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Chapter 1

As a detective, something that often plagued my mind was what truly makes someone good or evil? You see our perception of the two relies heavily upon our moral compass, so anyone is capable of justifying their actions as morally correct to themselves to act on. So is there truly good and evil in this world? Maybe it was just a concept created to shape our reality to entertain a certain mindset to combat the vicious nature that’s normally present within all of us.

“How are you feeling today, Matthew?” My therapist asked.

I laid there silent still preoccupied with my thoughts, I hated therapy. I would have preferred being anywhere else but here, call me a coward for not wanting to face the demons that lay comfortably in my closet but throwing myself in my work is what keeps me focused. Keeping the evil at bay is what I can do best to atone for what I have done, or so I thought.

“You’ve been coming here for about two months now and you haven’t made much progress.”

“Thanks for the reminder that I’m failing at something else in life.”

I’m sure of when it began, somewhere along the road of life I became numb, I felt nothing, and even in situations that normally evoked a reaction out of me didn’t anymore. I was not sure if it was a cause for concern or just the side effects of what happened but if so I didn’t know how to feel about it. I no longer felt as if I was the one in control of my life but instead, it felt as if I was stuck on autopilot.

“Is that what you feel like, a failure in life?”

“No offense doc but don’t we all feel that way at least at some point in our lives?”

He decided against answering me but opted to scribble something down on his notepad, I hated that. I disliked feeling as if I was some broken experiment under observation; even though it was his job I couldn’t help but feel as if I was being judged.

“What are you writing?” I asked annoyed.

“Just taking notes of my observations, I’m sure it will help with our future sessions.”

“Observations like what?”

He took off his glasses now exposing his wrinkled eyes even better and crossed his legs; his stare grew more intense as if he were searching for a sign that I was ready to be slapped with what he thought was the truth. I was ready for it; I was ready to go along with whatever he had to say so I could quickly get these sessions over with but I guess that was just my fragile confidence speaking.

“You’re angry,” he began calmly like a parent lecturing their child, “not angry with the world but angry with yourself. A part of you still refuses to accept that the death of your wife was indeed not your fault; you’re blaming yourself as a means to justify what happened so it makes sense to you and that’s not right.”

I wanted to feel angry but I couldn’t, I wanted to refute every word he said but I couldn’t. All I could do was lay there and be consumed by what I was too scared to face, how could I be wrong for blaming myself? I was supposed to be her partner and protector for the rest of our lives and I refuse to believe it was meant to be that short.

“It is my fault,” I said clenching my arms, “she probably would have still been here if she married someone else.”

“How so, you said it yourself that your marriage was a great one.”

“If it was so great then tell me why she took her own life!” I spat out. “Please make it make sense! How can someone happily married want to take their life?!” I sat up and buried my face in my hands trying to push back the tears I felt coming forward. “I failed her, that’s the only logical explanation…I failed my wife, I was too caught up with work it seems to even realize that something was not right.”

The silence was almost tangible as he stared at me with a look I despised, the same look everyone at her funeral gave me as if I was a lost and helpless sheep. I despised it because it was true; I am indeed lost and helpless without her, the vibrant colors of my life evaporated the day she died and only left a canvas in the shade of black and white. I even tried my hand at religion but nothing seemed to extinguish or help balance what I was feeling.

“You didn’t fail your wife,” he said sternly, “she had her reasons but it’s the not knowing why clouds your mind. I understand that it’s hard losing a loved one but you have to remember that no matter who the person is we all have our issues outside of everything else. A lot of individuals who are viewed as happy could be the ones suffering the most in silence.”

“So why couldn’t she talk to me? Why couldn’t she have tried to allow me to help her?”

“Those are questions only you can answer, you knew her the best.”

After what she did I lost all my confidence in that, I felt as if I didn’t truly know her. All of our conversations and memories playback like a deceitful film reel in my head because her action went against everything I knew about her. My phone began to vibrate with a call from work so I knew I had to leave, I took up my jacket along with any dignity I had left and excused myself.

“Nothing will be gained from blaming yourself Matthew, remember that.” He said before I left.

I thought the worst part of my day was over with but I was sadly mistaken, the news of a homicide normally filled my body with the much-needed adrenaline to stay clear from drowning in my thoughts but this was different. The address I got to report to was one I knew all too well.

“Dear God,” I whispered to myself as I covered my nose.

Those were the only words that managed to escape my lips as my eyes consumed the gruesome scene before me. Apart from me wanted to believe a wild animal somehow just randomly got into the home to cause such a mess, my entire being wanted to believe nothing else but that, but the evidence didn’t point to that at all.

“I know what you’re feeling.” Said the crime scene investigator, her words were riddled with disbelief and I honestly couldn’t blame her.

“What happened here?” I asked as I pulled on my gloves.

“What didn’t happen would have been a better question, with all this blood we don’t even know where to begin. My best guess is that there must be one hell of a reason for this.”

I stepped further into the garage I was quite familiar with because the deceased was a good friend of my late wife. I felt nothing but pain in my chest with each image that got burned into my eyes because it was enough to know that she had suffered greatly. What could have possibly made someone do this? I knelt by the body and I was sure that if I had passed this in the woods I would not have guessed it was a corpse.

“Whoever this was they were determined,” I said as I inspected the loose ropes around the body.

“That’s the understatement of the year. The amount of planning that had gone into this I doubt this is the case of a random murder or house burglary gone wrong. This entire crime scene feels personal.”

I found it odd that I somehow felt a pang of relief that this was a targeted crime rather than a random occurrence. I know that sounds awful but in my line of work, I always have to see the silver linings in even the smallest of things. This will allow us to at least have a direction to lean towards with this investigation since there is a higher chance of a motive being present rather than a serial killer.

“Was there any sign of forced entry?” I asked.

“None whatsoever, the victim most likely knew the culprit or she just chose the wrong day to leave her front door open.”

“Who found the body?”

“The first responded officers, her employers called in a wellness check since it was not like her to miss three days of work without notice.”

“What did you get yourself mixed into Cynthia?” I asked myself.

Cynthia was a kind-hearted individual who dedicated her life to helping children; she was always willing to help my wife out with anything she needed just like the sister she dreamt of having. Seeing her like this disturbed me deeply because I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what could have led someone to kill her like this, I could be overthinking because I didn’t even know my wife so what business did I have assuming what she would and would not get herself mixed up in. Cynthia’s flesh was severely mangled and looked as if it was a movie prop out of a horror film.

“Any thoughts on what the murder weapon might be?”

“An animal was used; as you can see none of her injuries resemble anything of a clean cut. I can’t think of any handheld tool that could have done this.”

I went into her study and her now cold and unfinished meal was just lying there. I browsed around the room a bit before going to her desk and just like everywhere else in the home nothing seemed out of place. I noticed a clean rectangular print on the otherwise dusty table which indicated that the criminal probably took whatever was there with them. I searched her desk drawer and took out a little notebook I found, my wife and Cynthia worked up the same habit of documenting their days; maybe it’s just something they were taught back in medical school. It felt like I was invading her privacy as a friend but I knew that finding out what happened took priority.

It felt like a twisted tale of fate to me, I have been hoping and praying for a chance to redeem myself and this could be it, solving this crime of her best friend could surely put my unrest at some ease. The notebook was filled with little notes to remind her of stuff, daily affirmations, and some phone numbers without names, and lastly some days she had the names of the persons she had planned to meet up with. The last entry had the name Jose Mendes and a time written on the page.

“Did you find anything?” The CSI asked as I entered back the garage.

I held up the notebook. “I think I got our first lead.”
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