Doctor Warner entered the reception area to meet Detective Crane. She had shoulder length blonde hair and wore black slacks with a collared, grey, pullover shirt. She was thumbing through a magazine.
“Detective?” Doctor Warner approached. Detective Crane stood to meet him.
“Yes,” she extended her hand to shake his, “You are Doctor….”
“Crane, nice to meet you, Doctor Warner, thank you for seeing me, what’s her condition? Can she talk?” Detective Crane asked as the two shook hands.
“Pleasure to meet you. I have to say, I’m surprised to see a detective come in so quickly for this?”
“I’m working a cold case missing persons file and this young lady has some similarities to a girl that has been missing for quite some time. So, I thought I’d come by and check it out for myself, you got the dental records I faxed over?”
“I did, and as to our patient, physically, she’s fine. She has some minor bruising on her left elbow and cheek, consistent with a fall, but it’s superficial, nothing serious. However, she is unresponsive and appears to be in a coma like state, for no apparent reason that we can determine.” Doctor Warner said, glancing down at his notes on a clipboard.
“Can you tell me, is she my Jane Doe?” Detective Crane looked down at the clipboard, trying to read along with Doctor Warner. Doctor Warner tilted the clipboard away from Detective Crane.
“I can tell you definitively, yes. According to the dental records. She does appear to be your Jane Doe.” Detective Crane turned away from Doctor Warner and walked a few steps trying hard to suppress a smile.
“Incredible.” She turned back to Doctor Warner, “Well, that’s a win. Can you tell me what happened to her?”
“I’m going to need more time, Detective. She was only brought in an hour ago. I can’t find any reason for her condition yet. I’ll need more testing. We’ve only gotten as far as giving her a physical.” Doctor Warner took his glasses off then folded them up and put them in the chest pocket of his scrubs.
“I need you to give me a call as soon as you can tell me something. Or she wakes up.” Detective Crane turned away from Doctor Warner and sighed, pulling out a pen and a small note pad from her back pocket. “Doctor?” She turned back around stopping Doctor Warner who had also turned to leave. “Other than the obvious, what would you say her overall condition is?”
“I don’t understand?” Doctor Warner looked at Detective Crane confused, then glanced down at his clipboard again.
“I mean, does she appear to have been this way for a while?” Detective Crane asked cocking her head to the side.
“No. According to the report, what ever happened to her came on suddenly and without warning. She appears to be a perfectly healthy, well cared for young woman. As a matter of fact, she seems to be remarkably injury free her entire life, no little scars, no previous broken bones. Whatever happened to her, like I said, came on suddenly. She lost complete control of her body. Voluntary and involuntary response together. It was like her mind was suddenly shut down. We had to incubate her and put her on a saline drip. Eventually she started to breathe on her own, but the rest, like I said, a coma of some sort.” Doctor Warner dropped his hand with the clipboard to his side.
“So, she’s brain dead?” Detective Crane asked.
“It appears that way, but again, I need more testing to be sure. We have barely scratched the surface, Detective.” Doctor Warner reiterated putting his hands up to emphasize his unwillingness to make any determination just yet.
“What do you mean, well cared for?” Detective Crane asked.
“I mean this is not some runaway. This young girl has been well fed and taken care of, all her life. Someone cared for this girl. Or, she ran away to paradise and just came back for a visit. When you see her clothes, you’ll understand.” Doctor Warner smiled.
“What about them?” Detective Crane asked.
“I couldn’t afford them for my daughters.” Doctor Warner chuckled. Detective Crane nodded slowly, considering what he said.
“What, like Gucci and Prada?”
“Exactly that, as a matter of fact.”
“Really? You said, remarkably, no scars or broken bones? What’s the significance of that?” Detective Crane asked.
“You know, children touch things there not supposed to. They’re fearless, so, little scars and often, broken bones. Our Jane Doe has no signs of any such injuries. Which is unusual, I mean, not a mark.” Doctor Warner explained.
“So, what do you make of it?” She asked.
“She was watched very well by someone, or she was born knowing better.” He chuckled.
“Is that really so unusual? How thorough was your work-up, by the way?” She asked.
“What do you want to know?” Doctor Warner asked, “I gave her a complete physical.”
“Oh, ok, uh, is she… is she sexually active?” Detective Crane asked.
“Oh, uh,” He smiled, “No, she is, uh, intact, you could say.”
“So, she’s a virgin?” Detective Crane asked.
“Yes, detective. She has not been violated, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Doctor Warner laughed.
“Well, that’s something at least. When a girl usually goes missing… well, you know what I’m getting at. And wherever she was, you think she was not a prisoner?” Detective Crane asked and made a note on her notepad.
“I can’t really tell you that.” He shrugged, “But, she’s in very good physical condition. She clearly has been an active child, not one in captivity, if that’s what you mean. Honestly, I can’t really make that determination. You’re the detective.” He smiled.
“Huh,” Detective Crane looked down at the blue and white checkered linoleum floor in contemplation. “Thank you, Doctor, keep me posted.” She handed Doctor Warner her card.
“Detective, this may sound insensitive, but how is this going to be covered?” Doctor Warner asked, “I mean according to the report, she was a ward of the state, in a girl’s home I believe, is the state going to cover her expenses while she is here?”
“I can tell you this is an active investigation, and she will remain here until it is complete. In the meantime, maybe one of your daughters can borrow an outfit of hers?” Detective Crane smirked. Doctor Meyer did not find that comment as funny as she did.
Detective Crane left the hospital and sat in her car in the parking lot, reviewing her notes. Jane Doe disappeared eleven years ago from the very girl’s home she was discovered in that morning. That was her next destination, she wouldn’t be able to talk to Jane Doe just yet, but she still had questions. Detective Crane wanted to hear from the person who called the police. She had a million questions. Detective Crane was comforted by the fact her Jane Doe was alive and in good health, unlike most Jane Doe’s which were typically just a body.
“Where have you been all these years, little girl?” Detective Crane whispered to the picture of a little girl in a blue dress, paper clipped to the open folder, “Not a little girl anymore, are ya?” She closed the folder and set it on the passenger seat.
It took her less than an hour to arrive at the Deer Lake Girls Home. She parked in front of the large tan home at the end of a cul-de-sac. It was the only home in the cul-de-sac. The surroundings were lush and green. There were a number of young girls playing out front and milling about on the sides of the house. They ranged from twelve to seventeen in age. Many stopped what they were doing and stared at her, wondering who she was. She immediately became the main topic of discussion amongst the teens. Two girls on the side of the house intercepted Detective Crane as she walked on the sidewalk from the street to the front door. They met her at the halfway point.
“Good afternoon ladies.” Detective Crane greeted the young women. They both were wearing similar style jean shorts, so similar in fact, they appeared to be part of a uniform. Detective Crane looked around the yard at the other teens and saw they all wore them. Detective Crane could immediately tell which girl would speak first. The girl with blonde hair. She had an arrogance about her that was unmistakable. The other young girl was submissive, a follower.
“Are you with D.S.H.S?” The blonde girl asked.
“No.” Detective Crane answered and glanced down at her badge on her belt by her hip, “Do any of you know that girl they found here this morning?”
“You’re a cop?” the submissive girls eyes went wide.
“You mean the ghost in the attic?” The blonde girl snickered, unfazed by the fact she was a cop, and looked across the yard at a twelve-year-old sitting alone in the grass. Detective Crane followed her gaze to the girl in the grass. The front door to the home opened behind the two teens on the sidewalk making them scatter immediately. A distraught woman in her forties rushed out to meet Detective Crane with a sense of urgency. Detective Crane watched the two girls disappear around the side of the house before returning her attention to the fast-approaching woman.
“Are you with the police? I’ve been calling all morning. No one will return my calls!” She asked frantically, “I almost dialed nine one one again!”
“I’m Detective Crane, ma’am. What’s the emergency?”
“I think it’s related to that girl that snuck into the house this morning.”
“Great, I’m here for that very reason. I’m investigating the disappearance of that young woman who was discovered here this morning. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” Detective Crane gave her a reassuring smile.
“Disappearance? What disappearance?” The woman asked panicked, “Are you saying she was some kind of runaway?”
“Is there somewhere we can talk? Or is there something going on you need me to handle for you?” Detective Crane looked to the front door of the home behind the woman.
“No, I guess it’s not an emergency. I just found something.” The woman calmed, “That girl who showed up here and fell down this morning isn’t the only strange thing that happened today. I can’t believe it’s only a coincidence.” The woman turned away from Detective Crane and led her into the home.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name?” Detective Crane rushed to keep pace with the woman.
“Well, Miss Forrester, what else happened that you think might be related to this morning?”
Miss Forrester did not stop or turn around. She continued into the house and up some stairs to the second floor, that were just inside the front door and to the right. Detective Crane followed her to the second floor.
“I’ll show you.” she answered and continued down a hall passed several bedrooms to a much smaller door. She stopped at a door at the end of the hallway, in a corner. “This door leads to the attic. Prior to this morning, the only thing up here was a box of old files and some winter clothes.” Miss Forrester opened the door then proceeded up another stairwell, so narrow a person would half to walk up almost sideways. “None of this was here.” Miss Forrester announced after reaching the top of the stairs.
The room came into view before Detective Crane reached the top. The top of the stairs was level with the floor, so your head was floor level before reaching the room completely. She scanned the room as she reached the top, then paused and looked around the attic. It was a triangular room, matching the homes A frame roof. There was no doubt it was a teenaged girl’s room. At the far end of the room was a bed against the wall and a desk looking out a window to the front of the house. There were posters and drawings covering most of the walls. To Detective Cranes trained eye, she knew immediately everything in the rooms had been there for years. She looked down at her feet, still at the top of the stairs, and saw a box of files pushed up against the wall. It was close to the stairs for easy access so one could grab it without having to come all the way up.
“Are these the files you mentioned.”
“Exactly what is new to the room?” She walked slowly across the room to the desk at the window, inspecting everything with extreme scrutiny. There were expensive clothes, shoes, and handbags scattered about the room. It reminded Detective Crane of when she was a teenager and how she would toss her clothes and bags all over her room without a care in the world. Only her mother gave a shit. She could still hear her voice telling her to clean her room.
“All of it. This room was empty last night, no bed, no desk, none of this crap on the walls. Everything.”
Detective Crane pulled the chair out from under the desk and sat in it. She spotted a radio on the desk then clicked it on. Music began to play, it was a remake of a Eurythmics song called Sweet Dreams, performed by Marylin Manson. Detective Crane went through some of the items on the desk. Little notes, a newspaper clipping with movie times on it, a dead flower, an assortment of colored pencils in various states of sharpness. Detective Crane turned her chair to face Miss Forrester. She looked at her for a few moments thinking of where to begin. The pause made Miss Forrester very nervous. Detective Crane’s face reflected her doubt with Miss Forrester’s claim.
“Listen, I know what this sounds…”
“Let’s start with this morning, shall we?” Detective Crane asked cutting her off.
“She hit her head. I think.”
“She hit her head?”
“Who hit her head?”
“The girl, the one that showed up here this morning.” Miss Forrester was agitated and began to pace.
“Tell me what you were doing before you found her.” Detective Crane stood up and walked over to the wall and examined several drawings in black charcoal.
“Well, I was… in the kitchen,” She struggled to remember exactly every detail and it further agitated her, “Look, I feel like I’m in trouble here, what exactly do you want to know?”
“What’s her name, Miss Forrester?”
“I’m telling you; I don’t know her. I’ve never seen her before this morning, when she fell in the hallway between the dining room and the living room!”
“Why don’t you take a deep breath and relax. I need to ask you some questions, and I’d like you to focus on giving me truthful answers. That’s all. No one is accusing you of anything, ok?”
“Why would I lie?”
“Exactly, now, what were you doing, specifically, before you found her. Just relax and tell me about your morning.”
“Ok,” Miss Forrester calmed and took a deep breath, “I uh, I had just… breakfast was over, and I was cleaning up. Some of the girls were rough housing in the living room and getting loud. I kicked them out of the house so I could clean in peace. When I went back into the kitchen, it must have been at least a half an hour after that, when I was doing the dishes. I, I heard talking, arguing. I thought two of the girls were fighting.” Miss Forrester looked at Detective Crane, “That girl was in the living room, arguing with herself, and, and in different voices? It was weird. I asked her who she was, and she suddenly screamed and fell down. I thought, I thought… she must have hit her head; she was out cold. After that, I called nine one one.”
“And you’ve never seen her before?”
“What about the girls? Do any of them know her or acted like they recognized her at all?”
“No, the first thing I did was ask which one of them let her in the house, and whose friend she was. Of course, no one knew anything, except Sarah, who said the girl was a ghost who lived in the house. She had been saying all along we have ghosts here, so it was just par for the course with her. Everything is a ghost in the attic, as far as she is concerned.”
“So, this room sprung up over night?” Detective Crane asked as she rummaged through the pile of high-end clothes on the bed. It was clear to Detective Crane that this is where Jane Doe lived like a princess. Given things the other girls were not. Princess Jane Doe.
“This room was not like this before today, I swear it!”
“So, someone moved in since this morning?”
“I don’t know how any of this happened. I know it sounds impossible.” Miss Forrester shook her head emphatically, knowing how crazy it sounded.
“What if I told you that girl you found here this morning was a little girl who went missing eleven years ago, from this very home? Probably this very room. The reason I’m here is because I recognized the name of this place from her file.”
“I, I, I only took over here three years ago, I’ve never heard of anything like that!” Miss Forrester started to panic.
“Well, someone knows something about this young woman.” Detective Crane said looking around the bedroom, “I find it very difficult to believe no one lives here, in this room I mean.”
“I swear to you, this…” She trailed off and closed her eyes, “What the hell is happening?”
“None of the girls mentioned uh, friend or anything, that was hanging around?” Detective Crane asked, “Now think. Anything at all. Not just today, but maybe recently?”
“No, nothing. Just Sarah and her ghost in the attic. But this isn’t a ghost, this is a whole bedroom and a real live girl!”
“Just calm down.” Detective Crane said, “Sarah?” she asked, then walked to the window and looked down to the front yard at the girl on the lawn, “Is that her?” Miss Forrester joined her at the window and looked down at the girl.
“Yes.” She said, walking away from the window, looking around the room, “She has a very active imagination. The other girls like to tease her. She keeps to herself, mostly.” Miss Forrester folded her arms over her chest. “She’s not very talkative.”
“Why don’t we take a break and let me talk to her instead?” Detective Crane pulled the chair out from the desk and sat in it then grabbed the edge of the desk and pulled the whole thing away from the wall. She examined the wall and wiped a dust outline with her finger. “What about this desk, Miss Forrester? Is this desk new as well?” Detective Crane leaned back and looked at the wood floor and could see scrapes from the chair legs that accumulated over the years. She looked up at Miss Forrester, who was speechless. “You know, just a cursory glance around this room and I gotta say, there are some pretty expensive items for a young woman to own on the states dime. Is any of this stuff yours?”
“I have never seen any of the things in this room… ever. I can’t explain it Detective.” Miss Forrester closed her eyes and shook her head. Detective Crane simply nodded. She didn’t believe any of what Miss Forrester had to say. The evidence of the room spoke volumes. Detective Crane was convinced young Jane Doe was living here all her life, and Miss Forrester was covering it up for some reason. She left Detective Crane alone in the room and went to fetch the girl Sarah. Detective Crane examined the drawings on the wall more closely. They were different renditions of a wild haired little girl and a large cat. Each drawing had a waterfall in the background from a different angle. It was incredibly detailed, and as accurate as a photo of a real place. Miss Forrester returned with Sarah.
“Hi Sarah, I’m Detective Crane. You can call me Detective Crane if you like.” Detective Crane extended her hand to the shy girl who looked to Miss Forrester for direction. She nodded to Sarah who then looked back at Detective Crane and shook her hand tentatively. Detective Crane sat on the bed still holding Sarah’s hand, bidding her to sit next to her. Sarah looked at Miss Forrester again. “Miss Forrester, can you give us a minute, please?”
“Uh,” She started.
“Please,” Detective Crane said still holding Sarah’s hand, “We’ll be fine.”
Miss Forrester looked at Sarah a long moment then said, “Of course. I’ll be just downstairs if you need me.”
Detective Crane waited for Miss Forrester to leave the attic. “Sarah, do you know that girl they found here this morning?” Sarah looked over her shoulder at the stairs. “Don’t be scared. It’s just me and you, two girls talking, you won’t be in trouble for anything you tell me.” Detective Crane let go of Sarah’s hand then walked back over to the window. “You know her, don’t you, Sarah?”
“Yes.” Sarah said quietly, almost a whisper.
Detective Crane turned back to Sarah.
“Has she been living here?” Detective Crane motioned around the room. Sarah nodded yes. “Has she always lived here?” Sarah again nodded yes.
“No one is allowed to see her except me.” Sarah whispered to Detective Crane.
“Did Miss Forrester tell you that, Sarah?” Detective Crane knelt in front of Sarah, who shook her head no.
“Delilah told me so.” She whispered leaning in closer to Detective Crane.
“Is Delilah the name of the girl that lives in this room?” Detective Crane whispered back to Sarah like two girls keeping a secret safe between them. Sarah nodded yes and smiled wide.
“I’m the only one who can see her. Because she says I’m just like her sissy, all alone.”
“How come Miss Forrester is hiding Delilah?” Detective Crane whispered. Sarah looked over her shoulder to the stairs then back to Detective Crane.
“Delilah is hiding from her.”
“From Miss Forrester?” Detective Crane asked. Sarah nodded yes.
“You can’t say anything, or Delilah will make me forget about her and we can’t be friends anymore.” Sarah said panicked, then looked back over her shoulder at the stairs.
“What do you mean, make you forget?” Detective Crane got off her knees and sat on the bed.
“Delilah can make you forget stuff. She makes Miss Forrester forget every time she sees her, so she can keep hiding.” Sarah whispered. “When the other girls bother me, Delilah makes them forget I’m there and they go away. Then, me and her can play all by ourselves.”
Detective Crane smiled at her. Finally, she had a name for the young Jane Doe. Delilah.
“Do you know what Delilah’s last name is, Sarah?”
“It’s just Delilah.” She said then whispered, “Her sister is a Hummingbird.”
“Hummingbird?” Detective Crane chuckled, “Have you ever seen her sister?” Sarah pointed behind Detective Crane to the wall of drawings. Detective Crane looked at the stairs, hearing Miss Forrester coming back up. Sarah stepped away from Detective Crane as Miss Forrester’s head appeared coming up through the floor.
“It’s going to be dinner soon. Sarah, join the other girl’s downstairs and get the table ready. Detective, I hope you have any answers you need.” Miss Forrester watched Sarah as she slinked past her as if she expected a swat on her behind. Detective Crane waited for Sarah to make her way down the stairs and then stood from the bed, once again examining the room. The two women made their way back downstairs to the front of the house.
“Who is Delilah, Miss Forrester?” Detective Crane asked as she reached the front door with Miss Forrester.
“I’m sorry, Detective, I don’t know anyone by that name.” Miss Forrester said opening the front door for Detective Crane.
“What about a girl named Hummingbird? Anyone ever go by that name here?” Detective Crane asked.
“How many men work here?” Detective Crane asked, standing just inside the open door. She casually put her hand on it to make sure it didn’t get shut on her.
“What?” Miss Forrester was caught off guard, “Why? I mean, none. Why do you ask?”
“Any men come around here?” Detective Crane asked, “Any boyfriends, would be suitors?”
“No, never.” Miss Forrester was confused by her questions.
“What about you? Any boyfriend of yours come sniffin’ around here?” Detective Crane smiled.
“I am single.” Miss Forrester was very offended.
“So, no one coming around spending money on the girls… no gifts, like you know, expensive clothes, shoes, purses? For maybe, some of the prettier girls?” Miss Forrester’s mouth dropped open, shocked.
“Are you implying I’m running some sort of a whore house?” She was extremely animated.
“Just wondering why all the other girls have Wal-Mart clothes, and the girl who lives in that room has Gucci bags?” Detective Crane asked, looking upstairs. Miss Forrester was stunned silent, her mouth still open. “We’ll be talking again. I am positive something fishy is going on here, and I will be back for answers and you better have them, because that whole yarn about that room upstairs suddenly appearing this morning is the weakest story I’ve ever heard. I suggest you take a look in that box of files and start coming clean. Someone lives up there, Miss Forrester, and by the looks of it, she was being treated like a queen. I don’t know what you’re hiding or what’s going on with this girl, but it ends now. Either you come clean or when she wakes up, she will, and by then it will be too late to hear your side of the story.” Detective Crane said then walked out the door.
“I’m telling you the truth!” Miss Forrester looked like she was getting ready to cry. She definitely regretted calling the police back out to the home. Detective Crane stopped and looked back at her.
“Don’t leave town, Miss Forrester.” Detective Crane walked slowly to her car, checking out the property. She looked up at the attic window and imagined a little girl peeking out, then quickly ducking out of sight. Miss Forrester slammed the door when she went back inside making Detective Crane chuckle.