“Life is such a beautiful thing. There’s nothing better than the smell and sounds of someone spending their life trying hard not to waste it.” I pick myself up out of bed and head to my bathroom. I take a good look in the mirror to assess whether I need to shave; a bit scraggly this morning, but I let it slide. “I am going to enjoy myself today.” I lick my lips ever so slightly, making sure to enjoy the morning’s kiss.
My work uniform is just a few feet away, lying on a chair from the night prior. Socks, pants, then shirt. I make sure I look as nice as I can be for my big day. I slip on my shoes, and with haste, make my way to my tiny kitchen. A cup of caffeine to perk me up is normally the only way to start my day. A voice in my head is telling me, “Not today,” and I know the exact reason why. Today I get my first taste. Today I get my first thrill.
I skip the coffee and instead grab some toast smothered in some homemade apple butter. I grab my coat badge. And my special box, and head out the door.
The drive to work was a good way to pump me up. “This is my chance,” I tell myself as I stop at a red light. I can get this done. I can fill my desire. It is my extreme perversion.
I get to work, and my heart is racing beyond a proper description. I get out of my car and put on my professional face. I grab my box and head up the sidewalk ahead of me. It was a straight shot to the first set of sliding double doors. I walk through them and the second set. I head straight again and head through the door at the end of this hall. From here, I made my way to the break room where we would clock in. I do so and then check the schedule on the large dry-erase board. I was unsure whether to be I was to be on duty at the mall. I was hoping to be on duty here, but beggars can’t be choosers.
I sign the board signifying that I have received my order. I work my way back out to my car and drive over to the specified location. My mind was starting to turn on me. It thinks I will get caught. It wants me to give up on my mission. No. I have put too much work into this. Today is the day. I will accomplish what I have set out to do, and I will feel that rush. My mind will not stop me.
Luckily the parking lot is nearly empty. Then again, who comes to the mall at Eight in the morning for this kind of event. Unless there was a sale, I doubt anyone would be out here this early at all. I knock on the glass door and show the person on the other side my badge. He lets me in and locks the door before showing me to the booths. He points me towards one somewhere in the middle. Table number 15. I look around the table. It has everything I need. Needles I.V tubes, bags, bandage tape, cotton swabs, and stickers showing off that you donated. It also had a list of appointments. Underneath the table sat a cooler for the labeled bags. I look through the documents to search for who I want.
One was a male, age 24 and blood type O-negative. Another was another male, age 46, blood type A-positive. This menu isn’t what I had hoped. I then do a double take when I see the next. It is a young female, age 23. The woman’s blood type is O-negative. It’s not the rarest type, but it will do. I skip looking at the other files and pull out my little surprise. I look at the times of their appointments. I see that the woman is marked down for Ten o’clock.That’s the exact time the mall opens. All the much sweeter. I spent the next hour or so helping the other’s set up. The doors open and I take my seat. My right leg bounces in both nervousness and anticipation. I watch as a crowd enters the building. Families are the bulk. Some people break off and head towards us. “This is it.” My mind is now back to agreeing with me. It was then that I see a woman walking towards my booth.
“Good morning.” She greets me with a handshake.
I grab the file and look at the name. “Jackie Baker?” I smile. What looked to be a kind gesture to her was in reality a sign of my thoughts turning to what I was about to do. “Please have a seat.” I offer her my own, and she quickly obliged.
I have her lay her arm out on the table. I then search for a vein before pulling out the needle, I.V tube and bag and preparing them both. I then prepare the spot on her arm with an alcohol wipe. I finally take the needle and press it into the skin ever so slowly. I notice as she closes her eyes when it finally enters. No squeal or scream. Hardly any reaction. As soon as I saw red, I knew I hit the vein. My eyes light up like it’s Christmas.
We only have a short conversation before the bag is full enough. I pull out one of my special cotton balls and take some bandage tape. I carefully remove the needle and replace it with the cotton. I take enough tape and tape the cotton ball to her arm. After she signs a paper, I hand her a sticker. I smiled more as I watched her walk away. “My goal is nearly completed.” I say this in my head as I look around me. I make sure no one was looking before labeling the bag with the blood type and making for the cooler. Before doing so, I also grab my box. I quickly open the cooler and act as if I am placing the blood in there when in fact I am also opening my box to put the blood in that. Aside from holding the cotton balls, my little box has an ice pack inside to last the whole day. I pull out my box with the blood and then close the freezer. I spend the rest of the day acting normal. I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of my labor later down the line. For now, I will enjoy my harvest. I just hope that the media doesn’t take too long to grab the story.
“I need to see you in my office, Phillip.” My Superior Officer knows that I hate that name. I know he is only poking fun, but I think it got old after my first day. In fact, at his age, and in this line of work, you would think that he would be more professional. I walk into his office with a phony smile. “Sit” is all he says when I close the door behind me.
I tell myself not to be nervous, but my shaking hands show otherwise. Even Bobby, my superior, can see my obvious reaction. With his messy dark hair and a gruff voice, I tend to call him Buffalo behind his back. I guess we are alike in one way. I internally cringe at that thought. “You’re not in trouble” He reassures me before pulling out three manila folders. I assumed one had my files, but the other two had me stumped.
“You have only been here for two years.” He flipped open the top folder and from what I could see from my end was my picture and my name, Phillip Canton.
“You already have a good desk record that normal people would take upwards of five just to get as much done as you.” He thumbs through some files underneath my bio page. He flipped through three pages and looked between them and me. He finally looked at me and stared for a few moments. My fear of being in trouble returned. He finally speaks in a tone that was unfamiliar to me. Well, for him at least. “Since you arrived, I had my doubts about you. I am glad to see that you had proven me wrong.” Bobby may have jokes, but being in his fifties, he is serious when he needs to be.
He closed the folder, opening the second one immediately after. He pulled out a sheet of paper and handed it to me. I looked it over before he finally told me what it was for “You are being promoted to detective. We need someone like you.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s not what I want to do,” I plead with him, but my words did not even faze him. “The only area I said I would work for was paper filing and secretarial.” It was like talking to a wall; no, more like trying to talk in space, all in vain and the outcome would kill me.
Buffalo’s seriousness grew into anger as he lifted the third folder. This one was slightly thicker. “These are all the cases you helped. And let me remind you that you could have been fired for doing so.” I’m sure his voice could be heard from the other side at this point. I guess it’s not every day that you get to hear someone getting yelled at for turning down a promotion. His voice only grew as he continued his little fit. “I had to jump through hoops to keep you here. This is not something you can lightly refuse.”
As his words bounced through my mind, I looked at him, the case files, and the paper. I hate to admit when I am wrong, but Buffalo had a point. I have been helping in a lot of cases. I looked back at Buffalo and held out my hand. “Pen,” was all I had to say. I watched the wrinkles on his forehead caused by his anger began to recede. He took a pen from his front pocket and grinned from ear to ear. I took it and used his desk to fill out the form to accept the new position. I gave him the finished form and his grin had not faded.
“I have already sent your first case to your desk” his soft voice sent chills down my spine as he took the paper from my hand. If he weren’t above me, I would have told him off. I returned the smile as I thanked him for his time.
He wasn’t joking either. Back at my desk was a large folder. I sat and opened it without hesitation. The sooner I get this done the sooner I can feel safe again. Inside the folder was, to my surprise, another form to fill out. But this one was standard for new detectives; mostly those that didn’t own guns. It asked the basics along with a short questionnaire on whether you were left handed or right handed. It also asked if you preferred a black leather holster or brown and if you owned a gun safe at home. I may have had to take a gun safety class prior to working here, but I didn’t own a gun, let alone a safe. I’ve never really felt the need for one.
I quickly filled this out and followed the instructions on the Post-it attached to it. After all those years as a paper pusher, I knew exactly where the note was pointing me to. The locker; an armory for the weapons used by the officers of Billings. I made my way to the basement to where a large metal cage with one locked gate blocking the way further. I rattled the metal so that the man behind would notice me. I looked closer and noticed that he had a pair of ear buds in.
“Get to work Jerry.” I try to scream in my best Buffalo impersonation. By far it was my worst attempt, but it was enough. Jerry flipped out and knocked a bunch of papers off of his desk. He was frantic as he was picking up the papers. I couldn’t help but laugh and reveal my true identity. He wasn’t relieved though to find out that I was the one to cause him to make that mess. He picked everything up and then he pulled his buds out and hung them over his shoulders. He made his way over to me with a look of annoyance.
“What do you need?” His frustration told me that I needed to be careful around him. “Do you have more papers for me to sign? Or are the ones I am already looking over, need to be done today?” I showed him the form, and he fumbled through his keys before unlocking the number of padlocks on the inside.
“I’m sorry.” That’s how I truly felt, but he didn’t want to hear it. Then again, I don’t think I would want to be chummy with someone who nearly gave me a heart attack.
“Whatever. Now let me see your paper.” He opened the gate just enough to reach his arm out and around and grabbed the paper. He pulled back and closed the gate but didn’t bother locking it. I stood there and watched him walk over to his computer and key something in. It was only moments before he was looking at the paper and the screen; I assume it was for verification purposes. He placed the sheet down and pulled a folder from a desk drawer. He handed the folder off to me before returning to his desk. He picked up the sheet and walked past the large wall of weapons and disappeared around the corner.
I stood there listening as he rummaged through whatever was back there. When he finally returned, he had a silver case and a box. “This is your weapon and your holster.” He pushed the gate completely open this time and shoved the items in my face; almost making me drop the folder he gave me previously. “Your weapon is the standard .40 S&W. Cleaning and repairs are on you. Ammo has to be signed out through me. As for that folder, I need those papers read, signed, and returned to me before the end of the day.” He pointed me towards the way I came and he then returned to his post and locked up. I shrugged it off and went on my way. I know I was in the wrong, but he didn’t have to hold a grudge.
I sat the case on the desk, released the latches, and opened it. Inside was my assigned weapon. She was securely fitted in the black foam padding with the clip aside in its own slot. Before I pick her up and put her together, I decide to take out the holster. I decided to go with the black one. I don’t know why, but it just looks better to me. I pull it out of the box and I am happy to find that it wasn’t wrapped in that annoying and pointless plastic. I tighten it around my waist until it was snug. I then grabbed the gun and clip and put the empty clip in the handle. It clicked and I placed it in the holster, then I snapped the strap to hold it in place. Out of the corner of my eye I see a lock and key stuck in the slot for the clip. I take them out and lock up the box before kicking it under my desk.
Now it’s time for me to read these forms and get them signed. The first I pull out of the folder is a simple form that releases the weapon at no cost to me and all matters regarding said weapon are to be taken care of by me and any repairs shall be paid out of pocket. Considering that I am getting a free gun, that’s more than a fair trade off. I quickly signed it and moved on. The second was a bit meaty, but it pretty much asks that I uphold all regulations when handling my gun. This also refers to both on-duty and off-duty. An obvious one, but I signed that one as well. The final paper was more of an agreement to get a gun safe for home. I sign away and closed the folder.
“Are you done yet? Bobby want’s us out and on the case within the hour.” The mouth full of food as he talked gave away the biggest stereotype of them all. As I look over and up, I see a giant glob of jelly fall to the floor.
"Frank. How many times have we told you to eat in the break room?" Frank Buncher was the most stereotypical cop on the force. He's not portly, but he does pack away a baker's dozen like it's nothing.
"I can't help it," he took a bite in between and continued to talk with a mouth full of pastry and jelly. "Bobby ordered us out on the field." He stuffed the rest of the doughnut in his mouth like someone was about to pounce on him to steal it. "Besides, we need to get your car properly registered in the system and get you set up."
I put my pen away. I grabbed the folder and got up. I then started heading back to the cage. I did my best to ignore Frank, but with every step I made, he was right behind me. He was like a shadow. No matter where you went, it was sure to be there. "Don't blame me if Bobby gets on you for being late to your first case."
I tried my best to drown him out, but I had had enough. I took that risk of wasting, even more, time and stopped so hard that he ran into me. I didn't even want to turn around. "Frank?" That alone made him take a few steps back, but my anger was still present. "If you didn't notice, I am taking care of these important forms before heading out," I lift up the folder over my head so he can have a good look at his stupidity. "Now, if you could kindly let me do what I need to do and leave me to do it myself, I will be back up soon. Then we can take care of everything else." Once I heard footsteps heading back, I continued to the cage. With one obstacle out of the way, all that was left was to deal with Jerry. Thankfully, the only thing I had left to deal with was signing one paper for my ammo.
I was pleased to see that Jerry is working hard instead of listening to his music this time around. I tilted my head up and smiled; a sign that I needed him once again. His returning gaze told me that he was still angry. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if he would carry this little grudge into the next year.
As I approach the gate, he was already in the process of unlocking all of the inside locks. He came out of the cage completely and yanked the folder from my hands. I decided to keep quiet as not to further anger the one in control of all the guns and ammo for the whole precinct.
"Come." He opened the gate to allow me entrance. Never did I think that I would see the inside. Yeah, I know I can see inside from the other side. But being within the cage is a different view altogether. I watch Jerry as he goes to his desk and pulls another sheet out of a drawer. He then grabs a new set of keys hanging on the wall behind the desk. "Follow me," he lacks any emotion as he leads me through a hall of various guns. The hall then opens up into a large room with a few tables. "Stay," his robotic orders are now getting annoying. I guess it's only fair. When he returns, he sets a new box of bullets on the table. The box reads Jacketed Hollow-Point. Jerry kindly opened the box for me and just pointed while backing away a few steps.
He watches me as I fill my clip. Fifteen in and it's full. I put the clip back in and make sure the safety is still on. I put the gun down. I then wait for Jerry to inspect the remaining bullets. He made sure that they were all there. He scribbled on the paper and then motioned for me to sign at the bottom. He then escorted me out and slammed the gate shut. He didn't say anything to me and instead headed back to his desk.
Much to my dismay, Frank had made himself at home at my desk. And another little surprise, he had made himself a sandwich. I just place my hand against my face before walking up to my desk. "Frank. Why are you eating a sandwich? And why are you eating it after your doughnut binge and at my desk of all places?"
Frank wolfed down the last bit of his sandwich before jumping up from my chair. Thankfully, this time, his mouth was clear before he spoke, "I was waiting for you when I got hungry."
"Frank. It's amazing how you're not fat. You eat ten meals worth of calories when you're here at work." I can't help but chuckle out of jealousy. "Now show me where I need to register my car. Then we can head on out." He licked some mayonnaise off his fingers before walking off; leaving his plate on my desk and the chair out. I hurry to at least put the chair back before working to catch up with Frank.
I finally catch up to him at the stairway that leads to the underground parking lot. He was patiently waiting for me with the door propped open. He moved to let me in and told me what I needed to do next."Stop at the dispatch office when you get down there. I will be with you in a few minutes. And let the dispatcher know that you will be registering your car under Field Detectives. That should be all you need to specify. If not, I will straighten everything out when I get there."
I decided to be a smart-ass and give him a salute. "Yes, Sir!" I couldn't help but get a little revenge for earlier. I am like Buffalo. I internally cringed again.
I make my way down two flights of stairs before finally reaching the door to the parking lot. Beyond the door was a short hall that opened up to the parking lot. Immediately to the right was the dispatch office. I quicken my pace a bit as I weave through the other cars to make it to the office. The door was metallic. I hurt my knuckles while trying to knock. It was a sad attempt at trying to gain the attention of whoever was in there. I knocked only twice as the pain was becoming too much.
"Yeah. What do you need?" I heard a woman's voice on the other side. I could hear her turning locks and then finally the knob. I had to take a step back to avoid getting hit by the door. "It had better be important." Kathleen, a short but normally cheery woman, filled the door frame. She looks up at me with shock. It was like I was the last person expected. "Phil, what are you doing down here? Bobby didn't send you, did he?"
"No, no." I chuckled a little in a miserable attempt to ease any fears.
"Then, why are you here?" She asks in a tone that showed that she was still just as worried.
"I need to register under Field Detective?" I sounded a little confused. I was hoping that she knew what that meant.
"Where is your partner?" My confusion only deepened. Frank had walked off and was not back yet.
"Frank said he would meet me here. He should be here soon." Just as I shrugged, Frank's figure had turned the corner.
"Let him in. I have what we need." In his hands was a large rectangular box. I squinted slightly. I noticed that it is one of those radios that you usually see installed in police cruisers. I never knew detectives had them too. Kathleen lets us in as soon as Frank made his way through the cars.
Inside, there was another dispatcher in the middle of a call. I had no clue who it was. They must be new. It sucks for them. Kathleen closed a window on a computer and opened a new program. She typed in her login credentials and clicked on one of the tabs that popped up soon after. She pulled out a mobile scanner and scanned a bar code. The scanner beeped and as soon as she made sure it was in the system she opened the large box and inspected its contents. "Do you need a mechanic or can you install it yourself?" She looks between Frank and me.
"I know how to install these." Frank took the job of installation as he folded the box closed. He sat it on a table and found a seat. She waved me towards her. "I need you to fill this out as best as you can." She pointed to a form on the screen and continued with her instructions. "The only information you need to worry about the most is your plates and your license number. I guess they don't keep that information on hand when you are in a certain position.
I tap away at the keyboard like there's no tomorrow. I end up filling out my name, address, License number, plate number, and some simple information about my car insurance. I looked over at her as she eyed every entry. When she was satisfied, she called Frank over. "As soon as you get it up and running, you need to call in to confirm." She handed Frank a slip of paper which he then handed me. He picked the box up again and a tool box as we were ushered out of the door.
Because I wasn't registered, I was left to park in the free parking garage across the street. The street was hardly busy during the day so getting across was a breeze. Getting to the fourth floor where my car was, was a pain. We could take the elevator, but it was painfully slow. I think I would rather watch Buffalo's wrinkled forehead as he screams. We wait and take the elevator all the way to the floor. There it was, my pride and joy: a 2010 Dodge Charger. The color was a very dark blue. Blue is blue to me. I pay no mind to that different shade crap. I made sure I had the bare minimum in extra features. Unlike some, I don't see the need for them.
"Open both front doors while I get the stuff out." Frank lightly placed the box on the ground before tearing it back open. I do so quickly and watch him pull the last of the equipment out. I am good with computers, but not so much with radios. The last piece he pulled out was a personal radio. He handed it to me without looking my way. "Don't put the battery in and turn it on until I get the main radio hooked up." He warns me right before he hands me the battery.
"Why don't you want me to turn it on?" My curious mind was abuzz with questions.
"Because I don't want you to screw anything up."
At that, my mind short circuited. I was hoping for a real answer. Unfortunately, that was not the case. "No need to be rude. I was just curious." I simply scowled as he grabbed the tools and a few parts. He nearly pushed me over when he passed; not even bothering with an "excuse me." I clip the radio to my belt. I slid the battery into my front pocket. I finally lean back against my car as Frank began working. There was nothing else to do. I pulled out my smartphone and began doing random searches on Google.I'm not into those "memes" today, but I do love those hilariously edited images. I found myself laughing as I heard Frank opening something; possibly getting to the wires.
"What got you promoted?" A muffled question breaks my laughter.
"I guess I was so good at helping some other cases that I wasn't supposed to be on that they wanted me."
"Makes no sense to me," he trailed off; a sign that he was struggling with something. "I mean, if you weren't supposed to be in those cases, then you should have been fired. Right?"
I stopped what I was doing and made my way to the other side of the car door. "That's what Buffalo said. He mentioned about jumping through hoops just to keep me on. So, I have no clue why the promotion happened; I've not even been trained to be a Detective." Frank slowly pulls himself out of the car and dusts himself off. It must be a habit as I know that my car is clean.
"Bobby must have had a good reason. That, or he was desperate."
"Maybe. But I accepted the secretarial position here because I knew I wouldn't be." He did a "give me" motion towards the personal radio that I had attached to my belt earlier.
I gave him both the radio and battery, and as soon as the battery was in, he turned a knob. The sound of static was instant. The white noise was the sign that it was functioning and it was ready to be tuned to the proper channel. As soon as we got into the car, Frank began tinkering with the radio. It was big, but it didn't take up too much room as to make the front cramped. It began to buzz with static as soon as it was turned on. I handed him the little slip of paper that Kathleen gave us, and he began tuning. I did the same. As soon as we both hit the given frequency, Frank lifted the Micro off of its clip and began speaking, "This is Frank confirming the connection to Billings Precinct 3. Over."
The car was silent for a few moments before we finally received an answer. "10-4 this is Kat receiving. We have confirmation on your permission to use this frequency. You are free to go into the field. Over." The car fell silent again. When we were certain she was done speaking, I started the car.
"Shit! I forgot the case files." I look over at Frank in the hopes that he has them.
He just laughs and pulls out his smart phone. "Bobby sent me to your desk. I have the case files here." He opens the phone and hands it to me. I flip through and notice they are images of the files.
The first was the body of a young woman, Jackie Baker, in her early twenties. Average height, and weight. She was found dead in her apartment. There were no signs of forced entry or foul play. The only thing heard was her fall by neighbors. No signs of wounds caused by any weapon. The coroner on the scene ruled out any blunt or sharp object as the cause of her death. It seems like they need me on the scene. I guess my eyes are widely needed.
I move to the next image. It was a photograph of her body. She was in the living room face down on the floor. There was a glass table that was barely visible. I turned my focus back to her. I couldn't see any external trauma from the image, so I turn back to the report and look through it once more. I had finally noticed the toxicology report. It was ordered immediately after the body was picked up. It was found yesterday, sometime in the afternoon. The report should be ready soon. Possibly, this evening.
I take one last look at the image before handing it back to Frank. I back out and make my way down to the first floor. It wasn't busy, so getting out was easy. I turn right and speed up to the 30mph speed limit. I put the radio on my favorite channel and begin to ponder what happened and how. And if there was no who, then why?