Sorry for the wait but with Thanksgiving and turning 19 I've been a little busy—I promise the chapters will come quicker from now on.  Thanks again to all the reviewers for supporting this little piece of work of mine.  I really appreciate everything you have to say.  A special shout out to my friends Carlyn and Adele (if you haven't read any of their stories you are so in the dark) thanks for the best week I've had in awhile, it was great seeing you two again and oh how I've missed our late nights.  Alright, well I hope you enjoy this chapter—writing the banter between Eric and Loflen is so much fun!  

"What the hell took you so long?"

"I was getting lunch," Eric replied holding up the deli bag. "Without me you'd starve to death Loflen, so give me a break."

"You've been gone for an hour; I had to do paperwork to keep from getting yelled at by the Sergeant so how about you give me a break.  Were you playing hooky or something?"

"No I wasn't playing hooky," the younger man mocked.  "I had to take care of some business." He threw the wrapped sandwich on to Loflen's desk as he took off his coat and sat down.

"What is this shit?" Loflen asked as he unwrapped his lunch.

"Francine told me not to feed you anything fatty and I wasn't about to argue."

"Oh don't listen to that old hag, she's full of hot air," he replied gruffly.

"You really shouldn't talk about your old lady like that.  She really cares about you."

"No, she's just trying to make my life a living hell.  And don't you ever say she cares about me—she's just after my pension."

"Oh come on, you know you have some love in your heart for her."

"Yeah when she was young but now her tits have dropped and waking up next to her would suck the love out of any relationship."

"You're terrible," Eric stated shaking his head as he took a bite of his sandwich.  As he swallowed he noticed a new file on his partner's desk. "So what do you have there, anything from our case?"

"Very good Sherlock," Loflen smirked taking a bite of his own low-fat lunch.  He opened the file and took the contents in his hand.  Leaning back in his chair, he reached across the aisle and tossed the pictures to Eric.  Chewing, he continued, "These are stills from the video footage the airport so willingly loaned us.  It took an hour of pulling my hair out before I finally recognized the fucker—Joel Durant could blend in with a wall with my luck." Detective Russell chuckled as his friend tried to swallow the tasteless food in his mouth. "Anyway, the first picture there is at 10:23 the night of the murder when he's at the terminal gathering his luggage.  This next one is at 10:41 when he's got all his shit and starting for the exit.  Then at 10:49 he makes it outside to begin a long wait for a ride.  This is when it gets screwed up."

"Why, what happens?" Eric asked slowly turning back and forth in his chair.

"The guy waits for about fifteen minutes outside the entrance doors before a black SUV drives up at 11:06 and takes him away.  He tossed his luggage in the back and got in.  That's the last we saw of him."

"Did the surveillance camera get a shot of the driver or are we going blind here?"

"What's your guess?"

"Shit," Eric said as he threw his half-eaten sandwich down in disgust.  "Well what about the license plate number?  It seems pretty visible in the picture."

"I'm one step ahead of you kid," Loflen replied finishing his lunch.  "It's down in trace.  I sent it before you came in this morning and before we got bogged down by that murder on 5th."

"How did that work out?" the younger man asked with a quick nod toward the cells.  "Was it the collar we brought in earlier?"

"Yeah, he confessed with some prodding."

"Now, by prodding do you mean lethal assault or what?"

"Look, some people don't have the common courtesy of listening the first time so they just have to be told again with a little more force, that's all."

"Yeah sure," Eric returned sarcastically molding the lunch bag into a ball in his hand.  "So how much do you want to bet I make this shot," he said referring to the trashcan fifteen feet away.

"I only bet on real games."

"Suit yourself," he shrugged as he leaned back into his chair for full momentum.  "He shoots."  The ball left his palm and in a perfect arc landed in the trashcan with a soft thud.  His hands forming into fists, Eric raised them in victory as he yelled, "he scores!"

"Nice shot," said a voice the two detectives knew all too well.

"Don't encourage him," Loflen stated bluntly with disapproval.

"Nice to see you too Frank, still sucking this place dry I see," she countered with hostility.         

"Marie Sanchez.  It's been awhile."  Eric half smiled at the Brazilian woman who less then a year ago left her detective roots and headed north to the drug-ring busters up stairs.  She had been the only female in the male dominated detective force and let everybody know it.  The forty-year-old local wasn't about to be pushed around by anyone or anything.  Naturally, she and Loflen had acted like oil and water since the day they met.  Their very different styles of police work causing most of the strife—she was liberal, he was old school.  When she left for Narcotics the entire department breathed a sigh of relief, not because she was a woman but because she was the toughest thing out there.  "How's Narcotics treating you?"

"Locking up addicts and cleaning the streets, what could be better than that?" she said with a smile. "I'm doing well, how about you baby? I hope Loflen's not bringing you down.

Eric smiled at the woman's motherly instincts.  "Him?  No way, he's a ray of sunshine."

"Could we cut the chitchat, why the hell are you here Sanchez?"

"Relax, I just came to drop off your mail.  The guys in trace say it's been downstairs ready and waiting for forty minutes," she replied tossing the file on Loflen's desk.

"I told them to page me when it was done!" Loflen yelled angrily. "Jesus Christ you would think they could get something right."

"Hey don't kill the messenger," she shrugged raising her hands in defense.  "But here's some advice for your next run-in: try using a more polite approach rather than 'do this or I'll fuck you up' okay?"

The older detective's visage grew crimson with anger as he glared at the female officer.  Eric could only laugh. "She does a pretty good you," he said with a nod.

"Hey whose partner are you here?"

"Alright boys, the whole reminiscing thing has been fun but I'm on duty and God forbid I break up the dynamic duo."  The men watched as she left realizing how quickly trouble can walk in and out of their lives.

"So you thought her rendition of me was funny?" Loflen asked as he snatched up the file and began reading its information.

"Just forget it and tell me who owns the SUV."

"Calm down sparky."

"Okay, we need to get some things straight," Eric said as he extended his left index finger to help make his point.  "First, I'm not a dog.  Secondly, I'm not a kid.  Now, I'm bringing this to your attention only because you seem to have all this fucked up in your head because you keep calling me one or the other."

"What's that sport?"

"Loflen you're a real pain in the ass.  You're doing this on purpose just to piss me off."

"Nothing gets by you Eric…is that better?" Loflen asked referring to the name. When he received a nodding approval he continued, "Alright, the owners of the black SUV are Roberto and Emilia Gomez.  It says here that they live out in the suburbs.  Oh great, this should be fun."

"What? Not your favorite place?"

"It's a fact; the only thing you do in suburbia hell is get lost."

"Well I guess we better get going over there to question the Gomez's because I've got something going on tonight," Eric thought aloud as he rose to get his coat from the rack.

"Like what?" Loflen asked looking up at his partner.

"None of your goddamn business, that's what," he stated with authority.  "Now get your coat so we can go."

"Touchy touchy," the older man joked as he left his desk and retrieved his jacket.  "So Casanova, who's the lucky girl?"

"Look Loflen, I don't need you snooping around in my love life.  So stop," Eric demanded as they walked out of the precinct.

"Love life?  I didn't know you had one of those."

The drive to the Gomez's neighborhood had been the hell that Loflen described at the station.  It took them an hour just to find the actual edition and another fifteen minutes to get the right house.  As they walked along the landscaped pathway under the shade of palm trees Eric decided it would be better for him to do the talking since Loflen couldn't find words to express his disdain.  As he knocked on the door of the ranch style home he nudged his partner signaling him to calm down and put on his game face.  A man opened the door with a creak and gazed questioningly through the screen door at the two detectives. 

"Mr. Gomez?  Hi, I'm Detective Russell from the Rio police, I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions about your '99 El Durado?" he asked holding up his badge in his right hand.

"Have you found it?"

"Excuse me?"

"Have you found my car?" the Brazilian man repeated stepping out on to the porch.  "It was stolen Sunday evening when my wife and I were out for dinner, right out of the garage.  We filed a police report and everything.  Have you found it?"

"Um…no sir we haven't found your vehicle.  We're actually here on other business.  Can we come in and ask you some questions?" Eric couldn't believe what he was hearing—one goddamn crime after another.

"Yes, come in.  Do you need to talk to my wife as well?"

"That would be helpful, thanks," Eric replied as the two men were led into the living room and seated on the couch.  The space had a tropical feel to it—contemporary colors, floor to ceiling windows, plants everywhere.  Definitely designed by a retiree.

Eric turned his head to Loflen and rubbed his jaw in disbelief, "Can you believe our luck?  The one lead we have is about to disappear."

"Yeah this is bullshit all right.  I bet the killer knew the airport had security cameras so he stole a car to keep from being traced.  And who better to pick on than old grandpa and grandma.  This prick knows what he's doing and that's never a good sign."

The conversation between the Gomez's and the detectives didn't take very long and the information wasn't helpful.  The burglar had used the same method of entering the house as he did in the Benez case—picking the lock (fucker has brains was Loflen's only input)—and no prints were found when the force had investigated previously. The two men left suburbia hell with nothing but another dead-end.

"You know this is getting fucking annoying!" yelled Loflen as he exited the freeway, thankful to be getting back on downtown streets.  "I can't stand these goddamn dead-ends all the time, I just want one break for Christ's sake."

"Yeah, so far we're back at the beginning and you know Serg is going to be fuming over that," Eric stated staring out the window at local shops as they passed by.  "We should probably look up the report the Gomez's filed to get a better idea of the condition of the crime scene, maybe find similarities. It couldn't hurt."

"It probably won't help given our luck but I'll do whatever makes your skirt fly high."   

"Well thank you, I appreciate that," Eric mocked.

"Anytime cutie."

There you are…now review! ;-)

~Elliza~