Chapter 1 - The Scene
Outside a small house on a dark street in Miami, investigators were busy collecting evidence off the street. Red and blue lights flashed in the night, casting eerie shadows and reflections. Neighbors stood just outside their doors with questioning looks on their faces while patrolmen took down statements from eyewitnesses.
An unmarked police car pulled up to the active crime scene, swiftly and without any regard for passersby on the street. A young dark-skinned man named Detective Bell stepped out of the unmarked car holding a coffee thermos in his hand. He took a sip from the thermos, then took his first looks at the chaos around him. He took it all in with jerky, quick movements that gave him the appearance of an anxious bird ready to flap its wings. He walked quickly inside the house and was immediately greeted by Darren Wachowski, a rookie detective who was overly eager to please.
“Detective Bell, we’ve got a sleeper over here.”
“Tell me something I don’t know, Wachowski. Now, clear all of these people out of here so I can get to work.”
Detective Bell put on his latex gloves. He took a look at the living room as everyone cleared the scene. There was blood splattered across the room and a solitary victim’s body lay under a white sheet. Detective Bell knelt down and lifted the cover, looking down at the face of a dead man.
“We can’t make heads or tails of this one, sir.”
“Of course not,“ Bell agreed, “that’s why you called me. Let’s see…blood splatter is consistent with an edged weapon. There wasn’t much of a struggle either, even though the Vic looks like he could handle himself in a fight.”
Detective Bell found a section of bloody duct tape on the floor nearby. He leaned over and took a closer look at it. He was careful not to touch anything in the immediate vicinity, but scrutinized everything with those hawkish eyes of his.
“This was a slaughter,“ Detective Bell thought aloud. “Our killer knew exactly what he, or she was doing. This looks cold and calculated to me.” He then turned to Wachowski. “Any ID on the victim?”
“Ummm yeah,” stammered the rookie. “His name is Phillip Johnson, a local rap guy who went by the name...Fillin’ the Blank.”
Detective Bell shot him a perturbed glare. “What the Hell? Where do these guys come up with this stuff?” Detective Bell studied the crime scene further and found a couple of black roses near the body. He picked them up and examined them thoroughly. “Looks like our killer left something behind…on purpose.” An odd smile surfaced on Bell’s face. “We’re dealing with a crime of passion maybe, someone who likes edged weapons, definitely.” He studied the roses, turning them over and over in his hands. “Black roses…but why a black rose?”
“I don’t know, sir.”
“I wasn’t asking you, Wachowski. It’s called a rhetorical question,” said Bell. “Wrap this up, Rookie. Get these black roses back to the lab. I want a full analysis on my desk immediately. Get me profiles of every two-bit rapper within a hundred mile radius of this place. This could be a revenge killing or some sort of beef.”
Detective Wachowski quickly motioned for a CSI to bag and tag the roses. Detective Bell stood up and stepped away from the victim’s body. He took a sip from his thermos and seemed bored by the crime scene.
“We’ve got a smashed cell phone here also,” Wachowski eagerly informed him. “I’ve got the CSI guys already working on retrieving the SIM card.”
“Good work,” Bell offered his partner reluctantly. “Has anybody notified next of kin?”
“This guy, Phillip Johnson..”
“Fillin’ the Blank,” Bell corrected him, as he headed for the front door. “It’s starting to grow on me.”
“Yeah, well, we don’t have any immediate family members on file for him, but our computer guys found a girlfriend through his social media account.” Wachowski flipped through his pocket notebook. “A Debra McNair,” he said, “out of Coral Gables. We can’t get her on the line either.”
Detective Bell stopped in his tracks mid-stride. “The girlfriend,” he asked, raising an eyebrow, “you can’t get in touch with her?”
“No sir, the phone is ringing off the hook and we get no response online, but don’t worry, I’m..”
Detective Bell turned his head from side to side in a birdlike fashion. He seemed to be thinking a mile a minute, or perhaps it was just a reaction to the high levels of caffeine in his system. He poked a finger at Detective Wachowski’s chest. “Do we have an address for the girlfriend?” he asked the rookie.
Wachowski nervously flipped through his pocket notepad.
“That’s either a yes or a no,” Bell demanded. “Umm, yeah, she’s at 3129 Sandpiper Lane.”
“Come on,“ Detective Bell waved for Wachowski to follow him outside. “We’re going over there. From the looks of this place, she might be a suspect. At this point, it’s the only thing we’ve got to go on.”
Wachowski double stepped to keep up with Detective Bell. He squeezed past an investigator at the door by sucking in his protruding gut. It was hard enough for anybody to keep up with Detective Bell, but with Wachowski’s large frame, it was nearly impossible.
“Sir, do you want me to have a squad car meet us out there?”
Detective Bell took a moment to think it over, but quickly shook his head. “No,” he responded. “Let’s not spook Miss McNair…if she’s still around. Oh, “ he quickly added, “grab those black roses and bring them with us.”
Wachowski nearly tripped over himself. He ran back into the crime scene to retrieve the evidence and was nearly out of breath by the time he got back outside. Detective Bell was already waiting in his car and took a few quick sips from his coffee thermos. He cranked up the car’s engine and stuck his head out the window.
“Hurry up, Rookie. Let’s go! Let’s go! The clock is ticking on this one.”