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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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"I see.  Still, it could be a horrific
coincidence," Devlin said, still unconvinced.

"Sixteen years ago today," Shelly added the
final bit of evidence, "and it was widely believed that the
assassin was hired to kill her father by Danny Datello."

"Was he stabbed to death?"  Devlin
started asking the right questions. 

"Shot in the back of the head," Johnny
replied.  "His office was ransacked and nobody could determine
that anything was actually removed."

"Was the assassin apprehended?"

"By Tony and Johnny," Crevan said.  "He
suffered a fatal heart attack while he was confessing to the
murder."

"Let me guess," Devlin said.  "He never
got around to fingering the guy who hired him to do the deed before
he died."

"Yeah," Orion's fists clenched on top of the
table.  "So in the technical sense, we solved the case. 
We arrested the killer and got a confession out of him before he
died."

"Half solved," Devlin spoke brave, but
obvious words.  "The man who set the ball in motion is still
out there, scot free."

Johnny pounded the table lightly. 
"That's the long and short of it."

"I still think we need to
investigate this case as a distinct and separate crime," Devlin
said.  "If it
is
related to ADA Ireland's murder, the facts will bear that out,
but if it isn't..."

"We run the risk of another would-be killer
getting away with the crime," Shelly said.  "I agree,
Devlin.  Did you get any other useful information out of Ms.
Peterson this morning?"

"The usual stuff, names of friends and
living family members.  It seems there's only one in the
latter category, and it doesn't sound like she'll be of any help in
the case.  Peterson said that Ireland's mother has been in a
convalescent home for the past few years with something called –"
he paused to flip through his notes, "Pick's disease.  It's
some kind of dementia I guess, and her mother doesn't even speak
anymore.  Ireland has a couple of local ex-boyfriends, Linder
and a Timothy Evans.  A third is some sort of attaché to an
ambassador overseas, Trevor Kent.  Other than Linder, Peterson
swears that Ms. Ireland doesn't have an enemy in the world."

"Clearly that's not true," Johnny
muttered.  He cleared his throat and glanced at Shelly. 
"What do you think, Shelly?"

"We rule out the usual suspects and see
where it leads us.  Ned?"

"I guess I'll take the old guy," he
said.  "Maybe he'll let his guard down with a fellow
geezer.  Dev, why don't you talk to the other local guy, and I
guess Crevan can try to figure out how to find this attaché guy,
but if he's overseas –"

"Doesn't mean he's automatically ruled out,
Ned.  Sometimes a bitter man can reach out from the grave and
continue to wreak havoc," Johnny said.

"Maybe Helen could help me with the overseas
guy," Crevan suggested.  "I'm sure she's still better
connected with the bureaucrats in Washington than any of us
are.  We might need the State Department to find this
guy."

Shelly stared at the table and Devlin got
the weird vibe even stronger.  "I thought she told you that
she doesn't feel up to working this one, Crevan.  I'd rather
not push her to return too early, not that she's been cleared for
active duty anyway.  There's a process for that.  If I
could get her to return my phone calls, perhaps I'd know if she's
feeling well enough to discuss what happens before she can return
to the job."

Orion sort of squirmed in his chair a little
bit.  Devlin realized that there was a lot more going on in
Darkwater Bay than he ever imagined, most of it brewing within the
ranks of law enforcement.  "She did look... well, may I be
frank here?"

"Wish you wouldn't," Crevan muttered.

"Please do, Devlin."  Orion's fingers
clenched into fists again.

"She didn't look much like a cop," he
said.  "In fact, she looked pretty sick."

"Like she isn't recovering?"

Devlin shook his head.  "That's not
what I meant, sir.  I guess I was just expecting someone a
little more... sturdy.  I've seen more meat on cattle in
India.  She looked tired.  Haggard.  I didn't really
notice it until she came down to the ER this morning.  She
tried to shake my hand when she introduced herself.  It was
covered with the victim's blood, but I thought for a second that
she'd scraped the skin clean off when she fell over in the
garage."

Orion pressed a fist to his lips.

"I'll stop by to see her later today,"
Crevan said.  "This morning was traumatic, Johnny.  It's
like Devlin said.  He'd never met her before, and while I
agree that she looked tired, I didn't think she looked quite as bad
as all that."

Johnny pushed away from the table. 
"Let me know if OSI can assist in any way.  If this case
starts looking like it's related to David Ireland's murder, I need
to know immediately.  Shelly, thanks for the heads up on the
investigation.  We'll talk soon."

"What the hell did I walk into?" Devlin
breathed softly after Orion left the room.

"It's a personal matter unrelated to the
investigation, detective," Shelly said.  "You have your
springboard in the case, gentlemen.  Keep me posted on your
progress."

Devlin turned to Crevan.  "Okay, I get
it that there's something else going on here, but why did you lie
to Commander Orion about Dr. Eriksson?  You told her she
looked like shit, that she must've lost 20 pounds.  I heard
you say it."

Ned cleared his throat.  "Dev, it's
like Lou said.  Personal thing.  Orion and Eriksson had
some sort of relationship until after she was shot, and suddenly
Orion is stomping around town with only one thing on his mind –
arresting every criminal he can find –"

"And Helen turned into a recluse who only
returns calls from friends when she knows we aren't home to answer
the phone," Crevan said.  "When I saw her today, I realized
that it was a huge mistake to let her get away with that sort of
behavior, but we did."

Ned snorted softly.  "Helen has been
getting away with pretty much whatever she wants to since the day
she got to Darkwater Bay, Crevan.  Don't get me wrong. 
Her methods were pretty darn impressive before she got shot. 
But I agree with you.  Hell, I had no idea who she was at
first today.  She looked nothing like the Helen I remembered
from two months ago."

"Let me get this straight.  She really
does look like a starving Hindu cow... but we're lying to Commander
Orion because...?"

"Johnny will go ballistic," Crevan
said.  "Then again, he seemed as determined to avoid her as
she has to avoid everybody."

"So he still has feelings for her?"

"After what I just saw?" Ned shook his
head.  "I wouldn't bet the farm, as Briscoe would say. 
Speaking of which, this thing with Ireland was his case sixteen
years ago.  Do you think Lou might want to call him home
early?"

"He'll be back Saturday," Crevan said. 
"No sense in ruining his holiday with the kid."

Devlin glanced at his watch.  "I think
I'll see if I can find this Timothy Evans and find out what his
opinion of Journey Ireland is."

"Yeah," Ned agreed.  "And Linder is on
my immediate agenda.  If he feels as much animosity toward the
victim as her friend suggested, I don't know how cooperative he's
gonna be."

"Let's talk later this afternoon and compare
notes," Crevan said.  "Helen's had a few hours to rest. 
I think I'll head over there first and see if she can point me to
the least amount of red tape with the State Department."

 

~

 

It took Devlin less than an hour to find
Timothy Evans.

The Cock and Bull Restaurant, paradoxically,
was a seafood place out on Hennessey Island.  Timothy Evans
was the manager.  It was late afternoon when Devlin sat down
and ordered grilled marinated swordfish.  The second his late
lunch or early dinner was in front of him, he demanded to speak
with the manager.

"Is there a problem sir?"

"I'd like to speak with Mr. Evans," he
flashed his badge and gave the waitress a stern stare.  "Right
away, please."

While she scurried off, Devlin sliced into
the juicy chunk of swordfish on his plate.  The tender morsel,
which was unusual in his experience, had a deep flavor of ginger
and something else he couldn't quite identify. It melted in his
mouth. 

"Is there a problem sir?"

Devlin looked up at a wide-eyed young
man.  News of the badge traveled fast.  "Delicious
swordfish," he mumbled.  "Best I've had, actually.  Have
a seat, Mr. Evans."

He waited, continued to eat for another
moment while Evans sat stiffly in the booth across from him. 
"Tell me where you were this morning at about quarter to eight, Mr.
Evans."

"I was at home with my wife.  We got up
around seven.  I showered, dressed, helped her get the baby
ready for daycare, and left for the restaurant at about eight
thirty.  Why?"

"When was the last time you spoke to Journey
Ireland?"

Evans started tearing bits off the edge of
an unused paper napkin on the table.  "A couple of weekends
ago Elizabeth and I had a barbecue.  Everyone came over."

"Everyone including Journey?"

"Is something wrong?  Is Journey all
right?"

"Can anyone other than your wife verify your
alibi this morning?"

Evans paled to a shade lighter than the
white napkin.  "What happened to her?  You've got to tell
me if she's all right, officer.  Journey and I have been
friends forever and –"

"How does Mrs. Evans feel about this close
friendship you maintain with an ex-girlfriend?"

"Elizabeth adores Journey.  They were
friends before I met my wife.  In fact, Journey introduced
us.  She thought we'd hit it off."

"I see."

"Is Journey all right?"

"If I were to tell you that she wasn't okay,
does anybody come to mind –"

"Jim Linder."

"Now why am I not surprised to hear
that?"

"Officer –"

"Detective Mackenzie," Dev said.  "I
talked to one of Journey's other friends this morning, Amy
Peterson.  Are you acquainted with her?"

"Yes, yes.  Journey, Amy, Sam,
Elizabeth – they were all close friends in college.  Amy and
Sam have been Journey's best friends since grade school."

"Sam?"

"Samantha Wine.  She's
an editor at
Sync!
magazine.  What happened to my friend?  You've got
to tell me, detective.  Today of all days... God, I wonder if
Elizabeth knows.  We planned to have her over, but she said
she wanted to spend the afternoon with her mother."

"There was an incident at the hospital this
morning.  She was injured, but the doctors believe she'll make
a full recovery.  I want you to tell me why James Linder was
the first person you thought of when I asked who might want to harm
Ms. Ireland."

"Because he's a freak for one thing. 
Journey went through some stuff a few years ago.  She was
vulnerable –"

"After her mother was diagnosed with
dementia?"

Evans nodded.  "That was when she
decided to become a clinical psychologist.  Her mom was very
young when she was diagnosed."

"But you've known Journey for years,
yes?"

"Since middle school," Evans nodded. 
"Her dad was already gone, and Journey's mom was…I wouldn't say
paranoid, but she was certainly over protective.  I guess she
had plenty of good reasons after her husband was
assassinated.  We were freshmen in college when her mom was
diagnosed, so that's been gosh eight or nine years ago. 
Journey wanted to teach English literature until that
happened.  Everything changed for her."

"Understandable.  Were you dating at
the time?"

He nodded.  "But she didn't think it
was fair to me, you know, putting me through everything that she
was facing with her mom.  She moved back home and stayed with
her mom until it got to the point where she started wandering
off.  Isabella got pretty paranoid, kept talking about men
outside the house trying to break in.  Journey got the doctors
to put her on all kinds of medication for the delusions and
paranoia, but she just kept getting worse."

"So she put her mom in the convalescent
home."

"Right, that would've been during grad
school I guess.  Three years ago maybe?"

"And Linder came into the picture after
that."

"Maybe a year later.  We figured that
the attraction, creepy as it sounds, was in part because Journey
lost her dad when she was about ten years old, so Linder kinda was
like a father figure.  We tried to get to know him, detective,
but it seemed like he was more interested in keeping her away from
her old friends."

"Was that why the relationship ended?"

"I'm not sure.  Journey, for as kind
and caring as she is, she's so private.  If anybody would know
the details, it would be Sam Wine."

"The reporter."

"Editor," Tim said.  "But she started
out as a reporter, and she's got a way of getting people to open up
to her, detective.  Nobody hates Jim Linder more than Sam
does.  I know Journey had to have told Sam something about why
they stopped seeing each other."

Devlin pondered the likelihood of prying
something private out of a close friend versus using a resource he
might have to get the same information from the victim.  Helen
Eriksson.  Hadn't the papers intimated that she almost
singlehandedly trapped Jerry Lowe into his web of guilt?  And
what about the meth guy and his militia kook cousin?  Surely
she'd be able to convince Ireland to explain why Jim Linder was
looking like a good candidate for attempted murder.

Devlin thanked Evans.

"Would it be all right if we check on
Journey at the hospital?"

"Last I heard, she wasn't out of surgery
yet."

BOOK: Forgotten Place
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