Authors: James Kipling
Only Time Will Tell
Global Village Publications
Only Time Will Tell
Copyright 2014 James Kipling
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These threads that run throughout our lives are the most important pieces in the puzzle that is us. How we connect to people who connect to more people. This band of beautiful ribbons just spreading some kind of peace through the world.
~ Alina Morris
What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another? ~ Alan Paton
The sun had yet to rise over the mountain peaks that stood off in the distance. The only light came from the lampposts and also from the crescent moon that clung to the starless sky. She sat in her windowsill with her knees pressed to her chest. A single tear ran down her cheek. As she wiped it away, she kept telling herself that everything was going to be alright. She had been telling herself this for quite some time now. However, as the days and hours ticked by, she was beginning to doubt this. From the emptiness she felt inside, she knew that things were not letting up.
Opening her window, she felt a slight breeze come in. She could smell the scent of rain in the air. Monsoon season had come at last to the desert, breathing life back into this desolate place. However, a bittersweet melancholy hung in the air, causing her to shake her head. She needed to get out of this rut, but you can’t run away from your problems. That she had learned. They follow you no matter where you go. If only she could go back and change certain things, that she would do so without hesitation. But it was too late now. Her life had changed forever and she did not know how to deal with it.
Moving away from her window, she peered around her bedroom. It was painted a light yellow with a turquoise accent wall. Somehow it seemed as if her teenage self had been preserved in this room. It was this part of her which seemed to have been fading so much that of late she could not recognize herself in the mirror.
It all happened so quickly and now everything in this house was silent – it was an eerie silence that filled every niche over the past few months. Since the sudden passing of her father, it seemed as if the entire world froze and time stood still. It was not that she had not tried to break free of the darkness, but was still feeling trapped. She felt like she was being suffocated by guilt and, not only that, it was eating her alive. Suddenly, the glass seemed half-empty, rather than half-full, and silence was now her new melody.
Sucking in a deep breath, she grabbed her tennis shoes and slipped them on. Being forced to take a break from her regular run had caused her to lose some of her motivation to do so for a while. Her doctor didn’t want her to take the slightest run until she was fully healed. But she was headstrong and decided not to listen. Right now, she felt a compelling need to go for a run as it might help clear her mind.
She remembered how her father encouraged her to take up running. He kept telling her she could do anything she set her mind to. Now that he was gone, she felt as if her belief in herself had died with him. Yet there still clung a thread of hope that what he said was true, even though she knew that she was no longer able to compete due to the injury. Nevertheless, she wanted to keep running as a way of releasing stress and to keep his memory alive.
As she sat there it struck her that there were so many things her father would not be able to participate in. He would never walk her down the aisle. He would not be able to share his wisdom with her children. He would not be there for her when she needed someone to confide in. He had always protected her, and now she felt very vulnerable.
Clutching at the locket that hung around her neck she remembered the day she had received it as a gift from her father. Inside he had placed a picture of the three of them – happy and smiling. Not for a moment did they believe anything bad could happen to any of them or the ones they loved. How delusional and naïve they were in the face of harsh reality. He was snatched away suddenly, shattering her world, and now she was forced to look at everything differently. Someone had said that all we endured had helped us in some way, even if the results were not immediate. She could not help but wonder about the truth of this.
At this juncture, she was not sure how this applied to her life at the moment or what good her silence would accomplish. The only person who knew and kept her secrets was gone forever, and she was one of the few people to know the truth of why he had died so young. This, she told herself, would go with her to the grave.
Trying to force all those negative thoughts from her mind, she sprang to her feet and opened the door. Before stepping out into the corridor, she gave one last look around. In the dim shadows she could see pictures from all their family trips hanging on the wall. She remembered the laughter and the love, now replaced with silence and isolation. She did not know how to speak to her mother. She felt that by giving voice to what she knew would only make it more real. She walked silently down the corridor, unlocked the front door and slipped outside in the near dawn silence.
The morning air was chilly as the rain clouds hung in the sky. She expected lightning to rip through the clouds anytime now followed by a blast of thunder, then the rain would come pouring down. As she approached the edge of the driveway, she put on her headphones. The music was soothing. She began to jog in the hope that it would take away the feeling of numbness and leave her refreshed.
She liked the quietness of the early morning hour. This was her usual time, when few, if any people were about and she had the track to herself. She never felt unduly unsafe going jogging at this time. Only recently, after what had happened, she had begun to experience a bit of paranoia. This had her always looking over her shoulder and jumping at every sound she heard. She did this a few times, saw no one and continued along the path.
She was making good time when her injured ankle started acting up and so she slowed down. The pain got worse and so she stopped to rest. As she sat there massaging her ankle, she had the strange feeling that someone was watching her. Her blood went ice cold and a chill ran up her spine. Slowly, she turned her head around and the person was only a few feet from her. For a spilt second she was paralyzed with fear, but the next moment she was up and running.
She could hear the heavy footsteps cushioned by the grass as he chased her. She knew she should scream because there were houses nearby. But she could not find her voice. Her screams were trapped behind her trembling lips.
She heard him getting closer and closer, and her throbbing ankle was slowing her down. Then she tripped and fell. Before she knew it, he was on top of her.
She tried to shake him off, but he was much heavier and stronger than her. She managed to flip over on her back and that was when she saw the glint of a knife in his hand. It gleamed eerily in the pale moonlight. She was helpless in his grasp as he brought it down and plunged in into her breast. For a brief moment she felt a searing pain.
She did not want to die. Not like this, anyway. She felt the world around her fading and her breath was coming in gasps. She could no longer feel the pain. The last thing she saw was his eyes. They were blank. Dead. Then the darkness swallowed her up.
Life is something that happens when you can’t get to sleep. ~ Fran Lebowitz
Tossing and turning, Detective Chelsea Madden could not find a comfortable position in which to lie down. Sleep had eluded her once again, and she began to wonder how many more nights were going to be like this one. Her next appointment with her therapist was weeks away, but then, she was not even sure if the many sessions spent with her were helping.
She had tried talking about the deep things that troubled her in the hope it would bring some sort of relief, but it was not working. She felt trapped by her old memories that haunted her, especially at nights. Sighing heavily, she concluded that she would have to deal with what was bothering her all by herself. There seemed to be no other option.
The clock on the side table registered ten to five in the morning. She had been lying awake since ten o’clock the night before. She gave up trying to will herself to sleep. Her fingers searched the nightstand until she felt her phone. It had been silent since she came home last night. This meant that nothing horrid had happened during the night. While she was glad about that, she still wished it would ring so she could talk to someone. Yet within herself, she did not want to speak with anyone.
This was one of her biggest problems – she did not know how to be intimately connected to anyone. She found it hard to share her deepest feelings, even though she had a desire to communicate. Her therapist attributed it to her inability to trust anyone, and she hated to admit it, but maybe she was right.
Sitting up suddenly, she threw back the sheet and got out of bed. Her sudden movement caused her hand to knock against the picture frame and it fell to the ground. She picked it up. It was her favorite family photo and all she had left to remember them by. She clung to it fiercely as if it was her security blanket. Her eyes scanned the picture, taking in every detail. She saw her mother smiling happily as her green eyes gazed lovingly at her father. Her arms were wrapped around him tightly, as if saying, you’re mine and only mine. Her father was also smiling and held her no less tightly, protecting her from the entire world. He was a strict father, but at the same time kind and tender.
Setting the picture down, she walked across the cool tile toward the bathroom. She could hear the soft patter of rain on the roof. On such a rainy day she wished she could stay in her pajamas and watch old movies. But the demands of her job beckoned her. As a crime fighter she had serious responsibilities because crime never took a holiday.
She splashed some cold water on her face and caught sight of herself in the mirror. Her black hair tumbled untidily unto her shoulders, and her dark eyes looked back at her, fiercely. She had her mother’s delicate features but her father’s stern look. Growing up, she was told that she appeared intimidating at times, without meaning to look that way. As a woman, she hated being described as such but, at the same time, it made her much better at her present job.
Leaving the bathroom, she grabbed her phone before going out into the sparsely furnished living room. It had only the bare essentials - a three piece sofa, a coffee table, a TV which she hardly had time to watch and two huge bookshelves, heavily laden with her favorite stories. Even when she had leisure time she spent it reading murder mysteries. She liked them because she gained quite a lot of knowledge and insight into people, criminals as well as ordinary citizens, and how their minds worked. For example, her partner, Pierce Carson, had been trying to figure her out for the last six years. She knew he was still guessing because she talked very little about her personal life. On the other hand, she could pretty much read him like a book.
In the kitchen, she started perking the coffee and went to look in the fridge. It was almost bare, with only some milk and eggs. She took out the milk, closed the door and reached for the huge box of cereal. She needed to pay a visit to the supermarket soon or she would have nothing to eat. Not that she ate much, but she would be in quite a spot where food was concerned, if someone dropped by for a visit.
The ping of the percolator made her know the coffee was ready. Thank God for coffee. It kept her sane. She got the habit from her father while still a child because her mother did not like the stuff and kept on telling her it would stunt her growth. She was wrong about that. She stood nearly five foot ten. But of course, her mom would not know that now.
She returned to the living room where she balanced her cereal on the arm of the couch and carefully put her cup of coffee on the table within easy reach. It was then that the house phone rang, shattering her peace and quiet.
Quickly, she picked it up, thinking it might be a call from the office. She glanced quickly at the caller ID but the number did not show. No one other than her co-workers had this number, and those numbers were never blocked.
She hesitated to answer. In the silence, a strange sounding voice began to speak.
“Hello there, Chelsea Marie Preston. Did you honestly think you could hide from me forever? Changing your last name to Madden did not work seeing that I still managed to find you.”
The voice was obviously distorted so as not to be recognized.
Fear gripped her as she asked, “Who is this?”
“You will eventually know, but for now it is best you don’t. You’ve been busy lately. Stealing that file on your parents’ murder. I should let you know now, you are wasting your time.”
“How do you know that?” she asked, trying to mask her fear.
“I know a lot of things. You are turning out just the way your parents would have wanted you to. But don’t make the same mistake they did or you know what will happen. I’ll be watching you.”
Then there was a click.
Chelsea sat frozen, unable to move or think straight. Who was this caller? How did he know about her parents? And the files she had taken? A million questions swirled around in her head. She had told no one that she had decided to carry out her own investigation into her parents’ murder after waiting years for an answer. The cases were closed and the files were not active.
Re-gaining her composure a bit, she went across to one of the bookshelves and pulled out the file she had hidden behind a row of books. She had scattered the contents in several places so no one could easily retrieve them. One had to be extra careful, there was no knowing what might happen.
As she thumbed through the file she read the report, not that she did not know it by heart. Her parents were murdered on the twenty-seventh of November when she was only eleven years old. She had slept through the entire event even though she was in the house. When she stumbled across their bodies the next morning, a small part of her had died. The police suspected that she had been drugged, which meant whoever murdered her parents had access to the house or an accomplice working from the inside prior to the event.
She knew he parents had a party that night but try as she may, she could not remember who were there. As a child, she never met her parents’ friends on those occasions because she was always in her room.
The investigating officer assigned to the case was a woman named Marge Drake who retired three years ago. Over all these years, Chelsea would check in and see if anything new had surfaced, and nothing ever did. The case went cold and she felt in a way responsible since she could not remember anything significant about that awful night.
She was brought back to reality by the phone ringing again, only this time it was Carson Pierce, one of her partners.
“Madden here,” she answered, somewhat shakily.
“Hey, Chelsea, I know it is a bit early, but can you come down to Jesse Owens Park on the double? We have a body.”
“Certainly, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
The park was not too far away from where she lived.
Hanging up quickly, she hurriedly grabbed all the papers on the floor and placed them on top of the bookshelf. When she got back she would sort them out and hide them away again. Her own concerns were pushed to the back of her mind for the moment- her job was now the priority.
She collected her gun from the drawer and put it in the holster. She wondered who the victim was and the circumstances of her death. Grabbing her keys off the hook she unlocked the door and hurried down the corridor. On her way out she came across her neighbor, Dorothy, smoking on the stairwell. Her greasy black hair was brushed back in a tight ponytail.
“Hello Chelsea. Are you going to work already?”
“Yes,” she said in a clipped voice, hoping to avoid being trapped in an unwanted conversation. Dorothy was in the habit of rambling on for a long time and Chelsea did not know how to disengage herself without being looked at as rude. Luckily for her, Dorothy went back to smoking her cigarette and she managed to slip away.
Her sleepless night had left her fatigued, but she would have to somehow make it make it through the rest of the day. She would be relying on many cups of coffee to make this happen.
The rain started to fall softly as she got into the car. No one else seemed to be out this early on Sunday. Backing out she knew it would only take her a few minutes to get to the park. When she arrived at the entrance of the park she noticed that several police vehicles had already blocked off the area. She saw Carson Pierce looking around obviously for clues. His short cropped salt and pepper hair made him easily identifiable. Next to him was Dean Weston, a new recruit, scribbling in his blue notebook. He was only assigned to Homicide five months ago and so he was still trying to prove himself to Pierce, which was not an easy thing to do.
Getting out of the car, she went in the direction where everyone was gathered around the body. The victim seemed to be a young woman in her early twenties and she was lying on her back covered in her own blood. It appeared that she had several stab wounds and her lifeless blue eyes were staring into the beyond. One of the officers thankfully closed them. Her hair was in total disarray and Chelsea noted her jogging shoes were the expensive kind which most likely meant that she was a serious runner.
“Do we know who she is?”
“No,” said Pierce. “There is nothing on her.”
Chelsea looked around her quickly. There were several houses nearby and some had their lights on as people were waking up. News of this murder so close by would have parents fearful to have their children playing in the park unsupervised. She wondered if anyone from these houses had seen any suspicious action or heard anything like a scream.
“Who discovered the body?” She asked.
“A man called it in roughly an hour ago,” Weston said. “He didn’t identify himself but said he had stumbled across the body and so we came down.”
“What is the estimated time of death?”
“I’d give it about two hours maybe slightly less,” said Cara. She was the medical examiner who was kneeling by the body. Her face was tightly drawn as she silently carried out an on-the-spot examination.
Cara continued. “From the signs of abrasion on the body, it is obvious she did put up a bit of a struggle and it seemed as if the attack came from behind. This means she had little time to react to what was happening.”
“Well, it could be something personal or she just happened to be a random victim being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Weston slipped his blue notebook into his pocket.
“So how do you wish for us to proceed?” He asked, turning to Pierce.
“First we’ll have to try and ID her…maybe by checking her prints and missing person’s reports.” Pierce said.
“What about putting her picture on the news?” Dean asked.
“Not until we have identified her and notified her next of kin. Here in Homicide we operate a bit differently from in the Drug Unit,” Pierce reminded him. “We can mention the crime on the news and withhold any name we might have and see if anyone comes forward with any information, but that’s about it.”
Weston fell silent while Pierce moved away as he took out his cell phone. Chelsea knew that his wife was a reporter for the local news so she would be able to get this on air quickly. This was normal procedure when the police had a Jane Doe on their hands.
“Is he always that brusque?” Weston asked in a peeved voice.
Pierce is an asshole to everyone this early in the morning. He will warm up, eventually. Just hang in there.”
“Well, I am going to help with checking people in the area asking if they saw or heard anything. We might just get lucky.”
Cara looked up briefly from the body, her brown eyes were peering over her glasses as she looked Chelsea full in the face.
“You look like hell… a sign that you have not been sleeping at nights.”
That was just like Cara, abrupt and straight to the point. Then she turned her attention back to making notes on her clipboard while her assistant took pictures.
“What makes you think that?” Chelsea asked, a bit taken aback by the suddenness of the unasked for comment.
Cara barely looked up. “I’m a doctor, remember? So I know the signs of sleep deprivation. You should be taking those pills. They’d help.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not going to rely on medicine. When my body wants to sleep, it will.”
Cara ordered her team to remove the body before answering. “You know what’s happening is not healthy. Plus you aren’t the only one who has found it hard to fall asleep. I guess it comes with the territory of being a cop. Listen, if you have something else bothering you and you wish to talk, call me anytime.”
“Thanks, Cara, I’ll remember that.”
Then on the spur of the moment, as if she had just discovered something, Cara said, “You know something, Chelsea? I know just the cure for you. You need to find yourself a good man, let loose, have a good time and I’m sure you’ll have no trouble at all falling asleep.”
A reluctant smile lit up Chelsea’s face briefly. Find a good man? That was not on her agenda at all. She trusted no one and never would. Only one burning desire occupied her mind at this time - finding the person or persons who killed her parents. This left no room for romance or anything else for that matter.