Nothing Happens All the Time

Homicides Truly Know How to Ruin a Good Meal!

Growing With the Flow... 


Detective Eli Mitchell enjoyed working the cases that landed on his desk, regardless of who they involved and the implications of the crimes tying them to the investigation. He loved his job and the Boston metropolis certainly had its fair share of incidents to keep the job interesting, outside of the so-called daily routine stigma that's been the cause of career burnout in far too many good officers. An occupational hazard that came with the job whether it was recognized as such or not. 


How could Detective Mitchell possibly know that his next big case, a homicide at one of the local convenience stores, was going to set events in motion over the next twelve days that would completely change every aspect of his life? Events that would soon turn his world upside down and inside out beyond the limits of the surreal, regardless of any departmental training, on the job or life experience, and even his own understanding of being. 


It's a damn good thing for him that he has coffee. 


Preview the book below and, should it peak your interest, you may purchase it at the various outlets listed.

Prologue

  Michael Brobeck exited the cab and was walking across the parking lot of the Tedeschi Foods Shops.  The meeting with his contact didn’t pan out like he’d hoped and waiting the hour and half only made him realize he needed lunch.  He deliberately left the office early for the appointment which should’ve only taken fifteen minutes tops.  His attempts to reach the man on the Comm system through his uChip came back with the standard, The user you’re attempting to reach is not available at this time…  Now he had to figure out what went wrong, but first thing was first. 
   The roast beef Panini sandwich and large bowl of Captain Parker’s clam chowder screamed to him from the store deli.  He selected a drink from the cooler and was walking up to the front counter with his food in tow, when he heard the man yelling at the clerk about transferring the money. 
   Someone’s robbing the store? People don’t rob stores anymore, he thought to himself as he made his way to the end of the aisle. 
   Disbelief was replaced by shocked amazement when he observed the man shoving the handgun in the clerk’s face.  Going against his survival instinct’s efforts to just be a witness, he set his food and drink onto the floor next to his feet and quietly approached the black clad dressed man’s back.  What he saw pissed him off and the clerk was too terrified to jump at the demands from the would-be thug, who seemed to be getting more upset. 
   When he was close enough Michael grabbed the strange man’s hand which held the handgun.  The stranger quickly spun on him and presented a half crazed smile with no indications of being surprised about what he’d done. 
   The man’s eyes flashed an opaquely purple color when he spoke, “Hello, Michael…  We’ve been waiting for you.” 
   Upon hearing his name, Michael almost let go of the man’s hand when he asked, “Do I know you, sir?” 
   “Not in person, Michael, but we know you and what you’re trying to do.  The material you have in your possession can’t be given to anyone and we won’t allow that to happen.”  The man’s voice hissed almost like a cobra on the verge of striking. 
   The realization on hearing the man’s voice, the deliberately blocked image of the person over the Comms, and the strange speech mannerisms hit Michael like a ton of bricks. 
   “You’re the contact?!” 
   With a non-wavering smile, the man replied, “Yes, we are…” 
   The stranger flinched the arm Michael was holding and they danced around each other in a circle.  Three shots rang out from the weapon causing him to panic, especially when he noticed the man was still wearing that strange smile. 
   He never noticed the second handgun the stranger had drawn from under his coat until two more shots rang out in front of his chest.

Chapter One - The Big Bang

  Oh my God…  I have a splitting headache… Eli Mitchell thought to himself. 
   He had no idea why it manifested now. 
   It was his week to play passenger while his partner, Wayne Thatcher, drove.  They had just sat down to grab some lunch when dispatch contacted them about the robbery call.  Their brown sedan rolled down the avenues of Boston.  The driver had his choice of music to play over the sound system.  The ride was soothing enough so he simply chalked it up to the twangy music being played through the speakers, but it was being wrongfully accused.  Both of the men inside the vehicle scanned the scenes around them.  The police Comm in the unmarked detective car constantly chimed in about problems that were taking place throughout the metropolis. 
   Autumn colored leaves were sporadically gathering on the sidewalks and streets below.  People moved along the sidewalks ignoring the leaves’ last acts of defiant claims to life.  The leaves danced and swirled about from the multitude of vehicles that passed over the asphalt.  The tall, ultramodern buildings hid the foot traffic’s view of the water fowl flying overhead.  They were starting their migration to warmer climates, unaware of the strenuous ordeal the leaves were going through.  The sleek, curved, modernistic buildings were intermingled with the older, more conventional, straight angled structures and their strange shadows only added to the chill already in the air.  The pedestrians didn’t seem to think about any of it, not even for one moment. 
   Eli was wearing his black suit today and had hung his jacket off the back of his seat.  His simple blue tie was sprawled slightly to the left against his white dress shirt.   The dark sunglasses he wore hid his blue eyes.  He ran his hand over his flattop blond hair and contemplated a good day to get it cut again, but nothing solidified as a decent time for that right now.  Eli stood slightly over six feet tall, which made him a good three inches taller than his partner.  This fact occasionally annoyed his friend and sometimes it had nothing to do with Eli’s intermittent comments about the matter. 
   Wayne’s brown hair was what Eli referred to as a Russian Haircut, due to his receding hairline rushing further back with each passing year.  He refused to do the standard comb over because he felt it looked stupid on guys who tried to rebel against their hair loss.  Wayne did manage to keep his hair looking respectable by keeping it just above the collar and short around his ears.  One of the first things people noticed about the man was his brown eyes, which could bore a hole through steel when he chose to stare at them.  His gravelly voice was the other thing which could easily be confused with a box of steel ball bearings rolling around in a rock tumbler.   He was wearing a dark gray suit that matched the other suits he had in his closet.  Using this approach, he didn't have to worry about deciding what to wear each day.  The only thing he did change about his apparel was the tie, which was dark red today. 
   Both of them sported a mustache.  Eli had his for the past three years because of the department contest that was held each year to see which officer could grow the best one.  Wayne pretty much had one since he first started working as a cop.  Neither of them had yet to win the contest, despite Wayne's best efforts to bribe the judges last year by giving them an all day spa treatment.  That award went to Louie Haskell instead, who sent the judges to a nightclub with an open bar policy for the win. 
   It was Wayne’s turn to drive and he was enjoying every moment of it.  They both came up with the idea on who drove the car for the week by flipping one of his old collectible coins.  This little game started when they were paired together more than six years ago, shortly after Eli had been promoted to his detective grade.  Wayne felt slightly victorious this time; not because he didn't have to use his double headed coin to win, but because Eli had yet to catch onto his little trick. 
   Eli picked up his coffee from the center console to take a sip and put it back without looking at it.  He knew that Wayne would deliberately hit the pot hole ahead in an attempt to make him spill his drink.  He was ready for it, unlike when he got his partner three weeks ago with the same practical joke. 
   “Did you catch Sunday's game against the Jets?” Eli asked his partner as Wayne slowed the vehicle down for the pending red light. 
   “Yeah, I did,” Wayne lit up his cigarette and flipped on the left turn signal. 
   Eli mused to himself because he already knew how this conversation was going to go, “Those Patriots barely got out of that game with a win...” 
   “Screw that, they didn't even cover the point spread!  Nine points!  Nine Points!!  And against New York!!  Sons-a-bitches!!  The way New England's defense played, it would've been better to use my sister's kid's Pee-Wee team!” 
   “What did I tell you about betting on teams you have an emotional investment in, Wayne?” He goaded his partner for another colorful comment. 
   Wayne shook his head as he took the next right, “Nine damn points!!  Against the Jets, no less!!  I bet on the Red Sox games all the time and make out like a bandit!” 
   “And look what that did for Pete Rose betting on his own team,” Eli added, knowing that Rose was one of his baseball heroes. 
   “Fuck you, you asshole…” Wayne mumbled to himself. 
   “What was that?” Eli deliberately asked. 
   “You heard me!” 
   The sedan entered into the east parking lot of the Tedeschi Foods Shop, at the corner of Cambridge and Beacon Street and stopped just short of the holographic police line.  Eli signed them out at the scene of the robbery and exited the vehicle.  While waiting for Wayne, he put on his jacket and threw a couple pieces of gum into his mouth.  He was still struggling to get used to the mustache even with having it for as long as he did.  Despite the occasional threats to shave it off, he was subconsciously playing with the longer strands with his bottom lip since his partner was taking too long. 
   They walked up to the officer in charge and obtained the details of the incident.  A lone white male assailant had entered the store and attempted to rob the clerk at gunpoint.  One of the customers in the store attempted to stop the suspect and ended up being shot in the process.  The victim's body could be seen on the other side of the checkout counter.  While they were getting updated by the officer, a woman’s shriek could be heard which caused Wayne to look around the white walled partition.  It’d been set up to prevent the crowd that had gathered from looking into the scene.  He quickly scanned the multitude of people, but he didn’t see anything out of place so he turned his attention back to the end of the officer’s narrative. 
   The medical examiner, Danny Finn, was in the process of digitally imaging the corpse when Eli and Wayne entered the building. Danny was hard to miss when he was on a scene.  His roughly six foot six inch sturdy frame didn't leave anything to the imagination indicating that he used to play football professionally.  A knee injury ended his career and left him with a slight limp.  His shaggy red hair matched his unkempt beard.  He definitely knew his stuff when it came to forensic pathology, archeology, and trace element analysis.  He was wearing the usual black semi-professional shirt and blue jeans, with his brown leather jacket currently draped over his forensics kit by the doorway. 
   “Hey Eli...  Wayne...  Dropping in for the special Dunkin Donuts is having?” Danny quipped. 
   Eli gave a casual wave. 
   Wayne smiled, “I heard your wife was working here and I figured I could dunk my donuts while I'm getting some coffee.” 
   Danny frowned and adjusted his technician glasses, “You’re in a mood today, Wayne...” 
   Eli quickly stated before Wayne could remark, “Don't mind him, Danny, he lost his shirt over the weekend.  Who do we have here?” 
   “Football again, eh?” Danny inquired.  He looked at Wayne, who was ignoring him while he used his fScanner to scan the victim's uChip located at the base of the neck. 
   The fScanner, which was short for field scanner, was exactly what it implied and was provided through the Thetatronics Company.  It was one of the more recent additions to police investigations allowing anyone who used it to scan a crime scene.  The device was meticulous and very rarely missed minute details that could potentially be overlooked given the older standard methods.  All of the gathered information could immediately be crosschecked within any criminal or information database and provide an accurate response, so long as the operator was familiar with its functions and used it correctly. 
   Thirty-three years ago, back in the year 2043, Ion-U Technologies introduced two inventions into society which helped revolutionize the world and everything conducted in it.  The first was the uChip, a microchip device which was systematically provided to everyone throughout the world.  Embedded under a person’s skin, usually at the base of the neck, it was bio-engineered to interface with a consumer’s brain and nervous system to correspond with Ion-U’s second inception. 
   The Grid, which replaced the internet and its given limitations, was the worldwide wireless connection system that did away with the need for computers, cellphones, and most other similar electronic devices.  It was also an information supersystem that allowed anyone to connect from anywhere across the globe through their uChip interface, which could be personally programed to suit a consumer’s personal desires and allowed them to keep up on all of their social, business,  and global dealings.  Unlike the uChip, which was intimately used, The Grid was hardly ever discussed by the general populous due to its subsequent overall acceptance shortly after its integration.  Together, both technologies truly made the world a smaller place through the use of the Comm system.  A slang term for the modular video communication utility system now in operation. 
   “It says here that this dead Samaritan is one Michael Brobeck.  Non-Commercial advertising of all things...  I guess the perp didn't like what he was trying to pitch,” replied Wayne. 
   “Either that, or he didn’t realize that the suspect had a better slogan than he did.”  Eli added. 
   Both Danny and Wayne looked at Eli like he’d just broke wind after that bad pun.  Eli simply smirked. 
   “Yeah, anyway...  two rounds in the chest,” Finn said as he moved the hand held translucent fScanner over the victim's chest.  “In the heart and left lung, and one round in the head to finish the job.”  Danny moved the device over the victim’s head to show the detectives that injury as well.  Part of the bullet could be seen lodged in the back of the victim's skull.  The slug itself appeared to have mostly fragmented after it went about half way through the brain which now had more holes in it than a pasta strainer. 
   “We'll have to take a look at that round,” Finn added, “once we get this guy over to the medical examiner's office.  I've never seen a regular slug do that.  It's almost like it exploded in there.” 
   Eli stared at the image, “Hell, I've heard of people being absent minded before, but this takes it to a hole new level.”  The two other men chuckled at Eli’s second, better pun. 
   The three men were discussing the facts about the incident as Detective Sergeant Bill Summers joined them.  Summers was in his early sixties, slightly overweight, and had a full head of short whitish gray hair.  His light gray suit appeared slightly small for his girth.  He was noticeably shorter than Wayne when he stood next to him and had a neatly trimmed mustache. 
   “The clerk said the suspect didn't even take the money once it was put on the qCard.  It was still sitting there on the counter's tUnit after the guy ran out of the store.  He was last seen heading westbound on Cambridge,” interjected Summers. 
   “So much for it being a simple loot and scoot,” Eli said as he walked over to where the old style handgun had been dropped. 
   The qCard and tUnit were additional implementations which interfaced with the uChip and were provided through the GlobalCon Financial Group, who worked with Ion-U Technologies with the project.  The tUnit, which was short for Transaction Unit, allowed a consumer to make financial exchanges through every type of transaction.  It was used by all businesses throughout the world where payment of goods and services were concerned.  The qCard made those financial transactions possible and it was linked to a consumer’s uChip.  With the implementation of the Q, a monetary system that replaced all of the world’s currencies under a single monetary unit after the last global economic collapse twenty-seven years ago, it made the hassle of exchange rates and individual country economies a thing of the past.  This last second solution also helped to stem the growing social chaos and civil unrest, something that was threatening to cause society to implode upon itself prior to the newly offered stability voluntarily accepted.  When GlobalCon officials were asked why they chose the term Q for the new monetary system, they indicated it was a neutral term separate from the then world currencies and it was the most preferred term when posed to the international survey group. 
   Eli removed his fScanner from inside his jacket and ran it over the handgun.  The serial number on the weapon had been removed and no fingerprints were found, but partial prints were detected on the remaining rounds in the clip.  They were also found on the expended casings on the floor.  The handgun was a .40 caliber M&P that used to be made by Smith and Wesson.  He waited as the fScanner processed the partial prints and, within a few minutes, it was able to piece together enough information to obtain a full print.  The machine then ran the fingerprint through the criminal database, but the system came back without a positive hit. 
   Wayne walked over and informed Eli that the qCard came back to a Nicholas Anderson, who had died over nine years ago.  He also showed him the video footage from the store and the last image of the suspect's face from the victim's optic nerve.  It was a bit blurred given the involved struggle between the two men before the victim had been killed.  According to Wayne, the uChip that registered to the suspect when he had entered the store also came back to the deceased Nicholas Anderson.  Eli took the images and merged them into the best digital composite of the suspect's profile, given the limited information and software capabilities. 
   Eli thought to himself, Sheesh, not exactly winning any beauty contests here, eh Mr. Suspect? 
   They both walked over to where Finn was now working and watched as he located the other three slugs in the store's west wall.  Danny's fScanner confirmed that the rounds were from a different weapon after he compared the bullets with the pistol's rifling from the one left at the scene.  The crime scene investigators, Rich Winzelberg and Joni Lundsford, arrived on scene shortly after Eli and Wayne did.  They came over to assist Danny with the collection of evidence after the images were captured. 
   Rich was a skinny young kid who stood about five feet eight inches tall.  His short brown hair and baby face made him look like he had yet to reach puberty, but he was well into his mid-twenties.  Joni was an inch taller than Rich and she was older.  She was also pregnant which made Eli think of the old Nursery Rhyme about Jack Spratt and his wife, given the obvious girth difference.  Joni was married to one of the officers out of the Sixth Precinct and this was going to be their third child.  Both were wearing black semi-professional shirts with tan khaki pants.  They utilized the various pieces of equipment about their CSI vests for the tasks they were conducting. 
   More than three hours had passed with everyone on scene working as hard as possible to hunt down and find every piece of evidence they could get.  They watched the video several times and their efforts to sweep the scene did provide several strands of hair.  Joni carefully collected them so they could be sent off to the lab.  Everyone knew the chances were good that the hair was probably the best lead they had to identify the suspect thus far, which was why Joni made sure each strand was individually collected.  Rich obtained some hair samples from the victim to rule out the collected evidence that probably came from him too.  This incident was pretty straight forward as to who did what to whom, but the reasons for why it came to pass were way beyond understanding at this point. 
   Everyone was on the verge of wrapping up their part of the investigation.  The other detectives assigned to the case had just concluded their interviews of the witnesses.  Most of the customers hid when the yelling and subsequent shooting took place, with only the clerk and another customer offering any real information about the event. 
   The store clerk, who was identified as Lyle Dobbs, was a short, pudgy, middle-aged man who definitely gave off the going nowhere vibe with his life.  He was married, working as a store clerk in a dead end job, and had the personality of a wet sponge.  The other detectives had to wait for him to clean himself up because he’d soiled himself when things went down.  He was now wearing a pair of red sweatpants, which he grabbed from the store shelf. 
   Judy Roper was the customer.  She was a heavy set, early thirties woman who was as wide as she was tall.  She had her hair up in rollers, but several of them were either hanging off the end of her hair or had fallen out when she ducked for cover.  Her moo-moo styled paisley dress didn't even touch her sides from the bust down and stopped just short of her calves.  She also wore green sandals and was a chain smoker. 
   Eli and Wayne watched the formal interview videos of the two witnesses.  Lyle could still be seen visibly shaking as he gave his statement, his droll voice did his appearance no justice.  He said the assailant approached the counter, while brandishing the gun, as Mr. Brobeck stepped towards them.  The suspect demanded money from him in a gruff voice, while he submitted the bum qCard to the tUnit.  He said Brobeck heard the demand, stood there for a few seconds before carefully setting his merchandise down, and then snuck up behind the suspect.  Dobbs indicate he quickly ducked down behind the counter once Brobeck and the suspect started wrestling with each other.  He heard the three gunshots sound out and enter the store wall, thirty seconds later he heard two more shots followed by another single round being fired afterwards.  The next thing he knew, Brobeck was bleeding out and the suspect had already left the store. 
   Judy's version of the incident was similar to what Lyle had stated, with only a few minor differences.  She did provide more detail about the scuffle relating to how the suspect was extremely agile.  She said it gave the appearance that the suspect was merely toying with the victim before he shot him with a second handgun.  The other gun had been pulled out from underneath his black coat.  She was still in shocked disbelief during her interview and her voice wavered quite a bit, giving her already guttural whiny voice a strange fluctuation when she spoke. 
   Both Lyle and Judy described the suspect as being approximately six feet to six feet two inches tall; slim to medium build and a strange presence to him beyond the intimidation factor.  One said he was wearing a black stocking cap, while the other said it was more like a baseball hat.  They both agreed the suspect was wearing a black coat, which was possibly a leather jacket or a sports coat.  He wore a black pullover shirt or sweater, with black slacks, and black shoes of some type.  Judy also added how the suspect had dropped the weapon after Brobeck had been shot.  She said the suspect bent over to get his hat, that’d fallen off during the scuffle, before putting it back on his head and slowly looked around the store to meet her shocked stare.  She said he then left the store through the same door he had entered, after he grinned at her, and headed west on Cambridge before she lost sight of him. 
   Eli couldn’t help but sarcastically point out to Wayne how both witnesses seemed to be one of those matches made in Heaven.  Wayne told his partner it was too bad neither of them were paying attention to the moment. 
   They were soon joined by Summers.  The two other detectives who’d performed the interviews weren't far behind.  Eli was combining the details of the suspect from the two solid witnesses with the current image from the other evidence they obtained.  He showed Wayne and neither of them were too impressed with the digital image for the possible suspect.  They ended their discussion about the image when their counterparts finally arrived. 
   Detective Charlene Pogue, who also went by the name Charlie, was a moderately attractive woman.  She stood even with Wayne and was fit as a fiddle, putting most of the older guys in the department to shame when it came to the physical fitness trials each year.  She was thirty years old, knew she was good looking, but never flaunted it despite having the ample attributes to back up her face.  Her dark red wavy hair, which went down to her shoulder blades, was currently pulled into an updo knot that was tied in place with a dark green hair tie.  Pleasant and soothing, her voice held an edge of confidence with the right amount of assertiveness.  She was able to hold her own in the male dominant profession and used her emerald eyes to help project this trait.  She was smart, rational, and had a damn good sense of humor which allowed her to fit in well with her colleagues.  Her pale green jacket went over the top of her white dress shirt, which was buttoned to the top, with a thin, dark green silk necktie that flared out about three inches to the sides.  Completing her ensemble, dress slacks matched the color of her jacket and a dark green belt matched her dress shoes. 
   Detective Floyd Webber was the polar-opposite of his partner.  He was in his late forties, bald, and had an extremely terrible comb-over that made it look like he had black stripes running across his head like a referee's shirt.  He always stood around with his lower lip jutting out past his upper lip, which didn't have a mustache, and had long sideburns that went past his ears.  He also had the bad habit of smacking his lips before saying the word, “Uh…”, when he spoke about anything with his high crackly voice.  He was a few inches shorter than Wayne, with a midsection that looked like he had let someone place an inner-tube around him and he’d forgotten to take it off.  He was wearing a brown sports jacket, blue dress shirt, and black slacks.  His wide dark blue tie had a smear of mustard on it, as if he used it to wipe his mouth instead of using a napkin.  He also had no concept of humor and typically ended up being on the receiving end, giving him an either it's white or black outlook on life with very little – to no room – for the gray areas. 
   Summers started off the conversation, “So gang... What have we got?” 
   “We have a dead guy, Sarge,” Wayne added sarcastically. 
   “Uh... No shit, Wayne?” asked Floyd, after his lips smacked together. 
   Wayne looked at Floyd with a deadpanned expression, “No Shit, Floyd!” 
   “If it wasn't for the fact that the suspect's information isn't linking up to anyone within the Grid database,” Eli stated, “it would be a done deal already.  But since we have nothing, except the possible DNA information from the subject's hair at the scene, we have the square peg for the round hole scenario playing out here.” 
   Bill interjected, “Why would anyone want to pop this guy, Brobeck?  You guys didn't find anything on the victim's background when you checked, right?” 
   “No shit on his background,” said Wayne as he slowly looked to Floyd again.  “This guy was a family man.  He went to work, paid his taxes, with the occasional bit of church thrown in for good measure.  Whoever wanted this guy dead, they did it in a professional manner.  It just doesn't make sense.” 
   Floyd only stood there and smacked open his lips again to express his displeasure towards Wayne.  Eli contemplated the exchange between his partner and Floyd as another match made in Heaven neither of them were noticing.  This caused him to smirk to himself. 
   “Where did this guy work again?” inquired Charlie, causing Eli to come back to reality. 
   “Whitfield and Pratt Advertising.” 
   “And where did he live?” she asked. 
   “Over on Whittier Road with his wife, Vanda Brobeck, and their two kids, Gia, fourteen, and Spencer, ten.  There, I just sent the information to your cBoard.” 
   The cBoard, which is short for Chipboard, is a solidified holographic image that’s linked to its consumer through their uChip and is activated through a personalized cChip.  The device is truly another innovative wonder, provided through the cooperative efforts of Thetatronics Corporation and Ion-U Technologies, which allows a consumer to manipulate its size and functionality depending upon the given processing need.  Replacing the old styled computers, it can project images, Comms, and every other bit of information by its consumer.  The device can also allow for file and data transfers with relative ease without the hassle of the old cable driven systems. 
   “Well,” said Bill, after he had a chance to think things out, “at least that's something to go off of for now.  Who wants to take the lead on this investigation?” 
   Wayne beamed a smile at Charlie and Floyd as he pulled one of his coins out of his right pocket, “We could flip for it?”  He gave a wink to Eli. 
   Eli just shrugged, “I don't care.  It's not like any of us are...” 
   Floyd blurted out, “Uh...  Only if you don't use one of your double sided coins!”  The echo from his lips smacking together carried throughout his entire comment. 
   “Wait... what?” Eli asked, before he gave the man a double take. 
   Floyd's lips made that noise again, “Uh... He uses a double headed coin sometimes when he doesn't want to lose.  He's been doing it for years...” 
   “Shut the hell up, Floyd!  You don't know what the fuck you're talking about,” Wayne growled as he presented the coin he was holding in his left hand.  Eli looked at the coin and confirmed it did have a head and tail side and then looked at Floyd like he was losing it. 
   Charlie ran a smile across her face, “You sly dog, you.  I just saw you pull that coin out of your left pocket, Wayne.  What's in your right hand?” 
   Exasperated, Wayne said, “Uh...  nothing...” after he let his lips smack together in a mocking gesture to make fun of Floyd's bad habit.  He tried to let the coin in his right hand slide into his right pants pocket, but it ended up missing and was now bouncing off of the floor.  Eli quickly scooped it up to examine it immediately noticing that it had heads on both sides.  He couldn’t help but smack his forehead with his empty hand. 
   “Why you son-of-a-bitch!  So, that's how you've been winning the rights to drive the car so much.  Jesus Christ!!” 
   Defiantly, Wayne protested his innocence, “Whoa, Partner!  I won it fair and square today.” 
   “Screw that, Partner.  When we get back to the car, I'm driving it for the next month.” 
   Bill motioned with his hands for them to stop and barked out, “Are you guys done yet?!  Holy Hell and the carriage that drove us there.  We don't have time for this bullshit!  Now, who on God's green Earth is going to take the lead on this case?!” 
   Eli gave Charlie a friendly wink and nod before Summers could finish his rant, “We got it Bill.” 
   Wayne presented another annoying lip smack, as he turned to Floyd, “Uh, Floyd...  You're a moron...” 
   Floyd simply glared at Wayne, made that noise again with his own lips without returning a comment, and confirmed the fact that the two men didn't really like each other. 
   They continued their staring contest, when Eli had a light bulb turn on over his head.  He activated his cBoard and the holographic image sprung upwards showing the video footage of the incident again, “Well, I'll be...” 
   Charlie looked at him out of curiosity as he moved the cBoard so she could clearly watch what he’d just seen.  “Check this out,” as he queued the video to the time in question. 
   She watched the video and noticed that the suspect had taken something from Brobeck's body, “He took something from the victim!” 
   “Yeah, he sure did.  I thought he was just picking up his hat, but he made two motions to bend over really quick and I thought he’d just missed the hat the first time.  The hat landed right on Brobeck's chest, so...” 
   Wayne terminated his dumb look contest with Floyd to call out to Finn, “Hey, Danny!” 
   “Yeah, Wayne?” 
   “Did you get an inventory yet on what the victim had on him?” 
   Danny read off the list to Wayne and the other detectives.  Nothing special seemed to be on that list. 
   “Have I ever told you how glad I am that you're my partner, Eli?” 
   “Not lately.  I haven't had to buy you lunch with your little coin toss yet...” Eli stated wryly and gave Wayne's coin back to him. 
   Wayne ignored the jab and smiled, “The bastard took his cChip...” 
   Both Eli and Charlie's eyes widened and said in unison, “Of course!!” 
   “Good eye, Mitchell,” complimented Bill, “That will give us something to track now.” 
   “Charlie...” said Wayne. 
   “Yeah?” 
   “And Floyd,” he said with obvious contempt, which caused the noise again from Floyd's mouth.  “I want you guys to go to Brobeck's office.  See what you can turn up before meeting us at the Brobeck house.  Me and Eli are going to see what we can do about the cChip before heading there ourselves.  Alright?” 
   Charlie nodded, “Got it...” 
   The other two detectives started to leave when Wayne called out to Charlie again.  They both turned back to him as he sincerely said, “I would like to offer my deepest apologies to you, Detective Pogue, on behalf of the department for pairing you up with such an idiot.” 
   “Floyd? He's not that bad...” 
   “Oh no, my dear?  Hey Floyd, a ham and Swiss sandwich today with spicy mustard?” he said as he turned a questioning look toward her partner. 
   Floyd looked back at him and smacked his lips together, “Uh… Yeah... why?” 
   Wayne pointed to the left corner of his own mouth, “No reason...” 
   Everyone watched Floyd lick the corners of his mouth and then use his tie to wipe the imaginary mustard from his face. 
   Wayne turned his attention back to Charlie, “See what I mean?”  He immediately busted a gut laughing. 
   Eli and Bill just shook their heads at the incident as Charlie turned Floyd around and they left the store to fulfill their assignment.  They could hear Charlie giving Floyd an earful for the way he’d just presented himself.  His defensive responses could also be heard between the mouth popping noises as he responded to her comments before the door shut to the business. 
   Bill told Eli and Wayne he had to go deal with the gathering press outside so he could make some type of vague statement for the evening news.  He bid them success in their efforts and then exited the store. 
   The two remaining detectives turned their attention to Wayne's cBoard as he accessed the database for Brobeck's resonance frequency for his cChip.  They obtained the information and set out to tracking the small device.  It was showing it to be at the Forrester's Shipping business, off of Widett Circle. 
   Eli quickly wrote up an eWarrant, which took all of six minutes to complete once the on-call judge processed it, and Commed the lieutenant who was over the Strike Team Services Division.  He told Al Nichols what they had going on and coordinated to meet out at Forrester's to serve the warrant.  He informed Wayne everything was set in motion as they went to follow up on their best possible lead.  Eli also sent a Comm to Bill to let him know what they were doing and arranged to have a few more detectives meet them. 

                                                                                                                  *** 

   They rounded the last white walled barricade as Eli looked at his old style watch and put his sunglasses on again.  It was 16:20 when they concluded the last several hours working things out as far as they could.  Wayne gave Eli a nudge on his right arm and motioned him to look towards their sedan.  They both looked at the man who was leaning against their vehicle and gave each other a quick glance to confirm that they didn’t know the guy.  The detectives crossed the holographic police line and walked towards their car where the dumb ass was obviously waiting for them. 
   They reached the car and inspected the man as he repositioned himself against the vehicle.  The look he presented on his face appeared to be like the cat who ate the canary.  Both detectives were anything but thrilled, they had places to be and this guy looked like a time waster.  They both tried to rationalize why he was there in the first place.  Eli stood closer to the man, who was wearing an overly starched white dress shirt, black funky tie, if that is what it was supposed to be, and pressed black jeans. 
   Really? Eli thought to himself as he glanced down at the man’s jeans and work boots which could easily be used by a dock worker or ex-military type. 
   Neither Wayne nor Eli knew what to make of this riddle of a wardrobe, but they definitely hated the fact he was leaning against their vehicle as if he was important. 
   Eli took a step closer, “Something we can help you with?” He accentuated the point – You can get off the car now, jackass. 
   Wayne stared blankly at the man letting his partner break the ice. 
   The smug stranger stood up, took a step towards Eli, and extended his hand out as a greeting while maintaining that stupid smile, “Samuel Valentine of Beacon Hill Professional Investigations, at your service, but you can call me Sam.” 
   That was when the guy's holographic business card, referred to as a bCard, appeared.  A gaudy display with hearts flying out while a man with a British accent chimed in something about the private investigator putting his heart into his work.  Then the hearts exploded into a fireworks display – It was all Wayne and Eli could do to keep from laughing out loud, exchanging a familiar look which indicated they were far from impressed despite the amusement. 
   “A private dick, huh?!” Wayne offered and then recognition washed over his expression, “I know your parents and, yep, you're their kid...  Terrific...”  Wayne’s face showed some faint frustration and then it vanished. 
   Son of a… Of all of the times to forget changing my business greeting back!  So much for my professional appearance.  Thanks Boredom, you won this round… Sam thought to himself while he did his best to conceal the disgusted look on his face. 
   Eli tilted his head to the side with the slightest shrug as Sam moved his gaze towards Wayne and then back to Eli, “I... I may have some information on the situation over there.”  The self-important private eye nodded at the crime scene somewhat smugly. 
   “Detective Mitchell,” Eli interrupted, “And just what information are we talking about here?”  He provided a firm handshake for the man after deciding he’d left Valentine’s hand extended long enough.  He always liked doing that to catch people off guard, making them wait before the traditional salutation.  He chuckled on the inside when this Sam character released his grip, but it soon stopped when the arrogant prick leaned back against their car, again.  Eli shook his head and let out a deliberate sigh. 
   Sam went on to explain that he had a chance to speak with some of the people within the area.  People that the other officers and investigators working the crowd had supposedly missed.  Eli fashioned his face into a slight, sarcastic smile, which he worked on for years.  It made it tough for people to tell whether it was a genuine smile or not.  Another opportunity to keep someone slightly off balance and give him the upper hand. 
   Still not impressed, Wayne broke the silence, “So...  are you telling us our team doesn't know how to do their job, let alone breathe, and hasn't yet pieced this mess together into some sort of working direction, Mr. Private Dick Valentine?!”  He then shot Sam a smile Eli recognized as the one he used right before he punched someone in the face. 
   Eli interceded on Valentine's behalf, not because he didn't want to see Wayne get written up because of this guy, but to save the man’s nose.  He stepped between Wayne and Sam, before he attempted to defuse the situation, “Alright Wayne...  Let the man speak, for Christ's sake...  It's not often when we get to see a fireworks show with exploding hearts and some off-key British guy jingle a melody that would attract cats in heat for nine square blocks...” 
   Both Eli and Wayne smirked with amusement when they watched Sam's face turn bright red, which prompted him to add, “Maybe our new friend here will provide us with a more heartfelt view of the matter at hand?” 
   Wayne forgot about decking the private eye and decided to join in the fun, when he mockingly noted, “Hey, would you look at this, Eli...?  This Dick has got talent...  He’s so red, you can see those exploding hearts going off on his face.  That's quite an impersonation, Dick...” 
   It took a moment for the private investigator, much to his chagrin, to pull himself together, while the two detectives looked at him with faint smiles.  A couple of heavy sighs later, Sam directed his question towards Eli, “Did you happen to get any sort of description of the suspect during your investigation?” 
   “We have a working partial description, from the video, witnesses, and such...  Why?  Did you have something to add?”  Eli obtained the cBoard from Wayne.  The image of the suspect appeared in the holographic view. 
   Wayne threw in, “Do you know this guy, or something?” Sam just ignored the question. 
   They watched as Valentine studied the image and made several pain filled faces in the process, before he asked Eli, “May I see it?” 
   “I can't see how it would hurt.  Be my guest.” Eli handed over the cBoard to Valentine. 
   After several minutes Sam handed the cBoard back to Eli with several modifications.  Wayne and Eli were stunned by the clarity of the image, which looked much better than what they had been able to assemble.  Wayne asked him again whether or not he knew who the suspect was, but Sam was too busy gloating in the moment and ignored him yet again.  This only pissed Wayne off causing him to mutter a few insults under his breath.  Eli stood there as he looked at the new suspect rendering with one raised eyebrow, instinctively placing his free hand on his friend’s shoulder to steady the agitated detective. 
   Without realizing, Sam furthered the awkward moment, “This guy was a professional, too...” 
   Eli and Wayne gave each other a quick glance, silently asking How the Hell does he know that and who the fuck is this guy? 
   That was when Sam added, “Three shots were fired by the suspect, which made sure your Mr. Brobeck was a dead man...” 
   Neither detective spoke before they looked at each other again and then Wayne asked the awfully well informed Dick, “Alright...  Who on the force is telling you shit about this investigation?”  His tone could clearly be seen as hostile and the demand for an answer was more than implied. 
   Sam could be seen shifting on his feet as he moved off of the vehicle, before he rested up against it yet again, “Detective…?”  His tone was of wariness as he returned Wayne's stare with equal fervor. 
   “Wayne Thatcher”, he said without inflection. 
   Before he continued, the detectives could see Valentine connect the dots at the mention of Wayne's name, “I may have contacts within the police department, that much is true, but on this matter?  Gut instinct and the ability to dig through the minutia has provided much more reliable information.”  Sam matched Wayne's glower, took what appeared to be a dramatic breath for effect, before he added, “Wouldn't you agree, Detective?” 
   Wayne decided to let the matter drop, for now, this guy wasn’t worth knocking out.  He grabbed his pack of cigarettes from his inside jacket pocket, lit one up as he ended his interaction with Sam and stepped back from the private eye. 
   Eli thought to himself, Geez buddy, how many times am I going to have to save your ass from my partner? 
   He then threw into the strained silence, “I suppose you'll be around should we have any additional questions for you, Mr. Valentine?” 
   Both men watched as Sam stood and started to walk away putting his back to the two detectives before he said, “Yes, you have my bCard...” After wincing slightly, He continued, “Anything I can do to help.  You’ve always been a great help to my family.”  Eli wasn't sure what he meant by that, but Wayne seemed to know. 
   “And Detective Thatcher,” Sam turned and paused to see that Wayne was looking his way.  “Even though we're all a bunch of Dicks here... It turns out; after all, it was finally nice to meet you in person...”  He turned and took a few more steps, before he commented over his shoulder, “Oh, and Thatcher...  That's quite a tie you're wearing...”  With that, Valentine left the scene and was soon out of sight. 
   Eli turned to Wayne, “You know that guy?” 
   Wayne replied, “No...” 
   “Did you want to talk about it?” 
   Wayne again replied, “No...” 

               

                                                                                             *** 


   The interaction with Valentine was weird, to say the least, and Eli knew enough about his friend to just let things drop until he was ready to talk about it.  Eli was younger than his counterpart by nine years and, at the age of thirty-three; he was right in the middle of his promising career.  His partner, on the other hand, was closing in on the twenty-two year mark as a cop with almost half of those being spent at his current position, though not in a row.  He and Wayne treated their association more like brothers than co-workers, given the way they always gave each other so much grief.  They eventually were able to develop a knack for being able to communicate without so much as having to say a word, most times.  This was due to the good chemistry they had, plus the fact Wayne was his primary Field Training Officer when Eli was first hired onto the police department.   
   Eli was very much aware of Wayne’s temper.  He recalled Wayne suffering a minor setback in his career.  Being demoted to patrol for a while when he ended up punching one of his colleagues square in the jaw due to personality differences.  Six months of working together in FTO, plus the various patrol shifts assigned together, this had allowed the opportunity for their close friendship to grow over the years.  It also didn't hurt for them to have the same sense of humor, similar approach to the job, and to have comparable interests outside of work.  Those shared interests being the local sports teams, various indoor and outdoor hobbies, and hanging out at Dugan's Pub when life permitted.  Dugan’s was one of the local cop bars in Boston, located on Burlington Avenue, just west of Brookline Avenue near Fenway Park.  They liked that bar because it was close enough to the stadium so they could always drop in after a baseball game to talk shop and about the game, not necessarily in that order. 
   Eli got into the driver seat of their sedan and waited for Wayne to get in.  He started the car and said, “Well, if it was anything, it was certainly interesting...” 
   Wayne didn't comment.  Eli didn't like not knowing more about this strange P.I. and he sure as Hell wanted to know how he knew those details about the case.  He was determined to get those answers the next time he talked with him, when that happened, and ran a few of those scenarios through his mind.  This also allowed him to consider how flippant the man had been with Wayne, despite all of the telltale signs his partner had displayed to show his aggravation towards Valentine’s demeanor. 
   Holy crap, Bub, you really need to learn how to read people if you’re going to survive as a P.I., Eli considered as he replayed that conversation through his mind again.  Having street smarts is part of the game out here in this big concrete jungle. 
   The music selection on the sound system got changed since he was now driving them towards Forrester's Shipping and even had a chance to grab some healthy fast food along the way.  It allowed them the opportunity to put their chance meeting with Samuel Valentine behind them and get their minds back in focus.  The strike team and other detectives were probably already waiting for them at the business, but delays happened in this line of work all the time.  It was an occupational hazard that didn't bother them, most of the time. 
   Eli clipped his sunglasses to the overhead visor as both men continued to do what they have done so many times.  They looked out of their vehicle to observe their surroundings.  The only difference this time was that the sun was on the verge of setting and the night time air was starting to find its bite once again.  The leaves on the surrounding trees in the area they drove through started silently screaming out in pain once more at the approach of the changing season, but the two detectives couldn’t hear them. 
   Eli’s headache suddenly reminded him it was still there and he cursed himself for not picking up something for it before they left.