JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Sorry for getting this posted so late! I have not been writing for the past few days; instead spending the time shopping for dorm stuff, packing and repacking, and then taking the loooong drive to the far north of Maine to deliver Youngest to her new boarding school, the Maine School of Science and Mathematics. We went up Thursday, and the yesterday was the big day - moving in and orientation for all the "First Years" (MSSM's term for all students, regardless of grade, who are entering the school for the first time.)
We didn't get home until midnight, and fell into bed exhausted. Sorry for the delay in this, another excerpt of HID FROM OUR EYES. This part is the tail end of the morning briefing, four days after the discovery of a dead girl in the middle of a country road.
Paul Urquhart started, his mouth half-open in a yawn. Lyle had moved him off night shift to help with their manpower shortage during the investigation.
“Tim and Duane will be splitting the road construction shifts. You're going to be on traffic, and our swing responder.”
“Ticketing tourists. Yay.”
“Think of them as paying guests. We want them coming back, so use your company manners.”
Paul sketched him a salute. Russ wasn't happy with leaving Paul as the public face of the MKPD, but he'd be worse on the investigation. Russ supported the police union, but sometimes he wished it didn't make it so hard to fire guys like Paul. Being lackadasical on the job and aggressive with motorists wasn't enough. Of course, with the budget the way it was, even if he could get rid of Urquhart, the aldermen wouldn't pay for a replacement. And then he'd be even more shorthanded than he was right now.
“Okay,” he said. “Dismissed. Noble, Knox, let me know immediately you find anything.” The group rose, gathering their notebooks and laptops before leaving. He noticed Knox went out of her way to avoid Urquhart, which probably meant Russ was going to have to drag the man into his office for another lecture on respecting his fellow officers.
“Trouble there?” Lyle nodded toward the now-empty doorway.
“You noticed it, too?”
“Ayuh. She's been a lot less chatty, more businesslike with all of us since, you know. The tapes. But she's ducking and weaving to keep away from Paul.”
Russ shook his head. “Christ on a crutch. I must be the only police chief in history who has to deal with one of his people being a former porn star.”
Lyle picked up the cell phone numbers printout. “You could cut her loose, you know. Morals charge.”
“I don't want to cut her loose. She's a good cop. Better than Urquhart, for sure. Plus, she needs the job.”
“So doesn't Paul. He's paying child support for three kids.”
“And Noble won't be able to find a position anywhere else, and Tim and Duane need the health insurance, and being a cop is the only stable thing Eric's got in his life right now. Everybody needs these jobs.”
Lyle grinned. “Excepting maybe us.”
“Retirement's looking better and better all the time.” Russ sighed. “I'm going to call a press conference.”
“Why on earth for? The 'possible hit-and-run' story ran, and everyone's been satisfied with that.” Lyle leaned against the whiteboard, somehow managing to avoid getting smudges on his summer uniform sleeve. “I get a daily call from the Post-Star and the TV stations, tell 'em we've got no leads, and they're satisfied.”
“We've got nothing, Lyle.” Russ gathered up his briefing folders and slid off the table. “No ID, no evidence, no cause of death, no suspects. We've got to shake things loose. I need the girl's face out there. I need people seeing her dress, and hearing some of the details, and calling in with tips. We need to get a—” he twisted his hand in the air, “a handle on something. One thing we can pull on and crack open the rest of what we don't know.”