He veered on the path, his footsteps leading toward the large fountain. My ears picked up the screech of tires and fading wail of sirens behind me. I knew without looking that back up had arrived, and I was relieved to have some actual police officers arriving on the scene.
My relief was short lived when his grip suddenly tightened on the girl, and he pressed the knife harder against the side of her throat. A thin red line appeared, blood trickling down her neck, and the girl cried out, tears spilling over her round cheeks. “I said get the fuck away from me!”
God damn it…I jerked my gaze to see a twenty-something-year-old-looking hipster hugging the side of a park bench close to Douglas. He wore an odd-shaped stocking cap that was pushed low over his forehead, and he had the determined look of a man about to do something really heroic that would probably get someone killed.
“Back off.” I growled the warning low, relieved when the baggy pants, want-to-be-a-hero hipster begrudgingly backed away. I knew what he was thinking; the guy was distracted, so why not try to make a play for the girl? Except Douglas was a lot smarter than that, and I had the feeling he would plunge the knife in the side of the girl’s neck faster than anyone could make a move.
“See, Donovan, everything’s good,” I reassured my suspect once I was certain nobody else was going to play hero. “No one is getting close.” We were a good distance away from the park entrance now, but the sound of fast moving footsteps beating the pavement told me help was close at hand. Normally, this would be the time when I would back down and gladly allow the hostage negotiation unit to take over, but this guy wasn’t playing with a full deck. Trying to rebuild a rapport with him may do us more harm than good.
Something, or rather, someone, shifted in my peripheral vision. I spared the man a quick glance as he worked his way behind a statue, recognition instantly sinking in. Even in his street clothes the intimidating profile of Detective Stephen Harris was noticeable. His dirty blonde hair was covered by a Philadelphia Eagles baseball cap set low over his brooding eyes as he quietly assessed the situation. Where he came from was hard to say, but he didn’t look happy. In fact, he looked downright pissed off. I could relate.
“You don’t get it. It doesn’t matter.” Douglas sucked in a deep breath, eyes wild. “It doesn’t matter!” The scream echoed around me, and I watched him take a step backwards, the backs of his knees hitting the fountain. “I’m fucked, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Donovan, there’s always another solution, but I can’t help if you don’t let me.” I quickly scrambled to regain control. My eyes connected briefly with Harris’s, and I could tell he was thinking the same as me. We were losing ground.
From his position, Harris was in Donovan’s blind spot. Three more steps and Harris could easily overtake him, if Donovan didn’t lose his cookies before then.
“It’s too late. Too late.” Donovan glanced down at the rippling water behind him before looking back at the crowd of uniformed officers who had reached my side. He appeared to be weighing his options, which weren’t good. I took advantage of his altered gaze to step closer.
Two more steps…
“It’s never too late to the do the right thing,” I continued, barely breathing. “That little girl didn’t do anything wrong, Donovan. Why don’t you let her go and we can talk about fixing all of this.” I shuffled closer.
One more step…
Donovan shook his head, lifting his foot to rest it on the edge of the fountain. “You can’t fix a dead man.”