“Tami, I’m here to help you,” Brooke said bustling into the interrogation room of Midwood PD.
A cinnamon-haired beauty sat perfectly still, hands clasped loosely before her on the scarred mahogany table. Large amber eyes stared straight ahead, trance-like, at the two-way mirror before her. She didn’t favor Brooke with even a glance.
Brooke flipped a Brooke Philips, Rusk County Assistant District Attorney business card onto the table next to the woman’s clasped hands and hesitated, waiting for a reaction.
No response -- Brooke started pacing back and forth before the mirror.
“Chief Cooper says he has a string of deaths reaching back over the past year,” Brooke began, watching the girl. “The Chief claims that you’re involved with these deaths right up to your dark roots.” Brooke slammed a heavy manila folder on the table by the girl’s elbow – she didn’t flinch.
“Dark as an ink-well,” Tami murmured tonelessly, gazing straight ahead.
“Excuse me?” Brooke leaned down and looked deep into the staring amber eyes. “Did you say something?” Still no response. “I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself . . .” Brooke trailed off rubbing her left temple. Tami’s silent catatonic stare was giving her a headache. The assistant DA shrugged her shoulders, leaned over the table and riffled open the folder. “Let’s start with Barbara White, your um, ah, first case manager who somehow died of a heart attack at age 39. What can you tell me about Barbara?”
“White as a bone.” The softy-spoken words came from Tami, but Brooke did not even see her mouth move.
“What do you mean by that?” Brooke asked glancing quickly at the young girl. “I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me.”
Eyes gazed unseeingly ahead; still no acknowledgement from Tami.
Brooke sighed and glanced at the mirror. Was that an evil glint in those amber doll’s eyes?
“Okay, if you don’t want to talk about Barbara, lets move on to her live-in lover – Richard Burgi. I understand that Richard was a crack-head who died of an overdose? Wha . . .”
“Cracking an eggshell.” An eerie whisper came from nowhere and everywhere.
Brooke rubbed at her temple again and shook her head pretending not to hear.
“Or maybe you can shed light on the death of Claude Perry, Richard’s supplier who lived on, um, Stone Street?”
“And skipping a stone.” Another breathless whisper floated about the room.
Brooke could stand it no more. She yanked Tami’s chair back and inserted her face inches before the hollow gaze. “What are you saying? What are you talking about? Stop whispering and come out with it. We all know that you’re involved. What happened to your Grandmother? We know that you visited her at her cabin out by Cherub Flats. Isn’t that where the police found you? Hidden in the dark? Where is your Grandmother, Tami? Nobody has seen her for seven days.”
Tami gasped a little. Her bloodless lips moved slightly in her doll’s face. “Hide in the darkness out of sight,” she said quietly, lips barely moving. “Stay hidden until the seventh night.” One large glistening tear rolled down her alabaster face.
“Is that what your Grandmother told you?” Brooke asked. “Did she tell you to hide from the police? Talk to me damn it. I can’t help you if you won’t talk to me.” Brooke’s head pounded. She rubbed her left temple and looked down at the motionless girl in the city-issued shapeless orange jump suit. “Let’s take a break.”
"What the hell have you given me here, Coop?” whispered Brooke flailing her arms and squinting into the Chief’s startled face once she was on the other side of the two-way mirror.
“I t-tried to tell you,” Coop rasped. “Didn’t I t-tell you she was a creepy one? You shoulda seen that cabin we found her in. Looked like something from Farnums Hills. Pots o’ broken t-teeth and dead grasshoppers. I almost blew chunks.”
“Did you tape this entire session?” Brooke asked noticing the camera for the first time.
“Standard procedure for a homicide.” Coop said. “Did you get anything out of her?”
“Nothing that made any sense.” Brooke squinted at the girl on the other side of the mirror. “She acts drugged . . . or stoned. Wait – what’s she doing now?”
Brooke and Coop watched in fascination as the pretty young girl picked up Brooke’s business card and looked at it. Her lips moved slightly as though she were praying or chanting. The eerie words floated through the speakers and draped over them like an itchy cloak.
“Seal the relic in a box.”
A small alabaster hand clutched a tiny black box. Deftly Tami folded the rectangular business card and placed it in the box. Her pretty face frowning with concentration, Tami’s lips began to move again as she wound and tied and wound and tied a hank of string several times around the box in various angles.
“Tie it tight with seven knots.” The hovering singsong words broke through Brooke’s reverie and she marched back into the interrogation room, her head throbbing.
“Tami,” she said, gently touching the girl’s arm. “It’s time to talk about what happened. Wouldn’t your Grandmother want you to help yourself out of this mess? Wouldn’t she want you talk to me now?”
“Reveal it when the time is right.” Tami whispered pushing the tied up black box across the table to Brooke, whose pounding headache interfered with her good sense and she accepted the offered box.
“Her life will fade this very night.” Tami looked intently into Brooke’s eyes for the first time.
“Grandma,” she whispered smiling. “Is that you?”
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