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All in the Family

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Taking over the police chief’s job in her hometown should have been easy for Callie Johnson. At least that's what she thought. After working in a big city, small town crime would be a breeze. What a surprise when she arrives to find her grandmother, the judge, accused of murder. As if that wasn't enough she’s attacked while walking to her car. Between criminal investigations, her nutty family’s antics and her Aunt Beatrice Lulu's matchmaking, Callie definitely has her work cut out for her. Will her grandmother be exonerated? Can Callie ward off her aunt’s unsuitable suitors? What other surprises were in store for her? More importantly, can she find the person who attacked her?

Callie was early, but that suited her just fine. Anxious to get started, she opened the door and ran smack into her grandmother, Judge Jessica Roberts.  “Gram, what are you doing here?”

“Callie, I thought you weren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow.”

“I wasn’t, but I couldn’t wait. Where’s Chief Landry?”

“That’s what I want to know.” Gram looked at the officer leaning against his desk.

Before he had a chance to answer, Chief Landry walked in. “Well now, what a surprise. Callie, I didn’t expect you until tomorrow. You ready to go to work?”

“Ready and able.”

“Good. Jess, what brings you here?”

“I know who did it. I know who killed Jake.” Her grandmother never took her eyes off Officer Sanders while she spoke. “And I know why. I know what Jake wanted to show me in that alley.” Sanders squirmed while she talked.

“Look at his hands, Jim.” Jessica nodded towards Sanders. “All swollen and scraped.  Were you in a fight recently, Sanders?”

Chief Landry nudged Callie. “I love when she gets like this. Watch and learn.” He went to stand next to her grandmother and glanced down at Officer Sander’s hands clenched in tight fists. “Answer the lady, Sanders.”

“She’s crazy. She killed him, and she’s trying to pin it on me.” Officer Sanders crossed his arms over his chest and hid his hands beneath his elbows.

“You were missing a button, too.” Jessica moved closer and pointed to his shirt just above his belt. “Right about there, if I recall.”

“What the hell’s going on here?” Sanders slumped down on the desk.

“I think Sanders killed Jake to stop him from showing me evidence against him. That’s why Jake wanted me to meet him in the alley. But Sanders got there before I did and killed him.”

“You’re nuts.” Officer Sanders looked between the Chief and Callie. “You can’t possibly believe her.”

Chief Landry leaned against the desk and rubbed his chin. “Well, now can’t say as I don’t believe her. The judge is pretty reliable. Got any other proof, Jess?”

“Just that button and those bruises. My guess you look close enough you’ll find Jake’s blood on his uniform and a missing button. I noticed it just before he slapped the cuffs on me.  It’ll match the button I gave you. Search his house.  If he hasn’t taken it to the cleaners yet, I’m sure you’ll find it. You’ll probably find the other evidence, too. I’ll sign the warrant.”

“What evidence? You’re insane.”

“Jake’s niece was involved in drugs. I remember he said they sent her to a drug rehab. Jake was bound and determined to find the source for the drugs. Not the kid who sold them to her, but the one smuggling them into town. I think that was you.” Jess stood toe to toe with Sanders.

Callie couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Jim grabbed Sanders, took his gun and badge and locked him in the cell. “Get me that warrant, Jess.”

“Coming, Callie?” Chief Landry said. “If you’re taking over, you may as well start now.”

Callie hugged her grandmother and followed Jim. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Chief. I’m right behind you. We’ll catch up later, Gram.”

An hour later they came back, Sanders’s uniform in the chief’s hand. 

“You were right, Jess,” Chief Landry said. “There’s blood on it. Not a lot, but enough. We’ll send this over to the lab and have it tested. If it’s Jake’s blood we got him dead to right.”

 

***

 

Judge Jessica Roberts stepped down from her bench. She didn’t like it, but she just recused herself from this case. Besides, the DA wanted to call her as a witness. Couldn’t very well do both. Only the luck of the draw that she drew the case anyway.  Nothing would have made Callie’s grandmother happier than to pass sentence on dirty cops. 

It sure didn’t take Sanders long to talk once the DNA came back positive as being Jake’s blood.  Chief Landry arrested him, and he sang like a canary.  Besides him, three others were involved in a drug ring.  How they got by with it in a town this small, Callie’d never know. Somehow they pulled it off for the better part of a year.  Poor Jim was beside himself that something like that went on right under his nose, in his town. Course it involved others from a town 25 miles away, also. But the fact that one of his cops was involved just about killed him.

“Come on.” Jess linked her arm through Chief Landry’s. “Let’s get some lunch before I have to testify.”

“You know, Jess, if you hadn’t picked up that button and been so observant, we might not have known who killed Jake.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Can’t believe Sanders thought he could arrest me and get away with it. Did he really think you’d believe him?”

“Guess that’s where he made his second mistake.” Chief Landry squeezed Jessica’s arm and winked at Callie. “Good thing I’m retiring. Time this town got some young blood. You should be thinking about it, too, Jess. Time for us old folks to step down and make room for the younguns.”

Callie couldn’t help but laugh. Her grandmother retire? That would be the day.


"All the darkness of the world cannot put out the light of one small candle." Anonymous