The 5 Stages of Grief

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Book 2, Anger / Chapter 1, Sgt. Whitford

Brandon was at the crime scene waiting for him. Had he not known better, he would have thought the young rookie eager, except nobody was eager on this one. Arriving, it appeared they had all been waiting on him as no-one, not even the coroner, had ventured into the place. He liked it that way, liked to feel it fresh, undisturbed by the clueless who arrived first to deter any neighbors or curious passersby. By the condition of the average crime scene, he swore the blues were blind-folded, he just hadn’t caught them yet.

It was going to be bad. He felt it in his bones. A sick feeling as if they were changing, morphing into something else and whatever it was, was not compatible, was being rejected.

Brandon met him the moment Scott exited his car, he looked nervous. “The Lieutenant was here – just left. Peeled outa here real mad – was asking about you.” The young cop’s eyes darted everywhere at once as if waiting for the boss to spring out of a bush or from behind a can of trash.

“Cool your jets, we’ll be fine. The Lieutenants just under some heat and you know what they say, shit rolls down hill – careful you don’t step in it.” Brandon smiled, Scott tossed his cigarette, lit another. “So what do we have here?”

“I’m not sure yet Sarge. There’s the first officer on scene. He saw the body, but he’s not talking. Barfing all over the damn place – but not talking.” Brandon gave him a sideways smile knowing how well he’d held his shit together, all things considering, on the last crime scene.

“So we don’t know what we’re walking into – we’re going in blind?”

“Not blind, not entirely. It’s the same guy as last time, at least that’s what I overheard. The Lieutenant told everyone you were in charge – when you got your lazy ass down here.” Brandon smiled again feeling more at ease around the gruff Sergeant. Scott shot him a look. “What? That’s what he said!”

“Well then, let’s go see what we can find out.” Scott flicked his second smoke away in what felt like as many minutes. Breakfast of champions, he thought, then led his way across the lawn to the trembling young officer holding his face in his hands, crying.

His walk around the perimeter revealed nothing. As Brandon had pointed out, no one but the crying-guy had gone into the place. Word had gotten out regarding the last crime scene and no-one wanted any part of this one – it was all his. Sucks to be me. The only thing the crying-guy had given him was the rancid stench of vomit on his shoes, as that was the only thing other than crying like a fucking girl, he seemed capable of. Not three steps away from the guy and he spews yellow, greenie, vomit at him, like some projectile alien thing, right onto his favorite shoes, then sits down and resumes crying. Scott didn’t stick around to ask the idiot questions. Why bother? He’d dealt with people like this many times over his career and their testimonies all seemed to have one thing in common – they were useless. Worse than useless – they wasted his time. “It was horrible!” “What was horrible?” “The thing – it was horrible! I can’t believe— It was just so horrible!” Pretty much summed up every witness in the state – useless.

“Shall we go in and see what’s got this guy all fucked-up, Brandon? Re-assault our senses? Hell, I don’t know about you but I haven’t had a good puke in at least twenty-four hours.” Sergeant Whitford flicked another cigarette onto the puke and cop infested lawn. “How about you – you up for it Officer Marley?” The joy and laughter was gone from his face, but he wasn’t shaky or nervous either. Did he have trepidations? Of course, who wouldn’t? But all in all, the kid was holding up just fine. Hell, better than fine, he thought, glancing toward the crying guy, shaking his head.

Upon entering, they were greeted with a similar stench to yesterday mornings, though he sensed there was something different. He didn’t know what it was. Not exactly. Not yet. But even so, years of wading through revulsion as the city’s top investigator taught him to trust his gut instinct and this one was powerful, practically screaming at him.

“What’s the matter Sarge?”

“Nothing. Just a feeling…. We had better brace ourselves Kid, who knows what sick shit we’re about to walk into?”

“Worse than yesterday?” Scott heard the quiver in the rookie’s voice, the unsteady crack slightly higher in pitch, though the kid was trying to sound seasoned, tougher than he was. “I don’t think so. What could be worse than that?”

“Right.” Scott echoed. “What could possibly be worse than that?” It was a fair question, yet still – he had a feeling.

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