Written by Maggie the Cat
---I. Snark City---
Look at them.
They're a team. A family. Bayliss mother-henning
Pembleton, Munch and Megan bickering like
siblings...even Kay and Meldrick know each other's
faults and habits although they argue all the time.
Gee behind that office door, ready to come bursting
through like a kindergarten teacher if we get too
Am I ever really gonna belong here?
Meldrick drops heavily into his seat across from me,
grinning all over that.../face/ of his. He's got
something clever to say. I can feel it coming, and I
don't wanna encourage him, so I don't answer. Not
like that would stop him. If the guy had played
football with the same unstoppability as he bugs
people, he woulda been a megastar.
"What you mopin' around for? Sex life got you down?
Or should I say--/lack/ of a sex life?"
He finishes it off with that annoying, wiseass, "Heh
heh" that he does. God, that drives me nuts. I like
the guy and all, but he sure knows how to be
irritating when you're not in the mood for it.
Still, I don't say anything snarky (about, say,
Barbara Shivers) to put him in his place, because I
don't feel like a fight. Although, considering
Barbara's stupid name, I wouldn't even /have/ to be
snarky to insult her.
So I just narrow my eyes at him, flick my hair out of
my face, and go back to the ballistics report I'm
pretending to read. Meldrick doesn't press, because
he doesn't really want to know why I'm mopey. He
likes me enough, and he's even nice to me, but I'm
not really, /truly/ his partner in his mind. He's
never gonna forget Crosetti and we both know it.
Aw, hell. Might as well call it lunchtime and go get
---2. Mrs. Bolander---
Look at her.
Sitting there all gussied up, prim, every bleached
hair in place. Settling in. Making a nest. Soon
she'll be burning her initials into the desk and
covering the phone in Battenburg lace.
Ever wonder why I wear the dark glasses? Vanity, you
might say. An affectation. An indication of a nature
distrustful of scrutiny. Weak corneas.
Well, it could be any and all of these possibilities,
but, to tell you the truth--I'm something of a
voyeur. Not the exciting Jimmy Stewart-telescope-open
window kind, though. I just like to observe people
when they're relaxed, at ease, unaware.
And what do I see when I look at my new partner, the
once promoted/twice demoted Megan Russert?
Right now, I see her lunch. Yogurt, Granny Smith
apple, something that looks like dry wedges of pita
bread. And a triple hazelnut vanilla double froth
with extra who knows the fuck what cappucino. The
food of champions, if you happen to be either a
champion anorexic model or a champion beat poet.
Now Stanley Bolander--/there/ was a man who had
lunches. Not just lunches, but moveable feasts,
veritable banquets wrapped in waxed paper. Granted,
his tastes weren't exactly epicurean, but there's a
certain charm to old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs
food. You'd never catch the Big Man eating yogurt and
And when he had a green apple, it was a fucking
Look at him.
I can't believe he's back already. He should be at
home, resting, recouperating. Of course, it's no
surprise that he's here--nothing keeps Frank
Pembleton from avenging the dead with aloof intensity.
God...to think we almost lost him....
I hate seeing him like this. I know he prefers to be
at work, feeling useful, but....
"Do you need help with that, Frank?"
Bite my tongue. He gives me that /look/, the same
look he probably gave his mother when the nurses
handed him to her, all bundled up and newborn, and
she baby-talked at him. That look that says, "You
can't /possibly/ be speaking to /me/. I am /Frank
So I grin half-heartedly and sit back down in my
chair. I rearrange pencils and try to hold still
while he struggles to find the arm-holes of his coat.
I tell myself, sure, it's hard for you to see Frank
this way, Tim. But imagine how screamingly
humiliating it must be for /him/.
---4. Checks and Balances---
Look at me.
I've done so well for myself. I worked my way up
through the department, all the way up to Sargeant,
with nobody to thank but myself. I steered clear of
all the sexism, the politics, the backstabbing. I
made it. But there's something missing.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not having a mushy moment
here where I wonder if having a baby might make me
complete--it's just sometimes, I wish I had somebody
to share all this with, huh?
But then, that's one've those occupational hazards of
being murder police. You sacrifice all that personal
stuff for your job, because your job is what makes
the city a safer place. I may not always agree with
Frank, but he's right about that. We avenge the dead
so the living have peace of mind.
That's what I feel when I put down a case and that
name turns to black on the board, or when I get a
suspect to spill it all in the Box. When I go home to
an empty apartment, though....
I can't help wondering if maybe the Carries and the
Kellermans of the world have it right, and we should
be living for fun.
Oh, come /on/, Kay. Carrie's a nutcase and
Kellerman's here in Homicide, not exactly the most
fun place in Baltimore. Not exactly the best examples.
Maybe I'm starting to understand Beau's train-wreck
marriage. Maybe he just had to cling to Beth and the
kids because at least he knew he had somebody to go
home to at the end of a long, hard day. Maybe it
helped him face all the murders to know that he could
raise his kids different.
Then again, /he/ didn't have a perfect clearance, huh?
---5. Color Code---
Look at it.
A marvelous thing to behold. A map, a plan, a scheme
in a world and a profession in which there is no
certainty but death.
See how the red offsets the cool, cold black? See how
it sparks the board with life?
That's because those names in red /are/ still alive.
They're haunted souls, waiting for the release that
only comes from the stillness of black. They /want/
to find the black. They seek it.
Help them find the still, dark quiet of the black.
Dedicate your existence to it. Sacrifice your heart,
your mind, your life if needs be....
Lewis looked up at his partner, who was leaning
earnestly across the desks, pale eyebrows furrowed.
"Gee's standing there staring at the board again."
Lewis snorted. "'Sat all? Leave the man be, Mike.
What Gee sees when he stands there looking at the
board ain't for the rest of us mortals to know."
Mike slowly sat down again, never tearing his gaze
from the imposing form of his Lieutenant. "Gee's
pretty scary, isn't he?...."
Not even glancing up from his newspaper, Lewis
nodded. "Terrifying. But don't nobody else wants the
"No shit," Mike said. "I wouldn't want to hafta deal
with us either. We can be a real pain in the ass."
Giardello turned towards Kellerman, giving him the
smile that always made Mike think he'd just done
something horribly wrong and death was imminent.
"Yes, Kellerman--you /are/ a pain in the ass. In
fact, all of my detectives have been pains in the ass
at one time or another." The grin grew wider and more
insidious. "But as long as you can keep turning red
names to black ones, I'll suffer the pain in noble
Another smile, around the squadroom for everyone's
benefit, and Gee headed back to his office. He knew
that by the time his door banged shut, the noise ould
be drowned out by the chatter of his detectives, busy
at work, busy gossipping and jibing each other.
He shook his head, musing over the changes and the
constancy of the job. The people, fine people, who
rotated through the Homicide unit, giving up time and
sweat--and, too often, blood--to get the job done. He
trusted them, respected them, counted on them. And
sometimes he wished the rest of the city could see
just how much these detectives sacrificed.
The bureaucracy, in its less self-assured moments,
would demand of Giardello answers to the questions
the public was pressuring them with. "When will it be
safer to walk the streets? What's being done to clean
up the city? Who should we look to for justice?"
And Giardello always had the same answer.
"Look to us."