Evangeline had hung on as long as she could. The illness had hit suddenly, knocking her off her feet. From that point on, it had been a spiral downward. She had gone to the hospital too late. There had been little that the doctors could do but ease her pain.
Now, she lay dying and Justin felt helpless. He felt that he had been responsible for her current condition. He had driven her away with his single-minded drive to solve the case he had been working on, even though she had begged him not to. Now, it was too late to tell her much of anything. She rarely stayed lucid.
As he sat crying, she opened her eyes. “What’s wrong, Baby?” She whispered.
“Ma Chere,” he began, still sobbing, “I am truly sorry for putting my work firs’. Y’all shoulda been my main t’ought. Oh, Mon dieu! I failed you, Cherie. I wasn’ de man I shoulda been.”
“Baby,” she smiled weakly, “I know your work has always been important. I was wrong, too, for leaving. Had I not left, I would not be sick now. Neither of us handled things very well.
“Jus’ promise me one thing. Promise you’ll always be there for our children. And make a plan ‘B’ in case something should happen to you. That way, our sons and daughter will remain together as family.”
He nodded. “I promise, Ma Chere,” He managed to squeak, “Mais, do no’ leave me, non, non non!”
Her head fell back to the pillow. He heard her death rattle. And that last final gasp. He knew she was gone.
“Oh, God,” he squeaked, then wailed, “Oh God, No!!!” He buried his head in her and the tears would not stop.
Six years of marriage were now over. His life, as he had known it, was now done. All he had left were the kids. His world had just been turned upside down.
Michael looked at the now growing pile of knives in plastic baggies. Thirteen, alone, had been pulled from the drains near the condos. One had been found seven blocks from Nelson’s house. A pair of scissors, seven blocks from the hotel. As they searched, they also uncovered at least a half dozen more crime scenes as well.
All they were missing were most of the bodies. Those that weren’t killed in their own homes. Whoever had been committing these murders was a genius…or mad. Or both.
Michael looked up in time to see Reilly come in. His face told everything. bad news. “Evangeline?” Reilly nodded. “We’ll have to be extra supportive for Justin. Excuse me.” He rose and headed for the commissioner’s office.
Moments later, he emerged and waved for Reilly and Danforth to follow. He headed for his car.
“Where we goin’, Boss?” Danforth asked.
“To give our support to our comrade,” Michael replied, quietly, “he needs us now more than ever.”
“How’d you get the Commish to let us out of work?” Reilly inquired.
“I told him the truth,” came the answer, “I said that our friend and partner needed us at his side. I also said that the case wasn’t going anywhere for a good long time. He agreed.”
“Oh,” the joint acknowledgement was issued, “we see.”
An eerie silence overtook the car as they finished their journey. It was as if something dark and heavy laid across all their thoughts. Something that had a sense of foreboding. Almost like the case had been cursed.
Michael’s own thoughts were miles away. He worried about his beloved Arlene. She was his better half. He would not survive long without her. He knew that.
The others knew that the same went for them and their wives. Not one would survive long without their wives. They only hoped that the women could go on without them, but knew that too much depended on one or the other. The families would never be the same, that was for sure.
Misty sat in the passport office. Finally, she would be able to go with her husband to exotic places. She would not be left to fester in this forsaken city. She smiled.
She had already gone and had her ID made. Without much information, it was barely legal. But that didn’t matter to her. She just wanted to remain in the safety of her husband’s presence. The only place she could remain at peace.
As soon as she received her passport, they were going on their honeymoon. Somewhere far away from the city. Somewhere they could be alone. She looked at the camera.
A flash, and her picture was done. Her medical tests had already been done. And her background check. All the requirements had been met.
“Five days,” the clerk stated, “and it will be ready. That is the earliest I can promise.”
Morgan nodded and paid the man. He knew the drill. the paperwork had to be done. Then, the passports would be in and they could fly to Rio.
He had never been happier in his life. He finally had someone who made him happy. And he knew that he could keep her happy as well. And he did. He kept her at peace.
It was as close to a symbiotic relationship as one could get. Their happiness seemed to come out of just being together. He enjoyed her company, and she enjoyed his affection.
He was settling into his life as a married man rather quickly. And she, too, was settling. It seemed natural to both. He felt needed. She felt safe. Both felt a sense of peace.
Neither knew, nor cared, just how long it would last. They just wanted to enjoy it as long as they were able to. For her, the voices had stopped. At least for now. For him, she was the center of his universe. His sun, moon and stars.
Michael entered the room where Justin sat, alone. He placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder to let him know that he was there. The Cajun rose and turned to him, burying his face in Michael’s shoulder. There, he sobbed like a baby.