Fumbling for her flashlight, Louisa scrambled to her feet and started running away from the field and back to her campsite. Though she tried to forget the horror she had just seen, her mind could not stop thinking about the man lying dead and deserted in the field. Louisa remembered the ranger’s station at the entrance to the camp ground, and turning around in its direction, decided to see if there was anyone who could help. The bobbing light from the ranger’s station grew bigger and brighter as Louisa ran down the road in desperation. As she closed in on the little shack, she noticed the back door was still open. Bolting inside, and locking the door behind her, Louisa was dismayed to see that no one was there, horrified by the fact that the man she had found dead was the ranger on duty for the night. Spotting a phone on the desk, Louisa reached for the receiver, shaking as she dialed 911.
The dispatcher had told Louisa to hang tight and relax as she waited for the officer to come make the report. “Yeah, no problem, I can totally relax when a killer is on the loose,” she thought. She was currently sitting with her legs crossed tight on the ranger’s desk chair, staring the window out into the pitch blackness, just waiting for the killer to emerge out of the dark, pointing the big tranquilizer gun straight at her. She cursed the day she ever decided camping would be a fun idea. She was scared to death, cold, hungry, tired, alone, and above all, she still had to flippin’ pee. Louisa couldn’t believe the whole camp was sleeping soundly as she was locked up in a ranger’s station, fearing for her life. Trying to take her mind off of what might be outside, Louisa turned her attention to the magazines and newspapers strewn about on the desk. As she picked up the Examiner, Louisa noticed the gleam of a small mirror on the desk’s surface, covered with little specks of white powder. “I guess it makes sense”, Louisa muttered to herself. “This job isn’t exactly the most exciting”.
The lights of the patrol car beamed in through the window of the office and Louisa tried to get a good look at the person inside. The car’s engine hummed to a stop, and a big handsome policeman stepped out, adjusted his hat, and walked up to the door. Finding it locked, he knocked politely while Louisa slid off her chair and opened it for him. “Good evening, miss” the man said, “I’m officer William Gitson, and I’ll be working this case. Are you alright?” “Yeah I guess. I’m fine”, Louisa answered. She was relieved this would all soon be over. “That’s good,” William said with a smile. “So can you take me to the body?” he asked. Louisa was still scared over the possibility of a killer being on loose. “Do you have a gun?”
Satisfied with William’s answer, Louisa opened the door of the station and walked with William over to the field, passing first the bathrooms whose convenient, field-side location had gotten her into the whole mess in the first place. “Uh, do you think that first I can go to the bathroom?” William smiled with empathy and even agreed to check every stall in the women’s restroom before Louisa went inside for her long-awaited pee. Things felt much better after that, and Louisa led William over to where she thought the body lay. The two were surprised to see that someone else was already there, kneeling next to the corpse on the ground. Louisa shrieked.
“Stop, police!” William shouted with authority. “Step away from the body. What are you doing out here, sir?” The man looked up from the corpse, blinded by the flashlight. “Oh, thank God you’re here! I just found him as I was walking around the campgrounds” the man exclaimed. “Alright, well I’m out here to make the report. If you could, sir, please just show me your hands so I know you aren’t armed”. “Oh, yes of course,” the man replied and lifted his arms in the air. Louisa was relieved to see there was nothing there. William stepped forward, and came to one knee on the side of the body. “Its ranger Randy Cowler”, Bill said. “Tranquilizer dart, park ranger standard. Well that helps with the suspects. It’s gotta be someone who has access to their guns.”
It was almost morning by the time William had finished taking Louisa and the man, Walter’s, eye-witness reports. Louisa didn’t know what to think about Walter. He was a retired physics professor from UCSB who liked hunting. Hunting! Louisa was sure he would know his way around a big gun. She was also just creeped out by his presence at the scene of the crime just as she arrived with officer Bill. For all she knew, Walter could have been coming back to dispose of the evidence!
Just as officer William was about to leave, Louisa remembered something. “Hey officer, did you notice the cocaine on Randy’s desk?” she said, proud of her own detective work. “Well, no actually,” he said. “Can you show me where it is?” Louisa went up to the desk as William slid out from the desk in his chair. She picked up the newspaper where she has seen the mirror, but nothing was there. In disbelief, Louisa moved around all the other newspapers and things on the desk, but there was no trace of the cocaine. “Oh, its not here anymore” she said, dumbfounded. “Are you sure it was there to being with, Louisa? You sure have had a long night. You probably just imagined it”. And getting up swiftly from the chair, Bill assured Walter and Louisa he would find the killer, and wished them a nice Saturday.
“Hey, Louisa”, Walter said. “I think you were right about the cocaine. I noticed some white powder on Randy’s face when I found him back in the field.”
“Really? Well its good to hear I’m not crazy,” Louisa responded. “But why would officer William want to cover up something like that?”
“I don’t know,” Walter said. “But it makes me want to find out.”
Louisa would have said the same thing if Walter had asked. She didn’t know why, but for some reason, she really wanted to solve this case. There was something in the victim’s expression that conveyed such complete and total loss of hope, and somehow, Louisa felt that if she could figure out the reason for Randy’s death, she could restore the hope to the world that Randy never had.