Devil for a Date
The screams of a crazed man poured out of the interrogation room at the 2-7. "What have you done with her? If you laid even a hand on her I swear to God I'll kill you!" the man growled at the police officers while struggling against his restraints.
"Whoa, calm down there. First we need to know who 'she' is," a detective with graying hair, drooping eyelids, and a deep voice said.
A tall and muscular man with an intense look on his defined face placed his hands on the table and leaned in close to the handcuffed perp, staring into his rage-filled eyes. "There was no woman, was there? Huh? Do you think we're stupid?," he said, menacingly.
"Come on, Rey. Give the man a chance to speak. Maybe there was a woman at the scene. Maybe she planned the whole thing. Maybe she's the one we should send to jail."
"No! She's not going to jail. She had nothing to do with it," he shouted, " I did it, all by myself. I set it up. I bought the gasoline and lit the match just to see it burn."
"And you knew that Jonathan Parker and Chrissie Huang were inside," Rey Curtis inserted.
The man grew more desperate, "No, no, no, no, no! I never knew. She never told me. I never thought..."
"So she did order it. Why are you protecting her?" the young detective said, growing even more angry than before, "Lennie, you talk to this scum. He makes me sick."
Lennie Briscoe changed chairs and sat beside the perp, speaking in a fatherly tone, "Son, if you give her up, it will be easier on you. You won't serve as much time."
"How many times do I have to tell you, she had nothing to do with it! I did it all. Just me."
A tall, lanky figure in a three-button suit emerged from the shadows and asked, "Are you willing to write a statement?"
"Yes, anything as long as you leave her alone."
The three men filed out of the room.
Outside the interrogation room, Lennie spoke first, "What a nutbar. McCoy, you got enough to go to trial?"
Jack McCoy answered with a look of mild amusement on his face, "I bet we could get him to plead to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby just to protect that woman, but I'd like to put her away, as well. Did either of you see anyone else at the scene or his apartment?"
Rey replied, "No, nobody in sight. He lived alone with his fish and exotic panty collection."
McCoy's lips tightened, "Didn't you ever think they weren't his?"
"Of course," Briscoe said, "but the neighbors never saw a woman around and besides, look at him. I don't think he's had a date since the Nixon made lying unfashionable."
"Still," Rey interjected, "he seems to be protecting her a little too strongly for her to not even exist."
Lennie appeared pensive, "There was one woman I kept seeing. Tall, slightly muscular, with short, brown hair. She was at both the fire scene and the apartment building. I just assumed she lived in the neighborhood."
Raising his eyebrow ever so slightly, McCoy asked, "You didn't think anything of it at the time?"
"The witnesses only saw a man running from the scene," Curtis said, "There's no way we could have known. He only started howling about her when we brought him here."
Briscoe closed his eyes heavily and said, "I'll go back in."
"Don't you feel better you got that off your chest?" Briscoe asked while slipping the signed statement out from under the man's elbows. "Now, Gerry, how about you let us in on who this mystery woman is. I'm sure she had nothing to do with it, but we need a little more information, just to make sure."
The amateur arsonist lowered his head and spoke into the table, "She said I was her 'shooting star'. We met at the car wash. At the time, I had a Pinto and she was there washing her SUV, but she never looked down on me, see, 'cause I only had a cheap car and she had lots of money. Since my car got stolen, She's been driving me around a lot. She has a really kick-ass stereo system. Ya know, her birthday's coming up on the 30th, the day before Hallowe'en..."
"Devil's night," Briscoe interjected.
"Yeah! Not many people know that."
Rey eyed his partner in curiosity while Jack slipped into the room.
Gerry continued, "She always told me stuff like that. Like how she was a Scorpio and how like everything hooks up, in the end."
"And what do you buy for the October Scorpio who has everything?" Jack asked the captive, "Pluto makes her creative, but it also makes her destructive. Was she an eagle or a scorpion? Did you decide to burn the warehouse, or did she?"
Briscoe glanced at McCoy while the door opened and an extremely perplexed-looking Curtis sneaked in.
"Why don't you guys ever listen? She had nothin' to do with it. Like I said before... ah!" he screamed as Curtis placed his hands on the man's shoulders, "Don't sneak up on me like that. She used to do that all the time. I must be getting deaf in my old age."
Rey began, "I don't believe in that nonsense. Why don't you try feeding us the truth, for once?"
"But your people should know. Let me explain it to you like this: her card is Death..."
"And yours is 'jail time'"
Lennie spoke, "He's talking about the tarot."
Rey clenched his teeth and motioned for his partner to join him outside. Lennie raised his eyebrows and followed.
Gerry continued, "Well Death doesn't mean death, you know. Just rebirth."
McCoy moved to face the evil in this man. "Like the phoenix, through fire." The man's face fell as a frightened expression took over.
Outside the interrogation room, an equally heated discussion was beginning between the two detectives.
Rey began, "What in God's name are you talking about? You're spouting the words of the Devil! Where did you get that garbage from."
"Rey, calm down. I don't sacrifice house pets in my spare time. I had a girlfriend, back before I began drinking, who preached this stuff like it was her mantra. She was a real she-devil; I'm lucky I got out of that relationship with my life. I just happen to remember this stuff, like any detective-wannabe worth his beans should. 'Never forget the clues', they say. That's for testifying in court months down the road, but it works for life, too."
"What happened to her?"
"Well, I was so blind with 'love' that I nearly didn't see what was happening to me. She was a master manipulator who was subtly beating me down so I'd do whatever she wanted. I never even realized what was going on until she told me to meet her outside a bar named 'Dooies' and wait for her ex-boyfriend... with my service revolver. 'If you love me, you'll do it,' she said. Boy, did I ever fall outta my trance fast. I never had to see her again, but too bad the same couldn't be said for the fool in the mirror."
"And you think this has something to do with her?"
"Of course not. I just mean that every man goes through a test of sorts. This was his."
"So what about McCoy?"
"How am I supposed to know? All I can say is the further you fall, the more you learn about the bottom. And the more it hurts you to crawl back up."
Jack, meanwhile, was performing some manipulations of his own.
"You know the only thing that can save you is turning in your partner." Jack began to circle Gerry like a shark preparing for the kill, before leaning in and asking in a mocking tone, "So, where is your 'girlfriend' now? I don't see her here looking for you, concerned that you might be in trouble. Hmmm... I must need glasses, because if she loves you, she must be here."
"She does love me! She didn't mean... I mean... ohhh. How long will I be going away for?"
"Two counts of Murder 2 makes 50 to life. You're never getting out, unless you give us what we want. And she can't help you in prison. It's a cold and lonely place for a little man like you; the other men are hardened criminals, but I can see that you're just a friendless guy who got suckered in by a magnetic woman with a nice ass."
Gerry looked around him, a helpless expression in his eyes. Quietly, he asked, "Can I think about it?"
"Fine. The guard will escort you to your cell. Think long and hard about your future."
After Gerry had been transferred to his cell, McCoy left the room scowling. To the detectives he said, "So she lives to manipulate another day and two more kids will pay with their lives."
Curtis scanned him before saying, "McCoy, where did you get all that stuff from?"
Without making eye contact, the said, "It's not important."
He began to walk out of the room, but Curtis grabbed his shoulder.
"I think it is."
Briscoe added with a half-smile, "Inquiring minds want to know."
Jack eyed both of them suspiciously before saying, "I had this assistant once..."
Both detectives' faces fell in a look of shocked disbelief. Curtis cut Jack off, "And she was into that mystical sort of crap."
It was Jack's turn to look surprised.
Rey continued, "Lennie had a girlfriend like that."
Lennie frowned slightly at his junior partner, "Yeah, she was pure evil. Hey, Jack, yours wasn't by any chance some hot number named Brandi?"
"No. I had worked with her during a summer off from school. Met up with her years later. She eventually tried to get me to throw a case. She was very...persuasive."
The other two men looked sharply in Jack's direction.
"I didn't do it. I was investigated by the ethics committee, but since I won the case I was obviously cleared. There was something about that woman that was pure evil. I can't believe she didn't burn hoof marks into the carpet when she walked. You know, things were never the same after her. Nothing was ever the same."
Lennie's visage turned sympathetic, as he said, "Yeah, soon after mine I discovered a new hobby: drinking. I would agree that nothing was the same after that."
Jack tightened his face, lowered his voice, and said, "Well, it's not like something like that happened with me. I mean, I was drinking more, but it wasn't that big an issue. Ever since her I've just been, well, alone. Like I have this sort of curse that kills every relationship I ever have. And they all end badly. Fights, divorces..."
Curtis reddened slightly and looked at his shoes before saying, "I think we've all been through that sort of thing."
"It wasn't that girl, was it?" Lennie asked.
"That happened after. There was this other girl at the supermarket -- well you know how I was the one who had to shop after Deborah got sick. Anyway, she always flirted with me, but I never responded. Until the stress of juggling work and my household started getting to me. It was harmless, at first. A glance, a smile once a week. I started to find excuses to go shopping and this thing got bigger. Candi and I eventually went for dinner, but it wasn't supposed to be in that way. Yeah, right, like I was fooling myself. Anyway, at the end of the meal she said, 'Your place or mine?' I had to look deep inside myself, but I found the strength to say no. Too bad I eventually threw it all away."
Jack appeared perplexed, until Lennie said, "He had a fling with some girl."
It was Rey's turn to frown at Lennie.
"Too bad she was such a wacko," Lennie began. "because other than that, we were perfect for each other."
The other two men chuckled slightly at this remark, then Jack said, "I know what you mean. She was so intelligent, insightful, passionate, strong..."
"And she had a nice ass, right?" Lennie asked.
"Yeah, that too. No doubt about it, she was a good-looking woman. But our personalities meshed so well. She didn't get in he way of my work, with one notable exception, of course. She gave me my space, when I needed it and she knew exactly when to pour a drink."
Lennie added, "And she knew exactly where my back hurt after work and she had no problem with me going to the track a couple times a week."
"And she knew exactly how to flatter my ego."
Lennie declared, "She was the perfect woman, except for those pesky horns."
Jack nodded, "How can good, moral people find evil so attractive?"
"Maybe she was the Devil," Rey proposed.
Jack began chuckling, "If I had a dollar for every time I said that about her, I certainly wouldn't be here."
"I thought you didn't believe in that sort of stuff, Rey," Lennie said.
"Of course I do. 'Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field.' Genesis 3:1."
An officer rushed into the room, "Guys, we have a problem."
In the holding cell, the body of the arsonist lay on the cold concrete. A thin leather belt was only a foot away.
"Damn it!" McCoy cursed, "What happened?"
The cop explained, "We found him hanging. We cut him down, but it was too late."
"There goes our only chance of getting that woman," Curtis lamented.
Briscoe demanded, "How did he get to keep his belt?"
The officer stated firmly, "He did not have a belt when he got here. He did have one visitor, though. A woman..."
"Where is she?" Curtis demanded.
"Long gone, we checked."
An object caught Curtis's eye. He bent to pick it up before asking, "And how did he ever get an apple?"
McCoy nodded as he began to walk away and stated, solemnly, "Some people fail the test."