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I tailed Maxwell to a rub-n-tug in Santa Monica. I sat in the car and waited. I must have gone through an entire pack of cigarettes. After two hours, I went inside.

“Yes, I’m having pain in my groin region and I need it stretched out,” I told the receptionist.

Maxwell came out with a towel around his waist. “Uh, hi James. It’s not what it looks like.”

“Hello Maxwell,” I said as I feigned stupidity. “What does this look like?”

“I just come here to get my prostate massaged. It gets flared.”

I took out a cigarette. “There’s no smoking in here, sir,” the receptionist said. I replaced it with a toothpick. “You got nothing to worry about with me, Maxwell,” I said. “Remember, I’m not on the LAPD anymore.”

“Right.” He gave an awkward laugh. “Well I guess I’ll see you around.”

I eyeballed him as he walked away.

I followed him around town for a few days…to the bars, to the gay clubs, to Knots Berry Farm…but I couldn’t bust him. I was growing tired. I drank. I tried heroin. But I couldn’t shake him from my mind.

Maxwell was good. Too good. But I knew eventually he’d fuck up. And when he did, I’d be there to bust him.

Finally I caught a break.

He picked up a prostitute off Sunset. They drove up to the hills and pulled off to a stop overlooking the Valley. It was late. Too late.

I had to stay back. I could’ve easily been spotted. I perched on top of a ledge overlooking their spot. The windows fogged up in Maxwell’s car. I couldn’t see in.

After several hours without movement, I feared the worst. I pulled out the 357 and walked towards the vehicle. I opened the passenger side door and there laid a strangled prostitute.

Maxwell was nowhere to be found.

Damn it, I thought. How could he have escaped?

Then I heard a beeping. There in the glove box was a timer counting down to zero. I tried to run but the explosion knocked me back several feet.

I got up and checked myself for injuries. There were none. I’m invincible.

I waited next to the smoldering remains for the fire department and the LA Police Chief to arrive. “You’re no longer on the force,” the Chief said. “The is is an official police investigation.”

“Sir,” I replied, “how well do you trust Ellis Shitburg Maxwell?”

“With LP dead, he’s now my best officer. I’d trust him with my wife.”

“This is Maxwell’s car. Last night there was a dead prostitute inside. Don’t you get it? He’s the Hillside Choker!”

“Now you are way out of line James! Charles Krauthammer was the killer and you busted him! The case is CLOSED! You hear me? CLOSED!”

“Will you listen to reason and evidence? Maxwell and Charles are in cahoots! The mayor said himself that crime has gotten out of hand! Maxwell has taken matters into his own hands! He’s gone renegade sir! RENEGADE!”

The Chief got right in my face. “Now you listen here James, and you listen good. There is no vigilante conspiracy in the LAPD. NONE! Not on my watch! Now I am telling you to walk away from this crime scene before I bring you in as a suspect!”

I walked away.

That night I got drunk and started thinking about LP. I stumbled up to Stacy’s door and began pounding. She just put the kids to bed.

“Have you been drinking,” she asked.

“Just started.”

She invited me in poured a vodka. We both sat on the couch.

“How are the kids,” I asked.

“Brutus has taken his father’s death hard. He’s been strangling the neighborhood animals, dissecting them, and leaving the remains on the owner’s porch. Laquisha’s been missing since the funeral.”

I reached out my hand and put it on hers. “And how have you been doing?”

“I’ve been struggling. I just miss LP so much. He was a great husband.”

“I miss him too,” I said.

We both stared into each other’s eyes. We leaned in and kissed.

As I was ramming Stacy silly, I couldn’t help but think of LP… how he was up there watching over us…furiously masturbating in heaven.

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