Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Sheriff's Department CIB

Abigail Aquilar sat patiently in the small waiting area just outside the detectives’ bullpen at the Sheriff’s Department. She hoped to meet with Detective Lt. Reyes as soon as she possibly could. She hoped it would be soon because she didn’t want to be late for her summer school classes at Arizona Western College. She was earnest in her studies at college, but was now conflicted since her involvement in the Sheriff’s Office League of Volunteer Employees (S.O.L.V.E.) Explorer Program. This was her third year of college and her third year with SOLVE. There could be some real life-changing decisions to be made sometime soon as she worked into her senior year at AWC.

Abigail started out in the color guard with SOLVE, since she had experience in her high school marching band, but later grew to like the program more and more and wanted to move up to more important, but limited types of police work. Since she turned 20 years old this year, it would be her last year to be a volunteer with SOLVE.  To her, this case was a chance to be involved with some real police work. The Deputies never allowed her to do ride-alongs with them - only as an observer - because she was pretty, petite and too smart for her own good. She also didn’t like her name shortened to Abby, as deputies often tried to do. Abigail was a family name passed down for generations since the first Abigail on her mother’s side came West by covered-wagon train and settled here. She respected her heritage on both sides of the family. Some officers appreciated those traits, like Deputy Tabaño, but others felt intimidated by her constant questioning.

Abigail had been working in Dispatch and Communications on Saturday and monitored the radio traffic about the victim found in the desert. She overheard most all the radio traffic from all the officers, evidence crew and a few administrative calls. She had been in a perfect position to get the overview of the case as it stood so far. With the exception of the forensics lab data, she knew almost as much about this case as the Captain.

Finally, Lt. Reyes walked briskly into the bullpen and to his desk without seeming to notice Abigail - the only other person in the room sitting there this early on a Monday morning before regular office hours. Indignant, she immediately stood and walked directly to the lieutenant’s desk and stood in front of him, waiting silently to be acknowledged.

Reyes looked busy reviewing some report files he had just picked up from the Captain’s office. After what seemed to Abigail like a long moment or two, he finally spoke. “Yes, Abigail. What can I do for you today? Shouldn’t you be in school or somewhere?” Reyes questioned wryly.

Abigail hated that condescending attitude of his. Just because he was a lieutenant didn’t make him God or something. Mentally, she tried to calm her slightly inflamed attitude then cleared her throat. “Lieutenant, I’ve been waiting here to see you this morning to ask how can I help with your case? I mean, I want to be involved in helping you solve this case.”

Dryly and without looking up, Reyes responded slowly, “Which case, Abigail? You know we never just work on one case. There are too many cases.”

Her patience with his attitude was wearing thin. “The case of the dead ex-Marine found in the desert. I was working Communications on Saturday and overheard all the radio traffic. I think I can help. I WANT to help.” She paused slightly, then more calmly and quietly; almost begging she said, ”I know I can help you, sir. Please let me.”

Lt. Reyes slowly looked up at Abigail eye to eye, finally giving her the respect she deserved. “Abigail, there is no case. The poor guy got snake bit and died. Some kids probably stole his vehicles, drove till they ran out of gas and stole what they could sell. Case closed. I’m sorry. I can’t help you today.”

Abigail challenged the lieutenant with increased enthusiasm, “Then how will your report read to the man’s son, daughter and three grandchildren back East? Did you know they haven’t seen or heard from him in nine-months?” Abigail continued to question. “Did you know he had friends, a Facebook page and was writing a travel blog and a novel? Did you know he had been keeping a computer journal for the past eight years? Did you realize the emotional turmoil this man has been going through?!” Abigail fell suddenly silent. She felt she was wasting her breath on the lieutenant, but still she stood there waiting for some kind of hint or response from him. She wasn’t hopeful she’d get to hear the words she wanted to hear.

Quietly, Lt. Reyes spoke, “Abigail, I appreciate your years of volunteer service to the department, your passion, enthusiasm and obvious hard work on this ... “case” .  Obviously, you have wiggled your way into the evidence lab and read this guy’s laptop computer files and cell phone records. I just got the reports on those this morning from the Captain. The person or persons who stole and ransacked the guy’s camper are being located for questioning. No doubt, they’ll try and pawn the guy’s old shotgun somewhere or get crazed with the cash we think was stolen from the guy’s trailer safe. We’ll eventually, .. Maybe, ..  catch those persons but, at best, its a low-priority case. Whoever they are but they’re most likely juveniles and would get-off light with a judge. Believe me, there is no case here.”

Still frustrated, Abigail responded but more softly, “But Lieutenant, don’t you just … want to KNOW?”

Reyes knew what Abigail was driving at. He had a similar discussion with Deputy Tabaño Saturday night. The problem was, there was no evidence that a crime was involved with this man’s death. There was nothing to be gained and nothing to be proved. “Abigail, I know your grandfather was a Marine and is was listed as M.I.A. in Vietnam for a long time. Your father never really knew him either. I think I understand your interest here, but we just can’t spend Department resources any more on this case. There just isn’t a case. Things happen to people without reason or justification. Its a shitty deal, but it just is what it is. I’m sorry.”

Abigail stared directly into the lieutenant’s eyes as tears began to well-up in her own. She didn’t know what else to say. For the first time in a long time, she couldn’t come up with words. All she could say was, “Thank-you, lieutenant. I appreciate your time.” With that, she dismissed herself and walked slowly toward the door. She still had plenty of time before her classes, but the way she felt, she might as well go early and sit in the library and think.

Just as she reached the doorway, Lt. Reyes half-shouted, “Abigail.” She half-turned around toward Reyes. More quietly, he continued, “If anything changes, I’ll be sure and let you know. That’s the best I can do.”

The tears were dripping from Abigail’s eyes, but she managed to sound unaffected. “A-hem, thank-you, lieutenant.”

Lt. Reyes watched as Abigail left the office area. Over the years here, she had always been a bright star in the all-volunteer SOLVE unit. She was always available, hard working and dedicated to her work. He hated to disappoint her, but there was really nothing for her to do.

>>>> Chapter 6 >>

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