Martens stared moodily into the gloom of the underground car park, unlit apart from one corner which was illuminated by bright lamps powered by the portable generators brought in by the scene-of-crime team.
God, he thought to himself, what a job, what a life. How did I end up like this? Every job, every day, was the same. First the phone call, then the body, then scratching around for clues, visiting the mortuary, questioning witnesses and suspects, both willing and unwilling, and maybe, sometimes, making an arrest. More often than not it was a relative. No variety. Tedium, deadly tedium.
He glanced across at Rubens, his side-kick of some five years. “Hey, Rube, any clues? Any anything?”
Rubens slowly stood up from where he had been crouched over the body. “I guess once we’ve examined the briefcase and had the coroner’s report we should know more. Looks like some prints on the knife handle, but really badly smudged as though someone’s tried to wipe them. No obvious ID.”
“No tie pin?” asked Martens, softly, very softly.
Rubens looked down at the body, scratched his unshaven chin, stepped out of the pool of light, away from the body, and scraping a match on board, lit up a cigarette. He inhaled thoughtfully.
Apart from the noise made by the generator and some incoherent mumblings from the forensic people it was quiet in the car park. Rubens didn’t feel a need to reply immediately and Martens didn’t expect him to. Rubens was the most articulate and the most taciturn partner he could remember working with and this suited him only too well. Indeed, it was the silences, the comfortable silences, that helped build the solid relationship they had with each other. They knew each other’s weakness and fantasies as well as their strengths. A good partnership.
Eventually Rubens spoke. Gently. “Tie pin?”
“Yep”, said Martens, “Tie pin.” He almost stopped breathing.
Rubens sucked on a molar that was bothering him. He knew some of the background. He knew of the bad blood between Martens and the mayor. Why there was bad blood he didn’t know, but bad blood there was and had been before he had teamed up with Martens. Everyone in town knew that Mayor Clancy with her team of shyster lawyers and her gang of not very caring enforcers was not the nicest person in town. Some would describe her as corrupt. Those closer to her would say evil. Most would say both corrupt and evil.
Martens seemed obsessed by her. On one of those rare occasions that he and Rubens had gone drinking together, Martens had said, ”The thing I really want to do before I hang up my badge is to slip the cuffs on her and read her her rights. That’ll put her in her place. That pearly tie pin she wears will be the clue that sends her down. That’s why I stay in this job, Rube, that’s why I stay.” He never did go into detail of why he felt as he did. Rubens could only speculate but as a good detective he didn’t do that sort of thing. It was Martens’ business anyhow.
“Tie pin?” echoed Rubens. He knew this dance. They had done it before. Many times.
Another long silence. “You heard me, Rube.”
Rubens deliberately stubbed out his cigarette with the ball of his shoe and moved back to the body. He bent over it once again, studying it carefully. “Lot’s of blood. It would have sprayed all over the killer. We need to check the laundries.” He paused, “Nope, no tie pin.” And then, encouragingly, “Maybe next time.”
Martens grunted, “Yeah, maybe next time.” And resumed staring into the gloom.
Back in the mayor’s opulent office, a shaven-headed gorilla in a tight fitting suit and a gold ring in each ear carefully placed a pearl tie pin onto Mayor Clancy’s desk. “Got there just before the cops. Oh, and we’ve burnt the dress. You’re in the clear.”
Clancy poured a generous helping of Jack Daniels into each of two cut-glass tumblers. “Nice work. Once again.”