“So tell me about Peter Richards. According to the reports, you kept contact with him over the past thirty years. When was the last time you actually saw him?”
“Did you want to rephrase the question?”
Agnes Dowd was a reporter for the Village Voice for over forty years. She was a native of Cobble Hill in Brooklyn and attended grade school with Richards. It was what interested her in the case, as well as the fact that she had previously interviewed Blaine Hyland. The Mayor’s ex-lover had been involved in a major discrimination lawsuit a few years ago and the story catapulted Agnes into national prominence.
“I’m sorry. Perhaps we’re getting off on the wrong foot here.”
“Let’s just get this over with. I’ll help you try and get your story straight, and maybe you’ll have a different side of the story than what Blaine is giving everyone. I’ll be the one who pays for it, I have to go back to the Cave after this.”
“I’d like to get back to that, but first I want to find out when you last made contact with Richards.”
“We kept contact over the phone over the years. In my situation, your cell phone is your lifeline. He was one of the few people left who kept touch after they moved away.”
Anna Montero was an attractive invalid who had been blinded and crippled for nearly thirty-five years. She and Richards had survived a bus accident during which he had pulled her to safety. He had moved to Kentucky a couple of years afterward, but the childhood friends had reportedly maintained contact ever since.
“The last time, Miss Montero. When was the last time?”
“I guess it was around Labor Day. He was going through hard times and he said something about completing his mission, coming to the end of the race. He was like that, sometimes he had a new project going and he was very upbeat. Other times he was dejected and I’d have to pump him up. It was the same thing on my end. I’d get depressed and he would lift me up.”
“Did he give you any indication he was coming to New York?”
“I already went over this with the police dozens of times,” she grew impatient. They were in Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan where both she and Richards were being treated since the incident on Halloween. It was the first week of December, and Richards was being transferred to the Metropolitan Center of Mental Health. Anna would be released tomorrow. “He never said a word. He did talk about his sister, how she was going to hell for what she did and how the day of judgment was coming. He always talked like that whenever her name came up. I didn’t think he was going to actually do anything.”
“Do you think he’s insane? Or do you think that Blaine Hyland’s story about Richards faking his insanity is more accurate?”
“Well, he killed twelve people in that house. I don’t think that’s something a sane person would do. Do you?”
“You defend him a lot. Do you think he’s innocent by way of insanity? You don’t think he planned killing the Hylands when he left Kentucky before Halloween?”
“I think he had a vision,” Anna took off her sunglasses, her eyes staring intently. “I think he knew that things weren’t right at that house, and maybe he felt as if things had to be made right. Maybe he just planned to drive up, get in touch with me and some of our old friends. He’s always had visions, though. He’s always been able to see things that ordinary people couldn’t see. Or maybe he just had the guts to declare his visions. You see things that you don’t tell anybody about. We all see things that we don’t want to admit. Peter sees things, and he’s not afraid of anyone or anything. Peter has always spoke up, he’s always taken a stand against evil. He’s always been a light in the dark. He can see into your soul, Agnes Dowd. What would you think if I told you he knew you were here right now?”
“How would you know that?” Agnes started feeling very uncomfortable as Anna began staring right at her as if she were part of the wall.
“I know him, I know all about him. He’s part of me, and I’m part of him. We are all as one. We’re not the only ones. There were twelve of us, and even though Mary has betrayed us, another of us can step up once Peter’s gone. But he’s not really gone, is he? You can put him in that hospital, but he’ll get out. Maybe Lisa is gone, but Blaine is still there. Peter will continue to follow the vultures. You can always find death when you follow the scavengers, those who live off dead men’s bones.”
“Ms. Montero, Dr. Martinez is here for your session,” an intern came into the room. “Ms. Dowd, I’m afraid you’ll have to wrap it up.”
“Certainly,” Agnes stood and collected her items, reaching over and taking Anna’s hand. “It’s been a pleasure meeting you. The best of luck to you.”
“My pleasure. Uh, don’t forget your pen.”
“Thanks.”Agnes followed the intern out the door. It was only after it closed behind her did she hear Anna’s laughter, and a chill ran down her spine. It was a laugh that she would remember in her nightmares for a long, long time.