Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
The Dagger: Part I
Detective Pineclay barged shoulder-first from the elevator and down the corridor toward the Homicide Department’s interrogation rooms. He was crimson with indignation. His bulldozer strides fuelled by equal measures caffeine and gall, the veteran detective could not believe his luck – or, to be more accurate, lack thereof.
Leaning beside the door of Interrogation Room Two with that desultory Southern indifference he was so renowned for, Captain Finlay greeted the sour-faced detective.
“Congratulations.” he yawned from his slovenly recline. “Figured I better call you, seeing as the lights were out in your office. Not like the department’s resident night-owl to be absent.” He yawned again, knowingly, peering all the while through the small rectangular window in the door. “What kept you? No, don’t tell me – your idea of a vacay is working a few extra hours down in the bomb squad?”
With an insubordinate grunt, Pineclay shoved the rotund captain to one side so as to peer through the wired glass – as though sticking his arm into a scorpion’s nest only to retrieve a cold, shed skin, the resulting sag of the detective’s already downcast features suggested that he wasn’t exactly elated with what he saw. Or rather, who.
“You should be happy, no?” Finlay assumed. “You’ve been on this guy’s ass for a helluva long time.”
“Too long.” the detective replied, snatching the file of arrest documents from under his captain’s arm. He scrutinized every page, his expression of disdain consistent. “Nine months on this case, nine damned months, and he gets himself caught the one night I take off early.
“What difference does that make?” the captain shrugged, turning his obesity back to the window. “Your guy got lazy, you got lucky – that’s how it goes.
“Still, kind of ironic, huh? All those hours you’ve spent cooped in your office, haunting this place like the spectre of some frontier sheriff gunned down at his desk, and when a break does come your way–”
“I was still working.” the detective corrected, nostrils flared with an indignant sniff. “I always take my work home with me.”
This the captain had noticed. All too clearly. “Another case?”
The detective gave something resembling a nod.
“Christ, Pineclay. The way you burn the midnight oil we’ll soon be shipping it in by the barrel!
“Although isn’t today the day…you know?”
“And you’ve still?–”
The captain rubbed the folds of his chin. “And your wife doesn’t–”
“Yeah.” the detective repeated, an unmistakable stone-faced stipulation that the matter was not to be furthered – unless gunshots were fired.
“Anyhow, however you slice it,” the captain plucked sharply at his braces, “your man’s been caught. Red handed. Blood red – right up to his wrists in it, if those money shots are anything to go by.” he nodded fleetingly to the crime scene photographs sticking out from the file, not wishing to see them again lest he regurgitate his last three meals. “There’s enough in that file alone to fix him with the penalty, never mind the evidence you’ve already gathered. And that knife they found him with, the one still wet in the bag, there. If that’s not a final nail in the coffin I don’t know what is.”
Wearily, Pineclay held the bag up to the corridor’s fluorescent tubes, casting the silhouette of a long-bladed knife across his wearied face. The detective remained staring up at the knife long enough for his captain to interject the disquiet with his typical bedside patter.
“Jesus, Pineclay. I’ve seen porcupines with less stubble. When was the last time you slept?”
The detective twisted the knife in the light. “The last time you skipped lunch. Captain.”
Finlay rolled back to the window. “Touché. You friendless bastard.”
A woman dressed in a sharp suit and a sharper scowl approached the two men, her bayonet heels clipping against the corridor’s tiles. “Here. Here’s everything I’ve been able to dig up on your killer.” she insisted, handing Pineclay a slither of biographical profile which the detective considered to be meagre. Pathetically meagre.
“No arrests. No misdemeanors. Nothing previous in all his seventy years…” He flipped back and forth through the half-dozen pages, all the while disconsolately shaking his head. “Not a lot to go on, Doc.”
“Cut her some slack, Pineclay.” Finlay scoffed. “Shrink’s been here half the night trawling that up, never mind handling all the other loonies under her guard. If she doesn’t work as hard as you then she works just as long! Speaking of which, Rushton.” the captain addressed the woman in a tone heavy on the rhetorical. “Did you ever get around to taking that honeymoon with your newly-wed?”
“Not as yet, Cap.”
“But you’re planning to, right?”
“Hawaii.” the psychiatrist replied with android formality. “Once I’ve cleared my backlog.”
The captain blew out a sigh. All this ambition exhausted him. “Married nearly a month and you’ve only been home to shower. Damn it, Rushton, you’re not even wearing your wedding ring.”
“I was worried it might get damaged, sir.” she stated, all the while swiping through the itinerary on her phone. “Besides, it interferes with my work.” With her free hand, the department’s sole psychiatrist reached into her shoulder bag and retrieved another file of documents, this one so thick it could chock an airliner. She passed this dog-eared wedge to Pineclay – as though a parcel being exchanged between conveyor belts, the detective accepted it without acknowledgement and began shuffling tonight’s newly acquired material into the ever-thickening chronicle, these late additions testing the strength of its already overtaxed binding. All the while, Rushton continued scrolling her phone, the blue light bleaching the colour from her face.
Casting a disparaging glance between his two most prolific – if misanthropic – subordinates, Captain Finlay exhaled heavily. “You two should have an affair. Go find a cheap hotel somewhere outside of town and get down to some illicit, ham-cold fornicating.”
An appointment to keep and seemingly oblivious to her captain’s remark, Rushton made her excuses and clipped away. Pineclay concluded his shuffling, and checked his watch.
“Has he been primed?”
The captain chuckled, stepping aside from the door. “He’s all yours, Pineclay. Go do what makes you happy. Hey, but before you go,” he added, catching the detective’s elbow. “When this case is through, how about you take that vacation you’re long overdue? Unwind, huh? Blow off some steam.”
“Yeah yeah.” the detective frowned, the idea sounding about as productive as trying to sell bath salts on the deck of the Titanic. “There’s problems with the Urbana case that Collins needs my help with, and the trio of bodies we dug up near the lakes, and there’s the case–”
“There’s always a case, Pineclay.” Captain Finlay growled, impressing the authority that his rank imbued. “For once, why don’t you try solving the problems you’ve got between the cases? Take that wife of yours to see the grand-kids. Visit your daughter. Christ, do regular things like regular folk – before you finally snap and I have to turn that damned shrink on you. Yeah?”
Alas, deaf to his superior’s advice, the detective had already slunk into the interrogation room and slammed the door behind him.