Buck Winters died that night.
Alec was certain that his father, terrorized by what he’d seen, died of ‘fright.’ He was also sure that Buck’s death was the realization of his own sins. His father’s heart had stopped seconds before Cat hit him with the lamp. The stench of urine filled the air as his last act of contrition. His ugly, drunken face remained frozen in a twisted grimace of unadulterated panic, horror, and dread caused by the last site he’d seen—son, devil, or angel?
Alec wasn’t sure.
How could he be both savior and tormentor in the same instance? Catalina had run to him with outstretched arms whereas his father had been terrorized when he looked on his son. It didn’t make any sense at all, at least, none that the seventeen-year-old teenager could make out.
Police officers use a certain method when they’re called to handle a disturbance. The heavy ‘bang, bang, bang’ of fists made an unnervingly loud ‘boom-boom-boom’ racket on the solid wooden front door. Their thunderous shouts could be heard upstairs, “Police! Open up!” The loud-mouthed cries finally pulled Cassidy out of the trance she’d enjoyed for more than a decade.
Cassidy stumbled to her feet, went to the door, and after they’d looked through the downstairs, she followed the two officers upstairs. When she saw Buck’s half-naked body laid-out on Catalina’s bed with her son and daughter helplessly standing by, she gasped. Her hand fluttered wildly to her chest fearing her own heart would stop.
“Is he really dead,” Cassidy asked in a quavering voice as she looked to her son for answers.
Alec solemnly nodded.
“Yes ma’am, he’s dead alright,” an officer replied after checking for a pulse.
While one officer corralled the family back downstairs to the living room, the second police officer cordoned off the area to preserve the crime scene. Then, they called in a report and the waiting began. They waited for a female officer to stay with Catalina. Next, they waited for an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Then, they waited for two senior detectives to arrive. Lastly, they waited for the medical examiner to give a cause of death. During all that time, a steady stream of curious patrolmen filled the house. It didn’t take long for those in charge to stop waiting and start assuming.
When the first detective, Rodney DeVry, saw evidence of such a violent struggle in Catalina’s bedroom, along with the abrasive choke marks and bruising on the dead man’s neck, he focused the investigation on Alec. An overwhelming amount of evidence pointed to the young man as the murderer. With that glaring proof of guilt and the testimony of neighbors who’d heard the loud disturbance and witnessed Alec’s arrival at the Carrollton Avenue home, the detective didn’t look any further. In his opinion, the son was guilty as sin and DeVry was determined Alec wouldn’t get away with the murder of his father.
“Listen,” Detective DeVry spouted to the group of officers that remained in the bedroom, “he’s almost eighteen years old. The bastard is large enough at nearly six feet tall and a hundred seventy pounds. With his athletic prowess, he’s fully capable of doing the damage seen in the bedroom and more—especially since Buck Winters reeks of alcohol. The body is practically naked. Alec Winters had the advantage. He attacked and killed his drunken, abusive father. Nothing else to say.”
“He was protecting his little sister,” one of the officers protested.
“I don’t think even a young athlete could overpower Buck Winters,” another added. “He’s a bull of a man. I bet he weighs nearly three hundred pounds!”
“Yeah, how many men do you know that can overpower someone who outweighs them by a hundred pounds? Not many that we know of for sure.”
“He’s a good kid.” More and more comments filled the hallway, all from the many officers who stood outside the bedroom, kicking imaginary dust off the carpet.
“He’s the starting quarterback and the reason we had a winning season!”
“I’ve even heard he’s an honor student. You can’t blame him for defending his little sister! Anyone would do the same!”
“That doesn’t concern our investigation,” DeVry stubbornly countered.
“It should,” Detective Abel Boudreaux chided. “We should look at all the evidence before jumping to conclusions.”
“Hell no!” DeVry heatedly retorted, overly conscious of his low clearance ratings. “I’m not presuming anything or jumping to conclusions. The evidence speaks for itself. It wasn’t self-defense; it was unmitigated murder. It’s the easiest ‘open and shut’ case I’ve snagged in years. And, it is my case!”
“It’s our case,” Detective Boudreaux countered, but his objections went unanswered.
In spite of the many murmured protests, DeVry had Alec arrested right then. “You’re going to face punishment as an adult, young man. What do you think about that?” the detective taunted as he smugly glared at Alec. “Read’em his rights and get’em outta here.”
A young officer handcuffed Alec, as he repeated the Miranda rights, “Alexander Saguache Winters, you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in court; you have the right to an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand?”
“Speak up!” DeVry ordered.
“I understand,” Alec dutifully said.