Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day From Behind the Blue Line

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.
                “Lt. Akers?”
                “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.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Blue Reaper (Final Chapter)

Final Chapter. . .

Gabriel Farmer sat quietly outside of the hospital trauma bay completely lost in thought.  The doctors worked furiously on the squadmate but the damage was irreparable and they were unable to save him.  Gabe looked down at his blood soaked hands and wondered why him?  Why was death haunting him?  It seemed that everywhere he went, death followed like an unshakeable shadow.  He was the reaper of souls dressed in a blue uniform taking from people he came in contact with and wanted no part of that responsibility.
            It was senseless, this death of a good cop.  The suspect managed to live through surgery and would later stand trial for his misdeeds but he would be alive to face judgment.  Gabe’s squadmate was robbed of that option and he knew it was somehow his fault.  He was cursed.  What started out that day as a joke was becoming true, he was the “Angel of Death”.  It was senseless for the tormented man to die an agonizing death and the mourning widower to cut his own life short.  Now his partner was taken.  It was too much to burden and Gabe felt crushed by the weight of it all.
            Other cops came to the hospital in the tragic hour of need but for some reason steered clear of Gabe as he sat contemplating his reasoning for being.  It was like they too believed he was a cursed man.
            Maybe it was true, he thought. 
Gabe felt the tension from the other cops and decided to walk away for he did not want to spread this curse on anyone else.  He found a water fountain down the hallway and took in the refreshing water as his body begged for it.  He found a small side room and ducked in for an escape.  The cacophony of chaotic sounds, beeps and voices instantly fell silent in the small room.  It would be his sanctuary from the madness.  The room was empty and he took a seat continuing his own thoughts of torment.
            He stared at the small rubberized wrist band on his hand.  It was black with a blue stripe in the middle, a simple homage to the brotherhood of police officers and how they stick together.  He tugged at it and threw it across the small room knowing he failed at having his partner’s back and letting him die.  Tears flooded his eyes and began to roll down his cheeks. 
            He cried silently for a moment until he heard the door open.  He wiped away the tears and glanced a look back.  An older man, dressed in a hospital gown looked back at Gabe as he took a seat behind him in the small room.  Gabe turned back and dove back into his thoughts.
            After a minute of shared silence, the man said “You’re looking at it all wrong.” 
            Gabe looked up and back around thinking he was talking to someone else, but it was just them in the room.
            “Yes, I’m talking to you.  You are looking at it all wrong.”
            “I’m sorry, do I know you?  What are you talking about?”
            “You’re thinking you are somehow cursed, right?”
            “Yeah, but how do you know that?  Listen, I’m not really the mood to be messed with.”
            “I’m not messing with you.  I’m here to offer. . .” the man paused, “an alternative perspective.”
            Gabe spun around in his seat and looked straight at the man.  He had a long white beard and held a look of aged wisdom.  He maintained a genuine and serious look.  Gabe was at a crossroads and was willing to accept anything to help him understand this curse.
            “Okay, how should I be looking at it?”
            “You are not cursed for starters.  You’re a messenger, from God.”
            “What?  Okay, you must have walked over here from the psych ward, time to go back buddy.”
            With calm clarity that is absent among the sick-minded, the man said, “No, I’m serious.  You are a messenger.  The tormented man was that, tormented and you were able to see that.  He had killed his entire family in a drunk-driving accident years prior and the guilt consumed him to the point of mental collapse.  He was called home so he could not hurt anyone else and finally be with his family.”
            Gabe looked at the man shocked but hung on every word wanting to believe what he said. 
            “How did you know about that?”
            “I just do.  And the elderly man yesterday, he failed to mention the pact he made with his wife didn’t he?”
            Gabe shook his head in astonishment.
            “After she died, he had nothing in that life to prove.  He wanted to be with her in eternity as he had in life, so it was granted and that was unfortunately the quickest way.”
            “But he had life yet to live, it was senseless.”
            “You’ll understand the power of love one day soon.”
            “Okay but today.  There is nothing good about today, nothing!”
            “That’s not true.  There is a need for heroes, even in the afterlife and however untimely it seems, he was called.”
            “But, why not leave him and take the suspect instead, why not take him? Condemn him?”
            “He is wicked, no doubt but he will pay the price for his sins on earth before coming home, you made sure of that.”
            “Yes, the simple life saving measure you took on scene for him, albeit small and simple, made the difference in him living or dying.”
            “Why does it have to be death, I don’t think I can’t take any more.  I won’t be able to get close to anyone knowing that death is waiting.”
            “Death waits for us all.  But it’s not all about life and death.”
            “Do you remember the drug addicted fool you chased the other day?”
“Yes, what about him?  Did he die in jail of an overdose or something?”
“What if I told you he finally reached the bottom and your arrest has motivated him to clean himself up?”
            “I suppose anything’s possible.  But, I don’t understand, so how am I supposed to look at this, I’m not following.”
            “Gabriel, you are not the reaper of souls, you are a guardian angel and a messenger placed on earth.  What better place to fight the war against good and evil than in the front lines you deal with on a daily basis?  And what better role could you be in to fight than working in the noblest of all professions, that of a peacekeeper?”
            Gabriel felt relief as he listened to the man speak and bowed his head in recognition that his words made sense.  Death is a necessity in life and divine grace can appear even in the worst of circumstances.  Perhaps the old man is right, he thought.  As the words soaked in, he realized the man spoke his name, without him introducing himself and his nameplate on his uniform only says his last name.  His head shot up to inquire how he knew that but the man was gone.  He whipped his head around the small room and it was empty.  He was alone, but the words registered and oddly enough Gabriel Farmer felt better.  He felt connected and with purpose, not lost and burdened.
            He got up to leave the small room and looked back at the far wall.  The sight made him pause and put the odd interaction with the mysterious older man in perspective.  An illuminated crucifix hung boldly on the wall and on the outside of the room, the nameplate read “Chapel”.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Blue Reaper (Chapter Three)

Chapter Three. . .

The next day was the last of the week and Gabe thought the weekend could not arrive faster.  He was teased and labeled the “Angel of Death” among his squadmates.  Although it was harmless jocularity aimed at his recent encounters, Gabe felt there may have been some semblance of truth in the unwanted moniker.  He tried to shake it off but death did seem to follow.
            Gabe took advantage of the quiet evening and sat talking with his squadmate about anything outside of death, dying or anything of a depressing nature.  They had found their favorite hiding place within their shared beat, underneath a giant mossy oak tree in a vacant lot.  The lot was behind a commercial zone off the main thoroughfare, so they could easily respond to calls for service when needed.
            As the squadmate spoke happily of his girlfriend and their plans to marry soon, the alert tone brought them back to the reality of police work.  An armed robbery had been reported on the other side of the district.  A desperate man in a ski mask had held up a clerk at a convenient store and made off with the contents of the cash register.  Other members of the squad responded to the scene to work the call but Gabe and the squadmate felt compelled to at least help out.  The responding officers got on scene and quickly relayed the suspect’s description and added that he fled in a vehicle parked down the street.  Gabe kept his eyes open for the vehicle as he responded knowing the excitement of a car chase would replace the lingering haunt of death.
            As the call was worked, Gabe looked around the outlying areas for the suspect and his vehicle.  He was about to give up the futile attempt at finding a needle in a haystack when somebody keyed up on the radio after spotting the fleeing vehicle.  Gabe was close by and turned to cut off the suspect.  Before he could get there, the suspect crashed and was seen fleeing on foot into a neighborhood.  K-9 units and a helicopter were dispatched to the area to help search for the armed robber.  Gabe and his squadmate took up perimeter posts on the south boundary of the perimeter.  He listened intently as the dog tracked the suspect through backyards and over fences.  Given the path the dog was following, the suspect was heading in the opposite way of where Gabe and the squadmate were set up.
            Tempted to leave his post and adjust to where the track was heading, Gabe sat tight knowing the glory would not be his on this night.  He yelled down the fifty yards to the squadmate’s post inquiring where he wanted to eat dinner after the call was finished.  Before the squadmate answered, the sound of a fence clinking and the crash of a falling person was heard somewhere off in the darkness.  It came from behind the houses between Gabe’s and the squadmate’s perimeter position.  Gabe and the squadmate took cover behind their respective patrol cars and instantly withdrew their weapons.
            They waited for the suspect immergence, but nothing happened.  In an attempt to remain silent so as to not make the suspect aware of their presence, they nodded and threw hand signs back at each other as they formulated a plan to approach the area where the sound originated.  After a few moments, they crept out from behind cover with their guns drawn and held up at the ready.  They bravely walked toward danger in search of an armed suspect.
            They stealthily approached the back yard of a house where all the lights were off, an ideal hiding spot for a criminal.  The cops inched their way slowly so as to sneak up on the unsuspecting felon and surprise him into submission to avoid a violent confrontation.  As they neared the corner, they checked each other with a knowing look and in unison broke the corner of the house with guns up and their flashlights coming to life illuminating the back yard. 

            To their dismay, the noisy culprit was a scavenging raccoon digging for its evening meal in the homeowners garbage can and not the armed robber.  They shooed the animal away and relaxed finding the humor in the situation.  They scanned the back yard for any signs of the real perpetrator but did not find any.  As they walked back to the front of the house, they continued the debate on where dinner was going to be. 
            As they walked into the front yard, the orange glow of the street light shone bright in their eyes and cast shadows behind them.  Gabe looked down to maintain his “night eyes” as he continued back to the perimeter post.  As he looked up, a shadowy figure moved within several feet to his right catching him off guard.  The glint of metal reflected from the street light flashed across Gabe’s face as he realized he was in a standoff with the armed suspect.  His gun was still out and he had the suspect dead to right, but he saw him raise up the gun in slow motion and felt there was nothing he could do to stop it.

            “No, no, no…” he begged the suspect.  Not because he didn’t want to get shot, but because he was being forced to shoot the suspect.  He’d seen enough death and didn’t want to be the cause.
Flashes of fire and bright lights bounced back and forth by the yard’s edge.  After the brief fire fight, Gabe felt distant and withdrawn from the scene but reality came crashing down as his ears were ringing and his nostrils stung of warm gun powder.  He was still standing but the suspect fell.  He watched in awesome terror as the suspect writhed in pain from the searing hot lead that pierced his body.  He checked himself, finding everything intact and knew he was the victor and had survived.  But, another life was taken.

            He rushed to the suspect’s side to assess the lethality of his rounds.  He cursed the man for making him shoot and berated him for the selfish actions.  He noticed the rounds were low and the man was gut shot and took one in the shoulder.  It hurt like hell, he was sure, but this was survivable and only if he acted quickly.
            Gabe yelled back for help from his squadmate as he frantically secured the suspect and started to treat his wounds.  He focused on applying pressure to the man’s stomach as he howled in pain and hadn’t notice his cries for help went unanswered.  Gabe looked up and yelled over at the squadmate for his help again but stopped in horror.
            The squadmate was lying on the cold wet ground of the front yard holding his neck that was bleeding profusely.  Gabe instantly left the suspect and ran to his partner’s side.  He looked down in pure helplessness as his friend was fighting for his life.  A round fired from the suspect, intended for Gabe, struck the squadmate who had been standing behind and hit him in the neck.  He tried to talk but only strained gurgles of blood and saliva came out.  Gabe hysterically screamed on the radio for help and held his hands against the gushing tidal wave of blood pouring from his friend’s neck.  He was powerless as he watched the light fade.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Blue Reaper (Chapter Two)

Chapter Two. . .

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.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Blue Reaper

This is the first of four chapters from a short story. . .
Death is everywhere.  The inevitable ending will undoubtedly come, sometimes unannounced and sometimes expected, sometimes tragic and sometimes just.  But as life begins, it will one day end.
            Officer Gabriel Farmer worked his beat like any other day.  He worked the afternoon shift which was busy in the northwest section of town.  He worked the gambit, from domestic disturbances, drunk and disorderly subjects, drug complaints, burglaries and the occasional street violence that seemed to plague the city.
He had just left the jail after catching a wanted person right out of the gate.  The forgetful drug addict had failed to recognize Farmer from his arrest the week prior and tried to lie about his name again.  He realized the cop wasn’t buying the alias and upon finally seeing through the foggy haze of the narcotic high, the foolish man remembered the young cop’s face and tried to run.  Farmer was ready and pounced on the pathetic criminal before taking him to jail.  He never understood the stronghold that drugs had on people and to what lengths they would go to just to chase the next high.
After leaving the jail, he drove back inside the boundaries of his beat and passed by a city bus stop where a man sat alone.  The man perked up as the marked patrol car passed by and watched Gabe intently.  He was disheveled in appearance and Farmer guessed the man was homeless.  His tousled hair and odd mannerisms, as he observed during that short window, led to the assumption he had the additional burden of a mental illness.  Gabe peered out of the windshield and locked eyes with the man.  He saw a darkness surrounding the man that engulfed his being.  His soul was tormented by some unknown evil lurking like a leviathan waiting in the depths of hell.  It was distracting to the point Gabe veered slightly off the road as he passed the bus stop.  He snapped out of the mini trance and headed to the next call.
He wondered about the demons that men possess inside and tried to shake the eerie connection he felt with the man at the bus stop. 
As dinner time neared, Gabe checked in with a squadmate to swap stories collected from earlier in the shift.  Suddenly, an alert tone beeped over the radio calling for the nearest units to respond to a car crash with serious injuries just down the street.  Gabe answered the call and sped down the road with his lights flashing and sirens blaring.  As he prepped mentally for the call ahead, a cold chill shuddered down his spine as he realized he was responding to the area of the bus stop where he saw the tormented man.  The dispatched updated the notes of the call; it was a vehicle versus a pedestrian crash.  An unsettling feeling began to grow in the pit of his stomach.
As he broke the crest of the hill, he saw a charter bus pulled off to the side of the road, its hazard lights were flashing and a uniformed driver waved frantically at the oncoming patrol car.  A small white sedan was stopped at an odd angle just a few yards past the bus still sitting in the inside lane.  It’s driver’s side door was slightly cracked open.  Gabe parked in the middle of the road short of the scene and left his emergency lights on to warn approaching traffic.  He jumped out of the patrol car and ran up to the scene.  He ignored the bus and the small white sedan, for what he saw was a bloody heap of human bones and skin painfully distorted to the realm of utmost horror.  He ran to the man’s side and locked eyes with the tormented man he saw at the bus stop earlier that day.  He knelt down to his side.  
He was still alive, barely.  His eyes were wide with unanticipated fear and looking around for answers that would never come.  His face was cut deep across his forehead and both cheeks, gashed down to the bone and seeping blood.  His body was inhumanly contorted as his left leg and ankle somehow came to rest across his right shoulder and his foot was twisted around pointing outward.  His insides were pulverized into pieces by the small white sedan that hit him at forty miles an hour and rolled over his limp body sending him tumbling down the asphalt in excruciating pain.  The man gasped for air and tried to grab for his leg and move it back to where God had intended it be, but lacked the strength and ability to make that happen.  As he desperately searched for answers with his eyes, he finally looked over at the young cop who was knelt down by his side. 
An overwhelming sense of helplessness washed over Gabriel Farmer as to what he could do for this tormented man.  He was trained as a first responder but that would not be enough to help this man.  A team of surgeons dressed and ready wouldn’t make a difference.  The man’s searching eyes locked onto Gabe’s as if to say “help me”.  He looked over the man’s body and felt there was only one way to truly help.   He grabbed his hand as it searched for the misplaced leg and he held it tight in his own.  The sound of sirens from additional units grew louder as they approached the scene.  He leaned over to the man, who stopped his futile struggle to listen to Gabe.
“Let go, brother.  Just let go.”  Gabe said in a soothing and comforting tone unfitting for the middle of a highway amongst the chaos of a horrendous traffic crash.  Gabe repeated the soft command and felt the grip of the tormented man loosen in his own.  Taking the cops advice, he stopped fighting and let the light fade from his eyes. 
No matter how small of a chance the man had for survival, he would never walk, never hold anything in his hands, make love, hug a friend or even control his bodily functions.  The torment and anguish would be over and he could rest in peace.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Crime Scene (A short story)

              He stood across the street from the crime scene taking it in.  Studying the scene from afar gives perspective into the killer’s insights and provides an overall picture of his chosen prey.  Looking over the scene, which eerily stood still in the cool midnight air, he was getting a feel for what story will be told by the crime scene.  He quietly watched.  The crime scene will tell a lot about the person who created it, were they careful or were they sloppy?  Did they take a trophy?  Did they leave a telling clue behind?  It would all be discovered by paying attention to the minute details of the crime scene.

                He stood across the street watching patiently before the forensic investigators snapped their pictures, collected their swabs, dusted for fingerprints, took measurements and searched for evidence of the crime.  It was before the reporters showed up creating a three-ring media circus and before the brass showed up barking empty orders to sound important and validate their presence.  It was before the heart wrenching scene of when the victim’s loved ones showed up with false hope and disbelief on their faces, and then leaving with bitter acceptance and tragic loss gripping their souls.

The small residential house that sat on the corner lot of a small intersection bestowed the honor of the macabre scene.  Its modesty was apparent with well-trimmed hedges, a neat lawn and swept walkway.  A giant oak tree loomed over the side of the house casting a dark shadow over the yard and opposed the dull orange glow of the street light by the road.  The tree’s graying beards of Spanish moss swayed gently in the night breeze.  This would be the likely path of the killer as it offered the ideal shroud of darkness to conceal a stealthy approach.

There was a blue light flickering in the far window to the right, obviously the master bedroom.  They were watching television, or had fallen asleep without turning it off.  No other lights were on and no movement in the other two windows which undoubtedly held the children sleeping quiet in their beds.  The front door was shut and the small covered porch was clear.  A few decorative plants and flower pots adorned the railing which bore no real purpose to the scene.

On the approach, the noticeable odor of dog feces was emanating upward.  They have a dog, or at the very least, the neighbor has a dog that likes to leave foul smelling deposits in their yard.  This would cause concern because an alert dog would give away the approach, and all would be lost. 

Beneath the giant mossy oak he watched further.  Another angle offers another perspective into the eyes of a killer.  The shadowy crevice in the deep corner of the yard offered the perfect concealment from any nosy neighbor or untimely passersby.  From this spot, he could observe his prey, unnoticed until the perfect moment to strike.  It was mere feet from the master bedroom window and looking in from the right angle offered a glimpse into their lives.  He could watch his prey in living color before he introduced them to their untimely demise.  This angle also allowed the killer to see the foot of the bed and the sleeping legs and feet of his prey.  This confirmed they had fallen asleep.

A simple scratch of the door or slight scuffle on the porch would test the ears of the potential watchdog inside.  After no response, he would proceed. 

As the killer felt comfortable enough, he would move stealthily toward the front door, as this was his choice of entrance, and what a grand entrance it would be.  The door was not as well kept as the rest of the house.  It was old and faded from facing the setting sun.  It was dried and the locks tarnished from age.  It would not offer much resistance to the determined killer.  

The door was violently kicked splintering the door frame into shreds deeper into the living room granting him access to his prey.  A single dusty boot print left on the exterior of the door would be evident.  But now came the challenge, now is when the thrill of the hunt would come into play and the experience of the killer revealed.  The killer’s presence was announced and soon the element of surprise would dissipate.

Waking in a dazed stupor, the man and wife slowly withdrew out of their slumber to the confusion and utter chaos that would soon follow.  Was the loud crash a part of their dream or was it real?  Before realizing they were the hunted, the shadowy killer deftly advanced into the master bedroom.  He would be backlit from the glow of the television screen and his silhouette would be cast on the back wall giving the illusion of a hulking monster on the attack.

A shiny glint caught the man’s eyes as his dark world slowly came into focus and reality came crashing down.  As the shadowy killer pounced on the man, the sharp sting of metal slicing through his abdomen was slow to develop but the killer would soon overpower him with his deceptive strength.  A quick withdrawal from the wound released the initial gush of blood that was met with disbelief from the man.  Surely, he was still dreaming.  Before a scream could escape his mouth, there was another piercing stab deep into his gut silencing the pain as it grew exponentially and controlling.  He looked in disbelief over at his wife who had just joined his new reality but it was too late for her as well. 

The shadowy killer grabbed her flailing arms and pulled her back onto the bed aside her dying husband.  She tried to fight back but was met with hard strikes to her head that sent her back to the realm of the confused.  Her brain told her mouth to cry for help but only a muted push of air made it out.  She managed to struggle through the hazy fog but it was like fighting while neck-deep in quicksand.  A strategic slice to her abdomen suppressed her futile attempt of escape.  She gripped the killer tightly hoping for any ounce of humanity on his part that would allow her to live and not perish in this moment.  But that was not to be, her fate was already determined and death was the sentence.  A series of follow up stabs, each more violent than the last, would follow the first cut.  Anger and rage had taken over the shadowy killer who had exercised extreme control and patience up until this point.  He edged the line of control and chaos.  He grew aroused and the thrill of the stabs somehow led him to gratification.

The bloody mess he left her lying in paled in comparison to the husband.  This would be a clear indication that the woman was the overall target.  Attacking the husband first would remove any chance he would pose as a threat and allow him to concentrate more on his ultimate prize, the woman. 

Blood spatter stained the sheets, drapes, walls, pillows and the ceiling above glistened a deep dark red.  Crimson dots cast off from each rage filled stab littered the walls and on the ceiling numbered the stars as the sky on a clear night.  Arterial spray dressed the wall and sheets, and transfer smears and swipes were left by the killer as he was finally pushing away from his victim.  A void was left to her immediate sides as this showed where he straddled his victim during the attack.  It was a mess.  A violent bloody mess.  She was probably unconscious within a minute after the initial penetration of the blade due to the overwhelming blood loss, so any resistance offered would have been in vain given the surprise attack.

Bloody footprints led away from the foot of the bed and faded as they moved about the bedroom.  Was there something in the room worth hanging around for, a trophy perhaps?  The bedroom is a sanctuary and keeper of all things personal and secret.  Doors are closed shut when guests arrive so as not to subject them to the perverted secrets or shameful habits we hide so ingenuously in the closet, the dresser drawers and the medicine cabinet.  It would only take a short time to learn of those secrets by taking a look in the obvious hiding spots.

She had long straight blond hair, a toned body and a classical beauty about her that seemed to fit an obvious profile, chosen of the killer’s own lust.  The rage that was inflicted to her body was on the verge of overkill and leaned toward a personal relationship with her attacker, but in the ever evolving mind of a killer she could have been a well-planned target.  She would have been watched for days or even weeks prior.  Was the killer careful during his courtship or was he sloppy? 

The husband was just a hurdle, a task to complete before reaching his intentions and not worthy of the attention she deserved.  It didn’t matter what he looked like, it didn’t matter who he was, it only mattered that he was moved out of the way so he could focus on his courtship with her.

Silence followed the heinous act.  No sirens, no screams for help, no chirps of the patrolman’s radio, just calm silence.  The rest of house remained asleep as the killer would embed himself into the lives of his prey, not ready to let go of their connection.  A stroll around the sanctuary of the bedroom showed that she coveted her jewelry and he, his sport’s attire.  A small chest on the dresser was filled with pearls, gold necklaces, gem lined bracelets and rings of all shapes and sizes.  If this was what fulfilled her material desire, this would be what embodied a reminder of their courtship, but he had to choose carefully for just the right piece. 

After leaving his prey lifeless in the bedroom, he sauntered back into the living room checking for any additional signs of life.  The hum of the refrigerator kicking on defrost mode broke the silence.  He continued his stealthy hunt in the kitchen to complete the insertion into the victim’s lives.  He wanted to know everything about them.  The refrigerator is the bulletin board and art gallery of the family.  The killer would study the lives of his prey in pictures, snapped at happy times, exciting times, at parties, on vacation and displayed the growth of the family, one snapshot at a time.  Scribbly finger art and erratic crayon drawings filled the rest of the door space between the magnet tacked pictures.  Two small children were the focus in most of the pictures and were the obvious creators of such innocent artwork.  The killer would realize that there was still prey yet to be found.

The hallway leading to the children's rooms were dark and silent.  This only proved the effectiveness of his stealth and cunning.  Confidence grew with each passing moment.  The shadowy killer stood outside of a closed bedroom door waiting, listening and breathing.  He slowly turned the doorknob, fulfilling any nightmare of the boogeyman coming to get them and pushed the door open.  His heart raced as the thrill of the hunt was renewed.  But he was met with disappointment as the nightlight in the corner softly illuminated a perfectly made but empty bed.  He looked deeper in the room for the chance of a spontaneous camping trip on the floor but the room was empty.  A check of the second bedroom revealed the same, the kids were out.  How fortunate for them or was it?

The shadowy killer would double-check his work in the master bedroom and ignore the terror filled look on her face but instead choosing to see the peaceful beauty of their courtship.  This was his goodbye.  He would take his trophy and bid farewell, taking in her beauty cherishing one last moment.  Their courtship was now complete.

With the stealth and silence he crept into the scene and into the lives of the victims he stalked, he would slowly creep out and into the silence of the night.

So, as he stood across the street from the crime scene before the forensic investigators snapped their pictures, collected their swabs, dusted for fingerprints, took measurements and searched for evidence of the crime, he watched.  Before the reporters showed up creating a three-ring media circus and before the brass showed up barking empty orders to sound important, he studied.  Before the heart wrenching scene of the victims’ loved ones showing up with false hope and disbelief on their face but leaving bitterly with tragic loss gripping their souls, he waited.

As he stood across the street he visualized what was about to happen.  He checked his bag of tools and removed the most important tool he had, a shiny steel blade that was sharpened patiently and awaiting this very moment.  He gripped the hilt firmly in his hand as this was his scythe and he was death.   He moved stealthily toward the house with skillful purpose.  He was the hunter, he was the shadowy killer.