Trying not to panic, Ralph’s eyes darted all around the busy sidewalk in search of his younger cousin, Henry. Ralph knew that Henry wasn’t quite all there, but he had promised his Aunt Sarah that he would take her son with him when he took the bus into the city that Saturday.
Henry had been walking right behind Ralph just a few seconds earlier, but he seemed to have disappeared into the throng of people on the sidewalk. Ralph was feeling frantic. He started to walk back in the direction they’d just come from, glancing from side to side hoping to catch sight of his cousin.
And then he saw Henry running awkwardly toward him. “Hey Ralphie, Ralphie!” Excited and out-of-breath, Henry leaned his head up against Ralph’s shoulder once he caught up with him.
“Ralphie, I seen the whole thing,” Henry said, breathlessly.
“Huh?” Ralph said. “What did you see?”
“The whole thing, Ralphie. I seen the whole thing,” Henry repeated, still trying to catch his breath.
“What whole thing, Henry? What the hell are you talking about?” Ralph pushed Henry, whose head was still nestled into Ralph’s shoulder, away from him. Then he placed both of his arms on Henry’s shoulders and looked into his cousin’s eyes. “Calm down, Henry, and tell me what you saw.”
“I seen her,” Henry said, brimming over with excitement. “I seen her,” he repeated.
“Who’s ‘her’?” Ralph asked. “Who did you see?”
“I don’t know who she is,” Henry admitted. “But I seen her, Ralphie. I seen her back there.” Henry turned and pointed to the intersection behind him.
Ralph had never seen Henry this manic and it worried him. He wondered exactly who or what Henry had seen.
“Henry, can you show me who you saw?” Ralph said in a voice as calm and quiet as he could muster.
“I’ll show you what I seen, Ralphie,” Henry said. “Come with me.” Henry grabbed Ralph’s hand and pulled him in the direction from which he had just come running.
They walked to the corner and Henry pulled Ralph to the right. Ralph saw that the side street was cordoned off about a third of the way down the block by several blue police barricades. A crowd of maybe 20 people had gathered around the wooden barriers.
“That’s where I seen her, Ralphie,” Henry blurted out, pointing to where the onlookers stood.
They walked toward the crowd and Henry pointed to the center of what was clearly a crime scene. The cops were attaching yellow police tape to the barricades to create a perimeter. In the middle was the body of a young woman.
“That’s her, Ralphie, that’s the woman I seen.”
“Henry, did you see what happened to her” Ralph asked.
“Yeah, Ralphie,” Henry responded. “I seen the whole thing.”
Ralph again grabbed Henry by the shoulders and looked straight into his eyes. “Henry, this is important. Did you see what happened to her?”
Now agitated, Henry responded, “Yes, Ralphie. That’s what I just said. I seen the whole thing. I seen what happened to her.”
“Henry, will you tell the policeman what you saw?”
“Yes, Ralphie. I’ll tell him what I seen.”
This time it was Ralph who grabbed Henry’s hand. They walked to the nearest police officer.
“Officer,” Ralph said.
The cop interrupted him. “This is a crime scene, son. You need to move on.”
“Officer,” Ralph said again. “My cousin says he saw what happened to the woman.”
The cop looked the two of them over. He seemed skeptical. “Wait here,” he said and walked over to another man who was not wearing a uniform. The cop and plainclothes policeman glanced back that the two teenage boys.
The plainclothes man approached the two boys. “I’m Detective Morrisey,” he said when he reached them. “Did you two see what happened here?”
Henry stood as tall as he could. “Me!” he said proudly. “It was me. I seen the whole thing. I seen it all.”