Everyone in the squad knew Gaskins and Riley were there, but not a soul dared to say a word to them. It was if the partners build a fort of paperwork around them. But it was getting close to lunch, and Gaskins popped his head up over the manila folders like a gopher to looking for Riley. She had her head down typing but immediately felt his presence.
“Gas? You need somethin?”
“Food. Your ass ain’t hungry?”
Riley huffed, “Yeah, I could eat.”
“I’ll buy if you fly?”
“I appreciate you guys being so buried in the paperwork that you didn’t notice we have a visitor, but order a pizza and come into my office.” Sargent Hedges commanded.
His name fit him because according to Gaskins, he was always around, in the way, and more often than not, a proverbial pain in his ass. Riley was too new to have an opinion.
“Who is it Sarge?”
“Sergeant Major Decklin from base.”
Gaskins was now standing straight up looking into Hedges’ office window as he straightened his belt and collar. There the man stood in full uniform with two other men. Gaskins often wondered if the military purposely recruited little runts to work with commissioned officer to provide them the delusions of grandeur that they were superhuman.
“Christ, what does he want?”
“Apparently a marine never reported back to duty after his tour,” Hedges said as he and the detectives walked towards his office.
“No disrespect, but doesn’t the military have their own people for that?” Riley asked.
Gaskins was nodding furiously behind them, “Sure do. They don’t want our help any other damn time. Why do they want us now?”
Gaskins had no idea that the Sergeant Major heard him, so it startled him when his rhetorical question was answered with a resounding boom.
“Because his girlfriend never made it into work today either, Detective.”
“Again no disrespect Sir, but couldn’t it be they just played hooky for the day?”
“Typically we would have thought the same thing,” Major Decklin’s booms were becoming uncomfortably loud. He motioned to one of his runts who held out a Coleman Cooler for Gaskins to grab.
“Oh hold on, shouldn’t this be at the morgue?” Gas said with his face wrinkled up.
“No need,” Decklin replied nonchalantly, “Open it.”
“Look, I am trying to be respectful here, but I haven’t even ordered my lunch yet…”
Runt number two flipped open the top to the cooler. Upon first glance, it appeared empty. However Runt number one handed Riley an instrument, and she began gently poking around. Her face took on a quizzical but knowing expression.
“Yes, Detective they are. A pair of breast implants approximate size thirty six double D. The other contents are a wig and false eyelashes and a Ziploc baggy containing Lance Corporal Jackson’s pubic hair.”
The room became so silent when Runt number one closed the cooler. Everyone jumped.
“We know who they are. We just need you to find them.”
With that, the runts went away with the boom.