There was no question about it – the case was murder.
It was a scene they were both used to. Blood tracks here, skid marks there, a cold body nearby. Mayhem paid the gore and chaos surrounding him no heed. He pulled his hands free from his pockets, whistling through his nose, giving the scene of the disaster a solid once-over. Beside him stood his partner – tall, blond and no-nonsense. Used to the ridiculousness of Mayhem’s gestures, he waited for his partner’s pronouncement in silence. He had no worries. Mayhem was the best at what he did, even if he went about it clownishly.
Mayhem squatted beside the body. And, after a long moment, looked up at his partner. “Well,” Mayhem said finally, “he’s a dead man.”
“Yes,” sighed his partner, “I could tell. His head’s all the way in that awning up there.” He pointed toward a diligent member of homicide, who was busy trying to roll it out of its fabric container. “What do you think caused it?”
Mayhem squinted, as if he were trying to channel the mighty ghost of Colombo. “If I was a betting man, I’d guess that he met with a pretty nasty accident.” He pointed to the tread marks, to the signs of burns left behind on the cement. “Someone got away in a hurry. If I had to guess, looks like they were decapitated. The head flew in a pretty big arc, so there had to have been some force. Have them check the neck for signs it was severed with something razor sharp."
“You sure about that?” his partner asked. It sounded specific. Too specific.
Sometimes he really did worry a lot about Mayhem.
Mayhem shrugged. “Want me to check with the coroner?”
Said coroner – complete with comb-over, loud tie and balding head – ambled over as if on cue. “We’ve got the head. Gonna start the examination once the meat wagon gets here.” He gestured toward Mayhem. “Hotshot have any clues?”
“Hey, back off my partner! He may have weird methods sometimes, but he’s a solid guy, and he’s got us through more cold cases than I can count!”
Mayhem was by now lying on the ground, palms folded upon his chest, and stared up at the sky. “Hello. I’m a corpse. I’m lying here, being all corpse-like. And that’s a big problem for you, because your insurance premiums just went through the roof…”
“What in the hell is he doing?” asked the coroner.
“Shh,” Mayhem’s partner said. “Let him work. He’s brilliant.”
“I just got my head cut off with so much force it went flying. That’s why we should check the nightclub’s owner to see if he’s got any outstanding debts that might be going unpaid. That’d be a great reason for a murder..."
“See?!” Said Mayhem’s Partner. “Brilliant.”
The coroner, unimpressed, took a big bite of his sandwich.
Mary Wilson was a long, cool redhead with a short fuse. Smoking a cigarette near the talent entrance of her club, it seemed more likely that she’d spit on him than answer his questions.
Worse yet, she hated cops. Had always hated them, as far back as Mayhem’s partner could recall. But he played nice. “Hello, Mary. We meet again,” he said.
She eyed him up and down. “Y’got something against smoking outside?”
“As long as you’re doing it outside,” Mayhem said. “Club fires are no joke. Hundreds of people die in accidents involving uninsured and badly-maintained public spaces every year.”
She eyeballed him. “This some kind of gag?” she asked.
“No,” Mayhem’s partner said. “We’re just trying to nail down a lead. Do you know our vic?”
She shrugged. “He was a regular. Sad insurance salesman type. They’re a dime a dozen in my line of work. Kind of a gruesome way to die, but it ain’t my business.”
“Right,” said Mayhem’s partner. “You don’t mind if we take a look around?”
“I want to give the sprinkler system a look-can’t be too careful about fires.”
She glared at him. “You can’t just come in here and mess around with my stuff!”
“True, we do need a warrant – unless you’ve got something to say.”
She stared them both down but, after a long, grumbling sigh, flicked her cigarette into a puddle and led them inside.
Mayhem followed its arc with his eyes. “I’m a cigarette. I’m going down in flames...”
“Good work, partner,” said Mayhem’s Partner, and slapped him on the back.
A long conversation with Mary led them in the right direction – seemed the vic had been meeting with some known drug kingpins in town. It didn’t take long to find someone who was already in jail on a racketeering charge. Mayhem and his partner gathered to interrogate him. The partner made an excellent good cop. As for Mayhem…
“You know,” Mayhem said, flexing his knuckles, “it’d take a lot of insurance to fix your face. Just putting that out there.”
He leaned quietly across the table. “I’ll talk.”
They were raiding a big-time drug dealer’s house for evidence four hours later – and were caught in a fire fight. Mayhem was a deadly shot, but his partner couldn’t help but notice his external monologue.
“I’m a big city cop with a big gun. But oops, I forgot to renew my permit…”
It was easy enough to tie Mary back into the salesman’s death. He had sold a policy to her, and then had tried to sell the same kind to the head of the town’s mafia. She’d promised the guy a reduced rate, and naturally the salesman hadn’t been willing to comply. They’d taken out a messy – unique – hit on him to send a message to Mary. It wasn’t something she could be charged for, but at least the right people were going to go down for the murder.
At his commendation speech from the Lieutenant Governor, Mayhem looked proudly out over the assembled officers, grabbed the edge of the podium and said,
“I’m a proud cop. There are tears filling my eyes. I can’t read the speech I wrote, and it could mean big trouble if I trip and fall off of this stage. Thankfully, I have a solution for that.”
In the audience, his partner blinked back tears as he applauded. This was the man he’d so proudly supported through thick and thin. He was proud to be a part of his life, and proud to be his partner, even with all of the chaos he caused to rain down on their heads.