I promised you a story, didn't I? I'm delivering...though I have to admit it is NOT the story I was planning on writing. That story is being INCREDIBLY difficult and you deserve better. Well, not MUCH better since you're reading my stuff, but still you should still get a COMPLETE story.
Julian knew it was going to be a bad day when he woke up to find it was after nine am and his alarm hadn't bothered to go off. He was late for work...again.
He tried to dress quickly but ran into another indicator of his bad day. He had no clean dress shirts and the most serviceable pair of slacks he own were balled into a tight ball and shoved under the pillow Julian had been sleeping on all night. Or at least for the last four hours.
It took him an hour to manage to look presentable, drive across town and shuffle into the office. He had thought about calling in but he was already on his captain's bad list. He figured going in late was better than not going in at all, especially on the morning he had a scheduled meeting with the captain.
"Detective Monceaux? The Captain's waiting for you." The officer at the front desk who's name Julian had no idea of told him as soon as he signed in.
Julian gave a minimal nod to acknowledge he had heard the blonde officer who's gender he wasn't sure of. He could have looked, of course, but that would have taken up too much of his energy and he didn't have much that morning. Julian wasn't in the mood for anyone or anything, much less a rookie who hadn't been on the force for more than two months. At least, he assumed the rookie had been there for two months. Julian stopped caring about who was at the front desk two months ago when Officer Joe Lopez stopped being there.
Though he walked without regard to anyone else, he couldn't help but see the looks he was being given. Most were sympathetic but a few were gleefully smug. Julian once again didn't care what was going on.
Captain Kester was indeed waiting for Julian when he walked in. The captain looked tired and tense. It was clear to Julian that whatever the conversation was about wasn't going to be pleasant for any of them. He had been working under Kester for years now. The fact that she was a woman didn't bother Julian like it had a few of his other male coworkers. Kester was smart and more than capable to take care of business. She had proven it over and over since she earned her position.
"You're late again, Monceaux." Kester waved her hand at the seat in front of her desk. She sighed as she did so and brushed back a loose lock of hair from her forehead.
Julian didn't bother offering up an excuse. He knew she wouldn't care that his alarm clock failed to go off because he hadn't remembered to set it the night before. He didn't want to expend the energy to give a valid reason anyway.
Kester watched Julian carefully. She knew he wasn't going to say anything unless she asked a direct question that required more than a yes or no answer.
"I don't want to fire you." Kester said. "I don't even want to suspend you. You're a damn good detective, probably the best on the force."
Julian looked straight at Kester without a flicker of emotion going across his face. His gray-blue eyes were hard as steel and Kester made it a point not to look away. She wasn't afraid of Julian or of any of her detectives.
"You finished your sessions with the psychiatrist." Kester didn't make it a question because she didn't need to. Instead she picked up a file from her desk and opened it. "I've also talked with him about your evaluation. Of course, we couldn't discuss everything you talked about."
Kester made it a point to look at Julian as she said this. She knew that Julian hadn't said much of anything in his sessions.
"Despite everything, he's cleared you for detective work again." Kester said. "He said you're coping as well as can be expected and though you may still have some issues about the incident, you're ready to get back into active work. He says you don't show any signs of mental trauma and can even be given your gun back."
Kester pulled the aforementioned gun out of her drawer and dropped it on her desk. She knew Julian already had his badge. He had actually been back on active duty for a month, only not as a detective.
Julian stood, took his gun, and started to walk towards the closed office door.
"Not yet." Kester's voice wasn't loud, but the tone was enough to make Julian stop.
He turned back around and went towards the chair. He sat down without a word.
"Two months ago you, your partner and two other officers were shot with your gun." Kester looked at Julian. She wasn't sure if his unblinking stare was good or not. "I know it wasn't your fault. Everyone in this building knows it wasn't your fault. I don't think you know it wasn't your fault."
Julian sat back in the chair, as if making himself more comfortable. He crossed his arms over his chest and waited.
"Do you understand that the crackhead caught you unaware?" Kester asked. "You couldn't have done anything about him taking your gun. You didn't even know he had broken away until he knocked you to the ground."
Julian still said nothing. Kester sighed and looked away.
"Until further notice you're getting a change in assignment." Kester pulled out another folder and handed it to Julian. "Instead of checking reports you'll be working cold cases. You'll also continue to see the psychiatrist."
Julian took the folder without speaking. He stood up again and looked at Kester.
"You can go now." She answered the unspoken question. "You know where your new office is."
Julian kept his folder tucked under his arm without looking at it. Everyone was peering over at him. They all wondered what the captain had told him, but they wouldn't ask directly. He knew his demotion would get around soon enough.
The entire walk to the cold case storeroom Julian thought about what he felt was most definitely a demotion. There wasn't a dedicated cold case detective in Terence, Louisiana. It wasn't that they didn't have the cases to be investigated, it was that they didn't have the money or detectives to do the job. Unless new evidence came through, they kept to the more recent cases. There were enough of those to keep the detectives busy.
He knew this was Kester's way of keeping him in the force without giving him back his old job. Julian knew he could handle new cases and a caseload. Hell, he knew he'd even be fine with a new partner. It wasn't as if his former partner was dead. None of those shot that day had been killed. Julian really thought everyone was making too big a deal out of the incident.
What happened two months prior was a mixture of accident and sloppy police work. An officer was bringing in a junkie and simply didn't keep a good grip on him. The man clearly was high and jumpy. Julian knew the man should have been cuffed with his hands behind his back and two officers should have been on the man. Julian should have had his holster buttoned.
The man wrenched himself free while the officer holding on to him stopped to sign paperwork. The guy broke free, grabbed Julian's gun from his holster and started pulling the trigger. He managed to hit four people before he was shot and killed.
The two officers who were shot weren't hurt too badly. One got a bullet through the arm while the other got one in the torso. Both were released from the hospital within a week. Officer Lopez, who used to be the front intake officer, got the torso shot. After that incident, his wife insisted he quit the force. With three kids and a job at his father-in-law's contracting business, Lopez traded in his shield for a hard hat. Last Julian heard, Lopez was actually enjoying the work and the increase in pay.
As for Julian's partner, Mora Roxley, got it a little worse. Her right kneecap was shattered by the bullet. Even with plastics, surgery and physical therapy, Mora limped. One day she may be cleared medically for service, but that day was a long way off.
Julian knew that was wishful thinking anyway. Even if his former partner didn't limp, it wasn't likely she'd return to police work. Mora was the most injured and had the most mental damage. She'd been the one who shot the drugged up criminal. It was a direct shot to the heart and a good shooting. Even though there, of course, had to be an investigation, no one expected anything less than a quick clearing of Mora.
The incident had hurt Mora though. Julian went to visit her and could tell she wasn't the same. In all of her years on the force, she had never shot anyone. Most officers could go their whole lives without discharging their weapons anywhere than on the shooting range.
Julian turned the knob of the little metal door where he knew he'd be spending the majority of his time. The knob turned halfway then stopped. Julian opened the file folder Captain Kester had given him and found a small brass key. He hadn't known the file storage area was locked, but that was probably because he never went down there. If he needed some case he could usually pull up the information on his computer. If he needed an actual file, they had little interns running around who could pull things for him.
Inside, Julian found the room just as he expected. Gray painted brick with row after row of boxes on metal shelving. There were two metal desks with a shiny white monitor on one. Julian figured that was set up just for him. When he went towards the desk with the computer, he saw a small silver badge sticker on the bottom right corner of his monitor. The computer was his old one.
Seeing his monitor and many of his personal affects on desk solidified his fate. Kester was going to keep him in that cold storage room on the second floor for a while. He would have to prove himself to her and he really didn't want to prove anything.
Julian sat down at the desk. The chair wasn't his old one and was definitely a step down from his. He tried to swivel in it and it stuck halfway round, nearly tossing him on the floor. He looked up at the ceiling, painted the same boring gray as the rest of the room.
As he stretched his neck, he could feel a slight tension on either side of his throat. He briefly touched the small scars that were his own marks from that day. A bullet from his own gun passed straight through his neck, damaging his vocal cords. Julian could still talk, but didn't do much of it anymore.
Mostly he kept quiet because his voice sounded so radically different to him. It used to be he had a deep, commanding voice. Sometimes during interrogations, he could scare suspects by just talking to him. Now his voice was more of a loud whisper. If you hadn't known how he sounded before, you wouldn't have realized anything was wrong with him.
The other reason Julian didn't speak often was his voice grew tired very quickly. The doctors told him his voice would probably strengthen with time. Probably. They couldn't be sure though because they were surprised he could talk at all.
In the end though, he could talk and there was absolutely no reason he couldn't go back to work. He was allowed back only after extensive psychological evaluation. Julian hadn't minded the counseling. It was true they didn't talk much, but that was because there wasn't much to talk about. Julian had answered all of the doctor's questions honestly and done several tests. In the end, the sessions were mostly the psychiatrist asking Julian how he was and chatting about everyday things. The doctor kept the sessions short to ensure Julian didn't strain his voice.
Kester apparently didn't think everything was okay. Maybe she wanted to be sure, all Julian knew was he felt he was getting the short end of the stick.
Julian stared around the room once more and let out a small sigh. He figured if he was going to be a detective again, he might as well start, even if his cases were cold. He turned on his computer and decided to check his email. He didn't figure he was going to solve anything the first day anyway. It would probably take him a while to prioritize the cases enough to find one to start on.
He was halfway through deleting unimportant emails when a loud bang sounded at the door. It didn't sound like a knock, but more like someone rammed into the door. The muffled and somewhat frustrated noises led him to believe he was right in his assumption.
Julian walked over to door and opened it. It apparently locked automatically. That thought suited Julian greatly.
When he saw who was on the other side of the door, he quickly closed it again, hoping he hadn't been seen.
"Julian, let me in!" The female voice was still slightly muffled through the thick door. He still knew who it was. The annoyingly chipper tone was slightly annoying to Julian, though he'd been hearing it most of his life.
"I'm working Daisy!" Julian shouted back as loud as he dared.
"I know!" The voice came back. "I came to visit and bring you some lunch!"
Julian sighed and opened the door a crack. He was face to face with the same gray-blue eyes, upturned nose and dark brown hair with natural blonde highlights as his own. They could have passed for twins, but they weren't.
They were, however, siblings.
"I brought you lunch." Daisy smiled, her eyes glowed with the pep she was naturally blessed with. "I wanted to make sure you were okay after yesterday. It was really nice of you to drive me all the way to New Orleans and back."
Julian tried to give his younger sister a hard look, but it didn't work. He couldn't look severe at his sister and she wouldn't have cared even if he had pulled it off.
The day before, Julian had every intention of doing laundry and spending a quiet day at home before starting back for another week of what he thought was going to be more report checking. That was before his sister had called and said she wanted someone to ride with her to New Orleans, where she was going to her regional office to fight for her job back. She hadn't wanted to drive alone and promised Julian he would be back early so he could finish his housework.
That hadn't happened. It was one bureaucratic nightmare after another and Julian hadn't gotten home until after one in the morning. He had no time to do laundry and had wanted nothing more than to go straight to sleep. He had gone to sleep, forgetting to set the alarm, making him late for work again. The day before he had been late for work when his house blew a fuse and his electricity had gone off.
Julian wasn't usually crumpled and late, but things hadn't exactly been going his way lately. Since he had been on desk duty in another part of the police station, that morning was the first time he had passed through the front office. That was why he didn't know who was at the desk in Lopez's place. His extreme lethargy had left him not really caring that morning. He had made a mental note to learn that rookie's name.
"Can I come in?" Daisy smiled at Julian again and held up the basket she was holding. "Lu-nch!"
Julian's stomach growled at the smells coming from the small hamper. He saw the smile on Daisy's face grow broader and knew she had heard his stomach too.
"I'm working." Julian repeated.
"We've been through that." Daisy said. "I already told you I knew that but you need to eat. I heard you got back on the detective force and wanted to come tell you congrats!"
Julian didn't have to wonder how Daisy knew about his very recent work assignment. Kester and Daisy were childhood friends. It was probably Daisy who even got him back to where he was. Julian knew for a fact now that Kester didn't have faith in him at all.
"Luann said it would be okay if I came with lunch." Daisy confirmed Julian's suspicion by calling Kester by her first name.
Julian moved from the door and let his younger sister in. He knew from experience she wouldn't be leaving until she had her way. She had always been that way, not spoiled, but determined. WIth Daisy you picked your battles.
Daisy came into the room all smiles, she didn't even lose her exuberance when she saw the dismal room. In fact, the sight of all the boxes and files made her smile more. Julian didn't care for that look. Something more than lunch was up and he wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was.
"So...umm, how's it going?" Daisy put the food basket and her laptop bag down on the empty desk. She looked around the room again, soaking it all in.
Julian just watched his sister avoiding his glare. She fiddled with her left earlobe. He knew she'd be playing with her hair if it hadn't been pulled up in a tight bun at the back of her head.
"Daise, why are you here?" Julian hated listening to his voice, but he had no other way of figuring out what was going on.
"I wanted to bring you lunch!" Daisy's voice went up a little high at the end, another tell of her nervousness. "And to give you some good news. You're not the only one with a new job."
Julian kept his look and his stance but said nothing. Daisy had been fired from her job as an intake caseworker for a government medical program nearly a month before. She had reported her immediate supervisor for misappropriation of funds. Even though she had ever right to report him and they had proven him guilty, the office manager had fired her without just cause. That was the reason for the New Orleans trip. She went up as high up as she could to get her job back, but without luck.
"Do you want to eat now?" Daisy went to her basket and started to pull out thick paper bowls. Julian could smell the rich steamy smell of beef stew and fresh bread. That was his favorite meal and that could only mean Daisy had done something bad.
Daisy pulled out the rest of the food and began serving it up. Julian didn't move from his place by the wall. Daisy looked up with a bowl in her hand to offer to Julian, but she put it down when she saw the look he was giving her.
"If you're not hungry now, it can wait." Daisy sat down at the other desk and twirled a plastic spoon through the stew. She forced a bite down her throat.
"What new job?" Julian knew she wouldn't get to the point.
"It's a sort of secretarial position." Daisy said. "Mostly going through files, helping out where I'm needed."
Julian looked at the boxes surrounding them and did his best to keep a groan from escaping. It came out anyway.
Daisy jumped up and ran to her older brother.
"It's only temporary." Daisy was talking quickly now. Julian doubted few people could understand her at this point. "Luann thought you might need some help going through all of the cases. She said I could help prioritize."
"She put you here to spy on me." Julian walked away from his sister. He wasn't sure how to feel about everything. It had already been a very long day for him with too many surprises. "She thinks I'm crazy."
"She's worried about you." Daisy agreed. "And it's just a few weeks. She knew I needed a job and knows I could use the money. It's not like I haven't done this sort of thing before."
Julian had to admit his sister was right on all account, especially knowing her way around a police station. Their father had been an officer his entire life, their grandfather, on both sides, before that. Before Daisy had taken on the government medical casework position, she was a police officer, though she really wasn't cut out to be a regular beat cop. She had been bored and asked for a transfer to evidence.
Daisy liked people and liked to be part of the problem in many ways. Giving out traffic tickets and handling domestic disputes wasn't her thing. So she had moved on to a few different positions before giving up on police work altogether. Julian knew his sister was smart and often got bored. A government job in which she always had to figure out solutions to new problems worked for a while, but she had stuck her nose where it didn't belong and gotten fired.
"A few weeks?" Julian asked.
Daisy nodded and offered a bowl out again.
Julian could only shake his head and smile. He was just thankful he got along with his sister.
After lunch, Julian let Daisy loose on the case files. He told her to look for a cases that weren't too old and may have some newer lead he could go on.
While she was busy, Julian took the time to sit back and relax. He was still exhausted from his lack of sleep. With a belly full of warm stew, Julian found himself nodding off. It wasn't long before he fell into a much needed sleep.
"Got one!" Daisy called out from in between the shelving and nearly made Julian fall out of his chair.
Julian was looking bleary eyed as his sister came out with a box, looking far too triumphant.
"I've been over and over it and I think I've got it figured out." Daisy set the box down on her own desk and began pulling files out.
"Got what figured out?" Julian had the distinct impression he was missing something, though that was usually how people felt around Daisy.
"Who killed Margaret Hillman." Daisy smiled, but her tone was clear that she expected more from her brother.
Julian looked at the box. It was labeled with the name Margaret Hillman and dated twenty years prior. Julian could tell it would be an unsolved murder. Daisy would pick something difficult. He knew she would know that murder cases, especially cold ones were nearly impossible to solve unless there was some physical evidence that could be reexamined with new equipment. He could only hope that was the case with this one.
"Give me the details and I'll see what our next step is." Julian reached out
for Daisy to hand him the file.
Instead, Daisy looked up with confusion.
"Our next step is easy." She said. "We bring in Marcus Franks, Margaret's former boyfriend."
Julian groaned put his head on his desk. He had known Daisy would do this, he just hadn't thought she'd start in on the first day.
The biggest problem with Daisy was she was smart and had too much imagination. Their father had given both of them little case problems to solve. While both were good at the games, Daisy had always been a bit better than Julian. This was because Julian required hard evidence and Daisy would go with what she thought would be the best case scenario. In other words, Daisy would 'make up' the story that she thought was most plausible. Unfortunately for Julian, that was apparently a good edge. Their father had said Daisy was Sherlock Holmes mixed with Conan Doyle. She saw the evidence and made up the rest. Real life didn't slow her down.
"Can I at least know what the case is about before you go solving it for me?" Julian asked. He could feel his voice getting weak.
Daisy nodded and handed over a file.
"Twenty years ago, Margaret Hillman was found in the woods surrounding JK's bar over on Kurt Street." Daisy paced as she spoke. "She had been strangled and beaten, though not necessarily in that order. She left behind a six year old daughter. Obviously the case was never solved."
"And what makes you think we start with the boyfriend?" Julian looked over the case notes as fast as he could, trying to find out where Daisy was coming from. He hated feeling left behind in his own job.
Daisy just gave her brother the same confused look.
"He did it." Daisy said. "It's not that great of a story, but he did it. He was clearly a drunk and she was found outside his favorite bar. Clearly he killed her."
Daisy waved her hand around, conjuring her plot.
"I know, I know." Daisy said. "There was no evidence saying he did it. But, of course, there was no evidence to the contrary. We just have to get him in here and admit it."
Julian went to say something, but his throat didn't produce any sound.
"If your throat is sore, I can easily talk to him myself." Daisy was excited. "It's not like it's an interrogation. You don't have to be a cop. If you want, you can write down questions you want me to ask him. It would be kind of weird to have you in the room though."
Daisy smiled and leaned forward.
"Should I track him down?" She asked.
It took Julian no more than two hours to track down Marcus Franks. He was disappointed it took him that long, after all, the man had only moved ten times in the last twenty years. Julian swore if he had to work with Daisy in any capacity, he would find a way to be better than her at something.
Daisy called the number Julian had tracked down and made an appointment for that day. Julian was surprised the man had agreed to it. Though after twenty years, anyone would assume they got away with it and have no fear of the police.
Julian shook his head and chided himself silently. He was letting Daisy's imagination run away with him. There was no proof that Franks had anything to do with Hillman's death. This was just one of Daisy's fantasy stories.
While in the interrogation room, Julian read over more of the case while they waited for Franks to arrive. Julian tried, but could see no evidence linking Franks to Hillman's murder except the fact he was dating the victim and she was found near a bar he frequented. Of course, he'd be the prime suspect, but there was no evidence he could find.
It was even noted by the victim's mother that her daughter was going to that bar to speak to the owner about getting a job. It seems that Franks had lost one too many jobs and Hillman needed a second job to help pay the bills.
He read over the autopsy report. Hillman's body had been found, badly decomposed two weeks after her death by a young couple going into the woods 'for a walk' after drinking in the bar. There wasn't much to go by except the cause of death was probably strangulation, as noted by the victim's cracked hyoid bone. There were a few cracked ribs and a cracked skull, but the medical examiner thought it was death by strangulation though the other injuries were perimortem.
Julian read over Franks' first interview. He had an alibi. And it checked out. Julian smiled. Daisy had gotten one wrong. There was no way Franks could have done it. The day the victim went missing, Franks was in an AA meeting. His AA sponsor was the one who gave him the alibi.
Daisy burst into the room with full happiness and speed.
"He's here so you get out." Daisy snatched the file folder from Julian's hands. She pulled her brother to his feet and pulled him to the door.
"You can't talk so you can't be in here." She reasoned as she tried to push him out. "Besides, I'm just going to go over a few points with him to clarify a few things. I don't need you for that."
Julian pulled his arm from Daisy's grasp. He would have said something to her, but she was right. His voice still hadn't come back. Normally when this happened, it took at least twelve hours for his voice to come back.
He moved away from the door and went back to the interrogation table. He wasn't going to leave his sister to her wild fantasies. He also wasn't going to hear it from Kester when she found out he left Daisy in this kind of situation. At the end, she wasn't a cop. She was hired as a secretary, nothing more and wasn't supposed to be interrogating or investigating.
Daisy looked worriedly from Julian to the hallway. She sulked but gave in. Julian could be just as hard-headed as she was. She could see he wasn't going to back down this time.
She shrugged and walked to one side of the room. She causally leaned against the wall and pretended to study the file in her hands.
A moment later, a fifty-something year old man was lead in by a uniformed officer. The officer shut the door behind Franks when he walked in.
"Oh, Mister Franks! Thank you so much for coming in." Daisy sounded chipper and helpful, a proper caseworker in every way. "Please have a seat. I'll be right with you."
Julian studied the old man who sat across from him. He knew from the file that Franks couldn't be more than fifty-two years old, but he looked older. Julian assumed it was years of drinking and hard living. Franks education meant he probably only had menial and labor intensive jobs. Julian could see big rough hands that were cracked and calloused. The lines on his face spoke of hard work, most likely outside. What was left of his hair was grizzled and wiry gray.
Franks rheumy blue eyes glanced from Julian to Daisy and back again. Julian gave Franks a hard stare and said nothing. Franks didn't know it was because Julian couldn't say anything and Julian was using that to his advantage.
"Are you a cop?" He asked Daisy, after pointedly looking away from Julian.
Daisy looked down at her white button up blouse and black skirt. Julian had to admit she looked more like a secretary than an officer.
"Not at all, Mister Franks." Daisy smiled. "I'm just sort of a paper pusher to be honest. I'm helping to determine if any old cases should be reopened."
Daisy moved towards the table and sat next to Franks instead of Julian. She turned her chair, the file between them as if he were her client.
"The reason I've asked you here is because we wanted to see if we should reopen Margaret's case." Daisy said. "You were closest to her and I wanted your opinion on it."
Franks looked down at the file without really looking at it. Julian could tell Franks couldn't read the file. He assumed the man needed reading glasses.
"That was twenty years ago." Franks said. Julian could hear a twinge of something in his voice, but couldn't make out the emotion. "I doubt you'll get anywhere with it now."
"Nonsense, Mister Franks!" Daisy was chipper and touched the older man on the arm. "You wouldn't believe what we can today with today's technology."
Julian watched as Franks' demeanor changed. He paled and his left hand went to his pocket. Julian could see he was fiddling with something.
"Is there some kind of evidence?" Franks asked, gulping a little too hard.
"There's always some kind of evidence, Mister Franks." Daisy leaned in and lowered her voice. "It's just that sometimes there isn't someone who can see it right away."
Franks' left hand came out of his pocket and for the first time Julian could see what the tired man was playing with. A brass coin, about the size of a quarter, was being rubbed between his thumb and forefinger. Daisy didn't fail to notice it either. It seemed to Julian she had been expecting to see it.
"Alcoholics Anonymous?" She asked nodding towards the coin in his hand.
Franks looked at it as if he had only just realized it was there. Julian knew his using the coin as a worry stone was a habit, so it was entirely possible, Franks hadn't know it was out.
"Yeah, just over twenty years I've been sober." Franks held the coin in the palm of his hand for a moment before shoving it back into his pocket. "I keep the medallion to keep me from getting tempted."
"Twenty years ago." Daisy repeated Franks' phrasing. "Tell me, what finally made AA stick for you? I know from your sheet you'd been court ordered to AA numerous times. What made you finally commit?"
Franks' eyes seemed to cloud over more.
"Margaret's death." He said in a choked sort of voice. "Found dead behind a bar. I just thought after that...well, I had a good reason not to drink anymore."
"Your sponsor said you were at an AA meeting the night Margaret was killed in the woods behind the bar." Daisy said. "Your favorite bar."
Franks nodded, though Julian didn't know whether he was nodding at his alibi or the murder location.
"Margaret's daughter, Kylie." Daisy moved in a little closer. "Have you seen her since her mother's death?"
Franks shook his head and started worrying his AA medallion again.
"She's twenty-six now." Daisy said. "Do you know what she's doing now?"
Franks shook his head but looked with interest at Daisy.
"She's currently in lock-up." Daisy said, pulling a piece of paper from under the file folder. Clipped to the top was a mug shot of a woman who looked frazzled and red eyed. "This isn't the first time either. It seems she's been in and out of trouble since she was a teenager. Her grandmother couldn't handle her and put her in foster care a long time ago."
Franks swallowed hard and took his medallion out of his pocket again. His fingers went back and forth over the coin. He stared at it now, concentrating on something in his head.
"Why shouldn't she be in trouble?" Daisy continued. "Her mother was murdered when she was six. Killed in a bar lot. Of course, that must mean her mother was a no good drunk. Who leaves their young daughter at her grandmother's just to go get drunk and have sex with strangers."
Franks shook his head so violently it made him cough.
"Margaret wasn't like that." He seemed sad at the thought. "She was there to get a job, not drink."
"You didn't know that at the time, did you?" Daisy asked, her voice low and sympathetic. "What did you think when you saw her coming out of the bar that night?"
Franks pulled back and looked quickly between the brother and sister pair. His confusion and terror were clear across his face.
"I was at AA." Franks said. "Arthur told you that when you asked. I was at AA that night."
Daisy sighed and pushed the picture of the twenty-six year old daughter of Margaret Hillman towards Franks.
"You still attend regular meetings?" She asked.
"Yeah, every single one for twenty years." Franks agreed.
"Not many people do that." Daisy said. "Most quit after a few years, whenever they feel they can handle it on their own."
Franks shifted his gaze so he wouldn't have to look at the picture in front of him.
"I'm not ready yet." Franks said. "I don't feel I'm done with the program."
Julian finally caught on to where Daisy was going with the line of questioning.
"Franks, are you done with with step 9 yet?" Julian asked in a hoarse whisper. His voice made Franks jump a little. "I'm sure you put Margaret and Kylie Hillman on your list, but have you made amends to Kylie, letting her know how you wronged her?"
To Julian's surprise, Franks began crying. He dropped his coin on the table and buried his face in his hands. Daisy reached over and put an arm around Franks' shoulders. He leaned into Daisy and wept like a heartbroken child.
"I was drunk." He sobbed into Daisy's blouse. "I saw her there and thought...I saw her talking to Hugh, the owner and thought she was cheating on me with him."
Daisy put a hand on both of Franks' shoulders and pulled him up. She looked into his eyes, showing nothing but sympathy.
"You caught up with her outside, didn't you?" Daisy asked. "You grabbed her around the waist and dragged her to the back of the bar. You didn't mean to but you cracked her ribs. She wasn't a big woman by any means, but you were strong....and very drunk."
Franks nodded and looked at the ground.
"You didn't mean to, did you?" Daisy continued with her narrative. "You grabbed her by the throat and pushed her up against the wall. You probably screamed at her, accused her, but of course she denied it."
Daisy lifted Franks' face so she could look at him.
"She passed out at some point, probably when you cracked her skull." Daisy said. "But you were in a rage and kept screaming at her. You didn't know you had killed her, did you? You didn't know you had held her by the throat too long. Your cracked her neck and suffocated her with your bare hands, but you didn't know, did you?"
Franks pulled away and looked at the wall, still crying. Julian almost felt sorry for the man.
"When you realized what you'd done, you panicked." Daisy said. "You dragged her out behind the woods and dumped her body."
"Then I called Arthur." Franks sniffed and looked at the picture of Kylie. "I told him what I did, told him I was drunk but wanted to change. We're old friends and he promised to keep quiet as long as I never took another drink again. He made me promise him."
"And you knew he was the perfect person to confess your wrongs too, wasn't he?" Daisy asked. "You knew he was dying of liver failure and wouldn't be around much longer. He only wanted to save you his fate, that's why he promised to give you an alibi."
Franks looked at Daisy, palms up.
"I wanted to tell someone." He said and picked up Kylie's picture. "But I was afraid telling her would have made it worse. She was such a good kid...I didn't want her to know what I did to her mother."
"So you let her believe her mother was a no good whore?" Julian knew he was pushing it but as long as he could make words come out, he was going to be part of this interrogation.
Franks again looked surprised to hear Julian talk.
"I didn't know." Franks said. "As far as I knew, she was. It wasn't until later, when her mother said Margaret was going for a job interview..."
Franks choked back another sob.
"It was my fault she was even there." Franks said. "I couldn't hold down a job and she was trying to help me out. She believed in me but....but I didn't trust her."
Daisy walked to the door of the interrogation room and said something to an officer stationed outside of it. He came back moments later with a pen and notepad. Daisy took them, thanked the officer and shut the door.
Turning, she went back to the table and handed the pad and pen to Franks.
"Make it right." Daisy said. "For the little girl who's mother you stole away. Tell us what happened and make it right."
Franks nodded and grabbed Daisy's hands. He held them for a moment, letting his tears fall freely. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Julian knew the feeling all too well. Franks squeezed back the tears and turned away from Daisy to begin writing.
Daisy gave Franks one final pat on the shoulder before walking towards the door. Julian followed behind her.
"Where are you going?" Julian asked, not wanting to waste his voice, but having no choice.
"To get him some tissues." Daisy said as if Julian should have known that. "He'll need them while he writes his confession."
Julian sighed and looked back towards the interrogation room door. He wished he could say he was surprised by anything that day but he wasn't.
"How did you know it was him?" Julian asked the question that had been bothering him all day. "How did you know when there was no evidence tying him to it?"
Daisy stopped walking and smiled at her brother.
"Because it's the only plot that made sense." She said. "If I were writing the story out, he would have been the killer. No one else would have worked."
Julian shook his head and closed his eyes.
"Daisy, life isn't a fictional story." He said. "In real life, not everything fits neatly into a outlined plot."
It was Daisy's turn to sigh. She touched Julian's arm and leaned in.
"Everyone thinks he's new and different." Daisy said in a low voice. "Everything thinks he's unique in what he thinks, but people, like stories aren't new. Nothing is new anymore, not in life or in fiction. People are stories, Julian, they just don't realize it. Life imitates art all the time."
Julian covered Daisy's hand with his own.
"You got lucky this time." He didn't want to agree with her argument, though he did. He wanted his sister to realize police work was important. "Next time we can't go off half cocked because you think someone's guilty just because he's the most obvious villain to a writer."
Daisy smiled wide.
"Next time?" There was definite excitement in her voice.
Julian smiled at his little sister. He had a funny feeling this case was only the start, of what he didn't know, but it was a definite start. For as long as he was doing cold case, his sister would be right there with her preposterous plots. It would be up to him to find the evidence in those cases confessions weren't so easy to pry out.
Still, he couldn't deny that solving a cold case in less than twenty-four hours would be impressive to anyone, especially Kester. He figured he could use Daisy for maybe one more case. After all, she didn't have a job yet and could use the money. What kind of older brother would he be if he got his sister fired?
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!