“Della can coordinate the paperwork and she’ll call you as soon as the warrant’s ready,” Steve promised Detectives Franks and Ashram.
Della had been quiet during the meeting as the three men discussed the medical examiner’s final report and decided the fate of Baby Bea’s killer.
“Cause of death, asphyxiation. Manner of death, homicide. Time of death during the time that Dad, excuse me, I mean boyfriend, is the only one at home with the kid. All our ducks are finally in a row.” Franks leaned back in the chair and straightened his tie as it slipped to the side of his belly. The hours of interviews and forensics review that he had put in on this case had taken their toll. Franks was ready to retire and he expected this case to be his swan song. The relief showed on his face that this arrest warrant was finally going to be issued.
The most interesting fact of the case had been discovering that the dad wasn’t really Bea’s dad but Mom’s boyfriend. The general thought (joke) around the office when a child died suspiciously, that it was always the boyfriend that did it. In fact, the joke had become so pervasive that it spilled over into all sorts of crimes. Forgery? The boyfriend did it. Vehicle theft? The boyfriend did it.
Even in this day and age, there was a general, though mistaken, belief that mothers couldn’t kill their kids. It happened occasionally and even the “old schoolers” of the bunch had a hard time believing it even when the evidence was overwhelming.
The scenario was usually the same, time after time. Single working mom. No support system. She hooks up with loser boyfriend who volunteers to watch the kid while the mom goes off and slaves away to make a living. A living that starts to support his drug, alcohol or gaming habit. Eventually… usually sooner than later… the guy gets frustrated with the inevitable fussiness that comes with all children and boyfriend offs the kid because he can’t stand the crying (or it’s interfering with the newest version of his Cop Killer III video game).
“Guys, I know that I’m no detective and I’m no prosecutor… but I’m wondering if we spent enough time looking at the mom.” Della could tell by the awkward atmosphere that no one was interested in what she had to say and she wished desperately that she hadn’t waited so long to say anything. Not that she expected things to change, she just wanted to throw it out there and see what happened.
“I like to think of my point of view as somewhere between the prosecutor and the jury. Like maybe I can see some blind spots that someone working the eye of the storm might get blindsided with. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom or maybe it’s because I’ve been on a jury before or because I’m not bogged down with all the attorney/detective aspects.”
Steve sighed and looked at the pencil he was tapping on the conference table. “We need to press forward and at this point it’s out of our hands. I’ve got my orders coming from higher up and we need to move on this. There’s just too much pressure on the DA to get charges filed and get to trial. Plus, she’s inexperienced and is going to cave to the slightest bit of pressure. She’s more worried about votes than justice.”
“I understand but I’m just trying to put myself in the place of a juror or a judge and I’m trying to imagine what questions might linger with them that would raise reasonable doubt.” She was thinking of Mary.
“Well, we’re moving forward. Period. And besides, it’s too early to speculate about the jury. Let’s worry about that when we get closer to the trial phase. We’ve got no evidence that it was anyone other than the boyfriend.”
“But what about the 20 minute period of time that no one can account for seeing her at work,” Della blurted.
“Our theory makes sense and we’re moving forward. Let’s get that paperwork done and over to the court ASAP. It’s tough to find a signing judge around at this time of the day, especially on a Friday and we don’t want to miss our window of opportunity. It will make our illustrious DA look bad if we wait any longer.”
Della’s car was in the shop and CJ was out of town for a camping trip with one of his friends and their family, so Steve had offered to drive her home.
“You gonna stay over tonight? Della asked quietly.
“I don’t know. I’m exhausted.”
“I’m sorry about the meeting.” Della’s eyes teared up as she looked over at Steve. “It’s just that sometimes, it seems like justice is more about who puts on a better show in court and the media than about real justice.”
“You’re absolutely right on that count and it’s frustrating for me, too. It’s okay. Really. But for now, can we just talk about something else?”
“Yeah,” Della resigned with a sigh and looked out the window.
It started to sprinkle and Della leaned the side of her forehead against the glass.
“I have this new theory about life after death. Want to hear it?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking about people trying to send us messages from the other side. Imagine this… and just bear with me. Please. I can’t explain things as gracefully as you and this is kind of a new theory, so my delivery’s going to be a little rough.”
Steve smile, looked sideways at her and grabbed Della’s hand as it rested on her left leg.
Della felt a rush of warmth through her heart as they finally connected for the first time in days.
“So… they say that a baby, while still in the womb, can hear sounds from outside their environment. There have even been studies that show that a newborn almost immediately recognizes and responds to the sound of its mother’s voice, sometimes even the dad’s. Sorry, didn’t mean to leave the guys out of this equation. Anyways… moving on.”
Steve rubbed Della’s thumb with his and she felt another surge of warm fuzzies.
“They recognize the voices because they’ve been hearing them come from an environment outside of the only one they know. They don’t understand what lies beyond and they may not understand what the voices are saying, and sometimes they might be muffled, you know… because of all the fluid and the flesh that separate them from that environment, and sometimes they might be asleep and miss it, and sometimes it’s totally different from their mom or dad’s voice. Say, it’s music, maybe. They hear it, they don’t understand it. But when it’s time to be born, they come through into this new world and are greeted by people who have always been with them, like Mom and Dad, and maybe some new people, like the doctors and nurses. Or maybe it’s an EMT in an ambulance, or the next door neighbor who unexpectedly had to learn how to birth a baby.
“Okay, where’s this going?”
“Well, shift now to near-death experiences. Which, by the way, shouldn’t even be called near-death experiences, especially if the people are dead. They should be called death experiences.”
“You’ve got my attention.”
“I’ve always wondered why death experiences were so different for people. I mean, wouldn’t you think that if God had been intervening in peoples’ transitions to the other side for such a long time that he’d have a routine down by now and we’d expect to hear the same stuff every time? I mean, really… sometimes people are met by their family members. Sometimes they’re met by spiritual beings that they don’t know. Sometimes they’re by themselves.
Anyways, let me get back on track. After we’re born physically, we’re here in this environment, think of it as a phase II uterus.”
Steve started to laugh and snorted.
“That was attractive.”
“Thanks,” he smiled boyishly.
“Back to the uterus. We’re in this uterus world where all we understand is our immediate environment. We don’t know what lies beyond but sometimes we hear things and catch glimpses of what it’s like. And sometimes we get messages, just like an unborn baby gets messages that it’s loved, even before it pops out. And when it’s our time to move on from our giant uterus world to the next world, to be “reborn”, if you will, we all come out in different circumstances, just like a baby would, based on whether it was born in an elevator, an operating room or a hot tub and that’s why everybody has different accounts when they come back from the dead. Some of us pass prematurely and are met by beings that serve the needs of our premature “rebirth” or sometimes our family members aren’t there because they got caught up in whatever their next world equivalent of work or a traffic jam is.” It’s got to be something we can’t even imagine, just like the newborn baby can’t understand until he’s come into the next uterine world, but he eventually comes to understand it. But they’ve been talking to us, getting close to the belly of our environment and sometimes we hear what they say and understand it, but most of the time we don’t. We’re too caught up in the warmth and comfort of our uterus. But after we pass, we find them eventually, just like a newborn baby finds the people who love it eventually and all things become clear as he, or she, progresses.”
“Holy cow, you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this haven’t you?”
“Why yes, I have. And I’d like to think, in fact I think I’m going to go so far as to say that if something happens to me, I will do everything in my power to get to you and tell you I’m okay and hopefully, I’ll be able to get a message through to you.”
“Okay. Then what do I do?”
“I don’t know. You’re such a dork.”
“Thank you.” They both laughed and Della’s heart was soft and loving. “Well, don’t you want to say anything to me?”
Della slapped him in the arm and he recoiled , still laughing.
“Don’t you want to give me the same benefit and tell me that if anything happens to you, you’ll do whatever it takes to get a message to me?”
“I don’t know. Do I?”
She slapped his arm again and he feigned pain and shock.
“Okay, okay, okay. I’ll come back and haunt you in your “World of Uteri” and send you messages and let you know I’m alright.”
“Is that all?”
“I’ll… send… stock… tips???” Steve hesitantly guessed.
They giggled together the rest of the way home about nothing in particular. Della’s heart was light. She felt like a kid again and it felt amazing.