Home Chapter 16
“You are at once both the quiet and the confusion of my heart.”
― Franz Kafka, Letters to Felice
9 p.m., at home, Agent Marc Morrissey dropped the stack of photos and papers on his unused bed and loosened his tie.
At the last minute, he’d asked Tom Schultz from the OPU to follow Chandler with his lens, since they might not be able to follow her on foot. A hunch that had, frustratingly, panned out. With five agents on her, she still seemed to disappear into thin air.
Marc pulled off his stifling suit jacket and hung it in the tiny closet. It should last a few more wears before heading to the cleaners. The bed barely gave as he sagged into it and gathered the pictures.
At least they got something to show Dunn and Robertson. Tom rushed the developing as a favor, while giving Morrissey just enough time to find Rebecca and get her notes.
The zoom lens took dozens of photos as Chandler and her handlers crossed the square. They had her from the moment she left the F.B.I. building to the time she disappeared into the courthouse, and she still didn’t make any damn sense.
This was a woman from the very rightest side of the tracks. She attended the most prestigious schools New York had to offer, her worth well into the seven-figures. She shouldn’t be familiar with street kids, bums, and panhandlers. Hell, not just familiar, judging by the photos, downright friendly …and she shouldn’t be able to disappear.
Marc started flipping through the pictures he’d been studying since he got on the subway.
Timestamp 5:25 p.m. in three photos – as soon as she and Maxwell exit the federal building, a young woman—light brown hair, fair, late teens or early twenties, in jeans and a patched army jacket—crosses the plaza to walk with her. The girl-almost-woman never leaves her side.
5:26 p.m. A homeless man pushing an overflowing grocery cart waves to them from the sidewalk.
5:27 p.m. A street magician who looks like he’s seen better days saunters over to them.
Same timestamp. He kisses Chandler’s hand and then walks with Chandler, Maxwell, and the girl. They cut through the small park between the Federal Building and the courthouse.
5:28 p.m. A trio of kids on homemade skateboards illegally skating around the square stop to talk with them.
5:30 p.m. A man in a baseball cap and trench coat approaches as they reach the sidewalk in front of the courthouse.
Same time stamp. Baseball cap talks to her, only with this one, she looks alarmed.
5:32 p.m. The shabby street magician intercepts agents Watson and McCullough. He blocks their way with a juggling act.
Morrissey pulled out the next picture in the timeline with not a small amount of embarrassment. In high contrast black and white, it showed the baseball cap guy knocking him down. An “accident,” the man said as he pulled Morrissey up from the sidewalk. Marc remembered the man’s hands, clad in fingerless gloves and icy, despite the late spring day. The man shook with a fantastically strong grip, taking just enough time to keep Morrissey out of the pursuit.
Next picture, 5:34 p.m. Watson and McCullough are pulling silk handkerchiefs off their faces. Street magician is gone.
Same time stamp. Chandler, Maxwell, and girl disappear in the Marshall Courthouse.
5:35 p.m. Agents Hardy and Link finally get past the group of skateboarding kids to follow.
Despite being less than one minute behind, the agents reported no trace of Chandler and Maxwell once they entered the building. Hardy said a shoe-shine guy looked suspicious, but they couldn’t find anything. All the distractors in the square were gone by the time the agents regrouped.
Chandler just didn’t make sense.
Everything from news articles to bank records to interviews with co-workers and friends said this was a woman who had it all—money and contacts in all the right places. But she also had a private life that became super-private within a year of getting attacked by the mob and undergoing the best plastic surgery New York had ever seen. And then, just a couple years later, she goes and stabs Gabriel Sol in the neck. Why? A professional—or a sane person—would slit the throat—cleaner, easier, less likely to hurt yourself. Stabbing was brutal, hateful. Morrissey’s gut said it was vengeance or fear—past or future.
Past, maybe. She’d lied… Well, at least, she kept not telling the truth. She’d waited too long after Dunn asked about being raped. It might not have been rape, but Gabriel had done something that caused her to stab him in the throat. And future? Had Gabriel threatened her? He couldn’t threaten her family – she didn’t have any. What more could he do if he’d had her locked up, able to kill her anytime?
Morrissey hated feeling like they were asking the wrong questions.
Too many theories, too many loose ends, and she was the knot in the middle.
Mark pulled out the copies from Rebecca. The BAU[i] stamp meant he shouldn’t have them, but he doubted Dunn would care if it helped the case. Morrissey had meant to talk to Rebecca before, but today cinched it.
The hitman and the link to Detective Herman reminded Morrissey there were a lot of killings surrounding Chandler, even more than your average A.D.A, and not just from the Glock guy. Detective Herman’s own notes described the deaths of the men that slashed Catherine Chandler’s face—blunt force trauma and lacerations, possibly from an animal attack— the same as some of Chandler’s guards from Gabriel’s building. The M.E. joked about a bear, but Morrissey had discussed the M.O. with Rebecca before. Going over Chandler’s file with her just confirmed the connection.
The Manhattan Wolfman, the Subway Slasher, Demon Protector, the Beast—there were countless names for him, whoever he was. He was known to the local PD and the Feds. He even had his own profile on VICAP[ii].
Morrissey shouldn’t have the profile, at least not without an official request, but something pushed him to ask Rebecca for it.
-Large male, muscular.
-At least 300lbs. by soil imprint at crime scenes.
-Active in New York City and surrounding area.
-No latent fingerprints, yet no discernible safeguards taken to conceal prints.
-Multiple hair samples found from an animal of unknown origin, possibly from a suit or a mask.
-20-49 years of age.
-Most with criminal histories.
Details of Crimes:
-Uses some sort of claw weapons and/or brute strength to kill his victims.
-Exsanguination, organ trauma, and blunt force trauma.
-No signs of post-mortem mutilation or organ removal.
-Theft not a motive—no money or property taken.
-An impatient and angry killer.
-Judging by victims’ histories, vigilantism possible motive.
And there were things not in the report.
Every gay man in New York knew about the monster in Central Park who’d saved some guys when assholes decided to mess with the rough trade crowd.
You can screw in the park, but you don’t screw around in the park.
It had to be the same guy. And there’d been other attacks in the park that fit the M.O., the latest—two hired goons dressed up as police.
Catherine Chandler’s building was just a few blocks away.
Morrissey had done his homework on Chandler. Counting that first case and the latest, there were at least eight other instances, some with multiple homicides, directly involving her with the killer that fit the VICAP model. The dead guard didn’t get her out of that building. The killer from the park did. He’d bet his paycheck on it. And now a hitman was in her orbit too.
Two different killers; one woman tied to both. Each left their bodies out in the open, like calling cards, warnings.
All these puzzle pieces scattered around him, but Morrissey worried he was missing the picture.
Was she working with the Slasher? How was everything tied to Gabriel? If Gabriel Sol had wanted her dead, and presumably he did, since it was his guys who slashed her up all those years before, why wait so long? Why did he hold on to her for months this last time? Now that the Glock-guy was involved, would he go after her too?
And then there was the whole thing about Dunn maybe knowing she was being held on Sixth. Dunn had his own motives, his own agenda, but was Chandler right? Could Dunn be cold enough to keep a kidnapping quiet for half a year to save his case?
Looking from the papers to the pictures across the bed, Morrissey remembered Chandler had picked up a photo today too—Kenneth Anderson, the doctor. The hitman found him working at Griffin Hospital in Connecticut. It must have been a huge pay cut for the physician to the rich and connected. He’d started only a couple days before. Was he hiding out? Did Chandler know him? It looked like she did. He’d seen women examine photos like that before—of their attackers’ bodies or their rapists’ mugshots. She’d had the same the expression in her eyes—a mix of guilty satisfaction, sadness, and hate.
But why would she know Gabriel’s personal doctor?
“I need to take Cathy back. She hasn’t been well since… everything…”
Wasn’t that what Maxwell said?
Dunn thought she was strung out, but that didn’t fit her history.
“She hasn’t been well since… everything…”
The doctor dead… A doctor…
“She looked like hell.”
Like she’s sick…
Morrissey ran through the pages of Chandler’s known contacts…
Dr. Peter Alcott
Office: 205 E. 85th St., #214
Home: 226 E. 72nd St.
The interview notes stated he wasn’t just her doctor, but a family friend. During the initial investigation Alcott said he hadn’t had contact with Chandler since before the kidnapping, but was that still the case? Would he know where she was staying now? It was imperative they secure her for her safety… and her testimony.
Keys jangled in the door, pulling Marc from his musings.
“I’m home!” Craig’s singsong voice rang through the apartment.
Marc gathered the photos and papers together, shoving them into the file.
“Are you here?” Craig questioned, letting the door slam, then added with more sarcasm than even Manhattan should allow, “Do miracles happen every day?”
Craig must have seen his keys and briefcase.
“Yes, I’m here,” Morrissey called out, scribbling Dr. Alcott’s address in his pocket notebook, then leaving the file on the bed and shutting off the light. Marc turned the corner out of the bedroom to see Craig dropping his leather satchel next to the door.
“Well, Hallelujah.” Craig’s hands raised to heaven.
“But I have to go check on something,” Marc said, he hoped with enough repentance to satisfy.
“Of course.” Craig sighed and dropped his own keys on the front table near Marc’s. “There goes my tent revival.”
Marc needed to change the subject or Craig would be sour the rest of the night.
“There’s some dinner in the fridge ready for nuking if you haven’t eaten. I didn’t think you’d be back this early. Didn’t you have a showing at 8:00?”
“I did, the fastest on the Eastern Seaboard. I swear, they were in the building five minutes, in the apartment for two, and signed the contract in thirty seconds flat—squatting on the bare floor, hand to God!” he exclaimed, arm up in a limp-wristed salute to the Almighty.
“I got the papers to the office before Marsha even left. My commission should come in on Tuesday.”
Craig pulled Marc into a good-evening hug.
“Aren’t you happy you snagged the hottest real-estate broker in the city? I mean, who else would get you this fabulous apartment in the Hallowhill smack in the middle of Manhattan at $300 a month less than market.”
Marc smiled. Craig constantly made him smile.
“Well, I always knew you were amazing, even when you were waiting tables in the Village.”
“The most romantic story ever,” Craig said with a flourish and bat of his lashes. “Questioned over the body of a mob snitch.” He reached out, a 40’s starlet ready for her close up. “Our eyes met across the bloody dining room, just a small-town waiter and a gorgeous G-Man, and I thought…” he dropped his hand along with the faraway tone, …”he is far too hot to be hetero.”
“Your powers of perception are astounding.” Marc chuckled, nodding in deference. “I could use you down at the office. I’m investigating a witness who seems to have majored in obfuscation.”
Craig encircled Marc’s neck in an open embrace.
“Obfuscation, good word. Hmmm… Well, you let me at him, I’ll work my Village magic on him.”
“Her. It’s a her.” Marc sighed.
“A her?” Craig questioned.
“Yeah,” Marc answered, resting his head against Craig’s.
Craig lifted Marc’s chin with a gentle finger. “Then, my love, women are a piece of cake. They want safety, a place to call their own, appreciation,” he enumerated, bobbing his head to count out his points, “freedom to be themselves, and… to always get the last word in.”
“Takes one to know one?”
Craig kissed Marc. “You bet your life, mister,” he said, with mister’s sibilant “s” waving in the air of the apartment like a flag.
It was their joke. Craig was “too gay” to be seen with Marc, at least, not by anyone at work. Hence … Rebecca, Marc’s wonderful – and mutual – cover in the BSU. The cover who accompanied him to all work and social functions and who copied files for him on hunches. In the Bureau, “social companions” were a must. No more passes for agents not working in intelligence, not in Sessions’ F.B.I. Without each other, agents like Dunn would prove Marc’s and Rebecca’s proclivity in a New York minute, and then they’d be out on their asses. If that happened, he and Craig wouldn’t be able to afford this gem of an apartment with its huge windows and extra bedroom that barely kept up his “roommate” status with Marc’s mother, let alone any boss who didn’t approve of two men sharing a life together.
The F.B.I. may not support them socially, but it did support them financially, and Marc had a job to do.
“Listen hon, I have to go. I have a hunch and I need to talk to one of our lady’s contacts, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.”
“I know,” Marc acknowledged. “I’m sorry.”
Craig put up with a lot of crap, including late nights and a closeted boyfriend. Those didn’t exactly make for wild and fun evenings together.
“Dunn wants this witness wrapped up by Memorial Day,” Marc offered. “It won’t be long.”
“And then you’ll have to work with the prosecution,” Craig said, nodding. “And then they’ll assign you to a new case.”
“Yeah, that’s my job,” Marc said, starting to feel a little defensive. “You know that.”
“Yeah, I do. But can you blame me for being jealous of that bare-breasted bitch called ‘Justice’?”
“But I only have eyes for you, Craig. ” Marc offered, hoping his boyfriend would appreciate the joke.
“Yeah,” Craig said, tweaking Marc’s nose. “But you only have time for her.”
Marc grabbed Craig’s hands. “I love you, Craig. You know that, right?”
“I do. I do,” he sighed. “I love you too, ‘Special Agent’ Morrissey.”
Craig bowed his head with too much resignation. Marc, not knowing what to say, ran a hand along his beloved’s arm. The patterned silk shirt rippled like waves under his fingers.
Marc wanted to stay… and he knew he should go. He needed to check out Doctor Alcott, and this was the best time to catch him at home.
Following leads was the job, and Marc was good at his job, but if he didn’t prove it to Dunn and their superiors, they might send him back to Newark, or worse, send him to some backwater field office. Craig had run as fast as he could to New York from middle America. Marc couldn’t ask him to go back.
Marc worked to catch Craig’s gaze, and when he did, his boyfriend smiled tiredly. He grabbed Marc’s hand and squeezed.
“Go,” Craig said while twirling Marc away from him towards the door. “Figure out what your lady is up to. The faster you uncover all her secrets, the faster you get to uncover all of mine,” he teased, wiggling his eyebrows.
“If that’s a promise…” Marc laughed, grabbing his wallet and keys and unlocking the door. He whirled to Craig, who blew him a kiss. Marc caught it and pretended to rub it into his cheek. Craig grinned again, then turned and shuffled to the kitchen. Marc watched him for a second longer before slowly retreating into the white-tiled hallway and shutting their front door behind him.
It was incredibly dangerous to be here. He and Craig should never have tried to make a life together under the nose of a brutally masculine Bureau, but love wasn’t logical, and it wasn’t tidy.
You bet your life, mister.
[i] Behavioral Analysis Unit of the F.B.I.
[ii] Violent Criminal Apprehension Program— started in 1982 to consolidate information on violent crimes from across the nation in order to see patterns.