“Good morning Detective Garrett.” Candice, the department secretary’s lipstick covered smile oozed a sugary charm and her over-accentuated southern accent dripped with molasses as she greeted Bobby. She batted her heavily coated eyelashes offering him a steaming cup of coffee, just the way she’d seen him fix it on numerous occasions. Black. She flipped her waste length reddish brown hair over her shoulder as he accepted the mug in mid-stride.
“Morning Red…mind reading today are we?” He teased as he continued past her desk to the conference room in the back of the station. He checked the clock on his pager before entering the room 9:42. He was 12 minutes late, again. The room was set up in the fashion of an old schoolhouse with single desks set in neat rows. He slid into the nearest vacant seat without so much as a scrape of the chair. He dug a notepad from his jacket pocket and scribbled the date on the sheet. Captain Clancey was reciting the description of a suspected rapist that had been sighted in a nearby county.
“…Lastly we have initiated an hotline for anonymous tips that may lead to the arrest of the person or persons involved in the abduction of Sarah Tanner. See Detectives Garrett and Washington if you hear anything.”
“Abducted? There was never any proof of foul play, the kid ran off.” Officer Dick Pruitt argued from the back of the room. Bobby shot a warning look across the room to where he knew his partner would be sitting. Lawrence swung around so quickly that he knocked his notepad from his desk.
“You stupid son of a –“ he growled. Bobby quickly intervened with a more tactful argument.
“In light of some newly acquired information the department has decided to reopen the case. Lawrence and I won’t give up as easily as you did.”
For reasons unknown to Bobby and possibly the rest of the force Lawrence Washington was a very touchy man when it came to dealing with one Officer Pruitt.
“I’d be more impressed by such a strong display of determination if you had enough will power to get your ass out of bed in the mornings.” Officer Pruitt grumbled loud enough for his partner and nearby detectives to hear, but low enough to avoid further conflict. Lawrence Washington may be a giant of a man, quick to lash out with harsh words, but it was Bobby Garretts hot temper that kept him in check.
Captain Clancey threw up his arms. “And on that note, get your asses to work!” The room quickly filled with the low drone of voices and the sound of chairs scraping as officers exited. Bobby sat on the edge of the desk and waited for Lawrence to make his way across the room. He stared at his coffee cup allowing the black liquid to slosh from one side to the other.
“One of these days I’m going to ask for an explanation.” He told Lawrence standing up strait and leading the way towards their desks.
“One of these days I’ll be ready to talk about it, until then, thanks for the back-up partner.” He pulled open a file cabinet drawer and yanked out a swollen folder. Shoving wayward papers into place he handed the file to Bobby.
“Officer Pruitts notes on the case.” He explained.
Bobby opened it and stared at the illegible script on the first sheet. He flipped on his computer before beginning the tedious task of deciphering notations. It didn’t take long to realize that the sheets had no specific order and held no format. With a curse he realized he was going to have to start this investigation from the beginning, a year late. He shoved the contents back into the file, grabbed a pencil and his pad of paper before heading towards a closet sized office. He flipped the light on, tossing the folder on an empty table he yanked papers and notes from a bulletin board. He was going to need this space if he was going to make any sense out of this case.
He spent the next few hours scribbling his own notes and jotting down questions regarding certain discrepancy’s in the case. Officer Pruitt was less then helpful when it came to sharing information. Bobby wasn’t sure if his unwillingness to help was because he had hard feelings about having the case revoked or because he honestly believed that the girl actually ran away. Just from reading statements from friends and family he was having a hard time believing that she would have left of her own accord. One thing he did agree with Officer Pruitt on was that there was very little evidence of foul play or any other kind. This was going to be a hard case to solve, but he was determined to find out what happened to that fourteen-year-old girl.
The Tanner’s had moved into his neighborhood just a few months after Sarah’s disappearance. They looked like any American family, two children, a boy in high school and a girl in middle school, a dog and two loving parents. Bobby had introduced himself immediately with hopes that the teenaged son would be babysitting material. The instant the family had realized that he was on the force they’d shown him a school picture of Sarah. She was a cheery, bright - eyed pixie with dark curls cascading around her shoulders. He’d recognized her face immediately, although it hadn’t been his case at the time, her photo had been widely publicized.
Bobby rifled through the papers until he found the picture. It was a school photograph from her 9th grade year, taken eleven days before her disappearance.
“What happened to you little one?” He asked aloud. He tacked the picture on the bulletin board.
By late afternoon with Lawrence’s assistance the photographs, evidence, character statements, and other facts were neatly arranged on the bulletin boards in the small conference room. They’d also scribbled several notes onto a black board and because the family was a close neighbor of Bobby’s they had agreed that Lawrence would question them. He was worried that if the Tanner’s knew that he was now involved in their case they’d pry for information and that would make things harder for everyone. Especially when the outcome was grim to say the least.
“Carli, bring your chin up. Shoulders back. Heels down.” Jordan was standing in the center of the riding arena barking commands to her favorite pupil. She grabbed her dingy pink t-shirt and shook the neckline trying to pull in some cool air. It was hot and sticky, she could feel a bead of sweat cascade between what she liked to refer to as cleavage, if that’s what one would call it when your barely in a full B cup. She rubbed her shirt against her damp belly and shaded her eyes wishing she had remembered to wear her ball cap.
“Chin up Carli!” She corrected again. The little brunette on the large bay gelding thrust her chin into the air and struck a snooty pose groaning dramatically. “Not that high!” She threw up her hands in disgust and let out a growl. “You don’t want me to borrow a neck brace from the rescue squad!” She threatened. “Because I will!” Carli laughed loudly and then took a deep breath.
“Ok! Ok! I’m serious! My heads up!” Carli sat up straight, held her head proud, pulled her shoulders back, and shoved her heels down. She held a picture perfect position halfway around the arena then glanced at the horses’ withers and immediately dropped her head allowing her shoulders to slump and legs to slide forward.
“He’s still there Carli.” Jordan complained. “If he wasn’t there you wouldn’t have to check because you would know! You would be face down in the dirt. Head up!” She set a jump for two and a half feet then measured the distance between a second jump with her feet. She set that jump for the same height then climbed to the top rail of the fence and seated herself on the top rail.
“Next time around I want you to TROT the line of jumps, halting in between.” She ordered her pupil. Carli was a really talented rider, and although she was a competitive rider, she hadn’t quite mastered the “when to behave and when to goof off portion of riding.” Jordan knew that with time, it would come but for now, she was a teenager doing what she loved. Carli turned her head to look directly at the jump as she rounded the turn, when she was headed in a straight line she shifted her gaze to somewhere in the distance, straight ahead. The horse picked up the pace but remained at a trot, she took the jump beautifully with a smooth landing. She squealed with delight sticking her tongue at Jordan before attempting a messy halt between the jumps. She only managed an animated strung out cross canter as she leaped over the second jump landing hard in the saddle.
“Graceful.” Jordan shook her head. “Do you know what you did wrong?” She asked her student. Barely hearing the answer. Her mind had drifted to a certain dark haired detective with his boyish good looks. She couldn’t help but imagine what his bare chest would look like, was it matted with hair? Was it evenly tanned a golden bronze or pale from constant protection from the sun? Did he have a fine path of dark hair leading passed his naval continuing beyond waistline to his manhood? Jordan slammed her eyes shut and shook her head! What was she thinking? She barely even knew this man!
"Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin knees get lazy
And love like crazy"