“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 was supposed to have been here ten minutes ago. “Typical 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 her hand. “I’m Lilly. We have been paired up as 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 do 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 were 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 tore up from the floor up.”
“Yeah, that’s what we heard in 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 began to drive. 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. Hurricane Antoine was ripping.
“So, did you betray your partner?”
“No. I turned him in for corruption. He took bribes from politicians, abused his authority, broke 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.”
Their conversation died down for a while and they rode in silence. Lilly stole glances at Konan but gave him his space.
“So,” Lilly began, “you were in the military, right?” Konan nodded.
“Yeah. I was in the Army.”
“What did you do for the Army?”
“I killed our enemies abroad, so we don’t fight them here at home.”
“You just bounce from one thankless job to the next, don’t you?”
“It has seemed that way from time to time.” Lilly laughed and punched him on the shoulder. Konan grinned.
“Well, don’t you worry that pretty head of yours, Konan. I’m in your corner.”
Lilly guided the car into an all-night convenience store, and the pair walked into the store. Broken liquor bottles were scattered on the floor, the strong smell of whiskey saturated the air. A pool of blood was next to the Slurpee machine. Yellow ticker tape marked off the crime scene.
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.
“Wonderful. Another Neanderthal who has confused size with intelligence and prowess. Maybe I should reintroduce myself.”
“Sure thing, Conan.”
“I’m Chief Kick-A-Bitch from the Slapaho tribe. Get out of the way.”
Lilly laughed as the young officer turned red in his cheeks. “That is rather good, Konan. Let”s get in here and do our job.”
They were guided to the first body; it lay between the Slurpee machine and the coolers. Two rounds had penetrated the clerk’s chest. Two more bodies were next to a cut out of the mascot of a favorite brand of chips. Both had deep cuts in the jugular and had been shot twice in the chest.
The medical examiner had knelt by the pair. Dr. Stephen Michel Quinn was an older man. He had spent his years in the medical profession, first as a medic during the Vietnam War, then as a doctor in the town Fredericksburg. He was of average height, average weight, and had thin hair. He refused to relinquish his grasp on his hair. “It’s a matter of pride,” he would often say.
“Who’s your tag-a-long, Lilly?”
“Dr. Quinn, this is Detective Thermopolis Konan, he came to the 117th from the 112th.” Quinn nodded and Konan nodded back. “Glad to have you on the team, Detective.”
“Thanks. What happened here?”
Konan frowned. Quinn and Lilly both laughed at the small joke. They composed themselves when Konan did not join in their laughter.
“The first body died from lead poisoning. Both rounds went straight into the heart. This pair are a bit trickier. They both would have died from the wounds to the neck, so double tapping both to the heart seems like overkill.”
Konan thanked the Dr. Quinn and excused himself. He walked to the officer first on scene. “Did anybody see anything?” The kid nodded. “Yeah, one of them said they saw a woman come from the store.”
“Did they get a description?”
“Yeah, but who knows how accurate it is.”
“Let me have it.”
“They said she was between 5’8 and 5’10, probably 135 pounds. Witness said she had on a black raincoat and had a black umbrella. She got in a late model car, no ID on what kind of car. Witness said it was fancy and black.”
“They didn’t get a look at her face. No license plate number?”
“No sir, but they said she had greyish-blond hair, and it was straight.”
“You bet, Konan.”
Lilly walked up to Konan when he was finished questioning the officer. She sipped at her coffee. “I don’t know about you pard, but I’m famished.”
“I could eat.”
“Did you learn anything useful?”
“The killer had training.”
“How do you figure?”
“The double taps to the chest. A witness said a woman left the scene.”
“So? You think a woman did all this?”
“Maybe. Whoever did it, they never lost their composure. They left no witnesses.”
“So, why just shoot the clerk and then cut both jugulars on the other two. How did the killer manage that?”
“I don’t know.”
Lilly waved the officer over. “Has anyone looked at the security feed?”
“No, not yet.” Lilly nodded and walked behind the counter. Six security cameras were placed in various locations around the story. Only two were on. She pressed the eject button, but there was no disc in the tray.
“The killer took the disc. We have no idea what the killer looked like.”
“There’s still the traffic cams and the bank across the street.”
“Yeah,” Lilly huffed. “The traffic cams are for show. In case you have not noticed, this is not a nice part of town. The chief sends two cars on patrol in this area.”
“Well, let’s have the videos pulled anyway. Maybe we will get lucky.”
Lilly and Konan walked to their car. Life had a funny way of reminding you that sooner or later, everyone’s luck ran out.