Can a psychic's vision exonerate a boy accused of a horrible crime?
| The fluorescent overhead hummed and flickered. Mallory wanted to drum her fingers on the table, but she was afraid to touch anything in the room, so she folded her arms across her chest. She hoped she at least looked defiant and not like a scared little girl. She knew the cops were standing behind the two-way mirror, studying her. Studying her as she sat in the small gray, poorly lit room.
She was an idiot, a complete and total idiot for coming. She should have pretended like she had never seen it like she had done so many times before. It was just every time she closed her eyes, she could feel the girls fear and pain, and confusion about why this was happening to her. Not that there were good ways to be murdered, but Katie Jackson had died badly. Scared and alone. Mallory also saw the dark haired skinny teenage boy with the sad eyes she had seen in the paper when she closed her eyes. The boy Mallory knew he didn't do it.
The door to the small room opened, and both cops walked in. The first placed a coke down on the metal table that was bolted to the floor in front of Mallory.
"You did say a coke, right?" He asked with a wide, almost too white smile. Good Cop.
"I said I didn't want anything," she replied curtly. She had been sitting in this room for what felt like hours. She had told her story to what seemed like a dozen people. She knew she was being tested. She couldn't even blame them. She wouldn't have believed her either.
"My mistake," Good cop said. He didn't look much like a cop. He looked like a failed Instagram model. Blonde hair that was supposed to look casual and messy but took half an hour and half a tube of hair gel to achieve. His dress shirt was slightly too tight, which showed off just how much time he spent in the gym, and he looked like he had invested in a spray tan. Mallory hated him the moment she saw him.
"How much longer is this going to take?" Mallory asked.
"I'm not sure," Good Cop said as he turned to his partner, "How much time do you think it will take, Zeke?"
The other cop didn't look at his partner but continued to stare at Mallory. If Mallory hated Good Cop, she was utterly unnerved by practically silent cop, who was apparently named Zeke. They both had introduced themselves to Mallory, but that felt like a lifetime ago, and she hadn't bothered to remember.
"We're going to need you to go over everything one more time, ma'am," Zeke replied in an even tone. In almost every way he was the anthesis of his partner. He was probably similar in age, but he was thin, and his shirt hung off his shoulders like they were a clothes hanger. His head was shaved with only a hint of stubble showing what would have been a receding hairline if he let it grow out. And dark, intelligent eyes that seemed to look right through Mallory.
"I've already told you a hundred times," Mallory started to say.
"And you're going to have to tell us once more," Zeke said, his expression never wavering.
Mallory sighed. "I told you I work at Romeo's..."
"Romeo's Billiards, on Center Street?" Good Cop asked.
"Yeah," Mallory said, "And somebody left their sunglasses on the bar. I picked them up and..." she let her voice trail off, "Look I know it sounds crazy, I really do. But I saw something when I touched them."
"Saw what?" Zeke asked.
"It was hard to see, it was like I was looking through blood, but I being dragged towards water, I could hear it...rushing. My whole body hurt, especially my thigh. There was something carved into the thigh with a knife, I think. Look, I saw the back of the person dragging me. He was tall and wearing a baseball cap. He was way taller than that kid you arrest, though. This wasn't a teenage boy, it was a full grown man. And she didn't know him, I know that." Mallory said, wrapping her arms even more tightly around herself and shaking her head as if trying to clear it. She had woken up to the memory of her vision every night for the last two weeks. That was the only reason she had come, she hoped if she told someone, even if she wasn't believed, she might be able to sleep again.
"And you think this has something to do with the Katie Jackson murder?" Good Cop asked.
"Do you know any other teenagers that have been murdered recently?" Mallory replied sarcastically.
"Could you recognize this person?" Zeke asked.
"Yeah, I'm really good at recognizing people who I've only seen at night from behind," Mallory said sarcastically.
"Then how do you know it's not Victor Rodriguez?" Good Cop asked.
"I told you from the pictures in the paper he isn't big enough, plus it says they knew each other. I'm telling you that girl didn't know the person who killed her."
"How do you know that?" Zeke asked. His tone remained even. It almost seemed like he might believe her.
"I just do. And not for nothing, I don't think the Rodriguez kid is leaving his sunglasses around, do you?" Mallory said sarcastically.
"Where are the glasses now?" Good Cop asked.
"I dropped them, and they broke. My boss threw them out," Mallory said.
"So, you don't have them?" Good Cop repeated.
"Isn't that what I just said?"
Good Cop smiled. "So what you're telling us is that you had a psychic vision of the Katie Jackson murder after you touched a pair of sunglasses left in the bar you work in?"
"I know how it sounds..." Mallory repeated.
"A pair of sunglasses you can't even produce," Good Cop continued with his stupid shit eating grin.
"No," Mallory said.
His smile seemed to grow even wider. "How long have you had psychic visions?"
"Look, I see shit," Mallory said with a shake of her head, "I don't know why, and if I could turn it off I would."
"You said this happened a week ago, why'd you wait?" Zeke asked. There was no mocking in his tone, unlike Good Cop.
"Because I knew you wouldn't believe me."
"But you came anyway?"
"Yeah...I'm stupid," Mallory said sourly.
"Well I think that's about it, Miss Devlin," Good Cop said as he stood, "We have your information. We'll contact you if we need any further statements." He held his hand out for Mallory to shake.
"I don't shake," Mallory said she stood, "I can go?"
He nodded and pointed towards the door. Mallory didn't wait for a second invitation.
"I hate fucking hate whack jobs," Chris said she sat back down after the girl left the room. Zeke looked over at his partner.
"She didn't seem like the typical whack job," Zeke replied.
"She claims to have had a psychic vision, what else would you call her?" Chris said, incredulously.
"I'm not saying she's psychic, but I think she might actually know something."
"She knew about the thigh wound, we didn't release that," Zeke explained.
"Lucky guess or she knows someone who had something to do with the case. There were a bunch of leaks, you know that."
Zeke shook his head. "The press would have run with that if it had gotten out. 'Strange symbol carved in dead girl's leg,' would have been a headline if anyone knew. We should look into what she's saying is all."
"What is she saying? That a tall dude did it. We've had tips that everyone from the Zodiac killer to Bigfoot did it, Zeke. The only thing that makes sense is that the Rodriguez kid killed her, you know that. It's a rock solid case, and I am not bringing psychic bullshit to the Chief, and neither are you if you know what's good for you."
"So what do we do then? Ignore her?" It was Zeke's turn to be incredulous.
"Yeah, we rip up the report, we have the Desk Sargent remove her name from the log," Chris said with a shrug.
"Do you really want some two-bit shyster lawyer from legal aid who just wants to make a name for themselves to come across this in the case file?"
Zeke remained silent and licked his lips.
"Trust me when I tell you, partner, you don't.... besides it's already done. I already talked to Johnson at the desk. Mallory Devlin was never in the station tonight."
"Here you go," Lara said as she handed the steaming cup of coffee to the other woman, "Be careful, it's hot." She sat down in the chair next to her guest instead of walking around and sitting down behind the desk. Lara always felt weird, putting a desk between herself and other people.
"Thank you," Mrs. Rodriguez said and took a sip, she made a face and place the cup down on the desk in front of her.
"Sorry," Lara said sheepishly, "I might have made it a little strong."
"No, it's fine," the women replied with a shake of her head, "Thank you again for seeing me."
"It's fine," Lara had agreed to see Mrs. Rodriguez on short notice, so the office was a disaster. There were papers and case files piled up on the desk. Not the best impression to make with a potential client, but Mrs. Rodriguez didn't seem to notice the mess, or at least didn't comment on it.
"But like I told you on the phone, I'm not sure I can help you."
"Here," Mrs. Rodriguez said, reaching into her purse and pulling out a picture, "Look at my boy. You tell me if my boy has the eyes of a killer."
Lara took the picture and looked at it. The boy that stared back at her had dark eyes that looked a little sad, but Lara had to agree he didn't look like someone capable of brutally raping and murdering one of his classmates, but how many killers looked like killers? Wouldn't it be so much easier to catch them if they did?
Lara sighed and handed the picture back to the women. Mrs. Rodriguez was short, plump women in her mid-forties. From the research Lara had hastily done in the time since she had received the women's call, she learned that she was a single mother of four with eighteen-year-old Victor being her oldest. Her husband had died ten years ago, after an accident.
"No, Ma'am he doesn't have the eyes of a killer," Lara agreed, "But I'm still not sure how I can help you."
"You're a detective, you help, don't you?"
Lara sighed again. She was a private detective. She spent the majority of her time trying to catch cheating husbands in the act. Sometimes she took missing person's cases, and she had even worked for a defense lawyer a couple times before she opened her own office, but she had never worked something as high profile as the Katie Jackson murder, which had made national news.
"My Victor is a good boy," Mrs. Rodriguez continued, "He didn't hurt that girl."
"Ma'am, I have a reason not believe you," she said delicately, "But I would need something to work with more than that if I could help you. What does his lawyer say?"
"His lawyer says, 'Make a deal.' He says if Victor has any chance of ever getting out of prison, he needs to make a deal. I say that innocent people don't make deals."
Lara was hardly surprised. Victor Rodriguez probably had a legal aid attorney, and if he was lucky, he was only one of fifty open cases they were working on. Not to mention the kid had already been tried in the press. Lara had watched the media circus that was the press conference to announce his arrest. He was going to have a heck of a time getting a fair trial.
"Ma'am I really wish I could help you, but I'm not sure how?"
"I go to the police station every day, I ask to talk to the detectives. I beg to explain that they made a mistake, my son would not hurt that girl. Finally, one comes out and talks to me yesterday. He gave me your card, said if anyone could help me, it was you."
Lara frowned. "What was his name?"
Zeke sat on the bench, throwing bread at towards the ducks clustered around the pond. I was early on a weekday, and there weren't many people in the cemetery. It was actually kind of peaceful if you get over the whole being surrounded by death thing.
"How now brown cow."
Zeke looked up to find Lara standing next to the bench. She had that mischievous grin on her face that he found both equally annoying and charming. She was wearing a dark trench coat over jeans and a pair of hiking boots. Her nut-brown hair was pulled back into a short ponytail.
"You're not funny," he said sourly as she sat down next to him.
"Well, you made our meeting sound so hush-hush on the phone, I figured we should use code," she said to laugh.
"Here," he said, handing her a greasy bag that had been sitting next to him, "It should have enough hot sauce and sodium for you to consume."
Lara reached into the bag and pulled out a sausage egg and cheese sandwich covered in hot sauce. "How do you know I didn't eat already?"
He rolled his eyes at her. "Did you?"
She sighed and took a bite of the sandwich. "Happy?"
"No, you're still too skinny. You do have to remember to each once in a while."
Lara laughed again. "You know I have a father, right, Zeke? I don't need you acting like a mother hen too."
"I'm just trying to look out for you," he said as he handed her a paper cup of coffee, "I had them give me the stuff that had been sitting in the bottom of bot."
"You're not funny either," she replied. "And I don't need anyone to look out for me."
"Yes, you do if you're seriously considering taking the Rodriguez case."
"You gave her my card," Lara said.
"Because I hoped you'd be smart enough to send her away and the women would finally give up," Zeke said with a sigh.
"Would you give up if it were your son?"
"I would if he was guilty."
"Is he guilty?"
"Yes," Zeke said as he stared out over the pond. He knew he didn't sound convincing. Before the night the girl had walked into the station and told the story about her "psychic vision" of the murder, Zeke had been confident of Victor Rodriguez's guilt. Now he wasn't as sure.
"Is he?" Lara repeated. She knew Zeke too well not to hear the uncertainty in his voice. They had known each other since they were kids. She was the sister he had never had, and never particularly wanted. She had been other things at other times as well.
"This case has gotten national news, do you really want your name associated with trying to help a guy who raped and murdered a seventeen-year-old girl?" He asked as he turned and looked her in the eye.
"Tell me you're a hundred percent sure he did it," Lara said any lightness was gone from her voice.
"Her God damned father killed himself after the kid was arrested," Zeke said with a shake of his head.
"Tell me you're sure Victor Rodriguez killed that girl, and I'll tell his mother I can't help her," Lara repeated.
Zeke didn't say anything he turned and stared back out at the pond.
"You gave her my card for a reason. You're sitting here for a reason, Zeke. I know you. If you were sure, you wouldn't be sitting here." Lara continued as she placed a hand on his shoulder.
"There was a girl..."He swallowed and then continued, "She came into the station a few months ago, not long after we arrest the kid. She said she had a vision of the murder. Said it wasn't Rodriguez."
"And you believed her?"
"She knew shit, we didn't release to the press. I don't believe in psychics, but there was something about her..." he let his voice trail off.
"Did anything she say pan out?"
Zeke took a deep breath again. And slowly shook his head.
"Did you even look into what she said?"
"Chris was, is, lead on the case. He said waste of time," Zeke explained.
"Chris has his head so far up his own ass he could give himself a colonoscopy. Did you bring up the food chain?"
"There's no record of the girl ever being in the station," Zeke said.
"Are you kidding me?"
"You don't know how many whack jobs, psychos and weirdos came out of the woodwork with this case, Elle. You don't judge," he retorted as he turned to face her again.
"What was her name?"
"I didn't tell you any of this," he said infactactly.
"I'm not going to jam you up, just tell me." She said gently.
He sighed one last time before saying, "Mallory Devlin."