Paperwork. A lot of cops hated it, but Tremain always liked sitting in his office doing paperwork. It helped that he had an office, of course. But that wasn’t why he liked it. He liked doing paperwork because it meant he wasn’t outside getting yelled and/or shot at. Paperwork was a vain but pleasant attempt at making any form of sense of the world outside.
He was just getting ready to start writing up a requisition when there as a knock at his door. “Hey, Tremain, we’ve got someone here to see you.”
The door opened and a small, scared girl…no. She was tiny, but she was an adult. A small, scared woman entered his office, her eyes wide.
“Can I help you?” Tremain asked. He stood and motioned her to a chair in front of his desk. She sat silent for a few seconds, clearly gathering her courage and said, “Are you Alan Tremain?”
“That’s me. How can I help? Are you in trouble?” He looked the woman over quickly. He was able to take her appearance in without spending a lot of time looking at her. Her long brown hair was neatly combed, but not recently washed. Her dress was a simple floral print, a little too big for her. The style looked like it should have been a knee-length, but on her it went to mid calf, even when she was sitting. It was of a very conservative cut or else it would have been quite revealing up top. It was also at least twenty years out of date; suggesting she bought it from a thrift store. She carried no purse, just a small wallet. Her eyes were wide and scared. She was tiny, her skin tone a light olive shade, possibly Italian. Her features were finely formed and flawless; only a very careful examination of her face, particularly her eyes, belied her real age. Passing her on the street you could easily mistake her for a young teenager.
“It’s about Liz…She says she trusts you.”
“Liz… You mean the lady who calls herself ‘Angel Liz’? The one who keeps writing to me?”
The woman nodded. “She told me you would know who I am. I’m Jenny.”
Tremain had read all of Liz’s letters over and over. “Jenny…from the first letter? The roommate that she saved from Vincent?”
Jenny seemed to shrink in on herself even more when he mentioned Vince. “Where is he?” She asked in a small voice.
“Last I heard he’d been transferred to a federal prison. Between Liz’s testimony, some… things we found out behind your old trailer, and some things we found in his apartment, he’s going to be there for quite a while.”
“Like a rabbit,” Tremain thought. “She didn’t relax when I told her that, she just decided she doesn’t have to run away right this second. She’s still terrified.”
“But, if you’re Jenny, what are you doing here? I thought you were in California.”
Jenny smiled a little, and only briefly. “No, I never went to California. That was just something Lizzie told Vince so he would stop trying to find me. I live…I live downtown now.”
Tremain had heard that specific slang before. “You mean you live in the tunnels, right? The runoff tunnels, under the city?”
She looked startled, then nodded very slightly. “Liz found me a place, and found someone to help take care of me down there. It’s a good place! It’s warm and safe and I’ve got a nice bed and walls. Lizzie brings me money and food when she can. Now that she’s taken care of Vince we’re looking for an apartment again.”
“So Liz lives down there too.”
Jenny just looked scared.
“Okay, never mind, Jenny…Richards, right?”
“Richmond, actually. Lizzie…isn’t good with names.”
“Okay, Jenny Richmond.” Tremain resisted the urge to write that down somewhere. “Why did you come to see me?”
Jenny shifted in her seat. She looked down at her hands for a long moment, then looked up into Tremain’s eyes, looking for help. He realized he was sitting on the edge of his desk, towering over her. He stood up, didn’t react when she cowered away from him, and sat behind his desk. There, now he was farther away, there was a desk between them, and he was closer to her eye level. In a quiet voice he asked again. “You came to see me, and said it’s about Liz. Is there a problem? Is Liz in trouble?”
Jenny looked him in the eye and nodded. Having a desk between them seemed to help, and she found her voice again.
“It’s that guy she brought back from Idaho. Benny.”
“The one she calls ‘Bigfoot’ in her letter,” Tremain prompted. Jenny nodded again. “When she brought him here she thought she had him under control. She told everyone…downtown…that he was tame now. But he never looked tame. He…he snarls a lot and looks at people…like they’re food. But Lizzie seemed to be able to keep him in line, so we believed her.”
She seemed to run out of steam, or the next part was hard to admit.
“Anyway, she went to the Bellagio to verify what Benny had told her, and when she saw she couldn’t fix the problems herself she went and wrote you that letter. The problem was, she left Benny downtown. When she’d been gone a little while he looked up and smiled, but it wasn’t happy. He looked at me and said “I’m free,” and then turned and walked out of our little house down there. He…He hurt some people, and scared a lot of people, kids even, and…and he stole some money and food. I don’t know if you know what it’s like down there…but you don’t do that, Detective. You just…you can’t.”
Tremain put a hand over his eyes wearily.
“Anyway, some people caught him and held him, and threw him in the pit. And when Lizzie came back from the Bellagio, they took her as well. She’s being held in a cell down there.”
Tremain put his head in his hands. “Liz Liz Lizzie Liz,” he mumbled. “Why did you have to go and start thinking you’re an angel?” He asked.
“What makes you think she isn’t?” Jenny said sharply.
“I’m…sorry?” Tremain looked up. Jenny was sitting up tall, looking defiant. Scared, but defiant.
“You’ve never met Lizzie. You’ve never even seen her, have you? So how would you know she’s not an angel?”
Jenny was leaning back now, the fear overcoming the defiance, but she kept talking.
“I’ve seen Lizzie do things that no human could do. I’ve seen her power. Detective, Lizzie is an angel, just like I’m part elf and you’re…” she broke off suddenly.
“I’m what?” Tremain asked quietly, but Jenny sat back, hand over her mouth and shook her head.
“What am I, Jenny?”
“Lizzie will tell you,” Jenny whispered.
Here’s where you know how good you are, Tremain told himself. I could turn bad cop. I could shout and scare it out of her. I could terrify her, be a man, be a big ball of violence and authority. Or I could realize it’s not that important, and let it drop.
He let it drop.
“What do you want me to do?” He asked instead. Technically people having their own courts underground was illegal, but Vegas is a big city and there are a lot of illegal things going on all the time and at least this one is semi-orderly.
“Liz wants you to come arrest Benny. That way he’s out of the tunnels and they’ll let her go if he’s out of their way.
“But…detective…There’s a condition.”
“You can’t…you can’t arrest anyone else. I know that living downtown is probably illegal, and there’s probably stuff going on down there that you don’t want to see as a cop…”
Tremain waved her off.
“I don’t have time to arrest people for trying to stay alive. Okay, Liz wants me to walk down to the tunnels, I’m guessing without any other cops,right?” Jenny paused, then nodded minutely. “Once I’m down there I’m supposed to take custody of a huge violent man she imported from Idaho. I thought she said he was in Utah?”
Jenny just shrugged, and Tremain continued.
“So what’s in it for me? Why would I do this? Why wouldn’t I just re-arrest Liz? If she’s an angel, why doesn’t she just set herself free?” He asked. That last question was deliberately mean, and he immediately felt bad about asking it.
To Tremain’s chagrin it worked. Jenny sat up again, smiled serenely, drawing on some strength that hadn’t been there before. “If you need there to be ‘something in it for you’, you’re not the man Lizzie thought you were.”
Tremain sat back, stared at the ceiling. This went against everything. Everything. You don’t go off on your own, you don’t make deals with criminals, even low-level ones whose only crime was staying alive. You don’t “turn a blind eye” to things to make an arrest.
Well, okay, lots of cops do these things; all of them. All the time. Police work isn’t all black and white, there’s a lot of give and take. But still, this…this went against…
He stopped arguing. He was going to do it. He knew he was. So why argue with himself? Instead he stood up, took his coat off the back of the door and said. “Okay. Take me to your angel.”