Lea Wait, here. About two years ago I started writing a short prequel to each of my books. (You can find links to them on http://www.leawait.com ) My prequels might take place years before my book starts … or moments. For my next book, Shadows on a Morning in Maine (which will be released September 9, and which you can pre-order in paperback or e-book at Amazon) I got a little carried away and wrote three different prequels. There’s a link to one on my website.
But here’s another, a little darker, just for readers of this blog.
“It was one of those nights. One of those calls that made me go home and hug my daughter and wonder whether being a Maine State Trooper was worth it.” Nick Strait shook his head, remembering. “Homicide is a hard enough detail. But a homicide you might have prevented …”
“Prevented? But how?” Owen Trask held up his hand to the bar tender and indicated that both their glasses should be filled. He was a local cop. He didn’t work homicides. “You said it was all over when you got there.”
“True enough. But it wasn’t the first time I’d been to that house. Domestic violence is the worst. Neighbors call 911 because they hear screams. Relatives report a cousin has been showing up with black eyes and bruises. An emergency room doctor says a broken arm couldn’t be the result of a fall. You’ll see. You’re new on the force. You get to the house, and the woman says nothing’s wrong. Maybe her husband had a little too much to drink. Maybe she did. Maybe it was her fault. After all, she burned dinner.”
“That’s what happened in this case?”
Nick nodded. “Once this woman even called 911 herself. But by the time police got there she said she’d been mistaken; she and her husband had only argued. She didn’t need any help. If she’d only reported him then, maybe she’d be alive today.”
“And there’s nothing we can do when a woman doesn’t report abuse?”
“Not when she swears nothing happened. That her injuries were accidental. That she and her husband love each other; maybe he gets a little rough sometimes, but he’s a good father. You can’t arrest someone when the victim denies there’s problem. Not unless you catch him in the act.”
“So – what happened that night?”
“It was the wife’s mother who called it in. She’d been talking to her daughter on the phone and heard her son-in-law come into the house and yell something about his truck. She heard screams, from the daughter and from the kids. Then the line went dead. ”
“How long did it take to get there?”
Nick shook his head and chugged his beer. “Maybe eight minutes. Happened I was in the area. But it was all over by then.”
“The guy was still there?”
“He was getting in his truck. He’d had a few that night, it was clear. He was still holding the knife he’d used. Didn’t even resist arrest.”
“And the wife?”
“Dead. He’d hit an artery. Blood all over the kitchen. But that wasn’t the worst. That wasn’t what gives me nightmares.”
“The look on her kid’s face. She was little – maybe four or five. Pale, stringy brown hair, hiding in a closet, fists clenched. No tears. Standing in front of her brother. To protect him, you know. She’d seen it all.” Nick took another gulp. “You know what she said? First thing?”
Owen shook his head.
“‘I was bad. I left my toys in the driveway. Daddy hurt Mommy because I messed up.’”
They were both silent. “What happened to those kids?”
Nick shrugged. “Their grandmother took them. But she was pretty sick – in a wheelchair. Who knows how those kids are now? Or where. But I’d guess they have nightmares, too.”