From The Ashes – Part 5
Warley looked at Jason for a long moment, waiting for him to continue. He gave the young detective a sympathetic, almost fatherly look when he didn’t.
“Jason, we’ll figure it out. We have your statement. We’ll process everything on you from last night. Go home and rest. There’s no reason to hold you here. Not yet. I’m sure more details will come back to you,” the captain said.
“I hope so. God, I hope so.”
Warley walked to the door. Before leaving, he turned and said, “If you were attacked in the alley, you might be blocking it out. Suffering a head trauma. You should head to the ER. Couldn’t hurt to get everything checked out, ya know?”
Jason rose from the table slowly, nodding at the captain’s suggestion.
“Call me as soon as any other details come to you,” Warley said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Walking out of the precinct a free man should have felt better than it did, but Jason felt the eyes of his fellow officers following him as he headed for the exit. He pulled his cell phone out, pretending to check messages so he wouldn’t make eye contact with his coworkers. Even though he wasn’t getting charged, at least not yet, he still felt that their opinion of him was now forever tainted.
Once outside, Jason breathed in the fresh air. He felt only slightly better being outside, the missing details of the night looming over him. Maybe Nick had information. Jason dialed his friend as he walked toward his apartment, but he wasn’t shocked when he got his voicemail. Nick was probably still sleeping off a nasty birthday hangover. Maybe he got lucky too and had a girl at his apartment.
“This is Nick! I can’t talk now because, well, who knows what the hell I’m doing, right? Leave a message! Beeeeep!”
“Nick, buddy, call me ASAP,” Jason said into the phone. “Something terrible happened last night after I left and well, um…just call me, okay? Thanks.”
Jason hoped the walk to his apartment would clear out some of the murkiness that lingered in his memory. As he unlocked the door to his unit, he was still searching for details in his mind that would help him piece together what happened to Tara. He chastised himself as he undressed and showered away the stress from the last few hours.
It wasn’t his style to get drunk and lose parts of his night. He wasn’t a party guy. Never was, and he rarely let himself get even buzzed, let alone stumbling, blackout wasted. And all he could see was her face. Not her pretty smile, alive and well, but the lifeless shell he woke up to in the alley.
Jason looked down at his arms and his stomach twisted in knots at what he saw. There were tiny nicks and scratches he hadn’t noticed before. Did the officer taking evidence photos see these? His belly churned as the realization that these injuries could be from Tara sunk in. CSI teams and the medical examiner would most definitely scrape her nails for DNA. Would they find his?
As the hot water of the shower poured over him, something flashed in his memory. A new detail slapped him in the face, a memory that wasn’t anywhere near the surface mere minutes ago but in the steamy shower stall seemed to come alive in an instant. It was as if someone removed blinders from his vision, blasting his eyes with brightness he wasn’t ready for.
He remembered kissing Tara on a couch in an apartment he didn’t recognize. Jason felt sick.