A crossbow had been left behind and there were four arrows on the victim’s body, which had being killed by a chilly stream that had defrosted overnight. The body had been found far from any settlement and, although chief Jones and her officers scouted the area for several days, they didn’t find anything else referring to the murderer. Somehow, he had dropped the murder weapon but nothing else. The people in the lab found nothing on the handle of the crossbow either, which was a recent design, almost custom made. That would maybe be useful to find the manufacturer and, from there, the buyer.
Jennifer jones had been the chief of police for only two years and this was her first big job. Working on an almost desolate county, most of her days she spent her time dealing with disputes over land and maybe a drunk driver. She had been in the force for fifty years and she had always thought the future might hold something brighter for her but that wasn’t the case. She lived only with her teenage son as her husband had been killed in the war a few years ago. Jennifer thought she had been promoted because of whom her husband had been but that didn’t matter anymore. The people of the county liked her and she knew them all.
She supervised the work of Doctor Pike, the medical examiner who had to be very careful not to damage the victim’s body when extracting the arrows from his body. The dead man was kind of young, but something felt off about him. Maybe he was older… The doctor removed the arrows successfully and put them on a small tray on one side to check them later. Then, he asked Jennifer to help him. She often did as he had no assistants and it was a work that had to be done as a team. So the chief of police help him undress the body. It was then that she realized what was wrong with the body. On her shirt, some stains let her know that the body was wearing makeup.
Then, Doctor Pike removed the clothes, both the shirt and the pants, and confirmed that the body appeared to be the one of a female. But Jennifer, seeing how he washed the body, thought the girl’s breasts were really small and then she had an idea. She left Doctor Pike for a moment, leaving for her office to call the medical center. It wasn’t a big hospital but it was the biggest one of the county. Then, she called every single hospital near town, even if outside her jurisdiction and went back to Pike’s morgue by night.
The doctor confirmed what she already knew: the body was from a transgender person. She had been a female but had undergone treatment to change into a male. The breasts and muscular development were proof of that. Jennifer had called every single hospital to ask if someone had gone hormone treatment recently or if they had any sex change surgery scheduled for the coming months. And they did, all of that, but it was a list of at least twenty names, which had surprised her.
This was a very remote part of the country and people were not very welcome of differences. Maybe that had been the reason for the assassination of this young girl. Or boy… She was con fused because this had never happened before and she had never known anyone like this victim. She left the doctor to finish his job and decided to go back home. On her way there, she stared from the patrol, looking at everyone’s face, just wondering if she had ever known someone else like the girl in the morgue. She couldn’t stop thinking of how hard it must have been for her and what hardships she must have undergone to end up where she now was.
When Jennifer entered her house, her son Thomas was cooking dinner. For a sixteen-year-old boy, he was very resourceful and always started making dinner, especially when he noticed Jennifer was going to be late. Tonight, he had made pasta with meatballs and a very rich sauce. Jennifer kissed her son on his forehead and hugged him. They were very close and always tried to spent time together but that was hard because of her job. He had learned to cope with it and never condemned her for it but always supported her, even making small lunches for her to take to work.
She had already discussed with him that she would do the impossible for him. The woman knew her son loved to cook so she had already started saving to put him in the best cooking school she could afford. Jennifer had gone online often to gather a lot of information about schools, costs, what he would learn and so on and would then email it to him to see what he thought of it. He was very eager to do all of it but he been very clear he would be miserable leaving her alone.
As she waited for dinner at the table, she remembered the young woman at the morgue and wondered if she also had a family to worry about her. Was she alone when she had been killed or was someone with her and then escaped the assailant? Nothing pointed to another person ever being there but it was comforting to think someone would have been there. Thinking of death was now common for Jennifer but she found the concept of dying alone much more frightening than anything else.
Thomas came with two plates and she served some orange juice they had left. She realized she had to go to the supermarket, probably the next weekend before there was nothing left to eat. She forgot all about her case and asked her son for his day in school. He answered there had been nothing special as everyone was to busy talking about the person they had found by the stream, in the forest.
- How do you know about that?
- It’s true, then?
Jennifer hated speaking about work on the house but, for the sake of trust, she decided to tell her son everything, including the fact that the victim was a transgender person. Thomas, surprisingly, knew a lot about the subject and corrected his mother when referring to the victim as a girl. He told her transgender people prefer to be called the gender that they feel they are and not the one that they have been born into. So he said she should start talking about him and not her. But Jennifer was confused and responded that in order to know who he was, she had to ask for a girl. Thomas conceded in that aspect and told her that he had read a lot about it online.
The chief of police was very curious about why her son was reading about the subject but decided not to ask further questions and preferred to praise him on dinner, which always made him very proud. After dinner, they went to bed and realized she was still thinking about the girl, who she now had to think of as a boy, which lay dead in the morgue. What did he do to deserve two arrows to the heart and one of each leg? Was he escaping from someone or did he do something wrong to the wrong person?
The next day, surprisingly, it all became quite clearer. Doctor Pike had confirmed the crossbow had been custom made as the arrows and the structure of it were made to properly kill wild animals, so whoever used it to kill the boy had also used it for hunting. They checked the places that would make that kind of weaponry and there was only one for the next two hundred miles. She visited the store and the clerk, an old silent man, showed her the books and the name of his client: Robert Graves.
Somehow, Jennifer Jones knew that name or at least felt she did. It wasn’t the name of anyone in her county, she was sure of that. That man didn’t leave nearby but somehow she was sure she had seen or read the name recently and they she realized where that had been. She went back to her office and checked the list she had made with all the hospitals, of all the hormone treatment patients they had. Right enough, there was a Graves in the list, under the name Pamela.
Chief Jones went to the hospital personally and asked for the file on Pamela Graves. Apparently she was seventeen years old and had come to the hospital accompanied by her mother. She had begun treatment six months ago and had been scheduled for another appointment the day she had been killed. And it all pointed to her father being the killer. The next stop for Jennifer was the police of the county where the Graves family lived. She joined them to raid the house and found the man dead, with a bullet in his head. He was there, sitting on the sofa as if he was still alive but he wasn’t.
Then, checking the house, Jennifer realized there was heavy breathing coming from the bathroom of the main room. She opened it by force and discovered who must have been Pamela’s mother and Robert’s wife. She was covered in blood and her eyes were almost out of their sockets. She kept mumbling “my daughter” and staring at her blood-covered hands.
That night, Jennifer returned to Thomas and told him how much she loved him and how she wanted nothing more but happiness for him. He thought it was a bit strange but accepted her words and hugs.