Novel 3: Act II, Chapter 1, Scene 1c

TOC page here.

So the first two parts of this scene have shown time passing, and Diana’s character, and a brief look at the moon. A little lull, but an informative one. Now we move to action in this longer excerpt:

She must have fallen asleep: the lights were on, and the book on her chest. The phone ringing made her mind shift straight to Andrew: she groaned and reached to turn it off. Then it struck her that the phone was making a triple beep. She took a deep breath, answered. “Siddall.”

“Hey, there,” said Marlene from Dispatch.

“I was dreaming of…” Diana heard herself say. “Never mind.” She slid her legs from around the sleeping cat. “What’s up?”

“Your partner’s in the old Medical Arts Building downtown on Peachtree. He said to come quickly.”

“Oh.” She blinked twice. “Oh. Don’t tell me–”

“He didn’t tell me. But he sounded worried. Which, the Inspector?”

“Yeah. Thanks. I’ll take it from here.” She hung up, looked at Frey and wondered, not for the first time, what life would be like if she were the sort of person who only lived for contemplation. But she knew too well that she thrived off the action, too. She didn’t even need coffee, but Mustapha would, so she put on a pot while she got changed.

Twenty minutes later, she pulled to a stop in front of the Medical Arts Building, a once-beautiful Art Deco tower abandoned long ago, and now for so long given over to squatters. It would be far too expensive to renovate, even given its prime location just across the freeway canyon from where Alex Dawson was found.

Officer Slaughter and Sergeant Brown were standing at parade rest at the building’s main entrance, which was usually boarded up, but now yawned open, with one of the plywood planks laid over the threshold. “Evening, ma’am,” said Brown. “Your partner’s with the body. Fourth floor. Watch out for stray needles.”

Diana got out her tablet. “Y’all were first responders?”

“Yes, ma’am. One of the other squatters called in to Dispatch. Good thing the weather’s been cold: he’s been there for days. We cleared the floor, called Major Crimes, got your partner.”

“Any ID? Cause of death?”

“Didn’t check: left it for your partner. Not a civilian; one of the vagrants. If he didn’t drink or freeze himself to death, it’s your basic public service homicide.”

Slaughter groaned aloud; Diane looked down to hide her own grin. Brown didn’t miss a beat: “Here, Slaughter, turn toward me so I can say that into your brand-new body camera.” Diana looked back up to see Brown crouch down and stare into the camera mounted on Slaughter’s shirt pocket. “Each of these parasites will cost the city, county and state hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of his short and miserable life. If you call it life.”

Diana said, “Your opinion is duly noted, Sergeant. Make sure everyone stays out.” She walked over the plywood into the building, then realized she’d botched the dramatic exit. She went back and got the thermos of coffee out of the car. She had time for a quick wink at Slaughter, whose body camera Diana herself had arranged, before ducking back inside.

Four floors up, Mustapha stood in the glow of streetlights, an unlit cigarette in his mouth.He pointed his Maglite at a heap of clothing in one corner. “Get ready for the circus,” he said. “Oh, good, you brought coffee.”

Brown’s a dick and Slaughter has a body camera now. There’s a corpse in an abandoned building, a few days after Diana saw the tiny sliver of old moon right before dawn. Mustapha has coffee. Murder number two: here we go.

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