Sandman(9)

By: Morgan Hannah MacDonald



His ringing cell snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Thomas, here.”

“Where the hell are you?” came the familiar bark of Captain Harris. “I expected you back at the station an hour ago. When you get here, I want you to come straight to my office. You got that?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll be right there.”

The line went dead.

Thomas reached into the top left drawer of his desk and pulled out his electric shaver. He ran it across his face haphazardly, then dropped it back in the drawer and stood.

He walked out of his office and strolled across the bullpen as if he didn’t have a care in the world. As he opened the door, the captain looked up in astonishment.

“What the—”

“I got here as soon as I could, sir,” he said with a smile before the captain could finish his sentence.

“Sit down, smartass.”

The captain reminded Thomas of a bulldog: short, bald, and stocky.

Captain Harris took a deep breath and looked at him seriously. “Thomas, I want you to start seeing the department psychiatrist.”

“What the fuck!” That was the last thing he expected him to say. “I don’t need the services of a shrink, thank you very much.”

“Really.” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “Well, you look like shit warmed over. Your suits are always wrinkled, your eyes are bloodshot, and it looks like you’ve been shaving with a weed whacker. Most importantly, I don’t feel I can count on you anymore. You’re like a loaded gun ready to go off at any minute.” The captain stood and began pacing.

Look who’s talking, Thomas thought.

“You walk around with a permanent hangover, and it’s evident you’re not sleeping.”

“Show me one detective in the department that does get a full night’s sleep, and I’ll show you one that’s not doing his job. It’s not a luxury I can afford. It happens to go with the territory.”

“Oh, bullshit. You know damned well what I’m talking about. You’ve got to get it together. I need you sharp. You’re no good to anyone like this, least of all the department.” The captain came around and sat on the edge of the desk in front of him, his voice softened. “Look, I’ve given you a lot of slack, but it’s been almost two years. You need to get it together.”

“But Captain, I—”

“This is not a discussion.” The captain returned to his chair and sat down. “I’ll put you on a desk so fast your head will spin if you don’t get your head out of your ass and I’ll make you ride that desk until I see a complete one-eighty. Got it?”

“Fine, whatever, but I need to talk to you about this case. You know we may have a serial killer on our hands. The MO is too close to the Hooper case to be ignored. I’ll know more after the autopsy, but I’m certain the rest will follow suit. And I don’t think these women are the first. Everything is too clean, too precise.”

“Shut the fuck up.” He looked down, drew his hands through his buzz cut, then looked back at Thomas. “I do not want to hear this shit right now. Not now, not ever.” Then after a short hesitation, he leaned on his desk. “Fine. See what you can dig up. But keep it on the QT. I’m serious as a heart attack. I don’t want the media in on this. You got that?”

“I’m afraid it’s too late for that, sir. That lady from Channel Five caught me as I was leaving the scene. She’s already asking if there’s a connection between the two cases.”

“Shit. I’d better call the chief and get it over with. Dammit!” He hit the desk with his palm. “Thanks for the heads-up.”

Thomas nodded, then stood. He’d made it as far as the door before he heard the captain yell behind him.

“Wait!”

He turned back, Harris was rifling through his desk drawer. His hand came out with a business card and handed it to him.

“You’re going to need this.”

Thomas took the card and read it. “Oh, joy.”

“Make that appointment ASAP.”

Thomas shoved the card into his jacket pocket, and left without another word.





FIVE



The little boy was on a beach with his mother, giggling as they played tag. He ran toward the water, then as soon as a wave approached, he’d run back and his mother would chase him.

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