Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blurred Edges, Chapter Eleven

      “So you’re saying that this girl,” Officer Wong motioned over to the body under the sheet on a gurney, “just started bleeding? Just like that?”

“I wasn’t here when it started, but her mother said she was using the shears to trim the hedges and she got cut somehow,”  Claire answered, wringing her hands nervously as Marten walked around, handing out cash to the workers who were finished for the day. “I came over when she was bleeding out and tried to hold some sheets I had brought out from the house over the wound, but she just… leaked out.”
Officer Wong continued writing in his notebook, his head tilted to the side as he chewed idly on some pink gum. His partner was taking statements from workers as they were leaving for the day, speaking a different language to them, most likely Spanish, that they spoke frantically. Claire fidgeted a bit, reaching up to tuck back her hair behind her ear, her fingers counting the piercings in her ears nervously.
“Just… leaked… out…” Officer Wong repeated as he finished taking her words down. He flipped the notebook closed and shoved the pencil into the metal rings at the top. Tucking the notebook into his back pocket, he hummed for a moment before looking up at the house, nodding slowly. “Coming along nicely,” he said.
“What?” Claire asked, giving him a strange look.
“The house. It’s coming along nicely. The front yard looks good, minus the ambulance and bloody mud, and the fountain looks like its ready to start pumping water again. That true?” The officer asked, crossing his arms.
“Well, we need to have a sculptor come out and do some touch up work on the statues, and have a pool guy look at the system to make sure it pumps without clogging. Get some Chlorine and all that…”
“That’s nice… good thing to hear. And all its cost so far was a human life.” Officer Wong said matter-of-factly.
“Now wait just a minute…” Claire began before backing down, the Officer stepping forward to tower over her.
“No you wait. I told you that bringing people up here was going to lead to deaths, and you ignored me.” Officer Wong said. “There’s a dead girl here from a shallow cut across her midsection, which supposedly died when she was surrounded by people providing medical care. Does that sound about right to you?”
“Y-yes, but it wasn’t that shallow a cut,” Claire said, defending herself.
“See that paramedic?” Officer Wong pointed out the buff looking older man standing near the front of the ambulance speaking over a speaker system built into his dashboard. “He’s a combat medic from over four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He looked her over and said that if this girl had been brought to the emergency room, they would have stitched her up and maybe had her stay overnight. The cut was shallow.”
“Oh,” Claire said, looking at the paramedic, meeting his eyes for a brief moment. He merely nodded at her before looking back down the hill.
“Add to the facts that a preliminary check over the wound says it wasn’t made with something man-made. The wound has fibers in it from something like a claw. We pulled hair from the wound, hair like from a big animal.”
“Big animal?” Claire asked, wondering where the officer was going with this.
“Yeah,” Officer Wong said, widening his eyes. “Like a mountain lion. Thing is, there’s just one short cut, very shallow, on her belly. Hell, there wasn’t even a tear in her shirt from what we could see.”
“Nobody saw an animal come onto the property, or near Maria. We were all busy, but we would have seen this happening.” Claire offered lamely.
“Yeah, I figured that. What I’m going to be stuck doing for the next forty-eight hours doing is trying to figure out how she bled out so fast, what caused the wound, and how in the hell a young girl even got hurt trimming the hedges!” Officer Wong said, nearly yelling. Marten came over and gripped Claire’s shoulders, looking at Officer Wong with a tense glare.
“I think you should get what you need and leave,” Marten said. “I don’t need you stressing out my girlfriend with your theories and problems.”
“My problems? You have a dead worker on your property!” Officer Wong said, shaking his head.
“And I’ll have forty live ones tomorrow,” Marten said. He shrugged and threw an arm over Claire’s shoulder. “I don’t mean to sound harsh, but accidents happen. Your job is to find out how they happen and make sure there was no foul play. If you need to investigate here tomorrow by talking to my workers, come on back. If you need a bloody mud sample, take one. But I’m going to go back inside the house soon after washing off this mess from our driveway.”
Officer Wong growled, stepping forward. “I’m telling you that this isn’t some freak accident! This is the first in a…” he paused and looked over at his partner, who was staring at him over his sunglasses. “This is just the first death of many you’ll have. This place has always been unlucky, you know?”
Marten just stared at the officer and nodded. “We always take safety into consideration, and I’ll make sure we double-check everything from here on out.”
“You do that,” Officer Wong said, pulling his sunglasses from the top of his head to slide onto his face, blocking out the setting sun. “We’ll be back in the morning.”
“We’ll have some coffee waiting,” Marten said before turning and guiding Claire back up towards the driveway, past the fountain and towards the stone steps leading to the double doors. He looked at her. “Honey, you’re shaking like a leaf. Go inside and make some tea for us, okay? I’ll be inside in a minute.”
“Alright,” Claire said, popping up on her toes to kiss Marten quickly. She saw over his shoulder, rushing up the driveway, a dark figure with an arm extended, curled fingers out as if it were going to claw Marten across the back. Claire screamed, causing Marten to turn around and face the terror head on.

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