What in the world had he just witnessed?
November 23, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
An older dark sedan was parallel parked on a side street adjacent to the rear parking area of Austin Homicide Headquarters. The person sitting behind the wheel appeared to be writing in a log, head down. The person liked this spot, under a tree, and parked here often to get caught up on paperwork, jot notes, or write lead-ins for stories. Sometimes when he was lucky, he got a bonus. There would be some unusual activity going on at homicide headquarters that was entertaining. The weather was mild enough for the window to be rolled all the way down, providing a nice elbow rest. It was in use.
The person looked up from his writing when two people exited the back entrance of headquarters. When the door was well closed behind them, they gave off a series of soft little laughs. It’s Dave and Justy! The observer in the old dark car came to full attention and made himself comfortable for more intent watching, putting down his writing materials and turning in his seat.
Dave and Justy went to the middle of the parking lot and turned to face the rear door. Occasional little outbursts of laughter seemed to spurt from their direction. Who else but those two guys would be laughing? The guy in the old car asked himself rhetorically. No one else was in the entire area, no pedestrians, and the mail man had made his pass and hour earlier. Yep! It’s them. They are the ones laughing.
Then, the rear door opened. A petite, blonde woman emerged with a large handbag in the crook of her left elbow. She was also carrying a heavy contraption that looked to be office equipment—a power stapler or something. She was headed toward a vehicle—possibly her own personal car. It’s Skeeter Sherwood! The observer said this to himself when he recognized the officer.
Skeeter Sherwood got halfway to her automobile—she could not repress a huge grin when she saw her two fellow homicide detectives. Justy stepped toward her, grasped her by her free elbow, turned her around and guided her back into the headquarters building. The observer thought he heard Justy utter, “Busted!” as he did so.
What the Hell? The observer set up higher in his seat. What am I seeing here? What is going on? Is it silly horseplay between stressed-out police detectives? His journalistic sixth sense told him it was way more than just that. He looked at his watch, logged the time in his journal and was jotting down a few descriptive notes about the incident, when the rear door to headquarters opened again, and out walked Angus. He was also carrying a heavy piece of what looked like office equipment and he headed toward his silver Chevy.
Dave spoke loudly to him. “Can’t let you do that, Carlyle!” Angus scowled at Dave, turned around and they both headed back to the rear door. They went in.
What have I just witnessed here? The observer asked himself. Attempted employee theft? Evidence removal? A bunch of silly detectives just goofing around for their own entertainment? Dress rehearsal for a bust going down? The observer decided to stay parked there for another half hour, occasionally looking up to see if he could catch more activity. He continued jotting notes in his notebook.
Blackie Sparks, ace journalist, finally started up the engine of the old dark sedan and headed back to the offices of the Austin American Journal, to see if he could nose out a more printable story for the day. What had he just witnessed? And what did it have to do with anything else?
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.