I took a nap in the afternoon in preparation for the work Chris and I had ahead of us after
we finished up at Cosmo News. Although I already had in memorized, my
wrinkled and well-read copy of The Key to The Treasure fell to the floor as I jumped out of bed. When I returned from my shower I thought I recognized the man moving into Room 7, just across the hall
from my room, but I paid him little attention. Running late for work, I quickly
dressed and left the hotel, hurrying to catch the Number 8 bus that would take me practically to the telemarketers front door.
Jeff Begley was the newest resident of the Yellow Rose Hotel. When he heard me leave, he opened his door
a crack. Then he sat and waited for me to return.
When I had not come back by the time the day turned into night, he became antsy, thinking maybe I had recognized him. He decided to break in to my room to check it out.
The doors were not very secure, especially when not latched and deadbolted from the inside. Shoving his weight against my rooms door, it opened quite readily with a sharp crack
Begley hoped had not been noticed by any other residents.
But one did notice and she lived next door to my room. Her name was Kira and she was the
22-year-old daughter of the owner. As soon as she heard the illegal entry through
the paper thin walls of the old hotel, she called the desk to alert her father who was filling in for a cousin who had an
evening class at the University of Texas Downtown San Antonio campus.
And as Jeff Begleys misfortune would have it, two San Antonio Police Department detectives
were at the front desk when the call came in. They were inquiring about a murder
suspect who had been seen in the neighborhood earlier in the day.
The detectives, Mike Cortez and Lannie Michaels, two young turks who lived to interrupt
crimes in progress, told the owner to dial 9-1-1 and report it and went flying up the stairs after they were told the floor
and room number. Arriving on the fourth floor, Cortez and Michaels, Glocks drawn,
approached room 3s closed door, Michaels stopping on its left, Cortez crossing to its right.
Michaels held a fist up and then revealed one finger at a time until when the third showed,
Cortez busted in the door. Dont move scumbag! shouted Cortez, Glock pointed directly at Jeff Begleys surprised face. On the floor, face down, he ordered. Michaels
cuffed the bewildered mastermind of the San Antonio Diamond Exchange robbery. Once
cuffed, they each grabbed him under an arm and put him in the one chair that was in the room.
What are you doing in here? questioned Michaels. Begley simply sat there staring at the
detectives in total shock. Finally Cortez asked, Whats your name? Before he finished fully answering the question, Begley knew he had fucked up royally, Jason Biggs, uh,
er, I mean Jeff Begley, Im Jeff Begley.
Cortez looked at his partner and silently mouthed Jason Biggs? Michaels only said, Ill be right back.
And quickly left the
room. A few minutes later he returned, two uniforms in tow. He had a wanted poster in his hand that showed Jason Biggs, AKA John Boucher.
Michaels grabbed Begley by the shoulder and pulled him out of the chair. When he did, he noticed a wadded up piece of paper fall to the floor from his hand. As he put the poster next to an obviously frightened Jeff Begleys face, Cortez said, Hey, he dropped a
piece of paper. He picked it up, carefully opened it, and said, Hey, its called
The Key to the Treasure.
You dont think, said Cortez and Michaels replied, Wed better call Sergeant Hammond. Michaels pulled his little mobile phone from his pocket and speed dialed the Diamond
Exchange Team Supervisors pager number then dialed in his cell phone number. Closing
the cell phone, he pushed Begley back down into the chair.
His phone rang and Michaels answered it on the first ring.
Detective Michaels, he said. Michaels, Hammond here, what have you got for me? came the crisp concise words of Detective Sergeant Matt
Hammond. I think weve got Jason Biggs, Michaels replied. You think, you THINK, well what makes you think that? said Hammond who had nearly resigned himself to retiring
before being able to solve the most baffling case of his career.
Obtaining all the information he needed, Matt called Maggie Wong at home. The case had hit a series of dead ends in the past couple of weeks.
She agreed to pick the detective up at his house because it was on the route shed be taking to the downtown fleabag
Arriving at the hotel, Hammond and Wong went to the front desk in the lobby and showed
their ID to the owner who was being relieved by his student cousin. Curious about
the entire situation, he volunteered to show them to Nick Sotos room. When they
arrived, they found the perp handcuffed from behind and seated on the one chair in the tiny room. All he says is he wants a lawyer. We havent done anything but Mirandize him and he still tells us he wants
a lawyer, he wants a lawyer, said Michaels. Well Lannie, it might just be this
young man needs a lawyer, answered Matt.
As the supervisor of the case, Sergeant Hammond was the senior officer on the team and
was also the senior one present in the room this evening. He had less than three
months before retirement and had seen a lot in his 28 years as a San Antonio cop.
But the end of the hunt was always exciting to Matt Hammond and this in all probability being the last hunt of his
career, he was practically giddy and was having trouble containing it.
The old detective bent down and put his face just a few inches from Jasons. Jason Biggs, John Boucher or, what is it today, Jeff Begley, whoever you are, we dont need you to talk,
Matt said softly, You want to know why we dont need you to talk? Weve got one
of your guys, Mel Dixon, and hes doing enough talking for both of you and you know what?
We didnt even offer the pathetic guy a deal.
As Hammond rose from the bent position he assumed during his very intimate pronouncement to the would-be
master criminal and Detective Michaels motioned for Matt to join him in the hall. Matt,
look at this, Michaels said handing him the Key to the Treasure. He read
the cryptic message contained on the wrinkled sheet of paper and then he read it again and a third time and looked at Maggie
who had not seen the one-page document yet.
Here, read this, he said handing the paper to Maggie.
Maggie spent a full two minutes studying the scribblings of Nick Soto.
When she handed the page back to Matt, he looked at her and said, Is it possible this guy doesnt have the diamonds?
Maggie looked at the paper in Matts hand, looked at his face, then turned to see Jason
Biggs staring directly at her. She stared at him for what seemed to be five minutes,
but was no doubt less than two and the boy finally blinked and lowered his eyes. It
seems the person who lives in this room has the diamonds, she said softly to Matt.
But what do we know about this Nick Soto guy? Hammond pondered. Is he another accomplice
that double crossed Boucher and the rest of them? Or did this guy come across the diamonds by accident and then hide them? Maggie piped in, That would explain why Biggs would stick around. He had to locate the property he stole.
was dejected and defeated. The handcuffs had held his arms behind his back for
nearly three hours and but he had not complained once. In fact aside from I want
a lawyer, he had said nothing at all.
thought for a moment and finally turned to Jerry Ramirez, one of the two uniformed cops in the hallway, Come with me, he said. They entered Nick Sotos small room and Matt asked Michaels and Cortez to go out into
the hall, closing the door behind them.
Ramirez, this piece of human excrement no doubt is the perpetrator of the last case I will ever be assigned to in San Antonio, Matt
began. By all rights, the collar belongs to Cortez and Michaels. But I need them to stay here until this Soto character returns. They
turned the suspect over to me as supervisor of the team that has been on the case from the beginning. Im turning him over to you.
thanks Detective, the young officer said. I havent finished yet, Jerry, Matt said peevishly.
Take him downtown, to the county jail, not the city lock up. Book him
in on one charge of capital murder in the death of Officer Jaime Bravo, two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Alfred
Bateman and Franklin Carr, and felony theft of property valued in excess of 100,000 dollars. That ought to hold him until
the DA comes up with about a hundred more charges. I see death row in our silent
stupid young friends future.
listened closely to Matts instructions. He had been in the same class at the
police academy as Jaime Bravo and he replied to Matt, Ill gladly take this dirtbag in and hope during the entire ride he tries,
just once to escape.
Matt shouted loud enough for those standing in the hall to open the door to see what was wrong. Close that goddamned door,
Matt commanded without turning around to see who had opened it.
Hammond walked over to the young uniformed
officer and put his arm around his shoulder. Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, he said softly. This suspect will arrive at the county lockup in the same condition he left here or
you will wish you never made that last statement. He is my prisoner, you are
transporting him as a favor to me, understand?
young street cop looked at the old grisly soon-to-pull-the-plug detective and said, Sorry sergeant. Jaimie and I were friends, classmates at the academy. But
I will be professional, no matter how much it hurts.
dont need to get Dan Foley to come in all the way from home to do this do I, Jerry.
Or maybe get you a chaperone? asked Matt very seriously. No sir, Ive got
him, Ramirez said, Ill guard him as if hes my brother.
chastened young officer, gently assisted Biggs to his feet and Matt opened the door.
Go on, he said and Jerry took his prisoner around the corner to the elevator.
Michaels and Cortez could object about the young uniformed cop stealing their collar, Matt said You two, go in there and sit
on the bed, Ill be in in one minute. Closing the door Matt called the other uniformed
officer over, Officer Washington, I want you to stand outside this door until Mr. Soto returns. Detectives Michaels and Cortez will be waiting for him in the lobby, but you need to be alert in case he
comes in another way or somehow gets by them, got it? Yes, sir, replied Sam Washington.
Ill be right out, Ive got to talk with Lannie and Mike for a minute, okay? Maggie
shook her head, and said, I know, police business.
Sotos room Matt told the two younger detectives why he used Jerry Ramirez to transport Biggs.
Bottom line, he needed to non-uniforms in the lobby waiting for Nick Soto to return.
He said that Officer Washington would be up here in the room as their backup if needed.
then accompanied the two detectives downstairs with Maggie tagging along behind. Then
he and the insurance investigator went out to the street and got into her car. Where
to, Boss, Maggie said sarcastically.
Maggie, Matt said, It was police business. I thought those two were going to
be pissed that a young street cop got to take their collar to jail and I didnt want you to witness the encounter. Turns out they were more professional than I gave them credit for.
understand, said Maggie, Now where to. Lets go to the IHOP on Broadway he said. Not home, James? Maggie quipped. Definitely
not home, replied Matt, Weve got a long night ahead of us Im afraid.
told her he had a feeling about the Key to the Treasure that he couldnt shake and he needed some coffee and a Belgian
waffle to keep his brain active. When they went into the restaurant, Matt asked
the manager if they could be seated in a far corner table and if the two tables closest to them could remain empty. He agreed.
had brought in a yellow legal pad and when they sat down he asked Maggie if shed be the secretary. Its not a sexist request, he said jokingly, You happen to be the only other team member here right now.
this down, Matt said, Pray to the mother of Mary 1200 times. Now what are we
looking for? A church? A statue? Maybe a statue inside a church. So under the heading Mary Maggie wrote church and statue.
your back on Providences Gate, what could Providence be? The silence that followed that question
was interminable. Finally Maggie said, Well theres a hospital in New Orleans
called Providence and if I remember correctly there is a big black wrought iron gate at the
got it! Matt shouted, causing other diners to stare and the waitress to nearly drop his order of waffles. Youve got what? asked an amused Maggie Wong. I know exactly where the diamonds are, whispered the detective,
a big grin on his face.
went on to tell her about his mother who insisted that her Baptist son and three daughters attend Catholic Parochial schools. His sisters both attended Providence High School and he Antonian Academy. He spent many an afternoon waiting for his sisters to come down the big steps and
out the wrought iron gate.
field where those diamonds are is right across the street from the school, Matt said in a confident voice. Well, what are we waiting for? said an excited Maggie, already spending the bonus she was expecting for
the recovery of the diamonds. Were waiting until I finish my waffle, replied
Matt, still unable to wipe the grin off of his face.