34

UPON RECEIVING A radio dispatch on a violent neighborhood fight, both Ed and Tony drove off to the location. When they got there, two of their colleagues had already arrived and been taking care of things.

“A young lady was shot. CPR had been attempted and failed. An ambulance is on its way.”

“Where’s the body?” asked Ed, all the while watching Cody throw the suspect in the back of his car.

“Over there,” informed Paul, pointing at the cul-de-sac twenty feet away.

“Let’s go check it out,” Tony suggested and Ed followed him. Half way they encountered a young man sitting on the sidewalk, his face covered in gruesome bruises and hands smeared with blood that likely was not his.

“What is your name?” Ed asked him, but he was unresponsive.

Tony decided to go on ahead.

“Are you related to the young lady?”

Slowly, the young man lifted his head to look at him, his eyes adrift, his voice trembled as he spoke. “She’s… she’s my fiancé.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“He and I were fight-fighting... out of nowhere… he took out a gun and flashed it at me. Before I had a chance to react, he... he shot her tw-twice in the chest. I couldn’t stop the bleeding no matter… no matter what I did...”

As he erupted in a fit of moans, Ed left him to it.

Tony was just heading back, causally warning him as they passed each other. “It’s brutal man. Be ready for it.”

“Not my first time,” asserted he, confidently. Gradually, blood appeared alongside his path, from scattered dots leading him to a puddle of red where the young lady’s body lay. The fluid was still seeping from the two holes in her chest through the layers of her clothing. He managed to keep himself in check, looking down at her still face.

Those almond eyes of hers, their shape, color, and the way they set deep in their sockets, strangely to him bore a resemblance to those of Allison’s. The green pigment of their irises, having faded slightly from the blockage of sun, was darkened, yet all in all retained a semitransparent shine. The longer he riveted on her blank stare, the harder he found it to disengage. He was sinking unwittingly into his own unrested mind that began to play tricks on him.

“Teddy!” Just then, the dead lady was thought to be calling out to him.

This can’t be.

“Why aren’t you talking to me?”

“Allie?”

“Let it go, Teddy.”

“What?”

“Your plan, forget it.”

“How do you know about my plan?”

“I’ve known it for a while. Since I’ve been living in your innermost thoughts, I know everything there is to know about it.”

He swallowed his nerves. “Well — why should I?”

“Because it’s no use. It won’t change anything no matter what you do.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do know. Listen to me. This will ruin you.”

“I’ll be okay. I’ll be cautious.”

“You will not. You are purely acting on impulse.”

“I have to try, for us.”

“But there’s never been an ‘us.’ Dan is my husband, and I’m in love with him. You and I are friends. That’s as far as we can ever be. I thought I’ve made my point clear.”

“I don’t care anymore. I just know I won’t go down without a fight.”

“We both know it’s far more than a fight, and not a fair one.”

“But I’m going to do it. I will make you love me again if I have to.”

She paused to smirk. “Then — just don’t end up killing me.”

“I’d never — never let that happen.”

“Well, it happened to her didn’t it? Do you think this was all planned?”

“Who?”

“Heh. You are really delusional. Look at me closely, it’s not a pretty picture now, is it?”

His eyes shifted to her busted chest, instantly dissolving his sturdiness from before. One moment a rush of saliva gathered in his mouth, the next he was bending over, puking on the side of the road. Panting deeply, he ventured another look at her — the corpse — from the corner of his eye. Upon that happening, vomit came spewing out of him once more.

Clumsily he backed away, almost tripping over his own feet as John Cooper, a homicide detective, caught him by the elbow in time to save him from falling.

“Boy, you don’t look good.”

“I’m alright,” insisted he, pulling away from his grip.

“It’s okay, son. Every policeman has his first. You will smarten up next time, believe me. I’ve been there and done that many years ago. Now, move your ass and get some rest would you? No offense, but you look dead…”

The paramedics had also arrived, attending to the victims. Ed floundered his way back to his vehicle, still hanging on loosely to his bizarre hallucination. On passing Cody’s patrol car, he approached the suspect sitting defenseless in the backseat, yanked at his shirt to bring him close to the window, interrogating him.

“Why did you do it huh?! Why did you kill her?”

The young man appeared uncaring of his forthcoming predicament and calmly broke his silence. “I meant to shoot him, not her. I love her. I just can’t help her if she chose to take the bullet for that bastard.”

“If it’s like you said, why would you fire at her again?”

“Coz I was pissed… I was upset that she would go so far as dying for him. She belonged with me! That bitch.

“And how is it worth it huh? Now that she’s dead, DEAD! You killed her. It’s all over —”

“MmmwwahahahaHAHAHA!” He suddenly let out an evil laugh, a lurid smile flashed across his face and he glared at Ed with a demonic look, the only thing missing was the blood from that young lady, whom he claimed to love, on his teeth. “That might be,” he went on to say, “but it is so worth every bit of it. She’s mine and mine alone. If she won’t be with me then — to hell with her.”

His confession might sound mad and hopelessly pessimistic, but Ed understood him as he saw a fraction of his own dark side in this cold-blooded, amateur murderer. Be that as it might, the outcome would have been different had it been him in the same do-or-die situation. Things would have been in his control and no one would have to die in vain — or so he kept convincing himself.

‘To hell with her.’ No. No way. Not gonna happen.

He let go of him and hurried into his car. Not waiting to catch a breath, he grabbed the phone and made a quick call to Allison to remind her of their agreed-upon meeting.

“The reservation is at six.”

“I know, I remember,” she told him.

“You should probably leave early. Since the traffic can be unpredictable by then.”

“I do plan to leave at five. That should give me plenty of time to make it there.”

“Good… good.”

“What’s going on, Teddy? You sound rushed.”

“It’s nothing… I just can’t wait to see you is all.”

“Likewise… Don’t worry. I won’t bail out on you at the last minute,” she joked.

“Good... good.”

“Are you sure you are okay?”

“Absolutely. I’ll meet you there in four hours.”

“Right.”

“Good… well, bye.”

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