Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
The hesitation in the young officer’s voice was clear and Winslow has hesitated to call him by “Abraham”. They had given each other their Christian names for use - just fifty years ago this would have meant something entirely different. Winslow had turned this boy down once before and their interactions for four months had been entirely stilted. It was only a few months ago that Morgan had relaxed back into following the detective around like a lost puppy dog. Winslow mildly thought of the kinds of places in Europe where something more would happen to someone who was a bit like a lost puppy.
“Morga-Abraham, I appreciate you offering to drive me home but I’m sure I can manage by myself.”
He looked over to the patrol officer who was fussing with his cap, running a slightly wrinkled shirt sleeve over the brim, and straightening out the creases. The scene didn’t feel quite right to the detective, with their slight heart to heart lasting for just a few moments. And now everything was just starting to fade away. Winslow might have been studying the officer for too long and had become so distracted that he didn’t notice the presence of Norton.
“Hey Morgan, if you think he’s going to be too much of a pain in the ass, I’ll drive him home on my lunch break.”
His fellow detective was, once again, not speaking to him directly. Officer Morgan and Winslow exchanged a short glance with the phrase “pain in the ass”, but both maintained straight faces. Norton stood by them on the sidewalk, smoking his own cigarette and Winslow could see how the young detective was starting his own study.
Winslow slowly exhaled a puff of smoke and posed the question, “So it’s been a great new year so far, yeah?”
None of the three men spoke. They just stood on the city sidewalk, waiting for Tornes and Reilly to come out of the building. It turned out to be only a minute gap between the arrival of Norton and the following two, but it was enough for Winslow to give Reilly a side glare. The coroner stood by the building door, motioning to Winslow and saying, “Detective Smith, could I have a word with you?”
The detective stepped over to him, looking back once at the other policemen on the sidewalk, and tossed the half smoked cigarette to the ground, extinguishing it with his shoe heel. He looked back once more towards the group to make sure no one could hear him say, “So Reilly, do you know something about Officer Tornes that I don’t?”
“You’re one to talk, Winslow, with the way you roughed me up this morning,” the coroner remarked while relighting his cigarette. Winslow wasn’t quite sure when it had been extinguished or by what, but that wasn’t the thought that he should be focusing on.
“Brian, I respect you and you’re my friend, but the remarks your staff were making this morning just didn’t feel right. Making sexual jokes about dead bodies never feels quite right to me, but who am I to say what’s appropriate and what’s not for crime scene detectives.”
The coroner backed up to lean against the wall beside the meticulous glass doors and Winslow could hear his friend’s usual sighs as they both stood in silence. It was all too often that the detective was finding himself in times of silence, with this morning being a blur of people shouting and a ghostly amount of silence. Winslow had been in haunted houses that had more character than some of his coworkers.
“Winslow, it’s hard for me to explain this but you have to slow down. You have to take care of yourself and you can’t just run yourself into the ground,” the coroner paused to look both ways. “You and I have both had run ins with the intelligence community, and I think we both know how crazy it can get.”
“What? Have you ever been drugged by your ex-best friend who is a master class spy that wants you to lie to your superiors about who died?”
The coroner looked down to the ground for a moment, and looked back up to say, “Well no, but I am familiar with bureaucracy. And while I might never have been drugged under those conditions, I have been drugged before.”
The detective held back a laugh.
“Because I do respect you, I’m not going to make a joke about what kind of conditions you were in when you were drugged.”
Winslow saw Reilly smirking, and he thought back to a year ago when he had seen the coroner as more of a mentor. In that short amount of time, they had leveled out to being an equal mix of friends and enemies - perfect for the modern battlefield that they were on. The detective knew that Reilly had suffered during the war, that this man had also felt the pain of losing many of his comrades. He had seen the doctor in his dress uniform when both of the former officers had attended a ceremony just a few weeks before in celebration of the holidays.
“No matter what you end up doing, just take care of yourself. My friend, so much has happened to you in one day and I don’t want to see you in my other office anytime soon.”
The coroner put the cigarette in his mouth to shake Winslow’s hand and quickly stepped back inside. He stood outside the glass doors by himself for another few seconds, lit another one of his own cigarettes, and turned back to the three cops standing on the sidewalk. Winslow couldn’t hear their conversation, half choosing to avoid and half distracted by the shooting starting to ring in his ears. A car across the street backfired upon trying to start, throwing the detective into a brief flash of shell shock.
When a few of the ashes dropped onto his ankle, Winslow was brought back to the current scene. He looked both ways to the people that were around him, realizing that while he did want to go home, what he really needed to do was go back to work. There had been too much focus in his mind on what might happen with Officer Morgan. But if he had been remembering the scene in the car, Winslow should have been back at his desk by now.
Winslow rubbed his hands together, then placed one on Norton’s shoulder while saying, “Well we better be getting back to the station and you two better be getting back on patrol or off shift or whatever you boys are supposed to be doing.”
“I thought I was going to drive you home. You’re not really at your best -” Morgan started, but was quickly interrupted by Norton.
“If Winslow thinks he’s in a good enough state to work, you know the taxpayers wouldn’t mind.”
Norton slapped him on the back, handed Winslow the keys to the car, and slammed the passenger door. He quickly slumped down in the seat, pulling his hat down, and giving Winslow a glare of his own.
“Winslow, you’re in no state to drive - I don’t even know how you’re conscious right now. Please just let me drive you home.”
“It’s okay, Morgan. Just take care of yourself and if someone in a black trench coat tries to talk to you, just run away.”
The detective stepped around the car, looking over the roof to the confused patrolman, started the car, and headed off to the station.