Captain Jamison, nicknamed ‘Grizzly’ because of his gruff manner, was an imposing man, both physically and metaphorically. He had to be. Growing up in Detroit was tough in the sixties, and for decades after the 1967 riots, anyone who wanted to be somebody had to fight for a place to thrive. He was one of the lucky ones. His father had owned a profitable business in Black Bottom. He was used to community support, and in all his time as a street cop, he never forgot that support. He returned it to his community then, and now to his officers, but still his mannerisms intimidated most of them. Not Maureen Thompson, she had fought her way to the top as well, and loved him as one loves a dear, favorite uncle who has led the way to success.
She knocked on his door before she opened it.
“Come in,” he growled.
He sat slumped over a stack of reports on his desk, disheveled and pale, as if he held the world upon his shoulders, and as such, it was a fight he couldn’t win.
“You okay, Cap?” she said.
He sat up and attempted to smile at her. “Fine. Just fine.”
He could say that, but she was under no obligation to believe him.
Jack stepped into the office after her. Jamison placed both hands on his desk as if by doing so he could gather strength from it. He sighed and said, “What do you two want?”
“We wanted to talk to you about the cases we are working on,” said Maureen.
“I’ve just finished your reports. What I want to know,” he glared at Jack, “is why I have a report from an officer who is supposed to be on medical leave.”
Maureen said, “My fault. I called him last night. Got a call while on scene at a murder.”
“This one.” He picked up a file. “Says here, there was a body dump at the river.”
“That’s where the evidence points. A Taiwanese boy, between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, maybe nineteen, stabbed and left there for us to find. While there, I received a second call about another boy. He didn’t make it home last night.”
Jack spoke. “Evan Fischer, nineteen. He’s been missing nearly twenty hours now.”
“I called Jack because I was working with rookies last night, Cap. Didn’t want to send them on a missing child case.”
“Why do I get the feeling you two think these cases are connected?”
Jack looked at Maureen. She took a deep breath when she caught his eye, and said, “Well, we have two witnesses down the hall that seem suspiciously connected to both of them. One is a cashier from the same Walgreens where Evan Fischer works. I pulled her in because she lied about picking up a prescription for Percocet for the boy. It’s a heavy painkiller. It suggests that Jack’s suspicion that he’s been in a fight is correct.”
“That weird second sight thing?”
“Yes,” said Jack.
“But no direct visual evidence.”
“None, Sir,” said Jack. He added, “The second witness is the manager for that same Walgreens.”
“What’s his story?” said Jamison, rubbing his jaw.
“He recognizes the tattoos on Maureen’s Taiwanese boy.”
“He told you that?” said Jamison.
“No, but it is very obvious he recognizes the tats.”
“So this manager knows both Evan Fischer, who you believe has injuries, and the dead Taiwanese boy, who also, according to these photos, was in quite a fight. And in your minds, without any evidence to corroborate this collaboration, these two cases are linked because….” Captain Jamison pursed his lips.
Jack stuttered, “J-j-just let us continue.”
Jamison waved him on.
“During my interview with Heathe, he confirmed a tip that Maureen got from him earlier in the day when she interviewed him at the store. Evan has a girlfriend named Bree. Coincidentally, a girl named Sobrina Morelli –.”
“Let me interrupt you. The Morelli gang?”
“Not confirmed, but possible. She quit Walgreens before Christmas, which is why Evan now has a full time position there. The manager says she was pregnant and looked beat up, but he wouldn’t confirm it. Says she might have fallen.”
“Which is it, beat up or injured falling?” said Jamison.
Maureen said, “We have yet to confirm, Sir.”
“Seems that a lot still needs to be confirmed. Well, Balmario’s team has been following the Morellis. His report says there was a possible retaliatory event last night that may have included one or two of their members. Did either of your witnesses bring that up?”
Maureen said, “No.”
“How long have they been in the hold?” said Jamison.
Jack said, “Almost two hours now.”
“Hold the cashier for obstruction.”
Maureen said, “Captain, I’d like to release her and put a tail on her. If Evan Fischer is really the one taking the Percocet, she may lead us back to him.”
“Done. We have three undercovers on the street. I will let them know.”
“I think we can put some pressure on Heathe, the other witness, Sir,” said Jack.
Jamison stared at Jack, waiting for him to continue.
“He frequently makes purchases to indulge in, in the back offices of Walgreens.” Jack made a semi-obscene pumping gesture with his hand.
Jamison scowled. “He told you this?”
Maureen said, “No, Emilia Rodriguez, the cashier, indicated as much.”
“That’s hearsay,” said Jamison.
Jack said, “Yes, but she says everyone knows. We can corroborate.”
Jamison looked at Jack, but pointed to Maureen. “She can corroborate. You can take advantage of your sick leave. You’re outta here.”
“Sir,” said Jack, squirming. “I’m just trying to help.”
“And I appreciate it, but I need you at your best. If you are seeing this with your mojo, I need your head clear, and your partner, bless his heart, is not in any shape to be helping you with this. Take care of him first.”
Maureen looked at Jack and shrugged her shoulders.
Jamison told her, “Let the cashier go, but put the fear of God into her. Hold Heathe. Let Vice work him. If they can prove his indiscretions, we can hold him; otherwise, we have to let him go. In the meantime maybe someone should find Sobrina Morelli.”
“Yes Captain. We’ll get right on it,” said Maureen.
“You’ll get right on it. He’s outta here.”
As Jack stood to leave, someone knocked on Captain Jamison’s door.
“What now,” he said. “Come in.”
An officer from Dispatch stepped into the office waving a piece of paper. “Just in, a BOLO from the FBI in Stockton, California, CARD division.” CARD was an acronym for Child Abduction Rapid Deployment. He handed it to Jamison.
“Wonderful,” Jamison said, sarcastically. “We have another missing boy. Have either of you seen this one?” He showed them the picture.
Jack fell into his chair. Maureen grabbed his forearm and took the flyer. “Yes, Captain. This is one of our own. Jonathan Tyler is Jack’s son.”
Captain looked at Jack with a laser-focused stare that pinned him to the chair. “Your plate is full. Get outta here.”
“Yessir,” said Jack who attempted to stand. It was clear he was in shock. Maureen held onto his arm as he shuffled toward the door.
“Get him out of here, and don’t let him come back,” said Jamison.
“Got it,” said Maureen as she hauled Jack out the door.
He leaned against the outer wall.
“You okay?” said Maureen.
He scrubbed his face and then grabbed his hair. “Gotta see Tomi,” he said.
“Go, Jack. Get out of here. We’ll find your boy, Jack. You know we will.”
She clapped him on the shoulder and left him glued to the wall where he stood, trying to regain some strength to move again.
She couldn’t imagine what Jack was feeling right now. All she could see was her own little one, waving goodbye this morning at the window. She would do everything in her power to save her little Michael from such a fate.
She had no doubt that Jack would do the same.