Walter stared stone-faced at the mirrored walls of the room. The handcuffs and bland white walls were starting to irritate him, but he knew it would all be over soon. It would be over when he decided it would be. He closed his eyes and began to recite the Lord's Prayer.
Outside in the viewing area, DCI Lawrence grabbed a bottle of water and two plastic cups. He waved the bottle of water at the glass.
"I know he did it... I’ll get his confession this time if it’s the last thing I do," he said, as much to himself as to the group gathered behind the mirrors. "I'm going in. It's been a long day and we don't have much time left, so I'm going straight for the jugular. You all ready?"
The group spun round silently on their chairs and watched. Cameras focused and microphones listening.
DCI Lawrence entered the room and sat down opposite Walter, pouring them both a cup of water. He slid one across the table.
Walter opened his tired eyes and sat up straight in his chair. DCI Lawrence gestured to the mirrors, and the lighting slowly became brighter.
"Walter, we meet again," said DCI Lawrence. He reached forward and pressed the button on the tape recorder that sat between them on the desk. It let out a whirring sound.
"Tut-tut. I must say, putting a hood on me and bundling me into the back of your car like a common criminal was a bit Hollywood, don't you think? Not your usual style, DCI Lawrence. I thought, as it was me, I would warrant something a little more dignified."
DCI Lawrence checked his watch.
"Interviewing Mr. Walter Brown. It's Twenty-three-thirty on the Ninth of July twenty twenty-one. Officers present, DCI Lawrence assisted by a full OBS Team. Interview taking place in the Observation suite.” DCI Lawrence sat back in his chair and forced a smile at Walter. He repeatedly clicked the lid on his pen. "I need to let you know this interview is being recorded."
Walter nodded slowly.
"For the benefit of the tape the suspect nodded. Walter, have you ever heard the saying 'killing two birds with one stone'?"
Let the game commence.
Walter tapped his fingers rhythmically on the table for a few seconds. The corner of his mouth twitched as he held back a smile.
"Of course I have, David. I assume it's ok if I call you David, as you are assuming it's ok to refer to me with my Christian name."
"Walter, I feel like we're old friends. You can call me whatever you want." David leaned on the desk. "If I change that saying a little to fit the situation we're in right now, what would I have to change it to?"
Walter stared at his reflection as he absorbed the words and allowed the smile to creep onto his face.
"Well, David, I have no idea. Enlighten me. Please do."
David made another gesture, and the lighting brightened further.
"What if I was to say, killing four children with one pair of hands and hiding their lifeless little bodies?"
Walter's smile vanished. His face became emotionless.
"I see." Said Walter. "We're doing this again, are we? I'm too old to do this again, David." He paused for a moment. "I must say, David, you too are looking older. Tired, too. How long has it been since we first met? Thirty years?" I thought you would have taken retirement by now and be living the good life on an exorbitant detective’s pension."
"Correct. It's been thirty years since the first victim went missing, Walter. What did you do with her?"
Walter breathed deeply.
"David, allow me to give you a little metaphor of my own. Human nature is like a garden in need of a gardener. Without this gardener, it becomes overrun with weeds and debris. That is why God sends His Teachers. The human heart is the seat of inner mysteries, the home of God's Revelation. Even as He hath said: "Man is My mystery, and I am his mystery."
David puffed out his cheeks.
"Walter, you may think God is going to save you, but I don't have time for your delusions, or your preaching."
David walked over to the mirror and stared at his reflection, knowing the group of onlookers were just a few centimetres from him on the other side. He removed his tie and undid the top button of his shirt, letting out a big sigh.
"Let's try this again, Walter. Your wife." David flipped open his notepad. "Brenda. Can you tell me where she is?"
Walter reached out and grabbed the plastic cup. Without taking his eyes from David, he took a long, slow sip. He placed it back on the table shakily.
"She is dead, David, but you already know that. She died a long time ago."
David walked around behind Walter and put his hands on the back of his chair.
"How did she die, Walter? how did Brenda die?"
Walter rubbed at the cuffs on his wrist.
"I'll repeat the question. How did she die?"
Walter twitched slightly, but remained silent.
"I'll tell you how she died, Walter."
Walter turned his head away, staring at his reflection, as though he could see straight through the mirror. The group watched on.
“Your wife died during childbirth, is that right?"
Walter said nothing.
"IS THAT RIGHT, WALTER?" David screamed.
Walter scrutinised David. "Yes," he mumbled. "You know she did."
"Can you repeat that a little louder for the benefit of the tape, please?"
"Yes... Yes... YES!"
"And what happened to your daughter, Walter? It was a little girl, wasn't it?"
Walter squashed the plastic cup and flicked it off the table.
"She died too—they both died—but you know that, don't you, David? Why are you making me say these things? Dragging up the past."
"Walter, we have another little girl missing, and the last sighting of her we have is coming home from school three weeks ago. Where is she, Walter?"
Walter toyed with the cuffs. A grin appeared on his face.
"I'm perplexed. Why would you ask me that, David?"
David gestured towards the mirrors. A small tv screen mounted on the wall flicked into life. CCTV footage showed a little girl walking along George street. David watched Walter's expression as he glanced at the screen.
"Keep watching, Walter."
Walter shuffled in his chair and watched. The little girl walked out of shot and the camera refocused on an old man hurrying behind her.
"Walter... What did you do with her? Where is she?" DCI Lawrence's voice was raised. He spun Walter's chair round and leaned in close. "And the others. What did you do with the others, Walter?"
Walter dabbed at his eyes with his sleeve.
"You shouldn't have talked about my wife, David. I don't like you talking about her. I've had enough. This is not fun anymore. I've enjoyed our little exchanges in the past, but this is not fun." Walter paused. A grin spread across his face again. "I believe you should have another officer present during an interview, David. Naughty, naughty. Why are we not following correct protocol? This ends now, David."
"I've got a whole team of people behind the glass, Walter, as you well know."
Walter glanced at the mirrors.
"You need another officer present in the same room, David. You know that, and I know that. So, we stop now. Do you hear me? This is farcical, I'm tired, and I would like to go home."
David discreetly pushed his finger against his tiny earpiece. He shot a look at the mirrors and sat down heavily.
"Ok, Walter. We're going to finish there. Interview terminated at twenty-three fifty-five." He pushed the button on the tape recorder and the whirring stopped.
Walter struggled to stand.
"Here, let me help you up," said David, grabbing Walter's arm. As he straightened himself up, Walter leaned in close to David and whispered.
"I'm surprised to see you still working, David. You should give it up. You look worn out."
David chuckled. "I just can't leave a case unsolved, Walter. You should know that by now."
"We are all God's children David. I am. You are." He whispered so quietly David could only just make out his words as he felt Walter's hot breath on his neck.
"Those little girls were God's children as well. He wanted them back. Just as he wanted my little girl. He told me himself." Walter leaned in even closer so his lips were touching David's ear. "They go cold quickly, don't they, David? They all went cold quickly. He will make them warm again, David. God will make them warm."
A smile crept onto David's face.
"Gotcha!" He whispered back. "You were right about retirement, Walter. I left the force four years ago. Only there was something bothering me. Something eating away at me. It was you, Walter. I knew you were guilty the first time we met."
Seeing the colour drain from his face, David grabbed Walter's arm, squeezing hard.
"I spent the retirement pay cheque building this sound proof observation room. Oh, sorry Walter. Did you think you were in a police station? Silly me, did I forget to mention that? Tut-tut. Naughty, naughty me."
He let go. Walter slumped into the chair, putting his head in his hands.
“No David, no. What have you done? God will see you pay for this.”
David laughed and shook his head.
"It’s over Walter. The parents behind those mirrors have all lost a daughter. I promised each and every one of them I would find the killer.
Now might be a good time to start praying."