"YOU'RE LETTING HIM GO?"
"Geez, Cath, way to make the mirror rattle."
"Yeah, he's waving, like it's all a big joke, sitting there in his jail outfit."
"It wouldn't have been such a joke for him, if our screwup had ended with him being number eight for Jacqueline Hawley, alias the Vamp Lady, as the media dubbed her. Listen, Cath, this comes from all the way upstairs. The sheriff's not thrilled at all over how close it got for another tourist. They're supposed to leave their money behind in Vegas, not their blood. Anyway, that guy in there, he's got some serious connections, including a direct call from some muckety-muck high up in the British government, which kind of greased the skids."
"He's still the main suspect in a criminal case!"
"A suspect for what? If you can answer that, please do. I really want to know, as do all my bosses, who're the ones that need to explain to the press how Hawley got away."
"Look, Jim, we tore that hotel room apart! It's just like any other of the thousands of places along the Strip! No hidden passages in the walls, no trapdoors in the floor or ceiling. The only ways in or out were by the door or the hotel balcony!"
"Except the security cameras in the corridor show Hawley and Harris going into that room, and then him coming out alone a few minutes later. The look on your face when you tackled him was priceless. Even better was your expression after, when you came out of the room and arrested him. When you handcuffed him while he was lying on his stomach, did he really say you had great legs?"
"Well, you do."
"Oh, thanks so much. Was the cop that passed that little tidbit on to you the same one who caused us to lose her earlier, so she got into the hotel bar, met Harris, and went with him to his room?"
"No, that dumbass is already counting the icebergs on Lake Mead. There was serious consideration over adding Richardson and Bailey to that job until everyone's retirement, except they still swear on a dozen polygraphs that she didn't leave by the balcony. So, where the hell did she go?"
"He still hasn't changed his story?"
"Not even after six hours of the interrogation. 'I met her in the bar, I invited her up for drinks, she came in, asked for money, I said no, she left, I went for ice, I'm seriously thinking about suing for police brutality, blah, blah, blah.' Around the end of our little chat, he was reciting it backwards."
"So, what do you think? Is he involved, or just an innocent putz?"
"He's a for-sure hard guy, and he's damn well hiding something. Except if it ever comes to a trial, my opinion don't mean squat. I got nothing, and it looks like you don't either, otherwise Harris would be starting his prison stay, instead of walking off into the sunset with his own happy ending."
"I've got a kilo of human ashes mixed with cellulose!"
"And does it match up with Hawley?"
"Well, no, it was too charred for any DNA-"
"Which is at the point when his lawyer at the trial will then spend a very excruciating fifteen minutes for you, making you explain to the jury how long it takes for a hundred and ten pound woman to be burned down to that amount of ashes, how much heat it takes, and how much firewood would be needed. The next question would be on why, when you entered that room without a fireplace just five minutes after Hawley went in there, you managed to miss all the smell and smoke that bonfire would have produced. Look, Cath, if you really feel that masochistic, I'm sure Gil's girlfriend would be happy to find someone to make you suffer, if she didn't volunteer herself."
"She's not his girlfriend! All right, if my evidence doesn't have anything to do with whatever happened in that room, then why was it in there?"
"You know we've both had weirder things show up in crime scenes and then turn out to have nothing to do with our case. Hell, just off the top of my head, maybe some earlier tenant brought along their dearly departed in their own urn for a nice vacation, accidentally dropped Aunt Myrtle, swept up whatever they could collect, and then left a larger tip than usual for the maid as an apology."
"I try. But, you know it'll take just one juror to buy that for Harris to beat whatever charges anybody tries to pin on him."
"About that- Can't we at least hold him on something, give us some more time to see what we can find?"
"I dunno. You got any suggestions?"
"Ummm… Soliciting a prostitute?"
"In this town? Why don't we just haul him in for spitting on the sidewalk? Besides, Harris is the only one who could confirm that - nobody else was close enough to overhear them - and I think if it's actually tried, he might use a little thing like the Fifth Amendment, darn it all. Anyway, I thought Hawley didn't have anything like that on her record."
"She didn't have any kind of record at all. Just a loner, no friends or family, kept to herself at work, then one day she never showed up there, until we spotted her on the Sahara casino camera trolling for her first victim at night, just like the rest of them. Okay, so that won't work. How about, uh, let's see…"
"Having a little trouble?"
"Shaddup. Wait. What about indecent exposure?"
"Heh-heh-heh. You're sure you were an exotic dancer instead of a comedian before you became a CSI? You try that, you'll get laughed out of the courtroom. Of course, it could take a true master criminal to carry out the ultimate transgression of leaving his hotel room in his boxers, carrying a bucket, on his way down the corridor to the ice machine. Good Lord, Holmes, you've solved the crime and saved the Empire!"
"Yeah, yeah, nobody appreciates my genius. Sorry, Cath, it looks like this one's going into the unresolved file, unless Hawley shows up again. Well, do we have anything else we need to talk about, or do you want to hang around to see Harris do his I'm-getting-out-of-jail dance?"
"I wouldn't want to spoil your male bonding, Jim. Feel free to exchange Christmas cards with him for the next decade or so."
The door of the viewing room now slammed shut behind a departing Catherine Willows, as Detective Jim Brass sighed, and then he walked over to the door of the holding cell, opening it and entering, as he dryly spoke his next words.
"Okay, Harris, time for you to get back your clothes. Oh, on the way out of here, if you see an angry redhead, be sure to duck."