Cooper brought his white mustang to a grinding halt perfectly in his parking spot. It seemed like his partner Det. Brown had been rumbling on and on for hours about something he termed irrelevant. Cooper wasn’t listening, He couldn’t listen, and He didn’t want to listen frankly. He had now ventured to that place where he thought of nothing else but justice. “Hey Coop, are you listening?” Brown called to his attention. Cooper didn’t startle. He just turned his head calmly and said, “No, Brown. Now shut up. I’m thinking.” He took his keys out of the ignition and got out of the car, leaving Brown with his jaw partially open. Brown knew better than to engage him when he had just gotten on a case, especially one as mysterious as this. He was surprised by Cooper’s response nonetheless, basic human etiquette and all.
Coop and Brown had been partners for about eleven years. However, you could not tell by watching them. Cooper had always maintained an air of loneliness and hostility. He had been on the force twenty years and yet no one really knew much about him or his life outside his cases. Brown was surprisingly one of the few who didn’t mind having Coop as a partner. He didn’t care for his just downright mean comments or aloof behavior either but he seemed to understand that those same qualities made his who he was; the best god damn detective in this town. He had simply summed it up to the fact that Coop was a lone wolf so he needed to stand a few steps away at all times. And what were a little foul people skills when you had the best arrest rate in the city, anyway?
Brown took in a few deep breaths; the first to calm himself then the rest to ready himself. He knew Cooper got a little anxious when he was working a case, especially a case like this; no leads, no clues. It was all his passion and drive perhaps, wouldn’t let him calm down until the crime was solved and the criminals were behind bars. Brown hurried behind Cooper who was mumbling things to himself. He spent a few seconds trying to make out what he was saying before giving up and beginning to hum.
Cooper hastily walked through the station, absent-mindedly nodding his head to the routine morning greetings. The way people felt about Det. Cooper at the station is the way any leader would want to be perceived. People never approached Cooper because they felt drawn to him personally. In fact, no one ever described Coop as a nice guy. Instead they regarded him with the same sense of respect that is offered to great people who they had never met before. Much like a civilian would regard their dictator president walking unexpectedly past their cubicle. Of course, Coop was not up to be any body’s boss at the station and had never asked to be. They all seemed like dead weight to him however they certainly treated him like their captain. Det. Cooper only asked that they made him feel like he had no boss. In his twenty years of service, he had managed to make it so that he decided which cases to pursue, when and how these cases would be solved. Captains came and went but Det. Cooper and his methods remained unchanged and untainted. They called him the ‘One Man Police Department’; behind his back of course.
“Brown, Get me a rookie. The most energetic ass licking scum you can find.” Coop ordered, settling at his desk as he began tossing away message notes. Brown felt more like Cooper’s assistant, even though they held the same rank. He didn’t seem to mind it though because challenging his position in their relationship meant that he needed to be just as good as Det. Cooper; and that was an unusually high bar to reach for
. Brown returned about ten minutes later with a young man wearing spectacles and the most timid look on his face; probably because Det. Cooper’s reputation preceded him.
He opened his mouth to speak, “My…. My…. name is….” He stammered. Cooper cut him off, “I officially don’t care. I’ll call you Rookie. We don’t have much time, Rookie. A young lady was murdered a few days ago and someone went to a lot of trouble to make it look like she killed herself. Now what I need you to do is pull up all suicide records for the last ten, maybe twenty years. ” The young man’s mouth flew open. “Then I want you to bring me all the cases where no notes, identification or murder weapons were found. Can you do that?” The Rookie nodded.
“I’m going to need you to use your words for this one, Rookie.” Cooper slowed down his pace condescendingly, “Do you understand what I want you to do?” The Rookie stood up a bit straighter and said “yes!” Coop then returned his eyes to his messages while saying, “Good. I’ll see you and the results in two hours.” The rookie darted away. “His name is Rodger, Coop.” Brown retorted as he sat down in the cubicle next to his. Cooper said nothing.
An hour and a half later, Rodger appeared at Det. Cooper’s cubicle. He stood silent for a few moments, staring at the detective, waiting for his attention. “Are you going to speak or just hover around me forever” Cooper said without raising his head from the book he was reading on his desk. “I found some files of the nature you requested.” Rodger set a bunch of files in front of the detective. He began opening them as he explained.
“Jenkins Mary, aged twenty-seven, found two years ago same way at the William’s residence. No weapon was found on the scene. Zero suspects too.” Cooper examined the crime scene photos keenly while making little humming noises of some song that Rodger could not make out.
“A Jane Doe later identified as a Clare Blanks from two towns over. Found on the eve of her twenty-eighth birthday in the park four years ago. It was ruled a suicide but no weapons were recovered. Also no suspects” He picked up her crime scene photos too and examined them closely. He put it aside.
“This is one of your old ones. The files say the case went cold. An Estelle Manning, Ring a bell?” Cooper’s expression suddenly changed. He slammed the file closed.
“Thank you, uh…… Rookie. I can figure the rest out” He sent Rodger away and stared at the closed file for a few seconds. Then suddenly gathered all the files and his wrinkled coat, and left the station. He dumped all the files at the passenger seat of his car. He could still spot Estelle’s file. Her name called to him, taunting him. He drew in a deep breath then reached for it. He opened it slowly and fixated on her picture. She looked so young and happy, with her teeth gleaming between her pink lips. He swallowed hard as he turned to the crime scene photos. He couldn’t shake the immense emptiness he felt and even worse he couldn’t get over the fact that he had let her down.
You see, Estelle was one of his first and also one of the few of his case victims to whom he had not delivered justice. He was much less experienced than and held a lot less respect among his peers. Way back then, ruling this case anything other than a suicide was too ambitious and overreaching; a mistake a rookie did not want to make. He recalled seeing the crime scene for the first time. It was at her adorable home, where she had planned to start a family he presumed. He had felt so sick to his stomach; he could not bear to stare at it for more than a second. It was all so gruesome and nauseating for a rookie; something he believed would bother him a lot less now. He remembered feeling like something was off and out-of-place. Something, maybe someone was not right that day. Looking at the file now, something was not right again. He was teleported back to reality by his realization.
He jumped up and out of his car and hurried back to the station. He walked in ferociously and called out, “Rodney..! Or whatever that rookie’s name is. Get me all you can on Estelle Manning before she died. She’s the missing link.”