"I think we made some alligators very happy.", I sigh to Doakes as I step into the cabin, hinting that I had disposed of his assistants, yet bearing in mind that as long as he's intact, I can still follow through with my frame job and pin the butcher murders on him. It's not a definite scheme, however. With all that's happened lately, I've had no time to think for myself and so little patience to carefully consider the shameless deed I'm planning in order to elude incrimination.
The air thickens and I feel a chill despite the cabin's alarming humidity. My mind is plagued with thoughts as I pace back and forth, Sergeant James Doakes eying me from within the cage in the corner of the musty room. I have to give him credit for being so patient with me. I know this isn't easy for him, waiting around for me to make up my mind. It' a guessing game at this point.
With a temperate exhale, I sit myself on the chair near Doakes' cage. He throws me that brute scowl of his as he curls up into his knees. I'm used to that look. We've had the these hostile exchanges more than once, with him locked in a pen, yet still maintaining enough control to rival my own. He's such a patient guy, that Sergeant Doakes. I can't emphasize this enough. Even in the face of wrongful attribution, he holds a sense of temerity. I imagine he picked that up from his Special Ops days.
"So, here we are.", He grumbles tiredly, wiping the sweat off his forehead. "Back to fucking square one."
"Not exactly." I lean down to make sure the lock to his cage is tight and secure, then allow myself to ponder a moment. I feel a splintering headache throbbing as I try to sort through my thoughts – Lila, Lundy, Rita, Doakes. It's all becoming to much for me to manage. I once thought I could control the chaos through my need to kill, but now... it's like I can't even breathe without setting off another bombshell to further complicate my life.
Doakes doesn't seem too concerned with my momentary lull. He sits there in sheer silence, waiting on my judgment, yet I can't bring myself to decide his fate as long as mine is still in jeopardy, not to mention the countless relationships I've come to cultivate. How much longer can I possibly will my way from life in prison? I'm a killer. That's all I'll ever be. Framing an innocent man won't change that.
Bringing these thoughts into light, I open my mouth, the words tumbling off my tongue in the form of a modest proposal. "I'll tell you what, James." I lift my head so my gaze is settled neatly upon him. "Can I call you James?"
He rolls his eyes and turns his head from me, muttering in that spiritless tone of his, "Knock yourself out."
I feel the headache clear away as I speak my mind. "I'm toying with an idea."
Heeding these words with a hopeful reaction, James glances in my direction, honing in on me with a focused stare. In that moment, he doesn't seem to care about the cage anymore. Or the heat. Or the humid stench of the cabin. His attention is solely on me, as though he's searching for a sign of truth.
"I've been under federal investigation for two months.", I utter the obvious, the words ringing truer than ever just by openly confessing to it. But I don't stop there. Remembering my blood slide collection, I toss him a knowing glance, continuing, "My trophies were stolen."
He shows no guilt or repentance for taking my slides. Instead, he keeps his expression unchanged, sarcastically atoning, "Sorry."
"The code I live by has been shattered.", I drawl on in a monotonous voice. "And I have a co-worker in a cage. Things aren't going so well."
He throws his head back and snorts at my comment, obviously abraded that I was rehashing something as clear as daylight. "No shit.", He mumbles, grimacing. "I can see that."
I let my eyes fall to the floor for a moment, then look up at James once more, reflecting on our earlier talk. About how my foster father had taken his own life upon discovering the monster he molded out of me. About my inability to control things that are naturally... beyond my control. About how vulnerable my Dark Passenger really is, especially now, with the FBI closing in on my secret. I know I can't hold out any longer. It's useless. It would subjectively destroy me, as well as everyone around me.
I feel my cheeks heat and quickly level my gaze with James'. My mouth opens, and it takes me a moment to form words, what with all the realizing clouding my voice. "You told me... to take responsibility for what I am.", I quote his previous lecture, letting it seep into me mindset one more time so I can fully appreciate it in all its sensibility. "You were right. Harry killed the wrong person."
Our eye-contact suddenly becomes more genuine, more surreal. I must have given him the wrong impression, because he's glaring warily at me. He senses something amiss about my words, and a touching rise of concern upholds his voice. "Morgan, you're not thinking about-"
"Kill myself?", I beat him to the punch, the very notion disgusting me. "No, that's pathetic."
He continues to leer at me, as though unconvinced. It's almost baffling how he's so worried for my well-being after everything I put him through. I guess that's just another denominator of humanity, as it lies within every soul, including James. They look upon suicide as immoral, yet I view it as plain lousy.
I still have a point to get across, ruminations aside. Just because suicide isn't my ruling, doesn't mean something else isn't. My urges need to be stopped somehow. "I can't live in this house of cards anymore, waiting for it all to fall down.", I tell him with a small but detectable trace of a smile. "I need to do something, you know?"
James won't leave my gaze now. He's motionless. He's waiting. He's wearing that somber visage of his, and I know it won't go away until I cut to the chase. That's the only reason he's listening – to hear me confess to my delusions, to hear me accept that I can't run from justice anymore. As a cop, he knows this to be true. He knows the criminal mind like second nature.
I take a deep and steady breath, almost afraid of what I'm going to say next. But I choose not to relent. I can't. Clearing my lungs, I finally speak the words he's been waiting for, "I'm thinking about turning myself in."
His eyes widen, but only slightly. And immediately he becomes more intimate, less impersonal. "That's a... that's a good call, Morgan.", He remarks in a much more friendly tone, sitting up to face me directly, despite the fence between us. "That's a tough call, but... that's a good call, man."
I nod, appeased by his patronage. And it drives me open up completely. I inhale a breath and gasp, "I need some fucking relief."
"Yeah, you can't keep running, man.", He calmly lectures, like a buddy to his peer, becoming more comfortable with the discussion. "That's for pussies. You're just gonna end up in exactly the same situation, sooner or later."
I stare at him, wondering how alike our minds really are. "Prison.", I answer for the both of us. But oddly enough, admitting the world doesn't frighten me. In fact... it almost soothes me. It makes me think a little, about what a carefree life behind bars could offer me in a positive light. "I could finally get some sleep."
He nods, almost pitying me. "Yeah."
My eyes drift apart from his. I station my thoughts with the lives around me, especially my sister. How would my unmaking affect them? "In the long run would be easier on Deb...", I mutter, and of course, "Rita." Only now do I realize that, in their eyes, the boldness of my surrender would outweigh the horror of my capture, so I openly reason, "Better than watching me dragged in like an animal...which, let's face it, will happen, someday."
"Yeah.", James whispers, wanting to make this easier on me. "Morgan, we'll do it together. I'll go with you."
For the life of me, I can't grasp his sympathy, nor this entire shift in our rivalry. I know he means well. Now that he knows my secret, all he wants to do is reach out to me, to help me. It makes me realize that Lila wasn't the only itching to connect with me. But with Doakes... it feel more... tended. He's more a mentor than anything else now. I never would have expected him to be so understanding of what I'm burdened with.
James eagerly stands to his feet. "Come on, let's go."
I remain still, thinking through the specifics of this arrangement. And then it occurs to me, "If I do this, I need a day to get my affairs in order."
But in his enthusiasm to leave, he seems to misunderstanding my meaning. "That's fine. Tie me up, throw me in the trunk. Come on, let's go."
I realize he wants come with me, but for all intents and purposes, I feel it's safer that he remain in the cage until I make things right with the others. The police will find him once I incriminate myself to Deb, I'll make sure of that. "I brought supplies. Fresh fruit.", I remind him as I rise from the chair. "Make sure you mention that when they interview you for the story of my life."
He looks at me, aghast. "God damn it, you're not gonna leave me in this cage! Anything could happen!"
"I think we've seen the worst of that.", I jest as I move past the cage without stopping to spare anymore words.
"Morgan!", He calls out one last time, before altering his tone all together. "Dexter..."
He's never called me by my first name. It's almost nourishing. And I feel the need to express my gratitude to him – for helping me open my eyes to the severity of my circumstances. "I've really enjoyed our conversations, James.", I answer to him, my gaze traveling from the floor to his pleading eyes. "I lie to everyone I know... except my victims right before I kill them. It's hard to establish much of a rapport there."
He pierces me with that glare of his, his calm of amiability having slipped from his demeanor all too soon. But he still stands there, pressed up against the cage, listening to my every word with close attention. He wants to help me... but he's losing his patience. And I don't blame him. He's been a locked a damn cage for days on end.
With nothing left to offer him, I sigh, "Sorry about the cage." And then I take my leave while he again calls out my name – last name, anyway. I suppose old habits never truly go away.
I step out from the cabin and lock the door behind me. I stroll along the porch, my hands tucked into my pockets as I look on to the swamps of the everglades splayed before me, the water shimmering so trimly in the moonlight overhead. I then work up the courage to call up Deb and schedule a get-together with her. It'll give me the chance to come clean with her, to confess what I am underneath the mask. She deserves to know the truth before anyone else. She deserves to take me in herself, not Doakes or Lundy's men.
After hanging up with her, I slide my cellphone back into my pocket and take a brief moment to think over my decision, realizing just how freeing it's making me feel. It's strange. This should be difficult, but a sense of peace is settling over me. Calm. Maybe it's the moonlight. Or maybe Doakes was right, for my eyes are now open to the consequences of what I am. And sometimes a person just has to face the music and know when to call it quits.