"You don't see what I mean."
"That supposed to be funny?"
"Sorry Suze, even after all this time, it's hard to remember you're blind."
"I'm not blind, I can't see."
"Sorry, I got it."
The city never slept. No wonder it was nuts.
"This office looks like a movie set, you should personalize it a little Suze."
"What do you mean Bennie?"
"No desk, just a chair and a small round table. Nothing but cabinets along one wall. Empty, chilly."
"What else do I need? I've got a phone in my pocket and a tooth in my ear."
"You should make the place look the part, is all I'm saying."
"You're saying I should make it look the way people expect a detective's office to look like."
"They'd be more comfortable with it Suze."
"I don't care to make them more comfortable, they're clients not puppies."
"Maybe you'd have more clients is all I'm saying."
"I've got enough, one more in another second or two."
Someone knocked at the door.
"Suze? Expecting somebody?"
Leather creaked against blued steel.
"Put the cannon away Bennie, he's not armed."
"You know who it is?"
"Footfalls regular so he's not carrying, carrying a deuce throws your stride off so not that either, stop looking at me like that, about 80 kilograms but light on his feet, long pace, so probably a dude."
"Suze, you give an old cop a heart attack."
"Just open the door will ya' Bennie?"
Benoit Jenson, Detective Sergeant (Retired) of the New Washington Police got up with a popping in his joints that sounded like firecrackers a long way off. He opened the door on a man just as Susan Altman, private detective and sightless from birth had predicted.
The man stopped mid stride and stared at Susan.
"Mrs. Altman?" Said the man. "You look--"
"What can I do for you Mr...?"
"I need your help Mrs. Altman."
"Just Susan please, Mrs. Altman is my mother."
"My daughter has gone missing."
"I don't do runaways."
"She is not the type Mrs.--Susan, I can pay handsomely."
"Show Bennie the colour of your money."
Renard produced a chip card and touched it with practiced ease against the reader which had appeared in Benoit's hand.
"Hold on 80k Suze."
"Your standard retainer, I understand?" said Renard.
"A nickel a day plus expenses."
"Five hundred is acceptable, yes."
Renard raised his palm and Benoit caught the glint of an iRing.
"Bump me, I handle the eyeball candy," said Benoit holding up his old school iWatch.
Renard bumped the iRing against the iWatch and Benoit started parsing the data stream.
"Suze, this girl," Benoit began to say more but his voice trailed off.
"What is it Bennie?"
"She's younger, barely out of her teens but Suze, it's you. She looks just like you."
"I hesitated to say when I entered but the resemblance is really quite upsetting." said Renard as he looked around for someplace to sit and found none.
"If I find her and she's a runaway, I didn't find her, got it? I don't do runaways."
"Entirely understood. Will you find my daughter?"
"I'll think about it. You'll hear from me within the hour. Goodbye Mr. Renard, we'll be in touch shortly."
Mr. Renard nodded and left the office. Benoit closed the door on him and turned back to Suze.
"If he's the father then so am I," said Benoit.
"I know, it's weird, why would a serial killer hire a detective?"
"You think he killed her?"
"I know he did. Smell of death is all over him. He's been successful too, lots of victims, all women."
"I'll call my buddies still on the force and we'll pick him up."
"Not so fast Bennie, what's his angle? That's the part I can't figure out."
"Maybe you're his next victim?"
"Or he wants to cover his tracks and figures what better way than for a detective to sweep them all up into a neat little pile for him."
"I don't know Suze, that's taking an awful risk, what's to stop you from turning over whatever you dig up the moment you've got enough to convict?"
"I don't think he's left enough to convict him, just enough to let me know he did it."
"What a psychopath."
"Feel like staying over tonight, Bennie?"
"Don't wanna be alone, eh?"
"I'm always alone, tonight I don't want to be lonely."
"Sure thing doll."
"Don't call me doll."
"Sure thing Suze, you gonna call him like you said?"
"Oh yes, but let's set up a few surprises of our own first, hm?"
They left the office together, Benoit switched off the light and locked the door.
The file cabinets were empty. Decoys.
Just another end of another day in the city of guardians.