The Washington state referendum lay dead on the ground, a knife sticking out of its back.
There were many suspects. Was the killer the collective vote of those who didn't want to spend $7 billion on roads?
Inspector Wisconsin gazed worriedly down at the corpse. $7 billion was a lot less than the massive highway spending binge the Wisconsin Department of Transportation wanted to launch -- and in only one small area of the state. If $7 billion brought out the long knives, what would a larger freeway-widening package for the Milwaukee area bring out?
Or was the killer the anti-transit crowd? That could easily be the case -- those people were delusional and had great difficulty connecting and staying connected to reality. They refused to acknowledge, for example, that oil supplies are finite, that global warming is real, and that sprawl is unsustainable. The Washington state referendum was looking for $11 billion for transit, more than it would put into roads. Did roads' tough friends retaliate? Did their delusions push them too far?
Inspector Wisconsin squatted near the corpse, his knees popping as he settled on his heels. He removed his fedora, turning it slowly in his hands. The twilight mist felt cool against his skin.
Could transit be killed in Wisconsin? Could the killer strike there next? Transit was already weak in please-keep-the-headquarters-here-Miller country, and getting weaker by the day and by the year. Roads had powerful friends everywhere, while transit was like an old man living out his days in a run-down rooming house. It had plenty of friends, sure, but not the people with the money who could make a difference.
Inspector Wisconsin rose, and sighed. The referendum was dead -- nothing he could do could bring it back to life. A new referendum would come along in a few years, maybe better than this one, maybe not. It would live or it would die, but it wasn't Inspector Wisconsin's problem.
He had his own case back home, and maybe he could prevent a death -- he still had hope, at least.
It was about that old man in the rooming house, transit. The people who were supposed to take care of it weren't doing their job. It could be deliberate or it could be simple neglect, but transit was slowly, slowly starving too death. Transit's friends couldn't stop the slide.
Inspector Wisconsin put his hat on his head and tightened the belt on his rain coat. He had eaten pizza last week on a stakeout and there was a cheese stain on the bottom of the right sleeve. A wave of homesickness washed over him.
Inspector Wisconsin moved from the harsh brightness of the streetlight into the evening shadows, the first step on the journey home.
He hoped it wasn't too late.