Exiled by Ryan and Niki Traynor Chapter 10

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Chapter 10

Cheyenne finished giving Lilith a bath and put her down to sleep for the night. She walked into the living room and sat next to Noel who was sucked into Sports Center. She opened her mouth to speak, but had a feeling Noel didn’t want to be interrupted, so she went to the bathroom and filled the bathtub with water. She turned toward the radio that sat on the shelf above the toilet, pressed the power button, and listened to the album Foiled by Blue October. The bath water ran as she poured in crystals smelling of fresh lilacs. Climbing into the tub was soothing and drowsiness followed as her body adjusted to the warmth. A stream of hot water poured from the spout slowly as the music wafted through the room, reverberating off the walls. Cheyenne felt her eyelids grow heavy and her mind drifted off into a deep sleep.
An hour and a half later, Noel finished watching television and walked upstairs wondering where his wife was. He went into the master bedroom and felt his socks get wet. Water poured out beneath the locked door, covering the hardwood floor in the bedroom. Alarmed, he ran across the puddle and knocked on the door yelling, “Cheyenne open the door!” There was no response, so Noel raised his fist high above his head and pounded hard enough to wake the baby. He waited another sixty seconds and ran to the closet and grabbed a metal hanger. The hook was unbent into a poker and shoved through the hole in the door handle, popping the lock open. He rushed in with a concerned look on his face and woke his wife up. Somehow the water surpassed the overflow drain without her realizing. When he turned off the water and pulled her out of the tub, she felt ice cold. The water heater had run out long ago, leaving Cheyenne on the verge of hypothermia.
Noel covered her in a towel, carried her to the bed, and wrapped her in the blanket. Unable to open her eyes, Cheyenne shivered uncontrollably. The room was filled with water, ruining the floor and soaking the rug that sat beneath the bed. He contemplated calling an ambulance until his wife opened her eyes, sat up, and asked, “What did you do?”
Exasperated, Noel threw his hands in the air, “What!?” He flew into a rage and erupted like Mount Vesuvius. “Do you have any idea how worried I was? I almost called an ambulance. Also, I can’t believe you flooded our room like this! You’re so irresponsible sometimes! Moreover, Lilith is screaming her head off in the other room. Now, you expect me to take care of you, check on her, and then finish off the night by cleaning up your mess?”
“I don’t expect shit from you! I never asked for your help in the first place,” roared Cheyenne.
Noel stood in disbelief and stammered, “Wh-, ah...You, you were asleep in an ice cold bathtub and I carried you to the bed to bring your core body temp back up. By the way, you’re welcome! Then, you wake up after your little nap and accuse me of doing this. You must be completely screwed in the head!”

The only noise that was now coming from Cheyenne was the sound of her teeth chattering. She stood up slowly, keeping the comforter wrapped around her, stomped into the guest bedroom and slammed the door. Once again, Noel went to comfort Lilith, unassisted. Before he soaked up the water and removed the waterlogged rug, he rocked his baby girl back to sleep. Exhausted, he went straight to bed, expecting an apology that was never going to come.
Around one in the morning, Noel was awakened to the sound of hangers jingling in the closet. He opened his left eye just wide enough to see what was going on. It looked as if Cheyenne was getting dressed to go out somewhere. Intrigued, Noel pretended to be asleep until she was finished. Cheyenne headed out the door and got into her Civic. The door slammed shut and Noel sprang out of bed barely having enough time to put on a pair of pants. He ran down the
stairs and flew out the door. The Mustang roared to life and Noel put the manual transmission into reverse. Easing his foot off the clutch, an important reminder popped into his head, Lilith. He couldn’t just leave her behind, but if he didn’t leave right away Cheyenne would be gone and impossible to follow. His better judgment led him to turn off the vehicle and go back inside the house.
That night taught Noel a valuable lesson. He would ask his parents to watch Lilith every single day until he could find out where his wife was going at night. It took eleven straight days of awkward silence and ten sleepless nights, but Cheyenne finally made her move. This time Noel was fully prepared, which was made it easy because Cheyenne had spent every night sleeping in the guest bedroom. Paranoid, Noel made a habit of going to bed fully clothed ready for action. On the eleventh night, sometime around midnight, he laid in bed with his car keys poised in his right hand. He’d had about three caffeine pills that night to stay sharp and was jacked up when he heard the bedroom door open a crack. Cheyenne poked her head in to make sure he was asleep and listened to his phony snoring for a few seconds before she made her way downstairs. Without delay, Noel sprang to life and made his way to the driveway. He traveled down the highway trying desperately to follow his wife without being seen, which was harder to do than he ever imagined. Long before arriving at the destination, Noel knew exactly where she was headed. His stomach turned over and a sick taste sloshed around in his mouth. He turned into the Buena Vista Apartment Complex and beads of sweat came upon his forehead. Still unsure whether or not he was going to hurt someone, Noel sat in his car and watched Cheyenne walk up to Freddy’s apartment and knock on the door ever so gently.

How could she be sleeping with him? he wondered. His mind raced back in time and nothing seemed to make sense. They had plenty of opportunities to hook up, so why now after all these years? The palms of his hands slammed up and down on the steering wheel and he hit the back of his skull on the head rest. He felt like crying, but his infuriated emotions wouldn’t allow it. Hatred seethed deep within as his forehead made powerful contact with the steering wheel. Looking in the rear view mirror revealed a superficial gash across his forehead. He smiled and put his fist though the radio/CD player. Pieces of plastic flew in all directions, rendering the electronic devices useless. It’s over. Our marriage is all over. What’ll become of Lilith?
Before any further damage could be done, Noel noticed a black Cadillac park five spaces down from him. Embarrassed, he slouched down and tried to make himself inconspicuous. Two older men in their fifties exited the black car and looked like they were walking over to his car. He slumped down even lower and then laid his torso across the passenger seat hoping they wouldn’t knock on the window. Instead of hassling him, they turned and walked straight up to Freddy’s unit. They were wearing gun holsters, which worried him. He gasped to himself when he saw them unclip the holsters and hold the pistols in front of them. The bald one walked into the bushes and tried to look in the window while the other put his ear to the door. The man with the bald head was heavy set and appeared to be in charge. The other one had a trimmed grey beard and his hair was combed back. They both wore dark colored clothes, which made it hard to tell them apart from the back.
What the hell is going on, wondered Noel. Who the hell are these guys and what are they doing here? Is Freddy in trouble? Worse yet, is Cheyenne in trouble? He waited and watched as the men went back to the car and got a hold of a battering ram seen on shows like Cops. At first, he assumed they must be police officers, but his mind asked a million questions. Why didn’t they look like cops? Why didn’t they act like cops? Are they with the mafia or some other illegal organization? If they are law enforcement, where’s the backup and why do I have such a horrible feeling about this? Noel came to grips with the fact that he couldn’t turn his back on the people he loved no matter what was going on. The two men snuck back up to the door and one of them knocked while the other put his hand over the peep hole.
Again, Freddy answered the door, but this time made sure the chain lock was in place. The bald man stuck his foot in the door and gave his accomplice the sign to hit the door. This was done with agility mixed with the perfect amount of force. The chain lock broke and the door swung open with a minimal amount of noise. The two men stepped inside and shut the door.
Swinging full force into panic mode, Noel jumped out of his vehicle with the swiftness of a NASCAR driver. He unlocked the trunk and grabbed the tire iron in one hand and an old Louisville Slugger in the other. The bat was a present from his dad back when he played high school baseball. Reluctantly, he drew near the unit fifty-two holding his breath. He exhaled and walked into the bushes, peeking through the window just as the strange man had done before him.
Looking in, he saw Cheyenne, Freddy, and another woman sitting on the couch, which was baffling. Was that Freddy’s girlfriend? The question rattled around his dome as he watched the bald gunmen point his weapon at Freddy and place it on his temple. With that, Noel knew they were in trouble and the only person that could save them was him.
Even though he couldn’t quite make out what they were saying the sound of their distant shouting scared Noel into action. He walked onto the front stoop worried the door might be locked and laid his baseball bat against the wall. Gripping the door handle, he felt it turn and everything went into slow motion. The door opened quietly and yelling voices became more audible. Noel grabbed the bat as he stepped inside and swung it at the bald man’s head hitting a one handed home run while he threw the tire iron at his accomplice. It hit the bearded man’s cheekbone hard and left him temporarily stunned. This gave Noel just enough time to drop his bat and reach for the assailant’s gun. Both men held the gun, which pointed upward and let off a single shot into the ceiling. During the struggle, the bald man came to and regained consciousness. Frightened, Freddy stood up from the couch and took a couple steps towards Lambert intending to do him harm. The two women sat there paralyzed watching these perilous events unfold right before their eyes as if they were sitting in a movie theater.

At the sight of a gun, Freddy lost his nerve and put his hands in the air. He watched Lambert swing his gun around in the direction of the two people struggling on the other side of the room and realized Jenkins was being overpowered by his young adversary. Foolishly, Noel believed he was getting the whole situation under control until he looked down and saw a gun pointed right in his direction. Without thinking, he swung his body around, using Jenkins as a human shield. Lambert unleashed two bullets into his companion’s back. One of the bullets penetrated right through Jenkins and lodged itself into Noel’s left shoulder. He screamed out in pain and finally wrestled the gun from the dying man’s hands. Noel dropped to the floor, took aim and delivered a bullet into Lambert’s skull, killing him on impact. He had never shot a gun before that day and would never shoot one ever again. After the neighbors heard the first shot they called the police.
Before the police arrived, Freddy went into action and gathered up all of his illegal contraband. He threw it into a white garbage bag with a red draw string and dropped it into the maroon dumpster out back. Then, he wrapped the battering ram in an old ratty light blue blanket and chucked it into a dumpster on the other side of the complex. All the while, Noel talked with the women in the bedroom to make sure they were alright. The situation calmed down a bit and he began to think clearly. Suddenly, a glaring question burst into his train of thought and he asked Cheyenne why she was sneaking out of the house to come there. A few words stammered out of her mouth before sirens could be heard in the background. Michelle spoke up and announced the cops were there.
It would later be revealed that the very first gunshot flew through the ceiling and struck a small child named Ezra Truman living in the apartment upstairs. The nine year old girl was rushed to the emergency room where she was brought into the intensive care unit. The doctors told her mother that her status was critical and that there was an immense amount of internal bleeding that might be detrimental to the patient’s health. Ezra held on to life for three days before she flat lined and was pronounced dead. Her mother contacted Ezra’s estranged father who showed up at the hospital in time to get the dreadful news. It was the first time the two people had seen one another in five years.
Ronald Jenkins died before the ambulance could make it to the hospital. A bullet was lodged in his chest causing his lungs to fill up with blood. An EMT tried to drain his lungs, but failed to react in time. Jenkins drowned in his own blood and was taken to the city morgue where his wife was called to identify the body. She couldn’t believe he lied to her about where he was going that night. The poor woman was under the impression that he was celebrating a colleague’s birthday at Piccolo’s Bar.
Noel Brighton was taken to the hospital and treated for his gunshot wound, which was relatively minor. After being patched up, he was taken into police custody and charged with first degree murder with a bail set at one hundred thousand dollars. Frederick Macmillan, Michelle Rosenberg, and Cheyenne Brighton were also taken into police custody for questioning, but released shortly after being detained. It was determined that they were not responsible for the deaths of the three individuals and were asked not to leave the state. They were also advised to get lawyers for the upcoming trial that would take place later that year.

Meanwhile, Freddy’s apartment was turned into a crime scene and analyzed by specialists. For the time being, Freddy moved into Michelle’s apartment and laid low for a while. He invited Cheyenne over so the three of them could go over their stories to make sure they added up. Freddy told Cheyenne the truth and suggested they blame everything on Noel. When she objected he went insane. The threats followed his maniacal behavior.
He told her, “If you don’t tell the police my version of what happened I will make sure child services take your daughter away forever. She will go into foster care and you will never see her again. They’ll find the smack in your system along with the track marks and it’ll be an open and shut case. Next, I’ll tell them you were involved in the burglary and make sure you do time. We can all go to jail together and nothing, I mean nothing, will be salvaged from this whole messed up situation. Remember, Noel followed you to my apartment because you are a lying junkie. And one more thing, I’m watching you. If you even think about going to the cops I will find you and I will kill you.”
“Fuck you Freddy!” she screamed back. Right after the words came out Freddy threw her on the floor and jumped on top of her. He wrapped his hands around her neck and said, “I’ll kill you right now if that’s what you want.”
Cheyenne managed to spit out the words, “I’ll do what you say, I swear. Please just leave me alone.” And just like that, a shaky truce was formed to keep the peace and hold their lives intact. They shot up one last time together and everyone calmed down. Freddy apologized and reassured her that he was just terrified of going to prison. Cheyenne empathized with him knowing full well possession of heroin was a felony and grounds to lose her child. They went over what each person had told the cops and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t much. Over the next week Freddy mapped out the entire scenario giving the two women pieces of the story, which would all add up in a courtroom. The first step was to figure out how to blame the burglary on Noel, which would surely come to light during the legal process. It was decided that Cheyenne would plant some of the stolen jewelry at Noel’s office, which would eventually be searched, especially after he was implicated in the crime. Next, Cheyenne would figure out exactly where Noel was on the night of the robbery, so she could lie to the police and tell them he was out all night.
Michelle came clean with Freddy about her true relationship with the deceased Lieutenant, confirming his suspicions. He’d been on to her ever since he noticed how easily they had gotten past the alarm system and broken into the cop’s house. He felt like it had been a set up from the start, promising himself he would get clean and never speak to Michelle ever again. Thoughts of suicide washed into his head like the rolling tide washes in on an ocean beach. It would come and go in waves, but was always present. Michelle on the other hand, chose to focus
on herself, a technique she relied on since childhood. She thought about the money they’d stolen and what she had the ability to buy until it ran out.
Freddy was aware that he had to combat Noel’s version of what happened in court. The jury would have to recognize and accept why the crime went down at his apartment and the only logical conclusion was that Noel led them there. It was a stretch, but if he could get the prosecution to believe that Noel planned to kill Lambert at the apartment complex, it would explain a lot. I might actually be able to pull this off, he thought arrogantly.

The falsified story made it seem like Noel robbed Lambert. He then tipped off the officer and told him that he had information regarding the criminals that broke into his house. Obviously, Noel didn’t want the meeting to take place anywhere near his own home, so he arranged it at the apartment complex. Lambert agreed to the meeting because he was desperate to get to the bottom of burglary and find the person responsible for hurting his daughter.
This was the perfect opportunity for Noel to rough up the old cop and get him to end the investigation. If Lambert refused to back down, he was determined to take the man’s life if it became necessary. Noel also planned on dragging his best friend into the scheme all along, assuming Freddy would help him in his time of need. This story really added up because Freddy lied to the police early on and told them Noel offered him a huge monetary bribe to keep his mouth shut.
Meanwhile, Cheyenne had been staying at Freddy’s apartment because she was scared of her husband’s strange behavior. Unaware of this, Noel arrived at the complex to confront Lambert. He lured Officer Lambert to the apartment and then pummeled him with a baseball bat. That was when Jenkins appeared out of nowhere and kicked the door in. Noel reacted quickly and hit Jenkins with the tire iron. Then, Lambert pulled out his gun and the rest was obvious. Surely the jury would wonder why Noel didn’t take away Lambert’s gun. Unfortunately, the only logical answer was that Lambert lied about having one.
Freddy figured that if the three of them could corroborate their stories during the witness testimony they would be home free. Past that, it became a matter of execution and perfectly sequential perjury. As long as the women had their game faces on, nothing could go wrong. For all practical purposes they had one major thing on their side, Noel was the murderer and he did all of it alone. This was undeniable. During the trial, it would come down to being his word against theirs. Once motive and intent to kill were established, they only had to convince twelve people of his guilt. Ironically, the truth was just as complicated as the lie, making it difficult to distinguish between the two.
During Jury selection, Noel watched as twelve people were picked to decide his innocence or guilt. He also opted to let them decide his punishment if he was found guilty of the crimes instead of the courts. The prosecutor would accuse him of two first degree murders as well as one case of involuntary manslaughter. It became his lawyer’s job to demonstrate that he was acting in self defense of his wife and friend. Noel knew it didn’t help that he had never even met Michelle before and still had no idea what his wife was doing there. Furthermore, he had no idea he was also going to be framed for the robbery. His lawyer’s name was Andrew Paul. He was recommended by his cousin, Katy, who was a juvenile prosecutor for the state.
The trial began two months later with minor evidence defending Noel. It was doubtful to his lawyer that he would appear to be a hero who acted in self defense of his loved ones. Mr. Paul begged Noel to admit guilt and plea bargain his sentence down to second degree murder, but of course he refused. The judge who presided over the case was the honorable Stephen J. Henshaw, a man who had a personal history with Walter Lambert. Their wives had gone to college together and known each other for years, making the two men acquaintances.

During the course of the trial, the prosecutor began by confirming that Noel had single handedly killed two police officers as well as accidentally killing Ezra Truman. Noel was brought before the court and was asked several questions. He took the Fifth Amendment as directed from his council. It was all downhill from there. The prosecution proceeded to bring forth evidence that
linked Noel to the robbery. They presented the stolen jewelry, which was recognized by Valencia Lambert. They brought Freddy before the court and he testified against his best friend without even breaking a sweat. Next, Michelle and Cheyenne were brought up to the stand as witnesses to substantiate his story. Sadly, the most condemning piece of evidence was Cheyenne’s testimony that she had no idea where Noel was the night of the burglary even though he had been at home, asleep in bed.
As Andrew Paul said the closing statement, he finally made a case for Noel, which set the record straight. He accused the three witnesses of conspiring against an innocent man whose actions probably saved their lives. Mr. Paul demanded that all charges be dropped and that Freddy Macmillan be put on trial. Furthermore, his lawyer warned the jurors that if they ruled against his client they would have to live with the fact that they sent an innocent man to prison. It was a poignant speech, but too little too late. The jurors had already made up their mind. They went into deliberation and found Noel guilty on all counts after three and a half hours. Moreover, they decided that he deserved a double life sentence. Noel Brighton would spend the rest of his natural life behind bars, case closed.
When it was all digested in his mind and he understood that he was going to be forced to serve decades locked up like an animal, he stood up at the defendant’s table and slammed his cuffed hands down on the table. He turned around and looked into his wife’s crying eyes, picked up the wooden chair he was sitting on, and threw it at the judge. It hit his podium, broke into large pieces and went flying into his face. The judge’s nose broke when a piece made contact and blood gushed from his nostrils. The bailiffs sprang forth to subdue the enraged defendant. Noel saw them coming and grabbed his lawyer’s chair and threw it in their direction. It hit one of the officer’s legs, stopping him momentarily. The other bailiff raised his gun and commanded Noel to freeze. He raised his arms in the air while the officer walked over to him slowly. He was told to get on his knees, but Noel ignored the instruction and stood his ground. The other bailiff got to his feet, walked directly up to Noel, baton in hand, and slammed his face down on the table. The officer chopped at his legs and took him down for the count.
Cheyenne went straight home and had a strong drink. It was over; she had successfully framed her husband and now there was no one left to answer to, but God almighty for her sins. She cut off all contact with Freddy and swore off the drugs. Going cold turkey was hard, but not as hard as living with the guilt. Less than a month passed by before she really understood she couldn’t stay there. The house was sold without delay and Noel’s business was liquidated along with his car. This money was added together with the fifteen thousand dollars Freddy gave to her for compensation. She packed up her things along with Lilith’s and headed south.

The first place they ended up was Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was a nice little city nestled in the Rocky Mountains. She rented a nice two bedroom apartment in a wealthy sector known as the Broadmoor. In between looking for a job, Cheyenne spent time strolling around downtown. She loved to take Lilith to Acacia Park located in the heart of the city. As summer approached, she was offered two different jobs and she turned down the position at the airport. The one she ended up taking was located at a restaurant located in an area called Old Colorado City. Waiting tables brought in a decent income and didn’t steal away too much time for her daughter. The new living situation wasn’t ideal, but seemed like it was going to work out fine. Lilith celebrated her first birthday with her mother at their apartment. Despite her past, Cheyenne tried to be the kind of parent that her daughter deserved. This helped divert her attention away from her imprisoned husband and took up most of her time. The adjustment to the new climate was hard, but really began to take its toll the following winter.
After the first snowfall, she got into a car accident and her car became lodged in a snowdrift. Luckily, a couple of travelers pulled over to the side of the road and freed her car. She thought long and hard about staying there and knew the right thing to do was keep heading south until she reached warmer weather. Her mother, Roxanne, moved to San Antonio a few years earlier and it seemed like the next logical destination. Plus, her daughter needed more family
members she could depend on. So, she put in her two weeks’ notice at work and prepared to move across the country again. In the back of her mind she felt thankful that Lilith was still so young. The relocation wouldn’t have any effect on her, but she also knew she would have to find a permanent residence to bring stability into her child’s life.
As soon as she fulfilled her work obligations, Cheyenne hit the road and didn’t look back. She drove there straight through, without stopping and made it to her mother’s home in hours, arriving at five o’clock in the morning. Upon arrival, she handed the baby over to Roxanne and slept for the rest of the day. The move felt right and gave her the chance to begin a new period in her life. It was filled with enormous potential and the possibilities were endless. From now on, she would try to learn from her mistakes and make the right choices. And maybe, someday, she hoped to make it all up to Noel, but highly doubted if that was ever going to be possible. But the truth was she’d reached the point of no return.

Stay tuned for Chapter 11 in a few days...

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Exiled by Ryan and Niki Traynor Chapter 9

Welcome back to my book ! Read all the chapters here.

Chapter 9
Walter Lambert arrived home the day after Thanksgiving with his wife Valencia. Their daughter Joyce was found sleeping in the basement tied up with white rope, beaten to a bloody pulp. At the sight of her daughter bound and gagged, Valencia screamed bloody murder. The trauma was too much for her to handle, so Lambert sent his wife upstairs to call an ambulance while he untied the poor girl. Lambert’s colleagues were called to the scene of the crime straight away and they went to work investigating the house.
The neighbors were thoroughly questioned, but none of them had anything to report since they were either out of town or asleep at the time of the burglary. The investigators couldn’t find any fingerprints and were at a loss for evidence. The only thing recovered from the house was a necklace with a heart shaped pendant embedded with small diamond chips. When Lambert fixed his eyes on the necklace, the concern he felt for his daughter turned into violent rage against the owner of the necklace. That necklace rang bells in his head like alarms in a high school instructing kids to switch between class periods. He put on his poker face and told the investigators he’d never seen it before even though he recognized it instantaneously. The blood boiled inside his body as he thought about Michelle Rosenberg.
He’d met her one fateful night at that filthy strip club Essence. She had given him a few dances and made one hell of an impression on him. Stupidly, Lambert let her seduce him and they met up after the club closed at an all night diner a few blocks away. His marriage was having problems and he offered her three hundred bucks to sleep with him at a sleazy motel. She gladly accepted the money, but insisted she wasn’t a hooker. Michelle actually believed she was nothing more than an expensive mistress. It didn’t help that Lambert began to see her somewhat regularly; reinforcing the notion that she was indeed his girlfriend on the side. Being the cheap bastard that he was, the police lieutenant began to take her to his home in Chesapeake Hills when his wife was out of town. Eventually, they took a trip together to Las Vegas where Lambert bought her the necklace with the heart shaped pendant. When he found it at his house he thought it was almost as if she wanted to get caught, which would leave him defamed and meant his marriage was over. Maybe she left it behind to taunt him.
Lambert remembered the last time he saw her and thought that he’d scared her enough to leave him alone. It was the last and final time he’d gone to Essence. However, this time he wasn’t there to get a lap dance. That night he parked his squad car down the street so Michelle wouldn’t recognize it. He crept over and broke into her car, climbed in the back seat, covered himself with a dark blanket, and waited for her to get off work. The security guard walked her over to her car and neither one of them suspected anything. After she was buckled in and the ignition was turned on, Lambert made his presence known. The first thing he said was, “Guess who?” Michelle gasped and he put his hand over her mouth and told her not to make a sound or he would take her straight down to the police station. He asked, “Where the hell is the five thousand dollar tennis bracelet I bought for my wife’s anniversary? I know you stole it.”
The week before the incident, Lambert had a huge fight with his wife because she suspected him of cheating. Valencia had a business meeting with some potential investors. The venture capitalists paid for her to come out to Los Angeles to talk about expanding her business in Orange County. He could not help himself and he had Michelle over to the house as soon as his wife was gone because he wanted to have sex with her one last time before it ended. She thought she had the cop wrapped around her little finger until she was given the news and she flipped out.
Lambert went to get her a drink and she went through his briefcase and found the tennis bracelet he’d bought for Valencia soon after their fight.
It took him a few days to realize the bracelet had been stolen and he knew the only person that could have done it was Michelle. Not only was she the only one with access to his belongings, but she was also the only one with a motive. When he came to the conclusion that he had to confront her, he figured the best way to do it was using scare tactics. That brought him to the back seat of her car where he made empty threats. Nonetheless, he didn’t anticipate her calling his bluff. After questioning her about the bracelet Michelle replied, “How about I go to your wife and give the present to her personally?”

“You wouldn’t dare,” he said angrily. “Oh I wouldn’t, would I? Push me and see how far I’ll go to ruin your life,” she said slyly.
“You know I have my gun on me. I’ll be happy to put a couple bullets in the back of your skull if you mess with me. Just gimme the bracelet and we can both move on with our lives.” The words were menacing.
“So first you dump me, then you break into my car, and now you’re threatening to kill me. I can’t believe I ever had feelings for you. You’re nothing but a shit stained pig. Now get the hell out of my car before I call the real police.” She pulled out her cell phone as she finished talking.
“Please, Michelle, if you care about me at all you’ll hand it over.” The inflection his voice changed and he started to plead, “I can pay you some more money next month.”
“I don’t want your money. I just wanted revenge for the way you treated me. I told you I wasn’t a prostitute, and besides, I don’t even have your bracelet here and it’s not at my place either.”
“Then we’re taking a ride to get it,” he said cocking his pistol in her ear to let her know he meant business.

Michelle stammered, “Okay, okay we’re going to get it. Just please put the gun away.” Lambert put his nine millimeter back in its holster and sighed, “Thank you and I’m sorry it had to be this way.” She drove the car forward and he sat back in his seat hoping things would work out in his favor. Without warning, she bailed from the driver’s seat and the car crashed into the strip club with a loud bang. He jumped out of the car and saw the security guard approaching him. Lambert yelled the first thing that came to mind, “Listen up, she offered to have sex with me for three hundred bucks. She’s been doing it for months now except this time she stole my wife’s five thousand dollar bracelet.”
Right as he was thinking about it everything hit him like a ton of bricks. Michelle must have seen me punching in the security code one of the times I took her to my house, he thought. The numbers three, eight, four, and one flashed through his head. We were always drunk out of our skulls by the time we got there and I was a little too careless for my own good. Shit, she probably cased the joint while I was passed out. Lambert smacked his forehead and gripped his heart. It was beating overtime for a man of his age. He’d be celebrating his fifty-third birthday next month and his last doctor’s visit didn’t go too well. Lambert decided that he would find Michelle on his own. She probably moved out of that shitty condo, he assumed.
Lambert checked into it right away and found that she had moved out of her condo, but stupidly left a forwarding address. He staked out her apartment for ten nights straight but she never showed up once, which had him worried that she might have skipped town. The old lieutenant only grew more persistent convinced that she’d turn up eventually. Finally, he decided to drop off an oversized box in front of her door to get the attention of the management, who may tell her to pick up her package.
Sure enough it worked. He watched the apartment the entire day, and by nightfall Michelle came driving up to the office to retrieve her mysterious package, which was empty except for a bunch of crumpled up news paper and a couple small logs. Without hesitation she took the bait, letting him know that she wasn’t even worried. Lambert followed the worried ex- stripper across town to Buena Vista Apartment Complex and watched her walk into unit fifty- two. He drove away with a smile on his face and slept well for the first time in almost two weeks.
On his way out of the police station the next day, Lambert told his closest friend and associate, Detective Ron Jenkins, that he had a lead on the case. Jenkins had become Lambert’s confidant over the years and knew about his affair with Michelle. Being that Jenkins was a devoted family man; he lived vicariously through his friends exploits, but never got close enough to tarnish his own unblemished reputation. This would all change that particular night at Piccolo’s, a corner bar where more than a few cops hung out on a regular basis. Lambert ordered a couple shots of bourbon and asked, “How long have we known each other Jenkins?”
“Too long. I remember when you still had all your hair,” he said and drank the shot. Lambert smiled grimly and asked, “You remember Michelle?” “Don’t tell me your screwing around with that stripper again?” said Jenkins with a sigh. “C’mon, I told you earlier I had a lead on the case,” Lambert remarked. “You don’t think...” Jenkins voice trailed off. “Yeah, and worse yet, I have to deal with it myself unless I want things coming out that could turn my life upside down. Now, you know I would never ask you to help me if I didn’t have any other choice, but I can’t do this alone.”

“Walt, I don’t know about this. Plus, you know I can’t get involved. My wife would kill me if she found out anything.”
“First off, you haven’t even heard me out. Second, I saved your damn life and I’ve never asked you for anything.” The memory of that ill fated night burst into Jenkins’ mind. A drugged out pimp pointing a gun at his head and Lambert sneaking up behind the oblivious bastard quiet as a mouse... Most of the time, that night seemed like a lifetime ago. But as he sat there ordering another beer at Piccolo’s, it seemed like it happened only yesterday. They were on patrol and picked up a call on the radio. It was a simple noise complaint that turned out to be more than he bargained for. The call took them to a rough part of town and Lambert had a bad feeling about it so he went around back while Jenkins knocked on the front door. He heard a man and woman yelling back and forth. Unexpectedly, the door flew open and a long haired man stood there holding a gun. A woman stood behind him with a bloody nose screaming out that he was a pimp and that he had a kilo of cocaine hidden in the back room. That was when things became grave.
“Now, will you at least hear me out?” asked Lambert, displeased. “I know what you did for me and I’m sorry. You’ve been a good friend. Just tell me what’s going on,” said Jenkins. Lambert began by telling him about the bracelet and the night at the strip club. “You saw what happened to my daughter Joyce right?” he asked.
Jenkins nodded and asked, “But how the hell did you know it was her?” “I found a broken necklace at my house that had to have been hers,” he said. “How could you be sure? It’s just a necklace,” replied Jenkins. “Because I bought the damn thing for her. She loved the stupid thing and wore it around everywhere. I figured she’d thrown it away after things ended. Not to mention, she was the only person who would have known where the key was hidden in the backyard. And this is the worst part of all, I think I let her see the pass code to the alarm system,” he said sullenly.
Jenkins stared at him, trying to think of something to say. Lambert continued, “I know it was stupid for me to ever get involved with her and if I could do it all over again I would. Dammit, I might even have been able to change the locks on the doors, upgrade my alarm system and forget about it if Joyce hadn’t been hurt. But now, that little bitch is going to pay.”

“What do you propose, Walt? We kill her and bury her in the woods? We’re cops; we have the law on our side. There’s no need to take it into our own hands,” Jenkins said adamantly.
“I just want to confront her and maybe scare the shit out of her and whoever she’s living with at that apartment complex. I don’t even care if I get any of my stuff back, but I’ll be damned
to hell if I don’t deal with this myself. We take her down to the station and it’s all going to come out. Valencia will leave me and my kids will never speak to me again, especially my little girl.”
“So that’s it, you just want to confront her? We’re not going in there to hurt anybody right?” he asked assertively. “No, no of course not, we’ll resolve this amicably.”
“Fine. When?”