It was well past midnight. Natalie cried every last tear her eyes could muster. She sat with the coroner in his office, along with Inspector Lee, discussing the results of his examination. Besides learning about the train crash, Natalie was shocked to hear that bullets were found in Martha’s skull. She knew this was a professional kill. “They’re going to wish they were dead once I find who did this,” she concluded.
As the coroner excused himself from the room, Natalie turned to a silent Judas Lee. Guilt exhibited from his body language as he just stared at the floor. “Tell me about the last assignment she was working on, Lee?” she asked.
“I – umm – assume that, umm, she was heading home and someone must’ve
–” Judas rambled.
“Don’t play with me, dammit! Tell me what was she investigating at the office?”
“Well again, I assume she must’ve been working on regular case files, and since she was my top agent, I can also assume that some cases were, umm, I guess harder than –”
“Are you gonna give me a bald-faced lie and tell me this was a random kill?!! Seriously?! I just talked to her earlier this evening and she told me she was up to her eyeballs in paperwork, reviewing the cops who allegedly killed Crispin Pagnucci.”
“Yes! I’m a ‘believe it when I see it’ type of girl and the way I see it, no conclusive evidence has been brought forward, otherwise it’d be all over the news by now. I believe she went for a swim in a piss-infested pool and died for ignoring the ‘no swimming’ sign! Can’t you make that same connection?”
Judas dragged his chair next to Natalie and talked more sympathetic. “Mercedes,” he started. “I can only imagine the pain you must be feeling right now. I can. Martha was one of my finest agents -”
“You said that already,” she interjected. “Besides, I don’t need you to tell me how great she was, okay? It runs in the damn family. Now stop telling me things I already know and start telling me things that I don’t!”
“Yes. I apologize. As I was saying, she always worked on high-end profiles
of the worst kind of scum we’ve found in the NYPD. Certain departments don’t like it, call us sellouts or brown-nosers because we’d rather do our jobs than help protect theirs. Idiots. Martha’s first objective was to get the job done, that’s been her M.O. for the past five years. Only a matter of time before she made Inspector. This is a huge loss, not only for us but also for her son. I want to assure both of you that her death won’t go unpunished. My only regret was
refusing her request. Maybe if I would’ve worked with her on those files then we would’ve been working late at the office and –”
“Why did you deny her request?”
“She wanted classified material on a certain officer and I failed to help her gain access to it. As a friend, I should’ve stood by whatever her theories were. But professionally, I was following protocol. However, I did change my mind later on and told her that I’d help get those files tomorrow. But she left the office before I got a chance to.”
“What was so classified about this certain cop? You just said she was one
of your finest agents - soon to become Inspector, may I add. If anyone should be handling classified information it’d be her. Right? ‘Someone who gets the job done,’ just quoting what you said. And yet, she was denied. What is so special about this cop for a top-level agent to be denied access to his file?”
“I…I’m sorry, Mercedes. I can’t get into it, but it involved my superiors
conducting research and I didn’t want to go over their heads. You can understand
that, right?” Natalie was unresponsive. “I want to solve this murder as bad as
you do, so I’m going to look back at every case she’s ever done and maybe I can find a connection that’ll support your theory.”
“What theory? I never said I had a theory, yet. What I am saying is my cousin was brutally murdered and I want some damn answers! So, I’m just asking questions. Isn’t that what investigators do? That’s what any normal person would do to get answers, right?
“You know what I think? You should be brought in on this investigation, work with us.”
“No,” Natalie stomped toward the door. “You work by the book. I don’t. If I
find anything that could be helpful I’ll give you a call.”
“Mercedes. I think this will go a lot smoother if we work together on this. Let us combine our resources and turn this city upside down to shake these cowards out. We can both avenge Martha’s death and bring some closure to both of our lives.”
“With all due respect Inspector, you’ll only slow me down. Excuse me.”