"There's the case that makes you, and the case that breaks you."
It all began on a grey, rainy Sunday evening at around 7 pm. A young girl was on her way home. She was alone. Given the weather it was understandable that most people were at their homes. She never saw or heard anyone else, if you don't count the cars that occasionally passed by. She was just walking past a park, not too far from her home, when something happened. Someone had been following her without her even knowing. This young girl's life got to an end on that evening. Shrouded in mystery, with seemingly no witnesses. But there is always another side to things..
The following day started just like the previous one. It wasn't raining at that moment, but everything was dull and grey. And that morning was nothing out of the ordinary at the Central Police Station. There were always new crimes to solve and new criminals to apprehend. But detective Cole Phelps would soon start to understand that the first case of his day, as familiar as it might be, would also be so different than the previous ones.
Cole and his current partner, Rusty were told that someone had found a body in the park. The body of a young girl. That alone was enough to make Cole look a little spooked. Despite everything he had seen, the thought of a dead child made him feel uneasy, mainly because it made him think of his two daughters.
After a few short moments of silence Cole knelt down next to the victim.
"There are signs of strangulation,"
he said, pointing out the clear marks around the victim's neck. Whoever was behind this, had clearly used some force.
"And.. this of course has to be verified, but from the looks of it I have to say that.."
"She's been raped, Phelps. Get used to it,"
said Rusty, also kneeling down and looking at the body.
"Rusty, this is a little girl,"
Cole had to say, looking slightly uneasy.
"And she lived in a sick, twisted world. You know that the same as I do."
Rusty's statement didn't surprise Cole. He was far less compassionate than what Cole himself could be, depending on the situation. And right now, Cole felt sorry for this girl. Little did he know that this was only the start of a very bad day.
"Well.. we have to find out who's the perp behind this.."
he then thought mostly to himself.
"I think I might have something to start with,"
he then heard a familiar voice coming from behind him. It was his old partner, Stefan Bekowsky. Could be one of his favorite partners so far.
"Good to see you, Cole,"
Bekowsky said. He was one of the few to mostly talk to Cole using his first name.
"I just wish that I had some better news to tell."
"Well, let's hear them,"
Cole said, standing up.
"Alright, then. I drove around here last night. I saw only two people walking on the streets. One of them was most likely the girl that we're looking at now. And the other one.. well, hate to break it to you, Cole, but it looked like your brother. He walked slightly behind this girl. Kind of looked like he could have been following her but I wasn't sure about it."
Stefan's statement took Cole by surprise. Of course he knew that his younger brother wasn't exactly in the clear, but he'd never thought that he could do something like this.
"And.. you're sure that it was him?"
he then proceeded to ask Bekowsky. This had to be some kind of a sick joke.
"Well.. you and I both know that he has very.. distinctive features,"
Stefan added. Cole knew what he referred to. Half of his brother's, Everett's face had burned during the war. It was true that you didn't see those features on every passer-by.
"She's going to be taken to the morgue and the coroner will take a look at her. I assume we can continue this conversation at the station?"
Cole finally said, changing the subject. Stefan agreed and drove off the scene. Cole and Rusty waited until the body had been taken away and then also left.
After they had arrived at the Central Police Station, Rusty went on to do whatever he had in mind, and Cole started looking for Bekowsky. He didn't have to look too far, and eventually they both sat down. Bekowsky repeated how he'd seen both the victim and supposedly Everett walking on the street.
"He looked like he was drunk,"
"And maybe even something else. He was certainly not completely on this planet. He might have been tailing the girl."
"Who was tailing the girl?"
they heard a voice ask, and Stefan groaned. He didn't exactly see eye to eye with that man. Roy Earle appeared from around the corner. He always arrived when you least expected him to. He had that same smug look on his face like he always did. Cole still thought that he looked like a damn movie star.
Stefan added without looking Roy in the eye. His unbearable smile grew a little wider as he heard that.
"Oh. That junkie,"
he said ruthlessly. Of course he'd already heard of the dead girl, just pretended like it had been new to him.
"That makes this my case, Phelps. Have that sack of shit brought in,"
he then said to some poor, unsuspecting officer that walked by.
the officer said, just wanting to get Earle off his back as fast as possible.
"You keep sniffing up these dead people, Cole,"
Roy then said, lifting his chin up.
"I'm going to see this thing about your brother."
Everett and Roy hated each other, everyone knew that. But maybe that was why Roy was so eager to deal with him. He could never skip an opportunity to say mean things to somebody.
"Don't sprain your neck, Earle,"
Bekowsky said in a mocking tone as Roy lifted his chin up even more. This caused Roy to give him a sour look before walking away.
"Finally he's gone. And without any nasty remarks,"
"I might have for once hit him where it hurts."
Cole nodded, deep in thought.
"And he might eventually hit back,"
he thought it was wise to add. Stefan thought so too.
"I bet. That backstabbing son of a bitch does whatever he can to remind others of their places. What are you going to do now?"
he asked from Cole.
"I guess I have to go and make sure that Roy doesn't take things too far with Everett.."
he replied with a sigh.
"Good luck with that. I can't say that I envy you. What do you say we hit the bar a little later? Any one of the places that Earle would never step into,"
Stefan suggested. Cole thought about it for a little while. He didn't visit bars too frequently but for once didn't feel like refusing.
"I'll think about it. I just might need something like that after today,"
he said, to which Stefan nodded.
"Good. I'll see you later, then. Good luck with mr. Snob out there."
"Thanks, Stefan. I'll need it."
As expected, Roy Earle didn't waste any time getting Everett picked up and brought to the station. And of course he was there waiting for him, ready to deal a few nasty, verbal hits on him. In his still drunken state Everett wasn't capable of doing much else than ramble this and that and deal a few low, verbal blows on Roy. And of course he didn't forget to call him the same old names like he always did. Everett hated Roy with passion, and Roy hated him back all the same. None of them even tried to hide it. Cole couldn't help it, he felt ashamed for his brother's actions. And that was just putting it lightly.
Eventually, after listening to Everett's dull insults Roy decided that he'd heard enough. He straight up ordered that Everett was to be thrown into a cell. And that happened. Surely Roy was more than satisfied to see the good for nothing lowlife behind bars.
"Suits you just right,"
he said to the younger Phelps before they took him away.
Later that evening, despite already more or less promising to hit a bar with Stefan, Cole never showed up. Instead, Stefan finally found him back at the station, going through case notes, or whatever. Drowning himself in work, basically.
"What are you doing here, Cole?"
Stefan asked as he stepped in.
"Working, Stefan. I'm working,"
Cole replied without even lifting his gaze. His voice sounded dull and didn't have the usual energy in it. He sounded.. almost worn out. Stefan didn't remember seeing Cole just like that ever before.
"At this hour? Cole, I know you're hardworking but aren't even you taking this too far now?"
Stefan then had to ask. And then, finally Cole lifted his head and looked at Stefan, revealing how tired he indeed looked. The whole incident that his brother had caused, what he had done.. It had its impact on Cole. Looked like it hit him at full force, even.
"I just want to forget, Stefan,"
Cole added, again with that nearly lifeless voice. He really sounded like he was feeling down. Unfortunately Stefan had never been a good shoulder to cry on, mostly because he never seemed to know how he was supposed to act and what he was supposed to say. And so, while Stefan was still battling with finding the right thing to say, Cole suddenly continued:
"You can go home, Stefan. I'll stay here for a while longer, just.. look at things from different angles."
Stefan, feeling like he wasn't much help to Cole, just nodded briefly and said:
"Just.. try not to work too hard."
Cole looked at him for a short while and then also nodded. But not in a determinate manner like normally. He was tired of this situation, exhausted, even. And yet he couldn't stop thinking about it.
"Good night, Stefan.."
he quietly added, before getting back to his things. And after Stefan had walked out, he felt the urge to kick himself. He knew that he should have said something.. something else. Cole looked like he needed help. Or maybe just someone to listen to him. Stefan just wasn't that person, as unfortunate as it was. All he could do before hopping in his car and leaving, was hope that Cole would be alright by himself.
No. Cole wasn't alright. After Stefan had walked out of the room and left the building, Cole stopped whatever so-called work he had been doing, and just sat in his chair, burying his face in his hands. This was it. His brother had done something that he'd never believed he would have done. Something unacceptable. And Cole didn't see a way out of it. No matter how much he tried to drown himself in work, it didn't help. Not this time. He was done. He couldn't work on this case anymore. Never before had he backed out from investigation, but now.. he didn't see any other choice. He couldn't go on. This case would destroy him. Possibly it already had. When he finally left the building and went back home, his normally empty and desk was a mess of papers. Cole drove straight home, and once he got there, he barely said anything. He just went to bed and stayed there until next morning, barely having any sleep.
The next day Cole didn't show up at work. Instead he left home and eventually stopped in front of Everett's house. It was nothing spectacular, a single-storey house, but Everett had always made sure to keep it well maintained, both indoors and outdoors. But now, as Cole walked through the slightly overgrown front yard and got to the door, he saw it open a crack. And so, as he pushed the door open, he was met with a mess. Popcorn cups, both empty and half-empty, now decorated both the floors and counters. And that wasn't all. The popcorn cups were accompanied by morphine syrettes. As Cole stood there and thought about it, something came to his mind. Just yesterday Stefan had told how Everett looked like he wasn't on this planet. Now it looked like this was the explanation.
The house was seemingly empty, but Cole knew that Everett didn't live by himself. And so he continued the search, and eventually came to a closet which was only slightly open. And as he opened it, he saw Everett's little girl hiding inside. She looked scared and skinny. A few bruises could be seen in her face and arms, suggesting that someone might have been way too rough with her. Everett being the most likely candidate.
"You can come out, it's alright,"
Cole said to the child. And finally she came out, hugging a doll against her chest. The girl, named Emma, looked fearful. And as Cole knelt down in front of the kid and asked her to tell what was wrong, and what had happened in this household, she stood there, silent. But Cole knew the girl and gave her some time, and eventually she started telling that she was scared of her father, who had behaved unusually and acted angry. Emma then added that Everett had been needlessly rough with her, which would explains the bruises. Shortly after that Everett had left the house and the girl hadn't seen him since. Cole knew that this wasn't a proper way for a young girl to live and offered her a place at his house. She could get something to eat because it was apparent that she hadn't even seen proper food in days.
After Cole left the house with her, he knew that he had done the best thing for the girl. Everett would eventually face the punishment for what he'd done. And as for Cole... he would have to find a way to live with it.