Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Heat

Winter Heat

The night air was oppressive. A dank heat had seized the cityscape and Manhattan was on edge. There was agitation on the faces of the street people as they stood on their corners and argued with the voices inside. Nights like this had a way of bringing the best of friends to blows over a random girl and leaving lovers crying on the street alone, frantically thumbing the keys of their cell phones. I was hoping to avoid the inevitable drama with a stiff drink and a baseball game at a little Irish Pub I knew on 3rd Avenue. The scotch was cheap and the AC almost made me forget the steam bath waiting for me on the other side of the door. It was approaching midnight and I figured I could lay low here for at least another two hours before the bartender threw me back out into the madness.

I know I should have ignored my phone as it began to vibrate and dance across the bar but a week with no work and two nights at the OTB had left me a little short. “Winter Investigation” echoed off the mirror glass behind the bar and the bartender looked up from his script and gave me a smirk. There was no response, just odd muffled noises coming from the earpiece so I spoke louder. “Winter Investigations, this is Devon… hello…” I checked the display but the caller ID was blocked “H-E-L-L-O”, nothing just the muffled brushing sounds. “Fuck it!” I flipped the phone closed, ordered another scotch and went back to the Dodgers and Giants.

When the bartender was done memorizing his lines he started to give me that, “get out, I want to go home”, look so I decided to brave the sauna and head back to my apartment. I worked up a good sweat on the walk home and finally melted off to sleep around 3:00 AM.

When the door buzzer pierced my hangover at seven o’clock I was a less than thrilled. “Who the fuck is sitting on my goddamn door bell” was the most diplomatic greeting I could muster.

“Mister Winter?” I didn’t recognize the voice, “yah who the fuck is this?”

“Devon Winter, this is Detective Calloway with the NYPD, can you please buzz us in Sir?”

I hit the button to let them in and tried to remember where I had put my pants. I didn’t know what they wanted but anything that put cops at your door at 7:08 AM on Monday morning couldn’t be good. In the three minutes it took them to make it up to the twelfth floor I managed to get dressed, put my gun away and hide the bowl of weed that served as a centerpiece on my coffee table.  The knock at my front door came sooner than I had expected so I spit out my minty fresh mouthwash and went to greet my unwelcome guests.

William F. Calloway, according to the name on the card he was holding in my face, was not what I was expecting. He was a smallish man, maybe 5’8”, he looked to be about 40 and his skin had a sickly, almost translucent, pallor. His card said he was from the Inter-Precinct Logistics and Support Division. He was a bureaucrat, which explained his complexion and his use of the word please.

“Mister Winter, my partner and I would like to ask you a few questions”

“What the hell is this about, do you have any idea what time it is?”

“Yes Sir we are aware of the hour, and very sorry to have to disturb you so early. Can we please come in and ask you a few questions? We will try to get out of your way and let you get back to sleep as soon as possible.”

As I lead them into the living room Calloway introduced the other cop as Sergeant Sandoval. Sandoval was in a uniform and probably around 30. He was Puerto Rican by his looks and he remained awkwardly silent as I showed them to the couch. I thought about offering them coffee but that seemed a bit June Cleaver so I skipped it. “Detective will you please tell me what the hell this is about?”

Calloway ignored my question, flipped open a small note book and thumbed through the pages. He started talking without ever looking up from his notes.

“Mister Winter do you know a young woman named Kyla Palmer?”  The name did not register at all so I shook my head. “Never heard of her, why?”

“Sir, is your phone number 212-555-1609?”

“Yah that’s my business cell number, what does my phone number have to with any of this?” Calloway was starting to look a little annoyed.

“Mister Winter if you could just answer my questions this will go much faster.”
He looked back at his notes for a minute, then mustered up a real serious expression and looked up at me. “Are you sure you don’t know Ms. Palmer?”

“I told you I don’t know her, can you please tell me what this is about?”

Sandoval opened the file he was holding, pulled a few sheets of paper out and handed them to his partner. I could see that they were pictures of something and that the strange little detective was becoming visibly disturbed as he examined them. Calloway placed the three photos side by side on the coffee table in front of me.

“Do you recognize this woman?”

I picked up one of the photos and stared at the lifeless image of a woman I assumed was Kyla Palmer. They were crime scene photos so I was pretty sure she had just been killed. Cops usually like to get ID photos from the victim’s house or family. Normal every day pictures work better because it’s difficult for the average person to identify a face out of context. I looked at all three shots and they did not register.

“Look Detective Calloway, I’m sorry but I’ve never seen this woman before, so can I go back to sleeping off my hangover now?”

“Just a couple more questions Mister Winter, and we will be out of your hair.”

Calloway went back to looking at his notes and formulating his next question.

“Mister Winter, the young lady in the photographs is Kyla Palmer. The coroner tells us she was murdered last night at around 12:15 AM. Her body was discovered at 4:15 AM under a trash pile on 35th Street, near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. The last call she made according to her phone log was to 212-555-1609 at exactly 12:08 AM last night. The phone records indicate that the call lasted twenty seven seconds. So Mister Winter, I have two questions for you. First; if you did not know the victim, then why did she call you just before she died? And second; where were you last night between 11:45 and 12:45?”

Calloway then flipped his notebook closed and gave me a look that made me pretty sure sleep was not on this morning’s menu.

No comments: