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Minot: Epilogue


DAMIEN AND THE others were in various states of sitting or standing in the hospital hallway. It was early Sunday morning; they had been there all night, and there was still no word on how Kincaid was doing. Damien was pacing from the waiting area to the room the lieutenant had been taken to after leaving the emergency room; he went over in his head repeatedly what could possibly be taking so long; it had been a shoulder shot, so why was he still in there, with no word? Bowen was absent as well, having gone off with one of the doctors; so far there was no sign any of them would be returning anytime soon. Psyche sat on the floor next to AJ; there was a small bandage on her head where the chipped plaster had struck her, and she looked to be asleep. He knew she wasn't; she was going over things in her head too, such as how many ways that knife could have entered her throat, how many things she could have done wrong, how many things could have happened had not Kincaid shown up when he did. It could hardly bear thinking about.

Damien had just turned to pace down the hallway again when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Father Damien shook his head at him when he turned.

"Why don't you sit down," he said. "This isn't going to help anything."

"But why's it taking so long? He was just shot in the shoulder, for goodness' sake. He should be out by now."

"We both saw him. It wasn't that simple."

Damien opened his mouth to retort, sighed, and sat down in a chair against the wall. Father Damien let go of his shoulder and was starting to turn back to see how Psyche was when he noticed movement down at the end of the hallway. Everyone looked up. It was Bowen, and he was coming their way.

Damien--and just about all the others--stood.

The police chief came to a stop several feet away. Damien had a growing feeling of alarm; there was something about Bowen's expression that he didn't like. If he'd had to imagine how Sergeant Kincaid had looked after that meeting at the hospital--the one July had told him about before he'd ended up dead--this was how he would have looked.

Bowen forced a totally unconvincing smile. He hadn't slept all night, of course, and there were rings under his eyes. His eyes themselves were red, as if he'd been crying.

Which Damien didn't doubt.

"Good morning," Bowen said.

The others nodded. Damien stepped forward.

"Is he--is he okay?"

Bowen bit his lip and his eyes filled. The color drained from Damien's face. "It was..." he faltered. "It was just a shoulder shot!"

"Oh--no, no." Bowen shook his head, realizing what Damien thought. He offered another smile, slightly relieved this time. Damien's shoulders relaxed. "The wound--he's okay. He's not dead."

The singer let out his breath. "Then what?"

Bowen glanced over Damien's shoulder at the others, still standing in the hallway watching. "You wouldn't mind if I just talked with you and your uncle, would you?"

A long pause. Damien looked at the others. They stared back at him, but Puck appeared to nod his head slightly.

Damien turned back. "No, I guess not."

Bowen nodded himself, again looking slightly relieved. He turned and walked down the hallway, from where he'd come. Damien and his uncle followed, leaving the others behind.

They walked down the hallway for a bit before Bowen turned into a side room. At first Damien expected it to be Kincaid's room they were going to, but they passed that and the room they did enter was empty, the beds unoccupied. Bowen shut the door behind them and sat down on the edge of one bed, putting his head in his hands. He was silent for several moments.

Damien started to shuffle his feet. He disliked long silences, even when they were required. He supposed he wouldn't be good at a funeral. He just hoped he'd never have to go to another one. Not anytime soon.

Bowen finally lifted his head. He smiled, his eyes red. "I was just talking with that doctor," he said. "The one taking care of Kinnie. He asked about medical records. Kinnie's been here before, so I supposed they'd have them here."

He paused, running his hand along the sheet, as if unsure what to say. Neither of the others interrupted him. He spoke up again.

"You know what I'm talking about, right?" Two nods. "Well, his old records were sealed. I'm supposing Mark did that. Kinnie doesn't have any other relatives so it was up to me whether I wanted them opened up again or not. I suppose I'm the closest thing he's got to a family now."

"What did they say?" Damien asked softly.

"Oh, the usual--blood type, shots, stuff like that. Not that he ever had a full record. You know." He sighed and ran a hand down his face, attempting to sort out his thoughts. "Well...we got the records from last time he was here. There was another doctor then, you know, working on Kincaid's case. He was in bad shape then. That doctor and Kinnie, and Mark, they did some talking. I wasn't included in much of it, contrary to what you may have been told. I got the records reopened though." He lifted up a folder that had been sitting on the bedside table, rifling through it absently. The name ALAN KINCAID was typed on a sticker on the side. He took a breath and let it out.

So what is it that's so bad? Damien wondered. Why's he drawing it out? Kincaid was in the cult--we know that now. So what is it?

Father Damien, evidently seeing the growing impatience in his face, placed a hand on his arm.

"They went through some talking," Bowen continued. "Some therapy too, I assume. This other doc--psychiatrist," he forced the word out, "he spent a lot more personal time with Kinnie than Mark or I ever did. So he could come up with a--a diagnosis." He sighed again and held out the folder to Father Damien.

Diagnosis? Damien thought. Diagnosis of what--?

He turned and glanced at the paper, and at two words that were underlined next to the segment marked FINAL DIAGNOSIS. His eyes widened and he looked back up at Bowen.

The chief nodded. "Undifferentiated schizophrenia. I don't even know what that is. But the doc explained it a little. Kinnie's--seeing things, I suppose, hearing things maybe. That goes along with what your friend said. If she really is psychic."

"Schizophrenia?" Damien whispered. He couldn't believe it.

Another nod. Bowen rubbed his eyes again, looking very tired. "All this time I thought it was just this case, you know? I would be worried if I were getting death threats, I mean, who wouldn't? But when he started screaming at me--God, that's not like him. I didn't understand it. Your uncle was there. He could vouch for me. Kinnie absolutely lost it. He thought I was going against him."

If you agree with him, then I say you're taking sides. That was one of the earliest hints Damien supposed he'd gotten. God. Had he been like this even back then?

"So what now?" he asked. It was the only thing he could think of to say.

Bowen shrugged. "When he wakes up again, they're going to have to keep an eye on him, I guess. They don't know how he'll be. He could be delusional. He could be an absolute raving lunatic. He could be paranoid. He could be catatonic. He could be 'normal.' No one can tell. They just have to wait."

"And then what?"

"Medication, I suppose," Bowen said. "More therapy. But there's no cure for schizophrenia, even I know that. And when you mix that with all he's been through--God--that cult, Mark's suicide, Jenner--I'm only surprised he made it this far without losing it completely." He dropped his head again, rubbing his eyes. "Maybe he didn't."

The silence seemed to go on forever. This time Damien didn't move an inch. Finally Bowen raised his head and offered a final, tired smile.

"But they say maybe they can help," he said, barely managing to sound hopeful. "There's this drug they can try out, it's called Clozaril; they say it can get rid of his hallucinations and maybe make it so he's not so 'flat' all the time, you know what I mean? That way he just stared at everything. They say when he wakes up first they'll try some others out on him, then if they don't work they'll try out this. They'd have to monitor his white blood count, they said, but it could help. That and some therapy. Because no amount of medication can ever undo what that cult did to him. What Jenner tried to do."

"What about Jenner?" Father Damien asked. "What happens to him and Mitch? Mandie?"

Bowen scowled. "Jenner can rot in hell for all I care. I hope I never see him again. But he's charged with murder and attempted murder. Two counts. And conspiracy. Hawthorne called, tells me he confessed everything. No lawyers. He said he's going to plead guilty."

"On all counts?" Damien's mind was reeling. At the very least, Jenner could end up with twenty years to life, though probably much more, if he pleaded not guilty. What was he up to?

Bowen shrugged. "I couldn't care less what he does. He should just feel lucky there's no death penalty here. I'm not for the death penalty myself but I'm not ashamed to tell you, I'm sorely tempted right now." He took a deep breath, attempting to calm himself down. "Mitch, he's taking the traditional way. Not guilty. A lawyer. He's going to need it, what with Jenner practically undermining everything he says." He scowled. "One good thing about the guy, he's going to send Mitch away for good. It's amazing how those cultists stick together."

"So he was with Four P?" Damien asked.

Bowen looked at him. "Four P? I'm supposing Miss July told you about that." Damien nodded. "Well, I don't have any real way of knowing. I'm just going on what Hawthorne told me. No one could pay me enough to go talk with Jenner. He wouldn't say if he was in the cult or not. Mitch, we're assuming he was, but he's not talking."

"What about Mandie?" Father Damien asked. "You said you'd let her off easy."

Another shrug. "Easy compared to the others, yeah. She wasn't in on the murder. But she knew about it. She's going to testify whether she wants to or not. But I can guarantee she's going to be going underground for a while. After what happened to Miss July, there's no way she'd take that chance. No offense to the deceased but Miss July would have been small potatoes compared to Jenner. I'm sure Miss Mandie's going to make a lot more enemies with this than Kincaid ever did."

He fell silent again. The other two stood looking at their feet or around the room. Father Damien closed Kincaid's file and handed it back to the police chief, who received it silently.

"It goes deeper than this, I hope you know," he said quietly, his words echoing Kincaid's, Damien's, and his own, earlier in the investigation. "A hell of a lot deeper. Jenner and Mitch, they were just the tip of the iceberg. From what I've heard this Four P thing is all over. You saw those reports from New York and California. And now I find myself wondering if Kinnie's alone in his paranoia."

"It can't be paranoia if it has a cause," Damien replied. "And it does. I know because I've dealt with this too."

"Yeah?" Bowen smiled weakly. "No offense to you, Dami, but you tell me what it's like living with the walking dead. That's what I feel like right now. God, now I know exactly how Mark felt. No wonder he killed himself."

A slightly alarmed look shared between the other two. Bowen waved his hand at the air. "You don't need to worry about me. I never went for that kind of stuff. But I can't speak for Kinnie. I just wish I could, but I can't."

"What about Kincaid?" Father Damien asked softly. "What happens to him now?"

"Now?" Bowen paused for a while, thinking. "Well--he'll get his help, I suppose. All the help he can get. The money'll come out of my pocket if it has to. Hell, I'd've given him my blood if the type had matched!" He chuckled a little. "But after this? If there is any after. He's gonna have his office waiting for him, that's for sure."

Damien raised his eyebrows. Bowen grinned. "Didn't think I'd let him go that easily, did you? All I want is for him to get better and come back with us. I'm sure that's what the others want too. It's probably what Kinnie would want. He was my best cop, you know, even if he was a little weird now and then."

The other two laughed softly this time, though it was slightly uncomfortable; they had no way of knowing if Kincaid would pull through or not. Neither did Bowen, Damien was sure. However, he seemed to be hoping for the best. It was the least Damien could do to do the same.

"If you need any help paying for therapy or medicine or anything, just let me know," he said. "And don't think of it as charity. The whole time this was going on Kincaid was the only one who was right. I think you need him back on your force, too."

"Come on, now, Dami, don't underestimate my men so much. All they needed was a kick in the pants just like this one to get them going." His smile faded and he sighed. "It was good having you two here--and your friends," he said. He held out his hand, and Father Damien shook it, then Damien. "I'm only sorry I treated you the way I did when Kinnie first called you in. I thought we didn't need any 'outside assistance.' Jeez, was I wrong."

Damien smiled. "Now you're underestimating yourself, Chief."

"Yeah, well, we did need the help, didn't we? Have a good flight home. I hope everything's quiet back in Michigan. The last thing you'd need after this is more culty stuff." He stood up and stretched his arms, wincing. "God, I need some rest. Something tells me I'm not gonna be getting it for a while, though. You two make the most of your flight home. You've got everything you need?"

The priest nodded. "Don't worry about us. You're sure you don't need--"

"Naw, I'm fine. I'm just gonna stay here a little bit longer, see how Kinnie's doing. I'd let you in to see him, but the doc says he needs rest. I'm the only one he's letting in so far. I'll let you know how he's doing whenever I can. Jeez, I better call Hawthorne and have him check up on that dog."

"Dog--?" Damien started, confused.

"Yeah! Strangest thing. He told me about it when they went to check Kinnie's house. There's this dog there. White German shepherd. Just lying outside like it's waiting for him to come home. They had to do up its leg, it looks like somebody tried to shoot it. Won't leave the place, either; I had Hawthorne leave a bowl of food for it. Funny, huh?"

Against his bidding, a faint smile crept up Damien's face. It seemed like someone else was waiting for Kincaid to get better, too. "Yeah. Funny." He shook Bowen's hand again. "Well--I hate long goodbyes. It was good meeting you. Tell Kincaid he owes us lunch at Falcon's when he wakes up." He didn't let any negative thoughts he might have surface in his words. Only positive, only positive things now. There's been too much pain here. They need to start healing now. "And I'm looking forward to it, too. Fryin' Fajitas."

This time Bowen's smile was genuine. He joggled Damien's hand back. "You too, Dami, Father. Tell your friends you and they're welcome back anytime. I'm sure Kinnie would be glad to see you again."

Damien and his uncle nodded, and turned to leave the room. "Oh, wait a minute," Bowen said, behind them. They stopped and turned back. The police chief came toward them, holding out something. "I took this from Kinnie's office. Don't think it'll help much, he'll probably just get himself another one, but maybe you could make something useful out of it."

He handed it to Damien. It was the letter opener. Damien received it silently, staring at the light glinting off the blade. It was surprising how much the thing did look like a dagger. He looked up at Bowen, caught his eyes, and nodded. He and Father Damien turned away one last time, leaving the room. Chief Bowen watched them go.

After they'd gotten settled on the plane, their belts buckled, Damien sat back with a sigh. This whole trip had been a lot different from what he'd expected. A whole lot different. Dino sat beside him, fidgeting with his own belt. He glanced out the window briefly, then back at the singer, who was resting, eyes closed.

"Hey, Dami, what'd Chief Bowen tell you back there, anyway?"

"Hm? Oh. Just about Kinnie. He's gonna be okay."

"He is? You're sure?"

"Mm-hm." He knew after all this, no matter how tired he was, he wasn't going to be getting any sleep on the flight home. He'd have to wait till he was in the comfort of his own bedroom. All this was just too stressful.

"That's good to hear," Dino said, sounding relieved. "I liked Kinnie. Even if he was a little weird, y'know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I know." From his pocket, Damien drew out the letter opener and looked at it closely, tilting it this way and that. He was slightly surprised they'd allowed him to carry it on board, it looked so much like a weapon. Dino caught a glance of it and frowned, puzzled.

"Hey, Dami, where'd you get that? Looks familiar. I think I've seen that somewhere before, haven't I?"

"Yeah, Dino." He traced his finger along the blade, and frowned to himself as the plane started taxiing down the runway. "And you're not the only one."

A moment later the plane's tires left the ground, and it rose into the air, away from the airport, away from Minot. The sun rose sluggishly over the eastern horizon and bathed them in gold and blood red.


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