Isis peeked inside the twins’ bedroom for a brief second before she pulled back. But what she saw unnerved her. Lying on the floor—in a fetal position—were two girls. One of which had her thumb stuck into the other’s mouth and vice versa. Their foreheads were touching, and their eyes were closed. The room was painted black, and the only light was from a single, flickering candle. The girls were nude except for the black party hats that sat on top of their heads. Isis also saw two black balloons. The balloons were tied to a black bedpost.
Isis took a deep breath, then she bravely took another look inside the twins’ bedroom. They were gone. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit! she thought as she made her way back the way she came. Isis heard laughter as she went. But before Isis could make it to the end of the hall, a light from a laser temporarily blinded her; and at the same time, she was struck on the left side of her face with something hard. The blow was so powerful, it sent Isis flying into the room with the open window. Isis’ head was ringing and the whole room was spinning. She pitched forward. And when she tried to stand, she fell on her face. Her body pitched to the right when she tried to stand the second time. She thought she heard the laughter again. She crawled to the nearest wall and tried—which was hard to do with the room spinning as it was—to get to her feet. But her body pitched to the left and Detective Isis Williams fell out of the open window.
Detective Toni had her hand on the door handle as she checked her watch for the third time. Five minutes on the dot, Toni bolted from the truck and raced across the street toward the twins’ apartment building as quarter sized raindrops attacked her body.
Toni pressed one, two, three buttons on the intercom system. “Who the hell is it?” an angry voice shouted.
“It’s the police, buzz me in.”
“And I’m Michael Jackson. Bite me.” The intercom went dead.
“Dammit!” Toni pressed her palm on all the buttons. Someone buzzed her in. Toni charged up the steps and kicked the door open, her weapon in her hand. “Isis! Isis! Where are you?” Toni passed her hand along the walls, searching for a light switch. She found one and flipped it up and down. Nothing. She removed her Maglite and turned it on. “Isis! Where are you?” Toni made her way down the narrow hall and she stuck close to the wall. Her foot struck something heavy. Toni shined her light on the object. It was Isis’ gun. Toni picked it up and called out her girlfriend’s name again.
She passed a room with an open window. The floor beneath the window was wet from the rain. Toni shined her light all around the room, it was empty. She walked over to the window, pushed the curtain to one side. She looked down and saw her partner lying on a mound of garbage bags, unconscious.
Isis was lying face up when Toni got to her. Toni checked her partner for any broken bones. There were none as far as she could see.
The rain continued to pour down.
Toni heard her partner moan. “Isis. Isis, can you hear me?” Isis’ eyes fluttered open. Toni noticed blood oozing from Isis’ left ear. “Are you all right, baby?”
Isis tried to talk, but the pain in her jaw made it almost impossible. She touched it lightly with her right hand.
“Come on, Isis, let me take you home.” As Toni helped Isis to her feet, she noticed two shadowy figures standing next to Isis’ Durango. The shadowy figures stood there watching. The rain made it hard for Toni to see if the figures were male or female. Isis’ moaning snatched back Toni’s attention. “Okay, baby. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Back at Toni’s apartment, Isis sat on the toilet seat with her chin resting on her chest. She knew she had no broken bones. But her lower back was killing her and her jaw felt as if it was broken.
Toni worked on Isis’s ear. She was sure Isis would be deaf in that ear. She’d snapped her finger close to Isis’ damaged ear and asked her if she heard anything. Isis could not. Toni cleaned the dried blood from Isis’ ear canal. When she was done, she slowly lifted Isis’ head by placing her hand gently under Isis’ chin.
“Please, Toni, don’t. It’s making me dizzy,” Isis moaned. “This goddamn ringing in my head is driving me fuckin’ crazy.”
Toni lowered Isis’ head.
“What the hell did she hit me with? I can’t hear nothing out of my left ear.” Isis asked Toni to help her off the toilet seat. “I wanna see the damage.” Toni helped her partner up. The vertigo Isis had experienced earlier had subsided a little. What Isis saw in the mirror made her gasp. The white part of her left eye was completely saturated with blood, and the corner of her right eye was bloodshot. The entire left side of her face was swollen, and it was as purple as an eggplant. But what had shocked her was the small handprint on the left side of her face.
“She slapped me?”
After Toni had cleaned Isis’ ear and got her dressed, she took her to the doctor. The doctor had told Isis that she suffered from a Tympanic Membrane perforation—in laymen’s terms, a busted eardrum. He also told her she would most definitely need a hearing aid because of the damage done. The doctor had shown her a series of hearing aids. Isis chose a custom made, in-the-canal hearing device. He also told her that because of her job he would put a rush on the work order and she would get the hearing device in about a week.
Isis and Toni walked back into Toni’s apartment at 6:54 am. Toni helped Isis undress, then she helped her girlfriend get into bed. Isis had never felt so helpless. It frustrated her. She wanted to hit something.
Toni gave her something to help her sleep. An hour later, Lt. Stone called Isis on her cell. Toni answered it. “Yes, sir...she’s...well sir, she’s sleeping...yes, sir...I will, sir.” Toni switched off the phone and stared at Isis.
Five hours later, the smell of coffee and bacon had awakened Isis. She tried to stand, but she found it difficult. “Toni!” she called out, weakly. Toni walked into her bedroom carrying a tray. She placed the tray on the bed, then she handed Isis a cup of coffee. Isis took a sip.
“Lt. Stone called,” Toni said.
Isis almost spit out her coffee. “Did you answer the phone?” she asked.
“Yes, I did.”
Isis was not comfortable knowing the people she worked with would view her as a lesbian. She wasn’t ready for that.
“What did he say when you picked up my phone?”
“Well...” Toni sat down next to Isis. “He asked me where you were and I told him that you were asleep.”
Isis buried her face in her hands. “Oh, my God!”
Isis did not answer
“Anyway,” Toni continued. “He said as soon as—and I’m quoting him verbatim—as soon as you get your ass up, you are to bring it down to the Double 0.”
Isis rubbed the left side of her face while she laid her head back onto the pillow.
“Isis, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you.” Toni looked at Isis, whose face was twisted from pain. “Are you okay? Do you want another pain killer?”
Isis rubbed her temple. “No.”
“What was that sign language thing Lt. Stone was doing with his hands when he was speaking to you?”
Isis opened her eyes.
“You heard me. What the hell was he doing with his hands?”
It’s time to come clean, Isis thought. She sat up and placed a pillow behind her back. Isis slowly leaned back onto the pillow. “Can you please pass me my coffee?”
She took a sip, then she said, “It all began with the murder of the police commissioner’s niece. The case was so high profile—it was crazy. There was so much pressure coming down from the big house to solve the case. I was lead detective on that one. I had a strong feeling the boyfriend was the one we were looking for, but I had no proof. After three days, our suspect hired himself a lawyer. The lawyer threatened to sue the city if the harassment of his client did not cease. So, we had to back off. On the fourth day of our investigation, Lt. Stone had called me, my old partner, Casper, and Gomez into his office. He asked us to swear we would never divulge what he was about to say. We all swore. He told us there was a clandestine detective squad within the Double 0 and that we were it.” Isis took another sip from her coffee. “You’ve got to understand--Lt. Stone was under a tremendous amount pressure to solve the case. We had no choice.”
“What did he want you all to do?”
Isis cleared her throat. “We broke into the suspect’s shitty apartment and planted illegal surveillance devices. We also shadowed him 24/7. That’s how we caught him.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this?”
“I had to be sure—”
“Sure of what?”
“Sure that you could be trusted. Plus…” Isis paused and looked into Toni’s eyes. “...I didn’t want to put your career in jeopardy. Cause if we ever got caught, our jobs and pensions would be history. And I’m sure that we’d be brought up on charges.”
Toni just stared at Isis.
“Lt. Stone paid for all of the equipment that we use. And none of the evidence we gathered was used—for obvious reasons—in a court of law.
“And the hand signal?”
“That was Lt. Stone’s way of saying ‘Approach with Extreme Caution.’ I had a wire on me last night when I broke into those bitches’ apartment.” Isis gently touched her left ear. “I got caught, Toni. And I think I dropped the device in their apartment after I was hit.” Isis threw her feet over the side of the bed. She tried to stand, but she teetered. Toni held onto her arm. She didn’t like the idea of breaking the law. It went against her principles. “How many times had you and the team done this?”
Isis looked at her. “Many times,” Toni helped Isis to the bathroom. “I don’t expect you to join us—”
“Bullshit, yes you do…”
Isis flushed the toilet and Toni helped her up.
“This is bad, Toni, really, really bad.”