Occupation: Homicide Detective
It wasn’t the ringing phone at first, it was the paws trampling on my face.
Consciousness comes on crushing cat feet, I thought, brutalizing the Carl Sandburg line. My cat Comet was like an inept contract killer when it came to waking me up, the type that, once hired, is relentless, merciless action – until he gets distracted by a bird outside the window.
I fumbled around for a mallet to smash the phone into a million pieces, then regretted not keeping a mallet by the bed. Probably best not to shoot it with my service Glock. On the other line was my father, who desperately wanted me to help him program a number into speed dial on his phone and couldn’t wait another minute. A tense childhood spent tiptoeing around his post-Vietnam nerves when he was sleeping, and now he wakes me up after I spend three consecutive nights at the station.
Before I went back to the office, I took out my garbage, recycle, and compost, something I normally do the previous evening unless I’m staggering with exhaustion. I waved to a group of my neighbors, guys in their forties who like to chat near their bins on garbage day. To me, they were “The Garbage Luck Club” or “Brotherhood of the Traveling Trash.”
I had another busy day in front of me working a murder: a college student gunned down at close range in what looked like a contract killing — not something we saw a lot of in Erie.
At the station, I met with the other detectives, assigned tasks, looked through the updates to the murder book, and drank a gallon of coffee. While I called the lab, I sneaked in a very quick look at the Twitter feed for the ESA space probe at the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, a minor obsession.
I talked to the captain while he ate a Klondike bar and guzzled a gourmet coffee that he complained was overroasted. Personally, I think the coffee you get at specialty roasters is punishment you overpay for, and that a Klondike bar is not a proper breakfast. I suggested he add a pinch of salt to the coffee, but he turned to go after a vice detective and absentmindedly sloshed the whole thing out of the cup and onto my sleeve – and didn’t even notice.
After swapping my shirt for a fresh one from my desk, I went out alone to find new witnesses and develop new leads. I like to be most active in the morning and evening, like a monocled cobra.
I kept sifting through the victim’s life like it was an archaeological dig. There was still a gap in the victim’s trail that we hadn’t filled in yet. I wanted to know everything about who she talked to, where she went, and what she did before someone killed her – and that involved repeatedly visiting everyone who knew her, or who was in the vicinity of the shooting that day. I’d talk to these people over and over again until they thought they saw me everywhere.
With added energy from The Who, I drove all over the city talking to people who knew the victim, trying to ingratiate myself so they’d open up to me. At one professor’s house, his three-year-old son latched on to my leg and clung there like a monkey. But as a tall guy, I’m used to it, and it made the professor a little less reticent.
At the station that night, I tightened the timeline on the board and enjoyed a nanosecond of triumph before the inevitable frustration set in. I planted myself at my desk to write reports until late, snagged a few hours of sleep in the break room, checked my CometCam in the house, then spent more time with the book. Tomorrow’s another day, working for the victim.
You can read more about Shawn in Danger Returns in Pairs, the second book in the “Shawn Danger” mystery series. The first book in the series is Danger in Cat World.
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Meet the author
Nina Post is the author of seven novels, including Danger Returns in Pairs, Danger in Cat World, Extra Credit Epidemic, The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse, The Last Donut Shop of the Apocalypse, One Ghost Per Serving, and The Zaanics Deceit. She lives in Seattle with her husband. To learn more, please visit www.ninapost.com.