Mystery in Birmingham excerpt

Empty desk. I was informed that I would be at the empty desk in the room. I managed to make my way to the prodigal empty desk without too much of a problem. I sat my box down with a thump and the guy at the other desk looked up. He scowled then went back to the mess of piles on his desk. I raised a questioning eyebrow but didn’t dare ask. He didn’t look like he was too keen on talking. I was thankful the lieutenant stuck his head out of his door and saved me. “Hey, new guy.” The scowl the other guy wore deepened and he grunted his displeasure.

I was sitting across from the lieutenant when a knock came at the door. The guy who was scowling popped his head in. “Sir, we’ve got a body.”

The lieutenant smiled. “Rachul, why don’t you take the new guy with you.”

Rachul. So that’s his name. I watched him as he stood in the doorway. He just stared at the lieutenant. The lieutenant stared back at him. The line of Rachul’s jaw was hard. The lieutenant wasn’t backing down. Rachul was less than thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that he eyed the lieutenant and I could feel the tension grow in the room. “You want me to take the newbie with me?”

“Yes. And that’s an order. So, take him. Now.”

Rachul stormed out of the office. The other detectives looked up from their desks. “What happened, Ben?”

Rachul growled and pointed a finger at me. “The usual. Lieu wants me to take the newbie.”

One detective started to laugh as Rachul made for the door. I tried to keep pace with him but I was finding it difficult. I may have been a Marine but, at this moment, I felt out of shape. I was at a full out run by the time I reached the bottom floor. Rachul was just pulling away from the curb as just as I got my hand on the door. He looked up and what looked like a smile crossed his lips. He then stopped long enough to let me get in the car and slapped me on the back. “Welcome to the detective bureau, newbie.”

I looked at Rachul, completely confused. “What was that all about?”

Rachul laughed. “Eh, gotta keep the Lieu on his toes. Gotta haze the newcomers, too.” He looked over at me. “Tell me about you.”

I just looked at him and shook my head. I was rather dumbfounded about what had happened during the last few minutes. “Uh…glad to be part of the team. I was discharged out of the Marines after three tours. Did narcotics for a while. Then did a stint in undercover. And now, homicide.”

Rachul looked at me with a slight tinge of amusement in his eyes. “Nothing like a jarhead at your flank.”

“Which branch?” I asked and noticed a moment’s hesitation in his body language.

“SEALs. Two tours.” I nodded and left it at that. It was usually best when dealing with other veterans, unless they wanted to talk about it.

We drove in awkward silence for a short time. Rachul finally broke the silence and reached out his hand. “As you figured out, I’m Rachul. You?”

I shook Rachul’s hand and nodded. “Grayson Harper. Good to meet you.”

“Good to finally know your name, Harper. Any family?”

I finally felt like I could start to relax. “Yeah. Wife, six kids, their attitudes, and a zoo of animals.”

Rachul bellowed. “You’ll have to tell me about them one day.”