The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 4, Lt. King

“They’ve got the bastard now, at least they think so.”


“City, they’re waiting for you.”

“Who’s the D.A.?”

“Chloe’s in charge.”

“Good, she’s got a lot of spunk, not too hard to look at either.” Lieutenant Sam King took another pull on his cigar. “Anyone else?”

“Some doctor. Alexander or something, a shrink I guess. They must be playing the insanity card or incompetency – I don’t know I can never keep up with the changes – fucking political correctness bullshit. You heard of him? This Doc I mean?” Sergeant Whitford was no professor when it came to motive and the psychology of the criminal mind, but there was no one else Sam would rather have on the crime scene. Whatever Scott lacked in formal education and intellect he made up for in intuition. He had a third sense, a feel for the crime. He could work a crime-scene like no other, could find new clues after the blues had been going over it for hours. Hell, he even pulled new info out after the scientists had been through with their high-tech forensic gizmos.

Sam didn’t know how he did it, didn’t care. The important part was that he did it for Sam, like his own secret weapon: a two-legged hound dog using instinct instead of scent but tracking down clues all the same. They had been together for over four years and Sam’s career had gone into hyper-speed ever since, moving up the ladder at an unprecedented rate. The youngest Lieutenant in Baltimore history or so he’d been told, though he never paid it much attention. He wasn’t in it for personal glory. For him, it was all about the game, the challenge, his mind against the killer’s. And in order to win games at this level he needed all the weapon’s he could get his hands on. Sergeant Scott Whitford was one of his favorite weapons and a large part of Sam’s success was because of him. He shook his head. Even so, the guy was still mighty hard to like, which was why no one ever tried to poach Whitford for their team. No, Sam was safe in that regard. Scotty was all his.

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him – big gun for the feds, deals with all the real crazies. Brass must think this insanity thing’s got legs to call in a guy like that.” Sam took another pull. He found the cigar’s helped him concentrate, slowed everything down. It was like hitting the pause button after a question was asked, allowed you to formulate your answer properly before responding. They asked, you took a long haul, studied your cigar and the smoke and the way the tendrils drifted like miniature clouds, smoke-signals swirling into the air. All the while considering the information you had been given, the surroundings you were standing in, the body language of the people around you – which always gave away far more information than words ever did – and the response that they wanted to hear before you finally answered the question. No one ever rushed you when you were smoking a cigar. Another secret weapon.

“You find anything interesting? Something I may find useful for our careers?” This last question asked with a wink. Sam knew his bulldog didn’t give a rat’s ass about his career or his standing within the force or what anyone else thought of him. To Sgt. Whitford, a promotion meant a pay raise and that meant more money to get laid and that was why Scotty-Dog had joined the force to begin with. He’d heard that chicks dug guys in uniform, so he went and got one.

That only lasted a few years as he soon figured-out – it wasn’t the uniform that chicks were into but the badge, or to be more specific the power that went with it. Power was the aphrodisiac and it worked every time, or so claimed The Dog.

“Not yet, just got here myself. I’ll wait till the Smurfs get through wrecking the joint, then I’ll come back around – they can bring me up to speed then, I’ll bring you up to speed after that.” Sergeant Whitford pulled a cigarette from a crushed pack, stuck it in his mouth and began to search his rumpled clothes for a light, reminding Sam of the Columbo character played by Peter Falk, years back. The only difference was with Columbo it was all an act, while for Scotty, the rumpled, disheveled state he generally appeared in, was everyday life. For all of sergeant Whitford’s brilliance, it was his addictions that usually called the shots.

Sam felt a pang of guilt. Scotty needed more money like he needed a hole in the head, which, if he stayed upon his current track would likely be how it ended for him. The last thing an addict needed was more money and Scott was definitely addicted and to just about everything. Booze, women, drugs, Sam was sure he didn’t know the half of it, didn’t want to know if he was honest with himself. What kind of man watches a friend, yes, a friend, even if he didn’t want to admit it, systematically kill himself before his eyes, then gives him another bullet? Might as well stuff it into his cold, dead, hand.

Sam shook his head to clear the cigarette smoke intruding on the calm of his cigar, took a step back, away from the path of smoke. “Who’s the girl?” he indicated with a tilt of his chin towards Scott’s unmarked car. “Doesn’t look like Lil.”

The Dog laughed, expelling vapors of last night’s alcohol, mingled with the cigarette smoke, completely fouling Sam’s concentration. “Not Lil, she’s visiting her mother in Cleveland. That’s Wanda – or Rhonda…?” he screwed up his face trying to recall information from the haze of the night before, “Vonda? Hell, I don’t fucking know, I was wasted. Lucky I even made it home. Anyway, I need to drop her off then go get cleaned up, that should give them enough time to do whatever the fuck it is they think they’re doing. I’ll make sure they’re done and cleared before I take over the investigation. I’ll send you my preliminary report in say, three-four hours – sometime this afternoon at the latest for sure – assuming I have your authority to take over command?”

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