Short Story Sunday: “Thick” [Part Four – 318]

Short Story Sunday: "Thick" | Creative Writing | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

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Witt followed Dowen through the hallways of the hospital. They entered the ICU area. They showed their badges to the receptionist at the front desk and she pointed them in the right direction. It wasn’t hard to spot which room Alisha was in. There were two police officers posted outside. The two detectives asked for a quick update, but there was nothing big to tell. The girl was okay, as far as they could tell. Some tests were being run but they wouldn’t have the results on those for another day or two.

Alisha seemed to have no memory of what had happened on the bridge. She didn’t even seem to remember who she was. They had called Alisha’s parents to come down and confirm their daughter’s identity – or at least her whereabouts. However, they still weren’t able to get in touch with her parents.

“Something weird is definitely going on,” Dowen whispered to Witt.

“You don’t think her parents have anything to do with this, do you?” Witt asked shocked.

Dowen shook his head. “No, but it’s strange to me how their daughter went out early this morning, it’s now the afternoon and, assuming this is Alisha, they haven’t seen or heard from their daughter. Wouldn’t they be looking? Wouldn’t they have gotten in touch with Ben if they’re such good friends and he would have explained it all to them?”

Witt hummed to herself. “You’ve got a point. I know I would be worried sick if I couldn’t find my kid.”

Dowen let out a disgruntled sigh. “Well, let’s head into the room and get this over with. I hope you’re in this for the long haul because I have a feeling this case is going to run us in circles.”

Witt entered the room before her partner. Alisha had a room all to herself with the police officers outside the door and there were no nurses or doctors in sight. She laid down in her bed with her eyes lightly closed. Witt looked at Dowen and pointed to the girl and he rolled his eyes. His partner couldn’t help but crack a smile. Yes, Alisha was awake and ready to talk about twenty minutes ago, but she had a rough day. It was entirely possible she had fallen back to sleep.

Dowen sat down on the left side of the bed and Witt joined him. She remained standing. The two stared at Alisha in silence for a brief moment. Then Dowen broke the silence with a whisper.

“I’m sure the hospital cleaned her up nice, but there’s not even a scratch on her.”

“I know,” Witt said in agreement. “She looks pretty good from falling 50-feet.”

“How can she look like this after what happened to her? There are no bandages or anything.”

“Maybe most of her scars are under the blankets.”

Dowen shook his head. Witt knew he didn’t believe that. She didn’t believe it either but she didn’t have any other answers. Unless this girl was not in fact Alisha like they had noticed when she was first found.

“Do you think we made a mistake?” Witt whispered.

“What that?” Dowen looked up at her in confusion.

“We halted the search the moment we found this girl. Now that I see her lying in this bed, alive and unscathed… I wonder if the real Alisha is still out there somewhere. If she is, she has to be dead by now.”

“Yes, then we have to go with the involuntary manslaughter angle again but we’ll also have another mystery on our hands,” Dowen said.

Witt looked at her partner.

“Who is this girl, where did she come from, and what was she doing there?” Dowen continued staring at the girl in the bed.

Before Witt could answer, the girl blinked her eyes open. She immediately turned her head to look at the two detectives. She gave them a small smile.

“Hi,” she said, her voice raspy.

“Alisha?” Dowen asked softly.

The girl frowned. “I don’t know, but maybe. Everyone else seems to think that’s who I am.”

“How are you feeling?” Witt asked.

“Tired, but okay,” she replied.

“Well, I’m Detective Witt and this is my partner, Detective Dowen. We’re going to ask you a couple of questions but we won’t take up too much of your time. We know you need to rest.”

The girl lifted her head slightly and scooted herself up higher on the pillows with her arms. Once she sat up, she smiled again at the detectives. “Of course, please ask what you need to. I don’t know if I’ll remember anything, but I heard there was an accident.”

“An accident that involved you,” Dowen explained. “You jumped off the bridge falling fifty feet into the icy river below. It’s a miracle you’re alive and not as hurt as you should be.”

“I must be lucky. Someone must have been watching over me.”

“Sure,” Dowen said exasperated.

Witt took a couple of photos out of her pocket. She had printed them out back at the station when they were searching for the car’s license plate number. The first picture was of Ben and Alisha standing on the bridge talking. It was a screen shot from the camera footage. “Do you recognize these people?”

The girl leaned forward a little. She squinted her eyes at the black and white image but finally shook her head before leaning her head back against the pillow. “No, I don’t. I’m sorry.”

“This is Benjamin Lame and you right before you jumped off the bridge,” Witt said pointing to the people in the photo.

The girl gasped. “Really? How strange… I know I have no memory of the incident, but I would like to think I’d recognize at least myself.”

“Do you recognize the place?”

She shook her head. “I assume it’s the bridge you mentioned but I have no memory of the place, let alone going there.”

Witt sighed. She turned to Dowen with a look expressing her concern that they might be wasting their time. They couldn’t make any conclusions from the victim if they couldn’t explain anything that had happened to them.

Dowen returned the look and Witt sighed knowing the exact face he was making. He wasn’t entirely sure this girl couldn’t remember anything. Judging from the state the victim was in and how quickly she seemed to recover from the incident, Witt wondered the same thing. Was this all an act? Was Eli in on this act as well?

“I think we may be done here.” Dowen stood making the executive decision. Witt had no objections.

“That was quick. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help to you,” The girl said.

“It’s okay, you focus on getting better. I’m sure we’ll be in touch again,” Dowen said.

Witt didn’t have anything else to say. Normally she was more sympathetic than Dowen but she was far too confused to say anything else to this… victim? Witness? Suspect? She wasn’t so sure.

The two detectives made it back out into the hall. They said their goodbyes to the officers and made their way back to the front desk to check out and give back their visitor’s passes. They were just about to leave when Witt turned back to the receptionist.

“Excuse me,” she said, “may we request to look at the medical records for the patient in room 203?”

The receptionist hesitated to comply.

“She’s the Jane Doe, but may be Alisha Davis. She’s a victim or possible suspect in another crime.” Dowen stepped in.

The young girl behind the counter nodded. “Would you like to see it now or shall I make copies? I can’t let you leave with it since she’s still a patient.”

“Copies would be great, thank you.” Witt smiled. As soon as the girl walked away, she turned to Dowen. “I’m curious about what the doctors think about her condition. I don’t think she’s Alisha at all. I think she’s playing us along with… well, either Eli or Ben. My money is on Eli though.”

“He had the getaway car.” Dowen nodded. “We’ll take these files back to the station and check on the stolen car report. If he never called and reported it, then I think we have means to pay him another visit.”

*

Witt tossed the copy of the medical records on Dowen’s desk. She had combed through them thoroughly while Dowen checked on the stolen car report. Before she could explain her side of the findings, Dowen leaned back in his chair shaking his head.
“It was never reported which means either Eli was the one driving the car or he let someone borrow it.”

Witt grinned. “Excellent, we’re getting closer. And all this girl has is amnesia. No concussion, no broken bones, nothing. The doctors are calling it a miracle.”

Dowen sat up and took the file folder in his hands. He opened and thumbed through the pages. “You’re kidding me, right? So this girl is not Alisha Davis. She can’t be.”

“I think we need to do a DNA test on this girl. She’s either lying to cover up for Alisha or Eli or whatever is going on here. Or she could very well be a missing person with amnesia who we just happened to stumble upon during our search for Alisha.”

Dowen shook his head. “That can’t be possible though, right? This Jane Doe looks exactly Alisha Davis. Although it would explain the change of outfit.” He put the folder down and began to type on his computer. “I’m going to look up all the missing persons that have been reported within the past year.”

Witt walked around to the other side of his desk and peered over his shoulder. “If we see this Jane Doe in this list, then we have a serious problem. That means Alisha is still out there somewhere.”

“It means her body is out there somewhere, though I’m sure it was washed away with the river at this point.”

“This case is laying it on thick for us, huh?” Witt sighed.

Dowen scrolled through all the missing persons – males and females. Finally, he stopped at a certain young girl. “Oh, man… that’s her. That’s the Jane Doe we just left at the hospital! Elizabeth Hammond.” He wrote down the name.

Witt shook her head in disbelief. “The resemblance to Alisha is uncanny. This can’t be a coincidence, can it?”

“I don’t know, but we definitely need to do a DNA test. We may need to call the parents of this Elizabeth girl. She’s even the same age as Alisha,” Dowen said. He reached for the phone.

“Wait,” Witt put a hand on his shoulder. “Shouldn’t we wait to contact Elizabeth’s parents? We should make sure it’s actually her before we get their hopes up.”

Dowen shook his head. “This can’t wait. I’ll explain everything to them over the phone and make sure they understand that they may not in fact be her. I’m pretty sure it is her though…”

“How long has she been missing?”

“Two months.”

“We’ve had such a harsh winter these past two months. It’s no wonder she’s lost her memory. I wonder what happened to her.”

Dowen seemed as though he were about to reply, but then he spoke into the phone. Witt walked away from his desk to give him some space. She made it back to her work station and looked at all they had figured out throughout the day. The case kept getting weirder and weirder. They might have solved the case of the missing girl but that meant they hadn’t solved the case of the girl who jumped off the bridge. Not to mention that seemed to be more than just her simply jumping off the bridge. Another man, possibly Eli, was involved. There was some plan that Witt and her partner were missing. She didn’t know if Ben had anything to do it or if he was just a pawn to be used as a witness. Some stories weren’t adding up and someone was lying about something. Witt put her head in her hands. It had been a long day and she couldn’t quite figure out what exactly was going on.

Detective Dowen stood beside her desk. He tapped her on the shoulder and she looked up at him. He put on his winter coat. “Elizabeth’s parents are on their way to the hospital. We’re going to meet them there. In the meantime, I ordered a team of officers to go back to the bridge to start the search over for Alisha – just in case. I told them to expand the perimeter down the river as well. If she’s there, she’s bound to be washed up ashore somewhere.”

Witt stood grabbing her coat. She nodded to her partner and followed him out of the station. They were in for a long night.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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