“Maman will make them pay for this.”
Saturday night, 29 August 2015, AM
GM: Buzz. Buzz.
Caroline glances at the caller ID on her Solaris. Calls from her brother Luke aren’t the most common. A call at this hour of the night is a first.
Caroline: The heiress stretches tiredly in her bed, pinches her the bridge of her nose, and rubs sleep from her eyes in the same motion as she slides the answer button. At least it isn’t Westley calling.
GM: “Caroline. There’s been an accident,” Luke says without preamble.
Caroline: The words are like a bucket of cold water on her drowsiness as she pushes herself from a half-laying position to a seated one. She reaches for the light on her nightstand. It’s a glossy and sleek black thing that spits hateful light against the dark with the flip of a switch.
“Who?” she asks seriously.
GM: “It’s Cécilia,” Luke goes on. Caroline’s brother isn’t yelling or rushing his words, but she could cut herself on the edge they have. “That is, some of her sisters. They were having a slumber party, and one of the girls fell and hit her head. She might die.”
“There’s also a police officer, who responded before the ambulance did. He’s in the hospital too. We’re not… sure what happened to him.”
“I’m with Cécilia and her sisters at the station. They’re in… they could be in a lot of trouble over this, Caroline. And they had the stupid idea to…” He sighs. “Never mind, they’re kids.”
Caroline: This is where someone else might ask a stupid question like, “Is Cécilia all right?” but Caroline knows too well. If Cécilia or her sisters had been hurt Luke would have opened with that, rather than some nameless girl or police officer.
GM: “Cécilia’s trying to stay strong for them,” Luke answers to Caroline’s unspoken question. “But her sisters wrote… they wrote down what happened at that slumber party, and the cops got their hands on it. I don’t think it was anything good, or the narratives didn’t add up, or…”
Her brother takes a breath.
Caroline: “Have they made any statements?” She slides her feet out of the Egyptian cotton sheets and onto the cool wooden floor. She reaches for a nearby pen and paper to start taking notes.
GM: “Caroline, they wrote down what happened, and the cops have those statements. They’re hysterical. I don’t think…”
Her brother takes another steadying breath. “I don’t want this to destroy their futures.”
Caroline: Caroline briefly considers explaining that police-seized statements written on private stationary are more easily thrown out than verbal statements, but decides against it.
“I understand,” she says instead. “You’re at the station with them? Which one?”
She runs the numbers in her head, but the injured cop complicates matters. The police, however lazy and corrupt they might be, tend to be very protective of their own.
GM: “The 8th District. 334 Royal Street,” Luke says. Caroline doubts he could recite the address off the top of his head before tonight. “We haven’t been able to reach Cécilia’s mother, and the police are being… difficult. You’re the lawyer in the family. Can you come down?”
Caroline: Not quite a lawyer, she doesn’t note to him, but that doesn’t quite make her useless.
“I’ll be down in a few minutes. Until then don’t let them say anything else.”
Saturday night, 29 August 2015, AM
GM: The Eighth District police station doesn’t much look like a police station at first glance.
The whitewashed building’s tall white corinthian pillars are surrounded by a well-maintained garden and wrought-iron fence. Palm trees sway against the howling rain and wind. All told, the station looks much like any other art gallery, restaurant, or historic building one expects to find along Royal Street. Much like the Eighth District police themselves, it doesn’t exist to stand out. It’s here, like they are, to keep the posh district’s money rolling. It’s here to make the owners—and spenders—of that money feel at home.
NOPD T-Shirts Available Inside Station proclaims an almost tourist-like sign by the front entryway.
Caroline: Caroline has dressed quickly for the occasion—and driven more quickly. Heels, skirt, blouse, and umbrella and light coat against the rain. It’s amazing what the proper appearance does for how people perceive you. She enters the building with the steady clap of heels echoing through the entrance way.
GM: It takes Caroline some extra time to find a parking spot for her sports car. She observes several other pricey vehicles parked by the “station” (the word seems to demean the building) already.
The front desk area is a pleasant affair. The walls and tops of the pillars are painted faux-gold and several chandeliers and bouquets of flowers hang around the place. There’s even some impressionist murals hanging from the front desk. The walls are adorned with several posters seeking new recruits for the police academy (“Join NOPD—apply today!”), as well as one containing information about the Crimestoppers 504-837-8477 number and another containing information on local neighborhood watch programs. The largest poster of all advertises the French Quarter Response Force phone app, and includes Google Play and OPS App Store download links.
The receptionist, a dark-skinned and notably attractive woman with long straight hair, looks up and smiles at Caroline’s entrance. “Good evening, ma’am. What can NOPD do for you tonight?”
The desk sergeant next to the woman, a large but dough-bellied with receding hair and a fuzzy mustache, smiles at Caroline. “Must be something to have a girl as pretty as you up from bed.”
An impatient-looking woman seated on one of the moderately comfortable-looking padded reception chairs rolls her eyes.
Caroline: “Hopefully not,” Caroline replies with a smile at the dough-bellied sergeant. “I just heard there was some terrible accident with some family friends. A bunch of high school girls?”
GM: “Yeah, six. Brought ’em in in not too long ago.” The sergeant gives an exaggerated sigh that doesn’t dim his smile. “Such a shame when we have to bring in pretty girls.”
Caroline: “Hopefully not for anything they’re at fault for,” Caroline inquires lightly. “I heard there was an accident.”
GM: “Mmm, yes. We arrested them all. One of our own was hurt.” The sergeant’s gaze rests on Caroline’s breasts.
Caroline: “Oh dear,” the heiress replies without seeming concern for the sergeant’s gaze. “Did they hurt him?”
GM: There’s a throaty chuckle from the balding cop.
“They’d better not have,” he answers in a low tone whose continued smile looks more like a leer.
Caroline: “What were they arrested for then?”
GM: “Are you related to one of them, ma’am?” the female receptionist asks.
Caroline: “Well, not unless you know something I don’t. I’m afraid I’m actually here in a slightly different capacity.”
She slides a business card across the counter. ‘Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, L.L.P.’ is prominently featured on it.
“We hadn’t realized they’d actually been arrested, simply that they’d been involved in an incident. I was told to come down and make any arrangements necessary.”
GM: The desk sergeant’s smile noticeably sours as Caroline produces the card. “You’re too good-looking a girl to be a lawyer.”
Caroline: “That’s so kind of you to say,” Caroline replies sweetly.
GM: The man sighs. “Cindy, get someone to show her in.”
Caroline: “Thank you, sergeant,” she replies with a wolfish smile. The card vanishes back into her purse.
GM: It’s not long before a young male police officer arrives to escort Caroline deeper into the station with a, “This way, ma’am.” The pair continues around the U-shaped hall away from the desk sergeant’s station. They pass a break room, interior entrance to the evidence lockup, and staircase and elevator. Phones ring as assorted uniformed and non-uniformed personnel type away into computers and go about the mundane busywork that constitutes so much of a police officer’s job.
“I’m just saying, there’s way more of us, but the women’s locker room is just as big,” sounds a man’s voice.
“Shut up, Cole.”
“He’s right,” sounds a third.
“Maybe you should both pray real hard you wake up tomorrow with tits.”
“Wow, that fucking wit. I bet you rule the school playground.”
“You know, there’s surgery for th…”
The voices breaks off in guffaws.
“Oh, that strip search. HA!”
“Bet we’d make half as many arrests if everyone knew they had to strip naked.”
“I’m not complaining.”
“No, seriously. I’m with you, any other day. Tonight that’s fuckin’ perverted.”
Caroline’s escort shakes his head as the pair pass by a framed portrait of the current police superintendent, a smiling and crease-eyed man in his middle years.
There’s another portrait she sees too, of a handsome, dark-haired man with a winning smile that belies his nickname of ‘Trashanova’. Caroline has met Nolan Moreno III in passing at a few functions. His picture depicts him standing next to a number of satisfied-looking police officers.
“Oh, wait. They’re over in booking,” Caroline’s escort admits before turning back the way they came.
Caroline: Caroline offers no comment to the crude discussions ongoing. “What are they being booked for?” she asks.
GM: “Probably just a good place to have them,” the officer answers vaguely.
The booking room isn’t so nice-looking as the reception area.
No walls are painted faux-gold and no artwork hangs from the desks. Everything looks aged, used, and worn, down to the scuffed tile floor. Cage-like grills and metal bars loom at the room’s furthest points. It’s far from the horror stories that Caroline has heard from Uncle Carson (technically, cousin) about conditions in the parish jail or Louisiana State Penitentiary (the largest prison in the country). Still, it’s clear that no effort has been made to make this room look nice—or make its expected occupants feel at ease.
Tonight’s occupants, though, may not be so expected.
Caroline’s attention is first drawn to the four young women who bear an uncanny resemblance to one another. Each one is a mirror of the same willowy build, pale skin, light blonde hair, and clear blue eyes. Caroline knows that the oldest, Cécilia, is a year older than her, while the youngest girl looks in middle or elementary school. Their present demeanors, however, are far less uniform than their physical features.
Cécilia, who’s standing next to Caroline’s brother, looks composed enough. She’s wearing light-colored slacks and a sleeveless blue top that looks like both were thrown on in a hurry.
Caroline’s brother Luke, a handsome man who shares Caroline’s tall height and fair skin but lacks her blonde hair, is similarly dressed—in both attire and apparent hastiness. He doesn’t look as faultlessly groomed as he usually does, and there’s a several-hours-past-five o’ clock shadow rimming his stonily-expressioned face.
Cécilia’s sisters look worse. Caroline remembers their names—Adeline, Simmone, Yvonne, Yvette, and Noëlle—but not which ones belong to which girl. There are so many of them, and it doesn’t help how they all look alike. Three are present tonight besides Cécilia. Two look in their mid-late teens. Their hair is mussed and wet, and so are their clothes. Their eyes are wide and scared. The youngest girl, who’s tightly hugging Cécilia’s side while her sister comforts her, looks in much the same state.
There’s another girl in her late teens near them. She’s shorter than the others, with soft brown hair and pretty features. Like everyone else, she seems on edge, but looks like she’s maintaining a brave face. Caroline recognizes her as Sarah Whitney, the daughter of Warren Whitney and granddaughter of Lyman Whitney, the eponymous bank’s retired CEO.
The girl standing next to her is also short, and has wide half-moon glasses and black hair (wet and disheveled like the other teenagers’) pulled back in a ponytail. She’s better described as underweight than thin, and her narrow face’s features are homelier than her peers. Caroline’s seen her in passing too: Rachel Freneau, the daughter of Sebastien Freneau. He’s a mathematician turned casino owner with ties to Tulane University. Rachel herself looks on the verge of tears.
The last teenager in the group is about Cécilia’s height. She has a wide face, prominent nose, and mid-back-length brown hair that’s streaked through with blonde towards the ends. It’s as messy and wet as all of the other girls’. She’s breathing rapidly and doesn’t look on the verge of tears so much as a panic attack.
Caroline doesn’t recognize the girl, but she recognizes the older woman who has an arm around her and is presumably the teenager’s mom. She’s a middle-aged woman with shoulder-length brown hair and a narrower face and nose. Like Cécilia and Luke, she looks as if she just got out of bed. Caroline saw her in passing at an art gallery and heard a little more about her from Christina Roberts—Monica Burroughs, a divorcée from out of state.
Where the other girls are distraught, and Luke and Cécilia are grim, Caroline senses a burning outrage in the woman—but one that’s also draped beneath a terrible, terrible dread.
Caroline: Whitney, Devillers, Malveaux. New Orleans aristocracy all in the same room—and others not that far off from aristocracy. Not the group she’d expect here—and a mess by any measure for the NOPD. On those merits alone, in other circumstances, she could probably talk them out of the room.
Most circumstances. But probably not this one. Not with an injured cop.
“Luke, Cécilia. I came as quickly as I could. What’s going on?”
GM: “Caroline,” Luke says with relief, turning at her voice. So do Cécilia and the room’s police.
The first one is a handsome man with a full and square jaw, close-cropped brown hair, and a tall, exceedingly-muscled frame. Exceedingly. The kind of excess particular to someone who follows diets and meal plans like a road map to personal salvation and spends enough time at the gym for it to be a part-time job. His full lips wear an even fuller smile that might be assuring or even winsome under more pleasant circumstances.
The cop next to him is older, shorter, and squatter. And fuller. Few women likely regard him as an object of desire. He looks bald underneath his police cap and wears a half-rimmed pair of rectangle-shaped glasses that combine with his sloped jowls to give him a sense of impassive resignation. It’s the inured look of someone past almost all point of caring.
The third cop is a known face to Caroline. She and Jessica White jokingly call him ‘the dinosaur.’
Up close, little about him feels worth laughing about.
He’s got a hard nose, hard jawline, and harder eyes the color of corroded iron. His skin is worn and leathery like a well-used pair of work gloves, crisscrossed with faded scars, and pulled taut against gaunt cheekbones. He’s not thin though. He’s big. Even huge. His powerfully muscled physique isn’t pampered and meticulously maintained like the first cop’s. It’s weathered, like granite left exposed to the elements. He’s a tall man, maybe an inch or two within Caroline’s shoe-less height, and wears a scuffed, faded gray trench coat over a plain shirt of the same color. A police badge on a cord dangles around his neck in place of a tie. The Malveaux heiress knows his name and rank. Detective Richard Gettis.
“Name and relationship to an arrestee,” the shorter of the police calls out to Caroline in a droning voice. His eyes barely seem to follow her entrance into the room.
Caroline: The heiress turns her gaze to the fatter, speaking, cop. “Caroline Malveaux, legal. I’d like to know the OIC for this matter, and the to see the booking report in accordance with Art. 228. B.”
GM: The first officer’s full smile gives a puzzled downturn.
“Captain Russell White, speaking,” the fatter officer replies in monotone. “Get the book,” he seems to say to no one in particular.
Gettis just stares.
Caroline: “Excellent.” Caroline’s tone is crisp and clear. “In the interest of expediting things, why were they taken into custody?”
GM: “In the book,” Captain White replies in the same monotone.
“Right this way, counselor,” the first cop says with a grin and motion towards the booking desk, as if gallantly offering to escort Caroline the several necessary feet towards her destination.
Gettis only stares.
Caroline: Her gaze turns to the detective. “You’re Detective Gettis, right? Jessica White says good things about you.”
GM: The weathered-looking cop meets Caroline’s gaze without response.
Caroline: She smiles and moves after the other cop towards the booking desk.
GM: The hunkish cop chauffeurs Caroline the necessary several feet. A bored-looking man on the other side slides over the book. Caroline sees the following names:
The charges include:
Battery (of public officer)
Criminal damage to property
Minor in possession
Possession of schedule I controlled substance
The names of the other persons arrested as a result of the same event or facts are as follows:
Caroline: She continues to read down to all items taken from them, also listed to see what the schedule I substance is.
GM: Lysergic acid diethylamide. LSD.
Caroline: Caroline arches an eyebrow. “A 10-year-old girl battered a public officer?”
GM: “Ah… Ah didn’t,” Cécilia’s youngest sister speaks up shakily.
Caroline: “Don’t say anything,” Caroline cuts her off.
GM: “Simmone, shhh,” Cécilia shushes, not unkindly.
The preteen starts softly crying.
Caroline: Still, the charges are hardly minor. This is not, unfortunately, a matter she can sweep under the rug. At least, not alone.
GM: Alternately anxious and coldly furious looks flicker across the other girls’ faces, particularly Simmone’s sisters.
Footsteps sound behind Caroline. “Reporting in, Captain. Sorry I took a while.”
Captain White gives the newly-arrived police officer a curt glance. “Finish the booking.”
“Has to be girl on girl,” the first cop grins.
Most of the girls look confused.
“All right, should I start with…?” the female officer ventures.
“Her,” Gettis says, staring ahead towards the girl who must be Hannah.
“No. No, you’re not,” her mother replies. The woman’s face is barely level.
“W-wait, Mom, are-” the teenager starts.
“Ma’am, I’m going to need you to come with me and take your clothes off as part of the standard strip search,” the female officer announces.
Hannah looks as if the cops just handed her a cyanide pill. “No. No. Mom, I’m not doing that. Tell them I’m not doing that.”
“Ma’am, you’ll need t-” the female officer starts.
Gettis strides forward, pulls Hannah off from her mom, and marches her towards the next room. Hannah shrieks and flails wildly, slapping Gettis in the face.
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!” her mom screams, face flushed as red as a beet.
The other girls stare on in horror.
Caroline: Caroline watches the girl piteously and nods to the officer with the booking report. “Luke, we need to talk. Privately.”
GM: Luke frowns deeply. “Now? I don’t want to leave Cécilia’s sisters alone with these… people, Caroline.”
Caroline: “Now. Briefly.” Her voice is firm.
GM: Luke considers the room’s only (near-)lawyer for a moment, then says, “All right. Cécilia, you’ll manage?”
Cécilia wordlessly nods.
No one stops Caroline and her brother, or even looks at them. Hannah’s and her mother’s continued cries follow the pair out.
Caroline: Caroline leads him a short distance away, though not out of the room, and leans close. She keeps her lips faced away from the rest of the group.
“How serious is it between you and Cécilia, because I can’t make this go away or stop what’s about to happen. The charges against them are very serious, and I don’t have any standing officially. I’d need to call Carson, and Cécilia needs to contact their family attorney.”
GM: Luke’s face looks grave, if not a shade paler than before. “We’re serious, Caroline. What did you see there? I asked them what the charges were. Our families can make this go away.”
But his words aren’t without a note of doubt.
Caroline: “Yes, we can. In the long run. But not before they are strip-searched and processed and interviewed.”
GM: “They’re terrified out of their minds. Especially after…” Luke glances out of the corner of his eye towards where Hannah used to be. “They’re going to crack.”
Caroline: “Half those charges won’t stick, but someone is going to get snipped for the drugs.”
GM: “What? Drugs?” Luke repeats.
Caroline: “LSD,” she murmurs into his ear.
GM: “Fuck,” her brother whispers furiously.
Caroline: “And with an injured cop they’re going to be sniffing around extra hard. Do you know how badly he was injured?”
GM: “He’s in the hospital, Caroline. They’re not… he sounded like he was hurt pretty badly. The cops have all been saying what a legend on the force his father was. Gettis actually remarked on that, and he’s hardly said a word.”
Caroline: “Then I’ll make the call, but this is going to take a lot of clout, including, likely, Dad getting involved.”
GM: Luke sighs heavily. “Well, the milk’s spilled. Nothing to do now but mop it up.”
Caroline: She nods. “All right.”
GM: “We’ve been trying to reach Cécilia’s mother. This would be so much easier if she were here too.”
Caroline: “Let me get things moving, sooner rather than later,” Caroline replies. “Let Cécilia know. Have her get her sisters ready, and get the number for the family attorney if she has one.” She slides away from her brother and digs for her phone.
GM: Luke puts a hand on her shoulder before she goes. “Maybe you should talk with Cécilia’s sisters, Caroline. Hear their story and school them on what to say. Cécilia’s been making calls to her mother’s lawyer, but she hasn’t been able to get him out of bed.” He then corrects, “Or at least, school them on what not to say. I know, they shouldn’t say anything at this point.”
Caroline: “Anything they tell me I’m obligated to repeat. I have no privilege with them, or anyone for that matter right now,” she explains, then sighs. “But I’ll speak with them briefly.”
GM: “This is why we called you, Caroline,” Luke replies with a weary smile. “Now all right. Let’s.”
Caroline: The not-quite lawyer moves over to the younger girls, heeled feet clapping on the tiled floor.
GM: The Devillers girls’ already pale complexions are blanched still further. The other girls aren’t taking it much better. Hannah’s mother is gone from the room. Cécilia is cradling a sniffling Simmone and stroking her hair.
Caroline: “Girls, I’m sorry this is happening to you, but I want you to understand so that you know what’s coming and that you’re going to be all right at the end of it, ok?”
GM: “Pretty sure they’re all fucked, actually,” the handsome cop remarks.
Caroline: “You should stand by that phone,” Caroline replies. “It’s going to start ringing soon.”
GM: The girls’ faces are like seesaws as they rise, fall, and then rise just a little at the cop’s and Caroline’s alternating words.
“You’re Caroline, right?” says one of Cécilia’s sisters. “Are you a lawyer? L-listen, we-”
“Don’t say anything, Yvette,” Cécilia urges gently but firmly.
Caroline: She turns her attention back to the girls. “Let me finish,” she interrupts.
“Because you’ve been arrested you will be searched. It’s going to be invasive, and probably a little humiliating. I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do about that. Don’t try to fight, just make sure you remember anything that happens that is inappropriate. After that they’re probably going to keep questioning you. Because you’re all minors they can’t put you in the parish jail, so you’re likely to be held here until they decide what to do. I’ll do everything I can to clear this up before that happens, but the most important thing to remember is nothing you tell them is going to make this better, it only eliminates options for you in the future.”
“You don’t have to explain anything. Any time they ask you questions about what happened ask for an attorney. Nothing you tell them is going to make them stop. But stay tough, you’ll get through this. I’m going to go make some phone calls to try and get you out of here more quickly, ok?”
GM: The teenagers seem to cling to Caroline’s words like drowning women to driftwood. They nod along, whether in gratitude, agreement, or simple understanding.
“Someone’s been watching those ‘if you’re ever arrested’ YouTube vids,” remarks the grinning cop. “They don’t include the pep talks, though. That’s a nice touch.”
“Those are for a more black audience though,” remarks the other cop behind the desk. “Uh, no offense, Captain.”
The captain ignores the man entirely.
Caroline: Caroline turns back to the first cop. “I know you’re upset that one of your own is hurt, and I’m sorry, and I hope you catch whoever was responsible. But god help you if you stick even a toe out of line here, because no one else will.”
GM: “Don’t you worry about us, ma’am. You worry about those girls,” the cop answers.
Caroline: “What could they have to worry about surrounded by New Orleans’ finest?” Caroline asks as she pulls out her phone, her heels again snapping against the tile as she heads for the door.
GM: “Our mother won’t forget this, Caroline,” Cécilia calls, repeating Luke’s words as she strokes Simmone’s hair.
The female cop re-emerges from the room ahead and looks across the girls. “All right, next one in.”
Caroline: The heiress continues walking, seeking privacy outside for the calls she’s about to make.
GM: Caroline makes her first call. The phone rings several times.
“Caroline. What is it?” sounds an older man’s steady voice without preamble. This isn’t the first time Carson has been called by one of Nathan’s children in the middle of the night. Or about one of Nathan’s children.
Caroline: “I’m sorry to call so late, Uncle Carson, but there’s been an incident. No one in the family involved directly, it’s more than vaguely within our interests, as well as… well. I’ll just get to it.”
GM: There’s an expectant silence from the other end of the line.
Caroline: “You remember the Devillers family, Luke has been going out with one of their daughters? Three of them were arrested this evening on a laundry list of charges related to an incident where an officer and another teenage girl were injured. Warren Whitney’s daughter was also involved. I don’t think they were directly involved in either injury, but you know how the police get when one of their own is hurt. They’ve gone… well, high and right. Luke called me to see if I could provide some guidance, but this is going to turn into both a nightmare for both families, and a public affairs nightmare for the NOPD if someone doesn’t step in.”
GM: “I know who the Devillers are, Caroline,” her uncle (technically first cousin once removed, but easier to call him that) replies to her initial question. Not dryly. Just as a simple statement of fact.
There’s a pause as the criminal judge seems to chew over her words. “What station are they being held at?”
Caroline: “The Eighth District. They were getting ready to strip-search a 10-year-old girl on charges including battery of an officer and stalking when I stepped out to make the call. I don’t think they realize—or care—what kind of a mess they’ve stepped into.”
GM: “Injured cops,” Carson replies. Not tersely, but emphatically. “They look after their own. Especially here.”
Caroline: “I know, I know,” Caroline replies. Knowingly, but not impatiently.
GM: “All right. I’ll call Delron and get the warrants rejected. You already know these girls shouldn’t say anything.” With those final words, the call ends with a click not unlike the safety of the .45 Colt that Westley has wondered if the Vietnam vet actually sleeps with.
Caroline: Caroline lets out a small sigh of relief—one that’s all-too small. Rejecting the warrants will take time. She wonders how many of the girls will get processed before that happens.
Another shake of her head, another call, this one to her ex. There’s no certainty he’s awake or on the floor, but there’s also a better than zero chance. Even if he isn’t on tonight, he’ll eventually be able to give her better information than she has.
GM: Caroline’s phone rings several times.
“Hi, this is Neil. Please leave your name and number, and I’ll get back to you,” sounds the resident doctor’s pre-recorded voice.
Caroline: “Neil, I got a call about a girl and a cop that got banged up pretty badly. I was hoping you might have heard something about it. Give me a call back. I promise, no Hippo.” The last bit is a touch of levity, an inside joke from when they were both pre-med and eager for all the gory details.
GM: After ending the call on that nostalgic note, Caroline has better luck with her next one. After all, this is the time when Jessica White is on shift.
“Hi, Caroline?” greets the young officer. No relation so far as she knows to the Captain White here. It’s a common enough last name.
Caroline: “Hey Jessica, how’s it going?”
GM: “Well, the night shift is what it is. I had a pretty weird call recently though.”
GM: “Well, a woman called 911 when a random stranger by a po’boy joint threw a trash can at her head. So I showed up and arrested him. Because, well, for battery. But the woman says, her exact words, ‘whatever. He’s not why I called. I called because the po’boy place didn’t give me enough sriracha’.”
Jessica laughs. “You just can’t make this up.”
Caroline: “Wow.” Caroline keeps her impatience to a minimum through the story despite the seriousness of the matter at hand, but she still can’t help but smile. “Every night an adventure.”
GM: “The woman said her server was rude, so she wanted to see if we could harass him for more sauce. We decided to remove her from the po’boy joint instead. Anyway, what’s got you calling at this hour?”
Caroline: “I wish it was happy news. I heard one of yours got hurt tonight, wondered if you’d heard anything about it.”
GM: “Oh, no, I hadn’t,” Jessica says concernedly. “Not yet, anyways. Who was it?”
Caroline: “I didn’t get the details, but your old fossil is all over it. He’s here in the 8th District having 10-year-old heiresses arrested.”
GM: “Really, the dinosaur? Huh.”
Caroline: “Yeah, I guess the guy’s father was big on the force? Maybe they used to work together.”
GM: “That’d be a first. I can’t picture him working with anyone. Not that he seems to mind me working for him.” There’s a simultaneous smile and frustration to the words.
Caroline: “I’ll stick to only imagining. Anyway, right, thanks anyway. I’m going to make a couple other calls before the truckloads of attorneys start to show up here. The dino really kicked over a hornet’s nest with who got picked up. We need to catch up sometime though, maybe an early breakfast coming off shift or something. Let me know a day that works.”
GM: “Yeah, def—wait, hold on a second, you said he arrested a 10-year-old heiress?”
Caroline: “I don’t know if it was him specifically, but a bunch of the girls that got picked up in association with it are… they’re the children of important people, Jess. People who are going to raise absolute hell over this if their kids were traumatized and strip-searched without a really good reason—and who are connected enough to do it.”
GM: “Oh, wow. Sounds like a hornet’s nest…” Jessica trails off.
Caroline: “I know you guys and gals in blue have to look out for each other. And everyone understands that whenever a cop gets hurt it’s serious.”
GM: “Yeah. He’s actually felt on edge lately. The dinosaur, that is. I mean, I think. It’s hard to tell with him.”
Caroline: “Any particular reason you can think of?”
GM: “Wish I could. He actually hasn’t been asking me to do his paperwork.”
Caroline: “Maybe the old dog has a bone he’s gnawing on?”
GM: “Maybe.” There’s another smile that sounds more than a little frustrated. “Though I don’t think he’d wanna share it with a pup like me.”
Caroline: “You’ll get there, Jess, but I really have to run.”
GM: “Right, I understand. I’ll give you a call back when I hear more.”
Caroline: “You’re the best.”
GM: “Thanks. Ok, good luck with everything.”
Caroline: The heiress stands out in the heavy night air of the city as she scrolls through her phone for her next contact. She finally settles on one and hits send. She hopes her old ‘boss’ is not otherwise engaged.
A hint of a smirk pulls at the corner of her mouth. It could be a banner night for her if she’s available.
GM: “Hi, Caroline?” sounds her old boss’ voice.
Little to Caroline’s surprise, Denise is awake. Fortunately, she does not sound currently ‘preoccupied.’
Caroline: “Good morning,” Caroline replies, glancing at her gold watch. “I trust I didn’t wake you, Denise?”
GM: “Oh no, I was already up. I’m a night owl. Sounds like you might be too.”
Caroline knows all about what a ‘night owl’ Denise is.
Caroline: “When required. How would you like to make a lot of very powerful friends?”
GM: “Oh? We talking some new clients for the firm?”
Caroline: “Both professional and private friends,” Caroline amends. “You’re familiar with the Whitney family, and the Devillers family? They’ve got kids in trouble down at the Eighth Precinct and attorneys that can’t be bothered to get out of bed. A cop got hurt responding to their call and they found some drugs on the scene. I know you don’t usually do criminal, but…”
“I suspect the families would be extremely appreciative of anyone who could ensure their daughters weren’t left alone… and were I confirmed to be still in your employ I could serve as an advanced liaison until you arrived.”
GM: There’s a pause as Denise seems to think things over. It’s two rules to break, but the Big Easy has never been a city with much regard for the rules. And her old boss does so want to be something at the firm besides a subject of water cooler gossip.
It’s not a very long pause.
“Okay. I’m going to come over for this, but until then, you’re still an unpaid intern proud to work at the firm of Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale.”
Caroline: “I’ll see you then.” Caroline hangs up. She considers another call, then decides better of it and sends a text instead to her mother.
She doubts her mother is awake—and doesn’t want to wake her father—but neither of those things are more concerning than being accused of sitting on the secret.
GM: Unsurprisingly at the late hour, but also perhaps unsurprisingly for Caroline’s mother in general, there is no reply.
Caroline: Caroline rolls her eyes. It’s doubtful her mother would bother to reply even in the middle of the day, but she’s done her due diligence. She tucks the phone away and heads back towards the booking room.
GM: Caroline’s progress is interrupted, or perhaps facilitated, when a man holds the police station’s door open for her. He’s tall and dark-haired, with a neatly-trimmed mustache and goatee. He looks in his 40s or 50s, but well-preserved, with a few streaks of silver through his hair. He’s dressed in a deep maroon sports coat and holding a soaked umbrella in his other hand.
“I’d say it’s a late hour for a young lady like you to be up,” the man remarks as he looks over Caroline’s attire, “but odds are it’s for something important.”
Caroline: “No rest for the wicked,” Caroline replies with half-false cheer and a smile. “And yourself?” she asks as she slides through the held open door.
GM: The man’s initial smile, which was already a half-hearted thing, dips further. “I’m here for someone innocent,” he replies as the door closes behind them.
“Good evening, sir. How ca-” the receptionist starts.
“My daughter’s been arrested. Her name is Rachel Freneau. Where is she?” he demands brusquely.
Caroline: “I think you and I are here on the same matter,” Caroline offers quietly.
GM: “Either the booking room or the holding cells,” answers the desk sergeant. “Are y-”
The man responds to neither Caroline nor the sergeant as he strides past the front desk. His face is heated with anger.
“Should we stop him?” the receptionist asks the sergeant.
The dough-bellied man snorts.
Caroline: Caroline follows in his wake.
GM: The two arrive at the booking room. Rachel is gone. So is one of the older Devillers girls. The other two look miserable, especially Simmone, who’s tightly if not desperately clinging to Cécilia’s waist like it’s a life preserver while her oldest sister strokes her head and murmurs assurances. Luke is talking to the Whitney girl, who looks somewhat better than the other teenagers.
Caroline: “They’ve been searched before processing,” Caroline fills in.
GM: “You stripped her?” Rachel’s father demands of the police, clenching his fist.
“Standard procedure for all inmates, sir,” Captain White replies.
Caroline: Caroline watches quietly and glances patiently at the phone. Without the warrants they can’t finish processing them—the best they can do is hold them for questioning.
GM: “I want to see her. Now,” Rachel’s father replies coldly.
“What’s your relation to the inmate?” asks the cop behind the desk.
“Shut up,” Captain White replies without looking at the man.
“Manley, take him to the holding cells.”
“This way, sir,” smiles the handsome cop.
The two head out.
Caroline: Caroline heads over to Luke. “They’re pulling the warrants now and my attorney is on the way.”
GM: Luke looks relieved. “Good,” he replies in a lowered voice. “You can see they haven’t searched Simmone yet. She shouldn’t have to go through that.”
“I can volunteer to get searched before her. That might actually make Yvonne feel better, come to think, if she can feel like she’s protecting her sister,” the Whitney girl says.
Caroline: “We’ll see if it comes to that,” Caroline answers. “But thank you.” Now that she’s back in the holding room, frustration at her own relative helplessness in the situation begins to eat at her again.
GM: Luke nods. “Yes, that’s a good idea, Sarah.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t think of it before Yvette had to go,” the teenager admits with a sad smile. “Or… well, Hannah.”
Caroline: “Better late than never,” Caroline answers, feeling the words biting all to close to her own efforts. “I don’t know if your family attorney is in route, but if they aren’t, my own will be happy to represent you until this is sorted out.”
GM: “Where are my manners,” Luke replies with a faint smile. “Sarah, this is my sister Caroline. She’s studying to be a lawyer. Caroline, this is Sarah Whitney. She’s Lyman Whitney’s granddaughter.”
Caroline: “Nice to meet you, Sarah, I wish it were under better circumstances,” Caroline answers.
GM: “I’m sure we’ve met somewhere before, Caroline, but I’m pleased to now.” Sarah gives another sad smile. “And under circumstances where I’ll get to have a lawyer, I think I’ll consider them pretty good. My family won’t forget this.”
Caroline: “In that case,” the ‘intern’ leans close and continues in a low voice, “what the hell happened? The censored and short version,” she asks. “Somehow a cop got hurt, and another girl?”
She glances around to ensure none of the other police are close by.
GM: Captain White is talking in quiet tones to Gettis. The already laconic police captain seems to be doing most of the pair’s talking.
Sarah glances around at the present cops, then whispers, “It’s a long story, and any lawyer should hear it all. But Amelie tried to climb a gate, fell, and hit her head. I’m not sure what happened to the cop. He gave first aid, then… fell down and screamed, this just awful sound, then ran out. When we followed him outside, he was lying on the ground.”
Caroline: Caroline tries to keep her face passive at the name ‘Amelie’, but the name, present company, and circumstances draw a single question to the forefront of her mind:
Are you fucking kidding me?
GM: Caroline’s phone abruptly buzzes with a text from Denise.
Caroline: She scowls at the phone, but the beginnings of a story is already coming together. Troubled teen experimenting with drugs suffers a tragic fall. Responding heroic police officer is injured in the line of duty. It’s a narrative she can spin in both directions. It’s one the family has used before. Spike a few blood samples. God knows they did with Westley.
GM: “Next one in,” calls the female cop. She’s followed out of the room by Yvette, whose face is flushed bright red with equal parts fury and humiliation. The other Devillers look mortified as they stare at their sister. Cécilia lets go of Simmone and rushes up to her.
“Je suis tellement désolé que ça t’arrive, Yvette, maman va leur faire payer ça, reste calme,” she exclaims as she hugs the younger girl.
(“I’m so sorry this had to happen to you, Yvette. Maman will make them pay for this. Just stay calm.”)
“I’ll go next,” Sarah quickly calls up.
The cop behind the desk snickers.
Caroline: “Je soupçonne plutôt qu’ils vont regretter des choses avant que ce soit fini,” Caroline agrees.
(“I rather suspect they’ll regret things before it’s over.”)