"What? I'm cleaning the bathroom right now."
"The second part of that Fitzgerald & Cassidy two-parter is on!"
"How am I ever going to finish cleaning the tub with all this quality network programming?"
Last Week's Episode: The Lives Within Them
"Lieutenant, this is Iris Gardener from Habitat for Humanity."
"Come on, Cassidy. We are working on an important case and you want me to meet some do-gooder? When will all this crap end? People don't need help. They need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make something of themselves."
Fitzgerald was trying to type out his report on the black typewriter on his desk. While the rest of the homicide unit had been upgraded to networked PCs, he preferred to stick to the same typewriter he had used since he was first assigned to homicide twelve years ago. He didn't trust computers. There was too much chance for them to malfunction. As Fitzgerald had once told Captain Parker, "the more technology you bring in, the less ability the human element has to make brilliant deductions." Even so, typing out his report on the investigation of the seventeen murders at 1077 Winston Avenue was taking time. His typewriter no longer had a functioning "P" key, so there was thought involved in avoiding the need of that letter.
"Look, Lieutenant Fitzgerald,"
interjected Iris Gardener.
"I was detached by my organization against my better judgment.
They seem to feel these embryonic little people need homes built for them."
"She's telling you the truth, lieutenant."
"I am dealing with third rate morons." Fitzgerald snorted and stepped away from his typewriter. It bothered him that Captain Parker was still not in his office. The dirty old bastard was probably out romancing another grieving widow. He was such a snake. Parker called it being "opportunistic" but Fitzgerald saw his actions and cold and completely unprofessional. He grunted, pulled the crushed soft pack of Lucky Strikes out of his jacket and looked over at Officer Duane Mincy. As usual, Mincy was shaking his head and making "tsk tsk" sounds. Fitzgerald didn't have any idea what Mincy was doing, hanging around homicide all day when he was supposed to be working his traffic detail. Captain Parker put up with it, mostly because he enjoyed how militant Mincy was about not letting Fitzgerald smoke in the station house.
"Okay, lady, why don't we go outside and you can tell me all about your little Jimmy Carter oriented build houses for the poor slobs business."
Fitzgerald got out of his chair and slipped an unlit Lucky Strike between his lips. He smirked at Mincy, patted him on the back and held the door to the office open from Iris Gardener and Cassidy. When they got to the elevator, their progress was hindered by the unexpected appearance of Lieutenant Pete Brick, a long time friend and rival of Fitzgerald's who worked narcotics.
"Hey, Fitzy, you catch the Ultimate Fighting Championship last night?"
"You know I don't watch that shit, Brick. What the hell are you doing here? Blowing smoke up my skirt?"
Brick shook his head and grinned. The elevator door opened and the foursome got in and took a ride to the first floor. Brick began telling Fitzgerald that they needed to talk, but "without the broad hanging around." Fitzgerald snorted, his favorite reaction to listening to statements he found boring, obnoxious or unimportant. All he wanted was to smoke a cigarette and now he had to listen to two stories, that of Iris Gardener and that of Lieutenant Brick.
Once outside, Fitzgerald immediately lit his cigarette with his favorite Zippo lighter. He rejoiced in finding it on his desk when he got back to the station. Having spent much of the day thinking it was lost after falling through the pocket of his well-worn overcoat, finding it was a revelation. Iris Gardener was beginning to speak, and her words were coming quickly like a rapid fire machine gun. Fitzgerald hated when people opened up their dialogue with statements like "I don't have much time" and those were the exact words Iris Gardener opened with. Then she went into telling him how Police Chief Don Dagmar had given her permission to observe the investigation in the hopes that her organization could find suitable housing for the small people who had been living inside the bodies at 1077 Winston Avenue. Fitzgerald found the entire concept disturbing. After all, the small embryonic people had been taken to a police lab somewhere in New Jersey. Fitzgerald himself had no idea what they were doing with them.
"Lieutenant, don't you think this can help our investigation?"
"That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. This is police business, not playtime for liberal flakes. Those small people are the chief suspects right now in a murder investigation and you want to build them houses? What about me? Twenty years on the force and all I have is a one bedroom apartment with a backed-up toilet and cockroaches in my cookie jar."
Fitzgerald begrudgingly accepted the business card Iris Gardener offered him. His cigarette now smoked down to half its original size, he turned to Lieutenant Brick and demanded he explain whatever it was he felt he needed to explain.
"Our cases seem to have crossed streams. Your murder investigation is somehow tied in to my investigation of a ring of Russian mind altering drug pushers posing as Finnish sauna promoters all along the eastern seaboard. I'm under orders to share my information with you in exchange for you doing the same. Looks like we need to help each other out, old boy."
"Look, shit for brains, I don't work well with others. When I was in the third grade I had a teacher named Miss Hartley. She gave me extra attention after class because I used to steal pencils from the other kids and then break them in half. Do you have any idea what kind of low mentality I really have? If you want to find someone to work with who is going to play nice, maybe you should go by the church and find yourself a youth minister who needs someone to help paint the rectory. You'll only find heartache hanging with me. My life is no happy little melody, block head. My life is a pure, unadulterated living hell!"
"Christ, Fitzy, where the hell did all that come from?"
Fitzgerald stubbed out his cigarette against the wall of the police station and stormed angrily back into the building. He was going to be damned if anyone was going to take this case out from under him. He was the man who solved the Reggie Waters murder-suicide case when no one else could make heads or tails of it. He was the man who took a bullet in his left lung confronting the key witness in the famous shopping cart murder case. No one else even came close to figuring out the murderer was a disgruntled bag boy who resented people taking shopping carts out of the supermarket parking lot. Fitzgerald was a highly decorated, seasoned veteran and no one was going to pull the wool over his eyes. Even if it was really nice wool. The kind of wool that was made from alapaca could sometimes be nice and comfortable, but Fitzgerald found that most woolen clothing items tended to chafe his tender skin. Especially right after a nice fragrant perfumed bath.
As Fitzgerald stood in front of the elevator door, waiting for the bell to chime and the door to open, Cassidy finally found a moment to speak to him. They were off the case and the case was officially closed, at least as far as homicide was concerned. Parker had been in meetings with religious leaders and biologists all morning discussing the nature of life. They had decided that what had happened at 1077 Winston Avenue was a miracle and not murder, as was originally thought.
"We'll be reassigned to traffic duty if we even try to continue our investigation."
Cassidy was very firm in his whispered statement,
which Brick mistook for a tender earlobe kiss between partners.
Neither of them expected to see Captain Parker on the elevator, just as no one expected Brick to be taken out with a dart from a blowgun in the same instant. Parker had asked Cassidy to tell his partner the news. Usually that meant that Parker was going to stay away from the office so he wouldn't have to listen to Fitzgerald ranting and throwing things, which was his usual reaction to being told he was "off the case."
"Look, Fitzgerald, you ain't qualified to investigate human evolution.
You haven't even bothered to evolve on your own."
Fitzgerald handed Parker his gun and his badge. He didn't even have to think about it. He kept a journal and had committed one of the first entries to memory. "The day they equate murder with evolution is the day I retire." He was sticking to that. What would he do with himself? His sister had her own interior design business and she did wonderful things with textures and engraved wood. That kind of thing fascinated Fitzgerald and he figured he would give her a call after drinking down four or five mugs of frosty cold beer down at the pub.
Cassidy agreed to join Fitzgerald at the bar for a few cold ones. As usual, they met Quincy at one of the back tables and Fitzgerald ordered a round for everyone. He lit a cigarette, thankful that this was one of the few bars in town that still allowed smokers to relax and enjoy their special brand of freedom. Not feeling very talkative, he let Quincy take the floor and discuss the autopsies he had done on the bodies from Fitzgerald and Cassidy’s former case. Seeing Quincy’s graphic and highly animated depictions were starting to get under his partner’s skin, Cassidy jumped in and cut off the famed medical examiner.
"Try to understand what the captain was telling us.
Overpopulation has been a problem for so long and we're finally evolving as a species to handle it.
Smaller people means more room for growth."
Fitzgerald grabbed the cold mug of beer that Trisha the waitress had just placed in front of him and quickly drained half of it. For the first time in his life he was nervous. His stomach was feeling queasy and he hoped it was just a case of indigestion. The chili burger he had for lunch probably wasn't sitting too well. That had to be it.
"Smaller people, my ass."
”Don’t you see, Fitzgerald?” Quincy asked, raising his fist and slamming it down on the table. “This is a huge government cover-up! People are suffering and dying and they want it brushed under the table. I need your help, Fitzgerald. The fate of all humanity is hanging in the balance!”
”Jesus, Quincy, you never change, do you? I figured a couple decades in re-runs would mellow you out. Stop taking everything so seriously. Little people. What a crock of shit.”
”Wow, Marge, what a season ending cliffhanger. You think Fitzgerald will be back on the force next season?”
”I hope so, that Parker is such an idiot.”
”I like Parker, I always thought he was really smart.”
”Cassidy is so cute. I wish they would do another episode like that one where he made poached eggs for that girl in just his boxers.”
”Yeah, like that ever happens in real life.”