The alarm on her smartphone trilled obnoxiously. Janet Burrows was still feeling tired, but she’d already hit the snooze seven times and reset the alarm twice. She realised, annoyed at herself, that she now had only eight minutes to dress and leave, if she was going to have any chance of beating the morning traffic.
She had assured herself she would have plenty of time when she set her alarm again. Apparently sleepy Janet didn’t take into account that there would be a city full of other people all trying to get to work at the same time. She really didn’t need to be late again. The Chief was already pissed at her for showing up half a day late after Kowalski’s promotion. She still doesn’t know how she got home that night. That was a month ago. Hopefully he’ll be over it by now, she thought.
Janet pulled herself up out of bed and shrugged into her clothes. She pulled her hair back with closest hair tie she can find, while squirming her feet into shoes she hasn’t untied in months. Grabs her keys, phone, wallet, coat, badge and gun, and then leaves the tiny apartment. She puts on her coat and shoves everything else in pockets while going down the stairs. The badge and gun are kept out of sight. Not everyone would appreciate having a cop for a neighbor.
She hurried out into the press of people and followed the slow moving current to the police station. Her home away from cold, cramped home. First thing she needed was a coffee. She avoided her desk and the stack of case files that were threatening to tumble off, and headed straight for the break room.
Detective Janet Burrows glared at the ancient coffee machine. At one point people got so sick of this thing that the Chief had supplied an actual coffee pot. It had gone missing later that same day. Thanks to whichever asshole decided to take the coffee-pot, Janet was stuck using the clunky old 70’s vending machine. It delivered scalding hot, brown water in flimsy beige plastic cups.
Still feeling less than awake, the Detective discovered too late that the plastic cup being dispensed was cracked. The scalding ‘coffee’ soaked into her black pants.
“Ow! Shitfuck!”she yelled as she shook the fabric to try and cool it down.
“Crack in the cup, Detective?”
“Oh, hey Jim! I didn’t see you come in. Yeah, it got me.” she replied
“Happened to me last week. You’d think I’d learn to bring my own, or wear rubber pants, but I keep thinking that there’s no chance it’ll happen again.” mused Jim as he filled a cup with cold water from the water cooler, and handed it to the Detective.
“Thanks” she said, as she carefully cooled her leg with the water. “You can call me Janet, you know?”
“I know, but it seems disrespectful somehow. Like I haven’t earned the right to be so informal.”
“Are you kidding?” Janet looks up, forgetting the stinging pain for a moment. “Don’t you have two PhDs in Forensic Science?”
“One” corrected Jim. “The other is in Paranormal Investigation. I just did it for fun.”
“Who the hell does a PhD for fun?” Janet asked, wafting the fabric again.
“I do!” grinned Jim “Oh, and I came in to tell you that Chief was looking for you, just to make your morning even better”
“Great!” snarked Janet, grabbing a dirty rag that served as a towel to dab at her drenched pants.
“I would go for you, but I think he might know something was up” teased Jim.
“Fuck it! It’ll have to do” declared Janet, throwing the rag down and standing upright. “It’ll dry”
Jim held the door for her, smiling, as she left the break room. She tried not to think about what that smile might mean and prepare herself for what might be coming. She always felt nervous going to the Chief’s office. It was a little too much like being sent to the Principal’s office at High School, except worse, because she hadn’t ever given a shit what the Principal said.
“T’sup Chief?” Janet said as she entered and dropped into a chair, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Got a stiff for you. There’s a note with the body that claims it’s a suicide, but the cops on the scene say there’s no way the vic did it to himself. Apparently it’s pretty horrific. I know you have a stronger stomach than most of the guys, so I want you to check it out and do your thing. Think you can handle it?” Said the Chief, getting straight to business.
“I’m on it Chief”. Janet grabbed the file he was holding out and got up to go.
“Janet, hold up”.
She looked at him, expecting to be told off for being a few minutes late, but he broke eye contact and said, “It can wait. Go get the sick motherfucker who did this shit.”