Alex’s Interview with Officer Mandel from Alex by Dianne Hartsock
Officer Mandel impatiently taps the open file on his desk: You have to give me something here, Alex. Kramer’s just dying to implicate you. It says here that Maggie Jonsan grew up in an isolated farmhouse outside of Oakton, Colorado. She was an intelligent enough child, but given to violent emotions and psychotic episodes. Her parents were able to keep this hidden for years by home-schooling her and limiting her exposure to other children. Is this true? Is this the same Maggie Jonsan who was your mother?
Alex finally looks at him: What does it matter? What does she have to do with any of this?
Mandel: If we can show undue stress… You’re right. There’s nothing here to help.
Alex interrupts, his blue eyes dark with emotion: Help what, Brad? You mean it wouldn’t help for people to know that my mother was a schizo that my father married one drunken night, and abandoned as soon as she was pregnant? How wouldn’t that help my case?
Brad frowns: I’m not your enemy.
Alex covers his face with shaking hands. God, this is intolerable.
Brad: I want to help you. But I think the only way to do that is to understand your ‘gift’. It seems like you inherited it in part from your mother. Now, I know she died in a house fire. Do you want to start there?
Alex nervously chews a corner of his lip: Mama made me stay in the basement after punishing me for something; I don’t remember what, while she went upstairs for a cigarette. I guess she fell asleep on the couch. Anyway, the noise from the fire confused me. I didn’t know what it was, and it was a while before I smelled the smoke. It scared me. That’s when a fireman came rushing down the stairs.
Brad Mandel: That was Sean?
Alex: Yes, sir. He scared me worse than the fire. You see, I hadn’t met very many people, and he was in full gear…
Brad: That would have scared the crap out of me.
Alex gives him a grateful look: I was twelve, but in most ways I was younger than that. Mr. Elson carried me upstairs and through the fire. I was terrified when they put me in their truck and drove away from home. I didn’t know where I was going or what would happen to me. I spent a month at the hospital, frightened and alone. Every day people would come and ask me questions. I felt like a monkey on display. That’s when Mr. Elson adopted me and took me to his house.
Brad: And you started having visions soon after that?
Alex: No. I only started having the visions two years ago. The first one that made any sense was when I saw Bobby Gibson in the river, calling for help. Because I was able to see and hear him I was able to save him from drowning. It was the same with Brian. He called to me from where he was buried alive and we got to him on time.
Brad searches Alex’s face: Kramer thinks you find these children because you have something to do with putting them in harm’s way. He believes you killed Sarah Gladstone and Kyle Bronsin.
Alex lurches out of his chair: That’s not true! I tried to save them. I was too late. Besides, Jack Gibson kidnapped and tortured me. Why would I be helping him?
Brad Mandel: I believe you, Alex. You saved Becca when Mrs. Gibson tried to kill her. But you have to admit, you’re at every crime scene when logically you shouldn’t know anything about them.
Alex puts his face in his hands: I don’t know what to tell you. The visions come to me and I have to help. There are others out there, Brad. More people who’ve been murdered who I couldn’t save. This ‘gift’ of mine is flawed. I wish it would just go away. But I could never hurt anyone. I think you know that.
Brad closes the file: I believe you, Alex. But until the real murderer is found, you need to be careful. Not only for your and Jane’s safety, but also because Detective Kramer is bent on proving you’re somehow involved. He’ll implicate you, if he can.
Alex shoves his hands in his pockets: Can I go now? Jane will be worried. And I have to be back at the bookshop by two or Mary’s sure to fire me this time.
Brad: Sure. Just keep yourself available if we have any more questions.
Alex hesitates at the door: You know, Brad, the person you should be talking to is Detective Kramer’s daughter, Helen. She’s far more gifted than I and I know she’s hiding something.
Officer Mandel calls Alex back into the room but he’s already fled the office. Brad sighs as he puts the file away. Alex is his friend, but he might end up having to arrest him just the same.