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And Then Silence...

The banging on the door continued for several minutes as Detective Peter O'Brien stepped closer to the door, listening for movement inside. From the upstairs apartment he heard a shuffling sound, so he continued rapping at the door with more intensity.

“Damn Pete, you're gonna break the door down,” said a female uniform as she leaned against the side wall with her weapon drawn.

“Put that thing away,” he barked. “That's how accidental shootings happen!”

“We are in the projects,” she half whispered.

“Put the gun away now!” he ordered.

O'Brien watched someone pull out the box fan from the window in that very same apartment upstairs and an old black man stuck his head and shoulders out.

“Pete is that you?” asked the old man.

“Mr. Washington?”

“Call me Willie.”

“Willie we got a domestic call from someone in your building.”

The old man grimaced.

“Did you hear anything?”

William Washington swallowed hard. He moved his head into the apartment just a bit, but still had enough to keep the conversation with O'Brien going. He snapped his fingers as if trying to recall something.

“Yeah, I heard something.”

“What did you hear, Willie.”

“Wanda, remember her?”

O'Brien nodded.

“She use to make peanut butter sandwiches for you guys when you were kids,” he said smiling.

“I remember Willie,” said O'Brien. “Choke sandwiches.”

He smiled and O'Brien smiled back.

“Wanda was suffering from dementia for some time now,” he said with a look of distance in his eyes.

“I'm sorry Willie.”

“Sometimes she comes back and recognizes me,” he said somberly. “I treasure those visits.”

O'Brien nodded.

“She came back tonight for a short visit,” he continued. “She tells me every time she comes back that her time is up and if I love her I would end her suffering. She really wanted me to take her life.”

A Look of horror swept over the detective's face, and he dropped his gaze to the porch. For a moment he felt frozen, unable to speak, then he shuffled his right foot as he looked up at Mr. Washington.

“What did you do?”

First, he was obviously frightened about the next words that were going to come from his mouth. Secondly, he had to tell someone.

“I loved her so much,” he said softly. “I had to prove it.”

O'Brien watched William Washington with eyes wide and felt uneasy for several reasons including the fact that he couldn't picture Willie killing his dear wife. Also he noticed that Willie considered himself the victim and not the murderer, this was a bit surprising.

“Is she upstairs with you?” O'Brien asked.

“Yes,” he replied slowly. “It was very difficult for me to do it. She told me she loved me in her last breath. I cried like a baby for an hour. I cried until my eyes went dry. I loved that woman. We were partners in crime and in time.”

“Willie, you're gonna have to let us in.”

“I put on her favorite black cotton sweater, Pete,” he continued. “I didn't put no bra on because I can't get those things in them. Kind of clumsy, and I hope she didn't mind. I want her to be remembered as the prettiest girl in the cemetery.”

“Willie, come open the door, now.”

“Okay, Pete,” he replied as he tucked his head back into the apartment and closed the window.

O'Brien waited for a few minutes and then he kicked in the front door. Seconds later there was a gunshot and then silence. The detective and the female uniform quickly ran to Washington's apartment and kicked in his door too.

Washington was still alive but dying quickly from a gunshot to the head. O'Brien found him on the bed next to his wife holding her hand. The bed, pillows and the headboard was covered in blood, and Washington was whimpering as his head rocked up and down.

The female uniformed walked over to the window and opened it up so the spirits could be free. O'Brien just stood still trying to make sense of the horrific scene that just unfolded right before his eyes.


© 2016 Frank Atanacio

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