Thank you for following along as we shared excerpts from our book Season of Thrills. This week it’s my turn.
IF I FAIL by Marian Lanouette
The next morning Jake picked Louie up. Together they headed to Farmington, to the medical examiner’s office. The ME, Doctor Lang, would perform the autopsy on Keisha at nine a.m.
“I checked my email this morning. The lab sent over the tox report on Washington. I don’t know how a guy with all that shit in his system remained conscious. I printed out a copy for you,” Louie said.
“Okay, I’ll look it over when we get to Farmington.”
Not one of their favorite parts of the job, they geared up mentally for the autopsy. Some just hit you harder than others. Jake’s stomach rolled like waves in a storm over this one. As he drove down the road, his mind wandered back in time to his first visit to the morgue. The year was 1992.
A buzzing rang out in his ears. He didn’t know if it was from the florescent lights overhead or the starkness of the corridor as their footsteps echoed in the silence. The buzzing grew louder as the door drew closer. The medical examiner, Doctor Ed Jerome, put his hand up to stop them.
Taking a deep breath, he said, “James, I know you’ve done this a hundred times, but this time it’s different. I can make the identification for you.”
“No, I need to do this, Ed.”
“Okay, why doesn’t Jake wait out here?” Doctor Jerome offered, giving Jake an out.
Jake spoke up, his voice louder than intended. “I’m going in.” He said it with such force it brooked no argument.
“Okay.” Ed pushed open the door.
On the table lay a body covered with a white sheet. Ed’s assistants had set the victim up for viewing. There was no way to hide the odor of death, though they tried to camouflage it with disinfectant, air fresheners, and Clorox. ’The house of death’ is what cops called it.
Jake took a deep breath; he looked to his father for support. A tall man, whom Jake favored in height only, his father squared his shoulders and nodded to the ME.
“Show me,” James demanded.
Doc Jerome pulled back the sheet to reveal a girl in her mid-teens, badly bruised, the trauma of her death etched in her horrified expression. Fright forever pasted in her expression.
“Was she raped?” James asked, while tears escaped his eyes.
Neither man paid attention to Jake’s weeping at their side. Jake couldn’t stop as he viewed his younger sister. He gently touched her forehead, her cheek, kissing her on the lips.
He turned away in grief, saw both his anger and his pain reflected in his father’s face. His father’s fists clenched, his shoulders racked with heavy sobs as he viewed the broken body of his daughter. Jake understood he looked with a father’s eye, not a cop’s.
“Who could do such a thing to such a sweet, innocent girl?” James cried. Asking the same question that many, many parents asked him throughout his career. Jake understood his father never thought he’d be here asking the same questions, viewing his own.
The buzzing in Jake’s ears increased. The next thing he knew, someone held a glass of water to his lips. The stress of the situation had overtaken him—he’d collapsed on the floor.
“I’m sorry, Jake. I shouldn’t have brought you here.” James hugged Jake, crushing him to his chest.
“I’m fine, Dad. Only, when you catch the bastard, I’m going to kill him for what he did to Eva. You need to know that.” He cursed in front of his father for the first time.
“Jake, don’t speak…”
“Jake, Goddamn it, Jake…” Brought back to the present by Louie yelling, horns blasting—Louie shaking him—Christ, he looked pale. Did I blackout? Jake wondered.
“What’s up, Louie?” Jake tried to shake off the memory.
“What’s up? You almost got us killed. Where the hell did you go?” Louie shouted.
“I’m sorry, Louie.” Jake pulled off the road, on to the shoulder of the highway. He put the car in park. “I don’t know what got into me. Here, you drive.” Unbuckling his seat belt, Jake climbed out of the car, walked around to the passenger’s side, climbed in.
“What gives?” Louie asked after he took the wheel.
“Only a flash back,” Jake stated. Louie knew about them, no one else did.
“Only? Jesus, you almost got us killed, Jake. You haven’t had one in a long time. A bad one? You know, I think I’m gonna have to check my shorts later,” Louie rambled.
“Funny. It was my first time at the morgue.”