A short story By Aidan Connolly
A dark figure stands, breathing heavily. It turns its head left and right to scan the surrounding area. It stoops low for a moment and reaches an arm to the ground. It picks up a bullet, misshapen and coated in blood.
Does every murderer feel this sense of thrill? It’s nothing like the movies… the blood and gore is real but they leave out how much fun it is. Should I find so much pleasure in the kill ? Where is my humanity…
The figure examines the body that lies at its feet. With this final glance, it turns and shakily walks away.
Detectives Oliver Birmingham, Amy Higgs, and Sophie Le have always been close friends, though Sophie and Amy were a lot closer due to their similar struggles of being a woman in a male dominated job. When the case on the murder of Elias Kemp was announced, all three detectives jumped on the opportunity to be the case detectives.
“Elias Kemp, 52,” Amy said. “Found dead and washed up on the beach last night, he had a bullet wound through his chest but the cause of death remains unknown until the morgue gets back to us.”
Sophie asked, “Wasn’t he the big shot who was polluting our city?”
“I believe so but that doesn’t make his death any less important, our job is to solve murders, not hold grudges against the victims,” Oliver said.
Amy nodded. “Oliver is right, despite how bad of a man he might have been, that doesn’t make our job any less important, he had a wife and kids. We need to give them the closure they deserve.”
A phone rings and Oliver answers. He listens for a moment before hanging up.
Oliver clapped his hands together. “Alright team, they are ready for us at the beach. Let’s hop to it!”
“Oliver, are we all riding with you like usual?” Sophia asked.
Oliver grimaced, annoyed. “My car is low on gas, I think that damn tank is leaking again.”
Amy stepped between the two and opened the door. “We can all pile into my car for gods sake, let’s go before Kemp’s body is too decomposed to get any useful information from.”
With that all three detectives got into Amy’s car and they took off speeding to the beach where the body was found.
Sophie, Amy, and Oliver arrived at the beach where the crime scene was.
“I think we should start by looking all over the beach and asking people around before we go to the crime scene,” said Oliver.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Amy replied.
They looked around for any information that could be valuable to the case. They walked across the shore to look for any clues. They found a lady who was walking across the shore and looking into the water, like she was searching for something.
“Ma’am, were you a witness of this crime? Or do you know any information on who the killer could be?” asked Sophie.
The lady said, “Oh no, I was here a few days ago, before it happened. I came back because I believe I lost my necklace in the ocean.”
“Well I hope you find it, and thank you for your time.”
“Of course, and good luck solving this case.”
The three detectives continued walking on the beach and saw a couple sitting in the sand. Sophie started walking towards them.
“Are you folks a witness of the crime?”
They glanced at each other. The girl looked up.
“Yeah, we saw someone with their hood up walking away from where the body was found.”
“Could you describe what they looked like?”
The guy shook his head quickly and spoke before the girl could. “We didn’t see their face, we just know the person came from the direction of where the body was found,” he said.
Oliver nudged Amy and whispered in her ear, “I don’t think they saw anything, they sound like they are making it up out of thin air.”
Sophie glared at Oliver, but said, “Thank you for your time.”
Sophie turned to Oliver. “We don’t know anything about the crime, so any information is valuable and now is not the time to be a mind reader. Plus, why would they have a reason to lie?”
They continued to walk across the beach and were walking towards the crime scene, where there were two police officers observing the body. The water was getting darker as they walked closer to the crime scene and it smelled like a body had rotted there.
“How do you think the victim died?” Amy asked one of the police officers.
“We found a bullet wound in his leg, but the paramedics think the bullet didn’t kill him. The bullet exited the body, so we don’t know where it is.” said one of the police officers.
“Blood loss probably had something to do with the death,” the other officer said.
“That explains why the water around the body is darker than the rest of the ocean,” said Sophie. Oliver stood behind both her and Amy, looking around slowly.
“And they also found water in his lungs, so they also think that the victim died from drowning,” the first officer said.
“Did the paramedics roughly figure out when the victim’s time of death was?” asked Amy.
That’s when a young guy walked over to the detectives and where the police officers were, and they all turned their heads towards him.
“Is something wrong, sir?” asked Oliver.
“Yeah, my name is Kyle and I am the lifeguard at this beach. I was the one who found the body at the shores and called 911.”
“Kyle, did you see anyone walk away from this scene or possibly know who the killer is?” asked Oliver
“ No, I was on the other side of the beach and was over here because I lost my whistle and while I was looking for it, I saw the body”
“So I see your whistle is around your neck, when did you find it; before you found the body or after.”
“Um, I found my whistle in the sand back there,” and he pointed to the far right of the beach.
“Okay Kyle, thank you for telling us and if you find anything else or any other information that could be valuable to this case, you just call my number,” said Amy and handed him a note with her number on it.
“Kyle, I think you should walk with me down to the station and put a statement in,” said one of the police officers.
Kyle took the note and walked away from the scene with the police officer. Amy knelt down near the body and put on some plastic gloves and tried to examine the body.
“Do you know what kind of bullet was shot at the victim?” asked Amy
“Yes, it has been identified as a .44 caliber lead ball bullet and is from a walker colt gun,” said the police officer.
“ I’ve never heard of that kind of gun, have you Oliver?” asked Amy
“Oh, my dad has a gun like that,” said Oliver.
“Well, those guns are very rare, are you sure your dad has one?” asked Sophie, looking skeptical of what Oliver said.
“Well, no obviously I meant that my dad has one that looks similar to it,” said Oliver looking nervous “you think I have the money to afford one of those?”
Scene 4: Sophie looked at the forensic scientist taking pictures of the scene and grimaced. The body had gone blue and had started bloating. She turned toward Oliver and Amy who were standing next to her. “We should split up to interview the suspects and witnesses, it’ll be faster that way, and we can remove the body.” She suggested. Oliver nodded glancing over at the activist watching over the investigation behind the yellow tape, a calculating expression on his face. “I’ll go talk to the activists over there, Amy can you take the lifeguard’s statement? Sophie you can just look into who may have a motive. Look at who’s going to replace him.” As Amy and Oliver walked away from her, she turned into the shade and pulled out her phone. Typing into it, she looked up released statements from the company. Sure enough, the first article that popped up was an article issuing a statement from the company confirming the promotion of one Cohen Stele to the CEO position.
Oliver approached one of the activists sitting at the edge of the crime scene. The activist. “Hello, miss,” Oliver said as he approached. “Can I ask you a few questions?” The woman stared at him blankly, unmoving.
“Sure.” She said with a suspicious tone in her voice. Oliver pulled a notebook and pen out of his bag. “Alright, name and age? “Lyric Porter, I’m 24 years old.” Oliver wrote that down.
“Did you have any relations with the victim?” Oliver looked up at her. “No, we weren’t close.” Oliver glanced at her again.
“Not close, ay? You mean you disliked him? After all, you’re an environmentalist, and he’s a polluter.” Oliver said with a slight grin. “Sure, I hated him, but I wouldn’t have wanted him dead. I don’t have the guts to kill someone, it’s not what I stand for.”
Oliver paused at that. “Even though he was horrible?” Without a pause she confirmed. “Even though he was horrible.” Oliver flipped to another page.
“Where were you last night?” She shifted her weight from leg to leg. “At home, I was working on a project.” She said quickly.
“Any alibis for that?” She stayed silent for a moment. “Does my cat count?” She said with a grin. “I’d think not.” She hummed to herself. “Well, detective, any other questions for me?” She said sassily.
“Hm, maybe your phone number?” He said as he wiggled his eyebrows. “Oh ho, such a ladies man, even while on the job.” She laughed. “I was joking, unless?” She rolled her eyes.
“Why don’t you go talk to someone else?” With that she walked away. As she walked, Oliver’s smile faded. “Hmph.” Now I’ve got to talk to that lifeguard.
Oliver walked towards a blond, tanned, shaggy looking man, and cleared his throat. “Excuse me? I would like to ask you a few questions.” The lifeguard turned around with a surprised look.
“Uh, sure.” Oliver gripped his notebook. “Name and age?” “Um, Kyle Jones, I’m 18.” “Did you know the victim, Kyle?” Kyle looked anywhere but at Oliver.
“No need to be so nervous, you’re not in trouble, I just want to ask some questions.” The lifeguard visibly relaxed at this. “Um, I didn’t know the victim, I don’t even know his name.” Oliver glanced at him.
“Any ideas as to why someone would kill him?” He frowned at this. “No, why would I? I don’t know anything about him.” Kyle was getting nervous again.
“You’re not going to lock me up are you? I would never kill someone, I don’t think it’s possible for me to do something like that.” He rambled.
“Right, well that’s what they all say. But I believe you.” The lifeguard was surprised at this. “Really? So, I’m not going to jail, right? My parents would freak out about this.”
“Well that’s not for me to decide. But I can assure you that won’t be happening because of the lack of evidence.” Oliver said with a glint in his eye.
“Though, it is my job to continue questioning, so where were you last night?” Kyle looked down with embarrassment. “Um, don’t tell my parents, but I was at my boyfriend’s house.” Oliver didn’t bat an eye at that and kept writing.
“If the occasion comes up, I’ll tell them you were at your friend’s house.” The lifeguard smiled. “Oh, thanks, my parents aren’t really aware of that yet, so it would be a big surprise for them. I’d rather tell them on my own terms.”
Oliver smiled at him. “No worries, I think I’m done here as well. Have a nice day.”
Sophie got back from trying to press that pesky businessman, and she honestly shouldn’t have invested so much energy into that. That bastard Steele has always been cold, but they were as stubborn as a mule that day. Sophie silently concludes that’s what power and age can do to a person.. She attempts to shrug off her obvious annoyance as they walk into the meeting place. She takes a moment to herself to cool down and prepare themself to appear at least somewhat decently in front of her partners.
Over the years, Sophie disciplined herself to believe that in order to get into a serious headspace you need to dress and act like you are. “Hey, Soph-, excuse me, Ms. Le.” Oliver says with his ever-so smug and charming voice. “Thank you Mr. Birmingham. Anyways, where’s Amy?” Sophie says questioningly.
At that moment Amy strides into the dim meeting room, the light slightly flickering behind her. Detective Amy Higgs is rarely late, maybe off-work Amy Higgs, but not the “her” now. Sophie, already tired enough, just assumes that she was acquiring as many details as possible from the interrogation. Bless her strong work ethic.
“Have you guys picked up on anything suspicious? I felt like I was playing tug of war with a sumo wrestler trying to extract information out of Steele.” Sophie says somewhat vexed. Oliver picks up on her failed attempt at covering up their mood and takes advantage of it. “Somebody’s in a fussy mood. Maybe we should just relax for a bit, yeah? After all-” Sophie cuts him off and takes control of the conversation knowing that Oliver is just going to go on a tirade about how we need to just let the investigation go. Sometimes she questions why he became an officer.
“I’d say Steele should still remain a suspect. He was extra difficult today, so I’ll keep an eye on him. Ams, you got anything?” says Sophie. “No, not really.” Amy replied briskly. Sophie was like a deer in headlights. She sat there for a long, or what felt like one, time just staring at her. Amy always had something, even the more miniscule details, to share. Amy’s aloofness and the meeting room’s grey, monotonous color scheme began to make the room radiate an uncomfortable energy.
Not even a minute goes by when Amy abruptly stands up, her chair giving an eerie screech. “I don’t feel like we had enough time to interview, so I’d like to snoop around a bit more. I’ll contact you as soon as possible Soph.” said Amy, her voice breaking the silence. “Hey, what about my bit? Don’t you guys need to hear what I have to say?” stated Oliver in an annoyed tone. Amy rolled her eyes and proceeded to leave the room knowing that Oliver most likely didn’t get much information, if any, at all. “You guys are really going to need to learn how to respect my opinions and boundaries too for your own good, you know?” Oliver said sarcastically, or at least Sophie thought he was.
Oliver proceeded to trudge out the meeting room after Amy, and Sophie was left to collect herself before visiting the victims family.
When the door opened, Sophie began to speak. “I am Detective Sophie Le and I’ve been investigating your son’s case. My condolences to you and your family. May I come in?”
Mrs. Kemp, an older woman with watery eyes, nodded. “Yes of course, can I get you anything? Tea, coffee?”
“I’ll take some Earl Grey, if you have it please.” Sophie stepped inside.
“Sure. How can I help you, Detective?” Mrs. Kemp begins to make tea.
“I’m just here to ask you a few questions,” Sophie said. “Did your husband have any enemies? Or people that would wish him harm?”
Mrs. Kemp grimaced. “I’m not oblivious to what my husband was doing, detective. I’m certain that most of this town would’ve wanted my husband gone if given the chance.”
Sophie nodded. “Understood. Did you and your husband have any problems with each other?”
“How dare you suggest I had any part in my husbands murder!”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply anything Mrs. Kemp. I hope you understand that I have to ask these types of questions.” Sophie sighed internally.
Mrs. Kemp still appeared offended. “I’ve given you your answer,” she said.
Sophie decided to change topics. “Your husband was shot with an engraved Mauser modeled 1878. Do you own or know anyone with this type of weapon?”
Mrs. Kemp answered as she finished making the tea. “That was one of Elias’s handguns. He liked collecting antique weapons, especially firearms.”
“But there weren’t any records of your husband owning a gun like that.” Sophie accepted the cup of tea with a grateful nod.
“My husband didn’t always acquire his weapons in the most legal of manners.”
Sophie raised her eyebrows, surprised by the frankness. “I see. Mrs Kemp, I think I’ve got all I need. Thank you for your time. And the tea.”
Sophie was lounging on her green couch, about to nod off to sleep when her phone started ringing. It was a call from Oliver. Groggily, she picked up the phone from her coffee table and answered it.
“What is it Oliver, it’s almost two in the morning.”Sophie said, blinking the sleep from her eyes.
“Come to the corner of Rosewood and Greenville right now.” Oliver said in a shaky voice. She could tell something had happened, Oliver was always so cool headed, if he was this distraught then it was bad.
“Oliver, what happened?” Sophie asked urgently. She heard nothing but heavy breathing and ruckus in the background. “Just come fast Sophie! I can’t—I can’t,” he sobbed out into the phone, as if the full realization of what had happened finally hit him and he was now left with a ton of bricks sitting upon his chest. She could feel the pain radiating from his voice and grabbed her keys along with her badge, heading out the door, not bothering to change.
“I’m on my way Ollie, don’t worry, I’m coming. Stay calm, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
When she arrived there was yellow tape everywhere, siren’s glaring, and people running back and forth. Luckily there were few spectators so late at night, but the noise coming from the scene didn’t help the situation. It was only a matter of time before the scene was crawling with spectators trying to get a glimpse and police officers trying to hold them back. She had no doubt this case would be plastered all over the news in a couple hours.
Sophie ducked under the yellow tape and walked down the dirty alleyway. She saw Oliver sitting on the ground, hands over his head, head tucked in between his knees. Her mouth dried and she ran over to him.
“Ollie are you okay? What happened? You have to tell me so I can help. Did you call Amy too? Should I call her?” She asked in a rush. Oliver looked up at her, tears streaming down his face, “Sophie…Sophie, she’s not coming. She’s not going to pick up.” He stuttered out between breaths.
“What are you talking about Ollie? Amy always answers. Did you fight with her?” Sophie responded, her heart racing. “She’s gone, she’s never going to pick up again.” Oliver told her, looking away.
“Did she leave? Who are we investigating? What happened here?” She backed away from him for a moment and looked around. There were a couple police officers standing near a corner and a forensic scientist taking pictures. She couldn’t get a clear look at the body with all of the people standing in the way. “Who are we investigating?” She asked, trying to glance around the figures before her.
“Sophie, look at me.” Oliver said, this time in a clearer tone. She looked back at him. “Amy is dead.”
As soon as those words left his mouth, her heart dropped.
He was wrong, Amy was fine, this was a mistake. If she called right now, her best friend would pick up and tell her that she was at home with her wife and her kids. She would ask why the hell she would wake her in the middle of the night and scold her, then listen to whatever she had to say. Then her wife would wake up and ask who was on the phone and she would softly tell her, and notify Sophie that it was time for her to go.
She was not dead. That was impossible. It wasn’t true and she wouldn’t treat it as such. “You’re wrong. She’s not dead. There must be some mistake.” Her breath was now coming out in pants. Tears were collecting in the edges of her eyes.
She felt hands on her shoulders and looked up. “She’s gone Sophie.” Oliver said firmly, tears still falling from his eyes.
Sophie felt anger, why was he lying to her? She shoved his arms off her body and got up as fast as she could. Sophie shoved her way past the officers blocking the body and her breath stopped at her lips. Her brain stopped working and so did the rest of her body. Her legs gave out and collapsed to the ground. Her knees folded under her.
In front of her was her best friend of nearly twenty years, lying on the ground with two bullet wounds in her chest. Blood had soaked through her white t-shirt and stained the ground around her. She was gone. It was real, and the thing that made it all too real was her eyes. Her beautiful green eyes that always sparkled with amusement were dead. They were lifeless. Sophie knew there was a world around her, moving and talking, but she couldn’t hear or see any of it. All she took in was Amy’s dead body on the ground in front of her and white noise.
She sat there in silence until she felt arms wrap around her and she realized she was sobbing. The firm arms around her stayed until her tears dried out. Finally she looked up and saw Oliver, with his eyes red.
“We should go back to the precinct, all we’re doing is getting in the way. They need to come and remove the body soon.” He said softly into her ear. Still shaking, Sophie stood up. The both of them made their way to a squad car and a fellow officer drove them to the station.
A gaping hole in her heart, she floated through the precinct as if she were no more than a gust of wind that lost momentum. “This was a warning.” Oliver said next to her. “The killer doesn’t want us to solve the case and this was their warning.” When she reached her desk and sat down, that hole filled with contempt and anger. “I am solving that case. I will not let them win,” Sophie exclaimed. “Amy wouldn’t want that.” She spoke with certainty.
“Are you out of your mind! Amy is gone because of this lunatic and you want to go and put the both of us in danger to find out who killed the worst human being in this town? Do you know how many lawsuits were filed against him because of his polluting? Does he even deserve this?” Oliver yelled at her.
“No, maybe not, but Amy does.” She yelled back. “Amy doesn’t want us dead too.” Sophie shook her head. “You’re heartless. How could you say that? Don’t you want justice for Amy?” She asked him, disbelief evident in her voice.
“Yes, but not if it means you could end up dead too.”
1 is talking with the mother of 3 and asking question about were her son was that day if he had any plans. “So Ms.3 do you know if your son had any plans on the day he was shot?” 1 Asks. “Well.” She replies. “He was going over to 2s’ house to do work. But then he never came home.” She realizes that he had never asked her to come over to work on the evidence as well, as he should have done, since they were working on it together. As she says her goodbyes to the family and starts to walk home, she breaks of and heads in a different direction than her home, she is walking to 2s house. As she nears the house she doesn’t see any signs that he is home. When she finally reaches the window of the house she peaks through and pushes on the window to see if it’s locked. No budge, as she suspected, she grabs a crowbar that’s laying on the ground near a shed in the backyard of his house, and breaks the window lock. She starts looking around the house for any clues, a single scrap of evidence, to prove that he did it. As she’s looking around she is secretly hoping that she doesn’t find anything, hoping that her childhood friend didn’t kill him, but those hopes are broken in an instant. She walks forward and sees a bullet casing on the ground.
Sophie heard footsteps outside the door as she tried to process what she had just learned. It circled in her head as she started to fret about what to do. Every thought was overwhelming, why did he do that, what should I do? But as she heard the rattle of keys her mind jumped to a more present problem: where do I go?
The door began to open as her childhood best friend entered his home. She scrambled to try to get behind the couch, trying not to be seen. The door opened and Oliver came in.
“Hello? Is someone there?” He called out in the doorway.
The hiding detective held her breath and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to sink further behind the couch. How did he know I was here?
It hit her, shoot, I forgot to close the window when I broke in! Broke in, those words made Sophie sick. But I had to and my hunch was right, he was to blame for this. All of this. Perhaps it would’ve been better if she hadn’t known, if she had never come here, never solved the mystery.
No, I can’t think like that. Amy was gone and it was his fault, no matter if he was her best friend or not. She deserved justice.
Sophie stood up slowly, knowing he’d find her soon enough and she needed to stop him before he hurt anyone else.
“Soph-” he started to say, smiling, but stopped when he saw her expression. His face fell.
“It was you.” She said, trying to keep my voice steady, “It was you all along.”
“So you finally found out,”Oliver looked down and smiled sadly. That was easier than expected. She had expected him to avoid the topic and try to deny it. Maybe he couldn’t keep it in any longer.
Only a silence filled the room as Sophie stared at him in horror. She finally found her voice again, though a whisper was the only thing she could get out, “but why?”
Oliver sighed and looked down again. “For the town. Why else?”
“For the town?” She questioned angrily, her voice coming back to her. “Amy is dead for the town?”
He finally looked up, his gaze piercing the room, “Sophie, please, you have to understand.”
His voice sounded different now, more familiar, more comforting. Untouched by the horrors they had seen, almost how it sounded when they were kids. This voice, once something that made her smile now gave off a completely different feeling. She now only felt scared and confused by it, like it was hiding a truth.
“I’m going to have to arrest you,” she said, her voice empty, looking to the floor.
His face stayed calm, “no, you don’t.”
She looked up, glaring back, “yes, I do.”
“If you arrest me, the town, Amy’s family, goes through heartbreak. They’ve gone through so much already, you think they can go through more?”
“They wouldn’t have had to if you hadn’t killed her.”
“You think I wanted her dead? She was my best friend too. But she figured it out, she knew that I killed that business man, so she had to go too. If she had stayed out of it she never would have gotten killed.”
‘If she had stayed out of it’ his words rang through Sophie’s head. Was that really a reason for a person to be dead? Maybe Elias Kemp deserved it, maybe not, but she knew one thing for sure: Amy didn’t.
She spoke to him slowly, “So you killed Kemp because he was ruining our city and you killed Amy because she was doing her job. The same job you were supposed to be doing. And then you blamed it on Cohen Steele to cover it up.”
“Exactly! I did what I had to do to keep living here like it used to be before Kemp showed up. And now two important members of that company are out of the way!”
“But at what cost?” She hated to think it, but there was a part of her that understood him, that felt the same way about that company polluting the environment. But did Amy have to die to make the world ‘better’ as he saw it?
“It doesn’t matter. We can keep living here and solving crimes like we always imagined as kids!”
There was a truth to his words, but also a terrible lie staring her right in the face. They had imagined it, yes, but it was meant to be with Amy.
“No,” Sophie responded, her words full of flaming anger, “I never want to see you again. Not unless you’re behind bars.”
“You didn’t hear me earlier, Amy’s family couldn’t take that another heartbreak. We were like family to them too!” There was a pleading edge in his tone.
“But I couldn’t take it if I saw you every day. Not after what you’ve done. And I’m not going to let you stay friends with the Higgs Family, her family, after you killed their loved one!”
Oliver stood and thought about what she said for a while. When he finally spoke again he made an offer, “Fine. I know you don’t really want to arrest me.” She agreed with that. He was her best friend and she wasn’t fond of Elias Kemp either. “So you’ll let me go, I’ll go quietly, leave my job, and never come back here. In return you don’t expose the evidence that I killed the two of them.”
She was hesitant to answer this proposal, so she stood there weighing the options. “Okay,” she replied slowly, “As long as I never see you again.” They agreed to these terms.
A week later Oliver packed up his stuff and left, never to be seen in town again. Amy’s family continued to mourn the loss of her. Sophie chose to free Cohen Steele from prison and plant fake evidence to claim Elias Kemp’s death was a suicide. Though it was hard, she also told the town that Amy Higgs was shot in a hunting accident, the common hunting gun being used as proof. She became the lead detective of the town and worked with others to solve crimes for many years after.
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