The Night School Strangler

Chapter 17

Ironside sat at the main table in his office-residence. He knew he had to find Eve. He had Wyatt Smith in custody. The chief could not possibly turn him loose in the morning. He was a police officer, or more correctly, a police detective. He could not allow Smith to walk out of the jail in the morning, even if it meant not finding Eve's location from the killer.

There had to be a way to reach Wyatt Smith, the real Wyatt Smith, not his second personality. Ironside had a feeling that if he could talk to Wyatt Smith, he might be able to convince him to tell him where Eve Whitfield was being held.

It would be dangerous, of course. However, he had to try. Ironside reached for the phone and dialed a number of a doctor he had relied on in the past. He waited as the phone rang, in hopes his friend would be at home.

"Hello," Doctor Emily Dietland greeted her caller

"Emily, Bob Ironside," the gruff detective announced.

"Bob! It has been a long time since I have heard from you. Don't you think it's about time that we meet for lunch or dinner?"

Ironside smiled. The reason he had not called on Emily and other friends of the female persuasion was Katherine. Since he had been seeing her, he had stopped calling them. Although, he figured Katherine would know that he would only be seeing them as friends, he still had not done so. Between his job and the time he spent with Katherine, there was not much time to socialize with others. When he did have time, he usually spent it with Mark, Ed and Eve.

"I am sorry, Emily. My job keeps me extremely busy," he said, knowing it was only half true.

"You always found time before and you are still working the same job," she said. "I have a feeling it has to do with a certain lady that you are seeing."

The chief chuckled. He had not put anything over on his longtime friend. "I suppose that is probably the reason," he admitted. "Perhaps we could get together, you, Katherine and me, and go to your favorite restaurant."

"I would love that, Bob. I do not get to spend much time with people who are as smart as I am," she laughed.

"Katherine will appreciate that remark," Ironside quipped.

Emily laughed heartily. "Since you aren't calling to make a dinner date, I am assuming this is official police business."

"Yes, you are correct. I need your help."

"What can I do for you, Bob?"

Ironside went on to explain the events that had transpired in the past few hours. He explained to her that he knew who the Night School Strangler was and what the man expected him to do.

"You can't possibly turn this man loose," Emily said.

"I have no intentions of doing so. As a matter of fact, I couldn't if I wanted to. I am a cop. He has admitted to one murder. I want to tie him to the rest of them. The problem is his other personality has taken over. I can't reach that personality. If we can bring back Wyatt Smith, I believe I can get him to tell me where he has hidden Eve."

"I take it you want me to talk to him."

"I do. I would like you to bring back Wyatt Smith."

Emily Dietland was doubtful that she would be able to help this man, at least not in one session. "It might be better if you found a man to handle this one. With his hatred of women, I am not sure that I could even begin to reach him in only one session."

"I could do that, however, there is no one better at handling split personalities than you," Ironside said.

Emily remained quiet for a moment, considering Ironside's request. In the past, she had always helped him when needed. This time, she was not sure she could. Yet, she knew she would not turn him down. "I will do everything I can, but I caution you, I may not be able to reach Wyatt Smith at all. At least not in time to find your policewoman."

"But you will give it a try?" Ironside asked.

"Of course, I will. When do you want me to do this?"

"As soon as possible, if you could come now, that would be perfect. I have him in a jail cell. From what the guards tell me, he is ordering just about everything in the book."

"Well, you did tell him he could have whatever he wanted. I must tell you that it was brilliant for you to treat him like a VIP. You have developed a trust with this young man. For that reason, Robert, you might be able to reach him far faster than I could."

"I would still like you to try," Ironside told her.

"I will be right over."

Robert Ironside hung up the phone. He was aware this was a long shot. Emily had been correct in the fact that Wyatt Smith hated women. Nevertheless, long shots had worked for him before. Hopefully, this one would this time.

Eve Whitfield was completely in the dark. The utility room Wyatt Smith had locked her in was not very big. Lying down, she could touch the one wall with her feet and the other with her head. She tried rolling to her left, but she ran into the wall. When she rolled to her right she ran into the door. It gave her an idea of how big the room was she was being kept in.

Eve did not care if Smith was right outside the door. If he thought she was going to keep quiet, he was dead wrong. She turned her body so that her feet were at the door. She lifted them and started kicking and pounding on it. She only wished that she was not gagged. She would start yelling and screaming regardless of what Smith told her.

Eve was concerned about her situation, but she had complete confidence in her boss. There was very little he could not find out. The policewoman wondered exactly what Smith's demands would be to Chief Ironside. The chief was awfully good at convincing mentally disturbed people that he was going to give them exactly what they wanted. Eve knew better than that. Chief Ironside would play along with Wyatt Smith, at the same time doing everything he could to locate her.

They were dealing with a very sick mind. She had no doubt that Wyatt Smith had a split personality. Certainly, Smith, himself was no longer in control. His other personality was. He appeared to be ruthless and uncaring regarding human life.

Eve continued to pound on the door until she was exhausted. Smith had tied her hands extremely tight, and they were beginning to ache. She had to determine if there was anything in this small closet that would help her remove her bonds. She began changing her positions enrolling to each wall to determine if there was anything at all that could help her. When she completed the task, she decided that this was a completely empty room. Frustrated and upset, Eve stayed still to regain her strength.

She had one thing going for her. If Smith was actually here, he certainly would have opened the door to warn her to be quiet. He obviously had left her alone. Sooner or later, someone would come to her aide. She had no idea exactly where she was, other than knowing he had brought her back to the college. Eve assumed it had to be in the basement of one of the buildings. Probably the building in which the janitorial supplies were kept. If that were the case, someone would be coming down here eventually. At least, that is what she kept telling herself.

Eve decided she would much rather depend on the chief in finding her. Who knew what this area was really used for and how often someone came into it. She had to assume that Wyatt Smith had picked some isolated area of the college which was not visited frequently.

Eve had to remain positive. There was no sense in getting down on her situation. She had no doubt that the chief, Ed and Mark were doing everything they could to locate her. She only wished she knew exactly what Wyatt Smith was up to.

Unfortunately, she could do nothing but think. She saw no way out of her situation without the help of Robert Ironside.

Emily Dietland arrived at police headquarters. Walking straight over to the main desk, she announced, "Chief Ironside is expecting me."

The officer behind the desk checked the schedule. There in front of him was in notation that the chief had left word that Doctor Dietland would be arriving shortly. She was to be passed and sent directly up to his office.

"Yes, Doctor, the chief is waiting for you. Go straight ahead and take the elevator to the top floor. The chief's office ... "

"Yes, yes, I know where his office is. I have been here many times before. Thank you, Officer." She turned away from him and headed directly for the elevator. Pressing the button for the top floor, Doctor Dietland waited for the car to return to the main floor. The doors opened and she stepped inside. When it arrived on Ironside's floor, she stepped out and turned to her left. She headed up the ramp and knocked on the chief's door.

Mark Sanger opened it and told her, "Come in, Doctor. The chief is expecting you."

Emily entered the office and walked down the ramp. She immediately joined Robert Ironside at the main table. A smile broke across his face. He reached out with his right hand, and she took it.

Ironside kissed her hand and said, "Welcome, Emily. It has been a while."

"I believe that is your fault," she said returning the smile.

"I only wish it was under more pleasant circumstances." He turned and looked at Mark. "You remember Mark?"

"Of course, I do. Hello, Mark."

Sanger returned the greeting and headed into the kitchen to bring a cup of coffee to the doctor.

"You do know you are asking for the impossible," Emily said to him.

"Nothing is impossible for you."

"Bob … "

"Just do your best; that is all I can ask," Ironside interrupted her.

"Where is this man?" Emily asked.

"Downstairs in a holding cell. But first, sit down and have a cup of coffee."

Mark set the coffee in front of their guest. "The whole idea is crazy. He is not going to talk to a woman," he mumbled. It did not escape Ironside's excellent hearing.

He turned and looked at Mark. "I thought I told you to go to the hospital."

"You did, multiple times, but I am not going, not until we find Eve," Mark said defiantly.

Emily smiled. "You really are a family, aren't you?"

The chief turned his attention back to his guest. "Yes, we are, dysfunctional, but a family nevertheless."

She chuckled and took a sip of coffee. "I am going to try, Bob, but I doubt there will be any success in one session. It sounds to me that this young man needs long-term therapy." She looked around the room. One member of the chief's staff was missing. "Where's Sergeant Brown?"

"Out making arrangements. If you are unable to reach this man, then we will have to go through the charade of releasing him," Ironside said.

"But, you are not going to do it?"

"Of course not. I only have to convince him I am releasing him."

"Okay, then. Shall we get started?" Emily suggested.

"Mark, you stay here." He turned his chair around and wheeled toward the ramp. He stopped suddenly and looked back at Dietland. "I don't mean to tell you your business; I do think it might help if you acted like women don't belong in the work force. It might help bring out Wyatt Smith."

She smiled at him. "You do mean to tell me my business, and I already had that in mind."

They left his office and headed for the elevator that would take them to the floor where Wyatt Smith was being held. When they arrived, Officer Duffy greeted the chief. He had been reassigned to make sure Smith got everything he wanted. Duffy was always the go-to man when Ironside wanted someone he could trust completely. Ed and Carl were tending to other duties, and Duffy was the officer Ironside wanted in charge.

"Hello, Chief," Duffy said.

"Duffy … how is our prisoner?"

"Demanding and arrogant," the officer answered.

"Just keep him happy," Ironside said.

"Yes, sir." He picked up the key to Wyatt Smith's cell and headed into the back where the Strangler was held. Ironside and Dietland were close behind him.

Smith looked up and smiled when he saw Ironside. It quickly turned into a frown as soon as he spotted Emily Dietland. "What is she doing here? I am not talking to a woman. You know how I feel about them. They belong in the home, not taking men's jobs."

"I could not agree with you more, Wyatt," Doctor Dietland said. "Society would be far better off, if people would just follow the rules."

Smith's expression changed slightly. They could tell he was trying to understand Dietland's remark. "Who are you?"

"My name is Emily Dietland. I am a phycologist."

"Oh, a shrink. I have seen dozens of them. You people are all useless. Every one of them was a woman, just like you. If you actually feel that way, then why are you working in a man's job?"

"Because I had no choice. My father died and my mother forced me to go to work," she told him.

"So why didn't you just get married and stay home where you belong?" Smith said sarcastically.

"I wanted to. Unfortunately, I couldn't. She lifted the leg of her slacks, revealing a brace on her right leg. "Every man I dated walked away as soon as they found out about this." She lifted the other pant-leg showing off the same brace on the left leg.

Wyatt looked down at the brace. He could see why a man would shun her. Who wanted a woman that could not take care of his home and family?

"Would you have dated me, Wyatt?" she asked him.

He hesitated. "Yes, but I can see why other man would not have. Can you clean and cook with that?" The Night School Strangler pointed down at the brace.

"Yes, I can, but no man will give me a chance. You see, Wyatt, I had no choice; I had to go to work. I know I am breaking the rules. What do you think I should have done?"

Smith did not answer her right away. Ironside saw an opening. "Mister Smith, I think you can help Emily, don't you?"

The Strangler looked at the detective in the wheelchair. "How?"

"By helping her to convince the other Wyatt Smith you are right about women."

Smith eyed Ironside with mistrust. "I can't let him have control."

"It would not be for long, Wyatt. Just long enough for me to teach him the errors in his thinking. I believe it would help you take over completely. You are still feeling the pull from him, aren't you?" Emily inquired of him.

"Yes, he never quits. It is getting harder to hold him down," Smith admitted.

"Then why not let Doctor Dietland try to convince him that you should be in control?" Ironside said.

Emily looked Wyatt Smith in the eye. For some reason, he trusted Bob Ironside. Hopefully, that trust was strong enough to convince him to let her try."

"You promise you won't let him take over?" Smith said.

"I promise," she lied.

"Okay, go ahead."

Eve wondered what the clanging was that started a few minutes ago. It was getting louder. What else could go wrong? Anyone passing by would never hear her with that noise. It would drown out any commotion she could generate by kicking the door.

On the other side of the room the valve on the gas generator was banging against it. The valve had been loose for some time. Unfortunately, this room was not frequented by anyone. No one else had discovered what the maintenance man had failed to report. The generator was a backup in case the building lost power. One of the maintenance men had not reported that he had broken the valve when they had used it last week. Now the gas was beginning to leak from the loosened valve.

Eve wondered where the noise was coming from. Was she going to have to listen to that banging until the chief located her? It was really annoying. What was that she smelled? Her eyes widen as she recognized the odor. Gas! Oh God! Something in the room was leaking gas. If she was not found soon, she would succumb to the odor of the gas, or worse, an explosion! If this room was used for storing any kind of chemicals, it would not be long before they were ignited. Eve was beginning to wonder if she would ever see the Chief, Ed and Mark again. She had to find a way to get the ropes off that bound her hands.

Wyatt Smith closed his eyes and began concentrating. Ironside watched and waited, hoping Emily would be successful in helping the real Wyatt Smith to take control, at least long enough to tell him where Eve was being held.

"Wyatt, are you there. You must take control so I may talk to you. We have much to discuss."

Smith's eyes opened and began to roll. When they stabilized, he looked around. "Where am I?"

"You are in the San Francisco jail," Emily told him. "You are a guest of Chief Ironside."

"Guest?" He began to panic at the sight of the bars. "What am I doing here? I didn't kill those women, he did it!" He shouted at Ironside.

The chief wheeled forward. "I know that, Mister Smith. We are trying to help you."

"Wyatt, you must tell Chief Ironside where Eve Whitfield is," Emily told him.

"I didn't take her, he did. I didn't want to do any of this. He killed them!" Smith screamed.

"Calm down, Wyatt. Chief Ironside knows that. You want the killing to stop, don't you?" she asked him.

Suddenly, Smith seemed to be fighting for control. "He's trying to take over!"

"You mustn't let him. We can't help you, if he is in control," she told him.

"I don't know if I can stop him," he cried.

"Wyatt, listen to me," Ironside said, interrupting the doctor. He will kill again unless you help us stop him. He is going to kill Eve Whitfield."

"No, he is only holding her," Smith disagreed.

"But he won't tell us where she is. If we don't find her, she will die. You don't want her to die, do you?" Ironside asked, never raising his voice.

"No, I don't want anyone to die!" His eyes rolled back in his head.

Emily knew they were losing him to his other personality. "No, Wyatt, don't let him take control! You must be strong if you don't want him to kill again!"

Ironside wheeled forward. "Wyatt, tell me where Eve Whitfield is!"

When Smith's eyes once again stabilized, he looked at them with pure hatred. "You lied to me! You tried to trick me! You didn't want to tell him he was wrong! You lied. I will not tell you where Eve Whitfield is and I will not let him tell you!" He was shouting at them both, but his eyes were locked on Robert Ironside.

Ironside grabbed Emily's arm and pulled her away from his cell. "Can we bring Wyatt Smith back?"

"I told you I did not think this would work. This Wyatt Smith is not going to let me bring the real one back. No, Bob, I won't be able to do so, but there might be a way."

"What way?" Ironside demanded.

"This Smith trusted you. You have now lost that trust. You might be able to reach the real Wyatt Smith."

"I thought one personality did not know what the other one was doing." Ironside said. "How did he know what we were doing?"

"That is not always the case. This is why I think you can still reach Wyatt Smith. Bob, it is worth a try. You have to try," Emily insisted.

Ironside nodded. He wheeled back to Smith's cell to give it another try.

The smell of the gas was getting stronger. Eve knew she did not have long. She would be overcome with the fumes if she did not get out of here. Where was the chief? Why had he not found her by now? He always got there in time. He had to. She had to hold back the panic. The chief would not panic, so neither would she. But, she did not want to die, especially not like this.

How would the chief ever tell her parents about her? They never wanted her to go into police work in the first place. Oh, she knew deep down they were proud of her, but that would certainly sour if she did not get out of here alive. And the chief … the man she respected above all others, how would he handle it. He would blame himself for not finding her in time, she knew he would. She did not blame him; she knew he would be doing everything possible to find her. It would not matter to him, he would still blame himself. If only she could tell him that it was not his fault.

Eve promised herself she would not cry, but she just could not help it. The tears began to flow. Eve remembered the time she cried the night before the chief was going into surgery to see if he would walk again. What was it he said to her? "Now that's enough." She could not wipe the tears from her eyes, but she could stop the flow. "Now that's enough," she told herself. Eve stopped crying. Even now, in the face of death, Chief Ironside was still her inspiration. If that is what was to be, she would accept it with dignity.

"You might as well go away, Ironside. Everything you told me was a lie. I want out of here! Let me out of here, or I will never tell you where your policewoman is!" he shouted at the detective.

"You are not going anywhere, Mister Smith. I have no intentions of allowing you to kill again. In fact, I don't want to talk to you. You are a fake, a phony. Wyatt Smith would never kill unless you made him do so. He didn't want to kill, you did. He is a good man; you are a cold-blooded killer. I am finished with you! I want to talk to Wyatt, not you."

What followed was the chilling laughter of the Night School Strangler. "There is no Wyatt Smith. I am in control. He is no more."

"Wrong! You are no more." Ironside then began talking to the real Wyatt Smith. "Wyatt, if you can hear me, this is Chief Ironside. I want to help you. I know you did not kill those people, he did. I can get you the help you need, if you will trust me."

"Shut up, Ironside!" his alternate personality shouted at the detective.

The chief ignored him and continued. "Wyatt, you must be strong. He cannot remain in control if you don't let him. Fight him, Wyatt! You can do it. I promise I will help you."

The Night School Strangler grabbed his head. Emily Dietland spoke quietly to Robert Ironside. "Bob, it is working! Keep it up, he is weakening."

"Listen to me, Wyatt, don't let him kill again. You can stop him. You can take control. I promise we will help you."

The Strangler continued to rub his temples. "Stop it! I will not let you take control.

"He is listening to you. He is trying to take control. Keep it up, Bob!" Emily encouraged.

"Wyatt, you are stronger. Stop him now from killing! Don't let him do it. Take control. Do it now!" Ironside bellowed.

Smith's eyes rolled to the back. When they came back, Wyatt Smith looked at Ironside. "I didn't want to kill, Chief. He made me do it."

"Wyatt, where is Eve Whitfield?" Ironside demanded.

"I didn't want to kill!" Tears began flowing down his cheeks. "I didn't want to kill."

"Wyatt, we know that. Tell Chief Ironside where his police woman is," Emily said softly.

Smith looked up at Ironside. It seemed forever before he spoke. "She is in the basement of the building where they keep the spare generators at the college."

Ironside whipped his chair around. "Emily, stay with him. Do what you can do to help him. He wheeled out of the jail as fast as he could. Duffy was on the phone. Ironside grabbed the receiver out of his hand and hung up the phone. He began dialing immediately.

"Ed," Carl said excitedly, "your hunch was right. The APB that you put on Smith's sister's car paid off. It has been spotted over at the college."

"Let's go!" Ed said. The two men ran out of the private airport and headed for Ed's car. When they arrived, the car phone was ringing. Ed picked it up and shouted, "Sergeant Brown."

"Ed, she's in ... "

Upon hearing the voice of his boss, Ed interrupted. "Chief, we have located his sister's vehicle. We're going to investigate now."

"The vehicle is over at the college," Ironside told him.

Carl and Ed looked at one another. "That's right, how did you know that, Chief?"

"With the help of Emily Dietland, we got Wyatt Smith to tell us where Eve is. She's in the building that holds the spear generators. Get over there, immediately!"

"We're on our way!" Ed said. He slammed down the phone and turn the ignition on the vehicle. After turning on the siren, he floored the pedal of the vehicle and headed for the college. When they arrived, Ed sent Carl into the main building to find out which one of the buildings held the spare generators. While he was doing that, Ed called in extra police as well as an ambulance.

When Carl returned, he gave Ed the location of the building in which Eve was being held. It was two buildings over from where they were. They both ran at top speed towards the building. Unable to keep up with Brown, Carl lagged behind the younger man with the longer legs.

When they arrived at the building, they spotted one of the custodians. Brown pulled out his San Francisco police identification and demanded, "Where are the spare generators kept?"

"In the basement of this building," he told the police detective.

"Come with us. Show us where they are." The man nodded and led the way to the basement of the building. As they approach the door, Ed and Carl took in the familiar odor.

"Ed, that's gas!" Carl shouted.

Brown turned to the custodian. "Unlock the door and hurry up!"

The man obliged him immediately.

"Eve! Eve! Where are you?" Ed shouted. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and put it over his mouth. Carl had already done so.

When Officer Whitfield heard his voice, she began kicking the door with her feet.

"Ed, over there!" Carl pointed.

Both men raced over to the door. When Ed tried the knob, it was locked. He looked over at the custodian, who was already going through his keys. He found the right key and unlocked the door.

Brown reach down and picked Eve Whitfield up in his arms. "Let's get the heck out of here!" he shouted.

All three men ran as fast as they could out of the room. They headed for the exit of the building. None of them stop there; they continued to run as fast as they could away from what could be pending disaster. As they were running, an explosion went off behind them. The building was in gulfed in flames. All of them fell forward to the ground from the force of the explosion. Fortunately, they had been the only ones in the building.

Ed immediately began untying Eve. He removed the tape from her mouth. When her hands were free, she put her arms around his neck. "I knew the chief would find me. I knew you would come."

Ed smiled and just held her. Relief flooded him as he knew one of their own was once again safe.

The door to Ironside's office opened. The chief turned to see Eve Whitfield walk in front of Ed Brown and Carl Reese. He smiled as she headed down the ramp and straight to him. Ironside took his policewoman into his arms. Holding her tight, he could feel the slight tremble of her body. "It's alright, Eve, you are safe now."

"I knew you would come for me," Eve said.

Ironside eased her back, and with a twinkle in his eye, said, "Never doubted it for a minute?"

She looked down and smiled. Well, maybe for a minute … or two." She sat down beside her boss.

"Chief, what about Wyatt Smith," Mark asked.

"He will be sent to an institution for the criminally insane. Hopefully they can help him."

"You mean he is going to get away with all of those killings?" Eve said, a bit shocked.

"Eve, he would never be declared competent to stand trial," Ironside said.

"Your chief is correct, Officer Whitfield. I would never declare him fit to stand trial."

Ironside looked over at Mark. Through it all, the young man had the biggest stake in this case. He had lost his girlfriend to the Night School Strangler. "Mark, are you alright?"

Sanger sat down at the table. "After Kimberly was murdered, I just wanted to tear this man apart. I wanted him to get the death penalty." He stopped and looked away from everyone.

"And now?" Ironside asked.

"I hope he gets the help he needs," Mark said. Ironside marveled at his young friend. To have compassion for the man that killed his girlfriend, showed just how far the angry young man Mark had once been, had come.

The door opened and Commissioner Randall came into the office. After descending the ramp, he walked over to Ironside. "Bob, I just wanted to congratulate you and your staff for catching the Night School Strangler."

"Why do we have to give killers titles?" Ironside complained. "We caught Wyatt Smith."

"Are you ever happy?" Randall asked. It brought a couple snickers from Ironside's staff.

"Not if you are going to ask me to participate in a news conference?" Ironside grumbled.

"Admit it, Bob, you love the attention," Randall said.

"I would be careful, Dennis. I just may change professions." Ironside grinned.

Randall smirked. "And do what?"

"I think I just may go into psychology. After all, I was able to get into Wyatt Smith's head and convince him to take control. I drove his alter ego back into submission."

"Naturally, you can drive anyone into submission," Randall said to much laughter around the room. "Just think, you could create your own business. After all, you are very good at driving me crazy. I could even end up a patient."

Ironside mulled it over. "I think I will stay a cop. I enjoy driving you crazy and if I were a psychologist, I would have to treat you. That would be too much of a temptation to try to give your split personality complete control."

As everyone laughed, Randall headed to the door. "Someday, I will get the last word."

Ironside grinned. "Not today, Dennis."

After he left, Emily stood up. "I must be going, Bob. I have an appointment with a patient." After Ironside thanked her, she said her goodbyes and left the office.

"Mark! How about some dinner? The old man's hungry!" He headed to a phone to invite Katherine for dinner.

Eve looked around the room. All was again right with her world. She looked at Mark and wondered how long it would be before all was right with his.

The End

I do not own the Ironside characters. They are the creation of Collier Young. All other characters were created in my mind for the purpose of telling this story.

Thank you to all those who have followed and read this fanfiction, and to those that reviewed. Also, thank you to my beta, Journey Through Time for proofing and readying these for publication.

The next Ironside story is in the works!