Chapter Twenty Three
Kate’s phone buzzed with a text message late on a Friday afternoon. Hey, I need to talk to you, ASAP.
She was just finishing up an autopsy, still kitted up and covered in copious amounts of human fluids. Her phone was locked away in her staff locker, a million miles from where she was.
It was after 5 when she had finally finished up and showered. She saw the message on the lock screen and wondered who the number was; it wasn’t saved in her phone. Holding her thumb on the centre button she opened the message and realised who the sender was; the forensic psychologist from the prison. “Shit,” Kate whispered to herself as she stood in front of her locker, nothing but a towel wrapped around her body. She punched in a message. Call when you’re ready, I’ve been working.
The reply was quick; Face to face, and delete my messages after. I’m heading to Pete’s Bar now, meet me there if you can.
Kate blinked awkwardly as she read and re-read the message. What the hell was going on? She checked the time quickly knowing that Pete’s bar was 20 minutes away. Tossing her phone into her handbag she quickly dressed and left her hair to air dry, she needed to know what was happening.
Arriving at the bar 18 minutes after leaving work Kate pulled into a street side parking space and shoved her phone, keys and a crisp $20 note into her pockets before locking the car and heading into the bar. It was busy, lots of after workers having a Friday beer before heading home, or not heading home. She wound her way through unfamiliar faces and the smell of sweat and dirt mixed with beer to find the bar where she ordered a bottle of cider and paid with her note. She got half back and an icy cold bottle.
She felt a hand wrap around her arm and Kate snapped around as though electrocuted. It was the psychologist.
“Come with me.”
Kate grabbed her change and the bottle and allowed herself to be tugged through the crowd to a tucked away corner. The woman stood close to her so they could hear each other without having to yell over the din of the growing crowd around them.
“I need you to tell me what the Governors movements were like in the past month or two.” Her voice was sharp, her question to the point, Kate could tell she was unsettled and on edge. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the bar, or maybe it was something far more sinister.
“I beg your pardon?” Kate was taken aback, she had no idea what was going on.
“I have reason to believe she was part of an inmate’s mental breakdown recently, and the drugging of another causing her to also have a breakdown.”
Kate froze, her mouth hung open. This was the crossroads which she had always known would be coming, the point in her relationship with Joan where she had to make a choice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she lied.
“I think you do,” the woman pressed as she crossed her arms over her chest and stood in a defensive stance only a few centimetres from Kate. “I think you know exactly what I’m talking about because of the night I met you at the prison. You shouldn’t have been there at all, you were coming in through a staff only entrance, issued no visitors pass, nothing was ever logged that night, and you mentioned that the Governor had worked a lot of late nights.”
“Joan often works late nights,” Kate defended. She didn’t even know why she was defending Joan, all the indicators, the red flags, the snippets of information that didn’t quite add up and the questions ticking around in her brain about what Joan’s true nature actually was. It was simply her love and devotion for the woman that gave her strength to defend her.
“Okay, so an inmate claimed that while she was in the slot the Governor visited her every night.”
“The slot?” Kate questioned.
Kate knew exactly what she was talking about. Every night for just a bit longer than two weeks. Late nights, split shifts, Joan was rarely home during those two weeks even on the weekends and Kate had been worried about her sleeping patterns, she had been worried about how she was managing the day to day stress while sleep deprived, she had even worried about how Joan would go driving herself home after another 15 hour shift. But she said nothing to the woman standing right in front of her accusing her lover of atrocities to the women under her care, she just sipped from her icy cold bottle.
“So that inmate is then released into general population, tried to shiv another inmate, and proved to be a risk to herself with sudden indicators of self harm.”
“Okay,” Kate had just collected some extra information that she didn’t hold before and was following along with her own timeline now, adding 2 and 2 together with the extra information she held herself.
“It is then claimed that while in the slot she was tortured every night by the Governor, physically and mentally. Awful things were done to her every night for two weeks. She told her story to the ombudsman with her advocate by her side, the advocate being the woman who she had shivved.”
“What?” Kate was starting to get confused. Joan hadn’t filled her in on all the details, unsurprisingly.
“So then we are lined up at a preliminary hearing, the accuser can’t speak straight, is riddled with anxiety and is unconsciously scratching the skin from her arm as she tries to tell her story right in front of the Governor without her advocate beside her.”
“Her advocate was in psych with side effects from a hallucinogenic.”
“How do you know that?” The forensic psychologist stopped and moved her hands to her hips defensively, her eyes staring straight into Kate’s as though they could pull the truth from her.
“Joan told me what had happened on the day of the hearing.”
“The advocate has no history of drug use. She is claiming that she was drugged by a man who was sent by the Governor to incapacitate her so she wouldn’t be able to give evidence at the hearing and be there for the inmate.”
Kate’s head spun. It was ludicrous, but it all fell perfectly into place, not that the psychologist knew that because she was missing key pieces of information that Kate held. “Do you know how farfetched that all sounds? You have two inmates who one of which has a history of drug use breaking down and accusing the Governor of torture, then you have another inmate who has obviously bullied the first into admission about the story itself. Two unstable inmates and a withdrawn charge.” Kate was feeling fierce now and knew she needed to defend her lover. “I would advise you to be very careful about what you say to me regarding the woman I love.”
The forensic psychologist realised what was happening and took a moment to reassess, she thought she had everything lined up with Kate and could get the information she wanted. All she needed to know was had the Governors movements changed during the two weeks the inmate was in isolation, but Kate had become defensive, protective even. She didn’t expect the relationship to have progressed this far, and there was no getting around it now. It was almost in the Stockholm area of control. This could only go one of two ways now and she needed to think quickly on her feet about whether she was going to tell Kate the truth, or not.
“I believe she shows all the indicators of a psychopath.” She chose the truth, at least then Kate would have the information she needed if she ever had to make a choice.
“You’ve already told me this,” Kate interrupted, making her exasperation known now that the woman seemed to be going around in circles hell bent on one conclusion. “I’ve analysed Joan in the last few weeks and seen her different emotional reactions for myself. You’re wrong.” Kate didn’t know where the sudden defensiveness was coming from, but she knew she wasn’t being completely honest; she just didn’t want Joan being hunted at work.
“I know we talked about this before but I have been conducting an undercover assessment on behalf of the board as to the fitness of the Governor to be in the position she holds. I have reason to believe she did torture the inmate in question and I do not believe this was the first time she has done something like this. I also believe she was behind the drugging of the prisoner advocate. I think she is losing control of the women and that makes her even more dangerous because we have no idea how she will react if she does lose control. Psychopaths act in cold and calculating ways that only make sense in their own heads, they often take intricate paths to reach their end destination, and they don’t give a damn about collateral damage along the way. Anything could happen, and you need to be careful, because she might snap at home too. They call her a freak Kate, and I don’t think they’re too far from the truth.”
Kate stood tall and strong for the shorter woman that she was. She held eye contact to those of the forensic psychologist standing in front of her, in the corner of the busy bar. “What I see is a rather well balanced woman who has managed to fight her way up a ladder of adversity and challenges.” Her voice held a power and dedication, she wasn’t about to let anyone else tell her who Joan was, not when she was the only one who actually knew her. “Along the way she lost the emotional connection because she had to. But I get to see her emotions and the struggle she fights to keep them in check sometimes. She has got emotions, she does have empathy, she just doesn’t put them on display at work because they will be misinterpreted as weakness.”
“What if you’re wrong?” It was a bold statement rather than a question, a challenge.
“What if I am wrong?” Kate bit back with venom in her voice.
“You could end up in any number of bad situations on the wrong side of Joan if she snaps at you.”
“It’s my life, my choices. I choose Joan.” Kate placed her empty bottle on a table as she turned and squeezed her way out through the crowd, her head spinning at the new found information and what it meant for her relationship with Joan, now that she knew the truth.