A Goat's Hide



Also featuring: William Benedict

Scene Title A Goat's Hide
Synopsis Greek myth.: The Chimera was said to be an amalgamation of three animals: lion, goat, and serpent.
Agent Sawyer comes to interview — and arrest — the suspect who was identified from DNA found at the Ritchie crime scene.
Date June 28, 2010

Rosewick Gardens, Bronx

Rosewick Gardens is a series of seven-story brick buildings along Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, surrounded by meticulously landscaped grounds and a tall chain-link fence. Dusk's light, filtered through a city's worth of smoggy atmosphere, paints the walls an unbricklike vivid red, glazing the windows in orange-gold. The interior of the apartment building which is Veronica's destination is as obviously dated as its exterior, but — also like the outside — well-maintained rather than shabby, the paint being not too old and the thin carpet recently cleaned.

William Benedict, twenty-three years old with brown hair and blue eyes, Caucasian ethnicity, resides at apartment 1426 in this complex. Or so claims his Registry file, which also professes his height at 6' 4" and that his ability is unknown. Further research adds that he had two years of undergraduate study at Queens College prior to the bomb, and played basketball for the university.

Mostly awake due to the merits of caffeine and a short hour-long nap she managed to grab on the flight back from the desert, Veronica approaches the apartment in question, checking the number against the number scrawled on the slip of paper she wrote the directions on. Right place. She pulls out the DHS badge and pockets the slip of paper.

She feels naked, still, without her tranq gun, but at least the ability in question for this particular case is one that she personally doesn't need to fear being used against her — so if this William Benedict is indeed the perpetrator, she's probably the best choice to round him up. Well, her or Rene. She knocks on the door and waits.

There's a brief hesitation before a woman almost the same height as Veronica answers the door; she has at least twenty years on the agent, however, straight brown hair starting to go gray. Quite a few of the strands have escaped their tie to form a frizzy sort of halo around her questioning face. She's dressed in a vividly rose-pink tanktop and blue cutoff shorts, part of a mop also visible through the barely-opened door. "Yes?"

"Hello," Veronica says to the woman, looking a little surprised. Mother, she supposes — just because she was independent at 23 doesn't mean most people are, especially in New York City. "My name's Agent Sawyer, and I needed to speak with William Benedict. Is he here?" Veronica lifts her badge slowly so it can't be perceived as a threat, high enough for the woman to make out the name and number, and presumable authenticity. "There was an incident that I need to speak with him about, get his statement."

The older woman peers closely at the badge, then steps back from the door to yell into the rest of the apartment. "William! William! Lady from Homeland Security's asking for you! Did you turn in all your paperwork?" She doesn't exactly open the door or invite Veronica in, but it swings open as her attention is elsewhere, and permission could be assumed.

"Wha — Huh? Who?" is yelled back by a younger, deeper voice. A door opens, unseen but heard, and large feet plod heavily against the floor. William is indeed about a foot taller than either of the women, and he looks down towards them with a puzzled expression. "Mom, it's all up to date, I swear!" Blue eyes focus on Veronica. "So — what're you asking for me for? If it's about my ability, look, I've been through the test routine a dozen times already. It really turns red and I really don't know why."

"Will, please," the young man replies. "Mom? You can let her in, you know. Really, it's okay." Although he doesn't seem completely convinced of that, from the curious but slightly apprehensive look he gives Veronica. "Oh! Yes, I'm sorry," the older woman says to Vee. "I was just mopping the kitchen floor, but if you stay in the living room it'll be fine." She glances to William. "You're sure you're okay with this, Will?" He rolls his eyes; not that far out of being a teenager, indeed. "I'm sure, Mom."

As the older woman retreats to resume her housecleaning, William closes the door behind Veronica and gestures her towards the couch. "Sorry about that. You're lucky you caught me on a day off. So, um — what's this incident you're talking about?"

"Thank you," Veronica says, moving into the living room and glancing around, to be aware of her surroundings, possible escape routes, the like. She takes a seat on the couch and pulls out a notepad. "Can you tell me what you did on the night of the 19th? It would have been last Saturday. Where you went, who you were with."

"The 19th?" William echoes, sitting down on the other end of the couch, well away from Veronica. Or at least inasmuch as the furniture allows. "Well, I was working last Saturday. Not at night, though. I just — came home after that. I think —" He twists around to look towards the kitchen. "Hey, Mom! You worked last Saturday, right?" The woman's reply is prompt: "Usually do!" William nods, and faces Veronica again. "Yeah, so — came home, fixed dinner, watched TV, slept. Pretty boring, I admit."

The agent nods, jotting something down on her notepad, then glances up at him again. "Where do you work? An address, and job title, if you can. Also, did you stop by anywhere for a drink, a beer, maybe, on the way home? Not a crime, you know, since you're old enough… unless your mom doesn't approve, of course," Veronica says, lightheartedly enough.

William grimaces. "I'm a waiter over at IHOP. 961 East 174th. Pretty sad, huh?" He leans back into the corner of the couch. "Should be working on my MBA right now. But, hey, whatever pays the bills, right?" The young man shakes his head as he comes to the agent's later remarks. "Nah, I don't have the money to do that, really. Already spent this month's entertainment budget on a couple movies with friends." Blue eyes shift to the calendar on the wall. "And we're going out for the Fourth, which'll nix next month's right quick." William shrugs, looking to Veronica with a rueful grin.

"Times are tough," Veronica says with a nod, even as strike two is called within her mind — as far as the young man being up front about his activities of late. "All right, then. Can you tell me if you've ever been to the O Lounge, over on Martin Luther King Boulevard? Recently, if not on that particular day? Or to any of the bars in the near vicinity, maybe a few days prior to the event?" She doesn't want to call him on the evidence just yet.

"The O Lounge?" William pulls his lower lip between his teeth and frowns in thought; either he's a remarkable actor and should be aiming for a theatre degree instead of business, or he truly doesn't recognize the name. He also doesn't seem to have a clue at the countdown going on inside Vee's head. "I don't think I've ever heard of it, much less been there. We usually go to places over on the east side, so I don't think I've been nearby, either."

She was hoping he just happened to have been in the area, maybe wandered out and left his beer in the alley, but his story doesn't match up with the evidence. "Can you tell me, then, how a beer bottle with your DNA was found at a crime scene outside the O Lounge last week, Will? I was hoping to find some witnesses for the incident, thought you might have seen something. Best to come clean, if you were nearby — otherwise we might have to think of you as a suspect. I'd rather think of you as a potential witness, myself."

William doesn't even have anything to say to that, at first; he just stares gape-mouthed at the agent. "My…? But… How is that even possible?" he finally manages to reply, blinking in stunned shock. "But I — I've never even been there!"

The seemingly sincere reaction is noted by Veronica, and something doesn't sit right with her. "Can you tell me if you know an Abraham Ritchie, Will?" she asks, glancing at him and then toward the kitchen. She really doesn't want to arrest someone's child in front of them. It's been a really long weekend, and Monday isn't shaping up to be any better.

"Uh…" William thinks about that long and hard. "I don't… think so? Pretty sure I've never met any Abrahams." He looks a little nervously back to Vee: is this for real? "I mean, unless I had a random class with him at college — not even the professors knew all our names, and I didn't try to keep track of people. Well, except my friends and the team, of course."

"He's probably not someone you'd know in college," Veronica says, reaching up to rub her eyes. There's something about the kid that makes her think he's telling the truth. Is the DNA an inaccurate readout? Is there a clone running around? Was the DNA manipulated by the biological manipulation of the perpetrator? The thoughts run through her head, the last considered as a possibility. "Since you don't have any information for me that will help me solve the case, and there's this riddle of how your DNA was found at the scene, along with the fact you don't know what you can do, I'm afraid I'm going to bring you in maybe for some more questioning, and possibly some tests regarding your power and your DNA."

"But…" The young man sinks back into the couch, then nods. "Gimme a minute, 'kay?" he says; not waiting for permission, he gets up from the couch. Doesn't go far. "Hey, Mom? I have to go out for a little while. Dinner's up to you, all right?" "Wait — Will, what — are you—" He raises his hands in a placating gesture as his mother scowls at the both of them. "It's okay. It'll all get straightened out and I'll be back before you know it." Turning back to Veronica, William gives her a hopeful smile: please agree with me. "Right?"

The agent nods, standing, eyes tracking his movements to make sure he's not making a run for it or grabbing a weapon. Her brows furrow a little at the worried exchange between mother and son, the way the boy feels the need to protect her. "Right. We just need to figure out some details, maybe run some tests to see if we can figure out his power for once and for all, take a statement on the record," she agrees, then nods her head to the door for William. If he doesn't make a break for it, she'll let him walk out not in handcuffs. She pulls out a cell phone to alert the powers that be of her plans to bring him into the nearest DHS office.

William Benedict doesn't make a break for it — in fact, he holds the door for Veronica, and attempts to cope with his nerves by striking up little inconsequential conversations along the way. And it is an amply long way, because he's quite content to peacefully accompany the agent.

Such is his faith in his own innocence.

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