I looked up from my desk to see the Chief holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a glaze doughnut in the other. “I want to congratulate you on making detective. You ready for your first case?”
Among the detectives I’m the only woman. At my age I reminded the older ones of their daughters. Hard cases would prove to the men I’m not soft and weak. “Thanks, I’m more then ready. What’s the case?”
He took a drink of his coffee. “We got an arsonist out there setting fires to Krispy Kreme Doughnut Shops. Last night he burned down his third one.”
Being a rookie meant being stuck with cases none of the other detectives wanted. “Are there any eye witnesses? Most of the evidence will be lost in the fire.”
He chewed on his last bite of doughnut. “There were no eye witnesses. Any evidence will be buried under a pile of debris.”
I drove to the burnt out doughnut shop to rummage through the blackened ruins. Inside the walk-in cooler everything had melted. Butter dripped off the metal shelves and down onto the floor. Gallon buckets of soft dough were melted into a hard glob of plastic. I took photos but found no evidence. Just then an open sack of flour tipped over spilling onto the cooler floor. In the spilt flour a shoe print appeared in the melted butter, I documented the evidence. Finding nothing more in the cooler I decided to dig through the charred rubble. I heard a meow and followed the sound to find a cat with singed whiskers covered in black soot.
I had found more evidence. “Come here kitty”
Back at headquarters I turned the cat and the flour shoe print into the lab to be processed. Among the laughter and the snide remarks I went back to my desk. I spent the afternoon going through files of arson suspects.
The next morning I stopped off at the break room to grab a cup of coffee and a doughnut. One of the lab techs stuck his head into the room. “Okay if I join you?”
He sat on a chair across the table from me. “Detective, the cat provided us with a great deal of evidence. We found in her fur human hair and a combustible substance. The human hair is male, approximately in his early forties. The substance can be bought in any paint store. The flour shoe print comes from a large foot, size thirteen.”
I remembered in the files a suspect fitting that description. Benny Jones, age forty two, felony record of arson. For the past two years he worked at a paint store. For a family member he had written down his cat.
The interrogating room had gray walls with no windows. The fluorescent light gave out a harsh glow. As a police officer stood by the door I sat at a table with Benny Jones. He kept his head down picking at his finger nails.
I started to question him. “Mr. Jones, can you provide any information on the recent fires at the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Shops? On the night of the fires where were you? What size of shoe do you wear?”
He smirked, “Size thirteen. You can’t arrest me for having big feet.”
I said, “At the last doughnut shop fire someone’s pet was found covered in a combustible substance.”
He looked up and asked, “Is the cat dead?”
“I didn’t mention anything about a cat.”
“My cat likes car rides. She went with me that night. When I got home I couldn’t find her. If I went back for her the cops would’ve caught me.”
I leaned toward him. “Tell me why you set fire to the doughnut shops. Then I’ll tell you about your cat.”
He started picking at his fingernails. “I plan to burn down every doughnut shop. Get back at the police for arresting me. With no doughnuts the cops won’t last long. ”
Except for that cat Benny didn’t care about anything or anyone. I knew how to get a confession out of him. “You came close to killing your cat. She survived the fire with minor burns and her whiskers will grow back. What’s her name?”
“Embers, I didn’t mean to hurt her. Can I see her?”
I walked out of the interrogating room with Benny Jones’ signed confession and his cat. I had solved my first case and became Embers'new owner.
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