13 August 2010

"Who's Your Daddy?"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Detective Jacob Lanosky?" asked a female voice.

Jake looked up from the desk he shared with Andy. As the young woman standing next to them lowered her arms, Jake got a glimpse of the card she was holding: a photograph of a man, maybe twenty years younger than Jake, smiling, wearing a blue police uniform.

He looked back up at the woman, studying her face but not recognizing it. Why does this girl have a copy of my academy graduation photo? "That's me."

"I need your help," she said.

Jake stood up. "This is homicide, miss. We don't handle general complaints—"

"Please, Detective," the woman said, "I'm your daughter."

Jake felt a defensive smile creeping onto his face. "You must be mistaken, miss."

The woman opened her purse and pulled out a piece of paper printed with gibberish. "My mother went to a fertility clinic. Artificial insemination. That's the donor profile. I matched this to the municipal genome database."

Jake sighed and turned to Andy. "Do you know what the hell she's talking about?"

Andy bounced up and out of his seat. "We're city employees, Jake. Remember those drug tests? Blood and tissue samples? All that's public information. The department's required by law to make it available."

"That's great," Jake said. "Just one problem. I've never been a sperm donor."

"But your genetic profile is an exact match," the woman said.

"Computer error, then," Jake said. "Look, I'll put you in touch with the records division—"

The woman shook her head. "No! It's you. It has to be you!"

"Calm down, miss," Andy said, raising his arms and holding his palms out. The gesture appeared friendly but actually helped corral suspects.

The woman dropped her paper, turned, and yanked Andy's revolver out of his shoulder holster. She raised the gun to Jake's chest.

"Gun!" Andy shouted. "GUN!"

All around Jake, police officers ducked behind furniture and drew their weapons. Jake and Andy both stayed perfectly still. The woman's hands shook like a leaf in a thunderstorm.

"You're a policeman, right?" she said. "I must be breaking, like, five different laws right now. You have to arrest me. You have to talk to me."

"I swear," Jake said quietly, "on the grave of my mother and my honor as an officer of the law, I will hear you out."

She stared into his eyes for a moment, then nodded and lowered the revolver. She seemed to feel its full weight for the first time, and she fell to her knees. The barrel of the gun thunked against the tile floor. Then she burst into tears.

Andy swooped in to retrieve his weapon. Jake waved off the other detectives, who had risen from their cover and were advancing on the woman.

"She's down!" Jake called out. "All clear! We got this!" He looked down at Andy. "Cuff her, Dix."

Andy looked up, surprised. "But you said—"

"I said I'd talk to her," Jake snapped, "not serve her tea and cookies. Get her into an interview room. I'm going to find a goddamn lawyer."


Photo: warthogs at Zoo Atlanta, May, 2008

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