Naturally, we had stuck in traffic. Because there is nothing better than sitting in a closed car with a grumpy and scary dude who you already managed to piss off.
'So, erm… You said you have kids?' I tried.
'Case file in the glove compartment, get familiar with it,' Rourke answered.
It wasn't a thick file at all, in fact, it was only two pages and a couple of photos.
'This break-in happened five days ago,' I mentioned. 'But there were no tasks carried out since then.'
'Yeah, the colleagues were nice enough to save a few cases for us from last week. You know, just to give us a head start.'
I sighed and started to read. It was a pretty basic case: a store selling and repairing used smartphones got robbed overnight. The perp or perps weren't interested in the phones. They did take the money from the safe, however: a week's earnings, right before the morning when the armoured van from the security company was supposed to come and collect. It shouldn't be our case, but the doors were sealed by magic both on the store itself and on the safe. Now, if a sorcerer closes something with magic, only another sorcerer can open it. Or a vampire, but they aren't so much opening, more like ripping out doors.
'How would you proceed, kid? my partner asked. Yeah, I've got a partner because I'm a real detective now. Cool, huh?
'They knew where the hidden safe was and they knew when was the best time for the heist. I would ask for a list of the employees and ex-employees, and then I would pick the guy who got fired, has a record and is a sorcerer. He might not be our man, but that's where I would start.'
You see, we are no Sherlock Holmeses here, and the criminals we are chasing aren't Professor Moriartys, either. They mostly knew that they had to wear gloves and cover their faces, but for the vast majority of them that was it. Some of them are just regular people full of everyday bullshit seeing an opportunity to make an easy buck, and some of them are born losers thinking they're Al Capone. Either way, if the detective after them is persistent enough, he or she will find a connection, a clue or something. Then you just pick them up, throw them into an interview room, leave them brewing for a few hours and they will tell you everything they did out of sheer panic. If you have proof, good, but even if you don't, a signed confession is as good as it gets.
Sure, there are tougher cases, no doubt, but they won't give them to a newbie like me and a grumpy old man who already had a fight with the boss in the very first briefing. I mean, that's my first day as a detective, but I've been a cop for a while now, and I've seen how these things work.
'Your idea isn't completely idiotic, so we are gonna go with it. If we will ever get out of this goddamn traffic, that is.'
It took us another twenty minutes to leave the heavy traffic behind. The morning fog disappeared a long time ago but clouds were cutting off the sunshine, promising rain later on. Since there were only five magical departments for the whole city, we have got to cover quite a big territory. Could be worse. Could have been Hell itself. Or LA. But that still meant a lot of travelling, and did I mention how much fun was it to drive around the city with Rourke?
The cellphone store was on the border of the Vampire District, which was… Not a nice place, let's put it gently. It had not much to do with actual vampires, but back in the 1800s vampire hunters lived here by the dozens. Since then vampires got the same rights as humans and hunting them was illegal, so the neighbourhood had to look for another gig. They picked drugs, especially magical ones, and with that came the usual stuff: gangs and gang wars, junkies on the pavements, the works. Everyone was packing, except, of course, for us. I heard that our British colleagues didn’t carry guns either, so who knows? We might even survive it.
We parked next to a fire hydrant because we can. Garbage everywhere, homeless people sleeping in doorways, mini-markets (basically a guy sitting in his car's opened door taking up some place on the footpath) selling everything from coffee machines (shit I have to buy one) to clothes. I saw a man on the corner following our car with his eyes then taking off quickly. Probably to warn all dealers around about us.
'Do you think he has a permit to sell that stuff?' I asked Rourke as we got out of the car, nodding towards the man and his micro-market.
'Don't be stupid, kid,' said Rourke. 'Ain't magical stuff, though, so we don't care.'
'What if it's stolen?' I asked.
'Obviously stolen. But not our problem.'
'Stolen by magic? I pushed.
'You are starting to act like someone who likes to take risks, kid,' said my partner over the top of our car. 'Do we want that?'
'No sir,' I said.
'Damn right we don't,' he nodded. 'There is the store, that's our business. We don't need vests, kid,' he added with a sigh.
'Now who is the one taking risks?' I asked, closing the trunk.
Rourke just groaned and shook his head.
The store was the same as all of the stores like that: small and full of glass cabinets. Hundreds and hundreds of cellphones, tablets, even laptops. They might be doing some fixing here as well, I thought, but the place didn't fool anyone: it was a pawn shop.
The owner couldn't give us anything newsworthy, apart from the list we came for, but he did a great deal of complaining because five days went by and we didn't do anything. As I predicted, there was a recently fired employee: the boss had caught him sneaking out the goods to sell them by himself. He was a sorcerer, that's why he was hired in the first place: easier to fix up things by magic. The old man behind the counter even had the ex-employee's home address. Yes, life sometimes really is this easy.
Back in the car. Our man lived nearby, just a little deeper into the Vampire. We could have walked, but neither of us was comfortable leaving the car behind.
'Okay, so first we are gonna ask a couple of questions, right?' said Rourke. 'To see if he acts guilty, can provide an alibi, etc, I'm sure you have seen real cops working already.'
'I'm a real cop,' I said, offended.
'That’s the spirit, kid. Now, let me do the talking, okay? This is your first time, you better just watch.'
I nodded and gave him a sharp look which did not affect him whatsoever. We parked, got out again and walked up to the building. It was almost identical to the one I lived in: three-storey tall, lost its original colour decades ago, fire escape on the side.
John Davis lived on the second floor. The staircase smelled like a very unique blend of cat urine and slightly rotten cabbage. We climbed the stairs, entering little worlds and then exiting almost immediately: somebody was cooking, behind another door came music, then shouting, then TV. Every door was a new experience to my pumped-up senses, even the quiet ones.
Rourke stopped and knocked on the one that belonged to Davis.
'Who is that?' came a voice from inside.
'Gregory Rourke and Paul…'
'Shut up! Kowalsky from the police. We are looking for Mr John Davis.'
'Why?' the voice asked.
'Just a couple of questions, nothing to worry about,' said Rourke in a voice that was so convincing even I almost believed in what he said.
'Okay, give me a moment, gotta find my keys,' the man said.
Walking around, rattling. The faint noise of the traffic became stronger; a window got opened.
'Mr Davis, you need to open the door, now!' ordered Rourke. No answer. 'Fuck. What are you waiting for, go, go, go, cut him off!'
A started to run. As I turned at the corner I saw Rourke getting out his baton and blowing up the door. Efficient. I ran down, only stepping on like, every third step. I made it in record time and as I got out of the building, I saw Davis jumping off the fire escape. Son of a bitch!
'Stop!' I shouted. He looked back at me, then up to the fire escape where Rourke was coming down quickly and burst into a sprint. So did I. My partner was still on the first floor. He sent some kind of spell after the man but missed.
I didn't waste my air shouting again, but even like that, I wasn't gaining: Davis was fucking fast. He was already around the corner of the street and I wasn't about to lose him.
Fortunately, I was a sorcerer… Kinda. Even though I was still mostly stuck with the Sign of Movement, I didn't need more. I saw a broom, it was just left behind amongst the other garbage flooding the area. I made it move with my new Department-issued extendable baton. It got between Davis' legs and our perp showed a textbook fall onto his face. There was my chance to catch up.
I was halfway when he rolled onto his back and threw a fireball, aiming for my favourite face. Motherfucker, I have a date tonight! I ducked and avoided the flaming ball. Davis tried to get up but I sent him a Push (if it isn't obvious, it's a push by magic. Very simple, even I could do it). Davis fell again. As I ran, I raided my pockets and found the little stamp, the Retainer. I jumped, avoiding another handful of flames, landed on Davis and stamped him three times, just in case. No more magic for you, pal. Then I grabbed his arms and put them into the handcuffs.
'John Davis, you are under arrest for a whole lot of things my partner will tell you… I need a minute to catch my breath…'
Rourke did arrive a second later, with a red face, and told Davis the Miranda. The guy stopped fighting: he was smart enough to know he was done for good.
'Next time don't run in my line of fire, idiot,' Rourke barked at me. 'I couldn't get a clear shot because of you. But otherwise, you weren't that bad. Nice jobs with the broom.'
I nodded and didn't say anything. If you have done something cool, you need to stay cool, or you will blow it.
And I certainly didn't want to tell him that I was aiming for Davis' head.