The fetus floated in a urinal full of blood. Detective Lieutenant Jack Bastard thought it was beautiful. The scene of the crime was beautiful, all imported Italian tile, the floor laid out in a mosaic that some ancient emperor might have spent many a long dark hour after an orgy staring at as he emptied his bowels down a shithole. The blood in the bowl was beautiful, bright red, just beginning to scab at the edges where it met the porcelain. The shriveled pink thing with the great unopened black eye bobbed softly in the breeze from the air conditioning.
“Gilles de Rais’ own ultimate shrimp cocktail.” Bastard said out loud, looking all around the bowl, rubbing a gloved finger in the space between the tiles. “This isn’t a crime, this is an art project.” No splatter, no swipes. Almost absentmindedly, he pulled a couple strands of long black hair off the floor with a pair of tweezers. The detective bagged it and patted a pocket by habit, groping for the Turkish blacks that weren’t there. Sweat stuck to the back of his neck, under his arms, cooled and drying from the hard AC. He stepped back three strides to stand at the doorway, taking in the perspective. A forensic examiner stepped in to have a go at the fetus.
Men’s room, executive bathroom attached to the penthouse ballroom of the Pualp’o Hotel. The attendant steps out for his contractually allowed five minutes an hour to suck on the plastic dick of an e-cigarette out on the balcony, five stories up and looking over the Pacific. Nicotine addiction and wage labor agreement satisfied, he returns to his post via the laundry with fresh towels…and finds the cleanest abortion on record. Somewhere behind him, cordoned off by the police tape and the uniformed cops, a gaggle of teenage girls with trust fund accounts and tiny, ultrafashionable purses worth more than Jack earned in a year.
The suspects. Each of their mommies and daddies could buy and sell a small African country, and every one of those girls had their lawyers on speed-dial. The oldest one was sixteen, platinum card jailbait already working on the heroin-model figure, eyes already not there. The youngest was short by the standard of the crowd, fourteen and a half if a day, dressed in black lace, a jeweled dagger at her hip, Jewish-American princess playing at being dark and dangerous. Somewhere in the middle, looking nervous, was a mousy little thing whose mother had married rich and turned neurotic, sucking on breath mints for all she was worth, her dental work alone cost more than Jack’s car.
“Fuck this.” Bastard says. “Gerry! We’re out of here.”
“What the hell do you mean we’re out of here? This is a crime scene!”
Gerry Knobbe was a rookie detective, assigned for Jack to put though his paces by someone higher up whose knob Knobbe had refused to polish. Jack Bastard was on his best behavior with this one; he promised himself not to fuck him again until the blood washed out of his underwear.
“This is not a crime scene, this is a fucking after-school special. You see a murder? Abandonment? Child endangerment? Someone made this scene. Has personal written all over it. Schoolgirl revenge by coked-out proto-whores with golden spoons up their asses.” Bastard sprayed spittle in Gerry’s face, whispering just loud enough the trust fund babies couldn’t hear him. “And I, for fucking one, do not feel like playing my part. Look, you, dip shit…” Jack swatted the lab tech playing trying to bag the human jumbo shrimp in the back of the head “…the thing was frozen, right?”
“Uh…yeah, I think so. I mean, it was thawed out, but it’s still way below body temperature to have come out anytime recently.” The guys sputtered.
“Right.” Jack said. “Scenario: Junior prom crack-baby. Deluxe freezer bag. No questions asked, no one wants to know. Then somebody pisses somebody else off, and this little fucking arthouse here is the result.” Jack sighed. “Girls do this shit, y’know. I was thirteen, my sister had me jerk off into a bowl of cookie batter, baked ‘em up for her friends. Even the ones on diets. Just because Julie Guttenhall sucked Big Archie O’Moll. They’re cruel at that age, its good practice for them.”
“We can’t just leave it at this.” Knobbe whined.
“Oh, for fuck sake…fine, follow my lead.” Jack walked under the tape, drew up his shoulders, lifted his chest and filled his diaphragm so he could project.
“Ladies! I apologize for the difficulties. As you are aware, we have a small situation in the bathroom. I would like to make it very clear that none of you are under arrest. We do, however, request that you remain here for a little while and please refrain from using your cellphones while we search the rest of the floor.”
Dead eyes flickered, hands clutched purses, thumbs twitching.
“…or we may be forced to call your parents.” Jack continued. The thumbs stopped twitching. “Thank you for your cooperation.” Lowering his voice, Jack turned to Gerry. “Get that fucking ass-washer in a conference room on this floor, now. Just us.”
Gerry sorted it out with the hotel manager while Jack Bastard kept a discreet eye on the girls, trying to do the cold-reading thing, infer the cliques-within-cliques from the body language, then realized what he was doing and stopped himself. That shit never worked in real life. A couple uniforms walked the guy into a private conference room, and Jack followed them in, closing the door behind him.
Joe Ranklin the restroom attendant was on the wrong side of fifty or sixty. Jack wasn’t quite sure what the man actually did; the last time Jack had been in a bathroom this swanky he’d been pumping a confidential informant for information…and six weeks later was holding her hand in the clinic. He shook his head and took his own e-cig out of his pocket, lit up the filament.
“No smoking in here.” Joe said.
“Nice about these things.” Jack said, letting steam flow out of his mouth. “No smoke. So Joe, you know what they do to kiddy-fuckers in prison?”
Joe’s face crumbled. “Look, I’ve seen the cop shows. What about a deal with the DA?”
“This isn’t a cop show, Joe. This is real life. I know that’s hard to grasp, I have a lot of trouble with it myself. Kids like Knobbe here come along, we have to de-program them, work all that television cop bullshit out of them. In real life, things take time. You do not get from crime to courtroom in half an hour plus commercials. This is not an interrogation. This is a friendly chat. So, what do you want the DA for?”
“…immunity from prosecution. I tell you everything, you don’t charge me for it.”
“Statutory rape.” He swallowed. “Drug possession.”
“Really.” Jack was quietly impressed. “I might be a bastard, like my father before me, but I would have bet my back teeth you hadn’t cracked any of those golden pussies. And you’re holding?” He almost laughed.
“I didn’t!” Joe said, half excited, half angry. “She gave me a blow job, that’s all. Didn’t say why. It’s just how those kind of people roll, y’know man? Maybe her friends made a bet or something. But her mom owns this building. Little Jannie squeaks funny, I’m out on my ass.” Joe reached into a pocket and drew out a small balloon tied with a rubber band, laid it on the table.
“Jannie…the mousy one? Brown hair?” Jack reached across and pocketed the baggie, keeping eye contact with Joe—and winked, just for good measure.
Joe nodded, and Jack got up and left the room, feeling Joe’s eyes on him until the door closed. Jack walked down the hallway, back to the ballroom where all the girls were sitting, and ordered everyone else out. Knobbe was the last one out the door, giving Jack a look somewhere between sheep’s eyes and a bad squint; it was all Jack could do not to smirk as he watched Gerry’s ass on the way out. Then he turned once more to the girls, and all the joy dropped out of his voice, letting the tired through.
“Okay my terrible little girls, I am Detective Lieutenant Jack Bastard. I know exactly what is going on here, even if you all don’t. One of you had a miscarriage a little while ago, and don’t want your parents to find out. One of you made this scene to get them into trouble for it, and another one sucked off that creepy old restroom attendant to give them the time and space to do it.” He let that settle in, keeping eye contact with as many of them as he could. “I have DNA evidence on three of you, right now. The baby and the blood, the saliva being scraped off that old pecker, and a couple strands of hair. I know you done it, so you can step forward now or we can call your parents and make a proper scene out of this.”
No one moved forward at first. Jack hadn’t really expected them to. Then the heroin blonde came forward, shot a look back and the mousy blonde followed. “Right. Good girls. The two of you are going to develop a certain civic-mindedness. One hundred hours each, community service, to be served within a year. I will be checking up. As for the other one…” Jack palmed a small baggie from his pocket and tossed it underhand at the dark-haired one with the blade on her hip, who caught it.
“Congratulations. Criminal possession of crack cocaine.”
“You bastard!” She squealed.
“Don’t I know it. Call your parent’s lawyer now.” Jack Bastard said, eyes drifting to Knobbe’s ass again. “I’m going to go get drunk and try not to break any vows.”