Warning: This work has been rated 18+.
As the hands on the clock slowly moved towards 9 o’clock, Winslow leaned back in his chair, processing all that had occurred in the past five hours. After the confrontation with Queenie, the detective had moved on to interviewing different witnesses and examining different portions of the house. It was hard to sort through their lives - the first time that Winslow had ever had a problem with picking through someone’s life. When one spends their adult life as a spy, they begin to lose connection with what privacy is…
“Hey Winslow! Would you like another cup of this swill?”
The detective raised up enough from his seat to meet Norton’s cheery expression. The young man was holding out a mug of coffee to Winslow and passing another one to Officer Morgan. Whenever they were working cases, Morgan seemed to be hanging around more and more. Winslow didn’t mind - the young patrolman was often helpful when they were trying to find “hip” places in the city - sometimes he just worried about getting someone else hurt.
Winslow finally took the burning hot mug, gave Norton a simple, absent minded “thank you”, and turned back to the notes resting on his knee. He could hear the mild chatter among the two men while he took a sip of the coffee. It was as bitter as usual and soon Winslow was searching for the sugar bowl that he had hidden in his desk. This search lasted for a total of twenty seconds before he exclaimed, “Rats!”
Morgan whipped around, sloshing his coffee onto the linoleum lined floor and asked, “What’s wrong sir?”
He looked up to the patrolman, lifted a form out of his desk and threw it at the officer.
“There’s a fucking bunch of rats in my desk.”
The rat thrown at Officer Morgan was followed by several others that Winslow was fishing out of his file drawer. They sat quietly on his chair, looking up with red, glaring eyes and twitching whiskers. Other officers and detectives in the room had noticed the commotion, with passersby scurrying along in a similar fashion to the rats.
Morgan, while still holding the rat in his arms, turned to Smith and asked, “What should we do we these…things, Detective?”
Winslow took off with no notice, wandering about the period of commotion, searching for a box to collect the rats into. He could feel the piercing eyes of Morgan, Norton, and some of the others - probably questioning if he still had his sanity. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. In all honesty, especially after finding a bunch of vermin in his file cabinet, Winslow didn’t know the answer either.
“What are you looking for, Detective?”
This time it was Norton shouting across the squad room to inquire into his activities. Winslow just waved them down until he found a suitable box. As he crossed back across the room, Norton took the wooden crate from him, asking, “What exactly do you plan on doing with the rats, sir?”
He looked down at the rats Morgan was slowly adding into the box and thought about his plan. There hadn’t been much beyond getting the fucking mysterious rats out of his desk and into the crate - there wasn’t a plan about how to get rid of the damn things. For a moment, Winslow glanced between Morgan and Norton before declaring, “We’ll just toss them back out onto the street or wherever the fuck they came from.”
The officer and the detective laughed with him for a moment, taking slugs of their coffee with exaggerated grimaces. Winslow once again reclined into his chair and joined the mindless chatter about wives and girlfriends and whoever else might be of interest of other folks on the force. There were a few mentions of “Winslow, what do you think?” And to this he answered with sighs and hums and general agreeing with their office gossips. The dialog went on with nothing special and nothing new until Morgan was called out on patrol.
They both sat up to attention when the captain passed by, quickly slumping back into their seats. The brief camaraderie was finished as quickly as it had begun. The silence fell back over the two detectives who were pushing papers around their desks looking for a clue in a multitude of open cases. New Years had struck again with a string of suspicious deaths and they would have to investigate every single one.
The two full, recently returned mugs of coffee rattled as Winslow slammed his hand down on the table, looking down at the rats in the wooden box, the ones currently gnawing at the side of their makeshift cage. He didn’t know what to do with the damn things. Just like he didn’t know what to do with any of the other problems in his life.
Why did there always have to be stupid fucking metaphors like this in the pathway to recovery?
The shout came from across the bull pen. Captain Jones was hanging half out of his office door with a cigar hanging out of his mouth. The two detectives exchanged a quick glance to determine whose turn it was to answer their commander. With a frown and a similar volume, Winslow returned with a shout of, “Yeah?”
“There’s been a brawl and a homicide at the Saenger. Get out there and hit the streets before there’s another causality.”
The two detectives once again exchanged the glances to decide whose turn it was to drive and who would be able to jump out first when they got to the scene of this caper. A draw in their glances meant it was a race for speed. Both mimicked the actions of the other - pouring coffee into a nearby thermos, throwing jackets over their shoulders, and pushing guns back into their holsters.
Winslow started to walk away from his desk, but soon remembered the rats on the floor. He grabbed the crate up with him and ran out the door to beat Billy to the car. It was a quick sprint across the parking lot, putting the rats in the trunk before Winslow remembered what else he had forgotten.
The keys to the car.