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Con City - Excerpt One

A beaten down old blue Cutler Firebird convertible was rolling down the road in the center of Downtown Con City. The driver was a dark haired man with sideburns, wearing a cheap suit and smoking a cigar. The stare with which he eyed the road screamed of irritation, which was caused by the fact that the Firebird was forced to move at the speed of a crippled turtle.

`Move it, idiots...' he said to the cars in front of the Firebird. `Faster, before I arrest you all for slow driving...'

His hatred of the morning traffic dated all the way back to his childhood. For years he entertained the thought of buying a motorcycle to get around easier, but for all the irritation he suffered from the city traffic, he could not bring himself to make the switch for one very simple reason: he loved his car too much. And so he did what he always had done: he swallowed his pride and waited, hoping that one day he could equip the Firebird with wings.

Though he felt the stress mounting with each passing second, he managed to keep his cool just long enough until the traffic cleared up and the Firebird reached the northern edge of Downtown.

`That's better,' the driver said to himself, knowing fully well just how close he had come to ramming the Firebird into a pickup truck.

After a few minutes the Firebird arrived at its destination, in front of the headquarters of Pipe Software. The driver parked the car and got out. He looked up at the tall skyscraper before him. He didn't dare to guess how high the building was. He shook his head.

`Goddamn executives...' he said, and he stepped into the building.

He entered the lobby and walked past a woman sitting by a table. She was the receptionist.

`Sir, excuse me, you must put out your cigar,' the woman said when she saw him. `Smoking is illegal except in designated areas.'

The man flashed his police badge to her.

`I'll be sure to arrest myself,' he said, and he walked to the elevator while the receptionist shook her head in disapproval.

He called the elevator and took it all the way up to the top floor. When he stepped out of the elevator he headed straight for the CEO's office. Outside the door a policeman in uniform greeted him.

`This is a crime scene sir,' he said. The man with the cigar flashed his badge.

`Sergeant Westwood. I've been assigned to the case.'

The policeman saluted him.

`Go on in Sergeant. Detective Hastings is already inside.'

Sergeant Westwood nodded and entered the office.

Several people were in the office already. A forensics team was examining the body by the desk as well as the bloodstains on the floor. A slim man was standing on the far side of the desk, watching the scene with scrutiny. That was Detective Hastings.

Westwood nodded to him and looked at the corpse. As he examined it, Hastings stepped beside him.

`Big mess, eh, Westwood? Even by your standards. A CEO getting shot like this? Doesn't happen every day,' he said. Westwood resisted the urge to spit on the floor. It could have compromised the work of the forensics team.

`Fuck do I care what he is,' he said. `CEO or bum, it's a victim all the same. His killer is a killer all the same. Don't you come telling me how this is unusual! The shit I've seen in this city...'

`I know, Westwood. You get most of the dirty jobs. I guess that's why the Captain picked you for this case.'

`Captain Fuckface doesn't give two shits about which case I get. He just wants to find another excuse to get me suspended.'

Hastings nodded in agreement.

`Yeah, I suppose that's true. Then again, you're the one who gives him the opportunities. You approach every case with excessive violence. Like opening a cardboard box with a sledgehammer.'

`Shut up before I open your skull with a sledgehammer...' Westwood said, gritting his teeth. Hastings sighed.

`See what I mean?' he said. Westwood ignored the comment.

`What do we have so far?' Westwood asked.

Hastings took a small notebook from his pocket and flipped it open.

`The victim's name is John Gabriel. He is, well, he was the CEO of Pipe Software. He was shot sometime around midnight according to the rough estimate. However, there were several messages left on the answerphone by someone named Joanna. First message was left at half past 11 PM so the shooting might have been before that time.'

`I saw several security cameras on my way up here. Anything suspicious?'

`In a way. All the footage from after 8 PM last night is gone.'

Westwood didn't like that.

`What do you mean, gone?!' he asked. `Find it!'

`The local tech guys said it's unrecoverable. Seems like someone hacked into the system to provide cover for the killer.'

`Sounds like a professional.'

Hastings nodded, and then shook his head.

`Yes it does, except he was shot six times. It could be a personal issue between the killer and the victim. A hitman would be more efficient than this.'

`True. Or it could be a deliberate attempt to mislead us.'

Westwood looked around in the office looking for the possible spot where the killer might have stood when shooting the victim.

`There are no shell casings on the floor,' he said after a while. `Have they been gathered already?'

`No. There were no shell casings at all. The killer must have taken them.'

`He might have used a revolver.'

`Come on, Westwood! It's the 21st century. Nobody uses revolvers any more. Well, nobody except you, you dinosaur...' Hastings said, quite nearly laughing. Westwood ignored that; he preferred to take his anger out on criminals.

`So you're saying he gathered the shell casings? If so, do you still think this was personal and not a hitman?'

`It doesn't take a hitman to have the brains to gather the shell casings before leaving the scene of the crime.'

`Forget it, you'll never get this through your thick skull,' Westwood said, shaking his head. `Your skull's so thick I could try bashing it in with a sledgehammer and the sledgehammer would break.'

`What is it with you and sledgehammers?'

`Nothing! You brought them up, remember?'

`Apparently I shouldn't have,' Hastings said with another sigh.

`What else have we got?'

`Nothing, really. We need to wait for the forensics report.'

The phone on the desk rang. Westwood immediately stepped up to the desk.

`Is the phone hooked up to the tracing equipment?' he asked. Hastings nodded and called the technician over to the desk. The technician got to work and Westwood picked up the phone.


There was a long pause at the other end of the line. Finally, Westwood heard a female voice.

`Can I speak to Mister Gabriel, please?' the caller asked.

`Who is this?'

`Who am I? Who the fuck are you?'

This took Westwood by surprise. He composed himself quickly though.

`This is Sergeant Jack Westwood from the Con City Police Department,' he said strictly. `Who am I speaking to?'


For more, please proceed to the novel Con City.