. hellfire and brimstone .
Special Victims Unit
Sunday, July 25th
The interrogation room was stifling. The air conditioning in the building was broken and of course it had to happen on one of those days in which the sun rises high into the sky and beats down rays of heat on the people and buildings below like great marble fists. Abdullah Ali sat at the table in the room in his blood-encrusted clothes, his hands set in front of him palm-down on the table. They were clean, he had been given the chance to wash them, and he now studied the spotless skin intently as the two detectives prowled around him like caged animals as they baited him vigorously.
"Why did you do it Abdullah?" Elliot asked. His sleeves were rolled up and his forehead glistened with sweat beginning to bead and roll down his face in the stifling atmosphere. "What did any of them do to deserve what you did to them?"
Abdullah remained silent, his gaze firmly focused on the table and hands in front of him.
"Did you think you were doing God's work, is that it?" Elliot continued as he paced between the table and the one-way mirror, his eyes fixed on the unresponsive face of Abdullah. "Well, sorry to break the news to you but I don't think God likes what you've been doing."
"Abdullah," Olivia was sitting on the edge of the table, staring at the man with her intense gaze that she reserved for these times, "talk to us. We need to know why you did it."
"And how would I benefit from telling you, Detective Benson?" Abdullah asked, his eyes staying fixed on the table in front of him as an amused smile touched the corners of his mouth. "Oh, yes. That's right. I wouldn't."
"Abdullah, these people were innocent." Olivia's tone was almost pleading. "A nun, a priest, your best friend-"
"Whores and sodomites," he stated icily, "Unsightly blemishes upon the Lord's beautiful earth." His eyes flashed up to meet Olivia's and she repressed the urge to shiver at the look in them. Throughout her many years on the job she had encountered all types of rapists and killers, but there was something about Abdullah that was different: different and so very wrong.
"So you judged them and found them wanting?" Elliot growled, walking forward until he was standing against the table directly opposite Abdullah. Olivia stood up, giving her partner the floor. "Was that really your place to decide how they should be punished for their sins?"
"I never decided their punishment. He did." Abdullah stared at Elliot calmly, daring him to try to prove him wrong.
"Oh, yes. Leviticus, chapter twenty, verse thirteen: 'If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.' " Elliot's eyes were full of contempt as he stared at Abdullah. "Of course you would draw on the Old Testament when the Bible still preached the 'eye-for-eye' sermon." He leaned forward, his blue eyes fixed on Abdullah's brown ones, and in his soft, menacing tone that he used only in the interrogation room, he said, "So, tell me. Did you know David was gay before or did you just find out today by interrupting some of Jeff and his morning calisthenics?"
Although Abdullah tried to keep his expression cool and unrevealing, his jaw flexed noticeably at this jibe.
"How does that feel?" Elliot saw the reaction and pressed further in an attempt to goad Abdullah into talking, into saying anything that they could use against him. Although their case looked good, they still had a lack of evidence to prove he had committed the first three murders and every little bit helped in the court of law. "Did he ever come on to you? You think he was ever attracted to you?"
Abdullah's hands had disappeared under the table and from where Olivia stood, she could see them gripping his knees white-knuckled, the chain between the cuffs taunt and shaking. And still Elliot pressed on.
"Makes you really question everything, doesn't it? When he went out for a night with the guys, what was he really doing? Did he frequent gay bars? The people who knew he was gay and knew you were living with him, did they think that you were gay too?"
"David had no friends," Abdullah stated flatly.
"Then what do you call Jeffrey?" The question was a challenge.
"An abomination," Abdullah hissed and the detectives could hear his barely contained outrage in his voice, "An example of the corruption that exists in this heathen metropolis. For those transgressors like him the Lord has promised hellfire and brimstone. He shall smite those who deny His existence and-"
"So what, Abdullah?" Elliot snapped, cutting him off. "In the name of the Lord, you were going to clean out the rat's nest single-handedly?"
He stared at the detective, his intense black eyes burning with an inner fire as he said, " 'And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.'"
Elliot met Abdullah's fiery gaze with his own freezing one. "I should've known you would quote from Revelations."
Abdullah settled back in his chair with a contented air. "How well do you know the Bible, detective?"
"Well enough," Elliot answered, his expression guarded.
"And you?" Abdullah turned to look at Elliot's partner, his eyes questing.
Olivia looked slightly startled, having been ignored by both the men in the room as Elliot took over the interrogation, and the question had caught her off guard. She continued leaning against the wall, one foot resting against it in the classic 'Rebel Without a Cause' pose, her arms crossed, and after a moment's pause, she replied, "I haven't read much of it."
"That's a shame, Detective Benson. Its pages contain wisdom and wealth beyond anything that you could imagine," He cocked his head slightly to the side, his expression searching. "But do you believe?" When she didn't answer, he shook his head. " 'He that believeth not shall be damned.' "
Olivia gave him a flat look. "It's so nice of you to be concerned for my soul but I think you should be more worried about your own."
"Oh, I'm fine." Abdullah smiled. "God's on my side or, rather, I'm on His."
Elliot's brow wrinkled in thought and he suddenly spoke up. "Abdullah, were your parents Muslim?"
Abdullah took his eyes off Olivia and looked instead at the other detective, his expression unreadable. "Yes," he answered slowly, "they were."
"How did you come to be Christian then?"
"I had a revelation one day as a young man and realized that I had been believing in the right God but worshipping him the wrong way. I left Allah behind and had myself baptized the next day and began to follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
"Was this revelation by any chance assisted by some kind of mind-altering substance?" Olivia asked, coming to stand by the table again.
"I'll choose not to answer that question," Abdullah replied coolly.
"Hey, we already know about your youth and the wild parties and drug use, Abdullah," Elliot said, "David told us all about it."
"And you would believe the words of that sodomite?" The word dripped with contempt.
"We would and we do."
"Than that makes you no better than he."
"How did your parents feel about you renouncing their faith and turning to a new one?" Olivia asked, jumping back to the original question. "I bet they weren't too happy about it."
"They never knew," Abdullah answered.
"You mean you never told them?"
"No, they were murdered before I got the chance to." Abdullah's gaze lifted up to meet Olivia's again and this time she could not suppress a shiver that at the cold look in his eyes.