Sunday 9 – Thursday 14 December 2012
Max Henderson stood under the protective cover of the portable gazebo that had been erected in the parking area of Goodwood Park and watched the rain wash the evidence down the drain. Literally. It had been a rush from the beginning to secure the crime scene after the incident and collect any evidence. Unfortunately though, Mother Nature had intervened and an unexpected thunderstorm had broken out above the park.
‘Of all the places in the city for there to be a storm, it had to be here. Max, I hope you collected everything before it hit.’
Max turned his head in the direction of the voice. Solemnly and defeated, he shook his head.
‘Nope. Not even a half of it. By the time I got the call from one of your guys, all I managed to do was get out of my car. Gus, you’ve gotta get these boneheads of yours to call me immediately, not waste time looking around the scene themselves.’
Gus Ritter, Captain of the Homicide Unit, looked bedraggled and annoyed. He’d run from his car to the gazebo in the worst of the downpour and was now drenched.
‘What time did you get the call, and who was it? I’ve had enough of this crap. God knows how we ever actually manage to solve any crimes with the stupidity of some of these kids.’
‘Call came through at twenty past seven. I was already in transit to the lab. I’d say I was about two and a half, maybe three miles from here. Apparently, according to a Detective Howie Stone, it was reported to your guys at about a quarter to six. Why so long to call me, Gus? I coulda bagged and tagged everything before the storm hit if I’d been called in as soon as your guys got here. And it’s not the first time this crap has happened either. This goes public, Gus, your department is screwed,’ Max adjusted his watchstrap as he spoke. It was a simple act that prevented him from losing his temper.
‘I’ll fix it, Max. Stone’s new to my department. Between you and me,’ Ritter looked cautiously looked around to see who was within hearing distance despite he and Max being the only two people under the gazebo, ‘I haven’t heard a good word about Stone. He caused a ruckus in Boston, had to transfer out. Actually, his previous Captain initiated the transfer. No other department around the country wanted him. Can’t say I did either when I read his file and spoke to a few people around the place. I know, I know, you’re wondering why he ended up here when I didn’t want him. He’s the boss’s nephew. Strings were pulled and I’m stuck with the schmuck.’
Max nodded slowly. He understood perfectly well the politics involved in law enforcement. He’d seen people come and go through the forensics lab because someone somewhere in the upper echelon of the Justice Department, or the local precincts had a beef with what evidence was found, or how a forensics staffer testified in court. It was a job that required a tough skin and objectivity where evidence collection, interpretation, and testifying in court was concerned. Max had outlasted most of the employees of the lab over the last fifteen or so years. He kept his head down, did his job, and made sure he ducked when the manure started flying. It also helped that he was from a long line of law enforcement personnel, ranging from beat cops to detectives to attorneys and judges, medical examiners and forensics staff. The Hendersons were well known and respected throughout the justice community.
‘That may be the case, Gus, but your guys kick our asses if we don’t get them the evidence that they need. How can we do that when they don’t call us in time, and trample the hell out of the crime scene, contaminating any evidence that we do manage to collect?’
Gus looked out at the water gushing through the car park and down into the drain. He knew Max was right so there really was nothing to say in reply. They stood in silence, protected from the downpour by the cheap plastic gazebo.
Just as the silence was becoming awkward, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started. Max sighed and rubbed his hands together, loosening the muscles that had been taut from time Gus Ritter had arrived. He needed supple hands for collecting evidence; Lord knows how long he’d be out there trying to find something, anything of consequence that hadn’t been contaminated by the detectives or rain, or washed down the storm drain. From the aluminium case by his feet, Max took a pair of latex gloves and snapped them on his hands before he also removed a compact four-inch long flashlight, digital camera, and a pair of tweezers.
Max didn’t like his chances of finding anything but dutifully stepped out from the gazebo and started his search. It was going to be a long day for everyone involved at the scene of the crime.