At first glance, everything looked normal. The knife was in the butcher block, the ceiling was white, the bowls were stacked neatly on the counter top. Once she closed her eyes for a mere eighth of a second, everything changed, shifted.
The bowls were laid out on their sides all over the floor. The ceiling was red. The knife was missing. Everything looked chaotic.
Murray shook her head. It was like this all the time for her. Every crime scene showed how it looked before and then after. She missed the middle, the what happened part. “It’d be easier if I could see that too,” she often mused. But having this knowledge about what was missing or what it looked like before, made her job somewhat easier.
“What’s missing this time, eh Murray?”
Franks, her partner, had gotten used to her abilities. He chided her on them from time to time, but Murray thought it evoked a sense of awe and respect from him. One she was glad to accept, after her years on the force and all the taunting that came with the job. She pointed to the table. “Knife, butcher block.”
“I shouldda seen that one,” he grumbled.
Murray stepped from the kitchen and wandered down the hallway. She stared at the knick knacks decorating the table tops. She looked at the bookshelves and wondered what went so wrong. Then she turned into the first bedroom. A child’s room, without a doubt. A toy train, sitting idly on the tracks, decorated as a real-life town. Train window treatments, a twin-size bed with a train bedspread. No doubt, a child’s room. But no children were found. Murray’s brow furrowed.
She left the room and went into the next room. The parent’s master suite, she supposed. Pink and frilly. With lace everywhere. She checked out the attached bathroom. “Knife!” She called and heard the trample of feet come running down the hall. It was wedged in the tiles of the shower, blood dripping from the handle staining the white porcelain tub.
The evidence team secured the knife, dropping it into a plastic bag and then left as quickly as they had herded in. Murray closed her eyes. The bathroom: before. The shower curtain was closed, the rug wasn’t wet. Murray stopped. The phone was ringing, someone was in the shower, heat curled up and licked the mirror’s edges.
It played out in slow motion and Murray refused to open her eyes.
Screaming. The curtain thrown aside, someone stepped out. Murray saw the imprints of the wet feet on the rug. The towel, grabbed hastily from the rack, slightly pulling it away from the wall. The altercation began in the kitchen. Murray stood her ground. Then someone new came in, cursing and muttering. The knife was in hand. He jammed it in the wall. Then the sirens.
More cursing. Through the window, out through the back yard. Waiting in the trees, watching the cops come. Murray opened her eyes. “Franks!?” she yelled, turning on her heel.
“Here,” he called, right by her shoulder.
“The perp’s in the yard. Back by the trees watching the whole scene. Something’s still here he wants.”
Franks looked perplexed. But he knew not to question her intuition. “Marks, Cantrele, come with me. Suit up. Now.”
The two burly men did as they were told, and strapped on their bulletproof vests without a word. When Franks was satisfied, he gave one last questioning look to Murray who only nodded. They headed out the back door.
Murray went to the kitchen and grabbed another knife out of the butcher block. She went back to the shower and stepped in, muddy boots and all. She picked at the wall, pulling apart the grout and tiles. She found the small wooden box just as the radio cackled to life.
“Got him, Murray. Bringing him to the station now.”
Murray didn’t respond. She pulled the ornate wooden box from the wall and dusted it off carefully. She had a strange feeling she’d seen this before. She closed her eyes, hoping for a clue, but all she saw was blackness.
She opened her eyes once more and rubbed her fingers delicately over the surface. Some old song popped into her mind and she absentmindedly began to hum. The box responded, sliding open effortlessly.
She stared at the amulet laying inside. It was beautiful, decorative and yet haunting at the same time. It looked like it was carved from bone, and formed a circle of heads so small that you would only notice it if you were looking closely. In the middle was a ruby so red it looked like fresh blood. She almost dropped it, but instead stared at it intently.
This was what he was after. But why?
Murray looked back at the wall. There was an envelope there, too. Red and plastic it looked much newer than the ornate wooden box and the amulet. She reached over and plucked it out, while pocketing the wooden box. She peered in the hole, looking for anything else, but found nothing.
Murray stepped out of the tub and back onto the wet floor rug. She opened the envelope. She sighed. Money. Of course. What every criminal needs to be able to run away and start life over. She shrugged and walked out of the bathroom.
She pulled an evidence tech aside and handed him the envelope. “Here. Found this in the bathroom wall. Put it in with the rest of the bags.” When he nodded at her and took it from her hand, she walked toward the front of the house again, ignoring the body on the floor.
“I’m on my way, Franks. Got some questions for the perp myself.”
She turned on the sirens and left the house she grew up in behind.