Playing it Safe

by Jane Davitt

Don't do it, Jim, Simon thought, wishing his thoughts would manifest inside Jim's head -- assuming they could get past the thick skull. Too soon after that damn fiasco over Blair's book, and  people are still not sure what to believe about you, so don't you do it, you hear?

Jim was staring intently at the window through which the intruder had escaped -- if the witness's statement could be relied on, a point about which Simon wasn't too sure, but he cut the woman a break as she was close to hysterical, a bruise rising livid and dark on her face, the latest victim of the thief who was targeting the area.

Tell me later in your report, let Sandburg spin it so it's reasonable, but don't open your mouth here, with two uniforms listening in, just ready to pass on anything that sounds out there. There's enough water cooler gossip already.

Play it safe, Ellison, just --

"Nothing here," Jim said, straightening.

Oh, thank God.

"No," Jim went on. "Nothing at all, so I don't think he used this window after all."

Okay, that's not bad, that's a reasonable deduction to make --

"And over by the door, the scent of aftershave is stronger, which would indicate that he passed through that way more than once --"

What? No!

"And he grabbed onto the door frame as he went through; no prints as he was wearing gloves; rubber ones, I think, I'm getting a faint smell of dish soap, so they're probably ones he took from the sink, which means he didn't plan ahead; the paint's slightly damp, too. The dust on the door frame is disturbed just here." Jim let his hand hover over the spot, ignoring the way the uniforms were goggling at him and Simon's best glare. "He's around five foot nine. Left-handed." He picked up something from the floor. "Red-headed. Short, curly hair."

I'll give you short and curly, Ellison --

Jim was staring at the shelf in the corner and unwillingly, Simon looked, too. At the picture of a kid, holding his baseball bat like a southpaw would, the sunlight glinting off a head of ginger curls, his mouth sulky, his eyes mean.

The woman's sobs faded and then redoubled as she saw what they were looking at. "He didn't mean to! He didn't. He's a good boy, he's just -- I don't want to get him in trouble. Please --"

Simon tuned her out and finally got Jim's attention. He gave him a fulminating, tight-lipped look, and got back a bewildered 'what did I do?' shrug.

That Ellison.

So damn clueless.

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