2004-05-25 - 4:06 p.m.

Chapter 5

The flight to LAX was a short one, just over an hour. If circumstances had been different they’d have driven. It was a road trip Gil had fantasized about many times, bringing Sara home to share with her the place in which he’d grown up, but he had never imagined this.

Trina Grissom lived in a modest size Spanish style home with a well-groomed yard in front and garden out back. Her bright blue eyes and lovely face belied both her age, and the difficulties she had faced.

Grissom both signed and spoke his greeting. Her first response to her son was to closely examine his face. He signed something to her that he didn’t speak. Sara wondered whether she was trying to determine what had happened to cause the bruising, or which of her sons had arrived at her door.

When he introduced Sara, Trina spoke to her with clear voice and Sara looked to Grissom, “I…uh, I can’t sign.”

“It’s okay, just speak to her, she reads lips perfectly well as long as she is close enough to see you clearly.”

“Oh, but you…” Trina broke in laughing some, “I make him sign. I like to be sure he’s keeping it up.”

A bright and genuine smile crossed Sara’s face “I see, it’s nice to know someone keeps him in line.”

Grissom shot her a pointed look, which she pretended to miss.

After a half hour of pleasantries Trina set Sara up in a guest bedroom at Grissom’s request. He talked Sara into a painkiller and a nap then asked his mother to come sit in her garden.

Sara watched them through the window. Gil used no spoken word now, alone with his mother, he signed. His mother asked her questions in sign language as well and Sara thought perhaps the words were too much for either of them to speak aloud.

Her eyes closed in sleep before Gil got to the worst of it.

Outside in the garden Gil explained to his mother the full story. They had never held anything back from one another. He hesitated before telling her the end, the pain in her eyes nearly stopping him. “Where is he now?” she asked aloud. “Gone.” Gil answered, and then he signed, “at my hands.” Trina closed her eyes, shutting him out from her thoughts. He knew that she had been afraid of Miles for a long time, but also knew that to find out that one son had killed another was not easy news no matter the reason.

In a little while, her legendary composer regained, Trina spoke, “This Sara, she must love you very much to have come here. It had to be a difficult choice.” It was her son’s turn to avoid eye contact, but she touched his hand and then signed, “Allow yourself happiness.”

His smile was best described as wistful.

XXX

It was late evening when Sara arose from her sleep. She was certain that were it not for the painkillers she’d have gotten no sleep at all. Nightmares troubled her and she woke with a pounding head. Someone had left a nightlight on in her room and a glass of water next to her bed. She went in search of the bathroom and was surprised to find Gil, sitting in a chair about 3 feet outside her door. His eyes were closed, the moon illuminating half of his face. She froze in fear. His eyes opened, “Are you alright Sara?” He moved and watched her eyes search his face fully in the moonlight now. He could almost hear her recite it in her head, “Gil, scar.” “I ah…I was looking for the bathroom.”

While she made use of the facilities Gil put together a small tray of fruit and cheese from the kitchen. He heard the door creak open “Are you hungry?” “Not very.” “You haven’t eaten. You should try.”

She sat and picked at the cheese, he poured her some iced tea. “How’s your mom?” “It’s hard to say. I think it’s a mix of sadness and relief.” “It had to be difficult news to deliver, I’m sorry.” They locked eyes for a moment. “She was grateful that you came.” Now he looked away, “So am I.”

She touched his bruised eye, “Tell me.”

He stood and moved to the darker living room. He didn’t want to look at her and tell this story. She chose to sit, not on the nearest chair but on the hassock directly in front of him, their knees nearly touching. Her nearness unnerved and calmed him in the same moment.

“When I was walking into my building after work Thursday night my next door neighbor asked me if I forgot something. I didn’t know what she was talking about so I just smiled and waved and went inside. I didn’t have time to think about how odd a question it was because as soon as I closed the door behind me everything went black.”

He took a moment, he could picture the rest in his head, but with Sara sitting so close and watching him with such earnest it was going to be difficult to continue.

“He had been waiting…he had gone to the super and asked to be let in, he had locked himself out.”

“Super thought he was you…”

“Right. So he went in and waited. I don’t know how long he had been there but he was ready when I walked in. I felt a blow to the back of my head,” here Grissom’s hand went automatically to the bump, “and I was out.” The last part was said almost lightly. Being unconscious was the best part of spending time with his brother.

“When I came to he had me taped to a chair in my living room. He said he wanted to talk to me. First he asked me questions about stuff from when we were kids. It was almost like we were just having a conversation, nothing strange about it…”

“Two brothers, catching up, never mind the fact that one’s tied down with a lump on his skull.”

“Something like that. Then it got more recent, and more personal.” He cleared his throat, obviously taking time to edit for her benefit. She remained on the edge of the hassock, watching him and waiting.

“He wanted to know who I’d…been with, in the past year. I told him I wasn’t going to answer those questions and that’s when I got the bruises. He wanted details, the names he had. He listed for me the names of every woman I’ve had a conversation with in the grocery store, anyone I might have shared a moment with at work or in my personal life.”

Sara swallowed and looked down. She didn’t want to hear about other women in his personal life.

“I didn’t know half of the women he mentioned. People at the diner where I get my coffee…”he shook his head, “People whose paths cross mine all the time but I have no relationship to. He knew them all, knew their stories, their lives. Then he began to tell me about people I did have relationships with.”

He was silent a few minutes; Sara touched his hand gently, leaving her open palm draped on his tight fist.

“He had gone to visit women I had spent time with in college. Posed as me, had coffee, dinner.”

“Did he attack them?”

“No. He just listened to them. Then he came here, and he began following me.”

“He went to talk to…” he rubbed his chin, not really wanting to continue.

“Lady Heather.”

“Yeah. He spent the night with her, posing as me.”

“Because there was a vibe between you.”

“Yes.”

“But he didn’t hurt her.”

“Not physically.”

Sara took her hand away now and sat back.

“So he beat you up, and told you everything he’d been doing, obviously he had no intention of letting you go.”

“No. He was clear that I would only live long enough for him to cause me maximum pain. He put on my clothes and went to work the next night.”

“To tell us all he, well, you, would be at a seminar.”

“Is that what he said? I didn’t know. I knew he had gone to work, and I knew that he had posed as me. He wouldn’t give me any further details. I was afraid for all of you but didn’t ask any specific questions. He was smart enough to read them and find out what I was most worried he’d do.

It was at that point he started showing me photos. For 24 hours, give or take, he showed me photo after photo of women he had raped and left. Some of them he brutalized, some he drugged. None of them were in this country, few were in the same area, so no connections were made.”

“No commonality to connect them?”

“Just one. They all looked similar” he held her gaze even though he wanted badly to look, no, run from all of it. “They all had shoulder length dark hair, dark eyes, tall, thin build.”

“Oh God.”

Now he took her hands in his.

“Before he left last night he told me where he was going, what he had planned to do. He told me that he knew the only way he could ever hurt me wasn’t to just end my life, but to ruin the only thing I lived for.” He watched as her eyes filled with tears.

“He told me that I’d see you again, that your body would be the last thing I saw, and he would be the last thing you saw.”

Grissom’s voice broke, the pain from the lump in his throat breaking out into his words, “He lived for the moment of fear in your eyes when you realized what he would do to you, the rape, that was only the beginning. He’d make sure you believed that my love had been your torture and undoing.”

Now they were both crying, but Grissom pressed on.

“He turned on the vcr as he walked out the door, on the tape was the most horrifying rape and killing of a woman I’d ever seen. He’d taped everything, from his seduction of her to her dismemberment, all the while calling her Sara and her calling him Gil.”

“But you got away.”

“He screwed up. He had plugged the phone back in to call work and check in, knowing I would. He forgot to unplug it before he left. I knocked the chair to the ground and just…made my way to it. I called Brass. You know the rest.”

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