The Flanagans Of Fairfield County, Connecticut: Chapter 13
The groceries that John Parker Nutbeem had picked up for his mother at a nearby market lay strewn about the cab of the truck, and squashed oranges and milk from a bag that had landed upside down were dripping onto the boy’s lifeless body when medics arrived at the scene.
The car crash that killed John Parker (or J.P. as his family and friends liked to call him) just two miles away from his parents home was eventually ruled an accident by the Chatom authorities, but for years following his death there had been rampant speculation amongst the locals that Erk Chamberlain was drunk when he ran a red light and hit J.P.’s Chevy S-10 pickup head on. The fact that Erk was the nephew of a U.S. district court judge in nearby Montgomery did nothing to dispel rumors that the man had gotten away with murder.
J.P. had only just finished up his senior year at Daphne High School (about an hour south of Chatom) when the “accident” occurred and he was getting ready to attend school at L.S.U. the following fall where he hoped to play linebacker on the football team as a preferred walk-on.
Chatom, Alabama is a town with a population that holds constant at about 1,200 people, and while the Nutbeem’s enjoyed the small town feel that Chatom offered, the Minister for the Christian church in town and his wife, a hairdresser, wanted their two boys to get a quality high school education.
Minister Nutbeem happened to have a brother who lived in Daphne, which allowed J.P. and his younger brother Beaufield to live with their uncle when they finished eighth grade, attend high school in the district, and most importantly play football for a powerhouse in the state.
J.P.’s younger brother Beau did not receive word of the accident until the next morning during pre-calculus, his first class of the day. Beau was a freshman at Daphne, a strong student academically speaking and truly a sight to see on the football field. His knowledge of the game exceeded that of his older brothers and most of the coaching staff, and while he had yet to take a meaningful snap in a live game at the time of his brother’s death, many people in the area felt that young Beau would one day be the starter under center for the state’s beloved Crimson Tide. The kid was a gunslinger and had won the starting job as quarterback at Daphne over an established senior early on in the teams summer camp.
He was quiet to begin with, but after John Parker passed he became something of a mute. He kept his grades up through high school and went on to become Daphne’s all time leader in passing yards, starting at quarterback all four years there and bringing them a state championship his junior season. He accepted a full scholarship to the University of Alabama after winning state, and was on the roster for the Crimson Tide as the third string QB for one year before quitting to focus on his criminal justice studies.
J.P.’s death never really left him, and upon graduation from college Beau decided that he needed a change of scenery. He began applying to police departments all over the country and didn’t really give a damn where he landed so long as it wasn’t in Alabama. The plan was to work for a few years and then enroll in law school, where he felt he could actually do some good and hopefully prevent corruption and cronyism like he had seen firsthand back home.
Beau had been with DPD for just over three months when he arrived on the scene of the Flanagan murder, and he understood that as a rookie on the police force he was not going to be treated particularly well right out of the gate, especially by veterans in the office.
He enjoyed Darien, Connecticut but it was a far cry from Alabama. Back in Chatom and even in the larger town of Daphne, Beau knew everyone and everyone knew Beau and they took an interest in one anothers lives. So far the only person he was truly comfortable with here on the east coast was the cashier at a Dunkin’ Donuts he frequented every so often before going into work.
The locals in and around Fairfield County were uninterested in getting to know Officer Nutbeem, and even the guys he worked with just seemed standoffish when he would stop by the break room to grab a cup of coffee or sit in on a meeting about the monthly quota for traffic stops. His southern lilt visibly turned people off to him, and Beau was actively working on getting rid of it by way of speech tutorials on Youtube.
And maybe in the back of Beau’s mind the loneliness and seclusion was bothering him, but it didn’t rush to the forefront of his mind and consume him like it was now until he was kicked out of the interrogation room where he had been talking with Ellen Flanagan.
As he walked out of the room where Ellen was now speaking with Detective Lang, he couldn’t help but feel a little disrespected. Perhaps this move up east was a mistake as his father had warned him it would be. He had sat and listened to Mrs. Flanagan drone on about her childhood with an attentive ear, making mental notes along the way about how her mother’s suicide “wasn’t really a big deal.” She seemed surprisingly nonchalant for someone who had just found out her husband was murdered.
When Detectives Lang and Cromstock emerged from the interrogation room with fingerprints and swabs from Mrs. Flanagan, Beau tried earnestly to speak with them.
“Detective Lang, I was talking to Mrs. Flanagan before you got in there and I think she may -” Lang cut him off.
“Listen, Nutbeem. I really don’t have time for some backwoods hunch about what you think may have happened over there. I appreciate you keeping the seat warm in there for me while I was out but I’ll take it from here, okay?” Detective Lang didn’t wait for Beaufield’s response. Cromstock smirked at him.
“You’re such a dick, Tom.”
The two of them turned on a dime and began walking down a hallway towards their shared office, leaving the rookie stupefied in his tracks.
“I understand, sir,” Nutbeem said, his voice rising in volume as Lang and Cromstock walked in the opposite direction, “but she told me some deeply troubling information about her childhood and I just think you might want to hear -”
“Not now, Nutbeem! Type up whatever you’ve got on her and leave it on my desk.” Land slammed his door shut, and muffled laughter could be heard between himself and his partner.
Beau stood in the hallway alone, pulling his phone out of his pocket and unlocking it to make it seem like he was doing something important to anyone who had just witnessed the conversation. He was taken aback and angry at the way he had just been talked down to.
He wanted to be helpful. He wanted to solve this case. But if Lang, Cromstock, and the rest of the department was going to continue treating him like a child he didn’t see any reason to give them information that he deemed important. Maybe he’d type that report up, maybe he wouldn’t. All he know in that moment was that Darien was beating the shit out of him.