24: Roy

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Roy

Moore thought about the idea, and nodded. “It’s possible… but my bet is still on the subject. He set this up as an escape plan ahead of time. If a spook was after him, then it’s a good bet he’s a spook too, and she was a good guy come to get him out of our hair. Wouldn’t be the first time we saw that happen.”

Roy had experienced a white hat in action first hand, and the lieutenant was probably referring to it. He’d been ribbed for months about the strange little girl who acted nothing like a little girl.

The ‘child’ latched onto him off-duty and forced him to drive her all over the city chasing after an apparent phantom. After they tracked it to a warehouse, she fought with it and vanished with it … leaving a mystified Roy behind, in custody of what turned out to be nearly a hundred million dollars’ worth of heroin. She had certainly been a ‘white hat’, a spook on their side.

He didn’t have enough proof to put the wild woman in furs and leathers into the same category yet, so he decided to change the subject.

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“How’s the victim doing?”

Moore took another sip of coffee, with a neutral expression. Roy knew he didn’t want to suggest she was in great shape. No matter how much worse it could have been, the kid had been through hell, and it was still going to be rough for her in the future.

“She’s physically unharmed,” he answered. “No evidence of molestation. But, of course, the trauma from what she went through will have her in counseling for a while. At least she’s in a city where the government’s willing to foot the bill for it.”

He flashed an approving glance toward Roy. “She’s lucky you two were on the job. Good work, spotting the vehicle. We finally stopped the bastard for once.”

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The approval quickly turned to pain in Roy’s gut. He wasn’t the one who should be hearing it. He stared again at the ruined warehouse. “I was just the driver. Jack spotted the vehicle.”

Jack saved the girl, then disappeared in the fire. He shouldn’t even have been on the beat at all. He had been promoted to District Sergeant three months before, when Hubboldt retired. But the district was behind in hiring new DSNs, and Policy required a certain number of two-man cars per each shift, so he and Jack still rode together. Jack should have been in his own supervisor’s car, doing supervisor’s work, not riding shotgun on a graveyard shift beat because they had no rookie to sit in Roy’s right-hand seat yet.

He dreaded the inevitable news that should come next, the discovery of Jack’s charred body in the wreckage. Perhaps it would be found together with the body of the perpetrator, having died a quick, justice-cheating death that avoided the trial and punishment the bastard so richly deserved.

He hated the thought of attending the funeral of a friend, and of seeing Jack’s daughter bereaved, her father’s life traded to save the life of some other father’s daughter. Above all, he worried for Jack’s ex, who hadn’t been able to make it as a cop’s wife, but still loved the man despite divorcing him because she couldn’t take the stress. What was this going to do to her?

“So, Roy,” the lieutenant pondered in a light tone, “Any idea how you got out of there, yet?”

Markhov and Johansen had found him lying unconscious in the parking lot, far from his last radioed position. He shook his head.

“I saw the walls catchin’ fire. That’s all I remember. I got nothin’, Lieutenant.”

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