BLACKBIRD series ep.1 #youlikeit - chapter 1
“There’s a place where you can
Light a fire and watch it burn…
I gave all that I had when hope was gone.”
The phone buzzed in the empty kitchen, by the coffee maker dripping in no hurry. The rattle of rushing footsteps grew closer and Regan Gillian skidded in, her boots pulling sparks from the floor tiles. She turned off the burner just before the milk boiled, only then she took the call on speaker.
The voice of a man filled the air, energetic, a little rough. “Morning, sunshine. Hope I woke you up.”
“Belly-Banks?” she asked, surprised, as she laid her son’s breakfast on the bar. “Carmen kicked you out? No room here, I’m afraid.”
“I’m outta your league, Reg. Now turn on the news.”
She grabbed the remote and aimed it at the TV past the bar, in the family room.
A reporter spoke to the camera from a sidewalk, police officers moving behind him and curious passers-by all around. “…stabbed to death at the Theatre District. He’s been identified as Roger Johnson, seventeen, junior student and star quarterback at one of the finest high schools in town.”
“Yuck,” muttered Gillian. “You’re on for this?”
“Cook just called me.”
“Need a hand?”
“Two or six. You guys busy?”
“Nope. Count us in.”
Gillian smiled at Banks’ relief. It’d be nice, working a case together like back in the old days. “Meet you at the station in an hour,” she said.
“I love you.”
Banks chuckled and disconnected.
Gillian turned her blue eyes to the coffee maker. The lazy thing ignored her death glare and kept working drop by drop. Forced to wait for the carafe to gather enough coffee to fill her mug, she hung her Boston PD badge from the waist of her jeans, and put up her dark hair in a loose bun with two expert moves.
The noises from the second floor distracted her from the TV. A moment later, Connor shuffled down the stairs to flop onto a high stool before the bar, not quite awake yet.
“Morning,” he mumbled, eyes hardly open.
With his deep voice, his neat goatee, and being six feet tall, people found it hard to believe he was only seventeen, especially because he’d graduated a year ahead of his class.
Gillian poured herself a coffee with a mild smile. It was a true miracle that he always made it from his room to the ground floor without tripping and breaking his back.
“So early?” Connor grumbled.
She looked up to find him scowling at the TV and shrugged. “Work.”
Gillian turned to the TV in time to see a picture of the dead boy. She turned to Connor with a questioning frown. “You knew him?”
“Yeah. He dead? He so had it coming.”
Gillian didn’t hide her surprise at his harsh words. Connor took his turn to shrug.
“Rich baby, not a care in the world, and a vicious son of a bitch. Everybody hates him. Got in a fight with’im at Phoebe’s party, last month.”
“You. You picked up a fight with him.” Gillian’s voice stated she wasn’t about to believe it so easily. Connor in a fight was the definition of oxymoron.
“He’d picked on Tim, so I gave’im one his size to try.” Well, that made sense. Connor would always step up to protect his best friend. He shook his head. “Dirty bastard, couldn’t even swing clean. Took’im down with two punches. Are you working the case?”
“Bob is, and he invited me for the ride.” She turned the TV off. “What’s your plan for today?”
“I’m meeting Mike later. Chess tourney this weekend in the park, so we’re getting ready to kick some Newton asses.”
She smiled. That was more like him—a chess battle. “Want me to drop you off anywhere?”
“Nah, it’s okay, Mom, thanks.”
She finished her coffee in one last gulp, left the mug in the sink, and turned to Connor. The boy tried to duck and dodge her kiss on his cheek, but she had already mastered the art of hitting her mark anyway. She headed out, chuckling at her son’s grunts.
“Have a nice day, son. Behave.”
Ditto, she repeated to herself as she got in her car. One day she’d ask her son what he talked about, the ‘have a nice day’ part or the ‘behave’ bit.
It was a bright summer morning and Gillian drove in no hurry across town, from Brighton at the west end of the city to the Historic District downtown. She left her car at the station parking lot and walked two streets to the bakery. Like every day, Betty had her slice of pie already waiting for her. Then she headed to Orlando’s, right around the corner, for one of their delicious cappuccinos.
Her way to work bordered perfect until her boss, Captain Cook, entered Orlando’s when she was on her way out, so she had to pause to say hi to him.
“Gillian, are you guys working on something right now?”
She breathed in, as every time she had to talk to him. “No, sir.”
“Then lend a hand to Sergeant Banks and your old fellas from Homicide. They’re working on the kid found at the Theatre District.”
“He just called me about it, sir.”
Lucky her, one of the young waitresses came by and Cook forgot all about her to flash his John Wayne smile at the girl. The waitress nodded back at him, swallowing a giggle. Gillian knew it was her one chance to disappear, and she wasn’t about to miss it. Only a heartbeat later, she was around the corner and halfway across Cambridge St.
The security guards at the lobby of the federal building greeted her with warm smiles when she walked in.
“Morning, LT, did you bring us some steamy bribe?” one of the men said, nodding at the large paper cups in her hands.
“I should,” she replied. “How are you guys? Everything fine in the fed realm?”
“Fine and easy. How ‘bout you? Must be going ballistic over that rich boy’s murder,” the other guard said.
“I’m about to find out.”
“Oh, so that’s why you’re here, running away from duty.”
“Guilty as charged.”
A warning cough made her turn around, and the guards lost their smiles to face the man in a dark suit waiting to approach the front desk. She stepped aside to leave him room.
The man didn’t even glance at her. He showed his badge to one of the guards, fixing a piercing stare on him from under a cold scowl. Tall, slim, Gillian thought him in his early fifties. Every dark thread of hair in place, spotless charcoal-gray suit on an immaculate white shirt and a sober dark-red tie. His thin lips didn’t seem used to smiling at all, and his face had a hardened, broody air.
The guard checked something on his computer and said, “Welcome to Boston, Agent Brockner. SAC Cooper is waiting for you at the fifth floor.”
The man just nodded, slipping his badge back into his inner pocket. Gillian’s eyes stayed on him as he strode away to the elevators. As soon as he stepped into one, the security guards relaxed again.
“Jeez. Hate them big bosses from DC,” one of them grunted.
“Hey, LT, want me to give you his number?”
“Was that Declan Brockner?” she asked, ignoring the tease.
“Yeah. He’s giving our agents a seminar on serial killers or something like that. You know him?”
“Wow… That man used to be the best profiler in the whole country. He’s a living legend…” She checked her watch and handed one of the cappuccinos to the guards. “Gotta bail, guys. Would you give this to Henderson?”
“I should draw a heart on it.”
“As long as you sign it with your own name. Thanks, guys, see you ‘round.”
She’d hardly walked out of the building when her phone buzzed. Aldana? Banks had beat her to the station.
“Hey, Al, everything okay over there?”
“Hey, Reg. Rolling smooth. You’re at Cambridge Street? Banks is on his way to pick you up.”
“Got it. Laters.”
A honk made her turn around as she disconnected. A car pulled over by the curb right before her and Banks, a man her age with a nice smile and some beer belly, opened the passenger door for her.