He was lying on something hard, but warm. Curved, rounding his back out. He felt like a cat stretching out on a window ledge. Warm and safe.
He opened his eyes and saw they were large knees he was resting on. The priestess statue was awake, her hair was red and her lips were crimson, her opal eyes wide and yellow. She smiled. She was naked and warm; her body was womanly; to him she was a mother but he was also in love with her. A lover and a protector.
She beamed down at him and took his small head in her one hand and slowly twisted it off and ate it. Then his arms, then his legs and then his torso.
He fell into consciousness wide eyed and drenched in sweat. His breathe burning in his chest. He strained against plastic ties which bound his arms to the black metal struts of what seemed to be a weightlifting bench.
Was it a room?
It smelled dank, rotting wood and coppery smells of rust. It was too dark to tell.
He was lying in what felt like a dentist’s chair, his arms held down at his sides. He was restrained not only at the wrists but it felt like all the way up his arms and his legs. He had zero mobility in any of his limbs. His head equally was held in place by what felt like plastic wrap, wound tightly around his forehead. It was sticky and forming a lot of sweat but none of which allowed him any more mobility.
He felt powerless, his heart beat out of his chest for what felt like an hour of blackness and panic. Finally, when he’d given up hope of his limbs proving useful for escape he faded into despair. Taking deep breathes getting gradually shallower and more quiet until he heard someone else breathing.
A generator sprang into life, humming and coughing behind his head. A bright unshaded bulb was born cutting through the thick dark dank of what he now knew was a boxcar probably deep in the railyard. In a place no one could hear them.
An unseen scratching, and then music started to play.
“How much is that doggie in the window (arf, arf)
The one with the waggley tail”
As the record was started, James felt a sharp tugging and a shifting in his seat. A feeling of falling as the hydraulics in the chair dropped him lower and then bolted him almost upright. Instantly he was made aware of what he was supposed to see.
In front of him were two rows of something obscured by a tan hide tarp. They were spaced out as if they were seats on a train and behind them there was something hanging on the wall. Something that looked like an animal.
He heard breathing getting closer to his ear and then a voice he thought he knew.
“James, it’s good to see you. Are you resting comfortably?”
“Detective Banville?” Harri was curt and professional. She extended her hand to shake his.
“What you his lawyer or something?” Banville looked fidgety for a second but she didn’t respond. Which made him look even more fidgety as he combed his greasy hair back over his head with his hand.
“Err no we’re federal agents” Con almost chuckled at that. Giving one of his signature self-deprecating grins.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry.” Banville hopped up and offered his greasy bony hand to Harri who had already turned to walk past him.
“We’re here to talk to your suspect.” Harri said as she glanced through the small viewing window into the interrogation room.
“Is this the part where I’m supposed to get all territorial and create some tension? ‘This is my case, you feds need to shove this duris-my-diction crap’.” Banville waved his arms around like some Saturday morning cartoon character. He looked limp, a flaccid shadow of a man propped up by coffee and junk food waiting for a laugh that wasn’t coming. After a pause he let his hand drop to his side, slapping against his thigh. “Sure, be my guest, if you can get him to talk, more power to ya. God knows I aint getting nothing. He just spent the last couple of hours mumbling about some fucking doctor and some chick with big knockers.”
“Thanks a lot, go get yourself a cup of coffee, this shouldn’t take too long.” Con said patting Banville on the side of the arm.
Before Con had even turned around Harri had gone into the interrogation room. Con briskly followed her, catching the heavy door as it started to close.
“James Mirra, it’s good to meet you. I’m special agent Harriet Jaguer and this is my partner special agent Con Folsome.” Harri was already sitting down and had started her digital tape recorder. Her hands on the metal table clasped together like a friendly insurance adjuster. Con pulled up a seat and flashed James a shy smile.
Harri waited a moment for James to respond but what she saw in him was a mix of fear and complete detachment. He was covered in a blanket which made him look like a bundle of rags under an overpass. His eyes looked hollowed out and cold. His skin was pale and drawn. He was rocking back and forth like a caged elephant and shuddering spasmodically as he took long wet breathes. His hair was a dark greasy brown and he had a layer of stubble on his face a few days old. The bags under his eyes were a grey as the concrete walls. She’d seen a picture of him sent over from the DMV. She could hardly believe that the person on the license and this man before her were the same person. The shape of the face was the same but the affect in the features was notably different.
After a moment of icy silence, she continued. “I’d like to ask you a few questions about your wife’s death, is that all right?” She raised her voice as if she was talking to a child or a deaf person. He had no response to give.
“Do you have any idea how your wife came to be in the bath tub of your home?”
James didn’t move a muscle; his eyes were locked on his hands as they were cuffed to the metal table in front of him.
“Hold on, I’ll get a key for those cuffs” Harri hopped up from her seat.
“Wait, I don’t think that’s- “. Con stopped as he realised he was talking to himself. She’d already flounced out of the room in search of a cuff key. He sucked his bottom lip and turned to look at James who still hadn’t moved. “So… they treating you alright here?” James continued to take deep wheezing breathes and said nothing.
“Ok here we go” Harri said as she burst back into the room.
“Wait a minute, let’s just- “. He was wasting his time.
Harri leant over the table and unlocked both of his cuffs.
James’ hands fell limp under the table and he just caught himself drowsily. Stopping his face from hitting the metal table. He looked for a moment like he was waking from a dream.
He leant back in his hard chair and looked down at his wrists and started to slowly rub them.
“Detective Banville told me you were talking to a doctor; can you tell me a little about that?”
James took a long deep breath and closed his eyes.
“He dyed her hair red”
“He told us he could fix us.”
“’Us’ you mean you and your wife?”
James nodded slow.
“You were seeing a doctor?”
“He did something, to both of us” James started to point at his head, his hand shaking.
“There’s no record of you and your wife seeing a marriage counsellor or any kind of doctor. No bank records, no medical records, no phone records. Do you have a name you can give us to corroborate your story”?
“I don’t remember”
“What do you remember?”
“I don’t remember anything”
“Do you know who you are?”
He breathed in deep and closed his eyes and opened them wide “I’m not sure”.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
James didn’t answer.
“Do you know where you are?”
James shook his head and began rocking back and forth, mumbling incoherently. “I have dreams, but I’m not sure they are dreams. They’re not my dreams. They’re his dreams. He put them there. But dreams fade over time, I can’t see them, but I know they’re there, inside me.”
Harri took out her cell phone and swiped it a few times with her finger and then laid it on the table. “Do you recognise her?” She spoke slowly watching his face as he looked down at the screen of her cell phone.
“No, I don’t know”
“’No’ or you don’t know?”
“I don’t know who that is”
“Ok well that’s all for now, if you remember anything tell the detective and we’ll arrange another meeting.” Harri got up from the table and walked out of the room leaving Con sitting with his arms folded looking at James.
He unfolded his arms and sighed as he watched James sink back into a near comatose state. “If you remember anything at all you can call this number.” Con said as he slid a small contact card onto the metal table as he stood up to leave. He smiled at the poor man, a forced throw up grin he saved for special occasions and walked out of the room.
When he got on the other side of the door, shutting it behind him Harri was waiting. Her arms crossed as she leaned against the wall adjacent the interrogation room. Her head turned away looking down the hall.
Con sighed “Just like Dun”
“What was that picture you showed him?
“What I thought.”
“He had no idea who she was Con, no idea.” A chill ran up her spine as she said it.
“This is some spooky shit”.
“You think it’s drugs, a cult or something?”
“It makes no sense. Two unconnected guys kill their partners in near identical ways. They’re caught red handed and both wind up raving lunatics.”
“What do we do now?”
Harri sighed loud “I don’t know”.