The body was cold. The jewels were missing. No sign of forced entry. Her son was hiding in a ditch, pockets full of bloody pearls. It happens that way sometimes. Detective Ericsson closed the murder book and decided to go out for a drink.
There are cop bars, and there are cop bars. The ones the badge bunnies don't hang out at, where the ghosts of dead cops don't stare at you from the wall accusingly. Where detectives go to pick around the edges of memories that have scabbed over, and don't have to bump into fresh meat from the academies, in for their initiation after the first week on patrol.
Detective Bastard was already propping up the edge of the bar.
"Catch one?" he asked.
"Caught and wrapped," Ericsson ordered with two fingers. The bartender poured her drink and left.
"Good." The bastard sipped his cranberry-and-soda, looking mournfully at a glass of Japanese whiskey.
"You gonna drink that?"
"Can't." The bastard smiled. "School night. Gotta pick my daughter up in a bit. What's eating you, Chanelle?"
Half the glass disappeared in a long slow sip.
"What's the worst you've ever seen, Jack?" Ericsson asked.
The bastard blinked, twice. "That's a hard question. Depends on your stomach. What brought this on?"
"I thought I had one tonight, is all. One of the weird cases, like yours."
"Yeah? Lucky, then." He sipped his cranberry-and-soda. "You don't want one of mine."
"It's just..." Ericsson flailed for words. "So fucking petty. Uncreative. Boring. They argued over money, her pushed her, hit her head. All the blood comes out, he runs. He doesn't even run far. Greedy, stupid, and scared."
"What more do you want?" the bastard asked. "Evil?"
"Sometimes, yeah." she finished off the last of her drink, held up another finger. The bartender came over and poured. Ericsson drank it down in a slurp.
"Evil's a hard one." the bastard slid the whiskey over in front of her. "I've seen cold bodies leak warm. Seen a dad barbecue his son's dog and make him fucking eat it. A guy that carried his girlfriend's head around in a bowling bag, her throat replaced with soft silicone. Cocaine smuggled over the border in diapers. Beat a priest half to death for trying to exorcise a woman with epilepsy, and I only stopped because she bit her tongue and was bleeding to death. You've heard the horror stories. It's only ever just people. Stupid, greedy, scared, crazy, petty people. Isn't that enough?"
Ericsson drank the whiskey. Her eyes watered.
"Jesus. How do you drink this stuff?"
"I don't. Not anymore." The bastard got up. Laid some bills down on the bar. "You did good tonight, Chanelle. Caught your guy. We don't always get that. Open case, shut case. What more do you want?"