awoke groggily, a frown on her face. Outside of her inexpensive, miniscule apartment, the streets of Haven City were bathed in darkness. Her cell phone spewed a nondescript, traditional ring. Angrily, she pushed it against her ear. “Detective Rosa Chen, HCPD.” Her eyes flickered over the picture of her parents on her bedside table, her fathers Asiatic features a contrast to her mothers Puerto Rican heritage. She missed him terribly. Accompanying her picture, her shield and SIG Sauer P226 service pistol lay. She reached for them as the words she heard motivated her eyes to come into focus. In a moment, all of her lethargy was banished, and a practiced hardness came over her expression. “Where?”
She threw off the covers, scantly clad in a camisole, and a matching cotton thong splitting a pleasingly round pair of caramel buttocks. Bare feet padded quickly on the floor as she hurried to her meager closet. “Madre de dios…” Frantically she pulled on a white blouse and a pair of grey slacks, wedging her phone between her ear and shoulder. “Did they know it was a cops house? Somebody fucked up.” Her face paled. “I’m coming.” She hung up the phone, feeling a cold chill creep up her spine. Guillermo sounded shaken up, and he had a cold heart. But everyone was shaken when something like this happened. Well, except the ones that knew about it and approved.
Her tires screeched as she pulled into the crime scene, another crappy apartment complex just like hers. She tossed the hairbrush haphazardly into the passenger seat and ran up to the caution tape. Everyone looked disturbed, even the forensic specialists and Lieutenant Jefferson. The latter stood next to a shell-shocked man, staring vacantly out into the night. Big, burly Kelly Ferguson, her partner. She ran to him first, kneeling as he sat on the back of the open ambulance, as if attending a tailgate for a football game. “Kelly? Where…” She had been about to ask him, ‘where were you when this happened,’ But the thought occurred to her that that would have been the cruelest possible thing to say. “Are…” She had wanted to ask if he was alright, but that would have been equally stupid. Instead, she embraced him tightly, and whispered the only thing she could think of to say at that moment. “It’s not your fault, Kelly. We’ll get these putas
He nodded, still looking lost, and saying nothing. It’s not your fault, partner. We all failed. All of us.
Feeling there was nothing more to say, she stood and turned, entering the apartment buzzing with department personnel.
She came into Kelly’s apartment to the sound and sight of flashing cameras, the lab geeks perusing the horrific gore. At the site of the crime, Rosa felt bile rising in her throat, and covered her mouth, turning away sharply. Mother and son hung, suspended by their backs on meat hooks. Their intestines hung like grizzly fringe from their torsos, and their faces would have been contorted in a rictus of agony, were it not for the smiles carved into their cheeks. A pool of blood had long since begun to coagulate on the hardwood floor.
“Rosa, here.” One of the forensic technicians held out a bucket, so she did not mar the evidence. Unable to hold it in, she vomited violently into it, shivering and coughing before nodding her thanks. “Who do you think? Kelly put away some Russians last week. Retaliation?”
He nodded. “Almost certainly Russians. Come look at this.” He waved for her to follow him, and she did, trying not to look at the unconscionable violence presented before her. He stopped directly in front of the bodies, pointing at the ground. “We got uni’s going out to look after your mom.”
On the ground, a myriad of pictures were fanned out. It was the family of nearly every cop in the department. In blood, above the display, the phrase ‘So much to lose,’ was inscribed in a messy scrawl. “No prints in the blood. Son of a bitch was careful.”
Her eyes widened at the display. “Mi madre…
” Rosa was notorious for reverting to Spanish when she was stressed. The technician placed a hand on her shoulder. “We have two squad cars outside her door. Don’t worry.”
She nodded again turning away, and rubbing her eyes with the palms of her hands. Desperately, she beat back the lump in her throat. She inhaled a shaky breath, before straightening again, and speaking evenly. “What do we have.”
“Nothing so far. We’re canvassing the area. Lieutenant said you should get back to your own case, after you had your look.” Usually he made a crack about her ass, but even he was not in the mood.
Nodding, she started walking out, eager to leave the gruesome presence of the mystery killers cruelty. Briskly, she walked to her car, and pulled the door shut. Almost immediately a shaky, withheld sob burst from her lips. She crossed her arms above the steering wheel, leaning her forehead against them, shoulders shaking with the vehemence of her sorrow. It was only a few seconds, before she sat back up, shaking her head vigorously as if clearing it of pain. Poor Kelly. They should get him out of here.
Misty cocoa eyes fell on yesterdays paper, strewn on the floor of her passenger seat. The headline read simply, ‘Controversial masked vigilante topples human trafficking ring.’ Her eyes narrowed. The enigma himself was the subject of her case, and she could turn up nothing. She didn’t know how she felt about that madman, and she knew it was a ridiculous thing to think, but she did it anyway. Where were you?
Pushing a black strand of hair behind her ear, she exited the car, and headed for the Lieutenant.
“Lieutenant, I want to talk to you.”
The man looked annoyed, familiar with the tone concealed in her voice. “We got people looking after your family. Your kin are safe.”
“Bullshit. Safe until the Russians flash a picture of those cops families.”
He turned. “Listen, we are all pretty shook up about this, Chen…”
“I’m going to look after her myself. None of you crooked puta’s are worthy of her.” It wasn’t her intention to be so forceful with her superior, but it came out just the same.
His expression darkened. “Careful, Chen. The political capital you built with all your solved cases might just start to disappear. Rapidly. Go now, you ungrateful little shit, before I change my mind. And at nine A.M, you’re back on the vigilante investigation. Clear?”
But she was already walking towards her car, ready to speed on over to her mothers house. The vigilante case was a dead end, and her mother was the only family she had left.