The Golden Gate was only partly visible through the fog that cold, misty morning. The air tasted like autumn at the imminence of winter. Deforge and I had zipped our coats up to our chins as we walked toward the pedestrian walkway on the south end of the bridge. Deforge had his hands stuck in his pockets and carried the sullen look he often adopted when he was tired. I pulled out my phone and began recording as we walked, disguising myself as just another tourist.
I had walked the bridge multiple times since Lakey's death, but never with Deforge and always on my spare time. This time Deforge had asked me to join him on the bridge so we might review the case and get back into Lakey's perspective. We had to put off Lakey's case for a week or so because of another robbery in an inner city neighborhood. Now that we were free from distractions, Deforge wanted to find as much as we could to race ahead of Martin in the wager of the drug dealer's death.
We didn't speak much as we stared through the fog and watched traffic rush by. There were not many other pedestrians, only a couple of joggers and a young photographer. As we neared the center of the bridge, however, there was a man staring off the side, motionless. Right about where he stood was the approximate location where Lakey jumped.
I ran my fingers along the cold, moist fencing and looked over the side from time to time, pointing my camera down to the dark waters clouded by fog. The man didn't seem to notice me or Deforge as we approached until we were very close. His head snapped up as if awakening from a dream, stared me in the eye and then turned, nodded to Deforge and walked away.
In that moment I had a feeling I recognized the man's face, but the feeling soon faded. Deforge and I took his place at the side of the railing and stared at the cables below where Lakey must have stood before his fall. I placed my hands on the railing, leaned over, and took a deep breath. Without warning Deforge, I put my phone in his hands and carefully lifted myself up and over the edge.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Deforge growled. I ignored him, focusing on my footing. My heart beat wildly in my chest as I slowly turned to face the water, slipping momentarily on the slick metal. I never had a fear of heights, but at that moment, standing recklessly at the edge, I felt fear as I had never felt it before. Even standing at gunpoint seemed simpler than this fear.
"Fuck," I breathed.
"Yeah, don't go and kill yourself," Deforge grumbled. "The money I wagered won't be able to pay for your funeral."
I turned around then, just as Lakey had, and stared up at Deforge. I tested moving slightly to the right. Deforge was not amused. "Alright James, get back up here." I looked up at the red towers and cables above me. My hands felt clammy with sweat. I noticed one of the security cameras. "That's an order," Deforge warned.
I continued to ignore him and looked back down toward the water. Ten feet below was a cable where the barrier would soon be built. "James, I'm ordering you as your superior to climb back over. Now, agent." Deforge had his arms crossed. I sighed and let Deforge take a hold of my arms as I pulled myself up obediently.
"What in devil's name were you thinking?" Deforge shouted A passerby openly stared. I took back my phone silently. "I have half a mind to throw you back over," Deforge growled.
I shrugged. "I thought I could gain some perspective." My legs felt weak and I was suddenly short of breath. "Anyway, the camera's up there."
"I don't give a fuck about the camera and you can sure as hell keep your perspective" Deforge said, anger still in his voice. "Was it really worth putting your life at risk?"
"Probably not, but I did think of something while I was standing there," I said as I pulled up the recording of the bridge on my phone. "That man standing at the railing. He doesn't look familiar to you does he?"
"Yeah, he looks kind of like my dentist," Deforge answered as he watched the foggy recording. I raised my eyebrows to show it was a rhetorical question. "What? You don't think he's a suspect, do you?" Deforge laughed, standing back.
I put my phone away. "Seriously? That was Drew Thielson. More specifically, Officer Theilson."
"Theilson? From Barnett's division?" Deforge asked, brow furrowed.
"Yes, and I never forget a face."