“Shawn Spencer,” an officer said, walking up to his cell door. ”You have visitors.”
“Visitante,” Shawn parroted as the officer unlocked the door. ”I hope that’s visitors. Probably, because it’s visitante in Portuguese. Is my visitor pretty? I hope it’s someone pretty.”
The officer didn’t respond, which gave Shawn free reign to continue babbling as he was hand cuffed and led away from the holding cells. “You know, I have to say, when I was arrested I expected Mexican prisons to be a lot worse then this. I thought there would be rats, and cockroaches, and we’d be fed moldy bread and moldy water. But those tacos we had for lunch were actually quite good. I’m confident that the meat was some sort of small vermin, possibly that’s how you control your rat problem. In any case, my complements to the chef.”
“This is it,” the officer said when they reached a metal door with a large window in it. The window was made of double plated glass with chicken wire between the plates. Inside, Shawn saw a gray metal table and gray metal chairs.
“Great, sounds great,” Shawn said, as he was led into the room. ”I don’t suppose I’ll get my hands free, I’ve got this itch on my back and I just can’t reach it.”
“Stand still while we lock you down,” the officer said as he shoved Shawn down on one of the metal chairs.
“Hey, that was uncalled for,” Shawn said as the officer put Shawn’s ankles in leg irons attached to the floor. “You could have just asked for me to sit down! And are these really necessary? Are you afraid I’m going to kick my visitor? Or, if she’s pretty, possibly play footsy?”
“You have twenty minutes,” the officer said. “Your conversation may be monitored.”
“Thank you,” Shawn called after the officer once he left. “I like it much better in here.”
Shawn scanned the room. It looked like a normal interrogation room. There were no windows, but there was a double-sided mirror on one wall. They would probably listen to whatever Shawn said to whomever came to visit him. He’d have to be very careful.
As he was waiting, he examined his reflection—and he didn’t like what he saw. His hair was dirty and disheveled, laying flat on his head, except for an unruly cowlick over his right ear. There was red bruise just under his right eye that would quickly turn a nasty shade of purple and a dark red scab in the middle of his swollen lower lip. To complete the disgusting and disheveled appearance, he was still wearing last night’s cloths. The once-white t-shirt was now a variety of colors in the yellow-brown-gray spectrum, covered in sweat stains, flecks of dried blood, and the grime from the holding cell. Part of him hoped his visitor was someone he didn’t know – perhaps a court appointed attorney, or a cop for another round of interrogations – so that his friends wouldn’t see him like this. But that was a very small part of him.
Eventually, the door opened and relief overwhelmed all his self-consciousness. “Gus! Jules!” he exclaimed. ”It is so good to see you guys!”
“Shawn, are you all right?” Juliet asked as she slid into a metal chair across the table from Shawn. ”You look awful.”
“Yeah, well, they didn’t exactly have hair gel in the prison lavatory, so I had to do what I could. I realize it’s not up to my usual standards, but, under the circumstances, I think it turned out well.”
“I think she’s talking about the black eye and split lip,” Gus said.
Shawn smiled, which irritated both of his aforementioned injuries. Still, he couldn’t help it. His friends were there, and he felt better already. ”I got in a little scuffle with the cops. A simple misunderstanding.”
“More then a misunderstanding,” Juliet said. “The report said you attacked them.”
“Really?” Shawn asked. ”Because I don’t remember that.”
“Juliet said you couldn’t remember the name of our hotel, either,” Gus said. “What the hell is going on, Shawn?”
“Look,” Shawn said, deflecting the question. “I didn’t feel like spending an hour watching you decide between the ice blue or shimmering violet shirt. I was at the bar; I had some drinks. Maybe I had a few too many, because things got hazy.”
“After a few drinks things got hazy?” Gus said. “Saint Patrick’s Day 1999, I personally saw you drink one beer after another for over twelve hours. And, at 10 p.m. that night, you could still remember the name of every girl we’d spoken to, and their phone numbers.”
“Only the ones that were drunk enough to give us their phone numbers,” Shawn said. “And that was ten years ago.”
“I don’t care. You do not forget important things.”
“I forget to call my dad all the time.”
“That’s different,” Gus insisted. “What were you drinking, Shawn? Absinthe?”
“That’s right Gus,” Shawn said. “I was drinking absinthe. The Green Fairy and I had a great night together.”
“Don’t get snippy,” Juliet said, sounding snippy herself. “We’re here to help you, Shawn. We’re just trying to put together the facts.”
“That’s the problem,” Shawn said. “I don’t know the facts. I had a couple of beers and then . . . then my brain stopped working.”
“It sounds like you were drugged,” Gus said.
“And when I was booked they found, like, eight bottles of drugs in my pockets,” Shawn said. “I have no idea where they came from, but . . .”
“But the criminal probably drugged you with the same stuff he planted on you,” Gus finished. “This is probably a frame up job.”
“Excellent deduction, Buddy,” Shawn said warmly. “Now, all we need is a suspect. Who has motive and means?”
“Well, the drugs were prescription,” Juliet said, looking at the police report. “Something called Adderall. I suppose any doctor or pharmacist could get that – not to mention anyone who has a prescription for Adderall.”
“Adderall,” Gus said. “That’s an amphetamine. It’s known to cause anxiety and agitation in adults. It can even cause confusion or hallucinations. And it comes in a quick-release formula.”
“That fits your described behavior,” Juliet said, opening up a folded print out which Shawn couldn’t read but which he assumed was the police report. “The bartender said you were acting perfectly normal when you came into the bar and slowly got more and more agitated.”
“The drugs were starting to affect you,” Gus said. “That means you must have been drugged in the bar.”
“Or at dinner,” Shawn said. “That waitress could have slipped me a mickey.”
“The waitress was eight-moths pregnant, Shawn.”
“Doesn’t mean she doesn’t have needs.”
“I think she needed a nap.”
“Boys,” Juliet said. “Let’s stay focused. Shawn, did you know anyone at that bar?”
“Jules, we’re in Mexico,” Shawn said. “How could I possibly . . .”
“Answer the question, Shawn,” Juliet insisted.
Shawn blinked, startled by Juliet’s tone. “Are you interrogating me, Detective O’Hara?”
“One of my best friends called me in the middle of the night begging for help,” Juliet told him. “Now he’s being evasive and coy. So, yeah, I’m going to find out what happened, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to do so. If that means I turn on my bad-cop side, so be it. Because if we don’t find out what really happened to you, Shawn, you’ll do a nickel in a Mexican jail and I’d rather loose you as a friend then have you loose five years of your life.”
“Wow,” Shawn said, genuinely shocked. “I . . .”
“Did you know anyone in the bar?” Juliet insisted.
“I’d never seen any of them before in my life,” Shawn answered honestly.
“Did you talk to anyone?” Juliet asked.
“Yeah,” Shawn admitted. “It was a bar; I chatted.”
“I can’t really say,” Shawn answered.
“Shawn!” Juliet practically yelled. “I need you to think!”
“Look,” Shawn said, keeping his voice as calm and light as possible. “I think I should come out and say that I can’t help you with this one.”
“What?” Gus asked, mystified.
“You keep asking me questions that I just can’t answer,” Shawn told them. “If I could answer them, I would.”
“You don’t seem to be trying very hard,” Juliet said
“Really, is that what you think?” Shawn asked looking Juliet in the eyes. “Do you think I want to be in here?”
“I’m starting to wonder,” Juliet said.
“Then leave me here,” Shawn replied, holding her clear blue eyes with his sharp ones.
“Don’t talk crazy, Shawn,” Gus said. “Juliet just had a bad night—we all did. We just need the basic facts.”
“Facts I can’t give you, buddy,” Shawn said. “I wish I could, I really, really wish I could. I wish I could tap into my psychic center and pull up a vision that would make everything crystal clear and oblivious, with all the evidence right there. But this time, I can’t do that. This time someone else has to be the brilliant detective.”
“Why can’t you?” Juliet asked. “The person who drugged you must have been close to you before the drugs took affect. You must have seen, or heard something, anything, that would give us a lead.”
“I want to help you, Jules,” Shawn said, hoping she could see how much he meant it. “But I can’t.”
She stared back into his eyes and, apparently, believed him. “Ok, Shawn,” she replied. “We’ll figure it out without you.”
“Thank you,” Shawn said earnestly. “I’m so sorry I had to ask.”
“That’s fine,” Gus said coolly. “This is just like Star Wars.”
“Please tell me you meant Return of the Jedi,” Shawn said. “Because if anyone’s Carrie Fisher, it’d have to be Jules.”
“Of course I meant Return of the Jedi,” Gus spat back. “You’re Harrison Ford and I’m Billy Dee Williams.”
“Dude, why not be Mark Hamill?” Shawn asked. “He’s a Jedi. That’s so cool.”
“Lando Calirssian owned a city, Shawn. He wasn’t the mayor, he owned it. That’s cool.”
“But the Empire totally took it away,” Shawn argued.
“And I’m sure he got it back after he blew up the Emperor,” Gus insisted.
“Jules, this is very important,” Shawn said, turning to her. “Will you be Princess Leia? Because, if so, I think you and I should kiss right now.”
“You anticipate being frozen in carbonite?” Juliet asked. Her voice was serious, but her eyes were smiling.
“I’m not sure we can take that chance,” Shawn said.
“Well, we’re going to have to,” she said as her smile made its way down to her lips. “Furthermore, I don’t mind being Princess Liea, but let me make it perfectly clear that neither of you will ever have the pleasure of seeing me in a metal bikini.”
“That’s perfectly reasonable,” Shawn said. “After all, no one wants to see Gus in a fey little half cape. Even though I think we can all agree that I’d totally rock the smuggler’s vest.”
Gus rolled his eyes, Juliet snickered, and Shawn knew that his friends had forgiven him the information he could not pass on.
* * *
“That’s weird,” Gus said as he and Juliet were lead by a guard from the meeting room, through the jail’s twisted halls, and back to the gray, unadorned lobby. “Even drugged, I find it hard to believe that Shawn would forget so much.”
“He did seem cagey,” Juliet said. “But then, perhaps the drugs aren’t out of his system yet. Plus, I’m sure he didn’t get any sleep last night. He’ll probably have something for us when we go to see him tomorrow.”
“It’d be nice if we could have this wrapped up by then,” Gus said.
“Do you really expect to solve a case with no technical support or backup in one day?” Juliet asked.
“Well,” Gus admitted. “Usually it takes a little longer then that, but this seemed pretty straightforward.”
Juliet shook her head, amazed. “I wish I had psychic visions.”
“If you knew more about it, you’d probably feel differently,” Gus said. “But even without visions, the police report must give us some leads.”
“As it turns out, there is some interesting information. For example, the bar tender said Shawn spent most of his time talking to Alvaro Ruiz, who, as fate would have it, is a department psychologist for the Tijuana P.D.”
“Really?” Gus asked. “That’s great. He’ll probably be able to pin down when Shawn’s behavior became erratic.”
“We can hope,” Juliet agreed.
Dr. Ruiz’s office was in an annex building about a block away from police headquarters. It was small, lined on one side with unorganized book shelves and dominated by an old hardwood desk filling up the right side of the room. A mismatched set of chairs faced the desk, and the back wall was filled with a huge window which looked out on a small courtyard with a poorly tended garden and an old bubbling fountain. The window was open, which let a cool breeze drift into the small, claustrophobic room.
“I’m so glad to see that Señor Spencer has someone to help him,” Dr. Ruiz told them in very good, but accented English, as he motioned them to sit down. Juliet and Gus did so, settling in two worn wooden chairs, while Ruiz eased himself into an old leather chair on the other side of his desk.
He was a large man, broad shouldered and fit, for over 60, with clear brown eyes and thick silver hair. “I was greatly concerned when I saw his behavior last night. Naturally, I had to call the police as he began to pose a threat to himself and to others. Still, he was a charming, intelligent man. I wish him no ill will.”
“What exactly did you talk about?” Juliet asked.
“It’s actually quite funny,” Dr. Ruiz said, chuckling. “Or, perhaps, ironic is the word. We spoke of his mother.”
“Mrs. Spencer?” Gus asked. “Really?”
“Yes, as it turns out, I know her. Or did know her.”
“That’s amazing,” Juliet said dryly. She was thinking, that’s incredibly suspicious.
“He told me that his mother had given him a weekend in Mexico as a birthday gift. I bought him a drink, to celebrate his birthday. I’d been there for a while, mind you, and was in a generous mood. Somehow, it came out that his mother was a psychologist working with law enforcement. Then I explained that I was in the same line. He described her and I realized that his mother had come to Tijuana some ten years ago to participate in cross-cultural training with the San Diego police. Of course, by the time the conversation got that far, the effects of whatever drug Mr. Spencer had taken were beginning to manifest themselves.”
“To be blunt, he accused me of having an affair with his mother,” Ruiz said, clearly un-amused by the accusation.
There was silence as the weight of the accusation sunk in. Juliet glanced over to Gus. “Has Shawn ever . . . .”
“No,” Gus said, shaking his head. “And he tells me everything.”
“You think it might be true?” Dr. Ruiz asked. He seemed baffled that they were even considering it.
“You’ll have to forgive us,” Juliet said. “But as a member of the law enforcement community, you understand that we have to take his statement seriously. Did you have an affair with Dr. Spencer?”
“No,” Dr. Ruiz said coldly. “She was a married woman and I am an upstanding member of the Church. I would never consider such a thing.”
“Did he make any other wild accusations?” Gus asked.
“As a matter of fact, he did. He claimed that the man sitting on the other side of him was also cheating on his wife. He claimed the bartender was overcharging Americans and pocketing the difference. He claimed that the police officer patrolling outside was a junkie.”
“That actually sounds like Shawn getting his psychic flashes,” Gus said. “Do we know that all those accusations are false?”
“I did not have an affair with his mother,” Dr. Ruiz insisted. “And the patrolling officer, Jose Prize, is not a junkie. He was one of the most dedicated and persistent vice cops on these streets, until he was shot in the back three years ago. The powers that be tried to get him to quit, but Prize worked hard and made it back on the beat. There are few men I respect more.”
“You had lots of friends in that bar last night,” Juliet noted.
“My record is public, you may examine it. Prize’s record is public, you may examine it as well. But do not forget that Shawn Spencer’s record is also public. Of the three of us, do you really think he is the most trustworthy?”
“Yes,” Gus said without hesitation.
“I think,” Juliet said very carefully, “That something bad happened to Shawn last night. I’m just trying to figure out what.”
“What happened is perfectly clear,” Dr. Ruiz said. “He took a large dose of quick-acting Adderall and began having paranoid delusions. It’s a simple bio-chemical reaction.”
“How did you know he took Adderall?” Juliet asked.
“I don’t know,” Dr. Ruiz said. “But that was what they found in his pocket, was it not? And when taken incorrectly, its side-effects match his behavior perfectly.”
“All right,” Juliet said. “But, as I understand it, Adderall is not a party drug. Why would he take it?”
Dr. Ruiz smiled sadly. “Self medication, and accordingly, overdose, is dreadfully common. I could not guess why Mr. Spencer felt he needed medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. But it seems he thought he did.”
Juliet glanced at Gus, who was glaring at the doctor. It seemed pretty obvious to her why Shawn might want to treat ADHD in himself. He was always distracted and loosing focus at the worst time possible-- maybe he’d diagnosed himself, maybe he wanted it to stop. She doubted Shawn had any kind of insurance, especially insurance good enough to cover a psychiatrist and expensive prescription drugs. Maybe sneaking prescription drugs out of Mexico was the only way he thought he could feel normal.
“What?” Gus asked, incredulous. “Shawn’s not like that at all. He may act erratic, but he’s got a mind like a steel trap. He wouldn’t mess it up with drugs.”
“That’s a common misconception,” Dr. Ruiz said. “Psychiatric drugs do not mess up the mind, they fix it. People do not understand how painful and debilitating ADHD can be.”
“Don’t tell me about drugs, I sell them for a living. But Shawn doesn’t need them.”
“I’m not disagreeing with you,” Dr. Ruiz said. “I honestly have no idea. But your friend appeared to think he needed it. It’s the only explanation I can see.”
“I’m not listening to this anymore,” Gus said, pushing himself out of the chair and storming out of the room.
“I’m sorry about that,” Juliet said. “It’s just . . . it’s hard, seeing someone you care about in so much trouble.”
“I can imagine,” Dr. Ruiz said.
“You seem to know a lot about Adderall and its effects,” Juliet said, trying to sound casual. “Do you use it in your practice?”
Dr. Ruiz chuckled. “Am I your suspect, detective, really?”
“I never said that,” she replied calmly.
“I am a psychologist, not a psychiatrist,” he told her in a light, but matter-of-fact, tone. “I do not prescribe drugs, nor do I have access to them.”
“Thank you,” Juliet said, standing up. “I think that’s all the information we need.
“If you’ll allow me, detective,” Dr. Ruiz said, politely standing when she did. “I would like to give you some advice.”
“I’m very interested in what you have to say,” Juliet said, leaning forward.
“In my opinion, Shawn Spencer is a victim of society. He is a smart young man who is trying to do his best in a complicated, expensive world. If your country had a decent healthcare system, this would not have happened. Go to the American Embassy, ask them to intervene on his behalf. The charges may be dropped, or at least lowered to a fine. I’m sure his family would come and support him – bail him out, if needs be.”
“That is sound advice,” Juliet said. “I’ll pass it on.”
* * *
“That’s bullshit,” Gus said as he and Juliet walked along the sunny streets through the bustling down town and towards their hotel. “Shawn was not self-medicating and he was not trying to smuggle drugs back to the U.S. so he could keep doing it.”
“But it fits all the facts,” Juliet insisted. “Including the fact that Shawn wouldn’t tell us why he was there or what had happened. He’s ashamed.”
“Have you met Shawn?” Gus asked. “He’s not ashamed of anything.”
“Mental heath is a very sensitive subject,” Juliet said. “Lots of people lie about it all the time.”
“Shawn has issues, I know that better then anyone,” Gus said. “But ADHD is not one of them.”
“Gus . . . the way he acts sometimes . . . .”
“That’s just it,” Gus said, “Sometimes. Shawn’s in full control. If he didn’t want to play the fool, he wouldn’t.”
“Well, then, why play the fool?” Juliet asked.
“I’ve wondered that my entire life,” Gus confessed. “But he’s a ham. Always has been, always will be. That doesn’t mean he needs medication.”
“But didn’t you hear the doctor, what Shawn really needs or doesn’t need is immaterial. It’s what Shawn thinks he needs.”
“So you’re going to stop looking?” Gus asked accusatorily. “Because one guy—who may or may not have had an affair with Shawn’s mother—says Shawn probably drugged himself?”
“Of course not,” Juliet said emphatically. “Dr. Ruiz warrants a closer look.”
“Exactly,” Gus said.
“And,” she continued. “It’s much too early to rule out the other people in the bar. If Shawn’s psychic flashes were correct, they might want to discredit him. Or the bar itself may be the key. It could be a drop point for a ring of prescription drug smugglers.”
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Gus said. “Let’s go grill the bar flies.”
* * *
A day in a Mexican prison did no more for Shawn’s Spanish then 3 years worth of classes in high school or a week on a Spanish soap opera. While his vocabulary was not what he’d like it to be, fate had smiled on him and he was able to achieve his goal of making friends with the biggest man in the cell, a semi-professional heavy weight boxer named Gilberto Salazar. Sal, as Shawn had decided to call him, was hoping to make it big in the boxing world, and to that end had become moderately fluent in English. He’d been arrested for brawling—though Shawn suspected he’d actually been caught in the middle of an underground fight. For that crime, he’d been charged with mayhem, which Shawn thought was the best crime ever. He’d gladly spend a year in jail to have ‘mayhem’ on his record.
“Will I get out for my fight next week?” Sal asked anxiously. As it turned out, he was extremely superstitious and had believed in Shawn’s supernatural powers with hardly any questioning. It probably didn’t hurt that Sal had recently received several blows to the head and was not particularly sharp.
“You got a fight next week?” Shawn asked. “Really? Where?”
“Really big underground club in San Diego,” Sal explained. “I could make two-thousand American, if I win. But five-hundred either way.”
“Yeah,” Shawn said, sucking his breath through is teeth. “The spirits don’t think you’ll make it.”
“Man, I need the money,” Sal said. “My girl’s rent is due.”
“You’re paying for some girl’s rent?” Shawn asked.
“My girlfriend,” Sal boasted.
“Why don’t you just share an apartment?” Shawn asked.
“Daria likes her space,” Sal explained. “And she is hot, man, she’s hot. I need to keep her happy.”
“Daria, huh?” Shawn asked, raising his had to his forehead, as if he were receiving a vision. “I’m getting some very strong vibes. Tell me more.”
“She’s a dancer at a club downtown,” Sal explained. “She comes to my fights when she can but she usually has to work.”
“Any kids?” Shawn asked.
Sal laughed, “No, man, her mother takes care of her baby girl.”
“Yeah, definitely getting a strong, strong feeling,” Shawn said. “The spirits don’t think she really loves you.”
“What?” Sal said. “No man, Daria is solid.”
“I’m sure you know your own business, Sal,” Shawn said, holding his hands in front of him as if to demonstrate he was harmless. “But the spirits, the vibes . . . they say that if she really loved you, she’d move in with you. She may like you well enough, but . . . but I think mostly she likes your money.”
“Ah, damnit, man, damnit!” Sal said, punching the wall. Shawn shuddered at the sudden violence from his new friend. “She said that guy was her brother.”
“Oh, that guy,” Shawn said. “Yeah, spirits are convinced he’s not her brother.”
Tears started flowing down Sal’s face. “Man, man . . . She said I was her big daddy.”
“It’s all right,” Shawn said allowing the huge man to cry on his shoulders. “Real men are not afraid to cry. Don’t try to hold it in.”
After a few cathartic minuets, Sal’s sobbing was interrupted by a guard. “Shawn Spencer. You have a visitor.”
“That’s me, buddy,” Shawn said, carefully untangling himself from the prize fighter’s embrace. “But don’t be afraid of the pain. Just let it all out.”
Once he was free, Shawn rushed to the bars and said, “Who is it? Who’s the visitante?”
The officer stepped aside and relived Dr. Ruiz. Shawn’s playful smile slipped.
“Hello Señor Spencer,” Dr. Ruiz said. “After our encounter last night I wanted to make sure you were all right.”
“Right as rain,” Shawn said, trying to regain some of his cool. “I’m making friends. Influencing people.”
“I can see that,” Dr. Ruiz said. “I just thought I should tell you that I intend to testify at your bail hearing tomorrow.”
“Really?” Shawn asked. “I hadn’t realize I had a hearing tomorrow. Maybe I should call a lawyer. I don’t suppose I could borrow your cell phone.”
“Surely your family has made some arrangements for your defense,” Dr. Ruiz said, surprised by Shawn’s cavalier tone. “As I recall, you are the apple of your mother’s eye.”
“They don’t know where I am,” Shawn said coldly. “And don’t talk about my mother.”
“That seems foolish on your part,” Dr. Ruiz said with a sigh, ignoring Shawn’s request. “But it is your choice, of course, to tell them or not. What you really need to concern yourself with is what to tell the judge.”
“Well, that might depend on what you’ll tell the judge,” Shawn said.
“I plan to explain that you are a victim of the system, Señor Spencer,” Dr. Ruiz said. “You could not afford psychiatric counseling to deal with your ADHD and so you resorted to self medication. It’s a sad story, yes, but not a criminal one.”
“You’ll tell the judge that?”
“Yes, I will.”
“And I’ll just get a slap on the wrist.”
“That is the general idea,” Dr. Ruiz said. “You may even get the kind of help you need.”
Shawn laughed and shook his head. “And what if I say I was drugged? What if I say someone slipped those bottles into my jacket pockets?”
“It would go to trial, Señor ,” Dr. Ruiz said very seriously. “Do you really think your friends could prove your innocence?”
“They’re the best detectives in the world,” Shawn said. “Except, of course, for me.”
Dr. Ruiz laughed. “It is your choice,” he said after a moment. “But they will follow the evidence. And we both know where that will lead.”
Shawn glared at the doctor, who smiled back tepidly. “I will see you tomorrow, Shawn.”
“Yeah,” Shawn spat back. “Tomorrow.”To be continued . . .