Dr. Susan Patterson sat at her desk in her air-conditioned office at the Louisiana State Psychiatric Center. As she sipped her coffee from a mug that read THE WORLD’S GREATEST PSYCHOLOGIST, she thought about two of her most remarkable patients, Stacey and Jannifer McHill. She wondered how they were holding up in New York City.
Dr. Patterson had been the twins’ primary caretaker for the two and a half years that they were at the Louisiana State Psychiatric Center. She thought about the day when the twins had arrived at the center and the catatonic stupor that they were in. Dr. Patterson also thought about Terry and Linda McHill, the twins’ parents, and her dearest friends. The absolute madness that the twins had witnessed made Dr. Patterson emotional. After two and a half years, the thought of those two innocent little girls having to witness the torture of their parents still moved her to tears. Two little girls who’d never witnessed any kind of violence whatsoever before that night.
Stacey and Jannifer were taken from the center, and from Dr. Patterson’s care, too soon. Dr. Patterson believed that it would have taken a least a decade before the twins were healthy enough to rejoin society. The damage to the twins’ bodies was horrendous, but the damage to their minds was far worse.
For the last twenty-five minutes, Dr. Patterson had been on her computer. She’d been checking the crime reports from the New York City dailies. A story about the death of a young African American male intrigued her. Not so much for the crime, but the date that the crime had occurred: May 1, the twins’ birthday, she thought. She read about the murder of a prominent lawyer and the killing of a homeless man. Dr. Patterson sat back in her swivel chair and crossed her arms over her midsection. What could they be doing in New York?
At fifteen minutes before twelve, Isis walked back into the squad room. Detectives Chalk and Gomez were waiting for her, but there was no sign of Detective Taylor. At five minutes before twelve, Isis tapped on Lt. Stone’s door. “Come on in, Isis.” Isis walked into Lt. Stone’s office, followed by Chalk and Gomez. Isis brought the lieutenant up to speed.
“So, what about Chalk and Gomez here, do you want them to continue the search?” Lt. Stone asked Isis.
“Yeah, they can do that while me and Taylor run down the names on this list that Allen had putting together.
“So, you really believe that our suspects were once victims themselves?”
“Yes, I do, sir.”
Lt. Stone sat back in his chair and stared at Isis. “Where’s your partner, Detective?”
“I have no idea, sir. I tried to get in touch with him but…”
“Okay, Gomez, Chalk, out.” Stone told Isis to stay. “I don’t know what the hell is going
on with Taylor, but you had better find out, Detective.”
“I will, sir.”
The list that Isis had gotten from Detective Allen had five names on it. She tried to call Taylor again, but she got no answer. She decided to stop by his apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.
As soon as she turned onto his block, she saw him. He was walking with a girl that looked like a hooker. “Taylor!” Isis paused. Taylor turned and saw his partner waving at him through the passenger-side window. “Where the hell do you think you’re going, dude?”
Taylor said something to the hooker, then he made his way toward his partner’s truck.
“You look like shit, dude. What the fuck is going on? I’ve been trying to get in touch with you all day.” Isis double parked her truck. “Don’t tell me you were fuckin’ hookers when you were supposed to be at work?”
“She’s my cousin,” he claimed. “She and her husband had a fight so she stayed over last night.”
Isis gave him a disbelieving glance.
“C’mon, dude, we’ve got to get you cleaned up. Which building do you live in?”
Taylor made Isis wait outside while he went up to his apartment to change.
Thunder clouds were rolling in, and Isis could smell rain in the air. The rain came in heavy drops. Isis ran back towards her ride. She thought about the lie Taylor had just told her, but she quickly shook it from her mind--his personal problems are not her concern. Truth be told, Isis was very concerned. She was really starting to warm up to the guy. He was like a little brother who needed guidance. And with the right teacher, he would make a good detective. If only he could keep his dick in his pants. Isis smiled and shook her head.
Taylor jumped into Isis’ truck soaking wet. “This is bullshit, I’ve just changed my clothes.” He shook the rain out of his hair.
“Just like a freakin’ dog,” she said. Isis wiped the rainwater—that Taylor shook from his hair—off her face.
“Nothin’. Look, we may have something.” Isis removed the list of names and addresses from her shirt pocket. Taylor looked at the list. Isis told Taylor about her visit with Detective Allen. “All five names on that list have motive.” Isis started her truck. “And that means that they’re all suspects. We’ll start with the one in the Bronx first, then we’ll work our way down to Queens, where two of our suspects live, then we’ll shoot out to Brooklyn.”
The suspect that lived in the Bronx was a forty-two-year-old Latina woman that still goes out hunting for the bastard that raped her and broke her cheekbone, but on one of the days of the murders, she was in therapy. The three other suspects on the list also had legitimate alibis.
Isis made a right on President St. in Brooklyn. She was in the Carroll Garden section.
“What was the address again?” she asked Taylor.
“326.” By the time the detectives got to Brooklyn, the rain had stopped.
Isis looked from left to right. “There it is, 326,” she said, pointing at a beautiful three-story walk up. She and Taylor got out of the truck and climbed the steps. The street was glistening from the brief downpour. Isis looked toward the sky. The clouds were breaking up and the sun was making its return.
The detectives climbed the concrete stairs, and Taylor rang the bell. A middle-aged woman who was carrying a poodle stopped in front of the building. “She very rarely opens the door for men. Are you the police?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Isis said. Do you think she’s in?”
“Oh yes, she’s in there...”
Isis’ head turned toward the door when she heard footsteps. The door had a large pane made into it, and a curtain covered the glass. The curtain moved. “Hello, Mrs. Times, I’m Detective Isis Williams and, this is my partner Andrew—”
“Please, Detective, tell your partner to step away from the door. Tell him to go back to his car. Please, Detective.”
Taylor looked at Isis.
“Go on back to the car, Taylor.” Isis passed him the keys. “I’ll be alright.” As soon as Taylor closed the door on Isis’ truck, Mrs. Times began the tedious job of disengaging the locks on her door.
“Who is that, Mommy? Is it a man? You said you’ll never let another man into our house again,” a voice shouted from somewhere in the house.
“Come in, Detective.”
Isis stepped inside and turned to watch the woman re-lock the door. Isis counted five locks. The apartment was dark and gloomy, and for some reason, Isis felt apprehensive.
“That’s my daughter,” Mrs. Times said.
“Who is it, Mother?” the voice cried out.
“It’s a detective—”
“Is it a man? You promised—”
“No, baby, it’s not a man. Mrs. Times was wearing a tattered housecoat. Her face looked haggard and her hair was a mess. And when she spoke, her voice was hoarse.
“Mrs. Times, I’m here you speak with you and your daughter about your daughter’s attack.” Isis found herself whispering. She took a good look at the woman’s face. There were dark rings around the sockets of her eyes. The woman looked as though she weighed a hundred pounds.
“Did they catch him, Mommy? Did they catch the mother fucker who did this to me?”
Isis was taken aback by the girl’s language. Mrs. Times just stared at Isis. She looked as if she was about to break out in tears.
“Are you okay, Mrs. Times?
“Did the police catch the guy?”
“No, I’m sorry--”
“Did they catch the bastard, Mommy? Did they get ’em?”
Mrs. Times stared at the detective. The hopeless look that she gave Isis touched her deeply. “Look, the detectives talked to me and my daughter for hours after that monster attacked my baby. If you all didn’t catch him, what do you want with my daughter now?”
“I just need to follow up on a few things.”
Mrs. Times gave Isis another strange look.
Mrs. Times led Isis up a short flight of steps, then down a short hallway. Approximately ten feet from her daughter’s room, Mrs. Times stopped. “There,” she said, pointing.
The girl’s voice invaded the airspace again. “Did they kill him, Mommy? Did they kill the motherfucker?” Isis walked up to the door and peeked inside. What she saw disturbed her. A teenage girl was sitting in a motorized wheelchair, complete with a sip and puff controller. The teenager could not have been older than sixteen. She had an ugly scar that ran from the corner of her right eye down to her jaw line. Isis guessed that it took about sixty stitches to close the wound. The teenage girl also had three fingers missing from her left hand. The teenager stared at Isis as if she was responsible.
“Did you catch the bastard? Did you catch the freak that did this to me?”
Isis stood in the doorway, dumbfounded.
“Well, bitch, did you catch him?” The anger that arose from the teenager was palpable.
And Isis thought, if anger had a smell it would smell like this room. “I…I...”
“I what, bitch? You shot his balls off, is that what you’re trying to say? If you didn’t kill him then get your black ass out of my room, now!”
Isis had never been so intimidated in her entire life.
“I just came here to ask you a few questions.”
The teenager let out a horrifying scream that made Isis flinch. The teenager tilted her head and clinched the puff control between her teeth. The wheelchair lurched forward and banged into Isis’ shins. The angry teenager backed her wheelchair up and started toward Isis again, but this time Isis jumped out of the way and darted out into the hallway. Mrs. Times was sitting at the top of the staircase, rocking back and forth. The teenager continued to scream obscenities.
Mrs. Times took Isis down to the kitchen. “I’m so sorry, she’s just...upset.” Mrs. Times walked over to the sink. “Would you like a cup of coffee?” she asked Isis as she removed two cups from the cupboard.
Isis was still stunned from her encounter with Mrs. Times’ daughter. “Excuse me, did you say something?”
Mrs. Times repeated herself.
As Mrs. Times poured the coffee, Isis asked, “What actually happened to her?”
Mrs. Times placed a hot cup of coffee in front of Isis and sat down. “The coward almost killed my baby that night. Diana had everything going for herself—she was popular in school, popular with the boys—would you like some cream with your coffee?”
“No, thank you.”
Mrs. Times poured cream into Isis’ coffee as she spoke. “Diana had just received a notice from the University of Wisconsin—they accepted my baby. She would’ve been the youngest student…” Mrs. Times paused to fight back her tears, then she’d jumped out of the chair and began to pace.
“She’s sixteen years old.” Mrs. Times removed a handkerchief from the pocket of her robe.
“Are you going to be all right, Mrs. Times? You don’t have to—”
“No, I want you to know what that monster did to my baby.” Mrs. Times wiped her nose and continued. “I was on my way home from work that evening. I called Diana and asked her would she like a pizza for dinner. Her best friend was with her. I think the bastard was watching the house. He may have come here dressed as a delivery man or something.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because the bastard didn’t break in. My baby let him in…” Mrs. Times paused again. “So, between the time that I called my daughter and the time it took me to get home, this monster got into my home and viciously beat my baby within an inch of her life…”
“Please, Mrs. Times, you don’t have to continue.” Isis already read the report on Diana Times. Mrs. Times slammed her hand down onto the table.
“I want you to know,” Mrs. Times shouted. “He used a pair of gardening shears to cut off my baby’s fingers...”
Isis lowered her head and whispered, “Sweet Jesus.” Mrs. Times’ voice was full of anger, and Isis could see that she wanted revenge. Isis refrained from asking Mrs. Times where she was on the night of May 1st and 2nd.
“The fucker used a ball peen hammer and destroyed Diana’s spine. He crushed two bones in her cervical column in the thoracic section of her spine the fucker smashed five vertebrae, and he crushed three bones in her lumbar column too…” Mrs. Times wiped her eyes as she stared at Isis.
Anger and a profound sadness crawled all over Isis like a bug.
“The bastard made my baby suck—” Mrs. Times slammed her hand on the table again and stood up. “He didn’t rape her, he just—he told her that he had no time for young folks. He told her that he wanted me. If I hadn’t made the stop to get the pizza, I would’ve caught the bastard red-handed.” Mrs. Times stood by the kitchen window. Her body began to shake and she started sobbing, deeply.
Isis had trained herself to keep her emotions in check when dealing with the victim’s family, to keep it professional. But at that moment Detective Isis Williams did what she felt she had to do, she hugged Mrs. Times and the two women cried together.
When Isis stepped outside, it took her a full minute to realize that Taylor was gone and so was her truck.