Evacuate Traditions E6

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By Kevin RR Williams

Crime Scene


When Mark drives up, his home is surrounded by police cars. Officers are walking in and out of the open front door.

“What’s going on? Let me through!” Mark shouts to policemen blocking entry.

“We can’t let you into the crime scene,” an officer says.

“No, no no! This is my home. Where’s my wife?” asks Mark.

“Hang on. What’s your name?”

“Mark Levine. Here’s my military identification.”

“Okay, just a moment. The detective will want to speak to you.” He then says to another officer to relay the message that the husband, Mr. Levine, is here.

The detective comes outside and directs Mark to the backyard.

“I’m sorry to inform you, that we found a woman on the floor of your home this morning.”

“How? Why? What happened?” Mark asks while trembling.

“We’re still piecing things together. If you can try to remain calm, and not disturb the scene, I’ll lead you inside to identify the woman.”

“Okay. Please don’t be Laila. Please!” Mark keeps repeating to himself.

Focusing on the woman with a belly dancing outfit laying on the floor, the “9/11” graffiti on the living room wall escapes his notice.

“Can you identify this woman, Mr. Levine?”

Mark has difficulty formulating a sentence. “Who? How did she die?”

“We’re still trying to find out. Mr. Levine, is this your wife?”

“No! I’m confused. I don’t know who this is. Where’s Laila?”

“Are you certain? You may be in shock,” the detective says.

“Of course I know what my wife looks like!”

“There are no pictures displayed. Do you have a photo of your wife?”

“Yes. Here, on my phone. Well, I took this one yesterday but her face is cropped off,” he says while swiping through images. “Here she is, in her wedding dress!”

“Her eyes are closed… but it’s better than nothing. Can you send that to this email address so I can have officers look for her?”

“I don’t understand. Laila should be here. Why’s this woman wearing her clothes?”

“Oh, so this outfit belongs to your wife?” Detective Terrance asks.

“Yes, I bought it for her.”

“Would you mind coming down to the station with me to answer some more questions?” the detective implores.

“Okay. Who’ll lock up?” asks Mark.

“We’ll take care of it. You can ride with me, if you don’t mind.” After situating Mark in the backseat of an unmarked vehicle, the detective tells him, “I will be right back after I let the officers know what you told me.”


At the police station, Detective Terrance has Mark sit in a private room, normally used for interrogation.

“Can I get you some water or tea?” Terrance asks.

“Tea! Was she poisoned?” Mark asks.

“I beg your pardon? Why would you ask that?”

“Never mind. I didn’t see any blood or strangulation marks. Perhaps I’m in shock. Water is fine.”

“How long have you and Laila been married?”

“Less than a month.”

“Congratulations. Where did you two meet?”

“Why do you ask?” Mark deflects.

“It might help us to find her. Perhaps she is with family,” the detective reasons.

“She’s not with her family.”

“Could she be visiting her in-laws?”

“That’s not likely. She doesn’t drive. Besides they’re in California.”

“We can’t find your wife if you don’t tell us anything helpful.”

“Her family is dead and we’re not on good terms with my parents.”

“I’m sorry to hear that your marriage is off to such a rocky start. Focusing on the woman found in your home, could she be a friend?”

“I don’t know her. We just moved into the neighborhood.”

“Apparently your wife knew her well enough to let her in and try on some of her own clothes. How do you explain that?”

“We’ve only met a few neighbors. The dead woman is not one of them.”

“Why would someone spray paint “9/11” on your living room wall.”

“I’ve had some issues with graffiti since moving in.”

“Really, what other messages have you seen?”

“A few days ago, someone painted, ‘Terrorist’ on my garage door. The community maintenance service painted over it.”

“Do you have a photo of it for comparison?”

“No. I didn’t want a picture of that!” Mark objects.

“Why do you think someone would target a nice newlywed couple with such remarks?”

“I served two tours in Afghanistan and am still an active reservist.”

“Thank you for your service. That makes it all the more odd why someone in your neighborhood would have hatred for you. Did you meet your wife in Afghanistan?”

“For the second time, where we met is immaterial!” Mark replies with irritation.

“I can’t ignore the suspicious circumstances. A newly married couple is already at odds with one set of in-laws. The others are dead. Someone sprays, ‘Terrorist’ and ‘9/11’ on the walls of your new home. There’s a dead body in your house and you tell me your wife is missing. I ask you questions, and you tighten up like a clam. Are you going to help me out?”

“I need to phone my commanding officer. If it’s okay with you, can I have a private moment?”

The detective leaves the room so Mark can make his call from his own cellphone.

“Lieutenant, this is Corporal Mark Levine. I had to leave my post in South Carolina to address an emergency incident at my new home.”

“It’s best to seek permission prior to departure. What’s the nature of the incident?” his commanding officer asks.

“My wife is missing. A dead woman wearing her clothes is in my house and the police have me at the station. They’re asking all sorts of questions about my deployment.”

“Stop there. Don’t answer anything more. I’ll send a lawyer. Ask if you’re free to go.”

“Yes, sir. Just a moment.”

Mark taps on the door with Detective Terrance on the other side. He steps in while Mark is still holding the phone to his ear. “Am I free to go?”

“You’re not being charged with anything. But I still require answers to some questions,” Terrance replies.

“I can’t provide you with any answers without receiving clearance from my superiors. Give me a ride home and I’ll contact you within the next couple of days.”

After a 20-second pause, the detective says, “Your home is still a crime scene. You’ll need to stay in a hotel. I hope you realize that if your wife has been abducted, the first 48 hours are most crucial to her recovery. Here’s my card.”

Mark tells the detective, “I’ll phone you as soon as possible.”

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