All it took…

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 20; the twentieth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

All characters and incidents in this story are purely fictional. Any similarity to anyone dead or alive is purely a coincidence.

… was a moment.

It is a cloudy day. I am at my desk, both feet on it, my suede jacket hanging from the back of my chair, in one hand a steaming mug of coffee and in the other, the folded sports section of the New York Times. I don’t expect my cell phone to not beep today calling me to work. The weather can never be an excuse to not go if it happens. No, wait, scratch that. Not if, but when it happens. The door opens, and she comes in with a box in her hand. I open it; take the first one out and am about to dunk it in the coffee when it happens. “Beep, beep.” I get up. Donuts and dead bodies just don’t go together.

I step out as the first drops of rain kiss my forehead. I think they must have been waiting for me. I open the umbrella and head toward the awaiting squad car. I don’t know more details, so I pray the crime scene isn’t outdoors waiting for the rain to wash away any clues I might find. I make no conjectures till I reach the scene. Bias without insight is always a wrong turn in an investigation according to me. Even the name of the place is somewhat new to me. I tell the officer at the wheel the place, and he continues the drive. I close my eyes for a moment and meditate to get my focus on the job at hand. Then the car stops, and I find myself at the railway station.

Greening County is not in my jurisdiction, but this was a special case. I have been requested because the county police are few in total. No. I’ve been requested because the dead woman is the richest in the county, or even in the neighboring five counties. The train is speeding on, and the stop is nearing. I can see countryside through the glass window, through the little drops that are slowly inching their way down. A fence runs between the tracks and the adjacent road, so close that I feel I can touch it if the glass wasn’t there. Little houses which weren’t stacked close to each other like the city. It looked beautiful in the blanket of rain. When I got down a few minutes later at the station, I noticed I was only one of three people who alighted, the others being a man who hurried away in the opposite direction and of course, my partner Sue. A lone officer stood there waiting for us.

“Tiffany Doherty, second in command at the station her, sir. We’re glad you could come”, she said.

“Jeff Dale, commanding officer, Jersey CSI. This is Sue Griffiths, second in command. Can you tell us more about the case Officer Doherty?”

She opens an umbrella, and gives one for each of us as well. The crime scene is nearby, she says and we walk. She seems very eager for the culprit to be caught, for she mentions that over and over. Quick to a first name basis, she iterates, “No Jeff, not a clue we could find. She looks healthy, but we think its poison. So we asked for help.” “Yes Sue, we’re doing our best to keep the family out of the room, but they’re not making it any easier for us.” By the time we got to the scene, we knew a lot more than we did before. An officer was standing at the wicket gate; possibly the fourth in command I think. Near the door is a swing. In the swing sits a little girl, not crying, or smiling. She still believes that her mother is only asleep. I give her a smile as I enter the house, but she just continues expressionless.

The woman’s body is on the couch. She’s in her nightclothes, her face pale white and her vacant eyes casting empty stares at the ceiling. As I enter the hall, the officer there looks at me and with a curt nod begins to talk. “The victim is Sheila Staunton. She’s a bigwig, owned quite many vineyards in Napa. Hit it big in the wine industry. Widowed few months back, husband died in a car accident. No suspicious circumstances as such, but we thought we’d check anyways. Next of kin is the daughter, Ashley. Five years old, and the fortune goes to her. Mrs. Staunton’s will mentions no guardian but legally, her brother Sean will be the one, I believe. He’s in the master bedroom. He refused to have an enquiry into the death, but his younger sister Samantha, elder to Mrs. Staunton was the one who demanded that someone from Jersey PD be called in, just to make sure nothing wrong in her death. She’s in the kitchen. Body’s been kept as it was found.”

I give him a nod of understanding, ask his name. “James Crafts, commanding officer in this little town’s PD, sir”, he says.

I bend over the body, examining it for bruises or signs that she was mistreated in some way. I can’t find any, but that doesn’t always mean they aren’t there. I call Dr. Reynolds in. It’ll take him three quarters of an hour to get here. Till then, I’ve to check the crime scene. I feel a tug on my coat. I turn back to see the little girl there. I smile and say, “Hi Ashley.”

“Has my mommy gone to meet daddy?” she asks.

All it took was a moment.

I can’t lie to kids. I’ve never been good at it. Sue knows, so she takes over and consoles her somehow. A tear slides down her cheek like the raindrops on the glass. But Ashley doesn’t stay with Sue. She runs to me again, buries her head in my coat and starts to cry. I hug her tight and stay close. I take her to the swing and we swing together, slowly. She’s tired and falls asleep soon. I gently take her hands away from me and walk back inside. An argument has broken out. Reynolds wants to take the body back to Jersey for the preliminary postmortem, but Sean Staunton is refusing. Officers Crafts and Doherty ask him otherwise, but he’s adamant. Jersey PD can’t do anything, he argues. I can’t argue. He’s right in his protest, but it still makes me suspicious as to why he doesn’t want the body examined by Reynolds. Even Samantha wishes the body not to go outside of Greening. “It was her wish to not be cut open. We will not see it broken.”

I walk outside. The countryside is beautiful in the rain. Sheila has a small garden in her backyard. Neatly planted rows of vegetables greet me. She has even erected a quite comical looking scarecrow to keep the birds away. “Thank God crows don’t know humor from fear. They’d have created a ruckus with all the laughing”, I imagine, a smile on my face. Below the chap I notice something odd. Something is caught on a nail in the wooden pole. I go nearby to see. It’s a piece of cloth, a shade of aqua green I’d seen before. And in that moment, I knew. And in the next moment, I knew I was right. I felt her hand on my shoulder, and looked behind to see. The little girl is still crying, but she speaks, burying her head in my coat again.

I take her into my arms. She doesn’t protest as I carried her inside. I call Officers Crafts and Doherty into another room, let Ashley speak without interference. “I saw mommy and Uncle Sean in the garden early morning. They were arguing near the scarecrow but I couldn’t hear them. Then Auntie Sam closed the curtains, and took me along to buy milk. When we came back, mommy was on the couch. Uncle Sean said she was sleeping.” When Crafts looks at me, I say “There’s nothing except a piece of Mrs. Staunton’s night dress caught on the nail. Evidence isn’t sufficient to prove death there. Maybe it was poison and she fell on the nail, maybe he hit her, without examining the body, I can’t determine anything from the ground there. Rain has washed away any footprints including hers. It’s an open and shut case. Can you get a court order for the postmortem?” I find that it’s useless. Samantha Staunton is the judge in Greening jurisdiction. So the open and shut case now is to be just shut. I walk out to see Sean at the door. He has a triumphant smile on his face. It was all about the fortune then. I call him aside and ask him something. An hour more, and I will be on the train back home.

All it took was a moment.

I am back on the train to Greening today. Sue is with me. The train is speeding on, and the stop is nearing. I can see countryside through the glass window, through the little drops that are slowly inching their way down. I could swear they are the same drops from two weeks before. We reach the station and alight. Tiffany is there again with the umbrellas. We walk together, talking. It takes us fifteen minutes to reach the place. I don’t need to think. The decision was made long before I took the train to Greening today. I finish the formalities. I smile and walk away. Tiffany escorts us back to the station. I look at Sue. She’s crying, but the rain masks it well. Not that she wants it to. As the train back speeds out of Greening station, I still have a sense of leaving something incomplete. I still can’t understand why two weeks back; Samantha Staunton had requested an investigation that she stopped in between. I still can’t understand why Sean Staunton needed to murder his sister for a vast fortune. I still can’t get over the fact that I couldn’t give solace to Sheila Staunton’s soul by proving her murder and getting her siblings the sentence they deserved. I still can’t…

“Don’t worry. She’s happy now, the rain is her tears of happiness”, her voice drifts in. I look at the little girl in the seat opposite to me, and I smile. I knew that day, Ashley wouldn’t live happily with her aunt and uncle. Though she was rich beyond her wildest dreams, she wouldn’t get the love she deserved. So I asked Sean that day, if he could have all the money, without a penny for Ashley, could I have her? Money was all that mattered.

Today, I adopted Ashley as my daughter, with Judge Samantha Staunton approving the adoption. The legal formalities were complete.

“Daddy…” she says. The rest of her voice is lost to me for now. I look at her, at the raindrops on the glass. I smile, laugh in happiness that I might have just saved her childhood. I haven’t left anything incomplete. Not really.

All it takes is a moment, to realize I shall remember the raindrops forever.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Image Credits – Window Rain Drops by Eric Alder and Scarecrow by Sara Vandermeulen
Courtesy – via and Thursday Tales

© Leo 07/05/2011

Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

44 thoughts on “All it took…”

  1. Hey, am here, reading you after a long time, and yes, this story…am speechless, am all admiration for your excellent way of weaving a beautiful mystery novel, Sheldon Style… 😉

    Ashley? my favorite name, my adoptive baby’s name… 🙂 Lucky for her, she found a refuge in a man who just wants to love her as a daughter and save her childhood from misery and in the hands of her greedy and heartless relatives…Money is evil, yes, but for him, he did the noblest just to save a child…How many out there can be like him? Such a story, full of moral, I hope many will read and learn a lot from this!

    Very well done Leo…congratulations! *Cheers*** :))

      • nice story and beautiful, i was reading in the beginning thinking it too be another investigative thriller but an awesome end……

        • Glad you liked it, Critics! 🙂 It was meant to be a thriller, but in the end, I didn’t have time to work out the chinks in the armor 😀 Cheers!

  2. This was written so well, at first I thought I was reading a piece of non-fiction. I imagine there are many scenarios where real cops are tempted, and maybe sometimes actually do what was eventually done here, especially if there were no caring relatives to step up.

    I truly enjoyed this story. I dabble in short stories also from time to time, and I would like to think I could put one together as well constructed as was this, but I have my doubts. Great going!!

    • Why the doubts, Jerry? In my opinion, all are learners. Equal in attempting fictions and short stories. True, some are more recognized than you or I are right now, but in the end, everyone is learning 🙂 Glad you liked my story, and I do hope some cops do what Jeff Dale did here, atleast the child wouldn’t go uncared for. Childhood after all, is the time most remembered for all of us.

  3. That was an unexpected twist. Nice one, Leo. Both you and SIS, sentimental poets start off like crime thrillers and bring it to an end in your usual emotional style. But it is getting predictable. But thats no proble,. Once you get used to her, even Agatha Chritsie gets predictable. I am wondering how this story would have gone if it had been written by Pawan Maravuda.

    • Oh.. it’d have gone DARK.. whole lot of gruesomeness I’m sure 🙂 Hehe!
      Yes, perhaps it was a little predictable, The Fool, but it was a last minute decision to write actually. And well, I write emotional best in last minute. Hence it twisted that way. I wanted to write more longer actually. With the twists and turns of an investigation.. I didn’t have the time in the end.


  4. Very impressive….. The story was excellently narrated….. While reading the story I tried to analyze the appropriateness of the title. I think you have made use of “all it takes/took” beautifully…. Well done!! 😀

    • Oh; it was the other way around, Chhavi 😉 I wrote the story first, and then used the phrase for the title 😀 Glad you liked the narration and the appropriateness of the title! Cheers! 😀

  5. impressive..
    a very good narrative ending on an emotional note..i usually don’t like crime thrillers but yours is a different story altogether..really enjoyed it:)
    good work!cheers!
    all the best for blog a ton!:)

    • I do love a good crime thriller, Tarunima, and even though I couldn’t pull one off here, I’m glad it still made an impact with you! Thank you for the appreciation! 🙂 All the best to you as well.

  6. Leo, awesome, it was awesomely written dude.. the narration was great and I love this post to the core.. and “All i took“, all you took is a girl now, Daddy.. Great and as usual you are rocking..

    PS: Thanks for your encouraging comment on my post.. Thank you thank you thank you..
    and TF: Hmmm, yes sentimental poets for sure and I agree with Leo’s response, Pawan would have made it gruesomeness..

    Someone is Special

  7. Just loved the way the train ride and the crime scene investigation are related by the rain common b/w them

  8. Leo, the Late Latif 🙂 I must have checked the BAT page umpteen times to read ur entry….n here it is…..You write n how!!! Perfect 10 !!!!! 🙂

    • Hehe.. yeah, I was pretty late this time. I didn’t think I’d be posting it at all at one time 😉 Glad you liked it, Shilpa!

  9. That was an awesome twist but I wish the culprit was punished too. Anyway that police-man was very kind, wasn’t he? I am glad that you wrote a story where the cops are good, not the usual bollywood-like.

    • Well, there are some good cops too, Nethra 🙂 Hope more such are there in the world. Another child’s life saved would be very much worth it na? 😉

  10. Vinay! This is good. Engaging. Sad, disarming, touching, written from the heart. Bravo! Good BAT …

    … and here I am trying to wrap up at the last minute! Phew!

    Hope you are happy, safe, and well today.

    • @ Jamie,

      Thanks 🙂 Glad you liked it and found so many words for it! 😀 Hope you finish it up soon.

      Yep, safe and well, thank you for asking 🙂

    • @ SiS,

      I didn’t win it dude. You did 😛 I’m silver medallist only. 3rd time silver, officially 1st time. 🙂

  11. That was an amazing piece Leo. I am awed. If I have one word to use, I would say Poetic. It’s amazing how you can weave art in such beautiful words. Keep it up!

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