"Marzik. I guess I scared Marzik. She had a talk with my lieutenant, and Kelso threatened to send me to the bank for an evaluation."
LAPD maintained its Behavorial Sciences Unit in the Far East Bank building on Broadway, in Chinatown. Most officers lived in abject fear of being ordered to the bank, correctly believing that it called into question their stability and ended any hope of career advancement. They had an expression for it: "Overdrawn on the career account."
"If I go to the bank, they'll never let me back on the Bomb Squad."
"And you keep asking to go back?"
"It's all I've wanted since I got out of the hospital."
Irritated now, Starkey stood and lit another cigarette. Dana studied her, which Starkey also didn't like. It made her feel watched, as if Dana was waiting for her to do or say something more that she could write down. It was a valid interview technique that Starkey used herself. If you said nothing, people felt compelled to fill the silence.
"The job is all I have left, damnit."
Starkey regretted the defensive edge in her voice and felt even more embarrassed when Dana again scribbled a note.
"So you told Lieutenant Kelso that you would seek help on your own?"
"Jesus, no. I kissed his ass to get out of it. I know I have a problem, Dana, but I'll get help in a way that doesn't fuck my career."
"Because of the thumb?"
Starkey stared at Dana Williams with the same flat eyes she would use on Internal Affairs.
"Because I'm falling apart."
Dana sighed, and a warmth came to her eyes that infuriated Starkey because she resented having to reveal herself in ways that made her feel vulnerable and weak. Carol Starkey did not do "weak" well, and never had.
"Carol, if you came back because you want me to fix you as if you were broken, I can't do that. Therapy isn't the same as setting a bone. It takes time."
"It's been three years. I should be over this by now."
"There's no 'should' here, Carol. Consider what happened to you. Consider what you survived."
"I've had enough with considering it. I've considered it for three fucking years."
A sharp pain began behind her eyes. Just from considering it.
"Why do you think you keep changing therapists, Carol?"
Starkey shook her head, then lied.
"I don't know."
"Are you still drinking?"
"I haven't had a drink in over a year."
"How's your sleep?"
"A couple of hours, then I'm wide awake."
"Is it the dream?"
Carol felt herself go cold.
Starkey was wondering how to answer when the pager clipped to her waist vibrated. She recognized the number as Kelso's cell phone, followed by 911, the code the detectives in the Criminal Conspiracy Section used when they wanted an immediate response.
"Shit, Dana. I've gotta get this."
"Would you like me to leave?"
"No. No, I'll just step out."
Starkey took her purse out into the waiting room, where a middle-aged woman seated on the couch briefly met her eyes, then averted her face.
The woman nodded without looking.
Starkey dug through her purse for her cell phone, then punched the speed dial to return Kelso's page. She could tell he was in his car when he answered.
"It's me, Lieutenant. What's up?"
"Where are you?"
Starkey stared at the woman.
"I was looking for shoes."
"I didn't ask what you were doing, Starkey. I asked where you were."
She felt the flush of anger when he said it, and shame that she even gave a damn what he thought.
Copyright Robert Crais, 2000. All rights reserved. Published by the permission of the publisher, Doubleday. No part of this book may be reproduced without permission from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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