The Bone

“Hey Rathbone!” NCIS Special Agent Tommy Farmer yelled at the storm door. He looked behind him, off the wide porch that stretched the length of the house at the knee-high grass, wet with dew and spider webs. Farmer was middle-age and clean shaven. His dark suit and sunglasses screamed “cop.” Rathbone’s telephonic threat asked specifically for Farmer.

“Rathbone! You called for me to come…a bomb, why? Everybody knows you’re a drunk!”

Inside, John Rathbone, gray bearded and handsome, muscular, wearing tan slacks and a white undershirt, leaned up onto some sandbags at his front window and peeked, bleary eyed, out a firing hole he cut in the glass with his estranged wife’s diamond. He scoffed, whispering, “Farmer. Fucking pussy.” He stuck his .45 automatic out the hole.

Bannng! Tommy jumped against the door as a bullet ricocheted in the porch near his foot throwing splinters. His heart pounded. He looked to the wall, to the picture window of the old house. He leaned, then peeked at the picture window. It was dark, too dark on the bottom, and the curtains bunched up on something…

“Fuck Bone! You shot at me! You’ve got sand bags in your front window?” Tommy knew Special Agent, now retired, John Rathbone very well. He knew that if Bone wanted to kill him, that shot would have done it. He knew because they had been partners. Now, Rathbone was drunk. Again. This bender had him hallucinating, thinking he was under attack or the like.

Inside, Rathbone repositioned himself beside the door and leaned against the wall.

“Come on in and take a swig off this with me!” Rathbone yelled as he unlocked the door, opened it a crack, and waved a bottle of whisky in the opening with his left hand. Farmer stepped in and reached for the bottle. Rathbone slammed the butt of the .45 across Tommy Farmer’s temple and knocked him out cold.

He hurriedly dragged Farmer inside, checked the street, then slammed the door.

Some time passed, Farmer regained consciousness. Bone had him bound, hand and foot, and propped up against his sofa under the window.

“There you are,” Rathbone said as Farmer batted his eyes. Bone stood over him. “Where is it?”

“Where is what?”

Bone kicked him in ribs. He waited on the moaning to subside. He grabbed Farmer’s head, twisted it toward the open safe that was against the wall to Farmer’s left.

He got close to Farmer’s ear. Farmer smelled the whisky on his breath. “It’s empty. Where is the envelope with the piece?” Farmer stared at Rathbone’s piercing blue eyes. Bone took his .45 out of his belt at the small of his back and shoved it up Farmer’s nostril. “Smell this? This is stench of your rotting corpse. You got five more seconds of life if you don’t talk.”

Tommy Farmer realized that Rathbone was not as drunk as he thought. That scared him. He knew what Rathbone was capable of.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on you. Knew your combination. The Admiral has it,” Farmer said grinning, knowing the effect it would have. Rathbone let his hands drop.

“Little Alice was raped and murdered, you ass kissing son-of-a-bitch. You’re going to set things straight, or die. Now talk!”

Months after Rathbone’s forced retirement after the Admiral’s exoneration, one day unexpectedly, his twelve-year-old daughter gave him a piece of the dress belonging to little Alice. He had it tested for DNA. It turned out to be clean. The clever girl stole it from the Admiral, and thereby took the only thing that linked him to the crime. He recorded Farmer’s confession then left his house at a run.

Inside his spacious office, Admiral Myerson stood, and stuffed a yellow cloth into his pocket. He buzzed his attaché. “It’s time,” he said into the intercom. Two Naval police officers called Masters at Arms flanked him along with his attaché. They left the Headquarters building into the drizzling rain, past the flagpole, and walked to the waiting car. Workers were out on the lawn on both sides of the sidewalk wearing caps and ponchos, trimming shrubs and picking up the residue.

John Rathbone, wearing a cap, looked up from the shrubs at the backside of the Admiral, then without hesitation he leaped. He grabbed the Admiral around the neck and put the .45 to his head. The Masters at Arms drew their weapons.

“I’m former NCIS. He has a piece of Alice Watterson’s dress. He raped and killed her,” Rathbone said and started rummaging through the Admiral’s pockets.

“Drop your weapon!” the MA shouted.

“He’s drunk and crazy! He arrested me once and humiliated himself! I’m ordering you to SHOOT HIM!” The Admiral tried to turn Rathbone so they could get a shot, but Bone was bigger and stronger.

“Here! I found it,” Rathbone said. He turned the Admiral so the MA’s and the attaché could see the piece of cloth in the Admiral’s pocket. “It’s a piece of Alice Watterson’s dress. He raped and killed her two years ago.” The MA’s looked at one another and started to lower their weapons. Finding the cloth on him was a hunch.

“It’s my handkerchief!” the Admiral screamed. Rathbone raised his left fist and pushed a button on his small recorder. That was the proof he needed them to hear.

But there was only static. The MA’s leveled on him. Realizing it was useless without the recording, Bone dropped his gun, and the recorder, and raised his hands. Once again, his life ended with a false accusation and humiliation. Beaten, he started to kneel, then a noise.

“Wait!” Bone shouted. The little recorder laying in the grass crackled and Farmer’s voice spoke clearly of the yellow dress piece, and who had it. Bone lowered his head, clenched his teeth and said to the Admiral, “That ain’t your fucking handkerchief.”

The Admiral backpeddled as Farmer’s confession told of the coverup.

“I never give up,” Rathbone said. They cuffed Admiral Myerson instead.

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