Authors: Ann Mullen
“What are you talking about?”
Detective Trainum didn’t say anything; instead he looked at
me with lifted eyebrows.
“What is it with you men and this eyebrow thing? You guys are
always doing that… eyebrow movement… what is that?”
“You know what I’m talking about. Don’t try to change the
subject. And I don’t have some eyebrow thing happening. You’re guilty and
you’re just talking hogwash. You know what you did was wrong. Admit it.”
“I don’t have the faintest idea…”
“Okay, you don’t have to admit it. Besides, it’s moot now and
I don’t want to press the issue. Just remember that next time it might not work
in your favor. You could be causing more harm than good.”
“What else did Sheriff Wake Hudson have to say? Did he say
anything about me? He likes me. I can tell. I think we’ve formed a bond,” I
“Actually, he said you’re going to make a real good P.I., because
you have good instincts. But don’t let it go to your head. If he catches you
crossing the line, believe me, he won’t hesitate to throw your butt in the can.
He said you have a certain charm about you and that I should keep my guard up.
I think he’s right, and I think you’re dangerous. You’re trouble.”
“I can’t believe he said all those nice things about me!”
“Yes, he did. He also said that you’re a pistol and difficult
to deal with most of the time, and that I should avoid having anything to do
“That’s a coincidence. He said pretty much the same thing
We looked at each other... and grinned.
Detective Trainum and I came to a mutual agreement: I
wouldn’t interfere with his investigation if he’d stop jumping to conclusions.
We both had a common interest in this case. We wanted to see justice done and
we wanted to make sure that
got what she
“I hate to say this, but I think Carl’s innocent. He’s a
jerk, but he’s not a killer. He doesn’t have what it takes. He’s gutless. My
guess is he’s never fired a gun and wouldn’t know how to, if he had to. He’s
been pampered all his life, first by his parents and then by my sister. He’s a
spoiled rich kid who has never had to do an honest day’s work in his whole
life. He invests other people’s money. How hard can that be?”
“I take it that you don’t like your brother-in-law very
I chuckled. “That’s an understatement, if I’ve ever heard
one. I could give you examples of why I despise the man, but I wouldn’t want it
to get back to my sister.”
“You can trust me; I won’t say a word.”
I rolled my eyes at him and said, “I don’t know you well
enough to be pouring my heart out to you. Give me time. You have to earn my
“I see what you mean. I’m the same way. In my business, if
you put your trust in the wrong people, it could get you killed.”
“You don’t seem like such a bad guy after all, detective.”
“Why, thank you, Mrs. Blackhawk. You’re not so bad yourself,
but you are a bit of a troublemaker. The next time you cross crime scene tape
you’d better be absolutely sure that no one is watching. I could’ve hauled your
butt off to jail right then and there.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I heard Sheriff Hudson’s words echoing in my ears about
stepping back and letting the scene play out. He’s a very smart guy. I’ve
learned quite a bit from him since we’ve met.”
“Yeah, I developed a fondness for him recently, too.”
“Hey, it looks as if they’re bringing someone up. Let’s go
check it out.”
As soon as we got out of the state trooper’s car, we heard
the sound of another helicopter coming in for a landing. It set down next to
the police chopper. This time it was the Pegasus Life Support Chopper. They’re
only called in when there’s a life and death situation.
One of the officers came up to the detective, whispered
something in his ear, and then went back down the embankment.
I was about to panic when Detective Trainum said, “Before you
get crazy on me, let’s go see what’s going on. I think your sister’s okay. It’s
the other one who needs the transport. I was told that she’s in pretty bad
shape.” He walked over, grabbed my hand and led me to the edge of the
embankment. We stood huddled against the cold and the falling snow, waiting for
the rescue workers to bring up the first person.
They struggled, but eventually managed to get the accident
victim up the hill. As they passed by us I saw that it wasn’t Claire on the
gurney. I almost screamed out for joy, but refrained because even though it
wasn’t Claire, it was another human being who was in desperately bad shape. She
had a neck collar on and was strapped down in every imaginably way. She was
covered in blood and her eyes were closed. She looked dead to me. They loaded
her into the Pegasus helicopter and lifted off.
“What an awful sight!” I started to cry.
“You’re crying for this woman? I don’t believe it. Your
sister could’ve been her next victim, and you still have compassion for her?
What is this world coming to?”
“I’m crying because I’m glad it isn’t my sister who looks
like she’s at death’s door.” I turned to him and asked, “Does that make me a
“Of course, not.” He put his arm around my shoulders.
I guess he was preparing me for what I was about to see. I
looked back down the hill and watched as they pulled Claire from the wreckage.
Her jacket was covered in so much blood, I was afraid that she had lost a
deadly amount. My fears were suppressed when they brought her up the hill and I
made them stop so she could speak to me.
“I’m okay, Jesse,” she said, her voice barely audible. She
reached her hand out to touch mine.
I grabbed her hand and held on, walking along with the rescue
workers as they carried her to the ambulance. I cried the whole way.
“Don’t cry, Jesse. Most of this blood is Sherry’s. Call Mom.”
She let go of my hand as they shoved the gurney into the back of the ambulance.
“Where are you taking her?” I asked one of the medical
personnel. “I don’t want her taken anywhere near D.C. How far is it to UVA?”
“It’s not far at all,” one of the guys replied. “That’s where
we’re headed. She requested that we take her there, and we have to obey a
patient’s request if they appear to be able to make that decision. We’ve
stabilized her, so she’ll be fine for the trip. Are you the sister she’s been
“Yes, I am.”
“Would you like to ride with her?”
Detective Trainum walked up beside me and said, “If you want
to ride with your sister, I’ll follow you in her car.”
“You’d do that for me?”
“Yes, I will. I’m going to have to question her anyway, so I
might as well do it now while I still have the use of the helicopter. They’ll
give us an escort. They’ll be able to see traffic before we do and alert us to
any problems on the roads.”
“Thanks,” I said as I leaned over and kissed him on the
cheek. I whispered into his ear, “Don’t think this gives you the right to snoop
through our belongings.”
“You’re such a suspicious woman!” he said.
I pulled the car keys from my pocket and tossed them to him.
The police helicopter lifted off a few seconds before the
ambulance turned on its siren and started to proceed down the road. Detective
Trainum followed right on our butt in Claire’s car. Behind him, two state
trooper cars followed.
I could see the front end of Claire’s SUV and there wasn’t a
dent in it. I was impressed with its durability and glad that I hadn’t smashed
it to pieces. What a weird thing to be thinking, I thought to myself.
“You can sit here,” the
said. He pointed to a small, cushioned seat off to the side. You can talk to
your sister, but please don’t get in my way.”
“I won’t, sir, and thanks for letting me ride in the
“No problem,” he said as he went about his job of taking care
of his patient. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Jesse Blackhawk.”
“Blackhawk, huh? You don’t look Indian to me, not with that
I looked up and out the back window of the ambulance. Even
through the thick, falling snow, I could see Detective Trainum driving Claire’s
SUV, and he was still right on our rear end. He waved to me. I waved back. He’s
such an odd man, I thought to myself. One minute I hate him, and the next, he
has his arm around me, trying to comfort me.
“The hair is dyed, and I’m not Indian. My husband is
Cherokee. What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Mark... under the circumstances.”
“Same here, Mrs. Blackhawk.” He continued to tend to Claire
as he spoke to me. “It’s pretty nasty out there. We’ve been really busy for the
last couple of hours… accidents everywhere. Your sister was lucky. She doesn’t
appear to have sustained any broken bones. I’m sure they’ll do a full set of
x-rays when we get her to the hospital.” He was obviously making conversation,
trying to put us at ease. He probably learned that in his
training—Bedside Manners 101. I snickered at the
“You can call me, Jesse.”
“Okay, Jesse. Your sister’s stable. She complained of back
“I don’t want any medication!” Claire said. “The pain isn’t
“I guess that settles that,” Mark, the
, said. “I want to complete this form now, so if
you’re up to it; I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
“Ask away,” Claire said.
“What’s your full name?”
I reached over, took hold of Claire’s hand, and held onto it
as she answered his questions. Finally, we pulled up to the ER entrance at the
University of Virginia Hospital. The ambulance backed up to the double doors
and we were met by two men dressed in hospital scrubs. Neither one of them had
on a coat, but they didn’t seem to be fazed by the freezing cold and snow when
they opened the back doors to the ambulance. They helped Mark, the
, lower Claire down and then they took over as they
rolled the gurney through the huge glass doors. Mark handed them a copy of his
report and wished us good luck. That was the last I saw of him.
One of the two men transporting Claire motioned for me to go
to the admitting desk. “You’ll need to take care of some paperwork and then
someone will show you where to go.” He looked at the paperwork in his hand and
said, “We’ll take care of her. Don’t worry. Someone will come and get you.”
They rounded a corner and were gone.
I was standing at the admissions desk answering questions
about Claire’s accident when Detective Trainum walked up to me.
“Is everything okay?”
I turned and looked at him. I think I was actually glad to
see a familiar face. I don’t know what came over me, but I grabbed him with my
good arm and gave him a hug. I think he was taken aback, or either embarrassed.
His face turned red and he mumbled, “It probably wasn’t such a good idea for
you to have been driving with that arm in a cast. You could’ve been in an
“You’re probably right,” I said as I stepped back. “But I
wasn’t in an accident. As a matter-of-fact, I saved the day. I saved my
“You sure did,” he said.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t
alone in rescuing Claire. “If it hadn’t been for that guy at the Miller Mart, I
don’t think I would’ve caught up with Claire’s abductor,” I said, giving credit
where credit was due. “I forgot my wallet and went back to the car to get it so
I could pay for our drinks and chips. When I came back into the store, he told
me he saw the woman I was with being forced into a car. He said that’s what it
looked like to him. Fortunately, he was very observant and took notice that the
car headed south. I told him to call the police, and then I took off down the
road after them.”
“Yeah, the state police have his call on record.”
“You always seem to know everything.”
“That’s my job,” he said. He turned to the lady who had been
taking down information about Claire and asked, “Is she finished?”
“I think we have everything,” the lady said. “You can have a
seat in the waiting room and someone will be with you shortly.”
“I don’t think so,” he mumbled under his breath as he turned
and led me by the arm down the hall. “Let’s go find your sister.”
“But the lady said…”
“Wait here if you want to.”
“No, I’m with you.”
We walked through a set of double doors and went down the
hall until we came to the nurse’s station. Detective Trainum pulled out his
badge and flashed it at one of the nurses behind the counter. “I’m Detective
Frank Trainum with the D.C. Police Department and I’m here to inquire about a
couple of accident victims: Claire Benson and
One of the nurses went to a computer, punched in something
and said, “
is still in surgery, and Claire
Benson is down here on the left—third curtain. Let me check and see if it’s
okay for you to see her.” She came out from behind the counter, went down the
hall and then returned. “Follow me,” she said.
“I guess it’s about time you called me, Frank.”
“I guess it’s about time you called me, Jesse.”
We looked at each other and smiled.
“I don’t like you,” I said to him.
“I don’t like you either,” he said, chuckling.
The nurse led us to Claire’s bed and then turned to leave.
“The doctor will be back shortly,” she said as she pulled the curtain to close
it, and then walked away.
I leaned down, kissed Claire’s forehead and said, “How’re you
“I have a little back pain and I broke a fingernail.”
“Heaven forbid!” I said. “You’re lucky to be alive.”
“I know I am,” she replied. “Thanks, Jesse. You saved my
life.” A tear ran down her cheek. “You can’t imagine how horrible it was in
that car with that crazy woman. It seemed like hours. She said some pretty bad
things, Jesse. She’s sick.”
“It’s over now and you’re safe. That’s all that matters.”
She looked over at Frank and asked, “What are you doing
“You can call him, Frank,” I said. “We’re buddies.”
Claire laughed and then flinched.
“Why don’t you let them give you something for the pain,
Claire? You don’t have to suffer like this.” I turned to go find a doctor.