Roman raised his voice, “I’ve had enough of this!”
Piper put her perfume bottle down, scowled, and said, “One more outburst like that and it will be a knife to your throat while you’re still breathing. Now take your medicine like a good boy.”
She picked up the bottle, smiled, and slowly waved it in front of her face. The room slowed for Roman. He could hear the quiet hum of his electric wall clock. Piper’s finger slowly tapped the glass bottle. Every moment crawled by. The explosion started slowly. He faced the noise. Wooden slivers glided through the air. The front door convexed, pushed into the apartment and collapsed on the ground. Four SWAT members dressed in black masks, tactical suits, and carrying small rifles seemed to run through the opening in slow motion.
The world started to speed up again. The first SWAT member slammed into Piper. The bottle flew out of her hand and landed on the carpet. “Careful!” Yelled Roman. “If you smell roses and lilacs, it’s a drug.” The SWAT member yanked Piper up and pushed her to the ground close to the former doorway. Bryson walked in, retrieved Piper’s keys from her purse and unlocked Roman.
“Cutting that a little close. Why didn’t you come in when I looked up into the ceiling camera and gave you the God phrase?”
Bryson smirked and answered. “Ask the D.A. later. He wanted to get as much of a confession as possible before we got her into the interrogation room.”
“You knew?” Asked Piper. Both men looked over their shoulders. She was handcuffed and sitting on the floor, her face in a state of shock. Roman looked at Bryson, “Maybe you should tell her. After all, you’re the smart one.” Everyone in the room laughed, except Piper. Bryson held up his hands, “I wouldn’t think of taking your glory.”
Roman turned the chair he had been shackled to towards Piper and sat down. ” We weren’t sure who it was at first. You tipped your hand with the killings on the soccer field. You weren’t following your original pattern, so we assumed we had the wrong profile. Bryson and I put on our tinfoil hats and asked ourselves who would know enough about the killings, and our police work, to alter their method of operation.
At that point, we considered all the people involved at the crime scenes to be a suspect. Everyone was accounted for except you. You claimed to be home with the flu during the soccer field killings. There was one small problem. I checked your bank accounts and saw you’d bought gas during that time. The station’s security camera showed you in dirty jeans and a t-shirt. You looked like you had been gardening. We were suspicious but needed more proof. When you killed your last victim, we knew we were running out of time. As you showed me tonight, you’re desperate for attention. Your desperation resulted in a strand of your hair resting on the victim’s clothing.
We set up this trap in case the DNA didn’t come back fast enough. Fortunately, it did. I wanted to see what other information we could get out of you about your killings. So, everyone agreed to move forward with the trap.”
Roman looked at the masked officer. “Please remove this thing from my apartment.” The officer grabbed Piper’s arm, and she jerked away.
“Get away from me you creep. You already crawled all over my body. I don’t want some guy groping me down to the station.” The SWAT member pulled off their mask. A woman of African-American descent scowled at Piper, grabbed her arm and jerked her roughly to her feet. She growled into Piper’s face, “Women like you make me sick.” Piper had to struggle to stay on her feet as the policewoman pulled her from the apartment.
Roman stood up and walked over to where his doorframe used to be. Drywall hung in tatters and most of the framing was cracked or had wooden chunks missing. “Sorry about that.” came Bryson’s voice from behind.
Roman turned towards him, “Is there a reason you couldn’t just use the key I gave you?”
“Ask him.” Bryson pointed towards the SWAT Captain who was standing near Roman. “Well, Captain?” Asked Roman.
The captain looked at Roman for a brief second. “Too dangerous. If she had heard us, she could have shot or stabbed you. Blowing open the door was the safest way.”
Roman sighed, he knew he was right. Bryson chimed in, “Don’t worry, we can board up the doorway tonight, and you can get your maintenance people to fix it tomorrow.” Roman crossed his arms. “And where am I suppose to stay tonight?”
Bryson smiled and said, “With me of course. It’s all part of my cunning plan. I’m sure you’re going to get a couple of days off. I thought we’d hit the restaurants and bars by my place tonight. ”
Roman shook his head. “I’ve had enough head spinning for the month. I’ll take you up on the food, the guestroom, and maybe a beer.”
“Sounds like a plan. Get whatever you need and let’s leave this place to the crime techs.”
Roman had his overnight bag and followed Bryson out of the hole that used to be his front door. Roman stopped and looked around. The perfume bottle still laid on the floor. Piper’s weapons were carefully being put into evidence bags, and a tech was working to disconnect the hidden cameras. Bryson put his hand on Roman’s shoulder. “Are you doing okay?” Roman turned around, “Yea. I just wish we had been wrong.”
Both men started walking away from the apartment again. Bryson responded, “Me too, partner. Me too.”