The noontime sun beat down on me as I pushed my way through the squalling crowd of press and gawkers that had materialized just after the yellow police line had gone up to cordon off the alleyway. It was usually an ordinary, run-of-the-mill New York City alleyway, smooshed between two apartment buildings, but the yellow tape had a way of attracting attention. It was a pain to get through the press – cameras flashing, microphones shoving in faces – but I made it to the front and ducked under the police line.
One of the officers on ‘keep-the-press-out’ duty gave a start at my sudden intrusion, but calmed when he saw my badge. “Detective Nathaniel Chalker,” I said.
The officer nodded and motioned me down the alley, blocked off from sight by tarps that only made people more eager to know what was going on. “Right down there, sir. We’ve already got ‘bout a dozen CSI techies going over the scene,” the officer said. “Detective Sumpter as well.”
Damn it, I thought. Sumpter was a plenty nice guy, but he wasn’t exactly the NYPD’s sharpest. It was a constant source of wonder that he’d ever become a detective. “Good, we should have this wrapped up in time for lunch,” I said.
The officer developed a bit of greenness behind the gills. He cautiously glanced at the press, then leaned closer to me to whisper, “I don’t think you’re going to want lunch after this.”
I could have read his thoughts or memories to find out what he was talking about, but I figured that would spoil the surprise. “You’ve seen it?”
“Half of it,” he said, grimacing. “The bottom half.”
I groaned. A weird case, as usual. “Just another day in the Big Apple,” I said, and walked down the alley.
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