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Blackbird 1 – #youlikeit

By @MonicaPrelooker

6. scowl in a suit

What were the odds of seeing him twice in a few hours, she wondered, looking down at her folder. Then it hit her: there was something wrong with the viral picture she’d just shown Banks. She produced her phone, feeling that twitch in her guts she usually felt when she was onto something.

“Hey, Bob, can’t live without you. Tell me, what time was the body found?” she asked, trying to sound casual. “After five-thirty. And what time did the Crime Lab arrive?” Her eyes were nailed to the printed picture as she listened. “Six a.m.? Just curious. Call you later.”

She was disconnecting when she heard Brockner pulling back his chair and looked up at him. Before she could stop herself, she was saying, “Agent Brockner…”

He stood up and turned his scowl to her as if she were some exotic bug—not talking to me, I hope.

Gillian felt her heart beating faster when he faced her, and hurried to stand up as well. “Sir, I’m Lieutenant Gillian, with Boston PD…” As she circled her table to approach him, she noticed his eyes moved half an inch down, to the badge on her belt, stating that was plain to see. “May I have a word with you?”

What the hell was she doing? Why on earth was she talking to him? Oh, yes, because he was one of the sharpest brains in the world when it came to solving crimes. A profiler, famous for figuring things out from indicators other than forensics. And she had a ton of questions forensics wouldn’t answer. Like that picture in her folder.

“What about?” he asked, his voice cold enough to cancel the ongoing summer.

“I’m working a case, and—”

“The murder of a *********** He nodded, impatient, and added, noticing her surprise, “You and your partner didn’t make it exactly a secret.”

Something in his cold, almost condescending ways got to Gillian, whose face hardened. “I was wondering if you’d be interested in taking a look at it and telling me what you think,” she asked, matching his dry tone.

“If you need to consult on this case with a federal specialist, you should follow the regular procedures and send the file to—”

“The BAU in DC. Yes, I know. Thanks for reminding me, sir, and thanks for your time.”

He nodded again, actually taking advantage of her irony, and turned to pick his briefcase up as she went back to her table.

She sat back down and produced her phone, cursing herself for opening her stupid big mouth, and her stupid idea of addressing the stupid uptight fool. Tanya had just picked up when she heard Brockner saying, in such a low voice that his words were almost lost in the background noise, “The stab wounds.”

“Hang on, T,” she muttered, looking up.

Brockner was still standing by his table like a statue of a scowl in a suit, keeping his briefcase tight to his side. His chin moved to point at her folder. “The overkill indicates rage. The killers most likely knew the victim and had a personal grudge against him.”

Gillian was still processing his words when he was already spinning around and striding away.

Tanya tried over the phone, “Reg…?”

She felt a chill and remembered why she’d called the girl. “T, what time was today’s sunrise?”

Tanya took a full second to search it and reply, “Five-fifty a.m.”

So the body had been found when the day was breaking, and the Crime Lab had arrived after sunrise. But the photograph had been taken in the middle of the night, not even at dawn.

“The picture that went viral was taken before the Lab arrived, T. Find me the source.”

“Before? You mean…?”

“Yeah: the killers posted it. And they knew him.”

“Got it. I’ll track it down.”

Gillian disconnected with her eyes still fixed on the door Brockner had just exited. How many words? Ten? Fifteen? He hadn’t even seen the file; he had only overheard what she and Banks were saying. She was tempted to run after him and beg him on her knees to really take a look at what little they had. And maybe ask him for an autograph too.

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