I’m not afraid of death. Death is nothing but the unrivalled indifference to existence and all that lives. I’ve been indifferent to a lot of things my whole life. I shared a toxic relationship with both of my parents. One died years ago and another one was just buried in front of me. I see dead bodies in far worse condition than this one. The gasketed casket descended to the ground which was just beside my father and I clenched my fist in anger. I can never understand my parents even after they are long gone. My mother wrote in her will that she wanted to be buried beside my father going beyond their vows of till death do us apart.
If someone asked me what was my best memory with my mother I don’t think I will be able to recall. I just remember of a young woman who lived in stories, she always had a book in her hand and then it was replaced by poison. Her kidneys failed her as I predicted years ago because I can’t remember a time when she was not drinking. Rehab was her second home from where she came back more motivated than before to ruin her life. I guess she succeeded finally and the one thing she thought was saving her from drowning finally stabbed her in the back.
The sun was shining brightly upon us as if welcoming my mother to the earth. Only a few known people were present who stayed connected even after so many things that went wrong in the past. I accepted their condolences and unnecessary hugs even if they lacked warmth. The posthumous was held at my mother’s place where I handed the job to a funeral organiser. A book was left abandoned in the corner of the kitchen counter and I read the lines of the page she must have bookmarked a long time ago “Love speaks in flowers. The truth requires thorns.” My phone rang loudly in the stunned silence of the room and I quickly pushed the book inside my bag before answering the call.
“Benson. We got a new case and before you pick up your car keys I want you to know that I can handle the scene for today if you want.”
James Ruzek’s orotund voice filled my ears, the thirty-year-old man child I’ve become accustomed to in the past three years because he is my partner at work. I had no other choice, trust me, I tried my best to made him transfer to another department.
“You working on a crime scene alone, over my dead body, Ruzek.”
I looked over at the almost empty backyard with only a few people hanging around. I raised my hand to get the attention of Elise, the funeral organiser.
“Isn’t it too soon to be talking about dead bodies, Benson?”
The man clearly doesn’t have a professional bone in his body but I tolerate him for his brains.
“Send me the address and meet me there.”
I hung up on him before he could talk some more unnecessary shit I rather not hear. My phone beeped with a message and I jumped out of my chair putting the beer back in the fridge. I grabbed my jacket and car keys as I saw Elise coming inside the front door.
“Elise, thank you for being such a great help today. I just got a call from work and I have to leave right now. Let me know when everyone leaves the house. You have my number right?”
Elise who was a few inches smaller than me gave me a perfect practised smile and told me not to worry. What is she thinking about me? A daughter who couldn’t care less about her dead mother. Well, if that is not the truth then I don’t know what is. I entered the address into the GPS and as the destination got closer, the homicide detective overtook the not-so-distraught daughter.
The riverside was blocked for the citizens as I saw a body lying on the ground covered up in a sheet. The dull ache settled in my chest that once again we couldn’t stop this from happening. I saw Ruzek, the six-foot-tall giant man, talking to someone. He must be questioning the passers-by or any regulars who might know what happened.
I bend down and remove the sheet from the body with my gloved hands only to come face to face with a dead girl who looked vaguely familiar. The skin on her hands and feet were bleached, swollen and wrinkled. Her nails were filled with dirt and broken. Her face was blued by the harsh water and even in death, she looked like she was tortured. This is clearly not a suicide. I quickly covered her body back with the sheet and moved over to where Ruzek was talking to a man.
“I come to this place every morning. I saw something floating in the river. At first, I thought it was some trash then it turned with the flow and I realized it was a human body. The body came closer to the shore of the Fraser River off the south foot of Salish Drive in the Musqueum Reserve and I called the cops immediately.”
We dismissed the man and gave each other a look that said we were going to solve this case with whatever we got. We both know it is not a suicide, it is a murder.
“Do you also think that this girl could be that missing girl? We need the forensics to confirm her identity but as you say all the time I have a gut feeling that she is the missing girl.”
James looked at the forensics team who were putting the body away in a bag. He is probably right. Two weeks ago, a missing report was filed by distraught parents who don’t know where their 16-year-old daughter went missing. Ramek Malik and Silvas Santos were the two detectives who were assigned the case and came up with nothing except the unofficial conclusion that she may have run away from home. There is still a search team looking out for her but I think we found her today.
“I don’t think we need confirmation. I remember that girl’s face like my own and it definitely matches this one. Tell the forensics to get back to us with every single detail they can gather from her body. I need to know everything.”
Ruzek kept chewing the gum in his mouth and sceptically looked at me.
“What? Why are you giving me that look?”
I finally succumbed and asked him. I think I know where his line of questioning will go.
“Your mother just died and not hours later you saw another dead body. You need to take some time off. I don’t think you are in your right mind to solve any type of case right now.”
I focused my sharp stare at him until he finally sighed and looked away moving his hands above his shoulders in surrender.
“I’m just looking out for you, partner.”
He gave me that boyish smile that infuriates the hell out of me but right now I need every kind of normalcy in my life and solving murders is one of them.
“Let’s solve this case, partner.”
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