Okay, Chapter 1 apparently wasn’t enough to jog anyone’s memory. Here’s Chapter 2. Maybe it will help.
McCallister’s cell phone sounded with the opening of the elevator door on the ground floor. Upon answering it, she learned that someone found the body of the teenager who had allegedly jumped to his death from Granger Bridge three days prior.
This was the third suicide in Granton in the past two weeks. All of them were adolescent boys, all from the same school, and all choosing the very same spot on the very same bridge to end it all. With young people, suicides were often like dominoes, and the community had procedures in place to keep those dominoes from falling. This time, they had not been so lucky. The professionals called them “suicide clusters,” and she hated the term. Stars clustered—flowers, diamonds, even peanuts. In her mind, it sounded too quaint, as though proximity was the gist of it, not cause and effect, not pain compounding pain.
She was a member of the Crisis Intervention Team that went into schools after such an occurrence. Her role was not seen as the supportive ones provided by the mental health workers. They were the nouns; she was the verb. She forced a dose of reality into minds that had yet to fully develop foresight. She carefully told the tales of cutting a noose, of trying to identify a young man’s face when half his head hung in little bits on the wallpaper, of telling parents the devastating news that the life they brought into the world had left. Now, fishing teenage bodies out of the river would one day land in the index of children’s stories that should never be told.
The first boy, Erik Scott, had been the backbone of a group of seeming outcasts. They were sophomores, into comic books and video games, and not one of them had ever been in trouble. Scott had been respected by his friends, and when he plunged over a hundred feet to the river, there occurred a lethal mix of pain and hero-worship. The second boy, Bradley Dake, followed within a week, and now, another one waited on the shore for his own body bag.
She sped to Riverine Park, juggling sadness and anger. Death was bad enough, but when it manifested itself in children, it took abhorrent to another level. Her anger came from a sense of failure, that the extra patrols the department ordered on Granger Bridge had not stopped this one. The press would have a field day.
She pulled her car through the array of squads and parked next to the coroner’s van. For a long moment, she simply sat there, absorbing everything and every face she could. She knew the coroner’s determination of drowning would come about through a process of elimination. Was he alive when he hit the water? Did he hit the water intentionally? Until those questions had answers, it was a crime scene.
She disembarked and headed for the uniformed group on the river’s shore.
“Is it him?” she asked.
“Fits the description, Detective,” an officer informed her.
She had hoped the boy had simply run away, leaving some of his belongings and a note on the bridge just for the sake of drama or the instillation of worry. She looked to his battered, discolored face, and she scarcely recognized him from the photos displayed on his parents’ wall. His clothes matched the portrait his mother had tearfully painted of the last time she had seen him.
Loathsomely satisfied, she turned her gaze to the medical examiner and asked, “Anything out of the ordinary, Hastings?”
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