Coffee Break Read – The Funeral

Detective Inspector Hunter Davis fought to maintain his composure as he watched his sergeant’s mahogany coffin sink below the ground. The moment felt surreal, almost dreamlike, yet he knew the intense pain that had settled into his chest manifested reality. Davis was no stranger to pain in the physical sense. He could endure that and had done so many times. And he would happily endure it again if doing so meant an end to this extreme of mental anguish.
He tore his gaze away from the grave where he stood with many of his colleagues, no longer able to bear the sight of it. Steeping clouds rolled in from the east, obscuring the feeble rays of November sunlight that had patterned the expanses of North Watford Cemetery with a false sense of warmth.
He became vaguely aware of the fact the people were starting to leave. Their movement felt distant, like something that was taking place on the other side of a two-way mirror— he could see them but didn’t exist among them. He didn’t belong to their group. They would go back to their lives and all would be as it once was. Their mourning for the death of Sergeant Evan Williams would last no longer than a few days, maybe less. Davis, however, would never be the same. He had lost both his best friend and sergeant for the last five years.
He looked around and saw Evan’s wife and their two children— the only people besides the burial ground custodian who remained near the grave. Seeing them jolted him out of his own acute sense of loss. Surely he hadn’t been so self-absorbed as to overlook those who would mourn Williams’ death far beyond his own level of grief ? Ashamed, he crossed over to where she stood.
The woman gazed at him through a curtain of tears. He gazed back, a surge of empathy for the new widow urging tears to the surface.
“Hunter,” she said, her voice strained.
“Angie,” Davis took her hand and gripped it for a moment, then bent down and spoke to the two children who stood on either side of their mother. “I’m sorry about your dad. I know it’s going to be hard not having him around . . . I know you are missing him and feel so sad, but your mum is going to be with you, and I’m going to help her as much as I can. If you ever want to talk to me, just let her know and I’ll come and see you.” He spread his arms wide, inviting them to hug him.
They nodded and rushed forward, bursting into tears. “Y-yes, U-uncle Hunter.”
After a moment, during which only muffled sobs could be heard, Davis released them and stood back up. He faced Angie. “Is there anything I can do? Would you still like me to come round to your house on weekends?”
“Of course I would,” Angie replied. “You’ve been coming round to our place for the last five years. And now that he’s. . .” she glanced at her late husband’s grave, tears threatening to surface once more “. . .he’s gone, we will need you more than ever. You know how fond the children are of you. You’re their Uncle Hunter.”
Davis gave the children a quick glance. Both of them had gone back to hugging their mother. “You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking asking a question like that. Of course I’ll still come round on weekends.”
Heavy drops of rain began peppering the ground around them, prompting Davis and Angie to end their conversation.
“Shall I give you a lift?” Davis asked. “My car’s parked just round the corner.”
“Oh, no, that’s quite alright. I have my car. Thanks just the same though.” Angie managed a decent attempt at a smile before shepherding her children towards the exit of the cemetery.
Davis watched them until they were lost from sight, his mind a raging tornado of emotions. He turned back to his fallen sergeant’s grave and made an internal vow— to be there for his family, whatever the cost. Rolling thunder finally pulled him back from the trance he had entered.

From Hunting Darkness by Ian Bristow

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