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A Patient Wolf

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Halfway back to Eddie's house, police lights appear in the rearview mirror.

Initially, Eddie ignores them, gripping the steering wheel even as you gently point them out.

The police turn the sirens on and speed up until they’re riding the bumper.

Though he seems to consider otherwise for a moment, Eddie finally pulls over.

You watch as a cop exits the car and strolls up to the driver's side. Eddie's tight grip on your hand is all that stops you from escaping. You can feel the sweat through your glove as Eddie rolls down the window to greet the officer. He remains pleasant as he asks what the problem is, and if he can make it fast since he and his fiancee must be heading home.

"I'm not your fiancee."

Though Eddie's hold is too tight for you to wring free, information spills out of you. Your name, when you think you were taken, the restaurant you came from, but when the officer is about to ask Eddie to exit the vehicle, he floors it through a red light before the officer can return to the car.

"Eddie, what the hell are you doing!?" You beat at him with useless swipes and punches. He won't hit you back with how much focus it takes to swerve through traffic and run stop signs, pushing the car to its limit, but his efforts mean nothing.

More officers come and it only takes minutes for them to corner Eddie.

The car isn't even fully stopped when you throw yourself out, stumbling from your heels, collapsing to your knees. The blacktop scrapes and bloodies your skin, but you’re laughing until an officer helps you to your feet.

He knows who you are, that people have been looking for you, and promises to take you home. You follow him to his squad car, but it brings no peace.

The windshield offers a front row seat to Eddie's arrest, like a home theater. It takes two officers to bring him down and wrestle him into cuffs. Every shout, every curse breaks through the glass. Even through his struggle, he's looking right at you.

"I'll get you back!" He shouts as the officers struggle to drag him away. "Mark my word, I'll find you and I'll make you pay for this! You won't get away with this, you whore!" A flurry of obscenities follow, cut short only when he's shoved into the police car.

You know he's still ranting. His voice is clear in your mind as if he were sitting right beside you. You shrink into yourself and hold your head as if you could shut him out all the way to the station.

There, they interview you. Answers come automatically, as if someone programmed you to say them, even though you can't remember a single question. Regardless, your answers suffice and they release you.

Your fiancee is waiting in the open doorway. Her eyes have gone hazy and stare at you through dark bags. She's paler than you remember, and her hair is overgrown and tangled. Even her clothes are rumpled and unkempt. You might not have recognized her if not for the shining ring on her finger.

There's so much you want to tell her, but all you can manage is a sob as you crash into her arms. You cry into her shoulder while her tears rain on you.

The days that follow are agonizingly slow. They schedule a trial for Eddie and ask you to testify. It's the last thing you want to do, but you agree. You can hardly recall what you told them, but everyone insisted you were a great asset. It doesn't seem to matter when you find out about the bodies stored in the garage. All the names came from Missing Persons reports; mothers, daughters, wives, all shoved into storage boxes to rot, many so mangled and disfigured that they could only be identified by matching their hair to the locks in the chest.

Most of the remains are returned to family and loved ones, but there are a few with none to claim them. Your heart goes out to those women the most.

Eddie doesn't shed a tear for any of them. He claims they were heartless creatures who deserved to die. He believes he did the world a service.

Then Eddie's lawyer explains his mental health and past. He tells a story of a father and uncle. Men who violated and brutalized a young Eddie, and he has the photos to prove it.

You're queasy as they collect photos of a battered, naked child, tied down, gagged, crying.

The jury pales as the lawyer goes on about the abuse Eddie endured in his early years. He lists conditions that you’ve never heard of and has medical professionals to back him up, claiming no one can function with such trauma infecting the brain.

When Eddie is questioned, he denies these claims. He recalls a home life like "Leave it to Beaver" despite looking straight at the evidence that says otherwise. He's laughing and crying when it's all over.

Your heart might go out to him if you didn't know better.

Not long after, the jury deliberates.

You wait and wait. Your fiancee holds your hand the entire time. Neither of you say a word as the hours pass by, not even when the jury requires another day.

You both return first thing in the morning. Again, you two wait hand in hand.

The jury has reached their verdict.

They find Eddie guilty, but insane or mentally ill, thus he will be sentenced not to a traditional prison, but Mount Massive Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Eddie looks at you as they escort him out, silently reminding you of his threat. He's going to come back for you. It's not a life sentence. He won't stay in that asylum forever. If he tried, he could charm his way through tests, fool the doctors into claiming him mentally stable.

You weep into your fiancee's arms.