Slippery Slope

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It was late but Sam Kosner was sat at his desk. He could feel the beginnings of a headache, so he got up and shut off the glaring overhead fluorescent lights, leaving only the desk lamp on. He sat back down, stretched his arms up over his head and yawned. The past few weeks had been relatively quiet. Today there had been a series of annoyance calls, the latest of which was a very large, very drunk man, sleeping it off in the cell down the hall. Sam could hear him snoring from here. Well, he thought, at least he was still breathing.

Sam leaned back in his chair and put his feet on the desk. He closed his eyes, and the image of Laura Andrews came instantly to his mind, as it did in his sleep every night since the shooting. He hated like hell to have had to kill that young woman. The first two shots to the body would probably not have proved fatal. Had she stopped firing, she would be alive today. He was amazed that she had been able to continue. The autopsy revealed a high level of amphetamines in her system, most likely from the prescription she had to treat her ADHD. There was little doubt she was abusing the drugs and as they pieced together what had happened, a portrait of a very disturbed young woman emerged.

Despite all his years of police work, he could not understand what drove some people to do the things they did. And he would now never know for certain if Laura had murdered Hilda Pierson to steal her identity, though his instincts told him that was likely the case. He took a deep breath and pushed her image from his mind. Messaging his temple with one hand, his other went to the gun in his holster. Though his eyes were shut, he had the distinct feeling that someone had entered his office. He opened them a slit, and the figure of a man appeared before him in the shadows. He released the safety and drew the gun onto his lap, slowly and purposefully.

“Sneaking up on a man with a gun is a bad idea,” he warned.

“Depends on the man,” came the reply.

Sam’s eyes flew open.

“Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.”

“Does that make you the cat?” Tom Brand stepped into the circle of light cast by the lamp and took the chair on the other side of the desk.

Sam tilted his head.

“I honestly did not expect to see you. To what do I owe this honor?” he asked dryly.

Brand smiled, “I thought, under the circumstances, I should thank you personally for your help.”

Sam nodded. “Well, now I am honored.” And he meant it. He could not remember the last time that Brand had thanked him for anything.

“How long are you in town?” Sam asked, although he could guess the answer.

“Just for the moment. I’m on my way North.”

“I won’t ask why,” Sam replied.

“I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”

Sam sat quietly for a moment, still contemplating the man’s presence. Finally, Brand broke the silence.

“How upset was Kristy?”

“Not very, at first. She was extremely thankful that she was alive and we were all pretty confused until the other victim’s wife was able to piece together some information for us. Kristy had no idea that Hilda wasn’t who she said she was and I had no clue who Laura Andrews was.”

“So not upset at first, and then?”

“I’m surprised to hear that you’re so concerned, but in case you don’t know it, women in general, just in general, don’t care to be Lojacked.”

Brand grinned, “Hmm. I’ll remember that for the future.”

“I have to admit, I was pretty puzzled to hear your voice on my phone that day. I had no idea that the mystery man Kristy had met in the Bahamas was you.”

“Oh,” Brand crossed his legs and clasped his hands on his lap, “you heard about that.”

“This is a small town, Tommy. You tell one person a secret,” Sam made air quotes with his fingers, “and everyone knows.”

“I see.”

“Putting that GPS tracker in that pendant - now that’s brilliant. And the whole backwards phone number thing? Had she said something to you to make you think that she was in danger? When I talked to her about it, she didn’t think she had.”

“No, she didn’t and I didn’t think she was. Let’s just say I felt bad about getting her involved in what went on in the islands, and that was my way of expressing my gratitude.”

“Really? Cause I heard that you expressed your gratitude pretty nicely while you were in New York.”

Brand put his feet flat and leaned forward, “She’s a very nice young woman, Sam.”

Sam put his hands up, “No argument here.”

Brand leaned back and the two sat in silence again. Sam now took his feet off the desk and leaned forward, speaking softly although there was no one else around.

“Look, Tommy. It’s just not like you to let your whereabouts be known. If I know you were in New York, six guys you don’t want knowing that know it. It’s just not the way you usually operate.”

Brand nodded, slowly, “Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf.”

Sam nodded also, “Just don’t get killed doing it, Tommy.”

“Thanks for your concern but I’ll be fine.”

Sam leaned back again, “I’m sure you will. But that’s not going to ever stop me from worrying about my little brother.”

Brand laughed, “Don’t remind me.” He stood up.

“Want to see what I’m driving?”

Sam followed Brand out to the street. In front of the police station was a honey of a bike. Sam whistled.

“What kind is it?”

“It’s a reengineered Harley. It’s similar to something this Japanese company does with motorcycles, but I have my own guy.”

“Wow,” Sam said.

“Thought you’d like it.” Sam stood admiring it for another moment, as if it were a work of art. It certainly was a fine bike.

Sam looked at Brand, “Tommy, I just have one more question.”

Brand began to strap on his helmet, “Yeah, what’s that?”

“How soon did you know I left Boston?”

Brand straddled the bike, “I knew before you left, Sam.”

Sam smiled, “I figured.”

Brand started the motorcycle.

“You’re going North on this thing?” Sam raised his voice to be heard over the engine.

“Maybe,” Brand answered, “But the less you know….”

“I know, I know, Hot Shot. The less I know the better. You know, Tommy, Kristy and Brent, and probably Derrick’s whole family would be dead, if you hadn’t reached me.”

Sam stuck out his hand and Brand pumped it up and down, “Thanks, Tommy.”

Brand nodded his head just slightly and Sam could swear there was a look in his brother’s eyes he had not seen before, at least not for a long time. Sentimentality or gratitude, he couldn’t quite place it. Either way, it was something else to see it.

“Don’t mention it, Sam.”

Brand headed West.

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