Episode I: Part II - The Case of the Mystery Phone Call
I was still reeling from the initial shock regarding the discovery of my friend, detective Seth McPherson. I leaned with my back against the first MPD vehicle to arrive at the scene. I provided only basic information to the road patrol officer, preferring to wait until the chief detective made his appearance which, as it turned out, would not be a long wait.
The neglected hangar bay parking lot began to light up up like a hastily, unplanned Christmas event as one emergency and police vehicle after another, sirens blaring, lights flashing, dutifully followed the other onto the worn out asphalt next to the abandoned hangar. The emergency lights bounced off the aluminum hangar in a blended, but disorganized manner, reminding me somewhat of the old style silver or tinsel Christmas tree as it joyfully changed color with each turn of the rotating wheel, only this situation was anything but joyful.
Out of nowhere another unknown four-door sedan came barreling into the lot, heading straight toward the marked vehicle I was still leaning against, its flashing lights acting like a beacon for the unmarked car; for a moment I wasn't sure the sedan had any intention of stopping, when finally the driver slammed on the brakes, forward momentum propelling the skidding vehicle to a halt only a few feet away. All four doors flew open like they were spring loaded, the vehicle emptying in record fashion as the first occupant, followed by three others began walking at a furious pace in my direction. I knew immediately who the point man was, followed by McPherson's partner, Sgt. Leah Mulholland.
"All right, Duggan. Start talking -- what happened?" Chief Detective Louis Sullivan angrily asked, as if my presence had somehow precipitated the murder of his best detective.
I filled the Chief Detective in on the details regarding all I had seen and heard, beginning with the phone call earlier in the day, my visit to MPD later in the afternoon, and finally, discovery of Detective McPherson's body only an hour prior. Other than turning the body over, I told the Chief nothing else had been tampered with.
We walked into the hangar as I recounted and pointed out step-by-step the ground I had previously covered, right up to the discovery of McPherson's body. Crime scene technicians gathered informally in a huddle before slowly fanning out to begin the task of evidence gathering, assisted by the two unknown detectives accompanying the Chief. It wasn't lost on me that Sgt. Mulholland remained eerily silent, seemingly pre-occupied with the activity of the technicians as they now took full charge of this part of the investigation.
"How do you feel about this Duggan -- what do you think?" the Chief Detective turned and asked, the anger in his voice not as noticeable as I filled in the blanks, the information corroborating, at least for the time being, everything I had told him.
"Like I've been double punched in the gut, that's how I feel," I replied, feeling sick to my stomach and suppressing my own anger, grabbing a pack of rolaids out of my jacket, removing four out of the roll and chewing slowly, glancing at the technicians as I silently, but repeatedly re-played the entire day's events in my head.
"Any idea about the identity of the caller?" Chief Sullivan asked.
"Didn't recognize his voice," I answered truthfully, "but I'll have Delia obtain the phone number tomorrow," I assured the Chief.
"Alright, we'll call it a night for you, Duggan; go home, get some rest -- be at my office at 10 in the morning," Chief Lewis ordered. "We'll finish up here and notify McPherson's family. I appreciate your help," the Chief added as he rendered a comforting pat on my shoulder.
I glumly nodded as I faced the the hangar front door, the inside now lit up like a Hollywood movie stage while technicians, aided by several generators, illuminated the entire area like a football stadium, the investigation in full swing. Before I took a step, I turned again in the direction of Chief Louis.
"Hey Chief, what is it with Mulholland?"
"What do you mean?" the Chief replied, a perplexed expression on his face.
"I mean she hasn't said two words the entire time we've been here. She was McPherson's partner, for Christ's sake. I find that pretty damn odd, don't you?"
The Chief Detective glanced in the direction of Sgt. Mulholland; she was walking around solo, nowhere near the crime scene technicians, appearing as if she was conducting her own, separate investigation.
"I'll talk with her," the Chief responded, shaking his head slightly as a curious grin etched itself across his face.
"See you at 10 a.m.," he repeated for the second time, his attention now focused on the quizzical behavior of Sgt. Mulholland.
I nodded. "I'll be there."
Click to read Part III "Matt Duggan - Detective Series"