Every Move She Makes
Ask any homicide inspector and he -- or she -- will tell you the same. Just before the end of shift on any given Friday, Murphy’s Law prevails. If you have plans, you might as well cancel them, because someone’s bound to find a body. Such is the life of a cop. Mine at San Francisco PD was no different.
On this particular Friday in early November, I got the call precisely twenty minutes before I was due to leave on a weekend trip to Napa. My ex-husband, DA Investigator Reid Bettencourt, intended the trip as a means to bring us back together, though God only knew where he was getting the money—he still owed me three thousand dollars for bills I was left with after our divorce. I, having no intention of getting back together with him, agreed to go—Dutch, of course—and was dressed for the occasion in a winter-white cashmere sweater, tan plaid wool skirt, and soft leather boots. I wore my shoulder-length brown hair pulled back in a clip, leaving a few trendy strands loose to frame my face and bring out the brown in my eyes. It was a gray, windy day, and I was en route to Reid’s North Beach flat when my pager went off, alerting me to the homicide out by Pier 24. I telephoned Reid from the car.
"Why can’t Scolari take it?" he asked.
"I’m sure he will. Once he gets there." Sam Scolari, my partner, knew I was on my way out of town and had promised to cover for me. So far he had yet to answer his page, which left me no choice. "I have to respond. You know the routine." Reid should. It was one of the reasons we divorced. I was at the beck and call of fate, and he didn’t like it. "Drive on up. If I get off in time, I’ll meet you for dinner," I said. "If not, we’ll make it breakfast. Hopefully they’ll hold my room."
"How are we supposed to make this work if you’re not there?"
"Short of making the body come back to life, I don’t have much choice." Come to think of it, I’d had the same problem with our marriage.
"Scolari’s doing this on purpose."
"Gotta go," I said, having no wish to get into it with him about my partner. "I’ll call you."
I drove inland, past Pier 24, parking behind two patrol cars in front of a single-story brick warehouse that occupied one full block, making sure I kept my Irish-Italian temper in check. It was not the weekend away with Reid I was sore about missing. It was the weekend away, period. I wanted to go anyplace where I didn’t have to look at dead bodies.
An officer stood sentinel at the door, and as I approached I did a double take. The officer, like me, had dark eyes and chestnut hair, reminding me of my older brother—until he spoke. It was not my brother’s voice. That I would never hear again.
I composed myself, and showed my gold inspector’s star. "Kate Gillespie. Homicide."
"Body’s inside," he said. "Medical Examiner’s investigator hasn’t gotten here yet."
I pulled a small spiral notebook from my overcoat pocket. A gust of wind tore at the pages, made it difficult to write. I glanced at the officer’s nameplate to copy it. Robertson. Star 3632. "Who’s the reporting party?"
"Sully?" Kyle O’Sullivan was a senior officer assigned to Mission Station. He liked the action, and I couldn’t picture him working this area. Too quiet. "What’s he doing out here?"
"Working security next door."
"Next door?" I looked up from my notebook, but didn’t see another entrance.
"Hilliard Pharmaceutical. Entrance is around the corner. The warehouse is split in half. Cinder block right down the middle. From what Sully says, it’s just a storage facility. No pharmaceuticals."
"Didn’t know they had a facility out this far," I commented, jotting the information down. Hilliard Pharmaceutical was probably one of the single largest employers of off-duty San Francisco cops. My father had worked security there while he was an officer at the department, and I’d heard that’s where my partner, Scolari, had earned his extra money, too, putting his wife through medical school.
"Where’s Sully at?" I asked.
"Left as soon as Fisk and I got here and secured the crime scene. Said he was going to Tahoe for the weekend."
"Must be nice." Had I wanted to get off on time ever again, I would have remained a patrol officer. Even then you rolled the dice.
"And the morgue gave a ten-minute ETA for their investigators. That was five minutes ago. Oh, and I got a statement from Sully before he took off. Said he was driving around the premises in a Hilliard Pharmaceutical security truck. Saw some kids climbing in that window over there." Robertson indicated a broken window at the east end, and a Dumpster below it. "They told him they broke in on a dare. Heard the place was haunted."
"Where’re they at now?"
"Got ’em separated. One in my radio car, the other in Fisk’s. He’s inside with the body."