#52weeks52stories: Week 21
Word prompt: uniform
Word Count: 1557, Reading time – 1 minute, 58 secs
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Surrounded by cold sandwiches and lukewarm coffee, Marks, Holland, Ganson, and Hill studied their surprised find from the stolen Ford Explorer.
An old Army duffel bag and a beat-up suitcase were found in the backseat and their contents were now laid out on the conference table like puzzle pieces.
Ganson scratched his head. “This is a weird collection of stuff to carry around.”
The treasure trove included bank records, hotel receipts, airline ticket stubs, elementary school report cards, maps, floor plans, and more than two dozen driver’s licenses from several states. The licenses all bore photos of the same four men… all with different names.
The lone license with a woman’s photo was issued over twenty-five years ago by the state of Delaware… to Sarah Elaine Sievers of Drexler, Delaware.
“Look at all these names, ages, and addresses. How do we find out which one is correct… or if any of them are correct?” Ganson raked through the pile. “Benedict, Lilly, Spellman, Montrose, geeze. Do you know how big the search returns will be on all these names?”
Mentally honing his focus, Marks had a plan. “We’ll focus on one name at a time, and since we knew of Sievers first, we’ll stay with that one for now.”
“Lindy Piquat and Mossford Sievers were married August 4, 1939.” Holland waved a yellowed document in the air. “It was the day after her 18th birthday and six months after his.”
Hill whistled low and slow. “1939? They would have to be-”
After logging the info on his notepad, Holland slipped the license into a glassine sheet protector.
“Somebody had mommy-issues.”
The three men turned to Ganson.
He held four faded black and white photographs. The same young girl was in all four photos, and though there were others standing with her, only her body was full of dozens of tiny pinpricks.
Marks couldn’t contain his excitement. “We’ll need Chaney in on this sooner than later for a psych profile.”
“I believe the girl in these photos is a young Sarah Sievers. Matches the Delaware license, only younger. Here she’s a kid with a guy in uniform.” He held it up. “Dad, maybe?”
“This one here has to be her and her mom… they look alike. This is a school photo—maybe high school—and this is probably her with her brothers,” he tilted his head toward the stack of state IDs, “and the guys on all the driver’s licenses.”
Marks clapped his hands together and shouted, “Hallelujah!”
Hill smirked. “Share so we can celebrate too. What’s up?”
Grinning, Gavin Marks picked up one photo. “What have we just learned, gentlemen?” He continued before they could respond. “Mossford Sievers married Lindy Piquat in 1939 when he was eighteen years old. The guy in this photo is military. And at his age… he served in World War II.”
The detectives applauded. “Very good, Marks. You get an ‘A’ today.”
He waved Hill off. “Too bad I didn’t get an ‘A’ in history when it counted.”
He turned to Holland. “Call Perreti and Griffin back in. They’re aces at forensic searches. If we’re lucky, they can find what we need, and I won’t have to reach out to Veteran’s Affairs tomorrow… that’s never fun. Let’s narrow our search for now to any Sievers in Drexler, Delaware. I’ll contact the LEOs in that area tomorrow morning. With all of these fake IDs, someone had to get caught doing something wrong at least once.”
Brian Holland added to his list. “I just had to be a detective. This sure doesn’t feel like a promotion… feels like more work.”
“That’s why we make the big bucks.”
They all shared a laugh as Holland left the room.
Ganson smirked. “Big bucks? Yeah, right. I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.”
“Well, how does your captain feel about overtime?”
Leonard Ganson groaned.
“Hates it with a passion. The brass downtown is always hollering about budget cuts. But I explained the link to your case and possibly the Senior Citizen Rapist, so we’re good for forty-eight hours. If we can’t prove a connection to our case by then, we have to take our toys and go home.”
Marks belly laughed. “Oh, man. I can just hear him saying that.”
He clapped his hands together again, looking over the unusual collection of items.
“Let’s see if we have anything else useful here.”
Before they could get back to their searching, Holland burst back into the room.
“Marks, man, I want to be you when I grow up!”
“Why? What happened?”
“You nailed it. Patrol found Franklin Bennett’s 2016 Chevy Traverse three blocks from where the Ford Explorer was stolen.”
The men all exchanged glances. Gavin paced around the table.
“So, the man we know as Gary Sievers fought with Franklin Bennett in his apartment, took his car, ditched it and stole another vehicle, and ended up at the Ramirez home to attack two women… one of which was Bennett’s wife.”
He scrubbed his hand down his face.
“What was Bennett doing there? How do they know each other…not to mention being almost identical in looks? What did they fight about? And why did Sievers go to the Ramirez home?”
Hill grimaced. “Can we go back to the celebrating part because this sucks.”
“The picture is still blurred, gentlemen. Let’s pull it into focus.”
Watching the nurse replenish her husband’s I.V. meds, Sally Bennett’s spirits lifted for the first time in days.
Lab cultures showed Franklin Bennett was in the early stages of a bacterial infection, but Dr. Stanley’s decision to include antibiotics from the beginning of his care was a good one.
Though not gone, the infection was weakening, allowing his blood pressure to rise.
“He’s doing very well, ma’am. Nice strong blood pressure, no fluctuations.”
Sally sat in the chair next to the bed holding her husband’s hand. She was afraid if she let go he’d slip away and be lost to her again. The thought frightened her more than anything else from the past three days.
Sally was grateful to be with Frankie and know he was at least alive, but a raw edginess bristled just beneath her skin which kept her fears and doubts in the front of her mind.
Remembering Dr. Stanley’s words to stay positive, Sally decided to stop stewing in her worries and grab some coffee from across the hall.
Rising from her seat, she gave Frankie’s hand a gentle squeeze as she turned to walk away, and froze.
The hand she was holding was now holding hers!
Her gaze went from their joined hands to his face and Sally’s heart plummeted.
He wasn’t awake.
Involuntary nerve spasms were explained to her earlier and now she understood why.
Another attempt at releasing Franklin’s hand again caused his grip to tighten.
This can’t be a nerve spasm.
Sally reached for the call button to alert the nurse but stopped when Frankie’s grip tightened even more.
Her brows knitted in confusion.
“Frankie? Can you hear me? Frankie? Can you give me any kind of response? Squeeze my hand again, baby. Wiggle a toe. Dammit, I’ll even accept a facial twitch.”
He didn’t respond but Sally knew he’d gripped her hand. She was sure of it.
Frankie’s hand became limp inside Sally’s. She raised it to her face, rubbing it against her cheek.
“It’s okay, baby. You’re going to beat this. Just hang on.”
She planted a light kiss on his hand and laid his arm to rest on the bed.
Sally left the room without looking back, silently cursing muscle spasms.
Crossing the hall, she saw Dr. Stanley approaching with two men casually dressed and close to her age.
“Mrs. Bennett, we were on our way to speak with you. This is Dr. Ted Beamish and Dr. Paul Weathers. They’re the doctors I told you were on call for your husband. He’s been stable for over an hour. It’s time.”
Sally shook each of their offered hands but held on to Paul Weathers’. “He’s been my life for thirty-two years…please…” Her voice broke on the last word.
Paul Weather’s wrapped her hand in both of his. “Ted and I have had many successes with traumatic brain injuries in private practice and the military. I promise you we’ll do everything we can.”
“Where are your children, Mrs. Bennett?”
It took her a few seconds to find her voice. “They all went to find quiet places to call home with an update. They should be back soon.”
Dr. Weathers released her hand. “Good. The procedure can take as little as two hours or as many as six. Just depends on what we find. We’re on our way to scrub up and someone from our team will be here soon to get Mr. Bennett prepped.”
She pressed her hand against her stomach. The churning had returned.
Dr. Stanley tried to lead her into the lounge. “You should sit-”
Sally pulled away.
“I’m sorry, it’s just nerves. I’ll sit with my husband until it’s time.”
Assuring her she would receive status updates during the surgery, the doctors left to prepare.
Sally Bennett took a deep breath, digging deep inside for a reserve of faith and went to kiss her husband for what she hoped wasn’t the last time.
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