Detective Maye Chronicles: Dead End

“There’s a special place in hell reserved for people who drink diet soda.” Spence kicks the empty Coke can across the cracked asphalt, slaps his overhanging gut.

Detective Maye fits his hands into a pair of too-small black latex gloves, hoping they don’t split open over his swollen arthritic knuckles. Genetics. His father’s were just as bad, had hands the size of bear paws.

Maye picks up the can with his index finger and thumb and drops it into a plastic evidence bag. “If we’re lucky, we might get the perp’s DNA on this.”

Spence shrugs. “Or just another dead end.”

Maye rolls the bag down and stuffs it under his arm. He sighs and stares up at the spray-painted street sign marking the intersection of Fifth and Washington, sectioned off by yellow caution tape. “I just don’t understand how someone can get snatched right from the bus stop in broad daylight, and nobody sees nothing.”

Spence sucks his teeth, twists his mouth and spits on the ground to the left of his shoe. “It’s Cumberland Heights.” Which is another way of saying it’s the hood. And the hood has a rule: No snitching to cops.

“But this is a twelve-year-old boy.”

“A twelve-year-old boy who probably saw something he shouldn’t have.”

Spence turns and walks back to the car, but Maye lingers in the intersection for a few more seconds, the flashing yield light hanging overhead. Someone saw something. Someone always sees something.

Like his father. Someone notices an elderly man meandering along the sidewalk with a bouquet of flowers and a “Happy Birthday” balloon. People don’t just vanish into thin air. There’s always a trail. He just needs to find that first bread crumb.

“Mind if I drive?”

Spence shakes his head, leaves the door open and circles around to the passenger side.

“We headed back to the station?”

Maye tosses the evidence bag containing the Coke can onto the seat. He puts one foot inside and drums his fingers on the seal of the door.

“My mind’s not settled yet. Let’s do one last run through the neighborhood.”

“Your call.”

Spence ducks his head inside and slams the door. Maye can tell he’s getting frustrated. They’ve been at this scene seven times in the last three days, and no one’s talked. But with a glance at his watch, he sees that it’s approaching two o’clock. School will be out soon, kids walking home from the bus stop. One of those kids was holding a secret, and if he could just get that kid alone, without the fear of being seen “snitching,” maybe he’d be more willing to spill.

—Nortina

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