The morning sky was still dim as Detective Alder stepped outside. Drawing in a deep breath of the chill air, his senses came alive. He could smell honeysuckle, and hear the the chirping of distant birds. His eyes caught the glistening of dew and the flashing colors of leaves as they rolled in the breeze.
All seemed well, but his instincts screamed that something was wrong. He knew this even before he spotted the paper pinned to his windshield by the wiper blade.
This isn’t good, he thought, grimacing with a stomach that had turned sour, Whatever this is about, it isn’t good.
Removing a latex glove from his pocket, he slipped it on and cautiously retrieved the scrap. It was notebook paper, folded once in a lazy, uneven crease. The message on the inside was brief and written in pencil with a scrawling, child-like hand. It read no more than,
“A man is dead at the end of Peach Tree road. He deserved it.”
Alder sighed and fished around in his pocket for his mobile phone. He read the note again and flipped the sheet over looking for anything he might have missed. There was nothing more, so he took a deep breath and called it in.
As a veteran detective, he knew what to expect from all of this, but that didn’t make it any easier.
Within an hour patrol units, a forensics van, and unmarked cars turned his quiet street into a circus. He made his statement and was called on to repeat it again and again. They had given the case to Ballard, the smirking hotshot. That almost felt like an insult.
He had been on the official side of things a thousand times before, but this was his first taste of the other side. It had been easy to disregard the effect such a spectacle made, owning to a sense of necessity. He realized for the first time what it felt like for cops to treat him as an outsider, as a potential suspect. The feeling brought him no small amount of anger and shame.
All things considered, he understood why so many witnesses were so reluctant to do the right thing.
Story by Joe Stanley