“So Naomi how was your first day
“So Naomi how was your first day?” Howard asked.
“It was interesting. A lot of hurry up to get to the scene before some excited patrolman stomped on the evidence, but it was interesting. I think I got my part of the job done correctly, but you are going to have to ask Pete about that,” I replied. At Pete’s insistence I had gone to Howard’s office at the end of my shift.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Pete tells me you are remarkably well trained and follow directions really well. He also says you have a great attitude. He feels I can assign you to a shift, so that you get some practical experience. The crime scene supervisor can keep you out of trouble, so long as you listen. Pete said you listen well, so there should not be any problems.
“That’s good to know. I was afraid you were going to send me packing,” I said.
“Not just yet,” he commented. “I would like for you to work with an experienced man like Pete the Geek, but we have a problem with a new hire. The guy has the right training. He just is a little slow or something. The patrol division says he holds the crime scene too long. That is when there is no expert called. They all understand that on serious crimes, we are going to hold the scene. They say he just works too slow. You could help cut his time on the scene, if you would.”
“I don’t know that I know enough to be out there on my own,” I suggested.
“I know, but I’m going to give you a list of notes. You can look up the type call and it will tell you the things that are always necessary. You just shoot anything extra that is there as well. You can’t take too many shots unless you shoot the wild flowers on the side of the road,” Fat Howard explained.
“If you think I can do it, I’m willing to give it a try,” I said.
“Okay then take tonight off and come in on the evening tour tomorrow. He has four more nights then goes on break for two days before coming back on midnight tour,” Howard explained. “Here is your ID. You swipe when you come through either the front door or the parking garage door. That one has a CCTV camera on it. Oh course the front door does as well. You have to swipe both places anyhow and now you can.”
“That was quick,” I said looking at the new me on a photograph for the first time. The face staring back at me wasn’t really me but it was close. Maybe it really was me only better. Hell it didn’t matter any more. Since it was what I was stuck with, for better or worse. “Thanks,” I said putting it into the pocket of the blue cotton polyester slacks I wore. I had been surprised that they had pockets. Even so I also carried a small Nikon camera bag as a purse. No woman wants to carry a wallet in her pants pocket. No way we want our ass to look any larger than it already does.
“Good, if you have those notes I can study them tonight,” I suggested. Without answering Fat Howard handed me a flash drive.
Since it was only three o’clock when Fat Howard cut me loose, I took the long route home. In doing so I drove by a building with a long row of bicycles on the porch. They had to be chained to the railing, I thought. I got a glimpse of the hand letter sign. It read, Capitol City Thrift Shop. The building was a dump, so I figured the prices might be low enough. Enough so that I could just leave the bike, when the assignment was over.
I wasn’t close enough to ride to work, but I wanted it for the morning exercise. I could at least stay flexible and burn a few calories without permanently wrecking my knees. I had read that it was the second best exercise behind running. Okay maybe it was the third best exercise.
I went into the store and spoke to an oriental man. “Hi what’s the deal on the bikes?”
“Bicycle have tag. Price on tag,” he said it as if I were retarded.
“You ever have a sale?” I asked. I hadn’t even looked at the price tags.
“Bicycle price on tags,” was all he said in answer to my question.
At 5‘ 5“ I could easily ride a kid’s bike, if it were adjusted for me. So I skipped the mountain bikes and the fancy road bikes and went right to the kid bikes. The 20“ bikes were all together on the rail. I looked at the prices. There were two, which were almost perfect, those were $40. There were also four covered in rust and those were $15. I kept looking till I found one that looked less than new, but not totally covered in rust either.
“You know the rust on that one is light surface rust. The rust on the chain ring is a little worse, but still not bad,” Liam informed me.
“I don’t know what all the parts are called, but I do know the difference between light surface rust and deep invasive rust,” I replied. Some kid looked at me, then decided to move a little farther away. I have to get the blue tooth thing, I thought.
The bike did not have hand brakes, which was a plus to me. The tires looked good.
“They don’t appear to have any dry rot,” Liam said. I wanted the bike for exercise. I was tall enough so that a boy’s bike wouldn’t present a problem but the seat had to be adjusted. “Too bad you can’t make the adjustments for me,” I advised the spirit.
“Just remember nothing is as it seems in the real world,” Liam said.
I went back inside to the oriental man. “The tag says $20 will you adjust the seat and handlebars before I leave with it.”
“Bicycle price on tag,” he said again giving me that ‘you dumb bitch look’.
“Listen you stupid cocksucker. I will buy the bicycle at the price on the tag, but only if you adjust the seat and handle bars, otherwise I walk. Now did you understand that?” What he didn’t know is that I knew he had to speak more English in order to operate a business. He was pretending that he didn’t, so that he could avoid a lot of shit questions. It was time to find out, if I was right or not.
“Harry,” he called out. A younger version of him came to the front.
“Can I help you ma’am?” he asked. I explained again what I wanted. “Sure I’ll adjust the chain for you as well. Let me get it and I’ll take it to the shop in the back.”
I parted with twenty bucks plus tax and drove away with the bike in the rear of the pick up. I took it straight to a convenience store with an air hose. I didn’t get home till after five what with the stop off to buy the bike. I rolled it up the stairs to my apartment on the second floor. I had one room pretty much empty since I decided not to buy living room furniture of any kind. That being the case, my design theme seemed to be early American bicycle. The bike itself was red, so that would determine the color of anything else that went into the room.
After eating a frozen dinner from the microwave, I spent the rest of the evening watching TV both on the TV, and streaming from the computer. Somewhere after nine I decided that I missed my instructors from Church Camp.
“Liam you here?” I asked out loud.
“Most always,” the voice that no one else heard replied.
“Tell me what did Killer say to Alec?” I asked.
“Something like please come down home and try to take Lucy back. You gonna love us Alabama red necks. Then as I remember it he bitch slapped him in front of the whole bar,” Liam said with a smile.
“I should have stayed to watch,” I said laughing.
To compensate my lack of interest in sex that night I went to several porn sites. I watched several women giving blow jobs. It must be all the rage, I thought. I wondered if I had looked the same when I did that. About midnight I shut down the computer and was thinking about bed. I walked by the bike and saw how dusty it looked under the overhead light.
“Liam where are you when I need you?” I asked to the empty room.
“Damn girl you call and here I am. You gonna ask me how to fix that bike?” Liam said.
“Yeah I guess I am,” I said.
“Get yourself one of those dish washing sponges. The one with the scrubber back. Now mix up some thin soapy water and scrub the places that are rusty.”
I watered the dish detergent down to almost nothing, then went to work on the bike’s chrome with the scrubber side and the dusty frame with the sponge side. Most of the rust and all the dirt washed right off.
I fell exhausted into bed without setting my alarm. I instantly drifted off to sleep without even trying. It was a deep untroubled sleep. Untroubled because I had no past to worry about. I was born brand new every day.
It was almost 10 AM when I awoke naturally. Since I didn’t have to leave for work until 2 PM, I decided to take the bike out for breakfast. There was one of those fast food strips about two miles away. From the car it didn’t seem like all that much of a bike ride.
Since there were an equal number of up and down along the way it really wasn’t too bad. I rode on and found that the restaurant which I chose had converted one of its corner parking spaces to bicycle parking. I thought that was cool, so I parked my cheap kid bike beside two high dollar carbon fiber shit. I left as much space as possible between them.
Inside I spotted the two bike riders instantly. Even in the forty degree weather they wore spandex bike outfits. I almost laughed. I was in a fleece running suit and damn glad to have it.
I ordered a full breakfast at the counter, then waited while the employees tried their best to turn the food into shit, before I did. It came out of the kitchen looking like a blob of different colored plastic.
Once I found my way to a table I found the coffee wasn’t bad at all but the food all tasted the same. The main difference was between the different colored blobs was the amount of salt on them. I went back for a refill on the coffee before I realized I couldn’t take it on the bike. Something would have to be done about that, I decided, but not at that moment.
I rode the bike back to the apartment facing a cold wind. It had been at my back during the ride to breakfast but it was in my face on the ride back. I was glad to get home my ears and nose were very cold even though it wasn’t below freezing. I added some kind of head cover to my bike list, plus a thermos and a way to attach it to the bike. I was actually enjoying the planning.
I took a long hot shower before I did anything else. The water warmed me enough to wash my hair without fear of getting chilled. The apartment was just a little cool. Since there was no thermostat, I had no control, which is why I wore a sweatshirt in the apartment. I didn’t have a comfortable chair so I had to give some thought to that as well.
I tended to sit propped up in bed watching TV or streaming TV shows on the computer. I also did some work on the computer, but not much since it had to be erased at the end of the job.
When the time came I drove the pickup truck to work. It was easy to find a parking space in the parking lot across the street. City employees parked free, which was a good thing since we had to park there. I walked across the busy street and into the parking garage. I swiped my new ID card and the door opened almost magically.
I swiped the card again to gain access to the lab central processing area where I had waited with Pete the Geek for calls. Pete was sitting with a cup of coffee from some fast food restaurant.
“Where did you get that coffee?” I asked because I knew I would need coffee later.
“I picked it up on the way back to the office from a call. The place is a few blocks north of the station and has a drive through window. The break room has a microwave but Styrofoam and microwaves don’t mix well,” Pete the Geek said.
“Well I have coffee envy,” I said smiling at him. I got my bag with the camera from the locked evidence storage area. Before putting it beside my desk, I checked to be sure everything was as I had left it.
It was two minutes after 3 PM when the youngish man came into the room. Pete the Geek made the introduction. Hey Jeff this is your new partner Naomi Roberts. Naomi, this is Jeff Stonebridge. He has been a crime scene manager about eight months.
I stood to make a show of greeting the younger man. He was about twenty two which made him about five years younger than me. He also had red hair the color of a Pennsylvania barn. His face had small holes which were no doubt meant for piercings. I wondered how he ever got a job with the Capitol City Police. As a civilian employee he didn’t have to conform to the cop dress code, but a pierced lip, come on now.
It wouldn’t really have been so bad had he been tall and thin, but he wasn’t. He was short and thin. The effect was a teenager playing at being a punk rocker. He did wear the blue slacks and blue knit shirt with the lab worker ID hanging from a chain around his neck.
“Hello Naomi, it’s nice to meet you,” he said. He noticed my surprise. “What you were expecting me to ask, hows yuse?”
“Frankly, yes I was,” I admitted.
“I save all that for my days off, or for Heidi’s after shift,” he said smiling.
“And Heidi’s is?” I asked.
“It’s a private club most members are cops or firemen. We have a few friends of cops and even some cop wannabes,” he informed me.
Stonebridge’s picture didn’t do him justice on the weird scale. He really looked like a freak lost in the cop world. “Well I’m not a cop, a fireman, a badge bunny, or a wannabe anything so I guess I guess I can’t join,” I said.
“I think with your looks, they would make an exception,” Stonebridge said.
“Well if you are asking for a date, I don’t date men I work with,” I said. I had no idea if that was the truth or an excuse but at that moment I felt like it was the truth.
“You looking for a date, I know a couple of people who aren’t cops,” he said smiling.
“No thanks, just sayin’,” I replied. “Now if we are going to work together you should know I have a pretty good lawyer. She would love to file a sexual harassment case against the city for creating a hostile environment. How do you think they would feel about you then?” I asked.
“Hey I was just kidding,” Stonebridge said.
“You call it a joke, I call it sexual harassment, so lets just start over.” I looked over and saw Pete the Geek smiling broadly. “So want to start over or what?” I asked.
“Okay, but we never had a problem like this before,” he said.
“Maybe the others were willing to take crap from a man to keep their job. My ex not only left me with two kids to raise alone, he ruined my business. I’m forced to work these short term jobs till I get myself back on track. I am not forced to take this male bullshit.” I said it very reasonably trying to explain in a factual manner. He looked subdued, but not convinced. Screw him I thought.
“Okay you are right of course. I had no idea what your background was, but before I started talking like that I should have found out,” Stonebridge said.
“You two need to load up, you got a call coming,” Pete said. Seconds later Stonebridge was answering the phone and making a note on his desk pad. “Wal-Mart parking lot. They recovered a stolen car,” he said getting his kit from beside his desk. I got my camera bag and off we went.
In the SUV he tried to apologize again. “Look Naomi I am sorry. I do hope you won’t mention this to anyone else. I am kind of on double secret probation. You know the punk kid trying to make it in a straight world. They would like nothing better than to fire me,” he explained.
“Why don’t they do that then?” I asked in a non-judgmental voice.
“They promised a job to the student who finished first in the forensic science class at the community college. It was a publicity thing for the new Mayor. A chance to change the good old boy image of the department. I finished first so they were stuck with me,” Stonebridge explained.
“Kind of how they got me. They wanted an experienced photographer for the pilot project and I’m what they got. No self respecting photographer with any experience would take a 90 day gig,” I said.
“Ain’t we a fine pair,” Stonebridge said.
“Guess they put all their bad eggs in one basket after all,” I said with a smile. What I was thinking was that Stonebridge could easily have a hard on for the Police Department. I needed to get a look at his computer at home and his smart phone. To do the smart phone I simply needed to clone the sim card. Simple, right? I would need his phone long enough to take it apart and then insert his sim card into a reader attached to my laptop. A piece of cake right?
By the time I had made that decision, we were at the drive in window of a fast food restaurant on the route to the scene of the recovered stolen car. Stonebridge bought three large coffees. He took one and I took one, the third went into a stainless steel thermos he produced from his evidence kit.
When we arrived on the scene I began by shooting the crowd around it. I had read that in Fat Howard’s notes that the faces in the crowd often held the perpetrator. I also shot the car from every conceivable angle.
Before Stonebridge removed any items from the car I photographed them. The removal of evidence went quickly with the two of us working together. It took us only 15 minutes to document the obvious evidence.
When Stonebridge popped the trunk, our quiet evening went all to hell. Inside the trunk was what appeared to be a mummy, or a giant cocoon. The wrappings were plastic wrap and they covered what appeared to be human remains.
“Everybody back away while I call the homicide division,” Stonebridge demanded. The recovered car didn’t even rate a patrol supervisor so Stonebridge took command. It was strange to see the kid with the brick red hair giving the two patrolmen orders.
We followed protocol and didn’t touch the body in the trunk. Instead we backed off and waited for the medical examiner’s investigator to show up. “Is there any way we can drink that coffee?” I asked. Before it gets cold?”
“We can but you may get into some trouble about where it came from. Let’s step outside the tape to drink it at least,” he suggested.
I nodded my head and returned to the van to retrieve the Styrofoam cup from the holder. It was tepid but it was better than nothing. I expect Stonebridge was waiting to see how I reacted to the body. What none of them knew is that one does not work in the wholesale pharmaceutical business without seeing at least one dead body.
I watched the cops begin to arrive. There were about ten and two of them in plain clothes. Those two I assumed were detectives because they were sending patrolmen off to canvas the area.
It took a full half hour for the medical examiner’s investigator to show. Well I guess it didn’t matter much since the body wasn’t going anywhere. The medical examiner’s investigator was a woman. She took photographs just as I had done. Then she removed a pair of scissors from her bag and bent forward to carefully cut away the plastic wrapper. After only a few minutes she stood up.
“My work is through here,” she said.
“What the fuck do you mean doc,” the lead detective asked.
“I mean you don’t need me, you need a window decorator. It’s a life like mannequin. They are all the rage in New York and LA. People mistake them for humans in all the best stores all the time. So unless you want me to pronounce the mannequin dead, I’m going back to my office and change for the evening,” she said with a smile.
The detective started to reach into the trunk, when I found myself asking, “Shouldn’t Stonebridge process for prints?” I asked as I moved to quickly photograph the Mannequin. By the time we finished processing the scene Stonebridge was so frazzled he didn’t even notice me pick his pocket and take his Phone. I slipped it into my camera case.
Stonebridge missed his phone an hour or so later. “Did you see what I did with my cell phone?” he asked.
“No, why would I see it. You haven’t used it since the shift started. I don’t even know what kind it is,” I replied.
“It’s an Phone. It’s last years model, but it has all my shit on it,” he said.
We were in the van when he noticed it gone. “When we get back to the station I will help you look for it. If we don’t find it, you might want to cancel all the stuff on there,” I suggested trying to cover my tracks.
“I don’t have anything to cancel. If it turns up I’ll check it out to make sure it wasn’t used but I doubt anyone can get access to it,” he said.
“Good then it will be a paperweight for some gang banger,” I said with a laugh.
“Yeah, or some blue hair blue light shopper, but it still pisses me off,” he said.
When we left at 11 PM, I slipped it into my pocket after making sure the battery was out of it. I drove straight home. I had intended to go to Heidi’s for a drink but the phone was more important. I wore the crime scene surgical type gloves while I took the phone apart to removed the sim card. After I cloned it I sent the file to the controller’s current email. Then I reinstall the card but not the battery before I slipped the phone into my small purse/camera bag.
I took a shower before I went to bed. I had no idea why I chose to shower again, since I would be doing it before I went to work the next day. Maybe it was to try to get clean. I was after all spying on people who trusted me. Spy or stay in prison it was really no choice, I told myself.
The next morning around 9 AM I took to the streets on my trusty red bike. I rode it through the residential neighborhood around my apartment units. The houses were old and many converted to duplex apartments. On the edge of the old residential area several doctor’s offices / medical complexes had sprung up. They all looked to be about the same age.
There were some old office and retail building buffering the medical areas from the downtown. The downtown was almost all government buildings of some kind. There were state, county, and city offices along with the parasites that fed from the government’s trough. Lots of those businesses were located downtown.
I noticed that buffer of old buildings between the medical offices and the state buildings were filled with medical support businesses as well. There were nurses uniform shops and medical equipment leasing businesses just to name two.
I rode my bike the two miles outside the downtown till I came to an old style southern cafe. When I pulled into the parking lot I had to park on the grass, since there was no yuppie bicycle rack in that parking lot.
Turned out they didn’t have a bicycle rack, but they had authentic southern breakfast food. I had eggs, grits, crisp bacon and a biscuit for breakfast. Hell that would be my lunch and probably dinner as well. I didn’t eat much or often by that time.
I rode the bike to the Wal-Mart shopping plaza to buy one of those stainless steal thermoses that held 16 ounces of coffee. I wanted one for the upcoming shift. I showered and cleaned the thermos before I packed my shit for work that night.
I was careful to make sure Stonebridge’s phone had the right number of prints and in the right places, before I packed it away for the trip to the station. “Hey Stonebridge guess what I found in my camera bag?” I asked once I was at my desk with the big camera bag on top of it.
“Tell me it is my cell phone,” he said.
“One and the same. I have no idea how it got there, but I found it when I checked my bag before the shift started.” That story rang true since we all checked and restocked our bags before the shift began. “I’m sorry I should have looked in the bag last night. I still can’t imagine how it wound up there,” I said.
“I really don’t care, I’m so glad to have it back I could kiss you,” he said.
“No you couldn’t, but you could buy me one beer after work tonight,” I replied.
“The fanciest and most expensive beer Heidi has,” he swore.
He never showed any signs of suspecting I had stolen his phone. We worked mostly break ins with a few bagging evidence only calls. Those were calls like a recovered stolen bike. They were deemed a waste of the digital memory card. At the end of the evening nothing seemed to have happened at all.
I followed Stonebridge to the strip of four buildings in an old downtown shopping area. One of the stores had been converted to a coin laundry. Another one was a takeout and delivery pizza restaurant, another was empty and the forth was Heidi’s. The sign wasn’t very inviting. I would never have gone there on my own.
Once inside I recognized it as a cop bar immediately even though the customers didn’t wear their uniforms. The place had testosterone dripping down the walls it hung so heavy in the air. It was like a humid night in a confined area but it wasn’t moisture in the air it was liquid machismo.
I wasn’t out of place, but Stonebridge was. I might have to defend him, I thought. “What can I get you,” the 200 pound female bartender asked.
“You got any dark beer on draft?” I asked.
“Yeah, you want to try it?” she asked.
“Sure.” It was hard but I didn’t give her a sarcastic answer like, no I am just taking a bar survey. Stonebridge ordered the same and gave her a five dollar bill for the two beers. He got one dollar in change. The glasses were large but two bucks for a draft in a dive like Heidi’s was too much.
“So you are the new lab rat. I have to admit you are better looking than the others down there,” the older man said.
“Sorry guy, but you can’t afford me. It costs a hell of a lot of money for me to look this cheap,” I said. Yes I stole that line from Dolly Parton, but it was true in my case as well.
The man nodded and moved on. “My God you are a hard woman,” Stonebridge said.
“Well I don’t have nipple rings, but I bet you do,” I said. He just looked into his beer glass. “I’ll take that as a yes.” A couple of patrolman types looked at me and smiled, but they didn’t hit on me. I was glad, since I was still cultivating Stonebridge.
“Well I need to get home. I need all the beauty sleep I can get,” I said.
“Thanks for not making an issue of that misunderstanding when we first met. You are really a pretty cool lady,” Stonebridge said.
“Yeah, I hear that a lot,” I said as I stood to leave.
Edited by Walt