Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Suicide

07:55 on a December Monday morning. It was cold and bitter while the sun was shining in the dreadful, pale clouds.

She was approaching the Rijnlands Lyceum high school wearing a buff jacket and a pair of worn out blue jeans. Her face looked out of normal due to the thick layer of make-up she was wearing, to cover the unpleasant scars. She almost enters the school building but stops. Something catches her attention. Something on the left side of the main doors in the bushes.

She approaches the bushes and she sees something she was not expecting. ‘Interesting’, she whispers as she discovers something horrifying yet to her no more than a common picture.

A frozen body was lying in the plants surrounded by wet leaves soaked in blood. The face although frozen looked young and it seemed it was no more than a 17 year old boy.

Taking the mobile phone from her pocket jacket, Niguanta dials the number of her chief.
‘You’d better come over here. ’

Students were coming to school but Niguanta stepped before the body trying to cover it all up. Some caught a glimpse of a cold body lying peacefully in the red plants and panic broke.

‘There's nothing to see here, all right?’ shouts the girl. ‘Go inside the school and wait for the police to come!’ she demands, trying to keep the students away.

It was a strange behavior for a girl about 18. She was acting like she was a professional policewoman. But even a policewoman would still show some sort of regret for the death of such a young boy. This girl was instead very cold as if she had seen this so many times before. Her looks and behavior made you think there was something completely wrong about her.

The police cars appeared quickly, parking in front of the school. They ran towards the girl who was standing with her hands in her pockets staring at the corpse.

‘Great way to start school on a Monday morning!’ says a young man suddenly standing next to her. 
‘What a shame as such an age’, he adds as he looks closer at the body. The man was in his early thirties. He had dark hair that was slightly brushed on the back, few locks of hair falling on his forehead, perfectly matching his handsome face. He was no average looking man as he got too much attention from women…except from one.

‘Secure the area!’, adds the girl without taking into account that the man standing next to her was quite familiar to her, ‘make sure that no one enters or leaves the building!’

‘Don’t let anyone go home yet! We might need to ask them some questions’, demands the man. ‘The school must close today. People need time to cope with this’. He looks at Niguanta. She didn’t question his sudden arrival. He decides not to discuss it. ‘Seen this guy around?'

‘He's a student at this school! I’ve seen him around.’

The policemen started to put the yellow band across the school. All the students were kept in the building. Some students that were just coming to school were suddenly sent back home as the policemen rudely asked them to. The policemen had to be very quick and brutal to prevent as many student as they could from experiencing this shocking event.

‘Someone has to talk to the headmaster to close the school’ said the young man.

‘I’ll do it.’ said a policeman.

‘Okay’, says the girl raising her hand to her forehead, ‘someone has to also call the parents wherever they are and inform them about this.’

‘I’ll call them’, continues the young man looking closely at the body which was now being examined and taken picture of. Remy was annoyed of the fact that this girl didn’t even look at him for one second. They had been almost partners for a year. ´Almost partners´ was the right choice of words. They didn’t see each other for a while and now she pretended like she didn’t even know him.
‘So you did know the guy?’ He realized he was repeating himself and hoped she wouldn’t notice.
‘You just asked me that. He was popular in school. I never had the need to talk to him.’
She looks around and noticed a boy sitting on a bench surrounded by several policemen and students that were trying to talk to him. He was too lost into tears to actually give anyone an answer.
‘He must be a close friend’ she says looking at the boy.

One of the policemen comes out of the school building bringing a tray with few cups of coffee on it. The girl takes two of them and then approaches the lost student. The young detective, Remy, enters the school to talk to the other students and see if he can find someone who knew the boy.
‘Hi’, says Niguanta offering the boy one of the cups and keeping the other one for her. The fact that she did not even ask him if he even wanted coffee showed her lack of social behavior.
She saw the depressed expression on the boy’s face. Even if he didn’t react, she sat next to him holding with both hands the warm plastic cup.
‘I know how it feels to lose a close friend’. She really did know. She also did know this was not the way she coped with it.

She sounded so cold and strange that the young student didn’t know how to respond to her statement. He got confused and starts crying. She rolled her eyes p, and then decides to say what was on her mind.
‘Look, I know this is going to sound insensitive but did he have tendencies to suicide?‘
‘No, not at all!’ he shouts as if she said something wrong.
‘Would anyone have wanted his death? Did he have any enemies?’
With his thin left hand, the boy wipes the tears away. He had a tinned skin showing he had a Latino heritage. He was 16 but he looked much younger due to his curly long hair and innocent face.
‘No, not really, he was really social and friendly. Everyone liked him…I don’t get it…’
‘Ok. How about in the last couple of days or weeks? Did you notice anything or anyone looking suspicious lately?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Try to remember, anything, any kind of detail can be important!’
‘I can’t remember anything.’ He shouts with anger. ‘It’s been always the same thing: he met a lot of people, new friends, hang around popular places, the Heat, the Dukes. I can’t think of anyone who would have wanted to kill him. He obviously killed himself. He wasn’t himself in the last couple of weeks.’

She looked at him as if he said something wrong but decided not to ask any further questions.

The boy started crying again. She put her hand on his back to consolidate him. At least that’s what she saw people do when they try to comfort each other. Then she stood up and looked at the dead body that was lifted up and getting covered with the usual white sheets. He was put on the stretcher and was moved to the ambulance car.
A police car arrived with a man and a woman. They hurried towards the wrapped up body. As she reached the stretcher, the woman fell on her knees and started crying. The man was standing next to the body. He was trying not to cry but in a moment he gave up as tears ran over his cheeks that seemed carved by pain and sorrow. The girl was watching the whole scene as if she was watching a television program. She showed no sign of affection or regret.

Remy came back and noticed the parents of the boy. He looked at them sadly and decided to look somewhere. He usually didn’t get emotional but he always hated to see people cry. Even after 14 years of police work he still hadn’t got used to these sad moments.

Niguanta left the crying boy and went to Remy.
‘Found anything Remy? Asks Niguanta.
‘Not much. Have you?’ She mentioned his name. It meant she knew who he was after all. Still he decided to play along with this i don´t remember you game.
‘The boy is crying like hell and you can't get a word out of him!’ She sounded like she was irritated. However her face showed no expressions. ‘Anyway we know this guy was friendly and sweet. His pal over there says he wouldn’t have committed suicide but he thinks he committed suicide. Still following the story?’
‘Suicide? Yeah right. Did you see where the body lied? Or the way it lied? The guy just decides to suicide in the bushes? I don´t think it is suicide. I talked to some colleagues of his. I found out he mostly hanged around this place called The Heat.’
‘I know it. That’s where the students get together, drink and bitch about each other…funny place!’
‘Sounds like it deserves to be paid a visit. His girlfriend over there said that he found himself a new friend lately. He looked at a girl talking to the policemen. She wore black panty’s and a black shirt with a cross on it. Her hair was died black as the roots of her hairs were dark blond.
‘She described his friend as being in his early forties, dark- skinned, dark-haired and terribly suspicious. He only comes in on a Friday night. She thinks he did it.‘

A chubby man interferes in the conversation of the two.

‘Hey, I see you two have found each other. Good, then we don’t have to go through the reunion crap. I want you two to get on this case. I hope you already did something to figure out what’s going on.’
His attitude and tone of his voice immediately gave the impression of someone in a high position. His brown jacket and brown hat however made him look like a 60’s movie character.
‘We’re getting there. We still need to investigate more and talk to the boy’s parents’. Answered Niguanta looking at the head chief of the New Orleans police station.
‘The boy is Brian Tielman. He paused for a moment. ‘And I’ll tell you one thing his parents didn’t know about. This kid shows signs of needles all over his arms. They also found a syringe injected right between his fingers. Now, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions but I think this case is not so difficult to solve. ‘

‘There’s more to the story then that. It doesn’t look like a common suicide.’ Says Remy taking a cigarette out of his jacket and lighting it up.
‘It’s your case. Just be careful.’ He than looked at the girl pointing a finger at her. ‘And Niguanta, be careful with your attitude, don’t lose your temper. I don’t wanna hear anything related to what happened last week.’
‘Last week? Repeated Remy looking surprised at the girl. ‘What happened last week, Richie?’
‘She can tell ya.’ And don’t Richie me!’ He hated that name and Remy obviously has forgotten that. He continued after scratching his forehead under the hat. ’I have to see what I’m gonna do with those reporters. They’ll be here in any minute. They’re like ravens waiting for fresh meat to devour!’
He straightened up his brown hat and started to walk toward the courtyard of the school.
‘Well, I will see you two later!’
‘Farewell Richie!’ Remy waved at his boss with a sweet smile on his face.
The man takes a last glance at both Remy and Niguanta then continues his walk nodding his head. What was to become of those two, he thought.

‘Let's meet the parents then!’ says Niguanta with a theatrical excitement.
‘Where did they go?‘ says Remy noticing that the parents of the victim were no longer around.
A policeman overheard Remy's question and answered:
‘They were given a ride home. The mother needed to lay down, she was in shock! ‘
‘Can you give us the address? We need to speak to them now.’
‘I can give you a ride if you want?’
‘That would be great’. Answered Remy even if he had his own car.
‘I'm sure they'll be happy to see us!’ Adds Niguanta with a sarcastic tone.

* * *

They both went silent for a moment as they walked to the police car.
Remy couldn´t stand her attitude any longer and so he decided to pretend like he suddenly remembered something and says:
´So I see you didn’t miss me that much! Don’t you wanna know where I’ve been and what I’m doing here?´
´I’ve got better things to think of. If it makes you feel better.´She continued with a theatrical desperate tone. ´Where the hell have you been all this time?´
He hated the way she spoke to him. It felt like he was the desperate one. She made him think too much and get insecure about everything; she made him feel almost like…a woman.
´What are you talking about? I’ve been missing for just a couple of days.´ He says trying to make the conversation serious.
´Three months´. Says Niguanta emotionless.
´Oh come on. Has it been that long? Did you miss me? I bet you did!´
´I thought those days will never end´ she used her sarcasm again.
´I have been doing all sorts of cases, love, as always. An important job for an important man! What are you doing here?´
´I got hired by the cops to find out who’s behind a gun transaction.´
‘Mind my question did you also decide it was time for you to go to school?’
‘I have to go to school because one of the students is involved in the transactions. His rich daddy wants me to keep an eye on him and stop him from doing anything stupid. So I get money and a place to stay for this little case.’
‘Very profitable. I doubt you’d bled in though.’
Remy looks at her face. She had a 3.15 inches scar under her left eye. She was very unlikely able to look like a student. Than again she would ´fit´ wonderfully as an outsider. He decided to change the subject as he felt this one was coming to a dead end. He hated that silence between them. Mostly because she never talked much.
‘So… what was Richie saying about you losing your temper?’
‘I beat up a guy after I arrested him at the Central Station.’
‘For what reason?’
‘Old friend from old stories.’
‘Old friend, eh? Nice way to get together.’
It was so strange to think that this girl was so cold, after all the time they had spend together she talked to him as if he was a stranger. Remy decided to give up and go in the silence again.

They drove to the Leiden Centrum and the silence seemed endless to Remy. The policemen parked the car along one of the water sewers. Holland was well known for its sewers and many small streets. Leiden was not much different that the other cities. It was a quiet little town with a couple of universities, pubs and cinema’s.
They walked to Brian's house on the Doezastraat. The houses looked all the same, tall, 3 floors high and very small from a first appearance.

The house of the deceased was very welcoming with the decorated wooden door and the white and blue hyacinths in the small front garden. From the picture window a man was seen in the kitchen preparing coffee.

Niguanta and Remy stepped on the porch and rang the bell. The man in the kitchen was seen, coming to answer the door.
The door slowly opened and almost afraid of showing himself, a tall man looked at the detectives.
‘Yes?’
‘Mr. Tielman?’
‘Yes.’
‘We would like to ask you some questions. It won't take very long I assure you.’
‘Ok.’
The had blond short hair and was in his late forties. He was wearing an old blue shirt and a pair of jeans, a typical Dutch man, one might say. In spite of his young clothes, the man´s face was older than it actually was.
He opened the door wider and let Remy and Niguanta in. There were two more policemen in the living room. A woman was sitting on the sofa shedding tears continually. She held a handkerchief in her hand.

The two policemen saw Remy and decided to leave them alone with the parents.
‘We are very sorry for the loss of your son Mrs. Tielman!’ Says Remy as soon as the men closed the door behind them.
As Niguanta was never good in affectionate words, she let Remy lead the entire conversation. She decided to walk around the room and study the house instead.
Mr. Tielman sat next to his wife who was still crying.
‘Do you believe suicide?’ Asks the man.
‘No, he was not that kind of a person.’ Shouted the woman. She, on the other hand, had an American accent.
‘We are not sure if he committed suicide.‘ Answered Remy putting aside his personal opinion.
‘Do you believe someone wanted his death?’ Asked Mr. Tielman holding the left hand of his wife tight to his chest.
‘That we want to investigate. I don’t know what reason someone would have had to commit such crime.’ Remy found it unnecessary to mention ´son´ and ´killed´ in one sentence. ‘Do you suspect anyone?’ He asked instead.
‘I did not know Brian's friends very well,’ says the man with the strong Dutch accent.
‘He was always away.’
‘I see.’

Meanwhile Niguanta was looking at the family pictures. There were more than ten picture frames on an old Welsh dresser. Brian was in every single picture deducing from this that he was probably the only child they had.
‘Was he different lately?’ continued Remy.
‘He was a bit irritated the last few months. He worked and studied at the same time. If I would have been a little more careful I might have helped him, he might still be here.’ She felt new tears coming on her red cheeks.
‘Where did he work?’ asks Remy trying not go further into the woman’s emotional state. Noticing his wife had lost her voice Mr. Tielman answered
‘ Three months ago he worked at Albert Hein just around the corner.
‘And then he quit?’ Remy assumed.
The man wanted to answer but his wife talked again shouting as if they blamed her.
‘Yes, I don’t know why. He was lagging behind with school. But he was such a smart boy!’ She started sobbing again. The man decided it was enough for one day.
‘Can't we do this another day?’
‘Yes, I am very sorry I had to put you through this now. Could I just know when it was the last time you saw Brian?’ Remy still needed some answers but this was the last one for now.
‘Friday morning when he went to school. He used to leave the house for the weekends and come back Monday afternoon.’
‘Thank you very much for your time!’

Remy accompanied by Niguanta, who reappeared out of nowhere, found the way out as the man remained sited next to his wife to hold her.

‘You didn't mention to them he was a junkie!’ Says Niguanta as a sign she’d heard the whole conversation. Where was she, he thought. Than again she did that very often as far as he could remember.
‘You can't just bring up these things now. They looked miserable enough.’
‘I think he was a single child.’
‘Even worse for them.’ He stops at the parking lot. ‘We gotta check this albert thing.’
‘It´s a supermarket, Remy.’She says trying to make him feel stupid.
‘As you have been more in town than I have, you should than lead the way darling.’





They both walked to the supermarket where Brian used to work. The place was very lonely on a Monday morning. There where two cashiers who were waiting for customers to pass by. Remy went to one of the cashiers who was looking at him since he walked in.
‘Good morning, do you speak English?’
‘Yes, a little’, says the girl slightly blushing.
‘I am detective Remy Stone, and I am here because of Brian Tielman.’
‘Brian, he does not work here anymore.’She tried her best to talk English/ She wqore a blue shirt with the logo of the supermarket on it, her blond long hair falling on her shoulders. She was no more than 16.
‘Yes I know. He was found dead at the Rijnlands Lyceum high school.’
‘Echt?’ she blushed as she realized she just spoke in Dutch letting |Remy with a gentle smile on his face. Without any explanation, she left the cash register and ran to another girl to tell her the news. After spreading the news in the whole supermarket she returned triumphal together with other workers. One of them walked ahead and shook Remy’s hand enthusiastically.
‘Arwin Schreurs, I am the manager.’
‘Remy Stone, detective New Orleans.’
‘Is Brian dead?’ He asked almost excited.
‘Yes, he was found earlier this morning.’
‘What happened?’
‘We can’t tell exactly what happened.’
‘That is terrible.’ But his face looked strangely curious and far from troubled.
‘Yes, I thought I could get some information about him.’
‘Of course, we can walk to my office.’ Finally what the manager had been waiting for. He lead the way to his office.

Niguanta was once again no where to be seen.

She was in the supermarket chatting with one of the boys that was filling by the products. He didn’t look native Dutch. He had a dark skin and seemed to be having some sort of Indian background. He spoke very good English.
‘He was a good kid’ says the boy continuing his work, ‘but yeah he did have a sniffing problem.’ He hard people talk like that on t.v. and felt cool to use the word.
‘Sniffing?’
‘Yes too many drugs, too much partying. I went out with him once and he gave me powder. I said I don’t do drugs!’ Says the boy proudly.
‘When was that?’
‘Three months ago, I think, then he quit saying he found a better job.’
‘Did he mention what kind of a job?’
‘No, he was very secret about his personal life.’ Continued the young man holding a bottle of orange juice . He was suppose to put it on the shelf but instead he was leaning on it.
‘Do you know why he was so secretly?’
‘If you have drug problems and you know people involved in that business you don’t go running around, telling people about it.’
‘Ah…I see.’

* * *

‘Please take a seat, says Mr. Schreurs. Would you like some coffee or thee?’
‘Coffee please.’
Mr. Schreurs had a little coffee machine in his office. He pressed the button and waited for the machine to do her job. He waited calmly smiling at Remy. When the machine was done he pressed the button once again. Remy wanted to start a conversation but didn’t know if that was the way to cope with Dutch people. He’d been in the country a couple of days now and had no information what so ever about the Dutch culture. He didn’t want to start on the wrong foot.
The man had finally two cups of coffee. He gave one cup to Remy and put sugar and coffee cream sacks in front of him in case he was going to use it.
‘So, Brian eh?’ says the manager trying to break the ice.
‘ I am sorry to say this’, says Remy looking at the excited face of the man before him, ‘but it seems that you aren’t that shocked about his death.’
‘No, I actually told him once that that will happen to him if he continued like that.’
‘Like what?’
‘He was a very good boy until he got addicted.’
‘To what?’
‘To the worst. Cocaine.’ The man seemed very pleased to give this sort of information. He looked like he was proud of himself telling the story in the first place. He continued leaning back on his chair.
‘I caught him once with marihuana in his jacket. But that wasn’t so bad, I use it too sometimes, you know. He starts laughing and than adds. They are legal in Holland you know that right?’
‘I know. What happened when you caught him?’
‘He said he forgot it there, that he was at a party the other night and, ok. I forgave him for that time. Than he started coming at work very relaxed. He was late and even laughed about it. I discovered he was taking something stronger. His eyes looked very strange and his attitude changed. Than one day he comes and says he found a new job and he quits.
‘How do you know he was taking cocaine?’
‘His face, it was clear and besides one of my employees saw him go outside and sniff something out of his hand. Incredible, eh?’ said the manager opening his eyes wide and crossing his arms at his last words. Remy didn’t react at hi behaviour.
‘Did he say where he was going to work?
‘No, he said it was better with more money and that he would make more money than I had. And…look at him now? Who has more money now? And I don’t even need drugs. ‘
‘Yeah you only need marihuana.’ Remy teased the man.
‘No, no, no, no. I took marihuana when I was younger not now. I am a manager now, I have responsibility.’ He answered quickly as if he was on trial. He felt sorry for saying he actually smoked it when he was younger.
Remy looked at the man and took a deep breath. This man looked like he was lying but more about himself than about Brian. Remy decided to ask the next question.
‘Did you have a fight when Brian quit his job?’
‘I will not lie to you. Yes, we did. But I don’t get angry, I am very professional when it comes to a conflict at the workplace. I never take it personally.’ He said it once again defending himself.
‘So you wouldn’t have wanted to see him dead or something?’
‘No, of course not. Why would I?’
‘Exactly, why would you?’
‘Yes.’ He looked at Remy and smiled triumphal.
‘Do you think he committed suicide?’
‘I do, yes I do. I think he was able to do that to himself especially after taking some drugs. He was not himself when he was on drugs. I was sometimes afraid of him.’ The man laughed at his last comment as if it was a joke.
‘Do you think anyone wanted him dead?’
‘That I don’t know.’

Remy stood up, deciding he had listened enough.
‘Thank you very much for your time.’
‘You are very welcome. Good luck with the case.’
‘Thanks.’ Remy merely smiled.

The handsome detective existed the office accompanied by the manager. The manager showed him the way out and after shaking hands, Remy leaved the supermarket. He found Niguanta outside.
‘Thank you for waiting.’
‘No problem. What did you find out?’ she asked as they started walking back to the police car.
‘His boss was a jerk. You?’
‘He definitely had drug problems. He wasn’t very liked at his work.‘
‘At school he was an angel and at work a devil. What´s next?’
‘I don’t know about you’ continued Niguanta but I am going to visit Tommy at the station.’
‘Tommy? He’s here?’ He remembered the cheerful guy working his way up from a dead guard to a brilliant scientist.
‘Yeah and he is staying.’ She almost seemed happy.
‘Say hello to him would you. Man, you must be glad he is probably the only person on earth you like.’ He said it hiding his jealousy.
‘The second.’
‘Really? Who do you like fist?’ He asks gladly, waiting for his sweet answer.
‘Myself!’ She grinned and got in the police car. Remy followed. Her grin was always almost scary to witness.

The policemen brought the two detectives back at the school. It was where Remy left his car. The detective existed the car and greeted Niguanta.
‘This is where our route ends.’
Niguanta looked out of the car window and saw the sky blue Corvette parked in front of the school.
‘Damn, you brought that old thing with you?’ Niguanta remembers the car. It was Remy´s most precious thing he had ever owned. Since the moment she met him his car was like a girlfriend he’d always been faithful too.
‘Tout a l'heure, baby! ‘
Remy leaves, takes his beloved Corvette and drives away. In his way he saw more journalists and media coming to the Rijnlands Lyceum. The police surrounded the area around the school. In a couple of seconds journalists were pushing and kicking each other so they can be the first to get information about the incident.

Niguanta asked the policemen to give her a ride down to the police station. She really wanted to see Tommy as she hadn’t seen him in days. He was the one who knew more about her background and she felt comfortable around him. She was also curious about what Tommy might think of the boy. She had a feeling. A strange feeling about the boy that had just died. There was something about him but she didn’t know exactly what. But she was going to find out.

Niguanta reached the police station. She sees Rica at the administration office.
‘Hey NT!’ says the Asian woman rather too hyper for a police job.
‘How’s it going Rica? Seen Tommy today?’
‘As always, in the lab. ‘ The woman responded with a smile.
‘Thanks.’ The girl tried to smile but couldn’t. Sometimes she wished she could be able to smile.