Lump o’ Coal
When I got to the Lump o’ Coal, I could tell right off it was gonna be a bad one. The initial responding officer was outside, puking his guts out.
I walked on by him, trying not to embarrass him more than he already was. He was going to be the target of several wise cracks and jokes over the next week or two.
Unless someone else had something happen to make every one forget him. I recognized him as a rookie, less than six months on the force. He was an elf, so he stood out on the force. Not many elves would abandon Kringle for other work, no matter how much they bitched about his policies.
When I walked into the bar, I could see why the kid was outside. Whatever fairy had done the elves in must have been really pissed. The floor was awash in blood, and there were parts and pieces of elves all over the place. I was still looking the scene over when Sergeant Caribow walked up. He was a hard nosed veteran, with nearly thirty years on the force. There wasn’t much he hadn’t seen, and even he looked a little green around the gills.
“This is a right mess, Detective,” he said at once.
“You think?” I snorted, waving to the carnage. He shook his head.
“Not what I mean,” he said softly. “We ID’d the elves. The first one? A nobody, to be honest. Wouldn’t say that to his family, mind you, but he’s just a production worker with Kringle Toys.”
“And the other one?” I asked, now wary. He shook his head, and handed me an ID card.
“Jason Airdancer,” he replied. “Assistant production manager at Electronics Factory.”
“Management?” I didn’t want to hear that.
“‘Fraid so, Detective,” Caribow confirmed. “And a favorite of the Kringle’s, from what little I’ve been able to find out.”
“How favorite?” I asked, not really wanting the answer.
“Eats dinner at The Mansion twice a month.”
I wanted to scream. The Mansion. Spoken just like that, with the capital letters. When you said The Mansion, everyone in North Pole knew who you meant. There was only one place know as The Mansion.
“Perfect,” I settled for seething. This would be high profile. There would be Pressure. Like immense pressure, from way above my pay grade.
“What was a management elf, on the short list, doing at a place like this?” I wondered aloud. High level elves just didn’t slum around in places like the Lump o’ Coal. Taverns and bars in Pole were usually segregated, not by law but simply by social acceptance. Lump was a primarily elf hang out, but not for someone so high on the food chain.
“No idea, Detective,” Caribow shook his head.
Why do I always get these ones? I wondered. Just can’t catch a break sometimes.
“All right,” I sighed, trying to shake off these non-productive thoughts. “Lets get the scene guys in here. I don’t suppose there’s any witnesses?”
“No one saw a thing,” Caribow chuckled darkly. “But, there are security cameras. I’ve already grabbed the disc.”
“Did you take a look at it?” I asked. He nodded.
“Sure did. Looks like the other elf ran right into the fairy. The fairy took offense, of course, and proceeded to rearrange his face. Airdancer tried to help his buddy, and that’s when things went sideways. Fairy outs with a short blade, and hacks Airdancer into the pieces you see here,” he motioned toward one area.
“Afterwards, I guess he decided ‘what the hell’ and figured he might as well get two for the money. Hacked the other one up as an after thought seems like.”
“Tape show any witnesses?” I asked. Caribow grinned slightly.
“Sure did, Detective.”
“Round them up, and take them to the station. All of them.” Caribow nodded, and walked off to get things started. I looked around once more, then stepped back outside. The young elf had recovered by then, and was deep breathing the cool night air.
“You okay. . .Snowfall?” I asked, reading his nameplate. He nodded shakily.
“I’m. . .I’m fine, sir. I’m sorry about. . . .”
“Don’t be,” I waved off the rest of his ‘apology’. “That’s a right mess in there. Nothing to be sorry for, or ashamed off.”
“Thank you, sir,” Snowfall nodded in appreciation.
“You know either one of those two?” I threw a thumb over my shoulder toward the crime scene. He shook his head.
“I know of Airdancer, sir, but I didn’t know him personally.”
“What can you tell me about him?”
“Well, he was Privileged, sir. His family have been with the Kringle’s since the beginning. I mean, the beginning. All of them start in the factories, but only stay there long enough to know how the factories run. As soon as they’ve got a feel for what has to be done, they start moving up pretty quickly.”
Privileged. Another word always spoken of with capital letters. Certain elf families were more ‘equal’ than others. Privileged families were damn near royalty in Pole. Only below the Kringle family in prestige. And power.
This just gets better and better.
“Can you think of a single reason for him to be down here, Snowfall?” I asked the young uniform. He shook his head vehemently.
“Not a one, sir. Like I said, he’s Privileged. Never even heard of one o’ them coming to a place like this. They got their own places.” I nodded, patting his shoulder.
“Thanks. Keep an eye on things until the scene techs get here. I know it’s rough, but you were the initial here. You’ll need to start thinking about your report.”
“Yes, sir,” the young elf nodded. “I’ll be fine, now.” With that he headed back inside. I took out my notebook, and scratched a few notes. I’d be hearing about this one, and soon.
It’s just not everyday that a Privileged gets himself torn and hacked asunder.
What the hell was he even doing here? Snowfall’s right. Privileged have their own places. They don’t slum in places like this. Or anywhere else for that matter. There’s not one good reason for him to have been here. . . .
“Caribow!” I shouted, an idea coming to me. The sergeant trotted over to where I was standing.
“Tech are about to enter,” he told me at once. “And I’ve got three uniforms rounding up the people on the security footage.”
“Did we have an ID for the second elf?” I asked. He nodded, and took an evidence bag from his coat pocket. Inside it was a blood stained ident card.
“Horace Hammerfell,” Caribow informed me. “I’ve already asked Central to run his name.”
“Just him, though, right?” I asked, hoping to keep a lid on this just a little longer.
“Yes, sir,” the older man grinned slightly. “Figured there was no harm in runnin’ Hammerfell, and no use in runnin’ Airdancer.”
“I don’t know why I think I have to second guess you, Sergeant,” I grinned, shaking my head. He chuckled.
“Wouldn’t be a good detective if you didn’t, sir.”
“Maybe that’s it,” I admitted. “Anyway, good work. If you get a hit, I’d like to know it right away.” Nodding, Caribow hurried off to supervise his officers. I looked back at the tavern.
For some reason, this all felt. . .wrong. Two elves in a non-elf tavern. One of them a Privileged, the other an effective nobody. Someone the Kringle’s wouldn’t look at twice. Why were the two of them together? Calling it ‘unusual’ just wasn’t accurate. While both were elves, they were as far apart on the social spectrum as it was possible to get, and still be the same species.
And why the over-reaction by the fairy? True, fairies were prone to take quick offense, but this was. . .it seemed like more than that. He could have easily dispatched both elves without breaking a sweat. And Caribow, who had watched the security feed, said the fairy had killed Hammerfell almost as an afterthought. Why?
If he was drunk, then it could be explained as just what it was. An over reaction by a drunken, out of control fairy. Bad day all around, and nothing more to it.
So the first thing is to find out how much the killer fairy had to drink before the fight started.
I made sure that the bartender was on the list of ‘witnesses’ heading for the station, and then started that way myself. The uniforms would keep the scene secure, and the techies would examine the scene, record the evidence, and then report back to me with their findings.
My job, for now, was to get information the old fashioned way.
Fear, and intimidation.