He never asked Rusty about Rose.
Cole figured it wasn't any of his business, anyway. Rusty already wasn't much of a sentimental person to begin with.
He hadn't really much cared for Rose, what with his rather dismissive introduction to him and Ralph so many nights ago, when Scooter Peyton had been shot to death.
He does wonder sometimes, however, with a sense of humor, whether part of Rose's desire for early retirement was based upon having to deal with Rusty's laziness.
Then Rusty wrestles an answer out of a suspect.
All things considering, there really isn't time for deliberation on personal matters. A corpse only tells so many tales, and mouths snap shut like steel traps, muted footsteps skulking away into the darkness all ready to slip into the oblivion of anonymity.
The squeamish matter of the job doesn't much get to Cole. He feels a tinge of remorse, as well as of outrage, upon seeing the sheer brutality inflicted upon the bodies of the slain women. The bodies reanimate in his mind's eye, and writhe on the ground in agony as they burn, staring, always staring at him, their mouths slack as if asking him why.
"Clipped you pretty good, there," Rusty comments with a chuckle as Cole, sporting a bruise, rubs the side of his jaw.
Cole shoots him an annoyed look before turning away from him and bending slightly. Hocking, he spits out the blood that was building in his mouth on the ground. Oh well, at least it didn't contain a tooth.
"Have to say I'm a little impressed," Rusty comments, turning the wheel. Cole's one hand is currently busy with holding the side of his swollen jaw.
Cole raises an eyebrow.
Rusty chuckles. "Rose crumpled to the ground in his first fight. Hell of a lot the academy did for him."
Cole winces at the pain as he opens in his mouth. "Thanks, Rusty."
Phelps feels something like defeat with a bandage on the side of his face, and another dead woman in his arms.
He pauses, just for a moment, his hand flying to his jaw with a wince of pain. Memories, ripped from his mind like film from a projector reel, play before his eyes.
A notebook, a drawer, names, and a man yelling it wasn't him.
A metal bar, a box of blood, and a man in a jail cell, saying he wouldn't tell a word.
An exclamation, staunched in Cole's throat, comes out as a whisper of pain.
Pages turn, and the name, "Floyd Rose," stands out in dark ink.
Cole feels as if he himself is standing on a stage, the curtain closed. His leading lay lies beside him, mutilated beyond recognition, when he, the foolish lover, was away at war.
The curtain parts ever so slowly.
He reaches into his side pocket, flipping open his notebook, and drawing his attention away.
He doesn't need something else to burden his conscience.