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D Is For Damien: Chapter 11

An Interrupted Conversation

DAMIEN FOUND THAT, that night, he couldn't get to sleep for some reason. He thought that maybe it had been the long day, or the day before--he was getting all mixed up, he'd been sleeping so irregularly lately. Because of those dreams, no doubt. He sat up in bed, turning on the bedside lamp and rubbing his eyes in the sudden flood of light. He squinted at the clock. It was after two in the morning. He sighed and reached over, picking up the address book sitting beside the lamp, lying back as he paged through it and looked carefully at the numbers. Somewhere he knew he had written down Morris's phone number. Again, for some odd reason, he felt compelled to call the detective. He reached over again and picked up the phone. As he dialed the number, he had a strange feeling, which was odd in itself. He rarely got weird feelings like this, but he sure had been getting a lot of them lately. Why, he wasn't quite sure. The phone rang only once before it was answered, and the person answering it didn't sound as if he had been sleeping.

"Morris here," the voice said.

"Morris?" Damien said, rubbing his eyes again. "That you? You awake?"

"No, I'm just a compulsive sleeptalker." Snide as ever. "What's it sound like to you? This is Damien, isn't it?"

"The one and only."

"I knew it. You're the only one with enough chutzpah to call at two in the morning."

"Chutzpah!" Damien exclaimed. "Jeez, Morris, let me pull out my Webster's before you go any further there."

"Hey, listen up, pal, I don't got the patience to deal with the likes of you this early in the a. m. You got something to say, or what?"

"Yeah...no...I mean, I don't know," Damien said. He couldn't stop rubbing his eyes, he felt so tired. "I was just wonderin'..."

"What? What?" Morris sounded irked, but then the tone of his voice changed and he seemed slightly subdued, as if he noted the tone of Damien's voice. "Hey, you all right? Everything okay over there?"

"Yeah, everything's okay," Damien said. He was beginning to get angry with himself for making such a stupid mistake as calling the snottiest investigator in the world in the middle of the night. What could he have been thinking? "I was just callin' to see if everything's all right with you. I mean, it's been tough lately, and I couldn't sleep, so I was wonderin' if you might be havin' the same problem...."

A chuckle. "So there is a soft spot in your heart for me after all, Dami. Isn't that sweet. Actually I'm what your type might call a nightowl. I get by on a couple hours here and there. Nothing wrong at Morris Manor. You feel better now? Can you rest easy knowing that?"

Damien snorted. He was really starting to dislike this guy. Heck, starting? I already do. "Yeah, I'm so relieved I could go out and take a crap. You've really lightened the burden on my shoulders, Morris."

"Glad to lend a hand." In the background Damien suddenly heard a dull thump. Morris said, half to himself, "What the heck--?"

"Hey, Morris?" Damien asked, that weird feeling creeping back. "You okay?"

"Yeah, sure," the detective replied, sounding puzzled. "Just thought I heard some--" Thump. "Jeez! There it is again. Must be coons in the trash. Hold on for a minute, will you?" Damien heard the click of the phone being set down on what he guessed to be a table. He listened carefully, hearing footsteps fading into silence. He waited.

Nothing. "Morris?" he called, into an empty room.

Still no sound. And then--another thump, and Morris's voice exclaiming, "Hey, what the heck are you doin' here? How'd you get in?"

He heard no reply. Instead there was a third, muffled sound, like a cork popping from a bottle. Damien felt his heart leap into his throat, nearly blocking his windpipe. "Hey Morris, what's goin' on over there?" he had to keep himself from shouting.

Once more a thump, this one louder than the others; there was an odd whip-click sound, repeating itself, and footsteps, and then the phone buzzed in his hand.

Damien waited a few minutes more, frozen still in the stark lamplight. He finally hung up--his hands were shaking so badly he nearly dropped the phone--and then dialed the police station, hoping there would be somebody familiar there to talk to.

The phone was answered promptly and a deep voice said, "Michigan State Police Department, District Number Seven."

It was Brown. Damien sighed with relief at this. "Hey, Officer Brown, this is Damien from the police station, you remember me? I'm the one Jones can't stand."

"Hey, man, how's it goin'?" the policeman greeted cheerfully. "Kinda late to be callin' in. You got a problem?"

"I don't know," Damien replied. "I just called Detective Morris, you've gotta know him, and there were these noises in the background and then there was this pop and the phone just went dead."

Officer Brown was silent for a moment, obviously sensing his distress, then said, "I'll get together a couple of guys and we'll go down to his place to see what we can find, all right?"

Damien nodded, feeling somewhat relieved but also apprehensive about what they might find. "Thanks."

"No problem. I'll call you when we're done." The phone clicked and buzzed this time; Damien realized the cop hadn't given him the chance to tell him his number. He'd just have to call on their other phone. Taking a deep breath and trying to calm his jittery nerves, he lay back on his pillow and closed his eyes, trying for sleep. This time he found it.

It was easily shattered, however, when his telephone rang. He awoke with a start, glancing quickly at the clock. About a half hour had passed already. He picked up the phone and said, "Yeah?"

"This Damien?" Brown's voice said. "I got your number from a friend."

Damien didn't question who this "friend" might be. He already suspected who it was. "Yeah, this is him. What'd you find?"

"Plenty," the cop replied. "Seems that somebody besides you didn't like Morris too much."

Damien was silent for a few seconds. That feeling again. "What's that mean?"

"It means," Officer Brown said, "that Detective Morris has a date with the coroner." Damien felt the blood draining from his face. "Shot. Right through the head. He's dead, Damien."

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