Part 4: Love You Less
“I’m here to take a statement. Do you mind telling me what happened?" asked Detective Kevin gruffly. He had his notebook open, but he didn’t even have a pen in his hand.
Logan tried to ignore his tone and answered pleasantly “I don’t mind at all! I was out on the lake with my date,” he gestured to Bella, “I went to go take a picture of her against the water while we were out on our kayak. I noticed while focusing the camera lens that there was red in the water and a man walking away.”
“Can you describe the man to me?” the detective asked.
“He had on a blue shirt and blue jeans, but not much else. I have a picture if you want to see.”
“Wait, you saw somebody?!?” Bella was even more scared. What if this man had seen them? Would he try to get revenge?
“I don’t think he knows I saw him, sweetie. I only saw him as he was walking away. Besides, we were too far away for him to get any better of a look than we got of him.”
“So this means you didn’t even see his face?” replied Detective Kevin. His voice sounded annoyed, like they were wasting his time.
“I didn’t get a great look at him, but as I said earlier I have a picture.” Logan was starting to get frustrated. The two had just seen an extremely traumatizing event. Honestly, they should be talking to a therapist, not this good-for-nothing cop. Bella noticed Logan’s attitude and tried to diffuse the situation.
“If you want, I can run over to the print shop and give the picture to the sketch artist?”
“We’ll take care of that miss. Technically, his camera is now evidence and we have to take it anyway. Would you mind?” Detective Kevin started to reach.
“Wait, you’re kidding! I’ll give you the SD card with the photos, but the camera itself isn’t evidence.”
“Whatever,” the detective took the card and gave it to one of the forensic officers. “And you said you didn’t see anything either, miss?”
“Nothing at all sir. I’m sorry, but I wasn’t looking in that direction,” answered a downcast Bella, “I’m sorry I can’t be more help.”
“Don’t be sorry, baby. You’ve been wonderful.” Logan reached his arm around her shoulders, causing her to look up. His eyes had softened; for the first time, she really believed everything would be okay.
“Fine. I’ll send over a crime scene artist. We’ll need to take you guys back to the lake to help us identify the size of the crime scene.”
A thoughtful-looking young woman came over to greet them a few minutes later. “Hi, my name is Sandy. I’m the artist here to draw the sketch of the man you saw.” She had a large paper pad in her arms and held it in front of herself, resting on her hip. It was the only officer that seemed remotely interested in solving this case.
“Hi Sandy. yes, the man’s back was towards me in my lens, but I’ll tell you what I can.” The artist began outlining the body on a notepad with a pencil, charcoal, then some colored chalk. “He was tall with blonde hair and was wearing a blue shirt and jeans.”
“Did the jeans or shirt have any emblems or logos on them?” asked Sandy.
“Not from what I could see. I’m telling you it was a quick glance and then he was gone,” Logan started to get agitated again.
“Don’t worry, what you’ve given me will be plenty. Besides, we also have the picture you took. I know Detective Kevin can be standoffish, but he is great at his job. This guy will be caught in no time. You two go ahead and get going. He’ll be needing you at the lake.” Logan grabbed Bella another coffee.
“You ready?” Logan asked. Bella was far from ready, but she didn’t want to make him any more upset. The detective seemed like an awful man; what kind of officer makes witnesses feel worse for coming forward? Logan had been so strong for her, and she couldn’t have been more grateful. She took a giant gulp and readied herself.
“Ready as I’ll ever be.”
Back at the lake, the crime scene was now covered in police tape, looped around the thin shoreline trees to create a perimeter. The yellow tape had two phrases in black capital letters: “CRIME SCENE” and “CAUTION.” Bella gripped Logan’s arm as they walked closer. An officer greeted them.
“I’m sorry you have to keep seeing all this, but it really is necessary. We’ve got the perimeter pretty much done. I’ll need you to help us figure out where you saw the man.”
“Oh, that was just me,” Logan interjected. “I’ll be more than happy to come along. Bella, why don’t you sit here and answer any other questions they have?”
As the men walked off, Bella started to look around at the once peaceful lake. It seemed like more than 50 detectives were investigating the brutal crime scene, searching for the murderer or signs one had been there. Bella watched as emergency services picked up the remains of the victim. The larger half of her body had been sent to the morgue, but they wanted to try and get all of her together for a funeral. It was a sad sight. Not one family member was there to mourn her death. Bella began to wonder what kind of life this girl had lived. They were probably the same age, with similar goals in mind. Perhaps she was leaving children or a significant other behind. Hot tears started to stream down her face. She quickly brushed them away as she saw Logan and the officer return. “Did you find anything?”
“We found some footprints,” said the officer, “which should help us a great deal. We’ll be able to know the man’s shoe size, and we might even be able to determine the style of shoes he was wearing. You guys have been a great help, and we can’t really ask any more of you. Go ahead and head home. If we have any more questions we’ll be in contact.”
When Bella arrived home Olivia was not there. This was more than a little upsetting, considering what Bella had just been through. She opened up her phone, expecting at least one missed call. To her surprise, there was nothing. Now Bella began to get worried. Maybe the girl in the lake was Olivia! They did have the same hair…. ‘No, I cannot allow myself to get swept away like this,’ she thought to herself. ‘Maybe there is a note somewhere.” Bella scoured the living room to no avail. The kitchen didn’t have any sign of having been used at all that day. Even the bathroom looked totally ignored. Things seemed off, and Bella was getting concerned.
She finally decided she had enough evidence to warrant going through Olivia’s stuff. When she opened the bedroom door, she was overwhelmed by the smell of perfume. Clothes were everywhere, which was very unlike Olivia. She had even left her diary right on her pillow! “Olivia never leaves her room this messy. Oh God, I hope she’s okay!” Bella was about to open the book up when she noticed a little post-it on the desk. On it was a quickly scribbled note that read “Went out on a date. Be home before sunset.” Bella was furious for so many reasons. The hypocrisy for one, but also because she didn’t even know Olivia had found someone so quickly. She was overcome with jealousy at the thought that Olivia was on a date with someone else. Bella felt so small and alone after what happened at the lake, and this only compounded that feeling.
Bella made some tea and decided to go find Smokey. His comfort was exactly what she needed. She walked around the house, calling his name. She was hoping to find him snuggled on the bed sheets or relaxing on the couch. Instead, Bella found him vomiting on the bathroom floor. “Great.” she said out loud, “One more thing.” Bella’s frustration and exasperation were outweighed only by her concern for the cat. She gently scooped Smokey up and deposited him into the cat carrier. The shelter they adopted the big guy from offered vet care for the first 6 weeks, so that’s where Bella headed.
Bella sighed loudly on her drive to the vet as. Smokey responded with a loud yowl. He was normally a well-behaved cat, and he got on surprisingly well in the house with Olivia and herself. However, he hated the cat carrier, and he let everyone know it the second the gate was locked. Once or twice isn’t bad, but by the end of the 15-minute trip Bella wanted to rip her ears off.
She didn’t want to be angry at the poor cat. She didn’t want to be angry at all. But what happened earlier...everything had just worn her out. She was frayed thin already, and the increasing volume of Smokey made her grip the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. She fought back tears at every stop light. It wasn’t from sadness but from exhaustion. ‘When I get home,’ she thought to herself, ‘I’m going to lock myself in my room and never come out. I’ll probably nap for at least a week!’
She pulled up to the animal shelter and sat in the car for a few moments, rubbing her temples and composing herself. The last thing Bella wanted to do was go talk to somebody. The only thing that really prompted her out of the car was the persistent yowling of the cat. She got out of the car, grabbed the cat and headed inside.
The receptionist greeted her with a warm smile. Hi there! Back so soon? Don’t tell me: did Smokey eat all your shoes?”
“No, no,” Bella couldn’t help but laugh at the confusion, “he’s just sick, I think. When I got home the threw up a bunch. I know cats can get hairballs, but I just want to make sure he’s okay.”
“Absolutely! That’s why we offer free vet care for the first 60 days,” she looked relieved “we’re just glad he’s working out for you. Go ahead and take a seat and fill this out.”
The waiting room was not unlike Bella’s doctor’s. It had weird informative posters, but they talked about flea-instead of flu-prevention. The magazines were just as boring and outdated, and the wait seemed just as long. She looked down at the reason for her visit. Smokey didn’t seem to upset now, and he had taken to gently rubbing against her leg until she picked him up. Bella didn’t want to take any chances, though. She had never owned a cat before. The veterinarian was a nice older fellow with thinning salt and pepper hair. He talked very sweetly to Smokey, held him, and looked him over while listening to the story.
“Well, miss, I know you are worried, and frankly it is always nice to see. Some of this poor guy’s previous owners didn’t give a damn. However, there is nothing to worry about. All this is is a bit of a case of upset stomach. Cats, since we predominantly feed them bagged food, are really sensitive to change. Chances are the brand you got at home is different from the one he got used to in the shelter. You might see some vomiting again, but it will probably clear up in the next couple of days. I’ll also give you the name of the brand we feed him at the shelter. He’s already used to that, and it’ll help him heal faster.” He gave the cat some ear rubs. “If it doesn’t come on back and I’ll give him a more thorough exam, including some blood tests and such.”
Bella was so relieved to hear that Smokey would be okay she almost forgot her troubles. It wasn’t until she returned to an empty home that she felt the day weigh on her again. The fact that Olivia still wasn’t home only twisted the ball of worry in her gut even more. She plopped on the couch and turned on the TV; maybe something funny will help keep her distracted. Unfortunately, she had kept the channel on the news station she used to check the weather. It was covering the murder from earlier. “The Drowning Dame,” they called it. Bella wondered why the name since the girl had clearly been murdered long before she was in the water. She watched the reporters frankly and with professionalism talk about how there were no named suspects and no one in custody yet. She saw clips of the body bag being brought into the ambulance, and police searching the area for the man in blue. Bella fought back tears and decided to text Logan to tell him the story was on the news, in case he wanted to watch it.