Chapter 3

Down To Business

USS Seahawk (CVN-75) Pier Seven

Naval Base, Norfolk, Virginia

1845 Zulu

Ron walked up the gangway of the aircraft carrier, with a look of longing in his eyes, as though he was saying hello to a long lost friend, or lover.

"Something bothering you, Bull?" Kim asked, looking at Ron with concerned eyes.

"It's nothing . . . I haven't been this close to a carrier in a long time." Ron replied, fingering the aviator's wings on his chest.

"You're still wearing your wings, when was your last qual?" Kim asked.

"A year ago . . . I'm due next month." Ron replied, his head hanging.

"What's eating you?" Kim asked.

"You just reminded me of something I would rather forget." Ron replied.

"Your R.I.O.?" Kim asked.

"How did you know that?" Ron asked.

"I did some checking, you transferred to JAG after an accident on board ship that killed your R.I.O., and you were diagnosed with night blindness." Kim replied, smiling slightly.

"One thing you need to know, Major," Ron replied, getting a somewhat hard edge to his eyes, "A little medical lesson . . . there is a danger in reopening old wounds."

"Okay, I get the hint . . . you don't want to talk about it." Kim replied, letting the subject drop.

Once on board the carrier, they quickly found the brig, and questioned the petty officer locked in the holding cell.

"Petty Officer Renfro?" Ron asked, to which the young sailor nodded.

"I'm Lieutenant Commander Stoppable, this is Major Possible, and we've been assigned to your case." Ron stated his tone professional.

"I didn't do it, sir . . . I swear to God." Jeffrey Renfro replied, his eyes looking at the JAG officer in front of him.

"That's what we're here to find out, Petty Officer . . . now, just relax, and let us do our work." Ron replied, as he turned, and left.

As the two officers walked out of the brig, Kim stopped Ron a little down the passageway.

"Why didn't you ask him any questions?" Kim asked.

"We'll get to that later . . . right now, we have to go talk to the acting C.O." Ron replied, as he walked toward the bridge of the ship, Kim hot on his heels.

U.S.S. Seahawk Bridge, 1900 Zulu:

Kim and Ron had found the acting Commanding Officer, Commander James Rodgers, standing on the bridge in the captain's chair, looking at the setting sun, and talking to a junior officer.

"Make sure that all steam Cats are secured, we're not allowed underway until JAG has finished their investigation," he said, he then turned, and recognized Kim and Ron, "speak of the devil . . . Commander Jim Rodgers, acting Captain."

"Skipper," Ron replied, nodding to the senior officer, "Lt. Commander Stoppable, and this is my partner, Major Possible . . . we'd like to ask you a few questions."

"That's what I'm here for." The captain replied, sinking slightly in his chair.

"Where you when the Skipper was killed?" Ron asked, feeling that being blunt was better than using finesse in this situation.

"At home with my wife and kids." The acting Captain replied, looking at the former aviator with a hard edge.

"Is there anyone that can back up your story?" Kim asked.

"My wife, my kids, and several others, we were hosting a 'Welcome Home' party for the crew, the ship had gotten back from deployment about a month ago, and we had finally gotten enough downtime to allow for a party." CDR Rodgers replied, turning his attention from the aviator, to the Marine.

"We'd like a list of names at the party, sir." Ron replied, to which the captain nodded.

"I'll have them for you within the hour." The captain replied, making Ron look slightly surprised.

"Thank you, sir." Kim commented. Nodding, and leaving the bridge with a salute, Ron quickly followed.

"What's with the list of names, Commander?" Kim asked as they drew even with a large watertight door.

"I want to clear as many people as possible, Kim . . . there's over 5000 people on an aircraft carrier, and we don't have a whole lot of time to question them all." Ron replied.

A few minutes later, in the Ships Wardroom:

Kim and Ron were at a table with a list in front of them, and several personnel records on the table, they were leafing through them at a rapid pace, until they stopped at one marked "Mast Reports".

"The reports from the last Captain's Masts," Ron stated, holding up the folder, "wonder if it's someone that got wrote up, and didn't want to stand in front of the Skipper?"

"Let's see what we got?" Kim asked. Her face contorted in thought.

They both began filing through the report log, until they stopped at one marked for the ship's Master-At-Arms,

"Check this out, Kim," Ron stated, his eyes wide, then, adding quickly, "the ship's Master-At-Arms has been a very bad boy . . . busted twice for drunk on duty, and preparing to go up in front of the Skipper for Conduct Unbecoming, not good, if you want a promotion to Master Chief, and a good pension."

"But, is it motive for murder?" Kim asked. Her face thoughtful, a pen tucked under her chin.

"I say we start with him when we start questioning." Ron replied, getting a nod from Kim.

"Well . . . check out who turned him in . . . OS1 Jeffrey Renfro." Ron replied, smiling slightly.

"Murder the Captain while Renfro was on watch, and set him up to take the fall . . . how nice and cozy." Kim replied, looking at the report.

"We'll train you to be a JAG investigator yet, Major." Ron replied, which earned him a playful punch in the arm.

An hour later, in the Wardroom:

Kim and Ron had started their investigation on schedule, starting with the ships Master-At-Arms.

"Senior Chief . . . take a seat." Kim stated, motioning to a chair open to her right, as the burly man sat down, looking at the two JAG officers carefully.

"Alright, Senior Chief, we're both aware that you were scheduled to go up in front of the Captain in a week for Conduct Unbecoming, and that Renfro was the one that sent you up . . . care to explain this?" Ron asked.

"Okay, sir, ma'am," the senior chief began, "but I doubt you'll like it."

"Humor us." Kim replied.

"Okay, ma'am, I was actually doing an investigation on the captain, I was wondering where he went every night, he would say he was going home, but two hours later, his wife would call the ship looking for him." The Master-At-Arms replied, earning surprised looks from Kim and Ron.

"You were doing an off-the-books investigation on your Commanding Officer?" Ron asked.

"On what grounds?" Kim added.

"He was obviously lying about going home, ma'am . . . his wife would call looking for him not two hours after he had left, saying he didn't come home, so, I started becoming suspicious." The MAA replied.

"And Renfro caught you?" Ron prompted.

"Yeah . . . he caught me hanging around the officers club, spying on the Old Man, with another woman." The MAA replied.

"What did Renfro think?" Kim asked.

"That it was his wife," the MAA replied, "Thing was, his wife had called me personally about half an hour before, stating that the Skipper didn't make it home, and would I look for him, it was an emergency."

"What kind of an emergency?" Ron asked.

"His son had fallen down a flight of stairs, and was in a pretty bad way . . . I didn't get much else from her, she started crying after that." The MAA replied.

"Thanks, Senior Chief . . . stick around, we may have more questions for you later." Kim stated, allowing the Senior Chief to leave the room.

Once the MAA had left, Kim turned to Ron, with a thoughtful look on her face.

"What do you think, Bull?" Kim asked.

"We'll have to question the Captain's wife, and check hospital records to see if the Master-At-Arms was telling the truth." Ron replied, his face also contorted in thought.

"After we finish this first round, of course." Kim replied, earning a nod from Ron.

Once Kim and Ron had finished their questioning, they got into the car they had driven to the base, and to the home of the captain, and his wife.

2087 Virginia Beach Drive, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 2200 Zulu:

Kim and Ron had been invited in by the Captain's widow, who had appeared as though she had been crying all day.

"We just need a few questions from you while they are still fresh in your mind." Ron stated, his voice caring.

"Okay. What do you need to know?" the woman asked.

"Did you call the ships Master-At-Arms to keep tabs on your husband?" Kim asked.

"Yes, I did . . . my son had injured himself after a fall down the stairs, and I was trying to get hold of him, I had called the ship first, and got in contact with Senior Chief Barrett, I told him what happened, and he said he would look for him."

"Did he ever call back?" Kim asked.

"No . . . I took it to mean that he couldn't find him." The widow replied.

"How bad was your son's fall?" Ron asked.

"He broke his left leg, and fractured his left wrist . . . he's upstairs sleeping right now." The widow explained.

"Thank you very much, ma'am." Ron replied.

"Did they catch the person that did it?" the widow asked, "Did they catch my husband's murderer?"

"They have a man in custody, he hasn't been charged yet, that's why we're investigating, to make sure of who it was." Kim replied.

"Thank you, Major. Commander." The widow replied, as she saw them out of the house.

"Looks like Senior Chief Barrett's story checks out." Kim stated as she got into the JAG issued car they were assigned to.

"So far . . . we need to make a trip to the hospital first to find out if the wife's story checks out too." Ron replied.

"Do you think she might've killed him?" Kim asked.

"In an investigation like this . . . nothing's out of bounds, Major." Ron replied sliding behind the steering wheel of the large Ford Crown Victoria, and turning the engine over, before pulling out of the driveway, and toward the hospital.

Emergency Room, Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia, 2330 Zulu:

It didn't take long for Kim and Ron to find the doctor that was on call the night that the Captain was murdered to get the answers they were looking for.

"Yes, Captain Macgregor's wife and son were in here that night, the son had taken a fall of the deck of their house, he had broken his left leg, and had a hairline fracture of the left wrist." The doctor, a Navy Lieutenant stated.

"Fallen off the deck?" Ron asked.

"Yes, why?" the doctor asked.

"Nothing in particular, just thinking to myself." Ron stated as an afterthought.

"If that's all sir, ma'am, I need to get back to my patients." The doctor explained.

"Sure . . . we know where to find you if we need to." Kim replied, as he, and Ron stood up, and followed the young officer out of the office, and out of the hospital.

"What are you thinking, Bull?" Kim asked.

"That deck didn't seem like it was high enough for a fifteen year old to take that bad of a tumble off it." Ron replied, placing a finger under his chin.

"The safety rail was pretty high, though, he might've fallen over it, and hit the ground at an angle." Kim replied.

"If that was the case, Kim, he would only have fractures, and not a clearly broken ankle." Ron replied, his finger still tucked under his chin.

"What are you thinking, Ron . . . child abuse?" Kim asked.

"Could be a possibility, I'm not sure, though . . . I'll need more information before I go jumping in that pool." Ron replied, now walking for the parking lot.

Now, both Kim and Ron were starting to get a clear picture of what seemed to be happening, apparently, the captain's wife was looking into where her husband was, so she could bring harm to their son, however, neither had enough evidence to arrest, so, they would wait, and see what was brought to them next before making any kind of decisions.

Uh-huh. Now the plot doth thicken. I wonder who it could be . . . the widow, who seems to be abusing their son, and is wanting revenge on an unfaithful husband, the Senior Chief, who was getting tired of keeping tabs on his Commanding Officer, the ambitious Executive Officer, who now has control of the vessel with the murder of his former Skipper, or, was it really the Petty Officer, who had turned in the ships Master-At-Arms for keeping tabs on the Captain, and his "wife"?

Stay tuned, folks, because we're starting to have a good run here.

As always, please read, and review,