real lj idol | week 25 | 2012 words
Cesspool – an Idol Intersection with kickthehobbit (her story is here).
It's no job for a woman, people always said, and it pissed Maggie off. Either they were saying she didn't have the stomach for it, or that she failed at femininity.
The hell with them. What did they know, anyway?
Nobody liked the kind of people she dealt with as a cop. Who would? They were scum—murdering, abusive, drug-dealing scum. She wasn't there to offer them sympathy or to save their sorry asses. Her job was to throw them in the slammer until they were so old their teeth fell out.
The only people Maggie felt sorry for were the victims, some of them so devastated they'd probably never recover. But she'd used that as motivation for becoming a cop and then later a detective. Getting criminals off the streets kept other people from becoming their victims. It was the best she could do.
Today's caseload included a hit-and-run in the Bowery, and the continuing investigation of a murder near Broadway. There were a couple of notes on Maggie's desk—phone calls that had come in during the overnight shift. She glanced over them, reached for her coffee cup and headed to the break room.
"Stylish," Roy Gaines commented as she passed his desk (because that never got old).
"Bite me." She was wearing her typical black dress pants and walkable shoes, with something professional on top—clothes that would let her run after a perp, if she had to. She was sure Gaines would have scorned fashionable clothes just as strongly.
Her partner, Glen Kliebert, was already getting coffee. "You talk to Mick yet? He got the results back on the evidence trace from the vic's car."
Maggie refilled her mug. "Anything helpful?"
"A couple of hairs on the driver's side that didn't match the vic or her roommate, and the roommate says no boyfriend."
"Have they run anything against the database?"
"That's next." Glen checked the doorway behind her, and lowered his voice. "The log says you were here late last night. Things with Joe not going so good?"
Joe Weisz was the lunch chef at a pricey café near Central Park. She'd met him on the job, and he'd called the station to ask her out the day afterward. They'd hit it off so well that they'd been spending most nights together until last Sunday, when he'd suddenly decided he was nervous about her being killed in the line of duty. Cold feet—seemed like a lot of her relationships hit that point. This one had really mattered, though. A week ago, she'd even found herself thinking that Joe might be the one…
Glen was still waiting for an answer. Maggie sighed. "He called things off. Couldn't get past the job."
Glen grimaced. He'd been married twice already. He knew. "You'll meet someone, Mags," he said.
Maggie shrugged, but inside she was smiling. Glen knew her better than anyone. If he still thought there was hope, who was she to argue?
They went back to their desks and sat down, facing off across Glen's In-tray, and Maggie's half-dead ficus plant. There was another note on Maggie's desk. "Patrol called," she said. "They're sending us a list of witnesses and last-known-associates for the hit-and-run today."
"Associates," Glen snorted. "Deadbeats and winos, is more like it."
"Still, unless he was sleeping out in traffic…"
"Yeah, I know. A crime is a crime. Let's see when the autopsy's scheduled, and then we can head out."
The drive to East 2nd Street seemed to take forever. Lunchtime rush, Maggie thought. We should have eaten first…
But once they started interviewing the victim's friends, she was glad they hadn't. All the men were homeless, and reeked of vomit, alcohol, and sweat. It was all she could do to hide her disgust. Still, they all seemed genuinely upset over their friend's death.
"It's dark at that corner," one man said, "but I could still see. The light was red, and the car just ran him over like he was nobody, you know?"
Maggie nodded. She'd heard it before. It was exactly why she and Glen were there.
The other witness said the same, and he'd gotten a partial plate number for the vehicle. The whiskey fumes coming off the man didn't promise much in the way of accuracy, but at least it was something. A previous witness had said the car looked like a dark-blue SUV. Adding those two pieces of information together might turn up something.
"You hungry?" Glen asked when they'd finished.
"Not anymore," Maggie said, but smiled to let him know she was joking. They stopped at Polish Pete's hot dog stand on the way back to the station for a kielbasa-dog and some brats. Glen pretended it was for her, but the man loved his brats. Sometimes Maggie thought he was just one brat or T-bone steak away from having a heart-attack, but she hoped not. He was a good partner—not like that jerk-off she'd been paired with after the Academy. She'd have liked to see him make retirement in another ten years.
At the station, there was another note on Maggie's desk regarding a possible witness to the abduction of their homicide victim, Laurel Martin.
They drove to the Sheraton on Canal, where the witness worked as a desk clerk. The manager let them use a conference room for the interview.
"Tell us what you saw, Shelly," Maggie said.
"I was driving home after my shift—I get off at ten—and I saw a man and a woman in front of where they hold the Flea Market on Broadway. The woman looked like the one in the papers."
"Was there something about them that drew your attention?" Maggie said encouragingly.
"Yes," Shelly said. "They were close together, and it looked like the man had his arm around her. But she was walking all stiff and funny-looking. Like she didn't want to go with him."
"Did you happen to get a look at him?"
"I think so. He was a white guy, mid-to-late thirties, and kind of tall. He had on a brown jacket and black pants, and his shoulders looked really, really big compared to the rest of him."
Maggie hid a sudden spark of excitement. "Do you think you could work with a sketch artist to come up with a picture of him?"
She and Glen took Shelly to the station with them and set her up with an artist, before returning to their desks. Maggie's desk had a preliminary report from one of the crime-techs containing twelve dark-blue SUVs with license plates matching the partial given by the hit-and-run witness. She looked it over while Glen called to check on DNA matches for the hair sample found in Laurel Martin's car.
The autopsy for the hit-and-run should have started. She and Glen would check in with the coroner later, for the results. Maggie wondered if there was an ID for the victim yet. They'd have to notify the family, assuming they could find them. That was one of the worst parts of the job. She always dreaded it.
Laurel Martin's mother had sagged right down to the floor when they'd told her that her daughter was dead. Even though her daughter was an adult, they'd talked on the phone nearly every day. It was clear the loss was devastating.
Maggie phoned her mother every couple of weeks, unless her mother called first. Her mother had moved back home to Michigan after Maggie's father died, and always wanted to know when Maggie was going to visit, and had she found a man yet? Maggie had lived in New York all her life and planned on staying there, and she hadn't even told her mother about Joe. Just as well, now that it was over, but that was the thing: dealing with the aftermath of a breakup was hard enough without Maggie's mother adding her own drama to it. Who needed that?
The techs had done a good job with the prelim on the hit-and-run. The two vehicles at the top of the report belonged to men with DWI priors. Maggie ran the owners through the state's criminal database, and discovered that one of the men was already in jail. The other looked more promising, especially since he worked just five blocks from the part of the Bowery where the accident had taken place.
"Read this over, would you?" Glen passed a report across their desks.
Maggie looked at the cover, and realized it was for the case they'd closed yesterday. Paperwork—you just couldn't escape it. She and usually Glen traded off, and they both did a decent job of it. She read through his summary, stopping on the third page. "I don't see anything about the parking lot attendant," she said.
"Crap. Knew I forgot something. Hand it here."
Smith and Bolnik came through, blustering loudly over an arson case. Bolnik caught Maggie's eye: "You and the geezer solved that homicide from yesterday yet? Twenty bucks says we beat you to a booking."
Maggie returned his gaze, rarely one to back away from a challenge. "You're on." She hoped the sketch artist was getting something good…
She and Glen met with the lieutenant a half-hour later, to brief him on the status of both cases. The lieutenant was very big on status, which made it harder to get things done. He suggested the approaches they were already taking, and asked the obvious questions about what they'd learned. Glen had more patience with it than she did, but she could see his neck starting to stiffen by the end.
The lab had called while they were away—no match in the database on the hair from Laurel Martin's car, but they'd narrowed down the rope fibers found on the body when it was recovered. The autopsy hadn't been performed yet, but the medical examiner was likely to rule death by strangulation. The fibers might come in handy.
Shelly had finished with the sketch artist, so now they had something to send out to the media. Glen made arrangements with Press Relations while Maggie looked into Bob Waggoner, the guy with two previous DWI arrests and a dark-blue Dodge Durango. Mr. Waggoner had not shown up for work that day, and the landlord of the apartment that matched the address on the car's registration said that Waggoner had moved out four months earlier.
It was seven o'clock by the time Maggie got off the phone. She could feel the effects of the previous day's late hours catching up to her, and much as she hated to admit it, it was clear neither case would be solved that day. She gathered up her jacket, purse, and gun, and rode the elevator down to get her car and head home.
There wasn’t much waiting for her there, now that Joe was gone. They'd only been together a couple of months, but she'd really liked coming home to him. She supposed she'd get used to being alone again after awhile, but his leaving was still fresh. She missed him. All she had to look forward to now was a few hours of relative quiet.
Maggie was starving by the time she got to her apartment, and bone-tired as well. She dumped everything on the couch and stuck some soup in the microwave to heat. She sat down and ate an apple while she waited, staring blankly at the curtains over the sink.
The phone rang.
God, not her mother. Tonight of all nights, Maggie just wasn't up to it, and only her mother still called on the landline. But then she thought of Laurel Martin's mother, collapsing in grief with the news of the death of her only child. Maggie sighed.
She put down the apple and steeled herself, taking a deep breath and reaching for the phone. "Hello?"
"Mags?" The sound of that rich, warm voice was so unexpected that it made her heart skip for a moment, rising on a flutter of forgotten excitement.
It was Joe.
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