CROW (Boston Underworld Book 1)

By: A. Zavarelli



I hate cops.

I really, really do. Especially around here. You never know whose payroll they’re actually on. Dealing with them over the last six months has done nothing to improve my image of them.

Fucking cops.

They won’t give me the time of day. When I filed the missing person’s report, they barely even glanced at the details. Follow ups? Nonexistent. Now every time they see me at the station they’re rolling their frigging eyes. They don’t give two shits about some missing woman with a questionable reputation. Just like thousands of others in this country, she’s been sucked into a black hole never to be seen or heard from again. Their families and friends are left at the mercy of a system that divvies up investigative hours based on who looks the prettiest on print or who shouts the loudest to the media. Talia has nobody shouting for her. Only me. And that means it’s up to me to find out what happened to her.

It was the same story with my dad. Forget that he was brutally murdered. He deserved it because he was a nobody boxer fighting in the underground. He associated with bad people, and therefore he got his just penance. That’s how the cops deal with things in this city. That’s how they dealt with my father’s death and the thirteen-year-old kid he left behind. Sweep it under the rug and file it away under cases that actually matter.

I was a kid then, so I had no say. But I’m all grown up now- at the ripe old age of twenty-two- and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this happen again. The last nine years have forged a woman with a heart of steel. I’m not backing down this time. Whatever it takes to find her, I will do it. This is more personal to me than it’ll ever be to any of these office monkeys.

Which is why I’m now sitting in said office of some poor schlep who works for the FBI. Really, all these robots are just overpaid cops too. Still, I feel bad for this lady sitting across from me. Agent Cameron is her name- as evidenced by the name plate and various other propaganda strewn across her desk. There are always clues about people’s inner workings if you look close enough. And what Ms. Cameron’s office tells me about her is that she wants to feel important. She’s probably dedicated her best years to the job. But she’s stuck in an office shuffling papers and that frigging nameplate is all she has to show for her career.

The lines of bitterness are etched into her overtired face. She doesn’t look like she’s had a day of fun in her whole life. But then again, have I? Maybe that’s what bothers me about her. I see a bit of myself reflected in her eyes. A desolate future of nothingness and only my cats to go home to at the end of the day.

I imagine this woman has plenty of them. Her lackluster red hair is still stuck in the style of the eighties, and her gray suit does absolutely nothing for her pale complexion. She pushes her glasses up the ridge of her nose and takes a sip from a mug that proclaims she’s been to Disneyland. At least she has that going for her, I guess.

“Look, uhm…” She glances down at the paperwork before her to find my name. The same name I’ve already told her twice.

“Mackenzie,” I repeat.

“Yes, Mackenzie.” She straightens her posture and sighs. “I understand your frustrations. Really, I do. I know it might not seem like it, but the investigation is still ongoing. I can promise you, it’s being handled.”

Anger boils inside of me like lava, threatening to spill over and destroy everything around me at any moment. I swear these assholes are pre-programmed to say the same thing on repeat. And I’m so sick of this same old song and dance. All my life they’ve been spoon-feeding me this bullshit. Foster carers, social workers, police, and everyone else telling me they know what’s best. I’ve been ping ponged around the system so much I barely have the energy to fight it anymore.

That’s what they want. They want me to go back home and give up. They assume that eventually, as the months roll by and turn into years, the pain will fade and I’ll just forget she ever existed. But that isn’t going to happen. I won’t give up on her, ever.

I take a deep breath and shove the worn photograph across the desk. A four-by-five snapshot of a rare candid moment. Talia is smiling and glancing over her shoulder with the purest eyes you’ve ever seen. She’s never been much of a smiler, honestly. Too many demons. But I caught this one on film, and it’s something I’ve always treasured. I want them to know she was a real person, with real feelings. Plus, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my research, it’s that the news outlets love to talk about the girls with a pretty smile.