Elliot quickly stepped off the elevator of the sixth floor of the hospital and walked down the long corridor toward Olivia’s room with an over-sized card that he intended to help bolster her spirits in hand. His stomach burned as he quickened his pace and he was reminded of his doctor’s orders that he try to reduce his stress to keep his small ulcer from increasing. With his partner having fallen into a new level of depression, he knew there would be no relief from the stress and he, along with Maya and Jonathan, feared she might not come out of her current lull.
When the nurses had found Olivia four days earlier, she had just suffered a severe seizure, but its aftermath was what caused the drama. Olivia had not simply seized, but it appeared that she had been leaning out of her bed when it happened, causing her to fall from the bed, cracking her head on the floor and re-fracturing the arm that had just recently healed.
The head injury had seemed acute at first and, following it, Olivia had initially lost the ability to sense anything below the waist again. Her neurologists insisted that it was only a mental phenomenon, but the suggestion irritated Olivia to the point that she had stopped responding to their questions altogether and had taken to staring across her room with a silent scorn set upon her face.
By the next day, she was able to move again, but the reality of her limitations had finally set in and Olivia fell into a psychological spiral. She would not acknowledge visitors to the room and refused to speak as she stared for hours at a spot on the far wall. She had not been very accepting of the hospital food prior to the accident and, afterward, refused to eat anything even after hours of Maya’s tearful pleading.
For the first time in a long while, Elliot sympathized with Jonathan when he retreated in tears after Olivia’s doctors were forced to pump nutrients into her system via her IV bags. In just several days of only intravenous pumps, Olivia’s face had regained its gaunt, pale appearance and Dr. Androse stressed that unless she came out of her depression, she would continue to deteriorate.
The depression had become so grave that Olivia did not move a muscle when it was time for her catheter or bedpan to be changed and she lifelessly allowed the physical therapists to move her body about instead of participating in her recovery.
When it became apparent that Olivia had become completely despondent, Elliot was ashamed to admit that he pointed fingers at anyone he could find. Maya was first on the list as it was she who had placed the box just out of Olivia’s reach, causing her to strain which most likely caused the initial seizure. Maya, in turn, let out her own frustrations by screaming that Elliot’s constant bickering with Jonathan was what drove Olivia to seek solace in anything other than meals given to her. Jonathan attempted to jump on the Elliot-bashing bandwagon, but was met instead with the full blaze of Maya’s fury over Olivia’s state as she called him an arrogant bastard who created more problems in Olivia’s life than any other man she had ever known.
The anger and finger-pointing flared sometimes while still inside Olivia’s room, which would elicit the few verbal responses Olivia was willing to give; they included the most foul language that Elliot had ever heard her use and she called each of them any name that came to mind, from simple curse words to racial slurs. Her angry tirades would include telling Jonathan that he was an elitist who deserved to die alone, that Elliot was intent on screwing up her life as much as he had his own and that Maya was simply a pathetic basket-case who would probably die from some venereal disease she picked up from sleeping with multiple men at the same time. Though they knew she never truly meant what she said, her words still stung and created an even tenser atmosphere.
In the days that followed, Olivia had been met by several psychiatrists who had had no effect. Her state declined rapidly and the fear of an imminent suicide was ever present on Elliot’s mind.
He knocked on her door when he approached Olivia’s room, though he knew she would not answer and found Olivia lying on her side and scornfully staring at a space just below the window.
“Evening, Liv,” he said softly as he entered the room. He set up the card beside the window near a plethora of older gifts and cards and sat in the chair beside her. His seat obstructed her view of the space her eyes held, but she did not blink nor did she avert her eyes as Elliot sat next to her.
A tray on wheels hovered just over her bed and on it sat a sandwich, carrots and green Jell-O and Elliot pulled it closer, drawing a stronger grimace and a twitch of Olivia’s eye.
“You need to start eating, Liv,” he said. “This can’t continue. Your body can only stay on the IV for so long before…You just need to eat something.”
Olivia shifted on the bed to face the ceiling instead and he sighed.
"Come on, Liv," he said grabbing the small bowl of gelatin. "You've got to eat something. Just a little of some crappy Jell-O and then I'll sneak you in something."
Without shifting her gaze or saying a word, Olivia used her cast-ridden arm to brush the bowl and the small plates off the tray in one swoop and let them fall to the floor opposite Elliot with a crash.
"Liv," he said, running a hand through his hair. "If you don't eat anything, they're gonna have to hook you up to another IV and you'll be in here even longer.
She scoffed and it caught his attention immediately.
"Yeah," she said with an unusually deep voice and condescending tone. "I'll be in here longer. Doesn't really make a difference how long I spend in here, does it?"
"What are you talking about?" Elliot asked concerned. “It matters. It matters to all of us. We all want you to get better.”
She shook her head. “This is such bullshit.”
“Liv, if you could just start eating again-”
"I was attacked!” she screamed suddenly. “Weeks…no, months ago! And I'm still here, and he's still out there!"
"Olivia..." he said.
"And you know what's even more aggravating, aside from losing my every shred of goddamn independence? You don't even have a fucking clue what happened to me!"
"You’re working on it! I got it! That's all I'm hearing, Elliot. Everyone's on it. Everyone's working my case. Everybody’s so concerned about poor Olivia and everyone’s doing their best to help to me."
“I don’t fucking want your best! I don’t want you coming in here everyday to cheer me up! I want to the goddamn person who did this to me! I want him dead! I want his fucking balls nailed to my door!”
“Olivia,” he said trying to choose his words carefully. “We are doing all that we can to figure out what happened, but there’s no evidence and, if you don’t remember what happened either, there’s only so much-”
“So, this is my fault!” she screamed. “I’m minding my own goddamn business and this guy comes after me and now, it’s my fault that I was attacked? Fuck you!”
“This is all just bullshit. I get it now. I understand why people lose faith in the cops. It’s been months and you don’t have a fucking clue!”
“Olivia! You’re a cop and you know we’re doing everything we can.”
"No, Elliot! Clearly, we must be the most incompetent group of assholes in the world. I mean, even if I get out of here-"
"Olivia, you're gonna be fine! You've just gotta start eating something! You're bones will heal. You're-"
"It's all bullshit and you know it!" she screamed. "Someone...attacked me, gave me something that's going to cause seizures everytime God feels like having a laugh at me! And what's worst is he's still out there! I fell out of a goddamn window and still had to be found by some assholes going dumpster diving!"
Her every word cut through his skin and he just wanted to melt down in front of her.
"If I hadn't taken a fall, you probably would've never found me! I'd’ve been...there...in some warehouse, never to be seen or heard from again! This...this is bullshit!"
“Liv…what matters is that you’re here now and you’re gonna be-”
“Be what, Elliot! Fine? I’m gonna be fine! Is that what you were about to say? ‘Liv, you’re gonna be fine.’” She sat up in the bed to glare at him properly. “I can’t fucking walk, Elliot! Even if I get to the point where I can stand, I’ll never be the same. I’ll never take another goddamn step! Never! I’ll never be able to do the job I love ever again! My life is over and this…monster is still out there! How can you sit there and tell me I’ll be fine!”
Elliot sighed and sat silent as her words echoed in the room.
“You know what?” Olivia said after a minute’s silence. “I don’t want anything from any of you people anymore.”
“You can take all these bullshit gifts from people who didn’t give two flying fucks about me after my name stopped being on the news…Take all the cards, balloons and all that shit and take it the fuck out of here. And, then you can just dump me in whatever rat hole hospital the department’s willing to pay for and you can all just fuck off.”
She shook her head at him, a scowl set on her face and tears brimming in her eyes. Her words reverberated in the air for a moment, before she shifted on her side, turning away from him and pulled her blanket around her as she spoke slowly.
“All of you…and you especially…can just go fuck yourselves and leave me to die in peace.”
Sensing that Olivia had said her fill, Elliot rose from the chair and left the room, dialing his brother’s number in his phone as he walked.
“I don’t know what to do,” Elliot said a half an hour later at Debbs’ bar with his brother across from him in the booth. “I’m just starting to wonder how deep she’ll go before all this is over.”
“She’ll come out of this,” Bryce said. “She’s just depressed because it all seems so unfair, because it is. I mean, she’s probably asking herself, out of ten million people in the city, why’d this guy have to come after her?”
Elliot shook his head. “It was worse than when Colleen was fighting her cancer. I mean…she’s just losing it.”
“Well, can you blame her? After everything that’s happened, she’s probably never gonna walk again and she’s right to be angry. This guy is still out there and he could be anywhere. On the street, on the train…in the damn hospital just waiting for her to be alone. I’d probably be acting the same way.”
“We’re doing everything we can, but warrants for the area keep getting denied, the evidence on her clothes lead to nowhere and we’ve nothing else to go on. There’s no leads, no new suspects, nothing. It’s almost as bad as when she disappeared.”
Bryce took a sip of his drink. “As bad as the case looks, you owe it to her find out what happened. If she disappeared right after you left her apartment, something had to’ve happened that night to set this guy off. Either it was you two rolling around on the floor or maybe just a case of the crazies, but after all that’s happened, you owe her this. You need to find out what happened.”
“I know, Bryce. I’ve already resigned to that.”
“Well, if you know, then do something about it. Go with your gut. There’s gotta be something that you overlooked. Maybe even something you set aside once she was found. Now’s the time track back and piece together what happened, otherwise…even though it’s not your fault, she’ll never forgive you for not finding the guy.”
Later that night, Elliot found himself alone in the small room where Morse’s videos had been kept, watching and re-watching the night that Olivia had disappeared. When he and Munch had gone to find Morse’s uncut tapes, he was so certain there would be something significant on them, but so far, the tapes had given them nothing.
The version of himself on the television screamed red-faced at Olivia and he sighed as she screamed in return. The look on her face was reminiscent of the expression she held earlier that day. He knew the depression and anger would eventually subside, but he could not be sure of how long it would take. He had not seen her so angry since the day that Kreider first disappeared and, while he was able to stem some of that rage with an apology, he deemed no apologetic words capable of diffusing Olivia. Just the same, he was still glad to simply have her around screaming at him, rather than still searching aimlessly for her.
The Elliot on the video came through Olivia’s door again and Elliot watched as the Olivia on the screen threw a set of dingy golden keys tied together by a black string and briefly caught the corridor lights, down her cami shirt.
He paused the video and stared at the screen. A clear memory of finding one of those keys on the floor of Olivia’s apartment sprang to mind and he pictured the key in his head. She had snatched two keys together, but he had found just one separated from its brother on her floor.
Allowing the video to play, he tried to remember every move that he and Olivia had made that night, but could not get past brushing against her shoulder. He had, however, been certain that he had not seen the keys again that night. If he had, with his quarry found, the fight would have ended and he would have had Drover’s information.
Morse’s video turned into a spray of snow and then eventually a blue screen and Elliot sat staring at the screen for several minutes before turning off the monitor. At his desk, he saw open case files and felt a familiar burn in his stomach at thought of telling other victims that he had made no progress on their cases either. He had done little outside of worry about Olivia in the past few days and he could see from the condition of his desk that Alexa was struggling to stay afloat.
He snatched his keys off his desk with a sigh and walked toward the elevators. They jingled in his coat pocket and Elliot could not stop a bemused smirk from spreading across his face as a play-on-words crossed his mind.
The keys, he thought as the elevator doors closed, are the key.
“We can’t start going through financial records on a whim like that, Elliot. You know that.”
Casey leaned back in the chair behind her desk and sighed. Though it was still early in the day, her eyes had the appearance of a civil servant who had worked a twelve-hour day. She and McCoy were in the midst of Owen Kreider’s trial and the stress from the case was pressing on her. Elliot knew Casey would soon be calling on him, Munch and Fin as to testify in the case and she pressed on each of them the importance of their testimony. Olivia was the only detective to interview Kreider on more than one occasion, but with her current health problems, she was no longer a viable witness.
Elliot had entered Casey’s office asking for a warrant on financial records even though it was a long shot. In the past week, he and Alexa had combed through the records for chemical distributors they had received early, this time searching for anomalies. They had found seven individuals, all male, in the Tri-State Area who had ordered nearly a gallon of the chemicals that made up components of the chemical found on Ryan Daly, Andrew Shaw and also on Olivia’s apartment floor and clothes. Of the seven, three only listed PO Boxes as addresses and no further information could be found, hence the decision to retrieve their financial records.
“There’s gotta be something you can get us,” he said. “I’m desperate. Anything at all.”
“If we’re going to get anything, I would need something specific to go off of. We can’t go traipsing through these people lives based off nothing.”
“Other than a hunch?” Elliot said shaking his head and paced the office for a moment before stopping short. “How about just general public safety? I mean how many gallons of this stuff could any individual need?”
Casey’s eyebrows shot toward her hairline. “That’s an excellent question…a specific one I’m sure a well-worded warrant might help answer.”
She pulled a blue draft from her files as Elliot grinned and, an hour later, he and Alexa were reviewing the financial records for Marvin Guildenhall, Roman Landanorak and Gage Rhospryer. They had sat next to one another for hours, silently pouring through pages of paper, when Elliot glanced at Alexa over the stack in his hand.
“What?” he said noting her furrowed eyebrows.
“This guy…” she said and showed him a name she had circled on her sheets. “This Roman Landanorak…his stuff is a little screwy.”
“Well, apart from being one of our main guys on the list, he lives a very small life. All I see here is a single bank account and there’s five thousand dollars just sort of sitting there. He’s got a credit card, but it’s got a zero balance and there haven’t been any charges on it in years.”
“What about rent or utilities?”
“Nothing. All he’s got is that five thousand that just appeared from a PayPal transaction a couple months ago.”
“Well, he paid for the chemicals somehow,” Elliot said. “He’s got to have more than just that.”
Alexa flipped through a few sheets and frowned. “Okay…So, there was about a thousand in that checking accounting a couple months ago…Well, this is interesting.”
“What is it?”
“The only other money in that account was received through another PayPal transaction, and it was for only the exact amount that was paid for the chemicals.”
“Yeah…sounds like somebody trying to run something fraudulent.”
“What’s the e-mail address? Maybe we can start tracking it and send it off to computer crimes.”
“It’s one of those free, untraceable accounts.”
Elliot’s eyes narrowed. “What’s this guy’s address?”
“There’s just a PO Box.”
“In the city?”
“Let’s pay them a visit.”
“So, let’s get this straight,” Cragen said as Elliot and Alexa stood in front of his desk. “This guy is buying these chemicals for ‘Personal Use’ as it says on those invoices, he’s got a checking account and a credit card that don’t get used and sends in the payments for his post office box by money order though a shady company.”
“And, he hasn’t been by to check his box in months,” Alexa added, crossing her arms. “Sounds like a thorough alias to me.”
“What about these other people?”
Elliot shook his head. “They were a little harder to find, but we found them. The one lives on 130th. He says the stuff he buys works on the roaches that keep creeping into his apartment and the other is in the village and looks like he might be using them to aid in his drug problem, but is more or less clean. This guy we can’t find anything on.”
“What’s his significance to your cases, though?” Cragen asked.
“Well,” Alexa said. “The compound that Melinda told us about was found in both Olivia’s apartment and on the two boys. It’s shaky, but it’s a link between the two and I’m willing to bet this Roman Landanorak is involved. There’s just too many coincidences here for him not to be.”
Cragen glanced at Elliot. “You agree?”
“I do, but this guy just creates more questions than he solves. I mean he’s made himself just about as untraceable as somebody could get. How are we supposed to find him?”
“Same way we track down anybody else. He’s left a trail somewhere. You just need to find it.”
An hour later, Elliot stood leaning against his desk while Alexa, Munch and Fin threw out whatever ideas about Roman Landanorak that came to mind. Munch, to Elliot great annoyance, had taken to repeating the name.
“It just sounds like a made up name too, doesn’t it? Roman Landanorak. What the hell kind of name is that?”
Elliot shrugged. “All I know is it’s not Irish.”
“It’s not anything. It’s the perfect alias. I just like saying it. Roman Landanorak. Roman Landanorak.”
“We got it, John,” Elliot said rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“Roman, Roman, Roman,” Munch repeated. “It’s a crazy name. Isn’t it an anagram for moron or something.”
“Hey, it’s close though, right?”
“All right, let’s just focus for a second,” Fin said. “Maybe the name has some kind of significance?”
“Yeah,” Alexa said. “I wonder what kind of significance Roman could have…”
“I’m talking about the last name,” Fin said glaring at her. “Maybe it’s a city. Somebody’s hometown.”
Elliot scoffed. “In this city? It could be anyone’s hometown.”
“But, that’s got to be Polish or something, right?”
“I think we’re screwed on this name thing,” Elliot said. “We need to get the surveillance tapes from the post office. Maybe we can see who’s been by that box in the past couple of months.”
“Great.” Alexa said. “More video tape.”
“Roman Landanorak.” Munch repeated. “Landanorak…Landanorak…Kind of reminds you of your old buddy Landon, doesn’t it? Landon…Landanorak.”
“You’re reaching,” Alexa said.
“It’s what we morons do, right?”
Elliot rolled his eyes, but the smirk on Munch’s face faded quickly and Elliot’s eyebrows shot upward as he noticed.
“Nothing…don’t worry about it.”
“Fine,” Elliot said, grabbing his coat.
“Where are you off to?” Alexa said. “The post office?”
“No, that’s your job. I’m paying Morse a visit.”
“Again?” she whined. “Elliot, how many times are you willing to torture him?”
“Until he’s willing to give me the answers that I want.”
Striding behind the familiar orderly, Elliot approached Morse’s cell, with his mind turning. While the idea of some unknown person running around the city calling himself Roman Landanorak was still intriguing and ever-present in his mind, Elliot’s thoughts surrounded only an offhanded comment Morse had made months earlier that was jarred by Alexa’s snide comments toward Munch.
Morse was standing at the window with his hands crossed behind his back. Even standing several feet away, Elliot could see that Morse had retrogressed further since he had last seen him. There were pink blotches on his scalp where his hair had continued to fall out and he was so pale that he seemed brighter than the light coming from the window.
“Morse,” the orderly said. “You know what’s up.”
Morse turned on the spot and Elliot saw that his eyes had even lost their sharp hue and looked almost grey in appearance.
“You’re back again?” he said.
“Yes,” Elliot said.
“Needing more information, I suppose? Perhaps another name?”
“No, I’ve got a name, but I do need more information.”
Morse laughed, flashing grey teeth. “You’re a machine, Detective. That much I’ll say.”
“And, I say you look like hell.”
“And, so do you. I trust things aren’t going well with Olivia.”
“No, they’re not.”
Morse simply shook his head and Elliot could see that he had lost more weight. Between his height and weight, he barely looked older than Dickie.
“How are your doctors treating you?” Elliot said.
“I don’t need a doctor,” Morse said. “I’m not crazy. When they come, I usually tell them to kiss off. They stopped coming about three weeks ago, so I figure they’ll just leave me in here until the money runs out…which we know will never happen. But anyway, you’re standing there glaring at me…”
“I need you to elaborate on something from a couple months ago.”
“Why is it always what you need? What about what I need?”
“Fine. What do you need, keeping in mind there’s nothing I can do to get you out of here?”
Morse paced in front of Elliot, his eyes never leaving him. “What’s she look like now?”
“Look, we can do that later. Right now, I-”
“No! We can do it now. What does she look like? I haven’t seen her in months. It’s half the reason I’m wasting away in front of you. I need to know.”
Elliot sighed. “Fine…She’s, um…pale ‘cause she’s been sick lately. Not as pale as you, but getting close…Her hair is…long. It’s halfway down her back and it’s her dark brown, natural colour.”
“Good, good. What else?”
“She’s very thin. From everything she’s been through and the fact that she hasn’t been eating now, I think she’s lost close to thirty pounds overall.”
“Why hasn’t she been eating?”
“She just hasn’t been up to it because…she can’t walk and she’s frustrated. And, she’s very, very bitter.”
“Well, what did you do to her?”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Of course you did. There’s always something with you. And if there’s something wrong with her, it must have been because of something you said or did.”
Elliot thought silently for a moment, then narrowed his eyes at Morse. “Are you going to help me out or not?”
“What did you do to her?”
“Nothing. She fell,” Elliot said crossing his arms.
“And where were you when she fell? Why weren’t you there to catch her fall?”
“Busy…I see. Busy doing what? Probably readying yourself to duke it out with Halloway, right?”
Elliot froze, but Morse laughed.
“Look,” Elliot said nearly shouting. “I need you to clarify something for me.”
“Fine. What do you want?”
“That night, when you first came into the precinct, you said something.”
“I said a lot of things that night.”
“But something you said stuck with me and I’ve only now really given it any thought.”
“When you were talking about how you…watched Olivia, you said you watched her, but that you weren’t the only one. What’d you mean by that?”
Morse shrugged. “I wasn’t the only person watching her.”
They stared at one another for a minute before Elliot rolled his eyes.
“Care to elaborate on that at all?”
“When I was working for the super over there, I grabbed her keys, made a set for myself and went to work. But, when I went in there to install the cameras, there were already some installed. Someone else was watching her besides me.”
“And, you didn’t think to move them or unhook them?”
“Why would I? They were obviously smitten as well. Who was I to intrude?”
Elliot turned on the light in the
evidence locker on
“What are you up to, Stabler?” Munch said.
Elliot shook his head and continued to take out each camera out of the box.
“Elliot?” Fin said approaching the scene. “What’s going on?”
Alexa had also stepped toward them, noting the expression on Elliot’s face.
“Fifteen…” he mumbled.
“Fifteen! We took fifteen cameras from Olivia’s apartment.”
“And?” Munch said.
“And, the answer’s been in front of us this whole time. Morse told us he set up twelve. Not about ten or twelve. Not around a dozen. He specifically told us twelve.”
"So, maybe he miscounted," Fin said. "Maybe he lied."
"C’mon Fin. You were there. He looked at us in there and said twelve. Why lie about the number of cameras? He told us everything. Every single thing. As much as I hate the bastard, he's been honest with us from the start, so why lie about something small like this?"
"Maybe he figured that we wouldn't find them," Munch said. "I'm willing to bet he wanted to continue his little peep show."
Elliot shook his head.
"Twelve of these are Canons. These other three are Minoltas. And look at the map they made of where each one was found." He laid the map flat on the table. "We found three double sets of cameras. Two in her living room, two in the kitchen and two in her bedroom. What's the point in setting up two cameras in the same place?"
Fin and Munch were silent allowing Elliot's mind to fly.
"Morse said that he wasn't the only one who was watching Olivia...that first night we had him in here. Someone else had the same idea. Someone else was watching her."
"But who?" Munch asked. "The videos Morse took only go back five years like he said."
"But if these cameras were there before Morse set up shop, there's no telling how long they've been there."
"That's right," Munch said. "They could've been there for decades. There’s no way of telling if they were even there for the purpose of watching Olivia."
Elliot scoffed. "John, look at them. These are digital cameras. That means they're newer. Liv’s been in her apartment for close to ten years and they haven't been up there that entire time."
“So, there’s our problem,” Munch argued. “These are new cameras in her apartment, but we’ve got video surveillance of her place going back five years and nowhere in those five years do we see somebody stepping in there to replace anything.”
"But there's nothing that says if he had the balls to break into her place and put these up once, that he couldn't break in and replace them when he needed to. If someone else has been watching her like Morse was, they would know when she left for the day and when she got back home. They could’ve done it at any point.”
“But that still doesn’t solve the problem of what’s not on Morse’s tapes.”
“Why has this got to be so goddamn hard for everyone else to get! There’s something here that needs to be dealt with.”
“It’s not on Morse’s videos,” Munch said. “Cut or uncut. If someone broke into Olivia’s apartment, we should’ve seen it on Morse’s tapes.”
He threw each of the cameras back
in the box in a haphazard fashion and took the lot a floor down to the
technology guru that worked with
“But, each of them have these transmitters to tape from a distance,” Morales said as he looked over the cameras.
“Is there anything special about them?” Elliot asked.
Morales shrugged. “Give me a bit and I’ll see what I can do.”
Elliot returned to squad room, angry and disheartened; angry that no one else seemed to see eye-to-eye with him, disheartened to know that the age of the second set of cameras meant that Munch was right. If they were installed separately, Morse’s videos would have caught something.
“Alexa,” he said storming toward her desk. “Give me your notes on Morse’s videos. I want to see everything you marked down as an extra visitor.”
“Um…” Alexa said shifting through several items on her desk.
“Now!” he said. “I need those files now.”
His heart was pounding and he felt ready to put his fist through a wall out of utter frustration. Alexa’s hands were shaking by the time she managed to pull a disorganized stack of papers bound by a paper clip from her bottom desk drawer. Elliot snatched it from her and leaned against her desk as he leafed through it with narrowed eyes.
There has to be reason why the guy didn’t show on the tapes, he thought as he passed though another page marked “Odd Visitors.”
“No,” he said tossing down the stack. “There’s got to be more. What about the unedited videos? Where’s your notes on them?”
Alexa shifted in her seat slightly. “I…I don’t have them. Andrea has all of that.”
“Set up everything again in that room. I want to be able to go through the unedited tapes again.”
Alexa nodded furiously as he stormed from her desk and across the floor looking for Andrea Cooke’s desk.
“Andrea,” he said once he had found her desk. “I need you to get me all your data from Morse’s unedited tapes.”
Andrea continued typing at her monitor, pausing briefly to raise her index finger.
“I don’t have a minute. I want them. I need them now.”
“One minute, Elliot,” she said her eyes never leaving her monitor.
“I told you,” he continued. “I don’t have time to wait on this. I want your notes.”
“And people in hell want ice water. You’ll have to wait.”
He slammed a hand on her desk. “Andrea! I need those files!”
A framed photo of Andrea, two young boys and a large black man slid backwards and lay facing the ceiling and reflecting the overhead lights to the point that the image under the Plexiglas could not be seen.
Andrea glared at him for a long time, his heavy breathing the only noise between them and he suddenly remembered a time not too long ago where Andrea needed to tell him something, yet he had been too brash to ask what she had wanted. His breathing slowed as his anger subsided, though his last shout into her face still hung over the air above them and the glare in Andrea’s eyes bore through his soul.
“I understand that, Detective,” she said in a low voice as she began to sift through papers on her desk. “But, you will speak to me in a civil tone. Now…I am not Alexa Brown. I don’t report to you and I won’t drop every single thing in my lap like some dutiful underling just because you think it’s more urgent than anything else on my plate. I am also not Olivia Benson. I will not take verbal abuse from you just because you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like giving the common courtesy of allowing me to finish typing my damn thought. And also unlike Benson or Brown, I am not the least bit afraid of you. You can stomp your feet and slam your hands on my desk like a petulant child all you want. I don't give a damn. I grew up with four older brothers, so some slight threat of violent anger isn’t going to motivate me at all.
“Now, if you want something from me, and I tell you just one minute, believe me. In just one minute, I will get you anything that you want as long as you speak to me like a normal human being. So…do you care to try this again?”
Elliot sighed as he digested her words as his anger subsided. Half the reason the ulcer in his stomach had worsened was because of the stress of Olivia’s disappearance and Kreider’s case, yet in both situations, his impatience and anger had thrown all objectivity to the side and opportunities were missed. He shuddered to think what other oversights had been made through a haze of recreant rage.
He pursed his lips and took a step toward her to speak in a low, soft voice. “If you have a minute, Andrea, I really need those files…please.”
She shook her head at him and pulled a set of bound paperwork from under the shortest stack of papers. “I guess that’s an improvement, but you still may think about those anger management classes they offer here.”
“Thank you,” he said as she handed him her paperwork.
“Anytime,” she said with a smirk. “By the way, what were you looking for?”
He explained his theory about the discrepancy with the cameras and the lack of evidence to support his claim.
“Well, why didn’t you say so, oh Impatient One?” She took the stack from him and flipped through several pages. “I remember…It would have been about two years ago on the tape. There was some kind of blip or something in the video…”
“You remember that out of all those videos?”
“Well, I wouldn’t have,” Andrea said running her finger across her notes, “but I thought it was just so weird that she had to reset all her clocks and everything when she got home after the blip. When I rewound it, I saw that there was a ten-minute gap in the tape. Here it is.”
“And this was in the unedited video?” he asked taking the notes from her.
“Yes, I’m sure of it. I meant to tell you a month ago, but you were too busy being rude to hear me so I just filed it away. The hard drive number and time stamp on the video are listed right there. Watch it for yourself.”
He read over the notes, written in Andrea’s words that were so clear and concise, he could imagine the scene before his eyes as he stood.
Elliot glanced at her. “I could hug you right now, you know?”
“Maybe later. Just remember to be a little more polite in the future…at least to me.”
He could not repress a momentary smile on his face as he raced for the video room. Within the hour, he had found the clip and had watched it several times, noting it played precisely as Andrea had written.
“That means,” he explained loudly minutes later to Fin, Alexa and anyone else who could not block out the sound of his voice, “that whoever set up those new cameras must have known that there was a possibility he might be taped on Morse’s. I'm betting he cut Liv’s power. Morse’s cameras ran off the wiring in the apartment and if the power went out, they’d stop taping.”
“This took some planning,” Fin said, arms crossed. “For him to have thought all this through? I mean who would think to cut her power just to keep from being seen?”
“The same kind of person who would think to kidnap a cop and hold her captive for two weeks,” Alexa said.
Elliot’s phone rang from his pocket and the other two dispersed as he answered it.
“Elliot. It’s Morales. I finished comparing your two sets of cameras and I found something that might help the case. The twelve Canons are set up for long distance manipulation.”
“Meaning somebody as far as a half-mile away could still control them without any problems. Very expensive stuff.”
“Well, those are Morse’s. I’d expect nothing less. What about the others?”
“They’re different. They’re still high end, but their transmitters are much weaker, intended for distances that are something along the lines of two thousand square feet.”
Elliot pursed his lips as he boggled the information for a moment. “All right. Thanks.”
“Hey,” Munch said as Elliot approached his desk heading for the coat rack that was close to the coffee stand. “Where’re you off to?”
“Landon’s. Morales just told me that the three extra cameras were set up for short distances and, as the woman who lives next door to Liv doesn’t seem like the stalking type, he’s our first target.”
“You have a minute first?”
Elliot opened his mouth to insist that he could not wait on speaking to Mark Landon again, but Andrea’s face quickly came to mind and he nodded instead.
“I found something you should see. I was thinking about how the name Landanorak sounded so made up. So, I ran it through an anagram website to see what I could come up with.
“What’d you find?”
“Nothing at first. Most of the results produced garbage, but then I took a good look at the last of the hundred results it gave: Ark La-An-Don.”
“La-An-Don?” Fin said. “Kinda sounds like Landon, don’t it?”
Munch nodded. “That’s what I was thinking. So, I put the little guy’s name in the search, but couldn’t get anything akin to Landanorak.”
“That’s ‘cause it’s probably just a coincidence,” Alexa said drawing narrowed eyes from Munch.
“But, I was determined,” he continued as if Alexa had not said anything. “I looked up Landon’s parents, his schools, whatever. It just bothered me that the name sounded so similar.”
“Did you end up finding anything?” Elliot asked.
“Actually…” Munch handed Elliot a sheet of paper with Mark’s information. “I found out a lot about ole Marky boy. He grew up in that one bedroom with his mother who died a few days after his eighteenth birthday and he’s been there ever since.”
“That’s unfortunate,” Alexa said.
“But why’s that significant,” Elliot said.
“Because I’d all but looked over the most interesting thing. Look at the full name at the top.”
“Mark Aaron Landon,” Elliot read.
“Yep. And I’ll give you just one guess what kind of name the anagram search pulled out of ‘Mark Aaron Landon.’”
Alone, Elliot stepped onto the eighth floor of the Village apartment and walked steadily down the corridor that led toward Olivia’s vacant flat.
Alexa insisted that they could not base their investigation off of an anagram and refused to go with him, noting that she did not want to be involved if Elliot was going to behave the way he had the last time they visited Landon, and Munch and Fin were called out on a new case just as they were about to leave with him. He had half a mind to ask Andrea, but vaguely feared another glare from her and struck out on his own.
“Come on, Landon,” Elliot said after pounding on Mark’s door for several minutes. “Open the door.”
“Leave me alone!”
“I just want to talk.”
“You can talk through my attorney! Go away!”
“Landon,” Elliot said. “I’m not trying to pin something on you. You’re Liv’s neighbor and I just need some information. If you wanted to help her, you’d let me in.”
Elliot waited silently for a reaction and started to give up when a full minute passed before there was even the slightest sound from behind the door. Mark cracked the door just so he was able to glare a small eye at Elliot.
“What could you possibly need from me?” Mark hissed.
“Just…can I come in for a second?”
“No. I don’t want you going crazy when there’s no one here to help me. The last time I let you in here, you damn near tore my apartment apart. I’ve only now got most of it straightened away.”
Elliot sighed. “Look, I need to talk to you and I can’t do it like this. Can you just let me in for a second so we can talk like men?”
Mark slammed the door shut, but as Elliot began to walk away, he heard the door chain sliding and the door across from Olivia’s empty apartment cracked slightly.
“Thanks,” Elliot said once inside the apartment.
“Don’t get comfortable,” Mark said as he stood in the middle of the living room with his arms crossed. “You’re not staying long.”
“You’re right,” Elliot said nodding and as he did, light from the window across the room caught a glimmer of something near the door. He moved his head again as Mark glared at him, but could not see the glimmer again. “I won’t be staying long. I’ve only got a couple questions for you.”
“Like what? What else could you possible have to ask me?
“Well, we were looking through some records and found-”
“And, before you get started, I’ll just say it now. I didn’t do anything to Olivia.”
“Yes,” Elliot said. “I’ve heard you say it before.”
“Well, it’s as true now as it was then.”
“I got it, so you can drop the hostilities. Anyways, we’ve already got our sights on somebody, so I know you’re clean.”
“That’s right. I am.” His expression softened as Elliot padded slowly about the apartment. “So, if you’re already looking at a suspect, why are you really here?”
Elliot shrugged. “Basic information.”
“Does the name Landanorak mean anything to you?”
Mark squinted at him. “Landanorak? Oh, so now I’m supposed to pull random information like that out of my ass? How the hell should I know what Landano-whatever is?”
“No need to get testy. I was just asking a question.”
“You’re always just asking a question and that’s how you begin. If I’m not careful or testy, I’ll end up cleaning up everything in my apartment again.”
“Look, I’m sorry, all right?”
“You’re apologizing to me? What the hell are you up to?”
“Nothing,” Elliot lied, just above a whisper. “I just came here to make amends and ask for a little bit of information. That’s all.”
Eyeing him suspiciously, Mark crossed the room and stood near his door. “Well, thanks just the same, but you can go now. I’m not sure how in the mood I am to take on one of your apologies, such as they are.”
“Just give me a second, Landon. Now, does the name ring a bell or not?”
“In what capacity?”
“Any. A city. A last name. A friend of yours?”
“I knew it. You’re looking at somebody named Landanorak and before I know what’s happening, you’re going to cost me thousands in legal fees when you drag me back down to your precinct for no reason.”
“Look, I just want to know if the name has any meaning for you.”
Mark shook his head. “No. That name has no meaning for me. Are we done now?”
Elliot stared at the floor for a moment when an idea popped to mind.
“Are you at all interested in how Liv’s doing?”
Mark’s eyes grew wide. “Yes. Yes, I am. How is she?”
“Not doing too good, Landon. She’s very sick and in the throws of a depression none of us can seem to bring her out of.”
“I see,” Mark said nodding. “What’s been happening? Why’s she been in the hospital this whole time?”
“She’s been having some problems with her legs. We’re not sure how bad the paralysis-”
“Paralysis?” Mark said. “She’s paralyzed?”
“Well, she’s getting some feeling back in her legs, but her doctors don’t know if she’ll ever be able to walk again.”
He let out a long sigh and an imperceptible expression spread across his face.
“You know,” Elliot said as he slowly paced across the room, “you’re the only person who’s relatively close to Olivia who hasn’t been by to see her yet…”
Elliot’s eyes, trained from more than a decade with the force, searched for anything incriminating that Landon might have forgotten to store; there had to be something in plain sight that could prove him guilty without a doubt.
Mark shifted on his feet. “Yeah…I’ve been, uh…meaning to go see her. I just…I’ve been trying to work myself up to seeing her…I just don’t think I’ll be able to handle seeing her like that.”
“I’m sure she’d like to see you though,” Elliot continued. “Especially right now. She’s…she’s been so down lately and I’m sure a friendly face might cheer her up.”
“Yeah,” Mark said nodding. “I just…you know…I’ve been thinking about it…Has she asked for me at all?”
“No,” Elliot said taking a quick peak into the bare bedroom.
“Oh,” Mark said softly. “Well…I mean, I guess I am just a neighbor. She probably just forgot about me since she hasn’t seen me in so long.”
“And like I said…I’m sure she’d like to see you.”
“I just wish there was something that I could do,” Mark said crossing his arms. “I mean, I just feel so helpless, you know? I’m really starting to feel it…the emptiness that’s coming from her side of the aisle way. It’s kind of like the way it was when her mother moved out of that apartment all that time ago.”
Elliot watched as Mark’s eyes seemed to mist as he reminisced about a period long past before he spoke again. “Well, thanks,” he said, repressing a sigh.
“If I can be of any help,” Mark said extending a hand as if offering Elliot the door, “please just let me know. But, don’t start accusing me for anything anymore.”
Elliot walked toward the door as Mark opened it for him. “I’ll keep you posted.”
As he turned to walk down the hall, the glimmer of light caught his eye again. He glanced at the spot on the floor from which it came and felt his heart jump into his throat.
“Please be sure you do,” Mark said and closed the door.
Elliot stood staring at the closed door for a moment, stunned and unsure what step to take next. His first thoughts were to immediately speak to Olivia, but he quickly shook the thought away from mind. She would not be able to help with this. Cragen would need to need know and his next stop would surely be at Casey’s office.
Elliot let out the breath he was unaware that he was holding and began walking toward the elevator. When the doors opened after what seemed like an eternity, he had the urge to grab his gun and go running back down the hall, but he let the elevators close once he was inside instead. His own glossy visage reflected back to him in the elevators distorted metal, but instead of seeing himself in the hazy mirror, the only image in Elliot’s mind was one of a small, smudged and dirty, golden desk key stuck in the lower corner door frame of Mark Landon’s old apartment door.
Elliot paced back and forth in Cragen’s office rubbing his forehead as a shooting pain coursed through his temples. Mark Landon’s face floated before his eyes and each time he blinked, Elliot was ready to throw things across the room.
He and Cragen had been arguing for twenty minutes already over Mark and Cragen stood steadfast, refusing to pull out all stops in arresting him.
“I know what I saw, Cap,” he said.
“But, there’s no way we can go barging into Landon’s apartment and expect to hold him just on that.”
“Don!” Elliot shouted. “We’ve got to get him and we need to do it now! How many coincidences do we need to stack up against him before we’re willing to grab him?”
“There are more problems with Landon than those coincidences account for.”
Elliot shook his head. “Don…The second set of cameras we found are for short range and Landon’s right across the hall. Every single person we’ve talked to about Landon describes him as a crazy little man who seems possessive of Olivia. We see it on the tapes. He’s always dropping by and always shows up with things for her right when she needs them. How would he know if he wasn’t watching her from right across the hall? Those newer cameras are his. There’s no question in my mind. And, I know Olivia and she’s never even set foot in Landon’s apartment, but we found her hair and her prints in his place, not to mention the goddamn key!”
“No. Look I know what I saw that
night. The only reason I even went for Liv was
because I wanted the damn keys she’d thrown down her shirt. I just wanted the
keys to her desk. The two of them were together. One
“I would love to arrest Mark Landon, but we don’t have anything to keep him on and if we arrest, I’m certain he’ll run as soon as he’s released on bail. You need to look at the problems as they stand. Landon is her neighbor and has been for years. Anything we find in regards to hair, prints…keys can be attributed to that. Anything could have floated, fallen or rolled six feet across the hall and into Landon’s apartment over the years. Problem number two: We started looking at Landon before Olivia was found. Which means that we were searching him up and down at the same time Olivia was being held captive. Don’t forget, that when Olivia was missing for just two days, you were in that apartment, twice and didn’t see or hear anything.
“Now, from the canvasses we’ve done in the surrounding buildings where we found Olivia, nothing’s been found and Landon’s not associated with any of them. The closest thing that has any relation is some guy’s warehouse of probably pirated movies. For all intents and purposes, Landon hasn’t been East of Broad or North of 14th in years and Liv was found on 119th and that creates a problem. Now, Liv’s not cooperating any longer, but before she fell, she had pieced together some guy who doesn’t look anything like Landon, which means that the victim…the witness has already discounted Landon. Also, we still can’t connect Landon with this mystery chemical purchaser. And don’t give me that garbage about the anagram. If we send Casey to a judge with that, they’ll laugh us all out of the unit. Until we can definitely link him to the chemicals or 119th, we’ve still got nothing.”
“Not nothing,” Munch said as he and Fin entered Cragen’s office. “We got a call this morning from Zachary Calbrach’s mother. He’d had a nightmare last night and said he knew what his attacker looked like. Look at what the sketch artist came up with.”
He handed the sketch to Cragen whose eyes went wide. “Holy shit…It looks like Landon.”
“That’s what we thought. We made a line-up from his driver’s license and we took it around Zachary’s neighborhood,” Fin said as Elliot snatched the sketch and glared at it with visibly shaking hands. “The neighbor who said she’d seen someone hanging around the school before Zachary was attacked took a look at it. She ID’d Landon instantly.”
They each stood silent for a moment as Cragen shook his head.
“Bring him in.”
Four detectives and their captain stood silently in a semi-circle each pondering the same question as Mark Landon was held in an interrogation room down the corridor. Having waived his right to council in writing, Fin made sure of it, Mark had been sitting in the interrogation room for more than half a day staring stoic at the far wall.
Calmly suppressing his rage, Elliot had arrested Mark, read him his rights and threw him into an interrogation room while he and the rest of the unit ransacked Mark’s apartment, taking anything they thought might have potential in the pending case. They took his computer, bank records, Olivia’s desk key, accessories from his wardrobe and also a key to Olivia’s apartment found in his nightstand.
Inside the apartment, Elliot had an
epiphany when he remembered Olivia mentioning that she had been underneath
something large, but was unable to call out when she heard his voice. Under his
guise, they had flipped Mark’s bed and found a disturbance in the dust that was
about Olivia’s size. Elliot tore through the apartment for the second time and
Melinda compared the swabs to her previous samples and ruled that the substance in Mark’s bathroom was not only identical to that found on the boys and Olivia’s clothes, but it was the precise concentration and mixture, meaning that they had to have come from the same bottle and the same source. She then compared fibers from Mark’s clothes and found one of his belts a perfect fit to the object that had been used to kill Ryan Daly and Andrew Shaw, yet not for the previous murders. To make matters worse, she also deduced that of the two sets of unidentified male hair found Olivia’s clothes, Mark’s was present.
Mark’s computers were given to Morales who discovered that a large number of files had recently been wiped from his hard drive. As Mark had performed multiple recoveries on his system, it took the better part of the day, but eventually Morales was able to see the last files Mark had deleted. The largest file was a lengthy video clip that showed a very different play of the night Olivia disappeared.
Instead of turning to snow as Elliot pinned Olivia to the floor, Olivia struggled against him and hit him in the groin, enabling herself to wriggle free. Elliot came after her again and she slapped him once on across the cheek and then hit him on the eye. His face grew red as he grabbed both of her arms and for a moment, Olivia flew through the air as Elliot launched her forward and she crashed against her wall, causing all of her pictures to collapse to the ground.
As Olivia slid toward the floor, Elliot’s breathing slowed and he put a hand to his head as if realizing what he had done and stepped away from her with a disquieted frown set on his face. Olivia however, snapped her head up and launched from the floor in his direction. She hit him twice on either side of the face and screamed as she repeatedly kicked him in the stomach; Elliot cowered slightly, trying in vain to fend off her blows.
He whirled around her and managed to pin her to the floor for a moment before she elbowed him in the stomach, hit him across the face and was able to flip him onto his stomach where she pulled a set of handcuffs from her desk, cuffed his arms behind his back and stood several feet away from him, leaving him on the floor as she gasped for air.
Olivia crossed the room, poured herself a scotch and in between sips breathed “That…is why…you can’t…have…Dro…ver’s…file…” She then unlocked him and he sprang from the floor to glare at her, his own breathing ragged. “Just…give me the file,” Elliot had said on the screen, but Olivia shook her head and pointed towards her door. He stepped toward the door and quickly left, but not before announcing, “I can’t fucking stand you.” drawing a single tear from Olivia’s eyes. She stared at the door that was opened just a crack for a moment and then turned to stare at the trashed apartment as she burst into tears.
She wept for a moment and then jumped at the sound of knocking at her door. Olivia crossed the room, reached for the doorknob, and then Mark, clear as day, jumped at her, holding a white cloth. She struggled for just a second before she collapsed and in less than thirty seconds, Mark was attempting to throw her over his shoulder, but he could not lift her properly with his short stature and resigned to dragging her across the floor. He stopped just once when it appeared that she had caught on something. He pulled at her shoulders and something gold flew back into her apartment as he continued dragging her into his own.
Cragen mildly reprimanded Elliot after the complete video was screened and informed him that he would have to be docked a week’s pay for his actions just to keep the deputy commissioner happy, but also mentioned that nothing would be entered into Elliot’s record.
“You just got your ass kicked so well by Olivia,” Cragen had said, “it seems cruel and unusual to do anymore to you.”
Yet, all humor had been laid aside as the severity of the situation emerged. Based on the accuracy of the previous sketch, Zachary Calbrach had been brought into the precinct to view a line-up and he identified Mark as soon as he stepped through the door. With Zachary’s proclamations of “That’s him! That’s him! That’s the guy!” the detectives were left trying to piece together a motive. Mark Landon had killed Ryan Daly and Andrew Shaw and attacked Zachary and Olivia and the question of motive hung in the air.
“Why both?” Elliot said, breaking the long silence. He spoke more to himself than anyone else.
“He’s a nut,” Fin said.
“Even they have reasons.”
“Yeah, but the real question is how would he have done it?” Munch said. “The murders, I mean. How could he have known the intricate details of the case?”
Silence befell them momentarily.
“Her desk,” Cragen
said. “When we first went in there with
“But, when would he’ve taken it?” Alexa asked. “He’s not on the tapes.”
“Probably the same time he took her,” Munch said.
“Why though?” Fin argued. “If I’m looking at this right, he killed Ryan Daly and Andrew Shaw to take the heat off of us looking too closely at him for taking Olivia. But, if he killed them as an after thought, why would he take the files up front? That’s saying like he knew what else he would have to do before he did it and I’m not willing to give Landon that kinda credit.”
“You don’t have to,” Elliot said, crossing his arms. “Morse’s tape cuts out before Landon grabbed Olivia and starts again that same night. But, he stops taping completely by the next day. Morse thought he knew what happened and figured Olivia wouldn’t be coming home. The last of his videos end days before he came in to see us and Landon would’ve had all the time in the world after that to duck under the police tape and snatch Jacob Lewendale’s file.”
“This is unbelievable,” Alexa whispered.
“For real,” Fin said. “I mean…how crazy do you have to be to start killing little kids just to cover something you did?”
“I just wish we had a motive,” she said.
“He killed the kids to cover for Liv,” Munch said. “He's an extra special breed of crazy. I’m not surprised he took a page from Kreider.”
“Yeah, but…I mean Kreider was simply certifiable. So, was the stalker, Morse, for that matter. But, Landon…what could’ve possibly made him to do this?”
Elliot began walking towards Mark’s interrogation room. “Let’s find out. All the extra special crazies at least have a good story to tell.”
Mark bolted upright as Elliot barged through the interrogation room door and quickly sat in the chair across from him. He glared at Mark and took in every part of his small stature, from his doleful, beady eyes to his terracotta-coloured hair. Mark returned the stare, but the fire had gone from his eyes and he showed signs of fatigue and resignation.
“We’ve been doing some investigating,” Elliot said. “As it turns out, you’ve been up to some stuff, haven’t you?”
“The boys weren’t my idea,” Mark said quickly.
“Of course not,” Elliot snapped. “You only stalked them, raped them and strangled them all by yourself. Why wouldn’t all of that have been your idea?”
“There was a man. I can tell you where he is. He calls himself a kind of art dealer, but it’s really just strange porn. Anyway, he’s the one who suggested the boys.”
“Why do you know this man? And why would you just sublimely follow when he asked you to do something? Are you a sheep too? You can’t come up with your own thoughts, so you follow everyone else.”
“That’s not true. There was man.”
“Right. Right. This fictitious man who had Olivia.”
“He’s not fictitious. He’s the one who took her later and, if she’s hurt at all, it’s all because of him.”
Elliot’s eye twitched as he stared at Mark. “Why did you take her?”
“I didn’t have a choice.”
“Of course you did. You had two choices: to go about your business or jump at her with some stuff you bought and mixed specifically for this purpose and hold her hostage for days and days. Why’d you choose the latter?”
“She wanted me to look after her.”
“She who? You’re not making any sense.”
Mark sighed and stared at the table for a moment. “I’ve lived in that apartment since I was a kid. The woman who lived in Olivia’s apartment before…Serena…she was so nice to me after my mother had died. She would say that she’d always wanted a son, but wasn’t about to have any other children.”
“So, what happened Landon?”
“I…I don’t know. It started out fine at first. I just wanted to see Serena all the time and so I visited her a lot. Then I met this daughter she had been talking about all that time and she would say to me that she would marry Olivia off to me. She kind of joked about it, but I kind of liked the idea and I wanted to know more about her.”
“Is that when you started video taping that apartment?”
He nodded slowly. “I just wanted to know what they were like when they were together. Serena was the closest thing I’d had to a mother in a long time and I just wanted to know what she was like with her own kid. And, then she went uptown and Olivia moved in and…she wasn’t like her mother. Olivia was always gone and she really didn’t do much but say hi or goodbye to me when she was coming and going.”
“But, you kept taping her anyway?”
“I had to,” Mark said his eyes momentarily wide. “That was the last thing Serena had said to me when she left. To keep a look out for her baby girl because she worried about her all the time. She said Olivia worked a job that wasn’t good for her and she was alone a lot. She said Olivia could be self-destructive which I found kind of ironic since she was drunk quite often herself, but she was always so good to me even when she was. And then…and then Serena died…and I didn’t know about it. The only reason I even knew was because I’d seen Olivia crying in the apartment and I knew I had to see what was wrong because that was what Serena had asked me to do.”
Elliot shifted uncomfortably in his seat, not allowing the expression on his face to soften. “And then what happened? Were you angry because Olivia didn’t tell you something? Is that why you took her all these years later?”
“N-no…I was just…I just made up my mind to keep looking after her because that was the last thing Serena had told me to do. So, I did. But…” Mark sighed and closed his eyes. Elliot could see the smallest a tear forming on his eyelashes, but Mark quickly brushed it away with his hand. “Like I said, Olivia wasn’t Serena. She wasn’t as nice to me and she just sort of looked at me like this little man who she had to put up with because she wanted to keep her rent control. And then there were the men. Not a lot of them, but enough for me to know what Serena had been talking about when she said that Olivia was self-destructive.
“If it wasn’t just some tall guy she’d met and wanted out the door the next morning, it was some arrogant bastard who made her feel bad about herself. And, then of course, there was you.” He glared at Elliot. “When I first saw the two of you argue in her apartment, I wanted to come after you right then, but I didn’t. I should’ve but I didn’t.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“But, you’d argue with her. Even way back then. And, then when I saw her letting herself being bullied by these others, I just didn’t know what to do. She kept letting it happen, too. There was even one who’d hit her and she still kept him around. And all that time, I was always doing everything I could to be a good friend. If I thought for an instant that she needed something, I made sure to get it for her. I was always good to her.”
“By stalking her?”
Mark shook his head. “By just helping her out when she needed it. I figured if I just kept offering myself as somebody she could lean on, other than you or that Indian girl, she’d come around.”
“But she never did, did she?”
“She said I was nobody to her. Nobody. I…I would do anything for her if she asked me to, but I was nobody to her. I was the only person in the world who wouldn’t have hurt her and yet…I was nobody. Halloway was the one who didn’t want her to have a life outside of him and yet I was nobody. You were the one who burst into her apartment like goddamn madman and left her in tears when you did, but I was the one who was nobody. After I saw what happened that Tuesday, I knew something had to be done.”
“For her own good…”
“Right. Between you and these destructive people in her life, I knew it was only a matter of time before she was going to get killed by somebody and I’d’ve let Serena down.”
Elliot stood and leaned on the table right next to Mark. “That’s a great story, Landon. Touching, really. You attacked Olivia to save her from herself because it was what her mother would’ve wanted. Yeah. A really good story. If it was a movie, I’d go see it.”
“It’s not just a story. It’s the truth.”
Elliot laughed. “You are a piece of work. You’ve been looking me, my co-workers, my boss…anyone and everyone. You looked all of us in the eye and swore up and down that you hadn’t done anything to Olivia. You got your attorney in here, insisted that we were harassing you, and swore that all this was ridiculous. And yet…here we are. Two boys are dead, one will never be the same and then there’s Olivia. For what?”
“I already told you that the boys weren’t my idea.”
“Yes, of course. This guy. This art dealer you’ve made up.”
“I didn’t make up anything about him,” Mark said, the fire returning.
“And I’m supposed to take you at your word on that one?”
“I’m telling the truth.”
“I’m sure you are.”
“I don’t see why you’re being so difficult about this-”
Elliot snatched Mark by the shirt and pulled him off the ground so that his feet barely grazed the floor tiles.
“I am being…difficult because you assaulted my partner and killed two kids to cover it up.”
Mark shook himself loose from Elliot’s grip. “I didn’t assault Olivia. Okay? You’re the one who threw her against a wall.”
“Don’t even try that with me. You’re the reason she can’t walk.”
“But, I’ve already told you that that wasn’t me. Are you really that thick? I mean you ransacked my apartment while she was still gone and you didn’t find her. I s-sold her, okay? I sold her to the guy and he did all this other stuff to her, not me.”
“And you and your midget lawyer are free to argue that when you’re on trial for your life.”
“When I gave her to the guy, she was perfectly healthy.”
“Except,” Elliot said taking a step toward him. “For that little chemical you mixed in your bathroom. It’s giving her seizures and it’s probably half the reason why she can’t walk right now. You call that perfectly healthy?”
“Well, I find that absolutely laughable coming from you. Didn’t you insist that Olivia was ‘perfectly fine’ when you had left her? We both know what happened that night and there’s no way you can say with a straight face that she was fine. I took her to keep her from being attacked by you or anyone else again. I knew that next time you were going to kill her. I would’ve done it earlier. That’s why I bought that stuff years ago.”
“Your mystery man tell you to do that too?”
“He…he told me how to buy them without being traced by the Feds. And I was going to do it. That night, after that guy hit her. Serena’s words just kept coming back to me and I was going to do it then, but…I chickened out and then that Halloway started coming and she looked for a while like she’d be all right. Of course…she wasn’t.”
“So, why the break down?” Elliot asked as he rolled his eyes. “Why sell her off if you were supposed to be her great protector? Do you think you did Serena Benson proud by doing it?”
Mark stared at spot on the wall just beyond Elliot and narrowed his already small eyes. “She…she didn’t want me. She’d always bat me away from her. There were the lowest forms of life going in and out of that apartment, but she wouldn’t let me touch her. You she’d let rub your mouth all over her. Halloway…God, she’d let him do anything at all, but when I tried to…”
“But, even through a haze of drugs, she still fought you off.”
“Olivia thought that she was too good for me. It was only when I had her in my place that I started to piece together the past years. She would never just knock on my door to see how I was like I would do for her. She pretended that I never even knew her mother…She would never even give me my mail when it ended up in her box. Instead, she’d just leave it in a lump next to my door. I realized she wasn’t a good person and I didn’t see the reason in keeping her around anymore. I knew that he was wanting someone to use in his new…work and I just gave her up.”
“For five thousand dollars.”
“Willingly. I would’ve honestly done it for less, but I didn’t want him to get cold feet about taking her if I was too low on the price.”
Elliot stepped toward Mark as he backed across the room and leaned very close as Mark stood pressed against the wall.
“You literally sold her into slavery to be dejected and starved until this guy was done with her. Who are you to say Olivia wasn’t a good person? The reason she didn’t like you was because she saw you for the person you were. She saw that you were nothing more than small-minded bigot and she had better things to do with her time than associate.” Elliot shook his head. “You’re a sad little man and if there’s any justice in this world, hopefully you’ll be dead before your sentencing.”
“I’ve made some mistakes,” Mark said. “But, I-”
“Mistakes! You strangled three boys for absolutely nothing!”
Mark flattened himself against the wall, trying to back away from Elliot’s berating tone. Elliot paused and an image played before his eyes as he stared at Mark. At first he had Mark’s throat in his bare hands, squeezing and squeezing as he turned colours. Then he saw himself drawing his weapon and simply squeezing the trigger against Mark’s head until the clip was emptied. He had half a mind to drag Olivia from her bed and let her pummel the life out of him as well. Vision after vision crossed his mind, but after a full minute he shook his head and walked toward the door.
“Hey,” Mark said. “What’s going to happen to me?”
“You’ll die a horrible death at a young age.”
“But, I’m not the one who threw her out of a window. That other guy is. And he’s the one who told me to do all that to those boys?
“Did he tell how you to stalk them?” Elliot seethed. “Did he tell you exactly how to sodomize and beat them? How about strangling them? Did he tell you that?”
“You don’t understand…”
“I understand. You’re full of shit. You snuck back into Olivia’s apartment after you took her so you could kill those boys the same way the previous killer had. And, whatever this other person did to Olivia, you’re the one who sold her to him. Does that even register to you? You sold another person. You murdered two young boys. You’re an absolute horror of a human being.”
Elliot turned to walk again, but just before he got to the door, he sighed. He stepped toward Mark, drew his fist and used every bit force in his arm and threw Mark across the room from the force of the hit.
Mark lay unconscious on the other side of the room in a crumpled heap as he landed on the floor and Elliot simply shook his head at the sight. When he left the room, he drew concerned stares from the Munch, Fin and Cragen, but he did not care.
It had to be done, he thought as left the squad room for Olivia’s hospital. He’s just lucky I wasn’t the mood to do more.