We arrived at the ME’s office and I was out of the truck, case file in hand, before Cassi put the truck in park. She could barely keep up as I rushed through the lobby and into the front office. The receptionist, naturally, was on the phone.
“So anyway, this guy buys me a drink and is all like, ‘What’s happenin’, baby?’ so I’m like ‘Uh, BOY, I ain’t your baby—’”
“Excuse me. Miss?” I tapped my fingers rapidly on the case file I was holding at my side.
“—So I turn around and start talking to my friend, Mary, you know, the girl you know? So anyway, this guy—”
I slammed my hand down on the phone, cutting off the call. Melissa jumped back in her chair, “Excuse me?!”
“I need the sign in logs from this morning.”
“I was on the—”
“All right! All right! Keep your shirt on,” Melissa opened a drawer, pulled out the ledger, and dropped it on the desk. “Knock yourself out.”
“What’s going on Chief?” Cassi asked.
I opened the book, flipped a few pages, and stared at the signature halfway down the page. I opened the case file and compared the signature to one of the letters. I showed them to Cassi, who looked at the letter, looked at the ledger, did it again, then looked back at me with her mouth open. She blinked twice without saying a word.
I held the ledger in front of Melissa and tapped the page, “I need a photocopy of this page.” Melissa took the book and looked at it then back at me. I added firmly, “Now.”
Melissa stood and walked over to the copier, “Some people. Manners would be nice.” She ran off a copy and handed it to me.
I grabbed the copy and then grabbed the ledger.
Melissa, startled, said, “Hey, where are you taking that?”
I looked at Cassi. Without a word she walked off into the ME’s exam room and came back with a large evidence bag. I slipped the ledger into the bag, sealed it, and made a note on the label. To Melissa I said, “Tell Dr. Bishop I’m putting this into evidence.”
I bolted for the door, Cassi in hot pursuit, leaving Melissa looking very confused.
“Give me the keys.”
Cassi handed me the keys and barely made it into the passenger seat before we sped out of the parking lot. When we got back to headquarters, I jumped out of the truck and ran to the evidence locker. I called over my shoulder to Cassi, “Find Roscoe!” I booked the ledger into evidence and got back to my office as Cassi walked in.
“Roscoe doesn’t answer.”
I picked up the phone and called Dispatch, “Beverly, has Roscoe checked in lately?— Damn! When did you hear from him last?— OK. Put a trace on his vehicle and cell phone and find out where he is. Get back to me as soon as you know anything— Thanks.”
I fell into my chair and spun toward the window. I put one foot on the sill and touched my fingertips together in front of my mouth, my elbows resting on the arms of the chair. The sunset winked off the ripples on the water. After a few silent moments I spun around and pushed myself out of the chair and walked past Cassi to the door, “Let’s go.”
I pulled into the beach parking lot and parked by the curb. I stepped cautiously out of the truck and drew my weapon. Cassi saw me then drew her own.
As I walked onto the beach, I saw a lone figure silhouetted by the pier in the fading light. I pointed to Cassi and motioned for her to swing to the left while I went right.
We got to within a few yards of the man and I motioned for Cassi to stop, “Roscoe. How you doin’ man?”
Roscoe stared out at the water, his hands in his jacket pockets.
“Can we talk about this buddy?”
Roscoe turned around slowly.
“You want to move real slow now Roscoe. Slowly take your hands out of your pockets and show ‘em to me.”
“I’m sorry Chief. I’m so sorry,” tears streamed down Roscoe’s cheeks.
“That’s OK Roscoe. Let’s just talk about it. First your hands.”
Roscoe blinked hard, his face contorted.
Roscoe’s face relaxed, his shoulders slumped. He looked into my eyes and whispered, “I’m sorry. I loved her and he killed her—”
“I know, buddy, I know. Let’s talk about this. Let’s find a way out of this.”
Roscoe dropped his chin to his chest and shook his head slowly, side-to-side. He slowly pulled his hands out of his jacket pocket, revealing his service weapon. I drew my gun up to center mass. My entire body tensed. Cassi stiffened but held her ground. Roscoe pointed his weapon at the sand.
“Roscoe. Don’t do this. We can get through this.” I took a few cautious steps toward Roscoe, “Drop the gun, Roscoe. Right now.”
After a few moments, Roscoe looked up at me, his face frozen in a contorted squint. He dropped to his knees and began to sob in great heaving gasps. Then, in a barely audible whisper he said, “I’m so sorry,” then yanked the gun up and drew it on me.
I screamed, “No!” and pumped three .40 caliber rounds into Roscoe’s chest. Roscoe’s eyes went wide. His mouth gaped. The gun dropped from his hand as he fell backward onto the sand.
“Oh God! Roscoe!” I shoved my gun back into my shoulder holster and lunged forward, landing on my knees beside my deputy. I pressed my hands against the growing red stain on Roscoe’s shirt, “Roscoe! C’mon man! C’mon!” I looked frantically at Cassi, “Call it in!” and turned back to Roscoe. Roscoe looked into my eyes for a moment before his eyes flickered and then were still. I put my fingers to Roscoe’s neck, then slumped back on my heels, sputtering “Roscoe—”
I stood over Roscoe for what seemed like hours, just looking into his young, still face. Cassi walked down from the parking lot and stood beside me. I looked up, “His gun wasn’t loaded, was it?”
Cassi dropped her head, “No.”
I looked back down at Roscoe. Finally, I managed, “I wish he had come to me. I wish he had said something.”
“I know,” Cassi looked into my face for a long moment. She hesitated, “We need to go Chief.”
We stood in silence for another few moments, then I lifted my gun from my holster and handed it to Cassi, “They’ll need this.”
I looked down one last time at the lifeless body of my young deputy, shook my head and whispered, “Roscoe—”
I inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, “Let’s go,” then we walked up the beach to the waiting sheriff.