The state bureau would now be taking over, in light of the assassination of a high-ranking police administrator. Considering who it was and that they’re taking the Kirchner investigation as well, it’s like having two birthdays. I don’t mean to be callous, but I don’t think anyone’s going to solve this, and I’m glad it’s not me who’s going to come up empty.

Still, though, I find myself thinking of Kirchner and his death frequently, almost constantly, whatever it is I’m doing, stealing office supplies, stealing coworkers’ lunches from the breakroom fridge, watching shit on my phone during duty hours (for some reason, mostly the Kenny Rogers skits from MadTV, over and over again, stifling my hysterical laughter with a T-shirt, pretending I’m crying; maybe I can get put out on a psych discharge), pretending to look over cold cases, my two-hour power lunches at the public market, driving slowly past my ex’s at 3AM and blasting the siren just once, just to wake her and that fucking cocksucker up; whatever, I’m dying to know who offed him and why. I’m frightened by the remark he made after killing Kirchner, that he was coming back for more. Whom did he mean? Was he trying to kill me at the funeral parlor? And is he now satisfied or is there someone else?

I know I’d have to pay a ghostwriter, but this is shaping up into a surprisingly good story. It just needs the right end. Something heroic and final.

I decide to get some body armor and a shotgun from the armorer. Fuck it; gimme a box of them armor-defeating slugs with the tungsten carbide penetrators, too. I say it’s for an upcoming raid with the state authorities who’ve just taken my case but really, I plan to spend the night at Kirchner’s place to try and get more of a feel for the guy. I’ll bring his manuscript, which makes no fucking sense to me at all but has some violence that would look very cool in a movie. Its title is L’embuscade and, speaking no Spanish, I don’t know what that means. If I’m lucky, the killer will show and I’ll fucking blow him away, emptying the whole shotgun into him. I’ll get a medal. I’ll be interviewed. I’ll be profiled in City Magazine, the title something like “The Last Hard-Boiled Detective”, something a recent journalism grad would come up with. I’ll probably be photographed next to some partially drawn Venetian blinds, probably in black-and-white, and the sexually adventurous photographer they use for this shoot will probably use phrases like “a neo-noir sensibility” and “elevating the language of municipal portraiture”.

Despite the poor showing at the funeral parlor, some locals have erected a memorial to Kirchner at a telephone pole just in front of his darkened building, of the sort you typically see devoted to children struck by errant gunfire or drunk drivers, or aspiring rappers cut down in what I gather to be failed contract negotiations. The mass of teddy bears is already becoming grey and filthy from the elements. The candles won’t stay lit. The flowers are dead. His name is misspelled three different ways.

I go around back to see the tape is barely hanging up in a half-assed web of lackadasia, and I find the door is ajar, unlocked, the door tape seal somehow not split, as if it were placed on an open door which could then have never been proved secured, something that makes zero fucking sense and must therefore absolutely be the work of someone in my department. I start shaking my head and muttering, then think better of it, worrying, becoming fearful, then determined, alive with a bold lust for conflict. Instead of calling in some cannon fodder to sweep the place for me, I draw my weapon and brace myself to make entry, squinting resolutely, teeth gritted and jaw set, then rush through the door, immediately tripping over the threshold, putting one in the wall by accident as I smash into the floor, dropping the pistol, in fact flinging it, watching it sail by moonlight across the kitchen floor. I am so fucking enraged by my clumsiness that I yell, then pound on the floor with both feet and both fists, simultaneously, five times in rapid succession, unable to believe that even I fucked up that hard so quickly. I stay there for what seems like an hour, my back too torqued to do anything else, my face drawn taught into a rictus cringe, humiliated tears brimming, terrified of being caught in the lie I will absolutely fucking make up and never withdraw if I have to explain this farce, but nothing happens. No screaming, no shouts from the darkness, no cavalcade of shrieking police cars rushing to the scene in an otherwise still darkness. I’m not murdered in the shadows by my suspect, with my own weapon. No one notices me. This never happened.

With great and painful effort, I finally stand up and realize I forgot to put on the body armor or retrieve the shotgun from the trunk, so get those things from my car after turning on the lights, as well as collecting the manuscript, and then I check the fridge. Virtually none of the food has gone bad, so it looks like I’ll be having a little snacky-poo here instead of ordering out, something which kind of titillates me.

I eat, starting with some sort of tomato stew with eggs thing, I don’t know what the fuck it is. It’s not bad. There’s bread that he apparently made, too, and some weird cheese. I in essence graze through just about every edible thing in that refrigerator and freezer so long as I don’t have to spend too much time prepping it. Relative the squalor of this neighborhood, he has expensive, even pretentious tastes, at least in cuisine. Truffle oil. Hazelnut oil. Every single cheese was made outside this country. Metal chopsticks. Bags of noodles with no English writing on them, just strange squiggles I take to be Asian.

He was neat and orderly. The bathroom still has a hint of bleach. I can smell that carpet powder shit people vacuum with. The wooden trim on door jambs and windowsills and frames is polished.

It seems he was…trilingual? Is that the word? Or wanted to give that impression. French and German texts mixed among his books in positions which look suspiciously prominent to me.

I wander around the place slowly, slurping out of my dish, aided by a spoon too large for my mouth, but there’s really not much more to take in beyond what I noticed at the start of the investigation. A toolbox, some jackets hanging in the hall closet. The place is stunningly under-furnished for as long as he’s lived here. He’s still using cardboard boxes in place of a clothes dresser. I notice the writing on them, labels like KITCHEN or BEDROOM, are not in his hand and appear to be a woman’s.

Content with what I’ve eaten, I then discard the food waste alongside some other seeming trash scattered around the kitchen that I hope has no use as evidence, rack out in his bed to read some more, the body armor and shotgun tucked against the wall which is serving as the mattress’ headboard. I’m now agonizing over that license plate line because I can’t tell if it’s a note of some kind after the fact, like after seeing the plate, apparently not realizing the role it would play in his life, and then wanting to insert it into the story, or if it became a part of the story after he printed this draft and had a fresh idea apropos of nothing. If that’s the case, then how was the killer able to read the manuscript? And for whose benefit would he have fabricated the plate? He ambushed Kirchner. In any event, it cannot possibly be a coincidence.

I can’t understand it.


For all installments of “The Ambush,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1: The Body
  2. Part 2: The Colony
  3. Part 3: The Surveillance; or, the Vigil over the Dead
  4. Part 4: The Philosophy of the Hammer