Sally, the cold case

31Oct08

Minneapolis, I was working the crime beat for the local rag. A phone-in gig, I’d mostly just camp out by the police scanner in the bullpen and wait for calls to come in. Occasionally, if there was something lurid-sounding, a multiple homicide or violent robbery, I’d truck out to the scene with our flashmonkey to get some details. You know what they say; if it bleeds…

I met Sally on one of these excursions. A bloody robbery at a greasy spoon, two patrons, the manager, a cook and a dishwasher had all been shot dead. Sally was a waitress, accidental survivor. She’d been in the walk in fridge when the shooting had started and had stayed hidden there until after the police had shown up to find her crouched behind a box of wonderbread.

Normally, I didn’t bother with getting quotes from survivors, because it’s not worth wading through the trauma, but when I saw Sally making her statement to the homicide detective she seemed like a cool customer. Plus, she was just too beautiful for me not to speak with, so once the detectives were done with her, I took her around the corner to some dive and bought her a gin.

Sally didn’t have a whole lot to say about the crime, seemed pretty unfazed by it, frankly. “I hated that job anyways. The owner was such a fucking prick. Used to grab my ass every time he walked by,” she told me. We moved on to talking about music, I confessed I was a sucker for jazz. She said she was planning on going to a club later tonight, where a girlfriend of hers was going to be playing piano and that I was welcome to come along.

6 months after that, Sally moved in with me. She had a new gig waiting tables at some coffeeshop, taking night classes and I was still phoning in my beat, punishing myself with cheap booze and unfiltereds. Maybe it wasn’t the life I’d always planned for myself, but it was an easy existence.

One day, I was looking in the linen closet for a bottle of bourbon I’d sworn I’d stashed up there, and instead came out with snub-nosed .38 I’d never seen before. A hunch told me to take it to a guy I trusted in the lab at the police HD. Turns out it was the murder weapon from the robbery at Sally’s restaurant. That night, I waited at home with a homicide detective and a couple of uniforms to confront her, but she never came back.

I give Sally a lot of credit. She had good instincts.



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