The Mind's Eye

a serial killer is staking out his victims, moving into the neighborhood where they live, befriending them, and then making the ultimate betrayal. Meanwhile, Katie Crawford is trying to get her life back on track after an attempted abduction 14 years earlier left her scarred, both physically and emotionally. But circumstances propel her not only into the murder investigations, but also the possibility that her stalker from years ago has resurfaced and has set his compass on her yet again.

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5. Fall 2010 Murder 101

Chapter 5 After the meeting, Katie turned to chat with several of the audience who had questions or wanted to share their own stories. She had gotten used to this. After almost every meeting, someone wanted to share their story with her, and because she wanted this seminar to be the balm towards getting better, she always had time to talk and listen. “You know, Miss Crawford. I’ve been really worried about the murder a few week ago. The police are saying it was a random act of violence and that we should all go about our business, but to be cautious until they solve it. But I think it’s spooky and it reminds me of when I had my purse stolen at a basketball game and I was pushed into the bushes. I mean, I felt so helpless then, and I am worried about it now.” “You mean that hooker they found in the alley behind the Safeway near 95?” A young man had joined the group and looked at both Katie and the young lady who spoke. “How do you know she was a hooker? Just because she was dressed up?” The girl looked at him, appalled that he would assume that just because of the clothes she was wearing. “Well, you know, some people say they saw her there almost every day way past midnight and she was usually high and asking for money. As far as I’m concerned, she got what she deserved.” He hadn’t realized that behind him, three men were talking and one had heard every word he said. Katie started packing up her papers, all the while listening, until that last statement. She looked up at the young man who spoke. “Did you really say that?” she asked, quietly, questioning. “I don’t think anyone deserves to be killed just because of who they are or what they are wearing.” Simple statement, dismissive. “Yeah, that’s a really dumb thing you just said. I can’t believe it, “the young woman turned to him. “So, because I wear these frickin’ high heels and a dog collar as a necklace and black lipstick and purple hair, then I deserve to be whatever?” The young man blushed as he stammered out his weak explanation of what he had been trying to say. Neither woman blinked. Katie turned to the girl and handed her a card with the name of the website for this seminar and others to follow. “Check out our website and you will find out more ways you can protect yourself. Lots of ways to make sure you aren’t a victim of a crime and if you are, there are things that you can do for yourself, and from others to help you get through it, over time. “ She put on her coat and picked up her tote bag. She had the keys to her car already in her hands. “There are many little things you can do to keep yourself safe and not be afraid to go anywhere. You have to be smart about your surroundings and how to carry yourself. Because…” and she flashed knowing eyes towards the young man. “No matter how careful you are, no matter what you wear or don’t wear, no matter anything at all, if a person wants to hurt you, they will try. But that is their choice, their problem. Never yours.” She raised her eyebrows to the woman and they both nodded. Katie handed another card to the young man. “You might be interested in checking out this website as well. Just because you are a guy doesn’t make you exempt.” With a sincere smile, she thanked them for coming and turned to walk towards the door. She walked right past the group of three men, and glanced up at one of them, the largest one, and smiled politely, not realizing that he tried not to look at her. Keys in hand, she called out to Dr. Skip, “See you later!” and laughed at his usual response of “Not if I see you first!” She climbed the stairs and looked around before continuing to her car, which was parked under the street lamp at the end of the sidewalk. As she approached her car, she heard the familiar “chirp-chirp” of the security system as she unlocked her car. Having your keys firmly in hand, with a finger near the red panic button that almost all newer cars had, was one of the many ways anyone could be safe. The interior light had come on, and she glanced in the back seat, clear of any clutter. She hadn’t thought of that one. Usually the back seat served as a holding cell for all of her jackets, totes, food wrapping, anything that she wanted cleared from the front seat. It had been Dr. Skip who had been the first to mention that anyone could hide under a coat or a pile of clothes, if they wanted to. Even though it was a pain to keep all things uncluttered, he had a point. Her job as his assistant, her job as a survivor and one of the presenters of the seminar, was to try to give as many safety tips as possible for anyone to keep themselves safe, to keep themselves protected from the people in this world who would want to hurt others, merely for the fun or the feel of doing others harm. If anyone changed at least one of their many habits to one of the suggested ones, they would be able to walk the streets feeling more confident, more secure. Katie stepped inside her black Mercedes, buckled up, and slowly drove out of the parking lot. Her stomach growled and she realized that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so she was deciding to pick up takeout or just fix leftovers as she drove towards her home, the pale light of the moon shining upon her. Inside, Jimmy’s heart was racing and he knew there was sweat on his upper lip as he nodded at her smile, averting his eyes. He felt restless and he knew he should tell one of his companions, knew that it would be in his best interest if he really wanted to get better. But his mind was racing in different directions as he tried to sort out his emotions. If he told them about her, then this would be his last meeting here for certain. They would put an end to that, for his well-being as well as her safety. He tried to calm down and he realized his therapist was talking to him. “Jimmy, is everything all right? Are you getting anxious? Do you want to go home? Did you take your medication today? Do you have it with you?” His questions seemed to rip past him, like a BB gun firing in rapid succession. When in reality, he knew that the questions were much slower, not accusing, only trying to help. “Yeah,” he said, running his hand through his hair absently. “Yes to all your questions.” “Do you want me to stay with you and talk? It’s still early. Maybe we can watch something on TV and just hang out.” This was his sponsor, a man whom Jimmy liked, and was beginning to trust. A man whom one day, he would like to call friend. “Yes. I’d like that.” “You have buttered popcorn and soda?” Jimmy knew he was trying to relax him, understanding the anxiety. “Yes. And coffee.” Right now, he felt like he was answering in short sentences, like when he was a child. He didn’t like when he reverted to that behavior, but he knew it was all part of the process. Not just of getting clean and sober, but also in becoming normal again. So they climbed into his sponsor’s car, shaking hands with his therapist who headed towards the subway. They rode in silence all the way to his mother’s home. She had been waiting for him, with fresh ham and cheese sandwiches and chips and sodas already on the kitchen table. “Hey, Bill,” she said kindly, as Jimmy walked over to her and gave her a soft kiss on her cheek. “I was hoping you would stop by.” “Well, your boy here was getting a little anxious, so he invited me over for popcorn and a movie and obviously fresh sandwiches and soda. Thank-you, Mrs. Carl.” Jimmy hid a little frown when he said that. Sometimes Bill reminded him of Eddie Haskell on “Leave it to Beaver” an old show he had enjoyed watching when he was in the institute. He didn’t like it. Times like these, when his opinion of someone changed so quickly, worried him. Was Bill really acting that way, or did Jimmy, wanting to protect his mother, only thought he was. These things still bothered him as he handed a plate to Bill, and they settled on the couch and turned on the TV. Jimmy wondered if this was still just a process of getting better, of figuring out the difference between reality and perception. His mother joined them only for a few minutes and while Bill and she held a casual conversation, Jimmy slipped his hand into his jeans pocket and retrieved the little blue pill there; he always carried an extra pill, no matter where he went. He didn’t like when his mind wandered and his heart started to race because he couldn’t understand nor control his thoughts. After a while, his mother said goodnight, and withdrew into her bedroom, shutting the door. Quietly chewing the little pill that would eventually calm him down, they both sipped on soda and started to watch a movie on HBO. Even though Bill seemed to enjoy it and think it was funny, Jimmy only imitated the laughter when it came. His thoughts were so far away by now. He was focused on the comment he had heard the young lady speaking with Katie saying something about a girl being murdered recently. This was the first he had heard of it. But then again, he really didn’t watch regular TV only the cable news networks, and local news usually didn’t make a national story. He hadn’t realized he had drifted asleep until Bill stood, thanked him, asked if he felt better, and told him to have a good night. They would meet again tomorrow. Bill, his friend, who had actually taken him into his home, teaching him not only how to manage this world sober and drug free, but actually learn to like it. Tomorrow he was going to take him out to find a job. He reminded Jimmy of what to wear, comb his hair and to be ready on time. But he didn’t have to. Jimmy wasalways well-dressed in ironed clothes, always clean and neat and always on time. After Bill left, Jimmy sat in the dark, with the TV off and tried to think of nothing at all. In that quiet solitude he decided that he wasn’t going to tell them about seeing Katie Crawford. Not yet. He wanted to see her just one more time. As he drifted off to sleep on the couch, his mind wandered as well, not only thinking about Katie and how pretty she looked, even with the scar that led to the short hair that she covered well, but trying to picture what he would say to her when they finally met. Because somewhere deep in his soul, in the place where dark thoughts and light thoughts fought for control, he knew he would see her again. But the last thought he had, as his body relaxed into a slumber, was about the girl in the area that had been murdered. It wasn’t that long ago that he almost did that to Katie, his Katie. He wondered whether this murder had been done accidentally. Because in his mind, right now, from his experience, it didn’t seem possible that someone would intentionally hurt someone else, especially someone they loved. Sometimes the power of love was just too strong and the shear effort of trying to get that one person to love back made one frustrated. But not murder. Never murder. It wasn’t much longer that his motely thinking tired him and he fell into a deep, u
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