“I need a cigarette.”
“Not in the fucking office you don’t, Doctor.” Jess was growing her hair out since we left the force. It suited her, but while we’re nominally working, I would never say it to her. Not to mention our uneasy friendship was becoming more and more strained now that our checkups and stakeouts had advanced to a 24/7 ‘job’. Well, the job of living under the same roof.
I should probably explain, but…Christ it’s a long story. Don’t worry, you’ll hear it eventually. After our, exit from the precinct, we pooled resources, sold off assets and set up office in the same building. It was a sensible decision, considering we’d both just left our regular, state paid jobs for the perils and pitfalls of self-employment…not to mention in our particular services. A licenced psychology practitioner across what we described as a ‘hall’ (but could also be described as an indoor alleyway or a maintenance tunnel, depending on how kind we were feeling in the morning) from an unlicensed private detective. (well, ‘security investigator’. Who takes Private Eyes seriously these days, it just conjures up the image of a chap smoking a pipe in a funny hat.) I’m good at my job, but the location was not ideal, and I’d had to call in a damn load of favors from my college buddies to get any clientele in. Thankfully, I have a friend based out of Kandahar Province at the moment, who is sending the returned PTSD cases my way for ‘follow-up checks’. It’s similar to the old work, but I won’t talk too much about that except perhaps in passing: This blog was once a way to deal with the stress of what I do at work, but now, it’s about what I do in my free time.
Jess’ business is going…surprisingly well too. Monetarily at least. It’s a far cry from police work, or the illustrious cases of Holmes or Poirot. Hell, it’s a far cry from Marlowe and Sam Spade, too, though marginally more seedy. We don’t get any Maltese Falcons there; the largest market for the, ‘security investigation’ business these days is spited divorcees, looking for anything they can use against their once loved ones in court. It’s a type of justice, or so I tell her, but it’s not what she wants to be doing, and not what she should be doing. But it pays the bills, better than police work on most occasions. And who knows, it’s early days yet, she might find a case that appeals to her.
But for now, the case that appeals to her is our case, which started…god, it’s not even two months ago. It feels like fucking years.
Anyhow. I’ve, digressed somewhat.
“Well maybe if you would’ve let us get a place with a balcony, I wouldn’t have to smoke in the office.”
“Well maybe if you didn’t get yourself a shiny new addiction during your little crazy time, I wouldn’t have to bitch you out!”
It was a fair point, but with the events that happened to us, both of us picked up some bad habits to cope, and we both knew it. I would bring to light the minibar full of Russian Standard which Jess had insisted on, but I didn’t want to escalate this into a full-scale civil dispute. Which I wouldn’t win. Jess still had her gun, and all I had was my charming good looks and modest personality. I excused myself and went across to my own office, opening a window and letting a chill breeze sweep through, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine. It reminded me of that day, looking out into the sunset and seeing only burning, boiling death, and feeling only revulsion, utter, surging revulsion.
The killings hadn’t stopped. The, ‘Slender Killings’. They’d paused for a moment, just a blink of an eye, comparatively. And then one day, they began again.
And that time, that day, I was there to see it.