A heavy grey metal door in the basement of the Cincinnati main police station that marked the entrance to the indoor shooting range was propped open. This allowed the near constant sound of gunfire to filter up through the stairwell. I almost turned around and headed back up the stairs when I noticed this, even though this is where Bruno told me to meet him. I wasn’t in the mood today. Then again, I doubted I ever would be. The opened door only meant a single thing. The twins were showing off their personal arsenal collection of firearms.
By a random twist of fate, two Cincinnati homicide detectives named Rick Thompson had been assigned to the same precinct and eventually became partners. They bore no resemblance at all to each other but were still referred to as the twins. One was over six feet tall and barely one hundred and sixty pounds. He was rail thin with wiry hair and a long gaunt face that always appeared to be up to no good even when on his best behavior. Rumor has it they had to stop using him as a fill-in for lineups because everyone believed he must guilty for something. The other was short and just plain fat, almost to the point of being completely round. The hair on his sphere of a head was short, greasy and always needed to be combed. It was easy to tell the two of them apart even if they both acted the same way.
In reality one of them was named Patrick and the other Richard. Over time they started both being called Rick when everyone kept confusing which one was which because they both were dicks. At least I never had to put much effort into remembering the names of those idiots.
Both of them had been a pain in my ass since the day I first met them, back when I was still in high school. They worked with my dad for many years. They hated his success and the way of doing things by the book. Each of them had constantly gotten in his way, tried to make him look bad at every turn, stole any advantage they could and worried more about their standing and appearance than actually closing any cases. By default, since they hated my dad, they hated me. Both of them did everything they could to keep me from doing work with the police department.
Another loud boom echoed up from the firing range. Unbelievable. I thought they must have the .44 Magnum out again. They seemed to be bringing the gun more and more lately to get as much attention as possible. They even had custom loads made that gave off more of a concussive force whenever the gun was shot around other officers.
I paused for a minute before heading any further, seriously considering heading back outside and calling Bruno, telling him I was running late. This moment was an opportune time to talk to Bruno as one never knew when a new case would come calling. Besides, I was not about to let these two morons get under my skin.
I pulled out a set of earplugs out of my pocket, placed them deep into my ears and continued down the stairs into the range. As I entered, I felt more than heard a quick series of shots from the Magnum. It was early in the afternoon on Tuesday. As a result, the range was quite full. I scooted past the twins and their various equipment bags filled with assorted armaments trying not to be seen, located Bruno at the very end of the range waiting for me and walked over to him.
“Hey, Bruno. Thanks for meeting me today. I need you to look up someone for…” I started to say. He stopped me by holding up his hand.
“First we shoot. Then we can talk. Assuming you actually pass.”
I knew this wasn’t an option. Since I first met him years ago, he and my dad forcefully encouraged me to practice shooting and be comfortable with guns. The firearm education continued even after both of them found out I wasn’t going to follow my dad into law enforcement. He pulled a standard paper target out of his bag and attached it to the two clips to hold it in place. He punched in twenty-five yards in the keypad, hit the enter button and the target sailed down to the desired distance. I grabbed a pair of ear muffs placing them over the earplugs as it was a great way to block out most of the noise.
He took out a jet black Glock 9mm and a full magazine and placed them both on the left side of the station shelf. This was one of the approved guns of the Cincinnati police department. It was a solid pistol enabling accuracy and dependability as well as a seventeen round magazine clip to make sure you didn’t have to worry about reloading. Not one of the officer-involved shooting stories my dad used to tell me about included a cop that had the luxury of reloading. There simply was never time.
He pulled out a second gun and clip and placed them on the other side. This was a much smaller SIG Sauer, also jet black and 9mm. This was Bruno’s concealed weapon he carried as a backup. There was more of a choice in selecting a reserve weapon as there were no official departmental guidelines. It was strictly a personal choice and was rarely, if ever, talked about. One of the many unwritten rules for the force. He had told me once he selected it for its compact size and using the same ammunition as his service piece. The last thing you wanted to mess with was different ammunition if it ever hit the fan.
I picked up the Glock, slapped the magazine in place and pointed it at the target. Releasing the safety, I fired at the target practicing double-tapping on all of the shots except the last one. All of the bullets had hit the target but a few were outside of the circle area.
“Not bad. You are still shooting low and left on the second shot as a result of overcompensating from the recoil. Remember the aiming for the second shot is going to be different from the first. Make sure to get your wrist in the same position.” Bruno was a fantastic marksman and had taught me a great deal over the years about guns, proper maintenance, and how to shoot them. “Let’s go again.”
As Bruno was handing me a box of 9mm rounds to reload, I saw the twins were heading in our direction.
“It is the piece of shit Alex. Are you allowed to be down here?” the tall skinny Rick asked me rhetorically. “This is for real police officers, not a wanna-be private dick riding his daddy’s coattails.”
Bruno pointed to his ears and started shaking his head from side to side, pretending he couldn’t hear them.
“Cut the crap, asshole. We know you can hear us just fine.” The short fat Rick reached over and picked up the SIG Sauer pistol looking it over. He glared back over at Bruno saying, “Are you pretending to be a federal agent? God knows you could never be one for real.” Both of the twins started laughing and gave each other a high five as if they were still in high school. SIG Sauer firearm was used by a large number of federal agencies for concealed backup weapons.
Before either one of us could respond, the lights in the shooting range flickered on and off a few times indicating everyone needed to stop shooting and put their firearms down. Looking like a kid who was scared of getting in trouble by the principal, Rick quickly set down the SIG Sauer on the counter and took a few steps back. Their captain walked through the door and headed straight for them.
“Bruno. I got a body for you,” he said as he walked up. “They found someone up in Grant Park after a few calls about shots fired. Looks like a standard drug deal gone bad.”
“I understand sir, but I am not even on duty today,” Bruno responded.
“Then why the hell are you even here?” The captain was clearly annoyed.
With a big smirk on his face, the short fat Rick interjected. “You see, Bruno here asked us for some help on his shooting. Said he was having some issues holding his gun steady. We figure the condition must be related to his drinking problem.”
“Cut the crap. I don’t want to hear it today,” the captain snapped back. “Fine. Looks like this body is for the two of you then.”
“Wait. We aren’t on duty either.” It was the tall skinny Rick’s turn to talk.
“Too late. I am not in the mood to go find anyone else to give this to. Just put in for the overtime,” the captain said and waved them out of the shooting range. He started to head out and looked back over his shoulder and told Bruno, “Don’t bother asking about your new partner. I haven’t heard anything yet.” Not allowing for any additional discussion we walked on. Bruno’s replacement partner after my dad was killed had retired and moved to Florida.
Bruno looked over at me and smiled. “See I told you it is best to just keep your mouth shut and let the twins dig their own hole. They are great at twisting your own words against you. Their ability to confuse the subject is the only advantage they had going for them as detectives. Let’s pick up and talk in the hallway.”
We packed up the guns and ammunition in the bags and swept the spent shells out of the range shooting area and headed back to the stairwell where we could talk freely.
“Thanks for having me over for dinner before,” Bruno started after setting the bags containing the firearms and ammunition down on the ground. “It’s so hard to cook for yourself. It also felt good to relax and talk to you and Kelsey.” He paused for a second. A smirk slowly appeared on his face. “I still don’t know what she sees in you. I want to know what you’re blackmailing her with. It’s that or she lost a bet.”
“Funny man. You want to take this outside? You obviously need someone to knock some sense into you,” I said while trying unsuccessfully to keep a straight face. Even with over twenty years on me, he could kick my ass without breaking a sweat.
“Nah. I don’t want to get any of your blood on my newly dry-cleaned shirt. What did you want to talk about? I take it you require some information?”
“I have a new case and could use some information on a client’s missing fiancée.” Bruno usually helped me every now and then with background information and an occasional license plate lookup a few times a year. I usually just needed basic information that wasn’t confidential or sensitive. It still wasn’t exactly legal but it happened all of the time. Cops did it to varying degrees for friends and family when they felt it was for the greater good and those on the receiving end could be trusted.
“Sure. I’ll give what I can find on the basic check. Do you at least have a name this time?”
I nodded. “Sarah Jacobs. Obviously female. Twenty-nine. Approximately five foot seven. Blonde hair. Fit so I would say on the slender side. Single. No known significant close family members. Lives in an apartment over in Oakley. The fiancée hired me to find her. Hasn’t seen her and is concerned. Doesn’t want to file a missing person report as not to make a big deal out of the situation. She was described as being somewhat of, and I quote, a free spirit so she has done things like this before. So nothing major. Just want to see if there are any red flags or information to help me find her. I don’t believe she has been arrested before, but significant others are often times the last to know about arrests and jail time.”
Bruno was busy taking notes. I waited for him to finish. “Sounds pretty cut and dry,” he added. “Anything else?”
“Nope. Nothing else for now,” I said shaking my head. “How long do you need?”
“Give me to the end of the day tomorrow. I will email you what I can find.”
I thanked him and tried heading up the stairs to my car. Bruno wasn’t done with me yet. He held out his arm to block my way. “My advice, so take it for what it’s worth. Make sure you let Kelsey fully into your life. You sometimes get a bit guarded around her. She’s a great gal. It’s easy to tell she’s crazy about you. I am not saying you forget about Hannah, but it is time to move on and Kelsey is one heck of a woman.”
Every now and then he acted like my surrogate father and I truly appreciated it, even if it was awkward at times. “I agree. It’s easier said than done. I am doing everything I can to seem normal.”
Bruno got a smirk on his face again and said, “Too many comments and so little time. Just don’t screw it up. And where the hell are you going? You have a few more targets to try and hit.” Without saying another word, he turned around, picked up the bags with the equipment and walked back into the shooting range.
I had little choice but to follow.