Friday, July 9, 2010

When Romantic Metaphors Turn Creepy, Part II

Part I can be found here, if you're interested.

Sergeant John Davis ducked under the yellow tape and entered the dorm room. As an officer of the city's police department, he didn't usually work on campus; the campus police handled day to day issues here. A case like this, though - with a young man dead in his dorm room - was something else altogether. Campus police didn't have the resources for a thorough investigation, so they called him in.

Billings met him just inside the door. "Looks like another one," he said. "There's not a mark on him, no sign of pills or ingested poison, no indication that he strangled. It looks like he just collapsed. He was still sitting in front of his computer."

Davis nodded. It happened - maybe twice a semester, here at the college, and about that often for the entire rest of the city. They always investigated, because it would be far too easy to disguise a homicide as this sort of death, and he always hated it. It shouldn't have to happen this way.

Billings waited while Davis pulled on a pair of latex gloves, then led him to the computer. He touched the keyboard and the screensaver vanished, revealing the e-mail that the boy had been reading when he died.

Davis glanced at the first lines. Dear Martin, I'm so very sorry to be writing to you this way... He scrolled down to the end. ...Hope that someday you will see that this was for the best. Best Wishes, Christine. He scrolled back up, and read through the whole thing.

"She didn't even call him," Billings said from behind him. Davis could see Billings' reflection in the screen, shaking his head sadly.

Sergeant Davis straightened. "Do we know who Christine is?"

"She's the victim's girlfriend - or she was. Christine Sumner, eighteen years old, student at Rhoades College in Tennessee."

"All right." Davis peeled his gloves off. "Call Memphis, have them pick her up." The e-mail gave him more than enough Probable Cause.

"Glad to," said Billings, and hurried away.

"Jesus," said Davis. "An e-mail like that... It'll be manslaughter, at least." He'd have to wait for the Coroner's report to be sure, but he already knew what had happened. He'd seen it happen far too often: two kids dating in high school, then graduating and heading for separate colleges. Sooner of later, one of them met somebody new. The smart ones did their breaking up in person, or over the phone. Christine had been in too much of a hurry, or she hadn't wanted to deal with Martin. Something like that. So she'd sent him an e-mail.

And broken his heart.

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