A few days passed, but the image of the tormented man seemed to be stuck in Gabe’s mind. It was part of the job he told himself and kept the odd feeling at bay by pressing on with protecting his corner of the city.
He was trolling through the drug riddled parts of his beat looking for the next dealer to chase when the call of a death investigation took him to a middle income neighborhood that was spared from the drug war. A husband had come home from an errand to find his elderly wife not breathing and cold to the touch.As he pulled up, he noticed the house was simple and neat. It was a one story mason brick home pale green with green shutters and white trim. A holdover look from the late sixties when the neighborhood was established and undoubtedly the elderly couple were the original owners who chose to stay in the home over the years. It was where they raised their three children and hosted myriad of visits by grandchildren and even great grandchildren. Gabe parked in the driveway and walked up to the front door. He was met with a warm looking man dressed in a brown sweater and slacks, his hair was grayed and thin, skin wrinkled from a lifetime of wear and his eyes were red from tears.
The husband invited the young officer in as any other welcomed guest and showed him the way to his bride of sixty three years lying peacefully in their bed. Gabe instantly felt intrusive and wanted to leave but the man called the police for help and that’s what he was going to do. She would not be brought back to life but in death she would be treated with dignity and respect.Gabe listened to the man speak about his wife with beaming pride and it was clear she was the only thing in his life that mattered. Recently, she had been having shortness of breath and was seeing a doctor on a regular basis. The doctor’s prognosis had been heartbreaking as he explained her time was nearing the end and no amount of medicine would change that. They had accepted the fact that her time on the earth was dwindling and this was her final sunset. But that didn’t make it any easier for the husband to bear.
After Gabe finished examining the body for signs of trauma or foul play and looking around the home for any suspiciousness, he found himself studying the wall of pictures that the elderly couple had collected and proudly displayed over the years. The frames were an indication of the years past as the older styles molded into the newer ones and the clarity and quality of the pictures improved as the years went on. A lifetime of memories stared back at Gabe as the husband sat patiently awaiting for the young cop to finish his investigation.“Cherish the memories officer; they will pass by in a flash.”
Gabe turned and looked at the old man and smiled. He felt sorry for the man as he would have to see his wife buried and placed in the ground before him.“I’ll try sir.”
Gabe explained that they were waiting on the funeral home to come take his wife’s body to the morgue. Once that was completed, they would be finished.“Can I call anyone for you sir?” Gabe figured that with all of the family he proudly displayed on the wall, surely he would want someone to comfort him in this difficult time.
“I’ll be fine officer. I’ll let them know soon enough.”“As you wish sir.”
The funeral home arrived and with the solemn protocol rolled a gurney with a felt blanket draped over it inside the modest home and removed the deceased wife with gentle care. Gabe felt compelled to stay with the man but he knew duty would soon come calling and he would have to leave. Gabe followed the funeral home workers outside with the wife to ensure she was placed into the hearse with the dignity and respect she deserved.The sun had not only set for the wife but for the rest of the city as night shrouded the sky. As he watched the hearse pull away a cool breeze rolled in from the east gently kissing the cheek of Gabriel Farmer. He decided the drug peddlers down in the ghetto would have to wait and he would remain with the old man until dispatch called him away.
As he turned to go back in the house, the sharp crack of a gunshot echoed from inside the house. Gabe’s heart stopped and he instantly froze into place. He didn’t go for his weapon or try to find cover, for he realized he was not the intended target of the gunfire. His brain kick started his body and he broke into a full sprint inside the house in search of the old man. He desperately looked in the living room where he was sitting during the investigation but the chair was empty. He moved around to the kitchen calling out his name, but there was only silence.He ran down the hallway toward the elderly couple’s bedroom and the distinct smell of gun powder hung in the air. He slowed his pace and stopped in the doorway before entering the bedroom. At what he saw inside his shoulders sunk and he bowed his head in helpless defeat.
The man was sitting in the bed he shared with his wife for half a century. He held a picture taken on their wedding day in one hand and a .38 revolver laid loosely in the other. The blood was still streaming from his temple, but the light inside was gone.