“Rain. Why not? I have always wanted to investigate a murder in the middle of a freaking hurricane.” Thermopolis Konan lifted his collar to shield his neck from the deluge. His ride should have been here ten minutes ago. “It’s always the same crap; make the new guy wait.”
An unmarked Crown Vic pulled up next to the curb. The driver rolled down the passenger window about an inch. A curly haired brunette sat behind the wheel.
“Are you Detective Konan?”
“Yeah, the wet version.”
Konan got in and the brunette extended her hand. Konan shook it.
“I’m Lilly. They have paired us up for partners. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, you to.”
“Sorry I am late. I stopped to get us coffee, and the bottom fell out while I was inside.” She handed him a lukewarm cup of coffee. “You drink coffee, right?”
“I do. Thanks for making the gesture.”
She handed him sugar and cream. “I didn’t know what you took in it, so I brought everything.”
“Just sugar. A lot of sugar.”
They mixed their coffees and Lilly made small talk. She would glance at Konan from time to time to see if he was following the conversation. He never seemed to be lost. So far, so good.
“So, you came to us from 112th.”
“I heard that it’s a great department.”
“No, you haven’t. They are torn up from the floor up.”
“Yeah, that’s what we heard over at the 117th. I was trying to tiptoe around it, but you’re like a bulldozer in a trailer park.”
“Let me guess, you were told I betrayed my last partner, right?”
“Yeah, that’s the rumor that’s going around.”
Konan nodded his head. “Figures.” Lilly started the car and drove. The rain had not let up any. Heavy raindrops crashed into the windshield; the wipers slapped it away. Konan listened to the rhythm of the wipers for a while.
“So, did you betray your partner?”
“No. I turned him in for corruption. He took bribes from politicians, abused his authority, broke all the rules, and tried to set me up to take the fall for all of it.”
“Why did they send you to us?”
“Who’s the victim?”
“I don’t know.”
Lilly guided the car into an all-night convenience store, and the pair walked into the store. Broken liquor bottles littered the floor. The potent smell of whiskey saturated the air.
A young officer stopped them short of the ticker tape. Lilly forced a smile at him. “I’m Detective Lilly Thompson,” she said. “This is Detective Konan.” The officer broke into a laugh.
“Conan, you said. If he hit a side pose, he would disappear.”
A small giggle escaped from Lilly, and Konan sighed. “Nothing ever changes.”
“Wonderful. Another Neanderthal who has confused size with intelligence. Maybe I should reintroduce myself.”
“Sure thing, Conan.”
“I’m Chief Kick-A-Bitch from the Slapaho tribe. Get out of my way.”
Lilly laughed as the young officer turned red in his cheeks. “That is rather good, Konan. Let us get in here and do our job.”
Lilly led Konan through the mess. According to what the higher ups had told him, Lilly was the highest ranking, therefore, she would do the talking. Konan was there to watch and learn. Even over at the 112th, everyone knew Lilly Thompson was one of the best detectives around. Konan would sit back and observe.
A row of coolers ran down the back wall and left side of the store. A long hallway led from the front door to the entrance of the coolers. Another hallway led to the back door, and it led to the alleyway. The hall was well lit. Blood covered the floor and walls. Four bodies, Konan assumed they were employees and owner, were lying on the floor.
Forensics were taking photographs and measuring the scene. Allie Smith, the lead forensic tech, looked up and gave Lilly a nod. Lilly nodded back.
“Have you guys found anything, Allie?”
“Yeah. We have some bloody footprints leading to the back door. We have fingerprinted everything. Who’s your shadow?”
Lilly turned and waved a hand at Konan. Allie walked over and pulled off her gloves. She stuck her hand out, and Konan grasped it.
“This is Thermopolis Konan. He came to us from the 112th.”
“Ah,” Allie said. “You’re him.” Konan raised his eyebrows.
“Him? Him who?”
“You’re the guy that burned his last partner. They sent you here because you betrayed, um, did the right thing.”
Konan took a deep breath and forced a smile. Lilly grimaced. “Definitely not a good impression,” she thought to herself. “It’s bad enough that everyone knew what Konan did. To have it thrown into his face was something else.”
“Nice to meet you, Allie.”
He seemed happy to ignore her blunder. Allie smiled and nodded.
“Just call me Konan.”
“Sure thing, Konan.”
“Has anyone checked the cooler?”
Ally shook her head no. “The crime is out here, Konan. None of us checked the cooler. We started with the bodies.”
“Okay. I’ll check it out.”
Konan pulled the latch on the metal door and stepped inside. The refrigeration unit kicked on. On the left side of the cooler stacks of beer, milk, eggs and cheese waited to be put on the shelves. Konan pulled out a light and shined it on the floor. Bloody footprints led deeper into the cooler. The footprints were tiny, like a child’s footprint would be.
A noise sounded at the back of the cooler. Konan moved quietly through the cooler. He turned off his light and came up to a stack of soda. Old-fashioned glass bottles rattled in their cases. A small girl shivered from the cold.
Konan knelt beside a small girl. She had blood on her hands and face. Tears stained her cheeks.
“Hi, I’m Konan. What’s your name?”
The child would not look at him. She continued to cry silently. Konan reached for her. His badge came into view and the child screamed.
“Evil man! Evil man!”
Konan backed up. The door of the cooler opened, police poured in. Konan waved them off. Lilly stood in the doorway.
“What’s going on, Konan?”
“Call child services. We have a witness.”
Konan took a seat on a milk crate until child services arrived. Lilly took the small girl to the bathroom and helped her clean up. Child Services rushed in and spoke to the child in a calm, kind manner. Konan walked out under the yawning. Lilly waited for him to say something.
“Is she okay?”
Konan shrugged and pulled his collar up to protect his neck from the constant rain.
“I don’t know. She went bananas when she noticed my badge. She kept screaming I was an evil man.”
Lilly rubbed her forehead. “Poor Konan. This is not what he needs. He just got here.” Konan and Lilly walked out into the rain. They sat in their car and watched the deluge.
“Konan, do you think a dirty cop killed those folks?”
“It would seem that way, given her reaction to the badge. However, that means nothing. A lot of folks today do not trust cops. Maybe her parents told her to stay away from police.”
“Maybe, but you don’t believe that, do you?”
“Lilly, I just got assigned to this department. I am not trying to make waves, and I am not trying to point a finger at a cop. If the evidence leads us to a dirty cop, then I’ll arrest him or her. Until then…”
Lilly patted Konan’s leg. She winked at him. Konan shook his head in disgust.
“I understand, Konan. We must brief Chief Mathers. She will want to know what we have found.”
Lilly started the car and pulled out into traffic. Konan gripped the door handle and breathed deeply. Lilly swerved in and out of traffic, often blowing the horn to let the other drivers know she was coming through.
“Relax, Konan. I got this.”
Konan said nothing. He closed his eyes and waited. “God, if I die here, please don’t let me suffer,” Konan prayed silently.
“Are you religious, Konan?”
Lilly hit the horn and jammed on the brakes before Konan could answer.
“You moron,” she shouted.
The vehicle that had pulled out in front of them moved over into the other lane. Lilly craned her neck to see if the driver was as stupid as the way they drove.
An old lady lifted her middle finger and shoved it out her open window. Konan grinned, Lilly busted out laughing.
“You go, Granny.”