She looked up from her desk and saw the lieutenant standing in the door space of his little cubicle looking at her. A hand came up and he used a finger to silently summons her to enter his den.
And then he turned and glared at Detective Sergeant Mike Bean. That same long, boney, pasty colored finger of his made the same silent summons. She watched the big bear of a man push his chair back, throw the pen he had been using down angrily on his desk and scowl. But he came to his feet and start lumbering toward the lieutenant’s office.
Detective Sergeant Mike Bean was a slob. There was no other way to put it. Over weight, going bald, with beady little eyes. His suit looked like it hadn’t been cleaned and pressed for at least a month. In fact it looked like Bean had been sleeping in it for about that length of time. His shirt had coffee stains around the navel area. The knot to his tie was pulled down low. There was tomato sauce dotting the tie’s length like tiny red pimples on a teenager’s face. His shoes hadn’t seen a swipe of polish since Kennedy was in office. Bean was the kind of cop everyone wanted to shy away from. He was jinxed. Detectives assigned to him as his partner had a way of getting shot. Most survived and retired from the force. A few hadn’t been so lucky.
Bean, for his part, glanced to his right and looked at the tall, flat figured frame of Detective Sergeant Marissa Hamm. All legs. Boney arms. Flat chested and flaming red hair that fell down past her shoulders. Wore a dress like it was a discarded cement sack. The face wasn’t too bad . . . if you had knocked back six or seven beers. She was walking toward the lieutenant’s office as well–and that didn’t sit too well with him. Hamm had the reputation of being a piranha in the department. Chewed up and spit out partners in the Homicide division like they were sour gumballs. Wasn’t a cop–male or female–in the entire city who wanted to work with her.
“It’s been decided. You two are, as of today, partners,” the gray faced, slightly stooping but tall lieutenant of detectives said as the two walked past him.
“Jesus Christ! You’re kidding me!” Hamm hissed, angrily looking at the lieutenant.
“What the hell?! Who was the idiot who came up with this hair brained idea!” Bean spit out venomously looking as angry as Hamm .
“I’m the idiot who made the decision,” the lieutenant answered quietly as he folded arms across his chest and glared at the two. “Both of you shut up and listen. This isn’t a fucking request. You two don’t have a say in this. It’s either this or I transfer the two of you to administrative staff jobs downtown. I’m not going to do that. Not yet, at least. I need detectives. Good detectives. And as much as it hurts me to say this, you two aren’t too bad at doing your job. When your sober that is . . . Mike. Or you’re tongue isn’t slicing people’s egos up like raw Pastrami . . . Marissa.”
“But lieutenant . . . !”
“Didn’t I tell you to keep quiet, Mike? Shut . . . up! There are no ands and buts about this. You two are a team. You want to kill each other that’s okay by me. It’ll be a little extra paperwork if you do it on company time–but that’s just more paperwork. I can handle it. But the reality is this. Neither of you two will be missed in the department. Both of you are about as likable as two anemic Cobras fighting over the same dead mouse. No one wants to be around you. No one wants to work with you. In a sane world I would have taken your badges months ago and told you to get the hell out of my precinct! But this city’s got a crime wave going on and I can’t afford not having you two work together. So that’s it! End of discussion. You are partners . . . now take this file and go find the bastard who did this! Get out . . . . now!”
Both of them glared angrily at their lieutenant but kept quiet. Mike Bean shook his head in disgust, shot a loathing glance at his new partner, and turned and reached for the door handle.
“I’m driving,” Marissa Hamm said with a mean, sarcastic grin on her plain face.
“Like hell you are,” scowled her partner and shaking his head. “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I let you get behind a steering wheel!”
When the arrived in front of the small ranch style home out in the suburbs Marissa Hamm opened the car door and slid out from behind the steering wheel–a pleased smirk on his colorless lips. Her partner rolled out of the passenger seat and slammed the door shut so hard the big Crown Victoria rocked back and forth several times before coming to a halt.
“The next time you play a trick on my like that again, Hamm ” he began, lifting a big fleshy brick for a fist up to his chest and shaking it a couple of times warningly. “I swear I’m gonna tap you a good one!”
“Ya big dope,” Hamm grinned sarcastically “Don’t lay the keys down on the booking desk and tell me you’re gonna take a piss before we leave the precinct house. It was like stealing candy from a baby.”
Bean started to say something but turned as a patrol officer came toward them with a small spiral notebook in hand and looking at it intently.
“Sergeants . . . the body’s clear to be examined. Forensics just finished up.”
“Whose dead?” both detectives said at the same time–like an echo chamber–glaring at each other in the process.
“The dead guy is Ralph Edwards. A banker. Someone plugged him in the forehead with a big caliber gun. Close range apparently. There’s burn marks all over the man’s face. The bullet exited and went through a window somewhere that away. Haven’t found it yet.”
“Any witnesses?” Bean snapped.
“Who discovered the body?” Hamm snapped.
“No to the first question. And his wife answers the second question.” the uniformed officer replied, grinning as he looked up at the two detectives. “So it finally happened, huh?”
“What happened?” Hamm and Bean shot back simultaneously.
“The lieutenant. He went and did it. Put you two together. Geez! Sergeant Loomis is going to be one happy dude!”
Both detectives frowned. The young kid for a patrol officer grinned even wider.
“We started a pool about a month ago. Each threw in ten bucks and picked a date when the lieutenant would bite the bullet and put you two together. I think Sergeant Loomis is a couple of thousand smackers richer!”
“That sounds like gambling, Hamm .” Bean growled menacingly as he half turned toward his partner.
“That’s what it sounds like to me, Bean. Corruption in the department! Wonder what the mayor would say if he heard about this?”
The patrol officer wiped the grin off his face as he snapped the small notebook in his hand closed, turned on a heel, and moved away from the two detectives slightly slower than a dead run. Hamm and Bean watched the young officer disappear around a corner of the house, deadly little smirks on their lips.
“The little wimp,” Bean muttered,
“Snotty nosed little bastard,” Hamm said.
Mike Bean turned and looked at his new partner and scowled.
“You gotta have the last word every time I say something? Is that the way it’s gonna be?”
“Does shit stink?” she asked, the smirk on her lips widening.
He grinned . . . almost laughed . . . as he turned and headed for the house.
The same old routine. A grieving wife. A despondent teen age son. Several thousand dollars in jewelry missing And wet paint on the driveway.
“Wet paint,” Hamm said as she sat on her haunches sticking a finger in the wet goop.
“No shit, Sherlock!” Bean answered, bending over to make the appearance of looking at the wet paint. But looking at the exposed thighs and pink underwear of his partner instead.
“Bean! Stop staring at my panties and get that tongue back into mouth before you bite it off!” she hissed, standing up and straightening her dress at the same time.
“Did you notice the house is half painted?” he asked, standing up as well and throwing a thumb back toward the house.
“Yes,” she nodded, glancing at the house. “Did you get a name?”
“Sure,” he nodded, grinning and holding up a business card. “Two guys I know from way back. Guys who used to rob houses when they were in their teens.”
“I’m driving,” Hamm said, turning on a heel and walking toward the Crown Vic.
“Like hell you are! My ulcers can take only so much of your driving. Give me the keys, Hamm !”
“Bite me,” detective Marissa Hamm said with a smile on her face as she unlocked the Crown Vic.
The two painters were cousins. Stole together. Served time together. Came out of prison and started painting houses for a living. Stayed honest until they got to the banker’s house and found fifty thousand dollars of jewelry just lying out in the open waiting to be snatched. Problem was the banker came home unexpectedly. One of the cousins pulled a gun. The gun went off. Drilled the banker in the forehead. Sheer accident. The kid didn’t think it was loaded.
“Good job, you two. You survived the first day,” the lieutenant said, smirking, arms folded across the chest as he heard their report. “Go home and get some rest. Stay sober for once, Mike. Don’t eat any children alive, Marissa. See you two tomorrow.”
The two walked out of the lieutenant’s office and stopped. The squad room was empty. Small fans on the desks of the detectives were humming quietly in the silence. The two stared at their desks and then looked at each other.
“Going home?” Hamm asked quietly.
“Naw,” Bean said, shaking his head. “Thought I’d go and knock back a couple of beers over at Wally’s.”
Marissa Hamm said nothing as she nodded and looked down at the floor. Bean, frowning, sighed and shook his head in disgust..
“You drink beer?”
“Uh huh,” nodded Hamm .
“Really? I thought you preferred chilled strychnine. Or maybe molten lava,” he said, heading for the stairs.
“The only question I want answered,” Hamm said, following Bean down the stairs loudly. “Is whether you’re going to slid under the table after the third or fourth beer. I heard two was your limit.”
Mike Bean grinned. Grinned and looked over his shoulder at his new partner. Hell. Maybe this would work after all.
B.R. Stateham writes hard boiled. Grim, dark and sometimes . . . with a little humor. Or at least, that’s what he thinks. What do you think?