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Chapter 125: Waiting in Salem

Roman glanced at his phone, waiting for the ringtone. Why didn't anyone call?  Ma, Marlena, Bo, Andrew.  They had to know how nervous he was to hear about Kim.

"Come on, big brother," Kayla said, as she sipped a cup of coffee.  "You'll drive yourself crazy if you keep waiting for that call."

He nodded.  "I know.  I keep thinking I should've gone out there."

"Yeah. . . ."  Kayla's voice trailed off.  Roman could see that she was just as anxious as he was.  He decided to change the subject.

"So are you going to check with Lexie today?"  Kayla hesitated and looked at Roman's phone.  He sighed.  Neither of them wanted to go anywhere until they heard from Los Angeles.  "That's okay," he said.  "I wish I didn't have a shift this afternoon."

"I guess the acting Police Commissioner doesn't get to trade shifts that easily."  Kayla teased him slightly.  "Not with our little brother out of town."

Roman rolled his eyes.  "I'm never going to live that down, am I?"

"Live what down?"  They both turned as Steve entered the living room, carrying Joe.  He walked over to the couch, leaned over and gave Kayla a kiss on the cheek.  "So what's the word?"

"Radio silence," Kayla said.

"Bummer."  Steve plopped down on the couch next to her, then bounced Joe up and down.  The little boy laughed, the perfect picture of a happy family.

Roman studied the three of them.  He had only spoken briefly with Kayla and Steve the night before, because they were exhausted from their travels.  Neither of them looked any worse for their time in Africa, but Roman knew his sister was disappointed about the experience.  He did not really understand their sudden return; Kayla had only said something about the financing at the clinic.  But giving up was not like his sister.  Roman wanted to know more.

"So what happened with the clinic?" he asked.

Kayla and Steve exchanged looks before she answered.  "I don't really understand.  Our funding disappeared."

"Literally," Steve muttered.

Roman was confused.  "What does that mean?"

"It means that the people who were sponsoring us packed up and shipped out without any notice," Steve said.  "We even went to Switzerland, to the address we had for the foundation, but there was no sign of it.  I tried to track them down, but it was a dead end. . . .  And by that time, it was too late to find an alternate source."

Roman frowned.  He remembered when Kayla was considering taking the job.  It seemed like such a crazy idea -- taking her husband and baby son halfway across the world -- to Africa no less.  And not surprisingly, when things foundered, Kayla and Steve tried to handle it on their own.

"Maybe I could help," Roman said.

"How?" Kayla asked.

"I could check with the ISA to see if they have any information on your mystery foundation."

"Do you really think they would help?"

Roman thought for a minute.  "If there's that much money involved, it should raise some eyebrows.  To just disappear . . . ."

"You want to look into it, dude, that's cool."   Steve bobbed his head and looked at Kayla.  "You okay with that, Sweetness?"

"Absolutely."  Kayla smiled.  "That's--" She was cut off by Roman's phone.

He grabbed it, looked at the number, and shook his head.  "Sorry . . . just the station."  He answered, "Brady here."  He listened to the officer on the other end as he gave his report.  "Okay, I'll be there in a minute."  Hanging up, he stood and apologized to Kayla and Steve.  "Sorry, I've got to go."

"What's going on?" Steve asked.

"We've got a--" Roman stopped himself before he said a "floater"; Kayla might take offense, even if that was just the way cops talked.  "Um . . . a body washed up along the river.  I need to check it out."  He glanced again at the phone.  "I'll let you know if I hear anything from the coast."

Fifteen minutes later, Roman found himself crossing the police tape and walking along the bank of the Salem River.  He listened as one of the uniformed officers gave him a report.

"It's pretty bad," the officer said.  "They . . . uh . . . went to extremes to make an ID pretty hard."

Roman looked at the man.  "What do you mean?"

"You should probably see for yourself."

They reached the spot at the edge of the water and Roman understood.  He had to take a few, quick breaths.  Someone had done a number on the body.  Whoever the man was, he had been tortured and beaten.  Roman was sure the coroner would note dozens of broken bones, many in the face.  Not even the man's closest family members would have been able to identify him.

Prints would be useless, too.  It was hard to match prints when the body had no hands or feet.  All Roman could really tell was that the man was Caucasian and had dark hair.  That was it.  Roman could not even get a sense of the man's age.

Yet Roman had an odd feeling as he examined the man.  There's something I'm missing, he thought.  He tuned out the deputy coroner who was rattling off details that would be available in the autopsy report and instead focused on the body.  He still felt like there was something there; he felt a chill as he struggled to figure out what it was.

The coroner turned the victim's head, and Roman got a pretty clear idea of how the how the man had died, as the coroner stated the obvious,  "Looks like a shot or two to the back of the skull."

The cop next to Roman shook his head.  "Poor S.O.B."

Yeah, Roman thought.  That's one way of putting it.  But something did not add up.  The shot was a sign of a pro -- an execution.  The beating and mutilation . . . that usually indicated something personal.

Unless someone was trying to send a message.

Roman just hoped this was not the sign of things to come.  Salem had just suffered through a feud between the DiMeras and the Kiriakises.  God forbid that started up again.

Damn, why isn't Bo here? Roman wondered.  Isn't this the kind of crap the whole point of him being the Commissioner?  Then he reminded himself why Bo was not in Salem.

Roman looked at the coroner.  "Let's get started on the DNA.  Maybe that will turn something up."  DNA would take a few weeks, especially when Roman had no real basis for expediting the test.  "I had a bad feeling" would not cut it if the auditors asked why he had incurred the extra expenses for a John Doe.

But the foreboding persisted as he headed back to his car.  There was more to this than a professional hit.  But what?  Well, he would wait for forensics and, maybe, that would give him some answers.

For now, as he typically did whenever the city had an unusual crime, he would look at the most likely suspects.  Putting his car in gear, he headed toward the Salem PD.  They would have the latest local intelligence on Stefano, Victor, and their cronies.  And Roman was already going to contact the ISA for Kayla.  Perhaps his contacts would have some information on what Salem's Most Wanted were up to and how they might be related to the body.  Someone did not want the man identified, but Roman was going to make sure he got to the bottom of this.