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Drowning (Part 2)
The digital clock that Joel’s sister Zoë had gotten him for Christmas last year said that it was almost 3:30 in the morning, which was considerably late for a weekday. Usually he got fed up with writing around 9, and then start debating on whether or not he should quit his job at the High School, give up writing and become a waiter.
It wasn’t until 4:37 that he actually realized the lateness of the hour and decided to get some sleep before getting ready to go to work in an hour. He gave his budding manuscript one last read, smiling to himself as he did so and chuckling at a devious little plot twist he had written in to add to the suspense. He fell asleep with a smile on his face, the last one he would have for quite some time.
“Sophie?” he half whispered, half-grunted, still more asleep than awake. “Hon?” he said again, sitting up and wiping the last remnants of sleep from his eyes. Sophie’s half of the bed was cold and obviously hadn’t been slept in. Joel wasn’t concerned however; she was afraid of driving in the dark(afraid was a vast understatement, driving at night came #1 on Sophie’s list of Scary A** S***, beating out rapists and serial killers), so it made sense to him that she stayed over at her moms. It had happened before, and she had always been home in time to bring breakfast and kiss him goodbye before work.
He went on with his morning rituals as he usually did, cutting himself with his razor twice and dropping a contact down the sink in accident. Preoccupied with his lost contact, he didn’t hear the brisk, sharp knock on the front door.
“It’s d*mn cold out here.”
Officer Bradley’s partner Eddie nodded in agreement, his breath turning to mist as his heavy barrel chest rose and fell. “You think he’s home?” he asked.
“Upstairs lights are on, he’s probably taking a shower or something.” said Bradley, rubbing his gloved hands together hoping to warm his numbed fingers.
“You gonna tell him, or you want me to?”
Bradley didn’t hesitate when he answered. “I’ll tell the poor guy. Wife and mother in law murdered the same night, he don’t want a goofy lookin bald cop telling him the news.”
Eddie took off his hat and twirled it in his hands, laughing. “Yeah you’re right; breaking this kind of news is best reserved for cops with a full head of hair and an attitude.”
Bradley glared at him as if he was a child swearing in front of his grandmother.
“It’s not funny Ed. You got to have some sympathy for people. Would you want some fool laughing and smiling while he tells you that your wife is dead?”
Eddie shrugged. “Half the time her cookin’s so bad I don’t think I’d mind, but I see what ya mean. I’d probably be pretty p*ssed.”
“Good.” Bradley glanced over at his black and white patrol car. It has a heater, he thought wistfully. He was just about to suggest they wait in the patrol car when the front door to the house opened, and Mr.Osteen walked out.
“What’s going on?” said Mr.Osteen, who was trying to fasten his tie and carry a cup of coffee and a briefcase at the same time.
Bradley could see Eddie resisting the urge to laugh out of the corner of his eye, and he could not blame him. Osteen cut such a comic figure in a conservative looking dress shirt and cargo shorts, with orange ray-ban wayfarers perched atop his spiked hair and a cheap looking orange watch on his wrist, that even Bradley had to stop himself from smirking.
The eccentric writer nodded and smiled. “What can I do for you officers today?”
Officer Bradley glanced at Ed, and then back to the writer, who was still grinning. “I’m afraid we have some bad news for you,” he said, slowly articulating each word as he spoke, so as to not choke on them as they came out, “Your wife was…” He struggled to find the right words, but the writer grasped what he was trying to say.
“She was what? In a car crash? Hit by a train? Murdered and stuffed in a dumpster?”
It was Eddie who replied to him. “She was found in her car under an overpass. We don’t know how she died yet. Your mother in law Stephanie Ackerman was found dead in her home a little while after.” Bradley was surprised that he spoke up. He was blunt, yes, but all the same he accomplished what Bradley hadn’t been able to. Maybe he’d make a good cop after all, but first he’d have to see how this ended up.
“Is this some kind of joke?” asked Joel, eyebrows raised. “It’s not a very funny one if it is, but it sounds plausible. Maybe I’ll use it in a book one day.” He pushed his way past the officers and walked off toward his car.
So much for that, thought Bradley, d*mn writer has his head in the clouds.
Ed made to follow Joel to his car, but he stopped after a few steps. “He’s in denial,” Ed said simply, and Bradley couldn’t help but nod in agreement.