Ed sat in front of a 3-man New York police detective interview panel. The lead detective in the middle sat back in his chair with his arms crossed. The other two scribbled notes on their clipboards.
Wearing his dress blues police uniform, Ed unconsciously let his right leg start bouncing slightly, his heel pumping up and down. His leather pistol holster squeaked against his duty belt with each leg bounce.
“You nervous, son?” asked the lead detective.
Dammit! “A little,” Ed replied, placing his hand on his right knee, calming his leg.
“I feel there’s a lot at stake.”
The lead kept looking at him. The other two detectives seemed to be writing even faster. The lead said, “One last question…what made you want to be a detective?”
“It’s been a lifelong dream, sir. I’ve always wanted to help—”
The lead cut him off with a wave of the hand. “Stop with that crap. That’s what everybody says. I swear you wannabes will say anything you think we want to hear.”
Ed felt his future in law enforcement slipping through his fingers. He’d wanted to be a detective for a long time. “No, sir. I really—”
Again with the hand wave. “Just give me a straight answer.”
Ed’s mind was blank. He was afraid to ask for guidance. He wanted so bad to say what do you mean? but didn’t want to come across as a dumbass.
After what seemed like minutes the lead said, “What was the one thing that made you want to be a cop? What in your life made you pick this line of work? Was it from watching movies? TV? An event? What was it?”
“It was an event, sir.”
“Well then tell us about it.”
Ed cleared his throat. “All I ever wanted to do was be a cop.” He smiled and said, “But my parents wouldn’t allow it. It was too dangerous they said. They were pretty over-protective with me. Wouldn’t let me play football or participate in any sport where I could get hurt. They let me be in track though. I did the hundred meter dash and the four hundred meter relay.”
“How’d you run?”
“Got second place in the hundred in the state finals.”
The lead shrugged his shoulders, just like Ed’s father had. Well there’s only one person in the state faster than you, his father had said. His mother assured Ed that it was a compliment.
“So anyway Dad convinces me try following in his footsteps. He was a hotel manager for The Truman on West 59th.”
“Nice place,” said the lead.
“When I graduated from high school he started me as a desk clerk for four bucks an hour. I’d been there a couple of years and had moved up to assistant manager. I was working the evening shift one night when we get this call just before midnight complaining about noise from one of the rooms on the sixteenth floor. Room 1616. It was one of those massive presidential suites. Huge place with marble floors and big picture windows that give you a great view of Central Park. Didn’t really surprise me that people would get rowdy in there. Wasn’t the first time someone complained about that room either. Ha, one time the cleaning folks found a couple of chickens and a goat in there. Anyway, I tell the lady we’ll send someone up.
“So Dad being the workaholic was working the evening shift too on account of it being Labor Day weekend. Wanted to give me a hand. Was a bit of a micromanager too so he goes up with one of the security guys to see what the commotion is about. I say Dad, what are you doing? He just smiles and heads on up in the elevator with the rent-a-cop.”
Ed visualized his father’s lingering smile as the elevator doors closed.
“So your dad didn’t want you to be a cop but he goes up on a disturbance call.”
“Yes, sir. Funny, huh.”
The other two detectives continued writing, focused on their clipboards.
“So Dad goes up and I start looking at my chicken scratch on my note pad. Room sixteen sixteen on the sixteenth floor. Shoulda known something would be different. It wasn’t until later that night, after I talked to the police, that the numbers made even more sense—in a jacked up kind of way.”
Ed paused for a moment, seeing the scene replay in his mind even though he wasn’t standing next to his father. “So Dad and the guard get to the room. Music’s blaring. Dad bangs on the door. No one answers. Dad uses the master key card and unlocks the door. Room’s empty. They search the place but all they find are sixteen gift-wrapped boxes on the bed in the master bedroom.”
The detective on the left said, “I know about that case.”
Ed said, “Yes, sir. The Mambano family massacre. Sixteen gift-wrapped heads. A message from the Santoras for them to leave town.”
The lead said, “Sorry about your father.”
He had had a heart attack when he opened that first box. Died before the paramedics could get to him. “Damn rent-a-cop couldn’t save him. Not sure he even tried,” Ed said.
Ed was quiet for a moment. All Ed could hear were the detectives scribbling.
Finally, Ed said, “Mom died two years later. Doc said cancer but I say broken heart. Anyway, I couldn’t help holding the killers responsible for Dad’s death. I’d say they were an accessory in Mom’s death too.”
The lead said, “You know those sixteen bodies still haven’t been found. Whoever the cleaners were did a heckuva job in that suite. And the killers, those friggin’ psychos, we still have no real suspects even though there was a card left at the scene that said With Love, The Santoras.”
“I know, sir. That’s why I want to be a detective.”
991 words / 1000 word limit
Writer’s Cramp submission.
Prompt: On the 16th floor of a hotel in midtown Manhattan (NY), a loud party has been going on all evening in room 1616. At midnight, the hotel manager knocks on the door of room 1616 after several complaints from rooms nearby. When no one answers, he/she opens the door and finds the room empty except for 16 wrapped birthday presents … Write the STORY or POEM.
Notes: After I finished it I don’t think I hit the “mystery” mark. There are people/things/events in this thing that are usually included in mysteries but there wasn’t anything about solving the crime. Hard to do that in 1000 words though…HA!