The Second FigureMature

The woman who had called me was much older than I had expected. I was expecting the standard young woman with an attitude who dreamed of living out the media driven image of investigations, only to realize their fantasies didn't fit in a real crime scene. Instead I found a middle aged woman in uniform, sitting on a bench near Baker Beach, reading a book that looked suspiciously like a paperback romance novel you would buy for a less than a dollar at a garage sale.

She looked up as I approached and closed the book. I noticed as she set the book aside and it fell from the bench to the ground that she did not bother to pick it back up. I smiled and held out my hand and she stood a bit taller to receive it. "James Sharald," she said, straight faced. "You're late."

"You must be Officer Barnett," I replied, ignoring the fact that I was indeed an hour and twenty minutes late. I looked around. Already the news trucks and camera crews were driving away. "I hope you were enjoying the book."

"Sergeant Barnett," she corrected. "I found it under the bench before evidence could get their hands on it. What took you so long?"

"My apologies sergeant, I didn't see your insignia. I stopped by to say hello to the body. You said you thought you found some evidence that needed a look over?" As I scanned the area I spotted an officer taking notes as they interrogated a possible witness. "What have you got?" 

Barnett followed my eyes. She shook her head in a disapproving manner at the interrogation which told me she had more experience than I had given her credit for. "Well, obviously nothing from anyone here. The person who found the body was as useless as a Beverly Hills chihuahua and just as ridiculous. It was because of her that the media got all riled up since she was a damn tourist. No. I wanted to show you some video footage from the bridge." 

I nodded, a smile fanning out across my lips. She was offering to show me some real evidence. "Video footage? Of the jump? If witness reports and the autopsy are correct, they would be from sometime after dark. Is it any good?"

Barnett grimaced. "Good? No. But it does show Lakey outside the railing. It's dark footage, but at least there's no fog." She led me to her car. "God, I wish you had arrived on time. I was hoping you would be here to distract the reporters." She opened the door to her patrol vehicle and sat in the drivers seat. I waited outside her open door as she messed with her mounted laptop. She offered me a seat after pulling up the file containing the security footage. 

"How did you get this so quickly?" I asked as the silent video played. It was dark, but just after dusk so you could still see the shapes of the bridge and flicker of headlights whizzing by. 

"Because I supervise Bridge patrol and security," she answered. Suddenly a dark figure emerged into view, climbing over the railing. "And because it was my job to prevent this from happening."

I watched as Lakey stood at the edge near the cables, holding onto the railing behind him and looking down toward the water. For a minute he was still. I thought he was about to jump when he suddenly looked up and turned around to face the bridge. There was another shadowy image, only partly in view. Lakey shook his head, animated as if in heated conversation. "Patrolman?" I asked, knowing that officers often found and talked people on the edge from jumping. 

Barnett hummed a little before answering, "No, all bridge patrol were accounted for."

I continued to watch as the second shadowy image stepped suddenly toward the railing, hand raised. Lakey moved quickly to the side, as if trying to escape and then suddenly his hands and feet left the cables and Lakey disappeared from the image. The second figure looked over the railing and then walked quickly out of the frame. 

"So, who's our second man?" a deep voice asked just outside of the car once I closed the video. I looked up. Inspector Deforge stood with a wide stance next to Barnett, arms crossed and bushy eyebrows raised in a question.

The End

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