The Morticians Endeavor
Standing over her body, I could not help but notice every detail of her delicate skin; the bright lights illuminated every curve of her fascinating physique. I brushed her cheek and pulled back admiring her, who she used to be. Her eyes were closed, the makeup removed long ago only to be replaced by a softer more natural bronze that would overcome her face. I let out a soft sigh as I ran my tools over her lips, She's young I thought, far too young to be here with me. I glanced at her bare chest; her family would be mortified if they saw her now. My hands ran down the sides of her, grasping the fabric of her black dress. Under the bright lights, I was sweating, experienced but unsure, I didn't always do this, I thought as I began to pull up the girl's dress slowly. Her body was becoming flaccid as rigor mortis began to ease its grip.
Something's wrong, I thought as I stopped the teeth that slowly consumed her body's bare skin, something's changed. Lying bare in front of me was twenty-four year old Erica Limen; death by heart attack was the EMT's answer to her premature demise confirmed later by medical doctors. "DOA" they said. Far too young to be here with me, I thought again, taking a look around at the morgue that I stood in, the only living being to enter here within the last few years. I wiped my brow of the sweat that had accumulated there as I was doing Erica's make up. My eyes swept over her body like an artist painting the scenery before him. My brush stopped on the canvas as I found the distinction that had caused me to pause before. There was a darkening of her skin in four places beneath her pale exterior.
What is this? I asked myself as I took out a scalpel, did the medical examiner miss something? I cut through the skin, the area being familiar to me, reminding me of my college days as a forensics student. Knowledge of anatomy flooded through my brain of the future I was forced to quit. I began analyzing the area of her heart that leaked through to the outside eye. "Four abrasions to the atrioventricular valves, two abrasions to the semilunar valves causing discoloration to the exterior skin." My words echoed out to the audience of one; my omnipresent tape recorder listened to every analysis I spoke out of instinct. "The cause of the abrasions seems to be an applied pressure to the ventricles from the outside, meaning a professional would have to be the one to do it in order to predict the placement and amount of pressure that would need to be applied. The shots were short and precise hitting each point it needed before blood flow to the heart ceased causing the heart attack."
Standing there in the silent room it dawned on me. I was the only one that knew that the beautiful girl that was laid out in front of me was in fact murdered. Shock overcame me. My cell phone was out within seconds of the realization. "911" my phone read as I readied to hit the call button. Wait, my brain called out to me. This is what you're chosen profession would do all the time. This is what your future would've been filled with if they had believed in you…hadn't kicked you out. "But they made a mistake…I should tell-" I thought more about it, my conscious was right. This is your chance. Take it.
I put my phone down and glanced back at Erica Limen's pale body. She could've resembled a Snow Queen with her pale body. This was my chance as my conscious told me. The EMT's and doctors overlooked her wounds. It was my turn to show them, my university, that my methods were right. I was eligible to become a Detective. I just had to find who killed the queen.
* * *
Darkness had fallen over the Victorian styled house that once lodged Erica as I pulled up. My cars lights exposed the interior; the shades open for all to gaze upon the inside of the home. It was barren, no one likely to enter until after the Limen Funeral. This was the first step in investigating my professors told me, an examination of the victim's home. I remember doing this before, but not like this, the latex felt so familiar as I pulled the gloves on. Last time I'd broken into a home under false pretenses, this time I was sure. The door of my car shut softly as I began my approach to the homes entrance. I already had the screwdriver and paperclip out as I jogged up the few steps that were in front of me. Placing them inside the lock I heard the tumblers begin to click as each one began to turn. The first pin, then the second, and then the third, this was child's play to me. I'd always gotten complimented for my technique. I heard the final pin click as I turned the wrench; the door was unlocked and just like that so was the life of Erica Limen. My hand grasped the old bronze doorknob and began to turn it. The handle was loose, someone was here before me and whoever it was didn't have the soft touch I did.
Entering the house I closed the door behind me, I didn't want anyone to realize I was here. Looking to my left I made note of the small blinking security device lit slightly by the natural lights. This light within the home came from the moon that glowed outside lighting the interior ever so softly. My eyes quickly adjusted to the low level lighting as I began to glide through like a shadow that wasn't there. My hands crossed her belongings searching for anything that would lead to an answer. Her book self was filled with no evidence that I found useful, only "How to-" books, catering manuals and a fairy tale book. Probably something from her childhood.
On the cabinet and aligning the walls were portraits of her friends and family. They looked happy; now though they were forlorn not knowing what their friendships and relationships held in the future. I could sympathize with them; they weren't the only ones that went through great loss. In my search delving into Erica's life I entered her room; the most personal room to her most likely. Just like the rest of the house the shades were open. A tree laid next to the window as the wind gently blew in through the opening. This was where Erica was found if I remembered correctly. Lying on the floor where I was standing. I cringed at a memory as I forced myself to concentrate on the task at hand. I searched her room and alas I found it my first clue. On the floor under her bed I found her android phone. Turning it on it asked for a password, damn, I thought, that would've been too convenient. I'd have to hack the phone later after I found more evidence.
Next was her office, a messy room filled with tons of paperwork. Rummaging throughout the room I searched for something that I was sure she most likely owned. If not then I was out of leads for now. Her files had nothing I needed to concern myself with, her desk space pilfered by paperwork. Erica it seemed was quite successful in her job. To be successful though she would have to be organized. It was in her cabinets that I found what I desired. I lifted it from its darkened sanctuary opening it and there it was. Names and dates, times and addresses, this was what I was searching for. The key to Erica's past and future was her in my hands.
I searched through the book concentrated on its contents. Where should I go next? Shit the lights downstairs turned on. Steps echoed throughout the interior as my heart beat raced. I had to get out of here. I frantically racked my brain and remembered the open window in Erica's room. Slipping through the door I stealthily moved throughout the hall. "I can't believe she's dead." Came a man's voice, they seemed to be crying. "Why'd you have to leave me?" I stopped and listened to the broken heart before taking another step. The floor creaked and the crying stopped. "Hello?" the sobbing voice shouted. I was climbing out the window before I heard what he said next. The datebook was still in my hand as I rushed to my car. I knew what my next step was.
* * *
Knocking at the door I awaited the answer of my old friend Rob Peritus, a computer programmer whose knowledge was far beyond my reach. "Jon Scobo" was the first things out of his mouth as he flung the door open embracing me in a hug. "It's been a while, still wearing that suit I see." I nodded not given the chance to respond. "How's your parent's funeral home?" he asked suddenly solemn, "I'm sorry for your loss by the way."
I paused, it had been a few years since my parents died leaving me with the morticians curse. No one wanted to be surrounded by death and no one wanted to be around someone shadowed by death. My parents believed though that it wasn't a bad job, that it was their duty to help those going through rough times out of it. They were good people with high morals. After the crash they left me with the family run business, since I was the only family left I was the only one who could run it. That's when I dropped out and lost anything resembling a social life. "It's been good, the business is back from the depths, and is doing well unfortunately." Despite our friendships untimely end I was glad to see Rob, the last time most likely during my time at the University.
"Come on in." Rob said, gesturing me inside, "It's been a while."
I allowed myself to smile as I entered my friend's domain. His home didn't resemble the bachelors pad it used to be years ago. The door closed behind him as he led me to the living room. "Want a beer?" he asked as he entered the kitchen. I nodded; this was the closest I've been to having a social life in a while. Tossing me a Heineken he spoke, "We've got a few hours my wife's out of town right now."
"You're married?" I asked. I'd completely lost track of my friends' lives.
"Yeah remember Veronica from your Criminal Motives class? Well she and I hit it up after you left and the rest is history. I was sad you couldn't be at the wedding." Rob admitted taking a swig of his beer.
"Yeah…" I paused, "Remember when we shut down the schools website so they'd have to postpone our midterm?"
"You mean when I did that, you can't use a computer for jack shit." The two of us burst out laughing, it was good remembering the past sometimes. There was silence then as Rob put down his beer. "So Jon, as much as I hate to admit it, we both know you didn't come here to reminisce. What's up?"
I sighed; I didn't want to get down to the business so fast. "I need a favour." I started pulling out Erica's phone. "Would you be able to hack into this and tell me what's on it?" Rob's eyes locked onto the phone as he thought about his answer.
"Whose phone is it?" Was his first question as he switched his gaze to me.
"No one" I lied breaking eye contact.
"Why do you need to know what's on the phone?"
"No reason…" There was an awkward silence, I could see Rob's face fall in disappointment in my lack of trust. "Please, I have no time right now, I'll explain it all later." Rob's mouth opened to respond, my own words coming out before his. "I'll buy you drinks at our old bar if you do this for me."
A smile crossed Rob's face as he placed his hands up, "No thanks, you don't need to do that for me. I can hack this easily. When are you going to need this by?"
"As soon as possible." was my response. Standing up I finished my beer.
"This is just like the university." Rob laughed, "Just be careful alright man? I'm here to help you remember that."
"Thanks Rob," I said. The datebook was still in my car; tomorrow was going to be an eventful day. It was going to be a new break before the next chapter.
* * *
It was early in the morning when I arrived at the coffee house. I couldn't help but wonder why anyone would make a date for this early; at least I could get my fix of joe. I looked at the black book and searched for Alex, the guy Erica was supposed to be meeting up with today. Whether he knew she was dead I assumed he would show up either way, in memory or as a business partner. My eyes locked onto a man in a blue sweater with light brown hair, his eyes staring aimlessly into the distance. His espresso cold untouched in front of him. I approached slowly not wanting to alarm the grief-stricken man.
"Alex?" I approached the table his hazel eyes blankly watching me. Taking a seat I assessed his condition. "Hi, I'm Jon, Erica's friend." I lied looking for a response in his eyes, a spark to show he was actually listening. "She asked me, before she died, to speak to each of her friends personally." The creation of a new entity in the story that was Erica's life, how believable was I? "How are you doing?"
It took a minute for Alex to recollect himself enough to finally respond. "I'm sorry, I just don't really know where I'm going anymore." His cheeks were traced with lines, he'd been crying recently. I don't blame him though. I covered my eyes as I watched Alex continue "I came here hoping to collect my thoughts, remember her. I was supposed to meet up with her today." Alex looked away trying to calm himself.
"That's why I'm here; you know how much she hated to be late." I said smiling taking a shot in the dark at her timeliness.
Alex laughed, his face lightening up a bit, "Yeah I know, her and her schedules. It's just been hard on all of us. Especially after her break up with Justin."
"She broke up with Justin?" I asked, acting shocked, Alex raised an eyebrow at my question, "I've been so consumed by work lately I haven't had the time to see anyone." Alex seemed to relax more with the statement I pulled out of my ass. "That's why it's been hard on me."
"Yeah…I feel the same way." Alex said softly, his eyes looked off into the distance at a memory he wished he could return to. ""The only one that saw her recently was Justin. And from what Erica told me those were violent."
"What happened?" I asked immediately, was this a suspect? So far it sounded like it. "What did Erica say?"
"She called me up a few days before she died. She was crying, she'd met up with Justin to talk and he was yelling at her so much."
"Did she tell you why?"
"N-no," Alex stammered, "she didn't give me any reasons, she just wanted to vent." Alex was surprised, maybe I was enquiring too much.
I paused to think, Justin seemed to be the likely answer. A lover's quarrel gone wrong from what Alex was telling me. I had to find Justin though to confirm, everyone gets to defend themselves. "Hey Alex do you know where Justin would be right now?"
Alex thought for a second, "Knowing him, he's probably at the gym. Mornings are the best time to work out because no one's there."
* * *
"Damn I'm using a lot of gas," I cursed to myself as I pulled into the "Retro Fitness" parking lot that Alex had told me about. I had to wait for Justin to leave the gym in order to question him. I had no idea who he was or what he looked like, I couldn't ask Alex for a description cause that would've given me away.
Person by person I waited calling out to each one unsure of myself. The sun was high and beating down and I was ready to leave when a tall man in black sweats and Ginny Tee' came out, his body drenched in sweat. His faced sparked an image in my head; he was one of the people from the portrait at Erica's house. "Justin!" I shouted out. His eyes turned to me as he gave me a nod of acknowledgement. "Come here, I want to ask you a few questions about Erica!" His eyes widened as I shouted the name of his ex-girlfriend. Justin dropped his bag and began running. "Is this what being a cop is like?" I asked myself as I began to chase him down.
I was glad I was still fit as I sprinted after the Caucasian male. Lifting all those caskets and running all over the place really did its job. Justin began knocking over trashcans in an attempt to slow me down but to no success as I hurtled over them. It wasn't long until I caught up with the suspect. His elbow went out catching me in the jaw as I hurled myself at him, tackling his body like the defensive end I used to be so long ago. "Why'd you run?" I shouted at him lifting him by the shirt. I felt the blood rushing through my veins, as I questioned him. "What did you do to Erica?"
"Who are you?" was Justin's bewildered response, blood coming out of scrapes on his arms. His voice startled me. It was the voice of the man in Erica's house the night before.
"I'm the detective that's investigating her murder." I shouted out, pissed as my own blood began to seep out of my mouth, it must've been from when I bit my tongue as Justin elbowed me. "Tell me all you know."
Everything went a lot more smoothly after that. Justin ran because he knew he was the last one to see Erica and he had a motive. The two of us walked back to the gym as Justin explained to me why he and Erica had broken up. "And then after all that, I find out she's cheating on me? I think I deserved to be upset, after all I've done for her? I know its cliché but I've been there for her through the good and the bad. I'm not gonna lie, I may not have been the best boyfriend in the world but I did all I could for her. Three years man and it's over." Justin stopped; his eyes glanced down at the concrete as his eyes began to water as he spoke about his lost love. "I'm not proud Jon. Of anything I've done over the past week. The last thing I said to Erica was to 'Get away from and out of my life. And then to never fuckin' talk to me again." We both knew his last words were watered down; no break up really goes that smoothly, at least not for me.
I waited a moment awkwardly as I patted him on the back trying to calm him down. There were so many memories of this motion I could think of. "Jon," he finally spoke looking up to me. "I think the guy she cheated on me with is the one that killed her."
* * *
"Jon, did you hear me? All the information on the phones been deleted," Rob explained, his voice static filled from the phone.
"Can you do anything to recover the data?" I asked, that was my only lead since Justin was a bust. He didn't know anything about the new guy, just that Erica was cheating on him.
"I'm working on that right now, It's gonna take a few hours but I can do it." Rob assured me, "I'll call you back when I retrieve it alright?"
"No problem," I finished as we both hung up our phones. There was no doubt in either of our minds; someone was trying to cover up their tracks. Whoever it was should've just taken the phone with them, no complaints here though. My car pulled back in front of the familiar terrain of the Limen house. I had nothing right now, no appointments in her book for a few days. I needed something to work off of, which led me back here to the scene of the crime. I wanted to check Erica's office again to see if there was anything else inside I could use to lead me to the killer.
Stepping out of my car though I realized there was a young Asian man with short black hair standing in front of the window staring into the house. He seemed so motivated, concentrated on a single thing within the house that he didn't even pay attention to his surroundings. What was he looking at? I approached him slowly and he began to move to the door. I was curious as to what he was doing, was he not aware of Erica's death?
The Asian man climbed up the stairs and stood at the door. His hand grasped the doorknob and tried to open it again, slowly but surely working into a full yanking. This was most likely the man that had loosened the handle before. The man was angry as he backed away from the door. He rammed his shoulder into the door breaking the wood off the hinges. "Hey." I shouted as I ran towards him. The Asian man jumped in surprise and immediately sprinted away. "Wait!" I called after him as I chased after him. It was no use though; he was out of my league I quickly realized.
Security systems alert the company immediately as to the intrusion. I could hear my professors voice in my head as I turned back to look at the door. They then call the local authorities and send them to the house as soon as possible. This entire process takes about 5-10 minutes. I didn't have much time left. Four minutes at worst, nine minutes at best, I had to make use of these precious seconds. I ran to the front door and inside since it was already open. My gloves were on faster than it took me to reach the spot. The clouds traced the sky making me even tenser as I worked trying to figure out what exactly it was the intruder was looking at.
I placed myself in front of the window trying to envision the burglars' goal. All I could see at the moment was the bookshelf; none of the furniture could've been what he was looking at. Within seconds I was searching the bookshelf, could it have been possible that there was a safe or something behind it? This was immediately disproven as I pulled the shelf back and failed to discover anything. My heart was racing, there were scrapes across the floor, any competent detective would be able to notice that. I had reached the 6 minute mark and I could hear the sirens in the background. My time was quickly diminishing and I had no idea what to look for. My mind raced trying to discover the secret the intruder wanted. Maybe it was something within the bookshelf itself. My eyes swept over the many pages of written word trying to find the answer. Did anything stand out, something that didn't belong? That's when it hit me, in a shelf of Novels and learning books, there was only one thing that struck me odd even before. I searched through the shelves and found it; in my hands I held a book of fairytales.
I had what I think I needed so I burst out the front door like a bull in the rodeo, I didn't have time to slow down; the sirens indicated just how close they were. If I needed anything else from Erica's house my chance was lost, this house would be locked down. I jumped into my car and raced away into the empty roads of suburbia.
* * *
"To my dearest Erica," read the inscription, "To when our dreams were our reality and our love was as eternal as these tales. We'll be together and rise to the heavens like dragons into a life beyond mortality. Wait for me… I'll be there soon." I finished the inscription. This didn't sound like love. It sounded more like an obsession. Was Erica really cheating on Justin or was she being forced into something by whoever wrote this. I realized that it wasn't signed, meaning everything that I just risked had been for nothing. I couldn't help but sit there in my car pissed as I thought about the past few days. I could be arrested, in addition to breaking and entering I could be taken in for theft, obstruction of justice, improper grounds of violation of the dead and the impersonation of an official. That would have to be at least a life sentence put together probably more. My clock was ticking; it was only a matter of time till something came along and upped the ante.
I had to calm down; I wasn't arrested for anything yet… I could still investigate Erica's death but I had to work a lot more carefully. I realized that maybe there could be some fingerprints on the book. My gloves were still on so mine wouldn't show up. I pulled a pencil out of my pocket and began grinding it with what I had on me, which wasn't much, and slowly placed began spreading it around the book. This was something I'd learned in one of my basic forensics courses, if you didn't have the proper materials that didn't mean your investigation was over, it just meant you needed to improvise. Brushing the lead away slowly I waited to see the remaining fingerprints. I let out a sigh of relief, "Two sets survived, one a central pocket whorl and a tented arch fingerprint." I thought back to Erica's body, her set of fingerprints, "If I remember right Erica had the latter." Pulling scotch tape from my glove box I placed it against the print and removed it saving the print before putting it in my glove box with the rest of my equipment.
I sat there thinking of my next move as my phone began to vibrate, answering, I listened as Rob began speaking, "Jon, The data was retrieved, there are multiple texts here that you might want to check out." I looked at the phone astonished, how great the timing was right now, "Jon, you there?"
"Yeah," I answered coming back to the conversation. "Yeah, where are you?"
"I'm at my office, get here when you can."
* * *
"I'm bringing them up on the screen." Rob said as he punched in a few codes on his computer, it always amazed me how good he was with technology. Hitting the 'enter' key a new screen came up with the options for inboxes, sent, and draft; this was the cellphone screen for Erica Limen. "Here they are."
"Go into the inbox. Let's see who this person is and what he's been sending Erica." I spoke moving closer to the screen. Rob hit a few keys again and hit enter twice before the screen changed. At the top of the screen, in the first message it read Lucas. "Who's Lucas?" I asked Rob looking towards him.
"I figured you'd ask that, curious myself I took a look into it as well." Rob pulled up a new screen showing Lucas's profile, I've always told Rob that if he didn't end up being a computer programmer he could do some great work for the police. "His name is Lucas Unguay. Following the texts we can see they started as friends and Lucas slowly became obsessed with her as you can see by this text." I was right in the car. This kid was crazy and he wanted Erica. "As you can see also as time passes he becomes more and more violent with his messages, threatening to kidnap her.
"Where is he right now?" I asked.
"He's at his family business. The Unguay Family Chiropractor, the information is right here."
"Thanks," I said looking to Rob, he had a knowing face. He probably figured out what I was going to do next. "I'll see you at the bar later."
"No problem, Just be careful, alright?" I could see the worry in his eyes. It was just like in College, he was always worried about me telling me not to do anything crazy.
"Hey, if I don't call you in thirty minutes, send the police to that address."
* * *
Here I was near the end of the investigation. I stood behind the closed Chiropractic's, my gloves on as I readied myself for what came next. Lucas if all goes as planned should still be in there cleaning up after work. Walking up to the door I picked the three-pinned lock easily and walked into the sterile environment. Everything was white, from the tiles to the walls and finally the ceiling. It was eerie as the moonlight lit everything vaguely from down the hall. The lights were off for the night and the only sound I heard was my footsteps echoing throughout the halls. Did I miss Lucas? I asked myself as I walked down the hall. There against the wall was a mop, but where was its owner?
"What're you doing here?" asked a loud voice. I was thrown forward as I was struck at my back.
"Well my back was killing me before…" was my witty response as I turned to face Lucas. He was a lot taller than I thought he was at the house. He must've stood six foot even and his muscles were displayed well in his tight uniform. The lighting didn't help either, giving him a sinister look. Lucas wasn't a novice either when it came to fighting either, his stance told me enough about that.
Lucas grabbed my shirt lifting me and glared into my eyes, "Why did you break in here?" He asked, clearly angry. Drawing his arm back he opened his palm before striking me in the chest throwing me against the wall.
I gasped as I fell partially, "God my neck was killing me too, but I guess that's your job now right?" Lucas slowly approached me as he readied to strike. "Just like Erica." I held his gaze as he stopped, his eyes widening with shock.
"Wh-what was that?" he stuttered.
"You heard me," I started, "Just like Erica, what'd you find out that made you do it? Was she cheating on you like Justin?" A roundhouse came hitting me from the right "Maybe you got jealous of one of her clients?" A palm strike to the nose followed by another roundhouse, I was bleeding badly now "Or maybe she could see the evil, the killing intent that you're revealing to me now." That was the last thing he'd let me say as he went berserk.
"I didn't do anything…" Lucas shouted as he quick jabbed me. I was blown back by his strength. Anger doesn't lessen it either, if anything it intensifies it but blinds them.
"You were obsessed with her Lucas."
"No we were in Love," He shouted following the statement with a roundhouse.
"You were Jealous of her and Justin. You had to have her."
"He wasn't good enough for her. I'm the one she deserves. I'm the only one that can protect her." A quick one-two followed by a jump kick to my chest. This wasn't looking good. This man knew exactly the right points to hit in order to kill someone and get away with it. I had to finish this quick otherwise I would die.
"You don't understand anything." Lucas shouted as he bombarded me fist after fist. "She was the only one that was nice to me when I moved. I was always alone before that, no one wanted to be around me, it was like a curse before she came." That sounded strangely familiar. "I thought she loved me and I wanted to have her."
"So what'd you do? How'd you kill her?"
Lucas grabbed me and sent a shock throughout my body with an uppercut. I wasn't sure how much longer I could stand or block his attacks. "I was gonna be with her forever. I was gonna kill her and then myself so we could have a lovers suicide. Just like the tale in the book I gave her."
"So you two could rise like dragons above mortality?" I asked, I saw the inscription, I knew what he meant.
"Exactly" He smiled, "in my country, that was the greatest commitment and ritual of love. I was going to kill her and perform the ritual right there in her home, but then Justin had to come and try to apologize. I had to leave."
"So you did kill her you bastard?" I shouted at him as I blocked another attack.
"Of course, to be with the one I love, heaven is the only palace the two of us can stay in. Unfortunately though, you won't be joining us there, I'll be sending you to hell." Lucas lunged out his arm out; dodging it I spun quickly and snapped his bone.
"I don't think so." I said as I landed an elbow strike to Lucas's head knocking him out. I spit blood onto the floor as his body fell to the ground. Pulling my tape recorder out I hit the stop button as the cops barged through the door. I stared at Lucas's unconscious body and couldn't help but feel sympathy for him. I began to lose consciousness as I fell to the floor, but I didn't care. I had more than enough evidence to convict Lucas Unguay of murder in the first degree.
* * *
I stood over the decorated grave of Erica Limen, my own eyes watering like the others around me as I stood beside her friends and family. This case had changed my look of things. The way things in the case turned out. Lucas, he loved her, so much that he'd kill himself just to be with her. It was crazy, but that's what loneliness does to you and I could relate to his problems before, being an outcast. Having the morticians curse isn't easy but it's a burden you learn to deal with. If you're lucky though, you meet friends that can help you break that curse, friends that'll help you with anything. And hopefully you don't do anything to lose them. That was the difference between Lucas and I. One driven insane by loneliness, one granted sanity by friendship.
I couldn't help but let a tear fall, why am I crying? I thought. Is it because you gave me a chance my school didn't? The groups walked away from the grave dropping roses over the oak casket I'd picked out for her. Her mother approached me slowly her eyes still stained from tears, her husband and the rest of her family standing there. "Thank you," was the only thing she could release from her mouth. "Thank you so much for catching our daughter's killer." She choked out.
Maybe I was a lot more invested in this then I thought as my tears flowed freely as well. A warm feeling passed over me though as I smiled at the woman, "It's no problem; it's my job to make your life easier in these times." I'm sure this was what my parents always felt like when they helped their customers. "And don't worry about paying for everything." I started looking back towards Erica's grave. Lying there was a woman I knew but didn't. A woman who gave me a new life, a new reason to go back to college and finish my degree, a woman who ironically had given me a new lease on life. "She's already paid me in full."