by Kristina ~
A detective getting too close to the truth expects to be promoted to Chief Inspector
|Her short-lived, dream career began with a gun and a badge and ended with an anonymous file, a letter and a Crucifix.
The bullet punched its way through her left shoulder, causing a gaping hole in its wake that quickly filled with blood and gushed out. She choked back the tears as her face drained and the knots rose in her gut. The intense burning sensation concentrated itself in her left shoulder, came in waves and small lulls. It was as though her blood had turned to acid with the intent to finish her destruction. Her knees buckled under the hot pain and slammed her, face first, to the ground. The grit from the beach filled her mouth and throat. Gasping for air, she choked and spit the grit out while soaring through her body were the feelings of an adrenaline rush, wooziness and the fear of being shot again. Together they intermingled, and took turns masking and intensifying each other. She knew…she had been betrayed. She knew…she had to take cover. Colton Franks had found her. She clawed at the sand trying to move towards the dark shadows of the rocky embankment that stood as a fortress against the angry waves—to give up now—meant death.
Stacy stretched out her right hand to grab a rock—any rock— that would allow her to pull herself up to her feet. It was then she noticed a movement in her peripheral vision. She grabbed and aimed her gun at the large, blurry image. Kicking the gun from her grip, he grabbed her by the arm. She felt herself moving. Her body bounced up the rocky wall like a rag doll, stones stabbing at her bones. Sand and dry foliage scraping beneath her skin. Her chest hammering for air, as he dragged her upward towards the top. Unable to control the contents of her stomach, her abdominal muscles, after several violent convulsions, gave way to chunks of food covered in the creamy chyme from her stomach and propelled itself into the air covering the large, blurry image and the rocks. The last thing she remembered was the roar of the angry waves rising before crashing against the shore, the soft movement of her nostrils, as she inhaled the relaxing smell of the salt-water air, the clamoring of the Snowy Plovers, as they ran out to greet the water’s edge and the bright lights…ah…the bright lights… splattering themselves across the clouds. Darkness over came her, she was sure death had come.
That was a year and six months ago.
Christmas day had arrived. The entire Ocean Beach community was dressed and decorated. Carolers strolled up and down the streets spreading their Christmas joy. Multi-colored lights, some blinking, some not, adorned the outside of the buildings while revealing Christmas trees, each embellished with loving-care, through their windows. Stacy’s apartment was no different. Detective Stacy Hawks was not a detective today. It was her day off. She scurried from the kitchen to the dining room and back again. Stopping to take a sip of wine from her glass on the counter, she beamed. The rapturous Christmas spirit was everywhere. Christmas dinner would be special. The warm fragrance of turkey, apple pie and the traditional trimmings saturated her small apartment. Patrick, her brother, and her father were going to arrive at six, and her father was bringing a friend. Stacy was excited. It wasn’t often she had the time to cook for the family. She set her glass down on the counter and took a deep breath. “My third Christmas without Chrystal,” she whispered to herself and wiped the burn from her emerald green eyes.
Pounding on the front door signaled the arrival of Micheal Jay Hawks, Stacy’s father. Stacy swung the door open. Her smile faded as she swung the door open. A deep frown furrowed her brows as she stared at Tom standing behind her father. Her eyes studied his face for an explanation. Regaining her composure, she stepped aside and motioned for them to enter.
“Well, Detective Clark…to what do I owe this honor!” Unable to hide the disgust in her voice.
“Oh, you do remember my brother, Patrick and my father?” With a swift flip of an open palm, she pointed her hand towards Skelly, “This is my father’s friend…” she added before Tom could finish.
“Skelly,” her father added.
“Yes, glad to see you both again. I’m glad to meet you Sir.” Tom smiled, giving each man a nod with his head.
Returning his attention back on Stacy, he cleared his throat, “I’m sorry to interrupt your Christmas, but may I have a word with you…in private? It’s important.”
“Important?” Stacy didn’t like what she was hearing. She had a gut feeling she was about to be called in. She turned to her father and smiled. “Dad, can get everyone seated and started for me? This won’t take more than a few minutes.” Stacy turned back towards Tom and ushered out to the balcony.
“Now what is so important that you have to interrupt my family’s Christmas dinner?
“We have a murder case. Two hours ago, a car exploded parked across the street from Jake’s Pizza House—”
“Murder! Jake’s Pizza House! Explosion! Joyce is suppose to be covering for me. Why can’t she take this one!” Stacy slammed her fist down on the balcony railing.
“The Chief specifically asked for you to be put on this one.”
“The Chief! Why!”
“The lab is double checking it now, but they think the bomb is Russian, and the Chief knows that you have been following their activities connected with your other cases.”
“They murdered a Federal Agent, Stacy.”
Stacy folded her arms. Shivering from the cool air, she stared at the multi-colored Christmas tree lights, some blinking, some not, spread their silent lighted joy down on the street. The street looked as she felt…cold and empty. “Oh…alright. I’ll meet you at Jake’s in thirty minutes.” Tom nodded his head and made his way back inside. Before leaving, he stopped at the counter and withdrew a small, wrapped package from his pocket and set it down.
Stacy smiled and walked and over to her father, “Dad, I’ve been called in on a new case. Please finish eating, and be sure to get your presents under the tree. There is one for Skelly too. I’ll be back just as soon as I can. I had better change.”
Dressed in her black pant suit, she placed her BUG in its holster and secured it to her right ankle. Her Glock 22, she placed in her left shoulder holster. Her brush, glided through her soft, wavy locks, one last time before she returned it to its proper resting place on top of her dresser. Stacy lingered if front of the mirror. She was her mother’s daughter. The woman staring back at her from the mirror was the image of her mother. The coal-black hair, accenting her emerald green eyes, hung in soft waves past her shoulders. Smiling, she whispered, “I love you mom.” Her black, mid-length coat felt good after being outside. Returning to her father and Patrick, she gave them each a kiss on the cheek. Skelly, she gave a wink and a smile. She ran her hands down her figure to smooth her clothing once more and darted towards the front door. Her brisk stride decelerated to a saunter by the time she grabbed the door knob. Stacy pulled the door open. She stopped. For a moment she was speechless. Movement in her peripheral vision caught her attention. She saw—she thought she saw—a large blurry image. With furrowed brows and narrowed eyes, she jerked herself back around and peered into Skelly’s eyes.
“Have we met before?”
Skelly glanced at her father. Michael gave a subtle, but quick shake of his head.
“No, not to my knowledge, Ma’am,” he answered.
She tilted her head, and responded in slow, soft voice, “Oh…sorry…my mistake…” Stacy shrugged her shoulders and shut the door behind her. Shivering once more, Stacy stopped and gazed back up at her apartment from the street. She couldn’t shake that feeling—that eerie feeling. The kind that burns deep in your gut.