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Secrets, Lies and Private Eyes

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After snatching back her cell phone, nurse Cindy had banished Jake back to his room. He stayed there for about half an hour, mulling over what he'd seen, but it was no good. The more he thought about it, examined every detail of his recollection, the more convinced he became that the scene he'd witnessed didn’t leave any other conclusion other than the one he'd drawn. Any innocent explanation he could come up with just would not do. So, he grabbed his wallet and slipped out of his room. It took a little time, but eventually, nurse Cindy left her post and he was able to make his way out of the ward and to the elevator undetected.

There had to be payphone somewhere, and the lobby was his best bet. If Hood wasn't going to help him and Leslie didn’t answer her phone, he would find someone else who would. He had some contact in the police department, he might as well put them to good use.

Leslie wasn't surprised when her cell phone rang again and the caller ID showed Jake's name. Sighing, she pressed the button to accept the call.

"What is it now, Jake?"

"Are you at the station?" Jake asked. Leslie was surprised at the unusual lack of innuendo. It wasn't like Jake to come straight to the point like this unless it was really important and even then he usually managed to sneak on some suggestive comment or other.

"No, I'm a at crime scene, doing my job as a matter of fact." One some level Leslie would have liked to just brush him off, but the fact was that not only did she not have anything better to do right now, what with the technicians and their equipment not having arrived yet at the remote scene, but also, if Jake had really witnesses a kidnapping as Hood had indicated, then she needed to take the call.

"Can you please keep an eye out for young teenage girls being reported missing?"

"Is this about that kidnapping? Hood said you'd called him about an abduction earlier today."

"He told you about that?" Jake sounded genuinely surprised. "Anyhow, I swear I saw a girl get kidnapped from the hospital parking lot around 10:30 this morning.  A guy dragged her into his blue van. I got part of the plate, might even be enough for an exact match."

Leslie spotted the crime scene unit's van come towards her on the forest road.

"Listen, Jake. I have to go now, but I'll make some calls, see if there have been any other reports of a kidnapping and check missing persons' reports," Leslie said and hung up. Part of her was angry at herself at letting herself get dragged into something by Jake Doyle for what felt like the hundredth time, but another part of her knew that Jake wouldn't make such a claim without a good reason. If he said he'd seen a girl get kidnapped, it was probably true. At least Jake firmly believed it was true and for part of her, it was enough. At least good enough to make a couple of calls.

Jake had been pleasantly surprised that he'd been able to reach Leslie after all. While she hadn't exactly been welcoming, she had promised to make some calls for him. Jake himself had spoken to another contact at the station who still owed him a favour and had gotten him to run down the partial plate number. It turned out to be his lucky day in at least one way when the search had found only one matching vehicle registered in the area. The registered owner was one Alonzo Sanchez who as it happened had a criminal record consisting of varied offenses related to his alleged occupation as a pimp. Jake's contact had also agreed to inform Leslie of what he'd found out.

After he'd hung up, Jake, now thoroughly exhausted with his shoulder throbbing dully, retreated back to his room. Lunch would soon be served and if he was honest with himself, he was in need of a bit of rest.

He had barely laid his head on the pillow telling himself that he was only going to rest his eyes for a moment, when he had already drifted off into a light doze.

The next thing he knew was the clatter of the lunch tray hitting the bedside table. Jake startled awake at the sound, surprised to find that he'd actually fallen asleep. He lifted the cover from the tray. He was dismayed to notice that it was some thick brown sauce with junks in it with a side of mashed potatoes for lunch. For dessert, was small cup of fruity looking chunks submerged in orange-colored liquid. Jake tentatively sniffed it, finding the smelling oddly chemical with an underlying odor of peach. Still, he was hungry and despite the meager appearance, the food didn’t actually taste that bad. He had barely finished the meat-and-sauce when the fatigue really started to make itself known. Jake smothered a yawn and leaned back against the pillow. Despite his best efforts, he found his eyes drifting shut.

Within five minutes of the new client's arrival, Mal was feeling reminded of the fact that one should be careful what to wish for, just in case it came true. While this morning, he had been eager for any new case to come his way, now he was longingly thinking back to the peace and quiet of his office minus the crazy woman who was now standing in the office of Doyle and Doyle investigative services. The middle aged woman had arrived without an appointment which wasn't a problem given the lack of business, but minutes after she first opened her mouth, it didn't take long for Mal to realize that she was going to be trouble. The conversation had started innocently enough but soon Mal found himself wondering if he'd accidentally been transported into the Twilight Zone. He half expected Rod Serling to turn up next on his doorstep.

The woman had introduced herself as Emily Hirsh in a pleasant enough manner before plunging into her business. Which, as it turned out, was based on a, as she called it, vision, she'd had.

"So, you had a vision? About a murder?" Mal tried not to sound too incredulous while privately wondering if he shouldn't call someone - anyone to get rid of this crazy lady.

"Several murders, in fact," Emily stated, as if having a vision was the most normal thing in the world.

"You're a psychic?" Mal asked, this time not quite managing to come across as understanding. Technically, as Jake put it, the client was always right in their line of work, but this was really pushing the envelope.

Emily grimaced. "It's not really a term I like to use. Sounds a bit shady, if you know what I mean."

Mal nodded emphatically. For a supposed psychic, the woman wasn't very perceptive.

"It's just that sometimes, I just know things. I can't tell you how it works, but it does," Emily said.

"If it is a murder you came to tell me about, I think you'd better go to the police. Homicides are not really our field of expertise, The police is far better equipped to deal with that sort of thing." Mal said in a last ditch attempt to get rid of the woman in a polite manner.

"Oh, I've been to the police. First thing this morning, but they didn't believe me. They never do." Emily shrugged.

Mal wasn't surprised. He knew the type, had dealt with people like Emily Hirsh during his time on the force. 99.9 per cent of the time, they were pure time wasters and the 0.1 per cent that weren't, were usually in some way involved in the crime in question. Emily didn't seem like the murdering type, but then she didn't quite seem sane either. You never knew. Maybe she was a killer after all.

"Besides," Emily went on. "It's about a case you once worked."

That caught Mal's attention. While he still doubted that this would turn out to be worthwhile, he decided to at least listen to what this woman had to say.

"You remember a man called Douglas Richter?" Emily asked.

Mal nodded. Richter had been a piece of work. He had abducted and murdered three young girls about fifteen years ago. Mal had been working the case. Richter had been tried and convicted. As far as Mal knew the man was still in prison and would stay there for some time to come.

"I thought you might," Emily said with visible satisfaction.

"As far as I know, Douglas Richter is in prison, so I'm not..." Mal said in another attempt to forestall any more craziness, but Emily interrupted him.

"I don't know about that, all I know is there is another victim. Another girl."

"And who would that be?"

"I don't know. It doesn't work that way," Emily said with a shrug. "These things that I know, they come to me in flashes. I don't usually get all the information. That’s why I came to you. To hire you to find out."

Mal considered for a moment. At least this Emily Hirsh woman was talking about hiring them and at the present state of affairs, he could hardly afford to turn down business of any kind, so he suppressed a sigh and motioned to the couch.

"Please, take a seat and tell me exactly what you do know."

"Thank you," Emily turned towards the couch.

"Hm, were can I put these?" she indicted the various items of clothing strewn all over the couch, most likely by Jake.

"I'm sorry, just push them to one side." Mal moved to help her, internally cursing his son for leaving the office in such a state. Emily picked up a shirt, but instead of laying it to one side, she seemed to freeze.

"Mrs Hirsh?" Mal asked tentatively why he noticed that she'd not moved in several seconds and simply stood there, Jake's shirt in hand.

There was no reaction from Emily. Mal moved into her field of vision, but it was as if she was looking through him. Mal gently touched her arm. Emily startled visibly, before clutching Mal's arm tightly. Her eyes were now open wide as she stared at him.

"Whose shirt is this?" she demanded with sudden urgency as she held out the article of clothing she'd picked up from the couch.

Mal frowned, not sure where she was going with this, but curious enough to play along. "It's my son's."

"Then he is in grave danger! You need to warn him!" Emily told him, her voice intent.

"Warn him against what?" Mal asked, not able to help the surge of anxiety rising within him. "What did you see just now?"

Emily's face once again took on a distant look.

"A man, he's, it looks like he's sleeping. Then someone is pressing a pillow down on his face, but he doesn't wake up. They are smothering him." She was speaking slowly with an odd dreamy quality to her voice. Then, suddenly, her voice changed back to it's regular tone and her eyes focused back on Mal, "That's all I got." she informed him somberly.

"And you sure the man you saw getting smothered is my son?" Mal asked, for the moment willing to push aside his doubts and disbelief. As much as Jake was an idiot at times, he was still his son and the last thing Mal wanted was to see him hurt in any way.

Emily proceeded to describe a man looking remarkably like Jake and what little she could say about the surroundings, they tallied with a hospital. Mal wasn't prepared accept how Emily claimed she had come by this knowledge nor was he convinced that it was the product of more than an internet search, but it wouldn't hurt to check up on Jake to make sure he hadn't gotten into any trouble while in hospital. He was about to dial Jake's cell phone, until he realized that he had confiscated it from him after Jake had landed back in hospital for the third time after his recent shooting. Now he regretted this decision. Sighing, he looked up the phone number of the telephone switchboard of the hospital and dialed that number.

It that over ten minutes during which he spoke to at least five different people explaining in what he was calling about, until he was connected to the nurses' station on Jake's ward. Once again he explained who he was and asked the nurse if she knew where Jake was at the moment.

Upon hearing Jake's name, the reaction of the nurse wasn't the one Mal had expected, but it didn't surprise him either.

"Does wasting other people's time run in your family?" the woman asked rather rudely. Mal wondered what on Earth Jake had been doing to annoy staff this time.

"Why? What's he done?" Mal simply asked.

"He ran up god only knows how much in call charges on my cell phone calling all sorts of people and telling them this ridiculous story about a girl getting kidnapped. He's been driving everybody crazy with it."

"And where is he now?"

"In his room, I guess. At least he better be there."

"Could you please check to make sure that he's okay," Mal asked in his most persuasive tone.

"It may be news to you, but we do actual work here," came the reply. "And that does not include baby-sitting."

Mal realized that politeness wouldn't help, so he changed tactics.

"Look, if something should happen to him on your watch it won't just be me that you'll have a problem with."

"All right, all right," was the grudging reply. "I'll be back in a moment."