I stared at the autopsy report as it lay in front of me on my desk. If you’ve never seen an autopsy report before, let me tell you if you are not a doctor, 99% of what’s on the report is just medical “mumbo jumbo.” The Coroner’s physical analysis showed there was evidence of blunt force trauma to the left side of the Chief’s head. That was clear enough. What caught my eye near the bottom of the report were the toxicology findings, and at the very bottom was the opinion of the Coroner. The toxicology findings stated that there was an inordinate amount of an opiate, specifically heroin, in the Chief’s system! Heroin? There were also bruises around the wrists and ankles, indicating that the Chief had been tied-up at some point.
Typically, you don’t see those bruises until the restraints are removed. In this case, whoever dumped the Chief’s body had removed the restraints before depositing him into the frigid waters of the San Francisco bay. Why do that? The possible image of Chief O’Halloran, lying somewhere bound and possibly still alive, watching the murderer approaching with a syringe full of heroin, sent a chill up my spine, But, he was clobbered upside his skull, so he was possibly out cold when he was given the “hot shot!”
The sudden ringing of my phone jarred me from the swirling thoughts in my head. “Hello! ah, hey, Mr. District Attorney,” I said, trying to sound as official as I could muster. “So, what did you think of Maggie O’Halloran,” he asked. “Well.” I hesitated. I didn’t want to play the typical male sexual game of engaging in a salacious discourse regarding Maggie O’Halloran or any other woman for that matter -not at that moment, anyway. “She seemed like a nice lady, all in all,” I said tongue in cheek. There was a muffled snickering on the other end of the line. “Never could figure out how O’Halloran scored that fine piece of tail, I gotta tell ya,” said the D.A., “Did she disclose anything of importance?” “Not really, I was a little disappointed to tell you the truth,” I answered. “Well, keep me posted. I’m still waiting on the autopsy report. I’ll let you know what I find out when I get it,” the D.A. added. I smiled. “Sure thing,” I said, feeling just a tad guilty as I looked at the autopsy report spread out on my desk before me. “Sam, your daughter’s here,” said Emma, as I ended my phone call with the D.A.
My daughter, Rocky, came bursting into my office. “Hiya Sam!” she said enthusiastically. “Don’t call me Sam, dammit! You know how that pisses me off!” “Oh, now Sam, don’t go having a stroke. You gotta watch that high blood pressure,” she said, laughing. I loved to hear her laugh, which wasn’t often. She knew how to get to me, but truth be told I kind of liked the give and take, and I think she realized that. Her mother and I divorced when Rocky was ten, and she never let me forget how much of an absentee dad I was. I was, no doubt about that! I was usually drunk or passed out when it was “our day together,” my ex. told me there were many tears shed when I didn’t show up. “What an amazing view. It’s really the highlight of my coming here,” she said facetiously. She turned from the window and looked back at me. “Are you trying to hurt my feelings,” I said. “Oh, I think everyone knows that Sam Grit has no feelings. Just ask the former Mrs. Grit,” she said with a laugh.
I watched her as she moved lithely to the small couch, which most people called a loveseat, although I refrain from calling it that for reasons I won’t go into right now. The couch was next to the door, and she just flopped on her back onto it. Rocky was nearly six-foot, which would explain why her feet hung over the arm of the thing. She was always the tallest girl in her class and hated that as a kid. Although, when it came to sports, which she loved, she realized what an advantage it was to be tall. Rocky was an excellent athlete and excelled in volleyball, basketball, and track. She lettered in all three and won a scholarship to Stanford for basketball, although she could’ve won scholarships for the other two schools as well. I watched her staring up at the ceiling as she began telling me about being close to graduation, about her friends and how she was thinking of turning professional for basketball or maybe staying in school to get a master’s degree in sports medicine. She went on about her boyfriend, who was also debating whether to go on to medical school or play professional basketball. He was six foot ten and a power forward, she said. He was from New Zealand and was part Māori and part Scottish. “He is of royal blood. A Prince, or uh, a Chief, I can’t remember,” she went on.
I never heard her talk so much. She had never shared as much as she was now. I felt my eyes tearing up. Had I finally been allowed to step onto the bridge? The bridge to her heart? For the longest time, I usually got only one to two words at the most in my conversations with her. I realized now as I looked at her that she was a young lady, smart and beautiful. She had her mother’s black hair, which hung past her shoulders and the build of a well-conditioned athlete. She had a perfect, slightly upturned nose, which sat under large hazel eyes. My daughter was a grown woman! I just realized that for the first time. Right then, I felt the uneasy sensation of mental anguish for all those years I was not there for her. I had denied that pain for years, drinking over it, clouding it with booze, which came easy to me, but now it came home to roost, and I just felt like crap about it.
“So,” she said. “I could use a few bucks if you got em,” she was walking toward me now and settled into the leather chair in front of my desk, swinging one of her long legs over an arm. There it was! The real reason for coming to see me. I tried to erase the joy I felt from her opening up to me as she did, with the assumed harsh reality of a cold, calculating female, whose intention was to pick my pocket. I had forgotten the fact that I told my ex. to ask her to stop by. Just for a brief moment, I retreated to a defensive mode in my attempt to bullshit myself that all she wanted was my money, but I couldn’t justify it. I owed her so much more than the few dollars I could scrape up. I would have to go into my savings.
My savings were sacred to me, and I swore I would never touch them unless my ass was up against the wall sucking plaster. “Come by tomorrow, and I’ll have it for you,” I promised, adding. “Bring your boyfriend sometime. I’d like to meet him.” “I’ll do that,” she said, smiling ear to ear. Then she did something she hadn’t done since she was a child. She walked around the desk to where I sat, bent down, and kissed me on the cheek. I can’t really express how that kiss affected me, but I was a little stunned - in a good way. “Bye, Sam,” she said. I sat there in silence, still feeling the sensation of her kiss on my cheek.
After all the years of guilt about the relationship I had been wanting, and thinking that it might never happen, now it was a strong possibility. I was stoked! I shed a few. Why not. That kiss was HUGE! I didn’t even mind her calling me Sam. I thought I have to call the ex. I have to tell her what a great job she did with Rocky. I thought maybe I’ll apologize for all of my transgressions of the past, which I never had. Then I thought, Nah, not over the phone; she deserved better than that. I felt myself slowly beginning to slide into that place of guilt and beating myself up. I was like, what the fuck Sam, you just had one of the best days of your miserable life! Don’t go there!
I looked over to the bottom right drawer of my desk. That friggin’ bottle was calling my name. I wheeled my chair around and faced the window looking out onto the San Francisco bay, while I lightly massaged the area of my cheek where Rocky had kissed me. Suddenly, I had forgotten about the bottle. Instead, I lit up a Cuban cigar, another vice, along with cigarettes, but they were so less destructive than the Scotch, as I almost coughed up a lung.
(To be contd)