Detective Grant pulled up to the house in his dirty, dark blue sedan. He stepped out to the cascade of flashing lights, his leather shoes grinding on the drive as the smell of cigarettes wafted out of the car. Around the the drive were several police cars, an ambulance, and a mail truck. Curious, he approached the nearest cop who directed him to the where the victims were. They were sitting on the edge of the steps wrapped in blankets while a uniform stood over them writing in his pad. He got near enough to get the cops attention, waving him over.
He was almost to eager as he approached. Grant could see rookie plastered all over him, from his shiny shoes to his look of amazement. He stopped in front of him and actually saluted! “Officer Gillim reporting!” he said in an attempt to impress him.
“We don’t salute around here. This isn’t the military.” Grant had seen his type before, always trying to impress his superiors. He had no time for that.
“Oh, uh sorry”, Gillim said as he awkwardly put his hand down.
“What have we got?” Grant demanded.
Gillim was caught a little of guard but recovered quickly. “We got a home invasion and murder, sort of.”
“Yeah, two armed suspects entered the house around 2:30, 3am. They tied up the family, ransacked the house, then tied the husband to the stair railing and left him holding onto a rope that was holding the wife and kid over the balcony. Hence the sort of.”
“I see”. Grant got the impression that, for this town, this was the most excitement this kid has ever seen. “Who found them?”
“The mailman.” Gillim raised his notepad, flipped it open, and began reading “He just happened to get a glimpse of them hanging there in his rear view mirror as he pulled away from delivering the mail. He stopped and got out of the truck for a better look. Then he heard the woman cry out. That’s when he called his dispatcher and raced back to the house.” He flipped it closed and continued. “When we arrived we found the mailman holding onto the rope the wife and daughter were tied to. The perpetrators left the door unlocked so the mailman was able to get in and grab it before they fell.”
“Wait, you said it was a murder. If they didn’t fall, who died?”
“The husband. Apparently he held onto that rope until it killed him. Talk about a death grip.”
Grant nodded, looking at the house. “Is this the wife and kid?”
“Yep. Here, I’ll introdu…”
“Then keep your voice down! She just lost a husband, and she just lost a father, so have some respect!”
Gillim looked at him, then at Marissa and Callie, who were not sitting too far from him, then back at Grant then back at them. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I meant no disrespect.”
Callie was quietly bawling into her mother’s shoulder, while Marissa held her tight, her eyes swollen from crying. They either didn’t hear him or chose to ignore him. Either way Gillim felt like he was off the hook, until he looked back at the Grant’s stern face. “Sorry” he said, looking chagrinned.
Just then the front door opened. Two medics were bringing out the gurney with Blake on it, wrapped in a body bag. They and two officers carefully carried it down the steps as Marissa covered Callies face so she wouldn’t have to see it. The medics began to roll it to the ambulance when Grant stopped them.
“Hey”, he said quietly. “What exactly did he die of?”
“As far as I can tell”, said the lead medic, “he died of exhaustion. But he held onto that rope, even into death. We still can’t get his hand to open. Wound up having to cut the rope. When we get the body to the morgue we’ll probably have to cut his fingers off to get the rest.”
Just as Grant was about to lay into him for being as discrete as Gillim, Marissa spoke up. “Don’t you dare cut his fingers off! My husband saved our lives holding that rope, so you leave it right there!”
“Yes ma’am, sorry ma’am” both medics said, then turned to Grant as if to roll their eyes. The grim look on his face told them not to.
“You heard the lady, do not cut his fingers off. Make sure you tell the mortician that. If he asks tell him…tell him it’s part of the investigation.”
Both medics echoed “Yes sir”, and continued rolling the gurney to the ambulance.
Grant watched them go, and wondered to himself, what kind of sick mind comes up with this kind of torture. He turned to look at the survivors as they continued crying to each other. The girl was calling out daddy. The mom had gripped her even tighter. Nothing to be done about this now. The questions would have to wait until after they’ve both been checked out at the hospital.
“Do we have any suspects?” he asked without turning.
“Well” started Gillim scratching his head, “we’re not sure. It could be that new gang that moved in. Part of an initiation maybe. Could be drifters…”
“Those punk kids that just graduated high school? They’re what you’re calling a gang?”
“It’s all we have to go on right now.” Gillim looked a little crest fallen from Grant’s dismissal. He didn’t care. Serves him right for being an idiot. “All we really know is that whoever did it knew the house. They knew how to get to the roof, knew exactly where to run the rope. They even knew how isolated this place was.”
Great, Grant thought. A small town like this and now we have a possible serial killer, killers, running around.
He turned to Gillim, said “Get them to the hospital. I want them checked out before we question them. And use your common sense. She just lost her husband. Do you think you can remember that?”
Gillim straightened up. Yes sir, I’ll take care of it, with kid gloves.” He walked over to Marissa and Callie, whispered in their ear. Marissa nodded and let him help her up. They walked to the cruiser while Grant looked on. He hated these cases. A beautiful family torn apart for someone’s entertainment. No rhyme or reason, just a senseless crime. But he did appreciate what Blake did. He gave everything he had to save his family. Not an easy thing to do sometimes.
And with that he turned back to the house and walked up the steps, ready to begin his investigation.