“I’m telling you…it was an alligator.”
Hammond was furious, and chewed Rusty out royally as deputies and FBI agents scoured the scenes for clues and prepared what was left of Bishop’s torso for transport.
“An alligator?” Hammond asked. “You really expect me to believe that shit?”
“I didn’t believe it either,” Rusty said. “That college girl was telling Bishop and I that she saw a giant alligator the size of a dinosaur just before she passed out on the floor of the sorority house bathroom at Sitwell Community College. We laughed it off, but sure enough, an alligator that big just turned Bishop into a late night snack.”
“You must be out of your mind,” Hammond said.
Members of a heavily armed SWAT team began pouring out of the open manhole. “We searched a three mile radius in every direction,” Captain Russell said to Hammond. “No alligator.”
Hammond glared at Rusty. “See?”
Rusty pointed to Bishop’s torso. “See?”
“What?” Hammond asked. “That? Could have been anything. Sewer gas. Rats. Lot of dangerous shit in the sewer. That’s why people aren’t supposed to be running around underground all willy nilly. You two were morons for going down there.”
“I know what I saw,” Rusty said.
“You know what I think?” Hammond asked.
“I dunno,” Rusty said. “Do you think anything?”
Hammond poked Rusty in the shoulder. “Watch it, Yates. I’m your commanding officer.”
Rusty folded his arms and bit his tongue.
“I think Cole had a hard-on for the Mayor because the Mayor had long been a critic of Cole’s shoddy police work,” Hammond said.
“Cole is the best cop I know,” Rusty said.
“But he’s not a cop anymore,” Hammond said. “Because he carried out his vendetta against the Mayor by trying to frame his son, an innocent bystander in all of this.”
“You think Buford is innocent?” Rusty asked. “Look, I know it sounds bananas, but I heard him talking to that alligator. It’s like they were plotting and scheming together or something. I don’t know how, but Buford and the alligator are in cahoots.”
“‘Buford and the alligator are in cahoots,’” Hammond said. “Will you listen to yourself? Get a grip. Obviously, you’re still loyal to Cole and you’re trying to carry out his sad plot to frame Buford for the toilet murders, only you’re worse at this than Cole. Cole could have come up with a better story than ‘Buford and the alligator are in cahoots.’”
“They are,” Rusty said. “Tell me this, if Buford is innocent, what was he doing in the sewer?”
“I’m not aware Buford was in the sewer,” Hammond said. “I only have your word for that and your word, at this point, is dubious at best.”
“Holy shit, Hammond,” Rusty said. “What does the Mayor got on you? Photos of you in a compromising position with a donkey or something?”
Hammond’s face turned red as he screamed at Rusty. “How the hell did you…damn it! I was in college, it was an experimental time and I…”
Rusty appeared surprised.
“Damn it, Yates,” Hammond said. “You and Cole are like a couple of cat turds in my morning oatmeal.”
Rusty walked away. “To hell with this.”
“Where are you going?” Hammond asked.
“To arrest Buford,” Rusty said.
“On what charges?” Hammond asked.
“I don’t know,” Rusty said. “Conspiracy to commit an alligator related homicide!”
“Stand down, Yates,” Hammond said.
“No,” Rusty replied.
“Deputy Yates!” Hammond barked. “You will stay away from Buford Dufresne. That is a director order. Do you understand me?”
Rusty sighed and turned around. “Crystal sir.”
“You wanna know why I have my job and Cole doesn’t?” Hammond asked.
“Because you and the Mayor sixty-nine each other on a semi-regular basis?” Rusty asked.
Hammond chuckled. “Oh, no. You’re not going to get me this time. There’s know way you could possibly know about…”
Rusty looked at Hammond with disgust. “Wait, what?”
“Nothing!” Hammond said. “I play ball, son. I never swim against the big fish and Mayor Dufresne is the shark in this here pond, you understand? Now you get it through your skull that Buford Dufresne is off limits and you and I won’t have a problem.”
Rusty ripped the badge off his shirt and tossed it down at Hammond’s feet. “No problem at all, sir. I quit.”
Hammond picked up the badge and called after Rusty, who was now walking away. “Good! Spares me the trouble of having to fire your sorry ass!”