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Authors: LS Sygnet

Tags: #mystery, #deception, #vendetta, #cold case, #psychiatric hospital, #attempted murder, #distrust

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BOOK: Forgotten Place
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"What's that?" Devlin wondered.  Poor
guy had to feel like his head was spinning by now. 

I looked up at him and grinned. 
"Inspiration, Dev.  Something we talked about earlier at the
hospital and what Orion said about Linder possibly being ordered to
shut Journey up.  It made me think of something."

Johnny spoke directly to me for the first
time in months.  "Except he didn't really shut her up did he,
Helen?  She's still alive."

I glanced at Devlin.  "You didn't tell
them?"

"We hadn't gotten that far into the
conversation before the Twilight Zone –"

"Okay," Crevan interrupted.  "You made
your point.  We're all back on track."  He deposited my
brewing tea in front of me.  "Drink before the pickles decide
to make another appearance.  You," eyes speared Devlin, "start
talking about what we don't know."

"Journey Ireland didn't
actually
say
a
word to us this afternoon," he said.  "Helen had the nurse
call the surgeon, but nobody seems to know why she can't
talk.  Everything she communicated was in writing."

"Really?" 

I peeked up for my first look.  Johnny
frowned, and his eyebrows were doing that cartoonish thing they
did, the devilish look.

"Yes, really," I said.  "And unless Dr.
Waters comes up with a medical explanation for why Ireland can't
talk, I think I might have an idea or two that could explain
it."

"Please enlighten us, Dr. Eriksson," Johnny
said.

I glanced around the table at five waiting
stares.  "There is a chance, though it seems remote to me,
that Journey's inability to speak is related to trauma from the
endotracheal tube inserted in her throat during surgery.  It
probably isn't that common, but I'd have to talk to Dr. Waters to
verify that."

"How does this explain her inability to talk
if this tube didn't damage her vocal chords?"  Johnny
asked.

I held up my bible.  "It's called
conversion disorder."

"So…"

"Be patient, Orion.  Conversion
disorder is the manifestation of physiological symptoms in response
to psychological trauma.  It's not all that common either, but
given the nature of Journey's injury, not to mention the timing and
the location of the attack, it could've resulted in a subconscious
trauma she hasn't even realized yet."

"I don't get it," Crevan said.  "Are
you saying that some guy cuts her throat, and suddenly she can't
talk because her brain doesn't believe she can talk?"

"It's a little more complicated than
that.  Think hysterical blindness in the case of someone who
witnesses a particularly horrific event.  Say someone sees a
plane crash with victims burning to death while they're trying to
run away from the wreckage."

He wrinkled his nose.

"Because that incident was so traumatic,
even though there is no injury to the structure or function of the
eye, the retina the optic nerve, none of it, the witness becomes
blind.  Not just visually blind, but unable to see imagery at
all."

Orion's arms crossed over his chest. 
"Go on."

"So say for instance that in the course of
treatment, the psychiatrist learns that while the burning victims
were indeed traumatic for anyone to see, there was a subconscious
trigger that the event caused in his hysterically blind
patient.  Say for instance as a small child, she witnessed one
parent murder the other by burning him or her to death.  She
may not even remember it, but the plane crash triggered a
subconscious memory –"

"And now she can't see anything at all,"
Johnny finished.  "Now that makes sense.  Journey's
subconscious knew the significance of the attempt on her life, on
the anniversary of David's death and in a parking garage no less...
but not talking?  Are you suggesting she knew something about
what happened to her father that she hasn't told anyone, Doc?"

I peered at Devlin.  "What do you
think, Dev?"

"I think she blanked out a lot of what she
heard after a certain point this morning."

"Go on," I nodded.

"This guy scared her, beyond cutting her
throat.  He said something to her that her mind isn't going to
let her remember, and certainly won't let her speak."

I leaned forward and nodded at him. 
"She may not even be consciously aware of the intended message,
Devlin.  Think about it.  She was what, ten, eleven years
old at the time her father died?  About the same age when ADA
Ireland was investigating Datello?"

He nodded slowly.  "She might've heard
something that seemed innocent at the time, but it clicked when her
attacker said something.  Not consciously, but like you
said.  Subconsciously."

"I want to talk to Dr. Waters about this
theory," I said.  "And you need to track down Samantha
Wine."

"Wait a minute.  Who the heck is
Samantha Wine?" Ned asked.

"She's the reporter friend of Journey's, the
one that Tim Evans identified as the most likely of their circle to
know why Journey dumped Linder."

"Ned, I think you should focus on a possible
connection to Datello before you talk to him tomorrow," I
suggested.  "If Orion is right and there's a link, no matter
how tenuous, it could explain a thing or two, particularly if
Devlin can charm Ms. Wine the way he did Journey this
afternoon."

I winked at Devlin.  "That was very
impressive, Dev."

He chuckled and shook his head.  "That
wasn't the tactic I was going for, but hey, whatever works,
right?"

Tension grew and leeched across the table
from Orion toward me.  I ignored it.  "In the meantime, I
know you're dead set against this Shelly, but I would really like
to be part of the interview with Linder."

"Helen, you're barely into physical rehab
yet."

"It's a simple
conversation.  If I'd stayed away from the pickles tonight,
there wouldn't have been a single bad side effect of my involvement
in the chat with Journey this afternoon.  If you think about
it, getting sick was really
his
fault," I hiked a thumb at Crevan.  "He's the
one who brought the least stomach friendly food to the sickly woman
for dinner."

"Hey, sushi was my first plan."

"And I'd be blowing chunks for hours if I
had to watch you eat raw eel," I grinned at him. 

"I'll agree on one condition," Shelly
said.  "You limit your involvement to the interview only
tomorrow, and you don't let this investigation take over your life
and interfere with physical therapy.  God knows I want you
back on the job sooner rather than later, but not at the expense of
your recovery, Helen."

"I
promise
."  No X's over my heart,
no fingers crossed.  Dr. Scott's words were still too raw in
my brain.  In order to escape whatever was on the horizon of
my life, I needed to be healthy.

"What about Trevor Kent?" Crevan asked.

"Stick around after we're finished
here.  We can brainstorm the quickest way of finding him, but
it might be a simple matter of asking one of Journey's friends
where he is.  In fact, I'll see Amy Peterson first thing in
the morning.  If this core group gets together for backyard
barbecues year round in this awful weather like Evans said, they
all probably know where Trevor Kent is living right now."

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

I looked at Orion, closely for the first
time.  Shaggy hair, unkempt beard, weary eyes, rumpled
shirt.  "I'm sure there is." 

His jaw set stubbornly.  "Like butt out
and let Downey Division do its thing without my interference?"

"John, she didn't say that," Ned said.

"It's all right, Ned.  Johnny knows how
I feel about OSI rushing in at the last second to save the day and
close our cases."

His posture stiffened.  "Seems to me
the last time I rushed in at the last second, it saved your life,
Helen."

"Nobody asked you to do that."

"Crevan did."  His eyes glittered with
unspoken rage.

"Well I didn't ask for it.  I didn't
ask for a goddamned thing, did I?"

Four chairs simultaneously inched away from
the table.

"So is that why you're holed up here like a
fucking hermit starving yourself to death?  Oh, you didn't
think I'd notice?  It's pretty hard to miss, Doc.  You've
barely got the energy to move from here to there.  I doubt the
average rubber band would make a snug fit around your waist."

The gasp tumbled out of my throat. 
"How dare you?"

"How dare I?  I'll tell you how I
goddamned dare!  I –"  Johnny stopped, as if suddenly
aware that we weren't alone.  He clamped his mouth shut but
only for the millisecond it took to rein in his anger.  "The
point wasn't to let you slowly waste away, Helen."

"You could give me a hand with the
Linder-Datello angle," Ned sliced through the pulsating tension in
the room.  "Given your knowledge of Datello's activities,
you've probably got the information we need already."

Johnny glanced at his old
comrade and gave a curt nod.  "Right.  The name Linder
doesn't stand out in my recollection right now," another pointed
stare at me, "but then again, Datello has a lot of
business
associates."

I struggled to modulate the tremor from my
voice.  "Will you call me when you're ready to talk to Linder,
Ned?"

"Sure.  I guess the time depends on
what we find out about any link there might be to Datello."

"We should set a deadline in any case. 
Let's say two o'clock tomorrow afternoon.  We hit him up for
answers then, ready or not.  Regardless of what his link to
Datello may be, we still need to find out if he has a better alibi
than the brown bottle flu.  Devlin, that should give you
plenty of time to talk to Samantha Wine.  The more we know
about the other side of this breakup, the better equipped we'll be
to question Linder."

"I'll call
Sync!
first thing in the
morning and set something up."

"Will you call me before you talk to
her?"

"Absolutely," he said.  "How early is
too early?"

"I should be done with therapy by
eight.  Any time after that is fine."  I focused my
attention on Shelly.  "I need to know more about David
Ireland.  Since no one has actually come right out and said
it, I may as well be the first.  If this investigation is
linked to his investigation of Datello, we're going to have to
start the profile from square one."

"Mitch Southerby confessed to the murder,
Helen," Johnny said.  "The case was closed, taken as far as
humanly possible."

"Except no one ever discovered what
Southerby was looking for in Ireland's office.  Nobody ever
linked him to Datello in a way that provided evidence that would
hold up in court.  When Briscoe initially told me about the
case last spring, he said nobody was sure what David Ireland was
even investigating beyond something illegal, something that was on
Danny Datello's doorstep."

"Your point?" he snarled.

"If this case is really linked to David
Ireland, it implies that Journey could know something, perhaps
something that Southerby was supposed to find but didn't."  I
turned my attention back to Devlin.  "We need to know more
about Isabella Ireland, what her disease was like in the
beginning.  Evans said she was paranoid."

"Right, but isn't that part of this Pick's
disease?"

"Maybe, maybe not.  Talk to Samantha
Wine and ask her what she knows.  She's still got a voice and
she's one step removed from the family.  I doubt she'll shut
down the way Journey did when we brought up James Linder this
afternoon."

Devlin's cell phone pierced the pause in
speech.  He pulled it out.  "Detective Mackenzie."

I watched his face flush. 

"When?"

Another brief pause.  "I'll be right
there."

"What's wrong?" Ned asked.

"We need to get over to MSUH.  Somebody
just tried to inject something into Journey Ireland's IV."

"God," Shelly murmured.  "This wasn't a
random attempt on her life this morning.  Go.  Call me
the second you know anything.  Helen, I'll call Zack Carpenter
and see if he can help us with records from the DA's office." 
She scooted away from the table.  "On second thought, I think
I'll go to MSUH with Ned and Devlin."

My brain started screaming
in loud telepathic waves. 
Crevan, do
not leave me alone with Johnny.  Do. Not. Leave.

"I should –"

"Crevan, I thought we were gonna talk about
how to contact Trevor Kent."

A heavy sigh blasted from Orion's
nostrils.  "Don't worry.  I can take a hint. 
Besides, it isn't though you haven't already revoked the welcome
mat where I'm concerned."

"Johnny, she didn't say –"

"It's all right, Crevan.  We've said
everything we have to say to each other.  Apparently."

My lips rolled inward.

"Come on you two.  I don't know what
happened, but this is ridiculous.  You obviously need to
settle this," Crevan said.  "If not for your own sakes, for
your ability to work together when circumstances call for it."

Johnny rose slowly.  "You're right,
Crevan.  There is one thing I need to say."

"Don't," I rasped.  "Whatever it is, I
don't want to hear it.  I simply don't care."

"Well I do care.  I saved your life
because I loved you, Helen.  Above being one cop backing up
another.  Beyond that desire we have to serve and
protect.  I didn't want you to die because I loved you."

The past tense echoed in my head, slammed
into my heart.

"God help me, I still do," he added
softly.

This time, when I drifted away, it was to
the solitude of my bedroom.  I closed the door behind me and
let Crevan worry about cleaning up the mess left behind.

BOOK: Forgotten Place
10.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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