The Angel of Zero City: Part 3

The Angel of Zero City: Part 3

A Story by Andrew Colunga
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An urban-fantasy novella. It is an untold story between the chapters of its parent book: The Gauntlet of Maltese.

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The Park

 

 

“You see this body?” Joseph asked.


“It’s immaculate,” replied Finlay.


“Yeah it is, and that’s exactly what’s wrong.” Joseph dropped the tarp covering the body and stood up slowly. He and his partner Finlay, a senior homicide detective with the ZCPD, were standing in an alleyway adorned with the decorations of a crime scene. It was high noon and October. The air was filled with the exhaust of cars, and the cold bit through the detective’s gloves in the pockets of his coat.


“I heard an agent from the CDC was coming up today,” Finlay said, wiping the sweat from the crown of his head. Thugs and crackheads didn’t make him nervous, but diseases were immune to bullets. “Bodies dropping all over the city with no signs of injury, and then the morgue can’t figure it out either.” He leans in to whisper, “They think it’s a new disease.”


Joseph coughed and Finlay jumped back, terrified until his partner began cackling like a demon. “You great brown bear I should have you resigned! I’m too close to retirement to die from the damn plague!” Finlay snapped, but Joseph was bent over and laughing.


“If the department were paying me to drive you insane I’d give the money back.” Joseph stood up straight and looked around the crime scene, but aside from a strange drawing taped to a wall nothing seemed out of the ordinary.


Finlay held an evidence bag with a slip of paper inside it. “The most I found was a receipt in his pocket. This guy ate at The Park on West St. just before he died. I hope he at least got to try their meringue.”


“Really?... Let’s get going then. Why don’t you drive us?” Joseph nudged.


“Might as well,” Finlay grunted. “I don’t have another hour to wait for you to walk there.”


The Park was not a park, but a small deli and bakery on the north side of Azure Park. Every morning since his car broke down, Joseph walked past The Park on his way to the precinct. From the outside the restaurant was a door and two windows wide, with a green stripped canopy and outdoor seats, but the inside was a mystery. Small spaces gave the large detective anxiety, and Joseph feared destroying every delicate bobble in the room if he turned around too quickly. He also doubted if he was ever fashionable enough to “Dine at The Park” (as the sign on the window said.)


Every morning he caught a glimpse of a person inside, and for that second upon seeing her he thought that maybe his life could be different, as though something about her called to a loser like Joseph to say, “You might have a chance with this person.” She’d come out around nine to fill the display case with warm, buttery breads and flaky rolls. She had a round face, black glasses, tan skin, and she wore her black hair in a ponytail over her shoulder. She was an ample woman, who wore a necklace of rainbow jewels and blackened metal, and an apron over a beautiful chest. She smiled as she loaded the display and positively glowed if someone bought one while she was there.


The detective, being as good as he was with numbers, knew that every morning he had an 80% chance of seeing her if he walked by at precisely 9:16, and so he’d hurry just for this chance. He was self-aware enough to know that in his heart of hearts he wasn’t a creep or a stalker, (and people would just have to take his word for it) only lonely, and forever feeling on the other side of a pane of glass, like the one between him outside and her inside. Except today, he was finally inside and asking questions about a murder, which as Joseph thought about it was actually kind of creepy.


“Good afternoon ma’am!” Finlay said cheerily as they approached the counter. Joseph felt tethered to his partner. This was hallowed ground, and the bread girl was at the register. “I’m detective Finlay and this is detective Black with the ZCPD.” The partners robotically flashed their badges. “Do you have a moment to speak with us?”


The bread girl looked alarmed. This was like a scene out of one of those daytime crime dramas, she thought. “Oh. Yes, the lunch rush just ended,” she said. “How can I help you two?”


Finlay pulled out a notepad. “Well miss … um?”


“Esmeralda.”


“Esmeralda? Wow, hey that’s my wife’s middle name!” Finlay chuckled.


“Small world,” Joseph said quietly.


“Hey, my wife and I ate here for our fortieth anniversary,” Finlay said, “We love the meringue you guys do here,” and he kissed his fingers to show how delicious it was.


“Aw, well thank you! I actually make all the deserts and sweets here, so…” Esmeralda laughed and smiled, and Joseph fell a little more in love. This was the first time he’d heard her voice and it was a little higher pitched than he anticipated.


Soon Finlay expertly brought up the receipt from last night and the dead body, and he asked if she knew who he was.


“Well, I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but he was kind of a jerk while he was here,” said Esmeralda. “A bit too loud, a bit to leery at the other guests, and he didn’t leave a tip.”


“Shocking. Shocking, right detective Black?” Finlay asked.


“Oh, appalling. He deserved what he got. I mean, er … karma will get you I guess. Ha-ha.” Joseph tried to smile, but the restaurant became awkwardly silent. Esmeralda held back a chuckle, thinking that it probably wasn’t best to laugh while being grilled by homicide detectives.


“Jesus buddy,” Finlay finally spoke, shaking his head, “Why don’t you go have a look around,” and so Joseph did. He left without once meeting Esmeralda’s eyes and moved to the photos on the walls as gracefully as he could, thinking to himself, “That must’ve been the creepiest thing I’ve ever said.”


After ten minutes of questioning, Finlay brushed past and said, “Alright let’s go.”


Joseph took all the hope he had left and looked at Esmeralda. “Thank you for your time, ma’am,” he said.


She gave a small wave, and Finlay hurried his partner out of the restaurant so that he could smack him in the back of the head. “You dumb bear! What are you doing!?” he asked.


“W-what? Hey!” Joseph cried, raising his arms.


“You are a goof and you like that nice girl. Now go ask her out on a date,” Finlay ordered.


“Finlay, you’re getting senile,” Joseph said, but Finlay kept a stern look, like an irritated crab, until his partner folded. “It’s not going to work out. It never does. Why should I?”


“Because next Thanksgiving when you come over I want to see you bring a date,” Finlay sighed. “You’re getting old, pal.”


“Where would I take her? I don’t even have a car right now.”


“Oh, right. Well hey, borrow mines! Here,” Finlay handed Joseph his keys, “you can drive us away. Pretend it’s yours!”


“Finlay…. It’s more complicated than that,” Joseph replied.


“You stubborn bull, you are making me bust my balls to get you to ask her out, and so help me Christ, if you don’t"then we’re not partners anymore.”


Joseph turned to Finlay slowly. “Why you gotta pull that card every time?”


“Because I’m all you got. Now get in there!”


Esmeralda was blushing red, and she wondered if the detectives knew the entire restaurant could hear them arguing and bouncing around outside, but it wasn’t until the detective who didn’t talk much reentered the restaurant that her knees began to shake…

 


Five minutes passed, and Joseph walked out of The Park with his head hung low. He approached the old brown LeSabre where Finlay was waiting, opened the driver’s seat and crammed into it. Finlay looked mortified, but then he saw a grin beneath Joseph’s beard and yelled, “Stupid bear! See, what’d I tell ya!”

© 2014 Andrew Colunga



Author's Note

Andrew Colunga
This is a 19 part story. All of which are completed and are expected to be posted.

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Added on May 1, 2014
Last Updated on May 1, 2014
Tags: urban, fantasy, urban-fantasy

Author

Andrew Colunga
Andrew Colunga

Los Angeles, CA



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Artist and Writer from LA. http://wonderwig.deviantart.com/ http://wonderwig.tumblr.com/ https://www.facebook.com/GauntletOfMaltese https://www.facebook.com/andycolunga more..

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