I haven't decided yet if I wanted to be an elegant or a casual detective. But I thought that my first day deserved a suit anyway, so I put on my only, old and not particularly nice brown suit. I only wore it when I had to go to court to testify in a case.
'Look at you,' said Laila. She was sitting on the couch in The Room, drinking her second coffee out of a paper cup. 'You… Certainly made a choice!'
'This is a… An okay suit,' I said. I tried to say "nice", really, but I couldn't. My mother raised me to be an honest man.
Carlos, as usual, did not wake up a minute earlier than was necessary. On the other hand, he was ready for launch in like ten minutes. He didn't bother with a suit, or being even remotely well-dressed; he just threw on a pair of jeans and a tee with some cartoon character. He had a ton of those. I thought Laila would say something but looked like the girl had given up on this fight.
'Good luck, guys!' she was standing in the doorway and waved at us as we left, like a mother sending her kids to school.
Back in the “good old days”, or as we called it with Carlos, the dark ages, when nobody cared about the environment and tax-payers didn't question that much where their dollars went, most of the police officers had a department-issued "take-home vehicle". It was a car you used not only at work, but in your free time, too, completely paid for and fuelled by the police. Or so they say. I never had one.
I was thinking about getting a motorcycle at some point, a detective cannot wait for the bus when the murderer gets away, right? The same goes for sitting behind the wheel in a traffic jam. I just had this slight little problem with motorcycles: I was terrified by the pure idea of riding them.
So we walked to the nearest bus stop. Buses were running day and night, which was convenient and only a little nightmare-ish on Saturday nights when everyone was drunk and therefore batshit crazy. Being on duty on a Saturday night was the bane of the existence of a patrolman.
But we were detectives now, these things didn’t concern us anymore. Or so I thought.
Public transport this morning wasn't that terrible, actually. Sure, the bus was full and there was someone who made a point of eating some garlic for breakfast before they got on, but we only had to ride it for like five stops or so. We could've probably walked if I wasn't so nervous about not being late.
Not Carlos, though. He was humming something during the entire journey, basically exuding calm.
‘How can you be so chill?’ I ask.
‘We probably won’t die today,’ he shrugged.
That wasn’t as big of a help as he might have thought.
After getting off the bus, it was just a minute's walk to our new workplace.
‘Hold on,’ Carlos said, stopping in his tracks. ‘Is that…?’
‘Looks like it,’ I nodded.
The building was old and run-down, but it had to be beautiful back in the day with the red bricks that were painted white around the windows. It was three-storey, and as far as I could tell, the lowest one was a garage with three different gates big enough to fit a truck.
'Dude, this is a fire station,' said Carlos.
'Yeah, I can see that,' I answered.
'Now, that can't be right,' he said.
But as I took a better look, I saw patrol cars inside the garage area through the only half-opened gate. A uniformed officer climbed out of this and lit a cigarette. I poked Carlos and pointed at the officer.
'Yo, man, we are looking for the 67th precinct,' he said to the uniform, once we managed to cross the road. Only had like three near-death experiences. 'Are we at the right place?'
The officer was an older man with a slight beer belly and a glorious white moustache.
'This is it,' he said, poking towards the door with his cigarette.
'This is a fire station,' I pointed out.
'There is no fooling you, boy,' he said sarcastically.
I let the "boy" thing slide. Technically, I outranked the officer, but I wasn't about to start an argument on my first day. Carlos grabbing my arm and pushing me inside the building helped a little, not gonna lie.
'Name?' asked the receptionist. She sat in a glass cubicle with a laptop on her knees. The glass cube was so out-of-place that it was obviously just installed especially for this lady to sit in it.
'Detective Peter Kowalsky,' I said proudly.
'Carlos Esteban Salazar,' said my friend, enunciating every word carefully. He hated when people got his name wrong.
The receptionist checked something out on her laptop and asked to see our badges.
'First floor, room seven,' she said, then.
'Why did they put a police station here of all places?' I asked her.
She shrugged and waved us away. Not like it was hard to figure out, anyway: they put us here because this was either the cheapest or the only free option.
A few uniformed officers were walking around the ground floor, checking out the poles the firemen used to get down faster, or just talking. As the team was put together from at least ten different precincts across the whole city, there were a lot of unfamiliar faces.
There was no elevator, so we ran up the wide staircase. As always, we made it a race and as always, Carlos won. We were doing this since we were twelve and no, it's not childish. You are childish. Shut up.
As we were looking for room seven, we passed several detectives. Or random civilians wearing suits, who knows? I saw a kitchen with three big fridges, two very clearly used microwave ovens and a lot of non-matching tables and chairs. There was an office with the name "Captain Frederick McRoy". The new boss. Never heard of him, which was good: only the very bad or the very good bosses got into the local legendarium.
Next was a big, big room with a lot of desks and office equipment and I knew that one of those desks belonged to me. Maybe there was even a name tag with the words "Det. P. Kowalsky" on it. I couldn't wait to find out. But this wasn't room seven, so, for now, I had to walk away.
As it turned out, what we were looking for was the briefing room. A small and very boring room with plastic garden chairs and only one tiny window. There was an air-conditioner on the wall, installed around the time Nixon was the President, by the look of it. People were talking, quiet murmurs filled the room.
In the first row, I saw her. She was, without question, the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. She wore a grey pantsuit, and she had her badge around her neck, so she must have been a detective. Her reddish hair fell on her shoulders in waves, her emerald eyes were sparkling, her red lips smiled, and if all that wouldn't be cute enough, she even had freckles on her nose and under her eyes.
I poked Carlos' ribs with my elbow and discretely nodded towards the woman.
'Man, if God exists and is a chick she'd look like this,' he said in awe. ‘Go and talk to her.'
'Carlos, we are not here for…' the bastard didn't even let me finish, just pushed me so I almost fell on the floor in front of the girl. Carlos' wingman methods were somewhat unusual.
'Are you okay?' the woman asked with a polite smile, as she grabbed my arm so I won't fall.
'Yes, sure, I just stumbled upon something… Is this seat free?'
She nodded and I sat down. Unusual or not, Carlos' methods worked.
The girl was even more gorgeous from up close.
'If you don't mind me asking, why are you staring at me?' she said.
Yeah, even though Carlos was a good wingman, I still sucked big time.
'What…? No, I just…' I stuttered. 'You are absolutely beautiful, that's all. I just can't not stare at you, sorry. Erm, if you could not call HR just yet, that would be nice. I’m usually not this creepy.'
Her smile widened, eyes sparkled cheerfully.
'You are one of those cute kinds of idiots, aren't you?' she asked.
'People seem to agree on the "idiot" part,' I nodded. 'The jury is out about the "cute".' she giggled and lemme tell you, that was the most melodious sound I've ever heard. 'I'm Pete, by the way. I mean, Detective Kowalsky. We are not on a first name-base yet.'
'McRoy,' she said, and I was already shaking her soft, cute little hand when my brain went into full alarm mode.
'W-What? Please tell me I didn't just hit on my new boss…'
'Yes, I am Frederick McRoy,' she said with a serious face. 'Are you sure you are a detective?'
'In my defence, this is my first day,' I said and she giggled again.
'He is my dad, though,' she said then.
Shit. Shit. Shitshitshit.
'Erm… That's cool,' I shrugged as casually as I could.
Now I saw two paths in front of me. First, leave this stunning, funny and just absolutely fantastic woman alone, because you do not want to hit on your boss' daughter, ever, especially when said boss carries a gun. That would have been a smart decision. A healthy one, even. Everyone would've agreed on this.
Now the thing is, if I was any good at making smart decisions, I probably wouldn't be a cop.
'Hey, do you have dinner plans?' I asked the girl.
What a jackass I was.