“You’re not suppose to be here.”
The whispered plea was drowned out by the soft crashing of the surf. The predawn breeze blowing cool and gently in rhythm with the Texas waters making their way onto shore, pulling away anything caught in its undertow.
“You’re not suppose to be here,” the harsh tear filled whisper kept repeating over and over.
The man made his way to the surf, clutching the bundle in his arms close to his chest. As the water splashed over his feet, he fell to his knees and laid the bundle down in the water, silently begging the ocean to take this child.
The waters receded but the baby remained, crying out for help, pleading for its life. The man muffled the screams with his hand, waiting for the next wave to come and wash over them.
But the waves refused to come, refusing to be a part of this evil deed.
“You’re not suppose to be here,” the man whispered one last time as his knife found its way to the baby’s throat, cutting clean through in one fluid motion.
A dark calmness washes over the man as he stands up slowly and fades away into the predawn shadows.
Devon Dasan didn’t hear the person calling his name. He was in a haze, looking at the wall in front of him full of photos of people he never got to give peace to. Every time he was unable to solve a case their picture went up on his wall. There were not many pictures but for Devon just one picture was one too many.
“Detective Dasan,” the soft voice repeated. “Detective?”
This time she touched his shoulder, breaking the haze.
“What,” he asked, startled as he turned around to see a young lady standing before him with a notebook clutched tightly against her chest.
“I didn’t mean to startle you Detective,” the teenager with the deep green eyes said. “I’m Amy. Amy Neal from LaPorte High. You agreed to let me interview you for the school paper.”
“Yes,” Devon answered. “I thought our appointment was for 12:30?”
“It was,” Amy answered. “It’s 2 o’clock now.”
Devon looked down at his watch. He lost time again.
“I’m so sorry Miss Neal. Please forgive me.”
“I understand,” Amy smiled. “You must be very busy getting ready for retirement.”
“Sadly no,” he answered, swinging from side to side in his chair, his open hands displaying an empty desk. “They’ve already taken all my cases away from me. I just have to sit here and look pretty for the next seven days.”
“What about those,” she asked, pointing toward the few pictures on his wall.
“Those,” he said, drawing the word out slowly, trying to think how best to answer the question. “Those, to put it bluntly, are my failures.” Seeing the blank look on her face he continued, “have a seat Miss Neal. You don’t want to hear about those.”
“You can call me Amy,” she responded as she sat down. “And I don’t mind if you don’t. As Mrs. Gonzales always says, ‘A good reporter doesn’t just write a story, she follows it where ever it goes.’ There seems like there’s a story on that wall somewhere.”
“You’re a smart girl.”
“Top five in my class,” she blurted out proudly.
“And modest,” Devon said sarcastically. “A noble trait.”
“Excuse me,” Amy said, sounding a bit offended.
“Nothing,” Devon answered. “Shall we get started?”
Amy put her notebook down on top of the empty desk and started digging to her purse.
“Where did I put that damn thing,” she mumbled to herself. “I swear every time I need it it hides from me. I know it’s here some… Ah here it is.”
Amy pulled out her cell phone and started swiping the screen to the right as she looked for the app she wanted.
“Okay I’m ready,” Amy said as she laid her phone face down on the desk between Devon and herself. “This is Amy Neal, interviewing Detective Devon Dasan of the LaPorte Police Department, Homicide. Detective if you would, please speak clearly so the recorder can pick up your voice. It’s not the best recorder but it’s the best I have.”
“Thank you. I see you have this wall with four pictures on it. You just told me they are your failures. Could you elaborate on that?”
“Weellllll, they are cases I could never solve. Even though I never promised the families directly that I would catch the killer I always made that promise to myself. Every case I got I worked hard to give peace the grieving families. These were the ones that never got it.”
“That’s impressive though, only four out of hundreds of cases that must have come across your desk in your long career.”
“There’s nothing impressive about not finding a killer Miss Neal,” he snapped, not realizing the venom he spat out with those words. “I’m sorry, that didn’t come out right.”
“No I’m sorry,” she said. “That wasn’t what I mean to say.”
“Next question,” Devon said, trying to save them both.
“What made you want to become a Detective in the first place?”
“He did,” Devon answered, pointing at the picture of a baby on the wall.
“Who is he?”
“My greatest nightmare,” Devon answered, his eyes hazing over like they were when Amy first walked in. “Daryl and I were just kids when he died.”
“Yes,” Devon said as he drew in a deep breath, blinking away the tears in his eyes and trying to regain his composure. “Daryl was my best friend. We did everything together.”
“What happened to Daryl?”
“He died in Vietnam,” Devon answered coldly. “He could never get that image, that face,” he pulled the picture off the wall gently and brought it closer to himself, “out of his mind. It haunted his dreams as it did mine. One night he woke up, screaming from his nightmare and the enemy heard the screams and opened fire on his platoon in the jungle. He died and I survived.”
“I don’t get it. If you were a kid when this boy died then how did he affect you so much?”
“Cause we were the ones that found him,” he answered, tears filling his eyes again.
“We can stop if you want,” Amy said, not sure how to react to where the story just turned.
“No,” Devon took out a handkerchief and whipped his eyes. “We can keep going.”
“It was Friday, April 21, 1950. The sun had just come up and we wanted to catch some fish before school. Daryl and I went to the beach at the end of Lover’s Lane. We never caught anything but it was fun for us. Mostly we would walk around the beach and look for washed up treasure. It’s what boys did.”
“We would poke dead things with our fishing poles to see what would happen. As we were walking up to the water we saw something rocking back and forth in the surf. It was as if the water was rejecting it, not willing to carry it out off of the beach.”
“As we got closer we saw it was a bath towel wrapped around something. There was blood on the outside of the towel so he figured it was something a fisherman left behind from the night before.”
“‘What do you think it is,’ Daryl asked.”
“‘Fish guts most likely,’ I answered because we saw a lot of that around the beach. Excited we ran up to the towel and I kicked it toward Daryl. That was the moment that changed both our lives. The baby’s head had been completely severed from its body and flew into Daryl’s hands.”
“We both screamed, getting the attention of a couple on a morning stroll. They came running over to see why we stood there motionless, screaming. Daryl dropped the head in the sand and as soon as it hit the ground the surf pulled away. It was like the water didn’t want to touch the baby now that it had been uncovered.”
“The police were called, as well as our parents, and we were taken home and questioned about how we found the baby. We told them it was just lying there. Nothing was ever done about it. There was no DNA testing back then, no way of identifying the baby. There was no case and it has haunted me everyday since.”
“If there was no case how did you get the picture?”
“My father was friends with the mortician and he gave my father the picture.”
“Do you mind if I take a picture of it for the paper?”
“Sure,” he answered, handing the picture over to Amy.
She picked up her phone and stopped the recording. Opening the camera app she took a picture of the baby. It looked peaceful, like it was sleeping. The mortician had done a good job of sewing the head back on and covering up the wound.
“I think that’s enough for today,” Amy said as she picked up her notebook, dropping her phone back into her purse. “If you don’t mind, I would like to make turn this into a multi piece article. Can I come back tomorrow to ask more questions?”
“I don’t see why not,” Devon answered with a sigh. “I’ve got seven more days of doing absolutely nothing.”
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