The detective pressed the button and began to speak. “Just to get it on record, this is Detective John Morrison, and present with me are Officer Tanner Wallows and Doctor Julia Linden. The date is July 22nd and the time is 2:24 p.m. Today we are going to question Julia Linden in the murder of one Troy Rudkin which occurred on July 19th at approximately 9:30 p.m.”
Detective Morrison looked to the doctor whose expression appeared to be serious yet calm at the same time. “Can you state your name and date of birth?” He asked her.
“Julia Holly Linden. Born May 17, 1958.”
“And your occupation?”
“I’m an endocrinologist in Sacramento and I have practiced for nearly thirty years.”
“Are you familiar with Troy and Rain Rudkin?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Can you please state for the record how you know them?”
“They moved in across the street from me a few months ago.”
“How do you feel about Rain Rudkin, Troy’s wife?”
“Nice lady. Intelligent. Friendly.”
“Did you kill Troy Rudkin?”
“No, I did not.”
“Do you know who did?”
“I do not. I only know that Rain was terrified of some crazy woman that stalked her and her husband back east and that’s why they fled to this part of the country.”
“Did your husband own any guns when he was alive?”
“Yes, he did.”
“What type of gun?”
“A 22 Ruger.”
“Were you aware that it had been missing?”
“No, I was not, or else I would have reported it.”
“Do you believe someone broke into your house and stole the weapon?”
“I most certainly do even though there were never any signs of anyone breaking into my house.”
“Who do you believe stole the gun?”
“I don’t know what to think at this point. I’d like to think that Rain wouldn’t have done such a thing. She seemed to be very devoted to her husband. I would have to go with the crazy woman from back east as my guess and assume that she somehow managed to hunt down the couple once again.”
“So you think that this woman broke into your home and stole the gun?”
“That’s the only obvious thing that makes sense to me. I just don’t know how she managed it without me noticing.”
“Well, I hate to break it to you, Doc, but a witness reports seeing you - two witnesses as a matter of fact - drive up to the Sacramento River the evening of the murder and toss something into the river. That object was later recovered and identified as your late husband’s gun, the 22 Ruger.”
Morrison tried to read the doctor’s expression, but it remained unchanged.
“Witnesses not only described the woman as having your general physical description but also the description of your vehicle. Have you any comments on that?”
“It wasn’t me.”
“You have absolutely no idea how they would just happen to come up with a description matching both you and your car?”
“No, I do not. I only know that there are other people that look similar to me and there are other people that also drive the same if not similar vehicles.”
“Did you ever want the victim, Troy Rudkin, dead at any point?”
“Absolutely not. Why would you ask that? I barely knew him much less ever had any reason to want him dead.”
“How do you feel about his wife?”
“I feel bad for her. She has obviously been through a tremendous ordeal.”
“Some people wonder if you might have become a little obsessed with Rain. Do you think that’s possible?”
“I can’t imagine who these people are supposed to be, but no I don’t think it’s possible. I was kind to her, and I helped her out. That’s all.”
The detective scribbled something in his notes and then said, “Just a few more questions for you if that’s okay.”
“I’ve told you everything I can possibly tell you,” the doctor said rising from her chair. “If you have anything else to say to me, then you will need to do it through my lawyer.”
“Do you have a lawyer?”
“No, I don’t. But I’m prepared to get one if you feel you need to discuss this any further.”
The detective appeared thoughtful for a moment, then he said, “Well, technically we could charge you now on suspicion of murder because the gun recovered from the river appears to be the murder weapon that killed Mr. Rudkin. But because ballistics testing hasn’t been completed yet, we are going to let you go this time. Don’t leave town, Doctor.”
The doctor left the police station and tried to keep from trembling with fear and rage as she steered the car out of the parking lot. She shook horribly.
Witnesses? What witnesses?
She thought and thought and thought about it, but simply did not remember seeing a single soul that night. Then again, she was more preoccupied with dumping the gun than checking out who was around her. She just wanted to get rid of the damn thing and be done with it.
The doctor went home and thought of what the best course of action would be to take next. She wanted to reconcile with Rain. The thought of her suspecting that she had killed Troy nearly tore her apart. It was between lunch and dinner time and that meant that Rain wouldn’t be in the cafeteria, though she could be in counseling or some kind of group. More than likely she was in her room. Alone, she hoped.
She also hoped no one would notice her, but even if they did, and even if Rain had done some talking with that big mouth of hers, she hadn’t been convicted of anything nor had she been ordered to stay away from Rain. So, there was nothing to stop her from going to the hospital.
The doctor freshened up and left the house. She wore her white coat over her clothes. She preferred not to stop at the nurses’ station and announce her presence just in case there was an order to keep her away from Rain.
Julia arrived at the hospital not much later and tried to take a deep breath and calm her nerves before exiting her car. Just walk with confidence, she told herself. Don’t hesitate or appear confused in any way. Just walk normally.
She entered the building. It took a moment or two for her eyes to adjust to the dimmer interior. It felt so comfortable and cool as opposed to the blazing heat outside. She walked over to the elevator and rode up to Rain’s floor.
So far so good.
Unfortunately, Rain was situated quite a way down the corridor and wasn’t a quick walk from the elevator. Keeping her head turned to the side as if glancing into the rooms along the way, she strode straight down the corridor and into Rain’s room. She let out a breath of relief when she found that no one else was in the room with her.
She stepped forward. Rain lay on her back, face slightly turned toward the window, eyes closed. She walked up to the bed and could hear her soft, rhythmic breathing. A sense of longing came over her. She missed hearing that sound beside her in the bedroom. She hated to awaken the sleeping beauty, but she hadn’t gone there to watch her sleep, after all.
“Rain,” the doctor said. “Oh, Rain.”
Rain moaned and stirred in her sleep.
“Rain, wake up, honey.”
Rain’s head turned slightly toward the doctor and then her eyes fluttered open. Recognition hit and her eyes bulged in fear as she sucked in a deep breath.
Instinctively, before she could think of the consequences, Julia slapped a hand across Rain’s mouth before she could scream. “No, no, no, please hush. It’s okay. I’m not here to hurt you. I know you’ve been through so, so very much, babe. I only want to help. Rain, I know you’re not crazy and you know you’re not crazy. You don’t belong here. Let’s get you out of this place. You don’t deserve this. The police are doing all they can to find the crazy woman that did this and I have every reason to believe they’re very close.”
Rain moaned and squirmed. She frantically shook her head from side to side and fiercely struggled to free herself from the doctor’s grasp.
“Calm down. Please just calm down. It’s okay. You can relax. I’m here to save you. It’s very important that we get you out of here now because I overheard a very nasty conversation. Rain, they want to commit you indefinitely. You don’t want that, do you?”
Rain continued to shake her head vigorously but at this point, Julia wasn’t sure if it was because she was still trying to get away or if she was agreeing that she did not want to be committed.
“Just get up and slip your shoes on and let’s go. We’ll get you anything you need at the house. Now can I pull my hand away from your mouth without you screaming? I’m not your enemy. I’m trying to help you. Will you let me save you?”
Rain nodded and the specialist slowly pulled her hand away. She hadn’t gotten it an inch away from her face, however, when Rain began to scream for help.
“Okay, we’ll do this the hard way,” the deranged doctor said, squeezing Rain’s carotid artery at the side of her neck.
Once the woman went unconscious, she began to pull her up off the bed. The doctor knew she was screwed either way. She was either going to get caught, or she would make it out of the hospital with Rain and savor whatever time she had left with her.