Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word



With An Appearance By


Scene Title Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Synopsis It's a sad sad situation, and it's getting more and more absurd.
Date March 14, 2009

NYPD Headquarters

The New York Police Department Head Quarters is an old stone building, renovated many times over the years. The plaster walls are not as cracked and in need of repair as the various Precinct buildings around the city. The fluorescent lights give the room a rather sterile glow. Old posters, civic reminders, duty rosters and newspaper clippings are tacked up on the walls, rustling every time one of the doors opens. A high, wooden desk sits on the north wall, manned by two clerks, who records all visitors and arrests.

The way out to the street lies to the south, while doors to the offices of the Head Quarters lie to the northwest.

March 14th, mid-afternoon. Detective Shelby returns to his desk in one of those moods where a person just wants to pick up all the file folders and throw them around. Only it would be too much work to clean them up, so he straightens them up instead. He just finished speaking to the ADA and the ADA's boss, mister big District Attorney, and he was thoroughly unamused by what he found out. Abby is so no going to like what he has to say. Couple that with the recent sojourn into the forensics lab, and it's just bad news all around.

Elisabeth Harrison is at least not wearing her jeans today, much to her Captain's happiness. She's wearing a pair of brown slacks and a button-up blouse over which a shoulder holster hangs, uncovered at the moment. She pokes her head around the corner of the door into the office. "Detective Shelby? The front desk just called up here, they've got someone downstairs who asked for me…. but I think you should take his statement. Do you have the time?" She's pulling on the blazer that goes with her slacks as she asks, fluffing her blonde hair out of the collar.

Detective Shelby turns as he's addressed. "Officer Harrison, fancy meeting you here." Sure, he's being sarcastic. He's trying to lighten the dismal mood of the headquarters, at least for anyone involved in the Abigail Beauchamp case. "Let me guess, this has something to do with the Abigail Beauchamp kidnapping case?" He shakes his head, "Bugger. Why not? Better than having to go and tell Abby that there's almost nothing we can do for her. Poor kid's been here too long already, and all I have is bad news…."

There's a grimace, and Elisabeth moves further into the office. "So the DA's not going to move on it at all?" She doesn't sound in the least surprised. Hell, she can't even work up 'mad' at this point — the cops were all told from the start that Staten Island would be considered no man's land until Manhattan was settled down enough to spare the sheer number of bodies it will take to retake it. "The man's name is Oleander Thespuda. He's coming in primarily to turn himself in for what happened to his family — the stone people down in the lab? We never recovered his body from the river when he went off the bridge… apparently was washed up on Staten and held in the warehouse Abby was in or something. He told the desk sergeant taking his preliminary statement that there were a lot of people there, and his description of events matches Abby's, so…."

"Well, if we get a positive ID on Muldoon or the unknown, we can try to find any property they have," Detective Shelby offers. "We may be able to get a search warrant for their place of residence or business. If they've done anything illegal, we may be able to press charges, so long as the warrant is not issued with evidence of Abigail's abduction as the only thing we can search for. I couldn't find any Manhattan property for John Logan, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have any. Otherwise, yeah, we're pooched." He picks up his digital recorder, which has mysteriously found its way out of his pocket and onto his desk, "Oleander Thespuda, eh? Does it now? Oh joy, more nearly useless testimony. Well hey, maybe if enough people come forward, the state will reconsider its position on our jurisdiction. I guess I'll talk to him." Not in a good mood? No sir. He picks up the case file and a pad of paper with pen attached.

Elisabeth raises an eyebrow. "If you let it get to you, Shelby, you're going to fry yourself." This from the woman who stood down the hall and listened to Abby's recitation of what happened to her and was forced to flee to the ladies' loo to bawl her eyes out. "But it just so happens that Thespuda? Was a guard at one James Muldoon's warehouse, which just so happens to be on the same property where he found himself escaping with a slew of captives the other night." She smiles wickedly. "I think he's worth your time."

Which is good because as she speaks, Oleander Thespuda is escorted into the room that SCOUT uses as its squad room. He is a massive man, easily bouncer or security guard material, with black hair and eyes and a tawny skin tone. He looks exhausted and worried. Elisabeth goes out of Shelby's makeshift office and heads for the man. "Mr. Thespuda… I can't begin to tell you how glad we are that you survived the fall. My colleague and I … well, it was a horrible situation, and I'm terribly sorry for what happened." He did, after all, fall off a bridge AFTER Liz had managed to talk him OUT of suicide.

The man looks around warily, cautious as he takes her hand. "It was no one's fault. The woman… she was frightened and I didn't mean to turn her arm to stone." He looks at Coren. "I am to understand that I must submit to Registration and testing, and will do so willingly. But I would first like to … at least attempt to restore my wife and children. And I would also like to tell you what I know of the events on Staten Island on the night of March 11th. This is important to me — many many people were being held. Kidnapped from all over the five boroughs."

"If we don't let it get to us somehow, we're not human," Coren says in return. It's clearly something he has a great deal of experience with, which is true. He was with the FBI for eleven years, and he has seen more horror than most, at least until the bombing. Then everyone became witness to the horrors. He follows Officer Harrison away from his desk. It's barely an office; the conference room Abigail has slept in his more his office than his own desk, which is perhaps testament to just how frequently he is interviewing people—suspects, witnesses. Of course, these days he finds himself getting out less and less, too many people keeping him tied to the station and not out talk to people on the street. "Good to have a first name. Make sure the ADA gets it. Hopefully we can find some property, maybe find something to tie him to John Logan or this third mystery man. At least we'll have some good news for Abigail."

Detective Shelby stops at Office Harrison's side and stands a bit of a distance from Oleander Thespuda. Given what happened to his family, Coren is not sure if it's wise to be in direct contact with the man, and as much as he wants to, he doesn't offer his hand, and is rather sure the other man will understand his concerns. He turns on his digital recorder. "Mister Thespuda, I'm Detective Coren Shelby. My condolences for what happened to your wife and child, and I would be happy to let you make that attempt to revive them under the proper supervision. Right now, however, I think it's important that we get you settled into a conference room. I'll get you a cup off coffee, tea, or water — whatever you'd like — and we can talk about what happened on Staten Island. Is that all right with you?"

Thespuda nods to Coren's words. "Of course, Detective. I need nothing. I would like to get this done as quickly as possible."

Elisabeth glances at Shelby and then gestures for Thespuda to follow her toward another conference room. Once he's settled there, she says easily, "You told the desk sergeant that you'd worked at a warehouse where people were being held… where YOU were being held? Can you fill us in on what happened?"

The huge man nods. "I work for James Muldoon… I was a security guard on the Staten Island warehouses before the attacks in January, and afterward… things began to go very very poorly. I wanted to get my family out, and I started to see people coming and going in the warehouses a lot. When I approached Mr. Muldoon about it, …" Thespuda hesitates. "He had someone 'talk' to me and make me understand that I should shut up. That they knew things about me that would make Immigration deport my family." He looks at Coren. "I am a citizen of this country, but a naturalized one. My children were born here after I was naturalized, they are citizens by birth. But the fear? That … " He shrugs.

Detective Shelby listens intently after he has set the case file and pad of paper on the table. He nods at the implication. He knows what fear can do. "Your feared for your family's safety. Perfectly understandable. What happened after they had someone 'talk' to you?"

Thespuda replies, "I do not really know. I just… believed them. That I should remain quiet, that everything was fine." He sighs. "And every time I began to ask questions, I would be spoken to again and things were fine. My wife was getting more and more frightened, though, and that was unacceptable. So I made arrangements to bring my family to Manhattan to stay with friends. Which is what we were doing when Muldoon's man approached me and told me that if I didn't go back to work, things would happen!" He looks pained. "I panicked. And I touched my wife, and…. you know the rest of that. I was going to jump, you talked me out of it," he looks at Liz, "And then I fell. And I washed up on Staten Island. Where I was picked up by the raiders who brought in new recuits. Only most of the people in the warehouse weren't recruits. But once I was back there, it was like…. everything was okay again. I did my job, kept my head down, and tried to help the prisoners where I could." He looks between the officers. "And then the night of the helicopter and the explosions and the people in black. They got me out."

Detective Shelby nods. "I'm sure you did all you could," he says. Probably true, given the sounds of things, you don't mess around on Staten Island, not with the people in charge. "What can you tell us about the fighting ring that was apparently going on at the time, and anyone involved in it?"

Oleander nods slowly. "I can tell you the number of fighters that were being held in the cages. I don't know how many there were total. Just the ones in the warehouses. I can tell you that they were being caged like animals in a zoo. And I can tell you that many of them have family members - wives, sisters, daughters - still being held over there. But I don't know where." He hesitates. "I think there are things missing. I remember hearing that there were women and children being held and getting very angry. But I know nothing more of what happened that day."

Elisabeth moves to stand back against the wall, merely listening.

Detective Shelby nods. "What can you tell me about the young blonde healer that was held captive there? She mentioned there may have been other healers there before her. What do you know about them?"

Thespuda nods slowly, a puzzled look. "I know… there were others. I do not know what happened to them, they vanished. The little blonde? She is okay?" He shakes his head, saddened. "It is a grave grave punishment they inflict on her, cutting her tongue. She is brave soul. She was in the helicopter that took me. The group…. I think it might be her they come to get originally? But they freed everyone. Many scattered, I saw from helicopter a bit."

"She's OK. Distraught, but OK," Detective Shelby says as he pulls open the file folder he brought with him. He pulls out the sketch of Muldoon and lays it down on the table. "James Muldoon, right?" He lays down the sketch of John Logan, "Ever see him?"

Thespuda tilts his head and studies the pictures. "That is Muldoon, yes," he says as he points. "That one…. I see him around a lot, but I don't think I know his name." He looks at Coren. "I'm just the guard. No one tells me anything, you know?"

Detective Shelby says, "Of course." He pulls out the sketch of the unknown man, "You wouldn't happen to know his name, would you?" He lays the sketch down on the table.

Thespuda nods immediately. "That one, I see with him," he points between Jack and Logan. "He's a bodyguard or something. I don't know his name either — I tried to avoid getting involved in all that. I didn't want to draw attention to myself more than I had to. They might have thrown ME into the cages. Or worse." He grimaces. "I'm sorry, officers."

"Quite all right," Coren says. He collects the sketches and returns them to the file folder. "Do you know the address of the warehouse and the Pancratium?"

Thespuda reels off the address of the warehouse and that of the Pancratium. Because he's aware of both locations. And then he looks between the officers. "Please…. may I see my family now?"

"We'll need you to come back later and fill out a written statement with everything you can remember, but I think that's everything for now," Detective Shelby says. "Officer Harrison?"

Elisabeth nods easily. "Absolutely," she tells him quietly. "Mr. Thespuda is welcome to go down to the lab, Detective." She offers the huge man a smile, and then she looks at Coren. "Do you mind if I go ahead and take Abby home? You can break your news, and I'll leave Mr. Thespuda in your very capable hands?"

Detective Shelby gestures for Oleander Thespuda to head out of the conference room after he turns off the digital recorder and collects the file and notepad. "It may be best if you do it" he says to Elisabeth. "I think it will have less of a negative impact if it comes from someone she trusts."

"Is there a better way to tell someone that the DA doesn't think their case has any merit in spite of the fact that they look so thin they could be a Holocaust survivor and they're on medications to keep panic attacks at bay?" Elisabeth asks Coren in a bitter tone. "You really think she's going to take it in anything approaching what could be termed 'well'?" She shakes her head. "I'll tell her."

Detective Shelby hands over custody of Oleander Thespuda to two uniforms near the lab that houses his petrified family. "Would you have prefered I word it like, you're essentially her guardian and you should be present to comfort her when she has an emotional meltdown? I didn't think so." He continues to walk with Elisabeth back to his home away from home, and Abigail's home away from home, the conference room she's been in since the day before. "And it's not that the DA said the case had no merit. He merely gave the political facade of 'we are much too cowardly to proceed on a legal front because we don't have the man-power to retake Staten Island.' The case has merit. If this were anywhere else — had the crime occurred on Manhattan, John Logan and his associates would be in a cell here as we speak." Still bitter? Yup.

Elisabeth stops at the door to the conference room. "She was fucking KIDNAPPED off the STREET in Manhattan, Shelby. The crime doesn't GET much more meritorious than that. She was held on Staten, but the crime itself happened here. So yeah… do I think the DA's a motherfucker? You better believe it." And she shoves open the door to the conference area, doing her level best to keep her anger inside and her tone gentle. It's not as if she didn't expect it. "Abby?"

The blonde is still in the conference room, parked in a chair, watching out the window. Blanket and pillow folded up, parked on the end of the table, the remnants of whatever her meal was is tidied up. Someone had dropped off a couple magazines for her to read and a few bottles of water. When Elisabeth opens the door she swivels in the seat to look at the younger officer. "I'm here" Simple stated, a glance past the woman to see who else was with her or whether it was just Elisabeth.

"You're preaching to the choir, Harrison," Shelby says, just before they enter. When he enters Abby's room — as it may as well be — his face is neutral. Not that much else is expected from him, unless he's actually in the midst of something serious. If he's just steeling himself for something, well there you go, you get his neutral face. "Abigail," he says in formal greeting.

There's a quiet sigh. Elisabeth says, "C'mon, hun… let's get you out of here." Her expression probably tells Abby all she really needs to know. "The DA isn't going to be able to do anything right now," she says regretfully.

Blue eyes track across Elisabeth's face, then to Coren's at the door, the set of his face, of Elisabeth's face and the words. "Why?" It sounds pitiful coming from her, her fingers intertwined with each other on her lap. "Why not right now?" Back and forth Abby looks, waiting.

"Staten Island has no police presence. That and the fact that it would take more than the entire force to retake it, apparently, has made it outside our jurisdiction," Coren says. It should be clear by his expression and the way that he says 'jurisdiction' that he may be even more displeased than anyone else.

Elisabeth walks over to stand in front of Abby and says softly, "Because they're too fucking busy covering their political asses and trying to keep their jobs to do their jobs, Abby." She's watching carefully for signs that Abby's going to lose it. The anxiety never seems far from the surface right now, not that Liz blames her. "The case will stay open. And God help any of them if we can pick them up for anything. We're not going to let it drop, okay?"

"So that's it" That's it. This was all for nothing. She can't even look at them right now, instead sitting back in the chair and closing her eyes. "That's it. They get away with it. He can sit in his brothel and peddle flesh, they can find another healer, and do what they did to me and so long as they stay on Staten island, they're safe. And I get…" Nothing. Because it's out of their supposed reach. Abby pushes back her chair, leaning over to grab her garbage from her last meal, carry it over to the trash can clean up that she was there in the conference room, anger simmering on her features. "What about the registry. Will they take my name off it?"

"If they ever step foot off Staten Island, we will nail them to the wall," Coren says. "I have a list of about two dozen people who accessed your file along with other registered healers. Not particularly surprising, considering the high demand for healers, but I will interrogate every last one of them if necessary, and if I have anything to tie them to John, we'll see they're punished to the fullest extent of the law." By we, he means everyone who believes Abby. He's quite certain that the DA couldn't care less. "They never got back to me on my request, but I'm working on it." He doubts they'll go for it though. They probably don't believe John Logan got her name from the registry.

The anger is actually a welcome sign to Elisabeth — she'd rather see Abby get angry than retreat into panic or apathy. Anger is a sign that the younger woman is going to make it all the way back. "And they will come off the island again, Abby." If Elisabeth has to talk to some people and drag them out kicking and screaming and drop their asses on the roof of 1 Police Plaza. "They won't stay there forever. It'll take time, but it will happen."

"No it won't. It won't happen. Nor will taking my name off the registry. Because that means admitting that something is flawed. And nothing they do is flawed. They'll say that I told someone what I could do, and that that's how I got known and how someone took me. They'll take one look at who I associate with, who i've healed and write me off. They'll look at my homeland file and … " And see that she admitted to killing someone. Killing a parasitic evolved who was a serial killer, but killed someone none the less. "They'll not come off that island Liz and you know it" It's short, quick movements. Grab her jacket and put it on, grab her purse, slide the conference chair back into it's proper place. "Thank you, Detective Shelby, for your time. I'm sorry I wasted it. I'll say a prayer for you. But now.. Now I need to try and get back to my life if possible" She winds the scarf around her neck before heading for the door, try to pass both policemen.

As a matter of fact, that was the exact impression they gave Detective Shelby. And it angered him. Bastards. He doesn't stop Abby, though, and will let her pass and hopes to keep Elisabeth behind for a moment to say something before letting her get off to take Abby home. She needs to do some of this on her own, even if he knows she needs to talk to someone.

Elisabeth's sympathy is more than with Abby. She's angry on the other woman's behalf, too. She does pause before following her out because Coren looks like he wants to say something, though.

Abby knows her way out of the station, at least up to the front. That Elisabeth isn't following right off the bat though, makes the blonde stop, her purse tossed over her shoulder and look behind her, waiting patiently for the two.

"Elisabeth." Wow, he used a first name. "Make sure she has someone to talk to. No one gets over what she's been through alone." On that note, Detective Shelby heads off to his desk to do paperwork.

Elisabeth merely nods to Shelby. "Yeah… I know." And she heads out to catch up with the young blonde. She offers not a smile but a regretful look. "I'm sorry, Abby. For whatever that's worth to you just about now," Liz says quietly, leading the other woman toward her car.

The front door is kicked open by the younger blonde, she has enough strength, sending the door swinging, thunking against the wall and making people inside look. "Stop saying that. I don't want to hear 'I'm sorry'. They're fucking getting away with it and what I went through.. they don't care. Who would care. No one who can actually do anything legally. All those people they still have, are not important" Her voice is loud, risen in volume once they're out the door, hands shoved into her pockets. They didn't care when I was there, and they don't care now. Lets see them come calling and asking for my help now. See if any fucking miracle is available when THEY need me."

With a soft sigh, Elisabeth just follows. Abby's entitled to her anger. Liz shares it. She just doesn't know how to help except to be here and be an ear for the other woman.

March 14th: Bought and Souled
March 14th: Enter Toad-Girl
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