Detective Blaine Joiner walked around the scene of the crime. He pulled a pair of black gloves from his pocket and stretched them over his hands. He stepped to the first of the two victims. Shot. Both of them. Right through the heart. “It’s him, alright.”
His young partner, Peter nodded and scribbled something into his notepad. “That’s three shootings this month.” Peter was younger than Blaine by a decade at twenty years old, but he was smarter than men decades older. “Now, we just have to figure out who this killer is.”
Blaine placed a white cloth over the two bodies and shook his head. “We don’t have to figure that out. I know who killed these people.”
Peter started to shake his head. “Blaine, wait. You can’t be sure that it’s Terrence Goff.”
Just hearing the name took Blaine back to that day. The day his parents were killed.
He and his family had been walking home. “Oh, I think I left my purse at the grocery store. Blaine, could you go back and get it?” his mother had asked.
Eager to please, Blaine had responded in affirmative, but he lived to regret that decision. He ran back to the store, retrieved her purse and ran back to meet his family. But before he got to them, he saw a young man walk in their direction.
He stopped behind a building and listened.
“Give me all your money.” The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun.
His parents both gasped. Blaine’s father pulled his mother behind him. “Here’s my wallet. Take it.”
The man grabbed the wallet, but still kept the gun trained on them. “And you, ma’am. Surely you have a purse.”
His mother shook her head. “I left it at the grocery store. We were planning to go back and retrieve it.” She had looked in the direction Blaine had gone, catching the thief’s eye.
He shook the gun menacingly. “You lie! Where is your money? And don’t think to play a trick on me. I know how to use this gun and I am not afraid to shoot people.”
He cocked the gun, and Blaine, not knowing what else to do, stepped out with the purse. “I have it. Don’t shoot!”
But the sight of Blaine must have startled the man. “Bang! Bang!” Two shots. Right in the heart. His father and mother both crumpled to the ground. Dead before he could reach them.
He turned to face the man, tears streaking down his cheeks. Anger burning in his throat. “Shoot me too! I dare you!” Then he ran at the man, his anger overtaking his logic.
But the man didn’t shoot. Instead, he stood frozen on the spot. Not moving as Blaine shoved him to the ground. Not moving as Blaine punched him repeatedly. Not moving as Blaine was yanked off of him by the police. Not even moving as the police shoved him into the police car.
A month later, Terrence had gone on trial. He had plead guilty. His lawyer though, had managed to make it look like an accident. A lawyer probably bought by stolen money. The judge had sentenced him to a year in jail. A year. One year for the lives of Blaine’s parents. One year for their deaths.
The bitterness and hatred for Terrence Goff had grown every day since.
Which was why Blaine now had to find Terrence and put him behind bars for life. “I can’t let him continue to kill people like he killed my parents.”
Peter touched Blaine’s arm. “I know you believe it is Terrence, but we still need to check the evidence. We may find that it was someone completely different.”
Blaine shook Peter’s hand away. This was his chance to avenge his parents. “I know it’s him. And, I won’t let him get off with just a year this time.”
Peter gave him a look he could not understand. “I know you won’t, but it will go better if we gather evidence.”
When they finished complying the evidence, they looked at the items laid out. The man had a wallet with him and everything seemed to be intact. The lady a purse. In the purse, they had found keys, two sets—probably the man’s and her own—a pack of gum, a wallet, a phone, and chapstick. Peter had also managed to extract the bullets and he laid those out on the table along with everything else.
“Well, what do you think?” Peter asked, looking at the items before them.
Blaine crossed his arms. “I still believe it’s Terrence.”
Peter studied the IDs of the two people. Ted and Mary Lowden. A married couple. “But didn’t Terrence steal from your parents. These people here appear to have everything. Unless the shooter only took one credit card or something, it is not likely that the shooter was a robber.”
Blaine glared at Peter. He had a point, but he wasn’t going to admit it. He knew that Terrence had done this. “Maybe not, but Terrence probably has money now. He probably just shoots the people for pleasure. And look,” he pointed to the IDs Peter had been studying. “They are a married couple, just like my parents. And just like the others who got murdered. It’s the same pattern.”
Peter wrote something in his notepad and then snapped it closed. “It is possible that you are right. And we should look into Terrence, but please be open-minded. It could be someone completely different. And it would be wise to remember that.”
Blaine nodded noncommittally. In any other case, he would do just that. But not with this. Not with the murdering, scumbag on the loose. Terrence would not get away from him this time. Even if he had to drag him to jail himself.
“I’ve found something.” Blaine looked up to see Peter smiling triumphantly at him.
Blaine stood and ran a hair through his overgrown hair. “What is it?” For weeks, they had been combing through files, trying to learn Terrence’s whereabouts. And unbeknownst to Blaine, Peter had been looking into other possible suspects as well.
“Well, it’s not certain, but this is Terrence Goff’s last known location.” Peter handed Blaine a slip of paper with an address on it. Blaine smiled and clasped the paper. “It looks like we are taking a trip.”
One plane ride and a car ride later, they were at their destination. They both realized that the location was far out for Terrence to have killed the latest couple and returned home, but neither of them said anything. Blaine, because he was blinded by his need for vengeance and Peter, because he did not want to upset his partner.
“This is the place?”
Peter nodded. “I believe this is Terrence’s mother’s house. This was where Terrence would probably be.”
Blaine smiled and rubbed his hands together. “Then let’s go and find him.” He walked to the door and pressed the knocker twice.
The door was opened by an elderly lady. Blaine was disappointed for a moment, but then he realized that it was probably Terrence’s mother. Besides, if Terrence was behind the killings—and he definitely was—he would not open the door.
“May I help you, young men?” The woman did not look mean per say, but she didn’t necessarily look friendly either.
Blain pulled back his coat to reveal his badge. “Detective Blaine Joiner, ma’am. And this is my partner, Detective Peter. We are looking for Terrence Goff. We need to ask him a few questions.”
The lady looked behind them to the left and right and then yanked them both inside. She shut the door behind her and then turned to them. “Come with me.”
Blaine followed, unsure what he would do when he saw Terrence again after all these years. He knew he had to act professional, but it would be hard to control the burning hatred he felt for the man who ruined his life.
The lady took several turns and then walked out the back door. Was he hiding in a shed or something? Then, she took another turn and led them to a graveyard. She pushed the gate open. “In here, gentlemen.”
No, Blaine thought, he can’t be dead. He hadn’t even exacted his vengeance. Terrence probably was a gravedigger or something. That would explain why they were at a graveyard. Or perhaps, his mother—or whoever this woman was—was trying to trick them, so Terrence could escape.
But all those ideas were tossed away when she led them to a grave marked “Here lies the body of Terrence Goff, beloved son.” Beloved son, funny, a killer was a beloved son.
“When did he die?” Peter asked, pulling out his ever-present notepad.
The woman ran a finger over the top of the grave marker. “It was a year after he came out of jail. He was so lifeless, so thin. I think his strength and will to live simply left him and he passed away.”
At her words, Blaine lost control of his anger. “His strength gave out? Oh, so he decided that he couldn’t handle the fact that he coldheartedly killed my parents. Was a year in jail too long for him? And you have the nerve to call this killer a beloved son? Well, this beloved son took away my parents, leaving me orphaned. And for what, money! So, forgive me if I have no sympathy for your beloved son.” He spit the last words out as if they were poison on his tongue. The lady and Peter both looked shocked, but he couldn’t care. All this time he had been waiting to exact his vengeance and Terrence got to get away once again. And this time there was nothing he could do.
He stalked away. Back through the lady’s house. And back into the car. Moments later, Peter hopped in and turned to Blaine. “I’m sorry.”
He couldn’t believe it. His whole life after his parent’s deaths had been spent trying to get vengeance for his parents. It was the reason he had become a detective, so he could have the law behind him when he took Terrence to jail. But now…
“What do we do now?” Blaine asked.
Peter turned to look at him. “You can either spend the rest of your life regretting the fact that you didn’t get vengeance or you can continue doing what you are good at?”
Blaine laughed wryly. “And what’s that? Holding on to a grudge.” He certainly knew how to do that well. Sixteen years since Terrence had shot his parents and he still held a burning hatred for the man.
“No.” Peter shook his head, then paused. "Well maybe that too. But you are a good detective. Why else do you think I choose to be your partner?"
Blaine shook his head. Too many thoughts swirled around his brain. "I don't know if I can continue being a detective. Clearly, I am not that good at it. I spent the whole time during this case believing it was Terrence,”—he still couldn't say the name without a heavy dose of bitterness laced in— “but he’s been six feet under this whole time.”
“We all make mistakes. And I know that sounds cliché, but it’s not. It’s the honest truth. Now you can choose to believe that or not. And you can also choose if you want to continue being my partner. The killer is still alive and running free, killing people as they please. I plan to catch that killer.” He gave Blaine a meaningful look. “And whether you want to catch this killer together is up to you.”
Blaine knew what he should do. Knew what any sane person would do. But at the moment he couldn’t do that. Moments earlier, he had learned that the man he had been searching for—hoping to put behind bars—was dead. And he would never avenge his parents. So, while he knew that he should join Peter in catching the killer, he could not.
He had made a mistake. A mistake that could very well cause more people to die. He had done something a detective was never meant to do, be close-minded to the possibility of other suspects.
And on top of that, he had spent a good chunk of his life focusing on a person who was dead. Finding and putting Terrence behind bars had been his life’s work. Or so he thought. Now the life Blaine knew was is shambles and he had no idea on how to fix it.
He rubbed a hand down his face. Suddenly, he was tired. Tired of searching for someone who would never be found. Tired of the constant reminder that his parents were gone. Tired of the hatred and the nightmares. Just physically and mentally tired.
“I wish I could tell you that I plan to continue my detective work, Peter. But right now, I can’t. I can’t chase after killers and be constantly reminded that my parents died at the hands of one. I can’t keep making mistakes like this one. I can’t…I just can’t do this.” He lifted his hands helplessly in the air. “I have wasted so much time chasing after Terrence, and for what. He got away. He won. And I am the one who has lost so much.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
Blaine shrugged his shoulders. “I have no idea. I just know that I need time. Time to decide what to do next. Time to move on. Time to forget. Maybe one day, I might come back to the field, but maybe not. But right now, I just don’t know.”
“I understand, not what you are feeling, but I understand that you need time and I respect that. Just remember, you know where to find me if you decide to return.”
“I’ll remember.” Blaine just hoped that he could forget everything else.