Foreward from Nine:

Hey, it’s a Mara story! More hints about what’s going on in the Mythos world, plus a little background on everyone’s favourite redhead detective.

A disclaimer: I do not know police procedure. Everything I know about it comes from TV and movies, so please don’t bombard me with comments of “that’s not how it’s done!” This is how it’s done in fictional Mythos Baltimore!

“Pratt Street Blues”

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
9:47 PM
Baltimore Inner Harbor

Mara wanted to do some good in the world. She wanted to help people. While she knew that not everyone had the most favourable opinion of the police, she felt like maybe – just maybe – she could be one of the ones that could actually make a positive difference. She wouldn’t hesitate to blow the whistle if she saw any abuse of power going on. When she heard that the Baltimore City Police was looking for officers, she decided to move from Plattsburgh to Maryland, optimistic about her prospects.

That was likely the reason why, after a few months on the force, she was feeling rather crestfallen. Surely it was because she was still new to the game, but she typically found herself on traffic duty or generally hanging around the busier parts of the city. She was kept away from the rougher areas of town, since they seemed to think she wasn’t ready for that kind of work. Mara disagreed with this assessment, but didn’t want to make any waves in the department so early in her career. The last thing she wanted to do was move back in with her parents in upstate New York.

Even in the touristy part of city, things were hardly bustling on a Wednesday night. She’d heard that later in October things could get really interesting, as Halloween would bring out the hard partiers (more than New Year’s Eve, apparently), but it was still too early in the month for anybody to care. It was dull enough that she was pretty much left to patrol on her own, on foot, without even a partner. 

Most of the shops in the harbour were shutting down for the night, and the restaurants weren’t very busy either. She made her way into the Gallery – a shopping mall just across Pratt Street – to see if any last-minute hassles were going on as the stores were closing up. By that time, most of the store fronts had their metal grates down, a few tired-looking salespeople locking down their places before heading home. Or to the bars at the Power Plant. 

One man who worked at the jewelry store seemed in a particular rush to get home, having just locked the glass door behind him before pulling on a long beige coat and walking briskly toward the exit. He paused as his eyes meet Mara’s, but he flashed her a little smile and a nod. Mara returned the gesture, despite the guy acting a little weird. She had a strange feeling as she watched him power-walk toward the exit, but couldn’t place why.

She heard a sudden loud, repeated banging noise coming from the jewelry store just then, and turned to see a panicked-looking man pounding on the glass doors from inside. There were two others inside behind him, all appearing to be employees, and all looking confused and distraught.

“Help! Officer!!!”

Mara rushed over to the door, but the man inside was gesturing toward the mall itself. “Thief! He grabbed a bunch of shit and locked me in!”

It was then Mara noticed the strangest thing of all – the man inside, begging for her help, looked identical to the man she’d just seen locking the doors. 

“What the fuck!” she exclaimed, without thinking. “Stay there! I’ll get him!” 

She turned and sprinted toward the exit, where she could see the thief outside. He glanced over his shoulder, and upon seeing Mara’s approach, he took off toward Calvert Street. Mara swore under her breath, grabbing the radio at her shoulder to call out her coordinates and the situation, indicating that she was in pursuit. She heard a response from one car in the area, who wasn’t close enough to help catch the runner, but would follow up at the store to take statements from the workers. Other units had apparently been drawn away to an early disturbance happening in Fell’s Point. As far as catching the perp went, she was on her own. 

As she got out of the Gallery, she saw her quarry rush across Calvert Street, nearly getting hit by several cars as he did so. Mara stayed right on his tail, keeping an eye on him as he turned left onto Lombard. Though he had a head start on her, Mara seemed to be in better shape, finding herself quickly gaining ground. 

By the time she got to Lombard Street, she was close enough to see the panic on the man’s face as he looked over his shoulder again. 

“Freeze! Police!” she shouted out after him. 

He didn’t.

“Has that ever worked?!” she groaned, watching as the man took off across the street, forcing a car to slam on the brakes and blare their horn. 

She watched him duck down Grant Street – which was really just a glorified alleyway, and she hoped he would make a wrong turn so he could be cornered. When she went to cross the street, the car that had just recently been halted by the suspect running into traffic had just begun to move again. Mara had to hop back to avoid getting hit, before holding out her arm to stop the rest of the traffic. 

Her blood ran cold as she heard a female voice screaming from the alley. 

“Theft, two counts of jaywalking, and now what?” she growled, taking off down Grant “Street” once the cars had stopped. 

When she rushed down the alley, she found a dark-haired woman standing, slumped against the wall. She looked terrified, and she was clutching a long coat in her hands – one that looked suspiciously like the beige coat that the suspect had been wearing. As she drew closer, Mara noticed something more alarming; the woman’s forearm was sliced open, blood soaking her shirt and running down her wrist. 

There was no sign of the man, and being as there were two different intersections just up ahead, she had no idea where he could have gone. Mara’s instincts, however, were more focused on the injured woman. Jewelry could be replaced, a life couldn’t.

“Ma’am, are you okay?” Mara asked, stopping at the woman’s side as she slid down the wall to sit on the ground.

“He cut me… why did he cut me…?” the victim babbled, panicked. One hand had moved to her arm to cover her wound, the other still held the suspect’s coat.

“It’ll be alright,” Mara said, as soothingly as she could, before calling in on the radio where she’d last seen the man, his general description, and that she needed a medic.

When Mara mentioned a medic, the woman on the ground looked even more alarmed. “Oh no… oh no, am I going to die?”

Mara grimaced, squatting down beside the other woman. It was highly unlikely that a slash to the arm would be fatal, but it appeared that the victim was going into shock – or at the very least panic.

“It’ll be fine, help is coming,” Mara replied, her voice staying calm, “can you tell me what happened?”

The woman took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment to compose herself. When she started to speak again, it was in very measured, even tones… and something about the cadence tickled the back of Mara’s mind.

“I had just gotten off work, so I’d decided to come downtown for a drink or two before I went home. I parked over on Light Street, walked east on Lombard, then turned to go north on Grant Street toward the Pour House. I heard some quick steps approaching behind me, but as I turned I suddenly had this coat tossed at my head. When I reached up to pull it off my face, I felt something cut my arm. At that point, panic set in and that’s when you found me.”

As Mara listened to the woman’s statement, she produced her pad and started jotting down notes. There was something very familiar about her voice, and the very specific way in which she gave directions wasn’t how a regular person would speak. She glanced up to the woman, who seemed to have calmed down considerably.

“I’m sorry, ma’am… I didn’t get your name?”

The woman stared blankly for a moment, then let out a musical sort of laugh. “I forgot to give it, sorry. Everything was so fast… I’m Jessica. Jessica Lee.”

Once she said her name, that’s when Mara connected the dots. 

“Oh! You’re the new traffic girl on channel 6!”

Jessica smiled warmly, though weakly. “I am, yeah. Though I’ll hopefully be more than that, some day. I got my foot in the door, you know?”

“Right, that’s – Oh, I’m sorry! I’m supposed to be taking your statement.” 

Shaking her head, Jessica regained her footing to stand on her own. “That’s really all I got. Did you want his coat for evidence?”

Mara could hear the sirens of her backup finally arriving; but sadly too late to catch the crook. She hoped they could get something from the jacket, so she reached out to take it from Jessica. “Yeah, I guess that’s all we got, at this point.” 

Jessica leaned against the wall again, checking her hand to see the blood on it. She clamped it back down over the cut, sighing. It wasn’t much longer that the paramedics arrived on the scene, tending to the wound. While they spoke with Jessica, Mara looked over the thief’s coat, frowning as she turned it over in her hands, careful not to get any of Jessica’s blood on her. Mara noticed a strange bulge coming from the inner pocket, so she dug inside.

She found a rolled-up cloth of some sort, and it felt heavy. Carefully, she unrolled the fabric to find an array of expensive watches lining the inside of the roll; very likely the missing merchandise from the jewelry store, or at least some of it. 

“Well, maybe it’s not so bad, after all…”

Back at the jewelry store, the manager confirmed that the watches were the only stolen items. The thief rolled up an entire display, which the workers didn’t question much… because he looked identical to the manager. The actual manager came out just in time to see the thief exit the store, which is when he got Mara’s attention.

Nobody could explain where the thief came from, and certainly couldn’t explain why he looked identical to the manager on duty. There were no identical twins on record, so the manager himself was cleared of being a suspect in some sort of complicated sibling scheming. 

Jessica Lee’s injury was superficial, though it was the talk of the news the next day. Jessica herself told her tale on the air, and her telling of the story made viewers at home take a liking to her. Soon after that, she was moved from traffic to being a field reporter, and sometimes giving in-studio interviews of local personalities.

While she expressed great interest in pressing charges against her assailant, the case went cold. With the stolen goods all accounted for, and the injury caused so minor, the incident has been long since forgotten… but not by the actual perpetrator. The criminal remembered every detail of that foiled plot.

Especially Mara’s face.