2004-11-09 - 12:37 p.m.

Chapter 14

Officer Polk rejoined the group for the basement tour. He had bagged a few items that lent credence to the theory that if a child didn’t live in the house, one could have been a frequent guest. It was what Polk referred to as ‘Weekend Dad’ evidence.

Another padlock greeted them and with some grunting Baden managed to snap it away. He leaned in the stairwell reaching for a light switch that proved useless upon its discovery. “I’ll lead.” Grissom began down, feeling each step carefully before putting his weight on it. The officers probably thought he was checking for rotting boards, but Sara guessed it was something more sinister that held his concern. “Let Sara come next, here, put your hand on my shoulder so you don’t slip.” She smiled in the darkness, there was nowhere to slip to, but she appreciated the invited touch. One of the officers lit their way from above with his maglite. At the bottom landing Grissom tried a string attached to a light bulb, again without illuminating result. “Guess we’ll have to look by flashlight.”

The first half of the cellar was basic storage, dusty and unused. Grissom had a feeling it would require a lot of box opening to feel at peace here. The second half of the basement, a smaller room than the first was locked with a slide bolt set up high out of a child’s reach. His mother had told him when he was young that this had been his father’s workspace but he couldn’t remember his dad once picking up a tool. One of the officers slid the bolt with ease and the door swung open. A light was set up on one side of the room, revealing a workbench. The moment Grissom switched it on he longed for the darkness.

Stretched on the bench was an anatomical model such as would be used for a biology class. A female model, wearing a blouse, which had been torn open, buttons missing, a pair of slacks shoved down to hips so that the torso was completely exposed. Plastic replaceable organs were dislodged and strewn as though cut from the non-existent skin. The head of the model wore a dark brown wig, the face was covered with a photograph, bent and taped at the ears. Sara’s smiling face.

Knowing it was impossible to keep her from seeing it Gil ignored the sick feeling in his stomach and stepped aside to allow Sara a view. “Jesus.” It was a whisper. “Those are my clothes.” Her voice was calmer than it should have been. Baden moved in for a closer look, “What the hell is this stuff?” Gil gave him an expression that could kill. It was dried semen, Miles had obviously jerked off onto the photo, the model, her clothing. It was easy to imagine him doing it. Grissom put a protective arm around Sara, directing her away. Her voice rose an octave as she repeated, “Damn it Gil, those are MY CLOTHES!” He pulled her into him, wrapped his arms around her, wanting with all his being to shield her from what was already part of her reality. She allowed it, to his shock; she bowed her head and clung to him, eyes closed, taking deep breaths. “It doesn’t matter now. He’s gone now.” Gil reassured her quietly and was rewarded with a small nod. She stepped away, “I’m okay. It’s okay. Let’s just finish this.”

Grissom and Sara joined the officers who had stepped away to afford the couple some privacy. “Find anything?” Grissom inquired. “Lot’s of pictures of the two of you. They look like they were taken with a long lens.” Responding to the confusion on Gil’s face Officer Polk began to explain that many obsessive compulsives would stalk and photograph victims for a long time before committing a crime. Interrupting him Sara tore the light from his hand and moved both it, and her face close to the wall of photos. In seconds she was gone, around the basement, up the stairs, through the back door and into the light of the yard.

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