Niles Quinn, captain of detectives, hung up the phone. He swiveled in his chair away from the desk and looked out the window of his 10th precinct office. He stared at the brick apartments across the street. Rising over the tops of buildings in the distance the New York skyline of constructed spires rose from the Manhattan bedrock. Below stretched a quiet street by New York standards. Automobiles and people gently spaced moved about. A few block west things moved at an anthill’s pace.
“The call,” Niles thought, “it was a reminder.”
Suddenly a distraction, a rap on the window of the door to his office. Niles swiveled away from the window. He waved Bates to come in.
Bates opened the door and leaned in.
“Hey, Cap,” Bates said, “I owe you a drink.”
“You owe me a lot of drinks,” Niles said.
“Just thought I’d let you know,” Bates said, “we have a solid suspect on the Martindale case.”
“That’s good,” Niles said., “none of the boy friends, right?”
“Like you said,” Bates said, “somebody in the building, the manager.”
“Just for the heck of it, see if there are any unsolved in the last few years in that building and close by,” Niles said. “And why not see if the guy managed other buildings and see if there are unsolved.”
“How many, Cap?” Bates said. “This is at least his third. Everything at the crime scene indicated he was cautious. He wasn’t sloppy like a beginner and he wasn’t cocky like an old pro.”
Bates smiled and walked away. He turned back. “Five-fifteen at Mick’s.”
“I’ll be there, but you won’t,” Niles said. “You’re going to be tied up with at least two more cases.”
“You’re killing me, Cap,” Bates said.
“Get to work,” Niles said. “And by the way, I put you in for sergeant; not because you’re deserving, but you can’t afford to buy all the drinks you owe me on detective pay.”
“Thanks, Cap,” Bates said.
Bates walked away from the doorway and Niles swiveled again in his chair to look out the window. “Why does one want to tamper with the existence of another,” he thought. “Some are explainable, however some have no logic attached to them. It is strange, when I first got out of the academy and was beat cop I prevented murders. Things got out of hand with a husband and wife, I settled it down. Two guys in a bar fighting over a babe, I stopped it. A couple kids in a shoving match, I flash my badge. I was there to give them a chance to think things over. Now I come in after it’s over.”
Niles stood. He closed the cracked open window. “Smells like a barroom toilet.” He went to the door and yelled into the squad room, “Banyon, my office.”
Niles sat behind his desk and immediately a tall thin dark haired detective walked in.
“Have a seat, Lieutenant,” Niles said.
He pulled up a chair and sat in front of Niles’ desk.
“I heard you said to somebody the only reason I didn’t take vacations is because I was afraid you might do a better job than me,” Niles said.
“If I said something like that, I’m sure I was joking,” Banyon said.
“Banyon,” Niles said, “you are not a funny guy – period. You said it, you meant it.”
“The truth is I wouldn’t turn my desk over to anybody but you,” Niles said. “My only reservation about you is that you don’t know how to get people to enjoy what they do. In your heart you love what you do. You never smile, but your eyes light up.”
“Did your wife tell you I met her a couple weeks ago?” Niles said.
“She mentioned something to me,” Banyon said.
“She spent 15 minutes telling me how funny, sensitive, thoughtful and approachable you are,” Niles said. “I think we need to see a little of that around here. I’m not saying we need flowers and kumbaya moments, but we need to see the man on the inside.”
“I’ll take that under advisement,” Banyon said.
“No,” Niles said and portrayed the response expected, “Gee, Cap, that make me feel like a million. Can I get you a coffee?”
Banyon sat stiff and forced a smile.
“I’m taking some time off,” Niles said. “I’ll have to clear it first, but plan to take over Monday.”
“Without sounding intrusive,” Banyon said, “are you okay?”
“Careful, Banyon,” Niles said, “a sudden transition to caring may cause emotional confusion and distress.”
Banyon breathed deep through his nose.
“Sorry, Banyon,” Niles said. “I’ll tell you.”
“That’s okay,” Banyon said. “I know I’m not the type guys around here want to share things with.”
“Maybe you are,” Niles said. “At least I know you won’t be blabbing it to everyone.”
“Your complements have two sharp edges,” Banyon said.
“I got a phone call,” Niles said. He hesitated to gather his thoughts.
“Really,” Banyon said, “If you don’t want to share, that’s fine.”
“No,” Niles said. “I really haven’t had time to let it settle in my mind yet. It’s good I hear it in my words.”
“To somebody with no feelings,” Banyon said.
“Before you spoil the moment,” Niles said. “From out of the blue an old Army buddy calls me from some place called Brewster Harbor in Maine. We were tight in the service and about a year after I was on the force he visited me. We painted the town one weekend and that’s been it for 29 years. He’s been mayor for a few years and doesn’t have chief of police.”
“So he offered you a job?” Banyon said. “Let me guess; 30,000 a year and all the lobster you can eat.”
“Careful, Banyon,” Niles said, “You’re growing a sense of humor.”
“I wasn’t kidding,” Banyon said.
“He figured I was close to retirement and might consider it,” Niles said.
“How close are you?” Banyon said.
“A month ago,” Niles said, “but I never given it serious thought. I love my work. I’ve had at least a dozen offers in the past couple months; security companies, motels, other police departments, I even got one from Baja. It seems like they have so many Americans down there they are willing to hire a gringo cop.”
“So you’re going to Lobster Bisque, Maine?” Banyon said.
“Brewster Harbor,” Niles said.
“You should develop a sense of humor, my friend,” Banyon said. He stood. “Let me know.”
“Let me know,” Niles mocked. “You already have my office redecorated.”
“Only the paint on the walls,” Banyon flashed a half smile and exited the office.