Purdue sat at her desk, desperately wishing she could have a cigarette. Of course, smoking wasn’t allowed in the office anymore and the IA officer assigned to her probably wouldn’t have let her smoke anyway.
“Inspector Purdue, I am Investigator Lawrence.” The powerfully built man in the off the rack suit tapped the stack of papers carefully straight and set them exactly squarely on her desk. “I have been assigned to look into your so-called ‘wing murders’ case file.”
“Lawrence, glad to see you.” She said, “What can I do for you?”
“Well, we’re wondering why there’s such a lack of progress.” He said, laying a perfectly sharpened pencil next to the files. “You’ve been working this case for six months now?”
“Eight months actually.” She said, “The first incident I looked at occurred two months before we discovered this was a serial case.”
“Eight months.” He smoothed his hair carefully and looked at her, “You haven’t produced any real results in that time?”
“Nothing in the case makes sense.” She took her cigarettes from her breast pocket and tapped one out of the pack. “I haven’t been able to draw any conclusion from what I’ve found at the crime scenes.”
“But surely after this amount of time you’ve begun to form some kind of idea about who is behind this series of murders.” He said, “Please humor me and give me some insight into what you have discovered.”
“Officer Lawrence, I assure you that my official statements encompass the entirety of my knowledge about the case.” She put the cigarette between her lips, “I wish I had more information.”
“I’m happy to step outside if you want to smoke,” Lawrence said.
“Fucking serious?” She smiled and stood, “I really do need a cigarette.”
“Of course.” He said, standing and opening the door.
They walked out to the alley behind the station and she lit her cigarette. Purdue turned and looked him in the eye. “So, what do I have to get IA off my back?”
“We need results, Purdue.” He said, “I know the chief has warned you, but the Mayor is hitting this one hard. He can’t afford to look weak on crime, and this case is getting a lot of media attention.”
“The only problem is that it’s all impossible.” She blew twin streams of smoke from her nostrils, “The last three? There’s no way anyone could have placed them there without disturbing the snow, but the only footprints were from the person who discovered the bodies.”
“She’s not a suspect?” Lawrence asked, leaning against the wall.
“Jessica Chang is about five feet tall and weighs ninety pounds soaking wet.” Purdue shook her head, “There’s just no way she could have carried an adult corpse, and even if she could have, there weren’t any footprints around the bodies anyway. No footprints where the sick bastard drew those wing outlines, not between the bodies, no evidence that anyone had stepped on the corpses themselves and furthermore, not one of them had an injury that the medical examiner would call fatal.”
“I did read that report.” He admitted grudgingly, “The coroner’s office said, and I quote, ‘The superficial wounds below each shoulder blade are only skin deep and show no sign of toxicity. None of the bodies lost enough blood to cause death. ‘There is no evidence of murder, it is as though their bodies decided to peacefully shut down.’ and that’s just impossible.”
“None of it makes any sense.” She said, stubbing her cigarette out and dropping it into the butt bin. “If I tried to say someone used magic to stop people’s hearts and then teleported them to the center of the street I’d get locked up. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of that paperwork.”
He laughed, “I hear you there, but you have to give us something Purdue. I certainly don’t envy you right now.”
“I’m not just going to make something up so that the mayor looks good.” She held the door for him and they walked in out of the cold, “I have one last lead I’m going to chase down, provided you don’t think I’m somehow mishandling the investigation?”
“You’re a good cop Purdue,” He said, “I want to make sure you understand that I respect the work you’ve done in the past. I don’t know that you’ve done anything wrong here, but nobody can deny the lack of results. I trust your lead will pan out in the next couple of days, I’ll get out of your way and let you do your job.”
He turned and walked past her office and into the maze of cubicles, amicably greeting a few of the people he passed. Purdue pursed her lips, he wasn’t making an overt threat, but she knew a warning when she heard one. It was time to call in that favor from Nebby. She had something very specific in mind. He was going to hate it.