Summary: A case story! I'd never make detective. Story centered on Rainier. Blair isn't a cop in this one.
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, and Paramount. All stories are written with the love of the show in mind. No money is being made. All stories are property of the author.
Spoilers for several key shows of The Sentinel.
There are notes at the end about the topic, but they might spoil the story for you if you read them first.
'Blair work' was never done. He turned work in on time, mostly. But everything took so much time: paperwork and meetings and working with Jim and 'real life' stuff, like paying bills, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. Jim really insisted on the cleaning part, being the sentinel that he was, and a neat freak, to put it kindly. Blair could skip the cleaning part until it got a little out of hand, he did draw a line on that too, just not as close as Jim.
It was after 9 pm and he was tired. At least the stakeout had netted them the 'big fish' they'd been hoping for, finally. But that left Blair to catch up, on everything. So here he was, it was dark out, it was raining, and it was cold, and the work was stacked high on his desk and on that chair, and on the floor – well, several stacks on the floor. He couldn't get even half done tonight even if he did an alnighter. Blair sighed mightily and sipped his cold tea and buckled down to work.
He'd give himself till midnight. If something came up at the PD he'd be wiped out if he didn't get some sleep. He tried to be a partner to Jim even if he wasn't a cop, and a partner had to be on his toes mentally. He couldn't allow a screwup to put Jim or anyone else in danger. He'd get up early and start fresh. With that goal in mind, he set his alarm for midnight and fell to work with a bit more enthusiasm.
With a huge yawn and a weary scrub at his face, Blair set his desk in order according to the Sandburg Filing System. He grabbed his backpack and coat and considered calling Jim again. Nah, he was actually on time, it was just midnight. Home Sandburg, sleep and a cozy warm bed is calling you.
He locked up and set out for the Volvo, keeping his fingers crossed that the rain hadn't gotten to the wiring. He knew his friend would come and get him if it wouldn't start but Jim needed his sleep too. After all, he was the one carrying the gun in this partnership.
The rain whipped around his shoulders and his hair was wet. It was starting to sleet. Great, another miserable Cascade night. His trek led him around an embankment for a small picturesque stream. At least it was picturesque when the sun was shining. He thought about a certain picnic lunch with Nadine. It was a popular party spot too. No parties tonight, he thought as he glanced along its course.
A flash of white. It was in the water. Blair stopped and stared. He wished he had sentinel sight right now. He wanted to go on, but he had a bad feeling about this. He took a few steps off the path. It was enough. He glanced quickly around then ran to the body lying half in the water. There wasn't much he could see in the dark, but he knew how to take a pulse, if there was one. There wasn't. Now he could call Jim.
“Chief, you alright?” asked Jim. Blair had been too quiet since they'd gone to examine the body. “You need to get warm and dry. Why don't you go on home and get dried off, you can give your statement in the morning. Officer Donaldson got the basics from you when he arrived on the scene.”
“I'm okay Jim. With all the rain it was pretty hard getting any evidence. I hope I didn't mess anything up at the scene that would have been some help on the case. As soon as I knew he was dead I backed off. I didn't get a good look at the body but he was beaten pretty badly. I couldn't even tell if I know this guy. Was there any ID on him?”
“Yeah, license and student ID say David Carter. Did you know him?”
“I know the name and I would have recognized him if he wasn't so disfigured. He was a popular guy on campus, very talented musically. He was majoring in economics. He wasn't in my circle at all. Who would have beaten him so badly?”
“Well, that's what we're going to find out. Come on Chief, I'm done here. Let's head home.”
“Jim?” Blair hesitated to continue but at Jim's raised eyebrow, “Did David drown?”
Jim felt his own heart skip a beat. The fountain was on the other side of Hargrove Hall but he was always aware of it whenever he came on campus. Alexis Barnes had drowned his friend in that fountain with less remorse than some people drown unwanted kittens. He fought to keep the bile from rising. Placing a hand behind his guide's neck he gave a gentle squeeze, “No Blair. I spoke to Dan. He needs to do some tests, but he'd guess drugs of some kind, unless the beating gave him internal injuries.”
Blair looked him in the eyes and gave a small nod. “I really am okay Jim. I just had to know.”
Jim relaxed a little, wrapped his arm around his friend and started to steer him away from the scene and toward home.
Jim and Blair made their way back to Jim's desk. Blair lacked his usual bounce. “Chief, you want some coffee?”
Simon stood at his door and eyed his men. He tempered his usual bellow, “Ellison, Sandburg, my office.” Turning away from the open door he headed back to his desk and grabbed two more cups of coffee. Setting them in reach of his detective and his partner, he then turned to sit at his desk. Rolling his cigar between the fingers of his right hand he studied his friends as they sat and reached for their coffee. Sandburg looked tired and pale. The night hadn't allowed him much rest. Jim wasn't much better. Jim had told him about last night. He needed to gage if Sandburg was going to be alright on this case. “Jim, you two don't look too rested. I'm afraid this case involving David Carter is going to land in your lap. His family is well-connected and Rainier's Chancellor wants this settled fast.”
“Simon, I don't know if that's such a good idea,” said Jim, with a significant glance at Blair.
“Sandburg, what do you say about it? I think you could be of some assistance at Rainier. You're a familiar name and face there,” asked
With a glance meant to be reassuring toward Jim, Blair answered as confidently as he could, “Simon, I admit David Carter's death shook me up a little at first, but now I just want to get whoever is responsible. I'd be glad to help with the investigation. I know a familiar presence, myself, would make some people more willing to talk to a cop. That would be you Jim,” throwing a small grin in his direction. “Simon, Jim, I really am okay with this.”
Simon gave Jim a look with an unspoken question. Jim gave a nod as his unspoken answer. “Well, get on with it people.”
“Jim will you stop giving me those 'looks',” Blair said with a frustrated sigh. The ride to Rainier was taking too long.
Jim grinned at him and shook his head, “I don't give 'looks'. That's your department. Chief, I know you're okay with this. I was just a little worried about you.”
Now Blair was exasperated, “Jim, I was alone, in the dark, and the rain, and I found a dead body. In a stream. No way was I not going to be upset. Got it? Now forget it. And ... thanks for worrying.”
Blair had arranged with the anthro department secretary for an appointment with the Dean of the Economics Department, Mr. Collier. He'd been dismayed about the death of such a bright and talented young man. He was able to direct them to David Carter's instructors and the fraternity and clubs in which he was a member. Jim had lots of avenues to investigate but first they had to go over the young man's room. It had immediately been sealed by campus security.
Outside the frat house, Jim's phone rang, “Dan, what can you tell me.”
Dan Wolf, the medical examiner, had called with an update, “Jim, the autopsy revealed, aside from the severe bruising, and some internal injuries, that death was caused by a drug overdose. Toxicology reports will be in tomorrow. He would not have died from the beating, but someone put a lot of energy into pounding that young man. I estimated that his face and torso took over three hundred hits.”
“Dan, any evidence the drugs were a result of suicide? Were there facial injuries that could account for forced ingestion?”
“I can't say for sure, Jim. The face took such a severe beating that bruises on the jaw or mouth would be indistinguishable for that type of attack. I'm sorry I can't give you more. I'll have the report on your desk this afternoon.”
“Thanks for the update Dan.” Jim sighed deeply, “Well Chief, this case appears to be a suicide, there was a drug overdose.” Blair paled. Damn it, a reminder of another lousy case for us. “I need to dig a little deeper. The beating must have something to do with this. If the attackers didn't force the overdose then maybe David Carter's emotional state pushed him over the edge. We'll have to wait for Toxicology. Perhaps the type of drug will be the clue we need.”
Blair tried to keep his breathing steady and not make Jim think he was going to flip out on him. His own overdose on Golden by the drug's producers would always affect his reactions to drug overdose cases. Jim had his own problems with the subject. He knew Jim regretted his inability to save Lisa, losing his grip on her when she jumped; Jim's own temporary loss of sight when he got it in his eyes; and then having to talk Blair down from shooting up the PD garage with Jim's own gun. It was one case they would never forget or be at ease with. “Well . . . maybe we can get something from his room. We haven't seen it yet. We haven't even really begun to question people who knew him.”
They stood at the open door for Jim to get some first impressions. The room almost looked ransacked. Almost. Because it was obvious that Carter or someone had packed in a hurry. Clothes were strewn about, but mostly they were older or worn. The laundry basket was left full. Books were on the shelves but there were gaps. The bedding was there but disarranged. The closet was nearly empty. There were just a couple of shirts on the coat rack. The stereo was here but it looked like some CDs were gone. There was no computer. Things that were gone looked like someone had picked certain things to take, others to leave. Probably Carter.
As Jim moved into the room, Blair was at his side. “Jim, look at the desktop.”
Jim turned to see what Blair meant. There, scratched into the surface, were words. He moved closer. He could make them out clearly, but what did they mean to this case? Did they even pertain to this man's death?
“What do they say, man?” Blair squinted at the scratches. He couldn't make all of them out.
“These don't make much sense without knowing what they're about: 'I'm sorry ... I should have kept quiet ... secrets ... I deserve this ... I'm sorry.' This is getting weird Chief. I'm getting the feeling there's a lot to this story we know nothing about.” Jim searched the room thoroughly, collecting anything that might become evidence. Leaving the door locked behind them he punched in the number for campus security. “Suzanne Tomaki, please.”
“Hi Jim, I heard you were on the Carter case. What can I do for you?”
“Suzanne, I knew you'd be on top of things. I just checked out Carter's room at the fraternity. It looks like he was in a hurry to leave. I don't see any luggage here, and his body was out back. Did he have a car?”
“I pulled his records. Campus security located his car in the lot behind fraternity row.”
After noting license number and make Jim thanked Chief Tomaki for her help. The car was easy to find and Jim examined what he could from outside then had it hauled into impound for a thorough exam.
After a quick takeout lunch eaten in Blair's office, they went to question some fraternity brothers.
“Jim, did you get bad vibes from those guys?”
“More than that, I got vitals jumping all over the place. Did you notice that there seemed to be a lot freshmen in the house. It must be Rush.”
“Yeah, it's that time of year. Students hoping to get their bids to join a frat.”
“I remember those days. Dad pushed me to join his old fraternity but I didn't bother. ROTC was my choice. It was a great way to annoy my father and I thought it would be a good career that my father would have little influence on. At least that's what I thought. I didn't know he knew so much 'brass'.” Jim ruefully shook his head. “I found out he kept tabs on me through his contacts. I should have realized a successful businessman would have military connections.”
“But he never let you know? Jim, I'm sorry man,” Blair said. He knew it would have made a world of difference to Jim to know that his father cared about him enough to look out for him, if only from a distance. “So neither one of us was a frat boy. It would have been cool but I heard too many stories about hazing and boozing. I may have been young but I was also a serious science nerd. And of course there were the fees. They're not that steep but I just couldn't justify them. Expeditions, books, living expenses all together took everything I could manage. Scholarships paid for basics only.”
“Chief, you mentioned hazing. When I commented on Rush week, that's when they all started to look a little nervous. Carter was a junior. He's been in the fraternity for nearly 3 years. Why would these guys get upset?”
“Jim, what Carter wrote on his desk ... about keeping quiet and secrets. Hazing isn't allowed on campus. Rules are set down by the Council and the school, but if David told someone something he wasn't supposed to ... It's a closed society. With secret rituals, with consequences for revealing them. I don't like what I'm thinking,” mused Blair.
They pulled into their spaces at the loft. Blair climbed out of his car with more speed than energy. He'd packed his work into boxes to bring home. This case had stolen more of his work time and he would have to get deadly serious about catching up. At least it was Jim's turn to cook, that meant takeout probably. That would be good, they wouldn't have much to clean up afterwards. He needed every minute he could squeeze out.
While they waited for their supper to arrive Jim looked over the case files and Blair spread his papers around him on the couch and the floor and the coffee table. Jim kept one ear tuned to the news on tv, and his nose on the door for the delivery, while running a practiced eye over the various reports trying to spot anomalies.
He stacked the files on one end of the dining table before going to get money for the delivery guy. Those senses came in handy for mundane activities too. “Come and get it Chief.”
“Uhhuh,” grunted Blair.
Jim stood with plates in hand watching his roommate slouched over the coffee table, looking like he had ten things going at once. Shaking his head, he decided he'd just get a plate ready for him and deliver it himself. He knew he'd then have to stand over him to make sure he ate it. So he did just that, with only a minor squawk from Blair. He made sure to clear a good space on the coffee table so Blair wouldn't be distracted by his work. Then he sat on the other couch, watching Blair all the while. He was looking tired. It had been a long string of cases with lots of legwork and stakeouts thrown in. And it showed. Blair looked stressed. More than usual he had to admit.
“Chief, I want to ask you a question.”
Blair looked warily at his friend, “Sure Jim. What?”
“Will you answer me honestly?” pressed Jim.
Now Blair was worried. What had he done now? “I'll be honest Jim.”
“This from the Great Obfuscater?”
Blair had the grace to blush. “Okay, okay. What great truth do you want to hear Oh Great Sentinel?”
Jim looked around him at the mess that surrounded Blair. “Chief, do you need help?”
“Jim, man, of course not,” Blair denied.
Hmmm, not even an attempt to pretend he doesn't know what I'm talking about. “You look a little overwhelmed Blair, and this is just your day job. I need the truth here buddy. Is there something I can do for you? I get some down time, but it's pretty rare for you. If we could take off for a break I'd gladly do it for your sake. So if there's something I can do work-wise you have to tell me. Ahem, you know I depend on you. You've always been there when I needed you. I'd hate to think what could happen if you were too overburdened to cope.”
“Jim, I swear I won't let you down, man. If I have let you down you have to tell me cause man, I've been doing my very best to back you up. I worry every day that I won't be there, that I'll screw up somehow and it will get you or someone else hurt. If I'm not doing enough . . . ”
Jim could here Blair's heart pick up speed, racing so fast it frightened him. Blair was terrified! What kind of stress was this sentinel thing putting on him? Or was it the cop thing?
“ ... you have to tell me. I never meant to let you down. Do you want a new partner Jim? Is that why you're asking? Have I screwed up so badly you don't trust me to back you up anymore?”
“Blair. Stop it. Stop right now. That's not it at all,” Jim frantically tried to shush his friend. Doesn't he know? “Blair, you're my partner, my guide. I don't want anyone else. You're my expert remember. But you've really got me worried now. Listen to me. I didn't mean to scare you. But I really need to know what's causing this stress. Is it your school work, teaching, guiding? . . . Is it the cop stuff that's too much? Because I have to tell you, you went way overboard just now. I just wanted to know if you could use a hand with the stuff that isn't sentinel related. I want you to calm down. Come on, do what you tell me, breathe, slow and deep! No panic attack, okay. Just look at me buddy. I'm not going anywhere. Neither are you.” Damn, does this have to do with me throwing him out when Alex came to town?
“I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to ... ” Blair tried to explain.
“I don't need an apology. I want to know what's wrong. Can you tell me? Give me some idea here Chief,” Jim scrubbed at his face with one hand as he tried to calm his own nerves. What was going on?
“Look, I've just been swamped with work. I've tried to be with you at work when you need me and that's just played havoc with my schedule. I've been able to let some things slide but I think I just freaked out a little because I'm just spread too thin. I'm sorry Jim. I never meant to short you or your work. It's important work and I love helping you and feeling like I help other people, victims of these crimes. I guess maybe I need to rethink my priorities a little,” Blair's eyes drifted downward and his shoulders drooped till he slumped against the coffee table. He waited for Jim's reaction, knowing it wouldn't be good. He glanced up to his face, surprised when he saw Jim looking at him gravely. No clenched jaw at least, that was a surprise. He glanced down again waiting to hear what he would say.
“Blair, do I have this right? You do want to work with me at the PD? You're just swamped with your school work and teaching because of lack of time?”
“Yeah, Jim.” Blair spoke quietly and wearily, like a man with too much on his shoulders.
Jim couldn't let that continue. After thinking for a few minutes he began to speak. “I want you to continue helping me Blair. I don't want you to ever worry about that again. If something comes up that concerns the partnership at the PD, you'll be the first to know. But the stress is too much with your duties and studies at school.” Blair looked dismayed. Oh Chief. “Listen up buddy, I'm not suggesting you give up any of it. There are things we can do. We both have to set priorities. And I can help out here at home more. You shouldn't be helping me out and shouldering more than your share of the chores.” At Blair's attempt to interrupt Jim held up his hand like a traffic cop: Stop. Blair gave a little grin and nodded for Jim to continue. “Maybe I can help you with some of the grading too. I did get a Bachelor's Degree you know. There must be basic questions I could handle then pass the really bad ones on to you. And I want to know if hiring another student to help you out could work.”
At that, Blair was speechless, if only for a moment. “Jim, I couldn't afford to do that, and no, you are not going to either. I live here and don't pay nearly enough for that, I won't take any more from you. Case closed.”
Jim leaned back and crossed his arms. “Isn't there some other student that could use a few bucks. I'd be doing him or her a favor wouldn't I Chief? How about just a few hours a week? It would help all of us, don't you think?”
“Jim please don't ask,” Blair hung his head and sighed deeply.
Jim didn't want to hurt Blair. His pride was taking a beating. But he was worried about his friend. His work, even his health might be at stake. “I need my guide with me. I have to do whatever is necessary to make that happen. You have an important role in this partnership. Don't doubt that my friend. It's a small price to pay, not even worth considering. If you say it's okay, then it's a deal I'll gladly take.”
Blair considered what Jim said and what he offered. It was more than he wanted to accept but there were only so many hours in a day, and he worried about Jim. He'd just have to find a way to repay him somehow. There were things that didn't require money. With a hesitant nod Blair answered, “Okay Jim. It's a deal.”
“Done. Now what can I do to help with this mess before it takes over the rest of the loft?”
“I thought you wanted to look over the files tonight?”
“Priorities. Remember Chief? You're number one on the list.”
Blair was startled into speechlessness. It took a moment to swallow around the lump in his throat, and he hoped Jim didn't see he was a little misty eyed. Like Jim wouldn't see it. He looked up and smiled at his friend.
The toxic screening showed a prescription drug overdose. But Jim wasn't satisfied. He and Blair went to question Carter's friends again. Jim had the list of the fraternity brothers faxed to the station. Some names were missing from their interview notes. “Hey Chief, we need to round up the missing brothers and get them down here for a little talk. Maybe we can shake some information out of them.” Brown and Rafe were recruited to help with the task.
The three missing frat brothers were put in separate interrogation rooms. Jim and Blair worked them together, bad cop to concerned teacher. But none of the three would give up anything useful. They let them go for the day and set a tail on one, Westcott.
They joined Simon in the mirrored observation room. Blair asked, “Jim, we're not getting anywhere ... are we? Can you tell if they're lying?”
“Chief, their hearts are pounding so hard I'm surprised you and Simon can't hear them yourselves. But as we all know, that's not evidence. I did notice Westcott's hands. Did you?”
“Yeah, they're bruised and scratched. He's pretty arrogant. A stereotypical wealthy spoiled brat,” Blair stated.
“It's not enough to take to the DA yet. None of the new pledges will say they're being hazed, but I have my doubts about that, too.”
“A secret society,” Blair said.
“What do you mean?” asked Jim.
“It's not just a closed society, it's a secret society. A lot of the frats are turning to community involvement and positive bonding activities like wilderness trips. But some of the others are stuck in a cycle of abuse. It's just like any other abusive situation. Power can corrupt. That power can be used to manipulate, tear down a person's self-esteem, bring peer pressure to bear that forces a pledge to do demeaning or destructive things. And the seriousness of the hazing can escalate. It feeds on itself. And the pledges have societal expectations to meet. How tough are you? How much pain can you take? Be a man, or a woman, not a wimp. Combine that with sleep deprivation, physical, mental, or emotional stress and/or alcohol and you're going to have a problem. Because under these conditions you can create a warped sort of bonding that can intimidate people into secrecy 'for the good of the brotherhood/sisterhood.”
Simon took in Blair's mini-lecture in amazement. The kid could spout some amazing information off the cuff. “I hate to say the kid's got a point. Secrecy plus bonding. That's going to be hard to break through. You see it in gangs all the time.”
Jim looked back and forth between the two, “Simon, have you been talking to Sandburg behind my back? I'm glad you two decided to let me in on this,” he teased.
Blair could feel a blush developing. Maybe he'd overstepped the bounds a bit.
“That was valuable intel, Chief. It's good information to have before I try to break one of these guys down,” said Jim.
Blair smiled and bounced, just once, before heading out with Jim.
Dinner was takeout again and Jim did clean up duty while Blair worked on his stacks of work. Jim reviewed additions to the files. The Medical Examiner's full report had been on his desk after the interrogations. He had to come up with something soon. The report definitely indicated suicide. An interview with the student's family revealed a withdrawal from his relatives and friends, too. Something was definitely bothering David Carter. But was the frat involved?
After the review Jim settled to help Blair with his work. Blair had outlined key points that should be covered in the essay questions. Jim would read and indicate what was missing. Anything he had a question on he passed to Blair. Blair would still skim his students work and set a grade.
“Blair, did you ask around if someone needs a little extra work?” Jim tried to ask casually.
Blair looked uncomfortable. “I know lots of grad students that could use the extra money. I'll ask soon.”
Jim looked at Blair over his current blue book, “You do know that I'd rather pay someone to read this stuff than try to find my way through this horrendous handwriting, don't you? You'd be doing me and my eyesight a favor by finding someone soon.”
Blair chuckled, “I wouldn't want you to strain that Sentinel Eyesight, no I wouldn't.” He looked at his friend, “I agreed to the deal. I'll start tomorrow if I can find the time. We have to find something on this Carter case or put it down as a suicide.”
They continued to work until Blair shooed Jim away to get some sleep. Blair continued to work until he was satisfied he'd – they'd made a sizable dent in his backlog of work. His students would be pleased. Then he could get to that paper he had to write. Well, tomorrow was another day. With a great yawn and stretch he finally headed to bed.
Jim woke with a start. He could hear Blair moaning in his sleep. He waited for Blair to settle down but it didn't happen. The muffled thump of Blair landing on the floor wrapped in blankets had him down the stairs while still cataloging Blair's thrashing and murmurs, “no ... no ... stop ... I'll stop ...”
wasted no time trying to ease Blair awake. He gently unwound his
friend from his soft prison of blankets, but Blair was awake enough
now to resist.
“Don't Jim. I'm okay. Just a bad dream. Go on back to sleep.”
Jim listened and decided since he was awake anyway that Blair could just forget about chasing him away this time. He'd had a 'bad dream' last night too. He thought maybe 'bad dream' didn't quite cover the truth of the situation. So, he pulled a corner of the blanket over and sat on the floor beside Blair. “Okay Chief, “I'm listening”. That sounds familiar.”
“It's from that tv show starring Kelsey Grammer, I forget the name, but he played a radio talk show psychiatrist. Are you trying to play psychiatrist Jim?”
“Why, do you need one?”
Blair gave him a dirty look. “It was just a couple of bad dreams Jim.”
Jim grinned, “Go on.”
Blair hugged his pillow to his stomach and groaned. “I'd rather be sleeping.”
“You're the one that fell out of bed, Chief. Just tell me and we can both go to bed and we both might get to sleep, too.”
The sigh was just a small one and Blair leaned his chin down on the pillow. “Man, it's just that this hazing situation has gotten me to remember a few things I'd rather not think about. But I guess it's coming out in the dreams anyway, so, here goes. You know I love to play basketball, right ... ?”
“Is this a distraction?”
“No. It's why it happened. I was in a new school, again. I was too small, too young. You know.” Jim just nodded, not wanting to interrupt. “Well, I scammed my way in as team manager, so I could hang out and get tips and maybe play a bit. Well, there was a bus accident after a game and about half the team was injured. I was lucky I thought. I just got bruised a bit. But I was really psyched, man. They asked me to play. It was like in the movies where the understudy gets to go on for the star and make it big. Don't say it man. It was fantasy. It 'was' too good to be true. The coach let me play in practice but I never got on the court during the game. And the guys ... ”
Blair just hugged his pillow tighter. When he started to rock slowly, Jim became really concerned. Jim wrapped his arm around Blair's shoulder. Blair gave him a grateful look and continued, “They played this game. 'Who can trip up Blairy?' If someone got me down then the others would join in pinching and slapping until they had me crying. I learned fast to watch my feet and their's too. But they still got me a few times a week. I was always black and blue around my ribs. The coach even set them on me if I was late to practice. He said it would toughen me up. If I wanted to be on the team I had to 'pay my dues'.” Blair looked quickly at Jim. His grip on his shoulder had tightened.
“I'm sorry that happened Blair. When did it stop?”
Blair had to look away, “When we moved.”
“Didn't Naomi go to the principal or something?” When Blair just slumped, Jim went on, “You didn't tell her.”
“Jim, I thought if I ended up telling on them then that would mean they'd win. It was hazing, and I didn't want to be a wimp man. But they knew I didn't have a father and they'd called me names too ... I just had to prove something to them, you know? Peer pressure is tough.”
Jim was grim, “Some may call that hazing. I call it bullying. And as for the coach, that was child abuse. Call it what it was Chief. They should have been stopped. You should have reported it, but Blair, I do understand you felt you had to stand up to them. I do understand male ego, believe it or not.” Blair's slight grin was welcome. “You deserved to be protected. You're important Blair, don't ever forget that. I'm glad you told me. It means a lot. Come on. Let's get up off this floor, the blankets aren't good cushions. And we both need to get some sleep. Do you think you can do that now or did this bring up too many bad memories?”
“I think I could sleep, Jim. Thanks, man.”
Westcott was escorted to the interrogation room again. His arrogance was obvious in his body language. When faced with the cop and the hippie teacher again he said, “It's too bad Carter committed suicide.”
Jim wanted to know how he found that out, but that could come later. Let the arrogant little twit talk. He thought he was home free for a murder charge. Maybe they'd learn something they could use. “We are concerned with Carter's state of mind on that night. You were with him that night weren't you?” And as a guess, “Along with Sumner and Wright?”
“Yeah. We had a long talk with our esteemed frat brother. You see we heard things about David that we needed to clear up with him. He was overheard you see. He got drunk and started talking about “secrets” of the House. We let him know what we thought of that. We told him he should go home. You know, not come back. We gave him incentive.”
What kind of incentive would it take to force a popular, talented student to leave school in his junior year? Jim wanted to hear him say it. “Go on Mr. Wescott. I was military before becoming a cop. Secrecy was required in many instances. A man who breaks the “code” was not tolerated.”
“Then you understand. We had to show him. Sumner got his car and we took him for a little ride. Wright and I were in the back seat with Carter. We both punched him over and over.” Wescott leaned back with a self-satisfied, smug smile. “I hit him once for every brother he betrayed.”
Jim felt sick. He hastily excused himself to talk with Simon and Blair. “We can get them on assault at least. We have enough to get a
search warrant for Sumner's car.”
Simon grimly agreed to get Brown and Rafe on the warrant. Westcott would be held cooling his heels for several hours, but the arrests would be made today. Further interrogations would have to be done. Maybe Sumner would cave on the other two, as he was only the driver and didn't physically assault David Carter.
“Well Chief, this was a depressing case. An intelligent and talented young man died for no good reason. The suicide judgement will stand. But the assault charges will stick. Are you okay with this?” Jim asked. Blair was being awfully quiet.
“You were right Jim. I should have spoken up when I was a kid. I was like David in a way. Too afraid to name his attackers, his peers. His 'brothers'. We'll never know how he ended up in the stream that night. He was packed. His car was in the lot and loaded. And David had fifteen pills in him. His parents lost their only child. And hazing, obliquely, took another life. Too many young lives lost or destroyed for an ideal. Hazing supporters say it creates a bond, brothers. They say it gives the students a place to belong.”
“But at what price, Chief?”
Notes: The idea for this story came from several cases on the show “THE HORRORS OF HAZING: Al Roker Investigates”. It concerned hazing not just in college but in high school and lower grades. Part of the story was about students being intimidated into leaving their schools because they spoke out against hazing.
I didn't take notes on the show at the time, so any errors are mine. The story idea came later. I didn't remember any names from the show so I hope that I didn't inadvertantly use a real name (that wasn't my intention), and certain liberties were taken with minor details and/or combined with other cases or from my imagination.
There was very little 'adaptation' of the 'David Carter' story.