He stepped into my world and I knew, somehow I knew, that he didn’t belong.
For one thing, he came in through the supply closet. How long had he been in there? He came through cautiously, poking his long nose in first and sniffing around like a German shepherd. Gradually he poked his whole head through–the mop of dark brown curly hair was hard to miss. I stared at him from my desk across the office, wondering where he came from. Before the closet, I mean. He didn’t look like a cop–not a uni, anyway. And he certainly didn’t look like he belonged.
There was something in his eyes, though, when he looked at me. Those dark eyes had seen more than any senior detective in this station. Don’t ask me how I could tell–I didn’t fully understand it myself. But when his eyes met mine, I knew.
He finally swung his whole body out of the closet and strode right for me at a brisk pace. Oddly, the closet door slammed shut behind him without any help from anyone nearby. No one paid attention to this odd, skinny, raggedy man. The rest of the office just went about their duties, shouting into phones and tapping on keyboards and chatting and drinking coffee as usual. Which made me furrow my brow, honestly–there was a child murderer on the loose. This was no time to be talking about the latest football game.
The man. He wore a dark suit made from several articles of clothing that looked off, somehow, like he’d bought them all at a thrift shop that had been around for hundreds of years. He would fit in in a western saloon, or a Victorian cocktail party, or a bar today. Hell, maybe even in a Renaissance ball. It was all so antiquated, but worn so that he looked like he would belong anywhere of middle-to-upper-class sensibilities. I got the impression he spent a lot of time blending in where he didn’t necessarily belong. I put down my purple pen (I really should get a new color–purple wouldn’t help my case if word got out, but it helps me identify my own paperwork much easier) and asked, “Can I help you?”
“Do you have anything to eat?” he asked.
I opened my mouth to ask him who he was, where he came from, what he wanted–but he just told me what he wanted, I supposed. I looked around my desk for something edible. There was the box of doughnuts Lorraine brought in that morning. I closed my mouth and slid the box towards the stranger. He looked somewhat disappointed, but he licked his lips and plucked out a doughnut with a small bite taken out of it. Kochinski sampling again. The stranger all but inhaled the pink-frosted doughnut, his eyes rolling into the back of his head, sighed, licked his fingers clean, and looked back at me.
“So,” he said. What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“Anything weird happening? Anything you want but just can’t get?”
Is he coming on to me? Just because I was single and getting increasingly desperate didn’t mean I’d date someone who just came out of the closet. So to speak.
“Can you give me a for instance?” Just ask him who he is, Webber. Stop playing his game. Christ, he could be the killer for all you know.
“I don’t know–vampires? Aliens? Magical school children? A serial killer unlike any you’ve seen before?”
“Er. That last one.” What’s a vampire?
“Thought so. I don’t know why I always lead with vampires… There’s just so many vampire stories these days, you know? You don’t know. That’s okay. What do we know about the perp, detective…” he searched around my desk until finding my name plaque. “Webber.”
“Okay, enough is enough. Who the hell are you?”
“Gavin Hume, meta detective.”
“We’re a new branch of the Bureau. I’m officially a part of this investigation now.”
“You can’t just do that!”
“I just did. Now do you want to whip ‘em out and get the measuring tape or do you wanna catch this perp?”
Barring what I did or did not want to do with him, he sounded funny. “The perp?”He must have been desperately trying to fit in. Skinny, young guy like him, it wouldn’t be easy. Just like it wasn’t for me. So I decided to cut him some slack. The “perp” did need to be caught, after all. All those kids… Any one of them could have been Danny.
“Follow me, Detective Hume…” I said.
Day 285’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Meta detective,” “Serial killer,” and, “A frosty doughnut.”
Hume knows how to navigate around cliches rather conveniently. Part of the job.