Day 25 of StoryADay September.
Write a story that revolves around a character with a ‘fatal flaw’ who, as a result, commits a fatal error that has a tragic result. Use a frame story to reinforce the flaw.
Smith flipped open the front cover of the case file. It had taken all day to convince his sergeant that he could handle this case, persuade him there wasn’t any need to get the FBI involved. Smith had one day. One day to interview Dr. Chase Gordon. One day to get him to confess.
The sheets in the file were in reverse chronological order. Smith flipped quickly to the last page, wanting to think through events from start to finish.
Kimberley Bryan, 24. Grad student at NYU. Found hanging from a ceiling fan by her roommate. Dr. Gordon had been treating her for OCD.
Nate Green, 30. Construction worker. Jumped off the top of a forty-foot scaffold during his lunch break. Dr. Gordon had seen him once for anger management.
Chelsea Snow, 42. Stay at home mother of five. Found drowned in her bathtub after swallowing a bottle of Percocet. Seeing Dr. Gordon weekly for bipolar disorder.
Three suicides. All seeing Dr. Gordon within a week of their deaths. Police didn’t see a connection until Mrs. Snow’s husband came in convinced something was off. He had seen Chelsea depressed before. None of the signs were there in the weeks before her death. He wanted records from Dr. Gordon, transcripts of his wife’s sessions. He threatened to go get them on his own if the police wouldn’t investigate.
Parks was the detective assigned to go talk to Dr. Gordon, see if anything felt off. Twenty minutes after leaving Gordon’s office, Parks pulled his car to the side of the road, put his service weapon in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.
Gordon was brought in for questioning. Carpenter and Munoz interviewed Dr.Gordon for two hours, all of it caught on tape. The three detectives watching from a neighboring room saw nothing out of the ordinary. Carpenter and Munoz left the interview, walked down to the evidence locker where they obtained two knives. Each of the men slit his own throat.
That was yesterday.
Smith closed the file. He didn’t know how Gordon was doing it. Somehow he was hypnotizing people, planting a command for self-destruction. Smith wasn’t worried. He knew he would be okay. He couldn’t be hypnotized. Smith planned to watch Gordon closely, figure out how he was doing it, and use that information to force a confession.
Time to get started.
Smith opened the door to Interrogation Room 3. Dr. Gordon was already inside, sitting behind the small table. His feet were shackled to each other and the bolt in the floor. His hands were cuffed together, cinched tight to a bar on the table, restricting his movements. Dr. Gordon looked relaxed, unconcerned with the charges or his captivity. He smiled at Smith.
“Ah, another detective. I told the others everything I know. Which is nothing.”
“You’re not responsible for the deaths of these people?” Smith tossed out the handful of photos in his hand, three civilians, and three detectives. They spread across the table.
Gordon took a moment to look them over. “I’ve met them all. Spoken with all of them. But I did not kill any of them.”
“I know. What I want to know is how you got them to kill themselves,” Smith settled into the chair across from Gordon, leaning his elbows on the table.
The right side of Gordon’s mouth quirked up into a crooked smile. “People make choices. I can’t be responsible for all of them.” Gordon paused, his eyes traveling over the faces on the table again, coming to a stop on Nate Green. He managed to tap the photo with the tip of his middle finger. “This man reminded me of my son. They didn’t look anything alike; it was the energy inside. The sense of invincibility. My son never took my advice, listened to my warnings. Mr. Green didn’t, either. He felt he didn’t need me.”
“Is that why you made him kill himself?”
Gordon laughed. “I warned him of the fallacy of invincibility. He ignored my warning.”
Smith changed tacks. “What happened to your son? When he didn’t listen?”
“He fell from the sky. Much like Mr. Green. Jeff stepped out of a plane, believing a thin piece of fabric would slow his fall.”
Gordon nodded once.
“People do that all of the time. Usually it’s okay. Sometimes things go wrong. Your son took a risk.”
“He thought he was invincible. That he could live forever. Many of my patients share this delusion. If they do the right things at the right time, all will be right in their world. It’s a myth. Shit happens, as they say.” Gordon leaned back in his seat as far as his arms would allow, giving the light above access to his well-buffed nails.
Smith’s eyes were drawn to the glint of light off the hard surface, watching the gentle motion of the finger back and forth, the light tracking across the surface of his retina. After a long moment, Smith’s eyes lifted to Gordon’s face, watched the man pull his lip in between his teeth and bite down gently.
“I don’t think I have anything else to say.” Gordon broke the silence. “Perhaps we can talk again tomorrow?”
Smith blinked hard, then nodded. “Yeah, maybe tomorrow.” He gathered up the pictures, stacking them neatly before leaving the room.
The next day, Detective Ohara opened the file for the case against Dr. Chase Gordon. There was a fresh sheet on top, describing the death of Detective Smith. Smith was found dead in his home, apparently having consumed a box of rat poison.