Tobin remembered it all; remembered where he was when he got that life-changing call. It was one year ago today, June 12th. The time on the clock burned into his memory. It was something he would never forget. It changed his life; for the worse and forever. He had been through a lot but this probably topped it all.
He didn’t have many people in his life: a couple close buddies, and his little sister, Stevie. She was his everything, and Tobin had basically raised her from the time they were young. Tobin and Stevie had lost their parents when they were really little. He had done everything in his power to take care of her. They had moved in with their Aunt Deanna but God knows she didn’t actually take care of them. She was too busy out doing everything and everyone for her drugs and for her money.
Nonetheless, her house was still a roof over their heads and for that they were forever grateful. His dad was in the Army and lost his life in battle. Their mom, on the other hand, had actually left them right after Stevie was born. She claimed to their father that she couldn’t do this, to tell her children she loved them and left, and neither one of them had heard from her since then either.
Their dad was only on leave at home for a couple of weeks. He had to go back to Afghanistan. Their world had shattered that day. Their dad was the only one they had. Even though he had been away, they always knew he had them in his heart and always loved them. At this time they moved in with their grandparents, their father’s parents, until they were no longer able to take care of them and they moved into an assisted-living facility.
Their grandparents loved them dearly and did what they could to help them out. After them going to assisted living, that is when they moved into Deanna’s. They hated living with her. She didn’t have any respect for the fact they lived there with her. She had a new boyfriend living there every other week, just about. Or maybe it was a new drug dealer every week. Either way it was miserable, and always reeked of cigarettes.
Stevie always begged Tobin to leave there and try and find elsewhere to live. As bad as he wanted to as well, there was nowhere for them to live other than here until he finished saving up his money for them to move out. He often wondered where his mom was at; was she alive or dead? Did she ever think about them? He often thought about trying to connect with her online, maybe. Maybe she would see their pictures, and how well they were doing, and want to be back in their lives. That was a scary thought, though, so he always just brushed those thoughts away and never contacted her.
* * * *
June 12th, 2012, is when he got the call. Almost 11 years to the day they had lost their father. Stevie had plans on this Friday night: she was going to a concert with her boyfriend that night. She had driven so her boyfriend could drink at the show. Since Stevie had gone out, Tobin decided he was going to go out with his buddies too. He was chilling at his buddy’s house with his friends, having a few beers, when she called him to check in and tell him she was just dropping off her boyfriend. She’d be home in no more than a half hour or so. It was about 12:45 am. The show went later than he figured it would, so he was glad to hear from her; he had begun to worry about her, naturally. He told her to be careful and to let him know when she got home, that he’d be home a bit after her probably.
Two a.m. rolled around and Tobin hadn’t heard from her still and she still had not come home. Calling her cell phone did no good, as for some odd reason it was shut off. Tobin started freaking out. That was not like her; she always had her phone with her and never would ignore his calls. Maybe she had bad signal — that was what he tried convincing himself; that was what it had to be. She was fine.
At 2:29 a.m. he got the call. He broke down in tears and had to leave his friend’s house to go to the police station downtown.
“Who the fuck did this? I need to know. This is bullshit and someone needs to pay for this!”
Tobin stormed into the station, tears streaming down his face, screaming out of rage for his sister’s life.
“Mr. Gebhardt, can I please see you over here in my office?” asked Officer Lorenz.
“Are you sure it was her? She was fine, just fine. I just talked to her a couple hours ago, she had just been with her boyfriend, I think you have the wrong person, please. She’s fine right?”
“Sir, I need you to tell me what Stephanie left the house wearing tonight. Did you see her before she left this evening?”
“Her name is Stevie, she hates the name Stephanie, don’t call her that please.”
“Okay. I am sorry. What was Stevie wearing this evening? Any details you can volunteer would be great.”
“I don’t know for sure. I know she straightened her hair today. She went to a concert, so I’m guessing she had on her combat boots and skinny black jeans. Maybe a t-shirt and her leather jacket? I can’t tell you for sure. She went to work this morning as I was waking up so I didn’t really pay much attention. Where is she now? I need to tell her I love her. She’s my baby sister, she’s all I have.”
“Tobin, I need you to please just communicate with me and help me out here, okay? This is the 4th shooting in a matter of 10 days and we need to get to the bottom of this. We need to know who is doing these shootings and why they are. Now, Stevie does not have any affiliation with any gang members or anyone, did she?”
“Are you kidding me? Hell no, she is the furthest thing from that. She is a good woman. She works and goes to school every day. And sees her boyfriend on the weekends, but she is not in any gangs or associates with anyone who is in one for that matter.”
“Okay, I just needed to make sure. I’m not trying to offend you or Stevie. But no one had it out for her? No one she was fighting with or anything?”
“Absolutely not. She had her select friends she hung out with, and they love her dearly. She may have grown apart from them since she is busy with work and school but she isn’t someone who starts shit with anyone. She didn’t deserve this. She is okay though, right? I need to know.”
“Mr. Gebhardt, I am afraid she did not make it. Stevie was found dead in her car. She was shot in the head. A car passing by saw her slouched on the wheel, pulled over to help her, and immediately called 911.”
Tobin broke down hysterically in tears and started sobbing. He started sobbing so hard he could not catch his breath. This was worse than losing his father, and worse than his mother leaving them. The two had gotten so close; they were together all the time and were inseparable. They were best friends.
They had so many memories together. You always hear about those brother and sisters who fight constantly or only get along sometimes. They were not that way at all. He remembered a handful of fights that they had. They had always gotten along. He wasn’t supposed to outlive his baby sister; they always had an agreement she was supposed to take care of him when he got old since he helped raise her. It was their inside joke, but in all reality this killed him.
She did not deserve to die so young. She was so full of life and had so much going for her. She was a good person and didn’t do stupid shit like most of the people her age. She always used her head, and said that she wanted to make her daddy proud. She was a daddy’s girl even though she was young when he passed. But she always loved her daddy.
* * * *
Tobin sat on the couch, dazing off into space, replaying the memory of this night in his head. Tears were rolling down his face. He couldn’t believe that it had been a year; each day dragged past him individually and yet, looking back, time had flown by. He didn’t miss her any less though; maybe just accepted it a little more. He still could not fathom that his baby sister’s life was taken so young and so brutally. His mind flashed back to that wretched night.
* * * *
“Tobin? Sir? I am horribly sorry; I hate to tell you such traumatic news. I know it is a lot to take in and it is never news I want to relay to anyone, ever, especially when it was a precious young woman’s life that was lost. We need your help though, along with the other victims’ families, and we can hopefully catch them. Whoever is doing these horrible acts.”
“I just … this is horrible. She can’t be gone. This is all a dream, right? A nightmare? I didn’t tell I loved her when we hung up the phone; we always do. But I didn’t this time. I thought I was seeing her shortly.”
“I am so sorry. I know she knew you loved her with your whole heart, as I’m sure she loved you just the same. It is unfair that such bad things happen in this world. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Yes. Bring my sister back. This is unreal, Officer Lorenz. I can’t swallow this. I need my sister, where is she?”
“Tobin, she is not here and this is not a dream or a joke, sadly. Can I ask you a couple more questions, though? We will get to the bottom of this and figure out who did this to her, okay?”
* * * *
Tobin just sat lifelessly on the couch. Missing Stevie’s laugh, missing her being there, and picking on him and annoying him like little sisters did. He knew he needed to stop replaying the scene in his head before he wasted the whole day away. Alex was coming home and they were going to dinner. She told him she would be home around four o’clock or so.
Alexis was Tobin’s girlfriend. She knew about Stevie and knew about his whole situation; about losing his dad and his mom leaving them. She was very aware of how close he had been to Stevie. He felt paralyzed; he could not move. Should the loss of his sister be affecting him so much still? He tried justifying it by saying it was the anniversary of her death, and it was only just a year.
He still remembered that night like it was yesterday. He felt as though he had no one when it all happened. His whole world came crashing down on him that night. Tobin was excited to see Alex, though; he hoped she would cheer him up, as he was sure she would. He was madly in love with her, and didn’t know what he would do without her.
She had come into his life about 6 months ago, when they started dating. He had met her through his buddy Drew, who knew him well — knew he needed someone. Alexis was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She was 2 years younger than him and she was just finishing nursing school. She was a good person; he still didn’t know how he got so lucky to have such an amazing girlfriend. She supported him and helped him through anything that came his way, as he did for her as much as possible. They had moved in together and had gotten an apartment in the city.
A skyscraper apartment building off of Madison in downtown Chicago is where they moved. The view was absolutely spectacular; he sat on his balcony every night that he could and enjoyed the view, and had a few drinks. He knew his father would be proud of him for where he was now, and that’s what mattered.
He had become a police officer, and did so with intentions of making his little sister and father proud. He wore his badge with honor, wore it to protect other families from going through the heartache he had experienced from losing loved ones. That was the only thing that gave him peace of mind, knowing he was helping others. No one should have to go through the hell he went through losing Stevie, and he wanted to make sure no one else did, or as little as possible.
Being a police officer in Chicago was hard, very hard, and dangerous at that. But Tobin would not change his job for anything. He had always dreamed of being a police officer, but never in downtown Chicago. He loved his job, though. Loved his family, his girlfriend, and his city, even though it took his sister away from him.