* * *
"I'm certified in a dozen different self-defense methods," the woman stated.
"I only need one," the man replied in bored tones.
"Which is?" she asked.
"The most lethal. Turn."
The conversation went static for two seconds before the detective listening to the wireless tap found it again.
"Uh-huh." She paused. "Hand-to-hand or weapons?"
"Hands only. If I arm 'em, they'll turn."
The detective noted date, time, and frequencies and began speculating on the woman's identity. He signaled his partner to pick up the second headset. They both listened.
"When and where?" the woman asked.
"My place. Late."
"Fine. You'll see me when the money's clear. Turn."
The connection fizzled. The detective scrambled, but lost the continuing conversation.
"Damn. That's it?"
Larry Ferguson was more hopeful than his sour-stomached partner. "It's more than we've had on Slick Micky before."
"Ain't enough," Chuck Loomis groused.
"Let's run it for the DA and see what he thinks." Larry ignored the doom and gloom of his partner and did what he could to buff the recording. If he could find a single locator clue, the DA would jump on it. Better, if he nailed the woman's ID the DA would write the reference Larry needed to get promoted out of this sorry detail.
"Hey, Chuck. Check out this short list of female self defense instructors."
Chuck swiveled around, scanned the list and grunted. Larry hadn't expected anything more. "It's a code, is all."
"I don't think so. She–"
"She knew when and how to change channels. They got outta your reach fast enough. It's just a new code."
"Larry, you're a good kid, but let me dash your hopes right now. These days ya got a better chance marrying the chief's daughter than moving up and outta this tin can. Now put the ears back on and find us a real crime we can prevent."
Larry ignored the barb about the youngest bachelor chief in Chicago history and resumed his work. "Hot damn!" Larry caught Chuck's dismissive headshake. But Chuck couldn't hear the alarms wailing down at the Museum of Natural History. With a few keystrokes, Larry accessed the security cameras onsite. "Put it in gear, Chuck. I found you a crime scene."
"Yee haw." Chuck yawned as he settled his over-regulation bulk into the driver's seat.
Larry tracked the burglar's progress from gallery to gallery while listening to the chatter of the robotic security drones in pursuit. "He's hurt, Chuck. This collar'll be a breeze."
"Don't count your chickens, kid."
"What the hell's that mean?"
"It's some farm thing my granddad said."
"You've seen a family farm? You are an old-timer."
"Aw, shut up. Where do we pick up this thief?"
"He's made a cut for the northeast exit."
"I'll clue 'em in," Larry said while Chuck grumbled about the perils of technology.
He disagreed with Chuck's hardened view of society in general and their job in particular. But his partner had a point about the flaws of the new totally robotic security systems. Twentieth century sci-fi had inspired inventors, but the same stories messed with the lackluster vision of legislators, leaving no loopholes to create a thinking machine.
"You'd think the Museum of Natural History would leave a couple humans in the place."
Larry ignored his peevish partner and continued to ready the evidence kit.
* * *
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Genre – Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Rating – PG-13