The police station of Harebrook stood out against the rest of the downtown square with its peaked roof and three-story clocktower. The only building larger was the courthouse which was conveniently located just across the street, the red brick façades vibrant against the snow. That was the funny thing about Connecticut, there were fewer colors in winter, but the ones available were brilliant.
The inside, however, looked just like any other police station in America, only cleaner. The floors gleamed, the wood waiting area bench smelled like it had been polished recently, and the whole place had an air of self-importance missing in most municipal buildings. It lacked the burnt coffee smell and sense of despair found in most stations.
The front desk was manned by a seasoned officer probably three days away from retirement, a bustling bullpen full of police officers behind him along with an entire wall of bulletproof glass. The grizzled man – Sergeant Walsh if I read his rank and name tag correctly – raised a wiry eyebrow at me when I requested a meeting with the Captain. This was after he ignored me for ten full minutes even though no one else was in the waiting area.
“What does a pretty thing like you need with our Captain?” he asked, condescension dripping from every word.
I tried to keep my eye from twitching, but I didn’t think I was too successful.
“What’s an old man like you doing riding this desk?” I shot back, unable to hold my tongue anymore. Waiting I got, but pretty little thing? No. Fuck no.
Walsh’s other eyebrow joined the party, the pair of bushy old man brows crawling up his forehead in surprise. That’s it. I was about to get kicked out of this place, and I hadn’t even had a chance to tear the Captain a new one.
That thought flew out of my head when Walsh busted up laughing, a great heaving guffaw of a laugh that could probably be heard for three city blocks.
“I’m too good for retirement, little lady. Plus, I’ve got what the higher-ups call people skills.”
I snorted. People skills my ass.
“I’d like to discuss Genevieve Clareborne’s case with him.”
Walsh’s face grayed out a little before those grizzly eyebrows pulled down in a frown.
“You’re not a journalist, are you?”
I shook my head wondering why that would be the first conclusion he’d jump to. “She was my sister.”
Walsh’s face sobered. “I’m sorry for your loss. Have a seat. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
I bid him my thanks and took a seat once again on the bench ready to wait out the Captain even if it took all damn day.
I mostly ignored the comings and goings that passed me by as I settled in. After the first twenty minutes, I quit looking up. Instead, I researched Captain Jameson Collins, passing his name along to my father to look up in our databases. If we didn’t have info on him, it was possible a few of our contacts did.
When a shadow fell over me blocking out the harsh fluorescent lighting, I looked up. Instead of the barrel-chested man I was expecting, my mother stood in his place. Wearing the same clothes she had on last night, the cheap gin she drowned herself with seeped from her pores in a miasma of old booze and general contempt for the life she was handed. I reminded myself not to light a match anywhere around her.
Still half-drunk from the night before – or whole drunk, with her there was no telling – she swayed on her feet, staring me down with enough contempt to raze the surface of the earth.
It couldn’t have been something I said since I hadn’t spoken to the woman since she told me she’d pick me up from the airport.
“Good morning, Mother. How may I help you?”
I expected a tongue lashing of some kind. What I didn’t expect was an open-handed slap with all the force her hundred-pound still-drunk body could muster. The cosmos flashed behind my lids as my head rocked back along with the rest of my body, the taste of blood heavy in my mouth.
Shock and a little shame filtered into my brain around the blaring pain in my cheek, but honestly, my only thought was a resounding what the fuck?
She didn’t give me a chance to ask, though. Nope. Once my eyes cleared of stars, I recognized the inebriated deliberation of whether or not she wanted to slap me again or if she wanted to yell. She went with a yell.
“You waltz into this town thinking you can just roll right over me? I’m Vivi’s mama, not you. You don’t get to do that to her. You don’t!”
It took a minute to get the gist of what the hell she was raving about. The autopsy. It was the only thing I could think of.
I debated on whether or not I wanted to cause a scene in the middle of a police station. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that my mother had already created one, and I was just along for the ride.
I stood, my body doing the job for me of shoving her out of the way. Reaching my full height, it amazed me that my mother was so small. I wasn’t tall – the genes surpassing my family altogether – but my mother was a bitty little thing, the alcohol shriveling her even more than I thought possible.
“Actually, I do. I’m her medical proxy and the executor of her estate – such as it is. I have the right to do anything I deem necessary to get to the bottom of this. And the sheer fact that you’re here drunk off your ass causing a scene – in the middle of a police precinct no less – is the reason that job is mine and not yours.”
At my cutting remark, she tried to slap me once again, but this time I was ready for her and caught her by the wrist. Using Darcy’s momentum against her, I spun her around, wrenching her arm up as her body bent down to relieve the pressure. Then it was a one-two move to get her neutralized on the ground with my knee in her back to hold her down.
Darcy Clareborne was not the first drunk I’d taken down, and she wouldn’t be the last.
I looked up to see Walsh’s jaw drop, his eyes as big as saucers as he took in our little tableau.
“Hey, Walsh,” I called, rousing him from his shocked stupor. “I need to report an assault. And a drunk and disorderly. And if she drove here, a DUI. Think you can help me with that?”
Walsh didn’t move to help me. Instead, he jerked his head, indicating I should look up. At my left stood Noah and Carson, their jaws practically on the floor. What? I couldn’t be the first woman they’d seen do this. There had to be women on the force who could do the same things I could.
“Either of you got a set of cuffs you want to use or are you just going to sit there with your thumbs up your asses? Jesus, I’m fucking bleeding here.”
I tacked that last bit on once I felt the trickle from my nose. Darcy packed one hell of a punch – or slap, as the case may be – and she was still struggling in my hold, trying to break free and probably do a little more than slap the ever-loving shit out of me.
Noah gestured for Carson to take the lead, and the young cop pulled a set of handcuffs from his belt, taking over my hold with a practiced ease of a man well versed in the art of corralling drunks. My mother’s thin wrists were in the metal bracelets before I could blink, and he hauled her to her feet, reading Darcy her Miranda Rights as he marched her to a door kitty-corner to the wall of bulletproof glass.
Once again, Noah’s hand was outstretched for me to take, and he pulled me from my crouch, walking me backward to the bench. Insistent hands pulled me down so we both perched on the wood, Noah’s blue eyes roaming my bloody face.
For the second time today, he pulled a folded cloth from my pocket, but this time he dabbed my face himself.
“You’re hell on a man’s handkerchief collection, you know that?” he joked, but I couldn’t force a smile.
The reality of it all hit me harder than my mother’ slap. Of course, the police here wouldn’t consider investigating my sister’s death. Of course, they would assume the worst. Of course. Why wouldn’t they?
Darcy Clareborne was our mother. It had to be assumed that Vivi was up to no good. If I wanted to find out what happened to Genevieve, I couldn’t let this town color me the same. I’d make them listen. I swore it.
“Just making sure you stay on your toes, Detective. It’s a talent of mine.”
“That it is. You really going to talk to Captain?” he asked, not wary exactly, more resolute.
“I think I’m going to have to now. I can’t let this town color Vivi with my mother’s brush. She wasn’t like Darcy. As far as I knew, Vivi didn’t drink or do drugs because of our mother. I… don’t want your Captain to think she was just a chip off the old block.”
Noah nodded, and then his gaze shifted just behind me. I turned to watch the barrel-chested man I’d been expecting walk through the same door Carson just escaped behind.
Captain Jameson Collins had finally arrived, and he didn’t look at all happy with me.
Thank you for reading this chapter of Seek You Find Me! New episodes will release on the last Tuesday of each month. If you enjoy this story, you should check out the Shelter Me Series.