Pulling into the parking lot Jeff knew something was wrong right away as an ambulance pulled in behind him with lights flashing and sirens wailing. Throwing his car in park he raced towards a group of officers milling around a car he recognized as his partners. Jeff could see his captain bending over a prone body on the ground. Jeff slowed not wanting to see but he knew. It had to be. There was no other explanation. “Zayne,” he said looking down.” Upon hearing his voice the captain stood up “what are you doing here?”
“I received a call from Zaynes daycare lady,” he explained unable to take his eyes from his partner. Kneeling beside him he noticed the ashen complexion. The large pool of blood “I should have stayed,” Jeff lamented recalling the evening before. Had Zayne found something? Something that pertained to the case? If so how had the killer found out? Looking up at the assembled officers. Stepping back as the paramedics went to work. Jeff didn’t like where his mind went to. There was one possibility but it was impossible, wasn’t it? It couldn’t be that but even as he doubted it he knew it was true there was not other way for the killer to have moved so fast.
He jumped when a hand came down heavily on his shoulder. “Whoa there take it easy,” the captain told him “what was Zayne doing here so late?”
“I uh I don’t know,” Jeff shook his head still reeling from the revelation he had. Who could he trust? Who had Zayne trusted that he shouldn’t have? he could feel the captain staring at him, waiting for answer with a look that said he didn’t believe him. “He was looking into our old case files. He was looking for something that we missed. I don’t know what he found.”
“You do think it’s related to the serial killer case,” the captain stated his eyes gazing into his as if he could read his mind.
Shrugging “I think so but how? How would the killer even know we even suspected he was back in town? It doesn’t make sense.” Jeff shook his head giving the impression that he was stymied “it must be related to a different case maybe even a revenge attack from someone Zayne sent to prison.” As he spoke Jeff didn’t miss the slight release of tension around the captain’s eyes. He didn’t want it to be true but why was the captain relaxing? What did the captain have to hide that he wanted him to look else for the attacker? It couldn’t be the captain could it? The man they reported to. The one they gave progress reports to. Who approved their every move. Jeff kept his face devoid of emotions as his mind raced with conflicting thoughts and ideas. “I want to ride with Zayne to the hospital.”
“Sure sure,” the captain nodded “I’ll get someone working on compiling a list of suspects. We’ll get whoever did this.” He sounded so confident, so concerned Jeff almost thought he was wrong. But something was off about the way the captain was acting. Jeff was sure of it. He’d been a cop long enough to trust his instincts and his instincts were telling him not to trust the captain. “Tell me when Zayne is awake I’ll need to question him,” the captain commanded breaking into his thoughts. Jeff nodded acknowledgement not missing the anxiety he heard in the captain’s voice. “Make sure to collect his clothing for forensics.” Nodding again Jeff assured him he would do what needed to be done/ What he would do for any other victim. Maybe he was wrong. Off his rocker for even suspecting the captain. No matter what he did Jeff couldn’t shake his suspicions.
In the ambulance Zayne mumbled a few incoherent words. Jeff took his hand “you’re going to be ok,” he told him.
“Charlie,” he mumbled.
“Lisa has him. Don’t worry we’ll take good care of him,” Jeff reassured him.
Zayne’s eyes fluttered open “don’t…trust….” he licked his dry lips attempting to say more. Alarms started going off inside the ambulance. Zayne’s eyes rolled back inside his head “Zayne” Jeff shouted as the paramedics forced him back as they worked. This couldn’t be happening not now not ever. Jeff ran his hands through is hair unable to tear his eyes from his friend as Zayne’s body was jolted by the paramedics attempts to bring him back. “Come on buddy fight,” Jeff pleaded “you’re son needs you. Charlie has already lost one parent don’t let him lose another.”
Standing in the captain’s office Jeff tried not to let his distrust show as the captain asked “did Zayne say anything before he died?”
“Nothing that could help us,” Jeff replied keeping his voice steady “his last thoughts were of his son.”
“Good, good,” the captain muttered “how’s the investigation going?” he inquired.
“No leads,” Jeff flinched when the captain glared at him.
“What have you been doing detective?”
Biting back the scorching remark he wanted to make he responded “I’ve been busy planning a funeral and signing custody papers.”
“Right right,” the captain looked out the window “Zayne didn’t have any family did he?”
“He was the youngest of ten but he hasn’t been on speaking terms since he was on that bacholerette show. Thought he was an embarrassment to them. He asked me to be Charlie’s guardian if anything ever happened to him. Sorry sir I’ve been a bit distracted lately.”
Without turning to look at him the Captain said “you’re on leave starting now,” he ordered. “You’re too distracted to do your job properly. Take time to get Charlie situated and to get your head in the game. I’ll be taking over the investigation.”
“Yes sir,” Jeff nodded before leaving the office. Stopping at his desk to get a few things before leaving. He picked up Lisa’s photo from his deck and an SD card fell from the back of it. Taking it he slipped into his pocket. He was positive Zayne had to have left there for him to find. As he left he nodded towards a few of his fellow officers. All good men but not one of them he’d trust with his suspicions about the captain. Not one of them would believe him. Even if they did it would be one more friend he’d be putting into danger. He couldn’t risk that. Being on leave may just be what he needs to be able to do the investigating he needed to do without the captain being aware of his actions.
“Honey I’m home,” he called out upon entering the apartment. He turned as an excited squeal sounded from a little boy came into view shouting “daddy, daddy.” Upon seeing Jeff his disappointment was palpable and he cried “not daddy.” Picking him up Jeff tried to soothe him. There were no words that could comfort his loss a loss he hardly understood.
“Jeff you’re home early,” Lisa said coming into the room. Smiling as he cuddled Charlie in his arms. “You’re going to be a good father,” she told him kissing his cheek.
“Has he had his nap yet?” Jeff asked hoping if he hadn’t they could put Charlie down and he could talk to Lisa privately.
Not yet but since you’re volunteering you can do the job,” she said going outside to sit on the balcony.
Ten minutes later Jeff joined her on the balcony. Taking her hand he sighed “the captain put me on leave stating I wasn’t focusing on my job.”
Her eyes narrowed with anger “that’s not right. I don’t know anyone more dedicated to finding this serial killer then you.”
“There’s more,” he explained to her stalling her rant “I think the captain’s involved.”
“Oh no,” she gasped “he couldn’t be.”
“That’s what I thought but think about it. He’s the only person who knew we suspected the serial was back in town. The only person who knew we were looking into the files…”
“But he left before you,” Lisa reminded him.
“I thought of that but no one would have thought anything if he came back. I’m sure Zayne wouldn’t have.” running his hands through his hair “I found this on my desk. I think Zayne left it there for me. I think he knew he was in trouble that night and left me the only clue he could. He tried to tell me something in the ambulance. Someone I shouldn’t trust. I think that someone is the captain.” He looked into Lisa’s concerned face “I think the captain killed Zayne. I’m going to prove it. I saw his face that night. I read the anxiety in it when he thought I might know something.”
“He put you on leave so he could keep you away from the investigation,” Lisa said “he’s covering his tracks.”
“He’s going to try. I’m going to stop him.” Jeff told her with determination. Standing he said “I’m going to see what’s on this card.”
“Jeff,” she said following him inside “tell me what I can do to help.”
Shaking his head “no I won’t put you in danger.”
“Too late,” she stroked his face “if the captain figures out your still investigating. Do you think he won’t assume I know something? or use me to get to you?”
“You’re right,” Jeff leaned forward drawing her close “the last thing I want is to put you or the baby in danger. Maybe you should go visit your folks.”
“Not going to happen,” she put a hand over his mouth to silence his protests “I’ll think about it once the baby arrives but that’s not for another couple of months. You need help. I can help.”
Sighing he nodded “I don’t like it but you’re right I do need help. You’re out of here as soon as the baby arrives if we haven’t figured this out before then.”