• Stranger in a City
    November 1st, 2010
    July 5th
    5:30 a.m.
    She walks down the hallway with grace and an aura of excellence surrounds her spirit. She was seeing a bright…bright sun shining day and I tell her, “Miss McHolt, you’re in bright spirits this morning.” Twirling her around in her beautiful white sun dress. She begins to laugh, a wonderfully glorious sound as the microwave’s timer went off. The kids race out of their new bedrooms. “Dad, are you working late tonight?” My oldest son Nicolas asks, Katrina ruffles his hair as she served him breakfast. I glance up at her as she stared at the table. “We’ll try not to, sport.” Katrina tells him as she turns on channel three news. That new reporter that took Kathleen’s place, Aimee Smith, was reporting a new story. “A valley man last seen 48 hours ago, Frank Nester, disappeared after work on Wednesday June 30, 2010, if you see this man; please report it to Sheriff Michael Kors.” I watch as they pulled up a picture of Frank Nester, he was young about the age of 28 with bright green eyes, blonde hair, nose a little plain mouth, a wide smile played on his picture. It had been taken in happier times. Kate nudges me and points to Caleb , my youngest son, who tells me, “I say he’s dead.” My other son Nicolas nods his head in agreement to what Caleb had said. “Why did you ask if I was going to be working late, son?” I asked him as he replied, “Vanessa wanted me to have dinner with her mother and Rick.” I glanced over at Katrina. This was one of those crossroad moments. I looked over at my sons. They’ve grown up so much. I nod. “You can go remember to be a complete gentleman and be back before curfew.” I warn him shaking my finger at him. My pager on my belt bleeped and I looked at the screen. I excused myself and took the call, it had been Captain Ortehga. “Sir, what’s up?” I asked when the call connected. “Get yourself to U.S. Airways we’ve got a dead body.” He tells me all that he knows. The body was female and strangled. I told Kate what was going on and I told the boys good-bye.
    As we arrived a few blocks away from the scene, I paid for parking and did my usual ‘walk up’ to the scene. Pulling my sun-glasses off, I ask a fellow detective Leonardo McCellean what was going on. He and I walk over to the new medical examiner Dr. William Chesnee. “Strangulation at least that’s my prelim. She was strangled with a thin rope.” He explains, pointing to the bruising. “The bruising is lighter on one side of her neck.” I point out, “What would account for that?” I ask kneeling down closer to the body. “She was probably strangled from behind.” Dr. Chesnee stated, placing the body in a bag. She was whisked to the lab. Kate and I walked the scene as Leo watched the crowd gather. People began to take pictures. Kate held up her shield and began to shout at the crowd. “Back up, this is official police business.” Leo helps her clear the crowd. After a few arrests were made, the crowd dispersed and left. The streets were silent. Just the way I liked them. Scorching heat of 115 degrees kept the citizens of Phoenix indoors and made walking the scene all that much harder. Kate wipes the perspiration off her forehead. I did the same. Leo put on his sunglasses and went to his car and drove off. Leaving us to clear the scene. “Hey, check this out!” Kate calls, holding a business card in her gloved hand, “Joe Carver, Realty.” I read aloud. “Great! Another realtor. Maybe this is a sign that we should move.” She giggled. I laughed right along with my partner. After the laughter died, I tell her we should call him once we got to the precinct. She nods. “Someone’s got some splain’n to do.” She said. I toss her the car keys. “You’re letting me drive?” She asks. I nod. I held up the file containing the Polaroids of our Jane Doe. “I want to take a closer look at these photos. Something seems…” I stop, not wanting to tell her what was on my mind. She was just getting her life together after nearly being killed by that son-of-a-b***h Adam Beckett and her staying in the hospital for two months and on medical leave for another two months. I just couldn’t do that to her. She stares at me. “Something seems what? You need to finish your sentence, Noble. Come on. I can handle it.” She tells me crossing her arms defiantly. I sighed. Sometimes she was just so damn stubborn. I slammed the car door as I sat down. She turns the car on and weaves the car around the neighborhood towards the precinct.
    Once we got to the precinct, Shaun and Alexis were waiting for us. “Guess who found a witness to our murder?” Shaun asks, I point at Leo, who begins to laugh. He nods. I high-fived Leo and walked to the break room for another cup of coffee. I hear Kate ask who our secret murder witness is. “Her name is Aimee Smith.” Shaun reads off of a piece of paper. Kate nearly spits out the water she was drinking. She swallowed and squeaked out, “The Channel 3 news reporter?” A beautiful young woman walked in the room, she shook hands with Kate and handed me her card. “Ms. Smith, you weren’t supposed to leave my office.” Leo tells herm placing a hand on the small of her back, she states defiantly, “I’m not yours to keep on a leash Sergeant. I know my rights.” Leo places her into his office and closes the door behind him. “Let’s try this again Miss Smith. Stay in this office.” Leo orders, walking back towards us. Kate snickers into her hand. “Well she seems lovely.” I told him, punching him lightly on the arm. “And she seems like your type, Leo. Ever since Kayleigh transferred to the 13th you haven’t had a single date.” Kate tells him, she snaps her fingers, “Unless, you’re secretly dating Kayleigh behind our backs!” She gasps as soon as he nods. “Kayleigh couldn’t let go of Ricky when he died so I held her…and that spark came back to life for us. We didn’t exactly know how to tell you guys.” Leo explains, I place a hand on his shoulder in sympathy. Shaun scoffs at the explanation, “Come on guys, let’s get back to work, we have a murder to solve.” He walks back to the murder board and began to contemplate. His train of thought is lost when his cell phone rang, grumbling, he answers, “Special Agent Shaun Hammermill.” He pauses, letting the other person speak, “Yes, sir I’m still taking on cases. I took on several cases in December.” He tells the director of the F.B.I. Robert Lyn Nelson. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the man but…”Sir that would mean I’d have to leave my wife.” The director seems stunned by the fact Shaun got married to the love of his life. “No sir, I married Special Agent Alexis Montana.” Alexis snags the phone away from him. “Sir, you remember me? I arrested several agents for the pornography ring in Washington.” She tells him as Shaun explains the case to me. The case apparently there had been word about a dirty cop roaming in the hollows of the F.B.I. and Alexis (being new at the time) was asked by the director himself to go undercover. “Yes sir, it would be Shaun’s pleasure to take the case. Good-bye sir.” She hung up the phone. “What did you do?” Shaun asks her as she hands him back his phone. “I gave you a job Shaun all you’ve been doing lately around here is bumming alcohol from Leo and lay around besides, it’s a head case.” She teased. “What kind of head case?” Shaun asked, picking up the bottle and throwing it in the trash. “The kind we used to work on when…when we first met. A sociopath escaped from Georgia O’Keefe’s prison.” My head popped up. Adam Beckett aka Austin Drew was sentenced to Georgia O’Keefe prison in Alexandria, Virginia. I pull Alexis aside, Kate walks away to the break room for a cup of coffee. “What?” “Is the sociopath Adam?” I ask her, crossing my arms. “No. He’s under lock and key. I called in a favor as soon as I heard.” She tells me, I sighed a sigh of relief as Katrina pressed a cup of coffee into my hands. I thanked her. “Not a problem.” She whispers to me, sitting down at her desk. Something was wrong. I sat the coffee down and walked after her. She took a sip of coffee, a ploy she used to hide a deepening frown. “What’s wrong?” I didn’t expect her to stare and whirl at me. She began to hiss, “How stupid do you think I am?” “Kate, please just listen to me.” I implore her as she began punching me. I held her hands together at the wrists. She’s trembling and sobbing into my arms. “Kate, listen.” I tell her as I held her in my arms never wanting to let go. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for you to overhear us.” She whimpers against my chest, wiping away the tears. “Then why did you discuss it? You know I’m still fragile from that case, Al.” She states, defiantly again wiping at her tears, damned if she let them fall. “Kate I do know that. It’s just we all had just gotten over Jack and that case…put us all on edge.” I explain to her as she just took another sip of coffee, hiding yet another deep frown. I pushed her down back into her chair as she tried to stand up. “Allen, let me go.” She said, loud enough for the group of uniforms to hear her. One of the men grabs my wrists, clutching them behind my back. “Stay away from her.” He whispers into my ear. I hiss back, “Not on your life, she’s my fiancée.” “It looks like she doesn’t want you.” Another uniform stated. Katrina got in the middle of all of this. “Stop it! All of you.” She screeched. We all removed ourselves from each other and we all sat down at our desks. “Thank you.” She whispers to me, walking into the break room. I didn’t follow her. The uniforms went back to work. I sat down at my desk and quickly sipped at my coffee. Leo sat down at my visitor’s chair and heaved a sigh. I looked up at him, asking if he was all right. He shook his head, “Kayleigh…Kayleigh’s switching back…she’s coming back her to this precinct.” “I thought you’d be happy that Kayleigh would be here.” “Yeah, I am. But I don’t know if she can handle all the memories…I’m afraid that she’ll get PTSS or something.” He states, I place a hand on his shoulder. “The question is not is she going to be all right but are you going to be okay having her here?” I asked him, messing with the lid of my coffee. “If ya’ll ain’t careful, ya’ll gonna spill your coffee.” He tells me, I stopped messing with my lid. I started to pace around my desk, wondering what was so special about this victim. “Maybe she was special in some way.” Leo stated, waving his hand in front of my face. “If she actually was special, he would’ve left her where she was found, not where she was killed.” I point out writing this down on the murder board. Alexis and Shaun come out of the break room, where Katrina had been crying. I walk up to her placing her in my arms. She had been crying on my shoulder as I held her, I whispered words of apologies as Alexis and Shaun hugged and told each other good-bye. “I’ll miss you.” They told each other. They were so alike in certain ways and different in other ways I glance over at Katrina who was wishing Shaun luck on his up-coming case. “Thanks, Kate.” He tells her pulling her in a bear hug. Shaun had taken the place of her brother Zack. But he would never fill the void. Zack had been brutally murdered by Kate’s arch-rival the calculator killer. We never actually caught the b*****d.