"Detective Short, how can I help?" the police station clerk greeted Cameron energetically. Short felt envy when he realised that the clerk had her cup of coffee, like the others. He also noted the formality.
"Yes, Rebecca, do you have any coffee in your kitchen?" Cameron Short asked, placing his hands on the high desk, looking up at her. "Ours ran out."
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"Didn't you have your morning cup, detective?" the clerk replied, her smile appearing, childishly amused by Short's problem.
Cameron smiled in reply.
"No, no I didn't, but I was hoping you-"
"I'm sorry, detective, we ran out as well. It's Thursday and we will have fresh tins of instant coffee-"
"-delivered at 11 o'clock," they finished together.
"I can send someone to get you a cup from the diner, Detective," the clerk suggested.
"No, I don't want to be a bother," Short shook his head. The diner was two blocks over. Not a bad walk, but not a pleasant walk so early in the morning. The wind was biting, uncomfortable, cutting through Short’s old jacket with ease. "By the way, why are you calling me ‘detective’? You’ve called me Cameron for years. "
Rebecca looked over her shoulder. There weren't any narrowed eyes or overbearing superiors. Most were out, too far away or completely distracted by some other task. Besides, Rebecca felt silly talking to Cameron so formally anyway.
"You're a senior officer now, Cameron, a detective," Rebecca leaned forward on her desk. “Everyone needs to respect your rank, including me. You're going to have to start giving orders to the juniors at least, that includes me."
"You're not a junior."
"I know, but I'm not a senior either. I'm in the perfect position. I can delegate a lot of hands-on work, such as coffee runs, to the junior officers. I point the fingers, direct the officers and even pass the blame if there is a screw-up."
"Sounds like a dream job. If this detective thing doesn’t work out for me, I hope they make me a clerk instead."
"Don’t see why not. The only catch is all the paperwork. If it isn’t bad enough that I co-ordinate many of the desks here, I also sort through practically every document and folder too."
"There always has to be a downside. Otherwise, they wouldn't pay us."
Rebecca raised her eyes to see one of the sterner senior police officers enter the station. Her warm smile was snuffed out and she sat up straight at her desk. Cameron understood the change and spied the officer out of the corner of his eye.
"What kind of coffee would you like, sir?" Rebecca asked, a pencil already hovering over a notepad.
"Oh, uh, I'm going out anyway," Short lied, helping with the show.
To Short’s surprise, the senior officer approached him.
“Detective, you’ve been called to analyse a crime scene,” the senior officer said simpy. “Two victims.”
There was a certain seriousness that all officers used when talking about such things. It wasn’t the heartfelt seriousness a civilian felt or the professional coldness of a killer. Somewhere in an officer’s head, the mind is trying to cut off the emotional response. Some get so good at doing this that they appear heartless.
That’s how the sergeant appeared for Detective Short and he understood.
“Understood, did you see the crime scene?” Short asked.
“No, detective, simply passing the message.”
After giving the detective, the two parted and Short quickly said his goodbye to Rebecca. Rebecca had her own observations when it came to the detective. He wasn’t excited, but he wasn’t afraid either. He was professional, focused on the job that was given to him. Even when he looked her in the eyes and said goodbye, he was looking straight through her. His mind was already at the crime scene.
"Morning, detective," a junior officer said while he set up the tape around the crime scene. Cameron recognized him as Timothy Evans, new to the force and half Cameron's age.
"Hi, Tim, what do you have for me?" Cameron greeted, pulling out his small notepad and searching his pockets for a pencil.
"Jefferson and I noticed what appeared to be an abandoned car by the small parking lot there while on patrol around 6:15," Tim said looking at his watch. "When we got close, we noticed the first victim's arm hanging out the window, we saw blood and I went to call it in."
"And the second victim?"
"Down by the lake, sir."
"Thank you. Carry on, Tim and…" Cameron hesitated. Tim appeared looked like a beaten puppy, most likely his first encounter with murder victims. This junior officer wasn't his responsibility, but he couldn't help giving him some advice. "...your partner is Peter Jefferson, right?"
"I know him well, especially his driving record," Cameron whistled softly at the thought. Tim finally raised his eyes to look at the detective. "I know what's happened here is awful, but it has nothing to do with you. If I was you, I'd be more concerned with my seat belt while I finish today's patrol."
To Cameron's disappointment, there wasn't a chuckle from the officer, but the corners of his path did twinge in agreement. The mood did lift for Timothy after Cameron patted his shoulder and walked towards the lake. After tying off the last strip of tape on a skinny tree, he looked over at the car in the small parking lot. Jefferson had finished off the last of the tape and was leaning against the back of the patrol car, looking away from the victim.
It was a cold morning, but the lakeside was beautiful in the morning light peeking over the hills, moving across the highway to meet the small crests lapping on the shore. Short eyed the limp form on the grass, his drifting to a checkered blanket.
"Perfect place for a picnic," Cameron said to himself, looking at the picnic blanket and the bug covered food that remained. A little further down laid the first victim, a male in his mid-twenties. "I guess that's what you thought, huh?"
Cameron sighed and flipped to a new page in his notebook.