Tea – a fiction short story

Received 911 call at 02:15 A.M.

Caller in hysterics, report dead human adult female body in the alley of 1200 Penn Block and 1400 Feather Avenue

Dispatched three cars to location, recover body with bruises, cuts, and blood. ME later reports severe internal hemorrhages and death by loss of blood

Investigators recover a leather leash, five inch knife, footprints, fingerprints, and leather whip from scene

Questioned three suspects with DNA matches, two were dismissed

Last one identified in a lineup by caller who witnessed the body dump

Trial begins with public defense lawyer who pleads guilty, defense hires high profile criminal defense council to reassess the plea to not guilty

Final hearing at 15:00 P.M. after three hours of testimony by investigators, police, and caller, with cross examination by defense

Justice of the Court ruled leather whip and knife as circumstantial debris and insufficient evidence

grand jury finds the defendant not guilty. Case closed.

[00:43 A.M.] Miami Police Station (Special Cases Division)

Almost an hour after midnight in the Latin metropolis of Miami City the residents of the water paradise had already retired to their beds. However, one ragged detective of Miami's finest remained in the trenches, pouring over the minutia of his lost case.

Detective Jack Triton, service member of the Miami police force for nearly a decade was already in his mid-thirties. He'd spent nearly five years as a patrol officer before his promotion to Special Cases.

"Why didn't they see through this bullshit?" a distraught whisper sounded.

Most detectives didn't last. The usual tenure for such an officer was three years, but he was going on four, had been through two partners, was searching for a third, and had witnessed nearly all sorts of tragedy possibly imaginable. He'd interrogated washouts who couldn't speak without a fix, ring lords who trafficked their partners for money, victims of homicidal strangulation, suffocation, manslaughter, and worse.

"They had him…" the detective whispered. "They had the asshole and they let him walk!"

Everyone else had gone for the night, leaving Jack to his own devices. His co- workers couldn't understand why always chose to stay in the station after every lost case, or why he chose to sleep in the recreation room rather than his own apartment. He'd dabbled in dating, but never married. Probably for the best, he had nearly been locked up for assaulting suspects and harassing witnesses in different cases. To say he was unstable in his personal life was an understatement.

His captain kept him on the job despite the pain to cover his tracks. He was a good cop, but loose cannon didn't even begin to describe the mess that remained in the Miami five-oh house.

"Damnit…" the man whispered, staring at pictures of the bruised, dead victim. He drew his hand to a cup that lay on his desk, filled with cold and stale coffee from days back. "Damnit, why…"

Truthfully, he volunteered to buy the coffee as a way to socialize with his peers; the government wasn't too keen on providing every department its own complimentary breakfast coffee and recreational afternoon Joe. The only caveat was he never remembered to drink his own work. His colleagues thanked him for the service, both for the coffee and his labor, but that never jogged his memory soon enough to drink any of it fresh. It usually ended up in his stomach late at night, long after the heat had moved on to more important things.

He was so absorbed in staring at case photos he almost didn't even hear the two subtle raps at the door. He stared at the misty glass door, wondering who would be back at this hour. The door opened, and to Detective Triton's surprise, he saw the assistant district attorney traverse the frame, holding her briefcase from the afternoon's trial.

Earlier in the day, the two exchanged crushed glances at one another after listening to the judge deliver the sentence. They couldn't even manage to speak to one another at that moment through all of their disbelief. Because of that, the detective thought she would be the last one to re-visit the failed case, especially with him—the one who filed it in the first place.

Regardless, ADA Kathryn Sehkhan settled her briefcase on his desk, grabbed his empty partner's chair, and pulled it across the desk. She took off her high heels and exchanged them with modest flats from her purse, sore from the aggressive stomping after the decision was rendered.

She wore a black business blazer and modest vermillion blouse, but that did nothing to hide her compassionate visage, her soft, white face, and gorgeous flowing brunette hair. She finally settled on crossing her stocking legs and stared at the detective, who raised an eyebrow at the motions. Nothing was said for quite some time except the hard ticking of the clock. Detective Jack Triton saw a criminal walk home free and the Assistant Defense Attorney Kathryn Sehkhan saw the defense leave court without handcuffs and guards. They both lost today.

"Look Kathryn, before you say it, I'll say it first," the detective said uncharacteristically softly. "There is nothing you could have done. I screwed up the evidence and you were dealt a shitty hand."

"That doesn't make me feel any better about it, Jack," the lawyer sighed, nonetheless in agreement. She noticed him take another sip from the polystyrene cup. "Why do you drink that old stuff?"

"I don't know to be honest," he replied. "Funny, I've never had hot coffee around here."

"I'll make you something better," Kathryn said, getting out of her seat. Before Jack could take another sip, she swiped the cup out of his hands, dumped its contents into a nearby garbage can, and emptied the original pot the same way.

"You should go home. Your job's done," Jack said, intrigued by her actions. He wasn't upset about the drink, the taste was awfully bitter anyway.

"My job's never done, don't you know that?" Kathryn said, filling the coffee pot with new water. "I've got to prepare two witnesses in the morning on a double homicide and file a warrant to search this other suspect's apartment. What do you have to do?"

"Canvass a dump bar in the morning for witnesses and investigate a few tips we got on the last rape case," Jack moaned, feeling the fatigue of the day's events for the first time. "But that's not what I mean. A girl like you should be out there having fun, going on dates, not stuck here with the scum of the Earth."

"That's why I'm down here checking on you. The scum are too interesting," Kathryn joked, smirking in Jack's direction while cleaning out the filtered beans. "Besides, I don't 'have fun' or date anymore, not since I got tied up with your office."

"Did you ever have a chance to settle down before you wound up here?" Jack asked, subconsciously folding up the case folder.

"Once in grad school," she replied, taking his bait. "The University of Miami wasn't that hard for me; the legal stuff came easy… but finding the right guy didn't."

"Yeah. I know what you mean," Jack nodded, remembering his 'glory days'. "I used to travel, you know? I met a girl once, real bitchy redhead to be honest, but I loved her. I thought I'd found the right one but things didn't really work out."

"I guess nothing really changes in the long run right?" Kathryn speculated, flipping the switch on the coffee maker to boil. "You never found the one, and neither have I."

"I guess so," Jack conceded, swiveling his work chair from side to side. "You've personally taken almost every case we forward to your office, you know that?"

"I like working with you," Kathryn replied, switching her legs to balance them every so often. "And your office has the cases worth fighting for."

"Well I'm glad this isn't law school for you anymore then. You've finally found your calling."

"Yeah. Same goes for you, I guess."

Once the machine started dripping the boiling water, Kathryn reached into her purse and pulled out a pinch of tea leaves from a zipped bag and dropped them into the pot. She turned back to face Jack some distance away and leaned against the countertop in waiting. She couldn't help but notice how defeated the detective appeared, how bruised and battered the job had made him.

"You know, crucifying yourself on their tombstones won't bring them back," Kathryn said with a sad smile.

"I wish it did," he replied, picking up the case folder once again.

"You hate yourself enough to bring them all back," Kathryn whispered.

"I don't hate myself," Jack said quickly whilst flipping through the different handwritten notes and diagrams in the folder.

"Yes, you do," she replied with strength. "You spend every moment you have working, and even when you have time for yourself, all you can do is think about work. You think about those you couldn't save."

At that, Jack looked up to Kathryn and frowned. He folded the case and dropped it on his desk again, letting his head drop in shame. He folded his hands in his lap to stop himself from wringing his skin dry.

"I just wish there was justice in the world," Jack lamented. "There's just so many I've lost. So many I couldn't save in time. And then there are the ones that I don't even know about yet…"

"First of all, you didn't lose them," Kathryn said sternly, pushing herself off of the counter in the direction of Jack. "And second, there really is no such thing out there as justice—even in the law."

"What?" Jack asked with a small measure of shock. "I thought that's what laws were written for! Don't they exist to punish the wicked and protect the innocent?"

"Sorry. If that were true we'd never put an innocent person in jail and we'd find every sick bastard out there," Kathryn replied cynically. "Do you know how many times I've put away good people just because the evidence stacked against them? Or how many times those rich jackasses find a lawyer to say the most damning evidence is inadmissible? Like today?"

"Too many times."

"Yeah. Too many damn times."

A small click sounded just as Kathryn finished, signally that tea was ready. She walked over to the kitchen supplies and withdrew two paper cups from one of the plastic bags, pouring the steamy amber into each. She realized walking back that Jack had his eye on her the whole time with a sad but knowing expression on his face.

"So what then?" Jack said, graciously taking one cup out of Kathryn's custody.

"If the law doesn't do anyone justice, why do we have it?"

"Well, to make the world a better place," Kathryn said, blowing into her drink as she sat down across Jack again. "To give it rules for society to follow, and to let the rest of us live our lives."

"What do you mean live our lives?" Jack asked, taking a small sip, looking into his cup.

"To work, play, meet others…" Kathryn said slowly, lowering her tea to look directly at Jack. "Find love?"

The detective's eye darted out of the paper rim and met the assistant district attorney's directly. He lowered his drink the same way she had and let a second pass by. A few more ticks on the clock passed by and the two took a sip of tea at the same time, hardly wanting to take their eyes off each other.

"You're not going home tonight?" Kathryn finally asked. "Again?"

"No, my apartment's a wreck," Jack said, mentally repulsed by what he left behind. "Besides, nobody's home to greet me."

"You could change that, you know," Kathryn said, methodically pronouncing every word.

"I've thought about it," Jack conceded, taking another drink of tea.

"But?"

"I don't think I'm cut out for someone like you," Jack surrendered. "Think about it. All I'd talk about on dates is work. You'd be bored to tears."

"Well what do you think I'd talk about?" Kathryn retorted with a hint of irony.

"Probably work, I guess…"

The attorney then set her paper cup on the nearest desk, stood up out of her seat, and walked to the detective's right side before finally resting her bottom in his lap. She brought her right arm around the detective's neck and tugged at his stripped tie ever so slightly. He could feel the warmth emanating from her bosom and she relished the texture of his hair. Jack set his cup down on his desk and perked up at her gestures, resisting the urge to disrobe her on the spot.

"We'd be perfect," Kathryn whispered with only a touch of sultry.

"No… Kat, you don't want this," Jack replied back sadly. "I'm a wreck, I'll just drag you down with me."

"You think you're the only damaged goods around here?" Kathryn asked with a smile on her face, letting her hands explore his crown.

"I…"

"There may never really be justice for the bad guys in the world," Kathryn suggested, letting her both of her hands rest on his chest. She smiled at him, knowing that this case was in the bag. "But how about you do a good girl and a good guy some justice, Jack?"

"Justice for just us?" Jack asked with a look of coy skepticism. He couldn't help but return her smile, admiring how perfect she looked tonight.

"Absolutely."

So instead of resisting happiness like he usually did, the detective let his arms find their way to the attorney's waist and the back of her head, pulling her lips closer and closer to his. Before the distance closed for good, the attorney pulled her hands away

from the detective's chest and cupped his jaw with longing. Finally the two let the laws of nature rue the day and their lips met.

With soft, gentle pressure, the two passions were made one, their skin mingled with one another, their desires and dreams made reality. All of the rest of the world and its imperfections and maladies stepped aside and neither of the two could even comprehend what was going on beyond their moment. He pressed more into her and she returned with even more force. Their mouths parted and made way for their tongues to introduce themselves, dancing in the jubilee that was acknowledging love.

The seconds ticked by and neither of them could hear it. The minutes passed away and the two didn't even feel it. When their dance of triumph over the evils of the world came to a close, they parted away only slightly, knowing that this was only the first act of the night's play.

"That was really good tea."

The attorney smiled, her cheeks aflame and her eyes moist with happiness; the regret of the day's events far behind her. The detective too allowed his heart to flow and beat way too fast, knowing that tomorrow was a new day. He pulled her back into a tight embrace and she graciously joined in.

The tea remained warm long into the night.