Detective Sherman, Captain Marcel and Officers Reilly and Danforth stood in the mouth of the alley. the site that greeted them was horrible. A man, no ID, lay dead. A woman, badly beaten-possibly raped-also lay, her clothes in shreds, clinging to life. Her purse, including ID, was also missing. Blood had already begun clotting, making her hair stick badly to her face. The rest of the crew were rushing around searching for clues. Anything that would give them an idea who had done such a horrible deed.
Detective Michael Sherman watched as the EMTs carefully loaded the broken woman onto the stretcher and rolled her to the ambulance. He shook his head. This was the worst attack he’d seen so far. Three such scenes. Two women dead. The first two had not been accompanied. Both had been raped.
Michael was sure this one had too. But she was different. The first two had been local women. Hookers. This woman wasn’t local and had been with someone. If she had been raped, it was probably while her companion was still alive, but had already been shot and disabled.
“Do a rape kit on her,” he requested, walking up to the ambulance driver, “When you get her to the hospital. I think this is connected to the other two. Not sure, though.”
The ambulance driver nodded, then got into the ambulance. Michael whacked the back of the ambulance as it began to drive off. Damn! He thought. Last thing we need. Another rape. This time, an out-of-towner. I hope she pulls through and can give us a description.
“The place is clean,” Reilly stated, disgusted, “whoever this perp is, he sure knows how to keep a clean house. No condoms, no nothin’. As if he doesn’t exist.”
“There’s got to be something,” Michael found himself replying, “Something he missed.”
“Well,” Marcel smiled grimly, “we have one piece of evidence. At least he didn’t kill this last victim.”
“I know,” Michael acquiesced, “but will she remember?”
Danforth nodded. “That is a good question. As is who is she? And who was her companion?”
“Good question,” Michael replied, “guess we’ll have to wait ’till she wakes up, non?”
“Yep,” Michael chuckled, in spite of himself, “I supposed you’re right.”
He had known Justin Marcel since the young Captain had graduated, head of his class, from the academy. The young Cajun was the first of his family to ever venture out of the bayou and into the big city. He’d taken a deep disliking to gator hunting and most other Cajun traditions except music. And Justin was one hell of a fiddle player.
He was easily accessible to the younger men and women on the force, making him one of the most liked. His promotion had not spoiled him at all. Nor had Michael’s. Both Michael and Justin had earned their promotions, though Michael had been on the force a little longer.
Danforth and Reilly fell into their circle rather quickly. Danforth had risen from the projects to become an officer. He had determined, early in life, that his family would do better than he had. Reilly had moved to New Orleans from New York to go to Tulane University. He, too, was from the poor side of the tracks, but had made good with academic scholarships. choosing law enforcement, he made straight A’s.
From day one, all three would gather, at one another’s homes and play poker. Their wives had formed a support group for each other and would sit and work through their anxieties and fears. The women were always invited to the poker table, should they feel lucky at cards, but rarely did. They preferred that their men have fun without them.
Of course, each had a special night for family, and one for just husband and wife. This kept them strong as couples, as families. But the meetings were for the whole group. While the men played poker and the women discussed their worries, the children played with each other, and the whole group became like one big happy family.
Now, all three men faced the most confusing case in their entire, short, careers. This was the type of case that could make or break a career. If they solved it, Michael would become chief detective, Marcel would make Sergeant, and Reilly and Danforth would make Captain. And this was their case.
But they had been thwarted, so far, by the attacker. No bullet shells. No living witnesses. No real evidence. Well, until this night. Now, they had a living witness. But would she remember anything? That was the question.
At the hospital, the doctors rushed to save the victim’s life. She was in terrible shape. How she had survived such a mauling was beyond the head surgeon. But, She was determined to save this young lady.
Perhaps she held clues, memories, of who did this to her. The surgeon only hoped. The rape kit had been done, it had been determined that the victim had-indeed-been raped, and that this was definitely similar to the two previous cases. All except that the victim now lay in their hospital, fighting for her life.
When the officers got there, the surgeon would have to confer with them. The victim would still be in no shape to give any information, but the surgeon would do her best to give what she could.
Though not particularly religious, she sent a prayer to whatever power might be that her patient survived and helped get the rapist off the streets. With that, she went on about her duties, awaiting the arrival of the police. She was going to have a long night of it. And she knew that this was only the beginning.
In the ICU, the victim lay–locked away inside her own mind. She struggled to make sense of the darkness, but could not. She couldn’t remember anything. Who was she? Where was she? Why was she here?
She would stay in the coma for three days. No signs of improvement would be seen until the third day. But that was still three days away. Until then, it would be a roller coaster of highs and lows. But mostly lows.