The Big Hush
(A Dragnet Fan Fiction Story)
By: Kristi N. Zanker
Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Mark VII Limited and Universal. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Dragnet. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning: This story contains strong language, adult themes, sexual situations, and a disturbing subject matter.
Joe watched in the rearview mirror as the elder of the two girls produced a comb from her purse and proceeded to fix the younger one’s hair. She carefully parted Donna’s hair off to the side with the little black comb. Gently, while keeping the part in place, she gathered up the loose hair, ran the comb through once more and wound the rubber band until it was tight enough to keep all of the hair inside. From viewing this he could already tell that this girl probably was one of the oldest, if not the oldest in her family. Even though she was a college student, Carrie seemed more of a mother-figure. Both of them were silent as she brushed the ponytail. Donna mumbled a quiet “thank you” while Carrie acknowledged with a slight nod, and put the comb back into her purse.
Like at the dormitory, both men escorted the girls through Parker Center to an elevator. Once inside, Joe pressed the round “3” button and up the cage went. When the doors opened, they filed out into the hallway and Joe led them down to an Interrogation Room. He stopped and poked his head into the office and wondered if policewoman Dorothy Miller could join them. She obliged and followed everyone to the room.
Before opening the door, Joe turned the black rectangular sign to “Interview in Progress.” He then unlocked the door for the two somber girls, policewoman Dorothy Miller, and Bill. After everyone was seated at the table, and the door closed, Bill took out his notepad and Joe did the same.
“We’ll start with you.” Joe pointed with his pencil at Carrie who sat across from Bill. “What’s your full name?”
“Carrie Elizabeth Darling,” she replied. “That’s my last name, Darling.”
“How old are you?” he continued with the pencil poised millimeters above the notepad.
“Twenty-one,” she answered.
“You are the Resident Assistant on the fourth floor of Wicker Hall, is that correct?”
“How long have you known Donna and Dorothy?” asked Bill.
“Since the beginning of last semester. They’re freshmen; most of the girls on my floor are. There are a few sophomores and juniors though.”
“I see,” said Joe. “Do you have any siblings?”
“Yes, I’m the oldest of three girls in the family.”
“What is Donna’s roommate’s name?” asked Bill.
“Dorothy Richmond. I don’t know her middle name. I mean, I have it written down, it’s just that I can’t remember it right now,” said Carrie, who was silent for a few seconds and then spoke again. “Is Dorothy going to be okay? Maybe we should call the hospital.”
“The hospital will notify us as soon as they find out something,” said Joe. “When did you first hear that Dorothy wasn’t feeling well?”
“Donna frantically knocked on my door. I had been studying for a test when I heard the knocking...then her crying. She said that Dorothy was bleeding very bad.”
Carrie removed her purse that had been on her lap, and placed it on the table in front of her. She put her arms around it as if to hug and protect it.
“I didn’t know what to think, so I went down to their room and there was Dorothy. I called an ambulance and then the police,” she resumed, pushing a strand of hair out of her face. The flip she wore had been matted down by the rain that had slowed to a drizzle when they entered Parker Center.
“What made you decide to call the police?” asked Bill, as he flipped the first page over and began to write on the next one.
“Well, something didn’t seem right to me. Besides, I’d seen this before….a girl bleeding like that.”
“What about this other girl you saw?” asked Joe, who repeated what Bill had done with his notepad a few seconds ago.
“Her roommate had said she had an abortion.”
“And you think that’s what happened to Dorothy?” commented Joe.
“Yes, I do. But I don’t know anything else about it, where Dorothy went or who did it. I do know that a friend of mine told me once that some girls who had an abortion at school, they’d throw the remains down the garbage chute. Every floor in the dorm has a chute. But I don’t know anything else. I’ll help in anyway that I can with Dorothy and Donna, but I’m telling you, I don’t know anything beyond finding Dorothy like that in her bed.”
“Donna?” asked Joe. “Is it alright if we talk with you now?”
At the sound of her name, the girl raised her head slightly and mumbled, “Okay.”
“What’s your full name?” asked Bill.
“Donna Elizabeth Peary,” she responded and then cleared her throat.
“How do you spell your last name?” asked Joe.
“How old are you?” asked Bill.
“Eighteen,” she replied softly, although she looked much younger, more like fifteen or sixteen in her blue and white dress and hair pulled back into a ponytail.
“Are you the oldest in your family too?” Bill continued, trying to create small talk to ease the girl’s nervousnees.
“No, I have an older brother.”
“What do you know about Dorothy’s condition?” asked Joe.
The room was silent after the question had been raised. Donna folded her hands in front of her on the table. She cleared her throat again.
“Would you like a glass of water?” inquired Bill.
“No, thank you,” the girl answered back, waited a few more seconds, took a deep breath and then spoke. As she told her story, her hands unfolded and refolded several times. When unfolded, she’d run her finger slightly across the table, as if to feel how smooth the surface was. Donna never looked anyone in the eye while she talked. Her face would blush at times dealing with the context of what had happened.
“Well, about two weeks ago, Dorothy told me she was pregnant. She had a boyfriend named Danny. I didn’t see him much. But when she met him, Dorothy always came back to our room very late. She wouldn’t share anything with me, except that she had a good time on her date. But one night, she told me she was going to have a baby.”
Donna began to cry just then and Carrie whipped a pink handkerchief from her purse and handed it to her. Policewoman Dorothy Miller, who sat next to Donna at the end of the table, gently touched her shoulder for reassurance.
“I didn’t know….I thought you…I…well…I thought you had to be married to have a baby. Honest, I really thought that. It was wrong to…you know…you had to wait until you were married. It’s what my mother told me.”
“It could be, in the proper perspective, yes, but in reality? No…you don’t have to be married in order to have a baby,” replied Joe, feeling sorry for the sheltered girl. “But we’re not here to discuss the dynamics, morals or values of a relationship; we just want to know what happened with Dorothy.”
“I didn’t know whether to be happy for her or what. I asked if she wanted a boy or a girl. She just laughed at me and said I was so naïve. Dorothy and I weren’t close friends, but we got along as roommates. She ran with a different crowd, I guess.”
Joe listened intently as Donna continued her story. The girl still fidgeted with her hands, pulling at her fingers more and more as she went on. When her roommate had asked Donna to go with her to someone’s apartment, she wondered why her other friends didn’t go with instead. When asked that, Dorothy explained that her friends had classes them and couldn’t miss them. At first, Donna thought she was going to a party, but the time seemed to be off, still it was a Thursday and that’s when the parties began. However, she knew that parties didn’t usually start until much later in the evening or even at night. So, she went along, taking the bus to a neighborhood near the campus.
Joe and Bill had asked for an address, but all Donna could do was shake her head. When asked to describe the building, the girl remarked that it was very old and dirty. The hallway and stairwell smelled musty, like nothing had been cleaned in ages. They had climbed a staircase to the second floor and knocked on a door. A voice told them to come in and as they entered, Donna was especially surprised to find the living room looking like a waiting room of some sort. A desk sat in the middle of the room and a girl had been there typing something on the typewriter. Two other girls were seated against the wall in the same kind of metal chairs that were in the dorm rooms, Donna had shared this puzzling moment with everyone in the Interrogation Room.
To Donna, her roommate seemed like she knew what she was doing for she went up the girl at the desk and gave her name, then handed her a piece of paper with a stack of dollar bills, and the girl said the doctor would be with her soon. This bewildered Donna. A doctor? Here, in someone’s apartment? Something didn’t seem right, but the younger girl kept her mouth shut. To her, Dorothy was older and more mature and knew about certain things that Donna never even heard of. Joe had asked her to describe the room around her and what she saw.
Besides the living room, where the desk sat, more chairs were situated in where the dining room should have been. There was a kitchen in which Donna noticed that the appliances were older and very dirty. The linoleum floor in the kitchen resembled the linoleum in the dorms. There was a thinly carpeted hallway where two doors were shut. One of them was open and she had guessed that must’ve been the bathroom. She did mention that she saw a spider crawling up the wall, then shuddered, for she hated spiders or insects of any kind.
When asked how long they sat there before Dorothy was called into one of the rooms, Donna guessed it had been around twenty minutes or so. Both men wondered if anything had happened in those twenty minutes, like did they see any other girls emerge from the rooms down the hallway. She nodded and told them that a girl did come out of one of the rooms, holding her stomach. Someone who had been waiting for her asked if she was okay. The girl mentioned that she felt groggy, had cramps and wanted to get some aspirin at the drugstore and then head home.
When Dorothy’s name was called, Donna stood at the same time, but was told to wait until everything was finished. She sat down again and watched her roommate head into the far room toward the right.
“Waiting while she was in there was so scary. I kept wondering what was going on,” said Donna, who now had her hands in her lap, folded.
“Did the receptionist at the desk say anything or did the phone ring at anytime you were there?” asked Joe.
“Yeah, I remember the phone ringing. It rang once and she picked it up. I could only hear her side of the conversation of course. She had asked how far along the caller had been and then took her name and set up an appointment. She then asked the person at the other end how they got this number. I thought that was strange.
“How long did you wait for Dorothy?” asked Bill.
“I was there until it got dark outside. When Dorothy came out of the room, she looked sick, like the other girl did. She asked the girl at the desk if she could use the phone to call a cab. When we got back to our room I asked her what went on there and that I hadn’t known she was going to a doctor. She said, '“Remember what I told you—about me having a baby? Well, I won’t be having a baby anymore."’ I honestly didn’t know or understand what she was talking about. Then, she became very rude toward me, saying, ‘"Don’t you know anything! What kind of cave do you live in? Do you honestly think I could finish school with a bun in the oven? My parents would kill me if they found out I was pregnant! So, I had to get rid of it and the doctor there took care of everything."’ I told her that I really didn’t think her parents would kill her, they’d be angry for sure, but they wouldn’t do that. I told her that it didn’t seem right to kill her baby and she told me to shut up.
“I just sat there staring at her. She rolled onto her side and her back was to me. I was in shock; I couldn’t believe what I just heard. When she told me she was going to have a baby, I kept picturing this little baby boy or girl. ‘"You killed your baby!"’ I said and started to cry just then. Her poor baby! I couldn’t help myself; this whole thing was so frightening. And then, the next morning, I saw the blood and I thought Dorothy was dead.”
The girl began to cry again, dabbing her eyes with Carrie's pink handkerchief. Carrie gently rubbed her back and policewoman Dorothy Miller touched her arm lightly, to indicate that it was going to be okay. Amongst Donna’s sobs, the phone on the table rang and Joe picked up the receiver.
“Interrogation Room, Friday,” he said and then paused to listen to the caller on the other end. “Okay….I see…. We’ll talk early next week then.”
The receiver was rested once again on the cradle of the phone.
“That was Central Receiving,” announced Joe.
As soon as Donna heard, she gasped, “Is Dorothy all right?”
“She’s okay. They stopped the hemorrhaging, but she’s still under the anesthetic and won’t be able to talk to anyone until early next week. She'll need a lot of rest this weekend. ”
“Why not? Why can’t we go see her?” asked Donna.
“They need to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t start bleeding again. Bill and I will see her Monday morning.”
“I would like to go with you,” asked Donna.
“No, it would be better if you didn’t this time,” said Joe. “But she is okay. She will be resting for awhile. She’s been through a lot.”
“Where’s her baby?”
The question startled Joe and he had trouble finding an answer. He didn’t want to tell her that the baby probably had been thrown away in a dumpster or burned in an incinerator. He told the youthful girl that the baby was in better place now and that sometimes this world was so unpleasant, that they had to leave quickly. That answer seemed to satisfy her for the time being.
After the questioning was over, Joe and Bill drove both girls back to the dormitory. It was no longer raining, but the sky remained gloomy, tempting everyone that the rain could appear at any minute. They walked the girls to their rooms, first Carrie, and then Donna. They noticed that when they reached Donna and Dorothy’s room, the soiled sheets and mattress were gone. A new mattress and crisp white linen had been placed on the bed. It was almost as if nothing at all had happened.
For the rest of the day, Joe and Bill tried to reach Shelly Forrester's parents, but the hotel clerk said he hadn’t seen them. The coroner had brought a bag that held her belongings, including Larry Watson's school ring on a gold chain. For the time being, the bag was put away in a filing cabinet.
When they returned from lunch, someone had left a message for Joe on a slip of paper. He read the message which informed him to call Gracie when he got back. Before catching up on paperwork, he picked up the phone and called Gracie where she worked at the insurance company.
Joe listened as she explained that her car wouldn’t start and wondered if he could pick her up from work. She went on to say that one of the salesmen at work, who was a mechanic on the side, said there was a problem with the distributor or something. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, so a tow truck was summoned and her 1962 adobe beige Corvair was sent to a local repair shop.
Joe said that he would be delighted to pick Gracie up, if work didn’t go overtime. He was sure they probably wouldn’t work late today and said he’d be there around five and if, for some reason, plans changed, he would let her know.
“What are you grinning about?” asked Bill, as Joe hung up the phone.
“Gracie’s car broke down,” he replied, as he began to organize a stack of papers in front of him. He wasn’t saying anymore.
Copyright © 2011 by Kristi N.
Continue to Chapter Four
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Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker
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