Marilee Anderson dreams about a murder and wakes to find it really happened. She and David Nichols, the victim’s brother, become the prime suspects. Though they have their secrets and aren’t sure they can trust each other, Marilee and David team up to find the killer.
Does Tess, “the crazy lady,” know anything about the murder or is she just delusional? Does the cheating couple on the victim’s floor have any information about the night of the crime? Why has the abusive father of the victim and her brother suddenly reappeared? What about Barbara’s ex-husband? Will Marilee and David find the killer? Or will they end up in jail—or dead?
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A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye
Dream or Destiny is a romantic mystery with a touch of paranormal (a psychic dream) and a theme of domestic violence.
Marilee Anderson trembled, her nightgown drenched with cold sweat. Moving only her eyes, she studied her surroundings. Moonlight crept through the cracks between the curtains and created strange shadows that moved on the floor like a flow of dark blood. The plant grouping in the corner resembled a dangerous jungle. The massive armoire she loved so much loomed as a giant ready to attack. Clothes hanging in the closet became evil strangers lined up against her, and the mirror on the open door reflected something on her dresser that looked like a gun. The smells of gunpowder and blood permeated the air. Screams and groans reverberated in her head.
The drapes moved. Was it a breeze from the air conditioner? Or was someone in the room with her? Sounds of her gasping breaths and her pounding heart threatened to alert an intruder that she was in the bed and awake. Pure terror turned her spine to ice. What had woken her? Strange images superimposed themselves over the disturbing distortions of her bedroom. A figure in black stealthily creeping down a hallway, bursts of flame from the muzzle of a gun held in a gloved hand, a river of blood, and the smell of death.
She forced herself to sit up to turn on the lamp. She was safe in her own bed at home. There was no intruder, no blood, no gun, no . . .
Then she remembered.
She told herself it had been a dream, but that didn’t stop the racing of her heart or the shallow gasps of her breathing. Her hands continued to tremble and another shudder ran down her spine.
How could she have dreamed such horror? She had no experience with violence. She never read crime stories, never watched horror movies. Why would she see and feel crime and horror in her sleep? Feel it she did. Terror became like a weight pushing down on the top of her head, threatening to crush her. As the blood coursed through her veins like white water rapids, she wondered if she would ever breathe normally again.
She willed herself to forget the nightmare, but fragments continued to float through her consciousness. She took a deep breath and her eyes widened as the face of the victim appeared in her mind’s eye. She recognized that face, the face of Barbara Nichols, who had purchased the condominium directly above hers about six months ago.
Marilee didn’t realize she had reached across the bed to turn on another lamp. Even though the room was now filled with light, she saw Barbara’s face instead of the familiar surroundings of her bedroom.
Why had she dreamed about Barbara? Marilee hardly knew her. They nodded and murmured polite greetings if they happened to pass in the lobby or share an elevator, but they’d never carried on a conversation. Marilee had heard enough snippets of conversations among neighbors to realize she and Barbara were the subjects of gossip. Handsome and charming Jason Tremont had apparently transferred his affections from Marilee to Barbara.
Marilee rose from the bed and walked to the dresser. “See, Marilee, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” she told her reflection. She cringed, but the sound of her own voice was better than the deadly silence. “It’s not a gun. It’s just your new hair dryer.” She picked up the hair dryer and looked at it, wondering how she could have mistaken it for a gun. She shook her head and laid the dryer back on the dresser.
She walked around the room, touching the antique armoire and the platform rocker to assure herself they were the solid pieces of furniture that belonged there. She stroked the leaves of her plants. She picked up the blanket she’d kicked off in the throes of her nightmare and tossed it back on the queen-size waterbed.
“Okay, Marilee. You know everything’s just fine, but it won’t hurt to check the doors and windows.” The sliding glass door was locked, and the bar was in place. “Now, the rest of the house.”
Instead, she sat in the rocker, trying to make sense of her dream. Anyone hearing her speak aloud in the empty room might question her sanity, but she couldn’t stand the silence. “It doesn’t mean anything. You had too much chili for supper. Forget the darned dream. At least it’s not a ghost. Now go back to sleep.”
Her body didn’t cooperate. She sat and rocked and thought. “You haven’t had a dream that had anything to do with reality since Polly and Joe eloped.”
Her laughter sounded even less sincere to her own ears than her voice did. Her cousin Polly’s laughter had been hearty and genuine six years ago when Marilee told her she would meet the man of her dreams at the grocery store. Polly had vowed never to marry, but Joe swept her off her feet. They married three days after meeting in the grocery store the morning after Marilee’s dream.
“This is nothing like that,” she told herself sternly. “I probably thought about Barbara because I heard those people in the lobby talking about her yesterday.” The gossipers were convinced Marilee and Barbara were rivals over Jason. If only they knew how relieved Marilee had been to end their relationship.
She stood with the intention of returning to bed, then shook her head. “No way you’re going to get back to sleep now.”
As she left the bedroom, she flipped the switch for the hall light and examined the lock on the window. In the kitchen, she punched the button for the light on the vent hood as well as the overhead fluorescent. The sunny yellow walls and the shiny chrome of appliances reflected the brightness. Marilee averted her eyes from the frightening shadows created by the greenery on the baker’s rack.
Her breathing had slowed to near normal. Although her heart had decided to stay in her chest, she still felt a slight tremor in her hands. “Marilee, you’re really going overboard about this dream. Yes, it was awful, but it was just a dream.”
Should she call Barbara to see if she was okay? No, of course not. Hearing Barbara’s voice might reassure Marilee, but a phone call in the middle of the night would probably frighten her neighbor. She might be very upset to be asked by a near-stranger if she were all right. Marilee couldn’t destroy someone else’s peace of mind to end her own unwarranted fear.
She stuck a cup of water in the microwave and got out a chamomile tea bag, still telling herself how silly she was acting. “Enough talking to yourself,” she said as she turned on the radio. “Listen to somebody else for a while.”
She tuned in to a talk show hosted by a psychologist and only half-listened while she added the tea bag and sugar and lemon to the boiling water. Gruesome images from her nightmare lingered in her mind.
The voice from the radio interrupted her thoughts. “Dr. Scarlett Murphy is taking your calls at 1-800-667-6767. She will answer your questions about anything that’s troubling you.”
Marilee had never called a radio talk show before, but she found herself reaching for the phone. After a short wait, she heard a bored voice ask, “What is your name?”
Briefly she toyed with the idea of giving a false name, but her innate honesty caused her to say, “Marilee.” Before she could complete her name, the voice asked impatiently, “Well, Ms. Lee, what is your question for Dr. Murphy?”
Once again Marilee thought about correcting the assistant’s mistake, but she didn’t. Instead she briefly explained her question.
“Hmm, that’s a new one. One moment, please.”
After a brief wait, Marilee heard, “You’re on the air. What’s your question for Dr. Murphy?”
Taking a deep breath, she began again and launched herself into the midst of her own nightmare. “Do dreams mean anything? I had an awful nightmare tonight, and I can’t believe there’s any … meaning in it.”
The soothing voice of the psychologist answered, “Why don’t you tell me what you dreamed? Perhaps I can help you interpret the meaning.”
“Well … I seemed to witness a murder. Someone walked down a hallway holding a gun.” She paused. “It went into the bedroom and shot once into the wall. Then when the woman woke up, it shot her five times.” Marilee’s voice quivered as she finished the story.
“Did you recognize the killer and the victim?”
“Not the killer. I couldn’t even tell if it was male or female.” A deep breath. “The victim was my neighbor who lives above me.”
“It appears you hold unresolved hostility toward this neighbor. How has he hurt you?”
Marilee shook her head, then realized she had to respond verbally. “It’s a she, and she hasn’t hurt me. I barely even know her, just enough to say hi in the hall.”
Dr. Murphy made soothing noises before her next comment. “Dreaming of a murder reveals a deep-seated rage against the person you murder in your dream.”
“I didn’t murder anyone. In my dream, I watched someone else commit a murder.” Marilee barely managed to control her voice.
“You recognized the victim, but you didn’t see the murderer. If you had been a witness, you would have seen the killer as well as the victim.”
Marilee started to speak into the pause, but the psychologist continued, “Obviously, you are the person with the gun. You are repressing your deep hostility toward this woman in your daily life, but it’s too strong to stay hidden. It comes out in your dreams.”
Marilee could no longer keep her voice from rising. “I don’t have any rage or hostility, deep-seated or otherwise, toward this woman. How could I have any strong feelings toward her? I don’t even know her. And nothing comes out in dreams, plural. This is the one and only dream I’ve ever had about her.”
The psychologist answered, “The subconscious is very powerful. Your conscious can control your antisocial urges, but your subconscious knows your real feelings.”
Marilee rolled her eyes and shook her head. “That’s ridiculous!” She dropped the receiver back into the cradle and turned the radio dial to an easy listening music station. Whatever had possessed her to call into a weird talk show, anyway?
Real experts didn’t haunt the airways in the wee hours of the morning. Sensationalism upped ratings. Of course, the pop psychologist would have to come up with some melodramatic theory. Who would tune in to listen to someone who said dreams don’t mean anything?
Wouldn’t the old biddies who were already gossiping about Barbara and Jason and Marilee love to hear about her dream? They’d really have something to talk about then. Some already pitied her for not being able to hold on to her man.
For a time, she’d thought Jason was her man. She’d felt a thrill that by the third or fourth time he’d brought her home, he knew several of the tenants by name. He asked about the security guard’s arthritis, admired pictures of the Smiths’ grandchildren, talked mutual funds with the stockbroker on the fourth floor, and held the elevator door for anyone crossing the lobby. Jason always had a good story, a laugh, and a smile for everyone he met.
Marilee knew people had wondered what Jason had seen in her. While he chatted with complete strangers, her best effort produced only a smile and a nod. She hardly knew her neighbors, even though she’d lived in the same place for several years. She had no problem teaching or speaking in a professional setting. In a social environment, however, she could hear the pitch of her voice rise and the speed increase so she sounded as if she were racing, even to herself.
She’d been flattered to be singled out by the popular Jason Tremont. She’d thought he would help her come out of her shell, but it didn’t take long for her to see a side of Jason most people never knew.
“Quit this, Marilee!” She looked at the clock on the wall. “It’s after four in the morning. You’ve been up for nearly two hours. Back to bed. You had a bad dream, that’s all. The dream wasn’t even about you, so why are you so terrified?”
Voicing her fear still didn’t make it disappear. Marilee felt a cold chill pass through her body.
As she went through the house turning off lights, she couldn’t resist checking the security of each door and window once more. She couldn’t convince herself to turn off the hall light. Foreboding hung over her like a cloud, and she lay in bed praying to forget her dream for a long time before finally falling asleep.
When she woke the next morning, the feeling of dread still hovered around her. She looked at the clock. She’d either forgotten to set her alarm or turned it off during the night. She’d have to hurry or she’d be late to church. Maybe an hour in church would help restore her peace of mind. She still felt weighted down by fear and dread. Seeing police cars outside her building didn’t relieve her.
The congregation taking their seats at the end of a hymn covered Marilee’s late arrival. She hurried down the side aisle and slipped into a pew.
The minister stood in front of the altar before the intercessory prayer. “We ask your prayers for David Nichols, who is a member of our congregation, and for the soul of his sister, Barbara Nichols. David found her body this morning. She had been shot to death.” The minister bowed his head and began to pray.
Marilee sat stiffly in her seat staring straight ahead. Instead of the words of the prayer, she heard the sound of gunshots. Instead of a church filled with praying congregants, she saw blood spurting from bullet holes in Barbara Nichols’ chest. Instead of the perfume of her pew-mate, she smelled gunpowder and blood. Instead of the peace and serenity she usually felt in church, she felt icy fingers of anxiety and terror clawing at her throat.
She didn’t realize when the prayer ended. She wasn’t even aware the lady next to her was trying to pass her the offering plate. The usher took the plate and gave Marilee a questioning look. She answered with a smile that seemed to convince him she was all right.
Marilee couldn’t concentrate on the sermon. She spent the time debating with her conscience. Since Barbara really had been murdered, shouldn’t she tell the police about her dream? Maybe something she could tell them would help solve the crime. Then she shook her head. That was ridiculous. Stupid. Absurd! She’d had a dream, a nightmare. She didn’t know anything that would help the police.
If she contacted them, she’d probably just muddy the waters. They’d spend time checking out her dream instead of looking for the killer. She’d lose time from her business, and, much worse, she’d be exposed to public scrutiny. She’d become known as the crazy lady who dreamed a murder. She’d be different, again. She’d be laughed at, again. Marilee had spent her entire adult life struggling to be like everyone else.
Even if she’d had a precognitive dream, what good would it do to tell the police after the fact? She couldn’t prevent the murder. It was too late for that. She couldn’t identify the killer. All she’d seen was a black draped figure with a gun. There was absolutely no way the dream could help solve the crime.
Marilee slipped out before the end of the service to avoid having to speak to anyone. She got in her car and drove down Wurzbach. When she reached Interstate 10, she turned west instead of east toward her home. There was little traffic this Sunday morning, and Marilee soon was outside the city and speeding along the highway.
She tried to forget her dilemma and focus on the blue sky and colorful wildflowers growing beside the road. She turned on the radio to search for a music station.
After a commercial, she heard, “Police are looking for a woman who called into The Midnight Hour on this station last night.” She stopped changing the dial and listened. “The call, about a dream of murder, occurred shortly after the estimated time of death of Barbara Nichols, who was viciously murdered at the Oakview Condominiums. Police ask anyone who has any information about this murder or the talk show caller to contact Detective Arturo Garcia at the San Antonio Police Department, Homicide Division. Detective Garcia has refused to say whether the mystery caller is a suspect. He told this reporter, ‘We believe the woman has valuable information, and we need to interview her immediately.’“
“What the . . .?” Marilee exclaimed aloud. Her grip tightened on the steering wheel, and the pressure she’d felt since she woke from her dream pressed heavier on her head. She swerved into the right lane, exited at Boerne Stage Road, and pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant just past the exit. Another news story blared from the radio, but Marilee didn’t turn it off until the newscast ended.
Why were the police looking for her? Her dream couldn’t possibly have anything to do with Barbara’s death. It was a bizarre coincidence. That’s all it could be. She’d known that psychologist was a quack last night when the esteemed doctor had pronounced Marilee harbored rage toward Barbara. Rage ... murder ... no one could believe she had anything to do with this terrible tragedy. The newscast had used the word suspect. She couldn’t be a suspect, could she?
Marilee didn’t know how long she sat there debating with herself. The sounds of gunshots mingled in her mind with the taunts she’d endured throughout her childhood. Freak. Witch. Weirdo. Crazy, crazy Marilee, dreams the future for you and me.
No, no, no! She wouldn’t go through that agony again. Surely if she cooperated with the police they would respect her privacy and keep her identity secret. Once they heard her story, she wouldn’t be a suspect. Then she could go back to her quiet, ordered, private life.
She squared her shoulders. No sense in putting off the inevitable. If the police were looking for her, she’d contact them right away and get this over with.
When she drove into the parking garage at her condominium complex, she shook her head, trying to remember the return trip. Her dream felt more real to her than this morning’s events.
She went straight to the kitchen phone. Grabbing the phone book, she found the number and dialed. “San Antonio Police Department. How may I direct your call?”
“I need to speak ... Homicide Department, please.”
After a short delay, she heard “Homicide. Johnston.”
“Detective . . .” Her voice trailed off as she realized she didn’t recall the detective’s name. “Uh, I don’t know the name, but I need to speak to the officer handling the Barbara Nichols murder case.”
“That’s Garcia. Hang on.”
After a brief pause, a different voice said, “Garcia here.”
“It’s Detective Garcia.”
“Oh, of course, Detective Garcia.” Marilee identified herself and breathed deeply. “I’m the one who called the radio station last night about a dream I had.”
The detective obtained Marilee’s address and phone number. “Are you at home now?”
When she answered in the affirmative, he continued, “I’m sending a patrol car to pick you up. I need to talk to you immediately.”
“I’m at home, but you don’t have to send a car. I can drive myself.” Marilee wanted to be able to come and go on her own.
A muffled conversation took place on the other end of the line, then Detective Garcia spoke into the phone. “The car’s on the way. I’ll see you in my office soon.” He hung up the phone before Marilee could protest.
Twenty-five minutes later, she walked to the patrol car with the young police officer. Even though she didn’t see anyone, she imagined she could feel her neighbors’ eyes boring into her. She just knew everyone had to be watching as a uniformed officer escorted her to the police car. It was her worst nightmare come true.
She grimaced and felt a stab of guilt. No, it wasn’t her worst nightmare. Her worst nightmare had come true last night. What happened to her neighbor was a million times worse than being the center of negative attention. Marilee may have always imagined nothing could be worse than being the object of ridicule and speculation, but now she’d seen much worse.
Her internal lecture didn’t eliminate her self-consciousness or shame, but she did convince herself she had to take this step. Her own fragile emotions were insignificant compared to the death of another human being.
The policeman gave up his attempts at small talk when Marilee ignored him or answered only in monosyllables. Finally they arrived at the police station, and the patrolman escorted her through a maze of hallways into an office containing four battered wooden desks. Only one of the desks was occupied.
“Here she is, sir.” The young officer hurried away after his introduction, if that’s what it was meant to be.
“Ms. Anderson, have a seat. I need to ask you some questions.” The heavily masculine voice matched the large, muscular man who pointed to a chair “How long have you lived in the Oakview Condominiums?”
Although question followed question with the speed of the bullets Marilee had seen in her dream, she found it easy to answer such questions as “Where do you work?”
“I’m self-employed as a business consultant.”
She’d begun to relax until the detective asked, “What was your relationship with the deceased?”
“We didn’t have a relationship.” Marilee concentrated on keeping her voice even. “She moved into the apartment above me about six months ago. We introduced ourselves in the lobby, and we say … uh … I mean, we said hello when we passed in the hall. That’s all.”
She felt every muscle in her body tense at the detective’s next question. “Okay, tell me about this so-called dream.”
“It wasn’t a so-called dream. It was a nightmare.” She shivered at the memory. “The first thing I saw was a figure in black—”
“Could you identify this figure?”
“No, I only saw it from the neck down.”
“You’re saying it. Could you tell if it was male or female?” Detective Garcia made marks on a paper on his desk. Marilee couldn’t tell if he was taking notes or doodling.
“No. It was wearing some kind of black cape-like thing.” She closed her eyes and concentrated on recalling the details. “It held a gun out in front with both hands.”
“Describe the hands,” the detective said. He stroked his chin as he looked at the paper on his desk.
“Everything was black, the long sleeves, the—”
Detective Garcia looked up. “Sleeves? I thought you said it was cape-like.”
“It did look like a cape. I’m not sure it had sleeves, but the arms were covered. Everything was black, the cape-like thing, the gun, the hands.” She felt her forehead crease as she concentrated. “But it wasn’t black skin I saw. It was too smooth, too even. It must have been gloves.”
“Okay. Black cape, black gloves, black gun.” Detective Garcia definitely made a note, not a doodle. “What else can you tell me about the gun?”
“I don’t know anything about guns. It was about the same length as the hands.” She wrinkled her forehead as she tried to describe what she’d seen. “That’s all I know. It was black and looked big to me.”
“Okay. Where was this figure in black and what was it doing?”
“It was walking down a hallway. It was only a few steps from the end when my dream started, but it seemed to take forever to take those last few steps. It took one step, then waited like maybe … listening for something, then it took another step.” Marilee rolled her shoulders in an attempt to release some of the tension. She didn’t feel any noticeable results.
“Then what?” Detective Garcia seemed oblivious to her discomfort. What was a unique and terrifying experience to her was probably routine to him.
“When it got to the end of the hallway, it stood there for a second or so. Then it walked into the bedroom and—”
“Was the door open or closed?”
“Open. The figure walked in and stood at the foot of the bed.” A shudder passed through Marilee’s body. “Barbara was lying there on her back.”
The detective stroked his chin. “You recognized her?”
Marilee played the dream over in her mind like a video. “No, not then. I just saw a woman. I didn’t see her face until she sat up after the first shot.”
“Okay, back to your story. You saw a woman lying on the bed. Then what?” Detective Garcia made some marks that looked more like doodles than notes. Was the man taking notes or doodling?
“I could see her chest move up and down. Her breathing seemed so loud.” The video in Marilee’s mind played its sounds effects. The crack of a shot covered the sound of breathing. “This next part is crazy.”
The detective nodded. “Go ahead.”
“The black figure aimed the gun above the bed and shot into the wall. Why would he do that?” Deep down, she knew the answer to her own question. The killer obviously had wanted Barbara to wake up and realize she was going to die.
Detective Garcia ignored her question. “What happened after the shot into the wall?”
“Barbara bolted up in the bed. That’s when I saw her face. I recognized her, and,” Marilee shivered, “it looked like she recognized the person at the foot of the bed. She started to say something, but all that came out was something like ‘What?’“
“Did she just stop talking or did something happen to stop her?”
Marilee considered. “It sounded like she was starting to ask a question, maybe something like ‘what’s going on?’ But the next shot stopped her from saying anything else.”
“Was the next shot also into the wall?”
“Oh, no.” Marilee wanted to cry and wondered if her voice revealed her emotions. “No, the second shot hit her right in the chest. So much blood. And the shots just kept coming. And the blood just kept spurting.”
“How many shots in all?”
Marilee counted the shots in her mental video. “Five shots into Barbara, plus the one that went into the wall. And all the shots were in her chest. She looked like ...”
Marilee recoiled as if she herself had been shot. “Like ... like ... like a sieve draining blood instead of water.”
Detective Garcia continued to ask questions. “Okay, what happened next?”
“Barbara just slumped forward and didn’t move.”
“What happened then?” The detective leaned back in his chair, lifting the front legs off the floor so far Marilee was afraid the chair would fall over.
“Nothing. That was the end of the dream. I woke up, and I ... I felt this terrible fear. I didn’t remember the dream, and I thought I was in danger. Silly, huh?” Marilee tried to laugh at her fears, but the laughter sounded obscene in the midst of her morbid recollections.
The investigator ignored her laugh, as he’d ignored everything else about her except her words. “When did you remember the dream?”
“It came back right after I woke up. It took a little longer for me to remember who I dreamed about, though.”
Detective Garcia brought his chair upright again. “Why do you think you had this dream?”
“I don’t know. It was just a dream. People have dreams all the time.” Marilee heard her voice rise, but she couldn’t seem to control it. “I don’t understand this.”
“Ms. Anderson, I don’t understand this either. A brutal murder was committed just over your head last night. Shortly after the murder, you called a radio talk show and described a dream that sounds like the actual crime. The victim was killed by five shots to the chest fired at close range. There was a sixth bullet in the wall. That’s what you say you dreamed. Now, I’m just a simple cop, but something don’t sound right about that to me.” Garcia’s dark eyes pierced her defenses and destroyed her composure.
Her shoulders shook, and she blinked against the threatening tears. “This all has to be some weird coincidence. I didn’t know she was really killed, for heaven’s sake. It was a dream. That’s all it was.” She clasped her hands together to stop the trembling.
Detective Garcia continued to question her. She’d never understood the term “the third degree” before, but now she felt like she’d been through the fourth or fifth degree at least. She lost count of how many times she recounted her dream, elaborating on seemingly minute details.
“You said the room was dark. How can you describe the scene if it was dark?” the detective asked without looking up from his doodling or note taking.
“I keep telling you it was a dream. A dream doesn’t have to make sense. You don’t have to have light to see in a dream. It was all in my head or wherever dreams are.” She rolled her head backwards and stared at the ceiling briefly. When the stains on the plaster reminded her of blood, she closed her eyes. The terrible video continued in her mind.
“There was moonlight coming in from the windows.” A pause as she visualized the scene. “And night lights. There were night lights in the hall and in the bedroom.”
“What kind of night lights?”
“I don’t know what kind of night lights. You know, those little lights you stick into an electrical plug. Not very big, just enough to see your way to the bathroom or something. What difference does it make what kind of night light?” If this didn’t end soon, she’d disintegrate. This guy should be out looking for the killer, not wasting her time and his asking her endless questions about the tiny details of her dream.
“Did you ever see any other light?”
“Well, I saw a huge flash from the gun with each shot. Wait a minute, I just remembered. There was a little dot of red light reflecting in front of the black figure.”
The detective stopped doodling and looked up. “Reflecting where?”
She closed her eyes and rolled her head backwards. “Well, I saw it on the wall in the hall. Then I saw the red dot ...”
“The dot reflected on the bedroom wall at first and then on ... on Barbara’s chest.” The memory caused her to shiver.
“Did it look like a beam from a laser sight?”
“What’s that?” Marilee asked.
For the first time in the interrogation, Detective Garcia answered her question. “A narrow laser beam that reflects the point of impact where the gun is aimed.”
“Does it look like a little dot of red light?”
Garcia nodded. “Yeah.”
“That’s what I saw, a little red dot. So maybe it was that laser thing.”
“Okay. Describe the gun again.”
She tried to describe the weapon, but how does someone who doesn’t know anything about guns describe one other than black and menacing?
“What size was it?” Detective Garcia leaned back in his chair again.
“I thought it was big, about the size of the hands holding it.” She gritted her teeth and breathed deeply. “I don’t know if that’s big by gun standards. I don’t know anything about guns. All I know is it looked huge to me.”
When Marilee thought the torture would last forever, the detective said, “Okay, that’s it for now. You need to come back in the morning and sign the statement after it’s been transcribed.”
“Tomorrow morning isn’t convenient. I have several appointments scheduled.” Marilee stood and picked up her purse from the floor. “Can I come in after lunch?”
“Ms. Anderson, it wasn’t convenient for Ms. Nichols to get herself killed either. We need to move this investigation forward. Be here tomorrow morning before ten o’clock.”
Marilee cringed. He made it sound like she was uncaring that a woman had been killed. “I certainly want to see the investigation go forward. I just don’t understand how my statement can be of any importance.”
He reached for the phone. “I’m calling a patrol officer to drive you home. Do I need to arrange for someone to pick you up in the morning?”
She shook her head. “No, I’ll be here before ten.”
Her police escort soon arrived and led her out of the cramped office. As they walked down the hall, someone called her name.
The young man who had spoken her name stepped in front of them. He would have been extremely attractive if he hadn’t looked hung over. His mussed black hair fell across his forehead but didn’t quite hide the scar over his right eyebrow. His face was far too pale for his dark hair and eyes. Although of good quality, his clothes appeared neglected. His rumpled suit looked like he’d slept in it, and his tie hung askew.
Marilee glanced at the patrolman, expecting him to dismiss the derelict. Instead, he asked, “Mr. Nichols, are you all right, sir?”
The man ignored the officer and took a step closer to Marilee. “Ms. Anderson, I’m David Nichols, Barbara’s brother. Can I speak with you?”
Barbara’s brother. No wonder he looked like a derelict. “Mr. Nichols, I’m so sorry about Barbara.”
“Thanks. Look, I really need to talk to you. About your dream.”
“Mr. Nichols, I don’t know what I can tell you. I’ve been answering questions for,” she looked at her watch, “my word, it’s been over three hours now. I—”
“Please.” He reached out but stopped short of touching her. “It’s important.”
Another police officer approached. “There’s a bunch of reporters waiting on the front steps. You guys want to talk to them?”
Reporters! Oh, no. Marilee felt herself sway slightly. Someone took her arm to support her. The voices around her seemed to come from a great distance.
“Is there a back way out of here?”