Log:20100227 - Cold Case

Setting

Grant Park - Michigan Street: South

A sea of green amidst the urban sprawl of the Windy City, Grant Park offers the area a bit of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of city life. A broad expanse of green lies on either side of a cobblestone walkway that leads to Buckingham Fountain. The fountain itself is a landmark in its own right, a colossal sculpture of steel and bronze that shoots water high into the air during the summer but lies dormant in winter.

The Art Institute of Chicago lies in one corner of the park while the amphitheatre is in the other. Picnic tables dot the length of the area for families to gather in order to enjoy the atmosphere and the view of the lake that the park offers.

Cast

RL Date

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

IC Date

Saturday, February twenty-seventh 2010. 05:45 am

The sun is down. The waxing gibbous moon isn't up. <70.0% full and growing>
The tide is low and ebbing.

A cold wind blows from the east, driving charcoal clouds before it and blotting out the stars in isolated patches overhead. The air is clear and elsewhere the stars shine brightly. The winter Hawk wind is concentrated in the Loop. There is about 21" of snow on the ground. The average temperature is around Twenty-nine degrees Fahrenheit, Negative two Centigrade.

Scene

Not far from the jogging path one of the many city's ambulances is sitting. The engine is running and through foggy windows one of the two medics that staff it can be seen easily. The headlights outline the other medic, a young man bundled heavily against the cold in the bright yellow field jacket that many of them wear. He seems to be studying something near the base of one of the trees, his face hidden by the elm's trunk.

The detective comes to a stop under a street lamp to check her pulse rate, and the ambulance draws her eye. She peers at it curiously a moment, before reaching into her fanny pack to draw out the billfold that holds her badge. She makes her way towards the elm. "Detective Eleanor Wickham," she announces, holding up the shiny piece of tin as proof. "Do you need help with something?"

The paramedic looks up, his eyes carefully studying the woman as she approaches. "Not a whole lot I think you can do here Officer." He raises to his feet slowly, brushing his knees off as he points towards the ground there, a cold blue limb visible. "Just another frozen night here in the windy city." He frowns and reaches his glove bound hand under his jacket for the radio there. "This is EMS eight-three-five. That last calls another cold one, this winter's been a bad one." He shakes his head slightly before withdrawing his hand. "I don't think this one needs any particular help except for maybe a prayer. I could be wrong but just looks like a bad case of hypothermia."

"It's still a death, so the uniforms will need to come down," Eleanor points out. "Give me a couple minutes; I have my gear in my SUV. Don't move anything until I get back." She heads towards the nearby parking lot where her little black Ford Escape is sitting under one of the floodlights. She proceeds to rummage in the trunk for a duffle bag and what looks like a metal tackle box.

Rodney lowers his head as the officer begins to walk away, glancing back to the rig to shrug at his partner. They had both heard of Eleanor through some of their friends on the force, but neither had to work with her in the past of course. She was supposedly a bear on occasion. "Don't worry, not to much is moved. I did the quick checks for bite marks, but unless they drained from his thigh and then put the pants back on, he's clean. A few old scars, but nothing in the last few weeks." He talks idly into the cold, the breath crystallizing in the air before him. Why did he always have to be the one to stick out and check on the ones when there is trouble.

The detective draws her phone out while she's gathering her equipment and punches a speed dial. It goes to voice mail and she frowns. "Hey, it's me. I was jogging and there are a couple paramedics out here looking at a frozen body. I know it's late for you, but if you get this and it's not too close to sunrise, I'm in Grant Park about 50 yards south of Parking Lot B. Don't worry about it too much though, looks like just a case of hypothermia." She hangs up and heads back towards the ambulance and the body. "Any idea who called it in?" she asks Rodney as she sets her things on the frozen ground.

Rodney listens to her report over the phone, glancing back at his partner, thinking of the warm thermos that is sitting in the seat he had so recently vacated. Looking back to Eleanor as she asks him her questions he shakes his head. "I believe it was a concerned bystander. Dispatch said that he sounded a bit drunk, maybe trying to keep a little warmer this evening and went to pray behind the tree." He squatted next to her, rubbing his gloved hands together as he looked at the body laying there. Second one tonight… the shelters are bursting as it is…."

Eleanor nods her head with a grim expression on her face. "It's been really bad this winter." She unzips the duffle bag and draws out a camera and a ruler. The latter gets set beside the body for scale purposes in the photos. She straightens and begins taking shots of the corpse from a variety of angles. "I think I've given away three or four pairs of gloves in the last month just to people I ran into who were on the streets or otherwise struggling." So much for her being a bear. A protective mama bear maybe.

The officer's words ring true with the medic, his own past coming up on the streets giving him a different view from many around the city. This one could have been one of his childhood friends. "Yeah, we keep bringing them into the hospital, the er waiting room is full of the homeless. I know the admins want to shoot me each time I pull in, but nothing I can do about it." He points to a bootprint not far from the body's knee. "That one's mine by the way

The camera snaps a shot of Rodney's print and sets a digital note on it on the camera to mark it as his. "I keep telling them I can put them in lockup for the night if it's really bad, or sending them to Deacon Green over at Our Lady of Lourdes if all else fails. But I think there is a pride or fear issue that comes into play sometimes." The camera gets packed away and a pair of rubber gloves drawn on so she can repeat Rodney's inspection for marks. She's looking for more than just fangs though. She's looking for bruising and needle marks and anything else that might point to a more violent death.

The differences in their exam's are obvious to the medic, his being focused on the fact that either the body was dead or undead, hers looking for why. He had no fears of it raising to it's feet this morning though. "If you want, I can help you with the pants, but that's an awful lot of work for a body drop this close to the station isn't it? Be a pretty daring killer to do that." His own purple gloves are still on, keeping tucked beneath his arms frequently in the cold.

"You'd be surprised how daring or how stupid a killer can be," Eleanor notes. She doesn't take the help to remove the pants, leaving them as they are for the medical examiner to handle. "No visible contusions, punctures, needle marks, or other wounds," she says into a digital recorder. She picks up the corpse's hands one at a time and inspects his fingers and continues to dictate into the device. "Definite evidence of frostbite. Hypothermia is likeliest cause upon cursory examination, but myocardial infarction or other causes can't be ruled out without a full autopsy."

The professional works hard near him, and every so often Rodney gazes back to his rig. His partner appears to be leaning back and resting, causing the senior medic to turn back to the officer. He doesn't bother her while she's still speaking, but waits till she's done. "Isn't it a little cold to be out here? Dispatch would have sent whoever was on by, you didn't need to break off your jogging."

"I was here. It's quicker for you and your partner than having to wait on a unit and then ET-South to get here," Eleanor points out as she begins packing her things away. "A black and white should be here in a few minutes to sign off on this, but they don't need to call the evidence techs in now."

Rodney shrugs, hearing her logic. That's part of the reason he stays inside during his days off anymore. He's surrounded by enough of this while he works. With her exam finished he begins to peel of his gloves, pulling out the heavier pair that rest in his jacket pocket. "Well, I'd love to offer you some hospitality while you waited, but I don't have much. Unless you want to share some coffee. We brewed it just before this call, still fresh and warm unless Mitch drank it all."

"Coffee sounds great," Eleanor admits as the cold starts to sink into her from the sweat her jog kicked up. She glances past him at his partner in the rig. "Did you lose at rock, paper, scissors or something?" she asks, since Rodney seems to be the one freezing outside while Mitch relaxes.

The medic chuckles and shakes his head, moving to walk towards the rig. "Come on over, we can sit in the back while we wait for the black and whites to get here. At least it will be warm." Slow steps move him past the door where his partner sits, and he gestures to the back. "If we both don't need to go out we flip for it… I think he's using a two headed quarter." He grins and opens the door, offering a hand for the officer to climb into the back as the light and heat fall on them.

Eleanor doesn't take the hand, though she does climb in after putting her gear inside. "I called my partner and let him know we had a body on the ground, but it might be too close to sunup for him to come out," she notes as she finds a place to sit and rubs her hands together to warm them up.

Rodney shrugs and climbs in behind her, pulling the doors closed quickly. He steps around her for a moment to knock on the slider that separates the cab from the back, and within moments Mitch passes through a thermos and a mug. "Lets see… I should have another mug…" Rodney puts the drink and mug next to the officer before opening a few of the cabinets, eventually finding a stack of styrofoam cups. "Here we go."

“Styrofoam is fine for me," Eleanor insists. She drinks the coffee in the department which you can strip the paint off your car with. She's not picky. "I don't think I caught your name," she notes as she opens the thermos to make herself useful.

The thick gloves he's wearing aren't the best thing for separating the cups, and he curses under his breath for just a moment before deciding to remove them. "Ah, yeah… sorry. The name's Rodney. Rodney Haroldson, I'm sure you'll prolly need that for your report?" He sets one of the cups next to her and the thermos before putting the rest back in the shelf. "Not that my my run report will have anything in it, but I'll make sure it gets sent to you guys once we are off shift."

"That'd be appreciated," Eleanor responds. She pours two cups of coffee from the thermos and sips hers regardless of how hot it might be. "Have you been doing this for a while?" she asks conversationally as she pulls a clipboard with some general forms on it from her duffle and begins to jot down her report info.

Rodney nods, reaching for one of the two cups. "Yeah, a couple of years now. I grew up not to far from Chicago's FD#10, used to always watch the red lights on the trucks, thinking of the good I could do." He chuckles and smiles wistfully as he brings the drink to his lips. "Kinda disheartening on a night like tonight… always there just a little to late, you know?"

"Don't beat yourself up too much over it," Eleanor advises. "If you do, it'll start to break you down, and then all that good you can do won't happen." She scrawls her notes in a neat hand with the same care and diligence she performed her forensic inspection. "I grew up here too. My dad was a CPD detective before me. I headed out to California for almost a decade after college though, to spend some time with my mother and her kids. I've only been back in Chicago for a little over a year now."

The medic stares into his coffee, watching the steam rise from it. "Oh I know, I've heard it a million times." He smiles faintly before taking another sip, ignoring his own paperwork since he knows that the notes will be brief. "You think about it though regardless. You know how it goes… you ever been on a scene with another officer down? It's the same for me every time I see someone like that out there…"

"Too many of them. I'm in Homicide to boot, so I see the very worst of what's out there on any given night," Eleanor says quietly. "This is the sort of death that is easiest for me to compartmentalize. If you have to go unexpectedly, there are worse ways than freezing. In the last moments it's sort of like falling asleep, so there's a peacefulness to it. It's not violent."

"At least violently… you can find a reason. Someone like him…" He glances in the direction of where the body is, despite being unable to see it through the rig, "There's no reason for that. Nobody gained anything, it's a lose-lose situation." The street brat in the medic has seen far to many like him over the year, to the point that he almost prefers it when he finds the marks hidden on the body.

Eleanor dips her head in a nod. "It's sad. And it's hard to understand how it can happen in a world where we can send men to the moon and clone sheep. But I just have to cling to the hope that it'll get better." She smiles a little as she looks up from her writing.

Bear? She was seeming almost human as she sat across from him. "That's why we are here isn't it. The officers, the medics, the nurses… still holding out hope in this god-forsaken urban jungle." His words are soft, impassioned but more to himself then to her. A small smile crosses his face as he looks back up from his cup, savoring the heat seeping through to his fingers. "I guess none of us would change what we do though, not if there is the chance we can do our part."

"I'd give it up in a red hot minute, even if it meant I had to flip burgers at Der Luftwaffle Haus, if it would mean the violent crime stopped," Eleanor admits with a sincere tone. "But until that happens, I'll keep doing what I do.” She sips her coffee and glances at her phone for messages that don't seem to be forthcoming.

"But we both know that isn't happening anytime soon." He says the words idly, touching his lips to the mug again. "We are pretty similar you know. We are all working to put ourselves out of business… not very American-like is it." He chuckles lightly, shaking his head for a moment before the slide panel from the front opens back up. Mitch sticks his balding head through and coughs. "Hey… I think your black and white showed up. Still no sign of the coroner's van though."

Eleanor opens her mouth to comment on Rodney's statement, but the announcement of the uniformed cops' arrival has her departing the back of the ambulance with her gear instead to talk to them. She does so in quiet tones, explaining her findings as they write up their own report to be able to clear the body for the coroner to take. Once they're done she heads back to talk to the paramedic. "They should be able to handle it from here. I'm going to take off. You be safe out there, Mister Haroldson."

Rodney had followed her out, rather enjoying the little chat they had had, it was better then listening to Mitch snoring again at least. He watches as she speaks with the cops for a few minutes, then turns back to him by the side of the truck. "Thanks Detective Wickham, though I wish the meeting was under other circumstances." He nods towards her SUV and smiles. "Go home, stay warm. Mitch and I will do our best on this end." He waves at her and circles the rig, moving towards the passenger side door.

Eleanor raises a hand in farewell to the paramedic and his partner, though Mitch might not notice it through his eyelids. Then she's off to her vehicle and home for some rest.

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