DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.
Mari sat at the desk in her room, chatting with friends online, while she watched out the window for Will's truck to return. Mari's sense that something terrible had happened deepened with every minute that passed without seeing his familiar Ford. Then, when she saw a squad car pull up to Will's house, she knew it brought awful news.
Mari messaged her friend that she had to go. A cop car had just pulled up at Will's house. She ran down the hall and out her front door to see what was going on two houses down. Having gotten no response from the doorbell or knocking, the officer was looking in the windows of the house to determine if anyone was home.
Mari, not taking her eyes off the officer, began walking across the lawn towards Will's house. She stopped at the edge of Will's yard when she saw the officer stand bolt upright and suddenly start talking into her radio. Mari couldn't follow all the cop code the officer was speaking, but she knew it meant something horrible by the officer's tone.
When a second squad car arrived, this one with blue lights flashing and siren wailing, Mari sat down on the grass, a lead weight settling in her stomach and a ripping pain gripping her heart. The second officer took a handheld battering ram from his trunk, and the two officers broke down the front door of Will's house and moved inside with their guns drawn.
Within moments, more police cars and an ambulance arrived. The two cops who'd gone into the house came back out. The newly arrived officers looked at them expectantly. The other officers shook their heads.
Mari dropped to her knees and started to cry. She didn't know who, but she knew someone had died in the Ward house. Her sobs brought her to the attention of the police.
"Freeze! Police!" one of the male officers called out, pointing his gun and light at Mari. "Show me your hands!"
Mari, still sobbing, held up shaky hands for the officer to see. Convinced she was unarmed, the officer moved closer and was joined by a second officer.
"Are you hurt? Do you need help?" the first officer asked in a much gentler voice.
Mari, trying to choke back her sobs, shook her head no.
"Can you tell us who you are?" the officer asked as he holstered his sidearm.
Mari sniffed and said, "I'm Mari, Maribella Martin. I live two houses over. This is my boyfriend's house. What happened?"
The officer ignored Mari's question. "Are your parents home?"
Mari nodded. "Please, tell me what happened?"
"I'd rather take you back to your parents," the office said. "Can you stand and walk?"
Mari nodded again. By now, most of the neighbors, including her parents, were out on their front porches watching the commotion at the Ward house. When Mari stood up, her father called out and started in her direction.
"Stay where you are, sir," the officer who'd been talking to Mari ordered. "Are you the girl's father?"
From the bottom step of his porch, Mari's father answered, "Yes, she's my daughter. Is she all right?"
"She's not injured," the officer assured Mari's father. "But she's distraught. I'll walk her over to you."
Mr. Nellis, who lived in the house between the Ward's and the Martin's, watched as the officer passed by with his arm around Mari.
"What's going on, Officer?" he asked as they walked by.
"Sir, that's what we're trying to figure out," the officer replied.
The officer brought Mari right up to her father, who then turned the girl over to her mother to take in the house.
"Officer, can you tell me anything? The Ward's have been friends and neighbors for over twenty years. Their son and our daughter are practically engaged. Please."
The officer ran his tongue over his teeth and looked back at the Ward house, noting all the activity there. As he watched, the Sheriff's Department Crime Scene Unit van arrived.
"How well do you know the Ward family, Mr. Martin?"
Mari's dad said, "Mr. Ward and I worked together at Corning. My wife and Mrs. Ward have been friends since we all moved to this neighborhood. And like I said, Will, their son, and my daughter Mari are practically engaged."
"Do you if Mr. and Mrs. Ward have been having any marital difficulties lately?" the officer asked.
Mr. Martin looked past the officer toward the Ward's house. "Not that I know of. I know Mr. Ward tends to drink too much on occasion. It's why he lost his job today. Why? What's happened?"
"It'll be all over the news, probably by the time I walk back over there," the officer said. "Mr. Ward and his son were found dead in the boy's truck down at Fort Fisher about an hour ago. It looks like Mr. Ward shot the boy several times and then took his own life.
"When the officer sent to inform Mrs. Ward arrived, there was no answer to the door, so she went checking in the windows and saw what appeared to be Mrs. Ward lying in a pool of blood. Upon entering the house, the pair of officers found Mrs. Ward and a young female we believe to be the younger daughter dead, stabbed repeatedly. There was also a note of sorts from Mr. Ward scrawled on a whiteboard hanging on the fridge. "All our troubles will soon be over."
Mr. Martin started to sag but caught himself. "Oh, My God! Does my daughter know any of this?"
"No, sir," the officer replied. "I don't think so.
"Sir, I have to go back over there. I imagine the detectives will want to talk to you, your wife, and your daughter, maybe tonight, maybe first thing in the morning, but soon."
"Of course, Officer, anything they need," Mr. Martin assured him.
"I'm really sorry about all this, sir. Especially for your daughter's sake."
"Thank you, Officer. I should go in and tell Mari before she hears it on the news. She'll be devastated."
Mr. Martin entered his house and found his wife sitting on the couch in the living room, holding his daughter. Mari's mother looked up at him with eyes drenched in worry. Mr. Martin slowly shook his head. He walked over and sat on the other side of his daughter.
Mari looked up at her father. Her eyes were wet with tears. "Daddy, please tell me what's going on. I'm so worried that something bad has happened to Will. Please tell me he's okay."
Mr. Martin swallowed hard against the bile rising in his throat. "I'm sorry, honey. Something terrible has happened. Will is dead. The police officer told me that Will's whole family, except his older sister who's away at college, were killed tonight. They, the police, think Mr. Ward went out of his mind, killed them all, and then himself."
"Nooo!" Mari wailed. "That can't be. I saw Will and his dad get into Will's truck to go fishing. How could Mr. Ward have done all that if he was fishing with Will? I saw them drive off. Daddy, it makes no sense."
"We'll have to wait and see what sort of answers the police come up with, Mari," her father said. "There's nothing else we can do right now."
"But daddy, you don't understand," Mari sobbed. "Will and I had a big fight today. The last time I saw him, we didn't even kiss good-bye. I got out of his truck and didn't tell him I love him. He can't be gone. Will has to be alive. He has to be, daddy. I have to have a chance to tell him I love him and I'm sorry and...and..."
She broke down in her father's arms and cried against his chest as he held her, and his wife rubbed her back. The two of them made comforting noises that may or may not have been words. What do you say to your daughter when the love of her life has just been torn from her?
Click the link below to go to the beginning of the story.
- Always Say I Love You (A Buzby Beach Novella) Part 01
Will and Mari have been best friends forever. As teens, their friendship grows to be something more. But not all is paradise for the young couple. Will they get their happily ever after, or will it be torn from them?
© 2021 DW Davis