This Psychevella began with chapters by Bob [with Bitter Herbs], Christina herself [with Heads Up], and Leslie [with Shrink This]. I have chapter four. Caltechgirl will follow me, God bless her, and El Capitan will wrap it all up!
I hope you continue to enjoy the Psychevella. Without further ado, my contribution:
The Old Neighbourhood
Hanging up the phone, Cahill furrowed his brow as the team swept through every inch of the old McFarland house. Something did not seem quite right about the place – something besides the distinct lack of Johnny’s mother’s decorum. I wonder what ancient childhood trinkets of Johnny’s and mine they’ll find, he wondered. The building had probably never been so thoroughly inspected as it was now. And yet, the main floor, which by the dusty stairs to second seemed to be the most often used area, was completely devoid of prints, blood, anything. Almost cleaner than a clean room.
Sighing, Cahill watched the team carry away the assemblage of appendages found in fridge and freezer alike. A complete set for a body, but there was no way he would let old Mrs. McCuddahey identify George in person; the shock might send her over the edge, and one death was all he could stand around here right now. Carefully, he’d had the team put the body together in rough form, and they’d thrown a sheet over most of the corpse out of respect. Digital print-out in hand, he made his way to the familiar brownstone next door, where an anxious Mrs. McCuddahey was waiting in his mother’s sitting room. She’d have a lot to go through these next few days, poor soul.
Cahill trudged up the familiar, care-worn steps, rang the bell once, and waked in. His mother was making tea to soothe her neighbour’s weak nerves, as well as to supply herself with a cuppa. Fortunately, the ever-practical Mrs. Romano was a Godsend; she handed him a brewed cup of coffee just as he walked in the door. She noted at once his appearance, especially the grim countenance displayed upon his face. Wordlessly, he passed the kitchen by, and entered the sitting room. Such a frail, tiny woman! He hoped, once again, that her heart was stronger than she looked. He sat down in his late father’s favourite chair. He cleared his throat, dreading this moment as always he did, and started in. “Mrs. McCuddahey, I’m afraid I’ve brought some bad news...”
“Is George in trouble? Is it that girl!? I hope he hasn’t been being” – her voice dropped to a whisper – “worldly.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but it’s much worse. I regret to inform you that George, your son, has been… murdered. You have my deepest sympathies,” he consoled as he passed her the print-out. Cahill watched her suck in a long, deep breath. Her eyes had widened, and her hand shook more than usual – or so he thought – when she reached for the print-out. Her breath caught as she gazed down at it through her half-moon spectacles.
“Yes. Yes, that’s my George. My son… my only son!” And she sobbed silently, crumpling herself into his mother’s capable arms. The print-out fell to the floor, showing all in the room the disrespect that had occurred. Mrs. Romano picked it up gingerly, and jerked her head toward the kitchen. Cahill nodded. He followed her there to let one old soul help another in her grief. He could hear his mother softly soothing, “Martha, honey, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” and her voice trailed off as he walked out of earshot and into the kitchen. Mrs. Romano, of course, was all business, leaning against the counter, arms folded. “How long ago, William?”
That name again. He tried not to let it either irk or amuse him. “Two days ago, we think. Won’t know for sure until the pathologist gets a look at him. I hope to God it didn’t last days.” Cahill handed her his cup, looking for a refill. She complied, but with a confused look upon her face.
“How could a blow to his head have lasted for days?” She hands the brimming coffee back to him as he remembered, gratefully, what his team had done. Of course Mrs. Romano doesn’t know about the dismemberment, he reminded himself. “Never you mind, Mrs. Romano. Could you go back in there and see if Mrs. McCuddahey is up for a few questions right now? I know it’s late, but …”
“Sure, William, I’ll check on Martha right now,” and with that, she marched from the room, leaving Cahill to collect his thoughts. What ‘girl’ had she been referring to? Did she know anything about Lenny Markowitz? Would this all lead back to Dr. Schoedel? He had his suspicions about Dr. Schoedel, beginning with George’s personal notes on his sessions with the “Shiksa Psychiatrist” and leading into the number of messages / scheduled meetings George had relating to her. She had seemed unhelpful and uncomfortable on the phone just now… would she actually try to “find” George? Or did she know… Cahill brushed his thoughts aside, and headed back into the sitting room.
A more composed Martha McCuddahey sat waiting for him, her hands folding primly on her lap. Without further ado, he asked question upon question. Each was answered directly by Mrs. McCuddahey, with supplementary information from Mrs. Romano; if anyone would know around here, she would know. Cahill actually found this line of questioning useful, but only because he was so used to multiple women talking at once – especially if one of them was Mrs. Romano.
He started with general questions:
“Do you know of anyone who would want to harm George?”
“No, he was a perfect angel.”
“He was always very quiet, kept mostly to himself, and was polite whenever and wherever.”
And soon progressed to more personal questions, which conveniently addressed his curiosity about George’s decorations:
“What religious beliefs did George profess?”
“Well, naturally, Roman Catholic. We’re devout. He almost became a priest.”
“I heard tell he dabbled in all sorts of devilry, but I never wanted to upset Martha with it…”
Cahill made a mental note to ask Mrs. Romano more about that later.
Finally, he reached the question he’d been wanting to ask.
“When I first entered, you mentioned ‘that girl’. Who is ‘that girl’? ”