“Is this right?” The police sketch artist, name of Meg, held up a composite. We were in an interview room, and I was starting to get claustrophobic.
“Nose is too big,” I said, frowning at the picture. She had done a good job capturing the guys general likeness, but there was something missing. Needless to say, Matt and I never did get around to trying to draw the captor last night.
“How about now?” Meg had taken several minutes to redo the nose before turning the pad towards me.
“Better.” There was still something about the picture that wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. There was something about his hair that was eluding me. Oh well, I dismissed it from my mind. If I thought about it any longer, I would become more confused than ever. The best thing would be to allow it to come to me when it was the right time.
“How did she do?” Detective Martinez said to Meg, striding into the room.
“She did just fine,” I said loudly, cross that he was talking about me as if I weren’t even in the room.
“Fine, Detective Martinez,” Meg said, smiling up at the detective. I suddenly realized that Meg was an attractive brunette in her early thirties with clear green eyes and a glorious smile. No wonder Martinez softened under her gaze. I wondered if she was Irish as she looked as if she had a touch of the green in her.
“Meg Callahan,” I blurted out, causing both Meg and Martinez to glance my way.
“I never told you my last name,” Meg said, looking at me curiously. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
“Detective Martinez didn’t tell you?” I asked, quirking my eyebrow at the detective. When I met Meg, I just assumed that Martinez had told her everything and didn’t say a word. Now, I realized that she didn’t know she’d been sketching someone I had seen in my mind. I looked at Martinez to see what I should do, and he gave me a slight nod. “I’m somewhat psychic. This picture you’re sketching is of someone I envisioned.”
“You mean I’ve been doing this for nothing?” Meg said in disgust, setting down her pencil.
“That’s how I knew your last name,” I continued, ignoring her fit of pique. “I saw it in my mind.”
“Oh, yeah? Well, then what’s my middle name?” Meg shot back, clearly skeptical.
“Look, it doesn’t work—” I began before stopping. “Meghan with an ‘h’,” I said, catching the slight start Meg gave. “Colleen Meghan Callahan. That’s your full name. You go by a shorten version of your middle name instead of your first name.” I smiled to myself in satisfaction; I was getting better at this every day.
“Colleen?” Martinez said, looking at Meg questioningly.
“Don’t,” Meg said, holding up a hand. The look she gave Martinez was enough to shut him up. She turned to me, glaring as she did. “How the hell did you know that? Even my coworkers don’t know that.”
“I told you,” I said patiently. I knew how difficult it was to accept that someone you didn’t know had such information about you. This was the reason I seldom told people what I knew—it made them suspicious. “I’m psychic. Sort of.”
“Ok, Martinez, stop kidding around.” Meg was angry by this point, an attractive flush spreading over her pale cheeks. “You knew, somehow, right? You knew, and you told her.” Despite her anger, there was a tremble in her voice that told me she was scared. Martinez slowly shook his head, though his eyes were sympathetic.
“My point is, Meg,” I said, raising my voice as I gestured to the sketch. “This is not a waste of time.”
“Fuck, Martinez, I don’t like this,” Meg said, her own voice raising. “Next time you get someone else to put up with this shit.”
“I asked for you because you’re the best, Callahan. You know that. You just need to suck it up and get over it. Got it?” It was an order, no doubt about it. Meg glared at Martinez as if she wanted to slap him. I wished she would because I’ve never seen two cops go at it before. She wisely backed down, however, and no blood was shed.
“So, should I be expecting other assignments like this?” Meg asked, her voice on this side of sneering. Martinez gave her a long look before replying.
“Callahan, your job is police sketch artist. That means you draw what I fucking tell you to draw—it’s pretty simple. If you can’t manage that, well, then we might have to discuss finding somewhere else for you to be. Is that clear?”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Meg said sarcastically, saluting Martinez. She gathered her supplies and got out of there as quickly as she could.
“Sorry about that,” I said to Martinez as soon as Meg was out of earshot. “I just wanted her to know I was legit.”
“What are you apologizing for?” Martinez asked, picking up the sketch and examining it. “You have a gift—it should be used. Fuck the people who don’t understand that.” There was a little more heat than necessary in the last sentence, and I wondered if he included his partner in that sweeping statement. “Damn,” Martinez said, drooping just a little. He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. “I’m going to have to look for a match in my off-time.”
“Why not get some rookie to do it for you?” I knew how this worked. He should be able to pawn off that kind of scut work to a lower-ranking peon. Martinez glanced at me, causing me to go weak in the knees. I had to get a grip and stop responding to him as if I were a schoolgirl with a crush on her teacher.
“No offense, Ms. Hsu,” Martinez started, causing my spine to stiffen. Usually if someone prefaced a comment like that, it was guaranteed to cause offense. “I believe in your premonitions, but others on the force don’t. There would be no support for me delegating such work. In fact, there would be a mutiny if I did such a thing.”
“Why not tell the underling it’s a suspect and leave it at that?” I had a hunch why that couldn’t happen, but I wanted to see what he’d say.
“There’s an internal problem,” Martinez said, his tone bland. I caught the tightening of his lips, however, and it confirmed my hunch. Daily had blabbed about me to the other officers which meant that Martinez would catch holy hell if he made someone chase a lead given to him by me.
“Got any mug shots?” I said before I could think about it. When Martinez looked at me strangely, I added, “I could look through some of them for you. Maybe I can find him. I know it’s a long shot, but at least it would be one less thing that you’d have to do.” Martinez looked at me for a long moment before breaking out in a grin.
“That would be tremendous, Ms. Hsu. You sure would save me a lot of time.”
“Well, you can reciprocate by making sure you get at least five hours of sleep tonight,” I retorted. “You’ll be more help to Danny if you’re rested.” We shared a smile, and I knew that I was walking a dangerous line. Cops weren’t supposed to get involved with a suspect in an investigation, and while I knew he didn’t consider me a suspect, Daily sure did. “Mart—Detective Martinez, may I ask you a question?” I blushed as I realized that I’d almost called him Martinez like I did in my head. I waited for him to nod before continuing. “Why is it you haven’t given me more grief about my abilities? It’s not like a cop to take such a thing at face value.” Detective Martinez took his time before answering. It appeared as if was a deliberate thinker, not wanting to say too much too quickly.
“I’ve seen what you can do,” he finally said. “You’re right too often for it to just be coincidence. As a cop, I’m not a big believer in coincidence, anyway.”
“That’s not all, though, is it?” I didn’t know why I was prodding, but some obscure voice inside me told me to do it. Martinez thought some more before replying.
“I am a fourth Lakota. My great-great-grandfather was a shaman. I know there are people who are gifted with sight that goes beyond normal human capabilities. You are one of those people.” Detective Martinez said this without fanfare, but it jolted me. I knew that many Latinos had some American Indian blood, but I’d never met someone who’d had a shaman in his family before. A healer. A medicine man. No wonder Martinez accepted my abilities with equanimity—it was nothing new to him.
“Thank you for telling me that.”
“I’ll get those mug shot books.”
Detective Martinez strode from the room, and I couldn’t help watching his ass as he left. It was time to admit that I had a massive crush on this man, but it was more than physical. I sensed a kindred spirit, and I wondered if he had a touch of the sight himself. I knew he wouldn’t tell me, however, unless it was necessary.
I drummed my fingers on the table, waiting for him to return. I wished I had a cup of coffee although I’d already had three this morning. I hadn’t gone to bed until late for more than one reason, and I was dragging even though it was barely after nine in the morning. The gang hadn’t been too happy about me not showing up for work today, but even they had to admit that a trip to the cop shop took precedence over us getting together and schmoozing. Don’t get me wrong—we worked our asses off just to not be in debt. However, we mixed in a healthy dose of fun with our work which made our gatherings feel more like social events than a job. If we really had to get something done, we were better off doing our individual parts and bringing the results back to the group than trying to work collectively to finish the task at hand.
“Here we go,” Detective Martinez said, carrying in a thick pile of photo albums.
“All that?” I asked, my heart sinking. When I made the offer, I envisioned leafing through a book or two—perhaps even peeking into some computer files. I hadn’t planned on spending my whole morning at the precinct, but it was too late to withdraw my offer.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Detective Martinez said, setting the books down with a thud. “It’s really a scattershot approach, but every little bit helps. May I get some coffee for you? I have some in a thermos, so you won’t have to suffer through police coffee. That stuff is truly vile.”
“You read my mind,” I said with a wide smile. “I was just jonesing for some.” As Detective Martinez was about to leave, a thought popped up in my brain. “How’s Kayla? Did you book her?”
“You know I can’t discuss that with you,” Detective Martinez replied, a hint of reproach in his voice. “I’ll be back with that cup of coffee.”
I shrugged. It had been worth a shot, even though I had expected the response I’d gotten. Didn’t matter since I’d be able to find out from Matt or from the news. In fact, I was surprise Matt hadn’t told me first thing this morning. I pulled the stacks of books to me, shelving my musings on Kayla. I reached for the first book and held my hand over it. I didn’t sense anything, but I opened it, anyway. My vibe-reader wasn’t a sure thing, and I would hate to miss something because of an errant vibe. For some reason, I wanted to impress Detective Martinez and really give him something to work with. Then, perhaps once this case was over, I could ask him to dinner.
The first book was crammed full of baddies who seemed to have been charged for crimes ranging from B&E to arson. I knew I shouldn’t take so much time reading the rap sheet of each guy, but it was fascinating. I mean, I didn’t run into criminals in my daily life—well, at least not the hardcore violent types. More than one of the actors I’ve dealt with had habits I’d rather not know about which might have caused them to have a brush or two with the cops. I only looked at white guys since that’s what I saw in my mind, and that discounted over half the photos. I shook my head in disgust to realize that the rate of incarceration for black men was still exceedingly disproportionate to their general population. And they say racism no longer existed.
“Not my problem,” I muttered, turning the page. I forced myself to stop reading and to just focus on faces. I was plowing through the book, feeling a mite discouraged when Detective Martinez returned with a cup of coffee. “There is a God,” I said gratefully as I clasped it with both hands.