[Salem's Finest] - 1:1 - The Prodigal Father

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[Salem's Finest] - 1:1 - The Prodigal Father

Postby EvilSqueegee » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:21 am

I’ll admit: It’s not often a case takes me by surprise, anymore. Chief says I’m too good at my job to be good at my job; I don’t know if he thinks I’m too much of a bleeding heart to cope, or if I’m too aware of things to fill the shoes I need to fill as complacently as the Suits would like. Honestly, I just take it as a compliment and move on. Because, on the very rare occasion that I’m reminded I really don’t have it all figured out (okay, so it’s more than rare - but let’s keep things about the job, here, alright?), it’s easier to deal with if I’m expecting to not know anything. Today is one of those occasions.

I was pretty sure that after the beating her last stalker got, folks would have gotten the message to leave this woman alone. Boss said that I’d been requested specifically, though, so I didn’t ask questions. I just grabbed my badge, my gun, my keys and headed out. No point in keeping anyone waiting, right?

I’ve been out this way before. Funnily enough, more money and better security systems don’t save you from angry wives or drug-addled husbands. The ‘suburbia’ feel this neighborhood has going on just makes me feel like I’m walking into a death-trap, it doesn’t give me that secure-and-safe feeling it gives so many people. It’s subtle, but it’s sinister. There’s too many people out here with too much social stress. Each of these buildings strikes me as more of a dungeon or a prison cell - The Spider’s Parlor - than it does a safe homestead.

On the bright side, at least, this is one of the few places in town that my car doesn’t stick out. I don’t have much in life, but I do have my Porsche. Collector’s. It’s loud, and I like it that way. They don’t make ‘em like they used to - it’s easy to notice in the ghettos. Around here, a fancy car is just another thing on the road. If I were up North, this would be a different story. On occasion I’ve been known to actually drive the old patrol car my partner held on to, up there, so I don’t risk anything.

I pull the car up into the driveway, the blaring rock cutting itself dead silent as soon as the radio loses power. The car door swings open, and my boot crunches down onto the pavement.

I look around, hands on my hips - taking a survey of the place. Just... focus. Deep breaths! Work, Trace. You can do this. I head up to the door and give a determined knock, badge on the belt - not that I’ll need it. When the door opens I greet the person on the other side with a smile.

“Hey. Heard you could use a hand.”
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Re: [Salem's Finest] - 1:1 - The Prodigal Father

Postby Kjaere » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:35 pm

The door swings open almost the same moment her knuckles begin to rap against the wood. Standing in the threshold is a figure all too familiar to Tracy: Daniel Graves. As with every visit he wore a strained smile, muscles tensing slightly as he forced it into place. The bags that hung thick beneath his eyes seemed just a little deeper than usual, his button-down shirt and slacks slightly disheveled and wrinkled.

“Hello Detective. Glad you could make it. Please, come in.” Stepping aside her motioned her in, taking a moment to adjust his shirt, straightening it out before closing the door behind her.

If the neighborhood was enough to unsettle those who dare trespass within, stepping into the house itself was certain to set one on edge. The moment the door swung shut the room seemed to brighten, a disturbing sensation when the sun was shining outside. Everything within seemed to sparkle just so, fluorescent light catching every surface.

“I’m sorry to have you come all this way again. Rebecca is in the living room.” Daniel offered as he lead the way. With each step the subtle scent of cleaning fluids blended with air fresheners grew to create the sour scent of sterilization.

It was easy to feel sorry for the man. He was pretty sincere considering the shark infested waters he swam in. Between that and the constant problems his wife seemed to encounter one could only imagine the amount of stress he was under. Of course all it took was one look at his wife for most to understand how he managed to get through the day.

Sitting on the couch in the living room was the perfect image of a woman from the fifties. Long blonde curls bounced lightly against her shoulders even as she leant forward slightly, furiously scrubbing a spot on the coffee table. Despite vigor that could probably strip the veneer right off the wood she somehow managed to look rather composed, the light pink tip of her tongue at the corner of her mouth the only indication of her concentration.

Daniel cleared his throat at Tracy’s side. When the sound received no response he called out softly. “Rebecca darling.” The verbal nudge was apparently enough to get her attention, causing her head to snap up. Immediately she gasped in surprise, her hand instinctively withdrawing the cloth into her pocket. “Oh good heavens, do forgive me!”

Rising gracefully she smoothed the long skirt down at the back. “Please, do come in. Sit, sit.” Motioning to the chair across from her she offered a soft smile. Unlike her husband it was difficult to tell how strained the gesture was. While make-up is can hide ones flaws it can be said it conceals the truth as well. At least she was beautiful while doing so.

After everyone was settled in Rebecca continued to watch Tracy, her smile lingering. In the moments of silence that followed Daniel shifted uncomfortably, glancing at his wife and taking her hands in his. Another few seconds and he finally cleared his throat, hesitantly returning his gaze to Tracy.

“We asked for you specifically because you’ve done so much to help us already. You’re kind of like extended family around here.” Another forced smile, a squeeze of his wife’s hand and a hard swallow. “You see Detective, Rebecca’s father has gone missing.”

For the first time in almost a minute Rebecca finally moved, her entire body flinching slightly. But still she kept smiling cordially; Even as her eyes had grown a little vacant, moisture gathering at the corners still she kept smiling.
Last edited by Kjaere on Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: [Salem's Finest] - 1:1 - The Prodigal Father

Postby EvilSqueegee » Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:32 pm

“I hope I can help,” I nod once they explain why I’m here, taking a seat as we settle in.

There are times in my life where I’m glad I’ve got the job I do. If I didn’t have the role of professional investigator to play, here, I’d feel a lot more awkward standing in someone’s house when they’re so upset. I’d be caught between wanting to think really hard about anything except my own missing person, and doing or saying whatever it took to calm Rebecca down. And by I’d be I mean I am but that’s just not how you handle yourself as a cop.

Instead, I nod, listening as they speak. I reach into my coat and pull out my phone and a stylus - opening a new file and beginning to follow ‘procedure,’ playing the role of a character who doesn’t have to worry about those warring impulses. I’ve got a job to do.

“How long has he been missing?” I ask in a cool, confident tone. Most people, particularly suburbanites, have a view of the police that’s been crafted painstakingly by the media: We know what we’re doing, and there’s procedural law for everything. To the public eye, I’m taught exactly what questions to ask. I’m a mouthpiece for the system, here.

In reality, though, that’s not the case. I just ask for whatever information I need to get the job done, and jot down all the answers for future reference as they give them to me.

“When was the last time you heard from him? Do you know what was going on or why he might have left? Tell me everything you know, a lot of the time in cases like these the devil’s in the details.” Or, at least, that’s what people like to hear. Usually, parents just get fed up and want nothing to do with their children when they go missing - either that, or they’re dead.

I write the information down, and once they’re done sharing what they know, I nod. I encourage them to explain or elaborate whenever necessary, but I’m sure to give them the space they need.

“If you think of anything else - anything at all - call me immediately.” I reach into my pocket and pull out my card, sliding it across the table to the two of them. If they add anything, I continue to write it down.

Otherwise? They’ve got a missing father I’m charged with finding, and I think I’m going to be sick if I have to breathe in any more of these chemicals. Ironically enough, I feel like I need a shower. Badly.

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Wits 3 + Empathy 3: 9-again for Trained Observer.
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Re: [Salem's Finest] - 1:1 - The Prodigal Father

Postby Kjaere » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:25 am

With every question another flake of Rebecca’s porcelain mask fell away. Soon she was swallowing hard, smile faltering, muscles going rigid. Her hand twisted to return her husband’s grip, squeezing until her knuckles shone white. Yet she still struggled to maintain her pleasant expression, never once acknowledging the tears that had started to trickle down her cheeks.

“We saw him about two weeks ago.” Daniel began, glancing back in his wife. Unfortunately seeing her condition did nothing for his own. Her tension swept through him, taking hold and locking his jaw. It was a long moment before he could tear his gaze away but once he had it remained fixed on Tracy.

Swallowing hard and inhaling through his nose, he eventually managed to continue. “We met over lunch. He was in such high spirits: told us he had found an incredible opportunity. Some kind of business deal that was everything we could have hoped for.” With those last words his eyes fell shut, teeth clenching.

Meanwhile Rebecca completely lost her own battle; Crumpling against him she pressed her face against his chest and began to sob. Strangled words were offered to his chest only to be lost in the tide of her anguish. Yet all Daniel could do was clutch her close to him, kissing the top of her head and burying his face in her hair as he tried not to be swept away along with her.

After a few moments he was glancing up at Tracy, a silent plea in his eyes for her to give them a minute. Gently he began to coax his wife to her feet, whispering whatever words of comfort he could offer, though they too seemed lost amidst her cries. Yet he did manage to get them both to their feet, his arm around her waist guiding her out of the room.

Soon the sounds of Rebecca’s torment began to fade with their footsteps until the closing of a door had nearly cut them off completely. For several long minutes Tracy was left there, alone adrift a sea of chemicals and air fresheners; Poisons masked by falsehoods. Without the couple their the house suddenly seemed entirely empty; cold white and metal surfaces offering no comfort or warmth.

Eventually however Daniel returned. Making his way over to the couch he sat down heavily, glancing over at Tracy, revealing his red and puffy eyes. Reaching up he wiped below them, pinching the bridge of his nose before leaning forward and slipping his hand under the couch. When it withdrew again he held an ashtray with a pack of cigarettes nestled within.

It wasn’t until he had lit the smoke, leaning back into the cushion of the couch that he finally spoke again. “I’m sorry about that Detective. Please understand that its been a rough couple of weeks. Even after moving out here he never stopped being a part of our lives. Always watching out for us and doing whatever he could to support us. He used to say it was because he wanted a good environment for his grand kids to be raised in.” The laugh that followed made his eyes glisten before taking a long drag from the cigarette.

“I just know that she’s going to blame herself if something has happened to him. I guess I should be grateful that she wouldn’t place it on me, but I’ll be picking up the slack for that.” His smile was no longer forced, only empty.

“I wish I could tell you more. All I managed to get out of him over lunch was the place he was going to be meeting them.” Reaching into his pocket with his free hand he fished out a folded paper and leant forward to hand it over. “I think it was a group of some kind of executives or something. Dad always was a great businessman. Had a knack for dealing with the high rollers.” This time he had to close his eyes as he smiled, hand trembling as he took another long drag.

When he’s asked to call if he thinks of anything else he just nods, taking the proffered card before standing up and escorting Tracy to the door. “Thanks again Detective. Good luck.” He lingers there for just a moment, his gaze on locking with hers to offer all the silent pleas, the prayers that he simply can’t put into words. After a long moment he nods, swallowing a little before closing the door.
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Re: [Salem's Finest] - 1:1 - The Prodigal Father

Postby EvilSqueegee » Sun Mar 30, 2014 4:22 am

The door latches behind me, sealing the couple in their lair and stranding me outside. I take a moment to process what’d just happened, idly tucking my phone and stylus into my coat pocket while head for the car, not really paying attention to where I’m stepping.

My dad was always fond of little tidbits and pieces of wisdom - quotes that are attributed to just about any celebrity your favorite Blogger feels like idolising that day. You know, motivational calendars and stuff, those one-liner ”things to live by” morsels. A complete picture is inaccurate, an accurate picture is incomplete in particular is the one that flutters around the back of my mind. I suppose you don’t really understand what it means until you start doing the kind of work I do.

I’m too inquisitive for my own good. Maybe my boss is right -- I might actually be too good at my job. That doesn’t change the part where I can’t shake the feeling that something’s off as I open the car door and climb in. The radio kicks back up right where it left off, blaring guitars and harmonics erupting from the dashboard’s speakers in the background. I don’t hear the music, though. Too busy chewing on the conersation I’ve just had.

The wife bugs me. That wasn’t my father is missing. That was My father is gone. When someone goes missing, you worry and you panic. You don’t grieve or give up. Her reaction was genuine, as far as I could tell, but it leaves me feeling like she definitely knew something I don’t. Pulling out of the driveway makes me feel like I’m leaving behind stones unturned, questions unasked and answers unfound.


I leave the truth behind myself to rot in the burning stench of chemicals. I’ll come back when the price of understanding isn’t my lungs.
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