Police Detective Rick O’Shay of the Maricopa Police Department stood outside the Las Palmas Apartments on 2nd and Main in Phoenix, Arizona. He thrust his hands deep in his pockets and waited for Sampson to come out of apartment 1080. The wind, which had begun as a cool breeze, turned cold and now whipped his mane of dark black hair and his sun-tanned face, as it swept through the streets, picking up leaves and tossing them carelessly on the ground beneath him.
O’Shay was tall with a stocky build, but not too stocky. His broad shoulders filled out his button-down dark blue polio and black leather jacket. He worked out at least two hours a day and could bench close to three hundred. "Come on Sampson. You’ve been in there for over an hour now. What’s up?" He said aloud. His rookie partner Mike Sampson started with the department two weeks ago and this was his first solo interrogation. Practically a kid, Mike Sampson was paired with the best: Detective Rick O’Shay; fifteen years experience and one hell of a live wire when it came to solving a crime. O’Shay contemplated if Sampson was ready for this assignment, but at seven-thirty that morning, they got a call about shots being fired inside an apartment building. When they got to the apartment, the scene was like any crime scene, the victim was lying face up, but because there was no break-in, it was thought to be suicide. Even the Derringer .41 precision single barrel handgun lay by his side. O’Shay stared down into the dead man’s face, as if staring at him would tell O’Shay why he killed himself.
They went to work, picking up clues and talking to any witnesses. Sampson was indeed a veritable greenie in the police business.
"Hey let me talk to the girl," Sampson had said. O’Shay used to remember when he was that eager. "She's scared but maybe I can get something out of her," he went on. O’Shay raised one eyebrow at the rookie and then relaxed his expression.
"Ok. I’ll wait outside for you. Remember, don't put her on trial. She just heard a shot fired through her wall. She's in shock.” Sampson nodded and then motioned for the girl to come speak with him. O’Shay grabbed his shoulder. "Smile, Sampson. She needs that." O’Shay then walked out of the building, hoping the kid had it in him.
O’Shay had seen it before. The new kid on the block wanted full control over the case—eager as a hungry chick waiting for supper. O’Shay wanted to hit himself for getting anxious at the scene. He was a man for hell's sake, not a sissy. Nevertheless, when O’Shay walked into the apartment and smelled the stench of fresh blood and a bullet hole smack in the stomach, he saw what looked to be a middle-aged man, tall, gangly with a full head of sandy brown hair lying face down in a pool of blood. O’Shay heart started racing and his forehead got sweaty, as that fateful night came flooding back to him. The night when his best friend and partner, Mason Carter was murdered, right in front of him. The men who murdered him had connections on the outside and oftentimes, O’Shay would come home and see pipe bombs on his porch or threatening messages on his machine. Someone even followed him a few times, which started his attacks. He felt breathless; his chest felt tight and he became dizzy and panicky. He had all the necessary tests done, but they all came back negative. Finally, the doctor concluded that he was still dealing with his friends' death and was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He suggested he see a counselor. He shook his head and said, "I don't need no stinking quack. I just need a vacation.” O’Shay was long overdue for some time off. Maybe this year he would tell them he was going, period.
He was just about ready to head back in the building, when Sampson flung open the door and bounded down the stairs shaking his head.
"What took you so long? I'm freezing my butt off while you're up there playing Mickey-mouse detective."
"I was gathering information Rick. Sorry,” he said, lowering his head. O’Shay could chew this guy up and spit him out. It got under his skin that he kept calling himRick. Only Mason was allowed to call him Rick.
"Never mind. What did you find?"
"Well, the girl's like a frightened mouse. She says very little, except that around 11:30 last night, she heard a one shot outside her parent's apartment door. She was the only one home. She called the police a few minutes later. Apparently, the guy was shot inside his apartment, but the weird thing, his door was bolted from the inside. Why, if he committed suicide would he care if the door was locked or not?” O’Shay thought for a moment.
“Maybe because he didn’t kill himself and the killer wanted to make it look like he did?” He’d seen this all the time, but he had to admit that bolting the door from the inside, and then escaping, was pretty clever.
“So the suspect had to have fled from the window, right? Except for the windows are locked from the inside as well. Who can lock a window from the outside and escape through that same window?"
O’Shay raised his eyebrows. He could tell this was going to be one tricky case to solve, if the rookie could handle it.
"Some clever son of a bitch," O’Shay said and then walked to the car. His mind was spinning from one thing to another lately, especially since his housekeeper of twenty-years up and left one day, telling him she couldn’t handle all the death threats and that she needed to leave, for her safety. Now, O’Shay was alone. The only thing he could do was go from one case to another, always trying to catch the bad guys. Of course, the bad guys were always one step ahead of him that he almost gave up on being a detective altogether.
Sampson parked the car at the department and followed O’Shay to his office. O’Shay thought Sampson was trying a little too hard to be his friend rather than his partner. O’Shay knew he had to get used to working with the guy as his partner, but he didn’t want a buddy anymore than he wanted a wife. Sampson would just have to understand that.
O’Shay got to his office just as soon as the phone started ringing. He slammed the door, sat down and picked up the phone.
"O’Shay." The voice barked over the phone.
"What do you have on the James Neely case?" The voice was none other than Captain William "Willie" Cale of the 14th precinct. O’Shay was supposed to report any findings with him, but he couldn't wait till he got to his office before breathing down his neck.
"Hold on. I just got in." He opened up his file and told them the little they did find. The captain sounded irritated.
"That’s it? You were there all morning and you only came up with a few leads?" O’Shay couldn’t stand his cocky attitude.
"Listen, when we have more information then you’ll be the first to know." He slammed the phone down while Sampson stared at the floor. He knew when O’Shay was angry; this wasn’t the time to argue with him.
"Should we talk to the other tenants and see if they know anything more?"
"We already talked to half the tenants on that floor Sampson. The only thing the girl knows is that there was one shot. The other tenants said they heard the same thing. We have a dead man with no fingerprints on the weapon and no way of knowing how he was murdered." O’Shay rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Let’s go check out his relatives. Maybe they know something we don’t."
Sampson followed his lead and O’Shay stared back at him. The last thing he needed was a damn puppy dog.