May 28, 2005
Rachel Storm stepped out onto her front porch, quietly shutting the door behind her. She sat on her porch swing, sipping her cup of hot apple and cinnamon tea, one hand on her swollen belly. It was a cool but sunny fall morning in the small mountain town of Providence. Rachel heard chuckling as the screen door opened and turned to see her fiancé, Jacob Alexander, join her out on the porch.
She wore only her nightgown;, her bare feet were curled beneath the hem to keep them warm. Jacob crossed his arms over his chest as he shivered in the cool mountain air. Being very pregnant, the cool breeze felt great to Rachel, since she was too warm most of the time. She was happy to see that he had learned to dress warmer, so she wouldn’t get too hot.
The thermostat was turned down low enough in the house to ensure her comfort. Everything was done for her comfort as she entered the final stages of her pregnancy.
She waved her hand trying to get his attention. “Jake? Earth t’ Jake… Come in, Jake.”
Coming out of his thoughts, Jacob smiled at Rachel. “Good morning, babe! Sorry, I just noticed the differences in our choice of clothing this morning. It makes me laugh.”
Rachel giggled, looking from his sweatshirt to her own bare feet. “Aye, well, I’m too warm,” she said as she smiled and shrugged. “Anyway, good marnin’, sweetheart, how did ye sleep?”
“Like a rock. How are you and the baby doing?”
“We’re grand, Jake. Grand altogether.”
He sat down next to her and kissed her lips tenderly. “How did I ever win your love, Rachel?”
“Oh, that question’s easily answered. Yer eyes stole me heart so naturally I had t’ give ye the rest of me.”
He smiled and kissed her again. “Would you sing me one of your songs about Ireland? You know the one I love to hear you sing.”
“Aye, Jake, I can do that.” She started to hum at first, and then began singing one of the most beautiful songs Jake had ever heard.
He closed his eyes, allowing the gentle brogue in her voice to soothe him. His child was going to be the luckiest baby on earth. No other mother could have a voice more beautiful than his love’s.
When the song finished, he opened his eyes and smiled. “You have the most beautiful voice in the whole world.”
Her entire face turned a pretty shade of pink. “Thank ya.” She said. She was always self-conscious about her singing.,
“I need to go into town for some parts so I can fix the washing machine for you, sweetheart.” Jake said. “I shouldn’t be too long, and then we can finish what we started last night.”
She narrowed her eyes at him and pursed her lips, giving him a look that seemed to say, ‘you naughty boy’.
He couldn’t help but chuckle. “What? I’m talking about looking at the baby name book. What do you think I’m talking about? Oh, and I do like the name Isaac.”
Rachel turned away, not wanting Jake to see her blush. She sipped her tea, and then laughed. Jake headed over to his jeep and whistled for his dog, Thiago, before taking off for town.
In a neighboring city sat one of the federal penitentiaries. This particular penitentiary housed some of the most ruthless, most heinous fugitives known. One such fugitive held the title “The Butcher.” He had a reputation for the ability to take anyone out, even from behind bars, so people rarely crossed him. If they did, they knew that their life was in danger.
A guard’s heavy footsteps approached The Butcher’s cell, and stopped long enough to take the next termination order as it passed through the bars. The note was then given to another guard and then taken to a secluded area in the back of the prison. This area originally was drawn up as a place to store equipment, but it was never completed.
The guard, Thomas Levente, waited for the arrival of the person who got hired to do the job. He found himself constantly checking to make sure that no one else was around.
Thomas shivered as a bone chilling wind blew past him. “I never should have gotten on the Butcher payroll.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of smokes. His hands were shaking so badly, he could barely light the cigarette. “Dang, it’s too bloody cold out here to be doing this. If I get caught in the middle of all this, I’ll be put away for the rest of my life.” He said to himself as he puffed on his cigarette. “This is crazy!” He shook his head. “Standing alone out in the dark, when The Butcher’s wanting a cop’s family dead.”
Thomas took a deep breath to try and calm his nerves and a strange scent lingered on the breeze. He tried to place what the scent was but couldn’t. When a man stepped out of the shadows and appeared in front of him, he instantly knew what the scent was. It smelled like fear the fear that comes from doing business with people like this.
“Don’t look so nervous. I could hear you shaking from a mile away.” The man laughed.
The guard slipped the note to The Fist, who was a hitman, The Butcher hired, got the charge of completing the termination order. “The Butcher has given his next target.”
The Fist scanned over the note and nodded his head as he read. “I see The Butcher is finally tired of this detective fouling up his plans. If I’d been in charge, I would’ve taken him out a long time ago. No matter, I’ll do it. The Butcher knows my fee..”
Thomas took out a large manila envelope and handed it over. “The fee is all there, I assure you.”
“I have no doubt. Tell him that the hit will be done by tomorrow.”
The guard nodded, then left, hoping that no one had seen the deal that just went down.
The Fist drove his black SUV up the canyon road heading to the small country town of Providence. Inside the SUV, he scanned over some documents. Included was the picture and profile of the person he had been hired to kill. The picture was of a young woman in her late teens to early 20’s, long fiery red hair, green eyes, and olive skin. The file gave the current address of the young woman and included a note that read “Make this one personal.” He reduced the vehicle’s speed just before he reached the address and a four-door Jeep pulled out of the driveway of the house he was watching. As the jeep passed, he noticed that only a male and a dog were inside.
The man parked down the road from the house, pulled out a black case, and got out. He decided to take the back way to the house through the woods. He continued through the woods until the house came into view. He opened the case, pulled out his .45 semi-automatic pistol, slid the magazine in, and headed to the house.
The young, soon-to-be mother finished her tea and went inside to get ready for the day. She entered the kitchen, put her cup in the sink, and headed upstairs to take a shower. She walked into the bathroom, started the water, and returned to her bedroom to take off her necklace. A strange feeling came over her as she stepped into the room. She slowly scanned in the direction of her dresser, then along the wall until she reached her king-sized bed. As she stared at the bed, a small smile reached her lips. She remembered when they picked out this bed and all the love that was made on it came flooding back to her. She dismissed the feeling as hormones and went over to her dresser, where her jewelry box sat, and started to undo her necklace. A man burst out of the closet, grabbed her, and threw her down on the bed, pointing his gun at her head.
A paralyzing fear that she had never experienced before rose up inside Rachel. She tried not to show the panic that she felt as she looked up at the man “Who are ye? What d’ ye want?”
The Fist stared into Rachel’s lifeless, terror-filled eyes, and his mouth formed into a grin. With a vicious pistol whipping, brutal sexual assault, and a bullet through her skull, he was certain that he had fulfilled the Butcher’s request to make this job ‘personal.’
He smiled. “The Butcher would be extremely pleased at just how personal I made it for this detective, but I hope this doesn’t come back to bite The Butcher in the end.”
He shot Rachel a few more times, smiling as her blood drained from her body. He paused as a thought entered his head that he really should make this look like a random robbery gone badly. He took all the valuables and ransacked the whole house, hoping that would do the trick. He turned toward the front door, he took a deep breath, as the high from killing the woman filled his entire being. He headed back to his SUV, and sent a text message to the guard that gave him the profile. “The job is done. And I made it extremely personal.” He got in and drove away.
Ten minutes later, Jake pulled into the driveway leading to his small two-bedroom home. He jumped out of his jeep, excited to see his wonderful woman and to feel the child she carried.
He flung open the front door “Rachel, I‘m home, Sweetheart!”
He saw that the house had been ransacked. He frantically searched through the house, looking for her. “Rachel, where are you?”
As he made his way upstairs, he heard the water running. He jogged up the remaining steps and rushed to the bathroom. The door sat ajar, but Rachel wasn’t there.
Jake got an uneasy feeling as he reached into the shower to shut the water off. He pulled his concealed semi-automatic pistol, and headed to the bedroom.
Jake opened the door and stopped in his tracks. Rachel lay on the bed, in a puddle of blood. Jake let out a blood-curdling scream which brought, Thiago, running in to investigate. Pure rage ran through his body and he stared at her.
Jake rushed to Rachel’s side. His fingers trembled as he tried to find a pulse. He first checked her wrist, there wasn’t one. He next checked her neck. He prayed that she would still be alive, knowing deep inside that she wasn’t.
Rage and grief rushed like a river through him. All his training told him to secure the scene. He reached for the phone to call 911.
“This is Detective Alexander, badge number 1369. My wife has been shot. I need a bus at Sixty-Three South, Center Street, in Providence.”
“Ten-Four Detective. Ambulance and Police on the way.”
Jacob ended the call, then turned back to his wife. He gently caressed her check. “I’m sorry my Love. I should have been here.”
The ambulance and the police arrived a few minutes later. The paramedics did what they could, but she was already gone. The strapped her to the gurney, took her down the stairs and out to the ambulance. They shut the back doors and took off to the hospital.
The first responding officer taped off the crime scene and waited for the detectives and CSI to show up. The detectives arrived a few minutes after that. One of the detectives who were assigned Rachel’s case, walked up to him. “Jake, we’re so sorry to hear about your loss, but you know, we have to follow proper procedure. We’ll need to ask you a few questions.”
Jake nodded. “I understand.”
“Can you take us through what happened?”
“I had gone to the store to get some parts to fix the washing machine. When I got back, I found that the house had been ransacked, so I ran upstairs to find Rachel. When I ran into the bedroom, I found her on the bed. She had been shot.”
“What store did you go to? We will have to check out your story.”
“Of course. I went to Ace Hardware in the middle of town.”
“What time was that?”
“It was around ten in the morning I believe.”
“That is all we need for right now.” The detective said. He then went and joined his partner who was talking to the first responding officer.
He arrived at the hospital ten minutes later. Bursting through the door, he ran in, and up to the nurse’s station.
“My wife was just brought in.”
“What’s her name, Sir?”
“Rachel. Rachel Storm.” He informed the nurse.
“Just a moment.” The nurse entered the information into her computer. “Please take a seat, and the doctor will be right out.” Jake sank into a chair in the waiting room, and lowered his head into his hands. He wished the doctors would be able to make everything right, but as his thoughts went back to how she looked, her pale skin against the pool of red, he realized that they wouldn’t have been able to bring her back. The doctor came out of the OR a couple of hours later, a fallen look on his face which could only mean one thing…
“I’m sorry Detective the damage was too extensive... We did all we could to save her…but she didn’t make it.”
One word escaped Jacob’s lips. “Rachel.”
The doctor wasn’t finished, though. Through the fog in his head, Jake heard the man’s voice. “We did an emergency c-section to try to save the baby, but it was too late.” The doctor was looking at the floor, seeming unable to look at Jake. “I’m so sorry.” He said. “Both your wife and son are dead.”
Alice stood up and wrapped her arms around her partner. She held him in the warm embrace which allowed his rough exterior to crumble and the tears flowed from him. He stood in the embrace for what felt like forever and just cried.
One of the detectives who were assigned Rachel’s case, called Jake on his phone.
“This is Detective Jay Butland. I’m one of the detectives assigned to your wife’s case. My partner and I were wondering if you were up to answering a few more questions.”
Jake knew he had to answer their questions, but wasn’t sure if he could. New understanding came as the realization of how all the victims felt when he had to question them in their time of grief. He would show them more empathy. “Of course. Where did you want to do it?
”We would like to conduct the interview here at the station.”
“I’m on my way.”
When he arrived, the detectives attempted to offer their condolences, but Jake turned a cold shoulder.
The detectives both shrugged and decided to start the questioning. “Jake, did your girlfriend have any enemies?”
Jake looked down and then glanced up at them, despair filling his soul. “No. Of course not. She was loved by everyone.” Jake smiled. “She would go out of her way to help everyone she met. I don’t think her murder has anything to do with her.”
“Why do you say that, Detective?” asked Detective Butland.
“Well, I was investigating a person known only as The Butcher. He is wanted in over a dozen murders. He had a specific way he wanted his marks taken out.”
He had the mark shot four times. Once in the head and the other three in the chest. The same way my Rachel was killed.
Are you sure? That’s not really that unheard of. A lot of people are trained to do both.
Yeah, that’s true, however there was one more thing that showed me that it was a hit done by a professional hired by The Butcher.”
“You have my attention.” said Detective Butland
“The Butcher or whomever he hired to do the hit, always leaves a message saying that it’s personal.”
“So you found a message saying that it’s personal now?”
Jacob sighed. “Yeah, and it made all of this personal, as if killing her wasn’t enough.”
“What was the message?”
“I can’t tell you… It’s just too painful. The medical examiner will find it.”
“I understand. I wanted to be the one to tell you that your alibi checked out. You are no longer a suspect in your wife’s murder.”
Later that week, at the graveside service, a man, who no one recognized, stood by a lone grave in a long trench coat, watching. Jacob remained long after everyone else had paid their respects. “I miss you so much, Rachel, and I’m so lost since you were taken from me, love.” A tear fell as Jacob turned away from the grave. “I’ll find who did this to you, my love, and they will pay with their lives. I promise.”
The next day, Jacob returned to work and walked into Captain Castlemain’s office. The office was decorated with awards and plaques that were given to the captain for his service in the military and on the force. “You wanted to see me, sir?”
“Yes, please sit down.”
Jacob sat in the chair facing the captain’s desk, knowing what was coming.
“Jacob, how are you doing?”
“About as well as I can, sir.”
“You know we all have your back.”
“I know. Thank you, Sir.”
The captain ran his hand through his hair, the frustration getting to him. “Jake, you don’t have to call me sir, we’re friends.”
Jake just nodded then sighed.
“Jake, I have to put you on paid administrative leave until Rachel’s death is investigated by internal affairs. I’ll need your shield and side arm, please.”
Jake stared at him, the anger building inside.
“I’m sorry, but I have no choice, Jake. Please don’t make this any harder.”
Jake took each item from their proper places on his belt and set them on the captain’s desk. “I need time away, anyway. You know how to get hold of me, Captain.”
Jake turned and left the office. Having a lot of pent up frustrations, he went to the gym to relieve some of the frustration. He put his padded gloves on his taped fists and began working over a punching bag, hitting the bag harder and harder as the feelings of loss, rage, and frustration came to the surface. After an hour of Muay Thai boxing, he showered and returned home. There he packed all his clothes, climbed into his jeep, and took off out of town. He drove and drove, no planned destination in mind, just feeling an urgent need to get lost.
His mind continued to go back to the day his beloved Rachel was killed. He played the scene over and over. The moment he found her flashed in his mind’s eye, her body lying on the bed in a pool of blood. Rage exploded inside of him.
Jake desperately needed to talk to someone. He pulled over, checked both ways, and then did a U-turn. He pulled out his phone and called his partner.
“Jake is that you?”
The tears started to flow. “Yeah… Can I come over and talk?”
“Of course. I’m here for you.
“I’ll be there in a few.”
Five minutes later, Jake pulled into the driveway. He got out of the jeep, walked up to the front door and knocked.
Alice opened the door. “Come on in.”
Jake walked in and Alice could see the tears in his eyes. She wrapped her arms around him and whispered. “I’m so sorry Jake.”
“Thank you.” He said barely audible.
“Take a seat and I will get us something to drink.”
He nodded and sat down on the couch.
She handed him a cup. “It’s tea.”
He took the cup. “Alice, I miss her so much. I’m not sure how I’m going to go on without her.”
“I know you do. I also know you are strong enough to go on. She will always be with you, you just need to listen.”
“The captain took my badge and gun.”
“You will get them back.”
“That’s just it, I don’t think I want them back.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t stay here. It hurts too bad.”
“I understand. Do what you feel you need to, but always remember that I am here for you.”
“Thank you for everything. I will call the captain and explain everything.”
“Good luck, Jake.”
Jake hugged his partner one last time then left. He would deal with this on his own.
He kept driving, trying to outrun the memory of that horrific day. As the miles and cities flew past him, he was given time to think about what he needed to do. His promises to Rachel fueled his rage. This rage would help him find her killer and bring him to justice.
He knew that his captain would never let him work the case, so he needed to figure out a way to get all this off his mind. The only thing he was sure of right now was that a change is needed. He drove across the land in search of a new place to call home.
When the jeep finally broke down, he found himself in a city called Avalon, and figured this was good a place as any to start his life over. He found the nearest payphone and found the number to a garage and had it towed there.
He spoke with the manager of the garage. “Would you happen to know where the closest, cheapest motel is?
“Yeah there is a Motel 8 about a mile down the road. You can’t miss it.”
“Thank you.” He gave the manager all the cash he had on him and left the garage.
As Jake found the closest bus stop and sat down, his thoughts went back to the phone call he got from the insurance company. “Is this Mr. Jacob Alexander?”
“Yes, this is him.”
“This is Jordan Wells and I am from All City Insurance. I’m sorry about your loss, sir. The reason I am calling because you are the sole beneficiary of Rachel Storm’s life insurance plan. I would like to get together with you and discuss how you wanted to collect this money.”
“I’m only going to say this once, so listen up. I do not want anything to do with that money. Do whatever you want with it. I do not want it.”
Suddenly Jake felt a tap on his shoulder causing him to come out of his thoughts.
“Hey Mister?” The bus is about to leave.”
“What?” Asked Jake, a little confused as he looked up and saw a little boy about eight years old.
“Your bus, it’s about to leave.”
“Oh! Thanks!” Jake jumped up and ran after the bus. It stopped, and he got on it before it continued down the road.
Jake found the Motel 8 he was told about. He planned on staying just for that night, and then to search for a more stable place to live in the morning. He walked up to the front desk to get a room when a whiff of perfume wafted passed him. Two seconds of the smell sent his heart aching in his chest all over again. Of course, he recognized the rare scent. Rachel loved G'dartiste fragrance.
A young woman moved past him. He only saw her out of the corner of his eye, but that small glance made him immediately think of Rachel. The way she walked, the way her hair moved when she moved a certain way. The stranger didn’t have the long flowing red hair that Rachel did. A tear slowly rolled down his cheek. Jake took a deep breath, trying to calm himself enough to get a room for the night.
He turned back to the counter just as the gentleman was about to tap him on the shoulder.
“Sir, are you okay? Can I help you?”
Jake couldn’t look up at the man behind the front desk. “Yes…” Jake tried to force his mind from his painful memories to the task at hand. ”I need… a room.”
After giving the desk clerk his information, Jake got his room key and dragged himself up to the privacy he so desperately needed. He collapsed onto the bed, letting sleep finally overtake him.
While he slept, he dreamed about Rachel. The dreams would start out in a wonderful place, but then the memories of her death intruded and turned his peaceful place into pain and anguish.