Welcome back to the continuing saga that is poorly titled (for now) "A Murder Story" although an earlier suggestion is really growing on me. This is the ninth part of the second day of this winding and twisting crime saga. I was writing this as part of NaNoWriMo -- sadly I didn't crack the 50,000 word mark but the writing continues...
If this is your first visit here, please feel free to go back and read the story from the beginning.
“Miranda,” Danny began, “about this sweatshirt.”
“Yeah?” Miranda responded apprehensively.
“Let’s just say that it is from someone you at least went to the academy with.” Danny paused, carefully crafting the rest of his question. “It’s only been a few years, Miranda, do you remember anyone in your class who may have seemed a bit, uh, off?”
“Not at all.” Miranda replied as she stood up. “We were all in our early twenties, Danny. Everyone probably had some issues they were dealing with. I was still dealing with my parents getting divorced and I talked about it with a few friends I made along the way but I don’t recall anyone else talking about anything overly weird or traumatic or flat out fucked up.”
“Well,” Danny uncharacteristically stammered, “was there anyone who may have had a crush on you?”
“Fuck, so you think it could be someone from my class? What was all that bullshit about not jumping to conclusions?” Miranda’s voice rose and her face began to fill with a combination of anger and fear. “I don’t know. My class was about 75% guys so there could have been someone but if there was someone who had some sort of creepy crush on me, I never knew about it or noticed anything.”
“Are you sure, Miranda?” Danny looked into Miranda’s piercing blue eyes. “I just want to put any possibility of someone maybe being after you out of my head and yours.”
“I’m sure Danny. I am 110% sure that this isn’t some sort of sick unrequited love bullshit the led some twisted fuck to kill two women to get my attention.”
Miranda returned to inspecting the soft ground surrounding the development’s pond with more intensity than before. Even with intense focus her mind wandered back to her days spent in the police academy. She had definitely caught the eye of a few of her fellow classmates but at the time simply brushed it off as guys being guys. She was always careful not to lead anyone on and as she began to recount those earlier days she couldn’t recall anyone in particular who jumped out to her as being a future murderer.
“Kline, Grove.” A stern voice came over the team’s radios simultaneously.
“This is Kline.”
“We got an I.D. off of those prints you guys found at yesterday’s crime scene in the car.” Perkins exhaled into the open mic, “You guys should come around to the front of the house here.”
“Holy shit” Miranda exclaimed, “I can’t believe they got something back so soon! This could be the big break we need on these cases!”
“Let’s not get too fucking excited, Miranda. It’s never a sure thing until you’ve got her naked - so to speak.”
“Jesus, Danny,” Miranda turned to look at her partner as they walked at a fast pace towards the front of the townhome development, “but I don’t think you should call it a sure thing until you’re fucking her!”
Miranda laughed heartily at her own joke, seeming to top Danny’s penchant for crude sex jokes for once.
“Hell,” Danny began, “I was gonna say it’s never a sure thing until you’re pulling your dick out of her but I was trying to keep things classy.”
“Yeah, that’s you,” Miranda laughed in her well-known fake laugh, “classy as hell.”
The two turned the corner and began to walk in front of the row of painfully similar townhomes, not too far away they could see Homicide Chief Donald Perkins puffing away on yet another cheap cigarette as he held his dirty aluminum coffee mug, alternating between sips of coffee and deep drags on his cigarette.
“Alright guys,” Perkins paused as he threw his cigarette on the ground and artfully snuffed it out with his left foot, “like I mentioned on the radio we’ve got an I.D. on the prints you guys pulled from yesterday’s crime scene.”
Miranda and Danny both made hand gestures for Perkins to get to the meat of the story.
“Well,” Perkins exhaled a thick cloud of smoke from his nostrils, “the prints were yours Grove.”
“What the holy fuck?” Miranda screamed, her face instantly red. “There’s no fucking way those are mine!”
“Jesus, Don”, Danny exclaimed, “Do you have any idea how to say something delicately?”
“Hey Danny, you guys wanted to know the news so I told you. If you wanted shit delivered softly to you you should have ordered a fucking flower bouquet.” Perkins turned a coughed, hacking up some phlegm in the process and spitting on the lawn.
Miranda stood, holding back whatever anger was raging inside of her.
Danny turned to place his hand on Miranda’s shoulder but all Miranda did was walk away, kicking the grass as she walked.
“Where does this leave things,” Danny tried to regain his composure as he addressed Perkins, “I mean you can’t honestly think that Grove was actually with our first murder victim, can you?”
“Dammit Danny, the prints were there and the prints were her’s.”
“Well, what if?” Danny began, stopping mid-sentence, “What if, and this has to be it, what if the prints were planted?”
“Are you fucking serious Danny?” Perkins laughed a deep, gravelly laugh. “Who the hell would go to the work of planting prints?”
“Well based on what we found out behind these townhomes, it’s starting to look that our murderer just might know Grove.”
“Don’t leave me out of the loop Danny, what did you guys find?”
“It was a sweatshirt from the college Grove attended.” Kline offered up flatly. “And it had her graduating year embroidered on it, too.”
“Well that’s a bit of a twist now, isn’t it?” Perkins dug his heel into the grass, waiting for more details. “What else do you have that’s gonna start to convince me that Grove wasn’t at least with our first murder victim?”
“Well,” Danny paused as Miranda nudged him in the ribs, shaking her head no, “Miranda was with me.”
“Of course she was,” Perkins said, pausing to spit a nasty loogie on the grass, “she’s your damn partner but that doesn’t clear up where she was a three in the morning Danny.”
“But it does, Donald. She was with me at 3 AM.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, does that mean?” Perkins asked, stammering the whole time.
“Yeah, it means that we have been sort of dating and on the night that Emily Jenkins was murdered, Miranda was with me.” Danny stopped and waited for a reaction from his boss.
“Is this true, Grove?” Perkins hiked up his pants as he waited for an answer.
“Yes, Donald, it’s true.”
Miranda stood with an almost blank expression on her face as she processed the fact that she was working at the scene of the murder of her best friend and had just confessed to having an intimate relationship with one of her superiors to clear her own name all before 8 AM.
“Hey, I’ll accept all responsibility for beginning a relationship with a co-worker and not going through the proper channels to”
“Damn right you will -- both of you!” Perkins interrupted Danny as he pulled another cigarette from the pack residing in his shirt pocket. “While we’re having sharey-sharey time, why don’t you two get out any other little secrets you have so we can get back to work!”
“Nothing else, Donald.” Danny shook his head as Miranda shook her head no.
“Alright then you two lovebirds, get back to where you were and let’s all meet back here in thirty.”
Miranda and Danny returned down the sidewalk and around the corner towards the park behind the townhomes where they had first discovered the bloodsoaked sweatshirt.
“Well, Danny, I guess our relationship is sort of out there now.”
“Well, Miranda, it was only a matter of time before someone found out. I just wish that the circumstances would have been different. Nobody wants to spill the beans about who they’re sleeping with in that way.”
“Damn right Danny, I can’t fucking believe that Perkins had the balls to even think that I had something to do with yesterday’s case.”
“Well Miranda, he had evidence that he had to at least feel out.”
Miranda stopped walking and turned to Danny, “Jesus Christ, whose side are you on Danny?”
“Miranda, you know it’s just part of the job. I know you’re innocent and now Perkins knows that you’re innocent. I just think the bigger question here is how in the hell those prints got on the inside of Emily Jenkins’ car in the first place.”
“Yeah, Danny, I guess you’re right. Is it weird for me to be a bit freaked out by the fact that my prints somehow ended up in the victim’s car? And then today we end up working this case?”
“It is all a bit too convenient Miranda. I don’t want to worry you but I know I’d feel a bit better if you stayed at my house until we get someone in custody for these murders.”
“Shit, Danny, you really do think that this murderer knows me, don’t you?”
“We have to face the facts, Miranda. This is all a bit of a big coincidence -- your fingerprints showing up inside of a murder victim’s car, your best friend being murdered and finding that sweatshirt -- to be just a random bunch of related events that has nothing to do with you. When we’re done here we should go take a look at your apartment just to make sure everything is--”
Be sure to check back for the ongoing second chapter of this (hopefully) intriguing murder mystery!