There Comes A Time – Part Six [FICTION]


Detective Evan Pappas doesn’t give up easily. (Photo by Ian Freimuth, Flickr)

Detective Evan Pappas stood in Chief Arnold Braley’s office glaring down at his boss in annoyance. As usual, his superior sat back in his desk chair and watched him, unmoved. Everyone joked that Chief looked like a bulldog, with his droopy eyes and thick cheeks. They just never said that to his face if they knew what was good for them. “I hear what you’re saying, Pappas. I really do. But you’re not the one the commissioner calls in the middle of the night when his ulcer flares up because he’s worrying about the budget. Without any viable leads to go on, I simply can’t make a case for continuance. We simply have to let this one go.”  

Although Evan had already known that this conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere but where it was heading, he’d had to try one last time. “I won’t. I made a promise to Carla… er, Ms. O’Malley… that I would find out what happened to her family, and I intend to follow through.”

“Carla, eh?” Chief opened the bag of chocolate covered peanuts he kept in his desk drawer and tossed a few into his mouth. “Sounds like you’re getting a little too personal with this one. Anyway, you know as well as anyone that we can’t make promises like that. All we can do is follow leads and process evidence. Sometimes these things just go unsolved, no matter how dedicated we are to the case. Empty promises are no good in this business.”

Evan sighed. Of course, Chief is right, he thought. Chief is always right. Evan had been a detective going on twelve years. He didn’t know why this case, or Carla, had gotten under his skin the way they had, but there it was all the same. He couldn’t walk away just yet. “Then I want permission to stay on this case unofficially.”

“What you do off the clock is entirely up to you. I think you’re just asking for trouble, but who am I to stop a dedicated detective? Just promise me the commissioner isn’t going to hear about this.”

“Of course sir,” Evan readily agreed. “But I may need to use office  resources from time to time. Would that be okay?”

“As long as you’re not breaking the bank, I think you’ll be just fine. Just do me a favor and keep this operation hush-hush. I don’t need angry detectives thinking I’m showing you favoritism because we were related once.  Now get out of here and get some real work done,” the Chief said, waving his hand to shoo Evan away.

As Evan walked out of the office, his partner, Detective Leighton Donahue, fell into step beside him as they went to grab a cup of coffee from the cafe downstairs. Neither one of them liked the sludge in the break room. “Chief busting your chops so early in the morning,” Leighton asked.

Evan shook his head. “No, I just had to talk to him about a personal matter.” He hoped Leighton would pick up his cue and let the matter drop, but that never was his partner’s style. If Chief was the bulldog of the department, Leighton was the pit bull. Once he had his teeth in something, he never liked to let it go.

They trotted down the steps two at a time, exited the stairwell and pushed the door open to enter Joe’s. As usual, the place was swarming with cops, which is exactly how Joe Piotrowski liked it. Both his brothers were police, as had been his father and grandfather before him. He would have followed in their footsteps himself, but after serving a stint in Vietnam which left him irrevocably broken and unable to walk, he’d had to build another dream. So he’d created the cafe, served the best coffee in the city, and surrounded himself by the people he’d always intended to work with. The result is that Joe was probably better loved than Chief, and Joe got to brag that he had the best security detail in town, and never had to pay a dime for it.

Evan and Leighton stepped into the ordering line and made brief small talk with their colleagues while they waited for their turn. Even though the line was long, it moved quickly, and soon they approached the counter. Unlike Gilda at the diner from the night before, Joe was all smiles. He grinned up at them from his wheelchair, his long silver hair pulled back into a ponytail, his trademark Hawaiian shirt as bright as his smile. He was still good looking, kept himself in good shape even if his legs didn’t have any life left in them, and was known around town for being a bit of a ladies man. Everyone on the force wondered how he did it. “Tai chi and yoga,” he’d told Evan once. He had to modify the exercises to conform to his abilities, but whatever he was doing, it seemed to work for him. “Detectives,” Joe said enthusiastically, “do you want the usual or would you like to try something a little more exotic this morning?”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” Leighton said, “but Evan is about as boring as they come.”

“Hey, don’t talk for me. You have no idea what I want this morning,” Evan said, annoyed. He studied the menu overhead for a moment before he said, “Oh, forget it. Just give me the usual.”

“Two large coffees, black,” Joe said to Lukas, the young immigrant from Prague who helped the veteran with practically everything he couldn’t do himself.

“You got it boss.”

“And give them a couple of those new blueberry Danishes,” Joe threw in.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Leighton said.

Evan laughed. “He’s not giving them to us for free.”

“Now I’m not being cheap,” Joe said. “I’m just watching my bottom line. You boys have to keep me in business, unless the coffee upstairs has suddenly become drinkable.”

“That’s not likely to happen,” Leighton said. “I don’t even know why they bother making the stuff. No one ever drinks it.”

“That’s not true,” Evan said as he laid his cash on the counter. “I think Nigel in traffic does.”

Joe chuckled, “Well that might explain his hair loss. The way you guys all talk, there have been less toxic chemical spills than what they brew up there.”

“Amen,” Evan said, grinning. “Have a great day gentlemen,” he said, stuffing a few extra dollars in the tip jar as Joe and Lukas said goodbye.

The minute the two detectives hit the street, Evan didn’t even have a chance to swallow the first bite of his Danish before Leighton started in on him again. “So, we were talking about the Chief. What did he want?”

“I told you, nothing.” Evan said, then sighed. He knew Leighton didn’t mean to pry, he just couldn’t help himself. The good thing was, once he knew the score, he didn’t go around spreading your business around to everyone else. He was a tomb, which made him a trustworthy and worthy confidant. “I just wanted to see if there was any way that we could keep working on the O’Malley case.”

Leighton whistled. “That sounds like a waste of breath to me. He already told us the commissioner is the one who made that decision. His word is gospel here. You know that.”

“I had to try. I promised Carla I would.”

“Speaking of which, how’d she take the news?”

“Like a trouper. I knew she would, but it still didn’t make me feel like any less of a heel for having to tell her we couldn’t give her any closure.” They stopped at an unmarked black Crown Vic and looked at each other over the hood. “I told her I’d keep investigating, with or without the department.”

Leighton grinned.

“What are you smiling at,” Evan asked.

“I just won my bet with Chief. He owes me twenty bucks. He didn’t think you’d have the nerve to stick with it since the commissioner was involved.”

Evan rolled his eyes as he opened the door and got in behind the wheel. “You really don’t know me that well,” he said after Leighton buckled his seat belt. “Besides, I’ve never done this before. I always work my cases by the book.”

Leighton sipped his coffee before putting it into the cup holder. “Yeah, but all those other books didn’t have a damsel in distress in it named Carla,” he said, and chuckled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Evan said, suddenly angry that he’d let his personal feelings show, even if it was to his partner. “She’s a married woman.”

“Is she? All outward appearances would indicate that she’s a widower.”

“Mr. O’Malley may still be out there somewhere. We don’t know what happened to him, or those boys. That’s why I need to see this case through.”

The radio went off and dispatch delivered the orders for their next assignment. Leighton checked in and said they were on their way. Once he put the handset down, he grinned at Evan one more time. “So that’s why we’re still on this case, eh? To see justice prevail?”

Evan grinned at Leighton’s subtle acknowledgement that he’d still be working the case with him. “That’s right. For justice.”

“Whatever you need to tell yourself, Pappas,” Leighton said, grinning. “Whatever you need to tell yourself.”

“Boy you can be annoying,” Evan said, as he rolled his eyes and threw the car into drive.

Click here to read part five of There Comes A Time or click here to go back to the very beginning

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to There Comes A Time – Part Six [FICTION]

  1. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    One thing that makes a man a hero is his dependability. That’s what makes Detective Evan Pappas so special. He’s not afraid to make a few waves in the name of justice. Enjoy episode six of our serial story, THERE COMES A TIME.

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