Bridge Over Troubled Water

By: Vivien Dean

Chapter One

“Go home, Lindstrom.”

Detective Brady Lindstrom stared at the taped-off room, an immovable wall all the techs were forced to skirt around. Though the bodies were long gone, the imprint of what he’d found when he came upon the scene was still burned onto his retinas.

Scandinavian-inspired furniture splintered into so many pieces, they might as well have been matchsticks.

Blood smeared across the beige walls like a twisted hazing graffiti inspired by the Manson family.

Worst of all, a dozen frat boys battered, broken, and abandoned where whoever had attacked had decided to drop their corpses. Every single one of the victims had his throat ripped out. All but one was missing his heart.

Through the windows, the headlights from the news trucks nearly eclipsed the shine from all the cameras. The curtains glowed as if it was already dawn, but the sun wouldn’t show its face until nearly seven. Brady had been on the job for over thirty hours.

“You heard me, Lindstrom.” His partner, Monty Webster, scowled at him from his post at the doorway. He was as big a man as Brady, though too many hours doing the desk were settling his bulk around his midsection. “It’ll be hours before this is all processed.”

Brady shook his head. “Something might come up.”

“So I’ll take care of it when it does.”

“You need me.”

“And you need to get some sleep.”

With a roll of his eyes, Brady finally tore his attention away from the crime scene. Not that that made much of a difference. Give him pen and paper, and he’d be able to recreate it, all the way down to the bloody beer bottles piled up in the far corner. He’d overheard one of the techs suggesting the killers had used them with the neck snapped off to gouge out the victims’ hearts. He was both sickened by the idea and relieved so many bottles had been left behind. That many murder weapons meant that many more chances for the killers to screw up. One latent print was all he needed to go after them.

“Gee, I didn’t know you cared,” Brady said.

“I don’t. You fuck up because you’re not thinking straight, and it’ll be my ass on the line too.”

Webster was only half-kidding, but he had a point. If Brady was tired, he ran the risk of missing an angle or a detail that could prove crucial to the case. And he wouldn’t go to sleep right away when he got home anyway, so he’d have a few hours to work out, then surf around online to see what might be lurking in the ether.

“Fine.” Casting one last glance at the room behind him, Brady pulled his gloves out of his pockets and slipped them on. San Francisco was brisk in January, but gloves were as much of a concession as he was willing to make. “You’ll call if something comes up?”

Webster sighed. “You know I will. You think I want a repeat of what happened at the festival last year?”

Brady gave his partner a brusque nod and exited the frat house. Webster would call. When a stakeout the previous summer had gone south, Webster had tried to handle the fuck-up on his own by going after their guys. He’d ended up in the hospital for a week with a dislocated jaw and bruised kidneys. Brady’s lectures about procedure had fallen on deaf ears, so he’d had no choice but to go to the brass and make sure Webster was unofficially reprimanded. Brady hated being left out of the loop, especially unnecessarily, but he hated even more that he might’ve been able to save Webster from some of the pain if he’d been there. Ever since, Webster had been ultra-careful not to keep him in the dark about anything.

He kept his head down, his hands stuffed in his pockets, as he half-jogged past the reporters. The slaughter would be all over the morning news. Coffee and chaos, the breakfast of the big city. The fact that most of the kids who’d been murdered were sons of wealthy families meant there’d be sound bites from every imaginable corner, angry parents demanding justice, litigators debating whether or not SFPD would be able to find the culprits responsible. Brady had a lot of long nights ahead of him, not that that was any different than normal. He worked graveyard for a reason. Sleep had ditched him long ago.

One tenacious blonde broke away from the pack and chased him to his car, but Brady’s legs were longer, his resolve greater. He smirked when she came up short, tempted to flip her off as he shifted into reverse. Only the reminder that he was still on the job, that anyone with a phone could splash it across every social media platform out there, kept him from doing it. The force had a tough enough time with its public image. He wouldn’t add to the negative press.

The streets of San Francisco were deserted, the hour too early for commuters to clog its narrow arteries. Beyond the circus of the crime scene, people were shuttered inside their homes, unaware of the dangers that lurked outside their walls. Or maybe they actually knew, and chose to lock themselves in their voluntary prisons because of it. Either way, nobody stole Brady’s attention as he maneuvered toward the highway. He slipped onto 80 and headed south, with only the cacophony of imagined screams for company.

His apartment in San Bruno was tucked off the main roads, a tiny complex whose best attribute was its privacy. Brady didn’t need a view or fancy workout rooms or community centers. As long as it was safe and clean, he could do the rest. He moved every other year, always a new town in the Bay Area, always with excellent references. If he didn’t hate the hassle of getting mail redirected and setting up utilities so much, he would make the change annually. They joked at the station that he had to move so often to escape the hordes of women he left behind. It was a misconception Brady had no problem fostering.