Why did it have to be a body on the subway tracks?
It was Tuesday. The worst day of the week. Most people hate Mondays, but I’ve never understood why. On Mondays, you have the afterglow of the weekend warming you up. Tuesdays, you got nothing.
Except for a corpse lying on the tracks.
I’ve been on the force a long time, but seeing a body mangled by a train still shakes me up. The day I get used to it is the day I’m turning in my badge.
I looked at the suspect. Suspect, that’s what we always have to call them, even if they’ve taken out an ad in the New York Times advertising their crime in advance. The suspect had burning, hollow eyes that saw too much and nothing at all.
“Pushing her in front of the train seemed like the right thing to do,” he said, as if apologizing for using the wrong fork at a dinner party.
“Well, it wasn’t,” I said. “It never is.”
The suspect wiggled his arms behind his back. Was he getting another telepathic invitation to nudge someone to an early death? I heard the gentle clicking of the metal links that bound his handcuffs together.
“We’re taking him in, Detective,” said one of the officers. I nodded as they moved away.
I looked around the platform. The immediate area had been sealed off with yellow tape, but the gawkers were doing their best from the other side of the barrier. A hipster couple was filming a video, complete with running commentary. An old woman with a ratty shopping bag made no attempt to disguise her morbid fascination. A guy in a hideous purple scarf managed to look sad rather than ghoulishly excited, to his credit.
I walked over to the tape to talk to possible witnesses. A number of people made for the stairs as I approached. From the remaining crowd, I started with the hipster duo. The man looked up from his smartphone.
“We have a right to film this,” he said, his man-bun jiggling with indignation. The young woman had stopped speaking and nodded in agreement.
“Of course you do,” I answered. “I only hope you exercised some common decency and didn’t film that poor lady’s body before it was covered up.”
“We don’t have to answer that question,” said the woman.
“You just did,” I said. “In any case, did you see what happened?”
“No,” said man-bun. “We were transferring from another train and heard the screaming, so we came down and started filming for our viewers.”
“That video might be helpful,” I said. “Could I contact you for a copy?”
“You can’t take his phone,” the woman said, moving in front of her boyfriend. I noticed that their sausage-tight jeans were perfectly matched, down to the artful holes torn in the knees.
“I’m not trying to take the phone,” I answered, “but I’d appreciate it if you could point me to a copy of that video.” I handed the man my card. He accepted it with a frown, shoving it into a back pocket.
“Can I tell you what I saw?” asked the elderly woman with the shopping bag. My hipster friends went back to filming the scene for their enraptured viewers.
“It was ghastly,” continued the woman. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t wait to tell my friend Minnie.”
“What exactly did you see?” I asked.
“I saw the police putting the handcuffs on that crazy man,” she answered. “Such a tragedy. I’ve never seen anyone get pushed in front of a subway train.”
“So you actually saw him push the victim onto the tracks?”
“You’re not listening,” said the woman. “I said I saw the police arresting the killer. It made me shiver. Minnie will be so interested to hear the details.”
The rest of the conversation was no better. A few additional interviews provided no useful information. A terrible morning.
“Are you in the mood for a joke?” asked McGowan.
I glanced up from my computer. I was eager to look away from the on-screen forms that described bone-crushing horror in such a tedious and deadening way, but I didn’t want to hear a joke. Especially not from McGowan, whose terrible puns drew more groans than laughs from his fellow detectives.
“Not right now,” I answered. “Gotta finish writing up the subway case from this morning.”
McGowan nodded, his ruddy face darkening. “What a mess. That guy’s a psycho. Why was he out on the streets?”