The Nighthawk Pt. 3

“Stealing from the police? Is that wise?” I asked.

“It’s a copy, smart guy,” Mr. Black said. “We haven’t stayed under the radar for several millennia slipping up like that. Listen, just look over the file and decide if you want to saddle up on this one. If you don’t want to get involved, just burn the file and nobody will be pissed. You just don’t get paid double your usual fee and you don’t get any closer to figurin’ out our world. All you get is the nightmares from the Nagloshi and my handsome face. Think about it, detective.”

At that point, Mr. Black had apparently had enough.  Moving like he came from a Harryhausen movie, he walked back toward the door as he evaporated into that black mist again. The mist slipped out under the door again and, as far as I knew, I was alone again. I hoped nobody saw black smoke drifting out of my basement office and into the street. The last thing I needed was to explain that to the fire department.

I reached for the bottle of whiskey and tucked it into a spare canvas bag. I slipped the file into it as well and grabbed my coat as I booked it out the door. I suddenly wanted to get the hell out of there as I could still feel fear clinging to the back of my throat. If these things knew where I worked, there was no reason to think they did not also have my home addressed pinpointed. Still, there is no place like home. I could pretend I was safe better there.

The file was pretty boring. Of course, this is what made the file so fascinating. The file detailed the overdose deaths of several people in Woodland Heights. This was nothing new. Woodland Heights had been a wealthy area of the city in the 1920s but had hit hard times during the seventies and eighties. Now, it was middle and lower class and tended to be a popular area for petty crime and the drug trade. Luckily, I had spent just over a year in the narcotics department. That would come in handy now.

In my patrol days, I had also made plenty of drug busts. I caught everybody from college students out for a thrill to complete meth heads. I am still not sure which one I would pick now. The paperwork and grief from a privileged college kid or the unpredictability and potential violence of a real drug addict. Long-suffering Woodland Heights had the police coming in and out at all hours to make busts but the manufacturing was always elsewhere. So the overdose reports were nothing new and therefore they were not exciting.

The drugs involved were varied. For some reason, I had expected this to involve one type of drug but there was a whole rainbow of narcotics. Mary Henning had overdosed on heroin. Joseph Dean had fallen to cocaine. Peggy Kemler had taken too much methamphetamine. More than that, the toxicology reports showed nothing more than the drug in their system. I had thought that perhaps a dealer had sold a bad batch of heroin or had gone psycho and deliberately cut cocaine with drain cleaner but there was no evidence of things like that.

I closed the file, lay back on my bed and rubbed my eyes. This case did not make any sense. Actually, that was a blatant lie. The case made complete sense until you added in the talking little person skeleton that had said that the case did not make sense. What had tipped off this Council that spooky doings were afoot? Whatever it was, I was pretty sure that Mr. Black had not told me the whole story. I did not need a detective’s instinct to tell me that I would need to be cautious if I proceeded with this.

I picked up the file and opened it again and flipped through page by page. Medical reports are unbelievably boring and I felt my eyes starting to glaze over. I started to think that maybe I just needed to sleep on it. That was when a very interesting word caught my eye and had me suddenly sitting up and taking notice.

The word was marijuana. According to the file, Harry Callahan had overdosed on marijuana. Nobody had ever overdosed on marijuana. My marijuana advocate college roommate had made this clear over and over ad nauseam. Now his words came back to me. ‘You would have to smoke 15,000 joints in, like, twenty minutes to overdose on weed, Johnny.’ Once again I had told him not to call me ‘Johnny’ but the truth remained that he probably knew everything about marijuana.

Now we had something. Any coroner worth his salt would question this diagnosis. At least, that is what I had thought but this report had just been rubber stamped. Nobody was investigating these deaths. Families and friends were already weeping over seven bodies and I felt that they did not have the entire truth. This thought nagged at me and I shut the folder with authority.

I reached over and grabbed my revolver and opened the chamber and pulled out each bullet one by one and deposited them in the drawer of my bedside table. The revolver had been in my family a long, long time but still worked as if it was new. I regularly oiled and cleaned it just like my father had. I took it out to the local gun range all the time. I had the proper permit for it.

I turned the gun and ran a finger over the family name stamped into the butt of the gun. There had been Redcrosses in the United States of America since day one and there had always been pressure from my parents to continue the line. It was always grandkids this and grandkids that but nothing had ever panned out with any of my girlfriends. My mother had even mentioned the subject on her deathbed.

Not for the first time, I wondered what she would think of her boy getting pressured to drop out of the Drake City police force for psych issues. I think she would call it what it was: bullshit. The other thing she had said on her deathbed was that she was proud of me for protecting people and always doing what was right. Probably why I could not just drop what had happened to Harmony. It was also why I would probably take the case in the morning, like it or not.

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