The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 8, Lt. King

He’d seen it many times before. The dorky kid trying to attract the attention of the homecoming-queen or head-cheerleader or whatever the current flavor happened to be which conferred her to be hotter than most others on the planet. On sheer appearances, that’s exactly what this looked to be. Sure, the guy was a doctor, reining authority of some obscure field or another but a nerd was still a nerd, right? And let’s face it, Miss Chloe Blantyre-Tattershall was all that and a bottle of wine – brains, beauty, self-confidence, spit-fire red hair, she was the total package. The only negative he could detect was that dip-shit of an ex-husband she dragged behind her. A soul-sucking loser as far as he could tell. Lucky to be alive as far as her father and brothers were concerned, Sam too now he thought about it.

“Way out of my league,” he said to the pastrami sandwich he held in his right hand. Sam had been married and of course divorced, twice. He wasn’t proud of it, wasn’t ashamed either – it was what it was, went with the job. When you came to the Force with aspirations of command, your first wife was the job – then everything else and in that order. Each of his former wives had said she understood. Bullshit! They’d no sooner said their I-do’s then started on the “let’s change Sam plan.” The exact one he’d told each of them – and up front – that he’d wanted no part of. “I am what I am,” he’d told them, proud as can be, “just like Popeye. I like me and have no intentions of changing. If you can’t accept that – me – the way I am, then run along little doggie.” Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but close enough.

Either way, Chloe wasn’t looking for anyone like Sam, he was confident of that. He knew her dad and uncle and had met a couple of her brothers on occasion. Good family, strong family, good cops. They had a reputation up in Boston that made anyone with a brain and enough sense to use it think twice before trying any fast moves on the Blantyre bunch, especially the clan’s only daughter. As far as Sam could tell, it was a good way to remove a man from his balls. Besides, it was common knowledge Chloe didn’t date cops – not ever, no exceptions.

Maybe the little Doctor stood a chance, after all. He’s no cop that’s for damn sure. The guy wouldn’t last ten minutes, get the ever lovin’ shit kicked out of him, first day. Sam laughed at the mental picture. He hadn’t spent his life in law enforcement without being able to eyeball someone uncomfortable in his skin. It looked as if he was experimenting with a new outfit, a new identity of some sort, something he wasn’t sure of yet. Maybe he thought his world might change if he changed what he wore?

Good luck with that, buddy, Sam harrumphed, took the last bite of his sandwich, washing it down with his ever-present triple, triple. He couldn’t believe he was thinking of Chloe and the Doc after looking at the photo’s Sergeant Whitford had given him earlier. Well, the Doc anyway, he was always thinking of Chloe – but isn’t everybody? Sam smiled. He would try anything to clear his mind of the crime-scene images – they were fucking disgusting. He’d never seen anything so unsettling in his life. He’d almost upchucked just looking at the stills and it’d taken him a full two hours before he dared to think about getting lunch. That had never happened before, not even his rookie year. It was hard to believe the guy they had in custody, the one the Doc was observing through the two-way, could be capable of such cruelty – that anybody could. But Sam knew better. There were no bounds to the horrors the human race would inflict upon each another. This had just been a new low for him to witness that was all and he had only seen the pictures.

The stench oozing from the place when he’d shown up first thing this morning had cured any curiosity he might have had. Hell, he knew better than to go into that place – that’s what the Sergeant was for. With a sigh of resolve, he pulled the pictures from the envelope in the file he’d placed beside him. He hadn’t taken a proper look yet, had been procrastinating, trying to work up enough courage for a thorough read. He knew he needed a full stomach before he tackled this job and it was now or never as time was running out before he had to head back for a disclosure meeting at the station with Chloe and the Doc.

He smiled just thinking of the Doc’s awkwardness, his flushed red face staring at his leather shoes as they shuffled some imaginary ball or something between them, wondering if the little guy actually stood a chance. He took a hefty puff, drawing flame to cigar, the cloud of blue-white smoke enveloping him with its release. He held his eyes closed, allowed the heady fumes to soothe him, calm him, ease his soul before delving into the sickest, most appalling case he’d ever soiled his mind on.

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