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A Tip Comes In

You feel the knife rip across the back of your neck. It tears into your vertebrae first, then it punctures an artery in your neck. You feel all the pain in the world, and then suddenly you don’t feel anything at all. You fall to the ground. You are slightly aware that your head hit the floor, but if you hadn’t had your eyes open you would have had no idea. You try and reach into your back pocket to grab your cell phone. You intend to call the police, maybe an ambulance, but every time you try to reach your arm out it won’t move. You try to kick your legs out, but they won’t move. Out of your peripheral vision you see a person walking over you. They are carrying a satchel, your satchel. Help me! Help me! You scream out in your head, but no one can hear you. You feel light headed. The person who has your satchel begins to run, they turn a corner and they are gone. Your vision begins to fade. It starts black at the edges and washes into the center. You can’t move. You can’t see. You can’t do anything. You’re dead.
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*
*
Detective Ruthy walked into the small coffee shop and smelled the familiar scent of roasted beans. She slammed $1.65 down on the table and asked for her usual drink.
“I’ll have a medium coffee, extra cream” Ruthy said absentmindedly.
“Sorry Ruthy, that’ll be $2.65. We’ve had to increase prices,” Mary Sue stated.
“Why?” questioned Ruthy. Ruthy looked around and noticed that the linoleum on the ground was peeling away from the tiles. All of the seats were empty, and the tables had scratches on them from keys and forks. In the corner a single black coat hung from the rack. Ruthy noticed, maybe for the first time ever, that the coffee shop was run down. Even one of Mary Sue’s best customers, Robert Curt was absent today.
“Well we just can’t keep up anymore. These bill collectors want money that we just don’t have,” Mary Sue mumbled.
Ruthy handed the cashier a $20.00 bill and waited for her change. She felt slightly guilty as she glanced at the dusty tip jar, but regardless she left the shop without leaving any extra money. Ruthy walked to her office a few blocks down and plopped into her seat for a long day of work.

Ruthy had been working in the Seattle police department as an officer for years, but recently she was promoted to Detective. It was her first day on the job and she was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. As her senior manager approached her desk, Ruthy knew that her first case had finally arrived.

The senior manager set the case on Ruthy’s desk with a grim nod and left without saying another word. Ruthy quickly flipped through the file and found that the murder had taken place at the Hotel Royal two nights ago around midnight. Ruthy was surprised when she noticed that the victim was Robert Curt. She had only seen him 4 days before. The murder seemed to have no known cause and the victim’s body was missing. The only evidence left at the scene was an empty satchel thrown into a nearby dumpster, a black jacket, and the victim’s blood. Ruthy looked at images of all the evidence before she set out.

Ruthy planned to head straight to the Hotel Royal to examine all blood evidence and see if she could dig up something new. She walked down from her 7th story office, and quickly crossed the street. As Ruthy was walking the 13 blocks to the Hotel Royal she noticed something out of the corner of her eye.

A small figure was walking on the other side of the street wearing the same jacket that Ruthy had glanced at only a few minutes ago. It was the jacket from the evidence pictures. The person was carrying a large suitcase and they seemed to be walking quite hurriedly. Ruthy had only seconds to decide if she should follow them, or keep heading towards the Hotel Royale.

Ruthy chose the latter, and with a sharp turn she crossed traffic in the middle of an intersection. Several cars honked. Ruthy was in hot pursuit behind the mysterious figure, but it seemed that for every step Ruthy took, the other person took two. Suddenly, the figure turned a corner and Ruthy broke into a sprint. Her gut was telling her to follow, but her head was telling her to stay away.

When Ruthy emerged on the other side of the corner, she only saw pedestrians. Ruthy stopped someone, hopeful that anybody had seen where the crook went.

“Hello, I’m sorry. I’m Detective Ruthy Jones with the Seattle Police department,” Ruthy held up her badge, “Did you happen to see where a person in a black jacket with a rather large suitcase might have gone?” Ruthy waited impatiently for a helpful response. She didn’t receive any.
Ruthy went from person to person until a young girl of about 14 told her that she saw the person take a right onto Tea street. Ruthy followed the clue, and with a sprint she set off for Tea street. When she got there she noticed that it was a dead end that ended at Salmon Bay. At the end of the street the perpetrator was about to climb into a boat floating on the edge of a wooden dock.
Ruthy ran so fast toward the end of the street that she thought she might take off and fly there instead. The figure was hoisting the suitcase onto the deck. Ruthy was 40 meters away. The figure climbed over the boat’s railing and gripped the steering wheel. Ruthy was 20 meters away. Keys were inserted into the boat, and the boat came to life with a loud roar. Ruthy was only 10 meters away. The boat was pulling away when Ruthy was only 5 meters away. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… The boat was gone.
Ruthy hung on edge of the boat, gripping the railing as tight as she could. She had jumped at the last second. Ruthy’s feet were bouncing on and off the water. With every ounce of strength she could muster, Ruthy raised herself to the deck of the boat and over the railing. The mysterious boat’s pilot turned around and looked back at Ruthy who was now standing and gasping from her hercules effort. Ruthy couldn’t make out their face because they were wearing a ski mask.
“You’re not getting away!” shouted Ruthy.
“What makes you think that?” The mysterious figure yelled back equally as loud.
The figure stood up and lunged at Ruthy with a speed she could never have imagined. However, Ruthy dodged at the last minute and the figure continued to fly forward. They slammed their head into the railing of the boat, snapping all the vertebrae in their neck. Ruthy heard the sigh of a final breath escape from the perpetrators mouth.
Ruthy immediately dropped down next to the villain to take their mask off. Slowly, Ruthy pulled from the top of the mask and as it stretched and tightened Ruthy could make out a pointed chin, and then dimpled cheeks, purple lids and a wrinkly forehead. It was Mary Sue.
It all made sense, the coffee shop needed the money to stay afloat, so the owner robbed one of their very own customers. The black jacket she saw hanging on the rack at Mary Sue’s must have been Robert Curt’s jacket, and the satchel was his as well. She could only guess that the suitcase contained the body. Feeling guilty, Ruthy realized that maybe she should have tipped after all.




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