03-02-2012, 03:16 PM
"What's the deal?" Raul asked, stepping up to Carey's car. "You got a mugger in the back seat or something?"
"Someone's been in my car," Carey said. "The front seat is pushed all the way back, and I think there is something in there on the floor."
"The police are on their way now," Amber said, closing her cell phone.
"Good." Carey sighed with relief. "Whatever you do, don't touch the car, or let anyone else touch it. They need to look for fingerprints."
After an anxious ten minute wait, a single police cruiser quietly pulled into the restaurant parking lot. The sight of the blue and red lights stirred curiosity among the customers in the restaurant and passersby on the sidewalk. Two uniformed officers got out of the cruiser and walked over to Carey. "You the one who reported tampering with your vehicle?" the elder of the two officers asked her.
"Yes, right over here." Carey led the policemen to her car. "I noticed that the seat was pushed all the way back, and there's something on the floor by the gas pedal."
The younger officer clicked on his big black flashlight and examined the car's interior, reflecting smudges on the side window. The officer stood upright and turned to his partner. "We'd better get the bomb squad on this one," he said. "Looks like a pipe bomb to me."
The elder officer stepped forward and looked for himself. "Wired under the dash," he murmured. He turned on the police radio. "One-Five-Seven reporting possible pipe bomb in vehicle located at Nino's Pizza, corner of J--- and R--- street. Request Bomb Squad, over."
"One-Five-Seven, Bomb Squad is on its way, over." the police radio crackled in response.
The two officers turned their attention to the groups of curious onlookers milling around the parking lot. "Okay, folks, everyone get back as far as possible, the farther the better. Everyone get back." the older officer ordered, hands upraised, motioning everyone away.
"Hey, man, is there really a pipe bomb in there?" someone asked.
"We got the Bomb Squad coming to check it out," the officer told him. "Just keep a safe distance."
Anxious looks and frightened chatter passed between the onlookers. It had to be the Vegas Bomber, they said amongst themselves, it just had to be. But why would he target an innocent woman?
The shrill blast of fire sirens shattered the peace of the neighborhood, announcing the arrival of the Bomb Disposal Unit, accompanied by the Las Vegas Munincipal Fire Department and escorted by three more police cruisers. The very sight of the armored BDU truck triggered a wave of horror among the citizenry already traumatized by three previous attacks. They didn't have to be told twice to "get back" when ordered by the police to do so; past images of blasted, burnt bodies reminded them of what would happen if they got too close.
The scene was cordoned off with yellow plastic tape. Those inside the restaruant were told to remain inside and stay away from the windows in case of a blast, while those outside were instructed to either go back home or keep behind the "barricade" of yellow tape. Only those with children chose to leave; most stayed to witness this real-life crime drama to the end, watching with horrifed fascination. Some held up camera phones to photograph the scene. Tension mounted as the BDU Squad geared up for whatever was to come.
As the Bomb Squad readied itself, a CSI investigator dusted the side window for fingerprints, extracting them carefully with adhesive tape. A dusty footprint was found by the driver's side window; it was photographed and preserved with plastic laminate. Finally, the car door was opened. A BDU officer reached inside, fumbled around a bit under the dash, and withdrew an unexploded pipe bomb. Gasps and shrieks of astonishment and horror echoed up and down the street. Carey's knees almost buckled at the sight of it. My God! she said to herself, that guy's trying to kill me!
"So you were in the production office when the first bomb went off at the Luxor, is that right?" Officer Lettrille asked JD Sarantakos. "And you were in the valley with the production crew during the motorcycle stunt."
"That is right," JD insisted. "You can even check the surveillance tapes in the Luxor for yourself. And the footage from the demonstration. Nothing was edited yet."
"Then how did your boots get the same soil sample from the same spot the Bomber had been when he threw the bomb if you never wore them?" Lettrille inquired, leaning closer to his suspect.
"Hey, you tell me," JD retorted facetiously, "you guys are the experts. Those boots never left the back room since they got back from the shop."
Lettrille leaned back, sighing. He wanted to believe this man, he really did, but years of experience had taught him that people could commit the most heinous crimes and put on Oscar-winning performances protesting their innocence. Besides, the soil samples belied the suspect's alibi.
A rap on the glass-paneled door caught his attention. It was Dr. Mackenzie Taylor from the crime lab. "We got DNA results from the interior of the boots." she said, handing him the report. "According to the test results, the sweat sample DNA from the boots we took and Mr. Sarantakos' own sample don't match. It seems someone was wearing them at the time of the attacks."
"You check for fingerprints?" Lettrille asked.
"We checked, but the perp was probably wearing latex gloves, so nothing definitive." Dr. Taylor told him.
Lettrille turned to JD. "So, it looks like someone was wearing your boots," he said. "Any idea who?"
"No one I know of," JD replied. "The only one I know who about the same size I am is my brother, Costa, and he was injured in the Luxor bombing. Couldn't have been him."
"My guess is that it was an inside job, a member of the crew," Lettrille said. "You know of any, you know, disgruntled workers? Anybody get fired, wanted some sort of payback?"
JD shook his head. "No one I remember," he said.
A CSI officer burst into the office. "Hey, Jim! We got a call from Dispatch. They found a pipe bomb inside a car at some restaurant. Bomb Squad's bringing it in now."
"Send it over to the lab," Lettrille ordered. "and make damn sure it's defused!" He turned to JD Sarantakos. "Well, I guess you're cleared. You can go home now." He smiled a little. "No hard feelings?"
JD stood up and shook Lettrille's hand. "None whatsoever," he said. " I know you're just doing your job, and I just got caught up in it. This psycho's almost killed my brother. I want him caught more than you do. Good luck."
The two men went their separate ways, Lettrille to the crime lab, JD to the exit. The latter found himself in the middle of a media firestorm as soon as he stepped out the door. Flashbulbs nearly blinded him as he struggled through the crush of bodies, cameras and microphones, snapping photos and demanding statements from him regarding his arrest.
Amid the journalistic feeding frenzy JD spotted a familiar face--Dave Baron, Criss' manager who had come to take JD back to the hotel. Weaving his way through the massed media, he managed to reach JD in one piece. "Dave, what the hell is going on here?" JD demanded.
"There's been a news leak," Baron told him. "Someone saw you being taken away in a police cruiser, heard something about you being the Bomber, and all screaming hell broke loose."
"Oh, Geez!" JD groaned aloud. He turned to the press. "Okay," he shouted over the din. "First of all, whatever charges there were against me, I've been cleared. Whoever did this was trying to frame me. The crime lab experts proved my innocence. I am not the Bomber!"
"How were you connected to the bombings?" a female reporter cried out.
"I had a pair of boots that were stolen and worn by the Bomber. DNA tests showed it was someone else." he replied. "The soles had the same dirt as the crime scenes."
"Were you formally charged?" shouted another reporter.
"No! I was just bought in for questioning."
"Where were you when Criss was attacked?" demanded yet another reporter.
Geez! JD thought. They're worse than the cops! "I was where I was supposed to be--with Criss!" he snapped.
"You have any idea who the Bomber might be?" someone beside him asked.
"If I did, I'd go after him myself, instead of being here talking to all of you!" JD retorted irritably. "No more questions! I've been cleared, and that's all there is to it!"
The press clamored loudly for more statements. Baron held up his hands for silence. "May I have your attention, please!" he shouted. "I don't know how you got word of this, but everything is fine now, everything's okay, so please leave!"
JD pushed his way to the waiting hotel limo and dived in to the back seat, drawing a deep breath as the door closed behind him, shutting out the persistant media. "My God!" he exclaimed as the limo pulled away, "what a nightmare this week has been!"
"Whaddya mean JD was arrested?" Criss mumbled into his cell phone as he lay in his hospital bed. "For what?"
"It's okay, bro," Costa assured him. "He's been cleared. We got word from Dave. He's coming back to the hotel."
"Cleared of what?" Criss demanded.
"There was some circumstantial evidence linking him to the demo bombing," Costa explained carefully. "The CSI lab proved him innocent."
Criss was incredulous. "They think JD is the Vegas Bomber? That's bull(bleep)!"
"We know, we know, but he's been cleared, okay? Don't get upset about it, all right? You just take it easy. You've been through too much as it is."
"You coming to see me tomorrow?"
"We'll all be there to see you, okay?" Costa reassured him. "You just take it easy and get some rest. We'll see you tomorrow."
"Okay, see you tomorrow then," Criss drowsily replied. "Later."
Costa chose to ignore the irony of that statement and said good night to his injured brother. Flipping off his phone, Criss lay in his gauzy prison, feeling sleep creeping upon him.
JD is innocent! Criss said to himself. He wouldn't hurt anyone, much less a member of his own family! Costa said he was cleared of all the charges. They shouldn't have charged him in the first place! He had nothing to do with it, nothing to do with it at all...
Criss drifted off to sleep with these thoughts still echoing in his mind. Nothing to do with it, nothing at all...