I was sitting in my Bark-a-Lounger in the dark. I was sipping on a bottle of cheap whisky when I heard my door knob turn. I picked up my service revolver off the end table and waited. All too soon a shot rang out and the door around my lock splintered.
I went into action.
My name is Percy Holmes, Detective Perk" to my friends. I'm a homicide detective with the rank of sergeant. I work the Metro section, that's were all the action is.
Some of the punk kids in the neighborhood actually were trying to break in my apartment. I guess they figured a home invasion was in order that night. Like all punks they were stupid.
One of them pulled his pistol and had shot through my front door. Now pulling a gun on a cop really pisses the cop off. Shooting a hole in his front door, gets you shot back at with his .357 Magnum when you kick open his door. Remember cops don't kill doors, they kill people.
Three of the four punks died that night. The fourth will spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair.
No one will ever break into my apartment again. The word will spread that I wasn't anyone to be fucked with.
Currently I am divorced from my three wives, with no current 4th prospect in the foreseeable future. I live in a small two bedroom apartment near police headquarters. It's not in a very nice neighborhood. But it is close to work and I like it that way.
Such is the life of a cop.
It was a slow night there weren't any calls for me tonight, I was alone and I wasn't drunk yet. I was off duty and planning on drinking a rather large bottle of cheap booze. With my alimony and child support payments I couldn't afford to go out to a bar. The cheap bottle was my entertainment for the night, as well as my companion.
It helped me forget how badly I screwed up my life. My children were taken by my first ex wife and I've had no contact with them in years. In my career as a homicide detective I had three partners. They were all killed in the line of duty while working with me. Their faces haunt my dreams at night. I remember them, their families and their pointless deaths. That was why I drink nightly. It's the only way I can make all the faces disappear for a while.
I was just sitting down in my favorite (and only) chair with my first drink when the phone rang. It was the dispatcher.
I had a case. I looked lovingly at the glass, but put it on a shelf in the frig. I'd get back to it later.
So I headed off looking forward to a long night.
At the crime scene, I walked up to the patrol officers and started asking the usual questions, "Who discovered the body? What appears to have happened here? Any witnesses?" You know just like on TV. Hell I figured that if the questions worked on "Law and Order", they might work for me too.
I found that one of the neighbors had heard a gunshot and called 911. The first patrol unit on the scene discovered our victim dead on the ground behind the building. He was shot in the head and appeared to have either fallen or been thrown off the roof.
The coroner's guys had arrived, so I decided to talk to them. In case you're interested, anybody falling from a great height is not a pretty sight. Add to that the fact that his head was destroyed by the gun shot, and you really don't want to look under the sheet the coroner's crew had put over the body.
I was one of the lucky ones; it was my job to look.
As I walked over to the rapidly turning red, white sheet, the patrol guys started moving away to places where they couldn't see what was under the sheet when I lifted it.
I just looked around and suddenly it was just me and the coroner's guy, Smithy. He was another old veteran like me. "Hi Sherlock, looks like we got us a messy one tonight," He smiled as he addressed me.
He knew I hated being called "Sherlock". I didn't smoke a pipe. But he just couldn't resist breaking my balls.
"Hi, Asshole," was my answer, "What have we got."
"Looks like a shotgun. His head is half gone. He was dead before he hit the ground."
I pulled the sheet off. Boy was I glad I didn't eat that night. He was really messed up. It looked as if the shotgun blast got him right in the face.
It was a real mess. He must have landed on the back of his head when he hit. His head was split open like a ripe watermelon.
I heard one of the patrol officers lose his dinner behind me. I guess he fell victim to curiosity. He just had to look. He'll wake up in the middle of the night for the next 10-20 years seeing that mangled body in his dreams. We all do, its part of the job. I use booze to help me sleep through the night. But then I've seen a lot more victims of man's cruelty to man over the years, the patrol officer was just starting.
A bright flash went off in my eyes, a forensic guy was here. He was starting the process of making the 8 x 10's that would make some jury members very sick.
"After you're done here, get on the roof and see what's up there. We think that's where he came from," I suggested, happy to look away from the body.
I organized the patrol units to start canvassing the building and the neighborhood. I didn't expect much. This wasn't the type of neighborhood that helped the police. I started toward the elevator. I thought I'd get on the roof and figure out where this guy's trip to the ground began.
As I got on the elevator, I noticed the sign that said, "Elevator Inspection Records are located in the Basement Superintendant's Office." I looked around the elevator and thought, "I'll bet they are forgeries."
By the time I got to the top floor, I vowed to take the stairs down. Hell it was only 14 floors!
I started walking toward what I thought was the jump point. I was a gravel covered flat roof. I could see signs of a single set of foot prints heading from the door, I was standing in to what I suspected was the spot he fell from.
About this time the CSI guy got there. "What's ya got for me, Sherlock?"
Another asshole making fun of my name, "I thought. I pointed out the footprints. He started taking pictures and putting little number things by each foot print. He looked like he was having fun as I followed him across the roof.
When we got to the "jump point", I found all the typical suicide stuff piled up neatly. There were his shoes, coat, hat, wallet and keys. I never figured out why jumpers left all this stuff behind. But then I could never figure out why they jumped. There were a lot easier forms of suicide.
The CSI interrupted my thought train, "Where's the shotgun?"
I looked around the roof, no shotgun.
"Shit it's gonna be a long night, "I thought.
After gathering a crew consisting of two patrol men and me, we began to canvass the building asking the usual. "What did you see, what did you hear, do you know the victim?"
Since I had seniority and rank, the patrol men started on the first and second floor and worked their way up, alternating floors. I started on the top floor going down.
Luck was with me that night because the fourth door I knocked on actually opened. A woman answered. She was wearing a terrycloth bathrobe that looked 4 sizes too big for her. Her hair was up in a towel.
"Sorry to bother you Ms, I'm Detective Holmes." I held out my badge, just like you see on TV. "I'm investigating a possible murder. Can I ask you a few questions?" I ignored the smirk on her face when she heard my name.
She grabbed the front of her robe and closed it tight all the way up to her neck. She glanced up and down the hallway, looking rather nervous.
"Was she nervous talking to a police detective? Was she nervous standing in the hallway in just her bathrobe? Was she nervous because she didn't want to tell me something?" I wondered.
I got her to invite me in her apartment. I can be such nice guy I could deceive anyone.
Her living room was a mess. She had the usual sofa and two chairs but the chairs were stacked with papers, clothing and plastic bags. The sofa was the only place to sit and that's where we sat; me on one end and her on the other. She turned her body to me and adjusted her robe so that she could sit half cross legged on the sofa.
Now being a detective, I had picked up a few things on my way to the couch. There were junk and boxes laying everywhere and she had framed pictures that leaned against the walls at various points in the room. "Easy, she was in the process of moving in", I thought, "Damn I'm good."
Well she was pretty. I put my best smile on and started to make her feel comfortable.
"I see you are just moving in. I hate moving myself," the brilliant conversationalist I was said.
I got a small smile and she replied, "I had to move. The neighborhood was getting bad, I called the police but nothing was don ... er. They said they'd give the area extra attention."
"The standard Desk Sergeant response," I thought.
"After they broke into my neighbor's apartment and raped her, I decided to move," She replied.
I asked her where she used to live. When she told me the address, I thought, "Smart move."
We made some small talk when I dropped a bomb, "What did you do when you heard the gun shot?"
She just sat there.
"Why didn't you call 911?"
Her reply, "My phone will not be connected until next week and I haven't found the box with my cell phone charger yet. The battery in my cell is dead."
I asked to look at her phone. It was the same make as mine. I offered the spare charger, I kept in my car to her and she accepted.
"Shit! Now I have to use the elevator again. Why can't I learn to keep my mouth shut," I thought.
On the way back to her apartment, one of the patrol officers stopped me, "We found the 911 caller on the 8 floor."
I dropped the charger off at her apartment and said I'd be back after I interviewed the occupant in another apartment.
Little did I know I wouldn't make it back that night.
As Jenny looked at the cell phone charger the detective had left. Could she trust him? Or should she just keep running.
She knew that Master was out there somewhere looking for her. If Master found her she would be killed in some horrible fashion.
She made her decision.
In apartment 804, I meet Mrs. Edwards, a 70 year old widow who knew everybody's business on her floor, also on the floors above and below her. I spent the next two hours listening to her life history. How after 50 years of marriage, "Fred" had up and died on her.
"Lucky Bastard, "I thought listening to her voice. Her voice sounded like a fingernail being dragged across a blackboard. "Forty years of that voice and I'd probably put my service revolver in my mouth,"
After four hours, I learned that there was a very loud gun shot from the apartment right next door (806), and the occupants fought all the time. It always ends with her husband threatening to shoot her.
A patrol officer and I ran next door and broke open the door. We were greeted by two naked 60 year olds having sex. They were at least 100 pounds overweight each.
Believe me, it was not a sight I want to see again! All that jiggling fat! I was tempted to go back out side and look at the jumper, just to settle my stomach.
It took about 30 minutes before we could get the misses to stop screaming. She was hysterical.
It might have taken longer to calm her down, but the two patrol officers were in uniform, where I was in a cheap suit and looked very seedy. But that's OK, because they don't pay us detectives that much.
When they finally quieted down, I started questioning them, "What are your names?"
"Your full names" interrupted a patrol officer who was taking notes.
"Fred, Mary" They replied
"Do you have a shotgun?" I inquired.
"Did you have an argument tonight?"
"Did either of you try to shot the other?"
"Ok," I thought, "I've got to get them talking, these two word answers suck!""
I changed my style of questioning, "Is there anything you'd like to tell me about your argument?"
"Grrrr" I thought, "These people are going to be tough."
"What do you two think of Mrs. Edwards?" I said hoping to get a longer that two word response.
"She's a busy body, always noising into other people's business, "was the answer I received.
"Ten whole words!" I was pleased. Maybe I was on a roll.
"Mrs. Edwards said that she heard you two arguing, and then a gunshot," I asked.
"That's right, sir,"
"Damn back to two word answers or maybe three," I brilliantly concluded. At this rate, they will be in their 70's by time I done questioning them.
"OK new style of questioning," I concluded.
"Since you two don't want to discuss this, get out of bed and let's go to the station," I yelled.
"Naked????" they both exclaimed.
"Yes," was my reply. Well that got them talking.
Now, I couldn't shut them up. They talked over each other trying to get the story out. It actually took me almost two hours longer to get them to take turns talking.
It was going to be a long night.
My trusty patrol officer took me aside and informed me that the jumper was named Ron Opus, the same last name as these two.
Walking back to my now very cooperative couple, I dropped a bomb, "Do you know a Ron Opus and when was the last time you saw him?"
(I know it's a leading question, but I'm a cop and it's allowed. And besides I needed a drink. It was four am and I was tired.) That started them talking again. It seems Ron was their son. They had seen him about two weeks ago when they informed him that they were giving him no more money for his drug habit and changing their wills.
They had a terrible fight and called the police to have Ron removed from the apartment.
They said that was the last time they saw or talked to him.
I asked them if I could see the shotgun. When they gave me permission, I gave it to my CSI for inspection. It had been recently fired.
They both claimed that they never had bought shells for it.
We searched the apartment, with their permission, and found no other guns or ammunition for the shot gun.
I let them get dressed, and we went downtown to continue their questioning.
I let them think that I only wanted to talk to them about the "Discharge of a firearm in City limits." I did not inform them of their son's death. I was saving that piece of information for later.
It was now 6:00 am and I hadn't slept all night.
I got them in a couple of interrogation rooms to separate them, so I could check out their stories. Their stories meshed, but then they could have practiced the stories. I couldn't shake them.
Mary explained, "When we fight, Fred sometimes grabs the shotgun and threatens to kill me."
"I have never loaded the gun. I could never hurt Mary, so I symbolically shoot her with the unloaded gun," Fred added.
"Tonight the gun went off, and blew out the window behind our bed," said Mary.
"We don't know how it happened," they exclaimed.
I booked them on the gun charge. They were released on their own recognizance. I just couldn't see locking up two little (OK they weren't so little) old people for murder, yet.
I just wanted to go home and get some sleep.
My phone woke me up at 2:00 pm. I was given another homicide. This one had me going to the hospital to see the victim. An elderly woman had been brought in by ambulance. She had been badly beaten and died after a week.
I stopped at a Starbucks and was given a free coffee. If I could inject it with a needle, I would. Caffeine was the only thing besides booze that kept me alive. The manager knew me; I helped find the mugger who had killed her husband a few years ago. My money wasn't any good in her store.
The coffee woke me up enough to function at the hospital.
I talked to the doctor who admitted the victim. I talked to the nurses that happened to be on duty the night she arrived. A couple of them were off shift, but I got enough from the ones working.
I went up to the floor they had put her and talked to the nursing staff. She had never regained conscientious. So they could add nothing to my inquiries. I would wait for the "official" cause of death, but I'll bet it will be related to the beating.
I got her address from the hospital staff. It was in a part of the city that had slid down in value. She lived in an apartment building where most tenants had their rent subsidized by the government. There was something familiar about the address. But with my profession, I spent a lot of time in that neighborhood.
As I was riding the rickety old elevator up to Betty's (the victim's) apartment, I had a funny feeling that my victim was the neighbor of the little cutie from last night's case. Now I had a legitimate reason to visit her.
Picking up my charger was a really weak reason.
I got to the crime scene and it was sealed with yellow tape. I called the CSI dispatcher and updated her. She promised to have a heavy duty team at my location in about an hour as they were just finishing up at another location.
"The murder rate is picking up," I thought.
I started knocking on doors.
Betty was a popular tenant. Everybody on the floor knew her and liked her. They were all sorry she didn't make it.
The apartment next to hers was vacant. When I inquired of another tenant, she explained that the girl who lived there moved out the very next day. "She was scared to death" was the reason I got for the woman vacating the apartment. The prior tenant was described to me. She sounded like my
Now I knew I had a reason to visit her again.
I got the super to let me into her vacant apartment. It was trashed! Somehow I couldn't believe my girl had done it.
My CSI team arrived and we went next door to Betty's apartment. When they broke the tape and the super opened the door, we found that the apartment had also been trashed. My CSI guys were pissed because now their job was a lot tougher.
When I explained to them about the apartment next door, they were even more pissed. They figured it would take them all night to process both apartments unless they could get help from another team.
It was 11:00 pm when I left. The other team still had not arrived. I figured I wouldn't be invited to their office party next Christmas.
It was too late to visit my cell phone charger, so I went back to my apartment and went to bed. I'd visit her tomorrow.
I slept like a rock. It was almost 3:00 pm when I woke up. I hit my bathroom, and did the three S's. I felt almost human. Actually, I felt more human than I ever felt, and then I remembered, I'd had nothing to drink for two days. I was sober for the first time in months.
I'd need to rectify that tonight. I was thirsty. And I wanted to prevent the nightmares.
I pulled up in front of the jumper's choice, now I only had to ride that damn elevator for 14 floors. I was beginning to wonder if she was worth the ride up.
"Hell yes, she was cute," reinforcing my courage.
I got up to her floor and walked to her apartment. I was kind of wondering if I'd remember her name from last night.
The door was open. The apartment was vacant. "There goes my charger," I mused. While wondering why she ran.
Something wasn't right here, but I didn't have time to think about it. I was just too busy.
I took the stairs back down to 802; I wanted to continue my discussion with Fred and Mary Opus.
After spending the next hour talking to the Opuses, I was really frustrated. Their one and two word answers upset me.
I finished my discussion with them and took the stairs back down. I wanted to visit the crime scene again, I felt something was wrong but couldn't put my finger on it. Hey, I was a detective and we all develop a "Spidie" sense.
I walked around the site were the jumper had landed looking for anything I might have missed last night.
After being bent over for about fifteen minutes, I stood up and stretched.
That's when I saw it. A safety net was installed on that side of the building. Some construction workers had left the net behind when they finished their job. The purpose of the net was to catch a worker if they fell off the roof.
It should have caught the Opus's son when he jumped. But it didn't. The shot gun blast must have exerted enough force to cause him to miss the net.
I called the DA's office and talked to an ADA. After considerable debate, he sent a patrol car to my location.
With the patrol offices in tow, I went back up to the Opus apartment. I arrested both of them, Fred for murder and his wife as an accessory. They were put in the back of the patrol car and driven away. The patrol officers were told to ask the booking office to take it easy on them. They were old and very confused.
I made an anonymous call to the Public Defender's Office and requested assistance for the Opuses.
I felt really shitty about arresting them, but felt a little better after my phone call. They seemed to be nice people, but they were now caught up in the system. And the system was set up to win unless Fred and Mary had very good representation. I honestly thought that they would probably die in prison.
In the back of my mind I wondered, "How did that shotgun get loaded? Fred and Mary had no ammunition anywhere in the apartment."
I went back to the station house.
Later that evening I started and finished the quart of cheap whisky I bought earlier in the week. I slept in my chair all night.
I didn't dream that night.
"How does he keep finding me? I'm dead, I'm dead, and he's going to kill me." She thought.
Jenny was huddled in an alley trying to stay warm and dry. It was a typical fall night on this typical fall evening. She sat on her haunches with her arms wrapped around her legs rocking back and forth. "Nowhere left to go, nowhere to get away."
She was desperate. Within the course of a week and a half, she had been forced to flee again and again, this time without anything but a small suit case.
He kept getting closer. She was sure that when he found her, he'd kill her slowly; she was as good as dead. That was his way. He liked to hurt people. She knew because she had watched him slowly kill people. Innocent people that he grabbed off the street for no apparent reason, but just to kill, and kill slowly, the way he liked.
He'd done it her; grabbed her off the street and kept her. He'd keep threatening fuck her, always holding a knife to her throat. But for some reason he never followed up on his threats.
He just laughed and she cried in terror.
She remembered how it began for her. She was at the mall with her friends when she had to leave. As she was walking to her car, someone grabbed her from behind and stuffed a cloth over her nose and mouth. She remembered thinking, "It smells funny,"
She remembered waking up, completely nude in a dark room, cold, hungry, and in pain. She tried to call out, but felt a rubber ball stuffed in her mouth and secured with what felt like straps around her head.
She knew that it was just a matter of time before someone came into that dark room and killed her. She prayed to God that she would die quickly, but felt otherwise. She felt that she was in for a very long, slow and painful death.
He laughed while she cried until she passed out.
A rat scurried across the alley, bring her back to the present.
Jenny had to find a place to stay for the night, she had no money. All she had was a beat-up old suitcase with a couple of changes of clothes, some clean underwear and a cell phone charger. She remembered the cop who lent it to her. He seemed ok for an old guy, but he had hard eyes, and smelled like he had been drinking.
So she wandered out of the alley and started up the street.
A self service Laundromat was the only lights she saw on the street. "At least it's a place to keep warm until they throw me out," She thought. She headed in that direction.
Once inside, she spotted the only other occupant, an older man doing laundry with his back to her. She saw that he was just stuffing his clothes in a washer with absolutely no separation as to colors and stuff.
She hoped she could earn a couple of bucks doing his laundry for him. She figured to offer to help him for a couple of bucks. That way she might have enough money to eat at least one meal tomorrow.
"Excuse me Mister? I'll do your laundry for you if..." She gasped when she saw who she was talking to. "Hey, I've got you cell phone charger. I'm real sorry about taking off I was going to bring it to the station, really."
The detective took note of the state of her clothing, her matted hair; saw the hyper-vigilant look in her eyes He looked right into her eyes, and held her gaze for several seconds before he spoke, "Ya alright?"
She shifted from one foot to the other trying to keep it in. But his gaze went right into her soul. She felt he knew she was running, and was only waiting for her to admit it.
She couldn't help it; she felt her eyes tear up. Soon she was crying her heart out. He put his arms around her and just held her until she gained control of herself.
She felt safe in his arms for the first time in years.
She wiped her eyes and backed away. "I'm sorry I... , I don't remember your name?"
"I'm Percy Holmes, Homicide detective. Sometimes people call me 'Sherlock" but I prefer Perk.
"I'll take you up on your offer to help with my laundry, because I'm lousy at doing it. Then you have to come with me round the corner to a diner. While we're eating, you can tell me what you want me to know," he said.
Soon they were sitting in a booth, he was drinking a cup of coffee, and she was trying to eat everything on the menu. It had been a few days since she'd eaten.
Percy looked at the girl. She was still pretty but very dirty from living on the streets.
As they walked back to the Laundromat to get his clothes, he asked, "Where are you spending the night?"
She just shrugged her shoulders and said, "Nowhere special."
"I have a spare room in my apartment with a lock on the door; do you want to stay at my place? He offered
"Shit, why'd I say that? She'll probably rob me blind," He pondered.
"And besides someone has to help me iron and fold this mess", he offered as a final reason.
I had to keep my head about me around this girl. Just because she doesn't look like an addict doesn't mean she isn't. What the hell was I thinking!
I watched her bite her lip and could see the wheels turning in her head. She looked like she was going to say no and bolt.
Somehow she knew she'd be ok staying with him, and found herself agreeing.
I pointed to the corner where she had hidden her suitcase and said, "Grab your stuff and we'll put it in my car."
She started walking toward her stuff then froze and looked back me with a puzzled look on her face. I laughed; she was so easy to read. "You keep forgetting I'm a detective don't you? Yes, Jenny, I could tell that was your stuff and I know that you're homeless and eventually you will tell me why.
I'll wait until you're ready to tell me."
"How did he know that was mine?" She thought. Then she remembered, "He's a cop and they watch everything,"
She felt a little safer around him.
"My address is number 204 Baker Street, #10 is a vacant lot," He offered jokingly.
She giggled like a young girl.
"Oh you get the joke, so few people do," he replied.
"I devoured Arthur Conan Doyle when I was a girl. Still go nuts over who dun-its."
I hid my surprised expression from her. I never met a girl who actually read those books as opposed to seeing the old black and whites that came on one of the classic movie channels on cable.
"I never liked the movies when I was younger, they never compared to the books very well. But, I have seen the newest with Robert Downey Jr. He does a very nice Detective Holmes. Like you, " she teased.
When they got to his fourth floor apartment, they carried all their stuff upstairs. He put his laundry in what she assumed was his bedroom and walked her down a short hall to another bedroom. It only had a dresser, a night table, and an unmade bed in it. He put her meager suitcase on the bed for her to unpack while he went to a hall closet for extra bedding.
When he got back with the bedding, she had already unpacked all her worldly goods. The two of them made up her bed laughing and talking about almost everything.
She was starting to like him.
He walked her to his bathroom and showed her where all the stuff was. The he left her to take the first shower she'd taken in over a week.
She washed everything. It felt great just standing there in the spray of hot water. When she finally finished, she dried herself and looked for something to brush her hair with. Not finding anything, she put her bathrobe on and started looking for Percy. She found him fully clothed on his bed sound asleep. She noticed an empty glass and a whisky bottle on his night table. As she walked over to him, she could smell the booze on his breath.