The Other Woman
It was the same everywhere, Abbie Carmichael decided. Cold, dark, and gloomy. She hated it. "Why on earth does Jack have to be at that conference today?" she wondered aloud. She hated being alone, but especially on Halloween. It wasn't as if she believed in ghosts and goblins, but the atmosphere was creepy. She stepped out of the building and caught a taxi to her apartment.
"Lady, it's a bad night to be out alone. I hope you have something to go home to."
"Just drive, please."
She couldn't wait to be in her nice, warm apartment and work on the wedding plans; that was all that was waiting for her tonight. Maybe Jack would call. The cab driver pulled to a stop in front of her apartment, and she got out. After handing over the fare plus appropriate tip, she walked inside, waving at Fred, the door attendant. Once on her floor, her door wouldn't unlock, she had to call Todd, the landlord's son, to help her. After unlocking the door, wishing her Happy Halloween, and promising to fix the door tomorrow, Todd went back downstairs. Once inside, she felt a shiver of cold air creep down her spine. She walked to check the windows to see if there was a draft. Once in the hall, she was mysteriously drawn to her bedroom. When she reached the bedroom, she heard a high-pitched, pain-filled woman's scream, and then everything went black as she slumped to the floor. When Abbie awoke, leather straps held her down to a wooden table, as the room circling around and around. The room was red, hazy, and filled with smoke. Eerie music was coming from somewhere Abbie could not discern.
"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto," Abbie whispered to herself.
"Where am I?"
"Between Heaven and Hell, at least for the moment, princess," a harsh, deep, husky voice came from one of the dark corners in the room. As the figure entered into the light and got closer and closer to her, Abbie gasped. It was a woman who looked exactly like the young Assistant District Attorney, except for the eyes. Jack had always loved the warm light in Abbie's deep chocolate eyes. The other woman's eyes were just as brown, but cold and dark, with no light, no life, and no emotion. Abbie noticed the woman's hand held a long, sharp needle filled with some sort of drug. Abbie decided to try to divert the woman's attention from her task by talking.
"What's your name?"
"Why, planning to report me for kidnapping?"
"No, I just want to talk."
"Laura, but I'm going to change it. I like the name Abigail better, Abigail Carmichael. It suits me, don't you think?"
"Why do you have me here? What are you going to do to me?"
"My, my, you're just full of questions, aren't you princess? Why do you care about me now? You never have before."
"I don't even know who you are. How could I know what you wanted me to do?"
"You could've asked. But not you, princess. You just went right along and got it, no matter what it was or whom it belonged to. Your life should have been mine. I should have had parents who loved me, instead of using me and dumping me. I should have had a brother who adores me more than anything else. I deserved friends that loved me like yours do and a great paying job where I have the control to give people life or take it away. I make minimum wage, hardly enough to live in this city. Jack McCoy should be mine, I love him so much. It shouldn't surprise me you have such a perfect life. Jack McCoy has a way of picking perfect princesses for his glass tower. I have loved him since Little Miss Perfect Kincaid. She died and I was waiting for Jack's mourning to end, for him to realize that he loved me too. You didn't care, you just moved in on my territory, couldn't wait to get your hooks into him, get another trophy on your wall of men. What am I going to do? I am going to make you pay for all your transgressions and then I will take my rightful place as Jack's princess, his devoted fiance. I have been watching you two lovebirds. I know everything. I know all about the cases you are working on, about your family back in Texas, about your college and law school days, about Jack's family, and about your friends. I can fool everyone, including Jack. He will never know the difference. When he kisses me, it will be my hair he tousles my name he whispers. You, princess will cease to exist. Now shut up."
"What's in the needle?"
"Just a little something I call PCP or phenylcyclohexylpiperidine, actually. You are the know-it-all. I shouldn't have to tell you what this drug will do."
The next day, Laura drove to pick Jack up at the airport. "Hello, baby. How was your trip?"
"Fine. I missed you though. Are you all right? You look different."
"Fine. I stayed at work late last night and I am really tired."
"Oh, I've got the day off, do you want to take the day and talk?"
"I'd love too, your place or mine?"
"Why don't we go to your place? Mine is a mess from packing."
At the apartment, Laura fixed them hamburgers and then went to Abbie's room to change. She stepped over the blood on the carpet from when Abbie's head hit the floor and called Jack to come in. When Jack stepped in the room, he noticed the blood on the carpet and the smell of another perfume, not Abbie's. "Abbie, are you okay?"
"Yeah, why do you ask?"
"Usually I can't get you to stop talking, you always put barbecue sauce on your hamburger, there's blood on the carpet, and your eyes are cold."
"I've been talking, I just didn't feel like barbecue on my hamburger, and I don't feel good."
"That might explain some of it, but not the blood. I'm waiting for the rest of your story."
"Jack, don't mess with me. Why don't you just go home?"
Jack caught Laura's face and stared into her eyes. "Look, I don't know how it happened, all I know is you are not Abbie. What did you do to her?"
Laura ran into the kitchen and got a butcher knife from the cabinet, swinging it wildly at Jack. Jack grabbed the knife and they struggled. He ended up pinning Laura to the ground and snatching the knife out of her hand. "Look, you. I don't know who you are, and I don't care. Where is Abbie?"
"Jack, I'm Abbie."
"No, you're not. Tell me or I'll tell the Assistant District Attorney that has the case to make it as difficult as possible on you."
"She's behind the trash can a block west from the office."
"Honey, open your eyes. Wake up, Abbie."
"Ed and I are here. Jack is on his way. The ambulance is here to take you to the hospital. We will be there when you wake up."
"Lennie, don't leave me. Don't wanna be alone."
"You can ride with her, detective."
"I'll go with you, Abbie. Things are going to be all right. You won't be alone."
Once Abbie was admitted, Jack met Lennie and Ed at her room. "What the heck is going on? What happened to her?"
"We don't know. She hasn't woken up again and we haven't seen a doctor yet."
"Where the heck are they? What else do they have to do? Is there that many people that need their undivided attention?"
"I'm here, Jack."
"Brenda, thank God." Brenda had been Abbie's gynecologist since moving to New York.
"Okay, I've talked to her emergency room doctor. There is a drug called phenylcyclohexylpiperidine or PCP in her blood, probably taken intravenously. If in fact, it was injected, and the needles were unsterile, she risks hepatitis or AIDS. They are administering the tests now. Her temperature's 105, she's sweating profusely, her blood pressure and heart rate have taken a dive, and she's in a coma. Some deaths have been directly linked to overdoses; others to the psychological impact -- drowning, suicides, homicides, and car crashes. Whoever the girl is that administered the drug meant for the effects to kill her, which they might."
"I'm sorry, Jack. The moment we know anything else, I'll tell you. I promise. I assume you would like to stay with her?" Jack nodded. "I'll have it arranged."
"Anyone found out who the girl is yet?"
"Not yet, Van Buren is still looking up who she might be. It's hard when the only two people who know are incommunicado."
"Thanks, Ed. Thanks, Lennie."
"Yeah. You call us if something happens here, we'll call if something happens there."
"I don't care what Jack McCoy said. You will have no plea bargains, but if you be real good, and tell us who you are, we might charge you now instead of waiting on Miss Carmichael's condition from the hospital. If you don't, I'll leave my partner alone with you, and he's the only one who would like that. You see, he liked Miss Carmichael a lot and he's really upset about someone hurting her." Ed Green leaned over and told Laura. She looked over at Lennie and the stare he gave her could have frozen the tropics.
"I'm Laura Carr."
Two days later, after being in a coma for four days, Abbie looked up and saw Jack holding her hand and crying. She couldn't believe it. She put her hand out to try to stop him, soothe him. She discovered her arms and legs were numb, and that her hand made jerky movements. She leaned over the bedpan, hit by a wave of nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness. Jack started fading away slowly. He looked up and noticed she was awake. He pushed the button for the nurse's station, "Nurse, Ms. Carmichael's awake." Then he reached for the phone and called Ed and Lennie at their precinct.
Brenda rushed in and smiled at the picture she saw. Abbie was propped up against Jack behind her with his arms wrapped gently around her. Lennie was telling jokes and Ed was groaning whenever he told a bad one, which was quite frequently. There were flowers scattered everywhere. It looked like a flower garden. "Uh, excuse me, guys, but I have to talk to Abbie. Jack, stay."
The guys went to the cafeteria after promising to get Jack a cup of coffee.
"Abbie, you've done good so far, the AIDS and hepatitis tests both came back negative, but you'll need some time for the drugs to completely go through your system. Also, you might experience flashbacks weeks, months, even up to a year after the injection. There will however be no physical dependence on the drug and no withdrawals."
"Thanks, Brenda. Okay, eavesdroppers, you can come in now."
"Us? Are you talking about us? We weren't eavesdropping. I was talking to one of the nurses. I had Ed eavesdrop for me." Lennie stated with a playful grin.
During the trial, Abbie told what she remembered and then went to sit behind the prosecutors' seats with Jack and Lennie on either side. It took the jury two hours to come back with a verdict, guilty on all four counts. Laura turned around and flashed the chocolate pools of her eyes at the two whose lives she had tried to destroy and conquer before she was pulled away by the guards taking her to her cell. The next day, Laura was sentenced to twenty years maximum security at Rochester with absolutely no chance of parole.
When Abbie was able to go back to work, all was quiet on the floor. She flipped the light on in her office and gasped. Her tiny office was packed with friends and Jack. There were a dozen white, long-stem roses in a green vase on her desk.
"Surprise! Welcome back!" Abbie started crying and Jack put his arm around her. She greeted everyone who all had warm wishes and/or hugs to give the ADA that had been part of everyone's life for just a little over two years. An hour later, the DA and Anita Van Buren broke up the party because the taxpayers would lose money if that many people were gone from their posts for any longer. Everyone groaned but returned to work, except for Abbie and Jack.
"I've got to tell you something, Ab."
"I am never going to leave you alone on Halloween again. You are scary enough without the help."
"Gee, thanks, counselor!"
Jack looked outside the door, shut the door, lowered the blinds, reached over, and kissed Abbie on the cheek. "You're welcome, pretty lady." They both laughed and started on their work.