With Bruce in the passenger's seat of my car, we drove towards the
hospital. I had to see Miss Suher, to make notes before I could return to
Nicole's for evidence. My mind replayed the evidence from Miss Suher,
her torn clothing and full wallet. In all my years of detective work, I had
never seen such a thing. A woman murdered, her clothes torn, but her
money still in her wallet. What did her assailant want? Was he looking for
something? But what? Not a word was said from Barnes while he stared out
the window as I drove, which was a relief considering I had nothing to say
to him. His attitude about Ralph had rubbed me the wrong way as well as
his earlier "fat" comment. He was lucky the chief showed up when he did,
I thought to myself as I turned my car into the hospital parking lot. Once
the car was parked, we both exited the vehicle simultaneously and walked
towards the front entrance. The same woman from earlier was sitting at
the desk. Lynette was unmoved from her work as we approached, her short
black hair draping over her round face as she held a novel in her hand,
completely enthralled in the story. Clearing my throat, I smiled as she
looked up at me. The look on her face was shock and then relief as she
"Detective Marke," she smiled, "What can I do for you?"
"I've been sent by Chief Grinhold from the detective precinct to look over
the body of a woman brought in here last night or early this morning," I paused
as I looked into Lynette's eyes, "I believe her name was Melanie Suher."
Lynette seemed to scan her memory and then smiled as she gazed into my
"Oh yes. She was brought into the morgue this morning. You are free to go,
but first..." pausing she looked quickly down at her desk, her hands
rummaging around, searching for something before looking back towards
Barnes and I, "you will both need these," she added as she produced two ID
badges. Both Barnes and I took one, attaching it to our uniforms.
"Thank you," I said as I threw her a smile.
Lynette blushed, "No problem, Detective."
With that, both Barnes and I turned away from Lynette and walked down
the corridor towards the morgue. We had been there many times in the past,
so no directions were necessary. Barnes still remained silent as we traveled
down the corridor, making a left at the end down the hallway entitled
MORGUE. As we reached the secure double doors, both Barnes and I
removed our ID badges, swiping them through the slots before replacing them
onto our shirts. With a loud noise, the doors opened up revealing the inside
of the morgue. Stepping into the room, the door closed tightly behind us,
locking us in with slabs and body bags atop them. From the shape of the bags,
we could tell there were bodies inside them, each one zipped closed to keep
the identification's of the dead concealed. Looming over one body atop a well
lit table surrounded by an assortment of utensils was a man; he seemed to be
running tests. The closer we got to the table the more we realized the body was
that of a woman. The man seemed startled as we approached. Turning
abruptly he faced us. His glasses were set on the tip of his nose with his hands
frozen in mid air, a scalpel in one and tweezers in the other.
"May I help you?" he asked.
Barnes spoke up.
"We are here to look over Miss Melanie Suher. The woman found recently
on the side of Main Street"
The man looked from Barnes to me, before responding. As he studied us,
I could sense the tension in the air. The doctor stood tall at a little over six feet
with short salt and pepper hair and a thick mustache of the same color. His
face was pale, his glasses black and thin. The man seemed to be in his late 50's
or 60's. Deciding to break the silence, I pointed to the woman on the table.
"Is this Miss Suher?"
The gentleman looked from me to the woman on the table before turning
his attention back to me.
"Yes," he replied, "I was just finishing up my investigation."
Slowly he lowered his instruments onto the table to his left. Wiping his
hands together, he stood back allowing me to step closer.
"Chief Grinhold sent us to get some information about this woman. We've
been assigned to her case," I informed him as I looked from the woman on the
table to the gentleman. He seemed to relax as he crossed his arms across his
narrow chest, turning a smile to me.
"No problem. Let me tell you detectives what I've found so far," he began
as he turned around taking a seat on the stool a few feet behind where he had
stood originally. As I watched this man, I could sense his expertise in this field.
From his stature I could tell he had seen many a body over the years.
"It seems Miss Suher was assaulted, her arms and legs have bruising around
them signifying she may have been bound with something. From my
investigation I did not find any vaginal tearing or semen to signify any sexual
assault. Aside from the bruises on her arms and legs, she also had a slight bruise
on her face where she may have been punched with either a fist or hit with
something around the same size," pausing, the doctor lifted his glasses up on
his face as he looked to the victim. "She also suffered severe trauma to her
skull which ultimately caused her demise. The victim was then taken and
dumped on the side of the road. From what I read from the police report she
was placed specifically, her killer must have wanted her found," he finished as
he looked up from Miss Suher to me. Facing the doctor, I looked deeply in his
eyes, trying to read something that he may not have said, but it seemed he was
not hiding anything from me.
"Her clothing was torn," I began, "but from your investigation there was no
"No, Detective, there was no evidence to confirm that," he answered.
"And she ultimately succumbed to the trauma to her head. How long do
you think she was alive after the hit to her head?" I asked as I began to take
Barnes had walked closer to the table and was now hovering over the
victim across from me, making his own notes on a pad of paper he held in his
"I would have to say it was almost immediate, she did not suffer long," he
answered as he removed his glasses, cleaning them with the bottom of his shirt
before replacing them atop his nose.
Nodding my head, I made more notes.
"Was there anything...out of the ordinary about this body?" I asked as I
looked up from my notes to the doctor.
"I do not think so. It seems pretty cut and dry. From what I can tell, and
of course this is just an assumption, I assume she was taken to a remote place,
tied up and then beaten to death. Her clothes may have been torn in a struggle
or possibly just to make us think there was a sexual meaning behind this
senseless killing," he said as he looked up at me, "after she was already dead,
she was then taken and placed on the side of the road, her clothes and
personal items were placed strategically."
"Strategically?" I asked with confusion imminent in my voice.
"Yes, from the original report, she was naked; her clothes in a pile on top
of her face, her purse lay atop her feet."
Baffled at what I was learning, I tried to paint a picture in my head.
"How long did she lie on the side of the road before she was picked up and
brought to you?" I asked, making more notes.
"I would have to say about one hour, tops."
Really, I thought. That meant her killer had dumped her not very long
before she was found.
Turning my attention from the doctor, I looked to Miss Suher and made
notes of her features. She had to have been a pretty woman, in her late 30's,
with red hair about five inches lower than her shoulders, her skin was pale and
once had been quite soft.
"Her eye color, Doctor?" I asked without turning to face him.
"Hazel," he responded from behind me.
A quiet came over the room, unlike the quiet of death, but more like
tension and unease as both Barnes and I took notes of Miss Suher's body. The
mortician did not move, nor did he speak up and the quiet continued for a few
minutes before he broke the silence. His voice was loud and excited as he
"Oh yes, now I remember, there was something unusual," he began as he
jumped up from his seat and approached the victim. Without explaining
himself, he rolled the woman onto her side, "during my investigation, I did
find this on her body," he added as he pointed towards a mark showing on her
left buttock. It was a burn mark, a large burn mark shaped like a heart with an
'x' through it. Baffled I looked to the doctor who shrugged his shoulders.
"I am not sure what that is from, but it is possible that that's our killer's
insignia," he confirmed as he slowly placed the woman back down on her
back, "let's just hope this doesn't signify more woman will be found like this or
else...." he paused.
"Or else we have ourselves a serial killer," Barnes interrupted as he locked
eyes with me.
A serial killer, I thought to myself as I backed away from the woman. The
doctor covered her up with a white sheet before turning his attention to both
Barnes and I.
"Let's hope not."
"I agree," I affirmed.
Slowly, still feeling the effects of the surgery, I opened my eyes. The bright
white of the room was blinding, but within moments, my eyes adjusted. Lying
still in the bed, I turned my head to the left where an empty chair was and then
the right where another bed like the one I was in sat empty. In the room there
were four beds with four separate chairs beside each. A beeping sound
resonated in my ears. Turning my head to the noise above me I saw a machine
showing my heart rate. The beeping was making my head pound. Slowly I
reached both my arms up and placed them over my ears as I closed my eyes.
My arms felt like jelly as they continued to slip off my ears allowing the beeping
in. After what felt like many minutes, I dropped my arms only to hear nothing.
The beeping sound had stopped. Opening my eyes, I saw Doctor Zimbell
hovering over me, his hands adjusting the volume of the machine. Looking
down at me, he seemed shocked to see me staring up at him. Dropping his
arms from the machine, he placed them in his pockets and threw me a smile.
"So?" he asked, "How do you feel?"
"Kinda drugged up a bit, Doc," I responded, my words slurring as they
came out of my mouth.
The doctor laughed.
"Well, Detective, that's to be expected, you just went through a serious
surgery," he replied as he sat down in the chair beside my bed, "other than
that, how do you feel?"
I knew what he meant by that question, so using all my mental strength I
tried to move my toes. Nothing. Still staring at my toes, I tried again. Bingo!
I thought as I watched my toes move from side to side. Almost as soon as I saw
them move, I turned my gaze onto the doctor. He seemed to have been
watching my toes as well. Turning his eyes on me a smile formed atop his face.
"Success!" he stated, his voice strong and proud. He had did it, he had
achieved what he had set out to and that was to make me mobile again.
"Thank you, Doctor, thank you!" I declared. My excitement could be
heard in my drugged voice. I was relieved to see those toes move, to know that
it would not be long now. As euphoric as I was, I turned back to my feet and
tried to move my entire leg. Could I do it, I wondered. Within seconds my
question was answered as I watched my knee bend, my foot flat on the bed, the
cast on the lower half of my leg holding my busted bones in place. Looking to
the doctor I could see him watching my leg with pride. I could not stop then,
I had to try the other. With as much determination and confidence as I had
two days earlier, I tried to bend my other knee. Tears of happiness streamed
down my face as I turned back to the doctor.
"Well, Detective, I knew you were still a detective and I knew you would
walk again," he said as he sat back in the chair, crossing his arms across his
chest a smile formed on his face, "I never gave up hope."
"Thank you," I stated again. My hope was renewed, my strength would
come back and I would walk, run and work again. Resting my head back on
the pillow, I closed my eyes.
It was a miracle.
The doctor's next words cut into my day dreams.
"Now, Detective, let's get you some crutches and get you up out of this
bed, back on those feet you've walked on for all these years."
With those words, I opened my eyes and turned my head towards him.
Was he joking? This soon? After everything this doctor had done for me, I
could not doubt him now. He thought I could get up and I would. With the
doctor's last word, he grabbed the cord with the small red button on it from my
bed, pushing it in and speaking into the air.
"Nurse, please send a pair of crutches into the recovery room," letting the
button go, he placed it back on the side of my bed and smiled at me again.
"Now, let's see just how good of a job I did."
Stunned with the doctor's statement, I turned my eyes on him.
"You think I can walk already?" I asked, doubt filling my voice.
Nodding his head, the doctor smiled.
"Of course I do, I am an excellent doctor and I have a 97% success rate on
the surgeries I do for patients," his eyes closed as he sat in the chair, his pride
overflowing into the room. I have to admit, hearing him so positive of himself
made me feel sure that he was right. I would walk, not in months from now,
but right now. Many emotions began to come over me; fear, excitement,
nervousness and doubt, but I tried to stay as positive as Doctor Zimbell
seemed to be as I forced a smile across my lips.
"Ok," I began. "I will try, I will do my best."
The doctor then opened his eyes, fixing his gaze on me.
"You won't just try, Detective, you will be successful."
With the doctor's last word, the door to the recovery room opened inward
and the nurse from earlier walked in. In her hands was a pair of crutches. She
smiled and nodded toward me, her golden locks bouncing with her head
before she turned her attention on the doctor. Outstretching her arms to give
him the crutches, she stood back and waited for his next command. The
doctor did not tell her to leave the room; he simply nodded and smiled to her
before standing up out of his chair and looking down at me.
"Okay, Detective, here they are, now it is all up to you. Take it easy, use
me for leverage and slowly get up out of the bed," he stated as he held the
crutches out towards me with one hand, crooking his other arm for me to grab
onto. With the hand closest to him, I grabbed the crutches, closing my fingers
around them. My doubt was evident as I stared at the crutches.
"Go ahead," the doctor insisted.
With my eyes closed, I took a deep breath before opening them again. The
crutches were still in my hands, this was not a dream, I thought to myself.
Slowly, I edged my body closer to the end of the bed before swinging my legs
over the side. With all my strength, I sat up. My head felt funny and I was dizzy
but I did not stop, I could not stop now, not when I was so close. Wrapping
both my arms around the crutches, I shoved them under my armpits and
slowly edged my way onto my legs. The doctor grabbed my arm to help steady
me as I stood straight up. It had not been long since I walked, but my legs felt
like jell-o as I tried to stand on them. Sharp pains shot up from my broken
Tibia to my hipbone, but that did not deter me. The doctor let go of my arm
and backed up.
"Alright, now take a step," he instructed.
With my eyes closed again, I used all my might and self determination to
move my legs. Slowly I could feel my right leg tensing up, the knee bending
and then I moved it forward one step. Opening my eyes, I looked down to my
feet, screaming inside from exhilaration at the sight of my leg moved into a
new position. Knowing I had to move the other leg, I quickly summoned all
my courage and moved my broken leg forward. Yes!!! I thought to myself as
I mentally patted my back. Great job, David! My euphuism could be seen on
my face. Looking up to the doctor I could see he was just as happy, his smile
wider than before.
"And now, you can walk!" He stated excitedly as he brought his hands
together and clapped for me. Internally I was clapping as well.