Chapter 1: On the streets
Jericho City, jewel of the bay and several miles from the seaport that saw both import and exports on a daily basis. Always on the tip of the mouth of the nation, both its boons and banes were well known, for the most part anyway. Precinct 21 of the city saw both the best its citizens had to offer, as well as the worst of the worst, the end result differentiated between a trip back home and a trip to the state penitentiary to the east. For the ordinary citizens, of course, it was simply a day by day trial, the same stuff but on a different day. Crime wasn’t exactly rampant, nor was it above the state’s norm, but it was always the first to be looked at and blown out of proportion.
It wasn’t until Tuesday that the newest news story started to form. A call to the police about a possible murder victim had been received by P21 and the subsequent beat cots assigned to investigate called in the dreaded 11-44: Deceased Person, coroner required. The site was sealed off and the crime scene was audited by investigators, the forensics team collecting whatever information they could find, bagging and tagging everything including the body, which had been named “John Doe”.
His world had been pulled back from the dark dreamy waters from the screaming of his alarm clock. He groaned as he reached up from under his covers and fumbled for the alarm clock and snooze button, bringing his hand down onto the nightstand before finally finding the button, bringing sweet silence. His cast a bleary eye towards the clock and sighed, wondering why he had to wake up at the ass-end of the early morning. He closed his eyes again and started to drift when his alarm clock started to scream at him once more, prompting him to whack the snooze button again.
“Ok, ok, I’m up dammit,” he sighed as he rolled onto his back and slowly sat up, the green display of the clock barely illuminating his room. “I’m up… just give me a second.”
It always felt like a slow process to swing his legs over the side of his bed and rub at his face, trying to wake up in the wee-hours of the morning. It was nothing he wasn’t used to, but it was still a pain in the ass to do. He sighed let his feet touch the cold wooden floor of his bedroom, waiting for the vertigo to pass before getting up. Beyond the green haze of his clock was pure darkness that stayed until he found the light switch. He winced as the lights flared on but didn’t bother to grumble about it, instead opening the door of his room and heading out into the hallway for the bathroom.
It was a routine that may as well have been set in stone by now. Wake up, take the daily constitutional, take a shower, get dressed, head downstairs, have the daily coffee and cigarette, watch whatever crap they were slinging on the news, and head to work. The toilet flushed, the hot water was blissful, and he headed back to his room, grabbing a fresh pair of boxers and an undershirt. He made a mental note that he would have to do laundry when he got the chance, seeing as how he was down to his last two pairs of boxers.
He pulled his pants on, looped the belt and grabbed his revolver and holster from the top of the dresser, looping the belt through the leather hoops before running the end through the buckle and latch. His service revolver wasn’t much to look at- not many working revolvers were- but it looked rather professional this morning. At times, he wondered what he would have thought about it before he joined the force, before prison, before his life met the pivoting pin of fate.
John Valire, detective extraordinaire with a black mark that spanned half of his life and stained the rest just like the tattoo stained his arm from wrist to shoulder and collarbone. He pulled his shirt on and sat on his bed, picking up one of his boots. Regular sneakers and loafers hurt his feet to no end, which left police-issue boots for him to wear, the very same ones regular beat cops and members of the SWAT teams used. They didn’t pinch, they didn’t chafe, and they were pretty useful for kicking in doors when needed.
Of course, he was just a detective. Take statements at point A, poll neighbors at point B, work up the evidence in the office, present to the chief- and DA, if needed- rinse and repeat. Seeing as how nothing followed the “how it’s supposed to go” laws, it was rarely that simple. He had just gotten the smell out of his pants and boots from the last time he had to go traipsing in the sewers for a possible drug dealer’s camp that held possible evidence for a triple homicide.
It was a little past four in the morning when he headed downstairs and flipped on the coffee maker. He wasn’t typically one for anything beyond a light breakfast but today, his Monday, was going to be an exception. The smell of dark roast filled the air as he set a frying pan on the stove and rooted around in the fridge, picking out a pair of eggs and a slice of ham from a sealed food container. After a while he gave a mental “fuck it” and picked out another slice of ham, tossing them into the pan with a dash of olive oil.
Time rolled by and eventually John cleaned up, got his overcoat and took a cursory glance at the local news for what kind of weather they were to expect. He took none of it to heart, considering that the weather around Jericho City could change in less than an hour. Clear skies one moment, the next you had a storm front rolling over the outskirts. He flicked the TV off and drew his revolver, opening the cylinder and seeing the distinct absence of bullets, just like he left it. He reached back and frowned, remembering that he had left his ammo at the office, instead shutting the cylinder and putting it back into its holster.
He lived within the Jericho suburbs, two story, four bedroom, two bath home that took up the majority of his salary. His car was parked outside of the garage as usual, the sky was just barely lighting up in the fat east. He juggled his keys in his hand, finding the one he wanted before getting into the car, flipping the ignition and hearing the radio spark to life, blaring soft tunes just over the radio scanner he had installed himself. He turned the radio off entirely and scanned the police frequencies as he pulled the door shut. All he got was the regular fare, overnight officers complaining about their rounds when they didn’t think anyone would hear, several 11-66s, and even one 11-82. Just another Sunday night of people getting drunk and getting behind the wheel.
The suburban street lead onto the main road as John twisted the wheel, heading down Waterson. The 21st precinct was little more than five miles down the road, although it was a hell of a drive when in the middle of rush hour. He pushed against the brakes as he came along a red light, tapping his hands against the wheel before reaching down the turning the radio back on. He fiddled with the knob before the light turned green and he was moving once again.
The parking structure was barren on the two highest floors, which he chose to park in and take the elevator to the ground floor. He wasn’t a big fan of people parking next to him and slamming his doors when they got out. He pulled into an empty space, flipped the transmission to “park”, hit the parking break and switched the engine before getting out of his car. The air was still brisk with the night air as he headed for the roadway down, ignoring the elevator altogether.
The front office receptionist looked at him and nodded as he headed through the lobby of the precinct. The office floor itself was almost completely abandoned, aside from a few cops that were burning the midnight oil. He walked through the front office area towards the back offices, those typically reserved for detectives as well as the elevator leading to the drunk tank and morgue downstairs.
His office was freezing cold but he didn’t think twice between walking into the room, shutting the door behind him and hanging his coat up, rummaging through his desk drawers for the box of .357 FMJs and several speed-loaders he had left behind. He had to stop forgetting this stuff, considering how the ability to keep safe on the job hinged on his having bullets. The leather pouches he used for loose bullets as well as the loaders were in another drawer, which he looped his belt through along the left of his waist. Six FMJs were slipped into the revolver’s cylinder and deposited back into the holster. His day had officially started as far as he was concerned, even though the time clock showed he was an hour early.
His inbox was almost completely barren, save for a few department-wide emails from the Chief and from Peggy. His last case had been closed about a week ago and all he had was time on his hands, although he spent it at the range or reviewing other cases that had been closed, trying to see what could have been differently. He tried to stay away from cases that involved gang violence, or murders that involved cops or other law-enforcements. Those just brought up bad memories that he wanted to leave dead and buried.
He continued to perpetually sit on his ass in his freezing office, looking up digital copies of closed files, or going through his own filing cabinet of information. Eventually his phone rang and he looked up, one folder in his hand and another clenched between his teeth. He set the files down as quickly as he could and hurried to the phone.
“Detective Valire,” he spoke into the mouthpiece, glancing at the clock on the wall.
“Detective,” Chief Alver’s voice filtered through the earpiece. “Got a report of a code 187, I want you to check it out.”
John took down the address and hung up, grabbing his coat and leaving his office in a hurry, jogging out of the precinct to his car. He glanced up and noticed the sky was already starting to cloud up. Thank you, weather service, for being so accurate.
It was little past 8 in the morning when he left the heart of the city and made it to the modest industrial sector. Factories, a refinery, even a few warehouses made their homes here, but that was about it in the middle of the urban and industrial decay. Many a cop stayed around here to try and prevent the inevitable drug deal or prostitute tour, not that it helped in the long run since there was far too much ground to cover for a pair of cops at any given time. Considering that you had to add a murder victim to that mix, and you had a recipe for a needle hidden in a stack of needles.
The crime scene was easy to spot from the road, the Jericho City black and whites idling near the front entrance of a derelict factory, their lights still flashing red and blue against the weathered metal and concrete. The forensics team was already present, if the white CSI van was any indication, almost assuring that he’d get yelled at for stepping somewhere that he wasn’t supposed to that hadn’t been marked off.
Overhead the clouds had rolled over en force. He would have called it overcast had it not been for the occasional span of blue against white-grey. He pulled alongside a police car and cut the engine before getting out. A faint drop of water hit the windshield as he headed in, the rest of the storm coming down shortly after.