By Tyler Arndt
She was beautiful. Her hair was a wonderful, silky blonde. The half smile on her lips left her looking pleased. Her eyes were barely open, but I could still clearly make out her fiery blue Irises. They looked cold in a way. I guess that made sense, the life behind them was already long gone, her passing denoted only by a single, tiny hole in her chest, and a highly engraved 9mm round that was enclosed in her palm. It had been ten years since I had seen that casing, at another crime scene much close to my heart. Still carved in pretty scrolled letters was the main design – Love.
“Whatta we have Bobby?” I rubbed her cheek with the side of my thumb, feeling the cold, unmoving skin beneath my fingers. “Hey! We can’t touch the victims remember? Pretty sure we learned that the first day detective!” I stood up, turning slowly to face him. “I’m sorry captain, something is just hitting me inside right now. I’ve never seen one of these victims look so peaceful. It’s heart breaking." He stood by me in silence at that, and nodded in agreement. “What can you tell me, Detective?”
“We are still waiting on the identity of the victim. From the looks of it though, it seems that she was killed by a single gunshot to the heart. From the looks of how she’s lying, it looks like whoever killed her took great effort into making sure she didn’t suffer.” He stopped me. “How do you know that?” I pointed at her. “Just look at her, look at how peaceful she is. I don’t think she even felt the bullet that killed her. “ He nodded in agreement once more.
“Listen Captain,” He said as he began moving backward. “I can’t be here right now, I just can’t.” The captain nodded and I began to walk to my car. After a moment though, it was less of a walk and more of a drunken stumble. I reached the door of my Crown Vic and clumsily opened the driver’s door. “Shit, she looks just like Maria.” I said to myself calmly.
The Ford V-8 turned over smoothly with one turn of the key, and I pulled away silently. The silence didn’t last long, though. At the first freeway on ramp I flattened the accelerator and flicked on my emergency lights, screw ‘em if it was against the rules. I felt the vibrations from all eight cylinders thundering through my bones as the miles ticked away. Where the speed limits signs flew by screaming I could only do 70, I watched the Speedo creep up over 140 and continue to climb. I didn’t care about the wear and tear, or the fuel economy. I needed this speed. I felt huge g-forces slamming me into my bucket seat as I swung the big Ford saloon into the off-ramp that I nearly missed.
I needed to talk to someone – secrecy be damned. I needed to make sense of this. Whoever had killed this woman had killed…he…had killed, Maria, my wife. I had seen her, laying the same way. They same half smile forever frozen upon her lips, and the same comfort engrained into her eyes. Whoever this was, I was going to find them, and soon.
At the next turn I spun the wheel left, going a little too fast, I felt the tail of the car flick out a little. With a tap to the left, I corrected, and then reached down to turn the emergency lights off. I pulled quietly into the sleepy neighborhood I had known as a child. A neighborhood now over run with gangs and hoodlums, but a neighborhood that my best friend refused to leave.
The driveway was empty, apart from the faded black Toyota Camry that stood like a faithful guard dog, waiting patiently and staring out at the street. I moved silently up the cracked cement stairs to the front door and knocked, before unlocking it with the spare key he had given me decades ago. Somewhere I could hear the soft clicking action of a familiar shotgun.
“Put the gun down Matthew, it’s me, Bobby.” I could now hear rustling along with a bit of grumbling. An old man whose age matched mine came around the corner of his small kitchen; an even older Remington clenched his calloused hands. “Do you have any concept of time Bobby? You know, some people actually sleep at night.” He moaned sorely.
“Some people aren’t Homicide detectives, Matthew.” He nodded and rested the shotgun against his kitchen counter top. “Can I get you anything to drink, old friend? Coffee maybe? Or by the looks of it, you could probably use some Brandy. I’ll get you some.”
“Thank you, Matthew.” He chuckled loudly from the kitchen. “No trouble at all, my friend. But maybe our next date could be lunch instead of drinks at o-dark-thirty, eh?” I shook my head, both of us laughing. Still standing in the entry way, I kicked off my boots and let my tired meet soak up the carpet, it felt good on my heels which I thought had been destroyed with sledge hammers. Looking around a room, I recalled everything, and the purpose of everything. The rifle over the fire place that had belonged to his father, the many different car keys that hung from his key rack as a badge of honor for the vehicles he owned. The handgun that must’ve been hidden in at least one drawer that was close by.
But then my eyes spotted something I hadn’t seen before. It was a small box, made of beautifully figured bird’s eye maple, and adorned with engravings of gold leaf, and a familiar looking lock. Quietly, I slid the same key I’d used for the front door into it and turned. It popped open solidly, but silently. I lifted the lid, feeling the highly oiled gears move with ease. Inside was literally a piece of art.
A silver Walther PPK, silencer, magazines, and loose rounds that were all engraved with gold. Whoever had made this had taken great care. And Matthew had obviously left no expense unspent in its making. I was admiring it for a good minute before I picked up one of the bullets which I noticed was also engraved. Carved in big, poetic looking scroll, was one word – Love.
Every ounce of blood in my body turned to ice. My heart became a stone. This was the murder weapon. Matthews had killed that woman tonight. Michael, my best friend of more than 25 years, had senselessly murder my wife. “Bobby I got your…” He came around the corner with a brandy glass in his hands and he stopped. “Oh God, you didn’t.” He said in almost a whisper. I could feel the blood go hot in my veins, my heart now pounding.
In one motion, I dropped the bullet and ripped my Beretta from its holster. At the same time, he brought the Remington from the floor to his shoulder. Two shotgun slugs whistled passed my head, as I brought him into my sights. Within one single moment, I coldly squeezed the trigger and buried six rounds squarely in his chest. He gasped, dropping the shotgun, and fell the floor. My best friend – the murderer of my wife was dead. I had to kill him.