Authors: Polly Iyer
“But you didn’t mention you passed out. In fact, you said you remembered every minute of that night with Kraus. That’s not true, is it?”
“I…I didn’t pass out. I couldn’t have. I would have remembered.”
“Not if you were drugged.” Clarence couldn’t tell if she knew she’d passed out or if the idea had never occurred to her, but it didn’t seem like it had.
“Who would drug me? And don’t you think I’d remember if I passed out?”
“Not with certain drugs. And that’s what I think happened.”
She turned from Clarence and gazed off into space, then shook her head. “That’s impossible, but—”
“But what?” Clarence asked, sitting straighter. “What is it, Mrs. Ferrar? Please. I’m fighting for a man’s life. An innocent man who’s already served time and who’s trying in the only way he knows to prevent going back to prison.” He thought he was getting through to her. “However insignificant you think it might be, please tell me.”
Betsy Ferrar looked off to the side, twirling a lock of curly hair around her finger. Her cheeks flushed even more, and she squinted as if trying to resurrect the scene from that night over twenty years ago.
“I’d never gone out with Jordan before that night at the bar. I’d seen him around and thought he was cute. I was at the next table, and I overheard Reece Daughtry ask Karen if what they said was true. I didn’t know what he was talking about. Of course, I found out later. I’d been watching Jordan, hoping to connect with him. He’d been laughing before, but then he got quiet. He must have noticed my interest because he asked me to dance. He kept looking back at the table. I asked him what was happening, and he said something about a secret life. That you never really knew anyone. He seemed upset at first, then he bought me a couple of drinks and said everyone was going back to the Daughtry brothers’ apartment and would I like to go. I did. It was a neat place near Harvard Square. We were all drinking and having a good time, except for Reece and Karen. They were in the throes of a serious discussion. I told all this at the trial.”
“Who else was there? Everyone you can remember.”
“Jordan and me, of course, Reece and Karen, Reece’s brother and his fiancée, and two of his friends with another couple of girls—sorry, I don’t remember their names now.”
“That’s all right. I have them. Then what happened?”
“Jordan asked me to go back to the apartment where he was staying, and we left.”
“And everyone was still there?”
“I think they were getting ready to leave. Carl’s girlfriend felt sick, and he was going to take her home. He made arrangements to meet the others at another bar in Harvard Square.” She stopped. “Like I said, I told all this at the trial.”
“No, you didn’t go into such detail. I have the transcript with me. Would you like to read what you said?”
“You’re getting me confused. That’s what the defense attorney tried to do—get me confused.” She stood. “I can’t do this, Mr. Wright. I’m married, with a family. I don’t want this whole affair brought up again. It was a very trying time. I did the best I could at that trial. Everything I remembered.” Her words stopped her again, and she stared at Clarence.
“Everything you remembered?” She slumped into her chair. Clarence could see her going back in time as clearly as if she spoke. “You’ve thought about this, haven’t you? Something you remembered?” She didn’t answer the question but continued her story.
“Jordan was considerate that night. I had another drink when we went back to his place. He never made an advance on me, never even tried to kiss me. We talked, and I was sitting in the same chair the whole evening. The only thing is—”
“I couldn’t believe how much time had passed. I was definitely a little dizzy from the drinks, and when I got back to my apartment I was sick. Violently sick. I remember thinking I wouldn’t drink like that again.”
“You didn’t mention that during your testimony.”
“It had no bearing on the case. All it would have done is make me look even worse.”
“I think I know how you took sick, and I believe it had a lot to do with the case.”
ana sat in the parlor with Frank and Lana. She’d wanted to tell Reece to be careful, but he’d left before she woke. The place felt empty without him.
“Shh, listen,” Frank said. “There’s a picture of Reece on TV. Oh, and who’s the lovely lady flashing on the screen? Sure looks like that cute gal Reece brought here the other day, doesn’t it, Lana?”
Lana shushed Frank with a playful sock in his upper arm. “It’s not funny, Frank. She’s wanted for questioning by the FBI and the police.”
“That’s her, all right,” Dana said. “Turn it up so I can hear what awful things they’re saying about her.”
She listened as the talking head reported that no one had confirmed whether she was with Reece Daughtry, and if she was, whether he kidnapped her or she went voluntarily. There were no sightings, and her disappearance could be a coincidence.
Frank laughed. “I love coincidences.”
“But in case I am with Reece, they’re exposing my life for all to see.”
“Is that the infamous Robert Minette?” Frank asked.
“That’s Robert, basking in his fifteen minutes of national fame, hoping for an hour.” He filled the screen with his smarmy attitude, looking like a mob’s mouthpiece instead of the district attorney of three North Carolina counties.
“Even though I divorced my wife,” Robert said into the camera, “I care about her welfare and hope for her safe return. Daughtry will be given a fair trial in Harold County. I’ll see to that.”
The blood pulsing through Dana’s veins boiled. “What bullshit. He didn’t divorce me. I divorced him.” A clip of some reporter sticking the mike into the face of her younger son flashed into view and almost sent Dana through the roof. “These people have no morals. They’ll do anything for a story. They—” She watched as David calmly pushed away the mike and said, “No comment,” then disappeared into his dorm building.
“Damn them,” Dana said.
“Dana, please.” Lana moved to the windows to close them. “Someone might hear you. With all the noise we’ve made, I can’t believe someone hasn’t already.”
“I’m sorry. I forgot. I’m just so upset.” She paced the room, going in circles until she was dizzy. “I need to call the boys.”
“No, you don’t,” Frank said. “You’re here and you’ll stay here, off the radar. That’s what they want you to do. You might give yourself away without meaning to. Stay calm. We’ve been lucky so far, but that’s all it is, luck. Can’t get anywhere in life without some of it.”
“I wish I could speak to Reece, so I’d know for sure he’s all right.”
“You can call him if you want,” Frank said. “His phone is clean, and so is this cell. But I’d advise you not to. Let him do what he needs to do.”
“If something happened,” Lana said, “you’d hear it on the television. I’ll make you a cup of coffee.”
Frank patted Lana’s ass as she walked passed. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”
Dana smiled, in spite of the gnawing in the pit of her stomach.
“Now, sit down. Relax. I’ll tell you some stories. Want to hear how Reece wound up in solitary again?”
“I don’t know, Frank. Injustice is hard to swallow. Maybe I don’t need to know everything.”
“Did he tell you he did the same thing for a couple of young kids that I did for him?”
“You mean he attacked four big convicts? Doesn’t sound like Reece.”
“Not four. Two. They were sodomizing a young boy, not for the first time either. The kid must have been around eighteen, caught with a gram of coke in his car. He wasn’t dealing, just putting it up his nose. The court decided to make an example and threw him in with serious offenders. Might as well have put a bull’s eye on him for target practice.”
Lana shook her head. She handed Dana a cup of coffee. “Something’s wrong with the system to do that. Something’s very wrong.”
“Yes, my dear. The system is imperfect. More than I could ever explain. Anyway, Reece saw it and went ballistic. There’s a hierarchy in prison sex. The predators or pitchers, as they’re called, prey on the young and innocent. Reece took on both of them and put them down. I wasn’t around or I’d’ve helped. He served a couple of weeks in the hole for that. When he made it back into the population, the men treated him differently, with respect. Not everyone inside is a pervert.”
“And after being locked in solitary?”
Frank shook his head. “Not good. But he did it again anyway and found himself back there. I tried to explain he couldn’t get them all, and if he was going to be a vigilante, he’d better do it when the guards were looking the other way.”
“If the guards were looking, why didn’t they stop the rape?”
“You know what they say about power corrupting. There are all levels. You see it in the police, people who are supposed to watch out for the weak. Doesn’t always happen. Prison brings out the worst in men. Bad men get worse, good men go bad, and a pecking order develops where the strong rule the weak.
Lord of the Flies
. Good book. Reece gave me that one.”
“What happened when he got out the second time?”
“He was angry, drew into himself, which is what Reece does. Lasted awhile.”
Dana had seen those moods.
“He came out of it eventually, but I could see being in the box had an effect. But you know what? He never shut off from me.”
“Because you’re the father who didn’t disappoint.”
“Don’t get me going on that one. I never had kids, but if I had, no matter what they did I’d be in their corner. Reece’s father, that fuck, turned his back on his son. For that, there is no forgiveness.”
larence left Betsy
house with renewed optimism. She wouldn’t retract her story of twenty-one years ago, nor did she give him anything he could use in court,
Jeri were trying the Sitton murder case again. But she wasn’t. These were different murders—a whole new ballgame.
He went back to the townhouse he shared with Jeraldine on Beacon Hill. After booting up the computer, he spent an hour researching. He felt good about his theory, but he still didn’t have the proof he needed.
When Jeraldine called, he told her he believed he had narrowed Karen Sitton’s murderer to one man, and that the same person murdered Rayanne Johnson. “I think I know how, but I can’t prove it,” he said. “Not yet.”
“Why won’t you tell me?” she asked.
“I want to talk to him first. You should know what it’s like for a man to be wrongly accused. If I’m wrong, I will have cast doubt on an innocent person. I don’t want to do that.”
“Have you heard from anyone?”
“Yes. Don’t worry.”
“Not easy, love.”
“I won’t be home when you get here, babe. I think it’s important to keep going on this. I’ll catch a bite on the road.”
“Where are you going? No, don’t tell me. Do what you have to do. I’ll be home late anyway. I have a backlog of work to catch up on here. If you’re not there, I’ll wait up.”
“I hope that has lawyerly hidden meaning,” Clarence said, and hung up. He always played his gut. Until today, Jordan Kraus had a solid alibi. But something Mrs. Ferrar said kept niggling at him, and he needed to pursue it. Kraus described the goings-on at the table concerned secret lives, and that Karen Sitton wasn’t the only person to have one.
Even though Clarence told Reece to go back to his safe house, his mentioning old angers bothered him. He needed to inform Reece where he was going so they weren’t working at cross purposes. Reece’s number was blocked when he called earlier, and Clarence had failed to get it. Big mistake.
That left Frank Vance. Clarence hoped the old man had been in the game long enough to know how to play it. He dialed Vance’s home number. A woman answered. Clarence asked for Vance.
“Who is calling, please?” she asked with a strong accent.
“Clarence Wright. I’m working for Reece Daughtry’s attorney.”
Muffled sounds came from the other end of the line, and a gruff voice said, “He’s not here, hasn’t been here, and I don’t know where he is.”
“I understand,” Clarence said. “I found out things he needs to know, and I’m going to pursue them. If you hear from him, have him call me. He has the number.”
“He’s too smart to come here or even call. The police have already been here, searched my apartment, found nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tapped my phone. They do that, you know. But if I hear from him, I’ll tell him to call you.”
No, the old man knew the game. “Thanks.” Vance broke the connection.
Clarence’s instincts had always served him well in the past. Punching Kraus’s name into the computer resulted in the usual generic information—an address in Rockport, a coastal town north of Gloucester, and a list of company affiliations that sounded dog related, which made sense. Nothing else sounded familiar. If Jordan Kraus had a veterinary practice, Clarence couldn’t find the listing.