LAST TIME ON DOYLE INVESTIGATIONS: Doyle and the team joined Kate in chasing down a 'vampire'. But when the killer was revealed to be a psychotic human criminal and not a real bloodsucker at all, Faith and Wesley turned their backs on the case and Doyle turned his back on them, choosing to continue to help Kate and leaving the others to fight a demon from his visions. Now, the story continues...
by Mike Dewar
8 Months Ago
The huge Gorgus demon stood by stolidly as each of the items in front of it was briefly bathed in a hellish red light. It rumbled slightly as the last of them was touched by the crimson ray.
Phil smiled brightly, tucking away his laser pointer. “Paper or plastic?”
Behind me, Kate said incredulously, “What kind of place did you say this was again?”
“A supermarket,” I said vaguely, raising my hand slightly to catch Phil’s attention as we eased into the queue.. I flashed my badge at the skinny fiend behind me, cutting off his protests.
“I can see that,” she muttered. “I’m just having trouble believing it.”
I couldn’t really blame her. Kate might spend her days looking at dead bodies on the streets, but the sight of a clan of purple demons buying toilet paper cranks up a whole new scale of creepy. “Phil runs a…special kind of business.”
“No kidding.” Kate leaned over, peering down into one of the bags of goods piled on the counter. “Since when do demons need… talcum powder?”
“Hey, lady, if you lived in a sewer, hygiene would be an issue for you too,” the demon retorted, scooping up his purchases. “And I’d appreciate it if you kept your eyes out of my stuff.”
“Uh-huh, I imagine hygiene is very important for a big green monster who sweats slime,” she agreed flatly.
The Gorgus looked hurt. “Hey, what’s this ‘monster’ stuff? Do I go around calling you lot ‘monkeys’?”
I winced. Typical of Kate: If she had to start an argument, why did she have to start it with the six-foot killer demon, when she could have started one with the skinny guy behind us?
“Bigot,” the skinny demon muttered. Well, it looked like Kate had that side covered too.
“I may be a bigot,” Kate returned, bristling slightly, “but I’m a bigot with a badge. And if you don’t keep your fanged trap shut, I’ll shove it up your-“
“Kate,” I said warningly. “Please don’t pick fights with the demons. We don’t want a scene.”
The Gorgus lumbered off slowly, playing the offended dignity card to the max, and Kate settled down again, glowering at Skinny.
“Damn, Doyle,” Phil shook his head. “I’m trying to run a peaceable business here, and you’re bringing in your cop pals on us. It lowers the shop’s tone, you know what I’m saying?”
I winced. Phil sold cheaper cigarettes than any regular shops for miles. I really didn’t need to alienate my best supply of smokes. Not to mention the fact that his extensive circle of demon pals would happily rip Kate and me into tiny shreds if we messed with their favourite shopkeeper.
“Sorry, just you said that you had something, and it was pretty hot stuff. Kate’s my partner; she came along for the ride. Don’ t worry, she’s cool. ”
“Actually, she looks pretty hot to me,” I heard Skinny say, just brushing audibility. He sniggered. It sounded not unlike someone choking a small squirrel.
Kate smiled sweetly. “I have a gun under my coat. And a second one strapped to my leg. Don’t push me.”
“Rugar,” Phil said sharply. “Knock it off. Go harass a succubus or something. At least she’ll be halfway interested.”
Skinny shook his head violently. “Yeah, but that whole life-draining thing they do, not exactly fun city. I’m not that desperate to get laid, thank you.” He gave Kate a toothy smile. “So whaddya say, babe? Want to broaden your dating horizons?”
Kate gave him that profoundly disinterested look that females of any species display when in the presence of repulsive men. “I think you’ll find life-draining a picnic in Disneyland compared to what I’ll do to you.”
“Meow,” Rugar sniggered and sidled away.
“So, can we get down to business?” I asked Kate. “Or are you two crazy kids gonna go off and neck somewhere?”
She shot me a glare and turned to Phil. “Talk.”
Kate Lockley, queen of the monosyllabic interrogation.
“Okay, listen,” Phil said quietly, leaning over the counter. “I was minding the store yesterday, and Four-Eyes walked in, looking real pleased with himself.”
“What was he here for?” Kate asked dryly. “Come to get a new prescription for his glasses? Or maybe to grab a copy of Hustler?”
“Four-Eyes doesn’t wear glasses,” I said shortly. “What’d he say?”
“You know, he’s got that pad up on 4th Street? The old used car store that he’s always trying to rent off to some poor sap? Well, he finally landed someone. A bunch of humans bought it off him for more cash than Four-Eyes’s seen this decade. He said they were moving in a whole lot of crates. He cracked one open…you know Four-Eyes, way too curious for his own health…and it was stuffed, literally stuffed, with bags of coke. Uncut, too. Pharmaceutical quality. And I remembered how you were telling ‘bout those dealers, figured I’d do you a good turn.”
Kate’s eyes met mine. I was pretty sure the glint of triumph in her eyes was reflected in my own. Two weeks earlier, three detectives had been found gunned down. They were out cruising, just checking out the neighbourhood for trouble, and they ran into a bunch of dealers moving drugs. With cops dead, it had become a priority for the whole stationhouse. We knew the dealers had to be operating in the area, but they were professionals, and they could vanish faster than David Copperfield.
The flicker of triumph vanished from Kate’s eyes, replaced by hard suspicion. “How come you’re telling us this?” she asked Phil curtly. “Guy like you, helps demons with their weekly groceries, hardly seems like the kind to risk ratting on dealers. What’s your angle?”
“My angle is that these guys are bad news,” Phil responded harshly. “For everyone, human or demon. They screw with the neighbourhood, cause trouble,” - he raised an ironic eyebrow - “get cops down here hassling me in my own store, and generally trash the place. My customers aren’t always of the highest morals, but they’ve still got standards. These guys peddle drugs to kids. That’s low. Eating kids or sacrificing them in dark rituals, that’s something demons get. But selling them poisons is a bit much, even for demons.”
“Thanks, Phil,” I said. Phil’s neutrality was famed, so for him to put himself out like this, even if it was just a human matter, meant he really cared about the problem. “We’ll flush these guys out.”
I slapped him on the shoulder and headed for the door. Kate was already several steps ahead of me.
“You won’t find them at Four-Eyes’s pad,” Phil called after me.
Kate turned, her lips drawing into a thin line. “What? But you said-“
“They’re storing the stuff there,” he interrupted, his eyes twinkling as an uncharacteristically wicked expression crossed his face, “but they’re staying at a hotel. And I just happen to have made a few phone calls…”
I eyed the slip of paper he was twirling between his fingers and smiled tightly.
‘Bingo’ turned out to be a motel just on the edge of town. Room 103, to be exact.
It was in one of those charming districts where you need a GPS tracker to get anywhere, thanks to the residents’ habit of knocking over or spray painting all the street signs. I figure we drove past the motel three times before Kate gave in and asked a pedestrian for directions.
That girl sure does hate to admit being lost.
So there we sat outside in Kate’s car, listening to the rain drum on the car roof.
Were we biding our time? Keeping watch? Gathering evidence? Nope.
We were hunched over the thrice-blasted police radio, trying to coax some life out of it.
“This is Detective Doyle, and I’m outside the Heartridge Hotel on the corner of Wilcox. Repeat, the corner of Wilcox, Heartridge Hotel. Do you read me?” I shouted into the speaker.
The voice on the other end was distorted with static. “You’re kinda fuzzy, Detective Boyle…which street was that?”
“Doyle!” I snarled. “With a ‘D’!”
“Hey, cool down, Poyle,” the man said defensively, “I’m just trying to do my job…”
I killed the radio. “Tryin’ bein’ the operative word in that sentence,” I muttered.
Kate looked equally peeved. “Rain must have got into the electronics or something.”
“Then how come the lights are still workin’?” I pointed out.
“Do I look like an electrician to you?” she spat. “Try it and I break your fingers, demon or no demon.”
I hastily pushed the cigarettes back into my pocket. “So, what do we do? No way to radio for backup, not much in the way of firepower, and a motel filled with drug dealers fifteen metres away?”
“ We go in, flash our badges, and cuff anyone who even looks like a perp,” Kate said grimly, checking her sidearm.
I snorted. “ Yeah, ‘cause these guys have shown so much respect for police authority.”
She shrugged. “ Forget about respect for the police. They’re going to respect my authority, or they’re all going home in bags.”
“ Bring it on, Rambina,” I agreed, opening my door and stepping out into the rain, hiking my jacket up around my shoulders.
“ Doyle,” Kate muttered as we sprinted through the rain towards the motel.
“ Never call me that again.”
The night manager at the motel looked like a timid, nervy sort. Being a target for the wrath of an armed, angry, and soaked-to-the-skin Kate did nothing positive for his mental state.
He stuttered out one-word answers to her brusque questions, and practically threw the room keys at us. We rode up the elevator, in silence apart from the sound of water dripping off our sodden clothes.
The hallway was deserted, except for an equally timid cleaning-lady, who ran like hell when we waved our badges.
101…102…103. We could hear voices on the other side of the door, and light shone out from under its bottom edge. Bingo again.
Kate glanced at me nervously, and rapped on the door.
An unintelligible but distinctly male murmur answered her.
She held her badge up to the peephole. “LAPD. Open this door.”
Nice going, Lockley. Very subtle.
The voice was clearer this time. “Jeez. It’s the middle of the night, don’t you know that?”
“ I have insomnia,” Kate replied dryly. “Open up.”
“ Okay, okay…fuckin’ cops…” he grumbled.
Kate took a step back and glanced at me again as we heard the key click in the lock. So far, so good.
It was an honest mistake. Really, it was. After all, the click of a trigger being drawn back does sound awfully like a key in a lock, particularly through a thick door and when you’re desperately hoping that everything’s going to go down quietly…
The first shot dispelled our illusions. The slug tore through the door in a shower of wood chips and blew a hole in the wall next to Kate’s ear. A second would have caught her in the chest, but I shoved her aside and stepped quickly out of the line-of-fire. A third shot.
Training takes over at moments like these. Weapon out, safety off, feet positioned just so, hands moving like so…and I stepped in front of the door and pumped five shots into the wooden barrier. I was vaguely aware of a groan as I brought my foot up and drove it hard into the centre of the door. It shuddered, but held. I shifted aim and put two bullets into the lock. Another kick.
This time the door slammed back and I dodged instinctively to the side as I heard another shot. I caught a blurred, awkward glimpse of the room beyond…a table, two men beyond it, a woman in a corner, another man, flat on his back in a crimson pool…and then my back was against the wall just to the side of the open door. Eject spent clip, reload…try to remember to breathe…
Kate was opposite me, her stance a mirror of mine, with the deadly gulf of the doorway between us.
“ Throw your weapons out and lie down with your hands on your head. Now!” she yelled, her voice sounding a lot calmer than she looked.
“ Screw you!” Different voice this time: younger, female.
Kate and I exchanged grim glances and stepped into the doorway again.
“ Freeze! Drop the weapons!” A uniform, seemingly sprung from nowhere, levelled his pistol at Kate’s back.
‘Back-up’, finally having got some kind of a handle on the whole situation, arriving on the scene and getting totally the wrong impression…
“ Hold it!” I snapped, raising my badge as I stepped back into cover. “We’re cops!”
Kate started to duck back as well…too slowly.
A shot rang out and she collapsed in the doorway, her leg spraying blood.
For a second or two, no one moved. Then the woman spoke again, her voice full of smug satisfaction.
“ Lose the pieces and step out very slowly, boys. Both of you.”
Grimacing, I tossed my sidearm into the room and stepped into the line of fire.
“ That’s one,” the woman said. I saw her clearly for the first time. She had a sharp-featured face, looked no older than nineteen, but the revolver in her hand was rock-steady. She was seated casually on the table, her male pals still half-crouching behind it. “Where’s your buddy?”
I glanced in the direction of the uniform. Judging from his dead-white complexion, he wasn’t moving. The gun in his hand shook wildly, pointing at nothing in particular. “ I’m alone.”
“ Yeah, right,” she sneered. “I heard the third stooge call out, pal. I’m not stupid. Still, if we want to do this the hard way…” She stepped forward and aimed her gun at Kate’s head.
I wasn’t even sure if Kate saw the weapon , hunched over her wound like she was. I had to do something fast, before Kate, and probably me as well, ended up dead.
Unfortunately, LAPD’s tactical training lessons hadn’t included much on what to do when disarmed and confronted with three armed felons. ‘Pray’ pretty much summed it up. Of course, I had options beyond religion.
The woman’s eyes popped wide as I let my demon side go, but to her credit she reacted quickly, bringing her weapon up to face me.
Two weeks ago, Kate and I had gone to see a John Woo movie during our day off. In it, the Amazing Super-fighter Guy (whatever his name was) had shown the impressive ability to snatch weapons out of people’s hands before they could shoot him.
That was a little too subtle for me. Instead, I let loose the most threatening snarl I could muster, and socked the woman in the jaw. As she went down, I heard the uniform fire, though I wasn’t sure if he was shooting at the perps or at me.
A preternaturally swift lunge carried me past the table, and then each of my hands was wrapped around a thug’s throat. I smiled politely at them as their guns prodded weakly against my chest.
“ Try it. It’ll just make me madder.” The men exchanged glances, and dropped the weapons. I let out a breath I hadn’t realised I was holding, and the demon went with it. I let the suddenly-much-heavier men fall to the ground and glanced over my shoulder at the uniform.
“ Cuff ‘em.” Then I went to tend to Kate.
It was only afterwards, in the car, that I found my hands shaking so badly they needed several nips of whiskey to still them.
The man I had shot was pronounced D.O.A.
I’d drawn my weapon more than a few times on the job, and fired it some as well. But that foolish drug dealer on the floor of room 103 of the Heartridge Hotel was my first kill. A human had died at my own, not-so-human hands. It took a lot more than a few nips of whiskey to wash that away.
Sometimes, I think nothing ever did.
In retrospect, it was actually one of the most successful busts of my career. Kate and I brought down four wanted felons, all highly dangerous and implicated as possible cop-killers, which made them the scum of the earth by our definitions. Of course, not everyone saw it that way. The uniform’s stories got wilder and wilder, and though many agreed he was just over-stressed and under-paid, not everyone did. The little pool of dirty gossip about me and Kate got a touch murkier.
The newspapers gleefully seized onto the story and started printing headlines like, “ COPS ON DEADLY RAMPAGE - HOTEL DRAMA!” and other equally-subdued articles.
The Lieutenant, true to form, missed all of that. He just focused in on the details.
“ So, you didn’t wait for back-up, didn’t have a warrant, and didn’t have any reliable evidence, apart from this informant who you’re so reluctant to ID? That about it?” This last was delivered in a furious bark. I focused stolidly on the wall behind Lieutenant Harrison’s left ear. “Yup.”
Harrison glanced down at the sheet of paper on his desk. Bastard even had notes for chewing us out. He was a new appointment and proudly referred to himself as a B.B.B. That’s a Big Black Badass, according to him. I privately suspected that it stood for Big Braindead Bullshitter. He liked to pretend he was really tough on crime, but it was all just jockeying for position, hoping to catch someone important’s eye. Kate hated his guts, so had her dad, and both of them had been pretty public about their dislike. As far as Harrison was concerned, now he was in charge, it was payback time.
Harrison checked his notes again. “And, oh yeah, apparently Doyle here went after some of them wearing a Halloween mask! You wanna explain that, Irish?”
“ I was tryin’ to throw them off-guard. Sir.” It’s amazing what people will explain away.
“ And what happened to procedure, Doyle? They teach you that on the training courses?”
I shrugged slightly and refocused on the wall behind him.
Kate broke in. “Listen, with all due respect,” - and her tone made it clear exactly how little respect that was - “there is no procedure for that kind of situation. Doyle played a stupid trick. It was a stupid trick that happened to save my life, so I’d say it worked. Sir. And we tried to call for back-up. It wasn’t our fault the radio was on the blink and it got delayed. And we had probable cause for our actions.”
“ Which was?”
“ Being shot at, Harrison,” Kate snapped. “Remember? With bullets?”
Harrison’s face darkened even more than usual. “That’s over the line, Lockley. You might have been able to pull this shit with the guy before me, thanks to daddy’s rep, but it doesn’t happen now. Clear?”
I saw Kate’s face twist rebelliously, and hastened to intercede. “Listen, she was-“
“ Can it, Doyle,” Harrison bit out. Well, tried to intercede. “I’m done with you. Get lost. Detective Lockley and I need to have a little chat.” I gave Kate a sympathetic glance and made good my escape.
As the Lieutenant’s door clicked shut behind me, I heard the shouting start up again. I rested my head against the notice board next to Harrison’s office and sighed.
Kate eventually made it out of Harrison Hell twenty minutes later, looking ready to spit nails. So I suggested we perform the time-honoured ritual of stress-relief for police officers: head down the bar which most of the cops frequented, and drink beer in the presence of our colleagues until we fell over.
Actually, we probably would have got a better reception if we’d gone to a demon bar. Everyone kept a careful eye on us as we walked in. They’d obviously heard about Harrison’s wrath, and about my own ‘Halloween mask’ escapades.
After a few desultory greetings and attempts to join conversations, Kate and I gave up and sat alone at the bar. I heard bandages rustling under her trouser leg as she shifted restlessly. According to the doctors the wound was just a graze, and I would have asked if it was still hurting, but something told me she wouldn't have answered
“ Same again?” the bartender asked as he took away Kate’s third beer. She nodded.
I was definitely the bigger drinker of the two of us, but I was starting to feel over-shadowed. “So, what did he say?” I essayed, as she started industriously on the fourth beer.
She smiled bitterly. “The usual. ‘Blah, blah…X-Files joke…blah, blah…lawyers are crawling up my ass on this one’…”
I chuckled. “Surprised they can fit past the huge pointy stick there.”
Kate didn’t smile. Okay, en-route to Depression City. Please keep your limbs inside the vehicle at all times, and keep the wailing down to minimum…
“ So which bunch of law-hounds is it this time?” I asked.
Kate chugged beer from cheek to cheek, and then swallowed. “Wolfram & Hart, the usual expensive suits, gold tie-clips. Nothing new.”
“ It never is with you guys, is it?”
I swivelled on my barstool. “Oh. Carlson,” I muttered flatly.
The big man smelt strongly of beer. “Yeah, you’re always pulling the same weird shit, aren’t you? Funny cases that never get solved, bizarro tip-offs no one can explain…regular Freak Hour.”
I smiled. “Keeps us interested.”
“ Anything you want, Carlson?” Kate asked, her voice tired, like she’d used up all her anger on Harrison and had none to spare for him. “Or are you just here to drool and make smart comments?”
He considered this as if it was a deep philosophical query. “Actually…I’m here to buy another beer.”
Fortunately, after labourously completing that transaction, he buggered off.
The mention of buying reminded me of my own meagre finances, and when the bartender came around with more beers, I held my hand up in refusal. “Relax,” he said. “This one’s on Newton.”
I glanced down the length of the bar at the figure he indicated. Newton was a quiet sort, a big guy, but not overbearing like Carlson, he just faded into the background wherever he went. True to form, the station wiseguys nicknamed him ‘Noisy’ Newton. Newton nodded once at me, and smiled quietly.
Nice to see that not everyone had forgotten that we’d made a good bust last night.
Five beers later, Kate fell off her bar stool.
I got Kate into a taxi home and then headed back to the station to finish up our report, since she was clearly in no condition to do it. After half-an-hour hunched over my computer, squinting in the gradually shrinking light as more and more cops switched off their desk lamps and went home, I looked at my watch and decided I was in no condition to do it either.
On the way out I passed by Harrison’s office, and levelled a solid, if badly-aimed, kick at his door. I leaned against the notice board next to his office for a second time that day, rubbing my aching foot and waiting for the floor to stop swimming as my own not-inconsiderable beer consumption took its toll.
I stared blearily at the notices as I waited for the dizziness to subside. The usual range of mug shots, as well as an envelope of…flyers?
Yup, flyers it was. Richfield Detective Agency, they read.
Richfield had been on the force for a year longer than I had, but he’d got fired during one of Harrison’s uglier temper-tantrums a couple of months earlier. Undaunted, Richfield had declared he would go into business for himself. He hadn’t told anybody in what line of work.
Now, three months later, I was looking at the result. Cheeky bastard. He probably got one of his old buddies to put the flyers up here, just to stick it to Harrison.
Schmuck. Chasing unfaithful spouses and insurance scams…what kind of a job was that?
It was only later that night, as I tossed and turned in my dark, cold bed in my equally dark and cold apartment, that I found myself wondering…
What kind of a job is this?