The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 11, Sgt. Whitford

A flash of light caught his eye. He looked up, realizing he couldn’t remember the last time he had, and watched as a car straightened and pulled away passing the window once again. Scott glanced down at his watch. Six a.m.! his mind screamed. I’ve been here all night. He peered back at the window again. He could just make out the orange-yellow hue of sunrise, a backdrop for the silhouette of suburban houses lining the street.

Scott pulled his eyes from the window, looked around at the carnage that lay about him. There were books everywhere, some closed but most opened to specific pages – passages indicated in tiny, barely perceptible pencil marks that only he understood. His eyes looked towards the window again as a second car passed, probably on its way to work.

Careful not to disturb his painstaking work, he tiptoed through the mind-field of information. Chaos, laid in slapdash carelessness to the untrained eye. Though he knew exactly where each piece of information rest, the precise flow of pattern strewn about the chair that he’d been perched in for the last ten hours or so.

Although the idea had come yesterday, he’d had to wait until night to come in as forensics were not quite finished with the place and there was simply no use in going in until they were. He’d known the answers would be here. Not exactly where but he’d known, deep in his gut as a dog remembers a bone he’s buried in the back-yard the following spring. It might take him a few holes to find it – but find it, he would – it just takes time and determination and he had both. Just like that dog.

“Lieutenant? It’s me, Sergeant Whitford. I’m at the—”

“Scott? What are you doing up at this bloody hour?”

“I’ve been here all night. I’ve got books all over the place. The answers are here Sam. I can feel it in my bones.”

“Rhonda?”

“Don’t worry, she knows I’m here. Hell, she practically made me come. Say’s work is good for me that it keeps my mind busy, occupied was her exact word, and off the negatives and self-pity.”

“Ha… Who would have thunk it.” The lieutenant’s laugh caused Scott to smile. He felt alive today, as he always did when he was in the hunt.

“Listen, Sam. I need you to make a call for me – make sure nobody touches these books.”

“You can tell-em yourself Sergeant. You’re the officer in charge.”

“I know Sam but it would be better coming from you. I can’t afford – strike that – we can’t afford anyone accidentally removing information from this place. Your word has more authority—”

“Alright-alright, I’ll make the call as soon as I hang up. Anything else? You got anything for me?”

“Not yet Lieutenant, but I’m close. I can smell it.”

“Call me the minute you do.”

“Don’t I always, Sam?”

“Then we’ll talk about what I promised. Get you set up.”

Sergeant Scott Whitford had to take a brief moment to collect himself.

“Scott? You still there?”

“Yeah Sam… I’m still here,” he said. Then added, “We’ll talk when it’s over, like you said, but I don’t think I’m going to be needing it anymore. Just a feeling Sam… I feel… good.” He smiled thinking about the face of his friend, the shock that would be registered on it. Hell, I didn’t know the words were going to come out, myself.

More cars passed the front window. The light was noticeably different. Neighborhood moms in housecoats scurried out their garbage and recycling then dashed back towards the house. Most of them stopping to look at the taped-off house with the light on in the living room and a strange car in the driveway. Some dads did the same before climbing in their cars and driving off for work. In one or two places it was the opposite, the dads doing the garbage, the moms driving off but in most, it appeared a traditional neighborhood, with traditional values, prejudices.

“Listen Sam, I gotta go. The neighborhood’s waking up and I’d like to get home before Rhonda wakes.”

“You dog.”

“That’s what they call me. I’ll talk to you later Sam. Bye.”


Slipping between the crisp, clean sheets was paradise. Since she’d moved in he’d noticed the bed was always made now, the sheet’s fresh and smelling fabulous. Of course, that was not all he noticed. The entire place looked better, cleaner, neater – there was more harmony to it now.

A mumble escaped her lips, her body nuzzling backward towards his, finding its place. Scott nuzzled towards her, happy, content.


She stood at the portable table operating the photocopier. Both pieces had been hers, picked up at her old apartment on their way here this afternoon, the last remaining vestiges of her prior life. The Lieutenant was good to his word, calling in the order he’d requested. No one had dared so much as a foot into the place since he’d left this morning, everything lying exactly where he’d left it.

The photocopier had actually been Rhonda’s idea. Not that it surprised him. She was obviously bright, probably more so than him. It was just that no one he’d ever been with before had shown even the slightest interest in his work. Hell, who was he kidding, all they did, for the most part, was bitch and complain – the hours, the boys-club, the danger. “If you only paid as much attention to me as you did your work we wouldn’t be having these problems.” If I only had a fucking nickel every time I heard that one, Scott grinned.

She’d even volunteered to come and help – and he’d let her! She hadn’t bitched or complained once, either. She worked efficiently and effectively, gathering up the books that lay about, photocopied then high-lighted the passages he’d marked, which allowed him to continue his search through the multitude of volumes still untouched. Each and every one added at least one fragment of information which his gut told him would be vital to the whole in the long run.

He felt something wash over him, like a hot-flash, a flutter of heat of some kind and realized, and not for the first time, that he had feelings for this woman. We are definitely going to have to do something about her wardrobe though, he chuckled.

She looked over her shoulder, the noise catching her attention. “Is there something you need honey?”

The smile on his face was genuine, unforced. “No. I was just admiring your grade-A ass is all.”

“Oh, you were, were you?” she said, smiling back. “Well then, you won’t mind if I return to my work?” She wiggled her ass. “I wouldn’t want to do anything that might interrupt your admiring?” Her tone was playful, her laugh easy. So why does it feel so new – so fresh?

She was already back at her task, the papers increasing by the hour, the books and the mess decreasing as he sat watching.

What a fine woman, he thought, bending his head back to the books.

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