#52weeks52stories: Week 17
Word prompt: cell
Word Count: 1513
Part VI |
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“What? When was she discharged?”
“It’s been at least two hours.”
Gavin Marks hung his head while rubbing his brow in frustration.
“Ma’am, Mrs. Bennett is a victim and a witness in this case. The department was to be informed of her release.”
Donna Marcus was at a loss.
“I know, detective, I know. It’s on the patient chart and in the patient care system, but I just came on duty. I know there were emergencies on the floor in the afternoon and the shift was understaffed. Any number of things could have happened, including one nurse thinking another made the call. I’m sorry.”
Gavin understood how a well-planned day could go south in a matter of moments.
He reached out and shook her hand.
“Thanks for your time. I apologize for my rudeness. This case has stonewalled us, and Mrs. Bennett is our only lead. I hope your shift is an easy one.”
“Thank you, detective.”
Gavin walked away, pulling out his notepad and cell phone. His call to Sally Bennett’s home went unanswered. He swore under his breath when he realized he hadn’t gotten her cell number too.
As he reached the elevator, the doors opened and Brian Holland stepped out.
“Got the message to meet you here but you don’t look happy to see me.”
The detective smirked at the uniformed officer.
“The hospital discharged our only witness over two hours ago. Just called her home… no answer.”
“She’s had a rough couple of days… could be asleep.”
“True. But three of her five children are in town and I doubt they’d drop her off and head back home after finding out their father tried to kill their mother and her client and now he’s dead.”
It was Holland’s turn to smirk. “Good point.”
Gavin pushed the button for the elevator.
“Let’s take a ride over there… see what’s going on. This case is dead in the water. There must be something Mrs. Bennett has forgotten that will point us in the right direction.”
“Sure thing. Let me call Lothern.” The officer reached for his radio.
“Not necessary, dude. I talked to your sergeant and had you re-assigned. Hope you don’t mind, but you’re on my team in four days, anyway.”
The elevator doors opened and the big man grinned as he stepped inside.
“Nope, I don’t mind at all.”
“Welcome to the Special Investigations Unit. Your first case is a real cluster.”
It only took a few minutes for Connie Pierce and Walt Stokely to tell the police what they knew about Gary Sievers.
Neighbor Jill Vick had nothing to add. The forty-seven-year-old disabled woman lived right across the hall but spent most of her days wearing headphones or ear-buds.
Noah Lambert lived across the hall from Connie but had been at work all day, then spent the night at his girlfriend’s.
Lead detective Leonard Ganson was pissed.
“Someone tried to commit murder and no one heard anything. That’s just great. That’s just freakin’ fantastic.”
He lit his third cigarette since arriving at the scene.
“Man, calm down and stop acting like it’s the first time we’ve had no witnesses. Pete Hill had been Ganson’s partner for fourteen years.
“And stop smoking like a chimney. If the captain shows up and sees you, it won’t end well.”
“Just once I’d like to have a willing witness or a repentant suspect who fears for his immortal soul and confesses.” He took a long drag on the cigarette before continuing. “It’s gonna be a long night.”
Connie stood in the evening twilight watching the paramedics stabilize Gary Sievers for transport.
Attached to the gurney, a short I.V. pole held twin bags for O positive blood and simple saline. A light compression bandage was wrapped around his forehead “to keep his brains from falling out” she’d heard one paramedic say to the other.
The small case tracking Gary’s vital signs showed they were impossibly low.
Walt slipped an arm around Connie.
“I’m sorry, Pierce. I should have opened the door when you asked me to.”
Surprised by the gruff man’s sincerity, she offered him a sad smile.
“Don’t blame yourself, Walt. We didn’t know. Gary kept to himself so much, not seeing him daily wasn’t a big deal.”
The paramedics lifted the gurney into the back of the ambulance. One jumped inside, administering aid to Gary while the other packed aware their medical gear.
“Will he make it?”
“I can’t say, ma’am. We’ve stabilized him the best we could, but his pulse rate hasn’t improved. If he can last through the ride to Colon Regional, the docs there may be able to improve his odds.”
He closed the back doors of the ambulance and hurried around to the driver’s side. Connie followed.
“Wait. Colon Regional? Trinity Memorial is right down the street.”
He opened the door but paused long enough to respond.
“Yes, ma’am, but their ER is closed down. Some guy rushing his buddy in after an accident lost control of his truck and plowed into the emergency room. They’ve got dozens of injuries to deal with.” He climbed inside the vehicle. “Baxter General is seventeen miles across town through evening rush hour traffic.”
He radioed in his departure time and started the ambulance.
“Colon is in the next county, but it’s only six miles away, a straight shot… and this guy’s best chance.”
The ambulance pulled away with sirens on, and Connie’s tears returned.
Seated back in Pax Lacey’s office, Carolyn and Joanie clung to each other, sobbing. Darrin sat next to his mother, exhausted and defeated.
Sally sat perched on the edge of the sofa watching the coroner as he placed first a call to Detective Marks—which went straight to voice-mail—and another to check on the status of the fingerprint search for the man he now knew wasn’t Franklin Bennett. He completed the call and scrubbed a hand over his face.
“Still nothing on the fingerprints.”
“How is that even possible? Everyone is fingerprinted for something these days.”
Anger marred Carolyn’s tear-stained face. “I was fingerprinted for a background check before I could volunteer at my daughter’s school.”
Joanie nodded. “I had to be fingerprinted when I worked at the bank.”
“Don’t forget our driver licenses,” Darrin added while staring at his fingers.
Pax stood and approached the family. “That just means this man has been off the grid for some time. But we’re just getting started We will find out who he is.”
“Please. You have to… soon.” Sally’s voice was shaky and stilted. “Finding out who this man is may be the only way of finding my husband.”
The distraught woman wavered and her son slid closer to support her.
“I can’t make any sense of this but that man isn’t Frankie. And we know Frankie didn’t go with Bill Reynolds. But, he wouldn’t have lied to Bill about me being ill. That means the man lying in that room talked to Bill… and he’s done something to Frankie.”
After exiting the elevator, Det. Marks and Officer Holland took the shortcut through the emergency room to reach law enforcement parking.
Marks pulled out his cell phone to check his messages.
“Hey, Marks! How’s it going?”
He stopped and turned to see Leonard Ganson standing in the doorway of an exam room.
“Lennie, hey man, what’s up? Aren’t you in the wrong county?”
The wiry older detective snickered. “Yeah, yeah. I’m on your turf. Gotta follow the case, right? Assault victim found unconscious in his apartment. Trinity’s ER is shut down. Colon was closer.”
“Tough break. Heard about Trinity too. Anything good happen for you today?”
“My wife told me she loved me.”
Marks laughed. “That’s gotta count for something.” He motioned to Holland. “This is Brian Holland. He joins Special Investigations Monday. Brian, this is Leonard Ganson, a senior detective in the Baxter major crimes department.”
The two men shook hands.
“Congrats, Holland. Now you’ll get to work double shifts and drink bad coffee in a suit.”
Brian chuckled. “Thanks, man.”
Pete Hill rushed toward the men panting. “Got an ID on our vic! Franklin Bennett… has a Marbury address.”
Marks and Holland exchanged quick glances. Before either could speak, Holland’s cell phone rang.
“Yes, I’m with him now.”
“Okay, I’ll let him know. Thanks.”
“That was Lothern. Says the coroner’s trying to reach you.”
But Gavin Marks didn’t hear the officer. He walked past Ganson and Hill into the exam room.
A nurse was washing up the unconscious man lying in the bed.
“I’m sorry, sir. No visitors.”
Gavin opened his jacket to show his shield clipped to his belt.
“Oh, sorry. But like I told the other detectives, he’s still unconscious. We’re prepping him for surgery and hoping his blood pressure rises enough for him to live through it.”
She said more, but he didn’t hear. Standing at the foot of the bed, Gavin just stared at the man.
Holland joined him, his mouth gaping open when he looked at the unconscious man.
“What the hell is going on?”
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