"Mac, Chief Whittaker here. We just got a call—homicide at a law firm in Northwest. Grab Oliver and head over to Gideon & McCaffery at 1817 L Street NW. This could be a big one. Brief me as soon as you clear the scene."
"Yes, sir. Will do."
I speed-dialed my partner, Oliver Shaw. He answered, "What's up so early, Mac?"
"The Chief just called me and gave us a homicide at a law firm on L Street. I'll pick you up in five minutes."
Oliver replied, "Make it ten."
I grabbed my suit coat, headed out the back door and down the steps from the deck to the garage. I hit the garage door opener. I noticed the Speedster was not in residence.
I jumped into my 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer and backed into the alley. After lowering the garage door, I headed toward my partner's house, which was only twelve blocks away.
At that point, I had no idea what this case would turn into.
As I eased down the alley, I reflected on why my thirty-year-old Jeep Grand Wagoneer was still on the road. It was only by my stubbornness that this piece of flawed engineering was still running.
I took Maryland Avenue NE, which was the quickest route to Oliver's house on Holbrook Avenue, not far from Gallaudet University. The curbs were covered with parked cars. As I pulled across the opening to Oliver's driveway, he came out the front door, suit coat draped over his arm.
Oliver climbed into the passenger seat with a big smile and a hearty "What's up?"
"No idea what we've got on this one. Just an address and name of a law firm."
At some point during the thirteen years we had been paired as detectives at MPD, Chief Whittaker started calling me with new assignments, even though Oliver had about five years of seniority on me. I sensed that Oliver never understood why I had become the contact person for the Chief. Candidly, neither did I. It may have had something to do with my being the more verbal partner in our briefings of the Chief on our cases. Oliver never said anything about it, but I sensed that he noticed.
We headed toward Northwest D.C. We took Connecticut Avenue and then turned left on L Street where we saw three blue and white MPD patrol cars in front of a granite and glass office building about fourteen stories tall. The lettering on the marquee identified it as the Charter Building. The medical examiner's white van was also there. I pulled to the curb and slapped an Official Police Business placard on the dash. We climbed out and put our suit coats on.
A uniformed sergeant stood at the main entry. "Morning, Sergeant," Oliver said. "What've we got?"
"We can't shut down the whole building, but we've sealed off the 11th and 12th floors where the law firm is located. We're controlling traffic in and out of those floors. Take the fourth elevator. You'll want to head to the 12th floor. That's the main reception and where you'll find the deceased."
* * *
A key had been inserted in the control panel so that MPD could control the elevator for the duration. We punched the button for 12 and rose at a slow hydraulic pace.
On 12, we entered a high-end lobby with Gideon & McCaffery, LLP in 15-inch brass letters on the facing wall, which was covered in taupe-colored linen. At least I assumed that was the color, as I am one of the quarter of males who suffer from red-green color blindness, which means I don't see pastels very well. To our left was a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows facing toward Georgetown. Near the windows was a spiral staircase about eight feet wide curving down to the 11th floor.
A patrolman stood next to the elevators to control traffic into or out of the firm's offices. We signed his log. He pointed us down a hallway to the right. "Go to the end of the hall by the corner. The crime scene crew and the M.E. are already down there."