Chapter 36 - I'm Just Optimistic
Detective Todd Henry checked his watch. Damn, it was already five in the freaking afternoon. I have to be at the daycare by six tonight to get my baby girls. Where has the time gone? God, I wish that stupid backhoe could move a little faster. It moves slower than some of our officers.
Todd had walked over to the construction site and asked if they could humor him and Darla and come and take a few scoops out of the ground nearby. They didn’t mind and said it was all going to be dug up over the next month anyway, so they were game. They had been waiting for the last hour on where to start moving dirt so they actually seemed motivated to help. Todd actually knew one of the men on the construction site. His name was Chip. Chip was on the crew that worked another crime scene they had where a prostitute had been buried about 2 feet under the ground by some housing project. He was as kind as they come and loved and respected the police.
Lieutenant Henry was beginning to think the construction crew probably wouldn’t actually find anything of value, but he had learned that you always follow up, no matter how small or insignificant the lead may be, and that was what he was going to do here. Plus, he was already on this side of town where the day care was so he didn’t want to drive all the way back to the office and then leave just a little later to go to the daycare. It’s all about planning your day, Todd thought to himself. Fail to plan, plan to fail. A motto he tried to live by daily.
Todd had grabbed two waters from his cooler he kept in the trunk and gave one to Darla. By now, there were several more of the neighborhood kids that had arrived in the immediate area once they saw a back hoe enter their riding trails in the woods. They were interested to see what was going on as it was just another boring day in the neighborhood but were staying a little ways back which was good.
“Hey Chip, how about you take a few scoops right here,” as Detective Henry pointed to a spot right in the middle of the cracked hard dirt and continued, “And can you do it carefully Chip. I don’t want to mess anything up if there is something down there in the dirt?”
“Um, no problem at all Detective.” Chip said a little confused on what possibly could be in the dirt that he could mess up scooping it out. Maybe another prostitute or something Chip thought. There was nothing sticking out of the dirt and to Chip, it was just a dried up section of dirt.
Oh joy, Todd thought. Now look at what is heading this way. About five more construction guys just were arriving and it looks like one of them may be their boss. Yep, this must be their boss as he doesn’t look to be in a good mood right now.
“What’s going on here?” the man quickly said as he walked up to the others now gathered around the piece of construction equipment. He had the name Mitch embroidered on his shirt.
“Well hi Mitch” Todd said in his most welcoming voice he could produce and threw his hand out to shake Mitch’s hand.
Detective Henry continued, My name is Detective Todd Henry with the Greensboro City Police Department and I asked a few members of your crew here if they could help me for just a few minutes to take a scoop or two out of this dirt.”
“Why would you want them to take a few scoops of dirt out of this area?” Mitch quickly chimed in with a little attitude.
“Just to humor me and my new friend Darla here and to simply make sure there is nothing here in this dirt that that shouldn’t be. That’s all Mitch. I promise they will be able to get back to what they were doing in just a minute.” Todd thought, yea back to sitting around doing absolutely nothing.
“Well what would be here besides dirt?” Mitch asked in a bothersome tone.
“I am sure probably nothing Mitch. This won’t take but a few minutes and we will be out of your way.” Todd said as the backhoe arrived.
Mitch mumbled something as Chip dropped the side stabilizers on each side to the backhoe and then raised the bucket scoop thing-a-ma-jig with the steel teeth and put it into the dirt nice and easy and took the first large scoop of dirt out of the ground.
Nothing but dirt came out of the ground. Obviously, Todd thought to himself.
Chip lifted up the 6 foot boom and lowered the teeth again nice and easy like and scooped another large quantity of dirt.
Darla and Todd looked at each other and shrugged at the same time giving the universal sign as “I guess there isn’t anything here in the dirt that shouldn’t be.”
Chip lowered again and went to scoop some dirt and the teeth on the bucket seemed to hit something and pause for a split second. Chip moved some dirt around loosening the ground and made some room. The dirt was a lot looser now and not as compact. Chip then started to lift up the scooper slowly to see what was attached to one of the teeth, which was at the end of the scooper bucket.
As the scooper bucket rose up, it started pulling something out of the dirt. Chip inched the bucket up nice and slowly. There, hanging on one of the teeth of the scooper bucket was dangling the front handle bar of a bicycle. But it wasn’t just the handlebars and the bike frame. There was also on the bike a skeleton with its wrists still tied to the grips of the front handle bars.
Chip stopped the boom from moving and immediately cut the engine off. There was dead silence from everyone standing there. All you could hear was the backhoe settling and the dirt covered bike swinging back and forth hanging from one of the teeth on the scooper bucket.
Everyone just stared at what they saw. Each saw something not as the other. Not a word was said.
Everyone was thinking something different as no one ever sees things exactly the same when something is directly in front of you.
Darla was standing there quietly, simply shaking her head back and forth, thinking to herself, “I knew he was dead.”
Chip, the backhoe operator, thought to himself after all these years of moving dirt, I don’t think I ever pulled a bike up before out of the ground. Now I wonder if this is what Detective Henry was looking for, a stupid old bicyc… Wait, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? IS THAT A, A SKELETON??
At about that same time, the skeleton attached to the bike fell apart except for the hands and limbs still attached to the grips of the handle bars. The rest of the skeleton broke free from about the elbows back and the skeleton skull of what Detective Henry trusted to be Bryan Morrissey, rolled right up to the feet of Mitch, the foreman. He already was about to start crying as he knew this was going to drastically delay the project. He and his crew were already several weeks behind on clearing this area Mitch knew that by the end, this would impact his bonus greatly.
Mitch looked at the skull, and then looked up at Chip who shrugged his shoulders attempting to say sorry. Mitch then looked over at Detective Henry and quietly said,
“Probably nothing, huh?” Chip said sarcastically. His words had a slight anger and disgust to them towards Detective Henry.
Todd replied to a very now agitated Mitch, “Yea, well Mitch, I was simply attempting have my optimistic side shine through for you and the others and I was hoping we wouldn’t find anything. Obviously, you see that sometimes I am wrong.”
Some kid standing there was staring at the bike and was thinking to himself, “Man, I bet that bike would look great cleaned up. It looks like a freaking Mongoose mountain bike. I have always wanted me a Mongoose!”
And Detective Todd Henry, well he was thinking the obvious. Shit, Joan is going to kill me not picking up our little girls from daycare tonight on time.
Oh and then immediately a little smile came across one side of his face that stretched to the other as he started thinking the most important thing…
24 for 24,,,,, HELL YEA! I can’t wait to see Lt. Stephens face!!
Detective Henry quickly came back to his senses as he looked down at the skull of what he assumed was Bryan Morrissey and then looked at Darla and saw a tear coming rolling down her cheek.
This brought him back to reality fast, really, really fast.
Detective Henry reached over and put his hand on her shoulder and she looked up at him and Darla quietly said for only him to hear, in the most adult voice Todd had ever heard a kid of her young age use,
“You better find the motherfucker who did this or I will! And I assure you, you don’t want me to find him!”
It was the most grown up straightforward statement Detective Henry had ever heard a twelve year old girl say, especially directed at him. It startled him to hear her use the word motherfucker, but the word needed to be said and she said it. What was really odd was he actually believed her.
Detective Henry looked at her for a few seconds. He then looked over at the skull and then back at Darla. She was still looking up staring at him, not blinking, with a serious look of disgust and anger on her face.
“I will Darla Lang. Trust me, I will!” Todd said and meant it as Detective Henry keeps his promises.