The doorbell’s ring makes the words Avon calling spring unbidden into my head. Before the last chime has faded the door is snatched open.
She sees us and casts a desperate look around and behind us. I know what, or rather whom she is looking for. I hold up my badge, “Mrs. Wright? I’m Detective Rogan and this is Detective Stammo. May we come in, please?”
Her eyes settle on mine, switch to Stammo and then back to me. She knows to a certainty why we are here.
“Nooooooooo!” she collapses against the door post.
Stammo springs forward to stop her from falling but a man appears and puts both arms around her. He looks at Stammo. “Is it… Terry?” he asks.
“Yes, sir. I’m afraid so.” There is a catch in Stammo’s voice. My minder is human after all.
“Oh god, no.” He half carries his wife into the house. “Come in,” he throws back over his shoulder.
We follow him through the tiny entranceway and into the tiny living room. He helps her onto the couch and sits beside her with his arm around her shoulders, steadying and supporting her. I try to imagine the pain that is coursing through them. If it were me being told by two strangers that Ellie… I can’t go there.
I sit in the worn chair opposite them and they turn their faces towards me. Stricken. His, wide eyed and haunted; hers, awash in tears. No hope in them.
I dry swallow. “I’m so sorry to have to tell you that we have found the body of a child that we believe to be your missing son, Terry.”
“You’re not sure?” Elizabeth Wright clutches at a desperate straw.
“I’m afraid we will need you to come and identify the body to be certain.” I tell them. “But he was dressed as you described in the missing person report and the photo matches. I can not tell you how sorry I am.”
As his wife sobs in his arms, Wright asks the question, the answer to which will haunt them forever. “How did he…?”
There is no way I can sugar coat the answer with the empty phrases I’m afraid that or I’m sorry to have to tell you so I just come out and say, “His body was found in the UBC Endowment Lands. He was murdered.”
Elizabeth Wright’s sobbing has become a wail and her husband buries his shocked face in her hair.
I look up at Stammo and even he is blinking his eyes and looking at the ceiling.
To distract myself I look around the room. It is a small living/dining room and through a hatch in the wall at the back of the dining area I can see a kitchen. On the far end of the Formica dining room table there are the remains of an abandoned breakfast. Sharing the table are three very large computer monitors each displaying a writhing screen saver. The monitors are connected to a tower PC located under the table. It looks like a very expensive setup to my untrained eye and is at odds with the low-cost, rather shabby look of the rest of the house. The computer makes a pinging noise and the screen savers vanish. The screens are filled with what looks like computer code. Gobbledygook to me.
“Who would murder my son?” Mark Wright asks suddenly. “He was just a kid. Everybody loved Terry. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“We don’t know, sir,” Stammo tells him, “but believe me we will do everything in our power to find out who killed him and bring that person to justice.”
Elizabeth Wright looks at me and brushes away the tears with her fingertips. “Was he… you know…”.
She can not say it so I supply the word. “Molested?” She shudders. “At this point we don’t think so but we won’t be sure until after the autopsy.”
She nods her head and buries her face in her husband’s shoulder.
I stand up and look at Stammo who gives a half nod.
“We have to ask you to come downtown to identify the body.” I tell them. “I am going to send in two uniformed officers who will answer any questions for you. When you’re ready, they’ll drive you there and bring you back home afterward.”
They both look up and nod vaguely in my direction.
Stammo and I make our own way out and signal the uniforms to go in.
As we walk to the car, the rain redoubles its efforts.
—— o ——
Oboe is the sequel to the first Cal Rogan Mystery, Junkie. It will be available in the fall of 2012.
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