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    C. Henderson
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

In Our Darkness - 2. Chapter 2: The Gray Honda

The Gray Honda

Kat Bryce had always been a curious girl, a trait her intelligent father adored and her beautiful mother loathed. When she was ten and her parents were away at dinner, she took apart three of her father’s Rolex watches, just to see what they looked like inside. Her father pretended to be upset in front of his wife Louise, but after she fell asleep he and Kat had a bowl of ice-cream, and they looked at the intricate watch parts together. They marveled at the complexities of what made a watch work, and he explained to her the significance of time. She listened mesmerized as he told her that at her age it might seem to drag on forever, but that when she got older she would understand what it meant to want to slow down the passing of time. She cherished these moments with her father more than anything, considering them almost sacred. She ate up his words greedily, wanting to know more about the complexities of life, wanting to hear his take on all things. She didn’t care much about dresses or boys. She cared about moral issues, the blurry lines between right and wrong, whether it was okay to stomp out a scary insect, or if it was against nature. Her inquisitive mind asked itself a hundred different questions per hour, and her father always obliged her in intelligent discussions about her inquiries, instead of dismissing them as trivial, like some other adults might have done.

As she grew into a teenager, her mother Louise became more and more desperate to try to get her to wear makeup and become interested in hair curling techniques. But Kat had her own peculiar interests. Reading crime novels, running around in the woods with her mostly male friends, and collecting smooth looking rocks in the river. While other girls her age were thinking about what bra to wear, and which foundation made their skin look most luminous, Kat would beg her dad to teach her how to shoot, so that if there was ever a home invasion, she could protect her parents. Her mother had to go to her bedroom and lay down for three hours after she had heard that.

All this unsavory talk made Louise very, very nervous. But what practically killed her was when her beautiful (Louise thanked God every day that even without makeup Kat was striking) daughter, right after her high school graduation exclaimed, “I want to be a police office. I want to serve my community.” And despite her mother’s pleas, threats, tantrums, anger and tears, that is what she became.

But Kat Bryce quickly realized that being a cop was not what crime novels had cracked it up to be. It was bureaucratic, it was often boring, and many times it was pretty degrading for a woman. She was not the kick ass detective she dreamed she would be. Often, at the end of her shift, she would find herself at home, in sweatpants, wondering when it would all start feeling normal, when she would fall into the rhythm of things. Lately, she thought that was too much to expect, and that she needed to just settle with feeling ok.

The only great thing about her job was her partner, Jack Miller. Kat’s father had passed away from an aggressive and quick form of cancer soon after she joined the academy. She lost his support, and the multitude of wise and comforting words he always had for her. She was on her own. But when they gave her Jack, who had been around the block more than a couple of times, she felt like she had a second father figure to look up to. Yes, he had a surly temperament, and yes he was a grumpy old dude. But he was a fountain of street knowledge, which she had none of. He was a seasoned cop, soon to be retired. And what she was grateful for, is that she learned something new from him every day. They often disagreed in their approach, especially in the realm of what was right and what was wrong. But nevertheless, she learned, and that’s what kept her going. And she appreciated that for an old school cop he never made comments about her body, her lack of makeup, or the fact that she was a woman.

In the early hours of September fourth, she found herself at the station grabbing yet another cup of coffee and trying to get on top of the seemingly never-ending paperwork. Jack was trying to do the same thing but had nodded off a while ago.

“Miller, Bryce, I got somethin’ for ya,” said Harold Ebbs, their supervisor, as he smacked the back of Jack’s head with the file he was holding. Jack shot right up and wiped the side of his mouth from drool.

“Felony hit-and-run.”

“Bad injury?” Kat inquired.

“Mother was nine months pregnant. Not sure yet, but paramedics on site said it looked really bad.”

“Jesus,” Jack exclaimed, “Nine months?”

“Yep, baby was due today, September fourth. Real tragedy.”

Kat saw Jack’s face harden in that typical way when he heard about anything bad involving children. He was like a bulldog when it came to protecting kids, and sometimes she felt like he would go a bit too far outside of the legal realm to ensure the safety of children. Of course she cared about children too, but she wasn’t God, she couldn’t make decisions for others. She worried that Jack’s determination to do what was right overshadowed the importance of doing what was legal. Still, of course she wanted to find the asshole who crashed into a nine-month pregnant woman and left her to die just as bad as Jack did.

She felt a tightening in her stomach as they drove over to the hospital to take the victim’s initial statements. Kat’s least favorite part of the job was interacting with victims. Victims were fragile, their emotions were exposed all over their body, crackling like electricity at those standing nearby. They were painful to be around. She liked following clues, she liked solving puzzles, she didn’t like holding hands and consoling crying mothers. She knew this was extremely selfish of her, but she wasn’t sure how to change it.

Thankfully, Elisabeth Andrews was heavily medicated and asleep. The doctor informed Kat that he chose to perform an emergency C-section to try to save the baby, but he was stillborn. Her husband David was sitting by her bed.

“Mr. Andrews, I’m detective Kat Bryce and this is detective Jack Miller, we’re here to take your statement so that we can get started in our search for the individual responsible for this,” she said, in her practiced soothing yet firm voice. David looked at her through his tear-stained eyes, and she noted their vibrant color. He sat there puzzled and looked like a man who wasn’t quite sure of where he was.

“Right, of course,” he said, and although his eyes seemed lost, his voice was completely self-assured. He was a man who was clearly at ease with being in control. She was sure he owned a business of some sort, perhaps a production firm, there were a lot of those in the area.

“Would you like some water or coffee before we start?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” he replied.

“Okay. Tell me what happened.”

“Uhh, where… where do I start?” he asked.

“Tell me about the whole night. What were you doing before you got in your car?” He swallowed and took a few deep breaths, readying himself to speak.

“My wife and I were having dinner with our friends, Frank and Celia. It was supposed to be our last dinner before Andrew…” he trailed off and Kat noticed with unease that he was beginning to cry.

“It’s okay, Mr. Andrews. What happened then?” He wiped his eyes and took another deep breath.

“We left at 9:00pm, I remember distinctly because I looked at the clock and realized I should get Elisabeth home. Her due date was…is…today,” he said, looking at the lifeless form laying on the hospital bed beside him.

“I’m very sorry Mr. Andrews,” Kat said, feeling empathy but reminding herself that it wasn’t professional to think about these things. She had to be able to separate emotions from what needed to be done. Otherwise, every cop would go nuts thinking about how unfair the world was. There had to be a separation of job and feelings. That’s why they laughed at gruesome details at a crime scene. If they took everything seriously, their hearts would break and they wouldn’t be able to do their job. But she couldn’t deny that it was heart wrenching to watch this handsome man breaking down like a little boy in front of her.

“I’m sorry, it’s just all so…so unbelievable,” he stammered out.

“So you got in the car at about 9:00pm. You were driving back home, and then what happened?”

“The roads were mostly empty. It was dark. We took the convertible… Oh God, it’s my fault. I should have taken the Range Rover. This wouldn’t have happened if I had just taken the Range Rover,” he stammered out and broke into sobs again.

“Mr. Andrews, I assure you, this is not your fault, the only person responsible is the driver of the other car,” Kat said, and gave him a few minutes to recover. He took a deep breath and slowly composed himself.

“I’m sorry, I’m not usually like this,” he apologized, and Kat felt terrible thinking that nobody should have to apologize for crying when they’ve just lost a child.

“Take your time Mr. Andrews.”

“Call me David, please,” he said, as if he finally came to himself and remembered his manners. He looked her in the eyes, and now calmly recited, “We were driving for about 15 minutes, and then, it was like it came out of nowhere. I just remember the glaring headlights, coming straight at us. I barely had time to honk. He was coming head on. It all happened so fast, the car made this noise, like it was being demolished, and then I felt my arm break and I lost all sensation. When I looked over at Elisabeth, she was unconscious. She had blood dripping down her face. I tried to wake her up. I called her name. But she lay there motionless and slumped over. Then I crawled out, I couldn’t feel my left arm, but I kept crawling. I finally managed to stand up. I yelled to the other driver to get help, his car just idled there, I thought he was in shock. There was damage, but nowhere near as bad as our car. I yelled at him to please help us, to call 911. But he started driving again, and he was coming straight at me. I dodged and fell over on the side of the road, and he drove off. He…just fucking drove off.”

“Did you see the driver?”

“No, his headlights were so bright. They blinded me. I didn’t see anything. It all happened so fast,” David stammered out.

“Did you notice what kind of car he was driving?”

“I think maybe a Honda? Yeah, I think it was gray Honda Civic. But I can’t really be sure.” Kat sighed internally. This was bad. This was really bad.

“Any other details you might remember? Even things that might seem unimportant,” Jack asked David, and Kat sensed the urgency in his voice.

“No, I’m sorry, I wish I could,” he strained for thought. Suddenly Elisabeth groaned in pain as she slept, and David rushed to check on her. Kat closed her notepad.

“Thank you for all your help, here’s my card in case you remember anything else.” David took it and thanked her and Jack. After they walked out, Jack shot her a look she knew all too well by now.

“He was no help,” the man stated plainly. She felt the automatic need to defend David.

“He’s just been through the most horrifying night of his life, did you expect him to memorize license plates?” she barked back.

“No, but this leaves us with nothing to go on. Camden road with no camera footage for miles and miles and a goddamn grey Honda Civic, we’re fucked.” He griped.

“We’re not fucked. The car that hit them head on is fucked. We’ll scour every car shop in a 50-mile radius. We’ll look for witnesses. Someone must have seen that wreck at some point in the night.” She had to keep herself hopeful, she couldn’t take on Jack’s defeatist attitude. They owed it to this couple to do their best to try and find the person responsible.

Jack looked at her skeptically but decided to remain silent. However she could tell by his expression, and his years of experience, that this case was not going to be easy. That there would be no happy ending here, however this played out.

They drove over to the scene of the crime. It was a road that cut through the forest, with trees running for miles on both sides. The Andrews’ car sat on the right side, completely totaled. The fact that David walked out of that crash with only a broken arm was a miracle in itself, Kat thought. She felt the brisk air hit her face and imagined how cold it must have been a few hours ago at nighttime. Not a lot of cars came through here, it was the long way to take into the city. She imagined herself, nine months pregnant, in a major car crash, bleeding out on the side of the road. The complete horror of it all. The pain and the hopelessness.

She followed Jack as he got back in the car, and they drove down to the gas station, where hours ago a disheveled David walked to for miles, after he couldn’t get any cell signal in the woods. Kat felt the indescribable pain and fear he must have been feeling with each step, the complete devastation. Holding his broken arm, having to leave behind his bleeding pregnant wife, passed out and completely defenseless. This would scar anyone for life. They would never forget this night.

She had to force herself to block out her feelings, she didn’t want to appear weak in front of Jack. She needed to focus on facts, and the facts were, as Jack said: they were fucked.

Copyright © 2022 C. Henderson; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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With the apparent lack of damage to the Honda I'm seriously wondering if two cars were involved in this 'accident' as something much bigger and heavier would be needed to inflict that amount of damage to a Mercedes. One thing I don't understand is why the detectives have not declared it a crime scene and called in specialist crime scene investigators? Surely that would be one of the first things to do, especially as this obviously is not your typical accident.

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22 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

With the apparent lack of damage to the Honda I'm seriously wondering if two cars were involved in this 'accident' as something much bigger and heavier would be needed to inflict that amount of damage to a Mercedes. One thing I don't understand is why the detectives have not declared it a crime scene and called in specialist crime scene investigators? Surely that would be one of the first things to do, especially as this obviously is not your typical accident.

By this point, the wreck should have already have been 'worked' by an officer and an accident report prepared. The detective's supervisor had to have a basis to assign them. I'm surprised the car was still there and not towed. This would have been hours later.

 

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