The March lion arrived, unleashing its rage, howling through the night and dashing down icy sheets of sleet this way and that. Barometers and temperatures dove in tandem. February’s final balmy days of a promised early spring had been a deceit, a cruel mirage. The barking of sea lions in the bay was the only sound that could be heard above the tumult.
Buffeted by gusts as he walked to work, Detective Sergeant Jimmy Tan dodged fronds of cedar and fir sent flying by the capricious wind. The air bit his nose. His peaked cap kept his face somewhat shielded, but needles of ice pricked the nape of his neck, convincing him to pull up the collar of the thick duty jacket. Despite the foul weather, he felt content, perhaps due to the general peace that had settled on the town after the first and only homicide two years before. The murder had shaken the small community primarily because the person slain had been a well-known land developer from a prominent family. It struck even closer to home for Jimmy, as the victim had been his and Ariel’s neighbour.
There was a newer concern for the townsfolk, however. Low-level crime was on the rise, credited to a homeless shelter and halfway house that had taken over a vacated elementary school. For the first time anyone could remember, people were locking their cars and homes and installing alarm systems. But this was not something that kept Jimmy awake at nights. He knew that, overall, it was a safe village.
The residents liked to call it a village, which caused Mayor Pieter Verhagen to blanch whenever he heard the word. It was a town, and to him, any diminution of the designation was an affront to his position. As it was, it had been a major victory convincing Council to change Reeve to Mayor. In his mind, “Reeve” sounded country-bumpkinish. While managing to prevail in this battle, there was nothing he could do about the street names, which he thought would be more at home amongst the pages of children’s story books.
In the 1940s, when it became customary to alphabetize street names after trees and flowers, some of the decisions led to fisticuffs in the old community hall. Each time a new street was carved out of the district, people prepared for repercussions. In 2000, a collective sigh could be heard when the district manager announced that no more streets could be fit within the town’s boundaries.
The only alteration took place in 1984, the year Nightmare on Elm Street appeared on the screen. A new name had to be chosen to replace their Elm Street, inevitably leading to more arguments. It was finally decided that Evergreen would be more appropriate as there were no elm trees in the region, while evergreens were everywhere.
As Jimmy approached the police station, he watched intrepid seniors rushing out of the rain and into Bayside Foods for the early bird breakfast special. The cheap price was a lost leader―an enticement for people to spend more time inside to buy groceries.
When he stepped through the station entrance, Mary Beth McKay, one of the front desk personnel, looked up. “My gosh, Jimmy! Did you walk?”
“It’s only a couple of blocks.”
“But you’re drenched.” She buzzed him into the squad room.
“It’s some storm, all right. Any trees down in your area?”
“Nothing major. Just a few branches here and there. What about your place?”
“So far, so good.” He looked around. Constables Tamsyn Foxcroft and Simon Rhys-Jones were at their work stations and gave him a wave. He saw no sign of his partner. “Ray not in yet?” he asked Mary Beth.
“He’s down in the parking garage with his new toy,” she giggled. “He’s like a kid in a candy store.”
“Guess I’ll go see what mischief he’s up to.” Hanging up his wet jacket in the locker room, he bounded down the steps to the garage, where he found Ray Rossini in the driver’s seat of a sixteen-foot Mobile Crime Vehicle, fiddling with the retractable phone cradle.
“Look what the cat dragged in.”
“I think all the weather experts are correct,” he teased. “It’s climate change.”
Ray bit, throwing him a look of disgust. “Yeah. Right. And Santa Claus is a Communist.”
Jimmy laughed. They had been down this road before.
Ray returned to his current interest. “We’re gonna have to take a course in how to use this baby,” he griped, pointing to the high-tech dashboard.
The arrival of the vehicle came as a result of the mayor finally admitting to how poorly equipped the station had been during the murder investigation. Chagrined and nudged by town pride, the mayor had let out the ties of his tightly bound purse and agreed to bring the department into the 21st century, but reeled when he saw the price. For many weeks, he and his Chief Financial Officer struggled to find cuts in order to accommodate the purchase.
“It’s so complicated,” Ray said. “Look at all these screens, and every one of them is for something different. It’s like a bloody cockpit. Who’ve we got that can figure it out?”
“Dalbir might be able to do it. He has a teenager who could probably hack into the federal government.”
Ray grunted. “Some four-year-olds are way ahead of me. They’re talking rockets when I’m just figuring out the wheel.” He heaved his bulk out of the seat. “Check this out,” he said, taking a few steps and opening a door. “Our own john.”
“That’ll be a welcome change.”
“Yeah. No more pissing behind a bush. And look at this fridge. Big enough for sandwiches and stuff.”
“Don’t forget evidence bags.”
“There’s plenty of space for them.”
“Where’s the forensic gear?”
Ray opened a cupboard where shelves were crammed with individual packets containing white suits, shoe covers, masks, and latex gloves. “The SOCOs are gonna be over the moon.” He closed the door and pointed to another section. “And how about this? A place for Gene’s photography. Just think. Processing evidence right at the scene.” He sighed. “We’ll probably never have another homicide to see what it can really do.”
Jimmy shook his head. “Don’t tempt Fate.”