Sunday, September 1, 2013

3. "A Walk in the Park" (P4)

Sitting behind a desk wearing a suit and tie was a rather annoyed looking man staring at his phone. As to the source of his current mood, one of several events in the day could be chosen; if, of course, it was not their combination. Having chased a lead for a recent case for over a week that had resulted in a dead end, he had not slept well that night.

When he had first arrived at the police department in the morning, an old lady whom he had met the day previously was waiting impatiently. Having overheard that he was a detective, she had come to see him specifically on the disappearance of her cat, Neomi. Given that he had not yet had his coffee, the conversation quickly degenerated and a secretary was forced to split them up. He then discovered that the coffee machine was malfunctioning.

To top off the circumstances, when he contacted CSU to inquire about a piece of evidence. They reported that the object in question had gone missing.

Still staring at the phone he began, clearly trying to contain his temper, “in other words, you mean to tell me that it was stolen?”

“No, no, no.” The operator responded calmly, “merely misplaced. It is highly unlikely that the ring was stolen.”

“Fine, at least tell me that they finished the research work. Do they know where it came from?”

“Heh, well here’s the thing, after doing the basic forensics on it,” the man at the other end hesitated, “we put it back into the queue, we’re quite backlogged at the moment.”

“What!” he exclaimed, “you fools! While I was chasing a dry lead, I could have been researching that ring.”

“Please calm down, Jason.” The police chief shouted from down the hall. “I’m on the phone.”

“Well, so am I!” He stared down the hall at the overweight man, then continued, “Why didn’t you tell me you shelved it?

“Well, umm, am I suppose to be to be able to answer that question?”

“No,” he said as he reached over to hang up the phone, “Call me when you’ve settled your affairs and un-misplaced the evidence.” he finished as he slammed the receiver down.

Detective Jason Lambarto had been on the force for over five years and throughout the copious number of cases he had worked on, he rarely lost his cool. What he lacked in intelligence was made up for with patience and perseverance. As such, with his early successes, he was widely considered the best detective in the district, if not the entire city. But as of late, he was overworking himself and came up empty on the last three cases assigned to him. The chief was forced to pass each of them off to other officers when it was clear Jason was floundering.

So, when the detective saw Chief Ramsey walking over having finished a call with whomever, he immediately recognized the look on the old man’s face. So he began by trying to parry what was coming, “look, its just a minor setback, I’m...”

“Going to have more outbursts?” he interjected calmly.

After biting his tongue for a moment, “CSU lost what I consider to be the most important piece of evidence for this case, I think I’m entitled to some emotions.”

“What you consider?” His mouth pinched in annoyance, “do you not remember how your previous cases went?”


“You became bogged down with what turned out to be trivial and unimportant aspects of the crimes. Any other officer would have switched tracks after three week of pawnshops and whatever else you’ve been doing.”

“Yes, but...”

“Don’t, interrupt me. The media wants to know what caused the bus crash. I can’t just tell them that it was a fight over a ring. Especially when its clear that it wasn’t made of anything valuable. Anyway, you sidetracked me, I need to get to the point...”

Becoming desperate he interrupted again. “And the point is, I know I’m right this time. Don’t take this case away from me. I’m sure I’m close.”

Ramsey, rubbed his eyes before continuing, “I’m not taking the case away from you.”

He looked up in surprise, “wait, you’re not?”

“No, I do actually think you are on the right track, but I came to tell you to take a break from this.” He glanced at his office, “I just finished a call with Ms. Parker. I believe you two have met. Correct?”

The detective looked a little worried, “yes, I gave her a child I found at the crash. Of course, to the protest of some other family that was there.”

“Yes, no need to second guess yourself, you were only following the law. So, the woman called me to say...”

“The girl’s fine, right?”

“I’m afraid to say I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Ms. Parker yourself when you get there.” The chief was starting to get antsy, he didn’t like discussions of that sort. “Anyway, the bad part is, she called to place a missing persons report for one of her charges.”

“Not surprising with the number of kids she has.” He thought about his last visit some more. “So you want me to handle this?”

“Yeah, just give her the ordinary speech about the odds and get the pictures and description. Thought it would be nice to give you what should amount to something straightforward for once. And I suppose it might give you a chance to catch up with that girl.” He winked as he turned away. “Try not to turn this into another one of your grand mystery cases.”

The way the chief relayed the information so matter of factly unsettled Jason a bit, but he understood the man's position. Police work required a certain amount of emotional distance to survive with your mind intact. Though the detective still had much to learn on that front, he definitely noticed his senses deadening with repeated exposure to the dark side of the city.


Given the above average traffic at lunch time and the short distance from the police compound to Ms. Parkers residence, Jason decided to walk the distance noting that he would be going through Central Park. Upon arriving at the park, he was astonished by the number of people currently occupying the area. That is, until he was reminded when overhearing a conversation that today was a holiday. He realised that may have explained the uncooperative mood of the CSU correspondent that he had the misfortune to talk to earlier. Holiday’s, just a waste of time, he thought with a scowl on his face. It was at this moment that something ran into him, almost knocking him over.

After recovering his balance he shouted, “Gah, watch where you’re going, kid.”

Looking quite jovial, the boy responded, “Sorry old man, didn’t see you there.” He looked backward for a moment, “I guess we were just having too much fun.”

“I quite think so.” He said slowly, noticing that the boy, who couldn’t be much older than fifteen, was accompanied by a young girl. She seemed quite nervous at first, toying with something on her ring finger, but that quickly passed after the boy’s response. She had a yellow rain jacket thrown over her shoulder. After absorbing the scene, he continued with more annoyance, “Besides I’m not that old, what a rude young man. I might have to take you back to the impound with me for that.”

In over dramatic fashion, the girl almost swooned at the empty threat, but the boy only smirked, “Whatever, I’ll try not to trouble you anymore, then ... officer. See you later.” He turned around and started to pull the dumbstruck girl away.

“Almost cute,” the detective mumbled to himself. He quickly continued on to his destination.


Recognizing the building from his visit several weeks ago, he had arrived at the orphanage. Of course calling it an orphanage was not quite correct. The girls that stayed there were technically under the charge of the state, until such time as they were assigned to a foster home or, if they actually had some luck left, they were adopted. Given the creation of several other government controlled properties in the area, not to mention the close proximity of Central Park, the neighborhood was considered to be among the more pleasant.

The place itself was originally designed as an apartment building nearly 90 years ago. When the last owner went bankrupt and walked away from the property near the end of the 1990’s, it was absorbed by the city. As a coincidence of events and an unusually fiscally sensitive city council the building was placed under the control of the newly created Children’s Services Administration for the purpose of temporarily housing girls before they could go elsewhere. Having just graduated from the state college for a degree in childrens care, Ms. Parker had been placed head of the facility at that time.

After pausing to think about his last visit and prepare for what he was about to say, he entered the building at an assertive pace. Ms. Parker was waiting for him in the lobby.

“What took so long.” She was obviously distraught, “I’ve been waiting for over an hour. The police are really losing their touch.”

“I assure you ma’am, I left as soon as you finished your call. Which,” he paused to look at his watch, “was only a half hour ago. So, I suggest that we sit down before we start talking about this.”

“Oh, okay, I’m sorry.” Looking somewhat embarrassed, she started to lead him into a sitting room, “would you like something to drink? ... Coffee, maybe.”

A look of euphoria went across his face. He made sure to look away until it passed. Finally, that bitter drink to wake him up. “Thank you, if it’s not too much trouble of course.”

“Oh, no trouble at all, the assistants were just brewing some up for lunch. How would you like it?”

“Just black.”

“Oh,” She called out, “Richie, get some coffee, black, for the police officer.”

He smirked, “seems you don’t remember me, I’m Detective Lambarto. I…”

She quickly interrupted him “Yes, that name. I’ve been in such a tizzy I forgot. You came to drop off one of the girls a month or so ago. Sorry about that.”

One of the assistants walked in with the detective's coffee. He took a long sniff and began to sip the hot drink. Yes, just the thing to change a bad day into a walk in the park. He then proceeded to take a small notebook out of his coat pocket. “Lets begin, shall we.”

He asked questions about many things. With expert training and his own personal touch, he extracted detailed information from the distraught woman, besides a description, he was also hoping for information that might help find the girl. He found out that the girl was not formally a ward of the state, but was directly under Ms. Parkers care. She had found Novella on the doorstep early in her career and had named her after the poem she found with the baby. She started to cry at this point so he waited patiently.

“She was like a child to me.” She sniffed, “we’ve spent so much time together and, and now she’s gone.”

“Calm, down ma’am. The odds may not be in our favor, but they’ve never put a detective like me on a case like this.” He had a propensity to be arrogant at times, but in this case it was his optimistic side that was coming through. Which was why he was startled by the look on Ms. Parkers face.

“Wait, what kind of detective are you?”

He finished off the remainder of his drink to give himself some time. He almost choked on it. “Well, I’m a…” he cleared his throat, “technically, I’m a homicide detective.” Seeing her eyes get wider, he quickly added in as authoritative a voice as possible, “But that has absolutely no bearing on the case at hand, the department was merely doing some job shuffling, that’s all. Essentially, I needed a break from my other work.”

When he saw her start to calm down, he reclined into the couch to relax for a moment. Some scenes from the park wandered back into his mind. After the coffee he was in a much more upbeat mood and thought that a stroll back through the park would be more enjoyable this time.

“I’d like to go over this information again. Just to be sure I’ve got it down all right. Start with the basic description.”

“Umm, okay. She was about four and a half feet tall, long brown hair, hazel eyes.” She continued on with a few more details before ending.

“Good, seems everything's in order. I think I’ll be on my way.” He had a funny feeling at the back of his mind, but he couldn’t quite narrow down the cause.

“Oh, I almost forgot, she might have her rain jacket with her, since it was raining that night.”

“Really?” He grabbed the mug he’d been drinking from and began to stand up.

“Yellow I think … Yes, it was yellow.”

“Impossible!” he exclaimed dropping his mug. He stood there motionless as it shattered and the pieces bounced off of his legs. The description is a perfect match! How could I have missed it for so long.

“Oh my! Is something wrong, Detective?”

“No, not at all.” He hesitated, it would probably be best not to tell her right away. “I just remembered something… don’t worry about it.” Annoyingly she still looked concerned. Trying to change the subject, he said, “I’m sorry about the mess. Is there something...”

“No, no, no, not a problem. I’ll just have Richie clean it up. You already have enough work on your plate. Thanks for your help, I hope you can find her soon.”

Half not thinking he responded, “yes, so do I.”

“What?” She said with a confused look on her face.

“I mean, I’m feeling pretty confident on this case, I think we’ll find her pretty quick.”

Still confused, “Oh, well … umm, good?”

“If you don’t mind, might it be possible to see Miss Stephanie?”


“The girl I dropped off a month ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, a family came by just this morning to take her, all the papers were in order. They were quite rude. They were talking down about some police officer.” She paused, “Now that I think about it, I suppose that was you.”

“Yeah, I kinda regret some of the things I may have done that night. Sometimes, the rules should be bent.” He looked a little downcast, “I actually wanted to apologize to her ... among other things.”

“Well, you can take some comfort, she seemed pretty happy when they showed up.”

“Thank you.” He walked to the door and opened it, “I hope to see you soon with some good news, may I bid you a fair adieu.”

“Good bye.” She called out as she shut it behind him.

He stood next to the street for a moment thinking about that night spent surveying the bus wreck and the poor girl he found there. Taking her from the only people left alive that she knew.

He’d never have the time to see her again.


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