Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chapter 61

Detective Dina: Episode #1
First Day on the Force, Part II

"Hi there!  You look a little lost.  Can I help you?"

Slowly Dina's vision cleared and she could match the girly voice to the Sim.  Dina squinted at her.  "Not so much lost," Dina explained, embarrassed.  "It's just these bouts of vertigo.  I can't see straight.  The walls start spinning and I feel like I'm going to-"

The blonde laughed, "Starry Eyes, isn't it?  My sweet grandmother gets it all the time.  She calls the swirly rashes little hurricanes.  Says they itch something fierce!"

"Well, so far no itching," Dina said, trying to smile but failing terribly.  She felt on the verge of mortification.  I almost puked on her shoes.

"So where are you trying to go?" the blonde asked.  Dina glanced at her uniform, a mirror image of her own.  She must be a cadet like me, Dina thought.  I wonder if we can be friends.

Dina answered, "The Chief wants me to talk to Detective Carlo Tapia.  I met him earlier, but I don't quite know where-"

"Oh, he's probably in booking.  He practically lives there.  Work, work, work."  She made a face.  "Boring!"

The blonde sighed, "Come on, I'll show you."

Dina followed her.  They shoved through a doorway into a short walkway behind the receptionist's desk.  They were fenced in behind chainlink, but Dina could see and hear into the front lobby.  She saw Don Lothario talking to the elderly lab tech Dina had met earlier.  Reagan Alvarez, Dina repeated to herself.  She wanted to commit their names to memory.  These are my colleagues now.

Dina glanced a second time at Don, drawn by the sound of his voice.  He sounded really worried, despite his smile.

Don said, "Please, I have to see a detective right now.  It's about my wife."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Lothario, but you'll have to make an appointment," Reagan Alvarez was replying, before Dina looked away, her vision suddenly clouded by stars.

Not again!

The vertigo quickly passed, but Dina's stomach still felt like it was doing hurdles.  Oh, Plumbob, don't puke!

"Well, here's the most boring room in the police station," the blonde said, oblivious to Dina's suffering.  "And there's the most boring detective."

Detective Carlo Tapia turned his head, unimpressed.  "Adelaide, don't you have somewhere to be?  Like the front desk."  He pounded those last three words like the hammer of justice.

The blonde - Adelaide, apparently - was all smiles in response.  "What!  I'm helping out.  Cadet Starry Eyes was looking for you."

"Your fake smiles don't fool me, Adelaide.  Everyone knows you have a Mean streak," the detective said.

"And everyone knows you're Hot-Headed and a weirdo Loner!  Oh, and a Slob!"  She smirked, satisfied.

Dina was surprised he was Hot-Headed.  He was so nice to me in the hallway before.

"Cadet Adelaide, get to the front desk and relieve Alvarez.  Now," Detective Carlo Tapia ordered.

Adelaide pursed her lips, her cheeks turning red.  With such pale skin and flaxen hair, blushing actually gave her a pretty glow.  She said, "That's right!  Cadet Adelaide.  No matter how hard you try, you can't get me fired again."

And with that she stormed off.

Dina just stood there, totally confused.

"You got her fired?" Dina finally asked.

"She got herself fired," the detective corrected, a bit harshly too.  Clearly it was a touchy subject for him.

He explained, "I caught her fraternizing with one of our convicts, and Chief Winston fired her for it when I reported it.  Cadets that go against regs don't last very long around here.  That's a friendly warning."

Because the Chief's a Perfectionist.  I remember, Dina thought.  

"But she's back?" Dina asked, still confused.

"We needed a receptionist," he shrugged.  "But she's more like a cadet on probation.  Plus, Chief Winston has a soft heart for Insane Sims.  You know Adelaide's Insane, right?"

"No, I hadn't noticed," Dina said, disquieted.  Why does the Chief have a soft heart for Insane Sims?  That didn't seem to fit the worldview of a Perfectionist.  Despite herself, she smiled.  Thinking like a detective already.

The detective said, "Well, just pray you never see Adelaide's dark side.  It isn't pretty."

Neither is yours, Dina thought.

I liked you better when you were smiling and joking with me in the hallway.  Dina's thoughts turned to her twin sister, Nina.  I know how to deal with Hot-Headed Sims!  Change the subject!  "So, Detective... the Chief said something about a case assignment?"

"Right." Detective Carlo Tapia sighed.  "How about you sit down and I stand up.  You're making me nervous - those swirly rashes are getting really red."

It's probably just me blushing nonstop, stumbling from one embarrassment to another, Dina thought.  "I feel fine," she lied.

"Cadet, I'm a detective.  I sniff out liars for a living."

"No, really, I'll be fine," Dina said.  "Dr. Jolina assured me-"

"Wait, Dr. Jolina?  Dr. Jamie Jolina?"  He covered his face with his hands, shaking his head.

He stood up, waving her towards his vacated seat.  "Come on.  You'd better sit down.  She didn't operate on you, did she?" He shuddered.

Bewildered, Dina complied.  As she took the seat, she said, "No... no operation."  Why would he ask that?  Even stranger, she actually felt better sitting down.  The vertigo and nausea were gone.

Back on his feet, Detective Carlo Tapia looked energized.  He said, "You have a notebook handy?  Good.  Keep it with you at all times.  Your first case assignment is pretending you're a detective," he said.  "I'm sending you out into the field."

"To a crime scene?" Dina asked, her excitement bubbling to the surface, carried by the waves of memory.  She felt like a little girl again, pinning her father's police badge to her dress and pretending she was him.

Her father had been her hero.  I'll make you proud of me, Dad, Dina thought.  I'm wearing the badge for real now.  I don't have to pretend-

"Wait," Dina said, her daydream suddenly broken.  She abruptly stood up and asked, "Did you say pretending?"

"That's right," the detective said, his hands on his hips.  "My job is to wash out the cadets that can't handle it.  We're not pouring time and money into your training if you can't handle yourself under pressure.  The world is a never-ending cesspool of grime and crime and it's time for you to take a bite out of it or go home!"

That sounds gross, Dina thought.

But she kept that to herself.  Dina flipped open her notebook and penciled out in blocky letters: GRIME CRIME EAT.

"Where am I going?" Dina asked, lifting her eyes only to find Detective Carlo Tapia staring at her like she was a fascinating scientific experiment.  "What is it?" Dina asked, freaking out.  "Are my swirly rashes turning purple now or something?"  She choked on the words; it was a half-laugh, half-cry.

"No, your rashes are gone," he said, clearly amazed.  "They've been gone.  I didn't even see when.  My brain didn't even register... Wow.  How 'bout that.  I guess I can scratch you off my victim list.  You look cured to me."  He laughed when he said it, but Dina wasn't sure he was joking.

"The what list?"

"The doctor's victim list.  She's one of my cases.  Medical malpractice.  Every time I try to question her though, Jamie tries to put the moves on me.  Calls me her 'medical malepractice' with that flirty look in her eye.  She's even made a grab for my plum.  You know, I bet you could talk to her.  Being a woman and all," the detective said.

He's rambling, Dina realized.  He either really hates the doctor, or really likes her.  As in 'like likes' her, as Zoe would say, Dina thought with a smile.

Dina felt silly thinking about it, but she rather liked the latter idea.  She was a Romantic by nature, and there was something terribly romantic about an investigator falling for an investigatee.  Or something terribly illegal.

She looked back down at her notebook, suddenly drawing a blank.

"So I'm going back to the hospital?"  Dina asked, confused.  I guess I could get a second checkup, see if this Starry Eyes thing really has passed, Dina thought.

The detective shook his head, waving his hands.  "No, no.  Not today.  Today you're off to the Blue Velvet nightclub.  I sent Officers Myron and Sylvia ahead.  They should already be there.  It's a crime scene now and you're going to observe."

"Observe," Dina repeated.  She scratched furiously into her notebook:  BLU VEL.  MYRON & S --  Dina looked up, scratching her head.  "Wait, is that Silvia with an I or Sylvia with a Y?"

"It's a Y," the detective said, momentarily flustered.  "Look, just remember this.  Observe.  Get close and personal with the crime scene.  If you're feeling brave, help the officers collect evidence and take pictures.  Get your hands dirty.  Well, don't actually touch anything.  You know what I mean, don't you?"

"Right.  Don't contaminate the crime scene," Dina said.  She remembered that rule from watching too many episodes of Cop and Llama.

The detective nodded towards the hallway.  "Come on.  There's one last thing I want to show you before you leave." 

She followed him back to the room with the huge old-school bulletin board.  He pointed it out like he was revealing the Lynn D'Saye masterpiece at the Deh'Javu Modern Art Museum.  Dina loved all kinds of art; she'd been a painter nearly all her life... Well, it really started after Dad died, Dina recalled.  She'd been a teenager, picking up her first paint brush with tears already marring the canvas.

Detective Carlo Tapia put a hand on her shoulder, drawing her closer to the bulletin board.

"This is the Crime Map," he said.  "This is the beating heart of the police station.  It's where clues become puzzles and puzzles become stories, and if you're lucky, where stories become convicted criminals."

Dina stared in awe.  This is where I belong.  Standing right here.  

She had an idea.  As she pulled out her phone, Detective Carlo Tapia smiled, pleased with her awed reaction.

She could tell he was very proud of the Crime Map.  She wondered how many criminals he had personally brought down.  Not as many as my dad, Dina thought.  Detective Flamenco Caliente had been the best.

"Can I take a selfie in front of it?" Dina asked.

His smile faltered.  "Uh, okay."


Dina texted the pic to her daughters.  They'll get a kick out of this, she thought as she typed into the text message: 

Going to my first crime scene!!
Wish me luck!!  XOXO.

Thanks for reading!

Read Part III

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chapter 60

Detective Dina: Episode #1
First Day on the Force, Part I

Dina's first day on the job and she was sick as a dog.  It didn't seem to matter.  Nothing can ruin my good mood, she thought.  "Today, I'm fighting crime!" she announced to the Sim world.

Dina marched into the police station, striding with confidence...

...but halfway to the receptionist's desk she almost fainted. 

Wow, the walls are spinning!  She tried to clear her head, but all she saw were stars.

"Don't worry," the Sim at the receptionist's desk said cheerily.  "You're not the first cadet to get a bit woozy.  It's your first day, isn't it?"

Dina smiled sheepishly, "How could you tell?"

"Oh, don't worry about it," she said, all smiles.  She got on the phone and said, "Chief, we've got another one for you.  Do you want me to send her in?"

When she hung up the phone, Dina asked, "Another one?"

"Oh, yes, dear.  We've been terribly short-staffed.  I'm not even the receptionist.  I'm the lab tech.  Name's Reagan Alvarez.  Best go in.  The Chief doesn't like to wait."

Dina said, confused, "What about my name?  Aren't you going to ask me?"  She had her Oasis Springs resident I.D. in her pocket.

A dark cloud seemed to pass over the lab tech's face.  She wasn't smiling now.  "Like I said, we've been terribly short-staffed, but not for want of cadets.  We've got lots of cadets."

Dina froze.  Is she glaring at me?

"I'm an old lady and I've seen lots of cadets come and go," the gray-haired Sim said.  "Most of them wash out eventually.  They faint at their first crime scene, or they buckle under the stress of case after case..."  Her words hung in the air, frightening.

The lab tech said, "Your job application got you through that front door... got you that pretty uniform... but it's the Chief who decides whether or not you get to keep it."

"Oh," Dina said, trying not to feel intimidated.  She's staring me down!  What the heck!  Alvarez slowly stood up, like a turtle emerging from her shell.  She really is an old lady, Dina thought.

But the lab tech looked more sad than angry now.  She said, "How about you show me you've got what it takes, and I'll learn your name."

I've got what it takes!  Dina thought, hungry to prove herself.  Unfortunately, that heroic thought was accompanied by a wave of nausea.  She bolted for the door, covering her mouth.  As the door swung open, she glanced back at the lab tech.   "Nice to meet you," Dina squeaked.  She always told her girls that it pays to be polite.

"This is it," Dina whispered in excitement, entering the world of crime fighters, only to bump into the first Sim on the other side of the door.

He was a middle-aged Sim with receding black hair, but a friendly smile and dark eyes that fell on Dina with interest.  "Looking for the Chief, Cadet...?"

"Cadet Dina Hildebrand," Dina offered, smiling. 

"I'd shake your hand, but I don't want to catch whatever alien germs you're hoarding," he laughed.  "My name's Detective Carlo Tapia."

"Right.  Suspenders.  Detective," Dina stammered.  He looked confused, but then he glanced at his leather suspenders and blinked.  Great, Dina.  Just great.

He finally smiled, staring down at her.  "An eye for detail.  I like it," he said.  Dina felt her cheeks burn.  More great!

Detective Carlo opened the door to their left and stuck his head in, banging on the wall twice with one hand.  "Officer Myron, Officer Sylvia, with me in five!"  He pulled back into the hallway and smiled at Dina once more.  "The Chief's inside on the left.  Can't miss it."

As he walked away, Dina wanted to kick herself.  Another great first impression!  She took a deep breath.  Don't lose it.

She found the Chief's office easy enough.  It was like being on the set of a movie!  Dina grew up watching all sorts of detective thrillers and kept a book of unsolved crimes on her nightstand.  Now here she was, experiencing the real thing.  She glanced to her right, soaking in every detail.  The filing cabinets, the overstuffed manila folders, the high-tech computers contrasted against the old-school bulletin board in the back.  This is so cool!

The Chief's office was to her left.  Dina read the etching on the glass door.  CHIEF ANNE WINSTON.  She closed her eyes for a moment, imagining her own name.  One day.

The Chief saw her at the door and waved her in.  Dina took a deep breath and entered, looking around in wonder.  An old-school fan!  She tried not to grin like an idiot, but thankfully the Chief wasn't looking.  She was clacking happily away at her keyboard.

"Your name, Cadet?" the Chief spoke from behind her monitor, not looking at her.

"Dina Hildebrand," Dina answered, trying to sound calm.

"I see you," the Chief nodded, though her eyes never left the monitor.

"Says you're married - formerly Dina Caliente - to one Efrain Hildebrand," the Chief read off her monitor. 

"You have two teenage daughters, Zoe and Betsy, and you just quit your starving artist job to chase after your childhood dream of becoming a detective.  That sound about right?"

It was at that point the Chief actually looked at Dina.  Her eyes widened and she gasped, "Holy Freezer Bunny!  What's wrong with your face?"

"Oh, it's not that contagious," Dina said.  "Dr. Jamie Jolina says I have Starry Eyes."

The Chief looked uncomfortable.  "So you've seen a doctor?"

"Oh, yes.  Like I said, Dr. Jolina.  She's very good.  She fit me in this morning before the hospital even opened.  She treated me with meds, but she said it might not work right away.  I didn't even have the swirly rash when I saw her.  She said it always comes towards the end of the infection.  Good, right?  The meds must finally be working!"

Chief Anne Winston lowered her forehead into her hand and sighed loudly.

Dina froze.  This can't be good.  The Chief finally lifted her head and said, "As you've probably surmised, I'm extremely short-staffed.  I need every cadet I can get.  The last two I fired.  You see, I'm a Perfectionist Sim.  I expect only the best!"  She slammed her fists against the desk, making Dina jump in her seat.

"I have a lot to offer!"  Dina said.  I have to win her over!  "I'm an Active Sim.  I can run laps around the bad guys!  And I'm Ambitious.  You won't find a more eager cadet, I promise you.  I want to learn."

Chief Anne Winston thought it over while Dina held her breath.  "Well," she said, "My list of cases isn't getting any smaller."

"How does Monday through Friday sound?" the Chief offered.

"Can I start today?" Dina asked.  She couldn't hold back a huge, goofy smile.

The Chief nodded, pushing back from her desk to stand up.  She straightened her suit and said, "I needed you yesterday."

Dina stood up too, almost fearing her legs would collapse.  She was so excited.  I did it!  I'm in!  The Chief said, "Go talk to Detective Carlo Tapia for your case assignment.  Welcome to the force, Cadet Dina."

Thanks for reading!

Read Part II
(Or check out the Episode List)