The landlady took a long drag from her cigarette. She leaned against the windowpane and watched the sun set over the funeral home across the street. There was a chill in the air. She held her matted yellow robe closed. Behind her, Shrek and Donkey each raised one eyebrow and flashed a smug grin.
Every inch of the storefront window was covered in faded movie posters, mostly for kids movies and big-budget sequels from a decade earlier. The small sign on the glass door read:
EAST WEST VIDEO
FOR 22 YEARS
A brown Cadillac pulled up to the curb. Det. Sarah Martinez stepped out of the driver’s side. She gave the store the once-over, then pulled her badge from the inside pocket of her sportcoat and flashed it at the landlady.
“Ma’am.” she said. “You called about strange noises?”
Det. Jake Bolland, Sarah’s partner, went directly to the store window without acknowledging the woman. He peeked in-between the posters, stroking his neatly-trimmed mustache.
“Repeatedly. I live upstairs.” The landlady glared at Jake. “The other two have been in there for three hours.”
Sarah pulled a walkie-talkie off her belt. “Adam four, code four. Respond.”
“I can’t be doing this all day,” the landlady said. “I work the night shift tonight. I’m supposed to be asleep right now.”
No response on the radio. Sarah shook her head.
“They’re in the store?” Jake turned to the landlady. “Have you checked on ’em?”
“After the sounds I heard this morning?” She tossed the cigarette butt into the gutter. “I’m not going in there.”
She went in the door next to the video store entrance and up the stairs to her apartment. Sarah and Jake exchanged a look.