In The Chair

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Ten

So you didn’t see Mr. Laven at all?”

The woman shook her head no. Even though her entire face was wrapped with a thick layer of bandages, Detective Rod Galanis had no problem seeing the tears cascading from her eyes. This had gone on long enough. Her story checked out and there was no need to harass her any further. Not after what she’d experienced.

“You’re quite lucky Mr. Laven came to the rescue.”

“Yes, I would like to thank him. Do you have his address?”

“He’s just down the hall. I’m sure the nurses can point you in the right direction when you’re feeling well enough to move. But please, just take it easy for now.”

“Of course,” she sniffled, closing her eyes. Rod suspected it was the only way she could stop the tears.

“I’m going to leave my card,” he said, dropping his business card on the table next to the hospital bed. “Feel free to call me any time, day or night. It’s Detective Galanis.”

Especially in the night, Rod thought, admiring her shapely body. Even with her face all bandaged up, he knew she was a looker. Most those real estate girls were. After dealing with all this shit, he deserved at least one date.

“My name’s Maggie, but you already knew that.” She smiled.

Rod gave her hand a firm tug before exiting the room. He shuffled through that morning’s events, trying to make sense of all the craziness. Not that he could. That was the problem with crazy, it never made sense, since that was why they called it crazy in the first place. Even so, he never would’ve imagined Maggie could be up and talking this afternoon after being impaled in the brain by those nails. Modern science, now that’s some crazy stuff.

Though as shocking as her recovery, it came as no surprise that the psychopath Owen Vogel had been at the center of this controversy. Rod knew he was one twisted fuck the moment he’d first laid eyes on him. After all these years on the force, he’d gotten real good at spotting that kind of stuff, criminals and other demented souls. He just trusted his gut.

Rod just wished he’d gotten the chance to right things before all of this spun out of control. He would’ve ensured that Owen wouldn’t ever have had the chance to hurt anyone again. Things would be quite different if he wasn’t leashed every time he wanted to dole out justice. But the law’s the law, even if it’s basically there just to help the scum of society feel less bad about being scum.

Well, the point was moot now. Owen wouldn’t be hurting anyone ever again. Even though it took a couple people getting busted up to prove his point, Rod did feel validated. From now on, anytime anyone questioned his instincts, all he needed to do was point towards that dungeon. Especially now that they’d found some human bones buried right underneath the house. Owen Vogel’s legend as a serial killer would grow. And Rod would be remembered as the only one who’d yelled out a warning. Let the lawyers suck on that.

Even still, Rod didn’t feel like gloating. Owen had escaped a lifetime inside a cage. Not that he faulted Fredrick Laven for tossing Owen down those stairs. Rod just wished he’d had the chance to do it himself. But from the way Owen’s blood was sprinkled all over the house, it was clear he’d gotten some beating before the final end. Rod hoped Fredrick would indulge him on some of the gorier details.

“Hey there, pal, how you doing?” Rod asked, entering Fredrick Laven’s hospital room.

“What do you want now?” the balding man snapped.

Rod stopped in his tracks. He hadn’t expected that type of reply. Normally, he’d never let any punk talk to him in that tone, but seeing how Fredrick had done him a solid with Owen, he’d let it pass just this one time. Plus, the fellow had been stabbed in the leg and probably wasn’t all the way up to par. Though now, knowing Owen’s crimes, Rod figured Fredrick was lucky to have escaped with such a minor wound.

“Just want to ensure I’m clear with your story. While walking down the street, you heard someone screaming, which prompted you to enter the house. Inside, you witnessed Mr. Vogel stabbing Ms. Rutland. There was a brief tussle as you yanked him away. Mr. Vogel then ran off and you followed him to the top of the stairwell. This is where you had your final altercation which ended with Mr. Vogel falling down the stairs and breaking his neck.”

“He stabbed me in the leg.”

“I understand, Mr. Laven, which is why nobody is pressing charges. It’s a justifiable homicide if I’ve ever seen one, but I do have to ask one question. You know how lawyers are, they blow one tiny detail out of proportion and suddenly the jurors are too stupid to know which way is up.”

“What jurors? You just said it was a justifiable homicide.”

“All I’m saying is that it’s best if we clear everything up before any of those ambo chasing puke sacks get a chance to sink their teeth into it. If you ask my honest opinion, I think you did the world a great service today.”

“What’s your question?”

“According to your driver’s license, you live over twenty miles from the scene of the crime. Have you moved?”

“No, that’s the correct address.”

“Well, why were you in that neighborhood?”

“I like to walk. Keeps me in shape.”

“Or maybe you have a girl who lives there. You just want to keep it on the down-low so wifey doesn’t find out. But trust me, better to say it now, than leave it for the scumbags to troll through.”

“I’m not an adulterer. I love God with my entire heart and only do His bidding. Don’t you even suggest anything else in this report of yours.”

“Easy now, I was just asking.”

Rod stared down the man. There was just something off about him. Maybe it was the way he styled his hair. Fredrick was obviously balding, but he allowed it to remain long and shaggy in the back. Some guys just never knew when to give in. Rod suddenly felt like a jerk for judging him over such a trivial thing. This man was a hero and here Rod was busting his chops over a stupid haircut.

No, Fredrick was a decent enough fellow. Rod had been around long enough to know you can’t judge a book by its cover. Whatever he looked like, today this man had saved a woman’s life and ensured there was one fewer monster roaming the streets. More than anything, Rod’s gut told him that Fredrick was one of the good ones. And his gut was hardly ever wrong.

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