(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

Even though all those late night cop shows I’d watched had given me the basics, I was about to be schooled in the art of becoming a police detective. I suddenly wished I’d been far more interested in piecing the clues together and solving the crime instead of being so caught up in the character development and unfolding relationships. Plot has never been my strong suit.

When Cagney returned to the crime scene the second night to tell me that she’d taken the case herself, she also revealed that the officer who’d been over to dust for prints had found none. So far, any attempt to recover evidence had been unsuccessful. But she brought with her a pair of space-age-looking night vision goggles, which she positioned over her eyes explaining that they were for the purpose of detecting sperm residue. Even though it was determined that Jeanette had not been raped, apparently some men get off on beating women, she told me as she scanned the room. Although I didn’t want this beast to have enjoyed the violence of his actions, I sure as hell wanted some DNA. I was already beginning to think like a cop. And miraculously, Cagney was already accepting me as her partner. When she removed the goggles and shook her head, she asked if I could think of anything at all that might help, no matter how bizarre or remote. That’s when I reached for the piece of paper that had been burning a hole in my back pocket.

Cagney had 20+ years in the LAPD. I was a rookie who’d known her for all of 24 hours. But I was certain I had something she didn’t: unparalleled insight. You see, the morning after I’d found Jeanette in the guesthouse behind my house, her face sliced, her cheek and nose smashed, her eye hanging from its socket, I made a desperate phone call to a friend whom I had met only a few months before. My new friend was a psychic. I knew he’d done some work with the NYPD helping them crack some of their toughest cases; I knew he was gifted. I didn’t know he had a television show in the works, Crossing Over With John Edward, that would soon make him somewhat of a household name. All I knew was that I needed his help.

I’d spent nearly the entire night with Jeanette at the hospital and although I longed for sleep, it wouldn’t come with any sustenance for days. I called John at 5 AM. Luckily, for him, there was a three-hour time difference.

“John, it’s Tess,” I said. “My friend Jeanette was attacked last night.”

“Oh my god,” he exclaimed. “It’s you! I thought this was a case I was working on for the police department here, but it’s you. I’ve been up all night with this thing. Get a pen and paper and start taking notes.”

Since the moment Cagney had arrived, I was trying to find the right moment to introduce those notes. So when she said she’d entertain “anything at all,” my hand went for the paper I’d tucked into my back pocket. “How do you feel about psychics,” I asked her.

“Well,” she nodded thoughtfully. “I’m open.”

I whipped out my notes.

  • He’s a big guy, bigger than her. He overpowers her.
  • He has an R name: Robert, Ronald, Reginald…
  • He’s left-handed and feels mentally off, mentally imbalanced.
  • It’s a totally random crime. She stopped at a store and he was there. Something she did made him snap, and he followed her home. He didn’t have to go far.
  • She didn’t see him enter; she was at the sink with her back to him. He stood in the doorway for a moment and watched her. The best prints are on the wall by the door: his whole hand, maybe both hands. Then he pounces on her. He knocked her out and thought she was dead.
  • He didn’t have a gun. He used something near her, something ceramic, maybe a cup. She’s cut but he didn’t use a knife.
  • He’s wearing a blue t-shirt or jacket.
  • He wears outdated shoes and there’s something strange about them.
  • Someone saw him in the area. They were walking a poodle or a small dog. They may not know anything happened but they saw him leave.
  • He doesn’t have a father but there’s a strong mother connection.
  • He lives nearby in a Hispanic area at a busy intersection. The house style is not typical of the area. It’s two-story, dilapidated with a porch and a low chain link fence. There’s lattice under the porch. Light-colored. Pointy roof. Multiple families live there. It has a country, old-time feeling. It’s an Archie Bunker kind of house. Or Mr. Roper from Three’s Company. But very rundown. To the left of the house is some space, maybe an empty lot that’s used as a common area. If you stand on the porch and look to the right, you can see the orange ball of the Union 76 gas station on the corner.

There was a busy intersection just a few blocks from the house at Rose and Lincoln, and on the corner stood a Union 76 station with a big, orange ball. My friend John had never been to my house so he couldn’t have known that.

Cagney took the paper and read through it.

“I don’t know if it means anything,” I said, just trying to fill the awkward silence.

Her eyes locked on mine. “I have some ideas about who this is,” she said. “Can I keep this?”

I nodded. “That’s your copy.”

I’d spent most of the day with Jeanette, who was still in ICU. Her sister and brother had flown in from DC. But after I’d gotten home, I walked the back alley searching for a small dog and a rundown, two-story house. Although I hadn’t found anything, I was undeterred. And now I had a partner to help me.

“You want to go out on patrol with me?” she asked.

My heart skipped a beat—a combination of fear and excitement. “Yeah, I do,” I replied. “I really do.”

…go to Part 3