Victim Rights, page 1
EPub edition copyright © September 2011
Copyright © 2010 Norah McClintock
5 4 3 2 1
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Published by Red Deer Press
A Fitzhenry & Whiteside Company
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham
ON, L3R 4T8
Edited for the Press by Peter Carver
Cover and text design by Jacquie Morris & Delta Embree, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada
We acknowledge with thanks the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council for their support of our publishing program. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) for our publishing activities.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Victim rights / Norah McClintock.
(A Ryan Dooley mystery)
I. Title. II. Series: McClintock, Norah. Ryan Dooley mystery.
PS8575.C62V52 2010 jC813’.54 C2010-904509-2
Publisher Cataloging-in-Publication Data (U.S)
Victim rights : a Ryan Dooley mystery /Norah McClintock.
 p. : cm.
ISBN: 978-0-88995-447-2 (pbk.)
1. Mystery and detective stories. I. Title. II. Ryan Dooley mystery.
[Fic] dc22 PZ7.M34656Vi 2010
To Peter Carver and Richard Dionne,
for making it possible
So far, so good. Dooley made it back to his uncle’s house without running into anyone he knew and, as far as he could tell, without anyone taking special notice of him. With the exception of the light on his uncle’s front porch, the house was dark, which meant that his uncle had made an early night of it, either because he was tired or because Jeannie was over. As Dooley walked up the driveway, he pondered his options.
His sweatshirt was the worst. He had actually felt blood splatter on it. He’d peeled it off before he got back to the street, rolled it up, and dropped it in under a couple of rank-smelling garbage bags in one of a row of garbage bins behind an apartment building he’d passed. No way would the cops ever think to look there. Garbage pickup was first thing Monday morning. The sweatshirt would be on its way to a landfill site in Michigan by Monday night at the latest.
But what about the rest of his clothes? He’d seen his share of crime-scene shows on TV. He’d also heard his uncle grouse that they should be billed as fantasy, they were that unrealistic. Some of the things they did on those shows were made up. Some of it was stuff some brainiac had thought up and experimented with but hadn’t been adopted by any crime lab his uncle had ever heard of—and his uncle stayed on top of things, even though he was retired. Some of the things they did on those shows took minutes, whereas in real life, his uncle said, it could take months—if you were lucky. But he’d also heard his uncle and his cop friends tell their war stories: how they’d nailed some guy because he’d decided to hang onto some piece-of-shit jacket or a pair of crappy boots that had turned up trace evidence—blood, spit, semen, you name it. How some other mope had put his clothes through the wash, thinking that would do the trick. Well, guess what, Charlie? It doesn’t. How maybe some of the knuckleheads and psychos that got themselves into trouble would benefit from checking out some of those shows, but thank Christ they didn’t, or at least were impervious to learning anything from them if they did because, really, who needed the job to get any more complicated than it already was?
Dooley was pretty sure, although not positive, that he didn’t have to worry about the cops. He was pretty sure the guy wasn’t going to lay a complaint. No, Dooley’s biggest worry was keeping his uncle from getting suspicious.
He used his key to slip in through the back door and went straight down to the basement where he stripped off his clothes, removed his sneakers, and shoved everything, even the shoes, into the washing machine. He set the water on extra hot, measured detergent and bleach (for the unbleachables) into the right slots, and pushed ON. While the tub filled, he fished out and put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt from the pile of clothes he’d brought down two days ago but had never got around to washing. What the hell—he opened the washer lid and threw in the rest of the dirty clothes pile. Then he went upstairs.
He walked straight through the kitchen, even though he was starving (go figure) and continued on up to his room. He clocked his uncle’s room on the way. The door was closed, which meant that Jeannie was in there. If he’d come through the front door instead of the back, he probably would have seen her purse on the table next to the stairs. The lights were off, too, so, hopefully, they were both asleep. Either that or ... well, he didn’t want to think about it. He ducked into his room, grabbed a clean T-shirt and pajama bottoms, and went to the bathroom to shower. He was back in his room, hair still damp, when his uncle knocked on his door. Shit.
“Yeah?” Dooley said.
His uncle looked relaxed when he stepped into the room. Only Jeannie had that effect on him.
“Is that the washing machine I hear?” he said.
Jesus. The guy must have been some ace cop way back whenever. Dooley couldn’t hear a thing. The washing machine was at the back of the basement two floors down. His uncle’s room was at the front of the house.
“Did it wake you up?” Dooley said.
His uncle ignored the question.
“I nag you every week, every week, Ryan, to do your laundry, and now, all of a sudden, you get the urge to do it at—” His eyes flicked to the clock-radio on Dooley’s bedside table. “—at one in the morning?”
“Some guy came up to me on the way home. He was totally wasted. He hit on me for some money. Halfway through his spiel, he puked all over me—and I mean all over me. I couldn’t wait to get home, strip down, and shower.”
His uncle stared at him. Dooley met his eyes full on.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “You’re thinking if I don’t stay clean, that guy could be me in twenty years.”
“If you don’t stay clean,” his uncle said, “you’ll be in prison or dead and it won’t take twenty years.”
“Get some sleep,” his uncle said.
Easier said than done. Dooley kept replaying the night. Jesus, what had he done? More to the point, why had he done it? And what would happen next? That was the part he always hated, the part that had him looking to sniff, smoke, inject, or otherwise pump himself full of whatever it would take to put himself up there in the stars, far, far from all the bullshit down here on earth.
At first, when Dooley ran through the sequence of events, he would say that it had started the day that Nevin, of all people, walked up to the counter of the video store whe
Maybe it wouldn’t have been, if everything had been as smooth and easy between them as it had been even a month earlier. But it wasn’t. Dooley had seen less and less of her lately, and it wasn’t his choice. She was busy all the time. She was studying harder than ever.
“Study with me,” he’d say. And she would roll her eyes and tell him, no, she really had to study, she needed to get a scholarship, she was tired of her mother always holding it over her head how much money she was spending to give her the best education money could buy. She was in some kind of study group, she said, with kids whose parents weren’t loaded. It was only a couple more weeks, she said, then it would be summer and they’d be able to see each other every night after she finished work—well, assuming Dooley wasn’t on shift, which he would be probably four or five nights a week, night being prime movie rental time.
For the past few months, he’d seen her twice a week if he was lucky. And when they were together, it wasn’t the way it had been at the beginning. She was tired a lot, which meant he was out of luck most of the time. She complained about how hard she was studying but got angry and said he didn’t understand when he told her, “So, take a break.”
And now, here she was, going away for a week to build a house, which, she said, would look good on her applications and, besides, it was just one of the things they did at her school—and at Nevin’s. They gave back to the community.
So, what shouldn’t have been a big deal turned into a winner-take-all hand. She said, “You’re going to see me off at the bus, right?”
Wrong, he decided.
“I can’t. I have to work.” Then, to make it stick, he traded shifts with Linelle. While Beth and her classmates and Nevin and his classmates were getting on the bus and riding up north, Dooley spent the whole day wishing all his customers would drop dead and thinking, too late, that probably all he had accomplished was to piss Beth off or even make her cry, so that now she was ripe for the picking by Nevin or one of the other rich boys she was going to be spending the week with.
Way to go, Dooley.
Before she left, she told him that she would call him every day. In point of fact, she didn’t call until Monday, after she had been up there two days, after he’d put his fist through the dry wall in his room and then moved a poster to cover the damage so that his uncle wouldn’t start in on him. When he answered his phone and heard her voice, his heart pounded so loudly that he could hardly hear what she was saying, which turned out to be, “You’re right. I should have told you. I’m sorry.”
She was having a great time, which, he hated to admit even to himself, irked him.
“You can’t believe what I’m learning,” she said. “They started me off hammering nails. I must have bent dozens of them before I learned the right technique. Then, yesterday they showed me how to use an electric drill. It was amazing!” Her voice quivered with the excitement of a lottery winner. “The people we’re working with are so nice. Some of them are the families who are going to be living in the houses. I’m having the best time, Dooley.”
That really irked him. And, if he was honest, he knew exactly why. She was up there having the time of her life, without him.
He told her, “That’s great.” He said, yeah, he was doing okay and, no, just the same old same old. And that was that.
As soon as the call was over, he wished it were just starting, not only because he wanted to hear her voice—although that was part of it—but also because if he had another chance, he’d play it differently. He’d ask her all about what she was learning and who she was learning it with. He’d make sure he sounded as if he really cared what she was up to, as if he were genuinely happy that she was enjoying herself. He’d tell her how much he missed her and, with luck, he’d hear her say how much she missed him, too.
He thought about calling her back, but he didn’t have the number and she hadn’t taken her cell phone. It was a rule for the trip, one that had caused a huge protest, according to Beth, among both students, who lived to text each other 24/7, and parents, who were used to being able to get hold of their offspring whenever they wanted. Beth had said that on the latter basis alone, she was more than happy to leave her phone at home, since she and her mother were going through a rocky period, due, in large part, to Beth’s relationship with Dooley.
She didn’t call again until Thursday night. The original plan was that she would be coming home the next day, but that had changed.
“One of the boys here has invited a bunch of us to his country place,” she said.
What boy? What country place?
“His name is Parker,” she said. “His dad made a fortune during that whole dot-com craze—and I do mean a fortune, Dooley. He was smart. He got out before the bubble burst.” What was she even talking about? “I haven’t seen the place, but I’ve heard about it. It’s supposed to look like a castle—a huge castle—and it’s right on the water, except, of course, it’s too cold to go swimming now. But there’s a pool. Actually, there are two pools. One indoor. One outdoor.”
Because, of course, that’s exactly what you need when you build a castle on a lake.
“I’ll be back Saturday afternoon,” she said. “I have to go. My break is over.”
She was off the line with his barely having gotten a word in but having framed a clear picture of the guy, Parker, who, he decided, he didn’t like, not one bit. And that was before he knew the half of it.
One Week Earlier
Dooley saw black and white with flashes of red. He snapped his cell phone shut and spun around, his arm arcing first backward and then forward, and let fly—just as his uncle stepped into the kitchen, sweat-drenched after a mid-Sunday-afternoon run. By then, the phone was sailing across the kitchen, on its way to a rendezvous with the ceramic backsplash that ran from the countertop to the bottom of the cupboards along the wall where the sink and stove were, ETA 0.05 seconds, give or take a nanosecond.
Zlat! Dooley’s uncle’s hand shot out and fielded the phone.
“What the hell’s the matter with you?” he said, pissed off. “You have any idea how much that tile cost? You know what would happen if you cracked one?” Dooley had a pretty good idea, based on the two questions his uncle had just asked. “You want to know what my chances would be of matching that tile? Zilch—that’s what.”
He was good and mad, looking at Dooley like he was wondering what this hothead was even doing in his kitchen—a solid question, given that he wasn’t really Dooley’s uncle, and one that remained, as yet, unanswered. He flipped the phone back to Dooley.
“What flew up your nose, anyway?”
“Nothing,” Dooley said. It had started off as a miserable day, and it hadn’t gotten any better. He wanted—needed—to throw something. Break something. Smash something to tiny little pieces.
“You talk to Beth yet?” his uncle said. “Did she have a good time?”
Dooley looked sharply at him, surprised that he had remembered about Beth’s trip and, at the same time, not surprised. His uncle used to be a cop, after all, and cops, the ones that are any good, notice stuff and remember stuff.
His uncle studied him a moment and set down his beer.
Dooley shook his head. He shoved his phone into his jeans pocket.
“I gotta go.”
“I thought you were off today.”
“Linelle had something she had to do. I said I’d cover for her.”
His uncle peered at him for a moment, wary now. It seemed to Dooley that he’d been that way for months. “Look, Ryan, if there’s anything you want to talk about ...”
“I’m gonna be late.”
First thing when Dooley walked through the door to the video store where he worked part-time, Kevin, the shift manager, was in his face, waving the weekly schedule in one hand and a sheet of paper in the other.
“Did you do this?” he said, spraying Dooley with droplets of spit. He shoved the schedule in Dooley’s face.
Dooley wiped his face with his hand. “Do what?”
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