A common misconception about a burnt crime scene is that a lot of the evidence is destroyed, which is kind of true. Fire burns shit, simple logic. Fortunately, fire also makes a lot of things more apparent. Things like marks and footprints are burned away, whilst other older marks are left to inspect. You can tell a lot from a fire. From my observations, the fire only affected certain areas and the rest of the building was unscathed. This is where I started my search. From a glance, the hallways and offices on the upper floors looked undisturbed and tidy. Up close, however, there were minute discrepancies everywhere. Scuff marks leading to hallway endings, metal cabinets completely emptied, and tabletops cleared. In these unaffected areas where the smoke hasn’t spread, dust has yet to settle. It looked empty, suspiciously empty. We heard from surrounding residences that no one has entered the building in months, yet seeing all these signs of wear told a different story. I left scanner drones to search for fingerprints while I checked up on the forensics teams in the burn areas. I approached the one on the 14th floor, led by an analyst named Jene Wachowski. In the fluorescent light, her auburn hair looked a flat red-brown. Her glasses reflected the tablet she held, which made her look like a human jack o’lantern. “Backlit Jene” I always called her. Jene was about a foot shorter than me, so I was always look down at her when we talked. Jene looked over her tablet that monitored streams of data from a myriad of scanners. She eyed the fast scrolling numbers through the glass.
“What are they picking up?” A asked her. She never looked up.
“Near to damn nothing.” she stated in a high voice. “A few shoes and fingerprints of maintenance workers, but that’s it. I’ll have the captain run background checks on them. This building’s wiped.”
“Strange, isn’t it?” I continued on.
“Indeed.” Backlit Jene concluded.
An hour later, the scanners finally finished. They detected only a handful of identifiable fingerprints. A few dozen leads and nothing more. I decided it was time for bed, it was the middle of the night, after all.
With the crime scene relatively inspected, I exited building without looking back. The bustling crowd of snoops and reporters dispersed, leaving behind a few suits who were completely drained. Crowd control was a tough job. The collage of red and blue has calmed and the searchlights dimmed. Overall the scene of fiery hell has cooled over. The stench of fire still lingered in the air and would stay for days, even weeks. A smile came on my face and touched my tired eyes. Tomorrow the real work would begin.
I felt an unbearable urge, the stress was starting to crack me. I looked around and saw no friends and pulled out an old flip lighter and a single cigarette. I really needed a smoke. It was my first comfort tonight. Suddenly the heavy front door of the Anderson House heaved open and Joseph came up beside me beside me, his feet crunching the reformed ice.
“Man, I’m beat,” he said. Joe spotted me and scowled, “Ya know those things’ll kill ya, right?” he said with a touch of concern. We were friends and all, but we were both too tired to keep up a friendly façade for tonight.
“I’m on break, let me break.” I replied.
“Just as long as you don’t break yourself. I thought you said you’d quit.”
“Ya know, I have heard all the warnings ever since I started. People said that vaping was better, but look how they turned out. There is no perfect relief, Joe.”
“You can try getting a real girlfriend, Jamie.” he advised. “It helps me get through the loneliness.” I rolled my eyes. Yet again, we began about this off and on thing I had with a girl. It was a common point of arguing between us. Eventually I stopped talking to him about it entirely. He didn’t like being thrown out of the loop. All I know is that he strongly disapproves of her, yet he never told me why. One running theory is that her family is a rough crowd of business owners that are spread all across Michigan. They often get mixed up in police reports.
“She is real, Jeannette is corporeal, therefore real. Completely a real thing, Joe. It’s not my fault that she is not in my life all the time.”
“Do you know what she does on these outings?” he asked. I merely shrugged.
“I’m not the NSA, Joe. I don’t need to know.”
“That should be a red flag, then. There’s more to her than you think or know. Have you read my emails about the various police reports involving her family?” He raised an eyebrow. I narrowed my eyes.
“There were never charges brought against her or her family, trust me, I’ve read them.” I spat out the cigarette and stomped on it. “I don’t know why you don’t trust her, but she is good to me. Try repeating after me. She. is. a. good person. We aren’t exactly saints either, Joe. What place do we have to judge people?”
“We’re with the law. We have to watch after people. Especially each other.”
I waved him off. “I appreciate the concern, Joseph, but I grew up in this city, too. I know how to look after myself.” I walked off towards my car. He didn’t even try to follow me.
“Drive safe!” Joe yelled words of advice.
I wanted to shout “Thanks mom” but that would be immature. My mother died a decade ago, didn’t want to open that wound tonight.
My steps were usually silent, but anger can quickly change that. I understand he was my partner, we watch after each other because no one else would. The relationship may have not been entirely healthy, but what right does he have to micromanage my life? She is there when I need her, right?
The thought echoed doubt in my head.
Reassurance quickly followed. I am a responsible adult with a well paying job, a solid shelter, and a lover. It gets on my nerves whenever people try to fix what ain’t broken. It the exact reason why my father and I do not really talk anymore. So what if i’m the son of the commissioner? I can still be a cop and live how I want. My anger began to boil over. I exhaled, letting the cold air cool my anger. I drove these thoughts from my head with a torch and pitchfork. Save them for therapy.
I kept heading straight into the smog filled streets. Strait for my crappy car. Straight by my crappy apartment. Straight for my bed. Sleep deprivation makes me paranoid. I passed the second checkpoint glaring at the rookie who gave me the civilian treatment earlier. I swear that he turned the pale color of drywall.
As I approached the old cruiser, I took off my leather gloves. I clutched the cold metal handle, and let the implemented fingerprint scanner do its work. The police department offered upgrade packages for cruisers based off of funding. We had to pay for part of it, unfortunately, so many did not have the higher tears. I opted for the security bundle, which featured fingerprint scanners in the front doors, reinforced glass with a electro-kinetic defense matrix, and reinforced car armor. It was costly, but I can’t count how many times my car was broken into. It opened automatically and I crawled inside the driver seat. I usually didn’t have anything valuable in the police car, it was just troublesome to pay for endless repairs. The electro-kinetic glass upgrade shocked any foreign signature that tried to penetrate the glass. In a run down state like Michigan, you cant be too careful.