You know that feeling when you’re asleep but something happens in the world around you and you’re starting to come back into consciousness so the dream world and real life become intertwined? That’s how Frank wakes up, to the sound of his landline ringing, he rolls over and sees on his alarm clock that it is three in the morning. (Landline, alarm clock, do people even have those anymore? You’re wondering. The answer is, Frank does, he’s Old School like that). The phone call is Harry from the Chicago Police Department, he tells Frank there is a body and he needs to get down there as soon as possible.
Frank throws his legs off the side of the bed and zombie shuffles into the bathroom to relieve himself. In his half asleep state, he reflects on the dream he was having in which he and his wife were still married, his daughter was still young and he saw her more than once a year. Frank’s wife divorced him ten years ago, moving interstate and taking his daughter, Carolyn with her. He knows his devotion to his job was the main cause of the divorce, however his ex-wife’s affair with her yoga instructor definitely didn’t help the situation. Over the years he has learned to be at peace with the end of his marriage however, every time he thinks of his relationship (or lack thereof) with Carolyn a sharp twinge of guilt fills his chest.
Frank tucks his business shirt in and struggles to neatly tie his tie, he puts on his shoes and coat and steps out into the cold Chicago morning. After walking a few blocks, he stops into a twenty-four-hour diner and orders a coffee from Roseanne who has worked in this diner since he was just a Police Academy graduate, probably even before that. The coffee is not the best, but it’s the routine and familiarity of the place that keeps Frank going back. Roseanne sees Frank come in and starts getting his usual ready; a bacon and egg bagel and large black coffee, takeaway.
While he waits for his order, Frank thinks about Roseanne and how he is sure her husband is abusive. He wonders if he should try to talk to her about it, seeing as he is a detective but he keeps his silence. He wonders quickly if this makes him a bad person, no use on dwelling on these types of moral dilemmas he decides. Roseanne hands over the food and coffee and asks him her usual question about “another fresh one” to which he gives his usual wink and reply of “they just keep turning up” and hurries back into the frost of the morning.
Today Frank is lucky, the ‘fresh one’ is only a few blocks from his house so he can walk, often he has to take the train which at this hour of the morning is generally filled with drunks and women of the night. He has no particular issue with either of these types of humans, it’s just that he prefers to be alone. The walk is going to take about fifteen minutes so Frank puts in the earphones of his IPod (he is not too Old School for an IPod) and Steely Dan’s Reelin’ in the years starts up.
Five minutes into his walk Frank sees a Father and his teenage son jogging past, they are both very fit and jogging quickly. Frank reflects on what kind of madmen would jog at this time of the morning, who would even be awake at this hour of the morning if they did not have to be? Perhaps they are training for a marathon or something, in Frank’s mind, this only makes them crazier. When he was a cadet in Police Academy, Frank was incredibly fit, he was able to run miles and enjoyed lifting weights. When he got into the Police force and moved to Chicago he continued with this passion for fitness but as the years went by and especially after slipping into a period of depression after the divorce, he let it go by the way side. These days, he eats terribly (the bacon and egg bagel he eats daily is evidence of this) and is quite sure his cholesterol would be through the roof. No matter though, he thinks, everyone has to die of something.
High Cholesterol gets his thinking about his Father who passed away years ago from a heart attack. Franks’ relationship with his Father was tenuous at best. His Father was a man who never liked to do anything from any book other than his own, the one titled “How to get by as cheaply and easily in life as possible.” His Father was the King of ripping people off and went from one get rich quick scheme to another. He also liked a drink and liked to get angry and violent after a particularly long night of drinking (or for that matter, a short one, Frank’s father rarely discriminated). Franks mother was a demure lady who put up with his Father’s drinking and violence for far too long until one day she finally left when Frank was in Police Academy. Once Frank wasn’t forced to see his father, he didn’t, until the day of his funeral where he saw him in his open casket. (By the way, is Frank starting to sound like your stereotypical detective? Rough childhood, divorced, terrible relationship with his daughter, poor diet and out of shape? I guess when you look at it that way, Frank really is your typical detective with a pretty typical detective life).
Reeling in the years is long finished and now Justin Timberlake is singing about a river, Frank’s music taste is a little eclectic and he finds it difficult to answer the question of what type of music he is into. He generally answers that he likes a bit of everything, which is quite true. On his IPod Frank has everything from Eminem to Bing Crosby, Metallica to Bob Dylan. Music is one of Frank’s passions, one of the only positive things his Father passed onto him. Raised voices and cries of pain were not the only sounds that filled Frank’s childhood, there was also the sounds of music. As a child Frank’s father would tell him about the new records he had gotten his hands on and then it was the new tapes he had come by. Music and beer seemed to be the two things Frank’s father was actually happy to spend money on.
Frank also fondly remembered the times when his Father was at the bar or out obtaining some illegal merchandise to sell and his Mother would put Aretha Franklin or Tina Turner on and they would dance while making sure the house was spotless. Frank realises now that his Mother probably idolised what she saw as strong women who didn’t let men treat them badly (we know however that this is not the case, especially for Tina Turner), he wonders what his mother thought about while dancing and cleaning and about the freedom she would have wished for.
Finally, Frank arrives at the scene and the normal sights greet him; the police tape, the cars, the lights flashing blue and red. He greets Harry who tells him what they have observed so far. Male, hard to ascertain age as the body is face down but judging by the skin on his hands and grey hair, he would be in his mid-fifties (Frank quickly reflects that this is his age range), there is a gunshot wound to the chest, they have found the casings but no weapon as yet. Nothing special about the scene which is an alley way behind restaurants that were closed at the time of the murder and there are no witnesses that have come forward so far. Frank asks Harry if the restaurants have CCTV to which Harry advises he already has men onto finding out.
Harry and Frank step under the police tape and Frank notes that Forensics have arrived and are taking photos and samples. Frank makes the same observations as Harry, male, around about the same age as Frank, he also notes the similarities in hair-cut and coat. Frank asks if a wallet was found, Harry advises that one was not found around the body but they have not yet searched the pockets of the body’s clothes so as not to disturb it before Frank and Forensics arrived. Frank nods in thanks and reflects on how well Harry does his job. Some Police officers can make life difficult for Detectives as they resent them and don’t like being told what to do. Harry however, seems happy to let Frank do his job and helps out where he can. There is never any resentment of Frank’s higher position and this always makes Frank pleased to hear Harry’s voice at the end of the line in the middle of the night.
Forensics have completed their tasks and advise it is fine for Frank to roll the body over to get a better look at the gunshot wound and have a better idea of who the body is. Frank leans down, rolls the body over and gasps. Straight away he is filled with confusion and a terrible dull feeling in the pit of his stomach, he gets up and moves away. This is very out of character for Frank who has seen hundreds of bodies over his years so Harry and the Forensics team move closer to see what has happened. They all gasp and one of them swears because lying dead with a gunshot wound to the chest, looking back at them, somehow, is Frank.