Hotel Street Excerpt
Excerpts of Chapters IV and V
“Shine the light closer,” Danny ordered.
With the tips of his fingers, he lifted the torn edges of the sack and looked underneath.
Beneath was a layer of wet newsprint. Danny pulled away the newsprint and we saw the baby’s soft, round head. At first, it looked like a toy doll. Its eyes were closed and it was motionless. Soon enough, we realized what we’d found. My heart sank.
It was the body of a small child, no older than two months. Its plump little arms and hands lay curved at its sides, the hands rolled into tiny fists. Its round little head was turned to the right. It looked like it was asleep.
But something looked wrong with the shape of the child’s head. “Shine the light closer,” I told Wong.
Gently, using his fingertips Danny tilted the head over and Wong shined the light directly onto its right side.
Someone had kicked its head in with so much force the right side of the baby’s face had almost caved in.
“Jesus,” Wong uttered, looking away. The young rookie stared transfixed as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
I took the light from Wong and we examined the rest of the body. Its forehead and cheeks were soiled with mud. Its chest and belly were, too. Otherwise, the skin was spotless. The rest of the body looked undamaged.
Danny and I stood up.
“Cordon off the area,” he told Wong. “Get a couple more uniforms down here and call the coroner.”
On the way to the station, a light rain began to fall. It was the start of the dry season, but it wasn’t strange to see rainfall now and then. I couldn’t have cared any less, regardless. It was Easter Sunday and we were finally headed home. Nothing short of a typhoon could dampen my spirits. Yet, I was filled with despair, too.
“What kind of animal would do something like this?” I asked, not sure if Danny felt the same way. He’d been a cop longer than I’d been. “To kill a child’s bad enough. But to throw it in the drink like it was just so much trash. What kind of animal does that?” I repeated in anguish.
Danny waited before answering. “What kind of animal would do something like this?” he repeated. “The human kind.”
When we got to Bethel Station, the rain had tapered off, leaving a scent of warm, wet grass. Danny pulled up in front.
“You’re not coming in?” I asked.
“No,” he said. I knew where he was headed.
Danny sauntered up the steps to the front door and let himself in with the key she’d given him. Heading for the empty kitchen, he rummaged through the icebox for a beer and found one. It was a neat little kitchen, clean and orderly.
Removing his hat and loosening his tie, he opened the PX-bought Rheingold and swallowed nearly half of it, relishing the beer’s cold, wet taste. Tossing the bottle, he ambled toward the bedroom and peeked in. Caroline was lying in bed breathing softly, her breaths rustling the loose strands of auburn hair that fell lushly across her face.
Danny moved quietly across the room and sat down next to her. Sensing him, she opened one eye and shuffled over to make room.
“Come in,” she said warmly, her voice full of sleep. “You look terrible.”
Danny grunted. He removed his gun belt and placed it under the bed before cozying up to her. Her body felt slender and warmly alive next to his. Her long, wavy hair brushed lightly against his cheek. Reaching out, she pressed his supple frame against hers in a motherly embrace.
She moved to make room for him and noticed his eyes closed. A moment later, she got out of bed. Turning, she looked at him again. Danny was dead asleep.