Hot guys, hot rods, and homicide!

Anniversary post!

One of my favorite mysteries. A chance encounter on a cold night, and look what happens!

After work, I drove to the Hopkins Police Department. I wasn't sure whether to go to Chaska, where the murder occurred, or Minneapolis, where the dead cop had worked. But that would mean I'd have to drive around looking for police stations. This one in Hopkins was on my way home so it was easy. Besides, cops all talked to each other, didn't they? If I stopped here, I could make my report then go home and think about Bill. My worry about Bill was more important than being a maybe-witness to a maybe-murder.

Satisfied with my logic, I went into the modern-looking squat brick building. I talked to the desk person, who jotted information and referred me to another person, who escorted me to a harassed-looking man seated at a battered desk in a big room with other harassed-looking people.

I sat down in the offered chair and examined “Detective Marcus Sloan” if his desk nameplate was to be believed. Sloan had thick, short-cropped white/gray hair, a tanned and lined oval face with baby blue eyes and a tight, compact body in a navy sweater and jeans. Very sharp baby blue eyes, I decided, when he turned to me.

“You heard something on Wednesday night?” he prompted, tapping a pencil on his littered desk.

“Well, maybe,” I hedged. “I was in that particular parking garage at four-thirty or so.” I looked warily at the empty cup of coffee near my elbow. There was something floating on the surface of the scummy liquid and it smelled a bit rancid. I glanced around the room where people walked, stood and talked, or drank coffee. It was noisy and very beige. You'd think they could brighten it up with some paint. They should also get some nicer furniture.

“And?” Detective Sloan snapped.

Startled out of my critique of the decorating style of the Hopkins Police Department, I glared at Marcus Sloan. “No need to get shirty. I'm just doing my civic duty.”

“Shirty?” He looked around the room as though requesting assistance. “That's a word?”

“It is. It means pissy.” Then realizing what I said I clapped a hand over my mouth. “Oops.” Was it against the law to swear at the law? I hoped not.

Sloan sat back in his chair and regarded me with those sharp blue eyes. “Why don't you just tell me what you heard?” 

I decided my best bet was to speak now or forever hold my peace. “I drove through the parking garage looking for a spot. I think I saw two men on level three as I was looking.” I frowned. “Who would've known it was St. Patrick's Day? Besides, that's such an artificial holiday.” I hurried on before Sloan could comment. “I finally found a spot on the ground floor. I heard two men arguing above me. It wasn't Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Cantonese, or Arabic. I think it was an Asian dialect but I'm not sure. They were shouting. I went to the stairwell to walk up to the catwalk on level three to go to the hospital. A man came out of the stairwell at the third floor and accosted me.”

Sloan's eyes widened as I recited my facts. He opened his mouth, closed it then said, “It wasn't...what did you say—Arabic or French or—”

“I'm reasonably fluent in those languages. I'd recognize them. I've never studied any of the Asian languages, except for a smattering of Cantonese. No, this was something else.”

“The man 'accosted' you?” Sloan asked, leaning forward. He looked like he was struggling to suppress a grin. I could see it tugging at the corners of his mouth. His face was weathered and I saw the crinkles deepen around his eyes. 

I leveled a frosty gaze at him. “Yes, he did accost me.” Heavens, that sounded prim. “He appeared in the doorway as I was going to the catwalk.”

“So he must have been on the fourth or fifth floor.”

I considered it. “Unless he was on level three and opened the door just as I got there.”

“Can you describe him? I realize you were probably nervous and the stairwell wasn't well-lighted, but—” 

I shot him a pitying glance. “He was slightly taller than me, perhaps five-foot-seven. He had a heavy build, stocky and was clean-shaven except for a five o'clock shadow with a splotchy complexion and red cheeks. He had a very round face with a rather large nose.” I considered Sloan's nose, which was slender. “Yes. Large nose and dark hair under a dark brown camo stocking cap. His hair looked long and curling at the back. Hmm. It might have some gray,” I amended. “Dark eyebrows and dark eyes.” I looked at Sloan's baby blues. “Brown, I believe, or perhaps hazel. He had a slight scar near one eyebrow, rather Harry Potter-ish. He was wearing brown pants, a dark blue jacket with some kind of sports insignia here.” I gestured vaguely to my right breast. Sloan's eyes followed the movement then returned to my face. “He was probably in his early to mid-fifties, quite athletic looking, and very fit.” I sat back. “That's all I remember. But of course, I was nervous.” I smiled. “And it was dark.”

Sloan's jaw hinged back up with an audible snap.

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