He sat in the interrogation room of the police station, eyes downcast and hands sweating, holding tightly onto a medium sized notebook in his lap. They made him change his clothes and then threw them into plastic bags as evidence.
He had been holding a bloodied knife when the police burst into his home, while the book was on the other hand. The place was in disarray; papers thrown on the floor, backpack contents spilled across the room, furnishings were tipped over or fallen, glass covered the corners of the room. The phone sat beside the boy's legs, while he stood and stared at his father's mutilated body that was lying atop a crimson pool. His clothes were cut up in places and he had bruises forming over old, yellow ones. He hadn't said anything but by the looks of it the police took into consideration the plight as self-defense.
"You need to tell us what happened," they said. Two police detectives were questioning him about the events beforehand. But the boy looked to be elsewhere in his mind. He hadn't spoken a word since they brought him in and he didn't look like he was paying any attention either. "We believe it was in self defense. If you just tell us what happened, everything could go smoother."
That elicited a response from the boy, but not one they were expecting. He finally looked up, with a lost expression on his face. "Where am I?" he asked, his voice had a childish tone to it and the detectives were slightly bothered.
"At the police station. Do you remember why?"
The boy shook his head as a negative reply.
"Your father is dead and we found you holding the knife," the chubby detective began explaining, his voice tough and demanding. "We need you to remember the events that led up to your father's death or you could get into a lot of trouble."
The boy began crying, "my daddy's dead? what about mommy, where is my mommy?"
"Look Ivan, you need to stop acting like a child, and begin explaining."
The boy was confused, his name wasn't Ivan? "My name isn't Ivan? It's Noah. Mommy said I was named after a great man that helped animals live." He beamed at the fact that he had remembered that while the policemen took on a disgusted and baffled expression.
"What do you mean you're not Ivan? Look kid, we got your records here, you can't lie to us," the chubby officer boomed and slapped a manila folder onto the cold table forcing a flinch from the boy. The slimmer, taller detective gave him a look that said he'll take care of it and with a gentler tone, he began questioning the boy.
"Ivan," when the boy didn't respond, he tried again. "Okay, Noah," he looked up. "What happened to your dad?"
"I don't know. I was with mommy all day. They don't live together, so I only get to visit mom sometimes. I was with her today... Um, c-can I see her?"
"I'm sorry, we don't know where she went. Can you tell us her name?"
"U-uh. It's Benny Nakamura."
The detective sent the chubbier officer a look that said to keep that in mind so he could search for it later.
"Okay, thank you. Do you know her address?"
"Um, yes. 213 Riverside Road."
The detective was puzzled, how could that be? "I'm sorry, but that's where you're currently at. That's the station's address..."
"Oh for god sakes, stop encouraging his act, Lou! He doesn't need to act like this, he could have a great defense if he just told us what happened!"
"He's talked to me more than to you, so don't tell me what what to do when you haven't received half the responses I've had. I know what I'm doing, Donald. I've been here longer than you, remember that."
With that Lou turned his face to stare at the boy who called himself Noah, while Donald stormed out of the cold room slamming the door behind him.
This caused Noah to jump and flinch, and suddenly he wasn't Noah anymore. He scooted back away from Lou, away from the table, so fast the chair fell backwards. His eyes shone with a ferocity seen in animals about to strike at their prey. And when he spoke it was as if he was a completely different person. His name was now Imelda Medraut and he was a mother of three, extremely protective of her children and even their friends, Noah being one of them. She demanded to know where he was at and Lou finally understood. Ivan needed to see a psychiatrist and fast.
They kept him at the station for hours and in that time they had seen seven different versions of himself, two were Noah and Imelda, another was a fifty-six year old Vietnam war veteran, named Gregory. There was also a prostitute that called herself Coco, a drug dealer named Jose Montoya, and a university student that refused to give them her information. Finally, there was a reckless, adrenaline junkie and troublemaker that went by the name of Bo "Speed" Bonheur.
It wasn't until the psychiatrist had arrived that Ivan became Ivan again.
"Oh my god! My dad, where is he?! Uh.. Uh... how is he?" he turned to Donald and demanded to know, eyes filled with worry and fear.
"Ivan?" Detective Lou asked.
"Yes...? Do you know?... how.. how my father is? He... h-he was lying on the floor, w-with... Oh my god. Please, please," he rambled frantically.
The two detectives and chief of police explained the situation leaving out the ordeal Ivan had put them through involving his other personas.
They informed him his father was stabbed thirty three times, hadn't survived and that it was he who had done it. Ivan of course vehemently denied the accusations, but after they showed him the evidence and inputted the theory that it was self-defense, Ivan insistence began to falter. They had seen him holding a knife, yet Ivan had no recollection of the events. How could he not remember?
The psychiatrist had been in the room analyzing the child's words and expressions, looking for faults in his demeanor that could possible add to his bizarre condition or take away any. Completely absorbing every syllable he spoke, they launched into their task of diagnosis and started the evaluation.
"Ivan. How old are you?"
"W-what?" Ivan was taken aback. Don't they have his age in their files? "uuh, eighteen."
"What are your parents names?" the shrink continued.
"Don't you already have that information?"
"I would like for you to tell me."
"um, okay. My dad's name is Lavi.. Valentin. And my mom's was, uh, Benny.. Nakamura."
"Was? What happened to your mother?"
"When I was around fourteen, she left. My father told me she ran away with another man... buh..." the shrink waited for him to finish his sentence until they realized he wasn't.
"You didn't believe him?"
"I-I don't know. I... when she left, all I had was my father's words. She was with us one day, gone the next. She hadn't even said anything. I think she would have... don't you? At least to say goodbye... but she didn't... maybe she hadn't loved me after all.."
The psychiatrist felt a strong surge of sympathy towards the boy. His mother had left him alone with an abuser and it was very unlikely, she had no clue about it.
"Did she tell you she didn't love you?"
"No, my dad did. But there's no reason for me to doubt his words," His face was melancholic and his voice wavered with sadness. The doctor continued, changing the subject to the teen's mind.
"Ivan, when did the abuse start?"
"Um, I can't remember? My mom was usually the one getting hit and then he would come after me when I would do something bad. But when my mom left, it was just me left to take his blows... um... when I was... uh, sixteen, he um... h-he started to.. y'know... do that, too." Ivan's eyes moistened and his hands shook when he pointed downward to gesture sexual abuse. Having to talk about subject matter as tough as his, was no walk in the park, but he felt he needed to tell someone in person, not just his journal.
Suddenly, he remembered about his private booklet and asked where it was at. Lou fetched it from his desk and handed it over to him promising he hadn't read a word. But when Ivan looked at the journal in his hands something started churning in his stomach.
This could be it, he thought, he could be free.
"Th-thank you. But I'd, uh, actually like for you to read it. I-I would sometimes write about when my father beat me. Isn't that evidence? And I.. I don't think I would like constant reminders of his... abuse."
Lou was both pleased and reluctant, after hearing his statement. The journal would be extremely beneficial towards his case; his charges could be lowered and he could possibly be shown leniency. But that also meant he had to go through private memoirs of the child; reading a victim's mind while they were going through the abuse was worse than going over the victim's account and testimony. Their thoughts held much more emotion than a retelling; it was going to be tough.
On the other side of the room, Donald, leaned his body against the brick wall and began contemplating. The kid's mother had left about four years ago, the father had a record of being violent and disorderly-had even spent time in jail for assault-, and by some unlucky coincidence the mother had NO living family. Her leaving began to look fishy in his eyes. Could it be that she hadn't ran away, but was killed instead? Donald quickly stepped outside the interrogation room, signaling Lou to come with him leaving the criminal psychiatrist to finish their evaluation on the unfortunate child.
"Don't you find it a tad bit suspicious that the mother didn't tell the kid he was leaving?" Donald began to sort out his suspicions against Mr. Lavi Valentin.
"Are you implying he lied? Look I know you don't like the kid bu-"
Donald cut him off, "Not Ivan, the father. He has a history of violent behavior, spent a year in the county jail and a month just last year"
"That doesn't explain anything. We would have gotten a missing persons report or have found a body. Something to work with but we haven't."
"But see that's the thing!" Donald said excitedly, not that he was excited about a murder, he was simply thrilled he could finally catch a big time criminal. "The mother had no living relatives. She was also a house wife! Nobody would have known if she had- or hadn't- run away."
"Okay, let's say he did kill her, where is the body?"
"The backyard?" Donald said as if it was the most obvious answer.
"Don, I don't know..." But even as he said that, Lou began to mull it over; it does sound a bit suspicious when he puts it like that. But... "okay... what if she had friends? Or even the neighbors. They could have seen something out of the ordinary. Though, it was four years ago..."
"We have to try," Donald insisted.
After informing their chief of their whereabouts, they drove themselves over to the scene of the crime.
The place looked like a blood bath; blood splattered across the room and on the walls. The M.E. had taken Lavi's body but the large, wine red puddle was still there, preserved as evidence. The sun was already starting to rise -they hadn't noticed they had spent their whole day awake, interrogating Ivan- and they decided to take a look around the Valentin's house, before waking up the neighbors to question them.
The living room and adjoining dining room were still in chaos, disorganized further by the examiners' search for evidence. But they weren't here for Mr. Valentin's death; they needed to find suspicious evidence of foul play involving his wife.
Since the place was already a crime scene, no search warrant was needed. Though, they did need to be careful in disrupting the evidence.
Donald began in the bedrooms while Lou started in the garage.
As the sun rose higher into the afternoon, they began to believe their search was in vain... Until they found a secret box stashed under the wooden floor boards, hidden inside the coat closet. The box was dusty and made of metal, secured with a cable Master lock, that could easily be cut with pliers, instead of the usual bolt cutters. It didn't mean that there would be anything that could give away the whereabouts of the woman, but having been hidden away and locked would suggest a secret that perhaps, even if she had simply up and gone, the man could be guilty of something else.
They held their breath, subconsciously, while Donald sliced the wire and opened it only to find the box filled with letters, documents, photographs and a few trinkets; it was nothing but a mere keepsake box. But Donald, ever confident Valentin was guilty of one crime or another, decided to read the contents.
"It's no use, Don. We both knew it was a stretch."
"We still haven't asked the neighbors," for some reason Donald couldn't give his theory up.
"It was years ago, Donald. It's been years, the neighbors could have moved or forgotten or could have been totally oblivious if anything had happened. Besides, he's already dead! What's the point?"
Donald turned around and faced Lou, eyes flaming behind his glasses, "To bring justice for Ivan, goddammit! Don't you care?! Or are you only set on counting your days until retirement? He was thirteen when she left, Louie. A child..." his voice was small and exasperated. In their years of partnership, Louis had never seen Donald invested in a case so deeply, it had caused him emotional grief; it was unsettling and worrisome.
"You're right. You're absolutely right. I apologize, Don. He does deserve to know where his mother is at, especially if she's alive or not..." Lou felt guilty and Donald looked obviously upset, he needed to talk to him or it could strain their partnership, "and you know, I'm always here... to talk or... anything else... I'm your partner; if you can trust me to have your back, you can trust me... to be there for you... or whatever." It sounded awkward in Lou's ears and he mentally slapped himself, but Donald felt a strange happiness bubble within. He turned around and hugged the taller man, thanked him and suggested they talk to the neighbors the next day so they could finally go home and rest.