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Tuesday June 28, 2022

Murder in Beaver Falls

short story on murder

The day started off as normal as could be. I woke up at 8:00 AM, got ready for the day, ate breakfast, bid my wife and teenage daughters, Christine and Hannah, goodbye and left for work.  As I drove, I listened to the morning weather forecast and watched the sleepy little town start to wake up around me. Stores and cafés opened, people on the streets exchanged greetings and school buses started taking kids to school. Such is the norm in our tiny town of Beaver Falls, a town so small that we don’t even appear on most maps.  Just a boring perfect little piece of white suburbia. Nothing exciting ever happens, hell nothing ever happens!  Nothing ever even happens on the poorer side of town, Hillcrest; the wrong side of the tracks if you will. 

“With a high of 90 degrees and a low of 67 degrees, we expect today to be a gorgeous sunny day so go out and have fun!” the forecaster exclaimed, interrupting my cynical thoughts.

“Hmm, such weather is abnormal around here,” I thought aloud as I pulled into the parking lot of the local police station, my place of work.  Little did I know that things were soon about to get hotter. 

I wanted to be a police officer ever since I was five. My parents always taught me to help people and be a valuable contributor to society. Growing up, I began to idolize cops after watching many TV shows. The explosions, valour and heroics resonated within me. Of course here in Beaver Falls we don’t get to experience any of that, maybe the occasional crackhead or drug bust at the local high school. 

As I walk into the station, I see my coworkers getting situated. As I settle down at my desk, Deputy Officer Ross walks in with a perturbed look on his face. I’ve only ever seen that look once before on his face in my 19 years of working here and that was when his parents died in a car accident. Something’s amiss. 

“Everybody listen up,” Ross says in that commanding voice of his. “Today at 8:12 AM, the dead body of Trisha Laydon was found near her home. It seems as if she was…bludgeoned…to death.”  Shock ripples through the room.You’d have to be living under a rock to not know who she is…er…was.  I mean how could you not know the genius Harvard-bound scholar-athlete, the first to ever go to an Ivy League in this part of our county. She’s beloved not just in Hillcrest, but the entire town. Who’d want to kill her? Similar thoughts are vocalized around me. “Settle down,” Ross says. “The death has been officially ruled a homicide and it is our job to figure out who committed it. Beil, Roberts I want you at the scene immediately.” 

My partner of 13 years, Jonah Roberts, and I scramble into a squad car. Once at the scene, we see a perimeter has already been established and what we see horrifies us. The body of Trisha, once so strong and alive, lies mangled on a wooded jogging path. Bruises mar her skin and a pool of dried blood surrounds the body.  

“Holy ____” Jonah exclaims next to me, taking it all in. “Whoever did this must have really had it out for her. What do you think happened?”

“Well from the way the blood is dried, it looks like the attack occurred at least 7 or 8 hours ago.  And look, on her head there’s a large depression which was probably the blow that killed her.  From the size of the marks on her body the murder weapon seems to have been a hammer with a face size of around 1-1.5inches,” I say.

“Christ Almighty,” he replies.  

Over the next few hours we scout the location, taking notes of anything that seems interesting, but everything seems normal but for the dead body lying a few yards away. We then head back to the station, relay our findings to Ross and go home. At home, Christine wraps me in a gigantic hug.  Apparently, news spread like wildfire through the town about Trisha’s death.  She tells me to go up and talk to Hannah who barricaded herself in her room immediately after getting home, refusing to talk to anyone. I go upstairs, knock on her door and go in after hearing a quiet “come in.”  Inside I see Hannah sitting at her desk, staring at the blank wall.  

“Hey is everything okay kiddo? I heard today was a rough day.”

“Ya everything’s fine.  I just need some time to think. Besides, I think you had a rougher day than I did,” she replies.

“Haha, it’s what I signed up for.  But seriously if anything is bothering you, you can tell us,” I say as I leave the room. 

After changing out of my uniform I head out to my woodworking shed. I go there whenever I feel stressed and it’s become my refuge of sorts.  Inside, I look at my latest project, a wooden bench for the front porch.  I go to the row of shelves to take out a drill and notice one of my hammers is missing.  At first, I think it’s odd but then I think my neighbor, Phil, must have borrowed it. Weird, he didn’t text me about it. I’ll ask him tomorrow before I leave for work.  After an hour of working on the bench, I head in, we eat dinner and then Hannah goes up to her room again while Christine goes to the family room to read a little bit before bed. I remember that Christine was complaining about the laundry this morning so I decide to surprise her by finishing it. I pick up the dirty clothes in our room and then head to Hannah’s room to collect her dirty laundry. 

“Hey do you have any dirty clothes you need washing?” I ask her when I enter.

“Nope!” she replies hastily.

“Nonsense! I see a massive pile right there,” I say. I go to scoop them up into the basket and am shocked to see what’s underneath….my missing hammer, and it’s covered in dried blood!  And, then I remember the conversation I had with Jonah this morning; the murder weapon was most likely a hammer.

“Dad it’s not what it looks like!” Hannah exclaims.

“You did it, didn’t you?” I ask her.

“Fine, I did,” she says.

“But why? How could you; what did you have against Trisha?” I ask, trying to comprehend the situation. 

“Because I hate her,” she replies.  “Why does she get to go to Harvard while I’m stuck going to our stupid state school.  She’s poor and she’s black. Those people don’t deserve better than me!” she spews out.    

I cannot believe the vile garbage she is saying.  “How could you say such awful things? There’s nothing wrong with going to the state school and Trisha one hundred percent deserves to go to Harvard.  She worked hard to get to where she was.  How can you say her being black makes her undeserving of her accomplishments? You are sick!  Your mother and I never taught you to say such racist things.”

“Because you and mom are weak.”

“You won’t get away with this; justice will be served,” I say, turning around to pick up the hammer.

“Actually I will.”

“What ……!” Suddenly stars burst across my vision and a searing pain reverberates through my head.  I fall sprawled against the floor, and through my darkening vision see Hannah take the hammer and hide it in her closet.

 As light fades to darkness the last things I hear are screams: “Mom! Dad tripped and hit his head on the table and……”

I open my eyes to bright lights and a sterile setting.  Doctors and nurses surround me and start to bombard me with questions: “Mr. Beil are you all right; how are you feeling?”  I say I am fine and ask where I am.  They reply that I’m in the hospital and was admitted last night after I fell at home and suffered a major concussion.

“What’s the last thing you remember Mr. Biel. Can you tell us the date?” they ask me.  I wrack my memory and recall the date being May 12th, 2020. 

The doctors exchange worried glances and say that I got the concussion on May 15th, 2020, and explain that I’m most likely suffering from amnesia, but other than that I am fine.  Suddenly, Christine and Hannah run into the room crying but breathe sighs of relief when they see I’m fine.  The doctors leave to give us some space and they bombard me with questions.

“Are you alright?” Christine asks me.

“Yeah I’m fine. Docs say I have some amnesia but other than that I’m fine.”

“So you can’t remember your accident?” Hannah asks me.

“Nope, my last memories are from the 12th,” I reply back to her.

“Oh no!” Christine exclaims.

“It’s fine,” I say.  “The amnesia isn’t bad and I’m fine health wise. I’ll be fine.”  

Christine looks relieved at that and we chat a little bit of what I can’t remember.  Apparently, that star athlete Trisha Laydon was found murdered; poor girl.  Must be hell at work right now.  Hannah excuses herself to go to the restroom and I watch her leave the room.  However, something odd happens. As she steps through the door  I see her pause, sigh in relief and smile to herself. 

Sweet girl, probably relieved to see her Pop feeling fine.  What a great daughter I have!



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