Mistrusting a Memory
Chapters : 1-2 | 3-4 | 5-6 | 7-8 | 9-33 & Epilogue Available On
PLEASE NOTE: This is a preview of this novel. It is available for purchase in its entirety via
I wrote a story called "For Want Of A Memory" in which I explored how
amnesia can affect a person's life. In that book, a man could
remember specific parts of an incident, but not the whole
thing. Because he only had partial information, the decisions
he made were flawed, in the sense that he'd have made different
decisions if his memory had been whole. In the
process of writing that book I realized there are other ways that
missing or corrupted memory could affect a life. This book is
an exploration of another of those ways.
Bob Duncan ran his hand through his hair and shrugged his shoulders to
ease the weight of the Sig Sauer in the shoulder holster under his left
arm. He sighed. Another rape in a high rise
apartment building. When would women learn to take
precautions in a neighborhood that had hosted four rapes in the last
He reviewed the evidence in his head. Purse on the counter in
the kitchen, cash and credit cards still in it. Expensive
electronics still on the shelves. It wasn't a
burglary-turned-rape. Whoever had done this hadn't been
looking for money.
He pulled open the doors to the jewelry box on the dressing table
against one wall. He was pretty sure what he'd find, but he
had to look. Yes, it was still there, a mixture of costume
jewelry and some very nice, expensive pieces. One necklace,
with a gorgeous oval opal in the center, surrounded by rubies and
diamonds, had to be worth a thousand. Something silver
gleamed, further back in the drawer. He pulled it open and
saw a cigarette lighter, probably sterling silver. He picked
it up. It was expensive, and engraved. "LJG" in
flowing script. He tried the lighter and it ignited
instantly. He examined it, curiously. It was a
butane model, and the gas usually escaped when one lay around for a
long time. He hadn't seen or smelled any evidence that a
smoker lived in this apartment. No ashtrays...no smoker's
candles...no packs of cigarettes, either full or empty.
Nothing in the trash. He knew. He'd searched the
On impulse he removed the drawer and peered behind it. There
it was. His fingers were almost too big to dig it out, but he
managed. Virginia Slims. Female brand. He
smelled the pack, which was missing four or five cigarettes.
They weren't fresh, but they hadn't been in there for months either.
Secret smoker, he decided. He kept going through the jewelry
box. In one drawer there was an old driver's license and some
pins, like they gave to high school kids to put on letter
jackets. He looked at the license, to find a fresh-faced
pretty girl smiling back at him. Lacey Jean Griggs, age
sixteen. Lacey Jean Griggs had saved her very first driver's
license. He looked at the picture again. The girl
in the photograph wasn't smiling any more. Not now.
Not at the hospital, after being raped.
He shook it off. He needed to get moving. He'd
taken the pictures, identified the visible evidence, and walked through
the crime scene. He needed to get out of the way so the crime
scene techs could start collecting the evidence. The victim
was at the hospital, being processed, and he needed to get to her, to
get her story before anyone contaminated her testimony.
He'd been assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit for three years, but it
already felt like three decades. The first thing he'd been
surprised about, when they moved him from Property Crimes to Sex
Crimes, was the number of women who yelled rape, when they meant
something else entirely.
His inspection of this scene had told him immediately that it was a
legitimate complaint. The place had a feminine, neat
appearance, or had, until someone had been thrown around in it,
knocking furniture askew, breaking a vase, and even knocking a hole in
the sheetrock of one wall. It was clear that something had
taken place on the bed, which was rumpled, and had a large wet stain in
the middle of it. The UV light had indicated it was body
fluids, but he didn't know what kind. He'd learned a long
time ago not to assume there was semen in those stains. Body
It had been called in as a rape, by the paramedics, who had answered a
911 call from a neighbor, who found the victim's door open and heard
Bob had talked to the neighbor already. Vivian Gage,
divorced, the kind of typical nosy neighbor that detectives everywhere
thanked God for every time they prayed. Vivian Gage had
informed him that Mister Fetterman was away on business, and had
identified the victim as "That sweet, dear Lacey" of the same last
name. It was Vivian who said she'd complained to the super
about how the door at the back of the building didn't close properly,
but, of course, he was too miserly to fix the lock.
On his way to his car, he stopped by that door...just in
case. The Fetterman's door had not been forced. She
had opened the door, or it had been unlocked. In this part of
town, you'd think that wasn't likely. It was more likely she
had opened the door, which meant she'd buzzed her attacker in
too. She would know who he was.
The door looked OK. He pulled on the handle and it swung
inward. He peered at the latch. It looked
fine. Working the handle on the inside showed that the latch
went in and out properly. The outside handle was, in fact,
locked. Why had it opened, then? He bent over and
used his pen light to look at the striker plate. A wad of
duct tape had been forced in the detent. That would prevent
the latch from extending into the detent, which effectively rendered
the lock useless.
Somebody had wanted to be able to get in without a key. But
that someone had to be inside the building to sabotage the
lock. That meant someone in the building had, at one time or
another, invited him in.
Of course it could have been any of a hundred delivery persons or
maintenance contractors. There had to be a thousand people
who'd been in the building who didn't actually live there.
Some of them jimmied locks like this, for their personal convenience,
so they didn't have to get buzzed in every single time they went in and
out, on perfectly legitimate business. The tape was
circumstantial, but not necessarily put there by the rapist.
He took the duct tape as evidence anyway. Maybe he'd get
lucky. Tape retained fingerprints really well,
sometimes. As usual, the list of potential suspects was
longer than a ten dollar hooker's rap sheet.
The first thing he checked at the hospital was whether a rape kit had
been done on the victim, and who had done it. They didn't
have a dedicated nurse on staff for this kind of thing, and some nurses
felt like it was too intrusive to process the whole kit. A
lot of valuable evidence had been lost by combs not used and swabs not
taken. He saw it was Cindy who had done the kit.
She was good. He'd have to remember to buy her coffee, or
maybe flirt with her a little bit. She was married, but she
was also cute and friendly.
Bob was not married. He'd gone straight from college, with a
proudly won criminal justice degree, straight into the police academy,
where he found out his degree was basically worthless. They
didn't care what he knew. They taught it to him all over
again...their way. Still, he knew all the precedents for
search and seizure, and interviews and interrogations, so the
coursework was easy. The physical part had been easy too,
thanks to his love of tennis and racquetball.
Then he had been immersed in the real school...the streets of a major
metropolitan city. It was there he had learned there were
four basic types of people.
There were your hardcore criminals, who didn't care about anything or
anybody but themselves. Statistically, twenty percent of them
were responsible for eighty percent of all crime. Those
twenty percent were the ones he thought about at the firing
range. If you could put a dent in that twenty percent, you
made a real difference in the world. But you only caught a
few of them, and made it stick. The rest of the hardcore
types were who he dealt with on a routine kind of basis. He
knew all of them, and they knew him. It was a game they all
played. Cops and robbers...all grown up.
Then there were your basic ordinary, everyday people who succumbed to
temptation, or greed, or jealousy, and did something stupid.
They weren't really dangerous to society. They were just in
the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong attitude.
Prisons were full of them, which was why there was no room for the
The third basic type were what Bob thought of as professional
victims. They lived their sad lives in such a way that they
were always being preyed upon. Wives who wouldn't leave an
abusive husband…homeless people who could have a home and a
job, if they had the drive to do that...hookers, who wouldn't take
advantage of opportunities to learn a new trade, and the raft of
believers that you could get rich quick, with little or no work
Finally, there were ordinary Joes and Janes, who just wanted to get
through the day, without bothering anybody else and without being
bothered. They had values and lived by them. They
stopped at red lights at two in the morning, when there was no traffic
in sight. They worked hard and played when they could, and
raised kids and volunteered at the PTA, or the Library, or any of a
double dozen other places where they could feel like they were trying
to be good citizens.
That last group comprised about ninety-five percent of
society. Just about all their woes could be blamed on the
other five percent. Majority rules. Yeah...right.
Bob reviewed what was available. The lab results weren't done
yet, of course. It would take a day or two for
that. He asked where he could find Lacey Fetterman and was
given an exam room number.
Both women in the room jumped when he opened the door, and then
remembered to tap. The younger one, fully dressed and sitting
in a chair, jumped up perkily and extended her hand.
"I'm Teresa Green," she said importantly. "I'm Lacey's
Bob sighed inside. He'd hoped he could get to the victim
before the rape advocate got there. He ignored Teresa Green,
and looked at the woman on the exam table, wrapped in a hospital
gown. She looked vaguely familiar. That didn't mean
anything. Everybody looked vaguely familiar. You
remembered the bad guys. Everybody else—even people
you'd met and chatted with—didn't need to take up storage
space in your memory.
"Detective Duncan," he said, displaying his badge. "Mrs.
Fetterman?" he asked, formally.
"Yes." Her voice was soft and sounded sad. They
always sounded soft and sad.
"I know you've been through a lot," he said, going into his routine
spiel. "But I need to ask you some questions. I'd
like to catch the man who did this to you."
"All right," she said, her voice cultured.
He noticed that. Most rape victims came from the ordinary
ranks of ordinary women, who wouldn't stand out in a crowd for any
particular reason. But you couldn't go by appearance, of
course. Any woman, from a pre-pubescent child to an
eighty-nine year old great grandmother, could end up in this
situation. Background didn't tell you much.
Body language, though, spoke loudly, regardless of
background. This woman, under the visible bruises, scrapes
and pallor, with her long black hair askew, would be beautiful again in
a week or two. When the bruises and scrapes healed, she'd be
a babe. The way she sat showed the kind of strength that
suggested she was used to being confident and in control of her
destiny. Her feet hung limply, as opposed to swinging or
moving constantly, which would indicate that she was nervous or
bored. Her hands gripped the edges of the bed, on either side
of her, but she wasn't white-knuckled. She wasn't crying, but
that didn't mean anything. Shock did strange things to a
person and masked true emotions. All her body language told
him right now was that she wasn't terrified and was open to his
That was a good start.
He asked the usual questions, taking notes in his notebook.
She said she didn't know who the man was. Her door had been
locked. She always locked the door, even when her husband was
home. She'd just gotten out of the bath, when the
knock came, and the man had announced a gas leak had been called
in. He'd said he needed to check her stove, to
relight the pilot light, because the gas had been turned off to repair
the leak. The instant she'd opened the door, he barged
inside. He'd had a knife and had sworn he'd kill her if she
She hadn't screamed.
It didn't seem to make any difference to the man.
He'd slapped her. It had taken her two slaps and a
fist to learn that she wasn't supposed to get back up, until he told
her to. Then he'd raped her, with the knife at her throat, on
her own bed. When he was done, he'd told her he
could get in any time, and that if she called the police he'd come back
and kill her. She said she had a long, shallow slice, from
the knife, across her left breast and down onto her stomach, where he'd
almost carefully cut her, just enough to make it bleed in places, while
he'd told her that. Bob didn't ask to see
it. There would be photographs taken later, when all the
bruises had had time to develop fully.
While she told her story, she'd been interrupted by her advocate five
times. Every time she showed any emotion at all, the girl
— she couldn't have been more than twenty-two —
interrupted her, telling her that everything was going to be all right
and that she was safe. Bob wanted to tell Teresa Green to
shut the fuck up. Everything WASN'T going to be all
right. Not by a long shot. The guy COULD come back
and carve Lacey up like a chicken being slaughtered. False
hope was not what this woman needed. What this woman needed
was to know that the animal who had done this to her was behind bars
and not coming out for years.
But he kept quiet. Lacey was doing all right, except that she
didn't seem to be involved. Not really. It could be
the shock...but she seemed to be holding something back. He
believed she'd been raped. Either that, or she and
her boyfriend had gotten a little carried away with the S&M
stuff, and the nosey neighbor had undone them.
He shook his head mentally. He'd searched the place, from top
to bottom. No gags...no latex clothing...no whips and
chains...nothing kinky at all, except the vibrator in the drawer beside
the bed. And that wasn't kinky. Not these
days. Her husband was on the road. According to
Vivian Gage, the neighbor, he was on the road a lot, selling something
or other. No, this had been rape. Why would she
hold something back?
There had been other cases like this, where a man had gotten in under
false pretenses and used a knife, making the same threats.
Bob had worked two of them, and those women had also seemed to be
holding something back.
Lacey bit down on the inside of her cheek...the one that little prick
hadn't slapped. She had to retain control. She
couldn't just lose it and blubber in front of this man. Where
was Paul? She'd asked the nurse to call him. It had
been hours since she'd come to this antiseptic, but stinking
place. The nurse had seemed so friendly...so nice...and then
had done such unspeakable things to her...poking and prodding, scraping
under her fingernails, even! Why had she had to pee in a
cup? Why had they pulled out some of her pubic hairs?
Teresa's arrival had been good, at first. She finally had
someone to talk to...to ask questions of. It was then that
she realized she couldn't talk...couldn't ask the questions.
The girl was hardly out of high school. She'd never been
raped. She'd never felt the things Lacey had felt...was still
feeling. She didn't understand the shame and
horror. She didn't understand what had happened in that
room...in that bed...the room and bed she could never go in again.
She felt hopeless. Nothing could fix what had happened.
"Just a few more questions," said Bob. "I'll need to take a
formal written statement, but we can do that in a day or two, when
you've had time to relax."
"I'll never be able to relax again," said Lacey.
"It will be all right," chirped Teresa. "He's almost done,
and then we'll find you something to wear, and you can begin your
"Oh," said Bob, remembering the plastic sack he'd brought into the room
and dropped by the door. He went to get it. "I took
the liberty of bringing you some clothes." The patrolman
securing the scene had told him the victim had been naked, when they
took her away.
"Thank you," said Lacey, feeling an overwhelming sense of relief as she
saw her familiar clothing in the bag. She blushed as she saw
the bra and panties. This man had been through her most
"Please describe the man again," said Bob.
"She already did that," said Teresa.
When she had gone over her memory of the man again, and added nothing
new, Bob asked the question that was always difficult.
"Try to remember anything odd or memorable about him. What
can you remember about how his penis looked?"
Teresa gasped. "You can't ask her a question like that!" she
exploded. "This woman has been raped!"
"What do you mean?" asked Lacey, her eyes rolling slightly in her
"Was it straight or bent? What color was it? Did it
have any moles or warts on it?" Bob leaned forward as he saw
Lacey's eyes widen. Her pupils got smaller. She
opened her mouth to answer, but was, again, cut off by her advocate.
"This is insane!" said Teresa, much too loudly. Lacey winced
and then her face went calm. She remained silent.
"Do you know if he ejaculated?" asked Bob.
"I will NOT stand for this abuse!" shouted Teresa. "Do not
answer any more of his questions, Lacey. I'm going to make a
complaint this instant! Don't say another word!
I'll be right back!" she said excitedly.
She hustled out of the room, leaving the woman she was supposed to be
advocating for, in the clutches of the man who was currently
"Finally!" said Bob. "She's gone. Look, I know this
is hard, but I need this kind of information. I need it to
find him, and we'll need it to convict him. Please, tell me
what you can. Just close your eyes and remember. I
know it's hard, but please try. We don't have much
time. She'll be back soon."
Lacey heard his words...heard the earnestness, almost pleading in them,
and knew he wasn't being crass or lewd. She knew the answers
to his questions all too well. She remembered that part
starkly. The urgency in his voice robbed her of control and
"It was bent. He made me...he made me use my mouth.
He made me put a condom on him. He said I didn't deserve to
have his...seed. He said I was probably diseased, but that he
wouldn't let me make him diseased. He made me put him in
meeeee!" her last word became a wail of pain and she sobbed.
"That's good," said Bob soothingly. "Let it all
out. Tell me more. What did he do with the rubber?"
"Heeee...took it...with him," she cried. "He...said...he
was...coming baaack," she wailed. "Heeee...said...he'd
make...me...do it...again!...that I'd...do…IT...again!" she
"Do what again?" asked Bob, leaning toward her.
He wanted to pat her shoulder. He wanted to hug her, to give
her some human contact. She NEEDED human contact right now,
but he knew others wouldn't understand. The emotion she was
displaying now was normal, too. It was guilt.
Something had happened in that room that she felt guilty
about. It happened sometimes, but no one talked about it.
It came to him in a split second. Her behavior and the way
she'd said things was what did it. It was as he asked the
question that would explain all this, that the door opened and Teresa
stalked in, the head nurse in her wake.
"Did you have an orgasm?" asked Bob.
"SEE!?" screamed Teresa. "DID YOU HEAR THAT?! THIS
MAN IS AN ANIMAL AND I DEMAND THAT HE BE EJECTED THIS
INSTANT! JUST LOOK AT HER! HE'S
COMPLETELY DESTROYED HER!"
"Out!" snarled the head nurse, pointing to the door.
"I'm not done here," said Bob.
"Yes, you most certainly are!" said the nurse, her voice
rising. "And you can bet your ass I'm going to make you sorry
you ever came here, you pervert!"
Lacey was a basket case, and the shouting of the two women had caused
her to fall to her side, and curl up in a fetal position. Bob
knew it would take hours to calm her down, and it was obvious that his
presence wasn't helping things now.
"I'll call you about the formal interview," he said to Lacey.
Her eyes darted to his, so he knew she heard him.
The head nurse escorted him to the emergency room doors, making sure he
left. He didn't say a word to her. She didn't
Bob didn't really worry about the complaint. He knew he could
explain things to Mrs. Fetterman, when she came in for her formal
interview. He gave it a day, then called the cell number he'd
gotten from her at the beginning of the hospital interview.
"Hello?" came her soft voice.
"Mrs. Fetterman, this is Detective Duncan again," he said. He
didn't make small talk. "I need to set up your formal
"Oh," she said. Her voice sounded flat over the
phone. "I already told you what I know," she said.
"I know," he said. "But the prosecutor will need to review
"Have you caught him?"
"Well, no, not yet," said Bob. He hated this part.
"We're working on it, though, and if we find him...when we find him,
the prosecutor will need your statement. It will keep you
from having to tell it again then."
He hated this part, too. He was lying. The system
required that the victim tell her story over and over and over
again. There were good reasons for it. People
remembered things as time went by, for one thing, and those little
facts and details could make all the difference in a
prosecution. Another reason was to catch the liars.
Liars couldn't remember what they'd said the last time, and often said
something different. The truth is easy to remember.
You have to think about it to lie. The average person didn't
understand all this, though, and for victims like Lacey Fetterman, it
was just torture.
"Teresa said I wouldn't have to talk to you again," said the soft voice.
"Look," he said, impatience edging into his voice. "I'm on
your side in this thing."
He winced. That wasn't true either. He was a fact
finder, plain and simple. He collected evidence, and it could
be used by either side in court. His job was to prove or
disprove that a crime had been committed. If there WAS a
crime, his job was then to prove or disprove who had been involved in
"What I'm saying," he went on, "is that Teresa's a nice girl, and all
that, and she cares about you, but she doesn't understand police
work. There are good reasons I asked you the questions I
asked you. I can explain that to you when you come in for
your formal interview. You want us to catch this
guy. We need your help to do it. That's all I'm
"All right," said the soft voice. "When do you want to see
He set up the appointment for the next day and hung up.
Bob walked into the squad room and tossed his notebook onto his
desk. His inbox was full, and he groaned. He could
hold his own on the streets. He'd been shot at half a dozen
times, and had survived them all. He'd been in two wrecks,
and all he'd suffered was a deep bruise in one
thigh. He'd processed enough blood and body fluid evidence to
infect a hundred thousand people with Hepatitis, or HIV, and was still
clean as a whistle. The paperwork, though, would kill
him. He knew it, deep in his heart.
That would wait, though. Mrs. Fetterman was due for her
interview. He'd much rather gaze on her lovely form than some
piece of paper.
There was a note stuck to his monitor: "See Dillworth."
He groaned. Frank Dillworth was the new Detective Captain and
he was an idiot. He'd been Captain of Logistics for years,
and was pretty good at that, though he'd bowed down to the
penny pinchers at every opportunity. Why he'd wanted to take
over supervision of an experienced and hardworking bunch of detectives
was anybody's guess. He and Bob had had three or four run-ins
already and he'd only been on the job for two months.
Dillworth didn't know a damn thing about being a detective.
Half the time he didn't even know the law. He was a toady...a
brownnoser...and he was already responsible for two veterans cashing in
their chips and retiring, when they could have stayed on for three or
four more years.
He knew there was a problem when he entered Dillworth's office to find
him fawning over Lacey Fetterman...and Teresa Green. Teresa
looked up and a look of triumph came over her face.
"Yes sir?" said Bob.
Dillworth looked away from Lacey, who looked distinctly
uncomfortable. Her eyes went to Bob and then down to her lap.
"I'm reassigning Mrs. Fetterling's case to Simpson," barked Frank.
"Fetterman," corrected Bob. "It's Lacey Fetterman."
Frank's face suffused with dark purple. Bob hoped he'd have a
"I don't need any sass from the likes of YOU!" said Frank, his voice
rising. "Mrs. ...Fetterman...has been kind enough not to
press charges against you. You're off the case and that's
Bob looked at Lacey, who was looking at him again, through lowered
"Tell Simpson about the orgasm," he said. "It's important."
Frank leapt to his feet, outrage on his face. "THAT'S IT!" he
screamed. "YOU'RE THROUGH! PACK YOUR
FUC..." He stopped and went suddenly white. Bob
ached to see his eyes roll up in his head as he toppled, a coronary
thrombosis doing what needed to be done. "Pack your stuff,"
he huffed, calmer now. "I'm recommending you be
fired. Go see the freaking union rep if you want to, but I'll
have your backside for this, Duncan!"
Bob turned to leave. The look on Lacey's face was one of
shock...and something else. He didn't have time to think
about it. "Tell him," he said to her. Then he
closed the door, before Dillworth could scream again.
He didn't get fired. The higher ups knew that the reasons
they'd put Frank Dillworth in the Detective Captain chair was because
of what he could do for them, when they needed a favor, and not because
he had a clue. They had assumed he'd just ride the coattails
of the experienced and effective force he was put in control
of. Good men made a supervisor look good. Nobody
thought he'd actually try to investigate anything. They
certainly didn't think he'd run off the good men who could have made
him look good. Now, they were stuck with the ramifications of
Dillworth did reassign the Fetterman case to Don Simpson, but Detective
Simpson couldn't get anything done on it, because he had to report
directly to Frank three times a day and then run off to do whatever
lame-brained idea Frank had come up with since the last time he'd
reported. The case went nowhere, and finally stalled.
Bob found all this out in the locker room...most of it from Don, who
said he hated Bob because he'd lipped off to the boss, which had pulled
Don into the mess and gotten Frank's fingers where nobody wanted
them. Bob knew Don didn't actually hate him, but he wasn't
"That bastard will hit again," said Don, sitting down beside
Bob. "He's a classic control pervert. Beat her up,
made her do things. He even made her cum."
"I thought so," said Bob. "When I talked to her at the
hospital I knew she was holding something back."
"I almost didn't find out," said Don. "That little bitch that
was with her wanted to approve every question I asked. She
said Dillworth told her that was fine! Can you believe that
"So, how'd you find out?" asked Bob.
"The Fetterman woman finally asked the bitch to be quiet. I
wanted to laugh, but I didn't. She said she just wanted to
get it over with and started talking. I could hardly keep up
with her on the computer. When she said she had an orgasm,
the bitch started screaming again, and the whole thing fell to
shit. Dillworth wanted to take that part out of the
statement, but he couldn't figure out how. I told him I'd
already saved it. The stupid fuck bought it. I was
lucky to get her signature on it."
"Well, you got it," said Bob. "That's part of an
MO. It will help get him, sooner or later." He
sighed. "If any of his other victims will admit it too, that
"Yeah," said Simpson, putting on his shoes. "So, how's
Bob shot him an evil look and Simpson laughed. "Hey, at least
nobody's shooting at you!" He grinned. "I might ask
for a transfer myself," he said, his smile fading. "I can't
get anything done with Frank Fucking Dillworth dogging my
tracks. He says I have promise! Can you believe
Don Simpson had been a cop for six years and a detective for
two. He deferred to Bob's ten year record, but he was very
good, when given the chance to be so.
"A nice, quiet squad car and writing a few tickets now and then might
be nice," sighed Don.
"I've already gained four pounds," said Bob. "Sitting around
all day doesn't do you any good."
"Protect and defend!" said Don, standing up and saluting.
"See you later, buddy. I know it doesn't mean much, but I
think you're better off."
"Yeah," said Bob, glumly. "Better off." In two
weeks, three drunks had puked in the back of his patrol car and another
one had puked ON him. Everybody he pulled over was irate at
him for molesting them. Everybody seemed to feel like they
had an inalienable right to drive fifteen miles an hour over the speed
limit, run red lights at their whim, and park wherever they felt
like. He'd been called a communist, an agent of the Gestapo,
a "fucking pig" and a "pig fucker." All in just two
weeks. If this was "better off," he had no idea how he was
going to do his last nine years.
A week later, Bob was standing at a vending machine in the gym he
belonged to, drinking the last of a bottle of Gatorade, when she walked
around the corner and literally ran into him.
"Oh! Excuse me," said that soft voice.
Her eyes lit on his face and widened.
"What are you doing here?" she gasped.
"I play racquetball here," said Bob.
He looked at her. She WAS beautiful. Her long black
hair was held back in a pony tail that reached to her lower
back. She was dressed in tight shorts and a white T shirt
that clung to her body like it was two sizes too small. Her
breasts bulged in that way that announces they're confined in a sports
bra and don't like it. There were just the last traces of
bruising on her throat and jaw, where her attacker had hit her with his
She had a sports bag slung over one shoulder, the handle of a
racquetball racquet sticking out. He noticed that it had
sticky tape wrapped around the handle. Well worn sticky
tape. That was interesting. The only people who
needed sticky tape were people who were power hitters. It
kept the racquet from twisting in the grip. His eyes went to
her right hand, but it was bare of a glove. She wasn't
sweating, either. She had just arrived.
While he was examining her, she examined him too. He was
taller than she was, by a couple of inches. Out of his suit,
he looked rugged, rather than beefy. His tank top
was wet, in a drooping oval from his neck to his stomach, and his arms
and wide shoulders had a sheen of sweat on them. He was
wearing a headband and two wristbands that were dark with sweat, and
the hand holding the bottle was gloved. His left hand held an
E-Force Lethal 160 racquet. She stared at the
racquet. Those things cost over three hundred dollars, and
she was shocked to see a mere detective...ex detective?...holding
one. All in all, he looked as lethal as the racquet.
She felt a flutter in her belly. It horrified her and she
"You don't have to be afraid of me," said Bob, seeing the look of
horror on her face. "I'm not mad about anything."
His tone brought her back to this place...here...in the gym she was so
comfortable in. It was the only place she could go to battle
the demons that ate at her. Here, on the court, she could
slam them...slam HIM. Her rapist was only the latest of a
string of frustrations she had battled on the racquetball court at the
gym. Before that it had been her boss, whose eyes undressed
her constantly. She'd gone out on her own, because of that,
and was now in direct competition with him, running a successful
business called Fashion La Femme. Her customers had come with
her. Before that it was her lemon of a car, which Paul
wouldn't let her get rid of, because it was only two years
old. Sometimes it was meat, which she was trying not to love,
because Paul had become a vegetarian. Occasionally it was her
mother, who never listened and forbade her to talk about divorcing Paul.
"I'm not afraid of you," she said, her chin jutting a little.
"Good," he said. "You any good?"
"What?" She looked confused.
His left hand came up and the tip of the racquet touched the handle of
hers. "Are you any good at racquetball?"
He saw her shoulders and jaw stiffen. "I do all right," she
said, almost lazily. Her comment didn't match her body
language. He almost smiled. That handle alone said
she did better than "all right."
"My partner had to leave," he said, letting his invitation hang.
"You'd play a girl?" she asked, her hazel eyes showing interest.
"You're probably not supposed to talk to me anyway," he said
indifferently. "What with me being a beast and all."
Her eyes got guarded at that. "Why did
you... She didn't finish her question.
"I was looking for a pickup game," she said instead.
That was another clue to her level of expertise at the game.
Most people who weren't any good, or had just started, had set partners
they played with. The best way to get your ass handed to you
was to get in a pickup game with somebody you didn't know and who was
probably a lot better than you.
"I've got the court for another hour," he said.
"Another hour." She repeated, her eyes narrowing.
"Yeah, I do two hours, three times a week."
"You're good, then," she said. Now her body AND her voice
"I do all right," he said, straight faced.
"Let me put my shoes on," she said.
He watched her pull out court shoes. He was impressed that
she didn't play in street shoes. When she pulled out sweat
bands, like his, a glove, and wrap around eye protectors he
smiled. Then she took out velcro wraps. She leaned
forward letting her long hair drape in front of her, and put three of
them around the hank of hair, so it wouldn't fly all around on the
He could already tell this would be good.
She was better than good. She was so good that he actually
got a good workout. She was light on her feet, lightning
quick, and had a deadly catch off the back wall, where she leaned just
so and picked up the ball three inches off the floor. It
stayed three inches off the floor, usually...all the way to the front
wall. She knew how to put English on it too. Quite
often it hit the wall and rolled, instead of bouncing. That
it rolled right to him was no accident either. She was
taunting him. The ball almost never squeaked when she hit it.
There wasn't anything you could do about that. The low kill
shot was impossible to return, because it just wasn't
returnable. It was simple physics. But, when he
forced her to put it up on the wall, there were lots of things one
could do with the ball.
He used the first two games to probe. She was, as he had
thought, a power player. That meant the ball was everywhere,
and moving fast. But, as he well knew, because he played the
same way, it also meant that the ball bounced hard, and that meant you
could stay in middle court, where you could reach almost everything.
He tried slamming the ball so it would come directly at her.
In power play that meant you had to be quick to step aside and address
the ball, or just boink it, with the racquet right in front of
you. Boinked balls were easy kills. Her speed
amazed him. She rarely boinked, choosing instead to fall
aside and use the back wall. She was good at that too,
hitting it just hard enough to get it from the back to the front, on a
high arc that gave her time to adjust and made him move forward.
Her serve died in the back corner, and she ran ten points in a row,
just on that serve, until he figured out a way to scoop it out of the
corner. He lucked out twice, barely getting the ball to the
front wall, where it hit that corner and dropped to bounce rapidly back
to her serving position. She hadn't reacted, because she
thought he'd missed the serve.
She was poetry in motion, whenever he got a chance to actually watch
her play. Which wasn't often. He hadn't played
anybody this good in years, and it was pure joy.
Ten games later they sat, leaning against the wall, gasping for air.
"You're good," she panted.
"You're no slouch, yourself," he panted back. "Do you belong
to this gym?"
"Six years," she said, taking a breath between the two words.
"I can't believe I haven't seen you play," he said.
"This isn't my usual time," she said. "I usually play in the
morning. Things...changed." Her last comment came
with obvious unhappiness.
"Changed?" he said, automatically.
At first he thought she wasn't going to answer. As tired as
she was, her body announced that this was a very sore point.
Finally she relaxed a little, but didn't look at him. "Paul
is divorcing me."
Bob stifled a groan. Rape led to divorce in a lot of
cases. Hubby couldn't understand why she no longer wanted him
to touch her. Hubby blamed it on her, like everybody else
did. If you were running in the park, alone at night, you
were just asking for it. If you wore slinky clothes, you
deserved what you got. You didn't fight hard
enough. You didn't say "NO" loudly enough. There
were no marks on your body, to show you fought at all—or not
enough marks to satisfy him. There were a thousand reasons
that people assumed the woman brought it all on herself. Some
men thought of their raped wife as diseased, and wouldn't come near
her. At the time the women needed them most, a lot of men ran
"He got a copy of my statement," she went on. "When he saw
that part about the orgasm...well..."
She stopped. She was tense again.
"Why did you tell me to do that?" she asked, her voice heavy.
"It ruined my life. Now that stupid captain of yours doesn't
even believe I was raped."
"He's an idiot," said Bob. "There are very good reasons why
that information is critical. I could explain it to you, but
"Why not?" she asked.
"Because it's complicated, and you'll have more questions, and I'm
She blinked at him. "I'm thirsty, too."
"You want to get something to drink?" he asked, and felt stupid
"Are you asking me out?" Her voice held something other than
just question in it.
"Of course not," he said. "That wouldn't be ethical, and our
little friend Thelma would be irate.
"Teresa," Lacey corrected him.
"Whatever," he said, levering himself up. "She'd be
irate. She'll be irate if she finds out I even talked to you."
"She means well," said the woman, accepting his hand and letting him
pull her up. She had a strong grip. He knew that
already. Her racquet had twisted in her hand exactly once
"She helps rapists stay free," he said darkly. "She gives bad
advice, at the wrong time, and women like you stop cooperating with the
"I cooperated," she said, wounded. "I even did what you said,
and look where it got me." She frowned. "What else
could I have done?"
"It's not your fault," said Bob. "None of this has been your
fault. You're the victim here. The problem is that
the system re-victimizes you. It stinks, but there's very
little anyone can do about it, especially when people like Tanya and
Frank Dillworth get involved."
"Teresa," said Lacey, gently.
"Teresa," he said heavily. "I don't remember names unless the
person I'm remembering needs to be arrested."
"Well," she said, her voice soft again. "Since you aren't
asking me out, and since we're both thirsty, I don't suppose anybody
could complain if we both sought out something to drink at the same
They left the court, walking side-by-side. He stopped at the
vending machine and dug into his sports bag for quarters.
"What's your pleasure?" he asked.
"White wine," she said.
He looked at her. Her head was cocked sideways, like she was
evaluating him again.
"Showers first," he said.
She was waiting for him when he emerged from the locker room.
She had on a maroon blouse and tan shorts, with sandals. Her
hair was still in the pony tail, and was dry. She saw him
looking at the pony tail.
"It takes too long to dry. I'll wash it when I get
home." She seemed unconcerned that he was looking at her, but
he forced himself to look at her face, feeling the loss of being unable
to let his eyes linger on her body. She was a startlingly
beautiful woman. But she had troubles enough, without him
acting like a caveman, and probably didn't have too high an opinion
about men right now anyway. He felt guilty all of a
sudden. He was attracted to this woman, and he had no
business being attracted to a woman in her situation.
"Delvechio's?" he said.
"My, my," she said. "The man has a three hundred dollar
racquet and drinks at the most exclusive joint in town, too."
He shrugged. "You work, you get paid...you may as well enjoy
They walked. It was only a block and a half, and both their
cars were in the parking garage, which was probably as close as they
could get to Delvechio's anyway.
Claude, the maître d', met them at the door with a
"Mrs. Fetterman!" he announced, bowing slightly from the
waist. "How delightful to see you." His eyes turned
to Bob. "And Detective. I hope nothing is amiss."
"We thought we'd talk away from the noise and bustle of the office,"
Claude eyed the sports bags that each was carrying.
"Yes," he said, completely unconvinced. "How nice.
Let me just seat you in a nice, private booth." His job was
to make the customers smile. What they did while they smiled
was none of his business.
Next Chapter >>