CHAPTER EIGHT

It was a scene to see. Thomas lay sprawled on the floor in his boxers. His eyes were bloodshot and his nostrils oozed with blood. There was white foam in his mouth.
“Better get out of here O’Brian.” James said to Corbin who stood by the body holding his nose. “You know you got a weak stomach.”
“I can handle it.” Corbin said. “So Finch,” he said to the medical examiner, who was taking pictures. “What do you think happened here?”
“I am gonna take a wild guess and say it was poisoning.” Finch said with mockery in his voice as he was taking notes.
“A wild guess?” James asked.
“More like an educated conclusion.” Finch said more seriously. “This was definitely poison. It has all the symptoms. Rigid muscles, hemorrhage”
“Yeah we are fine with the cliff notes.” Corbin said. “Do you know what was used?”
“I can’t be certain, I will have to examine the contents of his stomach.” Finch said. “But it’s definitely a rare compound.”
“Hey bosses.” Jakes said coming from behind. “How is it going?”
“Crappy.” James said wiping his eyes. “Just when I thought I’d get a good night’s sleep.”
“You think this is related to the Heathway case?” Jakes asked.
“Well we interviewed him-” James looked at his watch “yesterday. It seems like he knew something.”
“And he was killed for what he knew.” Corbin finished. “Well maybe the killer made a mistake.”
James laughed. “He was poisoned. Most likely before he even stepped into his apartment. This is going to be brutal.” He turned to Jakes. “Who found him?”
“She is right over there.” He pointed at a young blonde surrounded by officers as she sat in the corner wrapped in a blanket crying. It was Toni Peters.
“She found him?” Corbin exclaimed. “This just got way more interesting.”
“That’s one way to put it.” James said grimly.
“What’s another way to put it?” Corbin asked.
“I’ll let you know after this.” James replied. He walked over to where Toni sat. When she saw him coming she wiped her eyes and sat up straight.
“I want to wait until my parents get here.” She said tightening her blanket around her.
“I just want to find out how you are doing.” James said.
“I doubt that.” Toni said sniffling. She wiped her eyes. They were red and puffy. James bent down so he could be at her eye level. “Did you find him like that?”
“Yeah, I came over here and found him on the floor like that. I dialed 911. That’s all.” She said.
“What time was this?” James asked
“Midnight.” Toni said.
“Did you see him at all today? Or rather yesterday.” James added as an afterthought seeing as it was well after midnight
“No.” Toni replied. “We were supposed to meet after school but I got detention. My mom came to pick me up and then I was on house arrest for the rest of the day.” She finished.
“But here you are.” James observed.
“I sneaked out.” She said with more strength to her voice. “I am tired. Can we save this for later?” She asked.
James nodded. He stood up and walked over to Corbin. “Deadly.” He said to Corbin.
“What?” Corbin asked.
“This is becoming more deadly. That’s another way to out it.”
* * *
Hazel opened her eyes. Sunlight streamed through the windows. With a frown, she kicked the covers off herself and sat up. She looked at the time. 7 am. She was so going to be late for school. She reached for her phone. She had twenty missed calls from Jaz and Toni. She dialed Jaz. No reply. She tried Toni, but still no reply. She stood up from her bed. She would see them at school.
“Tom is dead?” She repeated as Jasmine told her in school later that day. “How? Why?”
“Beats me.” Jasmine shrugged. “They say he was poisoned.” She looked sympathetically to Toni. “You okay?” She asked reaching out her hand to Toni. Toni recoiled.
“Don’t act like you care Jaz.” Toni spat. “Part of you must be enjoying this.” She stormed down the hallway. Jasmine looked on amused.
“O-Kay” Jasmine said pronouncing the two syllables. “Have fun.” She called out. She turned to see Hazel looking at her disapprovingly. “What?” Jasmine said defensively.
“You could try to be a bit more sympathetic.” Hazel said. “Someone she really cares about just died.”
“You mean Carla’s boyfriend.” Jasmine said. “Besides I tried to be nice. I even was when she called last night.”
Hazel sighed. “This mess is just getting bigger and bigger.” She said. “My parents would ship me off to boarding school if I wasn’t graduating this year.”
“I know what you mean.” Jasmine said. She looked up and saw Jeremiah approaching them. She nudged Hazel.
“Hey.” Jeremiah said as he got near. “I heard about Tom. How are you guys doing?”
“We are okay.” Jasmine said. “Toni’s a little more upset.” She added
“Jaz!” Hazel said reproachfully. Jasmine shrugged.
“Oh yeah, I heard they had a thing.” Jeremiah said.
“What are you even doing here?” Hazel asked. “Don’t you have classes at college or whatever?”
“I took a personal day.” Jeremiah replied. “Which way is the principal’s office?” I am running some errands for John.”
“Yeah how is he doing by the way?” Jasmine asked concern in her voice.
“He is a mess.” Jeremiah said. “Especially after hearing the news yesterday.”
“Oh, about Tom.” Hazel said.
“No not Tom.” Jeremiah scoffed. “John didn’t care about Tom. They found Carla yesterday.”
“They found her body?” Jasmine exclaimed.
“Yep. I guess that’s when it really hit him.” Jeremiah said.
“So who do they think took it?” Jasmine asked.
Jeremiah shrugged. “Beats me. I’ve got a buddy in the department though. He told me they have a suspect though.”
“Did he say who?” Jasmine asked.
“No he didn’t say.” Jeremiah said. “I gotta jet.”
“You know you haven’t told us what you were doing in Newport that night.” Jasmine called out as he walked away.
Jeremiah turned around grinning. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” He said still walking backwards. He winked at Hazel and turned around walking away.
“He is a clown.” Jasmine said shaking her head in amusement
“A cute one.” Hazel said smiling. “Come on. We are late for class.”
* * *
James ran his had over his head, bent over some stack of papers. They hadn’t found any prints or DNA on Carla’s body, or in the truck. They were looking for witnesses who might have seen anything around old miller but that was highly unlikely seeing as it was in the middle of nowhere. They were bringing in some people for interrogation now including Ava Bridges, Thomas’s sister. With a sigh he picked up his coffee and took a long sip. It burned his tongue.
“Careful buddy.” Corbin said walking up to James’s desk holding a file. “That stuff is poison.”
James set down the cup and chuckled. “Yeah, I think it’s too soon for that.”
Corbin shrugged and dropped the file on the desk. “That’s the coroner’s report on Thomas Bridges.

“Yeah what’s it say?” James asked picking it up and opening it.

“Well it pretty much confirms what Finch said. He was poisoned.”

“It doesn’t say what poison.” James said peeping at it.

“They were not able to identify it.” Corbin said taking a seat. “They found traces of ammonia, and sodium citrate in his system.”

“Yeah I see it here.” James said. ” Anticoagulant which caused internal bleeding and arsenic poisoning to affect the lungs.” James gave a dark chuckle. “Looks like someone whipped up something special for him.”

Corbin shifted forward. “Have you seen his notes on time of poisoning?”

“Yeah” James said. “Victim was poisoned three hours prior to his death, which occurred around 10 pm to 12 pm.” James read aloud. “So our time window is 7 pm to 9 pm?” he patted his pocket. He couldn’t find his phone. He brushed it off. He’s find it later.

“Yeah, that’s our window” Corbin said. “It shouldn’t be hard finding out who saw Bridges right?”

Turned out Corbin was wrong. They spent a whole day going through witnesses who lived in Thomas Bridges apartment. He hadn’t gotten home until 9. pm which was right outside either time window. His classmates confirmed he didn’t show up for class that day. In fact, no one they interviewed knew where Bridges was throughout that day. Including his sister.

“Okay look I know in the morning he was with us around 3 pm to 3.30 pm.” James said pacing back and forth. “And he was picked up from his house prior to that so we know he was home for some portion of the day.”

“But where did he go after he left us?” Corbin wondered. “His sister said she didn’t see him, neither did Toni,we confirmed her alibi. Nor any of the girls, we confirmed theirs too.” He looked out the windows. It was turning dark.

“So no one saw him.” James said. “Or someone did but they lied to us.”

“How about Moraine Heathway?” Corbin asked. “Thomas said he was meeting her at the gala. Maybe he went to see her. I mean we did interrogate him about Carla, maybe he needed a lawyer.”

James chuckled. “So you are saying he was guilty of something and went to his lawyer for protection?”

“It is possible. Think about it.” Corbin said. “He killed Carla, stole her body, then when he saw we were catching on to him he went to see his lawyer.”

“Thomas didn’t steal her body” James said. “He was with me remember?”

“Maybe he hired someone to do it for him.” Corbin said. “Evidence suggests more than one person did the job right? Well maybe, he hired someone or multiple someone’s to help him, When he saw we were onto him, he goes to see his lawyer, and then when the person he hired got wind of this, he killed Bridges so he wont narc on him.”

“That is a brilliant theory except for one let down.” James said.

“What?” Corbin asked.

“We still don’t know who poisoned him.” James said.

Corbin stood up. “Well I’m out of here.” He said. “We can brainstorm about this tomorrow.”

“Sure.” James said. “Lets go get a couple of cold ones?”

*                        *                               *

A silver ford rolled up beside Toni. She opened the door and got inside the back seat.

“Hey Toni, are you doing okay?” Jasmine asked with concern in her eyes. She was in the front seat. Hazel was the driver.

“Yeah I am just drive.” Toni said sitting back.

“Listen I am sorry I judged, okay?” Jasmine said her voice apologetic. “If I had known-”

“It’s okay.” Toni said. “We shouldn’t have kept it from you.”

They all drove on in silence. Then Jasmine finally broke the silence. “So you and Tom never-”

“Eww no.” Toni said in disgust.

“Just checking.” Jasmine muttered. “So how did you find out?” She asked Hazel.

“By accident.” Hazel said. “My Dad helping Tom. Carla and I overheard them in his study.”

“So you have known for how long now?” Jasmine asked.

“About a couple months.” Hazel said. “We found out before Toni did.”

“So then why did Tom break up with Carla then?” Jasmine asked.

“She broke it off not him.” Toni said quietly from the back. “How long till we make it there?”

“About an hour give it sometime.” Hazel said, as she drove down the road.

“What time is it?” Jasmine asked after a few minutes of silence

“Its seven thirty Jaz.” Hazel said rolling her eyes. “It’s on the dashboard.”

“Just trying to reduce the awkward silence in here.” Jasmine said. She brought out her phone and started texting.

“Who are you talking to?” Hazel asked.

“Keith.” Jasmine said. “Just making sure he covers for me.”

“Oh.” Hazel said. “How is he doing?”

“He still hangs around the graveyard in the afternoons.” Jasmine said. “So not good.”

“Yeah I actually saw him there a couple of weeks ago.” Hazel said.

“What were you doing there?” Jasmine asked incredulously.

“I was driving Carla.” Hazel said. “She was meeting her brother there.”

“She was meeting John at a graveyard?” Jasmine asked

“Well. more like intercepting.” Hazel said. “She just called me up and told me to drive her up to the graveyard. When she got there, she marched up to him and had a row with him.”

“Did she tell you why they were fighting?” Jasmine asked

“No, she wouldn’t say.” Hazel sighed. “Just figured it was classic Carla. Always harboring secrets.”

“Yeah, well I know the feeling.” Jasmine said.

“Come on you are not still pissed at us for not telling you are you?” Hazel asked.

“I was never pissed.” Jasmine sighed. “That’s not something you just dump on someone.”

“Tom did.” Toni said. “He just showed up on my doorstep and told me he needed to talk to me. After I had invited him in the first words out of his mouth were; I am your brother.” She laughed.

“So what did you do?” Jasmine asked.

“I thought he was crazy obviously.” Toni said. “I mean, my parents never told me I was adopted, and I don’t think they ever planned on doing that. So when someone tells you they are related, it’s kind of a bombshell.”

“And here I was thinking you were sleeping together.” Jasmine muttered under her breath,

“Because you jump into conclusions quickly.” Hazel said having heard her..

“And now he is dead.” Toni continued without acknowledging the interruption, “Guess life is really cruel huh?”

She sobbed quietly in the backseat. They drove on in silence after that until they reached their destination.

“Toni, do you want us to come with you?” Hazel asked as Toni got out the door.

“No I need to do this alone.” Toni said.

“Okay, we’ll be here if you need us.” Hazel called out as Toni walked towards the house. It wasn’t that different from her house. She stepped on the porch and rang the doorbell twice. After a few seconds a man with short blonde hair opened the door.

“Richard Prescott?” Toni asked when he came to the door.

“Yeah. Who are you?” He asked.

“My name is Toni. and I am your daughter.”

*                   *                          *

He sat in the room waiting. He looked at his watch. It was getting late. He had to do this now. What was taking so damn long? He had done his part. Now it was their turn. After some minutes of waiting, he finally received an alert on his phone. It was go time. He stood up and grabbed his car keys. One last haul.

*                            *                                 *

James got home late that night. He took of his jacket and fell on his couch tired. He picked up the television remote and turned the television on. He flipped through channels. There was nothing remotely interesting on. He finally gave up and picked up a book and stood up. He and Corbin had gone out for drinks. Sometimes he forgot how much fun it was to just take a night off. Especially going out with someone like Corbin who was the very definition of fun. He got to his room and turned on the light. His room was a mess he’d have to clean it up. He started packing clothes off the bed and whatnot. Ash he removed an article of clothing, he found something that had been hiding under it. It was his phone. He checked it. It was turned off. Probably out of battery. He plugged it in and turned it on. He thought about the case as he was waiting. There was no way they could get Moraine Heathway to tell them what Thomas Bridges was up to. He looked at the screen of his phone. He had a missed call and a voice message. The missed call was from Thomas Bridges. It read 9.07 pm. With butterflies in his stomach. He clicked on the voice message. Thomas Bridges voice spoke from the other end.

“Detective, I need you to call me back. I know who killed Carla. but-” suddenly there was a noise and the phone dropped. The line disconnected.

James stared at the phone in shock. He was right. This case was becoming more deadly.

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