Lee‘s little bit of grave dirt turned up some real pay dirt, if you know what I mean. We finally got a name we could use. Officer Arnhem, first name Arnold, friend of the couple. Very good friend, if you get my meaning. A quick search turned up tons of information. Arnold was indeed another cop, a close friend of Terrence’s since high school at Marquette. His dad was a cop, retired and pensioned, and Arnhem was all set to continue to follow in his father’s footsteps. Well, until he killed himself last year.
His death, just a year after Paula’s, fits uncomfortably well. Maybe the guilt drove him to suicide. Maybe he was murdered. Maybe he was driven to suicide by more esoteric means. Combined with the photographs on the walls of the BDSM room Lee found and the necro freak’s insistence that her injuries were consistent with a strangling rather than a laceration, Paula’s manner of death comes into obvious focus. She gets off on pain. Two pigs (surprise, surprise) get off on inflicting it. Pig gets too into it, pig loses control, pig kills Paula. Doesn’t matter if it’s Pig 1 or Pig 2, they’re both in on it. Then the they panic, need to cover it up. If it was Terrence who killed his wife, maybe Arnhem was close to spilling what really happened. If it was Arnhem, maybe Terrence felt the need to avenge her. Though why he wouldn’t murder-suicide that one, I don’t know. He’s just as guilty in that case.
His suicide means one other thing, too – shrinks. Cops get shrinks because everyone agrees that the pigs need ‘em — give a psychopath a gun and you’ll feel more comfortable if he goes to therapy every other week to work out his issues. Maureen Tinsdale, cop shrink – specializes in post-traumatic stress disorders and abuse issues. Sounds like our woman. How to get the information out of her – that’s the question.
On the weekends, Dr. Tinsdale works at the same hospital as Veronica (hell, I could have used a good PTSD shrink after I was gunned down in the street — but somehow I think she’s on a higher pay scale.) So once the krewe left my apartment that night, I shot Veronica a text. Turns out she was down at The Jazz Estate for a show, so I met her down there.
The band was good. Veronica even mentioned that the frontman was one of us. I got a beer and listened — the first time I’d been able to let go of it all since I died. Speaking with Veronica was like talking to an old friend. Maybe it’s because I saw her so soon after my death, but I feel comfortable with her in a way that’s almost strange. Scary. I don’t know.
Anyway, I explained our situation to Veronica, who said she knew Tinsdale. I outlined what we thought our options were – convincing her to give us the information was nigh on impossible, as I knew, and the two other options (intimidation and stealth) both fell on the wrong side of the law, and I knew the girl scout would pitch a fit. Of the two, Veronica seemed to think that money would work the best, but Maureen Tinsdale wouldn’t be cheap – a grand would do it, but who has that? Maybe the yuppie, but certainly not me. I knew it would be hard to convince him to invest in our little operation. Nobody likes to bankroll an investment with no real return. After that conversation, the rest of the night passed quickly.
The next day, we reconvened at Lee’s, where we had the most contentious argument yet about our course of action. As predicted, Gabby was squeamish on bribery, so Lee suggested that I attempt to access Tinsdale’s files remotely. It was such a long shot that I almost refused to try. What are the chances that she would have her files shared on the building’s network? What were the chances that her information would be stored digitally rather than in analog form? Not good, but thankfully for us, Maureen is as harebrained as she is greedy, and while her own notes seemed to be done on paper, she kept .mp3s of each interview in a shared folder on her network. I accessed Arnhem’s and LeMain’s and logged off.
Arnhem’s interviews started shortly after Paula’s death, and continue until the week before his suicide (?) the following year, whereupon LeMain’s begin. Listening to the endless bitch-and-moan of pigs is, frankly, not my thing. I tried, but in the end stopped after an hour or so of Arnhem’s bullshit. I got them the damn information. Let them sort through it.
Lee eventually got through all of the information, and the mystery finally began to take shape. Some time after Paula’s death (the cause of which is never discussed, interestingly enough) Arnhem started having fugue episodes, blacking out, showing up in random places and not remembering how he got there. These got worse with time. One time he found his tools gone. Another time he found his hands covered in plaster dust. Immediately before he killed himself, he got violent in Tinsdale’s office when she began prying. A week later, he was dead.
Which is when LeMain’s difficulties begin. His symptoms are eerily similar — missing time, waking up disoriented and scared. In the ensuing year his symptoms, too, have gotten worse. Last week’s session, he turned up wearing his wedding ring, and when Tinsdale asked him why he had no idea where it had come from. In short, it seemed as if LeMain was on the same track as Arnhem had been. It’s a tribute to Tinsdale’s immense stupidity that she didn’t make the connection and put the motherfucker on suicide watch — not that it would help.
At this point, only one thing mattered — discovering the truth about what happened to Paula. At this point, the time for tiptoeing around is finally over. We needed to talk to Terrence. I convinced the krewe to come with me for an intervention.
We staked out LeMain’s house — rather inexpertly, I’ll admit — but he didn’t seem to notice us when he came home at 11:00. Shortly afterwards, I came up to the door. I pretended like something had happened to me, and told him I needed to talk to him. When he noticed I wasn’t alone, I told him I’d been scared, and let him think what he would. Poor woman, spooked by some businessman in a white suit? Or is he really going after me again? Maybe he remembered Lee from the other time I’d come to see him, because he believed me and let us in.
Once in, everybody seemed to want to go shrink on him. I can’t pretend that we work well as a team. Everyone has their own agenda, and for a while nobody let anyone else talk. It was all so inane, and we weren’t getting anywhere, so after a while I couldn’t help but get fed up with the bullshit.
I stood up and asked the pig where his bedroom was. The bedroom that started all of this. He must have wanted to believe us, just a little bit, because he led us upstairs.
I turned to Lee. “Which wall?” He pointed.
Terrence: “How do you know about that?”
Lee started talking about his incorporeal jaunt, but I could have told him to save his breath. Either Terrence believed us or he didn’t. He looked as if he was beginning to believe us, anyway — babbling about how it wasn’t his fault, it was an accident, if they hadn’t covered it up Arnold would have gone to jail. The bile rises in my throat, and I know this is what I needed to know. This pig has confessed to covering up his wife’s murder. His wife, who loved him and trusted him. Her murder transforms him into nothing more than a gang rapist. This man deserves to die, deserves to be strangled as Paula was strangled, and maybe in those final gasping moments of life, he will understand.
Meanwhile, my krewe were still attempting to talk this through. Johnathan started babbling about the little black book, but it was too late; as Paula’s ghostly form edged towards Terrence he got fainter and fainter, and although Lee blended into twilight and tried to stop her, she melded into him and grabbed hold, which is when he grabbed his Glock.
I can’t explain what happened after that. Red Arrow Woman seemed to wrap wings around me, and my head filled with a roaring that wasn’t wholly unpleasant. My vision narrowed down to what was in front of me. I could smell Terrence’s fear. I know I didn’t get any taller, but my muscles seemed to bunch and knot until I felt like hurting, like hunting.
I sprang at Terrence, trying to wrestle him to the ground. I could sense Lee to my left, attempting to grab the Glock away from Terrence, and dimly, as if from a long way off, felt-saw-heard the gun discharge, but I didn’t care. As I wrestled the pig, I could hear faint crashing noises behind me — the sounds of a wall being kicked to pieces. I barely felt the pig’s teeth as they sank into my arm.
But he was too strong for me. Paula was inside him, helping him, and he was stronger than I, even the wild-me that I had unleashed. I could see her eyes, somehow, inside his eyes. Why are you staying with him? I wanted to ask. Why love him? This man killed you. So I stepped sideways and arrived, myself, in Twilight.
My strength was flagging, and I didn’t know how much I had left. But I had to try. Grabbing Paula herself, I attempted to drag her out of her body. Failing once, failing twice, I barely noticed the chasm that opened up underneath me as, behind me, Johnathan was ripping up Arnhem’s black-bound diary. With a final wrench, Lee rips Paula from LeMain and she falls, screaming, into the pit below.
A part of me, watching from behind myself, feels a spark of sadness, but suddenly, I am filled with anger. There is no justice in this. That woman deserved her revenge, and what have we done? We have saved the life of a man who, along with his best friend, abused the trust of a woman who gave him her vulnerability, then committed the final indignity of covering up the sordid details of her death. But guess what, Terrence? Violence begets violence, motherfucker. And I hear you’re into whips.