NOTE: This is the first in a series of interconnected flash fiction noir-style stories that I started today. Enjoy.
The sun was just coming up when I pulled my unmarked police cruiser into the parking lot of the diner. The girl’s body washed ashore three days ago. We still had no leads. No suspects. We didn’t even have an ID on the body. For all we could tell, she’d been killed a hundred miles upstream and washed up in our jurisdiction. I got out of the car and stopped at the machine out front to grab the morning edition.
Girl’s identity remains mystery
That was the headline running across the top of the front page. Sometimes I wished the reporters would just lay off and let us get the job done. But I guess if a dead body washed up in my neighborhood, I'd want answers too.
“Excuse me,” said a man who bumped into me on his way out the door. I looked him over and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. After seventeen years on the job, everyone starts to look like a suspect. I nodded at him as I past.
Taking a seat at the counter, I flipped through the menu even though I already knew what I’d order. Marla came over to pour my coffee.
“You know you can’t do that in here, Jake,” she said as I attempted to light a cigarette. “Isn’t it your job to enforce the law?”
The damn smoking ban the city council passed last summer made it so that I had to drink shitty McDonald’s coffee in my car if I wanted the combination of caffeine and nicotine I needed to calm my nerves after a long night on the job. I broke my cigarette in half and tossed the pack of matches on the counter.
“Two eggs. Over-easy. Rye toast. Bacon,” I said, setting the menu down.
“You know you don’t have to order, Jake. Lou starts making your food as soon as we see your car pull up out front,” she said, topping off my coffee.
“What if I change my mind?”
“Have you ever?”
I scanned the other headlines on the front page and noticed they blew the last night’s game in the bottom of the ninth.
“So, what’s happening with this girl who floated up in the park? The papers say you haven’t got any leads.”
“The papers don’t know what they’re talking about.”
“So what leads do you have then?” she asked while setting my food in front of me.
I broke the yolks with the side of my fork and sopped up the yellow liquid with a triangle of buttered rye toast.
“I can’t discuss the investigation.”
“Sounds to me like the papers know as much as you do and it’s pissing you off.”
Turning the paper to the comics page, I pulled a pen out of my pocket to do the crossword puzzle. It was a mistake to become a regular at a place like this. They got too involved in my business. I just kept coming here so that I wouldn’t have to make small talk with a different coffee shop waitress every morning. But maybe it was a mistake. Some waitress who didn’t know my name wouldn’t ask so many questions about a case that was already pissing me off. The last thing I wanted was to think about my shortcomings while I was off the clock.
“Hey Marla, what’s a four letter word for reed instrument?”
At least she knew the answers to these crossword clues.
Continue to the story with part 2.