Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chapter Seventeen

“I’d like to talk to my client.”

“Be my guest. But I don’t think you’ll get very much out of her.” Jacoby pushed himself back from his desk. “Come on then.”

When Harold stood up, Jerry gently pushed him back down into his chair. “It’s better that I talk to her alone. You wait here. I promise you that you can see her as soon as I’ve talked to her.”

“But, Jerry…”

“Trust me, Harold. It’s better this way.”

Jacoby showed Jerry to interrogation room four. He’d been in hundreds of rooms like this. They were all alike. Each time he wondered why they always chose that putrid green color for the walls. Fanny was sitting at a metal table. She was handcuffed, staring at the Styrofoam cup filled with coffee in front of her. It didn’t look like it had been touched.

“Fanny? Fanny, it’s Jerry. I’m here to help you.”

Her eyes remained focused on the Styrofoam cup but she spoke. “Fanny. My name is Fanny?” It was a question.

The woman seated in front of him might have been a ghost of the Fanny Britt he knew. There were no visible injuries aside from a swelling and bruising on the left side of her face and a few scraps on her arm. Her hair was uncombed and she was dressed in an orange prison jump suit. She looked tired and disheveled like anyone who had spent the night in a cell would look. But there was something else. The vacantness around the eyes – the total absence of emotion. And there was the blood. Jerry was accustomed to the sight of blood, but not on the carefully manicured hands of his best friend’s wife.

“Yes, you’re Fanny. Fanny Britt. You’re married to Harold Britt. You live at 2233 Ingleside Drive in Falls Church.” He paused. Waiting to see if there was any spark of recognition in her face. There wasn’t.

“You’re the vice president of an insurance agency in DC.”


“Fanny. Can you remember anything that happened today?”

She nodded slowly. Her expression didn’t change. “I remember waking up in a ditch. I couldn’t breathe. There was something tied around my face.”

“That’s good, Fanny. Go on.”

“There was a man. I think he was homeless.”

“Did the man hurt you?”

“No. He was trying to help me. He…”

“Go on, Fanny.”

“My wrists were tied.” She raised her hands, now secured by handcuffs. “He pulled the rag from around my mouth and cut my hands free. Then I ran.”

“Why did you run, Fanny?”

“I was afraid he’d come back.”

“You were afraid who would come back, Fanny?”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember.” For the first time her expression changed from the passive mask she had worn since he had begun questioning her. She was clearly afraid.

“Fanny. It’s okay. You’re safe now. No one is going to hurt you. Do you remember why you were in the tattoo parlor?”

“I was lost. I walked and walked. Everything was so unfamiliar. I was searching for…”

“What were you searching for?”

“I’m not sure. I just felt like I had to keep moving. I stopped in front of a window. I was standing there looking at my reflection. I was trying to remember who I was when this woman came out of the shop. She invited me to come inside and I followed her. She was nice. She gave me a cup of tea. Cinnamon tea.”

“Do you remember what this woman looked like, Fanny?”

Fanny’s eyes suddenly opened wide as though they were staring at something over Jerry’s right shoulder. She began trembling. Her hands bumped the cup in front of her. Coffee spilled across the table and ran onto her lap. She didn’t appear to notice.

“Fanny. What’s the matter? Talk to me.”

She didn’t respond. It was as if she had retreated into a shell. Fanny simply wasn’t there anymore.



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