I sat in my car, staring at the entrance of the police station. A few of the officers recognized me. I couldn’t tell if I was getting suspicious or unhinged looks. I stepped out of my 1968 highland green mustang, which my father gave me. It smelled the same old rust and hot leather as it did when I was a child riding along on trips with him. My father was shot on duty, a fatal blow to the heart. I remember that day we got the call; I was just getting off work. A bus boy at Louise diner; on 4th street. My mother, Harriette, ran into the cafe in a crying fit. The whole restaurant looked spooked. I stood there silently, waiting for the words to slip out her mouth. My parents weren’t perfect, but there was love there. At Least towards the end of my father’s life. It was like my father knew he was going to die. They spent years fighting about the usual things; Money, sex, me… It was like I was watching a bomb go off. Their fights ended with my father running to the garage and my mother to their bedroom. I sat on my bed with my toy gun, wishing they’d come in and check on me. But no one came. I realized at a very young age that marriage isn’t for everyone.
“Detective Roe!” shouted Joey Santos.
I nudged my head upwards, blowing out a puff of smoke. “Santos…” I replied.
Santos had a toothpick in his mouth, “You know, that stuff will kill you.” He said, pointing at the cigarette hanging out of my mouth.
I took a deeper inhale and blew out the smoke. I brushed off Joey’s comment. I put my cigarette out in one of the public ashtrays displayed in the front of the police station. “So how big of a mess is it in there? Given that the feds are here”, I asked as we walked up the staircase. I tried to not make eye contact with anyone. I quickly put on my black sunglasses to shield my eyes from the burning sun. It felt like 93 degrees. It’s always hot in California.
I Knew what federal officers were like. I had to make a better impression than what was written in my personal report; they clearly avoided using the acronym; EDP.
Joey pulled out his writing pad from his back pocket, “There was a 10-73 call at 1:12am by a middle-aged man, Henry Forges…When officers showed up, no Henry Forges and no smoke was detected on-site”, He said, turning his note terrible to the next page.
I was confused,” Why was I called in? I’m doing grunt work, remember?”
“This is where you come in…When the search for Mr. Forges continued onward, Henry Forges’ body was found, his body drained of blood. A wrinkled piece of paper was found in his right back pocket, reading; 559-342-7865 Det.Roe. Victoria is alive”.
I felt my heart drop into my stomach. Flashbacks of Victoria’s face caressed my mind like a burning flame had been restored. I met Victoria during my first year at the police academy. I had just graduated high school with a 4.0; I moved out of Fresno to escape ma. After enduring hysterical cries and lectures, of course. After my father died, my mother just broke. Like her whole world was shattered. It felt like both my parents had died that day.
As I walked through the doors to the Los Angeles Police Academy, I surprised myself when I realized I was smiling. A genuine smile formed on my face. It had been so long since I felt excited about something. I walked past the gym to see what exercise equipment they had, and Victoria was, Throwing a guy twice her size over her shoulders and slamming him to the ground. Sweat dripping down her face. Victoria’s hair had a shine to it, sleek and black, braided like a thick rope. I was surprised the Academy allowed her to have such length.
After the third body slam, the man tapped out, pulling his hands up,” I give!” said the ego-bruised man.
“Come on, Bradley…We just got started,” Victoria chuckled, letting out a satisfied sigh. Wiping the sweat off her brow.
Our eyes finally met.
“Detective Roe, Are you with us?” asked the federal Agent. The interrogation room made my skin itch. “My name is Teresa Paragani. I’ve been assigned to this case. Can you tell me your relations with Victoria Nanoe Anuruk and Henry Forges?” asked Teresa. Teresa Paragani gave the impression of a woman who liked to have her way. Her hair was done up in a clip, and her suit looked ironed. Her Badge dangled from her left pants pocket. She was an attractive woman and knew it.
I pulled the ashtray closer, “Do you mind?” I asked, slipping a cigarette into my mouth. Teresa gave me an approval nodd. I lit the cigarette. I could tell she was getting impatient. “I knew Victoria back at the Academy. I only knew Henry Forges because of a domestic dispute back when his wife went through chemo. Henry also knew my father. They were friends….” I disclosed personal stories of growing up with Henry as a child, fishing trips, and Barbeques on Sundays. I wasn’t a person to share too much information. I never liked to talk about myself. It felt irrelevant to me. The present seemed more pleasant, and I had control at least.
“Was your relationship with Victoria platonic? A few officers worded you two as a power team.” Stated Teresa. She continued to ask the same question, using different words. I knew what she was asking.
“Yes, we fucked….” I said it blatantly, and her facial expression changed finally. Teresa looked amused, impressed by my honesty. I tried my hardest to hold my composure. Talking about Vic made me want a drink. Teresa reminded me of my mother before everything hit the fan and turned for the worst. Confident, strong-willed. I remember looking up to ma; I still mourn the days when I thought my mother was my hero. Now she’s overbearing, overly sensitive. I left her with her addictions; Soap Operas, potato chips…Heavily sweetened Long Island iced teas.
Teresa sat in front of me, observing every inhale and change in my posture like she was watching me in a lab study…and I was her lab rat. I could smell the curiosity oozing out of her pores. “The note found on Henry forges body….” She started as I interrupted.
“I don’t know what the note means; when Vic… Victoria’s body was found, the note doesn’t make sense…She had no pulse. She was gone. I saw her be put on the ground….” I said, blowing out the last hit of my cigarette.
Joey Santos walked into the interrogation room, “Detective Roe, phone call…” he said. Teresa looked annoyed.
“We’re not done yet….” Teresa says, looking up at Joey, frustrated. I began to get up to leave, “Sit down, Detective Roe…”. She demanded angrily.
I bent over, looking down at those pretty blue eyes. Teresa had a mole on her right cheek, “am I being charged with anything?” I asked politely.
Teresa looked up, face flushed red and frustrated. “No…” She says. Our eyes met, and I knew that look in her eyes. Teresa’s curiosity was eating at her. Victoria had the same look on her face. Determination and not the good kind, either.
As I walked out, Teresa uttered the last words,” Don’t leave town. I’ll be in touch.” I just nodded and walked out of the interrogation room. She wanted a reaction from me, but I wasn’t going to give her that satisfaction.
I sat at my desk and pressed the blinking number on the phone screen, “Detective Roe Speaking….” I announced, waiting patiently for the caller to respond. Instead, there was a pause for a couple seconds.
“Hey Johnny boy…long time no see…” said the man at the other end of the call. No one has ever called me Johnny…except for Victoria. Suddenly, I felt a knot in my throat. The caller continued,” Henry was a curious fellow, too curious for his own good. I hope you didn’t inherit that curiosity…?, they said grimly. I saw Joey looking over at me; he mouthed the words quietly,” what’s up?”. I could hear echoing dripping sounds of water in the background. I wrote on a piece of paper; Trace this call. I handed the paper to Joey, and he immediately got to work.
The voice on the phone sounded familiar, but I couldn’t pin down who it was. “Who is this?” I asked, keeping my voice steady. Blurred versions of chatting with the unknown caller began surfacing my mind. It was like memories of a different person, a different time.
“That hurts my feelings. Give it time. Soon your memories shall return. All things are never lost. Miss Victoria sends her regards; sadly, she is preoccupied with a lovely lady Rebecca.” said the unknown caller grimly, laughing. I could hear screams and slashing sounds echoing.
“No! Somebody, please help me!” shouted Rebecca. Chains rattling against bars. Agonizing pain cries continued.
Joey gave the thumbs up. I felt my face tightening, and all the blood in my face drained out. Joey had the same look on his face, cupping the headphones. Suddenly a voice I could never forget spoke softly at the other end of the line,” Find me, Johnny….” Said Victoria. It sounded like my Vic but had a hollow, numbing feel. The call disconnected, and I placed the phone down. The chatter in the background had died out. Everyone looked shocked, and silence filled the office. I looked up to see Teresa Paragani looking at me concerningly.
I knew one thing for sure; alive or dead, Victoria was back.
To be continued…
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly