Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The windshield wipers swipe vainly at the endless torrent of water streaming from the starless night. His eyes narrow in concentration as expletives spew forth punctuated with each compression as his foot stomps repeatedly on the brake pedal. “Shit, shit, shit!” Quickly he turns the steering wheel into the spin while his car hydroplanes out of control. His headlights show mountain, railing, mountain and railing as he whirls. He knows what is lurking ahead, it is now or never. However, the brakes are not responding, the car is not slowing and he stares ahead of him with disbelieving eyes. “Ah shit.”
Time slows, his motions becoming labored and lethargic. The dark nothing beyond the rail beckons him. The car has come to the hairpin turn, hits the guardrail, skidding along with sparks flying, lighting up the inky sky. He can feel the screech of metal against metal, up until the guardrail gives way, plunging him, vehicle and all, off the cliff.
He closes his eyes as life dances before him prolonging the inevitable outcome, his demise, his death. A parade of memories flash for his viewing; first crush, first kiss, first fuck, first heartache, a parade of women in his life, and a man.
He can see an outline in the dimness of his headlights, rocks, jagged and dangerous just as the OnStar blips and her voice rings out through the car jarring his mind back to the present. He interrupts immediately with his last breath rushing past his lips, “This is Peter Hamilton, tell her I’m sorry.”
The On-Star employee stares wide eyed and unblinking at the console before her. She’s holding her breath and her lungs scream at her causing her to gasp in horror. Instinct kicks in and her fingers are busily contacting the proper authorities. “Emergency 911, what is the situation?”
“This is Linda Berg with On-Star, I…” Trembling she swallows with difficulty. “There’s been an accident, I lost contact with the customer…. I think it was fatal.”
The sun is yawning into a new day, lazily painting the area with sparse splashes of orange and yellow. The brisk wind whips at the blond tendrils framing her heart-shaped face, stinging her already rosy cheeks. Adjusting her collar for the umpteenth time, her mind drifts with warm thoughts of blazing fireplaces, hot cocoa with tiny little marshmallows, thick blankets, bear skin rugs-
He clears his throat, “Elissa?”
Detective Elissa Putnam reluctantly pulls her attention back to the accident; the dismal, frigid possible crime scene where her breath hangs like puffs of white before her face. Her hands are stuffed in her pockets as she stares out across the vale of Sunset Valley. “What did they find?”
Her partner, Detective Hector Fredericko, is looking at his notepad. “The coroner found a wallet in his breast pocket identifying the body as one Peter Hamilton: male, Caucasian, forty-two years old. Probable cause of death is from impact, he’ll know more after the autopsy. The vehicle is scraped along the passenger side and appears to have done this damage to the guardrail as the paint matches. The labs will run tests to confirm. The fire department says if it had not been raining we’d be looking at charred remains but most evidence will probably be compromised.” He closes his notebook and gives her a look as if he wishes to say more but thinks better of it.
Elissa glances below as the crane begins pulling the car up to street level. “Anything else?”
“A cell phone was found on the floorboard, passenger side, cracked, broken, but the sim card can give us some information…” Hector scratches his chin until she stares impatiently at him. “Sorry, it’s just that…” He looks over as the crane sets the car on the flatbed truck. “Elissa, that’s Peter fucking Hamilton…”
“I know.” Elissa frowns and crosses her arms in front of her with a sudden shiver.
The unmarked police car slows to a stop and both occupants hesitate to exit. Elissa looks out the window towards the Hamilton estate. She opens the car door to step out. “Elissa…” She pauses long enough to frown, her blue eyes staring blankly at him and he nods. “Right, let’s go.”
The moment the body was identified, they should have handed this case over to someone else. That is what Hector wanted to say but couldn’t. Who in Sunset Valley could take this case? Everyone is connected to this man some how. Peter Hamilton owned over half of the town and the people in it.
They walk side by side in silence up the walkway towards the front door. Hector stops at the bottom of the steps, looking around the grounds as Elissa rings the bell. It is still early, the sun hasn’t burned away the clouds yet and the view of Sunset Valley is already breathtaking.
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