You pull into a parking lot in the Bronx after a long drive. Thankfully the Sunday traffic wasn’t too horrible, and the total trip took about five and a half hours. The place seems sketchy, but you follow the street directions Kline gave you without too much trouble. The long drive gave you plenty of time to think about it. You end up at a small sandwich place and look around, with no idea of what Tammy Kline looks like you’re not sure what to do next.
While you consider your next move, someone calls out behind you, shouting “Agent!” You turn to see a tall woman in a dark gray pantsuit with curly hair gathered loosely behind her head gesturing to an open seat. You cross over to her and extend your hand in greeting, wondering how this woman knew who you were.
As if reading your mind, she says “It’s obvious you aren’t from around here, gawking around like that. I took a gamble. Tammy Kline, NYPD. Nice to meet you.” The two of you shake, and take a seat. Kline speaks with a rush that you’re not sure is a New York thing or just her. “Look, I’m going to get right down to it and not waste our time here. You must have seen the report on Lowell or else you wouldn’t have made it here. Thomas was a good man, and a great investigator. But he got too close to a case, made it personal, and couldn’t handle it when the bureaucracy made him stand down. That’s it. It just got to him and he went too far.”
Without giving you a chance to say anything, she continues. “As for this Charming Bear, I’m sure it’s nothing. Lowell was convinced that someone calling themselves Charming Bear was behind that last case he was working when he was here, but there was plenty of evidence pointing to the real criminal, and they were apprehended and locked up. End of story. If you’re getting calls from someone claiming they’re Charming Bear, it’s likely Lowell himself gone off the deep end. I’m not sure why he’d point you at me though.”
While Kline was talking, you became aware of a man sitting behind her wearing a Mets cap and sunglasses. The most obvious “incognito” disguise you’ve ever seen, but they stared directly at you with a slight smile on their face. After a few moments, they stood and began walking away. You push out your chair and stand, interrupting Kline’s hasty monologue and call after the man, who takes off running. You give chase, running hard.
Block after block, you hope you can keep up. Despite the straight streets, you’re slowed by pedestrians looking down at their phones or just not caring to make way. Still, you feel like you’re gaining ground and take a chance to catch up by sprinting across an empty intersection. The blaring of a car horn grabs your attention, and you jump back just in time to avoid being run over.
Ignoring the curses coming from the cab, you look back down the street in time to see the man duck into an alley. You cross the asphalt, more safely this time, turning in to the same alley but see no sign of him. Sturdy iron fencing blocks the only other exit, and the doors into the buildings on either side are locked shut. You swear, loudly, and begin kicking over debris, checking for any other possible escape routes.
As you peer into a dumpster, considering if it’s worth diving in to root around, Kline catches up to you. You expect her to drill you about taking off like that, but instead she silently reaches out her hand. You notice the edge of a tattoo hidden beneath a large wristwatch before registering the slip of paper she’s holding out to you. It’s a crossword puzzle filled out all wrong, and you look at her quizzically.
“I took some time to check around before coming after you. It was at the man’s seat. You might actually have a case here, agent.”