By the time I walked up my driveway it was deep twilight. The sun goes down pretty early this time of year. There were no lights on in the house. I fumbled for my key and opened the front door.
“Jess, I’m home!”
I flipped on the entryway light and kicked my shoes under the bench. Hers weren’t there.
I opened the closet. Her shoes weren’t in there either. In fact, all her shoes were gone, and her coats too.
I walked down to our bedroom. All her clothes were gone from the closet. The dresser drawers were empty. The bathroom was stripped.
What I feared was true.
I wandered through the living room, powder room, and study. No signs. Her electronics tools and sculpture equipment were gone from the studio. She’d been planning this for awhile if all that was gone. I stopped in the kitchen. There were no messages or notes anywhere. I guess she didn't need any. The silence said it all.
I was tired. I got a half-empty bottle of Scotch and a glass from a cabinet, went out to the living room, and sank into the couch. I was too tired to call and search and pled tonight. I had to think. And remember.
The ringing phone woke me up.
I’d fallen asleep on the couch. The red numbers on the clock across the room were screaming five-forty-five am. The house was dark and indifferent.
I answered with a groggy hello.
It was Adams. Didn’t that guy sleep?
“We have a ticket waiting for you at Idlewild station for a nine am train. Pack a bag for a week’s stay. We need you to begin work today.”
The ungodly hour and hangover were slapping my brain around and my sense of humour was huddled crying in a corner, “Just hold it. What’s going on?”
“Sorry.” Adams actually did sound sorry. “Things have been happening quite fast. We apprehended the barista last night. She is the assassin.”
“How do you know for sure?” My brain was starting to slap back. “I was just following a hunch. I have no proof.”
“In retrospect, proving who she is was not that difficult once you had found her. Both the constables were wearing wrist bracelets that were not jewelry, but were passive radiation collectors. When a person fires one of those early prototypes a unique radiation signature is left on their hand. The constables went into the store and ordered some coffee. When she handed it to them, they reached for their coffees with their braceleted hands allowing for a sample from her hand to be taken while both people were transferring the cup. Constable McFarland took the bracelets in for processing, and Constable Logan stayed on surveillance. Constable McFarland later returned with the good news, and when the store closed, they arrested her.”
“Where is she now?” Maybe she was a guest in my old room.
Seemed like Adams was reading my mind, “We could not keep her here. Unlike yourself, she was not a cooperative guest. She is being transported to an office a few hours north. We need you there too.”
“I don’t know anything.” My brain was squirming to its feet.
“We only need you on it for a few hours. After that you are off the investigation and will begin your training.”
My brain was wobbling a bit, but it was getting feisty, “I have some personal business to take care of this morning. I’ll be at the station for a noon train. I need a first-class ticket with deluxe meal service. I’ll need my own office at your place and I’ll need some time to complete my personal business.”
“Of course. A driver will meet you at your destination. Anything else?”
“I may need something else, but it’s only six am and I can’t think straight yet.” I paused a moment. “It all seems too easy.”
Adams continued. “We were lucky, or more precisely, you were lucky, and she was overconfident. She was convinced that no one had seen her and felt she could just continue on with her life as if nothing had happened. If she had kept on running and had abandoned her old life we probably would never have caught her. I told you they are probably amateurs.”
“And you guys just waited around until the coffee shop closed to arrest her. Why didn’t you storm the place when you knew?”
“You should be starting to understand that we try to operate as discretely as possible and sometimes assume risk to maintain a low profile,” explained Adams. I could hear Darth rising, but he was quickly tamped down. “That is enough for now. We will see you later this afternoon.”
“Ok.” We hung up.
And that was that. My first investigation was done. It was profitable for the powers that be. They had a lead to their precious missing ray-guns, er, ‘directed energy weapons’. But it came at great cost. A man was killed. My wife left me. Not to mention its success was due in no small part to plain good luck. It turns out this was an easy one.
The next instalment can be found here.
The next instalment can be found here.