It was exhilarating, exhausting, and often heartbreaking.
As a Detective with the Toronto Police Service, Desmond P. Ryan wrote thousands of reports detailing the people, places, and events that led up to the moment he came along. He investigated the crimes and wrote synopses for guilty pleas detailing the circumstances that brought the accused individuals before the Courts. He also wrote a number of files to have individuals deemed either Not Criminally Responsible due to mental incapacity, or Dangerous Offenders to be held in custody indefinitely.
Now, as a retired investigator with three decades of research opportunities under his belt, Desmond P. Ryan writes crime fiction.
Real Detective. Real Crime. Fiction.
After so many years of doing this kind of thing, Mike found that buildings fell into categories. This one, at least from the outside, was clearly a typical rooming house: three stories, maybe a dozen eight-by-ten-foot rooms rented to one or two people per room plus their ‘guests.’ Shared kitchen, a couple of shared bathrooms with toilets that might or might not overflow, sinks that might or might not have running hot water, and bathtubs that were definitely beyond use.
As he unlocked the door, Mike had to admit that he was pleasantly surprised. No rotting odours assaulting his nostrils. No dried blood or unidentifiable body matter staining the walls. No voices screaming or music blasting from behind the rows of the plywood doors. As he looked down the hall to the shared kitchen, he noticed that the worn-beyond-repair parquet flooring was more or less clean. Not bad for a downtown rooming house.
“Warrant is good for up here, boys,” Griffiths said, pushing past Mike to take the lead, his cowboy boots stomping their way up the stairs.
“I have keys. No kick in doors!” Mr. Majewski called out as he pushed his way through the officers until he was right behind the cowboy.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry. Nobody’s gonna kick in any doors,” Griffiths snapped as he reached the door to be breached.
Mike stood back and let the perverse little conga line head up the narrow stairs ahead of him. A cowboy, a little Polish clown, a man in a bunny suit with a briefcase full of cameras and bags and dust, a hoard of scruffy men with guns, and a handful of uniforms with Mike bringing up the rear. All making their way to a narrow landing that would lead to a narrow door.
“Key?” the cowboy said, reaching his hand behind his body without looking back, reminding Mike of a surgeon requesting a scalpel.
“Hey, Griffiths!” Mike hollered up the stairway, mimicking taking a picture to remind his colleague that a photo would have to be taken of the stairwell, the landing, and the door before anyone entered Sergei’s room.
“Shit. Right. Thanks,” the cowboy said, stopping himself from turning the key in the lock. “Okay. Everyone, back up. Down the stairs. Outside. Fuck. Yeah, thanks, O’Shea.”
For a moment, the two men were actually colleagues.
“That’s why I’m here,” Mike said, pivoting on the stair to lead the entourage in their retreat.
“Amanda said you had a nice ass. I don’t see it,” Griffiths called down from the landing above.
“Fuck off,” Mike called back, a slight smile crossing his face.
Once everyone had reached the main floor, they regrouped, and the team started up the stairs again. This time, the forensics officer was in the lead, taking pictures as he went. He was followed by the landlord, then the cowboy and his minions, and then Mike and Big Nick and his partner. The remaining uniforms had been told to wait outside. No need to have everyone involved if they didn’t have to be. While the six old-clothes goons and the cowboy should be able to handle themselves, Mike was of the opinion that a uniformed presence never hurt. Big Nick and his partner would certainly be enough. The cowboy did not object.
“Keys, sir?” Forensics asked, turning to Mr. Majewski, who passed him a keychain full of keys.
If this room turned out to be the location of the murder, the forensics officer knew that the scene was likely to be a sight that the landlord would be ill-equipped to deal with, so he suggested strongly to Mr. Majewski that he wait outside. Having been exposed to the occasional dead tenant over the years, Mr. Majewski did not object. He squeezed past the numerous participants in the warrant and hustled down the stairs out onto the porch.
“Bingo,” Forensics said as he swung the door open. The other officers shuffled back down the tiny hallway. No matter how many times they saw violent death and what precipitated it, there was still that moment when the gag-reflex kicked in. Some officers got over it, some did not.
Big Nick fell into the latter group. As the rest of the officers stood outside of the room, careful not to touch or disturb anything or get in the way of the rapid-fire photos being shot, Mike looked over and saw the colour leave Big Nick’s face. Pushing past everyone, Big Nick then scurried down the stairs, hand clamped over his mouth, trying to stifle what Mike assumed were the chunks of vomit that were undoubtedly pushing their way up his throat with each loud heave. Big Nick’s partner dutifully followed, albeit at a much slower pace.
“Maybe we shoulda picked a different uniform,” Mike mused.
“Yeah. Or maybe he shoulda picked a different line of work,” Griffiths suggested, pushing past Mike to poke his head inside the room, being mindful to remain behind the forensics officer.