All Was Quiet As Night Approached...

December 7, 2007
By Megan Stevens, Saratoga Springs, NY

All was quiet as night approached, its darkened eyes were watching the blood red sun set behind the horizon with a jealousy. Cries spilled into the crisp, cool air as the sirens accompanied them in the bloodcurdling symphony of crime. Shouts in commanding tones broke free and crowds gathered around the yellow tape bearing the harsh yet familiar words: CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS.

Reporter Jeff Coleman sat composed at his desk with a cup of coffee in one hand and a draft for the Los Angeles Times in the other. It was nearly midnight by the time news of the death had reached his desk. A night owl, Coleman was constantly on the look-out for stories to grab the publics attention. After all, that was his job. He’d been a crime reporter at the Times for roughly four years and had found nothing he liked to do better. Jeff took pride in revealing the truth to the public, unlike the news, he claimed, and believed that there was always something deeper than the obvious facts on the surface.

“Dustin Ferrell, age 32, was found murdered allegedly by his girlfriend of two years. Signs of violence suggest foul play. He was strangled to death, pronounced dead at the scene, and now the girlfriend is in questioning. There’s not much evidence here, Frank,” Coleman said to his boss, Frank Reynolds, as he studied the large manila envelope Frank left him a few moments ago. It only had a scrap piece of midnight blue fabric that was left carelessly at the crime scene. “I don’t think she did it. It could have been anybody! And I don‘t think she‘s strong enough to have strangled the guy.”

“Well, the police aren’t looking for just anybody. They need direct suspects, people who were there. That’s the story, Coleman. Now don’t argue, just write me something I can print by morning,” Frank stated.

“That’s not the story. At least, not the whole story. I’m telling you, Reynolds, there’s something deeper here. There’s more to this. There has to be,” he replied.

“Do you ever give up? Why can’t you just accept something that is obvious, Coleman? Now, listen, print the story or else I’ll get someone different to cover it. Got that?”

“Sure. But I’m telling you, Frank,” Jeff said as his boss started to walk away, “there is something more to this story. And I’ll figure it out.”

“Yeah, sure. But is that you talking, Jeff, or the coffee and much-needed sleep?” Frank chuckled as he turned back around to walk away.

Jeff looked up from the evidence to find the photographer of his paper, Kirt Davis, looming over his desk, his camera, hanging around his neck as if it were nothing. He’d sent Davis to take pictures of the crime scene and figure out when the body was prepared for a thorough autopsy. Kirt had only been an employee at the Times for a little over a year but was he a very skilled photographer and was naturally gifted. Over that year, Coleman and Davis had become close friends and covered nearly every case together. Jeff would always put out the front page and Kirt would provide the glorious picture that stood proudly above the bold headline

“Here’s those pictures you wanted. I tried to get them A.S.A.P. but it was hard getting a hold of them, trust me. All you could see was…well…,” Davis stuttered.

“Well what?” Coleman begged, anxious for more answers to the mysterious yet, tragic death.

“Heads. There was a HUGE crowd there and reporters were storming the place like moths to a flame or something, I swear. It’s crazy down there. People are-,” Coleman cut him off, reading his mind as he usually did.

“Desperate for answers?” he asked.

“Yeah. I guess this is one of those things you want to solve but can’t exactly put your finger on how it happened or what triggered it, you know?”

“Yeah. I guess I’m desperate for answers too, though,” Jeff admitted.

“But you’re not like those other guys. They’re almost too desperate for answers. I don’t know. I didn’t like the way one of the reporters was asking questions. A bit too pushy, if you ask me.”

“So, what’d you find out about the autopsy and press conference? Anything?” Coleman was clearly desperate and soon to receive answers. That was, until the phone rang.

“Coleman,” he answered, drearily.

“Detective Laurence here. Your photographer came looking for answers about the murder that took place this morning. I told him I’d call you when we received more detailed information,” the inspector said, almost cruelly. He was nearly as tired as Coleman and agitated that his boss had asked him to stay late to cover the case.

“Oh, okay. Well, thanks for calling, I appreciate it. So, what do you have for us, Detective? Any news about may have done this?”

“The estranged girlfriend is in custody but I doubt she’ll be at the station long, she looks innocent and her story checks out. Plus, I think she’s too weak to have strangled him. Press conference is at eleven tomorrow morning in the building right next to the crime scene, near 2nd and Flower. Body’ll be ready for autopsy probably tomorrow at nine, gentlemen.”

“Thanks, Laurence. Again, we really appreciate the help you’ve given us. Hopefully your information will help us catch this guy before he strikes again. Keep us posted.”

“Will do. You two have a good night, now. And don’t be up all night working on this case, Coleman. I know you,” he said, a mocking tone in his deep voice.

“All right. Same to you, Detective.”

Jeff hung up and slouched over his desk, placing his coffee in front of him. When he looked back up at Kirt his eyes were rimmed with a red glow of exhaustion and desperation. His lips had gone pale with anger, furious that he couldn’t figure the case out, and his pulse was accelerating with a mixture of excitement and confusion. Kirt bent over his desk, his head, resting on his sweaty hands.

“Dead ends. Every lead is a dead end in this case, isn’t it?” Coleman stated with frustration. “We have no suspects, no murder weapon, and no good information. We have nothing, basically. I don’t know what do now. I don’t know where to go from here, Davis. Any thoughts?”

Silence swept over the office as Kirt looked up and cocked his head towards the large windows.

His eyes glazed over meagerly as dark waves of thoughts flowed over his mind, arranging themselves into an overwhelming bubble of ideas.

“Hey, peanut gallery, over there? Any thoughts?”

“Oh, sorry. I guess I’m just as tired as you are, Coleman. I think tonight is going to be a very long night,” Kirt answered. “There’s no real evidence that can pin point anyone to the crime scene, to tell you the truth. But I don’t think that it’s a dead end case yet.”

“No, I’m not implying that either but, what I’m simply saying is that we have nothing. We don’t have a story yet but we will. We’ll find out what really happened to this guy and we’ll write the best story the public has ever read. We just need information first. Are you available for the press conference tomorrow?” Jeff said, burning off the last of his caffeine which had truly worn off an hour ago.

“Yes, I am. I’ll go with you and see if we can get anything out of this guys family members and the police. Can your source get us into the morgue tomorrow?” Kirt asked, gathering his thoughts and returning them to reality, back to focus.

“Kirt, my source is the morgue,” Coleman smirked. “Robert Morin, medical examiner for nearly fifteen years now.”

“Really? I never would have guessed your source was a coroner, Coleman. Isn’t that a bit risky? I mean, this guy may be twisting evidence.”

“Trust, Davis, trust. That’s what reporters relationships with sources are all about. Besides, Morin allows me to enter the morgue and take a peak at these guys for myself. So, it’s not exactly tampering with evidence if I see them in person,” he reassured Kirt.

“Oh, all right. As long as he lets you look at it up close and personal, for lack of a better term. Hey, you should go home, and get some rest, okay? Really, you don’t look to good. This is, what, your third straight night being up? Really, you should go get some rest,” Davis insisted.

“All right. I guess you’re right after all. I’ll call Robert tonight and see if we can talk to him at one, that will give us at least two hours at the conference and I’m guessing it won’t take that long. Sound good?”

“Yeah, perfect. Just meet me at the press conference tomorrow. Say, quarter to eleven?” Kirt asked.

“All right. Fine with me. I’ll see you then,” Jeff agreed.

He picked up his car keys and his light brown suede jacket, grabbed the rest of his coffee, and turned off his computer. He began to walk out and as he reached the glass doors he turned on his heel, his brown leather shoes screeched as they spun on the clean tile, and he smiled at Kirt.

“Hey, Davis. It’s my fourth night up, by the way,” he winked. “Just in case you were curious,” Jeff laughed.

The resounding noise of Kirt’s returned laughter rang in Jeff’s ears as he walked out of the main office building. He opened the car door and put the key in the ignition. For some unknown reason, he felt a sense of fear in his heart. He breathed a bit harder as his mouth twisted into a composed frown. Jeff scratched his chin and then started the car.

The Los Angeles night was cool and clean as his car drove slowly on the empty roadway. The window was rolled down and Coleman felt free yet confused. He rubbed at his eyes and reached for his coffee. Jeff took a large swig and shook his head. In his mind, something was telling him that there was more to the story, like it usually did. He just couldn’t put a finger on what it was.

The car swerved back and forth on the curved roads and as his house grew nearer, peace swept over Jeff’s mind. Carefree thoughts entered his head and a warm atmosphere took hold, entrapping him in wonder and philosophy. Unbeknownst to him, that leisurely state of mind would soon be disturbed beyond his belief. The house came into view as he rounded the corner, a lovely architectural masterpiece made of crisp, modern angles and large glass windows.

Jeff got out of the car and walked slowly up to his door. As he went to put the key in, he found that the front door had been unlocked the whole time but there was no sense of a robbery that might be taking place inside. The sight deceived his mind, not allowing the real danger inside to be known. A secret, hidden in the dark as Jeff entered the house, whispering eternal thoughts of fate, memories, and the hidden bonds that connect us all even if we are unaware of them or don’t even know they exist.

Coleman entered the living room, not bothering to turn on his lights, and made his way to his study. As he reached to turn the desk lamp on, it hit him. A cold, hair-raising breath on the back of his neck struck like pins and needles, making Coleman go numb with fear. Slowly, and carefully, he turned to see what had caused the icy sensation. Little did he know that as he turned, he would come face to face with the killer. Someone he knew and even trusted. A hidden bond he had not yet discovered but, like many of us, never thought existed.

Kirt Davis stood in front of him, clad in his work attire, a midnight blue button down shirt and khaki trousers. Then Coleman realized that his friend’s shirt match the fabric at the crime scene perfectly. Coleman felt his heart race as he watched his coworker, and friend, seat himself in a plush, brown leather chair that was adjacent to the desk. Then, his heart dropped in a twisted illness of fear and awe. The silence shattered with frigid words full of regret.

“I didn’t mean to do it. I never meant to do any of it,” Kirt said, quietly. “I had to tell you. I felt so guilty lying to you, lying to everyone.”

“I know,” Coleman studied his friend, watching his hands shake and his body rock back in forth in a distorted rhythm. “So, after you?” he asked, motioning towards the door.

The drive to the station seemed to last centuries as Coleman drove with a nervous hand on the wheel and the other out the window, hoping the fresh, cool breeze would calm them both.

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