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A police detective, a case involving a murderer that has gotten away from the department, and the dark secret he's been keeping hidden away from the world in his private storage unit.

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Chapter 1

The thing about any job, is managing your expectations. I don't care if you're picking up gang bangers or spelunking into some cave looking for Osama Bin Laden. Sorry for the out of date reference, but it kind of makes my point. I can't even keep track of whoever is in charge of whatever terrorist cell made this week's hit video. If you come in and think you're going to come in here everyday and make a difference? You're shit out of luck. The guy that robbed the 7/11 on Kennedy and shot the cashier in the face? He's probably going to rob another convenience store someday. Blowjob Sally and her six ankle-biting brats on welfare? It doesn't matter how many condoms you put in her hand or how many times you wave a finger in her face, she'll be down at Planned Parenthood in six weeks because even food stamps don't add up to take care of six of those needy little fuckers. And without fail, that'll come after whatever dimwit at City Hall slips her a grand to keep her mouth shut about their little romp at some seedy motel. So you can bet sure as shit she'll be on the corner tonight in the same fishnets she was last night, and the night before that. Hell, you can't even count on the little shit-stains that covered the principal’s house in toilet paper last week to get their shit together. Mommy dearest probably just added another glass of wine to that contest she has with herself every night to see if she can drink herself to sleep before she kills her husband and/or herself, because let's face it, ole Dad is probably mid-orgasm with Blowjob Sally right about now. That's just how people work. They don't change. They don't get better. So don't expect them to.

They all suck the big one.

So when I was in court today, I wasn't surprised in the slightest that Daryl Snipes got off on a fucking technicality. That's what they call it when the judge knows the guy is a scumbag and guilty of whatever it was that had brought said scumbag in front of him on this particular day. A technicality. My dad used to wail on about how the system was skewed to let the guilty walk so that the innocent didn't end up in jail for something they probably didn't do. I'm a little less optimistic about the whole thing. Kind of reeks of a shit-show in this place. The judge might as well flip a fucking coin. Half the time, they are halfway through the trail when they get some note from the bailiff that has a threat from some mob guy or the number he'd requested to throw the case. And that's before the district attorney gets to make his own half-baked deal because you know how this goes. If this fucker doesn't walk, your family is getting chopped up and thrown in the river. Sometimes it's a little more subtle, like they're going to bankroll your opponent in the next election.

That's just how the system works these days. Of course, there were also the instances where the judge got some crazy hair up their ass and wanted to play a part today. Sometimes it's the judge that gets hell-bent on being a hard ass because he let some rapist off last week, so he doles out some kind of medieval sentence. And then sometimes they feel guilty about it and decide a search warrant looks a little iffy, so he's throw out some legal jargon and a bunch of Latin and let the fucker walk scotch free. Who cares that we've got the DNA that proved he raped his eleven-year old daughter? Or found six bullets in his wife that matched the gun with his fingerprints he'd buried in the back yard? The piece of paper that let us search his place was a little smudged up. But I have to say, my favorite one was when the lawyer wooed the jury. Puts on the big show and the charming smile that actually convinces some bored house-wives or talks about being one of the boys to get Joe the Mechanic engaged when he'd rather be sticking his greased up thumb in his ass. It's amazing how that shit can be more relevant than the actual evidence. It doesn't really matter that they've got him on camera weaving all over the road like a drunk asshole, because he feels really bad that he drove over that couple walking home from prom. After all, his wife did just leave him and then he did just get fired. And our district attorney is so busy sweating over his upcoming love-child scandal with Blowjob Sally that he doesn't even think to remind the jury that he got fired for showing up drunk after he spent the before night slapping around his wife, and that's why she left him.

See what I'm talking about? A total shit-show. And today was no different. Not in the fucking slightest. You've got Daryl Snipes on the chopping block. Convicted rapist. Convicted murderer. On trial for killing a little Mexican kid named Bobby. It was his first child-murder though. His lawyer drove that point home enough time. The only murder he's actually been convicted of happened when he killed his wife. That was after she found his little workshop of horrors in the garden shed, but that information was inadmissible because of some fuck up years ago. So when I tell you that his story about how his wife actually died because she tripped on a garden house and somehow bashed her skull into the cement half a dozen times, that's the version I'm legally allowed to tell. Really, he just wanted to see if he could use her head like a basketball since she was probably going to tell the cops that he liked to carve up little kids. What good is a wife that would do that to her own husband? Somehow, that got his sentence lowered to some ridiculously low number, and only did a little bit of time in prison. Less than he was sentenced for, because he ended up getting out for good behavior.

That part will always crack me up. Good fucking behavior.

But the thing with Bobby was a completely different kind of story. Bobby played little league near Daryl's house. And Daryl likes to watch the boys walk home because the exit to the field is pretty much across the street. If you didn't guess it, Daryl wasn't convicted of raping women. Hell, he'd never even been convicted of raping an adult. He's a fucking scumbag. But he's a well-behaved scumbag. Usually those kinds of guys didn't last long in prison, but these days, it was important to the institutions that they survived long enough to live out their sentences. Kind of like saving an inmate on death row from killing himself so he can die two weeks later on the taxpayer's dime like the great state of Texas intended. Of course, this isn't Texas, otherwise the guards wouldn't have saved his ass. Hicks they might be, but hicks with morals they tended to be too. I live in one of those liberal states, because my brother is gay and he wanted to get married, and apparently that's only kosher if you live in a liberal state these days. But I feel like I'm getting off-track.

Daryl killed little Bobby, which isn't his usual M.O. I'm not really sure how he does it, because they never talk about it. Most victims of this sort of thing don't. Especially the boys. And Daryl liked the ones that play sports. Most of my colleagues taunted him at one point or another while he was in lock up about it. They seemed to be under the assumption that he liked the boys that played sports because they were fit. Which really said more about them than it did about Daryl. If you asked my opinion, I think he liked the boys that played sports because boys that play sports don't talk about that kind of shit. It's literally the code that you don't complain like a little bitch. They were the ones that bottled shit up until they brought in a shotgun to work because they were out of vanilla coffee creamer. They didn't get all touchy-feely with each other. And they sure as hell weren't going to bring up how some creepy fucker pinned them down after practice and touched them in their happy places. My money is on that's why he picked them. Because those boys would rather live with what had happened than let anybody else know that it had happened. I think that's why boys got molested by their priests and didn't say shit until they saw on the news that some kid got a big settlement out of it. If it weren't for the money, it would have been worse for their bible-thumpers to look down on them as someone that got down with some gay shit than it would have been sweet to get some revenge. But that's just my theory about it all.

And the theory on how Daryl killed little Bobby was that he'd tied him up like most rapists did. For the power. And Daryl was kind of a lanky piece of shit, so you could figure that he relished having power for once in his life. He was probably on the receiving end at some point in his life, or maybe he just got picked on and felt unloved. It was probably like ecstasy to feel like he could have turned the tables on whoever shit in his cereal as a kid. But the thing was that Daryl was definitely not a boy scout when he was young. He'd tied the rope too tight around Bobby's neck. No one is really sure how long it took Daryl to figure it out. Probably when he stopped to realize that Bobby had stopped crying, and that all that noise had been his own crying. They'd found tear residue all over the kid's body. I swear forensics can find anything. So in addition to murder and molesting little Bobby, there might have been merit to necrophilia or something. But this guy actually called the cops about it if you could fucking believe it. Which of course immediately became the crux of his case. He called the cops because Bobby had died. Like that somehow made it all better. Sure, he raped the kid, but he called 911 when he killed him on accident. That makes Daryl a stand-up guy, right? That’s how his lawyers saw it. And wouldn't you know it, Daryl ends up getting off over it. I know it had something to do with the paperwork, and I'm sure someone was going to get fired and beaten to death in an alley over it, but I can't quite say for sure because I stopped listening when I heard the way the judge started talking. I just knew he was going to let this fucker off. I sat there in my own cone of silence, and it was just another example at the bottom of the list of why I didn't have faith in this system anymore. It was just too much to ask myself to be that stupid every time I put on this ugly clip-on tie for one of this shit shows.

While my colleagues were screaming and hollering, as if the judge would suddenly change his mind because a bunch of cops were acting like frat boys at a football game, I took my leave. It was done and over with, and I had better things to do with my time than sit there and wallow that Daryl Snipes was going to go home today.

That kind of thing makes you look pretty shitty in the eyes of some people. I know that at least one of the other detectives that worked this case with me felt that way. He was what he liked to self-proclaim, "an old school cop." What that meant was that he liked to eat doughnuts and scratch his balls in front of people like the asshole he was, while expecting any and everyone to take his bullshit on the chin. Oddly enough, it also meant you had to have a Ron Swanson caliber mustache. I thought that was more of a patrolmen kind of a thing, but to each their own. He's never liked me. And he's always had a problem with how I carry myself because he thinks that I don't take my job seriously because I don't throw a hissy fit when things don't go my way. And I do. I've always taken it seriously, and I probably take it more seriously than any other cop in this place. Just because I see what's done as done, it doesn't seem that way though. I'm supposed to take it to heart and head down to the local watering hole with the rest of these assholes and get drunk. Maybe start a fight someplace and beat some guy until the bartender calls the cops, which of course you've got an ace up your sleeve since you've got a badge and a fucking sob story that gets it all smoothed over. But I'm just not that kind of guy. And that makes me a target.

"Real fucking call act, ain't ya?" he asks.

I didn't need to look up to know who it was, but I'm glad I did if only to see the frosting he'd gotten in his mustache. The rest of the guys around here were probably to chicken-shit to tell him. "Frosting in the 'stache, Hobbs."

"The fuck..." he mutters as he swipes his hand across it. He gets most of it, but I'm not going to bother to tell him about what's left. Fuck this guy. "You just sit here with, with your smug-fuck look like you don't even gave a shit, don't you?" He sits down on the corner of my desk and pushes my papers aside, causing them to crumple against the more firm manila folders. He's done this a lot and it always annoyed me. "He's walking free. Don't you fucking care?"

"Do you want me to apologize for not being surprised? Is that it?"

"The fuck is wrong with you?" He asks, and I can already smell the whiskey. "I want you to care! How can it not eat you up inside knowing we fucked this up? That you fucked this up? Weren't you primary on this one?"

He's baiting me. I can see that. He wants a reaction. I'm not giving one. "Paperwork. Definitely not mine."

Hobbes shakes his head. "And that makes it ok, eh? It wasn't you, so who the fuck cares?"

"I care," I sigh. "I care that Snipes is going to go out and fuck another kid. And you know that he will. Maybe he won't kill him this time, and maybe he'll talk about it. But forgive me if I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it. I can't change that prick's mind about this. So that's what happens. It's in my god damn rear-view mirror."

He sucks in so much air that he damn near snorts. "Because you think the system is broken? Ain't that right? How can you be in this line of work and doubt how we do things around here? We're fuckin' cops, man. We're supposed to keep the people of this city safe, but you check the fuck out when these fuckers go into booking."

"I check out because that's as far as I can go. If I could, I'd deliver these fucks to the gates of hell myself and then give 'em a kick for good measure. But that's not how it works around here. And I can sit and wallow with you about the fact that we've got more gaping holes than Blowjob Sally, or I can start working on something I can actually make a difference in."

"Well ain't you real fuckin' optimistic," he snorts this time. Most have been on the verge the first time.

That voice creeps into the back of my mind. The one that tells me how to deal with people like this. Give him a shrug, it tells me. That'll look endearing. Give him something that'll take his mind of all of this bullshit. I turn in my chair and I give him enough of a smile to catch him off guard. "It's like I told my nephew before his high-school prom. 'Life is all about managing expectations. So be happy with a hand-job, at least you're getting off."

It actually makes him laugh. When all else fails with these clowns that are barely climbing out of the ape bracket on the evolutionary tree, give them a sex joke like we're still in high school. It makes them slip back into that place where they can think about how much their love having their little dicks in their hands, or maybe in some woman with a bad habit of making poor life choices. Or maybe Dave from the gym. I try not to make assumptions about these guys.

"You're a sick fuck, you know that?" he laughs.

"Oh, did your wife tell you about my mask fetish?"

Hobbes stares, and I realize that maybe I went to far with this. Sometimes they responded to that kind of a joke, but I'm getting ready for him to take swing. Luckily he guffawed and clapped my shoulder. He liked it.

"I oughta clock you for that one," he laughs.

The smile I give him is fake. It feels fake and I'm worried it looks that way, but he takes it at face value. "You're a good cop, and I know what you're saying. Kept me up more than a night or two. We've all felt that. But when you walk around here like you don't give two shits about some kid-killer getting off, it makes us wonder what side you're on."

"Well, you don't need to worry about that. I'm sure Daryl will slip up soon enough and we'll get another run at him, even if I don't like the odds the gavel-jockeys give us, multiple trips gotta push them in our favor eventually."

He claps me on the shoulder. "That's the spirit." I hate when he fucking does that.

Time seems to get away from me even faster than I had wished Hobbes' whiskey smell would evaporate. It lingered just like the looks from the rest of the detectives and beat-cops had when they'd pass my desk and saw that I wasn't on the rampage they would have expected me to be on. I feel bad for these guys. This will probably eat away at them for the rest of their lives. All of the cases like this would. Knowing that they'd blown it and knowing right now, Daryl could be following some boy scouts through the woods with an eye on the kid with all those colorful badges. That's the kind of thing that gets to most people. Not knowing where people like Daryl go when they leave the limelight of the courtroom. What happens to the mass murder when the reporters move on to the next thing? What happens to the boogeyman when the story ends? That's what keeps kids up at night, terrified of the depths beneath the bed and the shadows in the closet. This was the grown up version of the boogeyman and they were terrified. It manifested in anger for them. That's why they're so pissed off at me. All they can think about is where in the world is Daryl Snipes and what is he doing? Meanwhile, I look like I don't give a damn. That I look like I had so little faith in the system that I expected him to walk. That bothers them. But it's not that I don't care. It's what lets me sleep at night. And for me, the mystery is how these people don't see it? Doesn't it really only take one fit of shitting your pants to take that Chinese food menu off the fridge and find a new place? Did you need to see more than the first Twilight movie to know you didn't want to see the next one? There have been too many murderers, rapists, and thieves through here without receiving the consequences they deserve. How do they keep their faith?

But I don't have time to worry about these assholes. I just leave. I'm supposed to have dinner with Terry and his husband tonight, and I've got an errand to run first. I can't worry about these assholes when they're going to be after me. They like to look after me, and they're just as worried about me as these fuckers are, except their worried because I haven't gotten laid in a while. If I keep blowing off the women they set me up with, they're probably going to think I'm gay too and I don't need to be set up with David from the salon next. They liked to ambush me with dates, and I didn't need that surprise. If I had to guess, I'm probably going to end up meeting someone named Molly or Catherine at dinner tonight as it is.

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