Marian Kolchak gripped the wheel of her car, and gritted her teeth. It was bad enough that her editor Updyke reassigned her to ‘social events’ from the ‘Crime beat’, he’d added insult to it by assigning the new guy to that position. How is it that he just walks in and gets the Crime beat when I’ve been working there for two years and have given Up-tight the scoop on so many important stories? She looked over to the passenger seat, and her uncle Carl’s old straw fedora resting there. What would he do? Uncle Carl would have stolen copies of the files Up-tight gave him, and gone and done the job. Marian thought about it for a moment, then shook her head. I hate being honest.
As she turned off the side street and back to a main thoroughfare, her cell-phone began to chime. The car swerved as she dug in her bag, pulling the blue cased phone out. A quick glance at the screen showed it was Wally. She tapped the phone with her hand as she straightened the car out. “Wally, I’m driving. What’s…”
“Excuse me ma’am,”, an unfamiliar voice cut over her own. “Could you come to the corner of Beedle and Hawthorn? I’ve a young man who insisted I call you instead of an ambulance.”
“I’ll be right there,” Marian replied then dropped the phone. She signaled a left turn and turned north. Ten minutes later she rolled up behind a black-and-white police cruiser. One officer at the wheel, while another was standing by Wally. Marian could see he was unnaturally pale. She got out of the car, and walked over to the young man. The officer took a step towards her. “Marian Kolchak?” he asked politely but authoritatively. She nodded in response, then kneeled down next to Wally.
“Dumb question, but what happened?” Wally took a deep breath painfully then shook his head. Marian looked back up at the officer, who was standing at a polite distance. He was a lean, angular man who easily topped six feet. His jaw was long, giving him a hatchet-faced appearance. His eyes were dark enough to be almost black, and the tips of his pointed ears barely peeked through the wavy black hair that feel beneath the officer’s hat. Elf? On the force? How many of the fae are really there?
Wally looked at her. “I was, uh,” he slowed as he looked over at the officer, “jogging, and my chest suddenly felt like it was on fire.” He coughed, then slowly started to rise. Marian slipped an arm under his left shoulder and helped him up.
“Jogging, and how long were you jogging before the pain happened?”
Wally shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I think it was like five minutes”
Marain pursed her lips then sighed. “Okay, I’m driving you home. Then you are going to set up an appointment with the doc. If this is happening, it needs to be looked at.” She let Wally go, and he staggered slightly, then straightened and walked slowly to Marian’s car. The officer stayed at a discreet distance through it all, which was odd. Maybe they’re not comfortable around Wally being a half-breed.
She glanced over at the officer in the car. He was much shorter than his partner. His round face was barely above the top of the steering wheel as she looked at him. He seemed also more rounded all over than the tall officer. She didn’t see any pointed ears, so it could be the man was just a human. Marian pondered it for a moment, and then got in her car. Wally buckled his seat belt as the engine roared to life. She pulled around the car and gazed in the rear view mirror. The officer was intently tapping at something in the car. Wally turned to look back.
“I think he was running your plate”, Wally told her.
“What makes you think that?” Marian asked him.
“Because the only thing the officers have in the front seat like that’s a computer they use for running plates, or punching addresses. I got to do a ride-along for a senior class, and that’s what our cop said he used it for.”
“Oh joy. Why the hell would they want to do that, I wonder.”
Wally just shrugged, and turned back around. “Probably a habit to make sure you are who you said you were.”
“Maybe. I hope that’s all it is.”
“Now who’s paranoid?” Wally chuckled as Marian scowled at him.
“It’s not paranoia if they’re out to get me. Then it’s common sense.”
“Sure it is.”