DETECTIVE GERARD stood in the center of the office and motioned for his partner to join him. “Captain wants to see us, McGee. Let’s go.” McGee was just about to bite into a powdered doughnut. He rolled his eyes. “Can you at least wait until I finish my breakfast?”
“No, my good man. When the captain calls, you stop what you’re doing and go.” He shook his head. “Didn’t they teach you anything at the academy?” he barked.
McGee groaned as he put the doughnut back down on the napkin and pushed back in his chair.
“Uh, you might want to wipe the powder off your face before you go in there with me,” Gerard said. Seeing the white powder around his mouth brought back warm memories of the day Jessie had wiped powdered sugar off his mouth and the snarky comment that followed. He could almost hear her saying, Oh Christ, don’t go getting all syrupy on me just because I wiped your mouth. Yeah, that was after they’d slept together for the first time. He sighed wishing living together had worked out between them on a permanent basis, but that didn’t happen. They were both so set in their ways. He jerked the thoughts from his mind. They were much better as friends—with benefits. He eyed McGee who was wrapping his doughnut in a napkin.
“For chrissake, will you hurry up?” he gestured with his hand. “You could have made the damn doughnut with the time you’re taking.”
“Alright,” he said, and stomped like a child trying to catch up to Gerard, who’d already knocked on the captain’s door.
“Enter,” Captain Tyrone Miller’s deep timbre voice echoed through the door. They entered only to find two other men in the captain’s office.
“Detectives Gerard and McGee, I’d like you to meet Special Agents Lowell Springer and Jerry Robb from ATF.” Springer was a burly man with light brown hair. His hooded eyes made him appear angry. The other guy was a young rookie with that fresh-out-of-training look. The men acknowledged each other.
“Have a seat,” Captain Miller said to them. “These men are here to talk about the 168 Reville Street incident. I believe that’s right next door to where your homicide victim lived.” Miller nodded toward agent Springer. “Why don’t you fill us in on what was going on next door to our homicide?”
Looking mildly annoyed, Springer started to describe the events that led up to the early morning raid. “We’d been monitoring several suspects for months and they all led us to the location in question here. The word on the street was that a major shipment of weapons was going down sooner than we’d expected. As a result, we had to move fast to prevent that from happening. If we hadn’t, we probably would never have found them, except when the guns showed up in the execution of other crimes. So we conducted a raid on their weapons stash. As soon as we broke down the front door, a couple of suspects made a run for it out the back door. Our agents covering the back entrance shouted for them to stop, but one of the gun traffickers started shooting an automatic weapon. Our guy shot back, wounded him and took him into custody. As for the other asshole, he couldn’t outrun the agent and he too, was apprehended within seconds. The end result, your guy got shot. It was all over in less than a minute.”
“Yeah, a minute too long.”
“Hey, Detective, shit happens.”
“Were any of our guys assisting you with the raid?”
“Yeah, we had someone working undercover, but I can’t divulge his name.”
“I wasn’t asking,” Gerard fired back. “I’m just surprised we weren’t advised way in advance of something like this going down. Lousy communication on your department’s part.”
“Like I said, Gerard, we got a tip and went for it.”
“Okay, Springer,” Gerard said shifting in his seat, “I can see you’re not going to give me the answers I’m looking for, but regardless, I still need those guns,” he blurted out. “And I didn’t appreciate your guys giving my partner a hard time about turning them over.”
“That’s why I’m here, Detective. But listen, I want those ballistics checked as soon as possible so we can get on with our case,” he said. “And since we’re on the subject, you need to get out of the way of our investigation.”
“Really?” Gerard glared at him. “I have a homicide to solve. I’m not going to take it on your word that it was a gunrunner who fired the shot that killed my victim. I want the proof, and the only way that’s going to happen is through ballistics.”
“I’m well aware of that.” Springer said shaking his head. “You guys are unbelievable. You know, it never ceases to amaze me how you local folks come running to us to include your issues in our federal cases when it suits you, but when it doesn’t, you fight us tooth and nail to keep us out.” He shot Gerard a look. “This is now our case, so stay out of our way.”
“I beg your pardon,” Gerard fired back. “Absolutely not! We have two entirely different cases here. You have a weapons trafficker, and I have a homicide to solve. My guy was killed inside his house by a stray bullet that came from one of your agents or from the perp. That, sir, makes it my homicide.” He glanced over at Captain Miller who was staring at him, a slight grin on his face. “For chrissake,” Gerard said, “we have a kid here who watched his father die.”
“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,” Special Agent Robb said, holding his hand up. “What kid? We weren’t told anything about a kid. What else did he see?”
“The boy’s not ready to talk yet. He’s still in a pretty fragile state. I’ll be seeing him later this afternoon. If I have anything to report, I will.”
“Then I want my guy to tag along with you,” Springer said. “Like you, I’m not about to wait for you to give me information when you feel like it. If it impacts my case, I want to know right away. Everything in this case is important.”
Gerard pursed his lips together. “Agent Springer, this kid is barely talking to me. He’s way too traumatized to talk. He’s just starting to come around. Let me give this a crack first and I’ll contact you as soon as I’m finished this afternoon. I show up with an unfamiliar face and neither one of us is going to get anything out of him.”
“No, no. That’s not how this is going to play out. I want my guy to go with you. End of story,” Springer said.
Miller intercepted. “Gentlemen, let’s keep this friendly.”
“Then you tell this asshole I outrank him.” Springer said, pointing to Gerard and slapped his hand against Miller’s desk.
“And I outrank you, Agent Springer,” Miller said with authority. “Now, if I have to call your superior, I will, but I’d prefer to work this out fairly between us.”
Springer’s voice lowered somewhat. “I’ll say it again. If it impacts my case, I want to know right away.”
“Agent Springer, with all due respect, Detective Gerard is right. Look, you both have a lot at stake here, so let my detectives do their job today, and I’ll see to it that Gerard gets in touch with you as soon as he knows something. What do you say? Can we come to some type of agreement here?”
It was obvious neither agent was happy as evidenced by the scowls on their faces. “Okay, but if I don’t hear from you in a timely manner, I’ll be calling. Regardless of whether or not this kid saw anything, if they even knew he lived next door or got a hint that he might have seen something is reason enough for them to want him dead. And you know the circle of thugs doesn’t stop with the arrests we’ve made. They mean serious business, and they’ll wipe him out without an ounce of remorse if they think he can testify against them. We haven’t identified all the players yet, so let me assure you word travels fast, and they’ll be on the look out for him, so time is of the essence.” He bent down and picked up the box of guns. “Here,” he said, handing them over, the tags swaying from the exchange. “I need these back in no less than four days, so get your people cracking on ballistics, Captain Miller.”
Gerard clamped his lips together again. He could feel the anger settling in his gut. “Look, we’ll get it as fast as we can. I’ll put a rush on it, but let’s stop ordering each other around here. We’ll work on this together and report to one another.” He extended his hand to Springer who shunned him and walked out of the room without so much as a glance.
Gerard flung his hands in the air. “You know, Captain, this kind of shit really sticks in my craw.”
“I can see that, Gerard. Just continue to do what you’re doing. But check the ego at the door and make nice. Both departments have vested interests here.”