“Divorce is no option.” She could still hear his voice saying these words over and over again in her head. She was sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth. With every movement she could feel the wet spot on her chest. “It is over now,” she said silently to herself to shut down the voice in her head. She could hear the sirens coming closer. She could hear the brakes screeching when they came to a halt in front of the house. “It is over now,” she whispered for the last time.
Carl arrived 15 minutes after the cops investigated the scene. That was the good part about his job and his age. The most dangerous thing he had to face these days was the coffee in the office. From the hallway he sucked in the situation. He could see the living room. Shattered glass and a broken table indicated a fight. He could see a man lying beneath the broken table, his head in a puddle of blood and a bloody stain on his chest. A young looking rookie approached the detective. Carl assumed that it was the first dead body he had seen because he was quite pale and shaky. “My partner and I arrived first at the scene. We found the victim lying there,” he pointed in the direction of the body but avoided to look at it, “he was already dead then. We found her,” he now pointed in the opposite direction where a woman was cowering on the floor, rocking back and forth, “in that position, a gun was lying next to her. We called you, the coroner and the crime scene unit.” Carl mumbled an OK and the young rookie left in a hurry. It looked like he was no longer able to keep his dinner where it belonged.
Carl focused his attention on the woman. Her long hair covered her face completely so that he couldn’t tell how old she was. She was constantly mumbling something but he wasn’t able to make out the words. He knelt down in front of her and touched her slightly on her shoulder. He felt how she startled, but it seemed to work. She stopped rocking and lifted her head towards him. It took all his strength not to gasp when he saw her face. Both eyes, her lips and her chin were bruised and swollen. Blood was dripping from cuts on her left eyebrow and her lower lip. He then recognized the blood stain on her chest. He turned towards an officer who was standing closest to them and bellowed: ”Call an ambulance. Immediately!”
He decided not to interrogate her right now, even though his 30 years of experience told him, that it would be the right moment to find out what happened.
When the paramedics arrived, Carl ordered a cop to accompany her and to notify him, when her medical examination would be finished. He stayed a while longer and carefully inspected the scene. Everything looked like a domestic violence scene gone out of hand. The question was where the weapon came from. The answer would be essential for this case.
The coroner arrived and Carl felt relieved to see that it was his friend of many years, Thomas. “You are late, Tommy. Are your customers keeping you busy?” Thomas couldn’t resist a smile. “If you would have a better grip on your customers, I wouldn’t have so much to do. What do you have here for me?” “Looks like domestic violence gone out of hand for me. Don’t know the specifics yet, but can you do me a favor?” Thomas looked astonished at Carl. During all their years Carl never took advantage of their private relationship. “What can I do for you?” Carl took a deep breath “I know that you are pretty busy and that everything is urgent. But this will be my last case. I will retire in two weeks. Can you try to give this examination priority, so that I can close the case before I leave?” Thomas released a dramatic sigh of relief. “For a moment I was scared that you have decided to marry and would ask me to be your best man!” Both men had a wide grin on their faces. Everybody in the department knew that Carl was a confirmed bachelor since his first love left him more than forty years ago. Thomas slapped Carl on the shoulder. “Sure, Buddy. What are you planning to do with all your time when you are off duty?” Carl was just about to tell Thomas, when loud noises coming from the outside interrupted him. He stepped outside to find the source of the noise. A police car from the next precinct stopped in the street. A cop came running and yelling through the front yard. “What happened? Where are Karen and Andrew? Let me take care of this!” Carl stopped him at the front door. “Who are you?” The cop seemed to measure Carl. His gaze wandered up and down and stopped finally at the badge clinging to Carl’s belt. “What the hell happened?” he asked again. Carl starred him right in the eyes. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” The cop stood tall. “I am officer Mick Talbot, Precinct 810. I just drove by and saw all the police cars. My partner Andrew lives here with his wife Karen. What happened?” Carl didn’t like the guy, he couldn’t tell why; it was just the way he felt. “We don’t know yet. We have a dead body in the house.” With those words he stepped aside to let Mick in. He wasn’t sure, but he could have sworn Mick mumbled “what has he done now?” while he was passing by. Carl studied Mick’s face while he was entering the living room. When he recognized the body on the floor, his face went ashen. “What the f….?” Carl grabbed him by his Arm to keep him away from the scene. “Can you identify the victim?”
Mick looked at Carl as if he didn’t understand the question, than nodded slowly. “It’s Andrew, Andrew Taylor.” “Is he a cop?” Carl wanted to know. Mick nodded again. “We work together.” Carl asked “On the same shift?” Again nodding. Than Mick realized where this question was going. “I took an extra shift tonight for another officer, whose wife is in labor.” Then Mick seemed to remember something and looked around. “Where is Karen? What happened to her?” “She was injured and unconscious. We had to send her to the hospital.” Carl knew he shouldn’t lie, especially not to a fellow officer, but he wanted to get as much information as possible from Mick and he somehow had the feeling that Mick’s statements would be different if he knew that this was a case of domestic violence. “I need some information from you. Can you please come with me to the precinct to give a statement?” Mick seemed to be deep in thought. “Sure,” he answered slowly, “I just have to stop at my precinct to inform the captain.” Carl knew that this was a lie. Mick could just call the precinct. But he was curious where this would lead, so he agreed. “Ok, I will wait at precinct 812 for you. My office is on the second floor.” with a short “see you” Mick turned around and hurried to his car.
Carl grabbed his phone immediately after Mick had left. He first called Ryan, a young rookie, and asked him if he could try to find out if a record about domestic violence for this couple existed. With his next call he reached the officer who accompanied Karen. The officer told him that the doctors were still examining, so no results yet. Carl ordered him to stay with Karen, don’t let any visitors by her, and to inform Carl immediately when the examination was finished or if someone tried to see her.
Carl let his mind wander on the way to the precinct. What was going on here? His first impression when he entered the scene was that the couple had a fight. During that fight a shot was accidentally fired and killed the man. Since Carl knew that the guy was a cop, the question of where the gun came from seemed to be answered. But he asked himself how it happened that the guy died and not the woman. The guy looked trained and seemed to be at least 6.2 feet tall, while she seemed to be only 5.5 or 5.6. She looked so tiny and vulnerable. How did she manage to survive? And what was up with the other cop, Mick? He seemed to have something to hide. But what? Carl wasn’t so sure anymore, that he would be able to close the case in time for his retirement.
Shortly after Carl arrived in his office, Ryan came in. Carl was always taken aback when he saw the young man. Already in his thirties, Ryan looked like a college kid with his short red hair, thick black rimmed glasses on his freckled nose and his casual clothing: t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. It wasn’t the official job description, but Ryan was the computer nerd of the department. And in a time where all available information was stored in electronic databases, Carl really appreciated Ryan’s skills.
“Hey you really hit it right in the middle of a hornets nest with your request,” the young man blurted out directly. “Why?” “It raised a red flag with internal affairs when I typed in the name.” Ryan paused expectant. Carl got inpatient. What was the kid waiting for? Applause for typing a name? “And?” “Yeah I couldn’t find anything suspicious in his file. By the way I printed it and put it on your desk.” Another pause. Carl really had to calm himself not to start yelling. “What about the red flag?” “Oh yeah, right after I opened the file of the cop a guy from IAD called.” Ryan searched in the pockets of his jeans and produced a crumpled piece of paper with scribbled notes that he gave to Carl. “He doesn’t want to give me any information why they are investigating the cop. But he gave me his phone number. Maybe he will be more talkative with you.” Ryan turned around and was halfway through the door when he stopped. He slowly turned around again. “I also found some…let’s say irregularities. I don’t know what it is and if it is really something. I have to dig a little bit deeper. Give me some time. I will keep you posted.” With these words he closed the door and was gone. Carl starred at the door. What was that supposed to mean? Ryan usually wasn’t the type to drop a hint. Quite the opposite, Ryan was more the type who couldn’t keep a secret.
But Carl didn’t have the time to follow the young man and question him, because a brief knock at the door announced a visitor and Mick Talbot entered the office. Carl checked the clock on the computer screen at his desk. Not even an hour had passed since his last meeting with the cop. Where ever the guy went to, it couldn’t be far away. And since the officer who watched Karen hadn’t called, it wasn’t the hospital. Carl offered the cop a chair and thanked him for his appearance. Mick sat down. He looked pale and sweaty. “What can I do to help you solve this murder? What do you want to know?” Carl leaned back in his chair. “Let’s start with the usual questions. You sure know the routine. How long have you known Andrew Taylor? When was the last time you have seen him alive? Was there anything unusual in his behavior the last few days? Did he mention anything? Was he scared?” Mick seemed to relax. “I met Andrew at the academy.” He paused as if he had to think about his next words. “That’s already eight years ago. We became friends immediately, and were glad when we were sent to the same precinct after the training. There, we became partners, and have been together ever since. I was with him in a bar when he met Karen, and was his best man at their wedding, three years ago. There was nothing unusual in his behavior and he didn’t mention any threats or anything of that kind.” Carl thought hard about his next question. He didn’t want to give a clue about the true information he was looking for. “What about the marriage? Any problems there? Or maybe a jealous lover who went ballistic?” The tension seemed to rise in Mick as he tried to smile. “No, they were made for each other. Sure, they had their ups and downs, who doesn’t? But over all they were a happy, loving couple.” An idea seemed to cross his mind. “How is Karen? Does she know that Andrew is dead?” Carl tried to focus on Mick’s reactions. “Last I heard the docs are still working on her.” This could give a wrong impression, but at least it wasn’t a lie. Carl couldn’t make out any emotions on Mick’s face, most of all no worry.
Mick stood up. “Is there anything else you want to know? I should get back on the streets…you know, the crime never sleeps.” Carl also got out
of his chair and started walking around the table. “Only one last thing. Does Andrew take his weapon home or does he have any other weapons at home?” Mick looked puzzled. “Why?” Carl scratched his head to gain some time to think. “Well, I am asking myself why he didn’t defend himself.” Fortunately this seemed to make sense for Mick. “He never took the gun home. Actually he didn’t like it. He had a colt in his safe at home. I always told him, that it is outright stupid to keep a weapon in a safe. I mean, what if someone breaks into your house and threatens you? Do you ask the perpetrator to wait a moment until you have unlocked the safe?” He opened his arms to emphasize his words. “Am I right or not?” Carl nodded. “You are right. Does anyone other than Andrew know the combination for the safe?” A smile appeared on Mick’s face. “No, not even Karen. Andrew always had his own old fashioned opinion about women and weapons. He always said the only weapon a woman should get her hands on would sit between the legs of a man. You can imagine how our female officers felt about that.” Carl detested such macho like vulgar phrases, but he managed to produce an evil grin on his face to show Mick that he was carved from the same piece of wood.
Carl reached out and shook Mick’s hand while his other hand rested on the shoulder of the cop. “I am really grateful that you sacrificed your time to help me.” “Glad if I served you well. And it was no real sacrifice,” he winked about the conspiracy, “the taxpayer paid for it.” They exchanged their phone numbers and more empty phrases before Mick left. Carl went back to his desk, picked up the phone and ordered round the clock surveillance for Karen since she either was his prime and only suspect or his prime and only witness. He then decided to call it a day. He urgently needed a hot shower and a beer.
- to be continued -