“I’m from San Francisco. If you don’t believe me check my driver’s license and car registration. They’re on file with the DMV.My real name is John Edward Gammel; when I go undercover I use the name of Teddy. I’m a Detective with the narcotics division of the San Francisco Police.
A few years ago I was assigned to work this break-in case. Narcotics was brought in because there were a bunch of drugs found in the car of a deceased intruder. During the break-in the husband of the couple that lived in the house killed him.
What a mess it was. I don’t think anyone will ever understand what really happened. The main question was were there two intruders or one? The husband, Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator, claimed there were two, that he had shot and killed the one and that the second one had knocked him unconscious and escaped. The wife had been raped.
But, if there had been a second intruder he why would he have left all the drugs in their car? And there was no real hard physical evidence for a second intruder. There were prints from bloody gloves in the car but what did that prove? They could have been made anytime by anyone. We found Leonard unconscious, his gun in his hand and the forensics showed the fatal bullet had come from his gun. The dead intruder had the sap in his hand. We figured Leonard had woken up, heard a commotion, grabbed his gun and burst into the bathroom. The intruder must have hit him over the head with the sap at the same time that Leonard shot him. There they were, three of them on the floor, the wife was in shock but still conscious. She didn’t remember anything.
But we had a heavy caseload at the time and we had to clear other unsolved crimes to improve our success statistics. Leonard’s story was just too complicated for my major to accept; a full investigation would have taken too long.
I wanted to keep the case open but Shelby was too friggin weird. He was his own worst enemy as far as convincing anyone that his story was worth investigating. The knock over the head had clearly screwed up his mind. He couldn’t hold anything in his memory. I’d talk to him one day and then he wouldn’t remember me when I visited him the next. He was worse then useless because he kept saying his wife was dead. I kind of believed him about the second intruder but it was hopeless. We closed the case, one intruder. Easy said my Sergeant.
It could have ended there but it didn’t; things only got weirder. A few months later Leonard’s wife died of an insulin overdose – yea, she was a diabetic. I got called in again because homicide thought maybe Shelby had killed her. He often helped her with her shots; maybe he “helped” her to an overdose they thought. Motive? Lenny didn’t need a motive, he was stark raving crazy. Remember his memory problem? Well, homicide asked him what happened and of course he couldn’t remember. He kept claiming that she was murdered and raped in the original break-in. Did he murder her or not? Who knows? He certainly doesn’t!
So homicide decided that her death was accidental, easier that way for them. And Shelby was put into a mental institution. I talked to his doctors while he was in there. They would talk to me because I’d been on the case; they thought maybe I could help them help him. But he just got crazier and crazier. He said the last thing he remembered was watching his wife die. He focused all his craziness on that. He started living only to revenge his wife’s death. Said the guy who killed her had not only taken her life but he had taken Leonard’s own life away. He couldn’t make any new memories so he had to fill up his mind with something. And that something became this overwhelming focus on finding and killing his wife’s killer.
Before I go on I gotta tell you a bit about being a narcotics detective. Two things: it doesn’t pay well, and those drug pushers got lots of money. That creates temptation and opportunity. Here’s how it works; as I cop I get to increase my income, and none of the big dealers get busted. Just the small ones. The police get great statistics for busting dealers and the big dealers stay safe. That’s just the way it works. Maybe not for everyone but it sure worked that way for me.
Only problem is you can’t keep that way up too long. Pretty soon the Internal Investigations Division starts snooping around. A bad cop can’t be bad in the same way for too long or he’ll be the one getting busted. About the time they put Shelby away, I needed to find some way to change my act.
Then I thought of Shelby in the institution. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to make money with Leonard Shelby as your friend.
The guy forgets everything he does, so that makes him real good at being a confidential partner. I mean if we do something there is no way he’s going to squeal is there? How can he turn on me, or turn me in if he doesn’t remember what happened half an hour ago. And better yet, is he ever going to have a guilty conscience? No way! He can’t feel bad about what he can’t remember.
Not only will he keep everything confidential but Lenny doesn’t need motivation, he comes with his own, built in, high-octane. Lenny wants to kill, kill his wife’s killer. Lenny is motivated to kill, and Lenny will kill. He’ll kill anyone who he believes killed his wife.
Lenny and I were natural partners. I had knowledge of the drug dealers and how they worked; I knew how to find big money. Lenny had the motivation to kill and never tell. I could be the brains and Lenny could be the muscle. Brains and muscle – drugs and money. Sure fire success.
So here is what I did. I broke Lenny out of the mental institution – everyone still thinks he just escaped. Those places aren’t that tightly run. I took him off somewhere for some special training. I worked on him for weeks, and after that we were real good partners.
First I told him I was his friend; that I believed that there really were two guys who broke in and raped and murdered his wife: partly true at least. I gave him a copy of the police file from the break-in. I altered it a bit, had to make things simpler for Lenny. Real simple: the file said the police had investigated the idea of a second person in the break in. There was even speculation about a name, first name John or James, second name starting with a G. He’s the guy Lenny wanted to kill.
Then I needed a way to keep Lenny focused on this John G. So I read up on his “disease” and how people coped with it. It is not easy but by writing notes and conditioning themselves to read the notes people can help somewhat. Now I couldn’t be around all the time to keep reminding him so I hit on this idea of tattoos. That way he could carry his motivation with him all the time. Nice and motivating tattoos they were: “John G. raped and murdered my wife” and “Hunt him down and Kill him”. Lenny’s memory was no good but his eyesight was fine. Every time he took a shower, or looked at himself in a mirror, there was his motivation staring him in the face. And, of course, he didn’t remember anything about me breaking him out of the prison or getting those tattoos on him.
I needed to help Lenny function in the world. Function as much as I needed him to function, that is. The problem was that he kept forgetting people; he’d meet them, talk with them and then forget them. He had a goal but I needed a way to keep him on track. So I taught him how to use a Polaroid to take pictures of people, write their names on the front and what he knew about them on the back. He’d carry them in his pocket, and I conditioned him to check there every time he met someone who acted as though they knew him
And it all worked like a charm. You won’t believe how well it worked. I found a small time drug dealer in San Francisco named John G. Then I fed Lenny some ideas. He’d check them with the police file and turn them into “facts”. I knew when this John G would be by himself with money. Set Lenny on his track. Bam! John G was dead. Lenny was happy, I had the money. I even took a Polaroid of Lenny right after he did the deed (a bit bloody it was). And of course he then forgot. I’ve kept that Polaroid in case I need it some day.
That was last month. I’ve been letting Lenny lie low for a while, in case anyone suspects him. But I’ve been busy. I found another small time drug guy down south, Jimmy Grants. He deals out of a bar and a motel. I’ve been working down there setting it up. I’ve got Jimmy believing I’m Teddy and that I want to buy his drugs, and I got his girl believing I’m a cop. I’m gonna get Jimmy and Lenny to meet, Jimmy will think he’s a joke, Jimmy will certainly never think of Lenny as a threat. So when I spring the trap and send Lenny to kill him, Jimmy won’t suspect anything. Makes it easier for Lenny if he has the element of surprise on his side. He’s not a natural killer, that’s why he’s so good at it.
Now let’s see, I think everything is in place. I’ve moved Lenny to some crummy motel a few miles from the bar, I’ve made sure he has the police file, I’ve found a deserted place where he can kill Jimmy, I’ve set it up with Jimmy to meet him there in a few days, he thinks I will have drugs, he will bring the money.
Yep, everything is in place. Nothing can go wrong. That’s what I like about working with Lenny. I can say anything to him and he will just forget. He’ll never turn on me.
In fact I think I’m ready to start calling him in his room right now…