“You can’t expect me to believe that,” the detective said, as he laced his fingers and leaned forward on the table, his muscular forearms straining against the dark blue fabric of his off the rack suit. The rain beat down on the roof like the torrential downpour of a god’s fury, and had soaked the detective on his way in. The man in the striped, button-up shirt sat back in his chair, to distance himself from the concentrated smell of old cigarettes wafting from the detective’s wet clothing, as well as the scornful words.
“You can believe what you want, Detective Coulee, but what I did,” he paused, the words caught in his raw, aching throat, “I did for love.” He broke eye contact with the detective, bowed his head, and turned his cinnamon brown eyes to the bright gold of his wedding band. When his head dropped some of his ashen brown hair, like the bark of a live oak, escaped his hair tie and fell froward to frame his lean, gaunt face.
“This was love?” Detective Coulee asked, unfolded his hands, and opened a file to his left. He pushed photo after photo across the cold, metal surface of the table, and though his face betrayed no emotion his amber eyes burned with anger. The lines worn into the detective’s face, like trenches of grief, were made deeper that night as he studied the mutilated body of a beautiful, young, and vibrant woman.
At the procession of photos, the young man glanced up but did not move his head.
“If I didn’t stop her, who would?” he whispered, and the detective frowned.
“Stop her from what?” The man grimaced and refused to meet the detective’s eyes, so the detective slowly repeated himself. At the second asking the man finally looked up, with tears running down his face through the three day scruff on his cheeks.
“All those people at the hospital. They went there for help but found Nora, my wife, instead. You’re supposed to trust your doctor, especially since they have your life in their hands, but my wife’s hands were not to be trusted.” The man sobbed, and bent at the waist, arms over his middle as though his stomach pained him.
“Are you telling me she killed her patients?” Detective Coulee asked, trying to keep the dawning horror from his face. “How many?”
“Hundreds,” the man whispered, voice barely audible. That single word sent a chill down the detective’s spine, and a queasiness spiralled through his gut. The man continued; “She’d bring me their pictures, each one taken right after their time of death. After the last one I knew I was the only one who could stop her. I couldn’t go to the police. Who would believe me, her drunk, philandering husband, over a prestigious doctor?” he scoffed, and wiped this nose across the long sleeve of his shirt at his wrist. “When I saw my chance, I took it. I had to make sure she was dead, and nothing could bring her back. I couldn’t take that chance,” he finished, gesturing to the overkill and ruin of what was once another human being.
The room was silent for a few minutes as everyone absorbed what they’d heard.
“What made this last one different, Isaac?” Though the detective dreaded the answer, he met the Isaac’s eyes when he looked up.
“It was a child, a little boy, and he looked just like our son, Mason. Mason died during surgery after a car accident that was my fault,” Isaac explained, and grimaced again at the remembered pain, both physical and emotional. “So you see, Detective Coulee, I agree it was murder, but it wasn’t a crime. Now my wife can rest in peace with our son. I did it for them,” Isaac said, and closed his eyes. “I did it for love.”