I tapped the files on my desk. "What's happening? I hope I didn't get dolled up to watch you channel Elvis the Pelvis and read week-old files."
"Chavez wants you to get up to speed on all the work the rest of us have been doing while you've been sitting around playing Betty Crocker," Finn said with another flash of his wolfish grin. The smile faded as he snatched up the top file folder and flipped through it.
"What is it?"
He scowled. "Ever heard of Black Hound Construction?"
Thinking hard, I shook my head slowly. "I don't think so. Should I know them? Are they local?"
"No. They're new in town. They arrived a few months ago, from New York. Alistair Campbell and his seven dwarfs. More like seven assholes. They're a hotshot construction crew. Campbell's got a thing for ex-convicts, most of his crew have records. I've been keeping an eye on the group."
"Why? We have other people in town with records, probably more than we know. Most of them are harmless."
Finn said, "I don't know, call it a hunch. There's something off about them. They travel together like a pack of wolves; you see one, there's another one around the corner. Anyway, it's been par for the course the last few months. A couple of robberies, hotel rooms ransacked. It's mostly tourists getting hit. Armstrong and Moriarty believe it's a gang of employees, from the different hotels, working together. They'll catch them eventually. Christmas was quiet, New Year's Eve was a disaster as usual. Drunks all over town, on the road, in the bars. Some clown decided it was a good idea to climb the old water tower after drinking a bottle of champagne. He made it to the top and then panicked. The fire department had to climb up after him. They brought him down, and his date, some hot little ski bunny in town from Denver, finished her night with the deputy fire chief."
"Sounds exciting. What else did I miss?"
Finn shrugged. "Like I said, the usual. We do have our own little Banksy up at the Valley Academy. Someone's spray-painting graffiti on the campus after hours. So far, no one's been able to catch him. Or her. The little goon is spraying the Grim Reaper. He's actually very talented, whoever it is. Hey, did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the Grim Reaper in Las Vegas? So they walk into a bar..."
I tuned out the rest of Finn's joke and stared down at my desk, running a hand across the surface of it, feeling the coolness of the old wood, the pits and scars where countless other officers had scratched the surface with their pens and paper clips. I could smell the citrus furniture polish the custodial service used.
It was good to be back.
Before Grace was born, I worked a day shift that often had me chasing leads into the evening and on the weekends. There were long hours and too many nights spent far from home, far from Brody. That kind of time away, especially the evenings that dragged into early mornings, has a way of changing the dynamics of your life and your relationships. Like the tide on a sand castle, it ebbs away the very things that make up the foundation of what's important.
I was back on a part-time basis but I've been a cop long enough to know that sooner or later part-time turns into full-time, and then into overtime, and suddenly you realize it's been days since you thought about anything but the case at hand. Tonight's shift was only a few hours—seven to midnight. Not quite the graveyard shift but close enough.
There's a certain kind of tension that lives in those hours, an anticipation of one day's ending and another's beginning. I didn't mind it, though. The last few months had seen me up at all sorts of strange hours. If I wasn't nursing Grace, then I was lying in bed, worrying about things beyond my control. Would she grow up good, and strong, and kind? Would my baby find her way in this world, this world that will beat you down, chew you up, and spit you out faster than you can say "pretty please"?
I sat back as a Tina Turner song ended and a commercial began. It was quiet, especially for a Friday night. The bone-chilling blizzard might have one saving grace, if it kept folks home and off the roads. I should have known better than to even think the words quiet night, for in the next minute, one of our dispatchers poked her head in the room.