“I think I’m going to miss Mort,” the detective said.
“Yes, he was ‘Mr. Reliable.’ Never missed an appointment,” the patrolman chimed in. His heels clicked and clacked on the hard surface as he paced about the crime scene.
The detective leaned against the wall. “I still can’t get my head around this. The perpetrator was already gone when they entered?”
“According to the women. Not the best witnesses in my book, but they are sticking with their story to everyone they talk with.”
“And the men on duty saw nothing?” the detective asked.
“I heard their report. They only saw what happened after, not the actual crime.”
“They are rather limited, what can you expect? And they were shaken up when Mr. High and Mighty made an appearance. Who was Mort coming to get, anyway?”
“That’s classified. But the chatter downtown is that they didn’t quite realize who or what they were dealing with this time. The usual methods: bribery, intimidation, etc., did not work. Things escalated, and well, here we are …”
“And you didn’t hear this from me either,” the patrolman continued. “But there was a rumor Mort flubbed a coupled of assignments in the last six months. That a few others got away. That he was losing his edge, maybe even getting scared.”
“What?” the detective asked. “This has happened before? So we’ve got sort of a serial …, a serial …. I don’t know what to call it!”
“I don’t think the word has been invented yet,” the underling said.
The detective chewed on his lower lip, “Has anyone figured out how things are going to work without Mort around?”
“Still waiting to hear from downtown. Its pandaemonium, what do you expect? We’re going to have to work a lot harder for our grub I expect.”
They left the chamber, it was almost as dark outside as in, but that was no trouble for them. The detective was uneasy, though he could not put a finger on the cause. Something had changed.
They wandered through a nearby cypress grove, two more shadows among those cast by the trees under the starlight. The detective stopped and gazed at the stars for a moment.
The patrolman stopped too, and looked back at him. “Second thoughts?”
“No, we’re still running the place, and we always will be.” He felt eyes, and spun around.
“What?” the other one asked.
“Just the wind,” he blurted. And a warm wind did flow over him. The trees swayed and sighed in response, the elder trunks even groaned. He shivered, looked up once more, and trudged away into the darkness.