OUT OF THE PARK
The end of season game was upon them. Lucas flexed, taking some practice swings and tucked a drooping shock of light brown hair back under the helmet before the split second that his robust swing connected, hitting the game winning home run and expecting the usual adulation. Instead, his great hit was greeted with confusion and calamity.
The skinny outfielder ran and ran, but had no chance to catch the ball and ended up in the tall grass. Suddenly, stopped still, as though he had come up against an invisible barrier, he yelled:
"What the fu—ck!"
Lucas had run around the bases and then kept running out to where the fielder was standing frozen with a horrified grimace.
Spectators and players, all converged on the scene very far from home plate.
The tall wheat grass was matted down. The woman lay stark still, her eyes bulged. He stared at the scarf wound tightly around her neck and reacted quickly; raising his arms in a ‘keep back’ pose just like he had seen on TV police shows. He felt that ‘doing his duty’ would compel him to do his best. Only this was grotesque and the thought of his parents, especially of his father, and their not being here unsettled him far more than just their absence and his young age.
A man emerged from the crowd. "What’s going on here, son?" Lucas pointed. The big wide-shouldered man gazed down at the body, stunned. Then, he regained his composure and announced to the crowd: "this must be considered a crime scene. I’ll have to ask you all to withdraw a good distance. I’m Detective Marc Halvers—with the Waterbury Police Department," and he took out his phone…
Yellow crime scene tape circled the area. An ambulance from the county arrived, police in uniform and in plain clothes. Men and women in white jumpsuits, the Forensic Team, collected samples from the ground and packed evidence into small plastic bags. Detective Halvers conferred with the others. An officer from F.I.S.T. stood by on the fringes but took no part in the investigation. His haughty presence brought disdainful glances from the local police, as he scrutinized the proceedings with sharp interest. Anyway, justified or not in upscale venues Federal Internal Security Trust (‘Trust’ sounded benevolent and reassuring), didn’t flex their muscles unless the evidence pointed to ‘National Security’.
At the Meeting Hall, the campers made last minute calls. The rule at the Camp: no personal phones or tablets in order to instill the feeling of ‘bygone days’. Lucas punched in the numbers, and upon connecting with his father, a jumble of words cascaded from him. To his own shock and surprise, he wasn’t making sense; he had believed he was being cool and collected.
"Lucas, I’m at this conference and not enjoying myself. Tell me calmly. What happened?"
"Dad—Dad, they found a dead woman with Mom’s scarf!"
"Slowdown, Lucas, and give me details."
"Today, at the baseball game, she was lying out in the field. The snake scarf was tied around her neck." As he spoke the chords bulged in his neck and he turned beet-red.
"Son, calm down! It’s best for now to speak no further about this. I’ll get back to you. Don’t tell Mom that you spoke to me. Don’t tell anyone about the scarf, either…"
He kept the next call simple, almost casual, because he made no mention of the dead woman. "…Hi Mom—sure, sure, fine. You’ll be here Thursday. Say, is Danny home yet?"
"Danny got home very late yesterday. He sent you an e-mail."
"Good. I’ll check at my bunk. What time will you be here?"
"Mid-morning. Will you be packed or will you need help?"
"Of course, I’ll be all packed. I’m not a retard."
"Lucas, dear, we agreed that word isn’t nice and that you wouldn’t use it."
"Sorry, I slipped..." He thought: How did a very familiar looking silk scarf end up around the dead woman’s neck? My father can’t be involved in murder…