The windshield wipers swiped vainly at the endless torrent of water that streamed from the starless night. His eyes narrowed in concentration as expletives spew forth. Each was punctuated with a compression as his foot. He stomped repeatedly on the brake pedal and gritted out, “Shit, shit, shit!” Quickly he turned the steering wheel into the spin while his car hydroplaned out of control. His headlights showed the mountains, railing, mountains and railing as his vehicle whirled. He knew what was lurking ahead; it was now or never. However, the brakes were not responding, the car did not slow and he stared ahead of him with disbelieving eyes. “Ah shit.”
It was as if time slowed. His motions felt labored and lethargic. The dark nothing beyond the rail beckoned him like a siren. The car had come to the hairpin turn. It hit the guardrail, skidded along with sparks flying lighting up the inky sky. He felt the screech of metal against metal until the guardrail gave way; plunging him - vehicle and all - off the cliff.
He closed his eyes as his life danced before him prolonging the inevitable outcome; his demise, his death. There was a parade of memories flashing along for his viewing: first crush, first kiss, first love, first fuck, first heartache, his wedding, his kids, a parade of women, and a man.
His eyes flew open when OnStar blipped on and a voice rang throughout the car jarring his mind back to the present. “This is OnStar. We have a warning indication-”
The OnStar employee stared wide eyed and unblinking at the console before her. She hadn’t realized she was holding her breath until her lungs screamed at her for air. She released her breath in a gasp of horror. Only a moment past before her training kicked in and her fingers busily contacted the proper authorities.
“Emergency 911, what is the situation?”
“This is Linda Berg with On-Star. I…” Trembling Linda swallowed with difficulty. “There’s been an accident. I lost contact with the customer… I think it was fatal.”
The sun was yawning into a new day lazily painting the area with sparse splashes of orange and yellow. The brisk wind whipped at the blond tendrils framing her heart-shaped face, stinging her already rosy cheeks. Adjusting her collar for the umpteenth time, her mind drifted with warm thoughts of blazing fireplaces, hot cocoa with tiny little marshmallows, thick blankets, bear skin rugs-
He cleared his throat, “Elissa?”
Detective Elissa Putnam reluctantly pulled her attention back to the accident - the dismal, frigid possible crime scene - where her breath hung like puffs of white before her face. She stuffed her hands in her pockets as she stared out across the vale of Sunset Valley and asked, “What did they find?”
Her partner, Detective Hector Fredericko, was looking at his notepad and began his report, “The coroner found a wallet in his breast pocket identifying the body as 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 closed his notebook and gave her a look as if he were tempted to say more but thought better of it.
Elissa glanced below as the crane began 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 scratched his chin until she stared impatiently at him. He dropped his hand and gave a small shrug, “Sorry, it’s just that…” Hector looked over as the crane set the mangled car on the flatbed truck. “Elissa, that’s Peter fucking Hamilton…”
“I know,” Elissa frowned and crossed her arms in front of her with a sudden shiver.
The unmarked police car slowed to a stop and both occupants hesitated to exit. Elissa looked out the window towards the Hamilton estate. She opened the car door to step out just as Hector spoke, “Elissa…” She paused long enough to frown at him; her blue eyes stared blankly and he nodded in acquiescence, “Right, let’s go.”
The moment the body had been identified, the detectives should have handed the case over to someone else. That was what Hector wanted to say, but couldn’t. Who in Sunset Valley could take the case? Everyone was connected to the man some how. Peter Hamilton owned over half of the town and the people in it.
They walked side by side in silence up the walkway towards the front door. Hector stopped at the bottom of the steps, looking around the grounds as Elissa rang the bell. It was still early; the sun hadn’t burned away the clouds yet and the view of Sunset Valley was already breathtaking.
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