Newly appointed Greenville Police Chief of Detectives Mike Murphy strolled into the Greenville Savings Bank like he owned the place, instructing the customer service representative at the front counter to tell Diane Hagler that he wished to speak with her, flashing his police badge to make it official.
The surprised customer service rep rushed to Diane's office and a few moments later the concerned thirty-six year old Bank Mortgage Officer stepped out of her office with the customer service rep, motioning for Detective Murphy to join her.
Murphy left his lobby chair, walked across the lobby and stepped into Ms. Hagler's office. She closed the door and took a seat behind her desk, motioning for Murphy to have a seat across from her.
"Since you were flashing your badge out there, I'm guessing you're not here to refinance your mortgage, Mike," Diane said as she folded her hands on top of the desk and gave the cop her full attention.
"No, I'm here on official business," Murphy confirmed.
"What's up?" Diane asked.
She looked great and Murphy couldn't help but be impressed by her professionally attractive appearance, dressed in her light blue business suit with just the right amount of jewelry and make up. Her brown hair was professionally styled.
"Wasn't sure if you knew I was promoted to Chief of Detectives," Murphy said.
"Yes, I saw it in the paper," Diane replied. "Congratulations."
"Thanks," he said with appreciation. "I've been waiting for this chance for a while."
"So, how can I help you?" Diane wanted to know.
"I'm making a courtesy call," Murphy informed her. "I wanted to let you know that I'm reopening the case on your great-grandfather."
"What?" Diane asked with surprise. "Why? It's been nearly eighty years for God sakes."
"The case remains unsolved," Murphy explained. "We need to figure this out once and for all."
"Whose idea was this?" Diane asked suspiciously.
"I brought it up with the Chief," Murphy disclosed.
"I'm pretty sure an eighty year old unsolved murder case was the last thing on his mind," Diane said with cynical annoyance.
"Yes, he's focused on Union negotiations, community policing, community relations, and all the other woes we face," Murphy admitted. "But your great-grandfather's case has been stuck in my craw for a long time."
"Why?" She scowled. "What do you care?"
"It bugs me that a murder was committed in Greenville and justice was never served," Murphy replied. "Don't you think your great-grandmother took that angst with her to her grave?"
"She moved on with her life," Diane reminded him. "She remarried."
"We owe it to history to figure out what happened," Murphy said. "Truth matters."
"Please, Mike, I'm begging you," Diane said with a heavy sigh. "Let sleeping dogs lay."
"Look, Professor Nelson wasn't exactly the most sympathetic murder victim," she groaned. "He had his weaknesses and faults. Dragging all this stuff up again will just remind people of his womanizing and cheating."
"So we're supposed to let his death remain a mystery because he wasn't Citizen of the Year?" Murphy frowned.
"I'm sure you have plenty of other much more pressing and relevant cases to concern yourself with as Chief of Detectives," Diane argued.
"You really want me to forget about your great-grandfather's case?" Murphy asked.
"Yes," she replied with emphasis.
"You know, modern forensics might be able to solve the case if I can find new evidence," Murphy told her.
"That's a big if eighty years later," Diane said cynically. "Is there even any physical evidence that has survived all this time?"
"I don't know," Murphy admitted. "But the investigation has been dormant for years so who's to say?"
"What does the Chief think about all this?" Diane asked.
"He's concerned about department integrity," Murphy answered. "But he agrees that we should put this to rest once and for to clear those nasty old rumors that the cops were involved in either the initial crime or a possible cover-up."
"Why are you really doing this?" She asked with an exasperated sigh.
"I just told you," he replied. "My own version of Murphy's Law. Facts matter. Truth must prevail. Justice has to be served."
"Are you sure you're not out for revenge?" Diane questioned suspiciously.
"Revenge?" He asked with confusion.
"Because I wouldn't go out with you," Diane complained. "So now you want to dig up old dirt on my family to embarrass me the way I humiliated you when I said no."
"Jesus, Diane, that was eighth grade," Murphy laughed. "More than twenty years ago. You really think I'd carry a grudge that long?"
"Maybe," she shrugged.
"It wasn't as if I was home crying in my room every night pining over you," he said.
"How come you're dressed like you're on the way to a baseball game?" Diane asked, gesturing toward his jeans, sneakers and polo shirt.
"I like to keep it informal," Murphy explained. "Keeps people relaxed and makes them feel more comfortable. But I'm still a tough-nosed detective."
"Or maybe you're just a jerk," Diane countered.
"Look, the only way to solve your great-grandfather's murder is to warm up the cold case," Murphy argued. "Investigations are rarely cut and dry or easily solved."
"You're trying to cause trouble," she protested.
"I'm trying to do my job," he said, rolling his eyes.
"You're going to unfairly put my family back in the limelight again," she complained.
"Look, I appreciate your concerns about all of this," Murphy said with sincerity. "I know how it is with family drama and scandal. My parents divorced. My adolescence was messy and complex. Now I'm divorced and only see my kid part time. Everybody has skeletons in their family closets. It gets complicated. But don't you want to know what happened?"
"Not if it makes things worse," she groaned.
"So, you have your suspicions too," Murphy realized.
"I've watched enough Law and Order," she admitted, staring at him.
"Let me be a cop," he said.
"You wanted to be one going all the way back in high school," Diane recalled. "You put it down as your goal in the yearbook."
"I majored in criminology at Green College," Murphy bragged. "Joined the Police Department as soon as I could. Promoted up pretty quickly. Now I have a chance to make a difference."
"You're trying to make a name for yourself on my great grandfather's ghost," she said with annoyance.
"I'm trying to solve a murder."
"And you won't let it go?"
"Because if I can solve this one then others might get solved too," he said. "The Chief has already given me his blessing. I can look wherever I want."
Diane let out a long sigh and then she stood. "My grandparents are retired in Florida now," she told him. "But my parents and everybody else are going to have to once again deal with all of this shit."
"They're all Donovans now, not Nelsons."
"Everybody knows the story and the names," Diane said.
"There's nothing I can do about that," Murphy shrugged.
She stepped closer to him. "You keep me in the loop," she ordered. "Tell me everything you discover before you go to the press or the DA."
"Okay," he agreed as he stood. "And you let me do my job."
"Do I have a choice?" She asked with resentment.
"Don't fight Murphy's Law, Diane," the cop said pleasantly.
"Don't screw me over," she rebutted.
He nodded with understanding and started for the door but then turned to face her. "Why wouldn't you go out with me?"
She rolled her eyes. "You were kind of a geek back then, Mike."
Murphy grinned. "I was, wasn't I?"
Diane watched the cop leave her office and stroll through the bank lobby with confidence, authority, and presence. He definitely was no longer a geek!