Chris McKinley

Chris McKinley is one of the main characters in the crime thriller The Mantis Pact

It had been a quiet few weeks in the Squad.  A body in a dumpster turned-out to be an overdosed crackhead and the only other live case, the result of a drug-deal turned sour, was almost ready to turn-over to the DA.  The perp had confessed his first offence, well the first we were aware of in any case, as soon as the plea-bargain was offered.

So zero overtime, a source of annoyance to one of my colleagues in particular who, this time, was exhibiting more than just the obvious symptoms from someone who had multiple previous in his marriage wrap-sheet.  Moreno’s third wife was already ultra-suspicious of the long hours he did in the Squad, and we knew she had good reason, having seen his two other marriages develop in much the same way.  Murderers are not the only serial-offenders.

But no overtime was good for me.  It meant I was home before the kids had finished their homework and, on that Friday, I had a surprise for them – tickets to the Thunder’s Conference Play-off decider against the Blazers at the Coliseum that evening, preceded by a visit to the Taco Bell at Park City for dinner.  The lads love Hockey.  Sure the Thunder are only in the CHL, but it’s great entertainment and this was their first time in the play-offs for years.  My wife often observes that the crowd only really go to see the fights, but that eventually a game will break-out.  She still enjoys seeing the looks of excitement on the kids’ faces all the same.

Josh, my eldest, just loves the scraps; his particular favourite player is known as the Junkyard Dawg, and Josh longs for the days he will be old enough for us to allow him to sit behind the goal with the fan club, an area known as the ‘Dawg-Pound’ where they sing ‘Who let the Dawgs Out!’ at the tops of their voices every time their idol is released from the sin bin.

Mikey is not quite old enough yet to fully-understand the game, but joins in with all the spectacle, reserving his biggest cheers for when the Zamboni trundles around refreshing the ice-surface between periods.  He is also convinced that I could get the puck through that ridiculously-small hole in front of the goal at interval times, and win us the new family car we so desperately need.  At his age, he could never understand that, by the time someone has the sheer luck to win the damned thing, it will probably have already done a hundred-thousand miles, all on ice with its lights full-on.

It was a great family evening and the pair were so tuckered-out by the time we got ‘em home that they were asleep as their tiny heads hit the pillow.  Which gave us parents a rare couple of hours to ourselves before we eventually retired to snuggle-up together, just half an hour before that damned cellphone went off.  I was just about to curse another smurfed-out crackhead when I realised that the address for the call-out was nowhere near the badlands.

My spine tingled as it began to dawn on me that this case may not quite conform to what we had become used to, accompanied by the knot in my stomach as I realised that I may not have as much time as anticipated with my family for the foreseeable future.

To read how Chief Stanton became involved click here