Day 7 of StoryADay September (Yes, I know I missed a day. Life happens!)
“A killer is on the loose, having broken into the home of a wealthy woman and left her for dead. He absconded with a few items, then left the initials, ‘M.A.’”
“Whaddya think that means?” Rob pointed to the large “M.A.” scrawled on the cream wall, most likely in the victim’s blood.
Belle sat back on her heels, staring up at the letters. “I’m not sure. Initials, maybe?”
Rob stood still, his hands on his wide hips, pondering the possibilities. “Yeah, could be.”
“What is the victim’s name, again?”
Rob lifted his notebook and flipped a page. “Melinda. Melinda Abernathy.” Rob stared up at the letters again. “Could be her initials, I guess.”
Belle nodded her agreement. She’d already had that thought. Rob’s gaze went back to his notebook. “Her son is looking the house over, to see what’s missing.” Belle looked around the room. Polished surfaces were decorated with expensive knick-knacks. Rich oil paintings broke the monotony of the plain walls. Melinda was sprawled face-down on what used to be a lovely Turkish rug, her blood soaking the fine fabric.
“What’s his name?”
“Michael.” Rob stared at Belle, a look of concentration on his face that broke into a wide smile. “Hey, it could be his initials!”
Belle smiled back at Rob over gritted teeth. “Could be. What about her other kids? What are their names?”
“Uhm.. Madison, Mark, and Michelle.” The room was silent while Belle waited for Rob to think it through. “Oh, they all have M names. Could be any of them, yeah?”
Belle nodded tightly and stood from her crouch next to Melinda’s body. “Any other evidence?”
“A few prints. Tess is on those. Lotsa blood from the vic, including those initials,” Rob nodded to the wall behind him.
Rob and Belle turned at the sound of footsteps on the wooden stairs. Brent was leading Michael back to the kitchen. Belle followed, stopping in the doorway to listen to the two men.
“Water?” Brent asked Michael, opening the refrigerator. Michael nodded in reply. “Mind if I have one?” Michael shook his head. Brent paused, holding in a sigh, then pulled two bottles of water from the fridge. He slid one to Michael and uncapped the other, taking a long swig.
“Did you notice anything missing?” Brent tried opening the conversation again. Michael nodded. Brent shot his eyes to Belle, anger flickering under the surface. “Wanna tell me what is missing? It might help us figure out what happened here.”
Michael turned the bottle of water in his hands, his eyes drifting over the label. “Pictures.”
“No.” Michael began peeling the label from the bottle. “Photos. Of me and my brother and sisters.”
Brent looked up to Belle again, not sure what missing pictures might mean. “Were they in expensive frames?”
“No. They were in a photo album.” Michael finally took a drink of his water and looked over his shoulder to Belle standing behind him. “All the photos were from my senior year.” Michael turned his head back to Brent.
“Do you think those pictures would mean anything to anyone outside your family?”
“I don’t know. They were pictures of a bunch of kids. Who’d care about that?” Michael chugged off the rest of the bottle, then threw the bottle across the kitchen to the recycling bin tucked neatly in the corner. “Can I go? I need to tell my sisters what happened.”
“Yeah. We’ll be in touch.” Brent held out his card. “Call me if you think of anything else that is missing.”
“Sure,” Michael stood, then turned and walked to the doorway. Belle pulled back, allowing Michael to pass. His eyes locked with hers for a moment as he moved by.
“Brent, I’m heading back to the station. Keep me posted,” Belle turned and watched Michael move up the stairs before walking out the front door.
In her office, Belle slung her go bag into a chair before pulling the shades closed on her windows. Her eyes drifted to the plaque over her desk: “Detective Maribelle Anderson, Mayors Medal of Honor,” then back to her bag.
She reached into the inner pocket, removing a single picture. Two teenage boys, dressed in tailed tuxes. Two teenage girls, draped in silk and sequins. Four smiling faces. Belle flipped the picture over. “Madison, Mark, Michael, and Maribelle,” was written across the back in Melinda’s curling script.
Belle pulled a lighter from her bag and flicked it on. She held the flame to the corner of the picture and watched the waves of fire curl across the smiling faces.