The glass was cool on her forehead and as Davis passed another intersection, Dani touched the window. She blinked as if seeing her hand for the first time. Dirty and chipped nails, grimy hands; Dani attempted to wipe her hands on her shirt but nothing happened. She pressed her hand to the seat covers and stared at the grease stains she left behind.
It was then Dani realized how she must look next to Davis, all clean and pressed.
She glanced at Davis, her focus never wandered from the road. She forgot how fast things moved for someone like Davis.
Davis had stared at her for a few seconds and then approached her, held Dani around the shoulders and guided her to her car and settled her inside all without saying a word.
"Dani, it's going to be okay." Davis touched her cheek, "I'll take care of everything."
They've been driving around for almost half an hour now by Dani's estimate but she's learned to mistrust her internal clock. She marked time by how long it's been since she last took a hit.
Then they entered a gate and a driveway and stopped before an open door. There were three men in white waiting for her. Rehab. Davis took her to a rehab center and for some reason she found it funny.
She stopped laughing, turned to Davis. She had the same concerned look she had in the parking lot.
Rehab was a different kind of hell and the craving never really went away. It stayed with her for twenty-four hours, seven days a week. The twitching and shaking was unbearable and listening to other addicts speak about their pain only made her want to shake them. When her turn came, Dani lied her whole way through.
She wanted to get better, she did but there was no way in fucking hell she'll ever tell them the truth. Rehab was like being in prison, white halls, small rooms to sit and stare at even whiter walls and the mandatory NA attendance.
True, she had a better view than most prisons and a lot more freedom and more coffee than she could handle but a cage was still a cage and a small fucking room was still a small fucking room.
Her mother visited regularly, every Wednesday and Saturday, Karen every other week or when she's not too loaded down with case work. Whatever friends she made, she'd burned or buried while undercover.
Dani didn't know how many times her mother visited before Dani was allowed to meet her in the visitor's area. The days between the time she entered rehab and the time she was finally conscious beyond pain/need/pain/need all blurred together.
Leyla Reese was always put together and she still was but Dani could see the years on her, the grey of her hair, the wrinkles around her eyes. Leyla survived Jack Reese and retained her inner poise and it hit Dani like a punch in the gut, after all Jack Reese put her through, it was Dani who would make her mother look like an old woman.
Dani sat at her end of the table.
"It's good to see you well, Dani."
"You too, mom." But she couldn't look her mother in the eye especially not with the way Leyla was looking at her.
The silence between them lasted a few seconds and then Leyla took a deep breath and started talking. Dani listened without really listening. She could still feel the throb of need in her veins, the ghost taste lingering at the back of her throat. If she let go of her knees her hands won't stop shaking.
"…you should cut your hair," her mother went on. "You have such a beautiful face Dani, you should not hide it."
Dani nodded, pushed back her hair and without warning her mother reached out and hugged her, Dani stiffened at the contact but her mother either didn't notice or minded.
"I'm glad your back," the words were Farsi, in a tone Dani had forgotten. Dani held on to her mother and she couldn't let go until much, much later.
Karen's visits were more formal, she talked about cases her unit worked on, the first few times Dani listened, sitting on her side of the table. She talked about murder, of course. Turned out she passed Sergeant sometime ago.
"Lieutenant." Dani repeated, even in the numbed stupor she was in, Dani was mildly impressed.
"Got the bars to prove it too." Karen said with a smile. "Even have a small unit in Robbery Homicide but I'm more focused on Homicides."
"Lieutenant Davis." Dani said, trying it out. "Sounds better than Sergeant Davis."
"I thought so too." Karen leaned back, "So, I was working on this case. Murder-suicide but my lead detective can't make heads or tails of it."
Dani listened as Karen rambled on, painting a picture, the first time she did this Dani was only half-listening. But it was all Karen talked about after her kids and her husband and Dani found she preferred to talk about murder and GSRs and dead bodies than re-ups and wire taps and goddamned drug lords.
The fourth time Karen arrived with a case file and two Starbuck's coffee cups Dani figured out what Karen was doing. Dani pulled the file closer to her and read through it. She wanted to be annoyed at how easy she was played but it felt like old times, like before.
"When are you cleared to leave?"
Dani added another spoonful of sugar to her coffee before answering. "Whenever they say I'm cleared to leave."
"That's a lot of sugar." Karen remarked.
"That's what mom said." It was either coffee or cigarettes. She could do both, she smoked before but Dani didn't think she needed another thing to add to her list.
"Thought of what you want to do after?"
She stirred the coffee, making slow circular motions and watching the black liquid swirl around. "One day at a time, Lieutenant."
Her father never visited. She never asked for him.
After a few months of playing at the good patient, of slowly getting used to ignoring the piercing need until she was able to convince herself that it was all background Dani was cleared to leave but not before she was given a few ground rules, An Addict's Guide from Relapsing.
No alcohol, no intimate relationships for the first six months--
"You mean sex?"
Her therapist adjusted her glasses. "We advise against it."
She looked at the brochures, she was anxious to leave. "I think I got everything."
"Good luck, Dani."
Dani nodded, took her bags and made for the lobby expecting her mother or Karen.
She paused in her tracks. It wasn't her mother or Karen waiting for her in the lobby. "Dad."
"You ready?" He stood-up, rolled the paper he was reading and looked at her. Sometime before the last time she saw him his hair had gone completely white but his eyes were still the same.
The ride back home was silent. Dani kept her eyes forward but once or twice her eyes would wander and she'd find herself studying her father.
"You're going back to the force," Dani turned to look at him. "You were promised a promotion after your stint in Narcotics."
"It was Karen's doing, if it were up to me you'd be off the force." Her father's knuckles were white. "You screwed up."
Dani bit her tongue to keep from saying something equally scathing like the Bank of fucking LA.
"Of all the goddamned things you had to go undercover. Now you're a junkie."
"I'm clean now," She hated how defensive he makes her.
"For how long?" He pointed at her, menacing. "Because I've known junkies like you."
She tried not to flinch but somewhere inside she was still that little girl and that annoyed her. "I'm a cop."
She matched his stare.
He looked away first but Dani didn't chuck that to her victory. "Go say 'hi' to your mother."
She had a week of freedom before she started and the first thing she did was burn all her clothes. The incinerator was handy for that.
Dani stayed with her parents the first month, just enough to get back on her feet, days spent studying for the detectives' exam her books and notes scattered next to a stack of post-rehab literature and after care programs.
Her mother always spent an hour or two talking to her, giving her advice, trying to convince Dani to join her visits to the church. Dani always politely declined. The first day back Dani went to set her things on the sink taking and piling things up. Dani opened the medicine cabinet and stared at the bottles of medicines lined neatly in the cabinet. She took a deep breath and shut it carefully when she turned her father was standing outside the bathroom.
The next day when she opened the cabinet again all the medicines were gone, even the mouthwash.
She started back to the beginning. Or as close to the beginning she was ever going to get. Scrubbed and in loose pants and shirt she found in her cabinet and a leather jacket she hadn't used in a while, she looked at herself for a long moment before clipping on the badge and the service weapon. She was going to do this the right: do the job, keep her head down and maybe just maybe she'll survive long enough to earn her twenty.
The day she was officially back on active duty a civilian employee toured her through the bullpen as if she were some rookie. They gave her the desk at the center close to the interrogation rooms, close to the lieutenant's office and hard to hide from prying eyes. The civilian volunteer smiled at her, "Welcome to Robbery-Homicide, Detective Reese." It took a while before she realized he didn't mean her father. "After you've settled in Lieutenant Davis would like a word."
"Sure," she said, "I'll be there."
In her time in Narcotics she never had a desk of her own, she always had to share with some new member of the team. Always scrambling for space because the budget was too low to even get proper desks, all the money they had were sunk into surveillance equipment: wire taps, phone cloning, etc.,
She approached the door and read the 'Lt. Davis' glazed on the glass door. It hit her, staring at the letters, Karen Davis wouldn't just be Karen, from here on out, Karen would also be her Lieutenant. It was something to get used to. Lieutenant Davis instead of just Karen. She looked past the letters and into the office and saw Karen wave her in.
"Lieutenant," she answered.
"Are you all settled in?" The tone was friendly but Karen was sitting behind the desk and it made it easy for her to think of Karen as her CO.
She glanced back where her desk was there wasn't much on it, just a computer. "Pretty much."
"I'm assigning you to Jeffries," Davis informed her, "you'll be riding a desk job for a while, at least until you learn the ropes." At least until I learn to trust you not to screw-up and fall down on the job went unsaid. "Jeffries is retiring in two months, hopefully by then you've learned all the ropes."
She nodded, it was fair, more than what she expected.
"That said," Davis smiled at her. "Good to have you back, Detective Reese."
The smile she had on was truly genuine. "It's good to be back, LT."
They returned to the scene of the crime, Reese nodded at the uniform at the door; he was only there for another day before they release the crime scene. She ducked under the tape, most of the smell had gone. Crews stepped around the markings on the floor, waiting for her to start. They did this, sometimes, when nothing else would make sense. Get inside the heads of the victims, the killers. They were scarily good at it.
"They stood here." Reese stopped at the spot, planted her feet. Crews joined her.
"What were they doing?"
She approached the table, cleared of all paraphernalia but Reese could still see everything in her head. "They were done." The grains under her hand was smooth, "they were ready to move."
"The killer arrived." Crews said, motioned to the door, "they let the killer in."
"Someone they trust or knew."
"And didn't expect."
She turned, "You think it's not just bein' gunned down that surprised them?"
He pointed to where Sullivan fell, held up the crime scene photo. "He was shot with his back turned, he looked like he barely had time to react."
Reese pulled out Jacksons' photo. "Same thing as Jackson, only this time he faced the killer, killer unloaded the chamber on Jackson."
"The killer was angrier at Jackson?"
Reese thought about it. "Let's see how this works."
Crews positioned himself in front of Reese. "I arrive."
"I have my back turned," Reese turned around, shook her head, "No, I was the one who let you in. I turn around—"
"And I shoot you. Bang."
"Sullivan falls," Reese let the photo of Sullivan fall then positioned herself in Jackson's place. "Jackson hears it, he turns."
"Sees me with a gun." He waved his imaginary gun at her, "And I shoot him. A lot."
Reese dropped Jackson's photo. They stare at the two photos in silence.
"Something doesn't add up." Reese said the same moment Crews piped up with:
"It doesn't seem right, Reese."
She worried her lower lip looked to the door then to Crews. "Switch."
Crews obliged her. They switched places, this time Reese walked all the way to the door, closed it. The uniform eyed her curiously. Reese ignored him and knocked on the door. Crews opened it.
"I think the killer did surprise them." She told him, "Sullivan opened the door and whoever was behind the door surprised them."
"Surprised but trusted," Crews continued, "its why Sullivan turned away."
Reese watched Crews turn around and reached for her imaginary gun, "The killer drew the gun."
"Jackson was about to turn," Crews craned his neck to look at her, "maybe the killer was banking on surprise."
Crews presented his back again and Reese raised her arm, he wouldn't see if she shoot him but Jackson would… "The killer was nervous." She theorized. "It's why she drew the gun and pulled the trigger right then. Sullivan turned around," Reese tipped her imaginary gun at Crews' direction, "and bang."
"Sullivan falls," Crews said, "Jackson hears, turns to the direction of the sound, surprised…"
"And because our killer was nervous…" Reese swung her arm around, tried to feel the anger and the anxiousness. She killed that kid already, it was probably louder and messier than what the killer expected and the other kid was turning so the killer would have no choice and squeezed the trigger. "Unloaded the whole clip into Jackson."
She could see it in her mind but the motivation didn't make sense. "The killer was angry and scared. What was the killer angry about? It doesn't feel like--"
"The killer was angry about the drug thing, I don't think it's about the money either." He finished.
If she looked at him now, if she chanced a look now Reese knew that he'd have his thoughtful expression on, the one she classified as his Zen look.
"They were kids." She heard Crews say.
Reese looked at him, "What?"
He was kneeling, touching the floor. He looked up at her, forehead crinkled in confusion. In this light his eyes were pale, intense and disturbing. "They were kids."
Reese stared at the floor, at the door and Crews. "I think I know what happened." She pulled her phone from her jacket, "Yeah, can you pull a print for me." Crews looked at her curiously, he stood-up. Reese took out her sunglasses. "Why don't we get you some fruit?"
He grinned. "I like that."
Four months. That was how long it took before Davis let her off the leash but not without condition.
"You want me to go to AA?"
"You want to stay tied to the desk?" Davis countered with a raised eyebrow.
Four months doing desk duty with only an occasional trip out and that was when she was still with Jeffries. She supposed she should feel sorrier now that Jeffries was gone but they weren't really partners. She was assigned to him as a means for her to learn, a refresher to unlearn all the things she's picked up in Narcotics.
'Drugs,' he'd say in his smoke ravaged voice, 'don't mean a damned thing in Homicide unless it was directly connected to homicide. Killing's the worse crime, not dope dealing.'
Reese never said anything to that only went on typing the reports he had no patience to file.
There were few things she needed to learn from Jeffries; Davis' visits did their purpose. In the end there was only so much she could learn behind a desk and being tied to the desk staring at her computer was driving her crazy.
"AA." She repeated.
"Dani," Davis said. "I know how you drink."
Reese wanted to say that her drinking wasn't a problem and stopped when she saw Davis' frank gaze. She looked away. "I'll go to a meeting."
They found her in her house, sitting on the edge of the pool. Reese slowed her steps but didn't stop. "Mrs. Reynolds?"
"Reese." Crews called softly. She glanced at him then followed his gaze back to Mary.
There was a gun on her lap.
"Luke used to swim," Mary dipped her hand in the pool. "He loved to swim, when he was younger we always had trouble getting him out of the pool."
"Mrs. Reynolds," she began again, an eye on the .38. "We're here to arrest you."
Mary looked at them sideways. "I know."
"You called them children," Crews began, "You saw Sullivan and Jackson that day." Mary didn't respond. Crews removed his sunglasses. "You were going to turn yourself in the day of the station but we didn't listen."
Reese kept her hand on her holster but Mary made no move to do anything with the revolver on her lap.
Mary said distantly. "Didn't he know how much I loved him?"
Reese glanced at Crews he was silent and watchful with that look in his eyes, the piercing laser like focus that unsettled people.
"Didn't he know?" Mary asked again and the distance was gone.
"He knew." Reese blinked, surprised at herself for answering. "Luke knew you loved him." Mary glanced at her briefly before returning to stare at the water. Reese glanced behind and saw Crews watching her. Reese returned her attention back to Mary and slowly sat beside her. "Sometimes it only made it harder. Worse..." Mary was still and silent but Reese wasn't talking to Mary now, it was all the things she never said, all the words her mother wanted to hear but she could never articulate. "You thought he just needed to stop himself, be strong. How hard could it be? But it doesn't work that way. Our brains don't work that way. It's not about strong or right or smart or about love. He probably thought the same thing. He'd think about quitting and it'd work at least until the next time he'd crave for a fix and when that happens... Nothing mattered beyond that.
"But even through that he did love you, he just couldn't stop."
A heavy silence fell and Reese studied the pattern on the tiles, Crews didn't move or speak but she could feel his stare on her back and it prickled the back of her neck. Reese looked at Mary and found Mary watching her.
"They were so young." Mary began, voice so low Reese had to lean in to hear. "When Luke died I was devastated, I couldn't understand how he could do that to himself. I tried everything I could. Everything but— and he died. My baby boy. And then I learned about those boys, those boys were still out there and free and selling those things that killed my baby. I was so angry. I wanted to… tell them, to make them feel what I felt. So I followed them and when I saw how alive they still were, how happy and oblivious to what they did to my son, to me. I—I didn't think about it, I just brought out my husband's gun and I--
"I didn't realize... they were so young. They looked liked Luke's age." She looked to Reese, eyes pleading and so raw. "They were only children and I killed them." The words were broken, "I killed them."
She worked cases alone. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. The details of her undercover work might have been sealed but people talk and no one wanted to go around carrying a Detective One with as dubious a reputation she had.
A few months working it alone, putting her head down and it almost works. Except for that one train wreck with Mike Bloom and her inability to follow rules that ensured safety from her own stupidity.
"Detective," Davis called just as she entered the station. "Come here a minute."
Reese nodded, removing her jacket. She took one of the case folders with her and entered Davis' office.
"Here." Davis passed a slip of paper to her.
Reese took the paper there was only one name on it.
"You know him?"
"Yeah." She nodded and wondered if Davis was assigning her a cold case. Hard to miss the name when that's all the station could talk about.
"Good." Davis sipped her coffee and placed it on the table, next to a picture of her husband. "'Cause he's your new partner."
Reese stared at Davis and tried to figure out if she was pulling her leg.
"The City of LA settled and so did the Department." Davis didn't like it, Reese could tell by the annoyed clip in her voice. "They're reinstating Crews as detective but you'll have seniority over him."
Reese knew what this was, another in a long line of hoops she had to jump through. She studied the note, it wasn't written in Davis' handwriting. "When's he starting?"
"He's going through a refresher and the Detective's exam. He'll be done in two weeks."
"Is that all, LT?"
Davis studied her Reese knew she expected a different reaction but Reese knew the rules. She messed up and she was lucky to even get a second chance. She had no settlement to tie her in place unlike this guy.
"No," Davis said, "that's all, Detective."
Some arrests were harder than most. Mary's broken sobs cast a somber mood over the tableaux of uniforms. Reese felt tired and tried not to feel anything, or remember the night before.
"You said," Mary said before Officer Krebs took her away, "you said 'our brains..?'"
Reese clapped the cuffs gently on Mary's wrist, secured it and quietly: "I did."
Mary looked at her with something like understanding and went away with drooped shoulders.
Night fell quickly and Reese leaned against her car and watched the city come alive. LA spread out in all directions, twinkling. Somewhere out there another crime was being committed, another death, another tragedy. Reese shut her eyes but the twinkling of the city was imprinted behind her eyes. The car shifted and she opened her eyes to see Crews settle beside her. He held out his hand, offering her juice.
She looked at the plastic cup. There wasn't a juice bar around the area. Crews held it patiently before her, Reese took the juice off his hand, felt the moisture beneath her fingertips.
Reese breathed in the city, the night.
"I can work this." With you, with all the other things.
Crews turned, he looked pale and as tired as she felt but when he smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkled. "I think so too."
But Mikhail's sorrow was so deep
he couldn't hear the earth
or think of other people and the world.
Yet in this car on this afternoon, his grief
was shared by others and the world today.
from HUMAN LANDSCAPES FROM MY COUNTRY (An Epic Novel in Verse)
NAZIM HIKMET (1902-1963)
Translated from the Turkish by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk