Warm Death

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Chapter 2: The Vandals

Chapter 2: Vandals


The storefront window was over 20 feet high, and came down all at once, like water through floodgates. Two boys, barely 10 years old, were whooping and jumping. They laughed like hell, hurled smoke grenades into the breach and ran off.

Not looking, they turned down Madison Avenue… right into a Chinese dragon, knocking over 4 people in the mid-section and setting off a domino wave through the others. Poles with strings belts of firecrackers fell into the crowd, triggering more chaos. The two boys tumbled free, with police now in pursuit, wading through the crowd. They turned another corner, ran up the landing of an apartment block and dove through and open front door, and up the stairs. The police gave chase, but by the time they got to the landing, a whole garbage can full of beer came pouring down on their heads from the second floor.

Detective Frank Collins, who had been attending the parade had joined up with four officers scouring the building, floor by floor. Winded, on the fifth flight of stairs, they finally sighted the boys climbing down a rope, tied to the fire extinguisher and leading down a defunct elevator shaft. The boys were laughing, while repelling in the dark, all the way to the basement.

“That shaft leads nowhere, there is no way out of where they went but back up,” one of the beat cops offered, relieved at the end of a strenuous chase.

“Ok, you keep an eye on the rope, and we’ll go down and collect them,” Collins ordered.

Collins and three others took the functioning elevator down to two levels below ground, walked back down the hall to the old shaft, and pried the doors apart, just in time to see the firehose go slack. Collins shined a flashlight down the hole. Shapes were moving at the bottom, but then a sudden phosphorescent glow rose up from below, temporarily killing his night vision. As his eyes adjusted, he saw only clothing falling gently to the ground.

Frank Collins, nearing retirement, thought to himself, “Just in time! This job was getting boring.” Collins had been given his choice of assignments for his last six months. He was allowed full discretion on what cases to investigate, though he would not likely get much budget for routine vandalism. The acts themselves were rather minor. His sister and he had done much worse when they were that age. But the brazenness and planning were beyond his juvenile skills! He thought of his sister and his nephews in a while. He had been planning to call for a long time. He promised himself he would be more attentive after retirement.

He figured, with some ‘creative report writing’, he could trump up the beer douching into assault and add it to his list of “curious cases”. He also wanted to stockpile as many interesting cop stories to tell his nephews, rocking in a chair someday.

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