The police wrapped up their investigation a little after two in the morning. Otis sent Velvet down to meet Detective Carpenter at the backdoor when he knocked, which was fine with Velvet. Otis had been suspiciously quiet the whole time they’d been in the security room. Not that Otis was a real talker or anything, but he usually had at least something to say about everything and Velvet was sure Otis would have a lot to say about this. But he didn’t. He was quiet, and this quiet was deeper than his usual quiet, which irked Velvet.
“We’re finished for this evening,” Detective Carpenter said as Velvet tried not to look like she was looking for Detective Carthos. She decided that she liked his kind, awkwardness. It was comforting. “The crime scene tape is staying up for now. Forensics will be back in the morning to have a look around by daylight and I’ll probably be back sometime tomorrow, too, for my own look around. You and Guard Gorski can go back to your rounds as usual, but please avoid that side of the building for now. Let the next shift know what’s going on.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“Oh, and if one of you could drop the security footage off at the police station when you get off work in the morning, that will be helpful. The sooner we look at it, the better.”
“Again, no problem.”
Velvet smiled and nodded like she was talking to a teacher she was trying to please, an odd feeling since she hadn’t done anything wrong. Maybe Detective Carpenter just had that affect on people. She bet he got a lot of confessions. Bad guys were lulled by his good looks and nailed by his aura.
They said their goodbyes, Detective Carpenter reminding her to call if she or Otis remembered anything, and then he left, getting into the last unmarked car in the parking lot. As he pulled away, Velvet could make out the shadow of Detective Carthos riding next to him in the passenger seat.
Velvet closed and locked the backdoor and walked the maze back to the security room.
Otis sat in his chair like a grumpy lump, the deep, unhappy silence still heavy in the room. Velvet sighed and sat down next to him, her chair squeaking and popping.
“Detective Carpenter wants one of us to run the security footage over to the police station in the morning,” she said.
“You can do that,” Otis said, his gravelly voice agitated.
Velvet bristled at being volunteered.
“Why do I have to do it?”
“Because I found the body.”
“Man, that isn’t how this works.”
“How would you know how it works?”
“I know it doesn’t work like this.”
“I’ll put it together, you run it over,” Otis said, sitting up in his chair. He quickly pulled up the program on the systems computer that allowed him to copy the footage and started to go through it.
“Fine,” Velvet said, watching him work.
They probably could have had this done and waiting for the detectives by the time they left, but Otis didn’t seem to be in any hurry at the time to get it done and Velvet was in no mood to prod him.
Now, prodding Otis would be an excellent way to get things back to normal. And she was eager to get things back to normal and shake the creepy feelings that had been plaguing her all night, anything to erase the image of that dead man’s legs sticking out from between the dumpsters that she was sure to be seeing for a while. She wasn’t looking forward to going to sleep and seeing what her dreams had in store for her after a night like this.
“What’s with you?” Velvet asked, watching the monitors. Otis didn’t get as cranky with her for conversing if he thought she was keeping an eye on things.
“What do you mean what’s with me?” he asked, focusing on his own work.
“Why are you so cranky?”
“I’m always cranky.”
“Yeah, but you’re cranky even for you. You’re not that fun cranky that I’ve come to know and love. You’re a sullen cranky that makes me want to push you over.”
Otis stopped what he was doing and looked at her. “Push me over?”
“That’s what I said.”
He shook his head and went back to his work.
“So?” Velvet prompted after a minute.
“So, what’s eating you?”
Otis didn’t answer.
“You’re underestimating me, Otis,” Velvet said with a little smile. “I will bug you until the rest of your hair falls out. When I want some information, I will stop at nothing to get it. You know this. You know how I can be.”
Otis stayed silent.
“I mean it, Otis. I will make our shifts a living hell for you with non-stop chatter if you don’t spill your beans. I will-”
The two words hit Velvet with the same force as a cinderblock chucked at her gut. It took her a couple of seconds to get her air back.
“You are not,” she said in disbelief.
“Yes, I am.”