“Who is Dirty Change?”
Detective Porter muttered that to himself. He had no idea who left him the note and he was still trying to figure out who it was. He knew he had seen Cary Nickel that night, but who was this other character that left him the note? As he got up the next day and headed into work, he was determined to get an answer. As soon as he got into the precinct, he asked his partner, Michaela Collins, about Dirty Change.
“That’s a new one for me Porter. I have no idea who you are talking about.”
“Check this note out Collins. This is what was left for me while I was out checking out a hunch.”
“First, why were you there without me and secondly, who the heck were you watching?”
“It was a hunch and I will let you know later.”
As both were getting ready to leave the precinct for work, they passed by a board that listed the names of a dozen youth. All of these young men and women were missing with no traces of where they could be.
“I feel so bad walking past this board everyday Collins.”
“The chances of us finding them now are slim since they have been missing for so long, but I hope by some miracle that we find them soon.”
Both had an emotional moment thinking about those kids missing. It seemed like they were all here just a minute ago and then they were gone. For Porter, this was even more touching because one of those kids on the board was his little cousin, Erin. He remembered seeing him at the center. He was there hanging with Mr. Nickel, the man he just followed and saw at his home. And then the next day, he was gone. Mr. Nickel was not even named a suspect in that case.
“Let me ask you a question Collins. You remember Mr. Nickel right? Why did we never bring him in as a suspect for the disappearance of my cousin?”
“Mr. Nickel? The best community leader we have? You’re joking right?”
“You’re seriously thinking that man, who has done so much for kids in our community, would do something to your cousin? You know what I think Porter?”
“You need some sleep because you are obviously losing your marbles.”
Both Collins and Porter exited the precinct, laughing at each other as they hit the streets.
Back at Mr. Nickel’s house, Cary Nickel woke up trying to figure out what was going on. He never made it to his bed and the music was playing on his patio again.
“Oh crap! I’m late!”
Mr. Nickel worked full-time at the community center and he had a meeting with the city mayor today for the celebration.
“When did I put on these clothes?”
He had no idea when he put on the blue shirt and slacks he woke up in. But either way, he had to hurry up to get out of the house. Mr. Nickel ran and took a quick shower, brushed his teeth, got dressed and was flying in his car down the street. As he made it to the community center, he barely caught the mayor in enough time.
“Sorry I’m late. Hopefully you still have time for me.”
“Sure Cary. I got plenty of time. Just thought you were busy handling something in the community.”
“Completely my fault. Overslept.”
“Ok. Let’s go back inside. I will give you the particulars.”
As the mayor and Mr. Nickel went back inside, one of the kids from the community, Kevin, stopped Mr. Nickel.
“I need to talk to you Mr. Nickel. I need to talk to you now!”
“Can you give me about 30 minutes Kevin? I will be glad to help you then. I have to meet with the mayor right now.”
“Oh, I get it. The mayor and you getting honored is more important than the kids in this community. I see how it is. You’re a phony.”
“Kevin, I know you’re upset or angry, but can you please give me a moment to speak with the mayor? I am not ignoring you and you and I both know I’m not a phony at all.”
“Whatever Mr. Nickel. Shouldn’t have came to talk to you anyway.”
Kevin left frustrated, muttering under his breath and Mr. Nickel and the mayor continued inside to handle business. As they arrived in Mr. Nickel’s office, the mayor began to ask about what he just witnessed.
“Is everything okay here Cary?”
“Everything is fine. Kevin is just going through a few things. He’ll be okay. I will talk to him later. ”
“You sure. He seemed pretty upset about something.”
“Kevin has had a lot of things to overcome. Trust me, he will be okay.”
The two sat in Mr. Nickel’s office and discussed the ceremony honoring him, the placement of the stage and what all activities would be going on during this event. They went through the entire list of events and happenings that day and then wrapped up their meeting.
“I’ll meet you again in a week to go over any other things that may have come up and any changes that need to be made.”
“Thank you. Well, I have to get back to it. I got a few things I need to take care of today.”
Cary went back inside the center and finished work after the mayor left. As he left to go home, Cary was reminded his car needed a wash. Written on the hood of his car in the dirt was the word “phony”. He was angered by the words, but he calmed down and thought of it as “boys being boys.” He arrived home and proceeded to go to his back porch, turning on the radio as he relaxed and eventually dozed off back there.
Mr. Nickel would wake up the next day on his back porch with the radio still going and in black clothes.
“I guess I sleepwalked.” He said to himself, as he went back inside.
Meanwhile, at the police precinct, Detectives Porter and Collins were just getting in when Porter received a call from their boss, Captain Ron Jackson.
“There’s another one.”
“Another what Captain.”
“We got another kid gone. This one we actually have a body for. His name is Kevin Armstrong and he was found a few streets over from the community center.”
“Come on Collins. Let’s get to this murder scene. I have a feeling this connects with that note I got on my car the other day. By the way, I was at Mr. Nickel’s house last night and trailed him through the city until he left me in traffic. I ended up sitting at his house to wait on him to come back and noticed a different version of him as I snooped around his house. That’s where I got the note from Dirty Change.”
“So this is why you asked me about Mr. Nickel. And with this killing happening near there, I bet you think he or Dirty Change is involved in this right?”
“You know me too well.”
“Well, don’t tell anyone you went there without a warrant because that isn’t going to look good, but we definitely need to investigate him if what you’re telling me is true.”
“I think we need to question him on this one anyway, Michaela.”
“Well, we could tie the two together since it is near the community center and he probably was a kid that went there.”
“Let’s get down there. ”
Collins and Porter left the precinct headed to the murder scene. They were also headed to find out if Mr. Nickel was as great a person as he was portrayed by the neighborhood and if he knew the identity of Dirty Change.