A group of punk teenagers heckle an inebriated, collapsed transient, taking turns to spray paint letters on him. Rains streams down from an above flyover on which cars hum, oblivious to the social misconduct, the rattle of rain drowning out the hobos screams and the jocular gasps of the youths.
Ian checks his phone.
“This fucking city.”
His shoulders hangs forward and down and his head lolls uncontrolled as the cruiser shuffles through traffic. Ian’s eyes follow his torsos lead and they too begin to sag and close, not from exhaustion, but from indifference.
His driver, a rookie just from the academy, doesn’t stop to scatter the kids or administer warnings but continues to the crime scene, barely registering their offending behaviour.
“How long?” mumbles Ian, his stomach twisting.
“About ten minutes.” The rookie cop looks in his rear view, then over his shoulder at Ian, who almost slips on the seat onto his side. “But I can put on the siren and get there in three.”
He doesn’t wait for a reply, but flicks on the red and blues immediately.
“Aw man. This is why I became a cop.”
The cruiser swishes between many yellow taxis and a few private cars travelling uptown to where all of the nasty shit goes down. The tires screech around the final corner, barely retaining grip on the slick city street, and “The Great Hoboken” springs out ahead of them like the largest firecracker in the world.
“Welcome to the Hoboken,” rhymes the driver, “where all of your tensions are broken.”
The rookie throws the cruiser onto the sidewalk and grabs his utility belt and officer’s hat.
“My parents stayed here once,” he lets Ian know. “They say it was very pleasant.”
But Ian couldn’t hear their two-word review above the splatter of his vomit.
“What do we have Chief?”
“Homicide. Looks like a crime of passion.”
The rookie smirks.
“Yeah. Boy or girl?”
“The stiff. Is it male or female?”
The rookie spins on his heel to face Ian.
“Ah, pity. In the academy, we used to call it Homocide, you know, when a dude got it when getting it. You know what I’m saying?”
Ian just pushes through to the crime scene, where bright flashes left spots on his retinas. Three photographers are covering the room from every angle.
“Sometimes the flash brings up clues which would otherwise stay invisible. Footprints, for example.”
“Yeah?” replies Ian feebly, uninterested in what the photographer was saying.
“Definitely. But sometimes, in penthouse suites like this here, it can bring up all kinds of other stains.” The photographer lowers the camera from his eye and winks at Ian. “Most certainly.”
“Maria Hoboken, 27, granddaughter of Isabella Hoboken, founder of the Great Hoboken chain of hotels.”
Ian removes his pen and pokes through her nightgown, which was left dangling on the back of a seat.
“Who found her?” He winces as he asks this, the taste of vomit repeating on him.
“A clerk. He was given notice to bring a bottle of champagne up here for…” a detective flicks through his notes, “quarter to twelve.”
“When was he told this?”
“I don’t know yet. He is being treated for shock at the moment but should be okay for questioning in a few hours.”
The rookie moves forward to the body, his face showing signs of distress. He mumbles something unintelligible.
“… but what kind of person could do this?”
Ian had been asking himself this question since the call first came in. How can someone murder the heiress to the worlds largest and most exclusive hotel chain, in the penthouse suite of the chains flagship establishment and leave undetected? It just seemed too fantastic a crime, even for New York City.
“I don’t know,” replies Ian running his hands through his greying hair while looking directly at the rookie, “but we’ll find out.”
The young officer did not seem comforted by this, shifting on his feet for a few moments before moving to the bathroom altogether, where the photographers and the detective now were.
Moments later, a moth flutters into Ian’s view between the body and him. It hangs in the air a second, content in Ian’s gaze, before floating down onto the corpse and landing on her open wound.
“Detective, could you come in here?”
By the time the detective had shuffled back in the moth is gone, but Ian remains crouched over the corpse, his jacket tense over his strained back.
“Are we nearly finished here?”
“Yes sir,” replies the young officer, averting his gaze.
“Good. Make sure she goes straight to autopsy and tell me when it’s complete.”
Ian stands up and wipes the crud off his knees.
“I don’t like the look of those marks.”
Ian makes for the door, leaving the detective staring at the victims’ stomach, his head spinning with compounded confusion and realisation. Stretch marks circle her pierced belly button.