The City of Circuits are Combed With Gold

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It was a cold winter morning when my partner and I arrived at the crime scene. The sky was a thick overcast of clouds painted in the colors of concrete, heavy and pregnant with the possibility of snow.

I kept the windows up and the hot air blasting as we parked in a nearby lot overlooking the burnt remains of the Sunny Days apartment complex. The police had already cordoned off the area with roadblocks and yellow tape. Despite the chill in the air, a crowd had gathered nearby to watch. I fingered a cigarette and lit it.

"Everything all right, detective?" My partner asked. His yellow eyes glinted under the metal mask he called a face. His question was impassive, toneless, and yet I knew there was concern in his voice. Call it a former soldier's intuition.

"Yeah, I'm fine Booker. I just fuckin' hate crowds is all." I replied. "Buncha rubberneckers."

"We shouldn't keep the officer waiting. He appears distressed." Booker thumbed over towards the complex. A few boys in blue were busy keeping the crowd in check. The other one in the middle of the parking lot, shifting from side to side as he spoke to one of the forensic photographers.

I begrudgingly ashed the cigarette. No sense in delaying the inevitable. We exited the Muntz and hopped over the curb, making towards the complex. The officer broke away from the photographer once he noticed us.

"You the detective from Auto Crimes Division?" The officer asked.

I glanced over at Booker and nodded.

"Don't know why the chief picked you to be here. Should've sent arson over if you ask me. Nothing in there but ash and two dead clankers...," The officer stopped short upon noticing Booker.

"What other details can you provide about the crime scene?" Booker asked.

"I really should be talking to your superior about this," The Officer mumbled. He looked to me for confirmation.

"The detective here asked you a question, boy." I gave a hard glare to settle the matter quickly.

"Yes. Sorry. I mean...," The officer sucked in a lungful of cold air to compose himself. "Dispatch got a call about three this morning reporting a possible fire. Neighbor next door called it in. Said she smelled smoke. Fire brigade got the situation under control but phoned it in to you guys once they found the...Autos amidst the wreckage."

"Any evidence of foul play?" Booker was keeping it professional. He walked the straight and narrow for me just so I could throw a few sucker punches when they were required.

"Hard to tell. The bodies were in pretty rough shape when we found them."

"I think that's all we need to know for now." I interjected. "Have your boys keep the crowd at bay. Call an industrial coroner to come pick up the bodies once were done with our investigation." I didn't wait for a reply. I shouldered past the officer towards the stairs. Booker was kind enough to thank the man before joining me.

"You didn't need to be so hard on him." Booker said as we ascended to the second floor.

"I didn't take kindly to the slur."

"He didn't mean any harm." We rounded the last stair towards the burned out apartment. The door was missing, most likely chopped down by the fire brigade to get inside.

"It's not even that original." I muttered. "I've heard better slurs said by better men in Iwo Jima then by that flatfoot." Booker didn't have anything to say about that.

As we entered the apartment, my nose was assaulted by a sheer symphony of smells. The sour sting of scorched metal, the horrendous belch of burnt synthetic carpet. There was something faint in the air as well that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Smelled kinda like microwaved tupperware, but worse.

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