Title: The Victory Motel, Part Six in the And Again Series,
Author: P'al Kwai
WARNING: rated R for torture, language, and violence. Do not proceed unless you are aware of that.
Spoilers for the movie AND the book.
Stopping to grab his gun, a burst of thought ran through Bud’s head. Wondered if paranoia was contagious, because he didn’t usually take a gun to open the front door. Peering out the front door window, he could make out a dark figure of a man. A man in a police uniform.
Opening the door cautiously, right arm behind his back, concealing his weapon.
“Well, well, well.” A familiar, mocking voice. “Wendell White. What are you doing here so late? Still working? ...Or...”
“Or what, O’Malley?” Eyes narrowed, Bud wondered if he could give the other man the left hook and the knee to the groin that he should have given him a couple days ago.
O’Malley felt the hostility, the aggression that was being directed at him. Automatically stepping back a half a step, as he was well aware of Bud White’s reputation as the toughest man on the force. “Exley here? Got a message for him.”
“That’s Lieutenant Exley to you, *Sergeant*.” Not moving from the doorway, Bud kept his body in front of O’Malley. His body language sent a clear message, ‘you’re not welcome here.’ “Since when did you start delivering messages in person? A phone call would have been sufficient.”
“Was in the neighborhood, so I thought I’d just stop and give Ex...Lieutenant Exley his message.”
“Bud.” A freshly showered Ed came into the room. “Who’s here? Who’d be here at this time of...” Swallowing the rest of the sentence, as he saw who was at the door. O’Malley!
“Got a message from the Chief. Eight a.m. sharp, you’re to be in his office. Internal Affairs wants to talk to you.”
“What the hell for?” Bud was now really fighting the urge to deck O’Malley.
Somehow knowing that Bud was a hair away of losing control, Ed pushed his way between the two men. “We’ve already spoken to Cap about Lieutenant Jones. The coroner verified that Jones hadn’t been dead very long when I discovered him. And it’s been established that at his time of death I was at the Lucky Lady, so...”
“This isn’t my call Lieutenant.” Proper address, but there was no mistaking the disrespect tingeing O’Malley’s voice. “Just acting the messenger.”
“Is that a fact?” Bud was belligerent. “Seems like I remember in many cases, that the messenger is the one who gets sho..” Cutting Bud off by grabbing the arm he held his .38 in, Exley shoved his partner through the front door, back into the house. And O’Malley, realizing that retreat was now in order, backed away quickly toward his car.
“That Son-Of-A-Bitch! The Chief and Internal Affairs wouldn’t be sending him to give you such a message. He’s gotta be involved in this whole mess somehow.”
“But he wouldn’t have the pull for such a cover up?” Mind going in all different directions, Ed was trying to make sense of everything.
“He’s not the one running the show, just one of the flunkies. Remember how Dudley had a bunch of cops working for him.”
“How is this possible that, once again there’s someone on top involved in corruption and murder? And that he gets other officers to...” Interrupted by the phone ringing, Ed went to answer it.
“At least something good might come out of this, if I get to nail O’Malley.” Bud muttered to himself, as he began to pick up glasses and papers that were strewn over the floor.
“Well, O’Malley didn’t lie.” Ed came back into the living room. “I’m to report to the Chief’s Office at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Guess, they’re going to find some way to frame me.” Reality was once again crashing in on Exley. When he was fucking Bud, it was so easy to forget the ugliness that his life had become. So easy just lose himself in that man. Silence for a few beats. “Were you serious about being able to get your hands on a large sum of money?”
“Someone owes me big time. I’ll go tomorrow and call in my markers.” Their eyes met, as they were both on the same wave length. Perhaps it was time to literally take the money and run.
“White.” The homicide Captain, as Exley’s supervisor was also to be present at the meeting. “We didn’t request your presence, so get the hell out of here.”
“I don’t think so Cap.” Standing up from leaning against the wall, Bud was not intimidated. “I have relevant information regarding...”
“We’re well aware of the information you have to add to Exley’s defense. We don’t need to hear it again.”
“DEFENSE. He’s being accused of something? What kind of bullshit is...”
“White.” Ed grabbed his partner’s arm. “It’s ok. I’ll be ok. I’m the politician, remember?”
“Alright Exley.” White was glaring daggers at the Captain. “I’ll go see that *friend* of mine. But wait for me here. I’ll come back to pick you up.”
“White! Let’s keep our heads here.” A quick glare at his bodyguard, Jack Cooper silently communicated to him to be ready. He could swear that steam was coming out of Bud’s nostrils. A bull ready to charge.
“I’ll keep my head, when I see the money you owe me.” Breathing heavy, Bud also glared at Cooper’s bodyguard. Stupid Son-of-a-bitch. Has no fuckin’ clue that it would be child’s play for me to take him out.
“Business has been slow for a while. I don’t have the ability to get my hands on the amount of money you’re asking...”
“I don’t give a DAMN about your business woes. I kept you out of prison. And I want my payment now.”
“White, I can’t give you what I don’t have. But listen, getting your hands on that kind of money shouldn’t be hard for you. A police officer. The police department has wads of money taken from drug busts, and such. I can’t think that you would have a problem appropriating... some of it.”
Pacing a moment, Bud considered Cooper’s idea. “Alright Jack. But I need to have new identities for myself and Ed Exley. Birth certificates, social security numbers, passports, the whole ball of wax.”
Heaving a sigh of relief to himself, Jack said a silent prayer to the Virgin. He would live to see another day. “No problem. Just need passport photos of you and Exley. Get them to me as soon as you can, and I can then ‘process’ your new papers.”
Nodding his head slightly at Cooper, Bud started for the door.
“White, one more thing.” Cooper had been saving this tidbit of information as his ace-in-the-hole, but now being off the hook, he felt like he, at least, owed White what he had heard. “The talk on the street is that Exley is a marked man.”
Stopping and turning with a sigh of disgust. “So tell me something I don’t know.”
“Yeah, but do you want to know why? Revenge. Revenge, because Exley murdered Dudley Smith.”
“WHAT!” Cooper had all of Bud’s attention. “Smith died in the line of duty.” Reiterating what he had been told to say.
“Oh come on White. We’ve known each other too long for that kind of bullshit.”
“Alright Coop. So Exley shot Smith. But it was in self-defense. Dudley had taken me out, and was...”
“Autopsy report says that Dudley Smith died from a shotgun wound to the back. Exley shot him in the back. Now, this official report was, of course, sealed by the police department.”
Speechless with shock, Bud could only stare at the small time mobster. He had always assumed that the Captain had been shot by Ed from the front. Right after Bud had buried his switchblade in Dudley’s left calf.
Cooper read the surprise and shock on White’s face. “You didn’t know that? Jesus Christ...so what else is Lieutenant Edmund Exley not telling you?”
Ed had to force himself to walk at a normal pace. He wanted to jump up and down. He had talked rings around them. Played all the angles. Left the Chief and the Internal Affairs officers speechless. So much for the frame job, at least for now. Finding his way to his office, he hoped that Bud would be there waiting for him. Ed wanted to share his victory with his partner.
So euphoric, Ed didn’t stop and think of the possible consequences of his triumph. Didn’t consider that if his enemies couldn’t frame him, then what would be their next step? Opening the door to his office, he first felt, rather than saw the presence. “Bud. Glad you’re he...” Cutting himself off, as he saw the man who was making himself at home in his office. Sitting in his chair, feet up on his desk.
“Ed. So how did it go at your...meeting?” Showing his disdain, O’Malley addressed the Lieutenant by his first name. He also didn’t bother getting up or removing his feet from Exley’s desk.
Outraged at the man’s impertinence, Ed didn’t think, just reacted. Grabbing O’Malley by the front of the shirt, his intention was to pull him up and out of his chair. But physical confrontation was never Ed’s strong suit, and O’Malley was a big, beefy man. A short scuffle, and Ed found himself pinned up against the wall.
“Not too bright College Boy.” Strong, hot breath scalded Ed’s face. “Trying to take me on without your guard dog, White here.”
“How DARE you. I’m you superior officer.” Voice slightly strangled, as O’Malley had a forearm across his throat.
A short contemptuous laugh, as O’Malley pushed him harder up against the wall. “You’re nothing *Edmund*. You’ll be laying in shit pretty soon with your tough guy partner right next to you. You know, I’m glad that White came back. It’s going to give me such joy to see him...”
“Lieutenant Exley.” A rapping on the door, caused O’Malley to break his hold on Ed and step back from him. “Lieutenant.” The door opened revealing a rookie cop. “Um...uh...sor...sorry...for the interruption.” The young man knew he had walked in on something, and was unsure of himself. “But...Lieutenant...I’ve got a message...”
“Just a minute Patrolman. Sergeant O’Malley was just leaving.” Exchanging hostile glares with the other man, Ed didn’t want O’Malley hearing any messages for him.
O’Malley let himself out, but not before he gave Ed a sinister smirk. A smirk which made Ed’s whole body go cold.
Waiting a few moments, listening to the fading footsteps, making absolutely sure that O’Malley was well away from his office. “What’s your message?” The rookie was fresh faced, eager, and hungry. Ed stared at him a moment, seeing himself when he started on the police force, a lifetime ago.
“There’s been a homicide, Lieutenant. Your presence is requested. An officer has been murdered.”
“Another officer! Where?”
“In an abandoned motel by the Baldwin Hills oil field. Used to be called The Victory Motel.”
They had their victim, blindfolded and tied naked to a chair. Taking turns beating him until their hands hurt. Bringing him around with smelling salts when he passed out. Time passed. They were in no hurry. They were just getting to the good part.
“Where in the fuck is he?” Bud was angry, and getting angrier by the moment. Arriving back at the police station, only to discover that Ed was nowhere to be found. One of the other homicide detectives *thought* that the Lieutenant had gone back to the Jones’ murder scene. Chasing there and back, but still no sign of Exley. “Didn’t I tell him to wait for me!” Calling Ed some very uncomplimentary names under his breath, Bud slammed opened the door to their office. Pausing a moment, hands resting on a desk, he pondered a moment, wondering where Exley had gone off to. Also wondered how many other secrets Exley was keeping from him.
They had given him a break. No fists for a while. No pain. But knowing that something more was coming, was torture in itself. Something tied tightly around his head, covering his eyes, so Ed couldn’t see his attackers, but he knew where he was. The Victory Motel.
Like Bud, a year ago, Ed had suspected a set-up when told he should report to the Victory Motel, but the image of a close-to-dying Bud laying on the floor of room six in the Victory Motel kept flashing through his head. Fear, and paranoia made him go. He needed to be sure that Bud wasn’t once again lying on the dirty floor of the Victory Motel.
Ed didn’t know what room he was in, but he was sure it was room six. Like Bud had always said, ‘a lot of bad stuff had happened here at the Victory Motel. It’s as good a place as any for it to end.’
Then he felt something. A first it didn’t feel like much, just a tingling. But the tingling soon became painful, as he realized that they were holding lit cigarettes to his bare skin. Starting with his face, and then moving downward. The chest and arms actually hurt less than the face, but as the torture proceeded, he soon realized where they were headed. Gritting his teeth, and thrashing his head, he tried to hold back the screams, but was unable to when the cigarettes finally found their way to his inner thighs, his scrotum, and his penis.
“Hey White, welcome back.” The detective rapped once on the door before letting himself in. “And to welcome you back, here’s some work to keep you occupied.” The veteran officer threw a pile of files on White’s desk.
“Earl.” Bud knew the detective, an Old Timer. “You see Exley around anywhere?”
Pausing to consider a moment. “I believe he went running out of here a couple of hours ago...yeah that’s right...he left in a hurry, right after that rookie kid talked to him.”
“Rookie kid? Who?” Warning bells were going off in Bud’s head.
“Ohh geez...what the hell is that kid’s name...Patrolman Mealey...Feeley...something like that. Guessing that he wanted to talk to Ed about his career. You know, new kid on the block, in awe of Exley’s, because Exley twice won the Medal of Valor, because he became a detective Lieutenant so young. What the dumb kid doesn’t know is that behind all the glitter, Exley’s one fucked u...” The Detective trailed off, remembering who he was talking to.
“Where is this Patrolman?” Voice becoming dangerously quiet.
“Don’t know.” Careless shrug of the shoulders. “I think he was just coming on duty, so he’s doing what rookie Patrolman do. He’s patrolling...but go ask Dispatch. They probably could head you in his direction.”
“Go on. I’ll make sure that Officer Greeley here catches up with you.” Bud spoke to the rookie’s partner through the window of the police car, while his one good hand held the young man by his shirt.
“Detective. This is against regulations.” Greeley tried to pull away from the hand that held him, but was surprised to find that he couldn’t. He couldn’t pull away from a one-handed man! “Johnson...tell him. Tell him that...”
But Johnson was well aware of who Bud White was. Knew his fierce reputation, and decided he would go along with anything the detective wanted. Hitting the gas pedal, he sped away.
“Ok kid.” Bud propelled the young man backward until his back was up against the side of a brick building. “Heard you had a talk with Lieutenant Exley. Now I want to hear word for word what the two of you talked about.”
“But you should know Detective.” Surprised, the Patrolman gave Bud a crooked smile. “Weren’t you in on...” The back of his head hit the brick wall behind him, as Bud gave him a hard push up against the wall.
“Trying to get cute with me! I’m in no mood. Now...what did you and Lieutenant Exley talk about? And talk fast, or you’re going find your brains smeared up on that wall behind you.”
“Detective White.” The rookie was now trembling so hard, that his legs threatened to give out on him. He, too had heard stories about Wendell White, but the stories didn’t convey the fierceness of the man, the air of savagery that surrounded him. “They told me what to tell him, so that he’d go there. Said they wanted to surprise him.”
“Surprise him?” Leaning in closer, almost nose to nose. He wanted to intimidate, terrorize.
“Yes Sir. Said they were going to have a surprise celebration marking the anniversary of our big victory against organized crime. But...Sir...why aren’t you there? Didn’t you take part in that battle too?”
“What battle? Where?” Mouth asking the questions, but a sick feeling was starting in Bud’s stomach. He already knew the answers.
“The big shoot out the LAPD had with organized crime at that old abandoned motel. The Victory Motel.”
Head lolling forward, because he didn’t have the strength to hold it up. The beating and the torture had caused his brain to short circuit, so he didn’t even know what he felt anymore. Pain. Numbness. Cold. Hot. Nothing. His body and mind were in shock.
For now they were giving him another break. As his mind wavered in semi consciousness, Ed could hear voices, but he couldn’t make out what the voices were saying. Later on he would think back, and remember that he had heard the sound of a car pulling up outside, and a new voice talking to his tormenters. A familiar voice. A voice he knew.
Bud already knew where to go when he got to the Victory Motel, room 5 which was adjacent to room 6. Getting out of his car, he noted the tire tracks. More than one car had been through here.
Opening the door clumsily because of the cast on his arm. Gun drawn. The first split second, the scene was familiar, a man tied down to a chair, half-conscious, beaten bloody. Sniffing the air, the smell of burnt flesh. The second split second, and Bud realized who the victim was. Rushing over to the other man, pulling off the blindfold, cutting away restraints with the switchblade he still carried. Pulling Ed to him. Cradling the abused body in his arms, while doing a fast survey of the injuries. The slim form of his partner was covered with bruises, welts, cuts and circular burn marks. “Ed. I’m here. You’re safe now.” He said this softly in an ear, not sure if he would be understood or not. “Gonna get you to a hospital. Hang on.”
Bud, easily had the strength to lift Ed’s lean body, but the cast on one hand always made things slightly awkward.
“Bud.” A hoarse rasp. Voice almost gone from screaming.
“Don’t talk. Save your strength.” Setting Ed back down, as Bud realized he needed to get the blanket out of his car. He needed to wrap Ed up in something. Exley’s clothes were nowhere in sight. “Be back in a second partner. Don’t go anywhere on me, ok.” A small joke. Anything to keep him from breaking down.
“Bud.” Fear gave Ed strength, as he grabbed hold of Bud. Fingers burrowing into Bud’s sports jacket. “DON’T LEAVE ME. Take me...take me...somewhere safe...not to a hospital. A SAFE place.”
“Edmund.” Holding the back of a head, Bud embraced his partner gently, careful of his wounds. “You should go to a hospital...”
“NO. It’s...not...safe there.” Voice weakening again, as his one burst of strength was spent.
Trying to make up his mind, Bud wasn’t sure what to do. Ed needed medical attention. A hospital was his only choice. Thinking fast he lifted the other man in his arms, when an idea struck. He knew exactly where he could take Ed.
“WHITE! What the hell is this?” Cigar dangling from his mouth, Jack Cooper had hoped that he had seen the last of Bud White, for the day at least.
Exley in his arms, Bud pushed his way into Cooper’s home. “I know you have a personal physician on your payroll. Call him. Get him here NOW.”
“For Christ’s sake White, who the hell is...” Getting a good look at the man in Bud’s arms, the mobster saw who he was and what had been done to him. “Frankie, get the doc here fast. White.” Cooper signaled to his sometime business associate. “This way. I’ve got an extra bed in here.”
Continue to part 7 and epilogue
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