November 1, 2:40 A.M.
Jennifer Holden sat at the scarred table in the break room scratching a Win for Life lottery ticket. Slamming her hand against the old wooden table she ripped the ticket in half and whipped another scratch-off game out of her blue uniform shirt pocket scraping the side of her hand on her badge. Back to furiously scratching once more, Jennifer didn’t notice when Detective Betty Feinster walked in.
“You never quit this, do you?”
Jennifer glanced up and back down, but didn’t stop scratching. She had just uncovered the six play spots and had already scratched the top game — nothing; not even the two bucks she spent for the game. She took a breath and whipped out another scratch-off game card.
“Oh, so you’re not even speaking now?” smirked Feinster, “Thought we got past that point.”
“Betty, you know by now that I like to concentrate when I’m playing. It’s part of my system.”
“Some system! You buy scratch-off tickets like all the schmoos in the world, and you lose just like all the schmoos in the world. Great system.”
Her friend, and sometimes partner, plopped down next to Jennifer kicking up her police issue thick-soled black shoes onto the scarred wooden table. She placed her booted feet near Jennifer’s scratching hand.
Jennifer paused, her rapid movement and looked over at Betty with a look of incredulity. A smile was spreading ever so slowly across her slim mousy face; a face that hadn’t seen a drop of make-up in years. With her nondescript black individual braids pulled back in a tight bun, Jennifer looked like a young schoolmarm. Her small button nose, the cutest feature in her countenance, looked out of place among the other unremarkable features. Her cheeks were not well-defined and her eyes were neither expressive, nor memorable. Her eyes were roundish — not quite owlish — normal dark brown eyes however they boasted a few flecks of lighter brown from some long-forgotten Anglo-Saxon ancestor.
The lighter brown flecks in her eyes brightened her whole countenance especially when she was animated — which was rare. But now, her eyes were lit up as if fired by some internal power source. Jennifer’s eyes glowed, a rich dark tawny shade, which made one ignore the rest of her. Her boyishly slim physique hardly made any bumps in her uniform especially not over her 32A cup bra. What she did have going for her were her tight abs, slim waist long, shapely legs that were currently sheathed in the heavy dark blue NYPD issued uniform pants and her pore-free skin the color of ground cocoa.
Betty pulled her feet down and leaned forward, her own smile forming as she shoved a few stray dark blonde wisps out of her green eyes.
“What? Did you finally win something?”
With flourish, Jennifer scratched one long swipe to reveal the bar code. Betty grunted and put her elbow on the table and pressed her fist against her cheek.
“I know this part of your system — you won something. From your stupid grin, you won a lot. How much?”
“Fifteen hundred! Bottom game,” Jennifer held it up in front of Betty’s face. “So what do ‘ya think of my system now?”
“It still sucks but today, you got lucky. How long have I known you now?”
“Why do you keep forgetting? Six years,” grumbled Jennifer re-pocketing her winning ticket.
“Right, right. So, in all those years this is the biggest win you’ve told me about. So, what does that make your profit? Hmm...that’s $250 per year. Shall we divide that by the number of days per year, or shall I be nice and do it by month? Be nice? Okay, that’s $20.83 per month for every month I’ve known you!”
Before Jennifer could retort, her radio squawked. “Detective Holden, report to State and Hoyt Streets. Female victim, DOA.”
“Holden, this is your golden day. First, the lotto win of $20 bucks a day for the last six years and now your very first solo murder case,” smirking Betty pushed herself up with a sigh.
“Such a shame I’m off the clock now and can’t help you…”
“You evil little —”
“Now, now. Don’t keep your newest client waiting,” Betty said in a saccharine-filled sotto vocce.
Barely suppressing a growl, Jennifer got to her feet making her chair fall backwards in the process. She stalked out of the break room without glancing back at Betty. Laughter trailed after Jennifer as she smashed on her brimmed hat and passed her locker to pick up her crime scene kit. On her way out of the precinct Jennifer stopped at the Command Desk.
“Am I being assigned a partner for the Hoyt and State Street call?”
The large cop, a veteran of twenty years guffawed.
“Holden, you’ve been on the force long enough to know that on Halloween no self-respecting murder cop is on duty. You’ve got this one. If you need backup for a stiff after all your years on the beat,” he paused as he smiled mirthlessly, “maybe you need to change jobs and work in a bodega. Then, you wouldn’t have to go too far to get your lotto fix every day.”
“Yeah, well at least I believe in something, Sarge.”
“You? Believe? In what? You’re a friggin’ atheist — Holy Holden. That’s why you pull Halloween each and every God-damned year. That, plus the fact you ain’t got kids.”
Jennifer lowered her head and glared at him through her lashes but held her tongue as she always did. She stiffened her 5’2” frame and slid on a poker face as she turned on her heel. She marched out of the precinct with her back ramrod straight as he laughed raucously at her…as he always did.
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