After surgery, she slept for most of the day and into the night. Phillip came to check on Chelsea, and I got to say my thanks. He had an instant fondness for her and wouldn’t want to see anything bad happen to her, but Chelsea always had that effect on people.
Phillip even offered for our parents to stay at his house but in the end, they decided to go back to my house to wait for us, knowing she was to be released soon. Barb said something about cleaning the place up before Chelsea got home and my mother agreed. Louis took them earlier and returned later today to pick us up.
Tony showed up yesterday, and I didn’t know what to say to someone who saved my life and Chelsea’s life. If it weren’t for him believing in me, she wouldn’t be alive today, and his quick thinking and aim prevented both of us from ending up in the morgue. He said the crime scene would take days to weeks to go through before it was truly over.
Tony also explained that Detective Oprantz and Detective Parchaz would like a statement from the both of us and had made it easier by using a local police station to get it done sooner than later. When I was hesitant to let Chelsea give her statement, Tony explained that the sooner she gave her testimony, the faster our lives could go back to normal. Normal? Would our lives ever be normal again?
I stayed by her bed in her private room the whole time just watching her. Not letting her out of my sight for a second. Her bruised and swollen face was made worse by her silent tears. She looked so small in the bed, and I knew her physical pain, as well as mental pain, would be something we both had to endure.
The nurse explained the magnet of an angel placed outside our door. It was to inform the staff about our loss. How fitting. It made me think of Angela.
She must have been with Chelsea a little through this whole ordeal. Dr. Whynt told me by her examination, Chelsea did not appear to have been sexually assaulted which relieved a fear of mine. Since she was kept there all night by a maniac, I had to admit it went through my mind. He may not have raped her, but with the scattered marks across her body and what the doctor told us about what she endured, he used her as a punching bag, and for that, I would have killed him with my bare hands if I’d had a chance. Lord knows what type of pain she braved at the hands of that monster.
There was a hollowness in my body that didn’t have a name. On second thought, I knew the name: Holly. When Chelsea asked the sex of the baby, I didn’t want to know. It was easier pretending it had been too early to tell, but really, not knowing the sex wouldn’t have made it any better. My Holly had been taken from me and there was nothing I could do about it now.
After Chelsea’s discharge from the hospital, we rode to the police station in silence. The sweater her mom bought her to wear hung from her frame, two sizes too big, and she looked like a little girl in it. Despite the warm weather, she hugged the sweater around herself the whole ride.
Since Louis drove us in his limo, I tried my best to comfort Chelsea on the ride but now I almost wished I could drive. I felt like I had been no comfort at all. We were both still in shock over the whole ordeal. I wanted this part over with. I wanted to be able to put this behind us and get back to some normalcy as soon as possible. Chelsea needed to get back to the house. She needed to be in familiar surroundings with the people who loved her. She needed family and friends to help her recover.
Once we finally got to the interview room, we sat at a sterile table with a microphone to record her statement. Tony stood close by in his uniform off to the side, and the two detectives sat on the opposite side of the table from us in the tiny room. Chelsea looked tired. Hurt. Pale except for the bruises and cuts to her beautiful face. She was in a daze, and when they asked the first question, she didn’t even hear them.
“Did you hear me, Ms. Moltke?” She looked up at detective Oprantz and shook her head.
“Sorry, could you repeat that?” We were all watching her as she sunk further into her shell.
“Ms. Moltke, we will be asking you questions, and we will need everything you can remember. Are you ready to begin?” I reached out for her hand, trying to give her strength. The only idea I had of what happened was what the doctors pieced together for me. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to know it all but I would be a steady force for Chelsea.
She sighed and nodded her head, but it wasn’t what they needed. “Sorry, Ms. Moltke but you will need to give us a yes or no for the recording.”
She cleared her throat, still hoarse from after surgery, and swallowed before answering. Leaning into the microphone, she stated in as clear of a voice as possible, “Yes.” In my head, I could still hear her painful wailing when she found out about our daughter. I would never forget that sound and hoped to never listen to the sorrow in it again.
“We need for you to establish a history with the assailant. Could you tell us how you knew him?” Detective Oprantz leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers while he waited for her answer.
Her response was slow. “We went to the same high school.” She again curled up when she talked about him. It hurt her, and therefore it hurt me.
“How well did you know Dan?”
She bowed her head before uttering into the microphone, “Intimately.”
My body stiffened at the thought. The thought of that bastard having anything to do with her, his hands on her, the way he used her, it all made my blood boil. There was an emotional pain so deep down inside her that when we first met, she almost didn’t even let me in, even years after the fact.
After clearing her throat, she continued. “We dated for about six months during our senior year.”
Detective Parchaz spoke. “How did your relationship end?”
She lowered her head, and my thoughts went back to the rainy night in the pavilion. Her pain so fresh on her face even though it had been several years out by then.
“We were to get married, but he left me the day before without calling it off. He just... skipped town.”
Detective Oprantz directed the next question. “Was Dan ever aggressive towards you during your relationship with him?”
I felt her shudder and found myself looking intensely at her. Had he hit her before?
Bowing her head, she nodded, and I stiffened again. Why didn’t I ever ask? Yes, I knew he was an asshole to her, but I never thought it went beyond his emotional game playing.
“Ms. Moltke, please say your answers out loud.”
She didn’t even look up. “Yes.”
“When was Dan aggressive towards you?”
Chelsea stayed silent, looking down at her lap and contemplated her answer. I stopped breathing, anticipating what she was to say but not wanting her to say it. When she still didn’t answer, Detective Oprantz prodded, “We need to establish a history of violence. Could you please do your best to answer the question?” I braced myself, knowing it would be hard for her to discuss her past with him.
“On... on the night I found out I was pregnant with his child, I went to Dan’s house and told him. He flew into a rage and yelled at me. He told me I did it on purpose to trap him. That I was a gold digger.” She paused, and I thought back to me accusing Mac, Quade’s wife, of the same thing. We talked about women being gold diggers, but I’d never accused Chelsea of this. Ever.
She finally continued, and I could barely hear her now. “He pushed me up against the wall and held me there by my throat.” Her admission knocked the air right out of me. I did the same thing to her not that long ago. Her reluctance to answer the question didn’t have anything to do with my careless gold digger comment, but because I treated her just like he did. My God, I was just as bad as him.
“Were there any other instances of aggression?” Detective Oprantz’s question brought me back to the matter at hand.
“No. After that, I knew enough about what to say to not make him angry with me anymore.” Essentially, she learned to put up with it. I could see it now. Sacrificing her own well being for her child growing inside her. Not upsetting him and being the ‘good wife’ around him to not rock the boat. My hand tightened around hers, knowing she would have done anything for her child. Even put herself in harm’s way and dealt with that asshole. “And shortly after that, he left me.”
“When was the next time you saw him?”
“Um, it must have been at the farmer’s market two days before the...” She couldn’t finish and I wanted to scream at them to leave her alone, but instead sat back, helplessly watching her go through her painful rendition of the events. “I thought I saw him, but I wasn’t sure. I felt like I was being watched and when I spotted him looking at me, it was so brief, and he looked so different I couldn’t be positive it was him.” Old ghosts, she’d said. Why didn’t I see it then and do something about it before it got to this?
Detective Oprantz continued with his line of questioning. “Can you tell us about the morning of the eighth?”
Taking a deep breath, she started with our conversation on the phone. I couldn’t tear myself away from her posture, the way she looked so defeated. The pained expression on her face. “I was in the kitchen making a sandwich for a snack after getting off the phone with Brandt. We were talking about our trip coming up to Wisconsin to visit my family.” We were going to tell them about the pregnancy, finally. I pushed for that hard.
“My back was to the patio doors, and I heard a loud crash. When I turned, I saw Dan. He had thrown a patio chair through the glass door, shattering it. He came after me, and I turned to run. I screamed and made my way down the hallway.” Hearing her talk about that day was hard. Seeing it play out in my mind was worse. I saw the shattered remains of the glass doors on the floor. The half-eaten sandwich lying by the refrigerator and the sinking feeling of seeing her phone left behind and her out there with a madman. Chelsea’s hand tightened around mine, sending me comfort, knowing her recounts of the day would be hard on both of us and I only wished I could help her more.
“I couldn’t get far down the hall before he grabbed me by the hair. I cried out and fought, but he held me back and dragged me into the kitchen.” She could not meet anyone’s eyes, concentrating on the table in front of her.
“Once in the kitchen he threw me against the counter, and when I turned around, I saw the gun. He grabbed my arm and told me to go out of the broken door. I asked him where we were going, but he just told me to walk. He wouldn’t talk to me, and when I asked him questions, he just told me to keep quiet and keep walking. He pushed me towards the hiking path on the north side of the cliffs that flank Brandt’s property. At the end of the path on the top, there was an older green jeep. He made me get into it.” I felt her shudder beside me. I wanted to tell her to stop. That I changed my mind and would rather not hear the story, satisfied only with the fact she was still with me, so I didn’t have to lie awake at night and envision what horrors she had to endure, but I couldn’t do that to Chelsea. She needed me.
“He pulled out onto the road and headed north, keeping the gun on me with one hand while he drove with the other hand on the wheel.” The hollowness to her voice scared me. She was always so vibrant, and this new person was just a shell of her old self.
“Go on. Did you talk to Dan?” Looking up from her lap she stared apathetically at the detective.
“After a while, I was brave enough to talk and asked him why. He told me I ruined his life and now he would ruin mine. He said that his father forced him to propose to me when he found out about the pregnancy, or he would lose his inheritance. In the end, he decided to leave me anyway, stating that he would rather be poor than to be married to such a ‘frigid bitch.’” Her wording made me flinch. Those were the words he used to call her. No Chelsea, you were never. You are the warmest, most caring person I have ever met. He was a monster. I hoped she could see the difference now and if not, I intended to make it so she never forgets.
She continued to discuss the ride to the cabin and how she pleaded with him. I kept looking at her incredulously. How could she endure what she went through? And when she described that bastard hitting her so hard that she felt her teeth were loosened by it, I couldn’t help but shake with rage. I wanted to hit something, someone. Why? Why did he do this to her? That sick bastard hurt the most enduring, loving person in the world, and my heart hurt thinking she suffered needlessly.
“That bastard!” I couldn’t keep it in anymore and felt like a caged animal. Sliding back my chair, now feeling increasingly anxious, I kept thinking I almost wished he was still alive, so I could kill him myself. The attention of the room settled on me, and both detectives looked first at me and then at Tony.
Tony came over to me and grabbed my arm. If he weren’t such a crucial part of Chelsea still being alive, I would have cold clocked him. I felt on edge. “Come with me.”
He wanted me out of the room, but there was no way I could leave Chelsea. Tearing my arm away from Tony, I looked at him and challenged him. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Tony looked at me with sympathy, and I hated it. “You need a break. Let’s get something to drink.”
“I am not leaving her.”
“Brandt?” Chelsea pleaded with me. Her cerulean blue eyes hovered between darkness and pain. “I could really use some coffee or tea. I am cold, and my throat is dry.”
Needing to do right by her, I struggled with leaving her side. It didn’t convince me it would help. Tony tried to persuade me yet again, “There is a machine down the hall. You will be back before they start up.”
I hesitated again but when Chelsea said “Please,” I couldn’t help but appease her.
Tony led me to the coffee machine in the hallway. I pressed the buttons hard, taking out my frustrations on the machine. “Hey man, you have to calm down in there. You keep this up, and they will throw you out, and you will be no good to her.”
I gripped the top of the vending machine and willed my anger to dissipate. Turning to look at Tony, I said, “Did you see her in there? That isn’t Chelsea. She went through so much from that bastard.”
“But he is dead, and Chelsea is still alive. She needs you in there, Brandt. You won’t be any help to her if you get thrown out. Keep it in check and then when this is over, she never has to talk about it again.” Tears stung at the back of my eyes. How could I do this? Go in and listen to each detail of him hurting the woman I loved? I needed to though. She needed me in there, and there was no way in hell I would let her go through this alone. Man up, Brandt. Deal with it and get her out of here as soon as you can.
Grabbing the hot coffee, I made my way back in. I placed it down in front of her, and she looked back up at me, giving me a slight smile. At least it didn’t make her wince anymore from the pain of her bruised face. When I smiled back, I moved my chair closer to her. Yes, she needed me, and I would be here for her like I should have been all along.
She placed the paper container in her hands, cupping it to her, and I wrapped my arm around her as a shield, warming and caressing her. I am here for you. I am not going anywhere.
Detective Oprantz started in again. “Was there anything else you would like us to know about the ride to the cabin?”
She shook her head. “No. I kept quiet for most of the trip after he hit me. I was too scared to talk.” Almost impossibly, she curled into herself further until there was very little I recognized anymore. The more she talked, the emptier I felt. I welcomed it though, thinking that being numb would help me endure her reenactment of the events.
She talked about him bringing her to the cabin and the sinking feeling that she would die. The way he locked her in the small room and then drinking himself in a stupor. She discussed the way the room was set up with the small table and chair and the chicken wire on the only window. The old room and the way she looked through the lock with the keyhole to see what she could find out about her prison.
Her voice started to strain when she talked about him ranting and raving while drunk. “The moon was out, but I had no clock to tell me the time. I heard the lock at the door, and then it opened. Dan was standing there, and the light behind him shined in my eyes, so I couldn’t see him that well. He came closer, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. He stumbled towards me, and I got to my feet, feeling terrified.” A slight tremble in her voice told me how she was reliving it in her head.
After a long bout of silence Detective Oprantz prodded further, “What happened then?”
She looked him straight in the eyes with an eerie sense of knowing. “He told me he saw my picture in the paper. The one with Brandt. He told me I must not be the frigid bitch that he remembered if I could land another sugar daddy like him.”
My breath caught in my throat, rendering me numb. I couldn’t feel my hands or legs anymore as the blood rushed out of my body. My world crashed around me once again. He found her because of me? He saw her picture in the tabloids with me. The realization of this made me sick to my stomach. I caused this. Pushing her into the spotlight even though she resisted was the nail in my little girl’s coffin. Wanting our relationship out in the media and not listening to the PR firm when they told me to back off. I wanted to shout to the world that she was mine, not realizing I brought the monster right to our door.
The pain reached up and overtook the numbness. All the torment she bore at the hands of this fiend was my fault. Her sitting next to me, battered and bruised, not only on the outside but the inside, was my fault just as much as if I did the deed myself. The reason she lost our child was because of me, and I knew right then she would never forgive me. She couldn’t be a mother because of what I did. All my fault. How could she stay with me? Just as certain I knew she was gone just a couple of days ago, I knew she was going to leave me, and I was the only one to blame.
After Brandt left with Tony the two detectives informed me yet again the importance of getting down my statement. They worried about his outburst and my reaction to it. Nodding my head, I told them it would be fine to keep Brandt in the room. I was torn between wanting him in the room for support and not wanting to tell him the awful truth and seeing the pain in his eyes. But in the end, I selfishly needed him to lend me his strength. One more reason I didn’t deserve him. They looked at each other before looking back at me. “We need you to be one hundred percent truthful in your responses, and then we won’t need to bother you again. Do you understand?”
My wording had turned guarded with Brandt around to prevent him from hearing the gory details. When I brought up Dan holding me by the throat I knew he compared what Dan did to me that night to what happened the night his birth mother showed up, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to tell him it myself, but I was afraid that if I brought it up in front of the officers, they would get the wrong impression. Brandt’s drunken mistake was due to an emotional blow. The bruises he caused were ones due to concern for my safety. He never so much raised a hand to me since. Dan’s physical assault happened because he was a monster, and I needed to make sure I talked to Brandt about it when we got back to the house.
Maybe it would be better if he stayed out? It would be easier to talk about what happened without worrying about Brandt hearing it but I needed to face this, we needed to face it. Not only for the police but to go on from here. Again, I nodded, and the door opened. Brandt walked in with a cup of coffee and placed it down in front of me. I gave him a feeble smile of thanks, and he moved his chair even closer to me as he sat beside me. This time he placed his arm over the back of the chair and absently caressed my right upper arm. The gesture soothed both of us.
Hunching forward in my chair, I tried hard not to look at Brandt pushing my way through the rest. We didn’t discuss what happened to me in the cabin while I recovered in the hospital. My emotions swung from one of a zombie to more or less a blubbering mess, and he walked around me on eggshells. But now he would hear it all. Why not? He should know what went on. He almost died trying to save me. But I knew hearing the whole truth would hurt him, he loved me so much.
“Please go on, Ms. Moltke.” Nodding my head, I went back to that night, trying to remember what I wanted to forget. Deeper into my story, I gave them as many details they needed and only hesitated once I got to the point of Dan having his hands on me.
“Dan started to grab at my breasts even though I tried to push him away. He kept asking me if I was still frigid. He pawed at me and ripped my shirt. When I tried to fight back, he hit me hard across the face.” The words poured out of me as if I were reciting an essay. It was so matter of fact that when I described being hit in the face, it came across as indifferent. Brandt wasn’t so unaffected as he pushed his chair to the side and started swearing again, this time under his breath. Maybe I should have censored it a little more, but I figured it didn’t matter. Interestingly, I was so numb at this point that I no longer felt Brandt’s hand rubbing my arm. I had to look up to make sure he still had it draped over my shoulder. A garbled noise came from Brandt, and when I chanced a look at him, a deep look of torment clouded his face. Unable to meet his eyes, I looked back down at my hands folded in my lap, ashamed of the sorrow I caused him right now. The officers gave him a stern look, and he calmed down, and his hold on me tightened.
A tear fell down into my lap unnoticed. I swallowed, determined to go on. “I thought he was going to kill me and I pushed him away from me hard. He fell back and landed on the floor. I tried to run, but he took out my legs, and I fell to my side next to him.” The pain in my right hip flared up thinking about it. The tears fell faster, although I still didn’t feel them until they landed on my hands in my lap.
“He climbed on top of me and pushed up my shirt and bra.” My breathing quickened as my anxiety rose. In my mind, I pictured Dan’s assault on me. After he raped me he was going to kill me. Panic set in reliving my nightmare and I focused on the tabletop again, unable to meet anyone’s eyes.
“He started to lift himself off of me to take his zipper down...” I could see his curly black hair beneath his zipper and when he removed his penis I knew it was my last chance. I still had no clue where I found the strength, “...I brought my knee up with as much power as I could and hit him in the groin. He cried out and grabbed it, screaming at me. I strained to get out from underneath him, but he caught me by my hair.” You fucking bitch! You fucking frigid bitch! There was a hitch in my voice, and I started to rock ever so slightly back and forth.
Gripping my shoulders, I hugged myself. “I had gotten to my knees...” Pulling up my shorts took too long, and wasted some much needed time to get away from him, but I knew I couldn’t run away from him with them that low. “... but he was able to get up and throw me back to the ground. Then he...” I watched my mind play it repeatedly in slow motion. Everyone seemed to leave me then while I flashed back to that night causing my voice to stop working.
“Ms. Moltke, what did Dan do?” I could hear him faintly ask. Don’t make me say it. Please don’t make me. “Ms. Moltke?”
Caving in, I let it out. Rocking back and forth and wringing my hands I finally broke down. “He kicked me in the stomach. Oh God, he kicked me in the stomach.”
I pushed my chair away from the table and hunched over, feeling faint and nauseous at the same time. “That was what killed my baby. Oh God, that kick killed my baby.” Wailing my pain, I tried to put my head between my legs, but I felt Brandt’s arms engulf me and pull me down into his lap. Sobbing and weeping, my body shook as I realized that I killed my daughter. I did. Why didn’t I just let him fuck me? I could have done it. I could have just opened my fucking legs and let him have me. Oh God, it was all my fault.
Brandt continued to hold me and comfort me the best he could. He rocked back and forth with me, watching me lose it completely. I killed his child. Me and my fucking pristine ways. How long before he left me? He must have seen it too. How my bad decisions prevented me from protecting his child. How could he even look at me?
It took several minutes before I could breathe steadily again. When I finally gained my composure, I could hardly focus. During the rest of the interview, I leaned against Brandt, unable to keep myself upright and continued with my numb, unfeeling rendition of the rest of my statement.
The story returned to me waking up the next day with pain. Breaking the window when I heard the helicopter. Running out into the woods. I only flinched slightly when I remembered Dan turning the gun on Brandt and shooting. Tears stung my eyes but didn’t fall. I was cried out, unable to think straight anymore.
The vision of Dan shot and bleeding and falling on me, came out as if I was telling a fable. One where I was not present in the tall tale at all. Grateful that my interview ended there, I got up from the table to leave. I didn’t want to talk about waking up in the hospital. I didn’t think I could be as unfeeling during that discussion.
They let me go after exchanging business cards with us. As always, if I had anything to add, I needed to contact them, but I felt they were just as glad to let me go as I was to leave. I got out to the limo and fell into it, exhausted. Brandt climbed in beside me and pulled me into his body, but I ignored him and stared out the window for the ride back. We didn’t talk, but there really wasn’t anything to say now it was all out in the open. ‘The truth shall set you free’ was the saying, and he was now set free. Free to leave me behind once things settle down. He wouldn’t do it right away, being too much of a gentleman. So, I would just sit back and wait.