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Author Topic: New Detective Series  (Read 46 times)
zoletti
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« on: August 12, 2018, 09:28:59 PM »

CHAPTER ONE

I shoved my body against a wooden door. It bent, the hinge groaned, but the lock held. Frustrated, I pounded both my fists against the door. There was no time. He was going to die. Standing back in the hallway, I leapt forward and kicked the door. It cracked and buckled to the floor. A brilliant glow lit up a child’s room. The backdraft pushed a wave of life-choking smoke across my body. I was too late. Sucking clean air from a respirator, I pushed forward. The elongated space offered few hiding spaces, just moments earlier my son had cried for help, he had to be here, hidden in the smoke. I dropped down on hands and knees, searching…
“Zachary!” I called out. 

The heat pierced through my thick fire-resistant clothing. My child, I had to find him, he can’t die. Suddenly a burning beam dropped, hitting the carpet with a thud. With my path forward blocked, and crackling flames dancing onto the bed, I stood, pulled the ax from around my back, and like a warrior, took a swing, blasting the wood in two.   

“Zachary!”

The flames spread throughout the room, pictures of sports stars on the walls melted, a mirror cracked and the ceiling buckled. I will die before I leave you. Then I saw him, my son, one of his legs protruded from the closet. I hopped the burning bed, “Zac!”  I reached out and took hold of his leg, pulling it until his body left the cover of the closet. Praying, I turned him over. RING! Confused, I looked up, a flashing light, RING! What was that? RING!  Flames washed across my body. “No!”
I sat up.  RING!  “What’s happening?”  The room was dark, cool, and a dog curled up at the edge of the bed. RING! My phone, It, it was…all just a dream.

My wife nudged me with her foot.  “You’re on call.”

“Hello,” I answered.

“Detective Diamond?” an authoritative voice at the other end asked.

“Yes sir,” I replied, still groggy, half my head still in a nightmare
.
In one breath, “This is Sergeant Wilson, Hollenbeck Watch Commander. We had a killing.  Looks gang related, shooting, body is still at scene, Fickett and Folsom.”
“Okay, I’m rolling,” I said. “I’ll notify my partner.”

I wiped the sweat from my brow, clicked off the phone, stood, grabbed my go-bag, and headed out of the room. Down the hall I lumbered, in a fog, still gaining my senses. It felt so real. The loss hurt so bad. The pain drifted to my core.   

At the bottom pf the stairs, I picked up a picture of my family. Running my fingers across the photo of my wife, son and daughter, I questioned, why work murders? I was tired of spending time away from the people I love. I’m replaceable to the Department. I would not be missed, but I am missed. Putting the picture back, I cleared out my thoughts and took hold of the mantel. A life has ended and a family needs closure and a killer deserves justice, time to get to work and do my duty.       
 After calling my partner, his first murder, great, I jumped in the shower. A quick hot rinse and shave returned clarity. Dressing in my suite, and as the fog lifted from the mirror, the image I saw reflected reminded me to take care of my aging body. No longer did the muscles bulge, or the abs pop.  My eyes lost their innocence and showed the twenty years of big city police work.   

I made my way to my city ride. A midnight drive made for a quick commute. Along the way, I ran a to-do list in my head. Get a rundown from the sergeant at scene, call photos, notify the coroner, and mark evidence. Simple enough, but nothing ever went exactly as planned, there was always a hiccup, some sort of complication.
Arriving at the crime scene, I took in a deep breath. Was this going to be a twenty-four- hour all day caper, or a simple scene with no leads? Hopefully, gangs had something. The last thing I needed was another dead-end case and my lieutenant up my butt wanting it solved like yesterday.

As I exited the vehicle, my partner pulled in behind me and jumped out. He rushed over, fumbling with a notebook. His clueless stare and jittery movement made me uneasy. It had been years since I trained anyone. Never liked it, and I didn’t volunteer to be this guy’s teacher. I guess it was the punishment for being competent.
“John,” I nodded.  “Take a deep breath, okay.”
“Yes, sir.”

“It’s not much different than processing any shooting scene, okay?”

John bounced his head up and down, swallowing down some of his nervousness.

“Let’s do this.” I walked over to the police officer with a clipboard. He kept the log, tracking all the comings and goings in and out of the crime scene. Yellow tape marked the boundaries of the no go area for the public. Red tape cordoned off the location of the physical evidence.

As we signed in, the sergeant approached. I worked Hollenbeck for five years, but did not recognize the man with three bright white chevrons on his sleeve. A young face, probably a boot sergeant freshly promoted out of supervisor’s school. Or maybe fresh of the wheel of his probationary sergeant assignment. The big bad blue LAPD was so huge, ten thousand strong, with so much movement, it was common to come across new faces, even in your own division. The ear to ear smile had to be his excitement of the arrival of two big city detectives and the end the laborious task of keeping a micromanaging Detective Commanding Officer informed.
 
“Hi fellas,” he said.  “Sorry you had to come out so late.” The sergeant pointed at a white sheet on the sidewalk. “At least your night is going better than that dude’s.”

 He laughed.  “You guys want coffee?  I just had the guys do a run.”

“Yeah, I’ll take a cup,” I responded. “What do you got?”

“Just regular coffee.”

“No, I mean with the murder.  What happened?”

The sergeant looked confused.  “Don’t you guys figure that stuff out?”

“Okay,” I said, not knowing if he was messing with me or if this was his first crime scene. “We go this.” I scribbled some quick notes of my observations. The area was a mixture of single family residences, duplexes, and apartment buildings. No cameras in the immediate vicinity. The cold night kept the onlookers inside.   
Recognizing a couple of gang cops standing guard by the body, I headed over and shook hands with the crime fighters, a dying breed on the department that wanted everything toned down. 

“Hey detective. It’s ‘Rascal’ from Six Street,” the senior of the two said.  “They finally caught him slipping. Hope you don’t mind but we marked the casings on the sidewalk.”

I bent down to take a closer look at the cartridge cases. They were fired from a .45 caliber, not an uncommon round in gang land killings. “The shooter got close.” I noted the distance from the evidence to the body.

“They got him good,” the younger officer said. “One to the head, two to the chest.”

Lifting the sheet off the body, I confirmed the deceased had a hole in the head and two in the chest. A professional? I sure as sh** hoped not. It was hard enough putting sloppy crooks away on a murder case. The dead man’s eyes were still opened and his face contorted with an expression of horror. “You guys think it’s in house.”

“Could be,” the senior officer said.  “Everyone wants this knucklehead dead.  He’s a doper, stealing from his own home-boys.”

Internal gang killings were always difficult to solve. Hell, all gang killings proved to be challenging. “No witnesses, right?”
Both officers shook their heads.  “We canvased the entire block.” 

No one ever saw anything, yet they always want the police to do something about the violence. I turned to my partner. “We’ll need to get a 6th Streeter dirty.” It was myth that gangsters protected their own. Most talked to save their own ass and when they went down for a crime only mamma and girlfriend showed up to court.
“Notify photos and the coroner,” I told my partner. “I’ll start the measurements.” There was no reason to wait around for the sun to rise to get this crime scene wrapped up.

By the time the department photographer arrived, we had measured the three cartridge cases, the distance from the body, in relation to the street, the width of the sidewalk, length of street, the light standards to the body, noted all cars parked on the block, and the gang graffiti in the area.

I explained to John, you never knew what was relevant in the opening stages of a homicide investigation. Any deviation from protocol was an opening for a slick defense attorney to crush your case. He nodded and followed along, taking pages of notes, documenting every step of the process. As the photographer captured the evidence and the body, a coroner investigator arrived. Yawning, she climbed from her vehicle with her box of tools.

“Shaun.” She stood over the body and cracked her knuckles, “Someone took shooting lessons.”

“It was close range, Mary” I said.  “The one to the head was probably a coupe-de-gras.”

“Maybe it’s a cop,” John said.  “Two to the body, one to the…”

I shot a look at my partner that froze him in place. He needed to think before he spoke. The last thing I needed was a rumor mill starting that put heat on this case. My gut told me that it was just another gang killing. Anyway, why would an officer risk his freedom to kill this loser? “He’s new.”

Mary nodded as she examined the body, “He was hit standing. No impacts in the cement. Your killer put all the rounds in him in a second or two. Like, I said, you are looking for someone who can shoot.”

I turned toward the gang cops. “You guys know any 6th Streeters who are former military?”

“No,” they said in unison. 

The investigator took inventory of the decedent’s property, giving us his cell phone, always a good eye in to a victim’s past. A thermometer jab in the stomach and air temperature provided and estimated time of death that jived with the time of the radio call. A gunshot residue swabbing of the hands would tell us if he fired a gun.
A short time later, a Coroner technician arrived and with the investigator, they tightly wrapped the body. The two ladies groaned as they lifted the deceased on a gurney, leaving a blood-stained sidewalk. 

“Dead weight,” the sergeant joked. 

No one laughed.

They placed him into the van and were off to the County Morgue. Two hours and the crime scene was processes and cleared, that had to be some sort of record. Too bad we had no clue who did the killing, but I liked the theory that it was ‘in house.’ The victim probably knew his shooter. The dopers and gangsters were all so skittish that if it was a rival who did the killing, the hits would have been in the back as the victim ran away. Now came the hard part, time to notify the family.
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jcwrites
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 12:01:58 PM »

Opening with a dream sequence is not only considered to be cliché, you run the risk of alienating your reader when they discover (as I did) that you tricked them into thinking the POV character (and his son!) were in jeopardy.

Consider skipping the dream and the family set-up (work it in later), and open where your MC first lays eyes on the corpse. That's where the mystery begins.
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