12.00pm, Friday, 3 February, the Boston police in need
A little strange, the Bun without Ivy, in the early afternoon, two strangers across from her, she on the leatherette couch built-in against the rear wood-paneled wall enveloping the deep-inside of the café, that seat and her cortado the only familiars. Strange, too, that they whispered for the duration of the entire conversation
Sam Howell talking, he a twelve-year veteran of the Boston Police now risen to lieutenant detective assigned to the homicide division. Telling Dee that he’d met Doctor Mike some years ago, in a courtroom situation. Lt. Sam made clear the importance of his Catholic faith to him – why he gave so much credence to Sister Mary Margaret’s report that the clergy not only condoned but supported Dee’s activities. His partner’s motivation for seeking out Dee founded on today’s telephone conference with Dr. Mike, and the encouragement of their fellow-officers.
Lt. Sam, “We have a situation at the station involving a uniform – Larry Messer. A couple of weeks ago…”
“No. Christmas Day,” Sgt. Jesse interrupting.
Lt. Sam told Dee that Sgt. Jesse’s memory was legendary. Her recent promotion to detective stemmed from her stepping up to free a teenaged hostage when the designated negotiating team drove to the wrong address. She remembered from a cursory reading of the file, not her case, that the kidnapper had a baby sister. Remembered that he had been the ex officio primary caregiver to his sister through her pre-adolescence. Remembered the DSS determination that he wasn’t a fit caregiver – too young, plucking his sister from their household, plunging both into darkness.
Hands up, Sgt. Jesse approached the house where the perpetrator was holding the victim, she repeatedly calling out “Evelyn,” having remembered the sister’s name, “Evelyn.” Getting his attention, Sergeant Jesse reminded him of the anguish he felt when his sister was taken from him; asked him if he wanted to be the social worker who had inflicted so much pain on him and his sister. He released the teen-aged hostage who ran into Sgt. Jesse’s arms. Immediately following, the fusillade unleashed by the SWAT team shredded the kidnapper.
Lt. Sam, “The resulting publicity sealed her promotion.”
“It didn’t hurt that I had my bud, here, Lt. Sam relentlessly advocating for me,” Sgt. Jesse nodding thanks.
“So, Christmas Day, Officer Messer took down a looney-tune caught in the act of killing his third victim that single day!” ending the sentence on a high note, his fingers, large, as befitting a six-foot-five frame, reddening as they gripped the table’s edge. “He ‘killed them for fun,’ he told the patrolmen before we arrived on scene.”
Sgt. Jesse, her head thrust forward, her face betraying a combination of condescension, impatience, and respect, saying, “Actually, for points, the perp’s word. Don’t ask – we don’t know what he meant. Said someone was going to give him points. In any case, since that night Messer hasn’t been right.”
Lt. Sam, “Like two days after the looney-tune incident, he barged into a meeting and, without provocation, punched and kicked the Captain. Other officers restrained him. Since then he’s been held in a psychiatric facility for dangerous people, much of the time in a straitjacket. For his own protection, of course.
“He’s been observed talking in structured gibberish, sometimes recorded. None of our linguistics people has gleaned any recognizable words belonging in any language. Sometimes he sits hugging himself, sometimes giggling, sometimes talking to himself. Sometimes he argues in two different voices, each with its own babble. Weird.”
Dee sat back sipping her cortado, neither her body language nor facial expression revealing her thoughts.
Sgt. Jesse leaned closer to Dee. “So, this Monday, the powers, all of them: the Superintendent of Police, the Captain, the mayor’s office, union reps, and whoever else has a claim to input, will meet to discuss how to handle this. All solutions will end with Messer being pushed into the involuntary psychiatric care system, likely ending his career and destroying his family – wife and three small children.”
Lt. Sam, “What sucks most is that this is a decent guy: does his job, quiet, gets along with everyone – not a single blemish on his eight-year record. Dr. Mike has examined him and can’t do anything in the short term for him. The union rep, a Catholic, like myself, even contacted the bishop who sent over a priest who specializes in unnatural behavior. He thinks that Messer may be possessed.”
“Will he exorcise?” Dee.
Lt. Sam, “We don’t have the time. He would have to see Messer a few more times, write a recommendation, submit it, and get it approved. Today’s Friday. The hearing is first thing Monday. Whatever can be done must happen tomorrow.”
Sgt. Jesse, “We got a call early this morning from Dr. Mike. We patched in your friend, Sister Mary Margaret and had a four-way chat. What we learned about you from them, frankly, made the hairs on our necks stand up. You are one scary dude.”
“At least I look scary right now – a zombie.”
Sgt. Jesse lowered her voice, “Well the two of them believe that you have gifts that could possibly help us; that you see things most of us don’t. We asked them what they thought you would be able to do: they never give us a direct answer. So we drove down here to talk with you directly – time is short. So, I ask you: Is there something you can do to help us?”
“What do you want me to do?”
Sgt. Jesse, “They said you were close to God. ‘Radiant,’ Sister Mary Margaret called you. What exactly is radiant.?
“Radiance, in Christian mysticism, is being in the presence of God.”
No one spoke for a moment.
“And you were?” Sgt. Jesse. Dee nodded.
No one spoke for a moment.
Lt. Sam, his tone seasoned with two cups of reverence, “Does our description sound like our friend is possessed?”
“Sounds possible. I’ll speak to him if you’d like.”
Sgt. Jesse, “Forgive me for being indelicate, Dee. We very much want your help. But you’ve been through a terrible ordeal. You don’t look so well. Frankly, you look like death. Are you capable of being involved in this? Not only will you be facing a spooky Larry Messer, but you’ll be doing it in front of an audience, most of them skeptical, some downright hostile. That’s a lot to ask in your condition.”
Lt. Sam, “She’s saying that for your sake.”
Dee, “I am totally exhausted. Wasted. But this is the problem. Larry Messer may prove to be an early casualty in a global war against humanity. If I do nothing now, if we do nothing, by the time I’m fit to fight the war may be over.”
Sgt. Jesse, “So you do think the devil is involved.”
“I should at least take a look.” Dee sipped from her china cup looking at the two faces, they puzzled, fearful, hopeful.
“But I have needs,” the cup nestling into the saucer with a tap. “For example, I expect that you will chauffeur me around town and provide round-the-clock security for me. I’m fragile. I don’t want the tension of having to get from one place to another, especially not knowing the city.”
“We can do those ourselves,” Lt. Sam.
“Okay, then. Jesse, you’ll understand that, first thing when we get into town today, I’ll need a haircut and a total makeover. I look like a wraith. Afterwards, I’ll need time to shop for clothes: an outfit for the meet-up at the station on Saturday, and another for an elegant dinner for four for Saturday night. Plus, I’ll need your help in choosing the upscale restaurant and booking a table. And booking a room in a nice hotel. Luxury.”
“You mean you want the department to pay for…”
Dee raised a stop hand, “Jesse, my sweet aunt just died and left me a large inheritance. Money is not an issue with me – I’ll pay my own expenses.”
Sgt. Jesse, “Then, yes. I can do all that. On the ride back to Boston. Easy enough. Sam?” He nodded.
“And, at the station, where I assume I will be meeting this unfortunate person, my girlfriends will be with me. They are integral to my functioning.”
Lt. Sam, “You’ll have the entire patrolman’s association in your corner. So, if you want your girlfriends around you? Fine. No one will raise an eyebrow.”
“Okay. Then I’m in.” Both policemen smiled.
Sgt. Jesse, “So great. How should we arrange your meeting with him?”
“I’ll meet with him in a room big enough for my girlfriends and the two of you. I’m sure the other police and supervisors and political types will be more comfortable with two of their own on the scene. He and I will need chairs; the rest of our group will stand against the back wall. My girlfriends will know what I need. You can take your cues from them. A heads up: one of my girlfriends, Stella, can read my mind. Strange, but from forever.
“That’s it. I’ll get his attention, permission, maybe, and simply enter his mind. If I find a demon there, I’ll purge it – tell it to leave. Or I may not find anything. In any case, the event will seem more like reality TV than a religious event and shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes.”
“What do you mean, Enter his mind?”
“Jesse, that statement is self-defining,” draining her cup. “But we’d better get going. I need a couple of minutes with Ivy to explain what I’m doing. We can leave immediately after that.”
In the foyer of the recovery house, Dee learned that Doctor Mike had called and told Ivy that, based on today’s examination, Dee will immediately leave Truro with the police to begin a stay at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, arrangements to receive her already in place.
Ivy had set Dee’s packed suitcase by the front door. Dee asked Ivy if she wanted a ride to Boston.
“No, my dear. I’ll return home from here. But thank you,” touching Dee’s cheek.
Dee hugged her. “I love you, Ivy. How would I have ever gotten through this without you?” She burst into loud tears and buried her head on Ivy’s shoulder saying, “When will I see you again?”
Ivy held Dee’s elbows and softly spoke into Dee’s hair. “Helping you has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” taking Dee’s shoulders, pushing her arm’s length, Dee holding Ivy’s elbows. “See me again? Put a quarter under your pillow,” the two of them sharing a laugh.
“My dear, dear Dee, I come from a story past – that concerned DreamWeaver and Diana, not Dee. I will return home and resume my life there, as you will embark on your new mission, with old and new friends, old and new allies. In years to come, your memory of me will become like the pages of a favorite book, Peter Pan, perhaps, collecting dust on your bookshelf.”
Ivy, keeping her arm around Dee’s waist, turned to the police, looking from Lt. Sam to Sgt. Jesse and back saying, “I’ll bet you don’t know that this frail young woman single-handedly defeated an army and saved my civilization from annihilation. Where I’m from, she is the universally-acclaimed all-time heroine.”
Dee, behind soft tears, watched the wonder on the faces of the police, they staring at the hollow-eyed scarecrow first recommended to them by their trusted Dr. Mike, his assessment corroborated by an established spiritual leader, and now sincerely, if extravagantly, praised by an ageless beauty so earnest and elegant as to prohibit skepticism.
“Now you take good care of yourself,” holding Dee’s face in her hands and kissing her forehead.
“I will. I promise.”
Dee lay along the rear seat resting her head on a pillow liberated from the recovery house when she panicked: “Wait!”
She bolted from the car and ran to Ivy waving from the door. “Ivy, the hanky you loaned me?”
“It’s on the top of the clothes in your suitcase, my dear. Cleaned, ironed, and folded.”
Dee lay along the rear seat resting her head on the pillow liberated from the recovery house, falling into a half sleep as soon as the car left the driveway, half-listening to Lt. Sam, he driving, talking into his cell, “Roberto; the man himself…No. No. Nothing like that. I’m the one in need,” explaining to Roberto the immediacy of the services required, over his shoulder to Dee, “The stylist. He’s asking what you want done?”
Dee lifted her head as much as she could and spoke as loudly as she could, “Everything. Tell him I’m a mess. Tell him I’m too distracted to make decisions. Tell him I’m in his hands. Tell him if he doesn’t make me beautiful you’ll shoot him. Let Jesse talk.” The effort brought on a headache. She dropped her head back on the pillow and dug her knuckles into her temples to alleviate the throbbing. She stilled, enjoying the pressure of her knuckles and the alternating pulls of the multitudinous curves of the small Cape Cod roads.
After relaying the gist of Dee’s needs to Roberto and listening to Roberto’s response, Sgt. Jesse turned her head to the rear of the car saying, “He wants to know if you want a manicure and a pedi…”
Dee moved only her mouth. “The works. Whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. Two cherries. Ask him about a makeover. Does he sell clothes? Food? Before and after pix? I want it all.”
Sgt. Jesse conveyed the message to Roberto, told him her name, explaining, “Like the letter ‘D,’ David,” and handed the phone back to Lt. Sam who listened then spoke loudly, “He says they’ll do everything but make the clothes and cook the dinner,”
Dee closed her eyes.
Lt. Sam, “Okay, Roberto. Thanks. It’s almost two. We’ll have her there by four.”
Sgt. Jesse’s hand raised to a stop! “Don’t hang up. See if he has connections for a dress-up dinner restaurant that can accommodate Dee and her rich friends on a Saturday night; tomorrow.”
Lt. Sam asked, relaying the answer to Sgt. Jesse, “He knows the people at Clio’s. Will that do?”
“Top of the line,” Jesse to the closed-eyes Dee who thumb-upped. “It’s sushi mixed in.”
Dee’s right thumb up again.
“It will cost a small fortune, but heck, man…”
Same thumb up. Dee’s eyes still closed.
“I’m catching on. We don’t care about cost. Thought I’d mention it.”
Then Lt. Sam, “How many and what time?”
Dee flashed four fingers, Sgt. Jesse relaying, “Four.” Dee fully opened her hand flashing all of her fingers…“Five o’clock,” Sgt. Jesse, retracting almost immediately when Dee flashed a single finger. “Six o’clock.” Dee fisted her right hand and snuggled it under her chin.
Lt. Sam ended the Roberto conversation with, “I’ll be there to make introductions; and I’ll be staying for the duration…Don’t ask. See you at four,” slipping the phone in his pocket, holding the steering wheel with two hands.
“Well done, Lieutenant,” Jesse.
Dee didn’t count the number of times the roar of a truck, an angry horn, a powerful acceleration, and, once, a short burst of Lt. Sam’s siren woke her, affording her the chance to glimpse the willowy treetops blurring past, bare against the clear blue winter skies, the boat-like cradling of the big sedan rocking her back to sleep only to be wakened again within minutes, the same blur of trees speeding backwards, the same engine drone and whine of the wind, and the same two partners talking in subdued tones about the event.
Lt. Sam, “…starting with the Captain.”
“He’s all yours.”
“Okay. Dial him for me.” Sgt. Jesse used the speed dial and handed the cell to her senior partner.
“Hey, Captain. We’re on our way back and we have her in the car…We spoke to her and both Sgt. Jesse and I agree that she can help…Anything can happen but we’re sure this is worth a try…We’re very sure. We agree with Dr. Mike…So, yeah. We have to do it tomorrow – nine o’clock’s good. I think whoever’s going to come would like to get out as early as possible to enjoy their weekend…Good. So who do you want me to call? Excuse me, Captain. Just a moment.” To Sgt. Jesse, “Can you write this down?” Sgt. Jesse, raising a pad and pen, nodded.
“Okay, Ready, Captain. I’m assuming you’ll make arrangements for the meet from where you are…She just needs a conference room…How she describes it, more like a conversation than a drama; not at all like in The Exorcist…Wish I knew…Yeah – but I totally believe her…No, she doesn’t mind people listening in – but she’ll be inside the room alone with her team…Yep, she has a team. No negotiation, but Sgt. Jesse and I are on the team, at least for this event…Of course it’s worth it. Without her, Messer’s goose is cooked…Because we want to tell the rank and file we tried everything we possibly could to help him. If the officers hear that Dr. Mike thought she could have helped and we didn’t try it, they’ll be very upset…Yeah, I’m going to back him up. I’m not ratting on you, but I’m not going to betray the men…Whatever. The cat’s out of the bag. We don’t have a choice now. Let’s just do it.
“…That’s easy. I’ll just leave a message for him through Sister Mary Margaret…His aide. She’s Dee’s spiritual advisor and encouraged us to use Dee. I’m not expecting the bishop to come to the Saturday morning show, but I’m sure Sister Mary Margaret will. She totally believes in Dee. In any case, we’ve got the archdiocese covered…His wife? Yeah, I’ll call her.” He glanced at Sgt. Jesse, she punching keys into her Surface. “No. I want to. I know Mrs. Messer personally…Of course. I’ll call Griffin first. The union will definitely be there with a contingent…No, that’s a good thing for us. Being open and transparent is our best proof of making every effort to help Officer Messer…If you’re going to call the mayor’s office, you should also call the governor’s…Cover your bases…Right. They’ll send someone. The DA has been involved from the beginning. They’ll definitely send someone…
“Of course. No press. They’ll make the thing a circus…Right now. We’re at the Sagamore, an hour away. We’ll have all the calls made before we get back…No. We’re taking her to a hair dresser, my friend, Roberto’s. We’ll be spending the rest of the day with her before taking her to Spaulding. We promised her 24/7 protection and escort service until her family can take over…Remember she was kidnapped just a few weeks ago, six or seven, and addicted to heroin. She thinks her kidnappers are still after her…She’s in tough shape but wants to do this. She thinks this may be an important event…I don’t know what she meant. She wasn’t very clear. Sorry…Alright. We both have a lot of work to do. Thanks, Captain...Right back at you.”
Lt. Sam disconnected, handed the phone to Sgt. Jesse, she saying, “That sounded productive.”
“Yeah. Great. Let’s get started. On my speed dial, Jerry.”
“From the Globe?”
“You just told the captain, ‘No press.’”
“That’s just police-talk for ‘no common ground.’ When the notifications of Dee’s meeting with Messer go out, within the hour, everyone will call their most sympathetic media outlet to tilt the story of the event in their favor. Tomorrow the station will be swarming with press and we need Dee’s story out there early before they turn it into a freak show.”
“If we’re one of half-dozen stories our version will just get buried.”
“Not quite. Because, if Dee has no objection, Ziggy will be the only writer who can attribute the story to ‘someone close to the source.’ At least the only one saying that who’s telling the truth.”
“And what’s our story?”
“A spiritual advisor was brought in who successfully brought peace to the troubled officer. And all is well. We can deal with the whole context piecemeal, at our…at Dee’s discretion.”
They reached Newbury Street with several minutes to spare. Although not her first visit, the small side-by-side shops, world-renown, many, with their dazzlingly-displayed spectacular merchandise, their individualized, large, well-lit windows, at four o’clock in the afternoon already ablaze to push back against the falling darkness, and the period street lamps in two long, straight rows stretching to the distant horizon fiery with the last of the setting sun’s liquefied gold, all contributed to a mesmerizing fairy-tale elegance.
Dee asked Lt. Sam for a cortado to go. Sgt. Jesse jumped out, “You guys go ahead. I’ll grab the coffees and meet you at Roberto’s.”
Before getting out of the car, Dee adjusted her clothes, finger-combing her hair while, through the police car’s front window, she watched a crew-cut blond, almost albino, dressed in a dark formal suit with a dark tie and shiny shoes, descend a double-parked limo, look around, hold Dee’s gaze a moment, take several steps away from the limousine, stopping at a parking lot driveway, apparently to get his bearings. “Good-looking; stuck-up,” she thinking. “A little strange?”