Quick disclaimer: Basement of a Bull is a comedic work of fiction. Everything you are about to read is part of a fictional story that is evolving each week, meaning none of these characters or events are real. To catch up on the whole series, click here. To catch up on the last post, click here.
A Chicago Diner
Thursday, December 21, 2017
“Did you chase after her?” I asked.
“I didn’t really see the reason to,” Barboza said. “See, that’s what young cops don’t understand. They think it’s all about catching the bad guy, or in this case the spiky purple haired girl. But that’s not it. The finish line is solving the crime. I had the missing Bernese Mountain dog by my side. Done. Case closed. I did my job.”
I wanted to say, “The young cops? Aren’t you like 29?” But I took a sip of coffee instead.
“Now, if they want to put a higher-profile case on my desk, ‘Hey, this chick in the minivan has been poaching dogs all across the city,’ and if they wanted to pay me more than the barista salary they’ve got me on right now, then yeah, sure, now we’re talking. But until then, I’m not gonna bust my ass for peanuts.”
“But don’t you want one of those higher profile cases?” I asked.
“Again, if they’re willing to pay me more, sure. But until that happens, I’ll just keep knocking out these meaningless ones and then help you move out of the red light district.”
“Alright, I didn’t want to be lame and bring this up, but I’ve got to know. Do you change the password at all after that freelancer guy does his work? I mean, he doesn’t have permanent access to our systems does he?”
“Why would I change the password? I don’t want to keep track of all that.”
“So they could log in right now?”
“Sure, but why?”
The front door of the diner opened. I was sitting in the booth facing the door, Barboza across from me. Behind me was a booth where some guy had settled in but I hadn’t seen anyone else join him.
I was close enough to the front door that I could feel the cold air rushing in. Standing by the check-in counter was maybe the most famous detective in the entire department. Detective Arnold Carter. He looked like a TV detective. Like a famous actor would play him in his everyday life. He looked over my head to the booth behind us then walked past.
“Sorry I’m late,” Detective Carter said. He settled into the seat right behind me, back to back. The other guy was in my equivalent spot facing the door.
“Well, how about that, hotshot detective shows up late for his mandatory rules violation meeting,” the other guy said. I obviously couldn’t see his face but could tell just from the tone he wasn’t joking around.
“Hey, these crimes aren’t gonna solve themselves, had to prioritize my day.”
“Oh, is that right? So I should be honored that you even showed up for our meeting? Should I take the selfie with you now or later?”
“We could do it now.”
“You just really think you’re that much better than everyone, don’t you?”
“Not everyone. Just you. Look, some of us solve crimes for a living, and some collect their paycheck being a professional tattletale.”
The waiter came by and filled up our cups of coffee. He proceeded to their booth.
“So now you come by to fill up the coffee,” the ‘professional tattletale said. “I’ve been sitting here with an empty glass for fifteen minutes.”
The waiter walked past us.
“Alright, I need to go make a phone call,” the ‘professional tattletale’ said. “Need to tell my 1 o’clock we’ll probably need to re-schedule because no one around here seems to believe in any sort of rules.”
“I don’t see how this meeting should last for anything longer than five minutes,” Detective Carter said.
I saw the other guy stomp by, dialing on his cell phone.
“That was awesome,” Barboza said with a smile. “I actually had to meet with that rules guy once.”
“Yeah, my first day in. I parked in some higher up’s parking spot. Had a rules violation meeting the next day. That guy’s such a prick. He’s like the police’s police.”
The waiter brought out our food. We talked a little about the Bulls, about Christmas plans, about any trips we had planned on the horizon. Then we got back to the job.
“All I’m saying is how much longer can you do these cases that clearly aren’t challenging you?” I asked. “I mean do you really want to be finding missing kayaks ten years from now?”
“Oh, hell no,” Barboza said. “I don’t even want to be working for the PD ten years from now. Nah, I want to start my own private detective practice. Where I can actually go out and make some real money at this. Doing it my way. I’m telling ya, the way social media is today, I just need one high profile case, get my name in the paper, blast over social media, then peace out girl scout. Start my own thing.”
I heard a laugh from Detective Carter behind me. Heard him set down his cup. A little bit of shuffling and then there he was standing next to our table.
“Well, well, well, guy solves a couple small cases and now he’s ready to be the millionaire private detective,” Detective Carter said. “I remember my first kayak. Here, slide over kid.”
I slid over closer to the wall, Detective Carter hopped in next to me.
“What’d they have ya on this week, a big missing laptop case?”
“Hey, don’t shortchange the Bernese Mountain dog I found last night,” Barboza said, half serious, half sarcastic.
“Wow! I didn’t see that in the paper, that’s incredible,” Carter said with a smile. “Here, check this out, look at tattletale out there, probably leaving some long-winded voicemail.”
“That guy’s the worst,” Barboza said.
“You know him?”
“Yeah, got in trouble for parking in some high-up lieutenant’s parking spot my first day.”
“Love it,” Carter said. “And I couldn’t help but overhear, you were saying you wanted some more challenging stuff?”
Barboza didn’t say anything.
“Hey, I’m being serious,” Carter said. “I was just messing with you about the kayak. Good for you having big dreams. Keep those intact. This place will try and crush them out of you. But here’s the thing. I actually could use some help on one of my cases. Guy came in two days ago, freaking out, says his wife has been kidnapped. We start asking him questions, the guy says her name is Lucy Coletti. I dropped my pen. I mean what are the odds of that. I fricken dated that girl in college. Girl broke my heart. Yeah, I’ll say it. She was the kind of girl that didn’t tell ya to turn off the Bulls game, she settled in, watched it with you, yelled at the refs more than I did. Loved that girl. And one look at this dude panicking, I was like, bro, I don’t know if she was kidnapped, I’m thinking she just left you. I actually still think that’s the case, she probably hopped on a plane, starting her life over in fricken like small-town Nebraska. But, nevertheless, they’ve given me the case to solve. But I’ve got so much other stuff on my plate right now, then I’ve got this rules violation nonsense to take care of, I wouldn’t mind getting some help following up on these leads if you’re looking for more action. What was your name again?”
“Barboza,” Detective Carter said. He saw the “professional tattletale” walk back inside. “Well, I’ve gotta tend to this meeting, but let me know if you’re interested. Could really use the help.”
I think I was more excited than he was about the offer. I was about ready, like some sort of cheerleader, to gush about the opportunity. Ya hear that! You just got a missing person case! Kidnapping, this is big!
“Can you believe the nerve of that guy?” Barboza said.
“Thinks I need some sort of handout like I can’t get there myself,” Barboza said. He put his hand up to wave down the waiter. “I wouldn’t mind.’ Ridiculous.”
A handout? What? This is an opportunity, dude.
Barboza’s face was red with pride.
“Let’s get out of here,” Barboza said. “By the end of the day I’ll be just as famous as him.”
Basement of a Bull is a work of fiction. New episodes next week on Tuesday and Thursday.