Stranger In The Mirror

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Mitch went down to the holding cells with the guard. He wanted to meet this woman who'd done ... whatever it was ... to Thomas. He needed to understand who she was. But what he found was a pale redhead, curled up in the corner of a cell she shared with three other women, sobbing. "Rose DeCourtney?" He said.


"I am Rose," chorused two of the others, looking annoyed. Then one of them shook her head, and all four laughed nervously.


"Miss DeCourtney, I need to talk to you," Mitch said. Rose didn't respond. One of the other three walked over and grabbed Rose's shoulder. "I think he means you, honey."


Rose looked up, startled. It was the same face he'd seen in the tape of Thomas' interview, but it was ... different, somehow. "I tell you, I ain't done nothing," she wailed. "Ricky will be here in an hour or two to get me out of ... " and she trailed off as the one who'd just grabbed her shoulder smacked her.


"Ricky's not going to do shit for you, bitch," she snarled. "Ricky's my boyfriend."


"Hey," Mitch said. "No rough stuff in here, okay? That was an assault, and if she presses charges I'm going to be her witness."


"Gimme a break, okay?" said the other prisoner. "This lady's a fucking basket case. Kept us awake half the night chanting 'I am Rose' and now she doesn't even know who she is. No way can she hold it together enough to press charges."


"Stand back from the door," said the guard. So they stood back from the door, and the guard opened it, and they got Rose out and marched her back to the interview room.


Rose was protesting, something about the guy she'd been with not being a regular john, about Ricky showing up and bailing her out, about a dozen other things. But she hadn't even been busted, she was just being held as a witness. She was raving. Mitch worried. If his witness had lost it, he might never learn who the killer was. If Jackson's suspect had lost it, insanity was a good defense in court. Crap. But he had to sit her down and try, anyway.


So he sat her down and tried. But it was no good. She talked, in the first person, about the cases of everybody else who'd been in her cell, and about the cases of other people who'd been in nearby cells. But when he called her Rose, she just looked at him blankly. Once in a while, she said, "I am Rose," but then she'd grimace and laugh about the crazy lady in the corner of the cell who'd said that over and over.


Finally, he pointed at the mirror. "Is that you?" he asked.


Rose stared into the mirror, blankly. Then she waved at it, to see if the stranger in the mirror waved back. Then she started whimpering, crying softly.


Mitch kept his hands folded; he didn't want anything questionable on camera, while the witness was in a volatile state. "Miss DeCourtney?" he said softly.


"I don't know who I am anymore," she wailed. "I'm all mixed up, I shouldn't be that lady in the mirror, but I don't know who I should be either and this doesn't make any sense. And I need to talk to Rose about the Clelland case, but Rose has lost it," she said. Miserably, she added, "Rose isn't here anymore," at just about the same time Mitch thought it.

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