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I was called onto the scene about two hours after midnight. The mood was somber; no media around to demand the glitz and glamor of a daylight robbery or a hit-and-run. What uniforms were assembled were the career cops: the ones you never see on television. The ones with wrinkled clothes they haven't changed in days, hands jittery from too much coffee and a haggard look on their eyes that said they'd seen too damn much to believe in this job anymore.
I heard Chief Forbidra before I saw her. Funny how that works with gnomes. She came sauntering out of a line of bright yellow tape marked POLICE, chewing on a cigar. I'd warned her those things were bad for her health. She flung a coffee mug at my head. Warning her was bad for my health, so I stopped.
"What have we got?" I asked.
"Fifty gallons of mess in a two ounce bucket," she grunted. "Some whackjob came 'round, took a cookie from the cookie jar. CSI puts the time of the perpetration at about midnight."
"Anything left behind?"
"Not a damn thing. No prints. No DNA. No tracks. Nothing except this..."
The Chief handed me the note. Don't believe what you hear about handwriting analysis. Nine times out of ten, it's thrown out of court as the product of a tricky hand. The most you ever get out of it is a gut feeling.
And right now, as I was looking at those big, bloody red letters scrawled in a madman's hand to read: "IT WAS MEEEEE," my gut was telling me that this was going to be one long night.
"You know what to do, Graves," Chief Forbs said. "Story breaks in a day. The DA's gonna want a suspect before then."
I folded the note, jammed it into my coat and went off in search of a crumb trail.
I read that as the guy from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Seriously. My sides hurt now.
You're a MONSTER.
And I love it.
You know what to do, Graves," Chief Forbs said. "Story breaks in a day. The DA's gonna want a suspect before then."
Yay! More hard boiled detective stuffs!! And with Gnomes and Cookies too! DOUBLE Bonus Points!
Without warning, a cry went out. The winds whipped and the mountains rumbled. The sky grew dark as rain began to fall in a tumultuous torrent. I sank to my knees, mind assaulted by the anguished wails of a thousand bakers, clinging to my staff for support. Yet, one voice rang loud and clear despite the sudden crash of thunder.
IT WAS MEEEEEE!
Deep in the black pit of my shriveled heart, I knew a balance had been struck. Before long, we would all pay for this unspeakable crime.
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