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“STUNG! A Theophilus Hornby Mystery” (Ch. 17)

10 Jul

~~ Ch. 17 ~~

Officer Bondo had been with the Detroit/Fayetteville Police Department for five years. And he so wanted to become a detective! Writing parking tickets and chasing drugged teenagers was not his idea of serious police work.

“We’ve closed the book on the Delvaney accident, Bondo,” said Sargent Sanders as he slapped the file down on his desk. “I guess we’ll never know why he drove off that cliff!”

Well, that conclusion just doesn’t work with me, Bondo thought to himself. He picked up the file to take it to the cold case locker, but first he stepped into the copy room to make a copy for himself. “I’m going to make detective, if it’s the last thing I do!”

Bondo drove home after his shift and began laying out his plan. “I haven’t had Italian in quite a while,” he said out loud. As he set his gps for Pontefiori’s Family Restaurant, he thought to himself, What are you getting into, Bondo? You just gonna grab a seat next to the crime family and pepper them with questions?! “Yes,” he said to himself. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do!”

He waited until about 8 pm. He had heard that the members of Bubba’s family gathered at Mama Pontefiori’s on Thursday evenings to report on their “businesses” and just to spend some time together.

When Bondo walked in he was not in uniform. He walked right up to the family table and pulled out a chair. “Hey, Buster, what do you think you’re doin’?” said Fernando, Bubba’s bodyguard.

“Calm down, my friend,” Bondo said. “I’m not here to make trouble.”

“Hey, he’s a cop from around here. What you want, Copper?”, said another rather large, muscled family member.

“I’m only here to ask a few questions. Our investigation of Mr. Delvaney’s accident gave us no answers why he would simply drive off that cliff.”

“No kidding, Einstein! What do you think you can do about it? You’re just a beat cop. You’re not even a detective!” This was said by Paschal, one of the older members of the family.

“You need to know that I don’t take delight in the death of anyone,” Bondo said. “But it bugs the heck out of me that my police department has given up finding some answers. That’s all I want.”

“Sure, Officer, uh . . .?” Fernando asked.

“Bondo. Alex Bondo. I may not be a detective. Yet. But I’d like your cooperation in my off-the-books investigation. What do you have to lose?”

“Lose? We don’t want no cop snooping around our business. Get lost, my man!” Paschal growled.

“Listen. My mamma always said I was stubborn. And I”m going to pursue this. Either with or without your help!” He swallowed hard, surprised at his own brashness.

“What do you need to know, Officer Bondo?” Fernando sat down and faced him. “We want to know what happened as well.”

He began with his list of questions about possible enemies, run-ins with competitors, angry family members. To each of his queries the family gave their best, but guarded, answers.

As he was about to leave, Bondo thanked the family and said he would do his best to get some answers. He hesitated as he thought about the last question he was going to ask. “But,” he said to himself, “this is no time to be timid.”

He turned to look at the table of Bubba’s friends and family and said, “I don’t know how to ask this, but was there anyone or anything that Mr. Delvaney was afraid of?”

Fernando let out an angry, “What?! That man was not afraid of anything! And how dare you imply that he was?”

Bondo almost feared getting slugged by the beefy bodyguard, but he quietly left the restaurant. As he was opening his car door, he heard someone say, “Officer Bondo?”

“Yes?”

Paschal stepped into the street light. “I really want to find out what happened to Bubba and it may sound crazy, but there was only one thing that I can think of that terrified Bubba.”

“And what would that have been?”, Bondo asked.

“He was afraid of . . . wasps. He would jump sky high if there was a wasp in the room. In fact, a few of us were laughing about that at Mike’s Tavern the other week. Just thought you’d want to know.”

“Thanks, Paschal,” Bondo said. As he drove away from the restaurant, he noticed that his brake pedal was a bit mushy. “I’d better get my brakes checked at the motor pool this week!” But that opportunity would not, unfortunately, present itself.

 

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