In Harm's Way -Ch 6 -----------By Luckymama

The Comfortable Couch
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Chapter 6

My head felt groggy and there was a fire on my chest as I slowly woke from my drug induced nap. The lights overhead were very bright, hurting my eyes. I let out a little moan as I tried to raise my head. I must have disturbed who ever was in the room with me, because at that moment a shadow came between me and the bright light. With this shade, I was able to open my eyes a little more. At first the face staring back at me was fuzzy, but slowly it came into focus and I saw it was the worried expression of my partner. His identity was confirmed to me moments later when I heard him call out, "Nurse, Detective Grieg is awake." A nurse came in and I looked at her and then back at Muff and asked, "Am I in a hospital?"

"Yeah, and we thought you were never going to wake up."

"But how," I asked weakly. I tried to sit up, but my head felt like a lead balloon. I collapsed against the soft hospital pillow as the nurse said, "Let’s not try that again, honey. You had quite an ordeal. Just rest and I will call the doctor."

She hurried out of the room and I looked at Muff. "What happened?"

"I was just about to ask you that same question. You remember anything?"

I closed my eyes in an effort to try to make sense of the thoughts swimming in my brain. "Where should I start?"

"How about after you called me," Muff said, trying to help.

"OK, well I went back to the apartment to shower, change and get a bite to eat. I typed up the interview I had with Mr. Beckman on my PC. Then I took a shower and changed. I was heating some soup on the stove when someone suddenly put his hands around my arms and mouth. He gave me just enough leeway to shut the stove off when the next thing I knew I was breathing in something noxious and I passed out. Then I woke up here." I kept my eyes closed the whole time I was relating this to Muff, hoping that I could concentrate better. But when I thought about where I was I opened my eyes full and looked at Muff and asked, "And how did I get here?"

"Well that was our doing," Muff said, pointing to the other two detectives in the room. Up until now I was not cognoscente of their presence. Mike smiled at me weakly and Larry just nodded. Muff continued. "When several hours went by since I had heard from you I got worried. I tried calling you. The phone picked up on the first try, but when I tried to talk to you, there was no answer and then we were cut off. When I tried to call back, the line was busy. I tried several times in the next few minutes, but all I got was the same busy signal. I knew something was wrong, so I told Mike and Larry what was up and the three of us went to your apartment. We found you on the floor, unconscious. The doctor said you were drugged with something pretty powerful. The tox screen hasn’t come back yet."

A horrible thought crossed my mind. I looked at Muff with more fear in my eyes than I had intended and he looked knowingly back at me. His uncanny ability to read my mind was working overtime. "The rape kit came back negative. He didn’t assault you that way," he whispered. I breathed a sigh of relief but winced when the fire on my chest intensified with the effort of my lungs. "Yeah, I bet it hurts like hell," Muff said.

"What is wrong with my chest that it hurts like this?" I asked as I looked down to see it had been well bandaged. I tried to touch it, but that only set up new waves of pain."

"Don’t mess with it, Jan. The doctor said it was cut pretty deep. Not that it won’t heal, but you can’t touch it for a while."

"Cut?" A tear started to form in the corner of my eye. The pain was increasing. Muff must have known what was going on, because he asked Mike to get the nurse and ask for more pain medicine for me. He then looked back at me, but avoided my eyes as he tried to explain. "Janice, this case has become personal."

I thought about the envelope with the picture of Muff and I and the accompanying note and said, "I know, I got something in the mail today."

"You mean yesterday. I know; we found it when we searched your place looking for clues to your attack."

"YESTERDAY??? How long have I been in here?" I practically yelled, with the only strength I had, which didn’t amount to more than a loud whisper.

"Well it is almost 24 hours since we found you," Larry answered. "Muff, you have to tell her," he added, addressing Muff. "Would it be better if we left you alone with her to tell her?" The nurse came back in with Mike at this point and without a word, stuck a needle in my IV. Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she said, "Just something for the pain." Turning to the other gentlemen in the room she added, "Detective Greig needs to rest. It might be best to finish this interrogation at another time."

I knew the nurse was right, but now my curiosity was piqued. "Can Muff… I mean Detective Kovack, stay for a few more minutes. I promise to kick him out after that?"

"OK, but the doctor wants to talk to your friends in a few minutes anyway, so don’t be long. You need to rest. Your body has been traumatized and will only heal if you let it."

She and Mike and Larry left the room and Muff went over to the light switch and shut off the brightest of the lights. One small night light remained on by the bathroom door. In the near darkness, he pulled up a chair near the head of the bed and sat down. I could feel the pain meds starting to take effect, but I fought the sleepiness they induced so I could hear what Muff had to tell me.

Muff let out a large sigh. I could barely make out his features in the near darkness, but somehow I could see his big brown eyes starting to swell with tears. "Janice," he began, almost choking on the words. "The picture and the letter weren’t the only things your assailant left in the apartment."

"He didn’t leave them; I got them in the mail. I went down after my shower, remembering I hadn’t checked my mailbox on the way up. The package was in the mail. I used gloves this time when I opened it, to preserve the evidence…." my head was swimming again with the effects of the medicine. It suddenly dawned on me what Muff was trying to tell me. "What do you mean? What did he leave in my apartment?"

"Janice, the nearest we can ascertain, your perp musta been in your apartment for at least two to three hours before he left and we got there."

"Two to three hours?!?!" None of this was making sense. An overwhelming sense of violation set into my psyche. Muff had told me I wasn’t sexually assaulted, but knowing that my assailant had been with me for so long made me wonder what lie under the bandages, what cause my chest to burn with hellfire. Looking at the way Muff’s silhouetted figure slouched in his chair, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy for him to tell me. I reached over and took his hand and said, "Please, these pain meds are starting to work and I might not be able to stay awake much longer. What did he do to me?"

I think Muff took some courage from my hand and words, because he took another deep breath and said, "Jan, this guy is sick, you have to understand that. He must have given you something pretty powerful, because you were out of it the whole time he cut you."

I took my hand out of his and put it back on my chest. "What did he do to me?" I whispered.

"He took a very sharp scalpel, probably similar to the one he used on those boys, and carved some letters on the top of your chest."

"Letters? What does it say?" I said, groggily. I was starting to lose the battle with the pain medicine.

"Maybe I should show you the picture we took when we were processing the crime scene… I mean your apartment," he added apologetically.

"OK," I said weakly.

He took a photo from his briefcase and held it up to my face. Even though there wasn’t much light in the room, I could make out some writing. The thing of it was I couldn’t make out the words. There were two, one over each of my breasts. But in the darkness, it looked as if the letters were backwards. I looked at Muff with puzzlement in my languid eyes.

"You are right, they are backwards," he said, knowingly. "Seems this nut used a mirror to carve this. When it didn’t make sense, I held the photo up to a mirror." He took a mirror out of his case and held it up to the picture. In bloody letters, I read with horror, "SPIC LOVER." I am not sure if it was shock, the effects of the pain meds or a combination of both, but I passed out. Right before I did, my last thought was that he wanted me to see this every time I looked at myself in the mirror.


I am not sure how long I had been out this time, but when I started to drift back into reality, I heard the voices of my partners talking in quiet, but intense, whispers around my bed. I knew how hard it had been for Muff to show me the picture of my chest carvings, and I knew that he did it because he couldn’t come out and say it in words. I tried not to resent this. I realized they were just trying to be chivalrous and protect me from the worst that had been done to me. Still, knowing this, I knew that I would probably hear more of the truth pretending to still be asleep and allowing them to talk around me then to wake at this moment and beg to hear it all. I was glad I did.

The first think I could make out was Muff’s voice. "Well it wasn’t something I could just blurt out, could I?"

"Jeez, Muff, but to show her?" That was Mike’s voice. "What were you thinking?"

"She has seen worse, I am sure," answered Muff, with a bit of resentment in his voice.

"You never did explain the picture," added Larry, matter-of-factly. I wondered how Muff was going to explain it.

"Oh that, it was nothing really, very innocent, Muff said, offhandedly. "This guy is making more of it than is there. We just went for a ride on our day off, to try to clear our heads of this whole matter. You have to admit, it is getting to us. And in that shot, Jan was getting a bit seasick and laid her head on me in an attempt to feel better." Muff paused and added, "It creeps me out to think that this guy was and still is stalking us."

I thought about Muff’s last statement. I hadn’t had the time to think about this angle, but he was right, it was creepy. And on top of it, I didn’t have a clue why he would be targeting us, besides the fact that we were the lead investigators on the case. My mind wasn’t working as fast as I wanted it to, so it didn’t dawn on me till later that the picture our perp took was before we had been officially assigned to oversee this set of cases. In fact it was before we knew what we were really dealing with. So the angle about us being the leads wasn’t a viable one. I felt bad for Muff, getting the third degree from the other guys, so I decided it was time to "wake up" and get him off the hook.

I moaned slightly, trying to be convincing. I hoped they would buy it and not realize I had been eavesdropping on their conversation. "Nurse...," I whispered, searching for the call button, but keeping my eyes closed. I felt someone fumbling around on my left side, digging in the covers, I supposed, for the call button. I could hear Mike call out for the nurse and I slowly opened my eyes to find Muff the one trying to assist me. "You in pain again?"

"A little," I answered weakly, putting my hand on the bandage covering that cursed phrase carved on me. "I am really thirsty too."

The nurse showed up at this point and gently maneuvered Muff out of her way by my side. "What can I get for you?"

"I am really thirsty. Can I have something to drink?"

She looked at my chart and said, "No restrictions on food or drink. I will get you something. Do you want soda, water or juice?"

"Water would be fine for now," I answered. She left to retrieve it. Muff moved right back to my side, taking her place. "Can I help you with anything?" I couldn’t be one hundred percent certain, but I was beginning to sense that Muff was feeling guilty for what happened to me. His hovering was a big clue. I smiled at him and said, "Could you help me to sit up a little?"

"Sure thing," he answered. He found the mechanism that operated the bed and I could hear the motors grind as the top of the bed rose behind my back. It was a good thing that it moved slowly, cause I could feel the blood rush out of my brain. I started to get dizzy and waved for him to stop.

"What’s wrong?" Muff asked, with very obvious worry in his voice.

"Nothing serious," I managed to answer. After another moment of silence, I was able to add, "my head is still a little dizzy from the attack. This is probably as far as I should have it for now. It is enough."

Muff nodded and I could see he was a bit relieved it wasn’t serious, but worry still resided on his face. I couldn’t see the other detectives very well from my vantage point, Muff was blocking most of my view of that side of the room. I wondered what they were making of all of this fuss.

"Can you bring me a mirror?" I knew he would think this was a strange request, but I wanted to see how bad I looked. If it was half as bad as I felt, I must have looked a fright.

"You think that is such a good idea?" Muff answered. "You are banged up pretty bad.

"Yes, I have to know. This is still an open investigation and I am still one of the lead detectives on the case. I am just collecting evidence." I said, trying to sound professional, even in my weakened state.

Muff grinned, the first one I had seen since I had woke up in the hospital, and shook his head. "Hard headed as always." He left my bedside and went out into the hall, I presumed in search of the mirror I had requested. I took the opportunity of his not being with me to call Mike over.

"Whacha need Jan," Mike responded as he came to my side.

"Is he all right?" I asked him, meaning Muff. He caught on and answered, "Yeah, I guess. He has been a wreck since we found you, but he processed your apartment like a pro. He tries not to let on, but I think he is kicking himself for not being there to prevent this."

"I kinda figured that one out myself. I don’t know what he thinks he could have done, I mean, I don’t need a baby-sitter..." I realized how that sounded. "I mean, well, he can’t be at my side 24-7 you know. I have a life outside of police work. It isn’t much of one, but..." I realized I was digging myself deeper and not making much sense.

"Hey, don’t worry about it. I know what you mean. And I am sure he knows he isn’t going to be there for you all the time. It is a partner thing, you know."

Boy did I ever, thinking of Jim. "Yeah, that is what I figured. I hope you don’t think that there is anything between...." I couldn’t finish the sentence, the words stuck in my throat.

"No, no, I mean, we wondered, but Muff assured us it is strictly all business between you two. Partners can get closer than most, it is the nature of needing each other in moments of danger. Sometimes I wonder if we are married to our wives or our partners more. And with you two being opposite genders, well, people can get the wrong idea. I think that is what this perp has done, cause I dunno why he would care."

I shook my head and said, "I haven’t a clue about that one myself."

The nurse came back in with a tray containing a plastic pitcher, a plastic cup and a straw. She put it on the table beside my bed and looked at the other people in the room and left. I guess she figured I had plenty of help getting the drink I requested. She did remark to Larry on the way out that if I needed anything else, they could call her.

Mike removed the plastic wrapper from the straw and placed it in the cup. He then poured a little water from the pitcher into the cup. I was able to push myself up a little more in the bed and reached for the cup as he handed it to me. I could feel the coolness on the sides of the cup and I tried to maneuver the straw to my mouth. Mike moved it into position so I could get it. I only had enough energy for a few sips before I gave it back to him. Muff came in while Mike was putting the cup back on the table. Mike moved back to the chair he was sitting in as Muff took his place once again by my side.

"I got one, it wasn’t easy. I guess people don’t like to look at themselves around here. All the mirrors are on the walls. But one of the nurses had a compact. I hope this will be big enough." He opened the compact and handed it to me. I took it and closed my eyes as I raised it to my face. I braced myself for what I was about to see. When I opened my eyes, I saw that the perp had left some bruises around my eyes and cheeks. My hair was matted, but that was probably from being in the hospital bed. Other than that, I didn’t look too bad.

"He musta been pretty sore at me to hit me like this." I remarked, trying not to sound too upset.

"Yeah, I dunno why he would want to mess up a pretty face like that." Mike said, trying to lighten the mood.

I smiled, "Thanks, Mike. I could always count on you for a complement." I looked at my face again and said. "This isn’t too bad. I wonder why my head feels like he took a baseball bat to it or something."

Muff explained, " Well that isn’t because of the beating, but a combination of the drug he used and the fact that you lost a lot of blood."

Now I was confused, "Lost blood?"

Muff continued. "The doctor said that the bruising around the cheeks was probably from a hand slap, probably several, but the bruising around your eyes was from the loss of blood and the drugs. When he carved you, you bled out pretty bad. We thought you were going to die from that alone. They gave you several pints in the operating room when they stitched you up.

"Oh," I said, realizing some more the trama I went through when I was unconscious. Wondering how I could have ‘slept’ through all of that I asked, "Did the doctor find out what he gave me to knock me out?"

"Well the tox screen wasn’t very conclusive, but the doctor’s opinion is that the perp might have used Isoflurane or Enflurane to initially knock you out."

I looked at him like he was speaking Greek. He saw and said, "The doc said these are animal anesthetics used by vets that work pretty quick. But they don’t last very long and they don’t have the level of pain killers needed to do what he did to your chest." Muff spoke slowly. I realized it wasn’t easy for him to talk to me about what happened to me. "And because they are breathed in, they don’t last long in the body. The doc also found traces of cocaine in your system. He did find a small puncture wound near where he -- used the scalpel on you. He figured that it musta been injected before he worked on you as a local anesthetic. I didn’t know this, but apparently they used to use cocaine as an anesthetic back when they were first learning to do surgery. No respectable doctor uses it now, cause it is addictive, but I guess with cocaine so readily available illegally, our guy musta thought it was the best thing to use. We have always thought that he has some background in medicine. Look at the way he handles a scalpel." I wince when he said that and put my hand to my chest again, remembering the picture Muff had shown me earlier. He immediately fell all over himself apologizing to me.

"Oh man, I am soooo sorry, Jan. It is hard to know when to be professional about this and to know when it is personal."

"Don’t worry about it. I was the one who wanted to discuss it like a case. It is hard not to think of it personally happening to me though."

"I know," Muff said in a low voice. "It is hard enough seeing what some people will do to others, but when it is someone you know and well..." he didn’t finish, but looked around and must have remembered he wasn’t alone with me. I knew what he was trying to say. It was like Mike was saying to me earlier. Partners, by the nature of the job, are closer to you than most people.

I started to grow tired again. I laid my head back on the pillow and closed my eyes. "Did the doctor say when I could get out of here?"

I heard Muff’s voice as he answered. "As soon as you feel like you are ready to. He said that the pain might be kinda intense for a few days, but overall you are OK. I think it might be good if you spent at least another day in here to rest and recover."

I opened my eyes and smiled weakly. The pain was growing more intense. "Yes, Dr. Kovack." Muff started to smile and then concern replaced the smile. He reached for the call button and pressed it. The voice squawked through the speaker "Yes, can I help you?"

"Detective Grieg might be in need of more medicine for her pain. She is having some distress," Muff responded. He wasn’t wrong, the fire in my chest had come back with a vengeance and I clutched it and breathed heavy.

"I’ll be right there," the voice said.

A few minutes went by and the nurse came in with a syringe. She placed it on the table next to my bed and checked my vital signs. She asked me about my pain and then injected the contents of the syringe into my IV line. Soon the pain started to subside and I felt groggy again. The nurse told the guys that it was time for me to rest and Mike and Larry took the hint and left the room. Muff stayed behind long enough to take my hand again and put his mouth next to my left ear. As I drifted into a drug induced sleep I heard him whisper, "We will get the guy who did this to you, Jan. I swear on my parents’ grave we will." Then I felt his lips press against my left cheek as he placed a kiss upon it. I guess he left after that, cause I don’t remember much else.


The next day the doctor signed the release forms and I was able to go home. In the last twenty four hours, the guys had been over my apartment with a fine toothed comb, collecting all the evidence they could and getting it to the lab. Muff came to visit me a few more times, but didn’t stay too long, just long enough to keep me up on what they were doing. I was needing the pain medication less frequently, so I was itching to get out with them and find this guy. Like Muff said when told me about what had happened to my chest, it was now personal.

Muff helped me with the few things they had brought to me while I was in the hospital. He had brought me some clothes so I could change. I had been in the hospital gown the whole time and was glad to get some regular clothes on. I had him bring me an old sweat shirt and pants, figuring that these would be the easiest to put on. It was kinda embarrassing to think he went through my underwear draw to get me pair of clean panties, I didn’t bother with the bra since I was still bandaged up in that area. He brought his car around to the entrance of the hospital and then helped me out of the wheel chair the hospital staff insists you must use to get to your car. I was never so grateful to get away from that place. I never liked hospitals, but I guess most people don’t.

Muff drove me to the apartment, filling me in on the preliminary things the crime lab found. I knew I would have to look through my things to see what had been disturbed. I just laid back and closed my eyes and listened to what he had to tell me. "There were no finger prints in the whole place except the ones we expect to find there. Seems this guy used gloves."

"I think I remember his hands covered with gloves, but the memories are still a little fuzzy," I answered.

"We did find some stuff on your computer. We had it dusted for fingerprints, but I fought to have it left it at the apartment. I didn’t bring it up before ‘cause I wanted you to get your rest. It isn’t pleasant. Seems this guy might know you, from the note he left. Funny thing is, I don’t think he erased anything. But one thing is for certain, I think he knows all we know about the cases, if not from first hand knowledge, then from reading your files. I thought we could go over what he wrote together, since you have a better idea what was on your computer than I do."

I tried not to think about him touching my things. I felt so violated, even if I knew he didn’t rape me. I thought about the last two days in the hospital and what my body had gone through. All of a sudden another thought entered my mind, one that had nothing to do with the case. "Muff, did anyone phone my mother about this?"

"Your family was contacted. We decided that it would be better to talk to your brother first. He was going to fly east, but we told him that you were OK. He asked us to let him phone your mother. She did phone me once asking about you, I was able to reassure her that you were OK," Muff answered.

I had to smile a little through my pain. I could imagine how that conversation went. I was surprised my mother wasn’t banging down the doors of the hospital trying to see me. "Didn’t she ask to see me?"

A huge grin broke out on Muff’s face. "Ask wouldn’t be the exact work I would have called it. More like demanded. But I was able to assure her that you were fine and that you would call her the minute you were released." He handed me his cell phone. I knew exactly what he wanted me to do. I dialed the number.

"Hello?" I heard on the other end. There was an anxiousness in my mother’s frail voice. I felt bad I hadn’t thought to call her before this. All the morphine on top of what the perp had given me made my mind too cloudy to think straight. I took a deep breath and said, "It’s Jan, mom."

"Oh my God, baby, are you OK? The cops wouldn’t tell me anything!" she practically shouted in my ear. I could see from the expression on Muff’s face that he heard every word she was saying, or more to the point, shouting. I tried to concentrate on my mother and let Muff drive.

"I’m fine, mom. You know me, hard to keep a soldier down," I chuckled, trying to deflect some of my mother’s obvious worry.

"I knew this would happen to you one day, damn fool daughter wanting to be a cop. I want you to come home and spend some time here resting," she said.

Muff pulled the Impala into a parking spot in front of my building and cut the engine. He got out and came around the other side of the car to open the door for me. I didn’t mind this act of chivalry, I was hurting too much to protest if I had minded. I continued to reassure my mother that I was OK and that I would come to visit her real soon, but I was needed to help my partner find out who did this to me. She wasn’t real happy about that. As we climbed the stairs in front of my building, Muff signaled to me to let him have the phone. I reluctantly gave it to him, not knowing what to expect.

"Mother Greig? This is Detective Kovack. Remember I spoke to you on the phone a couple of days ago?" Silence for a few minutes as we entered the building and slowly made our way up to my apartment. Then he said, "Yes, she is fine. I have brought her back to her place and I will make sure she has round the clock protection and care. She wasn’t hurt that badly." Again silence. I could hear her talking on the other end, but the words were too garbled to understand. I took my key out and opened the door and we entered. "No, Mother Greig, I will make sure she isn’t alone. And we will come out to see you tomorrow. I hope you don’t mind having another person for Sunday dinner?" I could hear that her voice had gotten lower. I was amazed at the way my partner was charming my mother. His slow, soothing voice was having an effect on her. "Yes, Mother Grieg, 11 A.M. sharp. We will be there. Rest easy. She is in good hands."

He listened a few more minutes and then said, "Yes, here she is," and handed the phone back to me. I sat down on my sofa to finish my conversation with her as Muff went into the kitchen to put on a kettle of hot water for tea.

"Mom?" I said.

"Honey, your nice partner said he would make sure you are safe. He seems like a nice young man. Are you going to be well enough to come tomorrow for dinner?"

"Yes, mom, I keep telling you I am fine, just a little banged up. And we will be there, like Muff told you."

"Uh, there is one more thing...." my mom said in a lower voice, hesitantly.


" the man who did this, he didn’t... um... you know..." I could hear in her voice that she was uncomfortable asking the question that I knew she was trying to ask. I had to smile a bit, thinking of how her generation couldn’t talk about such unpleasant things in polite company.

"No, mom," I said in my most soothing voice. "The doctors told me that he didn’t violate me that way."

"Well that is a good thing anyway," she answered. I could tell by her voice she was beginning to cry. I didn’t want to upset her anymore, and I was tired, so I told her I loved her and said my good-byes. It took a few more minutes to get her to hang up, but she finally did. By the time I pressed the end button on the cell phone and put it down on the end table by the sofa, Muff was bringing in my tea.

"She going to be OK?" Muff asked me.

I took the cup from his hands and took a sip and allowed the soothing liquid to relax me. "I think so, as much as she can be. I know seeing her tomorrow will go a long way to set her mind at ease." I took another sip and added, "I think she likes you, you know."

Muff raised one eyebrow as he sat beside me on the sofa with his cup of tea in his hand. "Oh, really? What makes you think that?"

"Oh I wouldn’t know," I teased. "Maybe it was that Latin charm of yours."

Muff grinned, but acted astonished. He was about to throw a quip my direction but I cut him off. "Seriously though, thank you for talking to her. I guess I am too close to her to really be effective in helping her not to worry."

"No problem. Glad to help. What’s a partner for!"

We sat in silence, drinking our tea for a few minutes. Something about the conversation came back to me. "What did you mean when you told her that I would be having round the clock protection and care?"

"Well, we talked to the captain and he is in agreement that you should have someone here to stay with you for a while."

"I hope that you don’t think I can’t take care of myself! One little incident and...."

Muff sensed I was on the defensive about what had happened. "No, I know you are tough and will be over this soon. We just thought that it might be wise to wait a few days before having you stay here by yourself. I would have had you come and stay at my place, honestly it might be safer, but I knew you wouldn’t agree to that. I know you are out of the hospital, but your body is still getting over the trama this guy put it through. Until you are 100% better and can fend off attackers, I thought it might be better to have someone here."

I knew he was right, but the thought of some strange police woman spending the night in my place didn’t appeal to me. "Who is going to be here?"

"That’s up to you. It’s your life and your place. The NYPD is ready to assign a uniform policewoman to the job, if you want that."

"Actually, no I don’t." But I didn’t know what else would be acceptable either, so I didn’t add any suggestions of my own.

Muff sensed that the conversation was beginning to become awkward. He took our empty mugs into the kitchen and put them in the sink. "There is another suggestion, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea if I suggest it."

I laid back against the soft cushions of the couch and closed my eyes. The trip home and the conversation with my mother had worn me out more than I realized. "What is that?" I asked him weakly. He came back into the living room and sat beside me once again. "Are you all right?" he asked with much concern in his voice.

I opened my eyes and looked at him. "I’m fine, just tired, I guess."

"Maybe you should take a nap for a while. I’ll be here till you decide on what you want. I have my stuff here and I can even get Mike and Larry to stop by and we can work on things from here. I am sure they have the final forensics report on the attack back by now."

I was too weak to argue. I let him take me to my room and turn down the covers on my bed. I hadn’t had someone tuck me in since I was very little. He kissed me gently on the forehead and I drifted off to sleep.


It was dark when I woke up. I rolled over and looked at the digits on my alarm clock. They glowed a crimson 8:30. Groggily I rolled back on my back and stared at the ceiling for a few minutes. I thought back on the past several days and wondered if I would ever be myself again. Everyone had assured me I would be OK, but when you are in the middle of recovery, you never seem to see the end of it.

I wondered if Muff was still around, and what he had been up to the many hours while I had been sleeping. The pain in my chest wasn’t as bad as it had been, but the meds I took before I went to sleep had definitely worn off. I actually welcomed a little of the pain, it helped shake the cobwebs from my mind. All I could think about was how badly I wanted a shower.

While I was in the hospital, all they would do was give me sponge baths, carefully avoiding my bandaged chest. They don’t bother with your hair unless you specifically ask them, and I was in no shape to do that. Now the matted locks felt nasty and my scalp began to itch. I wondered how much I could do without doing harm to my wounds. I searched my memory for all the information the doctor gave me when he was checking me out. I did remember that I was OK to bathe, so long as I kept the bandaged area dry. That meant a shower was out unless I could find a way to waterproof the bandages. While I was contemplating how I would be able to manage it, a quiet knock sounded on my door. "I guess that answered my question about Muff," I thought to myself as I answered the knock with a, "I’m awake."

Muff slowly entered the room and asked if he could turn on a light. I told him it would be OK and shielded my eyes to the brightness, waiting for them to adjust. He came over to the bed and reached out his hand as if to silently ask if I needed help getting up. I put my hands in his and slowly lifted myself into a sitting position. It is amazing to discover how much you depend on those mechanical beds in the hospital when you are without them at home. I smiled a grateful smile at him and said, "I feel like I have been through the trenches in Iraq. I need a shower, badly!"

Muff sat down next to me on the bed and replied, "Well the doc said it was OK, but you can’t get that bandage wet."

"I know, I have been laying here thinking of a way to get around that."

Muff thought a minute and said, "Sounds like the only way is another GI bath, like they gave you in the hospital. You think you can manage that?"

I looked at him and smiled, "I guess I have to, I mean there isn’t anyone else here to help me!"

For the first time since I had known my partner, he blushed. He had been so sweet and worried about me that he didn’t even have time to think of me in that regard. There was an awkward silence that I finally broke. "I’ll be fine, but I wish I could get my hair washed. I dunno if I can do that by myself yet."

"Oh I can help you with that if you like," Muff answered, his face noticeably relieved. "Why don’t you go and clean up the rest of you and when you are done come into the kitchen. Bring your shampoo and a towel and I will wash it at the kitchen sink where there is a sprayer."

"Sounds like a plan," I answered. "Thanks."

"De nada," he said as he got up and left the room. I was able to make my way to the bathroom with a little difficulty. The pain was low level and constant. I knew when I was finished making myself more presentable I would have to take my pain meds, but I was holding off. Even with the pain, it was good to be alert again.

Even a GI bath was a bit of an ordeal, only because I was being meticulous, especially around the bandage. After I was done, I dressed in clean clothes and took a few towels from the linen closet along with my shampoo and conditioner and made my way out to the kitchen.

Muff had the stool I kept by refrigerator set up by the sink. It was one of those old fashioned type step stools that had a seat at the top with a back. The seat and back were covered with a red vinyl seat and there were two steps that collapsed underneath its aluminum frame. I had picked it up at a yard sale years ago. I was able to sit on it and lean my head back over my sink. I had draped my upper body with a few towels and even had put a plastic bag over my bandage under the towels to make sure no water would get on it. Muff tested the temperature of the water and asked me to feel it as well. It seemed fine to me. He lifted the sprayer from the side of the sink and wet my hair down. Helping himself to a generous portion of the shampoo he began to lather it in my hair, massaging my scalp. It felt wonderful. I asked him if he had ever had occasion to do this, because he would have made a terrific hair dresser. He laughed and said that his mother used to ask him to wash her hair from time to time. She had arthritis really bad and had a hard time lifting her arms up to wash her own hair. He added that he was glad I was enjoying it, cause he wasn’t sure if he was doing it right. I told him it felt wonderful and he kept massaging my scalp for a few more minutes. Finally he rinsed my hair and applied the rinse out conditioner. After a final rinse he put a towel around my wet locks and helped me to sit up.

I took the twisted towel and hair from him and began to rub the excess water from my hair. He asked me if I wanted him to comb and blow dry it. I was in an amiable mood and said sure. I dunno what had gotten into me, because I am fiercely self sufficient. I told him where I kept the blow dryer and my brush and comb. My hair wasn’t too long, but I knew that raising my arms to manipulate the dryer and comb would put too much strain on the muscles leading to my injured chest. I fought hard against the need I had to take the pain meds. The throbbing was increasing, but I didn’t want to go back to sleep for a while, and I knew the meds would make me sleepy again.

Muff returned with the blow dryer and I went into the living room on a chair near an outlet. He was very gentle, not only making sure my hair was dry, but even styling it up a bit for me. I thanked him for taking the time to do this, and he said that he knew what it was like to feel miserable, and he hoped his little efforts would ease some of that misery for me. I smiled, knowing he was still feeling guilty for not being there for me. I knew there was nothing he could have done to prevent the attack, but I also knew that he wouldn’t listen if I pleaded a case against his guilty feelings. I decided it was best to just let it drop.

When he was done he returned the hair stuff to the bathroom and I moved over to the couch where it was more comfortable. Muff came back out and asked me if I was hungry. I told him a little and he went into the kitchen to fix me a sandwich. While he was busy with that I asked him what he had been doing all afternoon while I was asleep. He filled me in on the investigation. He said that the other two members on our team had been over with the forensics report on my attack and they had put their heads together over it and the other evidence trying to make some sense out of it, but to be honest, they hadn’t really been able to get very far. There had been no new developments, and to the relief of the whole team, there had been no new cases either.

Muff brought my sandwich and a Coke out to me and set up the TV tray table I kept by the side of the sofa. As I ate, he continued telling me what they found.

"The perp left no prints that we could find. No DNA either. This guy knew exactly what he was doing. The only evidence he left was the letter on your computer. I printed out a copy of it for you to read when you were feeling better. We didn’t seem to get the full significance from it. We were hoping you would be able to understand it better."

He handed me a printout of the letter from my computer. He told me they left the file on my computer in case the tech boys might be able to find any other trace evidence on it. He told me that they wanted my PC as soon as I would be willing to release it to them. I told them that it would be OK, but I should check all my files to see if anything was added or missing. I took the letter and quietly read it while he paced the floor.

My dearest Jan,

Sorry if this seems a bit informal, but you see, I feel I really know you

enough to call you dearest. I have admired you for so long that I know

if you knew my feelings you would feel the same way. I have followed

your career and especially these cases with much interest. You know

I have only done what I have for you, my dearest. I want you so bad,

that when I see you around other guys it makes my blood boil. It is a

shame you have elected to be with those of inferior races. You are

too beautiful to be with that spic partner of yours. If I had any influence

in the NYPD I would have you assigned someplace safe with people

of your own kind. I didn’t want to mark you up like that, but you made

me so mad. I have kept all my love tokens and hope to show them to

you one day, to show you how much I love you. Those subhumans had

no business being with the likes of you, or anyone that looked like you.

That is why I had to kill them. But I only did it for you, my darling.

Promise me you will give up this madness and get away from that spic

as soon as you can. Then the killing can stop. I will be in touch as soon

as I know you will not give me up. I am counting on your love to keep

me safe from prosecution. Then we can go away together and be happy


If you don’t agree to this, there will be more killings. If I could get my

hands on that spic, he would be next, but he would be a hard one to get.

What a trophy he would be, though, the ultimate token of my love for

you. I look at the others and think what his would look like sitting side

by side with my other specimens. They are a poor lot compared to me.

Call off the police and I will give myself up to you, and you alone. I

know you wouldn’t let them touch me. I know you would see my tokens

as the symbols of my love I meant them to be. You can’t really care about

these subhumans. I know you are the true beauty of our superior race.

I will take care of you and make sure you have the care you need. I can

reverse what I did to you if you will just come to me. I have skill.

Let me know what your answer is, my love. When you quit the investigation

I will know your answer and come to you again.

Your Aryan Lover


I let out a shudder as I read the letter. "Oh my God," I exclaimed. Muff took the letter from me as I held it out to him. "This nut seems to know me. Why me?" I said as I finally broke down and cried. I had tried to be strong during this whole ordeal, but the knowledge that somehow I was the reason this guy killed those innocent men and mutilate them overwhelmed me to the point of a break down.

Muff came over to my side and let me put my head on his shoulder as the tears came pouring out. "Jan, this guy is a nut. It isn’t your fault. You didn’t ask him to kill. You have to believe me when I tell you that he is totally to blame."

"Yes, but what if he is sincere about it stopping if I call off the investigation. If one more person dies because I didn’t do what he asked, I don’t know if I could live with that person’s death on my head."

Muff took my chin firmly in his hand and put my head directly in front of his. His large dark eyes riveted themselves directly at mine, so hypnotic was his serious stare I couldn’t help but look directly into them. He was all business as he spoke. "Detective Greig, we will catch this nut. There will be no talk of quitting. If he kills again, he does. It is not our place to let him get off. The blood of his other victims cries out for justice, and we will bring him to justice. Please promise me you will not do anything foolish to put yourself in harm’s way again. Who knows what he would do if he had you."

Muff was right and I knew it. Still I knew the key to catching this guy might rest in my hands. I had to form a plan of action and I knew that finding a weakness in this man might be the way to catch him. But right now I knew I was too spent emotionally to formulate a plan right now. I asked him to help me over to the computer so I could check my files. He helped me to the computer chair and then went back to the sofa. I told him to help himself to the TV that I might be a while looking through all my files.

As I perused my hard drive, Muff flipped channels, seeing what was on. He finally settled on the last innings of the Yankee game. It was good that he was watching baseball, the drone of it kept my mind focused on what I was doing. After about 45 minutes, I told him that it looked like everything was there and nothing besides the letter had been added, at least to my weary eyes. The crime lab could have my PC in the morning and see what they could find.

When I was done, I knew I would have to have those pain meds. I was now several hours overdue and the pain was becoming unbearable. Muff might have seen me wince when I got up and he asked me if I needed something for the pain. I said yes and he quickly got up and got them for me, with a glass of water. I took them and went to the bathroom to take care of other things. While I was in there, Muff had cleared up the remains of the dinner he had fixed me and straightened out my bed. When I came out of the bathroom he pointed to the bed and said, "It would be a good idea if you got more rest. Unless something develops between now and then, we will go to your mom’s tomorrow. You will need your rest for that."

The meds were starting to work and I felt my muscles start to feel like jelly. "Well I am in no position to argue with you. Are you planning on spending the night?"

"Yes, but only because you never gave me directions to the contrary. Larry and Mike stayed with you for a bit this afternoon so I could go to my place, freshen up and get some things. I can sleep on your couch. I’ll be fine."

"OK. There is a blanket and pillow in the closet in the hall. I hope you get some sleep." I collapsed on the bed and Muff helped me get tucked in.

"I’ll be fine. You just rest. I’ll see you in the morning."

I smiled weakly. "Thanks, Muff. I appreciate your taking care of me."

"Shh, mi socia. Buenas noches." He kissed me on the cheek and I fell asleep.


Muff must have slept in late, cause he didn’t come in to wake me till it was almost 11. It had been well after midnight before I had gone to bed, so I felt really rested from the long sleep.

The doctor had instructed me to change the bandage the day after I had gotten out of the hospital. He had given me some medicine to spread on the stitches so that the wounds would heal and it would lessen the chance of scarring. The doctor said he would look at some plastic surgery in the future to take care of any leftover scarring. Some of the cuts had been deep, but he was convinced that I would heal. He only had to put a few stitches in them, opting to butterfly the parts that weren’t as deep. I didn’t tell Muff I was going to take the bandage off, thinking that the less he knew about what I saw the better.

I prepared myself for the worse, remembering the picture Muff had shown me in the hospital. That picture was taken before the stitching. When I removed the bandage in front of the bathroom mirror, no small feat since the medical tape hurt like hell as I pealed it away from my bruised skin, I could make out the general outline of the words but they were obscured by some of the work the doctors had done on them. I gently cleansed the wounds as the doctor instructed only using some warm water and cotton swabs. Then I applied the salve I was given using some more swabs. I tried to clean some of the adhesive off my skin where the tape had left it, but it proved too tough for right now. Not wanting to accidentally pop my stitches and do more damage, I left them and dried the whole area with the lint free cloth the hospital had give me. Then I re-bandaged the whole area with a fresh bandage and went about my morning hygiene routine.

After another GI bath, I felt as fresh as I could. My hair seemed to respond to my attention, to my amazement. Muff had done a great job styling it last night. I wonder if my mother would notice how nice it looked and ask me how I got it to look that way. I got dressed and exited my bedroom. Muff looked at me and said, "Mami, you look great."

"Well it is amazing how a good night’s sleep will help a person feel their best. And having a great hairdresser helps too!" I gave him a little wink.

Muff smiled. "Just trying to help." Then he picked up his shaving kit and his clothes and asked if he could avail himself of my shower. I told him to help himself, that the towels were in the linen closet.

While he showered and got ready, I fixed us some breakfast. It felt good to get back to as normal a life as I was allowed. I had the eggs and sausage on the table and was pouring the coffee when he entered the kitchen, looking very handsome in his light blue golf style shirt and tan chinos. His hair glistened from the dampness that was still in it from the shower. I gathered that he let it air dry. That might have been what made it so soft looking all the time. He told me he was glad I was starting to feel better, owning to the breakfast that sat on the table. I said that I felt like I had to get back into a more normal routine.

We sat and ate in relative silence. I am not sure what was going through his mind, but all I kept thinking was how natural this felt, having him in my kitchen sharing a meal. A small shot of pain in my chest brought me back to the reality of why he was here and I kicked myself for thinking the thoughts that had been going through my mind. Maybe it was the anticipation of my mother’s reaction to Muff that had me thinking about what life would be like if Muff was more than my partner in crime. But I knew that I had to stay focused on work, or we would never catch this guy.

Muff offered to do the dishes and I went in to take more medication. I decided I should only take half a dose, in order to keep my wits about me. The doctor told me I could start backing off the meds as I felt I needed to. There was no minimum dosage, only a maximum. I was determined to wean myself off of them as soon as I could. Over the counter pain meds would be good enough after a while. The quicker I could get to that place, the better it would be for me to concentrate on my job.

I found myself rambling on about my mom and my youth as we drove out to Queens. I didn’t own a car, so traveling out in one felt strange. It also brought back memories of when my dad was alive. He insisted on picking me up on Sundays, not liking me to take public transportation. After his death, I had no choice, although my mother worried about me using the train all the time.

I was telling Muff all about the trips my dad and I would take out to the end of the Island when he was alive. I said the eastern end of Long Island was sorta like the Cloisters were for him. It was an escape from the real world. I had not been out there since my dad passed on. Muff promised we would take a drive out there someday.

My mom was waiting by the door when we drove up. Muff had called her on his cell phone, telling her what his car looked like so she wouldn’t be alarmed when it pulled into her driveway. She still had the garage, but my dad’s old Buick was sold when he died. I had contemplated taking it, but decided I really didn’t need the expense of a car.

We greeted her by the door and she led us into the kitchen. She asked us to sit down at the table and proceeded to pour us each a cup of coffee. She asked Muff a ton of questions about himself and asked me how I was getting along. We must have talked for a couple of hours while she finished fixing dinner.

My mother loved to cook, but in recent years kept her fare simple, owing to the fact that it was just the two of us. She really outdid herself this day, I guess because we had company. She fixed a pot roast with all the trimmings. As always, she made too much and tried to get Muff to eat more than he could hold. He was polite and tried to please her. I felt bad for him, knowing how uncomfortable he would be feeling later.

When dinner was over, Muff insisted on helping with the dishes. I wanted to help as well, but my mother wouldn’t let me. I normally did the dishes on Sundays, but she was still fussing over me about my attack. I tried to tell her that I was feeling much better, but she was able to get Muff on her side and the two of them insisted that I remain seated. I did convince them to let me dry some dishes as I sat at the table. This she let me do.

I told my mother that I wanted to take Muff back to see my dad’s den, if it would be OK with her. She said it would be fine, that she needed to call my brother while we were back there. I lead Muff down the long hall to the back of the house. My dad’s den had been a bedroom on the original house plans. There were two bedrooms downstairs and two upstairs. My parents decided that since they only had two children, the spare bedroom would be better used as his den.

Muff looked around while I told him about my father. There were pictures of the two of us on our various travels over the years. Muff asked me why my mother wasn’t in the pictures and I told him my mother hated long car rides. I showed him my dad’s pipe and related how on Sunday afternoons I would spend hours in this room thinking about my dad. Muff nodded when I told him that I felt like my dad was with me when I was in here. "I sometimes feel like that when I am at the park near my apartment. My mother used to take me there as a child and sometimes I go there and sit on the bench looking at the moms and kids on the playground equipment and think about her."

I had offered Muff my dad’s old lounge chair and I sat on the other chair in the room. We reminisced some more about our childhood’s and then sat in silence for a while. Finally Muff said we should go and see where my mother was, that she might wonder why we were back there so long. I grinned and told him that I suspected my mother would be pleased, she was so hell bent on getting me hitched. I felt the blood rise to my face and with a blush I said, "She wants grandkids."

"Doesn’t your brother have children?"

"Yes, two, but it isn’t the same for her, they are 3000 miles away."

"I gotcha." He got up and took my hand and led me back to the kitchen.

"You two were back there a long time," my mom said. I deflected her inquiries with a question about my brother. "How’s Tad?"

"Your brother is fine, and the kids are fine, but he is worried about you. He still wants to come and see you. You need to call him."

"I know, I will. Did you tell him I am much better?"

"Yes, but I know he would believe it more coming from you."

I kissed my mom on the cheek, "OK, mom, I will call him on my cell phone on the way back to the city."

"You heading back now?" my mom asked, knowing what I was going to tell her and not wanting to hear it.

"Yes, I’m afraid we have to head back. Lots to do Monday morning and I need to rest," I answered her firmly, but gently.

"I hope someone is staying with you. I can’t bear to think of you all alone there with that nut still on the loose."

"She is in good hands, Mother Greig. I am personally taking charge of her protection."

"Good," she said giving him a hug. "You know, Jan, he is a good man..."

"I know, mom." And I kissed her on the cheek cutting off her next remark. "I will call you when I get home."

She handed me a large bag full of containers of food. "You will need more in the house if you have two to feed." I wondered if she suspected it was Muff who had been staying with me. I know it wouldn’t have set too well, but on the other hand, she had taken a shine to him. After all, he met her major qualifications, he was alive and single. I guess it didn’t hurt that he was charming and good looking as well. I shook my head a little thinking about this as we got in the car.

On the way back to the city I called my brother Tad. He was still very concerned, but knowing that my mother was fine with the arrangements that had been made on behalf of my safety went a long way in convincing him I would be OK. Muff even talked to him a bit to reassure him. Tad said he would try to get some time off soon and bring the whole family east for a visit. It had been almost a year since my mother had seen her babies and he knew that his presence was long overdue. It is amazing how a crisis in a family helps to remind us of how important we all are to each other.

Muff said very little to me about the visit, except to say my mother seemed really nice and was a great cook. To prove it, he helped himself to some of the leftovers my mother had sent home with us when we got back to my place. I was too tired and too stuffed to think about eating anymore, so I told Muff I was going to take a full dose of pain meds and lay down. He said he would be watching some TV while I rested, and that if I felt like just calling it a night, it was OK with him. I decide that his suggestion was a good one, so I got my PJ’s on before I laid down. It turned out to be a good idea, because I didn’t wake up till the next morning. This time Muff let me put myself to bed. I was glad, but a small part of me missed him giving me that good night peck on the cheek.