I've decided that as good as Veteran of the Silent War is, it is far to shocking for any ordinary publisher to want to take a chance on publishing it. Therefore, I am going to make some adjustments to the second book Demon Cleanser and try to get that one published. If I am successful, in time demand will come for Cali's back story, then Veteran can be published. It's just not first book material, it is too shocking. It's not conventional horror and it's too true to life. Publishers will automatically shy away. That will not stop me from writing her story.
So.... Here's the next chapter in The Look of Evil...
Their apartment was cleared of a few listening devices and a clandestine camera, on the following day. As strange as it seemed, both ladies had grown accustomed to the oddities. Mind you that, neither was home when their apartment was being cleaned. They had gone to Bobby’s house to relive the pet sitter of his duties, and to pack up the few things that Bobbie had asked them bring to her. Cali had been right, other than clothing and personal toiletries, Bobbie wanted only the single picture and the odd box. The box was unlocked, and it was quite the temptation to open it. But before either could succumb, they packaged it up for the trip. When all was said and done, considering their recent escapades, it was an uneventful day.
The following day Cali returned to the office. She was met with smiles and heartfelt greetings. She couldn’t help but wonder what her co-workers would say if they knew what she had done. They might throw me a party. Ben was a crook after all. They had officially moved the Detectives unit up three floors in their expanded building. It was the floor that she had worked from with the FBI on that horrendous investigation of Sam Naastad. It had ended well, but it had been grueling for everyone involved.
Cali had a new desk. It was on the western edge of the floor. She was a Sergeant so her desk was in the corner. The floor plan was open. Work spaces were separated by space, not walls. Like every other Detective, Cali had her own clear white board instead of a wall to pin up pictures and information. It was the hope of the Department that such open display of cases would help ignite free thinking and shared information.
The exterior walls were made of heavily tinted glass, with a brass handrail nearly all the way around. Only Lieutenant Little’s office had privacy walls, they were still made of glass, but they were thicker and tinted. Blinds covered all of the clear windows to help shut out the sun when needed. In the center of the room they had placed several flat screens that could be used as a television or a computer screen. Sound was pumped to the stations that the screen faced. Theoretically they could all be on at the same time, andnot interfere with each other. That bit of theory had not been field tested yet.
Tao showed her to her desk and helped her to get set up. He had boxed up her old desk and brought it up for her. She literally had a brand new desk. It was twice the size of the last desk and it came with storage cabinets. It was one of those new modular desks that literally wrapped around her on three sides and left only the west wall completely bare. Behind her were low cupboards over a flat workspace. On the east side was more workspace that fed into the computer in the corner, and on the front piece that faced the room, there was even more workspace. Under the table tops were four file cabinets and on the end next to the wall, but not touching it, was a tall two door cupboard that was clearly designed to hold clothing. Below that was two drawers designed to hold shoes. Above the clothing cabinets were two smaller cabinets for accessories. The entire ensemble was made of press board, but it looked and felt like wood grain plastic.
Cali’s box of stuff sat on the desk. She didn’t have much, but what she had was hers and it helped to define her space. It was odd for her to know why she felt so protective of her space and have no desire to change or alter her view. This was her space. This was her desk, her computer and her trash can, and that long clear board on rollers, was hers as well. This was her workspace, and it made her proud to look at it. The thought made her mind flashback to a dingy skinny bedroom that had two old lumpy beds. She pushed the memory aside. Lots of kids share rooms with their siblings! She chastised herself angrily, and forced herself to smile and think only of this space.
She had managed to empty the box before Lieutenant Little called her to his office. Tao came with her. Tao shut the door behind them and took a seat. Cali followed his lead.
“It’s good to have you back Sergeant.”
“Thank you sir, it’s good to be back.” She knew that he was stalling. He didn’t want to say what was really on his mind. He had already welcomed her back.
Ray steepled his fingers in front of his nose and scrubbed at his mustache with the two in the point. “Listen Cali, I want you to know that I don’t care what happened in Italy. None of us do. But, you should know that the CIA has been here asking questions and showing some pretty nasty pictures around. So… that being said, how are you? Did you get hurt? The pictures don’t show enough to determine anything except that it looked like that jack-ass Ben Vinccencio died on top of you.” He shook his head with disgust. He needed her to say something.
“I’m fine sir. Thank you for asking. Ben bled out. He jerked away from something hitting him in the neck. His momentum drove us both to the ground. I hit the concrete hard, and I was dazed. When I was able to figure out what was happening, I was pinned, and frankly… that was a good thing. Bullets were flying everywhere.” She stuck to the truth.
Ray was nodding again. “Yeah, that’s kind of what it looked like to me. Of course the Feds, that wanted Ben dead, are now suddenly very concerned with who killed him. I’m not sure if they want to crucify you or give you a medal.”
“I’m betting on the crucifixion, sir.” Tao threw in his two cents.
They all nodded in agreement. “So what now sir? Do we have a case or am I on something else for a while?”
Ray had long since dropped his hands to the desk. Now that the hard stuff was out on the table he was no longer nervous. “Well, that depends on you Cali. How are you… really? Are you fit for duty? Are your wounds healed up finally? Give me your real status, physically, mentally and emotionally. We need the whole package back, so are you here?”
Cali smiled. “Yes sir, I am here.” She held up her hand. The scar was bright white and was on both sides, but it was healed. “It doesn’t like getting poked, but otherwise it’s fine. As for my chest, it actually healed faster than this thing.” She was still brandishing her hand. “As for emotionally, I’ve seen death before and it doesn’t bug me. As for Ben, I’m really glad he’s gone. The damn fool tried to have me killed here, and then turned around and kidnapped me in Italy. I wouldn’t have even been there to see him die, had he not had me stuffed into the trunk of a car with a lump on my head.” She managed to sound as indignant as she should feel. “As for my mental state… I’m still just as imbalanced as I always have been.” She ended with a genuine smile. It would be good to get back to work.
The smile was shared by her co-workers. “Good, I know that Tao is glad to have you back. He didn’t like breaking in our new kids.” Cali gave them both a questioning look. “Oh, I’ll let him have the honors of introducing you. Their good kids, but they’re really green. After the Naastad case, the powers to be decided that we needed more help and more room and just more stuff. Most of it is great, hell it’s about God damn time for most of it, but they decided to lower the time in service requirement when they tested for more Detectives. We got eight new faces. Two of them are under you.”
“Yah, under you. That’s another thing they decided. You became an instant celebrity when you helped the FBI catch that guy. It was your case and had you not hung on to your hunches and kept following them, even though I wasn’t real comfortable with it, the ass-hole might still be raping and murdering little girls. You’re a God damn bonafied celebrity sister, and the bosses think that you should be training the up and comers. So now, besides you and Tao, you got four other Detectives to help you out.”
“To help me out, with what?”
“Solving cases of course.” He had a huge shit eating grin on his face. Clearly he was enjoying this. It was common knowledge that Cali didn’t really like to work with anyone else.
Cali let out a stream of air that sounded like a balloon going flat. She covered her face with her hand and mumbled. “Oh for the love of God.”
Tao burst out laughing. Ray was not far behind. Cali looked like a lost puppy. “Oh shut up.” Her words had no force and only made them laugh harder.
She let them laugh. It was kind of ironic. “Fine, can I have my own coffee maker? You know, one of those one cup wonder things that has a little cup tree thingy?”
Ray had to cough and clear his throat before he could answer her. “Of course, I’ve been authorized to give you just about anything that you want. They’ve even given me the funds to buy some new cars. Do you want one?”
She shook her head, but then stopped and actually thought about it. “No, I don’t want one for me, but I’ll take a few for my squad. Can I have one for each of them or only one per team?”
“I can get you three total. How you split them up is your affair. What do you want?”
“Let me think on it. I will get with my people and give you a wish list.”
“So, you’re good with this?”
“Would it change anything if I wasn’t?”
“And there you have it.” Her final grin as she left the office looked a bit like a grimace.
Live well and be god to each other.