The same park bench was empty as I had found it after Caitlin’s funeral. I had slipped out of our church strolling around Lake Ella taking time for myself. Here, I planned out how to kill Earnest McFadden and George Shelley before inviting Beau over to the house. Now, I come here on my lunch break to think about her.
It was the Friday before Father’s Day and the first one since I lost Caitlin. I had to be alone, I wanted to be alone. Hell, I needed to be alone. The beautiful summer day was in contrast of my melancholy feelings. The sky was a brilliant bright blue with a parade of fluffy white clouds moving to the east providing a comfortable breeze in the humid air. The bench faced the lake and a massive sixty foot fountain that sprayed water high into the air. It was calming and one of the reason’s I find solace in this place.
I navigated through thoughts of the past seven months that were anything short of chaotic. Everyone knew, without valid proof, that with the help of Beau Rivers I had executed George Shelley in his jail cell underneath the courthouse. The detectives did their job working the case, but as before, Beau and I managed to avoid arrest. They came close and I knew it was probably a matter of time before it actually happened.
In the wake of the investigation and subsequent media circus, they tucked me away in the property and evidence section. Housed in the basement of the department, I stay hidden from the public eye with no valid reason to go into the field. They more or less created a spot just for me and gave me civilians to supervise, not cops. I knew they couldn’t get rid of me without probable cause, so it didn’t matter what hole they stuck me in just so long those bastards remained dead.
Beau was shipped off to the airport and given the late shift. Having been the target of the department’s wrath before, it was nothing he couldn’t handle, but the boredom of the Tallahassee Regional Airport was on a different level. It was mind numbingly boring. Pritchard made that happen hoping Beau would quit, off himself or submit out of boredom and confess.
I hadn’t seen Beau since that day at the cemetery. I missed him, but knew it was best we kept away from each other. I’d seen Beau’s car sitting at the end of our street watching, but never coming any closer. On occasion I’d see Wendy staring out of the window in that direction; I knew she missed him too.
Reginald Pritchard was no longer the Captain of Internal Affairs. Even though he was unable to pin the murders of McFadden and Shelly on Beau and I, he was now known as “Major Prick”. He was promoted soon after Christmas and followed Chief Harrison step down in light of the public scrutiny. He cursed the day he promoted me and rued the day he let Beau keep his job.
The new guy, Chief Robert Shaw, had been promoted from within and was tasked with the job of weathering the storm Beau and I created. His first move was to move me to P&E and Beau to the airport. I knew Bobby since I started and he was a good-hearted family man, tactful, smart and a true leader. I couldn’t blame him for putting us in exile, it was a smart move. It’s what I would have done.
On top of the shit-storm we created, this town started to implode. The murder rate was rising and the drug trade was getting out of control and spilling out of the hood. Hell, there have been more police shootings in the last seven months than we had in the last seven years. The latest drama, still hot in the news, was a huge conspiracy that was uncovered. It surrounded a cop’s murder over a decade ago. It was par for the course as the world was clearly going to hell. Either something needs to be done, or cops are going to wind up dead.
My desperation that led to such a destructive path led me to think about taking the easy exit of suicide. I thought about it long and hard after the drama unfolded at the courthouse. If I followed through with it, I would get to see Caitlin again, but leave Wendy alone with no one. But I was given another reason to stick around. A baby boy grew in Wendy's belly, a little boy that I would soon call son. It was ironic that his life was conceived out of the ashes of another. That’s why I settled on the strong and meaningful name of Phoenix.
However, my thoughts always came back to Caitlin and the chaos that ensued after her untimely murder. I hated myself for crossing the line, but I reminded myself of how she was taken. I think about who she was and who she was going to be. She had such potential to make a difference in this world. Thinking about how she was taken from me always caused my blood to boil as strong as it did the day I decided to get revenge. Images of beating the defenseless body of Earnest McFadden brought me only temporary satisfaction, but it felt right at the time.
Caitlin was beautiful. She was smart, caring and thoughtful. She was taken too early and that always brought the helpless feeling back. When I think about how she was going to be somebody special in this world of shit, tears roll down my face. I brought my favorite picture of Caitlin. Her mother had taken it. I had surprised her at school and her beaming smile reflected the excitement of my surprise. I could hear her say in her sweet little voice, “I love you daddy!” I was holding her in my arms as she squeezed tightly around my neck. It was the definition of love and I needed to be reminded of that before Father’s Day.
I looked up as I wiped away the tears. The birds chirped, the breeze rolled by, and walkers around the lake passed by unconcerned for the murderer who sat on the bench.
“I love you too, baby.” It’s not the same, but kissing the picture gives me peace.
I took a deep breath bringing in the warm summer air trying to compose myself as lunch was nearly over. My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I hoped for a second it was Beau, but the number on the caller ID was from the department.
“Hey, this is Candace from the Chief’s office.”
“Hi, Candace.” I’ve known Candace since she was the patrol secretary walking subpoenas up to me as an investigator in Homicide. The need for formalities was evident she was intimidated by me. I was no threat, but I also understood why.
“Chief Shaw needs to see you right now.”
“Um, sure. No problem. I’ll be there in just a minute.”