Michael’s vision comes back slowly. Several long, black shadows shuffle around him. He rubs his eyes. When he opens them again, a figure approaches.
“I believe this belongs to you.”
An object is pressed into his hand. By the cool metal feel and hard rectangular shape, he knows without looking that it’s his cell phone. As his eyes adjust, the objects around him take visible shape and dimension. The room is busy with over a dozen men and women trafficking the apartment, communicating in hushed tones and silent gesturing.
Intermittent flashes from a camera’s bulb explode in blinding flashes.
A female voice to his left speaks, “Don’t worry. It’ll wear off.”
“Where am I?”
“You’re okay,” the voice explains. “The shock is wearing off, just give it time.”
As the familiarity of the room sinks in, Michael scrambles backward, noting for the first time the absence of his right sock and shoe.
“Where is he?”
“Everything is all right,” the voice answers. “The police have him in custody.”
“But he tried to kill me.”
“We know, but you’re safe now.”
“But how? How did you know? The police, they… they left, they didn’t…”
“Now, now,” the voice says, patting his back.
“Michael!” a voice cries.
He looks up to see Katrina coming through the front door.
Over her shoulders, the door has been exploded off its hinges, left dangling from the little gold chain still attached to the frame.
“Are you all right?”
He nods his head.
“You must be in shock.”
“Maybe,” he answers.
“You’re a lucky, fella,” a voice to his left says. It’s the same as the one that handed him his cell phone—a plain clothes detective with stern features and a steep glare.
“But how?” Michael asks. “The police, they left, I heard them.”
“It was your girlfriend, here, who stopped them just as they were coming out of the building.”
Katrina explains, “There was another detective with them. He pulled up just as I began explaining to the other two where you were and what was happening. He seemed to know you were in trouble because he took off into the building right away. Whoever he was, he kicked through that door like it was made of balsa wood. I heard a couple officers outside talking about it. They say you were rescued just as that sicko was standing over you naked except for a pair of thin blue speedo shorts and a bottle of shaving cream.”
“And the girl,” Michael asks, “the one he killed?”
“About that,” the officer begins.
“Masterson,” a voice interrupts. Michael looks up to see a lean-faced detective with jet black hair and artic blue eyes. “That was Lombardo on the line. He wants us at the precinct so the butcher and Dobbs can be interrogated simultaneously.”
“What does that mean?” Michael asks. “Who’s Dobbs?”
The senior officer steps forward, looks at the EMT. “Is he cleared to go?”
“All of the vitals look good and the shock appears to be wearing off. I’d say he’s good to go.”
“Would you mind making sure he gets home all right?” The question is directed to Katrina.
“Here,” he says, offering her a business card. “We’ll need him to come by the station sometime tomorrow to swear out a statement. Anytime is fine, as long as it’s before six.”
Katrina tucks the card into her wallet.
“I don’t understand,” Michael says. “Are they saying he had an accomplice? He couldn’t of, I saw him. Besides, he admitted to disposing of the body alone.”
The officer stares down at Michael ponderously before returning his attention to Katrina. “Before six,” he repeats.
Out front, two sideways parked police cars block the street, lights flashing. Neighbors gather on the opposite sidewalk. At one end of the street, a pair of uniformed officers restrain a television news crew behind a line of yellow tape. Other officers keep a vigilant eye on the crowd. An ambulance has been backed up onto the sidewalk. Its back doors hang open. Off to the side, a handful of detectives stand huddled around a figure. The man, blocked from Michael’s view, appears to be giving a statement.
Arm slung around Katrina’s shoulder, Michael struggles to steady his legs. Looking back over his shoulder, he strains to glimpse the man’s face, but all he can see are the exaggerated gestures of his arms.
It’s a struggle but Katrina manages to guide Michael up the stairs and into his bedroom, depositing him gently atop his mattress where she helps tug off his shoes before tucking him in.
“Sweet dreams, Michael,” she whispers, pulling the covers up under his chin.
Michael raises his head in protest, but Katrina silences him with a single-raised index finger to his lips. “Rest now,” she says. “And trust it’ll all become clear in time.”