A Sense Of Self (Mystery Short Story)

My Post (7) (2)

She flipped through the pictures quickly; she did not want to look at these criminals and locked in on one particular portrait. The eyes were unforgettable; the thin lips spread in that terrifying expanse across his face.

“That’s him,” she said as stoically as she could.

“Are you positive?” The detective asked, his shoulders leaning in towards the nerve wound woman.

“His hair was longer, but those eyes I will never forget.”

“Can you remember anything about the house or the location or any landmarks?” The detective asked.

“I don’t know. It was dark and whatever he was injecting me with”, she held out her arm to show him the puncture marks, “made my mind shaky. After I got through the window, I ran as fast and as best I could through the woods until I hit a road. The first passing car stopped, and they brought me here. I’m sorry, but that is it.” She put her arm down and stared into the empty space behind him.

“That’s ok mam, you’ve been through a lot, and it is understandable. Well, Ms. Conlin, I can’t say I am completely up to date on this specific individual.” Detective Bradly said standing up and collecting the photos. “Ms. Con…”

“Please, call me Sarah.” She said as she pushed her chair back.

“Yes mam-er, Sarah.” Correcting himself. “We’ll be in touch with you this week if we have any more questions about your kidnapping.”

Sarah turned toward the cramped, dark interrogation room and pulled on her ratty brown coat. “Should I be worried about him coming back?” she asked, reaching for the door handle.

“We’ll have an unmarked posted in front of your apartment building for the time being. Just go home and try to remember anything else you think might help us.”

As Sarah pushed her way through the crowded station lobby and exited onto the massive stone stairs that graced the front of the police headquarters, detective Bradly raised both of his hands cupping his face and then rubbing the back of his neck. ‘I have to act fast’ he thought.

Gripping his wrists tightly, his upper body twisted and contorted, “How could I let her escape?” He asked, unknowingly, aloud. It didn’t matter; his basement was empty and damp. The bed he sat upon was shoved into the far corner away from the heavy metal door. “Why did I wait?” Still talking to himself out loud. “I have to get her back. Finish what had been started. Everything depends on it.” With that, he stood, shook his head and checked the new lock on the small window that let little light pass through it due to the newspapers taped to its glass.

As Sarah reached her apartment, the sky had indeed opened up, and the rain was coming down in a torrent. She stepped to the buildings stoop and caught a glimpse of a grey sedan pulling up alongside the curb on the opposite side of the street and shut off its engine. A cracked smile crossed her face, and she loosened her grip on reality for just a moment. ‘Everything will be fine.’ She told herself. ‘Just a matter of time, now.’

Crashing down into his chair, detective Bradly looked around his office. Citations, awards, and family photos graced the walls. Fellow cops and other workers were passing by his door, going about their day. The phone suddenly sprang to life and brought his focus back to the now.

“Bradly,” he said.

“Damn it, Bradly! How did the press get a hold of this?” His chief screamed.

“What?”

“I just got a call from channel six asking about an escaped kidnapping victim. Now you’re the lead on this, and I expect you to keep your people inline and their mouths shut.”

Bradly twisted in his chair a little, “I can assure you chief that no one has spoken about this to the media. I don’t know how this got out.”

“I had better not hear another word about this situation again unless it comes from you. Understood?”

“Yes, chief,” and the line went dead. Bradly’s head was spinning faster now. ‘Who tipped off the press?’ He thought. His thinking was becoming less of an asset and more of a hindrance. Looking back up at the picture of his family, he wondered how his parents would take the news. He knew it could and would destroy them. He had to act quickly and precisely.

Two miles across town a figure crossed the fence separating the backyard from Finston Park. As the sun was falling from the horizon, he could see the man and the woman crisscrossing the kitchen window. He pulled the hood from his jacket and took a deep breath. Standing up he followed the fence line around to the front of the house. Standing at the front door, he knocked. The porch light gave birth to his shadow on the intricate stone porch. He heard the click of the lock and swirl of the handle.

“Hey, you…”

The shot rang out so fast he didn’t even have the chance to enjoy it. He was already in the house before the woman’s body hit the ground. Moving through the hallway, he swung around a familiar corner and aimed. The man’s eyes widened and focused on his inevitable fate.

“I always hated you.” He said before pulling the trigger. This one he was reminding himself to enjoy-and enjoyment like this comes only but once in a lifetime.

Sarah looked out the window to see if the unmarked cop car was still there. Seeing that it was, she grabbed her coat and headed out. Wondering if they would follow her, she headed for the bus stop at the end of the street. Sitting down to wait she noticed someone staring at her from inside the bookstore across the street. She couldn’t quite make out who it was. ‘A stranger, coincidence, or maybe…’ As the bus pulled up she boarded and looked once again to the storefront; he had gone. It could not have been who she was thinking- ‘Why would he be watching me? Has he figured it out already?’

Pouring his glass halfway with whiskey, Bradly flipped through the channels looking for any news on his case. There it was, filling the screen. Sarah’s picture was staring him in the face. “Fuck! Where are they getting this? The chief is going to have my ass.” His voice trailed off before throwing his glass against the near wall. Looking at the shards, he picked up the phone and dialed Daniels number.

“Damn it, Daniel, answer the phone,” he let it ring until he got his brothers voicemail. “Daniel, this is Chris, call me back ASAP. We have a lot to talk about, and it cannot wait one more minute. Seriously, call me at once.”

Coming into his house, he looked around at the mess that had accumulated. ‘Soon this place will burn, and from its ashes, a new life would rise. Most of the steps had been taken, most of the story written.’

With the bus coming to a stop, Sarah exited and headed to the predetermined meeting place. The restaurant was crowded, just as they had hoped. Pushing her way towards the back she leaned against the wall and waited. Twenty minutes went by, and he still hadn’t shown. She felt the vibration in her back pocket, and it jolted her, if not slightly. Pulling out her phone she saw she had a new text. Hurriedly swiping the screen, she opened the message.

Too dangerous. Will call later. What needed to be done is done.

She closed and erased the message and headed for the front door. The crowd seemed thicker now that he had said it was too dangerous, was someone following her? Exiting the restaurant, she decided not to wait for the bus and walk home instead. Reaching her building, she noticed that the unmarked car was gone. Unlocking the door to her apartment revealed a ransacked mess as if a furious anger was unleashed within the walls.

The next morning detective Chris Bradly woke to the sound of heavy knocks. Kicking the sheets off of his body, he stumbled towards the sound.

“Who is it?” He grumbled.

“Bradly, you weren’t answering your phone, so the chief sent us over to get you.”

Opening the door, Bradly eyed two uniformed officers, “Oh hey Bill, John, what’s this now?”

“The chief needs to see you, like, right now. He said it was urgent.”

“Ok, thanks, I’ll be in as soon as I get dressed.” And with that, he shut the door and immediately began to panic. ‘Had the chief found out? Did he know what Bradly knew?’

The station was unusually quiet that morning as Bradly walked in and up the stairs. People were glancing away when he looked at them. This made his nerves tighten as he came to the chief’s office; he knocked and held his breath, bracing himself for the worse.

“How are you, Bradly? Take a seat.” The chief moved around his desk and took his seat. Rubbing his eyes, he looked up at his detective. “Chris, I have some bad news.”

Here it comes. This is going to kill his parents, he thought.

“Chris, your parents, were found this morning,” the chief studied Chris’ face. “They were both shot last night in their home.”

“What!” Chris yelled, stunned.

“I’m sorry Chris.”

“What? Who the…? Who found them? When?”

“A neighbor called 911 this morning and reported it.” The chief said quietly.

Detective Bradly’s mind was falling in on itself as he sat before the chief. This couldn’t be happening. All along he was worried about his brother and now this. This! How could this be?

“I know you are going to need some time for this Chris. Call your brother and get through this together. He hasn’t been notified yet; I figured you would want to do that.”

As soon as Bradly’s feet hit the sidewalk his phone rang. Looking down at the screen he that it was his brother calling him back from yesterday. Their parents were gone, but he still had a chance to save his brother.

“Hello.”

“Hey Chris, this is Daniel.”

“Hey Daniel, I’ve got some bad news. Mom and dad are dead; they were both shot in their home last night.”

“Oh my god, Chris. Do they know who did it?” Daniel asked.

“Listen, Daniel; we need to meet. There is more to talk about than this. It’s important we do this face to face. Ok.”

“Alright, come over to my place. I’ll be here.”

After the call went silent, Bradly climbed into his car and headed towards his brother’s house. All the way there he kept beating himself up over worrying about how his brother’s actions would affect his parents, never imagining that his parents would not even be around to find out.

Detective Chris Bradly and his brother Daniel sat down at the kitchen table and just stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity.

“I know what you did Daniel.”

“What did I do?”

“You kidnapped that woman. What were you thinking? Have the alcohol and drugs finally taken you over? You idiot! I’m a cop. Did you really think I wouldn’t find out? How did you think mom and dad…” His voice trailed off.

“What are you talking about?”

With that, Chris stood up and headed for the stairs that led to the basement, kicked open the door at the bottom and turned, “This is where you kept Sarah isn’t it.”

Daniel hung his head in defeat. “You’ve talked to her? Am I going to jail?”

“Look, we’ve both lost something today. I’m not going to lose my brother as well,” Bradly said, determined to keep what family he had left close to him.

Sarah ran out of her apartment and to the unmarked car that was now outside. “Someone’s been in my place.”

The man stepped out and ushered her into the back seat. She saw them pull their weapons and hurry into the building. After a few minutes, they returned as two other police cars came to a stop behind them.

Bradly’s phone buzzed to life.

Someone broke into the woman’s apartment. Could have been him. Saw nothing.

The text read.

“Stay here Daniel. I’ll call you tonight, and we’ll take care of this then.” Bradly abruptly stood and walked out to his car. Driving back into town his phone once again rang. “Hello, this is detective Bradly.”

“Yes, Mr. Bradly. This is Mr. Sutherly. I’m sorry to bother you at this time, but I was contacted by the police concerning your parents.”

“Ok, how can I help?” Bradly asked.

Yes sir, I’m, I was your parent’s attorney, and they left me under strict guidelines to contact you and your brother about your inheritance.”

“Inheritance?”

Mr. Sutherly continued, “I don’t know if you knew or not, but your mom and dad were very wealthy.

“No, both my parents were retired and living off of their pensions.”

“I know Mr. Bradly. However, they did extremely well in the stock market, in the neighborhood of let’s say five million dollars.”

Bradly nearly dropped the phone as a thousand thoughts ran through his head. ‘This could be my saving grace’ The thought stung his mind considering how all this had come about in the first place. He and his brother could leave everything behind and start all over. “ Alright Mr. Sutherly, let me call my brother, and we can come in tomorrow and take care of this.” With that, he hung up the phone, pulled out his note pad, and called Sarah’s number. As it rang he steadied his breathing and focused.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Sarah? This is detective Bradly.”

“Oh, hello detective,” she said.

“I was wondering if I could stop by tomorrow evening and discuss some things about your case with you. Would that be ok?” His mind was working overtime.

“Uh, yeah, that would be fine. But I haven’t remembered anything else that I think would help.”

“Well, I just have some questions to clear up, that’s all. I’ll see you around eight if that’s alright.” He was holding his breath now. This had to work, or everything would fall apart.

“Ok, see you then.” She hung up the phone and wondered what he could want now; it must be about the break-in, thinking to herself. At least the place is almost back to normal.

The next day came, and as Bradly and his brother sat at the attorney’s office, they listened to Mr. Sutherly telling them to sign this, sign here, and sigh there. It all went by in a blur and then it was over. They were both rich. Driving back to Daniels house Bradly laid out his plan to save his brother from certain prison time.

Later that evening Bradly approached Sarah’s door and cleared his mind. ‘This has to work.’ He said to himself over and over. The door opened.

“Hey, detective.”

“Hey, Sarah. How are you holding up?”

“Well, as I’m sure you know by now, my apartment was broken into, and I’m just getting it put back together.”

He had heard, and he did not care. “Yes, of course.”

She sat on the couch and sized up his victim. He had to sell this flawlessly if he was to get her to come along. The situation suddenly turned when she asked if he thought it would be a good idea if he could drive her out to where she was picked up the night she escaped, to maybe help her remember where she exited the woods.

This is amazing, he thought, it’s as if she knew my plan all along. “Absolutely, Sarah. I think that that’s a great idea. I’m sure it will spin your memory to life, and we can catch this bastard who did this to you.”

Driving out of town they barely spoke, and Bradly’s head began to lock down on what he was about to do. He did not take pleasure in what was about to happen, but it had to be done to save what family he had left.

“Where are you going? You should have turned back there.”

With one hand on the wheel, he pulled his weapon and thrust its barrel at her. “I’m sorry Sarah,” was all he said. Reaching the destination previously arranged he forced her out of the car and into the woods.

“What are you doing? You can’t do this.” Sarah was frantic.

Bradly remained silent and followed close behind her as they went deeper among the trees.

“This has to be done, Sarah. Once again, I’m sorry,” and with that, he pointed the gun at the back of her head.

The shot rang out, and Bradly fell to the ground as the bullet entered his side. Grasping for air, he saw the shadow emerge from the trees. Sarah turned and began to laugh at him as he clutched his side. His breathing was already getting shorter when the figure came up to him.

“Hello, brother. Thanks for telling your plan to save me.”

“Why, Daniel? Bradly was starting to lose consciousness.

“Why else, the money Chris. After getting rid of mom and dad, only you stood in the way ‘my’ inheritance. Yes, I knew all along about their wealth, or should I say our wealth. Just then Sarah stepped next to Daniel and kissed him on the cheek.

“Nice job honey. We need to get out of here.” She said.

“Goodbye brother,” and with that, he stepped closer and placed one last bullet into Bradly’s head.

By the time the sun reached the skyline the next morning Daniel and Sarah were on the road and headed out of town.

“I can’t believe this all worked out so perfectly,” Sarah said smiling.

“I know, right. Everyone will think Chris just left town with his new-found wealth,” he said coming to a stoplight.

As the light turned, they moved forward with a new life ahead of them. Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah caught the final glimpse of a speeding car as it slammed into the side of theirs. The car had been running from the police, so they were on the scene in seconds.

As the officers checked both vehicles, they realized the result was final.

“Any survivors?” The patrolmen asked.

“No, all three died on impact. Such a shame an innocent couple had to die because of that drunk bastard.”

 

Write Fearlessly

 

About G.Edward Smith

A stranger in a strange land...
This entry was posted in Flash Fiction & Short Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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