Good Cop, Bad Cop.
A prominent journalist has been found dead, a journalist investigating police corruption. I’m supposed to be working in my new P. I. firm, but the money’s not enough so I’m back consulting for the police as a telepath. Turns out this case is a doozy—the journalist was an addict, even worse than I was before I cleaned up my act. But he saved some kids from a sweatshop years ago, and then there’s this corruption thing he’s looking into, which makes all the cops sweat.
The police’s Powers That Be would really, really like to have the journalist’s death be an accident—the physical evidence even points in that direction. In Mindspace, however, it’s clearly murder. With increasing pressure on myself and Detective Freeman to drop this case, I’ll have to fight my way through to find the killer. And worse? If it’s one of the cops who did the killing, I don’t know if they’ll get justice, or me get paid.
Fluid and Temper are companion novellas, taking place at the same time. Fluid follows Adam’s activities; Temper follows Cherabino’s.
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Excerpt from Fluid
“This is Detective Washington,” Freeman said. “He’s on administrative leave until Tuesday because of his involvement in an incident with a prostitute and a bribery charge.”
“Which hasn’t been proven,” Washington said, quickly.
I wondered what Freeman was doing talking to a guy like this.. But mostly I was pissed at Washington, if he really was one of the guys who’d been caught in corruption. That stuff was despicable.
“Which hasn’t been proven,” Freeman agreed. “Internal Affairs has the hearing on Tuesday, and Washington came in to talk to the union lawyer. He’s agreed to talk to me, no paperwork, nothing on the record, to help me understand his relationship with Jeffries.”
“Damn reporter,” Washington said, almost spitting it, and followed it up with a string of curses under his breath.
Ah. Washington had been connected to the Jeffries case, past just the article. Now I knew why I was here. “Did you—”
Freeman cut me off with a shake of the head, indicating with a hand I was to stand next to him.
I went, brow wrinkling, angry, but willing to play along.
“I’m not asking you to talk about what happened with Ms. Cane,” Freeman said, in an even voice. “Like I said, I’m looking into the death of the reporter. Some have suggested . . .” Freeman shrugged, as if to dismiss the suggestions, “that you have motive to have killed him, since his accusations are what started your problems in the department.” Ah, there it was.
“You mean when I was suspended?” Washington spat out. He was thinking he’d probably lose his job, and he needed this job. And then a lot of invective against both the prostitute and Jeffries. He was sounding more like a suspect all the time.
“Yes, that’s what I mean,” Freeman said evenly. “He had wronged you, and it’s not a secret that you can take it personally when people do that. Strictly off the record, did you take it personally this time?”
“You better believe I took it personal,” Washington said. “But I didn’t kill the guy. Maybe I had motive—I mean, sure, I had reason to hate him—but I didn’t kill him, no matter how much I wanted to.” I got a picture of him yelling at the reporter, and the general feeling of anger, truthfulness, and regret at missing his chance to hurt the man.
Freeman glanced at me. Taking his cue, I nodded.
Then I looked at Washington. “Did you meet Jeffries face to face?”
“Well, yeah,” the man said. “I went over to his apartment that day and told him if he didn’t stay out of the thing with Internal Affairs I’d kill him. He’d done enough damage already, and he’d been talking about sending over his notes to be read into evidence. I wanted to beat him the hell up, but my lawyer said that sort of thing would get me fired for sure, just one bruise he said, so I spat on the floor next to him and I left.”
Freeman was staring at me. I paused. There was a great deal of truth in Washington’s statement, it felt like, but he was lying, at least on the fringes, at least to himself.
“Really,” Washington said into the silence, now directly at me. “Really, man. You’re here to read the truth, right? You’re a telepath, right? I’m telling you the truth now. I didn’t kill him. I wanted to, but I wasn’t anywhere close to there. I was at home, watching threedee programs. I . . .” he trailed off, shook his head in anger.
“He is telling the truth,” I told Freeman. Mostly, I added, mind-to-mind. The strict letter of what he’s saying is true. I can’t tell you further than that.
“What time were you at Jeffries’s apartment?” Freeman asked, his voice unchanging from the neutrality he’d used thus far.
“I don’t know, maybe four o’clock? It was afternoon, before rush hour. Couldn’t have been later than that. Listen, can I go? I’ve got to meet with the union lawyer today, and he’s not going to wait for me forever.”
“I have one more question,” I said, thinking back to the autopsy information Freeman had shared earlier. “It’s not a big deal either way, but I need to account for some bruising. Did you put your hand around Jeffries’s throat?” I held up a hand at his protest. “He clearly didn’t die from it, and I’m not judging, but I need to know.”
Intense rage came from Washington then, rage intense enough I well believed he could kill, given the right moment and opportunity.
Freeman put his hand on the man’s shoulder. Quietly, he said, “It won’t go anywhere. Like the man said, we need to account for bruising. Yes or no, that’s all we need.”
The anger cooled a little at Freeman’s words, though Washington still glared at me with resentment.
“Yes or no,” Freeman prompted again, so quiet you almost couldn’t hear it.
Washington took a breath, then another. His anger still bubbled up, but more quietly. “I didn’t kill him, I said. I didn’t.”
“We understand,” Freeman said. “We do.”
Washington looked down at him. “I didn’t touch him. I threatened him, okay? I threatened him pretty good. But I didn’t touch him. Wherever the bruises came from, it wasn’t me.”
And that last bit was the honest truth, no hedges, no exceptions, when it came to that particular incident in the afternoon. My gut said it was truth for the wider case, but I didn’t know that, not really.
“Of course,” Freeman told him, without changing his expression at all. “Thank you for helping me with my case. I wish you luck with the lawyer.”
“Yeah. Don’t bring any of this up with IA, okay? I’ve got it bad enough without getting me involved in Jeffries. Who I didn’t kill.”
“If your story checks out, I don’t see a reason to mention it,” Freeman told him.
Washington looked at me, significantly.
“I’m a telepath,” I said after a second. “I can keep a secret.” It didn’t mean I would keep his secret, not if I was wrong and he’d killed somebody, but he didn’t see that. They never did.
“Okay,” he said, and left.
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