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Three's a problem

After 25 years, San Francisco Detective Joe Blisflix rarely got that stomach-dropping feeling anymore. But it almost knocked the wind out of him when he saw the name Ajax Rhodes under Victim in the homicide report on his computer screen. That made three of the ten people on the detective's personal Most Dangerous list gone--murdered. And not just any three, but numbers one, two, and three--in order. About a month apart.

He had just settled into his chair and opened the daily arrest log in his browser. The top entry was a homicide on Moscow Street in the Excelsior. He clicked the link and scanned the report. Two shots to the back of the head, just like number one Raymond David Evans and number two Jericho Lewis, both leaders of rival neighborhood gangs involved in just about every street crime imaginable. But Rhodes was nothing but drugs--mainly meth, though he was diversifying lately. And lots of ties to the Central Valley.

Bet it's a different gun, Blisflix thought--maybe a.38--not the .22 used first or the 9mm used next.

Used by who?

There was no other way to see it. The first two you could've chalked up to eerie coincidence. Or maybe not such a coincidence. After all, Blisflix thought, those were two violent people--and their murders were easy to write off as scores evening up.

But Rhodes changes everything. Somebody must've seen the list and done something stupid--three times.

It was supposed to be just a way to pass some slow time at the office. Nothing but a simple list comprised of ten names: the people in the City Blisflix considered the ones most likely to do serious bodily harm. He would just as soon have had all ten of the miscreants permanently removed from society, politely or otherwise. But not like this.

As far as Blisflix knew, the file with the ten names never left the hard drive of the PC on his desk in the middle of the Fifth Floor of the Hall of Justice on friggin' Bryant Street surrounded by half the cops in the City, for Christ sake. He never even e-mailed the list to himself. But somebody must've seen it and gone all Charlie Bronson.

Blisflix didn't have to open the file to know who was fourth on the list: Clay Parlaman, a denizen of the Tenderloin, a sexual predator and creep of the first order. The detective hesitated just a moment before opening the incriminating file anyway. His eyes ran down the other six names on the list. All full- or part-time residents of San Francisco--when not serving a stretch at one of the area's penal institutions.

How was he going to spin this to the Commander? He better have some plan to offer when he fessed up to his boss Villa-Lobos. Jaime would be cool, but the Commander was going to jump all over this.

Three minutes later--the framework of a strategy in mind--Blisflix poked his head into Jaime Villa-Lobos's postage-stamp office. "Got a second?"

Dennis Richard O'Reilly,
Mar 11, 2012, 12:32 PM