The girls had been whisked away to Grove County Hospital. The water pipe had been shut off, but Cole and Rusty still had to slosh across the wet bathroom floor as they observed the crime scene.
“Well,” Rusty said as he stared at the blood stained tile walls. “I’m just gonna say it.”
“Don’t say it,” Cole replied.
“This is the work of the work of the Al Qaedas.”
Cole slapped his forehead. “You think everything is the work of the Al Qaedas.”
“That’s because everything is the work of the Al Qaedas,” Rusty said.
“Last week when you lost your keys you blamed it on the Al Qaedas,” Cole said.
“I don’t think it was ever conclusively proven that was not the work of the Al Qaedas,” Rusty noted.
“You left them in your other pants,” Cole said.
“Did I?” Rusty asked. “Or did the Al Qaedas put them in my other pants?”
“Well,” Rusty said. “If this isn’t terrorism then what is it?”
“Hell if I know,” Cole said. “Maybe some dumb ass kid tried to flush a firecracker and it got out of hand?”
“That would have had to have been one gigantic firecracker,” Rusty said.
“Yup,” Cole said.
A few seconds passed.
“The kind of firecracker that the Al Qaedas could get their hands on,” Rusty said.
Cole flipped out. “Not another word about the Al Qaedas!”
The bathroom door swung open. A third set of boots sloshed into the room. They belonged to Grove County Sheriff Floyd Hammond. He was a skinny, spindly man in his early fifties with a receding hairline and a handlebar mustache. His dark brown uniform clashed with the classier navy blue uniforms Cole and Rusty were wearing.
“Hooo weee!” Floyd shouted as he took in all the carnage. “Remind me to never eat the chili in this school’s cafeteria!”
Cole despised his counterpart in the Sheriff’s department. He choked back the bile that was inching its way up his throat. It was a reaction Cole got whenever he saw his longtime nemesis.
“Sheriff,” Cole said.
“Chief,” Floyd replied. “What in the bloody blue blazes do we have here?”
“I have no idea,” Cole said. “The Al Qaedas, a firecracker stunt gone awry and now, high octane chili, are the latest working theories.”
“Well slap my ass and call me Sally,” Floyd said. “This has got to be the shittiest crime scene I have ever had the misfortune to lay my eyes on. Any witnesses?”
“All knocked unconscious,” Cole answered. “Except for one nerd who had stepped out of the room. He was useless.”
“As most of these fancy pants millennials with their precious degrees in bullshit studies are,” Floyd said.
“Yup,” Cole said.
Floyd stuck his pointer finger up his nose, fished around for awhile, then pulled out an economy size booger. Not wanting to contaminate the crime scene, he wiped it on his shirt. Cole and Rusty pretended as though they didn’t notice but…notice they certainly did.
“Heard you had a little run in with the Mayor this evening…”
“Did you now?” Cole asked.
“You know how people talk,” Floyd replied.
“Do you mean, ‘people?’” Cole asked. “Or do you mean the Mayor specifically talked to you? Or more specifically, he cried to you like a little bitch?”
Floyd snickered. “Let’s just say we had ourselves a little chat.”
Cole patted Floyd on the back. “Good for your, Floyd. It’s about time you found a friend you can share your love of wearing ladies’ underwear with.”
The Sheriff gnashed his teeth together. “Who the hell told you about that?!”
Cole and Rusty traded shocked expressions. “No one, Floyd,” Cole said. “I was just busting your balls.”
Floyd pulled out a dirty handkerchief and dabbed the sweat off his brow. “Oh…good. Yeah, I was uh…just busting your balls too.”
“Sure you were,” Cole said.
“Anyway,” Floyd said. “The Mayor solicited me with the most interesting proposal.”
“Aww,” Cole said. “And here I thought you weren’t the marrying kind, Floyd.”
“Not that kind of proposal!” Floyd barked. “Seems like the Mayor would very much like to see the Sitwell Police Department absorbed into Grove County Sheriff’s Department. Bigger budget for me, more competent officers for Sitwell. Sounds like a good deal but, oh, I do suppose you and your ginger lover would find yourselves on the unemployment line.”
Rusty raised his hand as if he were a kid in an elementary school class.
“Yes?” Floyd asked.
“Point of clarification,” Rusty said. “Cole and I are not lovers. We’re just longtime friends and colleagues.”
“No one asked you, Ron Weasley,” Floyd said.
“Floyd,” Cole said. “I could give two shits about what you and the Mayor talk about in your circle jerk sessions.”
“You should,” Floyd said. “And a word to the wise: don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
“How bout you just bite me, Floyd?” Cole asked.
Floyd clicked his tongue in a disapproving manner. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. With a bad attitude like that, I doubt that you’ll ever cut it as one of my deputies, Cole. It will be such a shame when I have to let you go.”
Cole pointed at the door. “Get the hell outta here you booger picking transvestite! You’re screwing up my crime scene!”
“Very well, Cole,” Floyd said. “I’ll just sit back and laugh myself silly as you botch the case of the century.”
Cole furrowed his brow. “Case of the century?”
‘You mean you don’t…” Floyd stopped talking and grabbed his sides to keep them from bursting as he laughed and laughed. He then walked out the door, but not before saying, “Better check out the Internet, loser!”
Cole pulled out his old school flip phone. He flipped it open. “Does this thing get Internet?”
“Holy shit, Cole,” Rusty said. “Did you kick Fred Flintstone in the nut sack and run off with his phone?”
“What?” Cole asked incredulously. “This is a perfectly fine phone!”
Rusty pulled out his much more modern smart phone and started punching buttons. “All you can do on that thing is make phone calls.”
“All I need to do on this thing is make phone calls,” Cole said.
Boop. Rusty pushed the button on his Network News One live stream app. “Let’s see what that old sack of farts is on about.”