Skeleton Lake

Site contents © 2008 Mike Doogan

Excerpt from Skeleton Lake, continued <previous page>

      Detective Sgt. Giuseppe Donatello DiSanto – “Call me Jackie Dee, everybody does” – nodded and flicked his cigarette butt away into the night, away from where the body lay.
      “Too right, kid,” he said, “but Fireball there broadcast an ‘officer down’ and every unit in town came screaming out here. Plus those yahoos” – he pointed at the suits – “who were getting loaded at the Roadhouse. What can you do?”
      Not a God-damn thing, Kane thought. Bad enough to get a dead cop as my first murder case, but this is a cluster fuck, pure and simple.“Better save what we can,” Jackie Dee said. He walked over to the nearest unit and flipped its mic to PA.
      “Listen up,” he said, his booming, metallic voice knifing through the hubbub. “Everybody who is not investigating this homicide will immediately vacate the area, taking care to disturb the crime scene as little as possible. Not that that will make any difference now.”
      The cops all stopped moving and turned to look at Jackie Dee.
      “Wait a minute,” one of the suits said, “I’m the ranking officer here …”
      Jackie Dee’s amplified voice cut him off.
      “This is a crime scene,” he said. “My partner and I are the investigating officers. If you guys don’t beat it, I’m going to start taking names and you can explain to the chief why you were out past midnight fucking up the investigation of a slain police officer. I need Fireball to stay, and whoever was next on the scene. And Harry and Larry, stick around and help with the crime scene. Everybody else, get lost.”
      The crowd began to break up, the uniforms tiptoeing to their units like mice trying to creep past a sleeping cat, being careful way too late. Kane walked over to where Jackie Dee was talking with a slightly unsteady bald guy in a black raincoat.
      “Honest to God, Lieutenant,” Jackie Dee was saying, “if we need anything at all from admin, I’ll call you personally.”
      A couple of the bald man’s buddies led him off.
      “Christ,” Jackie Dee said, “the admin lieutenant. Do you know how you get to be admin lieutenant, kid?”
      Kane shook his head. He had an idea, but Jackie Dee wasn’t a guy who liked to be interrupted.
      “Admin lieutenant requires two, count ‘em two, qualifications,” he said, holding up two fingers. “First” – he folded down his index finger, leaving his middle finger sticking up – “first, you got to be a Grade A brown-noser. That’s how you get to be a lieutenant. Second” -- he folded his middle finger to make a fist – “you got to fuck up every other assignment so bad they won’t trust you with nothing but paper until you get your gold watch.”
      Jackie Dee shook his fist at the admin lieutenant’s back.
      “And Barnes there has those qualifications, in spades,” he said.
      Kane didn’t say anything. For one thing, he supposed Jackie Dee was right. He hadn’t seen anything in ten years on the force to prove him wrong, anyway. For another, Jackie Dee had more than a decade’s seniority, which made him the senior partner on their two-man team. For a third, Jackie Dee was as wide as he was tall, and he probably went six-foot-four. He was fat, it was true, but not that fat. All in all, not a guy Kane wanted to be contradicting.
      “Okay,” Jackie Dee said, “they teach you anything about what we do now?”
      Kane laughed.
      “Teach me anything?” he said. “This is Anchorage, remember?”
      Jackie Dee nodded. The Anchorage Police Department was modernizing, but the process was slow and the department was still dominated by men who’d been chosen for their size and availability rather than their skill or intelligence.
      “But I did do some reading,” Kane said. “I know a guy with the FBI, and he gave me some manuals.
Jackie Dee looked at Kane with mock respect.
      “Reading, huh?” he said. “Maybe I should try that.”
      “Hey,” Kane said, but Jackie Dee held up a hand.
      “Don’t take it personal, kid,” he said. “I’m not at my best after midnight. Or at cop killings.” He stopped and took a couple of breaths. “So what do the manuals tell you?
      “They say to keep the crime scene intact,” Kane said. “Little late for that. Anyway, photograph everything. Medical examiner. Transport. Divide into quadrants. Search for clues. Witness interviews.”
      Jackie Dee was nodding by the time he finished.
      “That’s the stuff,” he said. “I don’t suppose those manuals told you that on cold, wet nights, the new guy does all the crime scene stuff and the senior detective gets into a warm unit that damn-sure better have some hot coffee in it and does the initial interviews. Did they?”
      “No,” Kane said with a laugh, “but I’m not surprised to hear it.”