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Episode Six: "Prowling In The Night"
I can still remember prowling in the night asking and investigating in the parts of the city that would make a streetwalker retire. I’d come and go but to no avail. Many tight lips refused to know about anything even when staring down the business end of a gun. Someone knew something. The only thing I ran into was in a godforsaken bar. I played the part of a bar fly and overheard an old drunk’s ramblings after I asked about the certain drive by shooting near my neighborhood six months ago.
The drunk said, “It was a drive by dope gang killing. Sometimes they hang around here at night.”
I didn’t know whether to believe him or just give him some money for a meal. I waited there many nights but nobody ever showed up. I got tired of waiting and gave it up.
I spent a lot of time in this empty house trying to put it all together. I remember the doc telling me I’d been badly traumatized. He told me to let people know of my whereabouts at all times. I asked what he meant by that. Was I going to have to be monitored all my life and why?
The doctor had said, “I know that you didn’t have temporary amnesia episodes before this but I’m afraid the trauma has and probably will bring about this condition. I don’t know when and how but they’ll occur. That is why we couldn’t let you go any sooner before we tried the shock treatments. You talked a lot while you were starting to come out of your condition.”
I said, “Is it something I said while I was out of it that alarmed you doctor?”
The doctor said, “Not really, I was just a little worried that you might have a relapse and fall into amnesia again and not remember where you were or what you had done. In some cases, patients wind up in different places. By the time they wake up, they may be in another part of their city and not remember what they did or how they got there. It’s almost like being under anesthetic and your mind is the only one playing tricks on you. Don’t worry Harry. I’ll keep a close watch on you. You’ll be alright.”
Now I was puzzled about this. I didn’t know whether to trust myself while I was asleep. Would I do something stupid or desperate without knowing? I was an angry person and now I couldn’t even trust myself while I was asleep. Maybe it was only for a while. Maybe it would come and go quickly or even pass away.
Jeff dropped by my home to see me and said, “Harry how are you doing?
I answered, “I’m good, and I’m okay, thanks. The only thing the doc said I needed was someone to keep tabs on me while I slept. It’s only a temporary condition. He said I might have a relapse of amnesia and not know what or where I’d been.”
Jeff said, “Don’t worry Harry, I’ll help and so will Sherry. I hear the kids calling me so I’ll have to scoot. If you need anything, just give us a call.”
I said, “What I need is to find the scumbag that did this to us.”
Jeff said, “Come on Harry, take it easy. It’ll all come together in time. I’ll help. Don’t waste too much time with it. Try to get some rest.”
Jeff had been a good neighbor even after he’d done time in prison. They were good caring friends. I started to doze off when I heard someone. I peeked out of my window and saw a man on Jeff’s porch with a briefcase. I kept contemplating the thought that maybe Jeff was still in the drug business and maybe this guy was one of his ex-prison mates making another dope deal. I had taken the doc’s prescription and I felt like a ton of cement in just a matter of minutes.
It was a deep sleep. I didn’t wake up for anything. I was knocked out until morning. I found myself on my living room sofa instead of my bed. The front door was wide open. Well the doc had told me this might happen from time to time. This was probably one of those times. He also told me it wouldn’t last too long anyway. I wasn’t too alarmed. I made some coffee but I wasn’t in any mood for breakfast. There was a knock at the door. It was about 11 a.m.
It was a police officer and he asked, “Are you Harry Cooper?”
I answered, “Yes, what is this all about? Can I help you?”
The officer said, “Mr. Cooper we have some questions we’d like to ask about your whereabouts last night sir. There was a liquor store robbery and the store owner was killed. We shot and killed one of the suspects but the other one got away.”
I said, “What does all this have to do with me?”
The officer said, “The escaped suspect dropped the .357 magnum and it’s registered to you. It also has your partial prints. Now tell us where you were last night Mr. Cooper.”
I said, “I’ve been asleep here all night.
The Officer asked, “Is your wife around? Can she tell us you were here?”
I said, “My wife was killed a month ago in a drive by shooting.”
The officer said, “Sorry Mr. Cooper, we didn’t realize you were that Mr. Cooper. We’ve got to ask because our suspicions tell us your gun was either stolen or sold to the criminal from the liquor store robbery. If it was stolen Mr. Cooper, why didn’t you report it.
I said, “Well I didn’t know it was missing. However when Bonnie was shot I peeked over at my house while I was at my neighbor’s home and I saw someone running away from my house. Afterwards I searched my home, and I didn’t see anything that was missing. I did forget to look in my closet.
The officer said, “Mr. Cooper, you’ll have to come downtown to fill out the report for the stolen gun.
I went downtown. When I got there, I got out of my car and all of a sudden they grabbed me and threw me on the ground and handcuffed me. They read me my rights and led me into an interrogation room.
Stunned and afraid, I asked, “What is this all about? I just came here to fill out some report forms for a stolen gun.”
The officer in charge said, “It was used in a liquor store robbery. Mr. Cooper we have credible reason to believe that you are a suspect in this case. While you were on the way here, we got a search warrant and found prescription drugs in your home. We called your doctor and he told us you were mentally imbalanced and had bouts of temporary amnesia. We don’t trust your alibi. We don’t know whether to believe your alibi.”
I said, “Wait a minute. You can’t be serious. I’m telling you, I didn’t do it.”
The detective said, “Cooper your prints were on the gun along with other prints and it doesn’t look good for you.”
I said, “Of course my prints are on the gun. I own it.”
The detective replied, “We have no other choice but to hold you until something else comes up. You’d better get a lawyer Mr. Cooper.”
I got a lawyer but I had to put my home as collateral for my bond to get out of jail. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I started having my own doubts of where I was that night. I talked to my doctor again and filled him in on the situation. He told me they had asked him some questions about me.
The doctor said, “They said they wanted to help you. I’m awfully sorry Harry. I didn’t know the information was going to be used against you. I thought it was going to help break the case and clear you.”
Neither of us knew that the man killed in the robbery was the detective’s son in-law. He was out for my blood because someone had killed his little girl’s husband. I was the surest and easiest game in town. My walls of security and justice seemed to be crumbling before my very eyes. Even my lawyer didn’t know what to do next. He was fresh out of law school and still had a part-time job as a draftsman in some steel company.
His name was Fred Hamlee. He must’ve been no more than twenty-six years old. It was his first criminal case. In those days there was no DNA or any real up-to-date investigating tools. I couldn’t prove I wasn’t there. They had me accused of being the fleeing suspect or the getaway driver who supposedly left a dying accomplice. I was in a fix all right. After pleading not guilty, they set the court date in a month. During that time I asked Jeff and Sherry to be character witnesses on my behalf. They agreed.
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