”  

     Malone decided to cut to the chase. “I need officers in the field who have a clear head. That’s not you, kid. So, you can either deal with your gambling addiction or sit behind a desk.”

     “All right, Sergeant.” Officer Jones’ voice grew serious. “I’ll get my act together.”

     Malone was relieved to hear that. Perhaps he was finally getting through to the rookie cop. “That sounds good. Now, go find out who the victim called twelve times.” 

     “It’s your world, Sergeant. Everyone else just has to live in it.”

     The white and blue Medical Examiner’s van raced into the parking lot, tires screeching as it braked thirty feet away. Malone cut across the grass, refusing to answer questions from a group of eager reporters, and slid behind the wheel of his unmarked police car. Looking into his rearview mirror, he saw the rookie cop standing at the crime scene, shaking his finger at two police officers. He’s still acting like he’s a big shot, he thought. Shaking his head, he twisted on the ignition and sped out of Lemon City Park.

Copyright © 2018 RUSSELL WILLIAMS


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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental and is not the intention of the author.