Josie hated not being on the job. She wanted to be out there working. If not on the Coleman case, then on the shooting. That made two extremely unusual crimes in Denton in the past week, and she didn’t get to be a part of solving either of them. She lingered around the Stop and Go for as long as she could but when Trinity Payne pulled up in her WYEP news van, Josie knew it was time to go.
At home, she locked the door, stripped off her torn clothes and headed straight for the bathroom. She turned the faucet on to fill the tub and inspected herself in the full-length mirror; her entire left side was starting to turn a nasty plum color. She was lucky to have narrowly escaped the Escalade, inches away from being the fourth fatality. Goosebumps prickled her skin. She wished Luke was there. For once, she wished he had the kind of job where he could just call off and spend the rest of the day with her, quieting her anxiety.
But she was alone for the rest of the day, and it was only noon. She sat on the edge of the tub and eased her lower left leg into it, hissing through gritted teeth as the open skin met the hot water like dipping it in hot lava. The wound wasn’t deep, but it was big. She cleaned it with anti- bacterial soap, patted it dry and, limping, she made her way into the bedroom and sprawled out on her bed. Tucking a pillow beneath her calf to elevate it, she found two ibuprofens in her nightstand and swallowed them dry.
Flinging her arms
wide, she stared at the ceiling and concentrated on breathing through the pain
until it subsided. She listened to cars passing outside and the noises of her
house—the hum of the fridge, the roar of the forced-air heating system as it
kicked on, and then the deafening silence when it kicked off. She still wasn’t used to the house, having only
moved in three months earlier.
It was a proud moment
for her, finally
owning her own house. She hadn’t been able to stay in the home she and Ray had shared. Sure, it was painful—how could the end of a marriage not be painful?—but mostly, living there made her irrationally angry. He had had the good sense to move out, living on Dusty’s couch for months while she looked for a new place to live. He had offered to give her the house. He had cheated, he reasoned, so he should have to leave. It was the most intelligent thing he had said in the last decade.
Josie tried it. She tried to move on while living in the home they’d bought together as a young married couple. The home where they’d celebrated their promotions. The home where they’d entertained mutual friends—almost all of whom were on Denton’s police force—on holidays and on nights when their jobs had been particularly difficult. The home they’d furnished and decorated together, arguing over their choices in perfect matrimony.
She couldn’t do it; she didn’t want to stay there. The thought of using her own money that she had earned to buy her own house was so appealing to her, it made her giddy. She’d found the three-bedroom bungalow-style home on two acres of land after only a month of searching. It was her house; she knew it the moment she saw the front of it. She didn’t even need to go inside, but the realtor had insisted. A college professor had owned it. He’d been abruptly transferred and wanted a quick sale. It was a match made in heaven.
She let Ray keep all of their furniture. She didn’t want any remnants from their life together. The downside of that decision was that since she had sunk all her money into the new house, she had had very little left to spend on new furniture. It was a work in progress. With her work hours she was rarely home anyway, and she didn’t entertain, except for Luke, and they spent ninety-five percent of their time in her bedroom.
Her one extravagance had been the enormous bed she lay on now. A small compensation for her shitty childhood; a king-sized bed in a huge master bedroom with high ceilings and a wall of windows was about as far as you could get from the two-foot-by-four-foot closet where she began.
Usually Josie reveled
in sprawling out in the luxurious bed with its fifteen different-sized pillows,
but she couldn’t stop thinking about Dirk Spencer: shot and bleeding out, eyes
panic-stricken, struggling to utter just one word.
Why that word?
Why that name?
Who was Ramona? Why was Spencer
in an SUV with a bunch of gangbangers from Philadelphia?
Had he been in Philadelphia? Did they take him under duress? Who was shooting
There were too many unanswered questions. Too many for Josie to possibly stay home in bed.