The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 5, A.D.A. Blantyre-Tattershall

She couldn’t help herself, she had to laugh. What else was there to do? It was obvious he was shy – way shy – and that he hadn’t done anything wrong, not exactly. It wasn’t his fault really, she’d been standing in front of him essentially topless. She blushed, thinking about the bra she’d put on that morning. I might as well have gone topless. I mean, he is a man, even if a nerdy, shy, never seen a friggin girl before man – he’s still a man.

So she shrugged, handed him the files and did up her button. What else was there to do? “You owe me one, mister.”

“Pardon me. Owe you one, what?” He was adorably clueless.

“A peek – you owe me a peek. You’ve seen mine, now I get to see yours and I intend to collect.” She could hardly contain herself, barely keep a straight face, as what she’d just said began to register on his face. Despite the cool clothes, the perfect hair and teeth and the rest of the designer package, his face could not contain the real him –the shy lab-rat and all the uncertainty that went with it.

She’d just buttoned herself when she noticed Lieutenant King approaching from the far end of the hall. The Doctor was still in dispute with his response, so she snatched her files back and added, “Shh, the Lieutenants coming. We will continue this conversation later.” It took only moments for the Lieutenant’s long stride to reach them.

“Doctor,” he nodded, “Chloe,” he captured her eyes, held them. “There’s been another. He looked tired, beat-up from too many recent hard nights. He was shaking his head, though Chloe hadn’t noticed when he’d begun. “Where are we standing on this guy? Is he crazy or what?” The Lieutenant grew animated, louder with each question. “You gotta give me something. I mean – two murders! No statements in two days! Fuck guys, the brass are roasting my balls in a fire pit – sorry Chloe.” He looked to her, to excuse his language. She waved it off. “They want some answers. I mean, we got the guy, right? He’s admitted as much. So which way are we going with this thing? When can we make an announcement or something? It is the guy, right? I mean, we’re not in for any surprises are we? Doc…? Chloe…?” He stood, towering above her, the Doctor too – filling the hall as if a great slab of granite had fallen, blocking the escape – his head twisting from side to side, looking from one to the other for assurance, some kind of confirmation – his face, his eyes, pleading, practically begging. She hated seeing him like this. It was not right. Men like Sam were meant to be seen proud, solid. They were destined to give hope, not beg for it.

Dr. Alexander spoke first. “As far as I can tell Lieutenant – this is the guy.”

“There’re still questions though Sam,” Chloe jumped in. “Like is he sane? Can we prosecute him?”

The big man scratched his head then patted about his overcoat before dropping his restless arms to his sides, shoving them in his pocket. “So I can tell them we can make a statement? Get them off my ass?”

“Yeah,” she nodded. “That would be okay. Just don’t say too much – we’ll handle the details from the D.A.s office.” Chloe turned to look at the Doctor, “Once we determine which way we’re going to go with this thing.” He shrugged. She turned back to the Lieutenant. “Any new details with this one? Any breaks?”

He shook his head. “Don’t know much yet. I’ll bring the particulars when I get em – if you want to see them that is?” The Doctor looked over, both nodded. “I can hardly look at it myself – it’s the pictures – can barely keep my lunch down. If you two will excuse me, I’ve gotta go see the commissioner. He told me to report as soon as I talked to you two. Two deaths in two days tend to get people nervous, especially on an election year. Keep me posted if you make up your minds.” He turned to go then turned back again. “And keep your fingers crossed we don’t find any more.” Both nodded and he left moving as fast as his legs would take him without breaking into a run.

The mood in the Lieutenant wake was somber, each of them feeling the added pressure of time on something they did not dare rush. She was first to break the silence looking up at him to be sure she caught his eye, did not look away. “So after this case – you’ll go back home, leave Baltimore?”

“Yes.”

“Where’s that? Home for you, I mean?”

“California. Stanford actually – though I guess it could be anywhere…” he trailed off, looked about, avoiding her eyes, her chest, “but lots of travel – nowhere really…” He smiled, “Not a particularly good answer is it? I’ve never thought about it – always too caught up in my studies. It’s only been a few years now that I’ve been doing this. Why do you ask?”

“I have a standing rule never to go out with anyone in the system. You know cops, lawyers, local politicians and the like. I was just wondering if you fit any of the categories? Whether or not you were far enough removed to work tonight over drinks? My daughters at a sleepover so I’d planned on going over the file – correction – files. What do you say? Take out at my place, say eight? You bring the wine?”

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