Edward Beck didn’t want to let Captain Dunne in. Not because he had anything against Karin, but because he knew why she was here. He didn’t want to force Heather to relive that, even though he knew, logically, she had to. That she would whether they asked those questions or not. But in the end, he let her in, returning to Heather’s side.
“Ma’am – Heather – I need to ask you some questions. I – well – ” She shrugged. “Do you remember anything that might help us find him? What he looked like, any names that were said, anything at all?”
“I never saw him.” That Karin could believe. “He snuck up behind me.” Then a flash of memory. “Oh god. Elly. I have to talk to Elly.”
“Later. I promise.” Edward murmured in her ear.
“He was taller than me – taller than you, too.” She said, looking at Edward. “He had a beard.” She thought hard. “I think – I think he worked in the factory.”
“Why?” asked Karin.
“A couple of comments –and he smelled like – paint thinner, one time. WD-40, another. And I think that’s where he got the acid for the lock.”
Karin paused, taking notes.
“And I’m pretty sure Constantino was there.”
“He was there?”
“They never used names, but yeah, I recognized Constantino’s voice. But it was another guy who…I think he was training him or something. Ow!”
“Sorry.” Edward forcibly relaxed his hand. He hadn’t thought about how hard this interview would be for him.
“I don’t think he was from here. Not recently, anyway. He didn’t know much about me.”
“How do you know that?”
“From some of the things he said. Also, he seemed really surprised when I picked the handcuffs.” Despite himself, Edward smiled. “And he was really pissed when I took off the zip-tie cuffs” Edward kissed her forehead.
“That’s my girl.”
“Heather, why did he hit your head so many times?” She looked at Karin, who had asked the question. “I’ve seen captives before. That many blows to the head is… unusual.”
“I – I goaded him into hitting me, into knocking me out.” She admitted.
“Wha – why? Why would you do that?”
“So I wouldn’t have to be awake for - he was usually done by the time I woke up.”
Edward had been holding a cup of water in his hand. Now it was just shards of broken plastic in his white-knuckled fist. Usually. The word stuck in his head. Usually. Meaning that at least once she’d waken up to… He forced himself to let go of the mangled cup as Karin looked on sympathetically.
“Go on.” He said, his voice a little too level.
Gail was startled, to say the least, when she saw a tanned fist come through the wall of the nurse’s break room. She quickly deduced who it was and hustled out to calm Beck. She found him sliding down the wall onto the floor. She glanced down the hall to Heather’s room; she was mercifully asleep. Probably sedated.
He just looked up at her with tears in his eyes, ignoring the cuts on his hand. She sighed, and gingerly lowered herself to sit next to him.
“Major, I – ” Words failed her, so she put her arm around him. He resisted at first, but then relaxed, letting his head fall forward and the sobs out.
“I’ll kill him. I’ll take him and I’ll – I’ll – ” he faltered, not able to think of a fate grisly enough. Gail hugged him. Then, in a small, pained voice, he added. “Assuming I ever find the bastard.” The admission clearly pained him.
“They’ll find him. You just take care of Heather. Don’t worry about anything else right now.”
They sat there for a few minutes, passersby noticing and then studiously ignoring them.
“I should go back to her.” He slowly stood.
“Alright. But now you have to help an old woman off the floor.”
“Of course. And… thank you.”“You’re welcome.” She gave his hand a final squeeze. “And if you need anything – for her or for you, just ask.”