Jason Wright began by meeting with the detective in charge of the investigation. Detective Jason Broesch stood on the sidewalk by his car watching all of the emergency and forensic personnel standing around on the front lawn of the house of the crime scene when Jason walked up to him. Jason glanced at the people while the detective explained what he wanted.
“The scene is secure from the taped off porch and into the house,” said the detective. “Only myself and the victim’s alleged daughter, Sandra, have been on the porch and in the house.” He rearranged his shoulders, shifting them in his shirt. “I was focused on her when everyone,” he gestured at the crowd, “arrived. You would think they’d know better on their own.”
Sandra began rocking backward and forward on the backseat of the police cruiser. She started keening, the sound rising in volume.
The various emergency workers standing around on the front yard turned to look at her. She noticed their startled and alarmed faces as she looked around. She clamped her mouth shut. She felt trapped in the car and put her right foot out onto the ground in an effort to get out.
The detective moved to prevent her exit but the two EMT’s arrived with the stretcher and shoulder him out of the way. The female EMT took Sandra’s hands, guiding her out of the car and up onto the stretcher. Sandra closed her eyes and drifted away.
“Your vital signs appear to be normal,” said the EMT. The woman looked at Sandra as she held Sandra’s hand. “The detective said you didn’t appear to be well; that you vomited earlier.”
“Would you like to go to the hospital and receive a more thorough examination?”
Sandra looked at the woman’s face and thought she saw true concern there. She looked up at Detective Jason Broesch hovering within hearing and she became uncomfortable.
What she originally took as solicitous behavior when she was in the shock of the moment she now saw as something more ominous. Escaping from the detective seemed like a good idea. And she really did not feel right.
Detective Jason Broesch covered Sandra’s stocking clad feet with the hospital booties supplied by an EMT. He rose and stood back so the emergency worker could get to Sandra and check her vital signs. The female EMT asked Sandra if she were on any medications or currently taking over-the-counter or illegal substances, alcohol, any kind of drug.
Sandra looked up through the backseat side window. The detective was the epitome on nonchalance but she suspected he was listening to the entire exchange. She was glad she could truthfully answer that her system was clean. She came by her insanity naturally.
“I would like to have the EMT’s take a look at you,” said Detective Jason Broesch. “Would that be ok with you?” His voice was clear and calm, quiet and soothing.
She nodded again.
“I’ve brought over some hospital booties to get you out of those soiled shoes. Would you like that?”
She reached down to take them off but he bent and removed them for her with his gloved hands and put each shoe in a plastic bag that he sealed. He handed them off to a uniformed officer standing behind him.
Detective Jason Broesch touched Sandra on her shoulder. She jerked upward.
“Come with me,” he said.
She turned her head and looked into his eyes. They were a soft, comforting brown ringed by thick brown lashes.
It dawned on her that he had taken off his sunglasses. She looked down and saw them held loosely in his left hand. She watched as he reached up with his right hand and touched her elbow. He cradled it with a firm but gentle grip and steered her out of the house.
They walked to his car. He opened the back door on the curb-side and guided her to sit on the seat making sure her fouled feet were on the floor mat. He closed the door. She noticed there was no handle on the inside.
Sandra turned and ran towards the house. She tripped up the steps to the front porch, falling on her hands and knees. Tears broke free of their ducts and coursed down her cheeks. She sprang up, face burning with the heat of embarrassment and dashed to the door.
She entered the foyer and skidded to a stop just before she collided with the years of accumulated junk. The stench of her mother’s collected garbage and her mother’s decomposing body acted like a dose of ice cold water shocking Sandra out of her hysterics. She vomited on her ruby red shoes.
Sandra felt like hitting Detective Jason Broesch. Of course, she wouldn’t give in to her urges. There was no money for bail. But in her mind she could feel the crisp smack of her hand against his cheek and hear the pleasing sound of flesh contacting flesh. Maybe she was going crazy like her mother. Sandra felt like she was wound tighter than rung out mop.
Detective Jason Broesch was talking to her again and she had missed everything he said. His voice registered as a buzzing in her brain and a disturbing vibration of the air around her. It was like the death of her mother transferred “The Crazies” directly to Sandra. She wasn’t crazy before. She wasn’t, damn it. What the hell was he saying?
“I asked if you were ok?”
Had she spoken out loud? She didn’t know. She must have though. She needed to get out of her head. She felt like she was beside herself like the shadows on an old TV screen; like her life was previously recorded and she was watching it for the first time but on fast forward and she was missing every fourth frame. No, she was not ok.
He walked to the base of the porch steps and stopped. He flipped open a case he held in his left hand, tilting it so the badge inside threw a reflection directly into her eyes.
“I am Detective Jason Broesch.” He lowered his hand, pocketing his badge. “You are?”
She sat breathless and without moving. This man in front of her (this detective) caused her heart to skip a beat and she hadn’t even seen his eyes yet. This feeling of excitement hit her out of the blue. She couldn’t even remember the last time her skin tingled when she met a man.
She watched as a black sedan pulled up to the curb in front of her mother’s house. The tire on the front passenger side hit the crumbled part of the concrete, tiddlywinking stones onto the crabgrass front yard.
A man in a crisp, light blue dress shirt and sharp pressed khakis stepped out of the car, put on a pair of dark framed sunglasses and straightened his already arrow straight tie. He paused by the back of the car as he took in the area around him. After doing a slow one eighty, he focused his shaded eyes on her.
She waited on the front porch for the authorities to arrive. She sat with one hip on the railing, swinging her raised foot and balancing with the toes of the other one.
The four chairs lined up across the front of the house held boxes as occupants. Their rocking was stilled by piles of newspapers pressed around them like ancient pillars.
She smoked a cigarette partially from nervousness but also to hide the smell coming from the open front door. She dared not touch or move anything else for fear she would be accused of corrupting the murder scene.
The knife sticking out of her mother’s back was an obvious clue that her mother did not die of natural causes. While many things lay tumbled and scattered around the still and stiffening corpse, it didn’t seem likely that a knife fell from one of the piles to puncture lung and heart, draining out her mother’s life.
She took a deep breath. Big mistake. Cat urine and putrid vegetables made her sick to her stomach. Underlying the noxious smells, a cloying, clinging scent of cheap perfume worked its way to her brain. It seemed familiar but she couldn’t place it or attach it to a specific person.
Taking her cell phone from her pocket, she walked back to the open door and fresh air and she called the police.
When she opened the door, a wave of rotting trash and used kitty litter knocked her back a step. This could not be the place. She checked the number on the wall beside the entrance. It matched the address on the note she held crumpled in her hand. Nothing had changed except the changing of the calendar.
She walked into the hall, dodging the buzzing flies and gathering cats, each group of living beings rubbing some part of her body. She felt dirty and claustrophobic. How could her mother live in this place? When she stepped into the living room she found the answer to her question and the body of her dead mother.