Through Dolls Eyes – Intervention
Sergeant Thomas Richard Swanson burst through the door after knocking and waiting three times. He had emailed, texted, called, knocked and left twice, and enough was enough. He hadn’t heard from Hoffman in over a week. That was beyond fucked up.
Whenever they were working a case, they were never out of contact for more than a few hours. Behind him, two uniformed officers followed with their guns drawn.“Hoffman? Where the hell are you?” There was no sound from his partner or his partner’s family. The hallway before him was empty and his voice echoed up the stairway to his left. But there was a reek. A foul stench permeated the house, reminding Swanson of the time he had killed eight rats with a baited trap and tossed their bodies into the dumpster on the hottest week of the year. It was the smell of decomposing bodies which Swanson smelled now, making him feel as though he should be standing outside next to his dumpster in the alley behind his house.
“Do you smell that, sarge?” asked one of the uniforms, the one with the mustache. He looked a little green.
“You’d have to be a freak not to,” Swanson growled and swallowed his gorge back down.
“On it, sir,” Mustache said, and began mounting the stairs. Halfway up, he groaned.
“God, it’s even worse up here.”
“Swallow your vomit, officer,” Swanson snapped, unholstering his own weapon and moving further down the hallway.
The other uniformed officer, looking even greener, followed him. Swanson issued orders without looking.
“Officer Wilde, please check these rooms.” He gestured to the three rooms opening off the hallway.
“Right, sarge,” Wilde said, and swallowed, opening the door to his right and vanishing inside.
Swanson continued down the hall and into the kitchen, where flies buzzed around a sink stacked high with dishes. Bits of food littered the table and counters, crumbs bearing the imprint of small feet, rodent, and insect. The microwave hung open, splatters of red and brown caking the inside. Cupboard doors had been pulled half off and yawned empty with their contents crusted with filth and stacked in the sink and on the counter. A pile of decaying hamburger lay forgotten by all but the maggots on the table, still half in its plastic wrapper.
Around the table places were laid using a child’s plastic tea party set. There was something red and viscous inside the little pink cups, drawing the attention of the flies. On one of the plates lay a finger. Swanson’s stomach gave a sick lurch as he once again fought to control his gorge. Grabbing the radio from his pocket, he pressed the button.
“This is Swanson, I’m at the Hoffman residence and I’m going to need medical assistance and backup immediately!” The radio gurgled at him but his attention was arrested by Officer Mustache flying down the stairs with a look of horror on his face.
“Tom!” he yelled at Swanson, ignoring protocol. “Hoffman’s wife is up there, dead and mutilated! She’s at the bottom of the ladder to the attic and her face is all fucked up and it looks like someone fucking crushed her chest, she’s fuckin’–”
“Enough!” Swanson roared, grabbing the hysterical officer by the shoulders and shaking him hard.
“Enough that she’s dead, now get the hell out of here and get on the horn to headquarters, tell them to send people here pronto!”Mustache made haste for the front door down the hallway whence they had come, before being stopped short by a bloodcurdling screech from the room Officer Wilde had entered.
Mustache leaped back, almost into Swanson’s arms, who had been close behind. “What in the fuck was that?”Swanson threw the petrified officer aside, making a subconscious note to have a word with Mustache’s superior about his future in law enforcement. Gun ready, Swanson kicked the door in and froze.
His gun wavered and the barrel dropped, though he did not notice. Officer Wilde lay on the floor, gurgling and trying to pull a large pair of scissors from his throat while breathing through his own blood. Hoffman stood over him, shoulders hunched, clad in a pair of stained boxers and a yellowed white undershirt. His eyes snapped to the new intruders, and he recoiled,scuttling around to the other side of his desk which was piled high with delivery cartons and bottles of beer and whiskey. He peered out at them from between the mountains of Chinese containers and pizza boxes, his eyes distorted by the whiskey bottle he stared through. Swanson could see madness there, and it chilled him more than anything he had seen.
“I know what you want,” Hoffman hissed, and Swanson was without warning transported back to the theater when he and his children had watched Lord of the Rings and laughed at the creature Gollum, alias Sméagol.
This living Gollum glared at him. “You want her back, don’t you. Well, you can’t have her. She likes me, and she likes it here with her sister.” Hoffman looked down at the desk, between two bottles.
“Don’t worry,” he said, and now his voice was fatherly and gentle.
“I won’t let them take you from her.”Swanson, taking some comfort from the siren he now heard approaching, pulled himself together and raised the gun again.
“Eric Hoffman, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Officer Wilde down there. Put your hands on your head and turn around, man. Don’t make me kill you.”
Hoffman looked up at Swanson and raised his hands with deliberation. “Promise me you’ll leave her here? You won’t separate them?”
Swanson could not help but note with the sickness that one of Hoffman’s fingers was missing as he laced his them behind his head and turned around.
“I can’t promise anything, who are you talking about?” He moved forward, pulling his handcuffs from his pocket. Hoffman nodded at the desk.
“June.” Snapping the cuffs around Hoffman’s wrists, Swanson relaxed a fraction and holstered his weapon as he followed Hoffman’s nod down to the desk. A doll in black and white sat there looking up at him, one cracked eyebrow giving her a sinister leer. An involuntary shudder went through Swanson and he nodded.
“No problem, Eric. She’ll stay right here.”
“That’s real good,” Hoffman said with a smile. “They’ve been together for so long, they’d hate to get separated.”
“Yeah, I bet,” Swanson said, hearing the siren stop its approach outside the house and the slamming of doors as the EMTs unloaded their gear for the now unmoving Officer Wilde.
“Let’s go, Eric.”Hoffman allowed himself to be led out as the paramedics rushed in, and put into the back of one of the police cars he used to drive, calling back to the house,
“Don’t worry, Junie! I’ll be back soon!”
“Not fucking likely, sport,” Swanson muttered as he opened the car door to get behind the wheel.
“Hey!” yelled a paramedic. “There’s a little girl back here!”