Corinne sat at the conference table in Captain Banks office. The
three men were across from her. She did her best to maintain a professional attitude, but
it was hard. She knew these detectives were good at their job, because she had
investigated them before she came to the station. She also knew they had been only one
step behind her since they were put on the case. We have a crisis on our hands,
Captain. Our people are frightened, and they feel unprotected.
Simon clasped his hands in front of him on the table. She had a point, but it would be his responsibility to ensure the investigation went smoothly. With all due respect, Ms. Santiago, I feel those fears are totally unfounded. The police are doing the best they can. It would be helpful if a witness would come forward.
Captain Banks' statement made Corinne feel guilty. She was the one they were looking for, but she couldn't expose her position in Santeria. A young man named Jorge Mendola spoke out about police corruption, and he ended up dead. Is that the best your police department can do?
Simon didnt doubt the integrity of his own unit, but he couldnt speak for the others. The investigation into Mendolas death is on-going. My department isnt handling it, but the cases we do pursue are handled quickly and efficiently.
What about the death of Detective Donoghue? I'm sure youre looking long and hard for his killer. Corinne met each man's eyes. The fear in my community is that someone in Little Havana is going to be picked as a scapegoat.
Blair felt the woman's stare and tried to reassure her. I can understand where youre coming from Ms. Santiago, but this isn't Cuba. You have rights here, and there are people you can turn to for help.
Corinne looked the young man over. He seemed to care, but appearances could be deceiving. Believe what you want, Mr. Sandburg, but I've seen the police push, grab, and racially insult my people. That was here in Cascade.
Jim bristled at the jab. Those were isolated incidents, ma'am, I...
Corinne interrupted before he could go further. I didn't come here to argue the point. I came here asking you to exercise restraint and avoid harassing my citizens.
Jim couldnt believe this woman could shake him up like this. The scent she was wearing was distracting him. The last time he had smelled something so powerful was the blood in the fighting ring at Starksville. He shook himself away from those thoughts quickly. If you're referring to Roberto Cortez, some say that everything bad that happens in the neighborhood traces back to him.
Corinne stood up and placed her hands firmly on the table. It is because of Seņor Cortez that we have a free clinic, a youth center, and hot meals for our elderly. We cant accuse him of murder without proof.
Disgusted, Blair spat out, Oh, yeah, yeah, sure. A friendly neighborhood patriarch, right? Little Havana's answer to John Gotti.
Corinne felt the need to defend Cortez no matter what. He had lived in a poverty-stricken area of Cuba that had been destroyed by government forces. Her own life in Cuba had ended the same. They had found new and better lives in the states. He's given a lot to the community.
Jim stood up from his seat and faced her down. It's only a fraction of what he's siphoned off.
Corinne backed away from the detective and grabbed her coat. It seems we have a difference of opinion. Corinne let Simon help her with her coat and guide her to the door. I just hope we can resolve it.
Jim moved in front of her to prevent her from leaving and sniffed her body. By the way, if you don't mind me asking, what is that fragrance youre wearing?
Corinne jumped at the action and felt a line of sweat roll down her back. The detective was invading her personal space. Perfume I made for myself, from tropical flowers -- Flores Tropicalis. My mother taught me in Cuba." Corinne left the office and hoped that she wouldnt have to deal with these men anymore. "Buenos dias."
Jim called after her, Adios. Jim watched as Simon shut the door after the woman and spoke up. She's wearing the same scent I picked up at the murder scene. She was there.
Are you sure? Simon shook his head and answered his own question. Of course youre sure. You can smell it a mile away. All right, Jim. Just please walk carefully on this one. We're dealing with the mayor on this one.
Jim followed and caught up with Corinne. If he could get her alone, she would be a little more co-operative. He found her swiftly descending the stairs to leave the building. Jim called, Just a minute.
This man would not leave her alone. She was already dangerously close to revealing what she knew. Only Iyas warning kept her silent. She turned to the detective. Let's see. You've already asked me about my perfume. What, want to know where I buy my clothes now?
Jim placed himself in Corinne's path so she wouldn't bolt. Well, actually, I know where you buy your clothes -- at least some of them anyway. We have a witness to Donoghue's murder. She dropped her shawl at the scene.
Corinne felt herself start to shake a little. She dug her nails into her palms, And?
Jim crossed his arms across his chest. And I think that shawl belongs to you.
Corinne faked a laugh. That's ridiculous.
Jim could smell the fear on Corinne, beneath the scent of flowers. You know, obstructing justice is a crime. I'm not the enemy here. Why don't you just talk to me? Jim asked.
Corinne turned away from the detective. I've told you everything. If that's all...?
Jim moved out of Corinne's way. One way or the other, I'll find out what happened. Corinne remained faced away from the detective. She took a deep breath before she continued from the building.
Blair waited at Jim's desk until he returned. Facing off with him, Blair
asked, "What was the deal in there? You were like a pit bull."
Jim sat at his desk and pulled out one of his case folders. "She plays a big part in this, Chief. I want to set up a stakeout on her. All I have to do is give her enough rope to hang herself."
"Listen to yourself, Jim. You're treating her like a pawn. Why don't you give her the benefit of the doubt and try to work with her?" Jim could be insensitive, but this was ridiculous.
"If you want to give her the benefit of the doubt, Sandburg, go ahead. I have a case to solve." Jim went back to the report he had to finish by the end of the day.
"Fine, Jim, Blair sighed. "Why don't I take first watch tonight after my class?"
Jim didn't look at Blair just absently acknowledged him. "Be my guest, Sandburg. Phone me if you come up with anything."
Blair was exhausted. Hed spent all morning at the precinct, all
afternoon at the university, and now five hours following Corinne. He took off his glasses
and scrubbed at his eyes. A series of sharp pops jerked him upwards, banging his head on
his cars ceiling.
A black Cadillac was racing by and bursts of fire arced from the passenger window and into the front windows of the restaurant. Blair whipped his cell phone out and dialed 911. This is Blair Sandburg with the Cascade PD, reporting shots fired at Rubens Cuban Restaurant on 9th. Please send ambulances and notify Detective Ellison of Major Crimes. Blair closed the connection and jumped out of his car.
Racing into the restaurant, Blair ran to the last place that he had seen Corinne. She and the shopkeeper had been sitting at a table in front of the windows. Shattered glass crunched under his feet, and he wondered how anyone could have survived. Low moans reached his ears, and the amount of damage devastated him.
Blair stopped short when he found Corinne sitting on the floor, holding her motionless friend in her arms. The table they had been sitting at had been knocked over as well as their chairs. From the blood splatters, the bullets had ripped into Iya and toppled her sideways. Corinne was uninjured, and Blair had no idea how she had avoided it.
Blair bent down and felt for a pulse. There was none. There was nothing more he could do for her, so he reached down and closed her eyes. He heard mumbling and looked at Corinne. Her haunted eyes were fixed in the distance, and her voice was so low he could barely hear it.
Why did you do it, Iya? Why? I wasnt worth it. Corinne tilted her face up-wards and met Blairs eyes. She pushed me out of the way. She stood up and knocked me down. She saved me. Why did she save me? Corinne sobbed and buried her face in Iyas neck.
Blair left Corinne to her grief and tended those that could use his help. He moved through the room checking on the other customers. He helped patch up those he could and closed the eyes of those he couldn't.
Blair moved back over to where Corrine pillowed the head of her dead friend on her lap. He heard her whispering, Iya? Iya? Blair put his hand on Corinnes shoulder for comfort.
Iya was gone from her. Iya had been her support base for so long, that she didnt know if she could go on without her. Corrine felt her shoulder being gently squeezed and looked up. The young man that had been with the detective was squatting next to her. Silently thanking Oshun, Corinne let the young man comfort her. She lay her head on his shoulder and felt him stroke her hair. She closed her eyes and continued holding Iya.
When the paramedics got to Iya, Blair gently released her from Corinne's arms. The body was taken away, and Blair guided Corinne to a table. Blair put a comforting arm around Corinne and prayed that Jim would get there soon.
Jim parked his truck and ran into the restaurant. Blair had a way of
getting into trouble, so he was Jims first priority. He trained his ears to find the
familiar heartbeat and found it beating faster than normal. It wasnt in the danger
zone, so he switched to scent. The smell of blood and antiseptics filled the air, and he
had to quit before he zoned from the intensity. It wasnt until he saw Blair sitting
at a table next to Corinne that he breathed a sigh of relief. He slid into a seat across
Jim knew what it was like to lose a friend; he was gentle with her. Im sorry about your friend, Corrine. Dont you think its time for you to tell me what you know?
Corrine swallowed. She looked up into the blue eyes of the detective. You're right. I was at the Bembe. Im sorry that I didnt tell you earlier. Corinne wiped the tears from her eyes and face. All I remember about that night are the drums from the beginning of the ceremony. The next thing I knew, I was standing over the dead body of that detective. Everything in between is a blank.
Knowing he would regret the question, Jim asked it anyway. What do you mean, it was a blank? How could you not remember?
Corrine searched the detectives face, trying to judge what his reaction would be. I was in a trance.
Blair put his hand on Corinnes arm to lend his support. Jim was stubborn about acknowledging the mystical world; he dismissed anything that wasnt tangible. Blair backed up Corinnes statement, At the Bembe I observed in New York, the priestess had no recollection of events when questioned later.
Corrine spoke up, In our religion, the gods come down to earth. They can enter the bodies of their priests. I'm the priestess of Oshun. She chose me.
Blair continued, These trances have been known to last minutes, hours, days, and sometimes even a week. When the priest comes out of the trance, they dont remember anything.
Jim listened with a frown of concentration. Why couldnt you tell me all this before?
Corrine looked down. I work for the mayor, and I practice a religion where a god inhabits your body. Not many people outside the religion understand or even believe. I live in two worlds, Detective.
Jim could sympathize with Corrine. Meeting with his spirit world was unbelievable at first, but he had learned to accept it and listen to its messages. It had been imperative to do so while he was in Peru after Simon, and also when Incacha had died. A lot of us walk in different worlds, Corrine. Sometimes we're not sure which world we're in, but we have to make the best of it.
Jim glanced at Blair and saw him smile with pride. Blair had been trying to make him accept his senses, and Jim felt he was finally coming to terms with them. Getting back to Corinne. I think the killer knows that you're the only witness. He wont care that you were in a trance. Hell want you dead.