Today's Reading

"I can see how disappointed you are." Brick studied the lock for a minute. "You want to shoot it, or should I?"

"Whoa." Ron took a step back. "Last time I checked, shooting locks isn't on the approved list."

Whether Ron realized it or not, the suggestion was meant as a test. Brick was pleased his protégé passed. "I'm kidding. You've learned how to scale a fence, haven't you?"
 
Ron nodded as a smug smile crossed his lips. "Are you really going to risk those fancy threads you're wearing?"

Brick was used to being teased about his wardrobe. There was no denying he was a clotheshorse, more likely to shop at Brooks Brothers than the Men's Wearhouse. "It's called taking one for the team."

"Okay, then." Ron deferred to Brick with a sweeping hand gesture. "Age before beauty."

This wouldn't be the first time Brick scaled a fence, but silently he hoped it might be his last. He took a deep breath, grabbed hold of two iron bars, and pulled himself up to get a foot hold on a narrow ledge. He hesitated for a moment then launched himself over the top. The landing wouldn't earn points for style, but he made it without damage to himself or his favorite suit. He was grateful on both counts.

Ron took a running start, leapt onto the ledge and over the top of the fence sticking the landing with the grace of a well-trained athlete. Being in his early thirties gave him an edge as did his college days at University of Maryland where he had been a track star and the hours he still spent working out.

"What?" Ron shrugged his shoulders. "Unfair height advantage?" At six-foot-four, Ron was a good five inches taller than Brick.

"First time today you've reminded me," Brick said.

Ron sneered and lowered his voice to a growl. "Day ain't over yet." Brick shook his head. A line from a movie—Ron's constant challenge—who said it—what movie? But Brick wasn't taking the bait. Unlike a lot of guys, he didn't have an endless supply of movie quotes at his disposal. Except for Field of Dreams, he'd rarely watched a movie more than once.

Together, they walked down the weathered dock past the row of boats to the last one tied securely to the one next to it. Brick went to work on the thick rope with a Swiss Army knife. Once freed, Ron held onto the back of the boat, keeping it steady as Brick stepped aboard. Carefully, he moved over to the left and sat, positioning his feet on the pedals.

Ron followed his lead but with more difficulty. "This is worse than squeezing into an airplane seat."

"Would you rather swim?" Brick asked.

Ron shifted as if to find a more comfortable position. "Goddamn, my knees are hitting my chin."

"Really? Well, how's that height advantage working for you now?"

"Guess I deserved that." Ron started to laugh but stopped abruptly. "Oh, man, I got a charley horse." He winced as he tried to stretch his left leg. "Why is it in movies cops get to commandeer Lexus's and Jaguars?"

Brick thought about how ridiculous they must look. "Do you really think anyone would pay ten or eleven bucks to see a couple of cops in a paddleboat?"

"My wife would if one of them was Denzel." Ron shifted again. "And right now, I wish it was his ass in this boat instead of mine."

Brick and Ron drew closer and stopped pedaling. The wake from the paddleboat caused the body to bob up and down giving them their best chance to get a look at the victim before the Harbor Patrol arrived. Ron craned his neck as if trying to get a better view of the victim's upper body, which was closer to Brick's side of the boat.

"What the hell is that—some kind of bruise or burn?" Ron pointed to the patch of reddish-purple skin Brick had spotted earlier.

"Looks like a birthmark," Brick said.

"Probably one of those, what's it called...port wine?"

Brick nodded and pointed toward the victim's collarbone. "See how it starts there and travels over the right shoulder and down the arm?"

"Yeah. I was about to say she was lucky it didn't cover her face but even if lucky described her before, it sure doesn't anymore."
...

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