Workspace 97 (fka Bearing the Fallen on Our Shoulders)

Alleyway

A man and a woman approached the crime scene tape stretched across the mouth of the alley, showed their detective badges to the uniformed officer on watch, and ducked under the tape as she lifted it. Walking up to the face-down body, they noticed the large chunk taken out of the victim's left side, the blood, and what appeared to be pieces of pumpkin near the alley wall. An officer stood nearby taking a man's statement. Walking over, the male detective identified himself, "Detective Crane. This the man who called it in?"

The officer, whose nameplate read "G. Chaffin," nodded. Through a thick beard, he answered, "Witness too. He says it was a supervillain."

Hearing "supervillain," the female detective walked over, and said, "That would explain the pieces of pumpkin then. Detective Paulette, Mister...?"

"Uh, Bones," the man said nervously. "Dom Bones."

"So we're dealing with the Green Goblin?" she asked Bones.

"He was, uh..." Dom took a deep breath. "He was on a glider-thing like the Goblin rides, but I don't think it was him. His head was on fire."

"On fire?" asked Crane. "You saying the Ghost Rider has taken up flying?"

Bones laughed nervously. "No," he said quickly. "This guy... his head was a..." he hesitated.

Detective Paulette looked at him expectantly.

"It was a... uh... a pumpkin," he said finally.

Paulette said nothing. She merely got wide-eyed as she made a note on her pad.

Crane spoke up. "A pumpkin?" Pointing his thumb over his shoulder towards the victim, he asked, "So this Flaming Pumpkin Glider Guy- he threw his head at the victim?"

Mister Bones shook his head. "No. They were smaller... like the size of softballs, I guess?"

Paulette looked up suddenly, eyes still wide. "Pumpkin bombs?" she said seriously. "You're sure it wasn't the Green Goblin?"

"I'm sure!" Bones said in frustration. "Would the Goblin have left me alive?"

Paulette shrugged, and made another note.

"Officer Chaffin, do you have Mister Bones' information?" asked Crane.

Flipping a couple of pages back on his pad, Chaffin skimmed, and shook his head. "Yep. I've got it."

Offering his card, Crane said, "Mister Bones, you're free to go. We may contact you again if any questions come up with the case. In the meantime, if you think of anything else, please don't hesitate to call."

Taking the card, Bones nodded stiffly. "Thank you, Detective." Nodding at Paulette, he walked to the front of the alley, the officer lifted the tape for him, and he disappeared around the corner.

The detectives looked at each other before Paulette turned to the body, "Anyone get an ID yet?" she asked Chaffin.

"No one's touched the body," he answered. "I wouldn't let 'em. You hear 'supervillain,' and you don't know what might be important. CSI got pics though."

"Thank you, officer," said Crane. Squinting slightly, he asked, "Your sergeant lets you keep that beard, Officer Chaffin?"

He chuckled. "I'm usually undercover."

Crane and Paulette both looked at Chaffin. "You're a detective?" asked Paulette.

Chaffin nodded. "I'm just filling in for Starsky tonight; extra work." Nodding towards the front of the alley, he said, "That's his partner, Hutch up by the tape."

Crane nodded. "Alright, detective. We'll take it from here. Have a good night."

Chaffin tipped his pen to his hat, saluting with it as he closed his notebook. "I'll get a copy of these notes to your box at the Two Seven."

"Thanks," said Paulette.

Chaffin waved over his shoulder as he walked away.

Turning back to the body, they both knelt down beside it. Feeling the pockets at the back of the victim's pants, and checking his ankles, Paulette said, "No wallet. Help me turn him over so we can check what's left of his jacket."

They took hold of the body carefully, turning it over gingerly so that the hole in the victim's side didn't become larger, ripping the body in half. As they got it over on its back, Paulette was reaching for the jacket when Crane jumped up suddenly. "Oh my God!"

"What the hell, Crane?" groused Paulette.

"It's... it's my cousin," he said, a bit shaken.

Paulette looked up at him wide-eyed. "You're related?"

The detective said nothing for a few seconds, then nodded. "His name... his name's Holden Crane."

"HUTCH!" shouted Paulette as she jumped to her feet. When the officer looked her way, she shouted, "Call Chaffin back here now!"

Hutch waved and started talking into the mic of his walkie talkie.

Looking at Crane, she said, "You're off this case right now," she said sternly. Crane started to protest, but Paulette fixed him with a glare that said there would be no arguing. "I'm not asking, Crane. I'm pulling rank. You're related to the victim. Your objectivity is compromised, and it's not going to jeopardize this case. When Chaffin gets back here, he'll work the case with me. What I need you to do is get me any information you can about your cousin, and bring it to the captain. I'll get it from her."

Crane stood with his hands on his hips, and took a few deep breaths. Finally, he nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I'll have the info to the captain in the morning."

"Good man," said Paulette. "Crane."

He looked at her.

"I'm sorry."

He bit his lip for a moment, then nodded, and walked away. Hutch lifted the tape for him as he left.

Paulette squatted back down next to the body, and said, "What is going on here?"

***

Next day

Detective Paulette strode through the detective bullpen about Nine AM. She walked as straight and upright as possible, trying to get her posture to make up for what she lacked in height. Knocking on the captain's open door as she entered, she said, "Good morning, captain. Has Crane been in here this morning? He was supposed to drop off some info on his cousin; he was our victim last night."

The captain looked troubled. "No, he hasn't been in. Crane was related to a victim?" she asked.

"His uncle. I took him off the case immediately, but he was supposed to bring some info in this morning."

"Mary, who's working with you on this?" asked the captain.

"Gragg Chaffin from uptown."

"Take him with you, and check on Crane at home," she ordered.

"You got it, cap."

***

Crane Home

When Paulette and Chaffin arrived, two black and white units were already there, lights flashing on top of the cruisers. They exchanged looks, and got out.

"Detective Paulette!" called out an officer with a wide smile. "You guys got here fast! We just called it in five minutes ago."

"Poncherello," acknowledged Paulette. "Called what in? We're here to see Crane."

Poncherello looked uncomfortable as his eyes searched the ground for a few seconds. Looking back at Paulette, he said, "Mary, I'm sorry. It's Crane that we're here for."

Mary looked stunned. "Wh-what?"

"Yeah," said the officer quietly. "Someone killed him in his kitchen last night. Wife found him this morning. Baker's inside with her now."

Mary looked at Chaffin. "Gragg, do you mind checking with Baker? I... I'm going to need a minute."

"You bet, Mary," he said, patting her shoulder before walking towards the house.

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