Lieutenant Bomani sucked in a harsh breath as he took in the gory scene.
The air smelled like blood and decomposition. A man’s body was splayed out on the ground, face appearing completely broken and bloody as if smashed repeatedly with force. After conversing with a few other first responders, Bomani concluded that the victim—named Edward Darmrough—died from a concussion.
He fell to the ground, likely after engaging in a fight, and hit his head on the floor, dying instantly. The assailant then took a cast iron pan and destroyed the man’s face before fleeing.
This is gonna be a long day…Bomani dragged his hand down his face as he absorbed the information. “Hey!” He called out to another officer. She appeared to be reading something off a clipboard. Grabbing her shoulder, he scanned her nametag. “Officer…Theredy. Was his wife in the house during the attack?” He took the clipboard from her and skimmed through it.
The officer shook her head, pinching her nose like many others from the smell of the corpse. “The house was empty save for the victim by the time we arrived. We think she escaped and ran to safety.”
“Have you searched the house from top to bottom and sent out search parties?” The lieutenant glanced around the room, overflowing with fresh-out-the-academy officers who looked worse than death. Nobody expected to be at a crime scene before dawn on a Monday.
“Yes, sir. No trace of her or any suspicious figure yet.”
Bomani exhaled slowly. At least something’s getting done around here. “Good. Have you interviewed those people out there? Anyone with a motive for murder?”
“No, sir. The victim seems well-liked in this community.” Satisfied with her answer, the lieutenant nodded and moved on.
Kneeling beside the corpse, he squinted at it for a moment before turning on his flashlight—only to curse and turn it off when he saw the splattered blood and bone on the carpet. He could stand the smell due to experience but the sight of gore still unsettled him; it would unsettle anybody.
“What a way to die, old-timer…” Flipping through the clipboard, he found the victim’s profile and scanned the page, barely visible beneath the spotlights shining through the windows. The sun had yet to make its way into the sky. Name, age, address…oh?
“Criminal record,” He murmured aloud, finger pausing on a piece of information that seemed relevant. “Four charges of sexual assault.” Why wasn’t this man in prison?
This information turned the gears in the lieutenant’s mind. The missing wife; the locked doors and windows; the history of sexual violence. He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed.
Sounds like domestic violence. Bracing himself, he turned his flashlight back on and dragged the beam along the body. He suspected that if he himself felt repulsed by the sight, the much less experienced officers on the scene probably didn’t take more than a quick glance at it either.
Strange. He quickly noticed something; the blood on the carpet left a stain, but said stain ended in an unnaturally flat line
“Hey! You two,” He pointed at the two nearest officers who seemed to already dread his next words. “Help me drag this carpet.”
“But that’s tampering with the crime scene!” Their protests went ignored and they quietly complied with the order.
Their expressions when dragging the carpet revealed a hidden door was almost funny.
“I’ll go down.” Bomani rolled his eyes at the younger officers’ relieved expressions and flashed his flashlight down the hole. Upon judging that the basement floor was not very deep, he eased himself inside and dropped onto his feet, forgoing the ladder. Placing one hand over his taser and the other on his flashlight, he crouched low to the ground and went deeper inside. The long, dark hall was filled with crates overflowing with spare car parts. The deeper he went, the harder it became to hear the other officers’ voices.
The lieutenant turned around sharply at the sudden sound. A woman emerged from behind a stack of boxes, one arm above her head and the other hanging limp.
Too easy. Bomani scanned her suspiciously from head to toe; her blood-soaked clothes were old and worn; her body covered in dark bruises. His glare softened momentarily.
“…He was going to kill me.”
She chose to speak first, soft voice barely penetrating the deafening silence.
“He hit me everyday and nobody knew.” The woman took a step forward and Bomani subconsciously took one back, gaze wavering from hers, which was full of tears and sincerity. His hand fell off his taser.
“He was very angry today. He took a cast iron pan and started hitting me.” Sliding her dress off one shoulder, she revealed her shoulder that looked as if all the bone had shattered. It was so unsightly that it made even the seasoned lieutenant suck in a breath.
“I was just defending myself,” She said this more firmly, pleading gaze trying to meet the officer’s. “He would’ve killed me.”
Bomani thought of the damage on the corpse; how she must’ve felt when the man fell onto the ground and became unresponsive. How she must’ve felt when adrenaline rushed through her veins and she tasted salvation; gaining a chance nobody could give her but herself, picking up the very weapon he was using on her and beating him repeatedly until he was unrecognizable.
Bomani suddenly thought that this woman looked very frail and very afraid; hardly capable of the damage he’d witnessed on the corpse.
“Please.” Mrs. Darmrough stood up straight, lowering her working arm and looking so, so exhausted.
“Don’t tell them I’m here.”
“Lieutenant! What’s going on down there?” Officer Tenko’s voice broke the silence, echoing from the entrance throughout the long basement.
Bomani locked eyes with Mrs. Darmrough one more time.
“…Nothing!” He yelled in response, turning his back on her and heading for the entrance. “Just some old beat-up junk.”