What would I do for love?
My service revolver was aimed at center mass. I begged him to touch his weapon; a legal reason, at least on paper, to kill. I knew what a good officer would do. I knew what a man over the edge could do. Decisions were difficult at 3 a.m. in a darkened alley behind a bar.
The crime scene was gruesome. One body, a 25-year-old female, brunet, about five feet four, 120 pounds, beaten and a single bullet wound. Blood splatter indicated the murder weapon was fired from short range. A struggle had apparently started in the kitchen; shattered dishes, a spilled bottle of white wine on its side. She lay lifeless in the living room on stained white carpet. It was six in the morning.
I knew her. She was my partner’s daughter. They had lifestyle issues and hardly ever spoke to each other; issues which lay unresolved, silent, and cold next to a neo classic smoky glass coffee table. Homicide Detective Maria Lopez had been my partner for five years. We were very close. I was glad she wasn’t there.
Maria called while I was fighting the snooze button for more sleep.
Her voice sounded panicked, “It’s Tonya. We need to get to her place, now.”
I tried to wake up. “Did she call you?”
“Yes, she was hysterical. Just get there.”
I asked if I should come get her, but she had hung up.
While racing to Tonya’s riverside apartment I heard over the emergency channel an officer was involved in a car crash. I tried to phone Maria; no answer.
I turned my sedan toward the scene of the accident. Another call squawked over the radio; possible gunshots at the Riverside Apartments. I slammed on my brakes and skidded sideways to a stop blocking traffic in two lanes. I looked east toward the accident. I turned my head west to Tonya’s apartment. Impatient drivers honked their horns. I sped off to the west.
I called dispatch from my cell. They verified Maria’s vehicle did crash; details didn’t sound good. My eyes watered. I tried to pray and drive at the same time. Tears blurred my vision. I had to save her daughter.
Adrenalin had my pulse sprinting, but the next two radio calls nearly stopped my heart. Responding officers reported signal seven at the accident and a signal seven, possible signal five at the apartments. I ran over two garbage cans on the side of the road before regaining control.
They're both dead?
Tonya was possibly murdered. I became angry. I somehow made it to the Riverside Apartments. First responders had already arrived. I walked inside the yellow tape.
“Where’s Tonya’s boyfriend?” I barked at a pale faced patrolman as I swallowed back some bile.
“You knew the vic, sir?”
“She’s not a vic. She’s my partner’s daughter. Now before I get relieved from this case let’s try to get a read on his whereabouts. His name is Eddie Hodge. He’s a white male about 25-years-old. He’s probably high…”
“We’re canvassing tenants, Sir. I’m sorry.” He gave an awkward, sympathetic look.
I started working the crime scene. Tonya’s face had been battered. Her fingernails were bloody. The drawer to the lamp stand was open.
Maria had given her a pistol for protection. Maybe Tonya had tried to crawl to the living room to get it? If that were the case, I had hoped Hodge was still running around with a 9 millimeter Beretta.
Within 30 minutes my Captain arrived. He assigned other detectives to the case and told me to go home or back to the station.
“It’s too personal,” he whispered in my ear.
Hodge wasn’t in the apartment, but had been. He’d dropped his socks on the bedroom floor. I left the apartment as ordered, but didn’t go home. It was personal.
In one day my soul had been ransacked. No more talk of weddings or second chances. I wanted justice. My pistol was fully loaded.
I found Hodge with Tonya’s Beretta early the next morning at a bar. I yanked him outback.
It’s 6 a.m. after the worst day of my life. I sit silently in the sanctuary of Maria’s Sunday cathedral searching for God’s forgiveness. I wanted to kill Hodge. I ask God to tell Maria I’m sorry her daughter’s killer is in jail and not a morgue.
He had pleaded for mercy, and somewhere inside me, I had found it.
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