A Homicide Detective’s Rude Awakening

by James Beattie Morison
© 2010 James Beattie Morison


A phone call in the middle of the night brings a detective to a murder scene.

The 3:00 A.M. Drive

The gentle patter of the rain was the only sound to disturb the silence. The rain was light but steady. Lights glinted off the road. A car turned the corner and rushed down the road. The headlights caught raindrops in midair.

Detective Johnson drove the car. He glanced over at his partner, Detective Clark, who dozed with his head up against the window.

Johnson looked back at the road before he made his turn. The car slipped on the slick road surface. He slowed the car, got it back under control, and sped off down the road.

Clark opened his eyes and sat up. “Did you want to play bumper cars?”

“My ex used to say that all the time.”

The two were silent as the car continued through the night.

“My daughter’s third birthday is tomorrow. I hope I can make it to the party.”

“Don’t worry, we can always make the time on a case like this.” Johnson smiled and then continued, “I remember when my daughter was three. She was the centre of the Universe as far as I was concerned.”

“What she doing now?”

“I’m not sure; I haven’t talked to her since she got her degree last year.” Johnson frowned. “When I got up to answer the phone I noticed that she’d called sometime last night. I must have been in the bathroom or something.”

“Didn’t leave a message.”

Johnson’s eyes shone in the dark. “I’ll call her back in the morning. Maybe a fresh start will change things.”

Down the road, red and blue lights flashed out their rhythm. Near by, bright lights revealed the technicians as they swarmed over the scene.

The Tired Cop

Johnson put on his hat and walked over to the young cop who stood by the access to the scene. Clark stayed in the car to write down some notes.


“Detective Johnson. Beautiful night eh?” Officer Moore looked at Johnson’s hat. “Still dream that you could be Sam Spade?”

Johnson smiled, and then turned to watch the technicians work. Moore yawned. “A little tired Moore?”

“Um. Long day.” Moore turned around to watch the street. “Hungry too.” He went on, “I’m just not a night person.” Johnson nodded. Moore shifted his feet.

Johnson turned back toward him. “Neither am I, but you get used to it.”

“I’m not sure my wife will get used to it.”

“My ex never did.”

Clark walked up to Johnson. “Time to get to work?”

Johnson started to move toward the bright lights. “Why can’t they get killed at a decent hour?”

The Medical Examiner

The medical examiner Doctor Patel stood near the lights with his back to the detectives.

“What’s up doc?”

Patel turned at the sound of Johnson’s voice. He shook Johnson’s hand and gave Clark a head nod.

“Didn’t bring an umbrella did you?”

“Sorry”. Johnson paused to look at the tarp on the ground just past the row of lights. “What can you tell us about the stiff?”

Clark glared at Johnson when he said “Stiff.” Johnson ignored him.

“Doesn’t look good.”

“As bad as the one in the park last month?”

“No, not that bad. Not as gruesome to look at anyway.” Patel frowned. “Death is always tragic.”

“It wouldn’t be a tragedy if the guy who did this got his,” Johnson said.

“Society would be better off, but it would still be a tragedy.” Patel shook his head and looked toward the tarp on the ground. “It wasn’t for sex or money.” He turned to look at Johnson. “This one will be a real challenge for you.”

The Body

The tarp was a translucent white. Johnson watched the rain that dripped from the edges as Clark talked to one of the technicians.

Johnson looked at Clark when he was done. “Back when I was married, we had a greenhouse in the back yard. We covered it with a tarp, just like this one.”

“I’d like to have a little garden.”

“I haven’t thought about it for years. Back then, I felt like life started new every spring. The world held possibilities.”

The two detectives stood silent in the rain.

“Well, we better have a look at the body.” Johnson motioned Clark to help him with the tarp. “Then we can go have breakfast.”

The body lay face down in the dirt. Clark stared at the body as his jaw tensed up. Johnson looked at Clark. “I remember my first murder case. The body was like a sack of potatoes.” Johnson continued to watch Clark. “It helps if you think of it that way.”

Clark knelt down and turned the body over. Johnson bent over Clark and pointed at the knee. “See the abrasions there.” Clark nodded.

Johnson stared at the body’s face, while drops of rain fell from the brim of his hat.

It was his daughter.

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