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Secrets, Lies and Private Eyes

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Not wanting to ask Rose for help as Mal hadn't wanted to explain his reasons for needing the address of Emily Hirsh, he had taken it upon himself to track her down. Rose would probably have gotten the job done faster, but at last he had succeed and under the guise of running errands was now pulling up in front Mrs Hirsh's residence. He parked his car and got out. He did feel somewhat stupid running after a client this way, especially since there was a good chance that said client was either a pathological liar or delusional, but the events of the previous days had given him to think. She had predicted someone attaching Jake and although he had been poisoned instead of smothered, it was hard to deny that in essence her vision or whatever it was had saved his son's life. So Mal shook of the uncomfortable feeling and walked up to the front door. He pressed the bell, waiting for a response from within.

A few moment later, the door was opened by the woman herself. She didn't seem surprised to see him in the least. Maybe she really was psychic, Mal thought, suddenly at something of a loss to explain why he'd come.  He didn't have to explain though as Emily Hirsh simply smiled at him.

"Please come in Mr Doyle," she told him and motioned for him to enter the house.

"I'm sorry for disturbing you on a Sunday like this..." Mal began, but Emily interrupted him.

"I'm in the middle of baking a cake, but we can talk in the kitchen, if you don't mind," she said sweetly.

"Oh, okay," Mal followed her from a cluttered hallway into an equally cluttered kitchen. It was evident that he had interrupted her culinary efforts - a bowl with flower was sitting on the counter, next to it where some butter and a few eggs. Emily turned her attention to her work and carefully separated the eggs. Mal watched  her for a moment, thinking about how he'd best put into words what he wanted to say. There simply seemed not good way to say 'I think you're a fraud, but thanks for saving my son's live yesterday. Instead he said: "I just wanted...I wanted to thank you for yesterday. I don't know how you do what you do, but you were right someone tried to kill my son Jake yesterday."

"That's quite all right," she said, "I don't know how I do either," she said with a smile. "Is your son all right?"

"Yeah, they got to him in time. He's going to be fine" Mal answered. "Now when you came to my office yesterday, you said you had information about the Douglas Richter case, but you ever got around to telling me exactly what it is you wanted me to find out."

Emily paused in what she was doing and turned to Mal: "I want you to find out what happened to a girl by the name of Ellen Hirsh. She's my late husbands daughter from his first marriage. She disappeared twelve years ago."

Mal frowned. "And what does that have to do with Douglas Richter?"

"I believe he murdered Ellen," Emily said calmly.

That didn't make any sense, Mal thought. Richter had been in jail twelve years ago. Maybe his first instinct had been right after all and Emily was nuts and he was just wasting his time talking to her.

"How do you know that?"

"I saw it, just like I saw your son being attacked," Emily explained.

"But wasn't Douglas Richter in prison twelve years ago?"

Emily sighed. "I know, but I've never before been wrong in those things. The police didn't believe me, so I want you to find out what happened to Ellen."

"All right," Mal said, ignoring the uneasy feeling in his stomach, "Can you tell me exactly what you did see?"

"It was a few weeks ago, I was going through my husband's things, you know, trying to decide what to keep, what to give away, that sort of thing, when I found that suitcase with some of Ellen's things - a diary, a few of her clothes, a doll, some photographs. I had no idea they were there, my husbands always refused to even speak about Ellen with me. As soon as I touched her clothes, I had what you'd call a vision. I saw Ellen. She was being held somewhere dark, maybe a cellar?" Emily paused for a moment then continued: "Ellen was crying. There was a man coming into the room, he yelled at her to be quiet, but she wouldn't stop crying. He grabbed her, twisted her arm and then slammed her against the wall."

"So what makes you think that Douglas Richter has anything to do with this?" Mal asked after Emily had concluded her narrative.

"I also saw a flash of the other room when the man was coming down the stairs., There was this...this board on the wall, with a bunch of newspaper clippings pinned to it. I could only make out some of the headlines, but they were all related to the murders Richter committed."

Assuming that he accepted her story, that still didn't mean that Richter was involved in any way.

"What did the man look like?" Mal asked, hoping that would settle the matter.

"I'm not sure, I never saw his face. I only caught a few glimpses of him. He was wearing those peculiar kind of heavy boots...like someone working construction maybe. I also got the impression that he was rather tall."

"Anything else?"

"Well, he was white, with light hair, I think," Emily screwed up her face in concentration, biting her lip as she thought. "That's all I got, I'm sorry."

Mal thought back to the murder trial, Richter had had light brown hair, but to call him tall was a bit of stretch. Still, it probably depended on one's perspective. Emily Hirsh was a petite woman, to her most men probably seemed tall.

"Can you tell me something about the circumstances of Ellen's disappearance?" Mal asked.

Emily's face lit up. "So, you'll take the case?" she asked eagerly.

"I can't make any promises, but I'll make some inquiries," Mal answered after a moment's hesitation. Damn, whether he liked it or not, he owed this woman. Taking her case, even if it was likely a waste of time, was the least he could do.

"I know very little about Ellen or her disappearance, as my husband refused to talk about it. All I know is what his first wife told me. According to her, Ellen vanished one day on her way back from school. She was seen leaving the bus, but never made it home."

"And when was this exactly?" Mal asked.

Emily shrugged. "I don't know the exact date, only that it was in summer 2000. I think it was just before the school summer holidays."

"One last question: can you give me the name and address of Ellen's mother?"

"Sure," Emily replied. "I'll just get a piece of paper to write the details down for you," With that she left him in the kitchen, alone to ponder the mystery that was this case. Always assuming that there was a case. He still hadn't discarded the possibility that Emily was delusional and wasting his time, even if she probably believed that her vision were genuine.

Emily returned to the kitchen, a scarp of paper in her hand. "That's Louisa Hayden's address."

"She went back to her maiden name after the divorce," Emily explained.

Mal bade Emily good-bye, promising that would keep her posted and soon found himself back in his car, driving homeward.




Jake was waiting impatiently in Leslie's car, drumming his fingers on the dashboard when Leslie finally returned after over half an hour's absence. She opened the driver's side door and Jake had just opened his mouth to ask her if she'd learned anything of interest, when her cell phone chirped. Leslie took one look at the message on screen before pocketing the phone once again. Jake had not however missed the smile ghosting across her face as she'd read the text message.

"Who was that?" he asked, genuinely curious and if he was honest with himself, also a bit jealous. It wasn't like Leslie and he were in an exclusive relationship, in fact they weren't even in a relationship at all, but that didn’t stop him from feeling the way he did. Not that he had any justification for jealousy, he thought, thinking back to his recent flirtations with his ex-wife Nikki.

"None of your business," Leslie replied, as she got into the driver's seat and buckled her seat belt. She started the car and pulled out of the parking space.

"So, anything from ballistics?" Jake asked the question he'd originally had on his mind, before Leslie had gotten that text message.

"As a matter of fact, yes. The bullet that killed the nurse matched an open case from about a year ago. The body of a young woman was washed ashore just outside of town. A couple of hikers found her. She'd been killed with the same gun. Her name was Sarah Adams, a known prostitute. The case is still unsolved."

"Where there any leads?" Jake asked.

"Her pimp, one Thomas Skiver, was the main suspect, but as they couldn't link him to the gun, the case eventually went cold," Leslie told him.

"Mhm," was Jake's only reply. He was thinking back to the kidnapping and the man who the car was registered to. He too was known to have been a pimp. Could there possibly be a connection between the kidnapping of the girl and the murder of the prostitute?

"How old was the victim, Sarah Adams?" Jake asked Leslie.

"She'd just turned nineteen. Why do you ask?" Leslie questioned.

"No reason," Jake replied, unwilling to share his theory until he has something more to go on. The girl from the parking lot had definitely been younger than nineteen. Could she be a prostitute as well, possible against her will?

"I compared the guy from the surveillance video to picture we have on file for Alonzo Sanchez," Leslie interrupted his thoughts. "It was definitely he who abducted the girl. If it was an abduction at all."

"What? Did we not see the same video?" Jake wouldn’t have thought that there was still any doubt about what they'd seen on the surveillance video.

"I'm just saying that there might be another explanation," Leslie said firmly.

"The girl definitely seemed to know him, so in any case, she isn't some random girl he happened to pick up. Besides, nothing in his record suggests that he is the type of just grab a girl off the street."

"They don't have to be strangers in order for this to be a kidnapping," Jake argued.

Leslie sighed. "Not they don't, but still we shouldn't jump to conclusions."

Jake decided not to pursue the argument further, instead, he asked: "Did missing persons' have anything new?"

Leslie shook her head. "No girls matching her description were reported missing in the last forty-eight hours."

Jake frowned. All this did not tie up. Even if there was some sort of organized crime or prostitution connection between the dead prostitute from the ocean and the girl kidnapping in the hospital parking lot, it did not explain how anyone could have known that Jake had witnessed the kidnapping. Aside from Leslie herself, sergeant hood and constable Markham, nobody had had any idea that there was a witness. It was vexing to say the least.

"Are you even listening?" Leslie's irate voice broke in on this musings.

"Uhm, you said something about no matching girls having been reported missing in the past forty-eight hours?" Jake tried, knowing that he hadn't been listening.
 
"I also said that..." Leslie began, then glancing into the rear-view mirror, "What the hell is this guy think he's doing!"

"Who?" Jake asked, somewhat confused. He too looked in the review mirror. A black SUV was following very close on their heels, inching closer with every second. It would only be a matter of time, until the SUV bumped into Leslie's car. A moment later, that was exactly what happened. The impact, although minor still shook Jake and Leslie in their seats.

"Idiot!" Leslie exclaimed. Now the SUV was edging out into the other lane behind them, clearly preparing the overtake them.

At least that was what Jake and Leslie thought as first, but the other vehicle simply leveled with, closing in on them from the side now.

"They're trying to force us off the road!" Jake realized.

"You think!?" Leslie yelled, pressing down on the accelerator and increasing their speed. The SUV however wasn't to be deterred and kept matching their speed. There was no way that they would be able to outrun the unwelcome company in Leslie's car. Meanwhile, the SUV had closed the sidewise gap between their two cars and proceeded to systematically try and bump Jake and Leslie off the road.

"Can't this thing go any faster?" Jake asked over the noise of the engine just as the SUV once again tried to force them off the road and into the ditch running beside it.

This time, they succeed and Leslie lost control over the car as they skidded sideways off the road. As they were going rather fast, the car plowed head first into the ditch only to turn over and finally slide, wrong way up, into a cluster of trees.

TBC