The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 12, A.D.A. Blantyre-Tattershall

“So Doc, what do you think? He gonna pull it off or what?” After six years in Baltimore, Chloe hadn’t lost a single inflection of her thick Boston accent. Being the only girl in a family of six children and the youngest to-boot, made her not only outspoken but tough and independent too. She refused to follow in her family footsteps, become another Blantyre cop to decorate the annals. Instead, she was the first of her line to go to University. That she went in for law was a no-brainer. She thanked God every day that she hadn’t gone to the academy. Just the thought of trailing after her five older brothers, her father, her uncles, grandfather and his brothers, even her grandfather’s grandfather. It would have been an impossible situation. If a guy so much as looked at her he’d have been marked as a dead-man. The fact that she had met Bobby, her loser of an ex-husband and they had managed to elope still amazed her to this day. True, the lot of them arrived in Vegas only forty-five minutes later, gramps and all, but they were too late. The deed had been done and all the cursing and shouting in the world was not going to undo it. Chloe smiled to herself, reminiscing over the love and unity her family had shown that day. She thought she was escaping from them, yet in the end, it just drew her closer. Bobby Tattershall, what a colossal pain in the ass he turned out to be!

Funny how situations such as these made you go back, search your own life for family and loved ones, reminisce. Standing beside Dr. Alexander in the observation room waiting for the Lieutenant did just that. She turned to look at the Doctor to see if it had a similar effect on him only to realize that he must have not heard her previous question. She stared a moment longer.

He stood stone still, his chin resting on the fist of his right hand, his elbow supported by his left. A handsome sort of fellow in a nerdy genius sort of way. At least her family would have called him a nerd, as he wasn’t wearing blue-jeans and a Red Sox cap, which was all the evidence they’d need for indictment, trial, and execution. His thick rimmed glasses were of obvious quality as was the beautifully tailored grey suit. His wore a black shirt and tie with no embellishment whatsoever and his shoes sparkled of a new shine. He looked and smelled as if he’d just arrived from a fresh cut and shave as there wasn’t a single whisker in sight or hair out of place. Nerd my fine ass, Chloe thought, admiring him openly as he seemed to be in a trance of some kind and hadn’t realized she was standing there.

After a few more moments of ogling (she felt it getting a little weird, as if she’d overstepped the bounds of ogling decency) she repeated her question, only this time with a little oomph and hopefully a little less Boston about her. “So, Dr. Alexander, is this the real deal or simply another case of someone trying to get away with murder?”

Still nothing – not a twitch, not a movement. Jesus! What kind of—

“I haven’t made my mind up yet Miss? Missis? Tattershall, having only arrived a little before you.” She knew he must have moved, she’d heard his voice though it was as if it had come from a statue as he remained motionless in the dimly lit room. Oh my God, he must have been watching me the entire time I was checking him out! There was no way he could not have noticed. She was mortified, felt her cheeks reddening, then laughed, thinking, What the hell, girl. It’s not as if men haven’t been checking you out all your life. Maybe it would give her some kind of authoritative edge with this guy, intimidate him or something. After all, at five three and a half, with pumps, she needed all the help she could get.

Finally, he turned his head to look at her, her laugh evidently a little louder than she’d expected. He paused, lowered his hand from his chin and took his lengthy time to look her up and down, not missing a single charm. Chloe would give odd’s that – in his mind’s eye, she stood totally nude in front of him, except for her pumps of course. As unsettling as it was, she didn’t speak or move. She knew this was merely a game of psychology on the Doctor’s part, showing her he had been alert and aware the entire time, attempting to gain the upper hand. After all, hadn’t she done precisely the same thing to him and not five minutes earlier, if that? If she were to show any sign of being uncomfortable under his mental undressing, she would all but hand him the authority he was playing for and with barely a fight. Chloe would die before she allowed that to happen. Nothing more than a little embarrassment and some lewd staring. I’ve dealt with that since sixteen.

His gaze finally met her eyes. Their radiant green would normally be the first feature anyone would notice about her. Except for her flaming red hair of course, which she wore in a pixie cut with the top a little spiked as she didn’t want to give anyone the impression she was soft or anything. “Are you finished Doctor? Or shall I turn around so you can get a proper look at my ass?”

“That depends, Miss? Missis? Tattershall – on whether or not you would have me turn around first? After all, who is to say that I don’t have the nicer ass – in a manly way, of course?” He stood cement still, not giving away a thing. She was the first to buckle, a snort of laughter erupting from her nose.

It took each of them a number of minutes to recover, neither able to catch his or her breath. Chloe was the first to speak, “Blantyre-Tattershall,” she corrected him, working to catch her breath, “it’s hyphenated. I didn’t want to give up my family name. Proud Irish and all that. From Boston.” She sat in one of the few chairs placed around the tiny room. Only the two of them and it still felt crowded.

“From Boston? Really? I hardly noticed.” His attempted straight face failed, erupting with it another fit of laughter. Through gasps and snorts, he managed to get out his next question. “Blantyre-Tattershall, so you’re married?”

That one managed to cool her off. She stared at him a moment before answering. “Was.” Her stare never wavered, the laughter that once filled the room now a memory, her laser beam gaze directed, ready to cut him down. “Not the usual question asked in situations such as these, Doctor,” She flipped her thumb towards the two-way mirror, the perpetrator sitting at the table on the far side. “Why do you ask?”

“Woh-Woh-Woh! Hold on there, Tinker-Bell.” Her eyes turned to ice and he wouldn’t have been surprised to see flames fire from her nose.

“Tinker-Bell? Did you just call me Tinker-Bell? Tell me you didn’t. Tell me—”

“I meant no disrespect.” He cut her off before she got a full head of steam. “I am a psychiatrist after all, I was merely observing the obvious. It’s what I do, but you already knew that.” His hands held up in front of him like a boxer, he watched her watch him. After a count of about fifteen or so, her shoulders finally relaxed, the sternness leaving her face. He tried again, “I am sorry Misses—”

“Chloe, call me Chloe, Doctor?”

“Only if you promise to address me as Walter?” He waited. After a pause, she gave her head the slightest nod of agreement. He lowered his arms to his sides.

“Tinker-Bell was what my older brothers called me growing up, still call me actually. It’s because I’m—”

“Short?” He finished with a wink.

The eyes began to ice again then dissipated when she realized he was smiling, not making fun of her. “Yes, short – with red hair!” She held her tiny fist up daring him to comment.

Again, he threw his hands up in defense, this time playfully and spoke through his guard, “I like short though! And I love red hair! Did you know it is the rarest of all hair colors? That only one to two percent of all the population can lay claim to having red hair?” She stood, staring at him. He could tell she was not quite sure if he was poking fun or about to give her a lecture of some sort.

He relaxed his guard and continued, “It occurs more frequently, about two to six percent, in people of northern or western European ancestry, though much less frequently in other populations. Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome sixteen, which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein.

Okay, now she’s looking at me as if I’m some sort of freak or something. Not that I haven’t seen that look before. No, I’m all too familiar with that one. Why do I do this to myself? Why can’t I just shut up? Nevertheless, he ploughed on, “In Polynesian culture, red hair has traditionally been seen as a sign of lineage from high-ranking ancestors and a symbol of right to rule.” He smiled. She smiled back. Was she interested or was it merely a pity smile?

“Redheads constitute approximately four percent of the European population, with Scotland having the most abundant proportion at thirteen percent, with nearly forty percent carrying the recessive redhead gene. Ireland has the second highest percentage. You are from Irish stock are you not, Chloe?” She nodded at him, slack-jawed, probably too stunned by his diarrhea mouth to do much else. He continued on. It was as if he had no control over his ability to embarrass himself. “With as many as 10 per cent of their population having red, auburn, or strawberry-blond hair, it is thought that up to 46 percent of the Irish people carry the recessive redhead gene.

What is this guy on about? she wondered to herself. What has it been—five, ten minutes—he’s been going on about red hair now? What is he, some kind of redhead professional—or maybe he has some kinky fetish? Next thing, he’ll be asking me if the carpet matches the drapes for Christ’s sakes. “You seem to know an awful lot about red hair Walter.” She tried to hold a smile.

“Oh, that’s not the half of it!”

If anything his excitement seemed to increase, Did I give him the impression I was interested in his freaky genetic seminar?

“The MC1R recessive variant gene that gives people red hair and fair skin is also associated with freckles,” he beamed. “And that’s not all. The myth which states red hair is likely to die out in the near future is exactly that, a myth started by Procter and Gamble to sell hair-dye, with experts either dismissing the research as lacking in evidence or stating it bogus from the get-go.”

“Well Walter, I assure you that’s not me. I am a redhead from birth and still am,” she lied, a little. After all, a woman didn’t have to admit to dying her hair providing she kept it the same color she was born with, right. Well, that was her story and she was sticking with it. She laughed at the thought then realized he took that as a further sign of interest and continued.

“Some other myths state that redheads are quick of temper and more libidinous and mischievous of nature than the rest of the more subdued hair colors, but they are only myths. There is no proof whatsoever to any truth to date.” His head was cocked to the side as if pondering.

She, on the other hand, was quickly heating – her face soon to match her obviously intoxicating hair. “Oh really? Are you sure of that Walter? The temper thing I mean?”

Her point was entirely missed on him as he persisted. “Early artistic representations of Mary Magdalene usually depict her as having long, flowing red hair. Although a description of her hair color was never mentioned in the Bible and it is possible the color is an effect caused by pigment degradation in the ancient paint. In addition, Judas Iscariot is represented with red hair in both Spanish culture and in the works of William Shakespeare, reinforcing the color as a negative stereotype. In Spain, the prejudice against red hair is also extended to so-colored cats and dogs.” Proud as a peacock, he finally shut the fuck up long enough to look her in the face.

Though she could not see herself, she hadn’t any need, his response to her stare confirmed she was a pretty frightening sight. “And which one do I remind you of?” she asked, her voice cool, her intent anything but.

“I beg your pardon?” nervousness, uncertainty crept into his voice.

Good, she thought. “Which am I? The whore, the traitor to the human race or the dog?” She was taking things out of context and knew it, but she wanted to make him squirm. Didn’t he deserve it after putting her through that creepy diatribe about the color of her hair? To add to his discomfort, she purposefully folded her arms under her breasts to make them appear larger, more prominent, daring him to look. All the while tapping the toe of her three-inch pump to illustrate her growing impatience.

He stared at her. His lips moving but nothing coming out, like a fish out of water before its head was bashed against the side of the boat. First it was her face. But the I want you dead look she was impaling him was too uncomfortable, so he shifted his gaze down to her chest without thinking. Where – along with the extra cup-size added by her folded arms and the jiggling created by her tapping foot – he quickly became unnerved. Any remaining chance at cool unraveled without panache before her eyes.

She was about to let him off the hook with an explosion of laughter, when the door to the tiny room opened. “Good, you’re both here. It’s bullshit right?”

It was all the excuse the Doctor needed to break eye, or better yet boob-contact with her. “Is what bullshit? And more to the point – whom may I ask are you?”

“Dr. Alexander may I introduce you to Lieutenant Sam King. Lieutenant – Dr. Walter Alexander.” As they reached to shake each other’s hands, Chloe squeezed her tiny body between the two men and slipped out the single door into the hall. By the time either realized what she’d done, she was gone.

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