Shadowy Corners

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Grimdark Mystery: Paper Trail-Chapter 10

Officer Palin strode into the precinct and headed for the bullpen carrying two trash bags. He saw Detective Hernandez watching his approach and a big grin broke across his face.

“I come bearing gifts,” quipped Palin.

Detective Hernandez stood and directed him towards an unoccupied interview room, “My man! You secured the bags. Did Mr. Stanfield see you take ’em?”

“Yeah, and he was pissed. Started shouting about his property being unlawfully seized. Put on a real show for the neighbors. I reminded him that once he discarded the bags out on the sidewalk, it became public property. So, then he demanded to know why I was taking the bags. I told him I was just following orders. So, don’t be surprised if he calls and gives you an earful.”

“I’m sure he will. I’ll be waiting for his call with bated breath,” Hernandez said with a smirk.

Palin deposited the trash bags on the table, wished Hernandez luck and headed back out on patrol. Hernandez donned a pair of disposable gloves and opened the first bag. He peered in and was pleasantly surprised. Madeline had been telling the truth. The bag was crammed full of file folders and loose documents. Hernandez found more of the same, in the second one. He emptied them onto the table and settled down to take a closer look at everything.

Hernandez looked at one document after another and sat back perplexed. They appeared to be antiquities provenance documents, export licenses, invoices and bills of sale. Why had Carter Stanfield been so anxious to get rid of it? What was the significance? Had Madeline’s innuendos caused him to jump to conclusions? Was it possible that Stanfield’s decision to start tossing things, right after talking to him, was just a coincidence? Hernandez doubted it. Why else would Stanfield have gotten so upset, when Palin took the bags? There had to be something in them that he did not want anyone to see.

Without a clue as to what he was looking for, Hernandez got nowhere fast. Attempting to sort through the mound of documents was overwhelming. Hernandez briefly toyed with the idea of asking one of the other detectives to look things over. It never hurt to get a different perspective. Still, Hernandez was hesitant. He was relatively new to the department. That made it difficult for him to decide which detective he should approach.

He thought about it for a few minutes: Detective Williams was a glory hog. Hernandez was pretty sure he would just try to take over and boast o anyone willing to listen, that he had to step in and single-handedly salvage the “new guy’s” whole investigation. Then there was Detective Clemons. Hernandez shook his head; he did not have the patience for any needling from him. Detective Krebs was moody. Dealing with him was emotionally draining, even on a good day. Detective Graves never took anything seriously. Hernandez did not have time for all of the ribbing he would have to endure.

Hernandez reluctantly shook his head. He would rather figure things out on his own. At the very least, he would see if a forensic document examiner should be consulted or if the documents were legitimate. He sighed resignedly and reached for the nearest pile. Maybe if he organized everything and took a methodical approach to his examination, then it might help him to spot any patterns or trends. Hernandez divided the documents into stacks grouped by company, private collection and individual buyer. Then, he took a break and made himself a cup of coffee, before returning and delving into the first stack.

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