100 Themes Challenge, Minot Edition: #11
THEME: 11. "33%"
STORYLINE: D Is For Damien storyline, Minot spinoff series, IDentity (unwritten novel)
RATING: PG-13 (mild adult language)
WORD COUNT: 1700+ words
SUMMARY: Okay. This is one of those themes that I look at and say, "WTF...??" 33%? What am I supposed to do with that? I considered Googling "33%" and seeing what stats showed up, what one-third of something is significant in the world, but am lazy and unmotivated. So I had to think of what one-third of something could be significant among my Minot characters. An image that I'd already come up with popped into my head, and though I don't see how I could make an entire scene/story out of it, I decided I may as well try. As such, since I'm writing this pretty much as it springs to mind it might be shorter than usual, but meh, here's your 33%. (For another significant scene with these two characters, which actually explains what's going on here, please see Scene 2, "Complicated.")
DISCLAIMER: I am not seeking grammar/style/publication critique for this item; I'm not trying to get published, and am content with my writing style, and just wish to entertain others. Feel free to point out errors that aren't just a matter of style preference (e. g., typos). Comments and questions on characters, plot, etc. are more than welcome. All characters, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © tehuti/tehuti_88. If you wish to share this item with others please send them a link.
The main room of the police station was dark and abandoned. Activity still went on somewhere in the back, but not here. Rosedale wasn't sure she'd ever seen the place so emptied.
She meandered between the desks, glancing at those belonging to the detectives and officers she'd come to know. Most conspicuous, to her, the twin desks of Kristeva and Devetko, near the entrance, the two facing each other but oh so different in appearance, Kristeva's a chaos of papers and files and whatnot, Devetko's perfectly orderly. She suppressed a faint smile on observing this. No wonder the two worked so well together. Way over here, Reichert's desk, haphazard like Kristeva's but without the clutter, like he'd just never gotten it in his mind to put a lot of stuff there, a lot like his apartment. Kincaid's and Bowen's offices were locked up and dark.
She continued down the hallway to the large room used for laying out photos and files associated with ongoing cases. It too was dim, but the door was unlocked, and she slipped inside. There was a large dry-erase board (when had those replaced blackboards, she wondered?) taking up the long wall facing the scattered high school-style desks, and a long table in between the two, but aside from a stray folder and a few markers the table was barren. Set somewhat off to the side so as not to impede view of the blank dry-erase board was another dry-erase board, freestanding, capable of being spun on a pivot to turn its face away from observers, which would have been pointless as it was clear rather than white. Normally she shouldn't have been able to make out if any writing was on it, in this poor light, except for the fact that somebody had placed a large sheet of white paper behind it so she could see that it was in fact in use. This board was sectioned into three parts, each able to spin independently of the others, and the second and third sections were full of scribbles. The first section to the left was blank, aside from a numeral at the top, 1. The others were numbered as well, 2 and 3, naturally.
Rosedale stared at these for a long time in silence.
She'd found the board with its triplicate theories of crime investigation odd, the first time she'd seen it. Not the board itself, but the fact that it was divided so. And not just the fact that it was divided so, but the fact that she knew it was one person behind the three different sections, one person coming up with three theories of everything. It wasn't unusual for the police to come up with multiple theories while investigating, and to, say, number them on a board for everyone to see. It was a little bit strange that it was just one detective doing the work of three, and that he kept each theory so strictly separate from the others, as if afraid of one idea contaminating the other two.
The first time she'd seen Kristeva scribbling on it, filling in the second section, was the first time she'd noticed him using his left hand, when previously he'd used his right. Now, after her late-night discussion with him, this made sense.
A light tap behind her made her gasp and flinch, whirling around. One of the desks further back was occupied; she hadn't noticed that until now. A few blinks and she recognized Kristeva, just barely, tapping a pen on the desktop a few times before rolling it back and forth, from one hand to the other. His feet were propped up on the seat of the desk in front of him; he looked like a student stuck in detention.
"So," he said, in that oddly conversational tone of his, "I think maybe it'll be better if I keep things sorted out thusly, one, two, three. Just makes more sense that way. And alleviates tension. You'd be surprised just how much a person can argue with himself. In any case, I realized this when I literally could not change theories in midstream and keep them all on the same area of the board. If I were a born-again Christian or some such, maybe I would've thought there was a demon or something guiding my hand from the path of righteousness or whatnot. But I'm not, so I didn't. A year or so ago I would've just thought I was going nuts. Go looking online for office supplies, find a three-sectioned dry-erase board. Problem solved. I keep to my section, no muss, no fuss."
"Why three?" Rosedale found herself asking, though as soon as the words were out she somewhat regretted it, since it was such a strange subject to be discussing; she had no idea what the etiquette of such things was.
"Easy," Kristeva said, now bobbing the pen between his fingers. "That's how many come out and actually handle things." He pointed at each section of board in turn. "One...Two...Three." And as if to punctuate, he flipped the pen and brought it down with a sharp click, uncrossed his legs, and recrossed them so the other foot was on top.
Rosedale chewed on her lip a little and peered back at the board. "Looks like...Two...and Three...have plenty of ideas," she murmured, still uncertain of how to proceed. "What's with this blank third here?" she said, glancing back at him.
Kristeva let out a bark that she recognized as his particular way of laughing whenever he found something absurdly funny. "'Blank third' is actually probably the best description you could think up. Because that's what's going on. I hate admitting this to you; it's mortifying. To be working on a case, and to have absolutely no ideas. Because the other two-thirds came up with them all before I could. If I wrote down my theories, I feel like I'd be plagiarizing. Myself." He rolled his eyes. "So...there you go. Say hello to the other, blank thirty-three percent."
"Sorry," Rosedale found herself saying, though she wasn't sure why.
Kristeva tilted his head and frowned just slightly. "Why...? You didn't make my mind go blank. Tell you what." He dropped his feet to the floor, scootching back in his seat and grabbing a folder that sat upon his desk; he tossed it at her so suddenly she gasped and just barely caught it against her chest. "This is the case I'm working on. Cold case. This is what I do when I can't sleep. Normally I look at stuff at home, but I have yet to invest in a second board I can cram into our dining room." He waved at her and she opened the folder to peer inside. "Missing girl, last seen two years ago. All the evidence is listed in that file. Not much to go on. Probably the reason I'm so short on ideas this time, when usually there's enough to go around three ways. Take a look at that, then look at my board--our board--" he amended himself with a twinge of annoyance "--then see if you can't come up with another thirty-three percent that hasn't been covered already."
"Do your work for you?" Rosedale said, raising an eyebrow. "You sure you want to go that route?"
"Well, you don't have to come right out and tell me all of it. Just toss me a few bones. Something to chew on. Maybe I just need an outside perspective. God knows I'm getting sick and tired of the ones I already have." He sat back again, and she noticed from the corner of her eye how he surreptitiously winced and rubbed at his forehead as if it hurt. She shrugged nonchalantly and turned away from him and the sectioned board, back toward the front of the room.
"All right then. My own ideas. But if you don't mind they'll be going on the main board. Credit where credit's due, after all."
"You're the one with thinker's block, not me."
"I'll remember this the next time you need some ideas." A glance back; when he saw her looking he crossed his arms behind his head and propped his feet up on the seat again. "Go ahead. Show me what you've got."
Rosedale turned away from him once more, fighting down a smile as she picked up a dry-erase marker and uncapped it. "Prepare to be amazed," she said, browsing through the file and starting to write. She got through all of the first couple of letters of her surname when Kristeva rapped his pen on the desk with a sharp report that made her halt.
"Hold on hold on! Black marker! That's my color. Nobody uses black but me."
"Oh, for Christ's sake!"
"Use the green one. Nobody uses green. You said we're going to keep it separate! So go on, find the green marker and use it. I think it's on the table somewhere."
"Whatever you say, Rain Man," Rosedale muttered, recapping the marker and tossing it aside. She fetched another marker and resumed writing, this time in brown. When she saw this she stuck her tongue out at him.
"Bitch," Kristeva said, but there was no resentment whatsoever in his voice, and he sat back again. "A stunning start!" he added, when she'd finished her name.
"I'm married. Thanks anyway." Rosedale rolled her eyes this time and jotted down the notes she'd been ready to take down before being interrupted. Kristeva fell silent; when she peered back from the corner of her eye she noticed how he was now watching intently, the pen bobbing in his mouth, and after a few more moments the legs of his desk scraped against the floor. She paused to watch him uncap the black marker and start writing on the empty third of the dry-erase board, casting glances at her own work as he did so, frowning and pursing his lips pensively. She noticed he wasn't copying her own work, but what he was writing down reflected her own thoughts, and didn't repeat what was on the other two-thirds of the board. It looked as if he were coming up with his own ideas.
Rosedale returned her attention to the front board. The two of them continued scribbling in silence for some time.