“From the beginning?” I asked.
Taking Joel’s silence as agreement, I closed my eyes
and let the memory flow.
The detective flipped open a notebook I've seen in a
thousand cop shows. They must buy them by the shipload. “I just have a few
questions. Richard Fleming was here for a psychiatric evaluation?”
“Yes, it was a typical court order for an examination
based on his insanity plea.”
“Fleming had eight bodies on him. Why did you
interview him alone in your office? He savaged his victims.”
Barely containing my annoyance, I answered, “He was
restrained. Not my first rodeo, okay?”
The detective shrugged toward the boarded-up window.
“Fleming was more psychotic than I suspected. Listen
up,” I said, starting the tape recorder.
Bobo did it.”
I paused the tape. “Bobo is a stuffed clown doll.”
The detective shivered. “Creepy.”
“A big strong gun-toting copper bopper like yourself
has coulrophobia? Scared of a widdle Bobo?”
“Play the damn tape.”
tell me about Bobo.”
was fine until Shelley brought it home.”
is, I mean she was, my girlfriend. I still can’t believe what Bobo did to her.”
The detective made a chopping gesture, and I stopped
the tape again.
“He blamed Shelley’s murder on a clown doll? He ripped
her stem to stern and gutted her like a fish.”
“Diagnosing the psychosis includes hearing the story
in the patient’s own words without passing judgment,” I said.
"And then you charge the city a hundred bucks an
hour. Let's get to the rest of his fairy story."
me what Bobo did.”
shit. Stupid doll was never in the same place twice. Stuff was moved. Then the
cat disappeared. I know this sounds so crazy!”
fine. Tell me about what happened to Shelley.”
a lot to say. She'd worked a double shift and wanted to sleep in. At ten, it
was time to wake her up, and I found her all cut up and bloody. She was dead.”
was on the headboard laughing at me.”
you call the police?”
right? Like they'd believe me. I wanted to prove it. I went for a walk and saw
Bobo in a store window. Next thing, someone’s screaming that there’s somebody
all cut up. Every time I talked to someone; I saw Bobo. And every time, even
when I tried to run, somebody died.”
The cop interrupted, "There were five dead on the
sidewalks before we cornered him."
I couldn’t control my annoyance. "You don’t say.
I read the reports. Do you want to hear the rest or not?"
I took his rude gesture as permission to proceed.
you remember being arrested?”
kept my mouth shut so Bobo wouldn’t hurt them. I’ve got nothing against cops.
Hell, my uncle’s a cop. Bobo showed up when they made me talk.”
Another chopping gesture from my visitor.
“He killed two a patrolman and a detective. He chewed
their throats open.”
“Fleming was insane.”
“Whatever. Play the tape.”
I’m opening the bag.”
Don't do it.”
these special lights keep Bobo asleep. You're perfectly safe.”
Even the detective winced at the tearing plastic followed
by a primal howl and breaking glass.
“When I opened the bag, Fleming went berserk. He tore
the Velcro restraints right off the chair arms, grabbed the doll, and threw
himself through the window.”
“What part don’t you understand?”
“Doc, we didn’t find a doll, Bobo or hobo, with
“Joel, that’s when the interview ended. The police
classed Fleming as a suicide. My problem is, for the last week, when I try to
sleep, that damn clown doll is there.
Stress? PTSD? Has my cheese finally slipped off my cracker?”
“Enough of the doctor-heal-thyself rap. Talk to me.”
Turning around, his torn lifeless eyes mocked me.
Clawing my ears to shut out the high thin laughter, the gore caked under my
nails streaked my face red and black.
Terri Lynn Coop is a recovering lawyer and still
surprised that the state is letting her teach high school English. She's been
known to blog at www.terrilynncoop.com
and you can find her books, including the Juliana Martin mystery series on