Fiction: Lovestruck

Jigyansa Mohanty

 
It’s been the most hard-hitting case for Jack. Never ever in his slightest thoughts, he had envisaged that a day would come when he would have to investigate the case of Shelly. On top of it, he had plans to visit his mom in north Michigan this thanksgiving, for which he had already spoken to Mr. Ponting. But again, life is uncertain and has the habit of surprising us every minute. We plan something without having the slightest idea, as to what is in store for us. He was summoned by his boss to look into this case and all hell broke loose when he came to know the address,
 “2025, Warren Avenue, Saginaw” A chill ran down his spine and in a desperate attempt to be doubly sure he asked, “Is the address correct, Sir?” 
 “Hmm” Mr. Ponting replied in his usual unrelenting tone. 
“Yeah !! any more questions? I hope you should be good to start now or else you will be late for your Turkey meal”. Jack knew how hard taskmaster Mr. Ponting was and hence without losing a second he grabbed the blue file from the table.
“Shelly Hendershot ..., it’s unbelievable” thought Jack. As he drove his SUV, he kept wondering, what might have transpired that would have led to the death of a lady who inspired him a lot. Two years back when Jack moved to this new neighborhood, he hardly thought he would make any friends. He remembered his Mom saying “A detective has no friends”. Jack never used to believe in this statement of his Mom, until he stepped into his Dad’s shoes in the Year 2010.  After that in his five year long stay in Cleveland, he hardly made a single friend. His urge to work near his birth place compelled him to accept this new job offer from Mr. Ponting’s firm in Detroit. He worked in Detroit for two years and then shifted to Saginaw in the year 2017. He still remembers that cold windy afternoon when he met Shelly for the first time. After parking his car in the car pot, he was walking towards his home, when he saw this tall, fair lady struggling with her trash bags. Jack being a thorough gentleman, didn’t think twice before extending a helping hand to Shelly. Her blue eyes twinkled twice and she nodded in affirmation. They walked towards the dumpster and in those two minutes of brisk walk Shelly thanked Jack multiple times. That very meeting was enough to create an impact on Jack. Jack’s demanding job prohibited him, but whenever he would come across this beautiful lady, he would feel the urge to converse. Never ever he had imagined that such a day would come, when he would be summoned to look into her case.
“Hey, this is Jack Nicolson… I mean Detective Jack and I have been asked to look into this case” Jack shook hands with the local cop who was present in the crime scene.
“Nice, Myself Steven… investigating officer of this case, Good to meet you”. 
As Jack took a step further, Steven cautioned him, “Please, step aside. The body is being brought down to be taken for autopsy”.
“Sure” uttered Jack and stood stern with a lump in his throat.
As he looked up, he could see officer’s bringing Shelly’s body. He didn’t have courage to look into her face.  For the first time in ages, Jack felt a crunch in his tummy. 
“Hey Officer, any clue as to how this happened?” Jack popped the question in a fit of anxiety.
“You seem to be in a hurry Mr. Nicolson… relax. Let the autopsy report come, then only we can say in certainty”. Steven quipped.
“I mean Yeah!! But any guesses?” Jack was insistent.
“Guesses don’t work in our profession. By the way, you seem to be very curious for the case. Any special reason or it’s your inborn trait” Steven was no less and looked straight into Jack’s eyes.
“Ohh… well, may be the second one.” said Jack.
A feeling of anxiety was gripping Jack from within. Many thoughts were making waves in his mind. “What must have happened, that Shelly took such an extreme step?” 
“It seems to be drug overdose, but why would Shelly do that? She didn’t seemed to be on drugs….”
It was summer 2018, when Shelly and Jack had this friendly conversation in their society pool. Shelly was taking a dip and Jack joined her. In those 20 minutes Shelly told Jack, how she loved her present job of working as an intern with a Tax consulting firm, her hobbies which included playing tennis and how she looked forward to her life with Ted, her boyfriend who worked as a Fitness coach. 
From Shelly’s words, Jack could make out how madly she was in love with Ted. She wanted to marry Ted, and have lots of kids and pets at the same time.
When Jack jokingly asked, if she wanted to be a homemaker? she had her answer ready, ‘Homemaker!! Why? I can reconcile work and home pretty well, lucky to have Ted with me, who is going to make my life easy”.
For some reason, her words left an impact on Jack. He had never met someone who was so vivacious and honest at the same time. Being a detective Jack had this habit of being serious but with Shelly he loved being exported to a different zone altogether. Suddenly he would become this old Jack of community college who loved hanging around with lively friends. Shelly had this persona and it left an impact on Jack whenever he met her.
That night, Jack couldn’t sleep. Despite having a migraine attack, Jack was totally into Shelly’s case. “What would have led to such an untoward incident? Was she on drugs?”
 Jack had full faith on his skills and felt Shelly could never be under the influence of any toxic substance.  “Maybe I need to get in touch with Ted !!” thought Jack.
In between Jack explored and found out Shelly Hendershot’s page on social networking site. From her prom nights to her boss’s wedding pics all bore testimony to the fact that, Shelly was a lady full of life. Her pics with Ted too spoke volumes about their relationship. From sun kissed shores of the Caribbean to smooches under the blue sky, they both seemed to be deep in love with each other. Jack couldn’t find any disturbing element in these pics or posts.
Perturbed Jack dozed off in his chair, when suddenly his phone beeped…
It was a message from Inspector Steven, who confirmed that the case stands closed as reports suggest drug overdose. 
“Drug overdose!! Why such a beautiful person inside out would take such a step? Was it deliberate or accidental? Need to talk to Ted”, thought Jack and drove to Ted’s fitness center to meet him.
“Hey, I need to speak to Ted, I mean Ted Martin, ”Jack said to the lady in the reception counter.
“Sorry Sir, but Ted is on leave since last two days” The lady seemed curious and looked straight to Jack’s face.
“On leave since two days…” wondered Jack and decided to head straight to Ted’s house in Midland, 30 minutes’ drive from Saginaw.
Google map was prompt enough to show the directions and Jack followed the same with utmost sincerity. That thirty-minute ride seemed like an hour to Jack. Unknowingly though, his quest was pushing him to drive at the highest speed. All sorts of bizarre thoughts were crossing his mind. He had never come across a case where his brain and heart thought differently. 
 The moment Jack reached this red house at the corner of the circle street, he parked his car and walked towards the main door. The tyrant weather had played its part in holding on to the shoe imprints, of a man and woman. 
 “May be Ted is with someone, thought Jack and in a fist of anger rang the doorbell continuously. 
A deep silence…, there was no answer to Jack’s repeated knocks too. 
“May be Ted is out, thought Jack” and was about to return when his eyes fell on this blue Honda accord, parked In-front of the garage towards the side of the house.
Jack rushed towards the car and was shocked to find Ted lying in a pool of blood in the back seat of the car. As he opened the rear door, he could spot the blue ring that Shelly used to wear always. Ted’s phone was lying near by and as Jack touched it, he could clearly see messages from Shelly, particular the last one blew his mind,
“I know, you didn’t deserve this, but again I loved you dearly. If you can’t be mine then you can’t be with any one else. I can’t imagine my life without you. The end is bitter but the love was pure.”

***

About the Author: Jigyansa Mohanty is a banking professional who resides in Indianapolis, USA with her husband and two kids. A person who played with numbers once, soon found her passion in writing. Jigyansa’s ever curious mind finds pleasure in the lap of novice thoughts and ideas. Apart from writing Jigyansa shows interest in Dance and Food Photography. Her write-ups have found place in various online magazines like Indian Review, Induswomanwriting, Women’s Web, Youth Ki Awaaz, Momspresso. Jigyansa was Orange Flower Award finalist for the year 2020 and 2021. Her first book “Staggered” was released recently.
Jigyansa Mohanty can be reached at: mjigyansa-das@gmail.com 


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