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A BITTER WIND

"What do you think? Why did she have all that money on her? Why didn't the killer take it?" Said Stevens as she sat at her desk looking over photos.

"I don't know. It seems personal; she was the target." Nichols said as he looked over his shoulder to the captain's office. The captain looked worn-out and angry, and it was only eight in the morning.

"Why does a twenty-something wearing thrift-shop clothes have $20,000 in her purse?"

"This girl volunteered at homeless shelters, wanted to teach kindergarten—no witnesses." his voice faded.

The captain briskly walked from her office through the squad room and stopped at their desks. "Did you two take the call that came in this morning—a few hours ago?"

"Yes," Stevens said. "We're working on it now."

"I need you to put that on hold for the time being." She paused, "there are three stockbrokers dead at the stock exchange. The press already has a catchy title: The Wall Street Murders."

"Well," Nichols said, "not a very clever title, but it will do. What's going to happen to this case?"

"Right now, I don't know. I'll probably just give it to the local precinct—or give it to a team here, if one becomes available. I need you two to take this other case, though; it's gonna be big in just a few hours."

On their way to the scene, Nichols flipped through the slim case file thinking about the girl. "I don't want to give up on this case," he said to Stevens, "this dead girl gets pushed to the side because she's not headline news."

"I don't know what to tell you."

After hours of looking over the scene, talking to witnesses and ignoring the press, Nichols and Stevens got into their car to drive back to One Police Plaza.

Without saying anything, Nichols gradually pulled the car over, double parked, and left the engine running.

"What are we doing?" Stevens asked, even though exhaustion from an early morning and an already long day made her largely uninterested.

"That's a good question." He tapped the steering wheel with his index fingers while staring into the distance. "I am going to run an errand, and you can go back to the station to get a head start on this Wall Street thing." He let go of the wheel and smiled. "I'll be back as soon as possible. Really."

Stevens rolled her eyes and got into the driver's seat. "Make it fast, please."

"Of course."

As she drove off, he jogged down the street to a subway entrance. While riding, he flipped through the case file he had of the girl they saw hours ago. There was something that nagged him about her and her death. A case like this would disappear if put on hold for too long. He got off the train and climbed the staircase to the street; with every ascending step, he felt more and more cold air rushing toward him until he reached the street. There he was met with a gust of sharp, chilled air.

In the shelter of a brownstone, a man sold flowers from his little cart. Nichols bought a small bouquet. The smell the flowers gave off was intoxicating; he took a moment to enjoy them before gently slipping them under his coat for protection from the wind. The wind was murder itself. It gathered strength as the day wore on, and Nichols knew the walk down the next few blocks would be bitter.