The Professional Victim Ch. 03byblacknight99©
Thursday, 9:03 am
Dr. Brett Wheatley almost tripped as he walked rapidly down the stairs while fastening his belt. The doorbell sounded a third time. Finally, he reached the front door and opened it.
"Donna! I wasn't expecting you this early. Come on in! There's toast and coffee and ...." He paused and looked at her with concern. "Hey, are you alright?"
Donna stood before him, small, meek and rather sickly-looking. She wore blue jeans and a white tee-shirt. Her hair hadn't been brushed. There were faint circles under her eyes, and she looked as if she hadn't slept. "Brett, I need to talk to you," she said quietly.
"Sure, come on upstairs."
"No, here, please."
"Um ... sure." He stepped out onto the front porch. For the first time, he noticed that she wore a lanyard around her neck, at the end of which was the unmistakable badge of the KCPD.
"Brett," she began, fidgeting, nervous, "I wasn't entirely honest with you last night when I told you I was a social worker ...."
"So I see. What's this all about, Donna?"
She looked like an actress who had suddenly had a wrong cue thrown at her. She contemplated her next line. "Um ... Brett, we're investigating a series of break-ins in this neighborhood, and ... uh ... we ... we're taking DNA samples to eliminate everyone who lives on this street ... and ...."
"I haven't heard about any break-ins," he said, regarding her curiously. "I'm sure I would have heard. I'm on the neighborhood watch committee."
She regarded him helplessly, fumbling her hands together, obviously trying to think of something to ad-lib. Her shoulders slumped in defeat. She sighed. But then she suddenly straightened her back, stood at her full height of five-foot-nothing, stuck out her chin and spoke as forcefully as she could. "Brett, will you consent to give me a DNA sample?" She thrust out her hand toward him, holding a five-inch-long bamboo stick with a cotton swab at its tip.
He glared incredulously at it, then at her. She kept herself erect, almost proud, but suddenly her inner strength crumbled. Her lower lip trembled and tears filled both of her eyes.
"Donna, for heaven's sake, let's talk about this!"
"Brett, please," she whispered.
He stood for a second more, then snatched the stick from her hand. This seemed to startle her even more. Once again, he had obviously done something that she hadn't expected him to do. Flustered, she pointed toward her teeth. "Just ... just use it to ... uh ...."
"I KNOW how to take a DNA sample, Donna," he told her sternly, and she shrank back away from him, trembling, staring. Quickly, he rubbed the cotton swab along the top of his upper teeth at the gum line. Then he held the thing back out toward her. Once again, she seemed flustered. She fumbled with a zip-lock style plastic bag, got it open, and held it out, just under the sample stick. He dropped it inside.
"Brett ... I ...."
But he turned his back on her and walked through the front door without a word, letting it slam behind him. Steadily, he marched back up the stairs and through his apartment door. He strode to the telephone, picked it up and dialed from memory.
"Maria? This is Brett Wheatley .... Yes, thank you .... No, the apartment's just fine. Say, listen. I've got to go out of town .... Yes, I'm going to be gone for quite awhile. Something came up rather suddenly. I'm going to be leaving the country. Can you come in twice a week and water the plants and just ... you know ... keep an eye on things. I've got one last patient this afternoon, and I'll be leaving right afterwards. I'll mail you a check just as soon as I'm settled .... Yes. Great. Thanks, Maria."
He hung up the phone and went into his bedroom, pulled an empty suitcase from his closet, threw it on the bed and started packing.
Thursday, 2:04 pm
Dr. Wheatley leaned over the prone figure of the exceptionally pretty brunette and smiled.
"Wake up, Agnes," he said quietly.
The dark-haired woman opened her eyes, blinked a few times, then stretched luxuriously and smiled up at him.
"How do you feel?"
"Oh, Doctor, I feel WONDERFUL!"
"That's great. Agnes, our time is up." He stood and began writing something on the back of a calling card. She stood, too, and watched him with adoring eyes. "Agnes, I'm going out of town for awhile. Now, don't get upset. I'm giving you the name of a great psychologist, just a mile up the road ... Dr. Holmstead. But I just want to tell you ... well ... I don't think you're going to need him. We've made remarkable progress in these last few weeks. Just remember what we've talked about. If you feel the anxiety returning, call Dr. Holmstead. Otherwise, I know you're going to do just fine, all on your own."
"You really think so?" she asked.
"I really do." He was holding the office door open for her. She looked down at the card, then on impulse, before he could react, she stood on tip-toe and kissed him.
"Thank you, Doctor. Thank you SO much!" and she walked out. After she'd gone, he stood there, looking around, as if taking in the office for the last time. Finally, with a sigh, he opened the door and walked into the hallway ... and right into Agnes.
"Get lost on your way out?" he asked, slightly flustered.
She ignored the comment. "Dr. Wheatley, there's a woman outside, sitting on your front steps!"
"A girl, really. A young woman. She was sitting there when I came in, an hour ago. She's still there. She needs your help."
He regarded the situation with an impatient expression. "How do you know that?"
"Well, she looked as if she'd been crying when I came in. That was an HOUR ago! And she looks ... well ... you can just TELL that she needs help. You have to help her!"
But the pretty brunette grabbed his hand and started pulling him toward the front door. "If you SAW her, you'd understand! I KNOW! A woman just KNOWS these things! She needs help! You have to help her!"
"Agnes ...." But she had already pulled him through the front door, and she pointed frantically at the back of the girl sitting forlornly on his front steps. "Help her!" Agnes mouthed noiselessly at him, and then she finally let go of his hand, kissed him on the cheek again, and walked down the steps past the girl and toward the parking lot.
Brett sighed, then went down three steps and sat next to her, close to her, their shoulders touching. They said nothing at all for two minutes.
"Hi," Donna said, without looking up.
Two more minutes went by.
"Hey! Do you have a penny?"
He regarded her silently, then reached into his pocket and finally produced a copper penny. He held it up to her between his thumb and forefinger. She smiled, rummaged around in her purse for a moment, and produced a dollar bill. "I'll bet you a hundred-to-one that I can tell you exactly where you were at 11:15 this morning!"
Again, he just looked at her for a moment. "Okay, you're on."
"You were at the Super All-Mart Shopping Store on Stateline Road," she said, confidently.
His eyes widened. "You've been following me!"
She broke into a huge smile and snatched the penny from his hand. "I KNEW it!" And she just sat there, smug and jubilant.
He let a long half-minute go by, and when he was certain she wasn't going to explain without prodding, he asked: "Okay, HOW did you know?"
"Because," she told him matter-of-factly, "that's the precise time and place that the Stateline Rapist struck today."
He blinked at her. "What?"
"Dr. Brett Wheatley, I can now positively, through direct and incontrovertible evidence, place you at the scene of seven of the eight Stateline Rapist abductions. The video system wasn't working at the eighth, but I'm SURE you were at that one, too."
He stood up abruptly. "WHAT?"
She smiled up at him, then reached up and tugged at his sleeve. "Oh, sit down, Brett! Don't be so dramatic!"
He plopped back down beside her. "Do you mean that I am ... uh ... you mean that the police think that I ...."
"Relax, Brett. They have him."
"They have the guy."
"You mean the police caught the rapist?"
"Well, no. I said they HAVE him. I didn't say they CAUGHT him." He gawked at her. She smiled broadly and continued. "At precisely 11:15 today at the Super All-Mart Shopping Store on Stateline Road, Mrs. Roberta Sanchez looked between two shelves near the back of the store and observed a tall, brown-haired man approach her 17-year-old granddaughter in the automotive section. The man held up an aerosol can and sprayed it directly in the granddaughter's face. Immediately, the girl slumped noticeably, but with the man's assistance, she stood up again. The man then took the girl's hand and led her toward a rear exit. Mrs. Sanchez, age 68, five-feet two-inches tall, 110 pounds, ran around the end of the aisle and through the sporting goods section, where she grabbed a baseball bat on her way to said rear exit, and she subdued said gentleman with a single blow to the head. Then, just to make sure that he stayed subdued, she hit him seventeen more times. Said gentleman now resides in the security ward of Memorial Hospital in critical but stable condition. There were five major law enforcement agencies working on this case, and he was captured by a little old lady from Blue Springs!"
He looked at her incredulously.
"Do you have another penny?" she asked.
He blinked and pulled a nickel from his pocket. "This is all I have left."
"Would you settle for twenty-to-one odds?" she asked sweetly. "I'll bet you that YOU know him."
"Know the rapist?"
"Yep. He's a forensic chemist. He's an expert on the types of drugs that could do this sort of thing to a person ... and the types of drugs that would NOT have shown up in an FBI toxicity test. His name is Francis Blueworth."
"Blueworth!" he yelled.
She snatched the nickel from his fingers and squealed: "I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!"
He sat, dumbfounded, and looked wondrously at her. "HOW did you know it?"
"It's the only way it makes any sense! That's how he picked his victims! He followed YOU. He waited until he knew YOU had been captured on some video security system, and he took a girl nearby. He wanted to point the police at YOU. He evidently was not very fond of you, Doctor."
"Blueworth came to me nine or ten months ago," Brett said, remembering back. "The guy was obviously schizophrenic and deeply paranoid. He was also just plain mean. I'm not really sure what he was after, but I got the impression that he wanted some sort of professional absolution. He'd done some pretty terrible things, and I believe he wanted an expert to tell him that it wasn't really his fault. I wanted nothing to do with him. I gave him the name of a renowned psychiatrist and told him that I wouldn't see him unless he agreed to take the medication I was sure a psychiatrist would prescribe. That's a bit of a paradox, really. Paranoids aren't too keen on the idea of someone saying 'Here, take this mind-altering drug for me, please.' Blueworth and I did NOT part of the friendliest of terms."
"I KNEW it!" she repeated.
"But he must have known that I would have been exonerated though DNA evidence!"
"You don't know how the system works," she told him levelly. "You would have been deemed a 'Person of Interest,' even if the evidence cleared you. Cops would have staked out your business and followed you everywhere. You would have been ruined professionally, and your private life would have become a living hell. What Blueworth hadn't planned on was that, on the whole, cops aren't any smarter than anybody else. They didn't find you on the surveillance footage... even after seven cases! I even pointed you out to my captain ... that was before I met you ... but STILL nobody wanted to listen!"
"How was I supposed to have been abducting these girls?"
"Through hypnosis ... that's what I thought, anyway. And I'm sure that's what Blueworth figured we would suspect."
"You mean I was supposed to hypnotize women, abduct them, rape them and erase all their memories? That's IMPOSSIBLE!"
"Yeah, so I've heard," she muttered. But then she looked sideways at him. "But, you know? I'm STILL not so sure you couldn't do it. I swear to God, Brett, last night, when you had me in that trance, I think you could have done just about ANYTHING to me ... or made me do anything. I've NEVER felt so ... so ... Well, I can't even describe it! It was the most incredible feeling I've ever had!"
He grinned, despite himself. "Well, I have to confess, you were a pretty remarkable subject. I've never had anyone surrender themselves so quickly ... so completely."
"Surrendering myself is sort of a specialty of mine," she said softly.
They sat silently for a long minute. "So, you figured it all out on your own, Officer Tompkins."
"No," she said quietly. "I haven't unraveled the biggest part of the mystery yet. And I'm not an officer anymore. I quit."
"You quit the force?"
She shrugged. "I called my partners to meet me at noon to give them the sample I'd take from you, and to explain that you were probably at ALL of the crime scenes. But then, I heard the news. And THEN, I figured it all out. And then ... I knew I had to quit. If I was still part of the task force, I'd have been legally obligated to divulge everything. How he selected his victims. Everything. Your life would STILL have been ruined. The press would have had a field day with you! And there'd have been no point to it. Knowing the truth wouldn't help any of the victims. The rapist is off the streets. He won't be abducting any more girls, ever again." She sighed. "So instead of giving them the evidence, I gave them my badge and gun." Another sigh. "I was a terrible cop, anyway. They were doing things that were going to force me out, sooner or later. Nobody wanted to work with me. Most of them just wanted to get into my pants. Last night, after I left you, one of them actually did. I'm an awful cop." She finally looked up at him. Tears glistened. "I'm a pretty awful person, too."
He studied her carefully for a moment. "First things first," he said levelly. "What is the part of the mystery you haven't solved yet?"
She looked into his eyes imploringly. "There was no semen," she said, her voice shaking.
He wrinkled his brow, trying to figure out what she was talking about. Then suddenly, he knew. "Ah. That."
"I DID make you have an orgasm last night, didn't I, Brett? You DID come inside me, didn't you?"
He sat forward facing the street, and leaned his forearms on his knees, looking down, thinking hard, struggling with his thoughts. "Yes and no," he told her. "Yes, you gave me a wonderful, strong, intense orgasm. Two of them, in fact. But no, I didn't ejaculate inside of you."
Gently, she placed the palm of her hand on his arm. "Tell me, Brett. Please."
He took a deep breath. "Donna, two years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer."
She kept her hand on his arm. "Oh." She thought for a long moment. "Are you ... are you ...?"
"Yes, I'm fine now."
Inwardly, she cursed herself for not knowing what to say. "Were you very sick?"
He grunted a laugh. "That's the awful thing about prostate cancer. I'd never felt better in my life! I was healthy and strong and physically fit. I had absolutely no idea that there was anything wrong. With prostate cancer, by the time it makes you sick, it's usually very far advanced ... it's often spread beyond the organ and into the rest of the body. They caught it through a routine blood test called a PSA. That was my only warning. Then there were biopsies and CAT scans ... and eventually, we decided that the best course of action was a radical prosectomy. That means they operated on me and removed my prostate.
"There were several ways I could have fought the disease, but removal is the one that's most effective IF the cancer hasn't spread outside the prostate ... IF they catch it early enough. It's mainly considered an "old man" disease, but more and more often, they're finding it in its early stages in younger men. I was 42. That's how old Frank Zappa, the rock star, was when he was diagnosed, but his had already spread ... he hung on for about ten years, fighting it. They've made great advances in treatment since then. Twenty years ago, having your prostate removed meant the end of sex; but now there are procedures that spare the nerves around the organ. If the procedure is successful, a man can still have a normal, healthy sex life, as you saw last night, with me."
"Oh," she said quietly. But then she shook her head. "Oh, Brett, I don't even know what a prostate IS!"
He smiled down at her. "Don't feel bad. Most MEN don't really know what it is, either. The prostate is nothing more than a valve, like the one that's on your kitchen sink. The way a man's 'plumbing' is arranged, he has two sources of fluid, but only one pipe that fluid can go out of."
"I think you have a WONDERFUL pipe," she said, smiling.
"I've heard so-called experts on human sexuality say that the male orgasm comes from the prostate. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as you observed last night. You gave me GREAT orgasms, and I don't even HAVE a prostate. In men, the orgasm doesn't come FROM the prostate ... it makes the prostate WORK. It triggers the prostate to switch from one fluid source to the other. The orgasm also triggers other muscles to work ... around the seminal glands ... in the testes. With me, all of those muscles and nerves still work ... but without a 'valve,' they had to rework my 'plumbing' for only one source of fluid. I mean, a guy's got to be able to pee. And so, I have 'dry orgasms.' I don't ejaculate." He paused and took a deep breath. "You see what that means."
"Yes," she said solemnly, but then broke into a smile. "No wet spot on the sheet!"
He grinned, despite himself. "Well, I guess there's that."
"You can tell a girl that you won't cum in her mouth, and really mean it!"
He barked a laugh, but then became sullen again. "I can't make a girl pregnant, Donna."
She studied him curiously. "Surely, nowadays, there are other ways."
This seemed to surprise him. "Well ... I was young enough that they more or less insisted that I leave a sample in a sperm bank before the operation ...."
She seemed exasperated with him. "So, what's the problem?"
"I ... um ...." He seemed very conflicted about this. "You see ... I was engaged at the time. We were very much in love, and we were making plans for the future ... and ... um ... well, I just think that many women can't cope with the idea of not having children 'the normal way.' The concept of artificial insemination seemed abhorrent to her. She very much wanted to have children ... we both did ... but the idea that we would never be able to do it naturally drove her away. And ever since, I've been reluctant to ... to ... well, to pursue a relationship with a girl ...." He was suddenly shocked into silence by the look of pure anger on Donna's face.
"Brett, I don't want to sound catty, but your fiancée was a real bitch! And, I'm sorry, but the two of you were NOT 'very much in love.' Oh, I don't doubt that you loved her, but she most certainly didn't love you! She was probably just looking for the most convenient reason to break it off, and she chose the cruelest one I can imagine!" She took a breath to calm herself. "I would do ANYTHING ... um .... I mean ... well, what I mean to say, is that if a girl really loves you, she will do anything ... anything ... to bear your children."
He didn't answer that. He didn't know how. They sat close, touching, and they were silent for a long time. "What are you going to do now that you're not on the force?" he asked at last.
She shrugged. "I don't know. I'll find a job somewhere." She contemplated her hands on her lap for a moment. "I'm a mess, Brett. Maybe, if I can earn a little extra money after awhile, I can hire you for a session or two. I could really use a good therapist."