Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
I was already in the office, flipping through one of Mark's science magazines,
when he arrived at work the next day. He walked in and tossed me a booklet.
"That's the guide for getting your driving permit," he said. "Picked it up on
the way in. I've got a carload of tools and stuff; can you give me a hand?"
He wasn't kidding. I summoned a Spirit Servant to help with the load. I saw
a drill, a cordless rotary tool, a variety of bits for both of them, numerous
hand tools, and an assortment of screws and fasteners. The last item was the
largest: a metal-frame workbench, disassembled and packed in a large box. I let
the Servant have that one and took an armload of smaller items.
"You want this in the basement?" asked Mark.
"I guess so. Against the wall where we removed the shackles would probably be
We spent the morning assembling the workbench. It was surprisingly flimsy
feeling; when I commented on it, Mark said "It's a promo. It was cheap, though.
I think it'll be alright after we attach it to the wall." We did, in fact,
attach it to the stone wall with screws and anchors, and it seemed serviceable
We arranged the hand tools on the pegboard provided, and packed the power tools
and sundry other items on the lower shelf. Mark stood back then, and said "Just
what every American homeowner should have... a well stocked workshop."
"Indeed. Am I supposed to grunt now?"
"Nah, that's too cliche'." Mark grinned at his own joke, just as Mara came down
"Nice workbench. Are you boys ready for lunch yet?" she asked.
We ate at the kitchen table, as usual. I was a bit nervous, thinking about the
job I had to begin that afternoon. "Mara," I said, "I have a favor to ask of
"Anything, my love."
"I'd like for you to go along today and talk to Kimberly with me."
"Oh," she said, looking surprised and worried at the same time. "I
don't know anything about investigating. Are you sure you need me?"
"This young woman has been raped. I think it's likely she would find
talking to a woman easier than a man. I'll be there too, of course,
but I'd like to remain in the background."
Mara thought for a moment. "I think you're right about her state of
mind, but I'm afraid I won't do a good job interrogating her."
"I think 'interviewing' might be a better word," said Mark. "Less of
an air of contention."
"Whatever," she said, giving him a dirty look.
"All you need to do is to get her to tell her story in as much detail
as possible," I said. "You'll do better than you think."
"Maybe," she said. "How can I turn you down?"
Mark drove, of course. The house was on the side of a steep hill
(like so many in San Francisco), one of a row of nearly identical
townhouses. As we got out, Mark said "There's a car wash
down the street. I'm gonna wash my car, then I'll park down there
somewhere and do some reading." He indicated a stack of technology
and science magazines in the back seat. "You've got your cell phone,
"Right here," she said, removing it from her purse to display.
"Call me when you are ready to leave. Good luck!"
"Thanks!" I called as he drove off. We climbed the steps to the
house. I was about to knock when Mara pushed the doorbell button.
Sometimes it's pretty obvious I was raised in the Stone Age.
A well dressed Oriental woman answered the door. The resemblance to
Natomi was obvious. "Miyuki Burke, I presume?" I said, holding out my
hand. "I'm Solo Jones."
"Mister Jones, yes, we've been expecting you." Her grip was light as
she briefly took my hand.
"This is Mara," I said. "She'll be assisting me today."
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Mara," she said. Her accent was faint but
always present. Mara shook hands with her, then complimented her on
the decor of her home as we entered.
"Thank you very much. I've done it all myself... with some help from
my family. My husband Walter is at work right now, but I'm sure
you'll be able to meet him there if you need to."
"At this point, ma'am, I'm most interested in meeting your daughter
and seeing her room," I said. Miyuki led us upstairs and knocked at a
The door opened, and a young woman appeared there. She was dressed in
jeans and a T-shirt, the latter bearing the logo of a popular singing
group. "Yes?" she said to her mother.
"This is Solo Jones and his assistant Mara. They are the people your
aunt hired to investigate your... case."
"Please come in," Kimberly said, opening the door wider. There was
only one chair in her bedroom, pushed up to a computer desk; Kimberly
sat on the edge of her bed, and I pulled out the chair to face her and
indicated to Mara that she should sit there.
Miyuki said, "I'll be downstairs if you need anything." Kimberly's
face showed a sudden moment of panic as the door closed, but then she
regained her composure by force of will.
I sat down on the floor beside the doorway, tailor-style. Kimberly
looked at me expectantly, so I began. "We need to know everything you
can tell us about what happened. I know it's hard to talk about, and
I know you've been made to tell it already several times, but we won't
be able to help you without good information."
"I understand," she said, with surprising calmness.
I was about to speak, when Mara took over. "It might be easier if I
asked you the questions."
"Alright," said the girl, turning to face Mara.
"Do you mind if I record this interview?" Mara asked. Kimberly shook
her head, and Mara took a small tape recorder from her purse. I
hadn't thought of taping her, but of course it was the most logical
way to do it.
Mara started the recorder, then placed it on the bed near Kimberly.
"Now," she said, "tell me what happened that night."
"I was in bed, asleep. We all were. I woke up suddenly, struggling,
but I didn't know why at first. Then I figured out my hands were tied
to the headboard. There was tape over my mouth, and someone was
holding me down while someone else pulled my panties down."
She paused then, tears running down her face. "It's okay," said Mara,
"take your time. We need to hear it all, but we don't have to hear it
all at once."
Once again Kimberly regained her composure. "I tried to kick but then
both of them were holding my legs. They were just too strong. I
could see them by the light of my computer." I noticed that her
computer had a screensaver running, depicting fish in an aquarium. "I
leave it running all the time; it's like having my own fishtank but I
don't have to feed them." She smiled a weak smile as another tear ran
down her face.
"What did they look like?" asked Mara.
"I don't know. They were both, like, five-eight, five-ten, something
like that, about the same size. They were strong, like athletes, and
young I guess. They both had on sweatshirts and sweatpants, sneakers,
cloth gloves, and leather masks."
"Leather masks?" prompted Mara.
"Yeah, like those ones the kinky sex shops sell. Slits for eyes and
mouth, but nothing else shows. So I don't know what their faces look
"So, then they raped you," said Mara.
"Not exactly. One of them raped me. He pulled his sweatpants down
just enough, and he did it. The other one helped, holding my legs out
of his way."
"The other one didn't rape you?"
"No." She hung her head and cried a bit more, and we waited
patiently. "Just the one. He did it, and then he pulled up his pants
and they both went out the window. It took me a while to get the
tape off my mouth, and I screamed, and Mom and Dad came and untied me
and called the police."
Natomi was right, there were strange elements to this case. I decided
to step in at this point. "So neither one of them spoke? To you or
to each other?" She jumped a bit at the sound of my voice.
"No," she said. "I guess they must have planned it completely. They
didn't even use hand signals, at least after I was awake."
"I'm sorry to get this personal, but... did either of them... fondle
you, or take advantage of you any other way?"
"No," she said, shaking her head.
"There's something you are hiding, Kimberly," said Mara. "What aren't
you telling us?"
Kimberly burst out crying for all she was worth. Mara went to her,
sat down beside her, and hugged her close. "There, there," she said,
"you know you need to tell us. Hiding it is killing you, isn't it?"
"Yes," she sobbed. "I'll tell you." She hugged Mara, hiding her
face. "My brother is the one who held me down."
Well, I was shocked. Mara didn't seem as surprised as I was. "How
did you know?" she asked.
"His face was hidden, he never said a word, but I heard him breathe,
and I smelled him. It was him, I know it was! But I can't prove it,
and it would kill my Mom and Dad if they knew."
That, to me at least, explained why the second man didn't rape her.
Her own brother might well not be attracted to her.
I was wrong, of course, and right too... but it would be a while
before I really understood.
Mara said, "Tell me about your brother. His name is Daniel, right?"
"Yeah. He's nineteen now. Back when we were both little I looked up
to him. He was always good to me. About the time he started middle
school he got kind of... withdrawn, and angry all the time. He
started hanging out with a bad crowd.
"Then when he was a junior in high school he told Mom and Dad he was
gay. In a way it was a relief. He said he had a boyfriend. Dad
didn't like it too well, but Mom convinced him to accept it. She said
she didn't want it to drive us apart.
"So anyway, Mom told him to invite his friend over. His name is Joel.
He came to dinner a couple of times, and eventually even Dad seemed to
"So Daniel's attitude improved after he announced his sexual
orientation?" I said.
"Yeah. He was, like, the brother I remembered from when I was little.
Anyway, he and Joel both arranged to go to UCLA together when the time
came. They got an apartment off campus, and everything seemed, you
"It was a Friday night when you were attacked?" asked Mara.
"And was your brother supposed to be home?"
"No. He didn't come home that weekend, or at least that's what we
were supposed to think. Dad called him right away to tell him what
happened so he wouldn't hear about it first on the news, and he
answered his apartment phone."
Mara said, "That could be faked. He has a cell phone, right?"
"Digital PCS. I thought of that, too, and his phone is so good you
usually can't tell it from his regular phone. He must have been
parked, or in a motel or something though, or Dad would have heard
road noise." Kimberly seemed almost back to normal emotional
stability at this point, but then she realized what she was talking
about and began to cry in earnest again.
As Mara tried to comfort her I thought about the situation. It was no
long jump to assume that Joel was the rapist, if in fact Daniel was
the one holding her down.
When Kimberly seemed to be calm again, I asked "Where are Daniel and
Joel now? Still at UCLA?"
"Joel is visiting his family in North Dakota. They don't know he's
gay, so he didn't take Daniel with him. He's spending time with us
this week, but he's not in the house right now. It's so hard not to
act different around him, but so far I don't think he knows that I
I was thinking of other questions when Mara said, "There's something
else, isn't there?"
Kimberly looked at her. "How do you know?"
"You feel like you're holding something inside," answered Mara.
"I shouldn't be pregnant, though," she said. "I'm on the Pill. Mom
insisted, even though I told her I plan to wait for the right man.
She said she understood how powerful new love was, and that she wanted
me to be ready. She even gave me condoms to carry in my purse."
"So were you..." began Mara.
"No, it's just like I told Mom, I'm waiting. The only man who could
be the father is the rapist. But even without the Pill I shouldn't be
pregnant! They did a D&C at the hospital after they collected the
I had to wait until later to get that explained to me; but after Mara
explained the procedure I had to agree with Kimberly. She should not
At that moment, though, I filed my questions for later and silently
activated my Aura Reading spell. Sure enough, there was a second aura
within Kimberly's golden one. The tiny aura, low in her abdomen, was
distinctly orange in color, and though small seemed healthy.
Mara looked at me. Kimberly's face was again hidden, so she didn't
see me slowly nod at my beloved.
We waited again for Kimberly to regain her composure. Truthfully, I
felt like crying for her myself, or screaming in anger at her brother
and his lover (for I was sure by then that they were the culprits).
Presently she calmed, or at least quieted, and I asked, "Have you any
pictures of Daniel and Joel?"
She got up then, went to her unruly bookshelf, and got down a photo
album. Shortly she handed me a picture of the family, with what I
later discovered was the Grand Canyon behind them.
Something about the tanned, dark-haired young man was familiar in some
strange way. I couldn't put my finger on it...
"I'm sorry, I don't have any of Joel," she said. "You can have that.
I'm not sure I'll ever want to look at it again."
"Do you know when will Joel will be back in town?"
"I think Daniel said Friday afternoon."
"Kimberly," said Mara, "can you give me the address and phone number
of your brother at UCLA?" She agreed, and Mara made careful note of
I thought for a moment. "Well, Kimberly, we have enough to begin our
investigation now," I said, standing up. Mara retrieved her tape
recorder and turned it off, then hugged Kimberly again.
"We'll call you as soon as we learn something," Mara said.
"Thanks. I really mean it. You don't know how good it feels just to
talk about this with someone." She thought for a moment. "You won't
tell anyone without asking me first, will you?"
"We'll be very discreet," answered Mara. "If we can prove it was your
brother and his friend, will you be prepared to press charges?"
"I don't know. I think so. He may be my brother, but he can't be
allowed to get away with this." She was quiet a moment. "If you can
get proof I'll do something with it, I promise."
We went back downstairs. I told Miyuki that I would be in touch soon,
as Mara called for our ride home.
As we rode back to the house I asked Mara about the D&C, and she
explained it to me. It made me sore just hearing about it.
"So what do you think?" I asked her.
"I think it was Joel," she answered. "Kimberly never said it, but I'm
sure she thinks so too."
"Your sensitivity is astounding," I said. "I would never have learned
so much by myself."
Mark said, "Did you tape her?"
"Yes," answered Mara. "You can listen for yourself back in the office."
It was late in the afternoon when we got back. I went into the living
room and began rearranging my prepared spells, to get ready for my
You haven't forgotten the support group, have you?
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