This post picks up at the beginning of chapter 5, or about 13,031 words. It's about half of a chapter, sorry it cuts off in the middle of the medical examiner's show.
Remember, this is a Draft 0, unedited, simply writing as quickly as the story comes to me and making myself accountable by putting the words here.
"You want to take a day," Tom asked as the walked down the hall, away from the secure hall of the hospital. "I think we can manage that."
They arrived at the elevator, and Ash pressed the button. "I can't," Ash said. "All this would play on repeat. I need to keep my mind active." She looked around the corridor and motioned to the hallway.
Tom eyed her with suspicion, and she said, "It's compartmented. I'll be fine. I'll deal with this later."
Tom nodded, and they entered the elevator. "You were here pretty quick?" She asked. "Were you in the neighborhood?"
Tom looked at her and then at the digital readout of the floors passing by. "My mom." He began. "She's been sick for a while." He cleared his throat.
Ash looked at him and softened her features. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"She comes here every couple of days, early mornings, to get her treatments," Tom said. "My brother's with her right now."
The elevator dinged, and the doors opened to the parking garage. "It's not something we like to talk about," Tom said as he walked towards his car. "But she's in good hands here."
"The hospital?" Ash asked.
"My brother," Tom said. "He's a doctor here, the reason they moved from New York."
They walked through the corridors and out the wide sliding doors. They walked to Ash's car, which was still parked in the front. "I didn't bring my car; you mind?" Tom asked her as he reached for the passenger side door.
Ash nodded, and they got in the car. Ash started the engine and drove out of the parking lot. "So, where to?" She asked as she merged into traffic.
"Breakfast first." Tom said, "then we need to get to the station and talk to Christina, see if she's got anything new."
"Yeah, I'm starving," Ash asked. Ash frequently forgets to eat, and Tom began picking up on that. "But this time, we're going to my spot." Ash smiled at Tom and took a left turn at the next light. She drove a few more blocks and crossed the interstate into downtown.
Ash pulled into a spot that barely accommodated her car and killed the engine. They got out, and Tom looked around. He whistled when he saw the familiar sign of the coffee shop. "Oooh, Fancy." He said with a wry chuckle. "I thought this place went out of business." Tom looked at Ash with a quizzical look.
"Nope," She said, smiling and shaking her head. She pointed to a black door framed with a chrome border. "The coffee shop did close, but this place serves the best souther-style breakfasts on the planet."
They walked to the door, and Ash rang the black button doorbell. "It's not a sit-down place," Se said. "Your order, bring it to the door, and you leave..." She looked at Tom and said, "It's perfect fast food."
An older woman with graying hair pulled into a bun opened the two small double doors at the top of the black door and smiled. "Ash! How are you?"
"Good, Bryann. How are you today?" Ash asked, putting on a stoic face, remembering her morning. "This is Tom, my partner."
Bryann looked at tom and then back at Ash. Her eyes widened, and she reached out to hug Ash. "You did it! When did you make detective?" Bryann exclaimed.
Tom looked at Ash, who blushed. "Yesterday, but today's my first full day," Ash said sheepishly.
"Well, congratulations!" Bryann said as she released Ash from the awkward through-the-door window hug.
"You're busy; let me get your order, and you get back to work!"
"We'll take two of your breakfast specials to go," Ash said
"You got it, hun," Bryann and turned around, walking down the hall.
Ash and Tom stood on the sidewalk as people walked around them like a flock of birds, sensing the obstacles as they stared at their devices. They waited as Bryann disappeared into the dark hallway beyond the door.
Tom looked at Ash. "I'm assuming this is one of those places where you don't ask questions and just enjoy the food?" He asked with a raised eyebrow, looking at the building and lack of signage.
"She's got a license and permits, et cetera. If that's what you're asking." Ash said, scowling. "Her story is incredible, but no time. The bottom line is that she only serves breakfast and only to people who know about it, so you know." Ash said, smiling.
Bryann returned to the window and handed two small cartons through the window. "Enjoy! They're on the house! Congrats, Ash, I'm so proud of you!"
Tom and Ash thanked Bryann and started walking toward her car when both phones buzzed.
Tom read his message and looked at Ash. "The Chief?" He asked, nodding to her phone.
"Yep," Ash said, "I guess we go to his office first." Ash sighed and put her phone away. They both got in the car, and Ash pulled out into traffic.
"Eat that," Ash told Tom, I'll drive slow.
Tom lifted the lid of the takeout container and smiled. Sausage gravy drenched what he could only assume were biscuits and an egg, sunny side up, slid off the top.
He filled his fork and took a bite, and smiled some more. "Wow." He said, almost in a dream, "this is amazing!"
Ash smiled as she caught a glimpse out of the corner of her eye and nodded. Tom continued to eat as they turned the corners and finally pulled the car into the parking garage. Ash parked her car in the nearest stall. She grabbed the small container, still warm, and opened the lid.
She cut into the gravy and egg, got a chunk of biscuit, and ate. She closed her eyes and sighed with so much relief. "It's been months," Ash said. I got so busy studying and didn't make it there in the morning."
Tom put his container in his lap and was about to say they should get going but was surprised at how fast Ash ate the rest of the food.
"Alright, we should keep the Chief waiting," Ash said, attempting to hide the sarcasm and wiping her mouth with a napkin.
Chief Shawn Nelson was tall with dark hair, a mustache, and a stocky build. He was in his early forties and held a commanding presence. He was looking out the window when Ash and Tom walked in.
"Sit," Chief Nelson said, not turning around.
Ash and Tom sat down in the two chairs in front of the desk as the Chief continued to look out the window. After a few seconds, he turned around and sat in his chair, leaning forward and clasping his hands on the leather writing pad on his desk.
"Why are you harassing one of the department's largest donors?" Chief Nelson started.
Ash and Tom looked at each other. Ash took the lead. "We're not harassing anyone, Chief..."
Chief Nelson shot her a glance and said, "Detective Allen, you're the lead on this case." He looked back at Tom. "Do you have evidence that points to the Thaliards?"
"Well, we have nothing concrete, but we're just getting started," Tom said, looking confused.
"I don't want you..." The Chief started but was interrupted when his door opened.
"Hey, Chief!" A woman's voice said. Ash turned around and saw Lieutenant. Byrd standing at the door. "Oh!, I thought you two would be with Christina, going over the results." The Lieutenant said and looked back at the Chief. "Am I interrupting something, Chief?"
Lt. Byrd was Ash's new boss, a veteran of the homicide unit, rising in the department from an early patrol career and making Lieutenant a few years earlier. She was in her late thirties, with short graying brown hair and a no-nonsense attitude.
"Byrd," the Chief said, "I was just telling these two that I don't want them harassing the Thaliards."
"What? Why would they do that?" Lt. Byrd asked, "the case just started less than," she looked at her watch, "less than 18 hours ago."
He sat back in his chair, looked at Lt. Byrd, and then eyed the two detectives. "Be careful with this one," his tone brightened, "I'm looking out for you; these social elites, with the wealth, can buy their way out of anything." He looked at Ash as he finished.
"Got it, Chief. Thanks for the support." Tom said, trying to sound pleased but sounding annoyed.
"No problem!" The Chief said as he got up from his desk and held his hand out, gesturing for the door. Lt. Byrd held the door open as ash Walked out, followed by Tom and then herself, locking eyes with Chief Nelson as she shut the door behind them.
The three of them walked down the hall to the stairwell and started down. "I saw you guys come out of the elevator." Lt. Byrd said, "I was with Chief Carter, going over... it's not important."
"Ash, I heard about your encounter at the hospital." Lt. Byrd said, "I'm sorry that happened to you. If you need anything, just let me know."
Ash thanked her and said, "I'll deal with it later; I need to focus on this case right now."
"Chief Nelson is right about the Thaliards, though." Lt. Byrd said, "Even though he has his own motives, be careful with this one. Try not to upset anybody that you don't need to."
"Gotta go; I'll check in with you later today." Lt. Byrd said and turned, nearly jogging away from them.
They pressed the elevator call button, and it immediately opened. Tom looked up, surprised, and they both walked in, the doors shutting behind them. Tome pressed the button for the parking garage.
"To the medical examiner's office," Tom said, then rode the slow elevator to the garage.
Ash looked at Tom several times to assess his mood and reaction to that encounter. She was accustomed to being treated like that by Chief Nelson but was unsure of how Tom would react.
Tom seemed lost in his thoughts, not angry but more thoughtful.
The elevator dinged as it arrived at the garage level, and they both walked out to Tom's car. Ash got in the passenger side and drove quietly to the M.E.'s office.
As they walked in, Christina was on the phone and cupped her hand over the microphone, and silently mouthed something neither understood but motioned for them to go into the exam room. She finished her call and joined them.
"What's new?" Tom asked.
Christina looked at him with a raised eyebrow and said, "Well, I was just about to call you." She motioned for them both to sit down. "I have some interesting news."
Tom and Ash looked at her, waiting for her to continue.
"I found two things. Something in Daniel's stomach that doesn't make sense." She said and clicked a pair of keys on her keyboard. An image appeared on a large screen on the wall, and they walked up to it. Christina picked up her tablet and started swiping across the surface.
A picture of the victim's side appeared and swiped again, showing a close-up of the lower left back, where a small needle mark appeared bluish against the skin.
"Someone injected him just before he died. There are traces of insulin."
"Was he diabetic?" Ash asked.
"No," Christina said, looking at both of them. "Which is another reason why it's curious. But the location is not where anybody would inject themselves, anyways. He could have, but it doesn't make sense."
"Ok, so someone injected him," Tom said.
"Yes," Christina said and then swiped her tablet's screen. "And, there's this."
A picture of what looked like a capsule melted into a clump appeared on the screen. "This is a partially digested tablet. At first, it looks like a commonly prescribed blood pressure medication."
"I checked," She said as Ash opened her mouth to speak. "Yes, he has been prescribed this medication."
"Ok," Ash ask, "would this interact with the insulin?"
"Or the chainsaw?" Tom asked, not smiling but still sounding annoyed.
She continued. "But this tablet isn't the blood pressure medication." Christina said and pointed to the image with her stylus, "It's a powerful first generation anti-histamine. It's compressed to look like the blood pressure pill."
"What do you mean?" Ash asked.
Christina looked at her and said, "Well, this pill would have made him extremely drowsy, possibly falling asleep while operating his chainsaw."
Tom whistled low, then said, "Are you saying the chainsaw was an accident?"
"It could have been." Christina said, "I would have investigated that as a possibility, but..."
Ash broke in, "but unlikely, given it was forged to look like the blood-pressure medication, and then there's the insulin injection."
Christina looked at both Ash and Tom, then said, "Exactly. If this was isolated, it may lead me to believe it was an accident. But the injection points to something else."
"Whoever injected him surprised him from behind," Tom started, "but that's not enough insulin to kill him or do any real damage." Tom paused and asked, "Would that interact with the anti-histamine?"
"Not in this case, he wasn't diabetic, but that would only mess with his blood sugar, even if he was," Christina said.
"Ok, then his attacker hoped to do something with this injection but didn't understand the effects," Tom said. "Which means they had access to insulin."
"What about the blood pressure medication?" Tom asked.
"Likely a different person entirely or a manufacturing error," Christina said. "You'll need to find out if he had a bottle of this and if he was tired. Bring me the bottle, and I'll test it."
"Ok, it is possible that the chainsaw was an accident?" Ash asked.
"I'm ruling it out," Christina said, "He'd need to have an extreme reaction to the anti-histamine and essentially pass out, dropping the chainsaw and falling onto it."
Christina looked at the photos on her tablet and swiped another time. A diagram appeared on the screen showing the angle of entry bisecting the side of the body.
"The angle that this entered his back means that either the chainsaw was angled upwards as he fell or someone else was holding it," Christina said.
"Alai has more on the chainsaw..." Christina said as Alai walked into the room. "I just got to your part" She finished looking at Alai.
Alai nodded at Christina, and she swiped a picture of the chainsaw onto the monitor.
"Thanks for meeting us here, Alai," Ash said, "it saves us another trip."
"No problem!" Alai said, "I was in this area for lunch anyways," He lied.
Looking at the picture of the chainsaw on the screen, Alai began to describe his assessment. "This is chainsaw has a safety switch that has to be pressed down by the palm to keep the blade running." He pointed at the small black clip on the back of the handle. "If you let go, it turns off. The motor continues to run, but the blade is stationary.
Tom and Ash nodded, then Alai continued. "But it looks like Daniel modified this even more. I did a bit more research, and sometimes when these saws are impacted like dropped, they start back up again, it's rare, but a few reviews have said it happens."
Tom looked at Allai, about to say something, but Allai raised his hand. "Daniel modified this one. He put an impact sensor on the battery connector."
Christina swiped another screen showing the back of the chainsaw. There was s cutout and small wires connecting the copper tabs where the battery would go.
"This little box physically disconnects the chainsaw if it's dropped. But this is still operational. So it wasn't dropped."