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Chapter 16 -- Thursday Afternoon
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

We stopped at a local deli for lunch. There were a lot of police officers there; it was close to the station, after all.

As we sat there eating I was going over the case in my head. I needed to talk to Daniel, I knew, but I also would have to interrogate this Joel. I would have to be cunning in my approach...

Mara left me to my thoughts until we were nearly finished eating. We must have seemed a dour pair to any onlooker. At last, Mara finished off her sandwich and said, "Have you figured out how to get Daniel alone to talk to him?"

"No." I frowned, and Mara mocked my frown, then smiled.

"Wait until he's asleep," she said, "and use what you learned from Dreamwalker."

Ah. As usual Mara saw the obvious thing I was overlooking. I didn't need him out of the house to catch him alone. I could catch him alone in his own mind.

"Joel is supposed to be back in town tomorrow afternoon," Mara said.

"Yes. I'd like to have some evidence on him before he gets here. Something Moretti can use."

"What about his phone bill?"

"Huh?" I said.

"Remember, we think that they forwarded their apartment phone to Daniel's PCS phone. You pay airtime on both inbound and outbound calls on wireless phones, and besides, the forwarding would also create a charge for a long-distance call." She took a sip of her soda as I thought about this. "Either bill should give away that they weren't home, but the PCS bill might tell where they really were when the call came in."

"Great. So how do we get this?"

"I don't know. The police could if they had some other evidence. Probable cause would let them get a warrant for that information." Mara frowned then. "I don't know how we can get it, though."

"Maybe we'll see Mark later and he'll have an idea," I said. We got up, cleared our table and walked out.

We still had quite a walk ahead of us. Mara was just suggesting we take the bus when I heard a voice from the street. "You guys need a taxi?"

It was Mark. Emily was in her carseat in the back of his car, asleep. "I was just heading toward your house, but I guess I won't find you there unless I take you."

"Thanks, Mark!" said Mara as we both got in. "Were your ears burning?"

"Were you talking about me?" he said.

"Yes," I said as I buckled myself in beside the sleeping child. "Mara suggested that the phone bill for Daniel's PCS phone might give away where they really were when Walter called him."

Mara picked it up at this point. "We talked to Detective Moretti today... she's the police detective who is assigned this case... and she told us that they have hair from the rapist for DNA matching. If we can get them proof that Daniel and Joel may be involved that would allow them to get a warrant and try to make a match."

"Hair?" said Mark. "What about semen?"

"That's the strange part," I said. "Moretti confirmed that they found almost no sperm in the rape kit samples. It seems that we have yet another reason why Kimberly Burke should not be pregnant."

We went on to tell him all we had learned that morning; we weren't done when we arrived at the house. Mark pulled in and parked, and as he was coming around to get Emily Mara picked her up. "I'll lay her on our bed," she said. It was the only bed in the house; we hadn't yet gotten around to redecorating and furnishing a guest room.

"Thanks!" said Mark. He picked up the bag of clothing and necessities which seemed to follow Emily everywhere. As we walked up to the house he produced a videotape from the bag. "Got something you might like to see."

It was a movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's likely you've seen it, as it was a popular movie and an award winner. I hadn't seen it yet, but I was in for some surprises.

Mara and I prepared drinks and popcorn and brought them into the living room, where Mark was waiting, remote control in hand. "I've already seen this movie like, twice, but it's really good. It's subtitled, so I hope you read pretty quickly."

It turned out that I did read fast enough to follow the storyline. If you haven't seen the movie, I'll just say that it's a kind of Chinese mythological tale of warriors. The early parts were engaging drama, but then there was a fight scene... well, I was standing up suddenly. "That's it!" I said. "That's what the swordsmen do! They leap around like they are weightless!"

Mara grabbed my belt and compelled me to sit. "It is, my love, it's just what the man did on Saturday."

"I thought you'd find this interesting," said Mark.

I did. I watched entranced for a while. Eventually, though, my several late nights caught up with me in the darkened living room, and I fell asleep.

They let me sleep. I awoke near the end of the movie, sorry I had missed it but not at all sorry I had slept. I felt, well, brighter.

Just as Mark was rewinding the tape we heard the pounding of little feet coming down the stairs. "Emily, sweetie, use the handrail!" called Mark.

Emily came in and ran to her father, hugging his legs. Then she turned her big smile toward Mara and I. "How did you sleep?" asked Mara.

"I slep' good. You wanna hear a joke?"

"Sure," I said.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

"To get to the other side," I answered, and she squealed.

"How did you know?" she asked.

"When I was a boy, the joke was, why did the squirrel cross the trail." I smiled. "It's really a very old joke."

"No kidding," said Mark. "I had no idea."

It was midafternoon by then, of course, and Mark decided to call the hospital and see how Valerie was. He came back from the office looking worried.

"She's had a couple of seizures, Laura says. The doctor has increased her medication and she's pretty much out of her head most of the time." He hung his head a moment. "This thing really took off once we found it."

We decided to go to the hospital, at least for a little while. I won't describe the scene, as it was a sad one. Valerie didn't even recognize Emily at first.

Standing outside her room, Art, Mark, and I spoke in low tones about what would be done after she was gone. It seemed imminent. Mara hung around for a while, then wandered off, to the restroom I presumed. Shortly she returned and led me away by the arm.

"Raziya is here," she said, and it took me a moment to place the name. Then I remembered her from the support group; her husband hadn't seemed as pleased as she was with her healing.

"Why is she here?" I asked, afraid that I already knew.

"Her husband had her circumcised again."

You have heard of "gut-wrenching" events, I'm sure. I felt it. I felt deep sadness and dark anger mix into a toxic brew within me. For a moment I didn't speak, but only wrestled the demons within me.

"Where is she?" I asked after a time. Rather than answer Mara took me by the arm and led me there.

Raziya lay in the bed, sleeping. This room was not a private room, but the other bed was unoccupied. I did not see her husband, either in the room or in the nearby waiting area. Mara led me into the room, moving confidently as if she belonged there.

I looked at her; she looked frail, as would anyone who had suffered such pain and loss of blood. The only medical equipment I saw was an IV bottle. I seethed inside with anger at her husband.

She opened her eyes. "Mara? Is it you? How did you know I was here?" Her voice was very weak, and slurred.

"Yes, Raziya, it's me. We were visiting a friend, and I happened to see you."

"Who it that with you?" she asked, looking at me intently. "Sorceror! You are the one who healed me!"

"Yes," I answered. "I can do it again." I walked to the window. My Mystic Vision from the morning had already faded away, but I had one prepared which I now released. I was about to release my Tap spell when she spoke.

"No," she said with surprising strength. "If you heal me, my husband Ghedi will insist I be mutilated again. If I refuse he will leave me, and tear our family apart." Tears ran down her face. "He's not a bad man, he just believes in the traditions of our people. No, sorceror, you must not heal me again."

"As you wish," I said, barely able to control myself. Mara came to me and put her arm around me, and I felt a little better.

Raziya said "Thank you" and faded into sleep. As I stood there looking at her a plan came fully formed into my mind.

"Mara, do you know where they live?" I asked her quietly.

"No," she answered, "but I can find out. I'll call Marjani." She took out her cell phone and dialed the number from memory; obviously they had been friends. After a few moments of quiet conversation she handed me a slip of paper with an address and phone number on it. I didn't need the phone number.

It was the work of moments to ascend to the rooftop. I left Mara with Raziya; this was a job for me alone. I released my prepared Flight spell, and then the Invisibility. I was not worried that anyone might be looking; in fact I didn't really care.

It was a powerful spell of Flight, and the wind tore at me as I flew along above the rooftops following the streets. Shortly I was at the house. I considered blasting down the front door (which would have been very satisfying) but I didn't want to attract the police. What I had in mind would take some time.

I landed in the back yard, which was entirely fenced in. The back door was the sliding glass sort, and I found it unlocked. Inside the house was Ghedi, calmly watching a comedy on television. I blasted the TV with a Force Bolt, losing my Invisibility in the process.

He leaped to his feet with an incomprehensible outcry, and once again I was impressed by his size. He was enraged, but before he could act I released my Sleep spell. He fell hard onto the couch, then slipped onto the floor. I threw the coffee table aside and rolled him on his back.

I did not have prepared the spells I would need, but I did have a Tap. I walked to the window and looked for the Ley lines; one was close enough, and I released the Tap. Then I stepped away from the window, and cast Dream Contact.

I reached out my mind to the hospital, to Raziya, and found her in a dream of her childhood. I left her alone, not making my presence known yet, for I was not done. I cast Dream Contact again and reached into Ghedi's mind. Under the influence of my Sleep spell he was not yet dreaming, but he would be...

Raziya, I said in her dream, appearing as myself. Little girl, it's time to grow up. She stood up and then quickly grew into a woman.

Sorceror, what are you doing here? she asked.

It is time that your husband learned a lesson, I said. Remember what he made you suffer. Remember! Suddenly we were in a room in a house in a poor part of the city. Raziya stood beside me looking at herself, naked and bound hand and foot to the top of a table. We seemed to be invisible to the bound Raziya.

An old woman entered the room, closing the door behind her. At this moment I said to Raziya, Start at the beginning. You are arriving at this place. The scene changed, and now I was seeing from her point of view. We were at the door to this small, poor house, and I felt Ghedi's strong hand on my... her... upper arm, holding it forcefully.

I reached my mind to Ghedi again, and then he was with me, inside his wife's dream. I spoke, only to him. Ghedi, you will now know what your wife suffered for you. I hope you enjoy it.

In a strange sort of way I stood aside, guiding Raziya as I channelled her dream-memories to Ghedi. In the dream he took Raziya's place, feeling her body as if it were his own. I watched as they went inside, and the dream-Ghedi told the old woman what had happened. I could not understand their language, but I didn't need to. Raziya was taken into another room by the old woman as the dream-Ghedi waited in the living room. The old woman spoke, and Raziya disrobed, lying on the table passively as the old woman bound her in place. Then the old woman left for a moment, and when she returned she was carrying a scalpel. It had been washed, but I could see dark dried blood in the crevices of the handle.

Through all of this Raziya remained passive. I took the remembered emotions... betrayal, fear, anger... and passed them all to Ghedi, and when the scalpel descended I gave him her remembered pain as well. I made Raziya take her time, for I wanted him to see and feel the entire operation. When it was done the old woman crudely bandaged Raziya and told her to dress. It was agony, and I made him experience that also.

I followed the memories all the way to his car, and I was in the back seat for the ride home. I wondered where the children were, for I knew she had a son and a daughter. Sitting on the seat was painful for her also, and Ghedi felt it all. When she got out the seat was covered in blood, and her skirt was drenched. Raziya collapsed, aware now that she might die, and her husband came around the car yelling at her for bleeding on his seat!

Pain, fear, and betrayal again surged in her, and again I made Ghedi feel it. Reluctantly the dream-Ghedi took her to the emergency room, then left as she was taken into surgery. I realized then that he was embarrassed.

Raziya, I said only to her, you were whole for a day. Did you... test yourself? I felt rather than heard the affirmative, and the memory that followed was very personal. She had approached her husband that evening after she was healed, and he had refused her. She was, well, aroused, for the first time in her life, and she went into the bathroom...

I won't say more. All these memories I gave to Ghedi also, so that he would understand what he had taken from her. She had said he was not a bad man, but I was finding it hard to believe.

There were more memories I could have asked for. I could have shown him how she felt as a little girl, mutilated in ways she could not then understand. I realized that more would not help; if he could be turned he already would be.

In the dream I stood before Ghedi. He was in his own body again, his head hung low. I adjusted the dream to make him less imposing, to make myself appear larger. Ghedi, I said to him, how do you feel?

I am evil. You are a sorceror, you should be the evil one, but I am more evil than any sorceror or demon. What can I do?

I will heal your wife again, I said. Do not undo what I have made right! Commit this evil no more, or you will wish I had killed you!

I understand, he said.

I was about to bring Raziya into the dream when suddenly I felt a terrible pain in my chest. I opened my eyes to see a double-edged sword blade sticking out there, six inches of blade exposed and covered with my blood.

My last thought as I fell was to avoid falling on Ghedi...

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The Adventures of Solo Jones Last Updated 07/18/2005