“Who lives in 23-B?”

His hard-earned reputation was now on the line. A questionable incident was suddenly an indelible blot that marked itself at his nearly unblemished record. Worse of all, his current state of mind, the delusion it claimed, could push him out of the force.

Intrigued, he left the dead man momentarily and worked his way toward the opposite door where his supposed phantom resided. He needed answers to prove he was not hallucinating.

He knocked on the door, identifying himself clearly as a lawman. There was no reply.

Turning the knob slowly, he was surprised it was unlocked. For some reason, he felt apprehensive, leading him to draw out his gun and be ready for any eventualities.

Peering through the small opening as he pushed the door wider, he sensed the complete silence nerving. It was as if Death hovered inside, waiting for another victim to leave a mortal body.

On the floor, the bloodied tang of the kitchen knife was short.

Detective Moreno was stunned! He turned his head back at the opposite door and wondered. His logical thinking was now blurred by the coincidence. Or, was it a coincidence?

There was a body lying in the living room. Another?

His palms sweated, the gun’s handle began to slip from his grip. In his mind, the deadly weapon was of no use if what he imagined was to be believed: he was against something that was out of this world.

Damn it! I have to know, he swore.

He rushed inside, unmindful of what would happen: the body would tell him what to do next.

There was a pulse as he discovered it was still warm. He was still warm.

“Brownie, come in!” he called via the VHF police radio. “Get the ambulance people here! Someone needs emergency assistance.”

“Sir, I know we have been partners for a long time,” Brownie said reluctantly. “Accept it, sir. We were wrong.”

“This is different! I am in 23-B. Send medical personnel right away!”

Det. Moreno wasn’t taking chances: he did not leave the unconscious man. Questions had to be answered after he was revived at the hospital.

He gave explicit instructions to the medics, telling them what to say to hospital authorities. Under no circumstances, the patient should be questioned by anyone: he would take a first crack at him.

Brownie stared at him from the door. His partner has still a trace of fright on his chubby face.

“Look,” Det. Moreno showed him the bloodied knife. He then escorted his partner to the kitchen sink and presented the fish.

“Let’s get the hell out of here!” Brownie shuddered.

– 0 –

He was told the patient was almost in a life-threatening condition. They implied that if it was not for his quick thinking, the man could have fallen into coma.

“I am only doing my job,” he said, not ready to relate all the details of his extra-ordinary heroism. “Can I talk to him?”

“Of course,” the lady doctor was warm and hospitable. “Ask the nurse at that station which room he rests.”

Det, Moreno had four hours to prepare his questions, removing reference to any supernatural phenomena, sticking to the simple but elaborate scheme to get information from a subject. He wanted Brownie to be there to stand as witness but his partner excused himself, still feeling the effects of what he called extreme stress due to a traumatic experience. In short, he was terrified.

The man smiled at him after he entered the room. Patients, who successfully recuperated, were often elated to see well-wishers.

“Thank you for saving my life!”

Detective Moreno kept his cool, not angry at the man, but at hospital authorities for spoiling his surprise interrogation. It seemed they revealed his identity against his own instructions not to.

“You were unconscious,” he baited. “How did you know?”

“No,” he said unequivocally. “We talked, remember? You even helped me stand up. I told you about the knife.”

Unarguably astounded, Detective Moreno listened intently to what the man related.

“Thank you for seeing me,” he said when the man finished his own version. “I think I need some fresh air.”

(to be continued)



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