“So who do you have in there, Brown?” rasped her captain as he swept past her desk. He was in his late fifties with a friendly, crinkly face that was predisposed and prearranged for smiles and laughing. If he’d been much much larger he might remind someone of Santa Claus. Many long years ago he’d defined himself as a hippie and had followed around a long defunct semi-legendary 60s band whose members had lost a war of attrition against drug abuse. Eventually, his own unwashed nomadic stench got the better of him and he found himself married, living in the Cities and pursuing his liberal crusade for universal justice on a smaller scale. He made it hard not to like him, even if he did make you think he was one granola kernel away from being a high school history teacher.
“Mad Marjie.” She said, tucking Marjies casefile under her arm and standing up.
“You guys took a beating today, didn’t you?” He said through his history teachers mustache. Captain Bourke had a way of manipulating his facial muscles to convey a range of emotion that would have been enviable by any soap opera star. This time he had a mixture of kindness, sympathy and outrage that made sense only on the extraordinary canvas of his particular face.
Meg shrugged at him and threw an escaped strand of her blondish unruly hair out of her eyes. As far as a myriad of expressions were concerned, hers were less myriad and much more monochromatic.
“It’s the breaks, Cap. Fucking juries. What are you going to do?” She thrilled briefly with delight when he winced at her swear. “You could use them as target practice, though.”
Bourke patted her on the arm like a slightly uncomfortable little league coach after the star player struck out.
“Good attitude, Brown.” He said. “Shrug it off. We’ll get him next time.”
Meg had a sneaking suspicion that Jayson “J Rock” Barton would be gotten by someone else next time but she knew she didn’t have to say it.
Bourke gestured a thumb at the closed interview room door and opened the door next to it with his other hand. Meg took the hint and ducked into the observation room behind him. He dropped himself onto the bare looking bar stool in front of the closed circuit monitors and poked another thumb at the monitor for the neighboring interview room. Meg took a seat in the recently pilfered plastic chair next to his.
“So what do we have on her?”
Meg opened the case file even though they both knew she could recite most of it from memory.
“We’ve got damned near everything. Everything points in her direction.”
She laid out the case to him so far as they watched the camera.
They had four interview rooms in the Homicide office, though it was rare for more than one to be used at a time. They were all designed with the sort of comfort Soviet Gulag Prisoners would have thought luxurious. One chair per room in front of a bare table, the underside of which was a moonscape of discarded gum remains. The walls were carefully maintained to contain nothing even remotely interesting to look at. Each chair had had a stopper removed from one leg so that they were always slightly off balance. None of the rooms had windows and, in spite of a state wide ban on smoking in public spaces, evidence of repeated violation showed up regularly in small turds of ash on the floor, stubbed burns on the fake formica tabletop and the soaked in stink of generations of smokers getting a fix.
Mad Marjie had shoved the lone chair against the far wall, near the camera whose view they were seeing. She lay in a misshapen lump partially concealed underneath the table. One blazingly white and tattooed arm was tucked underneath her head as she slept and they could hear her loud snoring even through the usually terrible audio of the closed circuit TV monitor.
“Well she seems awfully comfortable.” Bourke said as Meg finished her summary of the case so far. “Is Rig coming?”
“On his way. Had to blow off some steam first.”
“Alright then. How do you want to play this?”
“I think I’ll be soft and kitten like. When Rig shows up we can switch off and he’ll be all ‘Grrr!’ and bear-like.”
“He does do that well.” Bourke agreed.
“And when none of that works we’ll just kick her till she coughs it up.”
Bourke didn’t react. He was a great guy but he didn’t always get her brand of humor. For him, every homicide was vaguely personal. His personal abhorrence of violence made each testament of it’s use an object of grave respect and determination. Meg didn’t care to think where he put all the emotional stuff when things didn’t quite work out right, but then again his unit had a stellar conviction rate so she didn’t have to worry too much.
Meg pushed herself out of the chair and made for the door but he stopped her with a hand on the shoulder.
“Brown. You know the J – Rock thing.” He started cautiously. “I really couldn’t be more pleased with the work you and Rig did on it. As far as I’m concerned you did everything right.”
“I know, Boss.” She said with a crooked grin.
“Well. When this is all done we’re heading over to the club. First rounds on me. That’s not a request.”