Minot: Chapter 13
IF DAMIEN HADN'T already been sitting he was sure he would be now.
"Maybe I should just start at the beginning," July offered.
"Yeah." Very faintly.
"Like I told you already a friend of mine was involved in that bust. I won't tell you how. I'm already saying too much as it is." She cast a quick glance around the park, sighed, and continued. "There was some info going around that there were a lot of drugs and arms being housed in this building. Connected with a cult. They call themselves the Four P Movement."
Damien had seen that name, in the same book mentioning Minot as a Satanic hotspot. His heart thumped. "So it's true?"
"What's true? That there's a cult here? Of course it's true. Anyone can tell you that. Mr. Falcon most of all. For some reason these people like to frequent his place."
"Why do they keep leaving animals there?"
"That's part of the ritual. Listen, there's plenty of people around here connected--if only indirectly--to Four P, and the mutilations are only part of the way to keep them all quiet. Particularly to keep those not involved quiet. Hence Mr. Falcon's reluctance to talk with you. It's a good thing he doesn't know the whole story or else he'd be in big trouble by now. Maybe he already is."
"But what about Kincaid?"
She took a breath. "Like I was saying, the city police got word of these drugs and arms being held in this building. Sergeant Kincaid led the bust. They all knew there was something having to do with a cult; they have lived here all their lives, anyway--so they were all extra careful going in. Most of the important people had already split. There were about four or five adults they snagged; they never got to charge them for anything other than illegal possession of firearms and controlled substances because they were extradited. On other charges in other states. None of them ever served any time here."
She nodded. "I say adults because there was one non-adult. Sergeant Kincaid found him. It was Kinnie, of course. I know you've heard this already."
"He wasn't speaking or anything. From what I heard he was only staring at everybody. His left leg was in bad shape." She motioned to her own leg, and made a slicing gesture from the ankle to the knee. "All cut up like someone had stabbed him over and over."
The limp... "What was that from?"
"Cult rituals, I suppose. I never got to find out exactly because right after that they swept him away into the hospital, and till his release no one heard of him again."
"What went on there?"
A shrug. "I can't tell you that. The only people who knew anything were Sergeant Kincaid and Chief Bowen. I don't think even Bowen knows the whole story. But anyway after he was hospitalized there was word they were all talking with a headshrinker of some sort."
A nod. "I saw how one session ended. Bowen and Sergeant Kincaid both came walking out of the building. Bowen didn't look too happy; you know how he usually spouts off when he's mad?"
Damien nodded; he knew that well!
"Well, he wasn't spouting off at all. That should show you how upset he was. And Sergeant Kincaid--well, he wasn't too pretty a sight either--"
"What was he doing? How was he acting?"
"He just kept his eyes covered. He looked ready to cry. When he and Bowen got in the car he dropped his head. It wasn't too long after that session that he killed himself."
Everything the residents of Minot had kept saying--"They say he was upset about Kinnie," "We think maybe he knew something we didn't, and couldn't live with it," "He knew Kinnie was kooky, just like him"--started to fall into place.
Maybe he knew something we didn't...
Something like what?
"That's pretty much it," July said. "Other than the fact that they checked up on Kinnie's background and found absolutely nothing."
He also remembered what Phil had said, about him possibly being from somewhere else. "You think he was kidnapped? By Four P?"
Another shrug. "It's possible. I'd say it's probable. But as to where from? I couldn't answer that either."
She closed the book in her lap, ending the discussion. "That's really all I can tell you. It's all I know. And if you don't mind I should be going now."
"Where can I contact you?"
She stared at him. "You can't. I'm hauling ass out of this town. Staying here would just be suicide."
She didn't appear to notice the irony of her words, instead standing up and putting the book under her arm. Blossom stood as well, panting and looking up at her. Damien scrambled to his feet as soon as he saw she was serious.
"But I might need to talk to you--"
"I'm sorry but, like they say, that's tough. I've seen what they do to animals to keep people quiet. If that doesn't work what would they do?" She shook his limp hand. "I hope I've been able to help you out a little, though, and it was nice meeting you. Good luck finding whoever's behind all this. I think you'll need it." Tapping Blossom's head, she walked away, the dog tagging along beside her.
Damien watched them go. When he could no longer see them he sighed and headed out of the park, back to his car. On the way he saw Officer Jenner's patrol car parked nearby, and Officer Jenner leaning against it watching him. He smiled and nodded once as if to say hello. Damien gave a weak smile back, got into his car, started the engine, and drove away.
Damien was too tired to return to the police station that day, and too confused; everything July had told him whirled around in his head, banging into every other thought he tried to produce, so that he was afraid if he opened his mouth it would all come pouring out. He wasn't sure he wanted to let the others know what he knew; perhaps it was too early to tell if anything July had said was true or not. He wasn't sure. Father Damien noticed his state and said nothing. Damien flopped down on the bed and let out his breath, then looked around.
"She went to meet Officer Jenner again." Damien really didn't like the sound of this. "I think they were going to the Falcon's Nest."
The priest looked at him. Damien waved a hand.
"Sorry. I'm just kind of screwed up right now. I just saw Officer Jenner in the park. He must be on his way to meet her."
"Well, he is a patrolman."
"True. Have you been down to the station today?"
"Earlier when I picked up Psyche. Not since then."
"Well, I'm gonna try to take a nap. I'll go back there tomorrow."
He turned over onto his side and covered his eyes as if the light hurt them. Father Damien went over to the door and, behind Damien's back, locked it.
Just in case.
Psyche showed up early in a taxi; she hadn't wanted to bother Officer Jenner having him come pick her up. In a squad car, no less! No, that wouldn't have been very flattering.
The atmosphere at the station now seemed subdued somehow. Kincaid's door was shut, and the blinds were down again. She wondered what he could be doing in there. The distinct thump-thump-thump she heard through the glass told her what. Maybe it was just her, but it seemed the desk would fall apart eventually if he kept stabbing it like that.
As she walked past his office she felt a wave of dizziness sweep over her, and had to steady herself against the wall. She nearly fell over. One of the cops--Hawthorne, she remembered his name was--grabbed her arm to steady her, and helped her sit down in a chair.
"Maybe you should head back home?" he suggested.
"No, I'm--I'm okay," she said shakily. "Just a little dizzy." The truth was, her head felt cloudy; she had to shake it to clear it up. Now that she was sitting down she was starting to feel better. "Thanks though. Is Officer Jenner here?"
"Not yet. He should be back soon. Have a little rest on me."
He turned away and went back to work. She rubbed her temples and wondered just what could have come over her. Maybe Mitch had been right--maybe it was this place! If she'd had more time, she'd have gone out to "pick up the vibes" the ground was setting off. That wasn't the way she'd have put it, but it was the only self-explanatory way.
Bowen exited his office with a folder of papers and went to Kincaid's door. He glanced at Psyche as he did so, and frowned; apparently he hadn't expected to meet her there again. A moment later his knock could be heard. "Kinnie? I got something to show you."
It took Psyche a moment to realize how strange it was that Kincaid didn't answer the door or even yell back.
Bowen's frown deepened. "Hey, Kinnie. Open the door. I need to talk to you."
There was still that thumping sound, but nothing else.
Psyche turned around to look. The chief tried the doorhandle. It was locked.
He looked ready to scowl. "Kinnie!" He knocked on the glass this time. "Open the door, Kinnie. This is important."
Now just about everybody else in the station was standing perfectly still. Psyche's hands had frozen at her temples. She was starting to feel uneasy about this. Why wouldn't he open the door? He'd obviously heard by now.
The letter opener jab-jab-jabbed into the desktop as fast as Kincaid could make it go. He wished he could make it go faster; then maybe the stabbing would get so fast it would end altogether, like traveling at the speed of light was said to be impossible because you would just end up standing still and then traveling backwards. He couldn't will his arm to move any faster.
Outside the sanctuary he could hear everything magnified--the door opening, the voice of that lady friend of the singer's; her hand against the wall just outside his office, Hawthorne having her sit down--the slight creak of the chair as she did so. Footsteps. People breathing. All the sounds were permeating the walls around him. And the glass.
Damn that glass, if it were only thicker! If all the walls were thicker, if he were thicker so he couldn't feel that knife--
Thumping sounds. A knock sounded on his door as loud as a cannon. He cringed back in his seat, willing it to go away.
"Kinnie? I got something to show you."
I'll just bet you do. Plenty to show me--pictures, pictures, pictures--would you like to show me some more lovely Polaroids, Chief? They make the red stand out so well.
"Hey, Kinnie. Open the door. I need to talk to you."
Hasn't there been enough talk? He told his arm to move faster but it wouldn't; the thing wouldn't obey him. So now they're getting to me, too. I can't move. He tried to fight the hold over his arm, and found himself succeeding; the letter opener continued going up and down, up and down; though it felt like someone had placed a huge weight on his arm, making it difficult to move. All talk and no action. Action's what we need. What we need is a nice, red picture of the animals. Red red red.
The doorhandle turned. He couldn't remember if he'd locked it or not. He couldn't seem to remember anything lately. Except that red--
A knock on the glass. He started back with another cringe. The sound reverberated through his skull, hammering the back of his head. He could literally feel the shockwaves passing through his body.
Stop it stop it stop it! Can't you see what it's doing? Can't you hear those waves?--
Slamming right into him, just like a
knife through his skull, or something
"KINNIE!" His own name, rattling his head like a bomb going off. It was all he could do not to drop the letter opener and cover his ears, yet if he dropped the letter opener
it would all be lost; he had to keep it in motion for as long as he could or he'd fall apart! They'd get through that glass, he knew it; if that voice could they could.
"OPEN THE DOOR, KINNIE. THIS IS IMPORTANT."
Must you yell through that megaphone, Chief?! I'm not deaf!
But I'm death, I am, I am--I'm dead and this is where I'm staying. I'm not opening that door no matter what you do.
*That's right--don't let them in.*
He glanced around with surprise. Who else could be in here? He'd thought he was alone. Yet when he heard the voice again he relaxed. It was the only one he could trust now. More familiar than himself.
*It's only me, Kinnie. Don't let them get to you. That glass will hold them out.*
He still wasn't sure about that. The noise got through, didn't it...?
*Noise is just noise, Kinnie. Ignore it. Show them you ignore it.*
A shattering, rattling from the glass. He's rattling the pane. Pain, pain, pain. Slamming in my brain. It echoed like some idiotic nursery rhyme.
*Show them you ignore it! They can't break through, but you can break out!*
"LIEUTENANT! YOU OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!!"
I can break out, Chief. With a grin he raised his arm and threw.
Bowen knocked on the glass so hard Psyche was sure it would break. "Lieutenant!" he shouted; she cringed, having never heard him call Kincaid that. It was a direct command. "You open this door right now!"
Now the thumping stopped. Dead silence filled the station. Even Bowen quit knocking, staring at the glass. The angry expression faded from his face. It was like the calm before a storm.
As if sensing this, Bowen backed away slowly from the window. Psyche stared. The silence went on and on. And then, just like that, it was broken.
There was a kishhh! as the glass broke. Everyone ducked and threw up their arms as if a bomb had gone off. What flew through the window and landed squarely on Hawthorne's desk was not a bomb, however; it was something much more mundane. A little too mundane.
Psyche turned and stared over her shoulder at the letter opener that clattered down just several inches behind her arm.