Lydia has soldiered through some godawful cases before, but she came this close to handing the case file for this one back to Winston. Wasn’t she just telling Hendrik that she’s considering early retirement? After that last one, the one where the guy tried to burn down the building with his six kids inside it because he was sick of paying child support, Lydia was done. Right?

But she hesitates and all is lost. Winston’s gone and the file is right here on her desk and what’s she going to do? She opens it, reaches for her cup of now cold coffee and starts reading.

When it’s dark at four in the afternoon and another storm is coming through Lydia can’t remember there ever having been such a thing as a sunny day. She pulls up her hood, opens her umbrella and shoulders her way out into another endless February evening with all the other worker ants, hustling and bustling to get to the shops, to get home, to get the tube on, supper heated and to shut the world out.

Hen’s late and that’s fine. Lydia puts a plate together for him and slides it into the oven, then tucks herself onto the sofa with a drink and the remote. It doesn’t matter what’s on. The noise, the light and movement are enough. Not the news, though, her defenses aren’t what they used to be. Even so her memory can play hell with her until she manages to get a second or third drink down.

She hears Hen’s key in the door. Up goes the wall, out go the memories and down goes her drink. He’s had a rough one and Lydia gets to lose herself in lying clients, stonewalling accountants and lazy bureaucrats for the rest of the evening. Or most of it anyway.

“New case?” Hendrik’s mind-reading used to be charming and even flattering.

“Oh Christ, yes.” Lydia is brushing her hair, watching him in the mirror.

“You’re taking it.” He flops onto the bed.

“I don’t know.” She pauses. “I don’t know how not to.”

“That’s my avenging angel.” He reaches for his readers and his novel.

“I could pass it off to the new guy, that genius from downtown.” She briefly considers this and thinks she actually could do it. He’s such a smart one; she wonders what he’d make of a woman who kept a bull mastiff in a one room squat with her six month old grandbaby.

“The firebug, you got him put away?” Hen peers over his readers and smiles and just like that Lydia figures she’s got this one. Somehow.

The old woman is in custody. The dog has been euthanized. The dead baby’s mother is in lock up down in Texas. Don’t ask. The courts aren’t interested in anything but closing this one and moving on to the next horror. Lydia arranges for an interview down at the city lockup, foolishly enough on the afternoon of her first root canal in fourteen years. She arrives, numbed and confused. Fortunately, it’s Anderson on the door and he gets her through and down to the holding room with a minimum of BS.

Just another day on the job.

Photo by Phil from Pexels


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