This is a part one of a fun short featuring a character I really like: Dan McGraw, called "Hawk" by his friends. Enjoy!
BY ANY OTHER NAME
“Do you still owe me a favor, Hawk?”
Dan McGraw looked up from his computer to see his chief investigator, Justin DeWit, leaning in the doorway. From bloodshot eyes to rumpled clothing, it was obvious he’d spent yet another night in the office. The multiple holes that crawled up his ears were barren of jewelry, but it appeared he’d added another tattoo to the colorful collection on his forearms.
“Oh, probably,” Dan replied and closed the screen on the brief he was writing for Monday. “C’mon in and pull up a chair. It looks like you could use a break. What’s up?” He nodded toward the file folder under Justin’s arm, already stained by splashes of coffee. “Is that Michaels case giving you fits again? Do you need some help getting ready for the evidentiary hearing?”
Justin shrugged wearily. “Nah, I’m all ready for it, and the dozen other assorted cases. No, the favor is a personal one.”
Leaning back in his chair, Dan managed to suppress his initial surprise. In the entire year they’d worked together in the Eagle County District Attorney’s office, Justin had never asked for a personal favor. He picked up an oversized, cobalt blue coffee mug emblazoned with the scales of justice in gold leaf and took a sip of slightly cool sweetened coffee. “I’ll help if I can. What’s the favor?”
Crossing the room in a few short steps, Justin flopped down in one of the leather wingback chairs across from Dan. He leaned back into the thick padding with a contented sigh. “I can’t believe you moved these all the way to Colorado from New York, but I’m sure glad you did. I missed these chairs. A person could nod off to sleep in one.”
Dan chuckled. “Is that the favor? You want to sleep in my chair over the weekend? I’d think you’d prefer your own bed.”
The reply began with a sad, nearly bitter snort of air. “Yeah, I sure would — if I could just figure out how to get Barbara out of it.”
Another sip of coffee hopefully covered a wince. “Sorry, Justin. I know you guys haven’t been getting along too well lately. If you need to crash at my place, you’re welcome. I’ll be watching the game on Sunday, but other than that, you can have the couch.”
Justin waved off the suggestion as Dan set the mug back on his desk. “No, it’s fine. We’re trying counseling. Hopefully, it’ll work. But that is part of the reason for asking for the favor.”
Dan raised his brows, rested his elbows on the chair arms, and steepled his fingers above his chest, waiting for his friend to speak. Instead, Justin tossed the file folder across his paper strewn desk so it landed perfectly in front of him. Dan opened it and scanned the summary.
“This is the Meekler drug bust,” Justin said once Dan had read the first paragraph. “Denise Richardson is the lead on the case — her first solo in front of the bar. But it’s been the case from hell so far. We nearly lost venue because the state trooper listed the wrong county on the citation, and one of the defendants we’d made a deal with backed out. This latest thing could blow us out of the water. It’s frustrating, because it was a good bust.”
Dan picked up a stapled report. “Oh, yeah. I remember this case. This looks like the chemical results on the packages the troopers found in the wheel wells of the Mercedes. What’s the problem?”
“We’ve got a Motion to Suppress the report because the defense counsel claims the chain of evidence was broken. The trouble is — he’s partially right. When the lab returned the samples, they switched boxes. We got the evidence on a case from another county, and they got ours.”
Dan shrugged. “That’s not broken. They both went to court officers. Just have her go trade the boxes with the other D.A.’s office, and you’ll be fine.”
Justin’s expression about stating the obvious wasn’t lost on Dan. But his tone remained light. “Great idea. The other box was delivered to the 12th Judicial District — in Burlington, five hours away. Denise’s car is in the shop, and the hearing on the Motion to Suppress is on Monday. I’d already offered to drive her, but—”
Dan immediately understood. “But Barbara probably threw a fit. If traffic in Denver is normal, it’s an overnight trip.”
A weary nod and a deep sigh said everything. “A trip with a gorgeous, single woman to a remote location. I mean, there’s nothing between me and Denise. We’re just friends. But the counselor felt it would be a . . . poor choice on my part this early in the process. Unfortunately, Denise was off today and I can’t reach her to have her find another ride.”
As Dan suddenly realized what the favor was, he chuckled in resignation.
“I’ll tape the game for you—” Justin offered with an apologetic half-grin.
... [more next week!]