The early morning arrivals into the station comprised of various demeanors ranging from the mentally exhausted ending their late night tours or the bright eyed morning riser types eager to face the day's surprises and challengers. While in the break room Amalia was the former with the start of her tour beginning in another hour. Someone said 'later' on their way out and it had barely registered. Amalia stood before the coffee machine, poking at the various buttons of the unnecessarily complicated bean juice squeezer. "Damnit..." Error. Error. Error. The beeps taunted at her. "Can we just get a damn normal cup of coffee in here?!" She shouted at the air to everyone and no one. Her day was off to a hell of a start.
"That's why most of us go to the cafe next door" Kate smirks as she wanders into the break room. "I admire you for sticking with it though. One day it might actuall be drinkable too." The detective has been working all night but that doesn't mean she's going home anytime soon either. "How've you been, Amalia?" Kate asks in Spanish before searching for a donut. "Seriously? No donuts either?"
"Huh?" Amalia turned her eyes over the shoulder and struggled to follow for a moment. The lack of sleep was apparent in the shadows under her eyes and a half-assed attempt brushing through her hair. "Uh. Good." She lied before returning to the coffee machine to attempt a reboot. "I forgot my purse and Jacob said he was going on a run to get another couple of dozen. That was ... probably ten minutes ago? I don't know." Amalia rubbed at her eyes. "Think you can spot me couple of bucks? I just don't want to deal with this today."
"Sure. We all stick together" Kate smiles as she pulls out her wallet and pulls out her last twenty bucks. "Here you go. Get me one too? Not sure I know Jacob but that's not unusual. On duty?" she asks the other woman as Kate settles down on the edge of a table. "You look exhausted. Everything OK? As much as it can be."
Just as Amalia reached out to accept the offered twenty the other hand moved to her mouth to cover a yawn. It was followed by, "Thanks and sure, what cream and sugar?" She folded the soft aged bill then shoved it into the rear pocket of her blue jeans. "I've got an hour. Figured I head here early and yeah, that obvious huh?" Amalia took a few steps back to rest against the counter top which was uncomfortably digging into her lower back. "Just didn't get any sleep last night." Or the night before. Or the night before that.
"I hope the lack of sleep was for fun reasons" Kate offers though she has the nagging suspicion it was far from it. "Cream and sugar sounds great, thanks." She checks her watch, as if to see what time it will be in an hour, then nods to herself. "Might have something you can help me with if you've got the time." Pause. "When you're on duty." She studies the other Latina for a few moments. "Anything you'd like to talk about?"
A short sound of amusement escaped her lips, causing her refocus their shift to the ground. "No.. not anything like that." Amalia admitted then slipped both hands casually into the front pocket of her jeans. "Sure, I'll have to check with my CO before but don't think there would be a problem. What kind of help is it?" She asked Kate after recognizing she jumped in without gathering intel first, the Latina then shook her head. "That's nice but I don't think anyone's qualified to understand it."
"You might be surprised with what I've seen in this job. I might be able to help" Kate offers before shrugging. "But it's up to you. No pressure. And if your CO complains, just tell him that Detective Torres requested your assistance. I'm looking into a case where another Spanish speaker would be useful. And, hey, us Latinas should stick together."
"Yeah we do and especially around here. But no problem." She agreed easily as another uniformed male body poked their heads in the break room. His eyes narrowed in on the table Kate was seated at and instantly made his disappointment known. //"Aww man... no doughnuts?"// Amalia started rubbing her eyes again, "It's really nothin. Just nightmares ya'know?" She adds after a second. "From the job. I'm not gonna crack or nothin. Just want to sleep without the dreams."
"No. No doughnuts" Kate affirms to the patrol officer in one of those 'leave now' tones that detectives do so well...and it works. "Nightmares from the job? That's not good" Kate replies to Amalia. "But that is something I can definitely help with" she adds before lifting a finger to trace the scar across her neck. "This left me with more than just scars. Much, much more. Any particular case?"
Amalia waited for the other uniform in blue to duck his head back out of the break room before speaking. "That case with the woman that jumped off the building?" She moved a hand to head, scratching as if attempting to recall more details. "Or the one with the man that was literally shredded to pieces. It plays in my head like how they ended up like that, what did that to them. I mean who did that to them." Amalia then craned her head to the side to examine the scar Kate had pointed out. "Jesus..." Her face wore a look of surprise and concern. "How bad was it?"
"I was undercover in Boston tracking down a serial killer. So doing the whole prostitute act. I got sloppy. I tried to save his next victim instead of determining where he was first. So he slashed my throat. It's a miracle I'm not dead" Kate explains. "Determining what happened in those cases you're talking about is our job. That's why we're here. But if it is getting to you, Amalia. If you're more concerned with the crime than the solution or prevention...maybe you should think about what you want to do with your life? No shame in walking away from horrors that are eating into you."
Amalia whistled under her breath, her white teeth flashed briefly. "You were lucky. My priest would say if you were spared death you are meant to walk anew in the good graces of god. For his will is righteous and your purpose was not yet fulfilled." She lifted a shoulder, shrugging. "I've see him regularly. We speak about my nightmares and a year or two ago I probably would have tried something else but I feel like I need to be here you know? I should be worried when it doesn't bother me. Who can do the job then?"
"What we see can worry you. Horrify you even" Kate concurs, "But what it must not be allowed to do is control you. And if you can't sleep then that is what it is doing. We probably have the same priest though my personal life has him a bit on edge these days." A little snort of amusement. "Walk in the good graces of God? I wish that were the case, I really do but..." She doesn't let the sentence finish. "No one can make you leave, Officer, but if it does come to that, I hope you make the right choice."
"Yeah..." Amalia agreed behind the wall of her hands as the fingertips rubbed against the eyes again. "I'll be fine." She sniffed. Both hands dropped to tuck back into her jean pockets once more. "We probably do. Father Ignacio?" She inquired. "Do me a favor, just keep this between us?"
"Father Ignacio" Kate nods in reply. "I must be due some heavy duty confession. He'll hate it. And of course this is just between us. We're family at the end of the day, Officer. And that means we keep secrets." Her head tilts slightly. "/Will/ you be fine?" Kate slides off the table. "How about we get that coffee on the go?"
"He'll only be disappointed for a few moments then seem like it's been decades since you last visited. And thanks." Amalia replied earnestly. "I will be. One of those turbo charged quad espresso shots will kick me right on up." She even pushed away from the counter with the unnecessarily complicated coffee machine that had rebooted and taunted her with brightly illuminated scrolling text. //Gooooooood Moooooorning!!! : ) // Amalia reached behind her then spitefully tossed the cup she had attempted to use in the recycle bin. "I want to shoot that thing. Let's go."
"Let's see if we can get you something else to shoot" Kate winks before leading the patrol woman out of the office and down into the underground car park. "Got all ya gear? Have a spare set in the trunk. I don't have partners for long."
Amalia was able to keep up no matter how heavy her body felt. She was occasionally looking around and back over her shoulder even within the secured station house. "Yeah I got i--what...?" Almost pressing on the breaks in her movements that last statement from Kate could have meant anything. "Did they die?" Was a reasonable question to follow up with.
"It's a dangerous city. You know that yourself" Kate smiles to Amalia. "Don't worry, they didn't all die. Not sure where Paloma is at the moment. Harrison has moved to SWAT. Stone...Stone does his own thing. Not one of them is dead. Promise. I'm probably more dead than any of them. Hop on in." She gets in the car and starts it up.
Amalia had grabbed her duffle bag on the way out to the underground parking. Once they had reached the Kate's vehicle the patrol officer would put her belongings in the trunk before climbing into the passenger seat. "Yeah, I do." She remarked grimly over the fastening click of the belt. The door closed and she gave her eyes another rub. "Given how I feel at the moment you have some competition." She reached up to start combing through her hair to gather into a pony tail. "So this woman you need help with translating, what's her story?"
"If you don't think you're up to it, then I can drive you home and tuck you in" Kate smiles, "Sorry if that sounded creepy." They drive out of the car park and towards Hanging Hills. "Not just one woman. Whole community. Not often you get many Cubans in one place this far north but we have them and they're not good with English. Someone's been hassling them. They talk to me but another ear would help to listen in on others. The ones whispering among themselves, thinking you don't understand them."
"I am." Amalia's attention turned away from the moving world beyond the tented windows to Kate. She made a small sound of laughter. "And shut up." She turned her vision straight ahead. "I may know a few of them if it's where I think it is. My mother keeps her nose in everybody's business. Especially our own." She reclined a little in the seat. "Hasslin them, to leave? To move away?"
"Leave" Kate nods, "Or die. That kind of thing. And they haven't been subtle. Got a call this morning that they'd left another message. Anonymous call. Even though it was from the people we're trying to help. Your mother must know my mother then." The car is soon in a run-down part of Fallcoast where graffiti and garbage are commonplace and they are watched with suspicion and some hatred by the few on the street. "Up here" Kate notes as she pulls into the curb. "Let's hope the car is still here when we get back" she smiles without humor as she gets out of the car. Her vest is put on before she checks her weapon. "Ready?"
Listening her head shakes disapprovingly. "That's messed up." Her eyes remain focused ahead checking out everything. Every person was not missed under her scrutiny. Once they arrived Amalia stepped out of the vehicle and closed the door behind her. She looked Kate from the other side of the car, "It would probably still be here..." Amalia rounded the vehicle to retrieve her gear from the trunk and puts it on while adding. "Probably on blocks but it will be here." When she had on her vest, ther weapon, cuffs, flashlight for reasons, stun gun and mace she met up with the Detective just behind her. "Yeah. I'm good."
Kate snorts in amusement at the 'blocks' comment. Once Amalia is ready, she heads up a couple of doors to knock on the faded and splintered wood. "Hello? Fallcoast police. Responding to a call. Open up." There is no answer so a quick look to check if Amalia is ready before she tries the door handle. Unlocked. Kate pushes it open, ignoring the squeaking of unoiled hinges. The pungent odor of decay greets them as the detective steps inside and retrieves her flashlight. All the curtains are drawn and it is dark inside. Very dark.
Amalia checked their six as Kate knocked on the door. Nothing suspicious caught her interest until hearing the door groan to an open. "Ugh... damnit." A curse for duel reasons as the smell of death meant they arrived too late and she may possibly see people from beyond she had no interest in dealing with. Not today. She reached for her baton light and followed inside after Kate. She called out into the darkness in Spanish, //Anyone here? Fallcoast Police. If you can hear me say something or make a sound.//
Kate carefully walks into the house, gun and flashlight sweeping the area as one as she does so. She lets Amalia do the calling out, her own eyes flicking through the darkness only barely illuminated by her light. Kate is also one that can see ghosts and it is not fun for her either. There is no answer to Amalia's words and the bottom floor seems empty. The detective gestures for them both to head up the old, decaying stairs.
"How long ago was the anonymous call?" Amalia asked as her light moved about their surroundings from floor, to old furniture Goodwill would refuse and abandoned decor. "Bodies start to stink after a day or so." Out of precaution she checked behind her where the exit was and she could still see the vehicle they arrived in. Still there. Still untouched. Amalia then followed Kate up the stairs cautiously and she repeated her call out in Spanish for hope.
"About four hours" Kate replies. "Maybe someone stumbled in rather than being responsible" she adds in hope. They reach the landing where wallpaper peels from damp walls and the carpet is damp with rot and decay. "No one has lived here for months...possibly years." The smell is extra strong coming from a closed door that must be the main bedroom. "Shall we see what's behind door number one?"
"In this hood? I don't doubt it." Amalia remarked honestly as they reached the upper floor and due to the stench she raised an arm to barricade her nose. "No shit." Came muffled sarcasm. When Kate was ready to open the door Amalia braved a breath then took aim with both gun and flashlight. "Biohazard suits hopefully."
Kate tries the handle but this time it is locked. A deep breath before she kicks the door in with her boot and a rush of pungent stench envelops them. The cause? That would be the skinned body hanging in the center of the room. Sprawled in blood on the walls are various insults about Latins...in Spanish. And some in Latin. "Do you know what that says?" Kate asks through the hand that covers her mouth and nose. "My Latin is a bit rusty."
Amalia couldn't help it. She immediately turned away to hold down the threat of vomiting. Hunching forward she made all sorts of attempts to keep the stench at bay with her arms and hands. Only catching a glimpse of the words at first the patrol cop shook her head. "Nuhaph...aaakuff." Maybe it was the lack of sleep but that light headed feeling was getting to her. Amalia turned back to face the bloody insults on the wall. Easing up the tension against her mouth, "I can guess. Something something go back home. Something something. You don't belong here. Thieves. Crooks." She looked around, "Dirty... mutts..."
Amalia says, "That makes no sense. Cubans don't speak Latin. Could they do this?" She asked after a thought."
"Then maybe it doesn't say that" Kate suggests through her own gags and coughs. "You don't skin a body just to get people out of the neighborhood. There's something more to it than that." She pulls a small container from her pocket and smears a substance under her nose before offering it over to Amalia. "This will block the smell" she explains and then gets back to looking over the scene. "Any sign of the victim's skin?"
Amalia accepted the small container and immediately smeared the gelatin beneath her nose. It helped tremendously enough for her to refocus and stare at the words on the walls. She tried sounding out some but couldn't make a connection. "They are familiar though. Sunday mass every week and I cannot read Latin." The failure was stated aloud and in those moments she let it sink in. "Skin?" The circular light searched about the room, "Is there another room? What if they took the skin with them?" Gruesome thought she reached into her back pocket to pull out cellphone. "We have to get crime scene down here."
Kate nods to Amalia about getting Crime Scene down. "Or maybe the victim wasn't skinned here" she suggests, moving to stand next to the body hanging upside down. Kate looks down at the floor. "Not much blood here at all. It's like it wasn't even dripping when it was hung up. Could be a ritual thing and that Latin has something to do with that. We have experts on that kind of stuff that the department can call." Of course Fallcoast has occult experts on call! "You okay, Officer?"
Her brows knit as she stepped back near the door. Maybe a little extra jelly under the nose wouldn't hurt. "A ritual? Like a curse?" She asked while staring at the hanging skinned body with caution. "Yeah I'll be fine. Didn't want that seven dollar espresso to go to waste." Amalia gave a gentle rub to her stomach as if that would soothe it.
"A curse. A threat. An empowerment" Kate offers as she puts on her gloves and follows her own steps back towards the door where Amalia waits. "You ever done undercover work? Interested in working with me on this case?"
Deep in thought or perhaps consideration as she chewed on the corner of her mouth briefly. "This is disgusting." Corpses were indeed but the act itself. The hatred. At first her head shook from side to side. "Undercover? No." When Kate was nearby she returned the container that staved off the stench of death. "Whoever is responsible for this, we got to find them. So tell me what you need me to do?"
"Do you think you can do undercover?" Kate asks, taking back the gel and applying a little more under her nose. "Don't worry, we'll find them. But I want you to go undercover with a group I've had my eye on. I don't think they did this, but they will have some ideas who did...because the want to kill them. But if you think that you're too well known in the community..."
Amalia made a quick call to dispatch to request CSU. Once finished she tucked the phone back in her pocket and turned away from the scene with much relief. "What sort of group? I doubt it. The only place I'm a regular at is church and the gym." Amalia moved from the door then started down the rickety stair case. She turned back only to warn playfully with a raised finger, "I ain't spyin on the church."
Kate follows Amalia out onto the landing. "It's not the Church" she assures the other woman with a smile. "And hopefully these other people don't go. Everyone know you're a cop? We can try it but if there is any hint these people know who you are then I'm getting you out. No questions. No argument. Agreed?"
She's less careful on her descent by regular foot falls. Each step a loud thump from her booted heels. "Only those in church." And the ghosts. "There's not too much conversations at the gym. Get in. Get out." Once down at the bottom of floor of the abandoned home and still wrapped in darkness she used her flashlight as her eyes to look up at Kate without flashing it directly in her face. "Agreed. I can do this. I don't want to find out someone I know has been used like this. Or anyone else for that matter. If I need to get a little dirty to keep it from happening then I'll be there. Gloves off."
"That's what I like to hear, Officer" Kate nods. "I know I count on you to do what is needed. Wait for the CI people out front...make sure my car is still around...and I'll have a quick look around the other rooms. I don't think anyone is here."
Amalia whipped out her phone again. She gave a weak smile at the praise, hard to be too happy when the heritage was threatened. "'ight." Moving outside and back into the sweet aroma of fresher air and light. The patrol rookie switched off her flash light and went to the vehicle. Still there and intact. Perhaps they didn't give it long enough. Maybe they knew what was around and wanted nothing to do with it. Amalia glanced about to the other houses for signs of life or any hint that there were eyes upon them. Someone must have saw something.