Death, Under the Harvest Moon
It was going to be a long night. So far the stories about the full moon had been true. The full harvest moon was big and bright and lite up my apartment. I tried to fall asleep, but it was not to be. I slipped in between my satin sheets, hoping to get a restful nights sleep. A shocking, shutter went through me and into my bones. You know, the kind you get when a chill goes through you so deep you just can't shake it off. I sat up and rested my head against the wall. What Could it be? What did my body know that my head didn't acknowledge yet? This feeling of dread I couldn't shake off. Maybe a nightcap would provide the relief I needed to get some sleep. I knew tomorrow would be a long day. The full moon never lets us have a peaceful day. Then it dawned on me, not only was it a full moon. It was the full harvest moon. A rare event, that seemed to have a curse of its own. Then just, as I was contemplating what could be in store. I jumped out of bed with my heart in my stomach, as it raced a hundred miles a minute. Why would someone be ringing the doorbell at such an ungodly hour? When I looked through the peephole and to my surprise, my partner was on the other side.
When I opened the door, I saw the look on Joe's weathered face. I saw the silver-gray streaks in his hair like I was seeing them for the first time. The lines in his face didn't detract from his well-chiseled face. I knew there had to be something wrong. Then the deep tone of his voice brought me back to reality. Get dressed and be quick. The full moon might be beautiful and bright, but it's deadly tonight. He tapped his toe in distress as I ran to change. Let's go, he said. Getting into, the freshly cleaned patrol car. We don't have all night. You will understand when we get there."OK, Joe, I get it, let's go". We raced through the city, cutting every corner and running red lights. "Slow down, Joe." " I want to get there alive." What good would we be if we don't get to the scene? Grumbling under his breath, he said something I didn't understand. When I questioned him, he just grumbled again. Then we finally stopped and got out of the patrol car. He took me by my newly manicured hand, linking his fingers in mine. He leads me onto a trail and just over a small hill. The glow of the harvest moon lite up the night just enough, I could see just up ahead. To my horror, there was a body lying down below, under a saguaro cactus. We made our way over, and I felt his hand tighten around mine. All I could think was, was it accidental or was it murder? As I knelt beside the body to take a look, my mind screamed, and my throat closed. Only a whisper came out. Next thing I remember was waking up; Joe was comforting me and saying my name. I couldn't believe it, in my 20-year career this had never happened. I must have passed out. The trauma of that night was too much even for me. In my weakened state, I sat up in the red dirt of the Arizona desert trying to grasp what I had just seen. My mind was racing and trying to recall, where had I seen the body before? As I was trying to sort everything out, sweet Joe handed me a bottle of water and helped me stand up. My legs were weak, and I was shaking. He had a look on his face like he already knew. He wrapped his arms around me tight and whispered in my ear. "We need to talk, but we can't-do it here." I pulled away and shot a look at him that made him jump back in horror. I said to him. "We are here to do a job, and that's what we are going to do." "Let's get to work and figure this out." He took a step back and swiftly moved away from me.
The body had not been there long. Even the coolness of the desert night air hadn't cooled down the body temperature. As soon as we finished Taking photos, we got down to work. I could feel Joe watching me like he knew something I didn't. We rolled the body over to get a better look. First, we looked for an Id; then we started to gather the evidence around the scene. Not knowing whether it was a crime or not, I wanted to make sure nothing has been, missed. Either way, suicide or murder this case would be solved. I glanced over at Joe and saw him looking at me. What the hell was he thinking? Why does he keep staring at me?
I pulled out my notebook and recorded everything on the scene. But at the same time, my mind wouldn't cooperate and allow me to think. Why was I so distracted, this isn't like me? I had a job to do. I looked around and tried again to catalog everything I had found. I started with the markers that tagged items laying on the ground and around the body. I was sure the bike and backpack, would be the key to solving this case. But something was still nagging me. All of a sudden in the glow of the harvest moon. Out of the corner of my eyes, there hanging from the saguaro cactus, was the evidence we needed. I quickly tucked the notebook into my pocket and proceeded to put my gloves back on. Running over to retrieve the shiny gold chain, it shone like a beacon in a storm on a dark, dreary night. Stepping up to pick up the piece of evidence, I realized my 5,4 stature could not reach it. I called Joe over and told him what I had found. Without effort, he took it down and put it in the evidence bag. Just as I backed up, he stepped closer to me." No, Joe," I said as I moved away. He looked like at me like a wounded child. "You don't understand, look down beside you in the dirt." There in all its glory, was what appeared to be a set of id tags. He bagged and tagged it too. "Where did they connect?" "Why would an Id tag be on a gold chain?" I thanked him and went back to the body. We finished gathering the rest of the evidence and drove back to the precinct. The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Joe and I were a great team; I couldn't help but wonder what was wrong? I just couldn't figure it out. Suddenly all the years of working on this job seemed to show in Joe's face. He caught me watching him again, and he tried to smile. My heart could feel the sadness I saw in his eyes.
Examining the Evidence
Back at the precinct we took the bike out of the trunk and gathered all the evidence. Joe helped me take it inside for further investigation. I couldn't help but feel uneasy as we went inside. It was going to be a long night. We finished writing everything up and locking it into the evidence room. I had no idea, how much time had passed. Something just didn't make sense. I was sure; I had seen the gold chain before. The body was being transferred, to the medical examiner's office, we should know more tomorrow. Joe came over and said it was time to go home and get some rest. I was happy to oblige. Then the nauseous feeling overwhelmed me, and the sinking feeling returned. We walked outside, and the Harvest Moon hung in the sky. Like a ball of fire waiting to devour someone. Joe must have sensed something was wrong. He held my hand, and we walked to the car. Neither of us said a word. On arriving at my apartment, Joe asked to walk me upstairs. "No thank you, Joe I'll be okay, I'll see you tomorrow." He moved a little closer, and I backed up. "Not now Joe." I turned and walked away.
Once inside I sat in my favorite old chair, gazing out the window at the Full Harvest Moon. I knew no sleep would come, so I sat there contemplating everything I had just seen. Asking myself what am I missing? Something is off, and I just can't seem to put my finger on it. As I rested my head on the back of my chair, the overwhelming need for sleep took over. The next thing I remember was waking up to the sound of my alarm clock going off. Oh my, I yawned and stretched and prepared to start my day. It was going to be another long one. I brushed my deep red hair and washed my face. I knew Joe would be here soon. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if Joe and I had never become partners. What would my life be? I was still single with no kids. He was divorced and had three grown children. Then the doorbell rang, and it was time to go to work. I finished applying my lipstick and proceeded to the door. There was Joe as fresh as a daisy and smelling just as fresh. We walked to the car and drove through the maze of early morning traffic. Heading back, to the precinct, that we hadn't left very long ago.
I plopped myself into my chair and threw my feet up on my desk. My favorite position, when reviewing a case. Right from the start, I knew this was going to be a tough one. Some of the evidence just didn't make sense. As I was going over my notes, I noticed Joe was acting weird. What the heck is going on? As soon as he saw me watching, he stopped and gave me that little grin. Now to review what we had found. The bike, which appears to belong to the deceased. The gold chain and worn out I'd tag. There was, blood on the bicycle and the cactus, but oddly enough it wasn't on the chain, or I'd. The deceased was wearing sneakers, but we only found one. We also found a piece of gum and a package of slim cigars. What does all this mean? I guess I'll wait for medical examiner report and we can go from there.
Then the call came. The medical examiner wanted to see us right away. I signaled to Joe, and we went there together. As soon as he held my hand that uneasy, upsetting feeling returned. I kept telling myself; I was ridiculous. But the feeling wouldn't go away. As we walked through the double glass doors, Emily was pulling back the sheet to go over her findings with us. For the first time, I could see the face of the deceased. It was defiantly a male, and she confirmed, the method of death was strangulation, and the manner death was a homicide. There were ligature marks around his neck from the gold chain, we now believe was his. But why hadn't there been blood on the chain at the scene? I asked if she knew how they were doing, trying to recover the name and information off of the Id tags. Emily's reply was typical of her sarcastic nature. She rolled her rolled eyes, with hands on her hips. "You'll know as soon as I do, just like always!" Detective MacDonald. Then she went back to telling us about her observations. She started with basic information like height, 6,3 and weight 220, Dark Brown curly hair and a deep olive skin tone. I stood there nodding my head. Taking in everything she said. Letting her words paint a picture in my mind. Then she said he had a previous injury, a break in the right femur and he most likely had walked with a limp. He had also had a scar, and his appendix had been removed, as a child.
That was the last thing I remember hearing. The next thing I knew, I woke up in ICU. Joe was by my side, holding my hand and looking like he had lost his best friend. The nurse walked in and announced they were keeping me for the night. My lab work showed I had low blood sugars. I looked at Joe and said he could go now, I'd see him tomorrow. He smiled and said good night. That explains the light headed feeling and the blacking out recently. Being stressed out and forgetting to eat wasn't right for me.
Laying in my hospital bed was the perfect time to reflect on the new case. The face of the dead man came in flashes now, slowly becoming clearer. I gasped, and a tear rolled down my cheek. I think I just made the I'd. I knew a couldn't tell Joe until it had been, confirmed. I turned on my side and tried to get some sleep, all I could do was weep. My mind was still trying to deceive, what my heart already knew.
Life Will Never Be The Same
Man, it felt good to be back to work. I made sure I had extra snacks in my purse, and a sugar drink just in case I needed it. I hoped passing out was over. At least I knew what had caused it. Just as I put my feet up on the desk, the phone rang. It was the department in charge, of identifying the information on the I'd tags. I was excited to know what they had found. Hopefully, they were able to raise the engraving and give us a name. The person, on the other end of the phone, was so quiet, almost too quiet, for a work call. Miss MacDonald, they said. Are you sitting down? I am the detective on the case, why would it matter if I am sitting? Well, I think you may know the deceased, it seems he is related to your partner and fellow detective Joe McLeod. Do you recall a man by the name of Mac Callister McLeod? Well, I nearly fell off my chair. It was all coming together, quicker than I had expected. It was the name of a man; I thought I would never hear again. How had Joe not recognized his, own flesh and blood? That feeling of dread was back, and my heart was in my stomach. This information confirmed what my heart already knew. Mac Callister hadn't just disappeared. He was dead. I know Mac was over twenty years older, but my god he was still his brother. Now I know why he drove straight to the spot in the desert and he never questioned where the body was. But yet he knew exactly how to get there. Then as if out of nowhere, I noticed a movement to my left and there stood Joe. The look on his face said it all. I didn't even have to tell him. He had heard the entire conversation.
Then in a blink of an eye, Joe pulled out his gun and was waving it around the room like a madman. "Joe," I said, "what are you doing?" "What's going on?" He was stuttering, and I could barely understand him. The room went deadly quiet, and he aimed the gun at his head. "No, Joe, tell me what's going on?" "Don't do it." "Please tell me what you've done." He looked at me in a way I had never seen before. "I think you can figure it out, he said." In a tone that made me shudder. Just like the night of the Harvest Moon, when we first discovered the body. "No, I screamed, it's not possible." "Why Joe, why?" "You don't have a mean bone in your body." "Are you saying you killed your brother, Joe?" "Tell me you didn't do it." " Am I wrong?" "Tell me, Joe."
He looked at me with deep sorrow in his eyes. My heart nearly broke, as I realized it was the reason as old as time. I looked at Joe, and I knew, it was jealousy. He looked at me and said, "I saw you two at the cafe and knew you still loved him." " More than you could ever love me." " I couldn't let him take you away from me again." "As soon as I saw how you still looked at him, I knew what I had to do." Before, I could move or say a word. There are a horrible, deafening bang and a thud. My heart stopped, and the room went black. In my head, all I could think was, no Joe no.
When I awoke, someone was sitting by my side holding my hand. I figured it was Joe, but I knew it couldn't be. The nurse walked in the room and said I'd be okay. They had to do an ultrasound, and she had some news for me. I asked the nurse if she saw who was sitting there? All I got was a blank stare. She sat down in the chair beside my bed and took me by the hand. She looked me in the eye and said. "Annie Mac Donald, your little one is fine." You might want to call the father and let him know. "It looks like your about two months along." My what, little one? All I could hear in my head was, is this the curse of the harvest moon? Mac Callister McLeod in my heart, you will always be.
© 2017 Terrie Lynn