Turnbuckle looked up from the computer and was suddenly struck by just how quiet the squad room was. He always considered it a bit of a joke when someone actually referred to this meager space as “the squad room”, because in reality the detective division of this tiny Maryland hamlet consisted solely of himself and his sometime partner, Tinky LaMatta. The two detectives usually took turns, alternating between day and night shifts and splitting weekend duty. Theirs was not a jurisdiction that suffered from a surplus of violent crime, that distinction falling to the nation’s capital to the south and Baltimore further east. Incidents involving murder were usually the straight-forward result of domestic bliss gone awry or drunken misadventure at The Wombat Lounge and this much mayhem was a rarity. The aging neon tube in the overhead light flickered and hummed, teasing JC with the constant threat of plunging the small basement office into semi-darkness, the pale glimmer of the computer screen the only source of emergency illumination. JC squinted at the monitor and pushed his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose.
“Hmmm…”, he said to himself, as he hastily scrawled a series of notes onto several lavender
post-it notes. “Looks like we may have an ID on the licence from the getaway vehicle. Well, well, one Vincent Gabriel Barlow. Goodness, laddie, you are certainly swimming in the deep end of the pool tonight.” JC spit out the soggy remains of the old reed and reached for the plastic sheath that held a number of fresh, German cut Vandoren White Masters. He sucked vigorously on the new reed. “Old piece of shit Honda like that will either blend in like a chameleon or we’ll find it broken down on the side of the road. Not a great choice for a getaway vehicle, dick head. Not much of a choice for a driver, either. God’s Holy Trousers!”
JC rose from his desk and walked into the corridor that led to a stairwell and the upper levels of the county office building. The peeling institutional green cinder block walls were decorated with motivational posters exhorting employees to be diligent in reporting discrimination in all its ugly guises, be they racial, sexual or faith based as well as the ubiquitous warnings to be alert for terrorism and the dreaded threat of unattended packages. Turnbuckle had hoped to refresh himself with a cup of java from the aging Mr. Coffee at the end of the hall, but was not surprised to find the pot coated with a thick brown goo that had crusted to the inside of the glass. “That prick Jarrod!”, muttered JC under his breath. The day watch officer was notorious for abandoning the coffee pot with just enough liquid remaining that the leavings would continue to warm and eventually evaporate into the mahogany sludge that now coated the bottom of the vessel.
Turnbuckle shook his head in a vain attempt to clear the cobwebs from his sleep deprived
brain, reached deep into the pockets of his pants for some spare change and resigned himself to a stale Twix bar from the vending machine. He still hoped to cling to the rapidly dispersing wisps of his dream, and of the real life image of that fantastic butt in the tight dress skirt on the eighth floor when he heard the sound of small, but determined feet descending the stairs.
“Professor! Hey, JC! You down here?” echoed the shrill voice of Tinky LaMatta from the stairwell. “Lock and load partner, we’ve got a sighting from Baltimore. Time to roll.”


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