Murder Most Complicated
Cagney and Lacey Fanfiction based on characters created by Barbara Avedon
and Barbara Corday. Let me know what you think: email@example.com.
He was a silhouette in the doorway. She feigned sleep - watching through
narrowed eyes. It took a long time after the door had closed for her to
relax - for the fear to drain away. It took longer to go to sleep.
The fighting had stopped. It had reached a crescendo of screaming and
breaking dishes and then had stopped. She lay waiting, barely breathing,
waiting, wanting it over with. He always came to punish her after the
This was the worst. He usually hit her only until she cried. This time he
was using the buckle end.
"Don't hit her in the kidneys, Bill".
Not just the sting of leather on skin, but the sharp, biting pain of metal
on bone. This time she begged - terrified - for him to stop. But he kept
hitting. Until he scared himself.
Back of the class. Unable to stop - softly weeping. Her mother had made
her wear black leotards on this hot July day to hide the bruises and welts.
No one asked. She tried to keep from crying. Become so small that no one
would notice her.
The bared breast. Three pink cigarette burns.
"He did this to me".
She can't remember what she said in reply. All she can remember is the
burns, the tears - the look in her mother's eyes. Feeling responsible for
all the pain.
She didn't know how he had killed them all. He didn't own a gun. She had
promised to keep Jenny clean. She had gotten up early every morning so
that her parents wouldn't have to clean up after her dog.
"Don't bother feeding her - I'm getting rid of her tomorrow."
He hadn't. Not like the others. Not yet. She had tried so hard to keep
the dog out of trouble. Jenny was her only friend. If she behaved and the
dog behaved, maybe she could save her. She lay crying, too afraid to sneak
in and get Jenny her food - deeply ashamed of her cowardice. There was so
"I don't make him angry anymore. He'll take it out on you kids. What am I
going to do? "
The belt buckle gleaming in the light. Jenny barking as he approached the
bed. The curses and kicking at the dog.
The shot was so much louder than she had expected. The recoil sent her
reeling back in the bed. The belt fell to the ground. He tried to speak.
Fell to the ground. She fired again. and again until he had stopped
moving - only looking blankly at the ceiling. Soft pink bubbles at his
lips. Then the screaming started.
"Shots fired at housing complex at Warden and Dunlop - all units in the
"Unit K-12 responding - on our way"
Detective Lacey turned on the siren and planted the bubble on the roof of
the squad car as Sergeant Cagney put the pedal to the floor.
Domestic violence cases were the worst - so unpredictable. People in deep
emotional crises resorting to weapons they didn't know how to use. And
emotions were so volatile - the intimate enemy becoming the beloved victim
when the police intervened. More cops were injured attending to violence
in the home than in any other crises.
Again? I hate this. - It's our third call out to that dump this week.
You'd rather answer a domestic uptown - maybe out in Westchester, Chris?
Don't give me that - you know what I mean.
Chris swings the car around violently to avoid a large truck. Horns blare
and Chris responds to a hand gesture with one of her own.
LACEY (one hand gripping the dash board)
It would be nice to get there in one piece, Sergeant.
There was silence on the other side of the door. Someone had reported the
shooting, but there was no one in the hall as the two detectives ran up to
the apartment. Cagney ran up to stand on one side of the door as Lacey
took up her position on the other side.
LACEY (as Cagney pounds on the door)
Police! Open the door!
There is no response.
You in there - this is the police. You have 'til the count of three to
open this door or we are coming in! One!
Two uniformed officers arrive and take their positions several feet from
the door, crouched and with guns drawn.
There is still no response. Chris beckons to one of the uniforms to take
up position - ready to kick the door in.
The door swings open. Mary Beth, crouched by the door, finds herself
training her gun on the face of a small boy. His solemn eyes meet hers
briefly before she grabs him and Chris rushes into the room followed by the
A woman is crouched on the floor beside one of two small beds. She is
crying and rocking a bloody man in her arms. The window curtains blow
gently in the breeze and a spot of sunshine falls near the two on the
Cagney crouches by the man and checks his pulse. She shakes her head at
Lacey. All the cops still have their guns drawn, aware that there is still
a shooter lose.
CAGNEY (to the woman)
An ambulance is on its way. Where is the shooter Ma'am?
The woman continues her mantra of sobbing, and looks blankly at Chris.
LACEY (crouched by the child, talking to the woman)
The shooter, Ma'am, where is he?
The woman continues rocking but looks towards the fire escape.
Did he have a gun?
The woman stares blankly, rocking, rocking.
CAGNEY (standing abruptly)
Lacey - you take the stairs to the roof. Jaurez stay here. Williams head
down to make sure they haven't made it to the street. I'll take the fire
Jenny had given her away. The blonde woman had come around the corner of
the skylight with a gun. She had to wait - to keep Jenny safe.
Chris swung her gun around one side of the skylight as Lacey came around
the other side. Both cops stopped without a word. The gun was shaking
violently in the child's hand - she was pointing the barrel at her own
head. The dog was sitting at the kid's feet barking at Chris.
Please don't hurt her.
Cagney stops. Lacey stays in place quietly behind the child.
CAGNEY (very calmly as she slowly stands)
Hi there. I'm Chris. I'm a cop. I'm not going to hurt anyone. Is this
The child is watching Chris intently. She is about 12 years old, dressed in
jeans, dirty running shoes and a t-shirt. She slowly nods.
What's her name?
The child doesn't answer. The gun doesn't move.
I won't hurt your dog. I promise.
The child meets Cagney's eyes. This child doesn't believe in promises.
Lacey has inched quietly forward behind the girl - unnoticed by the child
or the dog, both of whom are totally absorbed by Chris.
Tell you what. I'm going to put my gun away. (she puts her gun in her
holster and puts both her hands out again). See? Now, how about you put
yours away. I don't want anyone hurt here - OK?
There are no tears but her eyes are great pools of grief. Cagney has seen
that look before - in much older eyes.
I didn't know it would still hurt so much. I didn't know.
Chris steps forward slowly.
Give me the gun, OK? The gun won't help, you know. They never do.
The child is staring at Chris: the hand with the gun lowers ever so
You won't hurt Jenny?
I won't hurt Jenny.
The child slowly lowers the gun. Lacey takes no chances. She grabs the
kid from behind and has her on the ground with the cuffs on as Chris runs
over to help her partner. They stand the kid on her feet. The dog is
lunging and barking at the two cops.
(shouting) Jenny, No! Please, don't hurt her!
Lacey tightens her grip as the girl tries to reach the dog.
I said I wouldn't hurt her and I won't.
Chris crouches down and talks calmly to the dog, reaching her hand out
tentatively. The dog allows herself to be picked up, her tail curled
beneath her belly, whining softly. The girl calms down as Cagney takes the
dog in her arms.
CAGNEY (holding the dog out for the girl to see)
See, Jenny's just fine. Just fine.
The child sits at the interview room table. Her hands are still cuffed.
She has said nothing since being read her rights and removed from the roof.
Someone has lent her an over-sized sweater to stop her shivering. A
bored looking lawyer sits on the same side of the table as the child.
Lacey is standing, leaning over the table. A manila folder is open on the
table. Cagney is standing, leaning against the wall in the corner of the
Laura. Laura Schuler. We know that's your name. You have a 5yr old
brother - Billy. Your mother's name is Flora. Your father's name was
Again there is no response from the child. The lawyer looks at his watch.
They've been here for an hour and he has better places to be.
Your father is dead, Laura. You shot him. If you don't co-operate with
us, you may end up in an adult prison. You are in very big trouble here,
and we can't help you unless you talk to us.
Laura doesn't respond.
Cagney moves towards the table for the first time. She has been quiet
during the interview. The Sergeant has been trying to make sense of the
shooting. Putting together the facts: the welts and bruises they found on
the child while frisking her; the suicide attempt on the roof; the intense
concern for the dog and lack of regard for her own well-being. This wasn't
a typical murder. This case was much more complicated.
Cagney sits on the other side of the table from Laura. Chris' arms are
folded on the table and she leans forward to talk to the girl.
There is still no response. Chris slowly reaches out to touch the child -
raising her chin so that Cagney can look into her face. The girl starts
violently-her eyes full of fear.
I won't hurt you Laura. I won't touch you again. Will you talk to me?
Laura is looking at her now. She doesn't answer, but she doesn't lower her
Did your father hit you?
Laura has never spoken of the beatings - or the other things. To anyone.
Ever. Laura withdraws -refuses to meet Chris' eyes. The interview is over:
the lawyer leaves. The uniformed officer takes charge of the girl. Lacey
closes the file folder and the two detectives walk from the room.
Next morning in the Schuler home.
SCHULER (her eyes red from crying)
He's dead. What am I going to do?
I know this is hard for you Mrs. Schuler, but your daughter is afraid to
speak to anyone. We need to know what happened.
She shot my Bill! (sobbing) Left me here alone with little Billy. What is
going to happen to us now?
Mrs. Schuler, please. Your neighbours won't say much, but we gather your
husband was.abusive. (Lacey is sitting beside Flora Schuler. Now Mary
Beth reaches over to touch her hand.) Did he beat you or the children?
(crying, moving her hand away from Lacey).
Bill was a good man. He had a temper, but he never drank and he always
came home to me.
What about the bruises on Laura?
Children need a firm hand. But Bill loved us. (sobbing). She killed him!
What am I going to do now? (she has worked herself into a sobbing state,
rocking back and forth).
Mrs. Schuler, your daughter needs you. She may be tried in adult court,
sent to a prison instead of a youth correctional facility unless there are
mitigating circumstances. We will have no choice but to charge her with
murder. Do you understand what I am saying? Mrs. Schuler, what happened
to make Laura kill her father?
Can you help me? I have nowhere to go. Bill took care of everything.
What am I going to do?
Cagney turns abruptly to go. Mary Beth stands up to follow. Cagney stops
at the door and turns once more to Flora.
Where is Jenny?
The dog? (incredulously) I can't take care of a dog now. (dismissively) I
called the pound two days ago.
Where are we going? As if I didn't know. Chris, slow down. Please. We
will get there on time. Pull over and let me drive. Chris?
There is no answer as Chris keeps on driving and staring straight ahead.
Hey, Cagney! Desperate for a little warmth in your life? (He laughs at his
own joke. Chris glares at him but has no time to respond as Samuels enters
the squad room.)
What is this?
LACEY and CAGNEY (simultaneously)
A dog, Lieutenant.
I can see it's a dog, detectives, what is it doing here? In a police
LACEY (preparing herself for a lengthy explanation)
Well, sir, you remember the kid-
She's a witness Lieutenant. In our homicide.
A witness, Sergeant? I don't want to hear it. It had better not be here
tomorrow. Hear me Cagney?
Samuels continues on into his office, eyeing the two detectives over his
shoulder as he closes the door behind him.
Cagney rocks back and forth on her heels. She looks over at Lacey and
smiles. Lacey smiles weakly back over her coffee cup.
The dog is sleeping on a blanket by Cagney's and Lacey's desks.
We have only her bruises as evidence, Chris, and the neighbours will only
hint at abuse. No one at her school admits to seeing anything - not one of
them got involved. Child Welfare says the boy shows no signs of abuse.
Her own mother won't testify on her behalf. And she refuses to talk.
No response from her partner, who continues to read the open file in front
Chris, she murdered her father. Even if we can bring in abuse as a factor,
she is going to go to prison for a long time. There's nothing you can do
about that. It was too late once she pulled that trigger.
(Mary Beth pauses and then persists when Chris doesn't answer.)
Chris. This one is really tough. I feel for her too. But you may be
getting too involved in this case.
Chris looks up at Mary Beth.
We have to get her to talk, Mary Beth. I think the dog will do it.
You're going to use her dog to get her to talk? Chris, you'd better be
sure we're right or we may not be doing this kid a favour.
CAGNEY (bends to put a bowl of dog kibbles on the floor. Jenny comes over
and starts eating).
Cut the lecture, Keeler. Are you going to help or not? Or isn't this case
Hey, Sergeant. Last time I heard you were all for stricter penalties for
juvenile offenders. Hang 'em high Cagney! What makes this one "worthy"
of your attentions, Chris?
Chris and David had known each other for only a month. Cagney was not
comfortable going out with a knee-jerk liberal - and an ACLU lawyer at
that. Chris drove David wild with her law and order attitude and her
reluctance to admit that few issues were black and white. Otherwise they
were crazy about each other.
Haven't you been listening to me at all? (She throws up her hands and
walks to the counter and pours herself another scotch. She raises the
bottle to David.)
He shakes his head and moves over to sit at the counter across from her.
CAGNEY (gets ice from the fridge, takes a breathe and starts again)
David, our only option is to charge her with murder. Then my job is over.
(pauses for quite some time. David waits for her to continue.)
The kid needs help. She won't get it in prison. Maybe in a youth
correctional facility - if she's lucky.
(softly as she pokes at the ice in the glass) I don't think she has ever
had anyone on her side, David. She doesn't expect any better from the
DAVID (nodding towards the dog)
And the dog?
Her own mother put the dog in the pound. (pauses) Her own mother. I
promised nothing would happen to the dog. God knows what I'll do with her,
but I won't let her get hurt.
(Looking at her drink) Laura was the only adult in that household.
(Looking up at him impatiently) Well?
Of course I'll represent her. Taking on bleeding heart causes is expected
of me - remember?
(leaning over the counter and touching her nose)
Besides, I'd do anything for New York's Finest.
Chris snorts and then grins at him. The conversation turns to more.
Chris with a dog? (laughs)
He looks over at Mary Beth and sees that she isn't laughing.
What is it Babe? (he leans over in bed and kisses her on the forehead).
Harv, there are times when I've wanted to hit our kids. I did slap Harvey
Mary Beth. There's no comparison. You would never wound, or scar your
children. (softly) Or leave them to face the world alone so early in life.
Her father was a cruel bastard and that woman was never equipped to be a
mother. That poor child. She took on all the responsibility for that sick
family. I don't know if anyone can reach her now. What a waste, Harv.
What a terrible waste.
Tires on wet pavement make a lonely sound - especially late at night.
Chris pulls her collar up and waits for Jenny to finish sniffing another
tree. Chris sits on a bench in the park beneath a street lamp and Jenny
hops up beside her.
Too bad you can't talk. Laura could use a friendly witness right now.
Chris wasn't normally a night wanderer, but when David had left Jenny had
sat in front of Chris with an expectant look that wasn't difficult to
interpret. Cagney would much rather have stayed in bed.
The park was quiet tonight, a soft drizzle falling, leaving beads of water
on the shrubs. Chris sat lost in her own thoughts.
He had a knife in his hands and two friends with an attitude.
"Giving me your money would be a really good idea, lady.- unless of course
you would like to play first." (He grabs his crotch in an obscene gesture.)
Cagney already had her hand inside her jacket and on her gun when Jenny
sprang into action. The little dog recognized what a threat meant and how
to deal with it. Making a lot of noise came naturally. The three hoods
found themselves facing not only an armed cop - but also a frenzied little
buzz saw that moved in for a snap and was gone before they could even aim a
You might want to keep those pants on, gentlemen. - She's trained to maim.
They were gone - in three different directions - almost before the incident
began. Cagney could have laughed. She was smiling. She bent down to pet
Well, you're not Rin Tin Tin, but that attitude will get you far, Jenny.
The Interview room at he 14th precinct next morning.
Laura is in the room, sitting at the table with David Keeler at her side.
Mary Beth is on the other side of the table. Laura has said nothing. The
door opens and Cagney enters with Jenny. Laura jumps up and rushes to the
dog, hugging her and crying.
I told you I wouldn't hurt her. She's fine. She eats a lot, though. She
doesn't seem to like Crunchy Critters.
(Sniffling and still clinging to the dog) Purina. She eats Purina and
sometimes I give her an egg for a treat. She needs a brushing.
Sorry. I don't know much about dogs. You'll have to let me know what kind
The bristle kind. She has soft skin.
Jenny, I've missed you so much.
Laura. You understand that I am your lawyer? That I am on your side no
matter what you did or did not do?
Laura looks up from the dog and nods.
These two women are the police. They need to know what happened. I am
here to make sure you say nothing that will get you into further trouble.
They need to know some things so they can decide how to charge you. OK?
The girl looks at them all and slowly nods her head. She continues to hold
the dog tightly. She knows better than to ask for help. But maybe this
time was different. Maybe.
The questions are obviously traumatic for the girl but Laura says enough to
confirm the detectives' suspicions. There was indeed abuse - extreme
abuse. The child acted to protect her dog, her mother, her brother and
herself - in that order. The detectives had seen abuse before but Cagney
listened in horror and Lacey could barely hold back the tears. Laura
trusted no one to touch her- emotionally or physically. The world was a
hostile place where she could trust only herself and Jenny.
Now it was up to the legal system to determine her fate. And up to one
dedicated lawyer to protect her from that same system.
Six months later.
They leave the prison. The last barred doors slam shut, leaving them alone
in the sunshine. There is a soft breeze blowing in from the water: gulls
wheel in a brilliant blue sky. Cagney stops and sits on a bench in the
courtyard. She is holding back strong emotions. The law and order
reputation of the judge would remain unsullied. Laura would be 23 years
old before she was released - time with good behaviour.
Lacey sits quietly beside her partner as Cagney composes herself.
LACEY (looking off at the water by the prison).
Don't break your heart Chris.
Lacey almost says "We did all we could" but she knows how hollow that
She thinks she belongs here, Mary Beth. She thinks she deserves this.
(still looking off into the horizon) It might take a lifetime to change
The two women sit, lost in their own thoughts. Laura had talked little
about the sentence, accepting the judgment. She had asked only that they
look after Jenny. There would be appeals. Maybe she would be moved to a
youth correctional facility. But she would be in prison for the rest of
her youth - and well into adulthood. And the only people who cared were
her lawyer, two cops and one small dog.