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An Investigation’s Gestation by KJ Hannah Greenberg


Lieutenant Lisa Kalback pushed the memo off of her desk and into her “circular file.” She knew the perpetrators’ identity; the crime was of a pattern. Eyes widening, as the bubble she blew approached the size of her face, Kalback moved her mouse until her screen was covered with a colorful graph. Concurrently, she rang up Sergeant Sandy Jones; all of the incidents had occurred in his jurisdiction.

The two conversed as Kalback opened more windows on her computer. Her display filled with patrolmen’s reports and with copies of witnesses’ cell phone photos. Straight away, she closed those files and pulled up a map showing the proximity of the newest crime scene to Sooner or Later Realtors’ ever expanding headquarters.

Hastily, Kalback concluded that call and then speed dialed Detective-Specialist Mark Marys. Marys, a single father, owed her; Kalback had taken his daughter on a kitten selecting expedition. Kalback understood kids since she already had six teenagers and was currently knocked up with a “midlife surprise.”

With less hesitation that expected, Marys agreed to the plan. They’d meet the following morning to debrief. Kalback reached for gumdrops.

That night, “Kalback Castle” experienced normal bedlam. Sara needed trigonometry help, Julius lamented his dating status, Annabelle and her twin, Stacia, cried out about a newly scheduled discus tournament, while Jeff moaned as he pulled at his latest shaving-induced scab. Only Stephen, nose glued to the family’s PC, remained introspective; Stephen was writing a speculative fiction novel.

Lisa smiled at each offspring as she waddled, chocolate-stained, across the room. Although her stomach preceded her briefcase, her renewed girth failed to reduce her mastery of all things maternal. After kissing each child, she barked orders at them to get the washing machine going and to get the dinner mess cleaned up. Thereafter, she calmly inquired whether or not the children’s father, her apparently still virile stud, had called from India.

Stacia, who began to answer, stopped midsentence to dive for the phone. Even Jeff unplugged his Ipod long enough to hear who was calling. Sara, who had won the search for that invaluable implement, by finding the receiver buried among the sofa cushions, muttered something about Detective Marys and something else about giving his kid more of her hand-me-downs. She then took the cordless into her room from where she would ring up pals wise about the difference between sines and tangents.

Lisa leaned over Stephen and began to type. The boy’s loud exhale temporarily silenced the room. The keyboard had been commandeered by their mom just as his tale’s chimerae squadron captain was about to vanquish an entire tribe of polar bears. Politely refusing the proffered lollipop, Stephen scribbled a few notes on the back of a homework sheet before yielding his seat to their parent. By dint of thus being in such close proximity to his mentally masticating forbearer, Stephen was treated to a view of a facsimile of a blueprint of Sooner or Later’s main building. Like all of the company’s satellite offices, the company’s headquarters was located near a razed down pastry shop. Arson was suspected.

Mom then enlarged a neighborhood map. She zoomed in on a Habitats Pet Store. Copies of announcements, from The Daily Durum, subsequently, popped up. Mom highlighted an advertisement for cheap, spiny mammals. Stephen brightened. His writing skills were derived from a combination of her brilliant nature and from his pa’s ceaseless nurturing. Too bad Dad was in India for a poetry reading.

The gnawing habits of select types of rodents next appeared on the screen, followed by an article about hedgehogs’ dietary preferences. While that data paraded, Julius brought Mom a sandwich and a juice. He’d been telling his friends that he soon would have an infant brother. Julius nudged Stephen so that he, too, could watch Mom work. Reports of other incinerated bakeries flashed on screen.

As though choreographed, Sara appeared and handed Mom the phone. Mom dialed Marys. Following a brief conversation with that detective-specialist, Mom invited everyone out to help her pursue soft serve ice cream. Except for Jeff, who remained occupied with the hall mirror, all of the other kids climbed into the van. Dad called during the drive and sent kisses. Twenty copies of his Love on the Ganges had sold. He had two more readings to attend before he could fly home.

The next morning, at Kalback’s office, Mark Marys showed up with a cage full of agitated, pregnant critters. Sandy Jones arrived with photographic evidence. Patrolman Hitchkins came with blood and fur samples. In Lieutenant Lisa’s mind, the string of malicious burnings of property had been solved.

Kalback broke off bits of Girl Scout cookies and threaded those morsels into the cage of the captured beasts. In quick measure, she gave up the rest of her midmorning treat; the elements of her prime exhibit were clawing each other over piece of thin mints and of shortbreads. They were going at each other in a fashion that could endanger her case.

Jones dispatched officers to arrest Sooner or Later’s chief financial officer. He called up a police department photographer, too, to ride around with those patrolmen and to document the holes in that office’s walls. As for Marys, he stabbed at the stack of triplicate forms needed to force the CFO to appear in court. Marys frowned; it would have taken less time to take his daughter to visit pet shops and to pick out a kitten.

Kalback’s belly rumbled. After wiping her hand on a sanitized serviette, she reached for a packet of candy corn. She snarfed down a handful, and then, sighing, gave the rest of the sugar to the pregnant rodents. Shrugging, she explained to her colleagues how she had constructed her crime theory.



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