“Well...there was this knife...”

“We know about the damned knife Tony, just tell us about the killer, wha’d he look like?”

“...no, when it reflected in the light it looked more like one of those...uh..those, those swords you see in those medieval movies..?”

“Claymore?”

“Broadsword?”

“Yeah! Broadsword! Anyway, it looked more like a broadsword when the light reflected on it, maybe, maybe like it was about three feet long, yeah...” Tony spread his arms apart to illustrate, “...three feet, see? But when he put it back I looked again, and somehow it changed the angle, and it was small again...I dunno...maybe the length of my forefinger, a regular pocket knife.

He cut the guy pretty bad and then ran off. Put the blade in his pocket and just ran off.”

Tony finished his monologue about the knife, but the detectives had already heard him say it a couple of times already. They sat in silence in the interrogation room, which smelled of ancient coffee long gone and cigarettes burnt up long ago, burnt all the way down to the filter.

Tony looked back and forth between the two tired faces.

Detective Shea rubbed his forehead with his hand.

“Tell us about the guy Tony, what did he look like for chrissakes?”

Tony gave it a quick thought and began with a sniff, “Wasn’t too tall, maybe five-seven, five-eight...skinny little punk, couldn’t have weighed much at all, it was a wonder he could even carry that backpack he had, thing looked like it weighed a ton.”

Detective Riggs took out his note pad. “Dark hair, a little overgrown but not long. His shirt was stained bad, I don’t know from what...maybe blood, maybe paint, who knows with this guy...”

“Scars or tattoos?”

“Couldn’t see that close...it was pretty dark you know, the rain..cut that guy real good, cut him with the broadsword.”

“Which way did you see running towards last?”

“Man, that kid...he could run to, faster than just about anyone I’d seen, except those Kenyan guys in the Olympics, boy those guys are fast...I saw him last going down Mill road, by the bridge...couldn’t see him go far, like I said, dark. But as soon as he was gone I checked on the guy he cut.

Man was long gone by the time I got to him though...that’s when I called the ambulance...”

Silence again. The clock ticked and ticked. The detectives looked at each other and with a sigh Riggs slapped down his notebook.

“All right Tony, if you’re willing to repeat what you just said for one of our officers out there he’ll take your statement. Just sign it and leave.”

“Yeah, sure boys, anything I can do, I gave you my number right?”

Shea pulled the moist post-it note out of his pocket with a weak smile and turned it around in his fingers for Tony to see”

“Hey you guys are alright...”

And with that Tony turned away. Shea motioned to the sergeant.

“You’re Towser, right? Good...make sure we get Mr. Morello’s address checked before he leaves. I want you to be the one taking his statement. I don’t know whether to treat that guy as a witness or a suspect.”

With a nod the sergeant closed the door and the detectives were alone.

“What do you make of that?” Riggs asked in a manner that was in no way rhetorical.

Riggs was the junior detective of the pair; he’d seen a lot of cases, but not as many as Shea and certainly none like this before.

As was his nervous habit, Shea brought his thumbnail up to his mouth and started chewing it, looking thoughtfully into the corner of the room. The clock continued to click and click and click. Finally he spoke, “I’m sick of talking to bus drivers...let’s go have a chat with the medical examiner.”

---

Benny was sitting at the empty receptionist’s desk at the basement that passed for the city morgue. He had a fresh cigarette in his mouth and was browsing through one of the many faded brochures. Shea and Riggs came bouncing down the stairs, coats in hand.

“So what’s the news, Benny?”

“Shea, its nice to see you too. Here on business or have the city’s murderers taken the night off?”

“If only it was that easy...so you got results or what? What’s the deal with the sliced stiff they picked up on 47th? We got a witness says the guy got cut up pretty bad...problem is he wasn’t sure if it was a claymore-”

“-Broadsword-” Riggs interjected.

“-yeah, okay broadsword or if it was just a pocketknife. So what have you got... what’s the scoop?”

“You guys really are gluttons for punishment ain’t you? I say it every time, but you two are the only saps workin’ this hard on a Friday night.” Benny sat down behind the desk.

He arranged some of the little miscellaneous items as he cleared his throat. The noise echoed down the shiny-floored halls and through the cold, formaldahyde-stained air.

“I’ll tell you but you’re not gonna like it, you’re not gonna want to believe it. The guy you had brought in was cut up pretty good alright -cut almost in two- the only thing keeping him together was whatever it is passing for his spine.”

“Passing for his spine? Scoliosis victim or what?”

“This is the hard part.” Benny sighed and leaned forward pushing his eyeglasses back up his nose. “This guy doesn’t have any vertebrae. He doesn’t have any organs, just these fluid-filled sacs. His skin is more like some kind of rubberized plastic and it’s half an inch thick over his entire body. No genitals. No orifi present excluding those above the neck.”

The detectives didn’t change their expressions at all, they just looked at Benny, as if waiting for him to go on. The examiner put out his cigarette stood up and put his hands in his lab coat pockets.

Taking another sigh he continued, “There was blood everywhere, except it isn’t really blood. It’s the same fluid as the rest of the body, just a bit thicker and colored red. There are no cells in it, no plasma, no antibodies. Come this way, you need to see for yourself.”

They walked in towards the refrigerated units.

“So what are you trying to say? That the victim was some sort of giant mannequin? Is that all this is? Well goddamn, I don’t know who’s crazier...the guy slashing dummies with a sword or the bus driver that can’t tell the difference between-”

Riggs cut himself off when he saw what Benny pulled from the cooling unit and drew back the sheet from.

“Mother of...”

“Man oh man...”

“Looks real doesn’t he boys? No wonder they brought him in.”

The figure was totally indistinguishable from any other maimed body. The face was frozen in a look of shock, and thick red fluid was encrusted everywhere. There were fine lines and pockmarks on his skin, and some of his hairs were grey.

“Hold old do you think he is?” Benny asked softly after a moment, so not to shatter their dumbfounded composure.

“Twenty-five.” Said Shea.

“Forty-five.” Said Riggs.

The detectives looked at each other. The man on the table had an odd quality of agelessness, a face that no one could agree on when it came to years.

“Five foot ten, 175 pounds,” said Benny, covering the man back up, “Dark brown hair. If I had to guess, I’d say his first name’s John, second is Doe. Probably got 2.3 kids at home and a minivan. The kind of face you can’t pick out of a crowd. He came in with no identification, but that doesn’t surprise me. He doesn’t have fingerprints and tomorrow we’ll know if he even has DNA, but I know what to expect; how can a person without cells have DNA?”

“Like a giant friggin’ Ken doll...” Shea remarked, biting his thumbnail again and staring at the now closed cooler door.

“Wait a minute, so maybe the bus driver saw it all wrong, maybe this is just somebody’s science experiment...that...I dunno...fell out of the back of a truck or something...”

“Some skinny kid is going to carry a 175 pound fake body out into the middle of the city just to hack it with a sword and run away leaving it on the sidewalk?” Shea asked, quietly and slowly.

“Though his components aren’t exactly kosher, the weight distribution is right on. He can do all the movements of a normal person and has the same physical limitations. I don’t know how anybody could do it, but this guy’s set up to be animated.” Benny said with equal slowness.

Riggs rubbed his forehead with his hand again. Shea chewed on his thumbnail. Benny regarded them both, looking back and forth.

Shea finally averted his eyes to look at Benny again. “What about the suit?”

“It’s a pretty enough suit, If I was three inches taller and it wasn’t cut up I’d have taken it home. Funny thing about the clothes though...”

“Let me guess,” Riggs spoke up, “no tags?”

“Bingo. The suit is authentic enough on the outside, but it lacks any sort of tags or lettering of any kind, and it ain’t just the suit. There’s nothing down to the underwear, same with the shoes and the hat, sunglasses are perfectly generic as well.”

Shea dropped his hand to his side and started to put his coat back on. “Well, be sure to keep him frozen for us, we’ll be back tomorrow to check up on those DNA results.”

“Keep him frozen? Where else is he gonna go?” Benny called back to them as they ascended the stairs. “Yeah, well it was good chatting with you too...”

---

They walked out into the street, into the night. There were a few stars out, but for the most part it was still cloudy, rainy, and cold.

“Damn, I hate winter. Too bad it’s winter.” Riggs muttered as he sat himself down in the passenger seat of their cruiser.

“You should be lucky there ain’t two feet of snow on the ground. You ever try to hunt down a killer when all the evidence is beneath two feet of snow?”

“You talk too much old man. Hey where we going? I thought we were going to Ruby’s....I’m hungry.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’m doing you a favor. We’re going to the crime scene, thought maybe you’d wanna see it on an empty stomach.”

“Yeah, thanks a lot.” Riggs muttered, hearing his stomach growl.

They rode in silence through the city past the 47th street rail station and down a narrow side street that just a few hours ago had been the scene of a very violent and unusual crime. Shea parked the car at the corner and they got out, walking slowly and taking in the scene. There were still a few units around, though most of the witnesses had been interrogated and the pictures all taken. Sanitation would soon be showing up and then they’d be taking the crime scene tape down in the morning.

A lot of the “blood” had washed away but there was still a noticeable stain on the asphalt. Otherwise the alley looked like any other, and if it wasn’t for a nosy bus driver there’d still be body on the ground in it, and Shea and Riggs would be at home and the bar, respectively.

“Looks like some kid was pretty handy with a pocketknife.” Said a smartass streetcop leaning against the detectives’ cruiser.

“You can say that again. You got a name?”

“Name’s McYultry. But you can call me whatever you want. I was the first on the scene. Came up to mutilated stiff and some bus driver raving like we’d won the series or something.”

“So you didn’t see anything huh?”

“Sorry boys, I guess I missed all the fun. Damage had been done by the time I got here. The rest is, well, you know how it goes. The rest is all paperwork.”

“Did you see the guy who cut him up? Couldn’t have gone far, witnesses said they saw him going North, on foot,” Riggs asked, trying to cover all his bases.

“Nope. Put an APB up when we got the initial descriptions but haven’t heard anything since. I guess we’ve got a dozen units up in this side of town doin’ the rounds, but you gotta understand, this wasn’t the only show in town last night.”

“Ain’t that the truth. Only people that like a murder in this town are the news anchors and politicians. Good work, McYultry, tell us if you find anything else.”

“You got it, guys.”

Shea and Riggs wandered the scene.

“How about this.” started Shea, “kid comes walking up the back alley, maybe coming back from the late shift or something. Takes the back roads and alleys to avoid being seen by some bum thinking he might need whatever’s in the kid’s backpack more than the kid does...but he ends up face to face with one of ‘em in the alley. Kid freaks out and cuts the guy up.” But Shea was still biting his thumb and looking over the scene, as if not very confident in his own conclusions.

“What kind of bum wears a suit like that?” Riggs asked, beginning his tear down of Shea’s theory, “and remember, Morello said the guy was just standing in the alley like he was waiting for someone. Also, the kid started swinging with the blade before they could really exchange any dialogue-”

“You think maybe these characters knew each other?”

“Maybe- there’s no way to tell just from looking at the scene. This is all probably just some kind of drug deal gone bad, kid misses a payment-or delivery- and this guys waitin’ for him because he knows this is the way the kid takes home. Kid’s gotta be paranoid and scared to hell, you can bet he’s always gonna keep that knife on him.”

Shea nodded slowly as he listened to Riggs version of the story but eventually made a conclusion. “We don’t know anything about any of this. The only facts that we have is some kid cuts a living mannequin in half with a three-foot semi-transparent pocket-knife, and that doesn’t even make any goddamn sense.”

Their conversation was broken with a crackle of the radio:

“Shea, Riggs....you fellas out there?”

Riggs got the microphone. “Yeah, go ahead.”

“This is Towser. Looks like your witness met with a little bad business of his own.”

“What do you mean?”

“His old lady landlord found his body in the stairwell of their building. He must have just gotten home after taking the deposition. She didn’t see anything but one of the other tenants did, and guess what?”

“What’s that Towser? You got a matching description for us?”

“Yeah I do, matches the description of someone who was at your crime scene last night-”

“Damn kid moves fast-”

“-matches the description of the victim.”

Riggs almost dropped the microphone. “Towser, what did you just say?”

“Well, the tenant’s description of the guy matches that of your victim, right down to the sunglasses.”

Shea was already in the driver’s seat.

“Tell dispatch we’re on our way to the scene. Riggs out.”

---

“What the hell is going on here?” Riggs said as Shea drove, squinting through the sheets of rain falling on the windshield. Beyond it was the darkness of a night still not very old.

“No wonder we can’t catch this guy, you can’t see ten feet in front of your face.” Shea complained about the rain that was beginning to fall harder.

Riggs was still trying to grasp the details of the situation. “Somebody big has to be on this, Mafia maybe, this has got to be big. But who’s gonna go through all that trouble for one damn kid?”

Shea pushed the accelerator a little closer to floor. The rain was falling harder.

“None of this makes any sense! What are we supposed to do?” Riggs yelled over the sound of the engine and water splashing under the car.

Shea was about to tell Riggs to shut up when a faint flash lit the buildings before them, and a distant boom not unlike thunder echoed throughout the neighborhood. The detectives looked at each other. There hadn’t been any lightening or thunder in town since last summer.

As they both looked back to see what had happened the car slipped off the street and up onto the sidewalk. The front of the cruiser collided with a burnt-out lamppost and Riggs’ nose connected with the dashboard. The left side headlight exploded and for a second sparks fell with the rain.

“SHIT! My nose Shea! You broke my fucking nose!”

Before Shea could answer the radio blasted with static, “Holy Shit! I need all available units to the Wheeling Hubcap Factory NOW! We got a fuckin’ fireworks show down here!” Said the voice blasting from the radio, barely discernible from the the noise behind. The voice sounded like McYultry’s. The dispatcher repeated the request for assistance and within minutes units from all over the city were responding.

Riggs was frantic: “What the hell is going on?!”

“Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!” Shea screamed over Riggs as he threw the car into reverse and tilted the wheel all the way. The car ripped away from the post with a metal-from-metal screech and in less than a second they were facing the other direction. Shea hit the gas.

They sped past the 47th street station for the third time that night, smoke billowing from the hood of the cruiser and one headlight lighting the night.

“Slow down Shea!”

“Shut the hell up!”

Shea fought the wheel to keep the vehicle from hydroplaning and driving off the road again. They flew through abandoned intersections and over some railroad tracks. Though visibility was very short, they could nonetheless see a glowing to the North, where the Wheeling Hubcap factory always dominated the hill in that direction.

Even though it was raining extremely hard, the detectives watched as the glow turned into an array of dancing flames shooting into the night sky towards the rain clouds. In colors of red and blue and green the flames roared, sometimes interrupted by a smaller explosion in the complex.

Riggs was just about to tell Shea to slow it down again when Shea hit the brakes. Everybody knew that the factory was a dangerous place. It was an even more dangerous place with 50 foot rainbow-colored flames burning into a spiral towards the sky now sitting atop the engulfed structures.

Silently, they got out and watched as the factory burned. Fire trucks were arriving in droves as were the ambulances, but everyone kept their distance. No one wanted to get injured or killed or poisoned or have something even worse happen to them, not for the Wheeling Hubcap factory.

“So what do we do now?” This time it was Shea asking the question.

Riggs was silent for a while and Shea didn’t prompt him again for an answer as they watched the destruction a few more minutes.

“I’m still hungry.”

“What the hell. Let’s go.”

---

Shea sipped a milkshake while Riggs devoured his steak and eggs. Shea thought Riggs looked ridiculous with his nose so swelled and purple, but he didn’t say anything about it. After all that had happened in the past several hours, nothing seemed really very funny.

“How do you like your milkshake?” Riggs asked.

They had just seen a life-sized murdered mannequin, had just destroyed their police car, and had just witnessed the explosion of the largest building in town and all Riggs could think about was a milkshake.

“It’s good.”

“See, I told you Ruby’s has the best around, didn’t I tell you that?”

“We’ve got to find that kid.”

Riggs expression slowly turned back into a frown and his eyes drew to the floor. Shea was still looking out the window.

“He’s probably dead, Shea.” Riggs said quietly after a while.

Besides the detectives, the cafe was empty except for the big dirty cook in the back and semi-attractive waitress who had taken their order. She was now pretending to read a magazine behind the counter.

“I don’t think he is. I don’t know why, but I just don’t think he is.”

“You think he had something to do with the factory?”

“That’s the direction he was running wasn’t it?” Shea said as he moved his gaze from the window to his partner. “Now, if I just blew up the largest structure in the city and wanted to get out of the North side in a hurry what would I do?”

The waitress put down the magazine and lit up a cigarette.

“You’d go straight to 47th street station.”

“Damn straight.”

As they got up and walked out Riggs laid a few bills on the counter and, trying his luck, said to the waitress as he walked out, “Anybody tell you you’ve got beautiful eyes?”

“Just my ex-husbands.” she replied, taking another drag off her cigarette.

---

“You wanna drive? I’ll let you drive this time.”

“Are you kidding? You’ve turned this thing into a total piece of shit. You can drive it.” Riggs opened the passenger door and sat down.

Shea hit the gas and the tires squealed as they made the turn down towards 47th street station. A couple of blocks later they were in total black, the storm had apparently knocked out the power in the neighborhood.

“Shit. This is gonna be fun in the dark.”

With one headlight lighting the way, Shea eased the cruiser into a parking spot outside of the station and popped the trunk. Silently they got up and out of the car and walked towards the rear. Riggs unzipped a long nylon bag while Shea retrieved the flashlights.

The station was a monster of a building, brick with many tall windows running its lenghth, it looked more like a factory or prison. The detectives were dwarfed by it as they prepared in the parking lot.

“You want one too?” Riggs asked as he pulled a pistol-grip shotgun from the bag.

“No. The pistol will do it for me.”

“Suit yourself.” Riggs shrugged as he filled the pockets of his trench coat with buckshot shells.

Shea grabbed a few more clips for his .44. They loaded their weapons as they walked in through the double doors.

The station was completely abandoned as far as they could tell, and it was also pitch dark. Stealthily they walked down the steps and on to the station floor, moving towards the direction that should have been the central hall of the station. They walked along the walls, feeling the newspaper dispensers and pay-phones along the way so as to not get lost in darkness.

Riggs let out a grunt of disgust as his fingers ran over a fresh wad of gum someone left on the handle of one of the pay phones. Shea whispered to him to shut the hell up.

They continued against the wall until it turned a corner, and they were now walking straight into the central hall of the station, a place that at one time had held thousands of busy and bustling commuters every morning, mostly people coming from and going to their shifts at the factory. Now the station was just a relic, an artery that had dried up long ago after much of the industry had left the city, and now it was seeing less than 500 passengers a day. Many of the walls were decorated with colorful, meaningless graffiti and much of the masonry was falling apart. A lot of the neighborhood children said the station was haunted, and by all rights, most of the places in the town, if not the town itself, should have been.

Riggs thought about this as he tagged behind Shea. It’s hard to live in Wheeling and not be a ghost. He and Shea were ghosts: they stalked the night looking for those who could not be found to avenge dead strangers. The kid they were looking for was a ghost, as was his victim. Towser was a ghost, as was McYultry and the waitress at Ruby’s. Wheeling was full of powerful souls, but souls without purpose nonetheless, souls without substance.

In the center of the hall of the station there was a great circular sunlight that shone down on the city seal. Now a minimal amount of light came through it and in the dust of the station it made a cylinder of light from the floor to ceiling, though very faint. On the floor there was the form of a person sitting. Shea and Riggs slowed in the darkness and moved apart from each other. There was no way they could be seen.

The figure was sitting on top of the city seal, which had been painted on the floor in the very center of the station. Directly above it were the windows providing the only light currently visible in the station. The detectives snuck to the very edge of the seal, still concealed in darkness as the form before them continued to shiver and sway.

It was the kid. Shea knew it, and Riggs knew it too. As detecvies quickly learn, sometimes you just know when you’re right on.

Shea pulled his flashlight out, but before he could vocally declare their presence two more figures entered the circle of light on the other side. They wore black suits and hats, and they also had sunglasses. Like the kid, they were oblivious to the detectives. They stood in the faint light on either side of the kid, who was still moving strangely while sitting in the darkness. They looked like two angels of death. Simultaneously the suited men reached into their pockets.

---

For a moment, something changed. Time slowed, and substance withdrew from reality.

---

Riggs wasn’t willing to take a chance, not with what he had seen so far this night. He pumped the shotgun and the first round went off before the suited men could look up and out of their polarized glasses. The second round shot out before the echoes of the first had even began to subside. One of the men flew backwards as he was nearly blown in two, and landed with an audible *gush* sound as his body flopped on the floor. Riggs pumped the shotgun again and the second shell, now smoldering and empty, spun through the air still smoking, falling near the first.

By this time, Shea had already half-emptied his clip into the other man. Thin, watery blood spilled from the bullet holes much like those on a cartoon character might. The last shot went straight through the eye, shattering the sunglasses and blowing out the back of the thing’s skull. It collapsed on the ground and continued spasming on the floor.

The detectives fumbled for their flashlights and were not prepared for what they saw. Two bright lights cut through the darkness like the gunshots seconds before had cut through the silence. The floor was covered in blood, real blood, human blood. It spilled away from the body of the young man in a perfect circle, continuing to slowly push outwards towards all angles. The blood was flowing from his legs, from deep incisions on the top of the thigh. The cuts had been made by the knife still resting in the hand of the young man. His head was hung low and his hair, wet with blood and rain water concealed his face.

“Drop the knife! Hands in the air!” Shea screamed while pointing both his pistol and his flashlight at the man sitting cross-legged on the floor. Riggs didn’t say anything. He couldn’t say anything.

The kid remained as he was, sitting, motionless. Slowly, he held his hand out, letting the knife fall to the floor. He brought the other arm up which they saw ended a few inches below the elbow. Shattered bone and strings of flesh remained where the rest of the appendage had apparently been blown off.

Riggs watched in fear as the kid slowly lifted his head. The right side of his face was almost entirely gone. There were some pieces of flesh still hanging uselessly and his teeth and gums were visible through his cheek, which was mostly missing. His eye was swollen shut but burnt black. Besides being a bit dirty, the left side of his face was completely intact, and he turned his head to let this side into the light as he looked towards the two very confused, very frightened detectives.

Shea lowered his gun. Riggs did the same. They stood in silence, taking in the view of that person who had caused them so much grief in the last few hours, of the person who had given them their most interesting and short-lived case.

“Go get an ambulance, Riggs.”

At first his partner didn’t hear him. Shea asked again louder, and Riggs began slowly backing away. When his eyes broke from the wonder before him he turned and sprinted towards the exit, falling a few times and dropping his weapon on the station floor.

One of the double doors slammed open and squealed shut as Riggs burst through it, racing to get to the cruiser’s radio.

Shea looked down in pity at the kid, who was still looking at his legs, still bleeding profusely over the station floor.

“What the hell happened to you?”

---

Everything came back, the color, the cold, and the rain. The moment had passed.

---

“This is dispatch six-three, go ahead.”

“Officer requesting medical at four-seven street station!”

“Copy that, four-seven.”

“Shea! Shea!” Riggs panted as he broke back into the darkness of the station. When he got to the bottom step from the door the lights flashed back on, taking the detective by surprise and he we tripped over his own feet. Shotgun shells spilled everywhere as he fell to the ground again, smacking his broken nose into his hand as he collided with the ground.

“Godammit!” he screamed, and struggled back to his feet. “Shea!”

Shea was staring into space, calmly chewing on his thumbnail. The kid was gone. The blood was gone. The dead men were gone, and so were their hats and sunglasses. Riggs spun around deliriously trying to take it all in at once.

“What the hell happened?” Riggs spun around to face Shea. “Where’s the kid, Shea, where’s the fucking kid?!” Riggs grabbed the front of Shea’s trench coat. “Can you hear me?! What the hell is going on?”

Shea looked down first at Riggs hands on his coat and then past them to the floor. Slowly he bent down and picked up something that was on the floor between them. He moved it around in his hands for several seconds, looking at it silently, saying nothing. He then held it out for Riggs to see.

Cautiously Riggs took it and held it in his own hands, marveling at its coolness.

Durability?”

EPILOGUE

“Whoa, looks like one of the cadavers got out...”

“Very funny Benny.” Said Riggs, trying to shake off the medical examiner’s lame joke.

“Seriously kid, you should get that nose looked at...heh..I wish I was joking, but that isn’t the case. One of the cadavers did get out. Your cadaver.”

“What do you mean?”

Benny lit a fresh cigarette and sat down on his desk.

“I can’t explain it Riggs, nobody can. No one saw anything. Nobody was here after I left, nobody was here before I showed up this morning.”

“Well you seem pretty mild about it.”

Benny shrugged, “Yeah, well, nothing’s very surprising after that guy we cut up last night. Hey wait a minute, where’s Shea anyways?”

Riggs ignored the question. “So what, you came in this morning to get a look at him and he was gone?”

“Pretty much. I told one of the students to check out the stiff in locker six. She comes back tellin’ me locker six is empty.”

“Well, about the guy’s stuff, you’ve still got that right?”

“Yeah, sure.” Benny produced a key and walked over to a stand of lockers. “Let’s see....ah, six.”

Where a suit and tie should have been with sunglasses and a hat, white briefs and an undershirt there was instead nothing. They stood for a moment staring at the empty locker.

Benny turned his head to Riggs while still looking in to the locker. “You ever thought about a career change?”

---

Riggs walked out of the police building through the large double doors. The sun was shining bright on what was going to be a beautiful, sunny day; the first of such a day that Riggs had seen in a very long time.