Murphy woke with a headache and a bad taste in his mouth. Smacking his lips and rubbing his chin, he sat up in his chair and looked at the clock on the wall. Six thirty-two in the morning.
“Still plenty of time,” he groused, thinking of how O’Neil would be picking him up at eight o’clock.
Standing up, he walked over to the mantle over his fireplace and stared at the picture of his former family. His wife, a waifish blonde with brilliant green eyes, smiled back at him from the park bench where the photo had been taken. A young boy, no older than seven, sat in her lap with a cup and dark brown hair. His face was smudged with dirt, but he didn’t seem to care. Murphy reached up and ran his thumb over the photo before pulling a cigarette from his pack, lighting it and taking a deep breath.
“You always complained about my smoking Mary,” Murphy said to the photo. “I wonder what you would think of me now?”
A sudden ringing from his cell phone in his jacket, which had fallen to the ground from the back of the recliner, broke his train of thought. He walked over and pulled the phone out of the left pocket. It was one of the disposable cell phones he purchased on a regular basis for his contacts, so that they could contact him without knowing his number. Flipping the phone open he exhaled a cloud of smoke before clearing his throat.
“Hello?” He said, his voice hoarse.
“Murphy? It’s me, Crowley.” The voice on the other side said. Crowley was a drug dealer that was with the local Aryan Nation group. He was a small man, bald with piercing eyes, and swastikas on the back of each hand. He’d become one of Murphy’s informants when Murphy busted him during a raid of a storehouse where Crowley was the only one on guard. Murphy had convinced the Captain he’d be a good mole in the criminal organization. That’d been two years ago, and Murphy had been right.
“What do you need Crowley?” Murphy asked. “It’s pretty early to call and ask how I’m doing.”
“You told me to keep an ear to the ground if the Nation was smuggling anything into the city and let you know should it happen. Well, they’re bringing in about twenty girls, from all over the state.”
“Girls? That’s new for them,” Murphy said.
“Yeah, I know. I was told to organize an auction for the girls in one of the warehouses on the west side in three days, and to send word out throughout the community.” Crowley said.
Murphy thought for a moment. “Do you know anything about the girls?”
“Yeah, I have a packet on each one. Why?”
“Are any of the girls twenty-one?” Murphy asked, rubbing his eyes.
“Umm, yeah, three of them. Why, what’s that have to do with anything?” Crowley sounded surprised that Murphy would know this.
“Listen, I want you to try and get a hold of a hitman by the name of William Morsely. He’s buying up girls that are twenty-one years old and will be a likely buyer. Don’t be overt about it, but make sure he hears about it.”
“How am I supposed to find him?” Crowley asked.
“That’s where your particular skills come into play. Get me an invite to the auction as well.” Murphy said.
“What? Why would you want to come to an auction? I can’t have the police raiding this, they’ll know I’m a snitch!” Crowley said, panicking slightly.
“Calm down, I’m not going to raid the place, though I will want you to keep records on everyone who buys a girl so I can have them picked up later,” Murphy said, walking over to his fridge. Opening it, he retrieved a can of soda. “I just need to see this hitman for myself and talk to him in an environment where it won’t seem so strange.”
“Oh, and dragging him into the station would be a little to subtle, eh?” Crowley joked.
Murphy laughed a little. “Yeah, once you see him you’ll understand why I don’t want to do that.”
“Great, you have me going after some spooky guy?” Crowley whined.
“Yeah, be careful around him, he’s a little… volatile.” Murphy warned.
“I’ll make certain to keep that in mind,” Crowley said with a sigh. “You know since you recruited me I’ve developed ulcers, right?”
“Yeah but you’ve been making more money what with me taking out your competition within the Nation.” Murphy said with a smile. “Goodbye Crowley.”
“See ya Murphy,” Crowley said as he hung up on his end.
Murphy flipped the phone closed and tucked it into his pajama pants pocket before opening his soda. Sipping from it, he walked over to his chair and sat down, heaving a sigh.
“An auction of young girls,” Murphy groused, sipping his drink. “That should flush him out long enough to speak with him.”
Murphy spent the next hour getting ready for work, taking a shower and brushing his teeth, though eschewing his need to shave in favor of having another soda and cigarette. He then spent a half hour reading through several chapters of Le Nausea before he heard O’Neil honking the horn of the charger outside the apartment complex. Locking up his home, Murphy walked down the stairs, noting the chill of the morning as he slid on his jacket, puffing on his cigarette the entire time.
The passenger side window was rolled down, with O’Neil leaning over to stare out at Murphy as he approached. “You doing okay?”
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” Murphy said, opening the door and getting in the vehicle.
“Well, um, no reason. You ready to go?” O’Neil asked, popping the car into gear.
Murphy fastened his seat belt and leaned back in his seat. “Let’s roll.”
The ride was short but hectic as the detectives had to battle with rush hour traffic. It was times like this that Murphy wished he could just turn on the light sitting on the dashboard and just have the cars part like the red sea. But no, that would be abusing the authority that he and O’Neil had been entrusted with.
“So any news on the shipment?” Murphy asked as he took a drag from his cigarette.
O’Neil shook his head, eyes on the road. “Not that I heard, but who knows? Maybe one of our moles have something to report.”
Murphy grunted. Pulling into the station, O’Neil glided into a parking space before popping the car into park and pulling the emergency brake. Both men exited the car and walked into the building, nodding at the officer sitting at the front desk. O’Neil took a moment to partake of an open donut box while Murphy walked through the door leading to the work room where everyone’s desk was located. He made his way over to his desk and spun the chair around so that he could take a seat. Turning on his computer monitor, he smiled when Morsely’s most recent mug shot faded into view.
Minimizing the window, Murphy opened his e-mail and sorted through the inter-office chatter that didn’t involve him. Shaking his head, he reached for his rolodex and began flipping through the cards until he came across his contact at the FBI, one John Riley. Picking up his phone, he began dialing the numbers slowly before opening a blank word document. After three rings a tired voice answered with a groan.
“John? That you?” Murphy asked.
“Yeah, who’s this?” John replied, coughing a few times as if to clear his throat.
“It’s Blake Murphy, a detective out of the San Antonio Police Department. We spoke at a convention about three years ago and you told me to call you if I had any questions about Occult leanings in any investigations.”
“It doesn’t ring a bell but I make that offer to almost every detective I meet, so I’ll take your word on it. What do you want?”
“I have a suspect with a tattoo that doesn’t match any known gang affiliation,” Murphy said, shouldering the phone as he opened up his lower cabinet to retrieve a warm soda. “I was wondering if I could send you his mug shot and see if you recognized it?”
“Describe it to me,” John said impatiently.
Murphy did so while opening his soda, taking a sip once he was done. John made a few grunts as if he was taking notes. “And which eye is it over?”
“The right eye,” Murphy said.
“That could mean something. Leaders of certain cults have tattoos over their left eyes or on their foreheads.” John said.
“Have you ever seen what I’ve described?” Murphy asked.
“Honestly, no. But we have a huge repository of texts that should prove helpful. I’ll send some interns to look up what this symbol could mean and get back to you.”
“That’d be appreciated John, thank you,” Murphy said, looking up as O’Neil walked over. “Listen, I’ve gotta run, but thank you for your help.”
“No problem Blake, you take care now,” John said before hanging up.
Murphy put down the receiver and spun in his chair to look expectantly at O’Neil. The large man perched on the edge of one of the other desks and crossed his arms.
“The Captain would like a word with you after the meeting we’re having in twenty minutes. Seems we caught wind of when the shipment is arriving and where and we’re organizing a task force to intercept it.”
Murphy frowned. Captain Martinez was an older man with a bushy moustache and a wrinkled face covered in liver spots. He’d been a detective for twenty years before accepting the promotion to Captain, so he understood how Murphy operated to an extent. This did not, however, mean that the man was as understanding to how Murphy handled his cases. He’d made it clear that should Murphy’s underhanded dealings ever come to light he would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Murphy had merely nodded when he was told this and thanked the Captain for his honesty. He then started building up a file of blackmail material on the Captain, just in case he ever needed it.
Murphy stood up and followed O’Neil to the conference room where the police would be gathered for the meeting. Rather than take a seat, Murphy chose to stand in the back, arms crossed. O’Neil moved to one of the thin metal chairs, which groaned beneath his weight as he settled into it. Murphy smiled at his partners struggle with the small chair for a moment before looking to the front of the room.
A white board covered the far wall, with a long table sitting in front of it next to a podium. Several other officers had already begun to filter into the room, each looking at Murphy with a mild amount of interest of distrust. They all knew he was “crooked” in a way, but none of them were ever able to prove anything: his contacts were well rewarded for their cooperation, and would rather not trade their one friend in the police force for one that would just as well book them on trumped up charges.
The rest of the room filled up rather quickly as the Captain herded in his employees, shouting “let’s go, let’s go!” The Captain was wearing suspenders with a pair of black slacks and a long sleeved white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The officers all found seats as the Captain made his way to the front of the room, where he took his place behind the podium.
The meeting was about to begin.