“Don’t run,” Sam said, holding out her hand as if to stop the kid from getting on his bike. The kid paused.
“We just want to ask you some quick questions.”
“You’re not in trouble,” she said as they walked closer. T-Bone didn’t say anything, but kept to her back.
Sam felt a wet splash on her cheek and glanced up. Clouds had come up out of the south, cutting off the morning sunshine.
She looked back at the kid. He was 12, maybe 13, short, clean, with clothes that looked in good repair. He had on the latest – according to her nephew – Chuck Taylor’s.
“I’m Sam,” she said and gestured to her partner, “This is T-Bone. You live around here?”
At his nod, she smiled and looked at the bridge and the graffiti under it.
“Is that art from a gang or just a doodle?”
“Huh?” The kid turned and looked behind him at the spraypainted symbols under the bridge.
“I don’t know – why?”
“‘Cause she wants to know if you’re in a gang, kid.” T-Bone said with a growl.
The kid stepped back and gripped his bike more tightly.
“What’s your name?” Sam asked.
“Ty.” Ty didn’t take his eyes of of T-Bone. She knew her partner was probably scowling at the kid. Nothing like having a 6’2″ scary Mexican man to make a possible witness feel comfortable.
“Ty, do you play here in the wash?”
He scoffed.
“Not play, but you know – hang out?”
“Okay. Have you ever seen any wild animals in the wash?”
“Oh sure. Coyotes, sometimes. Hawks, vultures.”
“Anything bigger? Mountain lions?”
“Mountain lions? In the middle of town?” He scoffed again.
“When was the last time you went down there, kid? Did you see anything odd?” T-Bone demanded.
“N-no. I was down there last night. I think I lost my phone there so I was going to go check. Sir.”
“So, you were down there last night. Where?” Sam asked.
Ty pointed to a space under the bridge.
More rain drops hit the pavement.
“You ever see any bums under this bridge?”
“Oh yeah,” Ty said with a smile. “Old Larry hangs out here.”
“He a friend of yours – Old Larry?” T-Bone asked.
“Uh, no. He’s just this odd guy. Haven’t you seen him? He’s usually around here this time of day.”
Sam started to ask, “So you come here every morning?” but T-Bone asked “Don’t you have school to go to?”
“Well yeah. but I need my phone.”
“Sorry, Ty. We can’t let you go down there. It’s a crime scene. I didn’t see a phone when we went down there – but if we find it – I’ll let you know.”
“Oh man, my mom’s gonna kill me.”
“What’s your mom’s name, kid?”
Ty gave his full name, his mother’s name, and his address to T-Bone. Sam handed him her card.
“Call me if you spot anything odd.”
“How can I call you if I don’t have my phone?” He asked.
“Go to school, kid.” T-Bone put his hands on his hips. Ty jumped on his bike and peddled off down the bike lane toward Golf Links.
A distant rumble of thunder made Sam look around again.
“The rain’s gonna mess up the crime scene.”
T-Bone snorted, and turned, his hand drifting to his gun as a short man with bushy red hair hurried up to them.
“Officers. What’s going on here?”
“It’s Detectives, and who’s asking?” Sam answered.
“Joel Boveri, E-Witness News.”
T-Bone muttered a curse.