The barrel of the revolver tasted bitter. Emmet’s tongue burned of gun oil and he fought hard to keep from puking. He closed his eyes and let the tears flow freely, his cries muffled by the thirty-eight-caliber pistol held between his lips. Nancy’s letter fell to the dirty carpet. He placed a finger on the trigger.
There was a loud knock at the door. A gruff voice came from the hall. “Emmet! I know you’re home. Now open up.”
It was McGraw. Emmet pulled the pistol from his mouth and placed it under his pillow. He wiped the tears from his cheeks.
McGraw knocked again. “Hold on, you impatient bastard!” Emmet said. He pulled on a filthy t-shirt and made his way across the apartment, dodging piles of dirty laundry, half empty Chinese food containers and the plethora of old newspapers that littered the floor.
He unlocked the door to see McGraw smiling at him. “Morning, sunshine,” he said. The older man was dressed, as usual, in a cheap blue suit, tan raincoat, and his trademark mirrored sunglasses.
“You’re an asshole,” Emmet said.
McGraw laughed in honest amusement and let himself into the apartment, offering Emmet a small wax paper bag as he passed. “Here, I brought you some donuts,” he said.
“No thanks. I’m not hungry.”
He took off his sunglasses and glanced around the room. “I see your maid is still on vacation.” Emmet didn’t reply. McGraw tossed the bag of donuts onto an already crowded table. “I’m just busting your balls, kid. This place ain’t so bad.”
Emmet fixed his gaze on the old cop. “Tell me what you really think.”
The older man’s mouth twitched visibly. “It’s a fucking shithole.”
Emmet almost smiled and looked away. “What do you want?”
He shook his head. “I never get used to that.”
Emmet rubbed his face hard with his hands. “Look McGraw, I’m kind of in the middle of something. So why don’t you tell me what it is you want?”
McGraw’s smile faded, he looked genuinely concerned. “You all right, kid?”
Emmet sighed. “What do you want, Sergeant?”
The older man picked up a carton of lo mein, sniffed it, and replaced it on the table. “What do you think I want? We got another one for you down at the station.”
Emmet shook his head. “I can’t. I’m really busy right now.”
McGraw’s smile returned, full force. “What, you having cockroach races in here today? Put your pants on, kid.”
Emmet started to protest, but McGraw pulled a pink slip of paper from his coat pocket. His smile widened, showing too many teeth.
“Not another one,” Emmet said.
“Oh yeah, found it tacked to your door this morning. Do you, like, collect these or something?” He put on his eyeglasses and read. “Blah, blah, blah, if this sum is not paid in full by the fifth, you will be evicted. Blah, blah, you’re a dirt bag …”
“I get the point,” Emmet said, snatching the eviction notice from McGraw’s hand. “This doesn’t change anything. I’m still not going with you.”
“Kid, we need you on this one. This guy, he’s a tough nut. My boys have been working on him all night. He ain’t gonna budge. We need you on this one.”
Emmet looked at the floor. “What did he do?”
McGraw laughed. “Alright, my man.”
“I didn’t say I was in. I just asked what he did.”
“He raped and killed a girl from the Heights. Her body was found near the high school. I guess the track coach saw our guy running from the trees on the edge of school property, thought it odd and took note of the car he got into and even got a few numbers off the license plate. When he went over to see what the guy was doing, he found the girl dead. We used the coach’s description of the car and the partial license plate number to track down our suspect; we arrested him at his home.”
Emmet sighed and refused to make eye contact. “All right, I’ll do it.”
“I knew you would, kid. You shit, shower and shave, I’ll go down and pay your landlord. We’re leaving in twenty minutes, so move your ass.”
* * *
Traffic was heavy on the ride to the police station, so Emmet took the time to read over the case file McGraw had brought. The girl, Hilary Gilman, was found early previous morning. The victim was naked, obvious signs of sexual abuse. No semen was found. The coroner’s report stated severe vaginal tears as well as cuts to her face and breasts. Bruises on her neck suggested strangulation as the cause of death.
Emmet stopped reading and looked over at McGraw. “Seems pretty open and shut, why do you need me?”
The sergeant kept his eyes on the road. “ The coach called us as soon as he found the body. When we got there she was stone cold, and she was covered in dew. The doc placed time of death at around eight o’clock, the night before. The suspect claims he just found her that way, that he had nothing to do with it.”
“And you don’t buy it?”
McGraw looked over. “Honest men don’t run.”
* * *
When they reached the station a young Latino cop approached them. “Bad news, boss; the suspect’s lawyer is here.”
“Is that so?” McGraw laughed, as he looked to Emmet. Despite his mood Emmet grinned. McGraw led the way to a small room where three police officers sat sipping coffee, all of them staring through a large two-way mirror, where the suspect sat talking to a middle-aged man in a grey suit.
The cops’ attention turned to Emmet and McGraw. One of them, a younger man who looked like he bought his suits at the same garage sale as McGraw, started whispering to the detective next to him. Emmet overheard him ask, “Is that him?” The other detective nodded without taking his eyes off Emmet.
“You got that video camera ready?” McGraw said.
The young detective jumped up and moved across the room, taking the long way around the table to avoid walking near Emmet. “Yes sir, it’s all ready to go.”
McGraw nodded, then turned to Emmet. “You ready?”
He looked at his feet. “As ready as I’m going to get, I guess.”
“Got all your questions in order?”
“Alright then, let’s do this.”
As they moved into the interrogation room, the three officers all stood and moved close to the two-way mirror, each wearing a look of fear and anticipation.
The entire interrogation room was painted a dull white, furnished with only a metal table and four chairs, at which sat a man in his late twenties and the man in the grey suit.
Emmet sat at the head of the table. He glanced at the notes he’d written on the drive over, refusing to acknowledge either man. Sgt. McGraw turned to the mirrored wall and recited the date and time.
The man in the grey smiled. “My client is exercising his fifth amendment right. He will not be answering any further questions.”
Emmet continued to ignore the lawyer and read his notes. After several minutes, he stood and walked to the empty chair facing the suspect. He moved his chair close to the table, and leaned forward on his elbows to stare into the young man’s eyes.
The suspect squirmed in his seat. “What the hell is going on? Who is this creepy bastard?”
Emmet continued to stare, unblinking. “Did you kill Hilary Gilman?” he asked.
The man shifted in his seat, looking confused and scared, but answered, “Yes.”
The lawyer in the grey suit jerked his head to the right. “Don’t say any more,” he said.
Emmet continued to stare, continued to speak in an even tone. “Why?”
The younger man looked to his lawyer with a look of panic, trying to hold his lips shut, but spoke regardless. “I didn’t mean to kill her. I just wanted to rape her, but she wouldn’t quit screaming.” The suspect stood up suddenly, knocking his chair to the floor. “I told that little bitch to shut up! But she just kept fighting me, yelling. I panicked, I choked her, just to get her to shut up.”
McGraw yelled at the man to sit. The suspect righted his chair and sat back down.
Emmet’s face was emotionless. “Then what did you do?”
The man looked around the room, looked desperately to each face in the room, seeking help and
understanding, but finding neither.
His lawyer looked only slightly less shocked. “You don’t have to answer that!”
The man continued to speak. “After she stopped moving I raped her.”
Tears ran freely from the man’s terrified eyes, but his mouth moved as though unconnected to his body. “I was driving home from work. It was around a quarter to eight. I see this blonde girl walking away from the high school. I asked her if she wanted a ride. The bitch tells me to get lost. I jumped out of my car and started to chase after her. She ran into the tree line. I followed her, I chased her for a few seconds longer but she tripped over a log.”
“Why were you back at the scene yesterday morning?”
The suspect’s lawyer was yelling at him at him now. “As your attorney I must advise you to stop talking!”
“I was afraid to move the body the night I killed her, so I went back early yesterday morning.”
“And what did you do?"
The attorney in the grey suit stood and walked out of the room. He muttered something, but Emmet didn’t hear him; his eyes were burning holes into the suspect.
“She was there, just like I left her. She looked so beautiful, like she was just sleeping. I took her again, and was about to move her, when I saw the coach. I panicked and ran for my car.”
“And you used a condom both times?”
“I didn’t want to leave my DNA behind. I watch a lot of crime shows and I see guys get pinched for that a lot.”
Emmet looked to McGraw. The detective nodded, and Emmet slid his chair back and exited the room.
* * *
They were ten minutes into the drive back to Emmet’s apartment before McGraw broke the silence. “You did good back there, kid.”
Emmet didn’t answer.
“When did you learn you could that? I mean, have you always…”
Emmet looked him in the eye. “…Been a freak?”
McGraw looked offended. “That’s not what I’m saying at all, kid. I just meant have you always been able to do that?”
Emmet was quiet for a minute before answering. “I was seven. My mom and I were sitting at the dinner table, waiting for my father. She wouldn’t let me eat till my father came home. When he strolled in an hour late I asked him why he was late. He just looked at me funny and said he was fucking his assistant on his desk.”
McGraw laughed. “Holy shit, that must have been something.”
Emmet looked out the window. “Yeah, it was. He beat me into a coma.”
“Jesus, kid, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything…”
“It was two weeks before I came to. My father was gone. My mom was terrified of me. She went months without talking. She sent me to the park to play one day and when I came home, she was gone. I bounced around foster homes for the next ten years. Each time they found out my secret, I was gone.”
“Hey, I’m sorry, kid. So no one can…”
“Lie to me? No.”
McGraw tried to lighten the air. “Come on, kid, that was the past. Things can’t be so bad now.”
“You don’t realize how many times a person lies in a day. When it happens the first time, they just look so shocked. People are terrified of me.”
“You just got to be careful with what you ask.” He smiled. “For example, don’t ask your girlfriend if size matters, that sort of stuff.”
Emmet understood that the detective was trying to cheer him up, but couldn’t force himself to smile. He was silent for several moments. “I’m a fucking freak. I should have never been born.”
McGraw swung the car hard to the left, coming to a stop in a parking lot. He turned in his seat so he was facing Emmet. “Look, kid, you have a gift. I’ll be the first to admit it’s strange, but what you did today was fucking amazing. You made sure that that scumbag will go to jail, probably get the chair. If we didn’t have that confession, some high-priced defense prick would take the case just to get his name in the papers, and that son of a bitch would have walked. We had no DNA and the coroner said she died hours before our witness saw him at the scene.”
Emmet said nothing, just stared out the window.
McGraw grabbed him by the collar, forced him to make eye contact. “Listen to me! You think that would have been the end? He just got a taste. He might have killed again. Who knows how many lives you saved today?”
McGraw released his grip on Emmet’s collar and started the car. They rode the rest of the way in silence.
When Emmet returned to his loft he moved straight to his bed and sat. The revolver was waiting under the pillow where he’d hidden it.
Emmet took the gun in his hand.
Then removed the five bullets from the cylinder. He placed the revolver on the shelf in his closet and began to clean his apartment.