Backstrom: Small Time Latino Arms Dealers, beware... NSWFF Prompt: Epistolary Backstrom chewed on stale chewing gum next to Officer Moto as they stared through the sedan's windscreen at the mouth of the dark alleyway. Sergeant's Nicole Gravely and Neidermeyer were in another unmarked Crown Vic', monitoring the other end of the alley, on an parallel street. His team had been tasked to back up an undercover officer seeking to get weapons off the street, and a large dark blue Ford Ecoonoline had backed down there. The undercover, a policewoman, dressed to look like a desperate but determined soccer mom, in her tight blue jeans and matching Puffa jacket with fur-lined mittens, her long blonde hair topped by a red wool cap, had already arrived at the alley entrance, looked up and down the street in a faux display of caution, and ducked inside. It was late evening, almost 8pm, so the foot traffic had lessened somewhat. "Nice going with the red cap, Officer." Backstrom groused. "You look like a Smurfette." Moto glanced at him. "Actually, it's only Papa Smurf who has the red hat, Lieutenant." "I have no words for the fact that you actually know that, Moto." The team leader regarded his colleague's statement with disgust. "So, you ever shot a gun before?" A male voice enquired from the surveillance wire that the officer was bravely wearing, concealed about her person. She had met the suspect about three times before, and he had frisked her the first time, but not the other two times. "Only for hunting squirrels, when I was a little girl." The Smurfette's voice said. "So that would be a shotgun, or one of those point two-two deer hunting rifles. I don't sell any of that stuff, I'm just an epistolary." "Actually, I was really into this lady spy, Modesty Blaise, so my Dad did buy me a pistol. A nice little-" "Nice save." Backstrom complimented. "-that I decorated with pink nail lacquer." "Alright, too much information, just make the buy already." After a bit more chit-chat, the sound of the van's rear doors could be heard opening. Sounded like they didn't get oiled enough. There was a low chunk-chunk sound. "Oh, wow. Think you've got enough there?" "I try to provide my customers with a good selection, it's true." "So how much for that one there?" "The Glock? Two hundred bucks. But for a pretty lady like you, I'll throw in a couple boxes of ammo, as well." "Still, two hundred." Her sigh was audible over the connection. "Well, it's cheaper than divorce, I s'pose." "Whoa, whoa, I don't want to hear what you are going to use it for! You'll make me an accessory!" "Hello. You are selling me the murder weapon." "Well, no-one charges gun makers, gun stores, gun convention dealers, or arms dealers as accessories, so that in itself, clearly isn't a legal issue." Backstrom frowned at the microphone, and scratched at his bristled left cheek. "Wow, he has really thought this through." Nicole's voice came over the normal communications microphone, from the other car. "Lieutenant, we should go in now." Backstrom picked up the oval-shaped mike, thumbing the 'Transmit' button on the side of the olive and cream-coloured device. "Shouldn't we wait for the Smurfette to get clear?" "Smurf-?" "On account of the blue and red that she's wearing." The beefy Moto chimed in by way of explanation, too bulky to lean towards the mike. "Oh. Lieutenant, I've been undercover, remember. She's keeping the suspect talking, while she waits for us." "Ok, go." He looked across at Moto. "Hit the lights." Red and blue lights strobed the walls, as the officer gunned the engine and slewed the car diagonally across the street to slide across the alley entrance, effectively blocking it. Both men bailed, and headed quickly along the dark, rubbish-strewn pathway, filthy red brick walls towering up on either side. A hundred metres down, both had separated to go down either flank of the van, to find that Gravely was covering the lean suspect with her shotgun, whilst the taller Neidermeyer was standing behind the undercover, handcuffing her arms behind her back. If the Smurfette got arrested with the suspect, and seen to go through the booking process with him, it should help to preserve her street cover. "Moto, cuff him." "Thanks, Lieutenant!" Backstrom spared his officer a long-suffering glance, the man's gratitude a sign that he thought this bust was going onto his permanent record. Which normally was the case - at the booking stage, whichever officer's handcuffs were taken off the secured wrists, their registered owner would be counted as having that arrest. But in this case, the bust belonged to the undercover. Obviously, she couldn't do that right now. The suspect didn't resist as his hands were pulled behind him, but he was not going quietly. "Hey, this van isn't mine. We were just taking a short cut, and it was in my way." He nodded to the handcuffed undercover. "She'll tell you." "Oh, don't try it." The Lieutenant scowled. "You are being charged with being an accessory to conspiracy to murder, and being an epistolary." He turned to sneer down at Smurfette. "Oh yeah, we heard what you were planning, Little Missy. Was hubby slapping you around, or cheating on you with prettier women." "Er, Lieutenant?" Neidermeyer announced from behind her. Her red knit cap obscured most of his neat black tie and white shirt. "We cannot charge him with being an epistolary." Frowning, Backstrom stepped back to gesture at the array of handguns pressed into black velvet. "What, not enough of them? About the only thing missing is a reverberating carboniser with mutate capacity!" "Sir, what is it that you think that the word means?" The enquiry did nothing to diminish the lead detective's frown, but it was for a different reason now. Less about the annoyance that the dapper forensic liaison engendered in him, just by opening his mouth, than the effort to work out what the word meant. "Well, I was going with small time latino arms dealer. Very likely, specialising in pistols." He added sarcastically. "What else?" "Hey, do I look Latino to you?" The suspect glowered. "I try not to judge." "Epistolary does not mean that at all." Gravely shot him a glance. "It doesn't?" "It doesn't?" Backstrom echoed, but only because she had been faster than him. "It doesn't?" Echoed the suspect, because...well... "Sir. Sergeant. Er, Suspect. 'Epistolary' means to be a literary work in the form of letters." "But aren't all literary works in the form of letters?" Backstrom queried uncertainly. "Lieutenant, shush." This drew a glare from him. Considering Gravely looked like she should be at home counting the money she had made from selling Girl Scout cookies after school, he hated when she ordered him around. "Neidermeyer, so you are saying that being an epistolary is nothing to do with pistols, and therefore, is not a crime?" The tall detective smiled at the continued opportunity to share his knowledge. "It comes from the 13th Century word, epistle-" "Nobody cares, Neidermeyer." Backstrom declared, clearly projecting. "I'm going back to the station. Give your charging ideas to Moto, and he can decide which ones sound better." He holstered his service weapon, and squeezed between the van and the mossy brickwork to leave his cops to it. The End Notes: The reference to a 'reverberating carboniser with mutate capacity', is from Jeeves' collection of guns from Men In Black. Modesty Blaise was a fictional female secret agent in the James Bond vein.