“Richard Goren, huh?” warden Greg Miller mused. “Yeah, I remember that slimy bastard. First couple of months here, he got roused on by pretty much everyone. Ended up in the hospital one time. Then we switched him to new accommodation after about four months, and everything settled down. A couple of guys took care of him, you know?”
“A couple of guys,” Fin echoed. “Which couple of guys would that be?”
“Ah… Just a second…” Miller said as he ruffled through his notes. “Yeah, here we are. The guy we put him in with was Simon Matic. Matic put in a special request, asked for Goren to be put in with him. And there was one other guy that joined their little twosome around two years later, and made it a trio. Another guy… Damn, can’t remember his name. Hang on a sec…”
Fin and Munch watched silently as Miller got up and stuck his head out the door of the office, hollering to another warden.
“Andy! Come over here for a second!”
Another older man crossed the corridor and came into the room at Miller’s beckoning.
“This is Andy Crenshaw,” Miller explained to the detectives. “Andy, you remember Richard Goren?”
“Sure I remember him. He’s the older brother of that detective from Major Case, the one that’s so… popular with a lot of our inmates.”
Miller’s eyes widened with realisation.
“Damn, so that’s why that name is familiar.”
Crenshaw rolled his eyes.
“That’s great. You never made the connection, but pretty much every inmate in this block did.” He looked across at Fin and Munch. “There are more than just a few cons locked up in this block courtesy of Detective Goren. They have their own little support group going, you know? ‘I Survived A Robert Goren Interrogation’. Anyway, when Richard Goren arrived here, he caught it bad from the rest of the inmates. Heard him crying in his cell pretty much every night for the first couple of months, and then some of the guys laid into him so bad he was in the hospital for a month.”
“All because they’re pissed off at his brother?” Munch wondered, and Crenshaw nodded.
“Hell, yeah. There’s a lot of suppressed tension in this place, and it doesn’t take much to spark it off. Those guys, they figured they couldn’t get back at the guy that put them in prison, so his brother was the next best thing. We ended up having to put Richard into protective custody. Then we got a new prisoner in, a guy called Simon Matic. He was another one of Detective Goren’s conquests, so we were told. We figured we were going to have to keep the older brother in the protective wing for his whole prison term when that guy arrived. He was vicious, a real sadist. Anyway, he found out Richard was here, found out who he was, and then he asked the head warden to put Richard in his cell with him. Said he’d protect the guy, that it wasn’t his fault who his brother was. He had to ask a few times, but Adams finally gave in. Richard Goren was put in with Simon Matic. Next thing we know, the two of them are best buddies. One of the usual crowd tried beating up on Richard the day we let him out of the protective wing. Matic beat the guy unconscious, and said anyone else who even looked at Richard the wrong way was going to get the same. After that, everyone left Richard alone.”
“So who was the third guy?” Fin asked.
“A kid that came in about eighteen months or so later,” Crenshaw answered. “He was in for murder… theoretical life sentence.”
“Theoretical?” Munch echoed. “How do you mean, theoretical?”
“Well, this kid was in contact with the Feds about six months after he arrived. He offered to snitch on a couple of the Masucci family in exchange for release from prison. He must have had some pretty hot info, because they jumped at the offer. He was out six months later, around the same time that Richard Goren finished his sentence, and Matic’s lawyer appealed and got him before the parole board early… Got the guy released for good behaviour, can you believe it? But while he was here, the kid was pretty cosy with Richard and Matic.”
“What was his name?” Fin asked, getting tired of being danced around by the talkative warden.
“Ah… Richard. Richard Cozza.”
“Richard Cozza?” Munch echoed, frowning as he scribbled the name down.
“Yeah,” Miller answered. “Except, everyone called him Chops.”
“Chops?” Cragen echoed incredulously when Fin and Munch arrived back at SVU after their early morning trip to Rikers.
“It’s on the guy’s birth certificate,” Munch said as he flipped through his notes. “Richard Chops Cozza. He was in for murder… Matic was there for kidnap and rape… and big brother Goren was in for violent assault.”
“Interesting combination,” Cragen muttered. “And they all were released around the same time. Now, if Cozza was in for murder, and Matic was there for rape and kidnap, how the hell did they get early releases?”
“Matic got out for good behaviour. His lawyer appealed, and got him before the parole board early. Cozza made a deal with the Feds. He agreed to testify against members of the Masucci family, and they cut a deal for him to get him out of prison.”
“A murderer and a rapist,” Cragen growled. “Christ, what a combination.”
“And Richard Goren makes three,” Fin said. “According to the warden, Richie’s first few of months in Rikers were brutal, and they had to put him into the protective wing. Then he was shifted into a cell with Simon Matic, and the other inmates suddenly stopped harassing him.”
“What did Goren say his brother said he owed?” Munch asked.
“A quarter of a million in protection money,” Elliot spoke up grimly.
“Anybody else reading between the lines here?” Olivia asked. Cragen nodded.
“We have two scumbags that Goren had a hand in putting away, and probably pissed off big time in the process.”
“And we have his older brother,” Munch said, “who’s more or less resentful of little brother…”
“Cozza and Matic make a big deal of looking after Richie, and then when they get out, they put an ultimatum to him. Come up with the cash, or hand little brother to them on a platter.”
“Except, they demand an amount they know he won’t be able to come up with,” Fin concluded, “because what they really want is their chance at some serious payback.”
“According to Goren, Richie pushed pretty hard to get the money out of him,” Elliot said quietly. “And he said that the consequences were on Goren’s head for not paying him the money.”
“Richie knew what was going to happen,” Olivia said, shaking her head. “He must have had some idea.”
Cragen looked at Olivia and Elliot grimly.
“Leave the Matic angle for the moment. Get the prison, and speak to Richard Goren again. See if you can’t get him to confirm any of this. You probably won’t have any luck – the guy’s probably more scared of what Matic and Cozza will do to him if he blabs than he is of going back to prison – but try anyway. Then get yourselves back to St Clare’s to talk to Goren again. We need him to be able to name at least one of these mutts.”
“And if he can’t?” Elliot asked, frowning. “We can’t bully him into saying anything that he isn’t ready to say, Captain.”
“Just try,” Cragen told him. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and one of these assholes will have said something to him that he’ll actually remember. Now, get going.”
Deakins sat back in his seat slowly, wishing desperately that he didn’t have to be in his office right then, but at the same time relishing the fact that the arrogant detectives of the Major Case Squad had well and truly been dealt a massive blow to their collective ego. Word had finally reached the squad early that morning that SVU had taken it on themselves to organise a vigil for Bobby, and that it had started the previous evening. That news had gone down like a lead balloon with the rest of Major Case, and it had only served to aggravate further when word got back to the Major Case team just how many cops from how many different precincts had responded to the call put out by Elliot Stabler.
As a result, the atmosphere in the Major Case bullpen was chilly, to say the least. Deakins couldn’t stop the small, grim smile that found its way onto his lips. Actually, he would have been more inclined to say it was positively frigid.
The so-called ‘elite’ detectives of Major Case had been well and truly shown up by the team from Special Victims Unit, and Deakins couldn’t be happier about it.
To his private relief, though, it seemed that some of the detectives were finally starting to come round and relent from their obnoxious attitudes, and he knew for a fact that two in particular – Jared Nolan and Carl Boyd – had actually left early in order to go and see Bobby at St Clare’s. He was sorry they’d had to be guilt-tripped into it, but it was ultimately their own fault. If they’d just done the right thing to begin with…
His thoughts derailed as his phone rang. Muttering a curse under his breath, Deakins answered it with extreme reluctance.
On the other end of the line, Deakins was answered by one of the administrative workers at the reception counter on the ground floor.
“Captain Deakins, I have Mrs Susan Coulter to see you.”
Deakins’ heart skipped a beat. That was a name he had not heard for near on three years. Why, he wondered, was she coming to see him now? When the man who had kidnapped her and her daughters, and raped her oldest daughter, was locked up?
“All right, Katie,” he said finally. “Send her up.”
In the time it took for an officer to bring Susan Coulter up to Deakins’ office, a dozen scenarios had run through his mind, each more unlikely than the last. By the time she was walking through his door, Deakins could honestly say he had not the slightest idea why she was there.
“Mrs Coulter, it’s good to see you again,” he said, shaking hands with her. She didn’t return his smile.
“I wish I could say the same, Captain Deakins.”
His smile faltered.
“Please, have a seat,” he offered, and she sat down carefully on the edge of one chair. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“You could start by telling me why that monster that raped my daughter was allowed out of prison.”
Deakins froze, staring at her in shock.
“Simon Matic is free? That’s not possible…”
“I assure you, Captain Deakins, it’s very possible. I was informed by a Captain Cragen just yesterday that he’d been released, and they were putting a watch on my home in case he went after Maggie. She’s beside herself, Captain. She’s terrified to go outside. I want to know, how could this have happened? Your detectives… Detectives Eames and Goren… they promised Maggie after the sentencing that Matic wouldn’t ever go free, and yet that’s exactly what’s happened!”
Deakins felt horribly light-headed all of a sudden. Cragen had called her… That could mean only one thing. Simon Matic was a prime suspect for the assault on Bobby…
Abruptly, more pieces of a very ugly puzzle began to fall into place.
“…want them to explain it to me, and to my daughter!”
He blinked hard, coming back to reality to realise she had spoken to him, but he’d not heard a word of it.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Coulter, I didn’t…”
Her face flushed red with anger.
“I said, where is Detective Goren and Detective Eames? I want them to explain to my daughter why she can’t feel safe going out our front door any longer.”
Deakins’ stomach threatened to empty right then and there, and it was only a supreme effort that kept that from happening.
“Mrs Coulter… Detectives Eames and Goren are not available…”
He could have kicked himself. It was, quite possibly, the lamest line that he could have pulled out. She stared back at him, her expression turning positively dangerous.
“Really. Well, perhaps the media would like to speak to me instead.”
“Mrs Coulter… my detectives are at St Clare’s Hospital right at this moment.” Well, it wasn’t a lie, he thought ruefully. Not exactly… “Now, I promise you that I had no idea Simon Matic was out of prison, and believe me when I say I’ll be demanding answers. And the reason why you heard this from Captain Don Cragen and not me is because it’s Captain Cragen’s unit that’s handling the case.”
“He’s already attacked someone else, hasn’t he?” Susan said hoarsely. It took all of Deakins’ willpower to maintain eye contact with her.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Coulter. I really can’t discuss that with you.”
A puzzled frown creased her forehead as her stressed mind slowly began to digest his words.
“You said your detectives are at the hospital…”
“Yes, that’s right.”
She started a little, a horrified look dawning on her face as she quickly read between the lines of what he was telling her.
“Oh no… Dear God, no… Not Detective Eames…?”
Deakins felt his stomach roll horribly and, suddenly, he could no longer find the strength of mind to evade her questions.
“No, Mrs Coulter, it wasn’t Detective Eames who was attacked. It was Detective Goren.”
Susan Coulter’s face went white from shock.
“It’s Detective Goren who is in the hospital,” Deakins explained, wondering silently that he was able to keep his voice steady. “He was violently assaulted in his home some time over the weekend.”
“Oh… oh no… Is he… Will he be all right?”
“He’ll live,” Deakins answered quietly. “Beyond that, we just don’t know yet.”
Susan sat back, ashen-faced from shock and rendered momentarily speechless.
“I’m sorry,” she said finally, all aggravation suddenly gone from her voice. “I had no idea.” She looked up at him in distress. “Is it really that bad?”
Deakins watched her for a long moment, considering how much to tell her.
“It’s bad,” he confirmed softly. “He has a lot of injuries.”
There was an understatement to rival all understatements.
“Did they… Was he raped?”
“Yes,” Deakins answered simply. “Mrs Coulter, if you like, I’ll speak to Captain Cragen, but the truth is I don’t think your daughter is in any danger. It’s entirely likely that he’s not even in New York anymore.”
She stared at him for a long moment before nodding.
“I believe you.” She stood up slowly, and Deakins quickly rose up as well. “Captain Deakins, would you mind if I told Maggie what’s happened? The reason is, when we were told Matic had been released, Maggie was so angry…”
“She was angry and Goren and Eames,” Deakins guessed, and Susan nodded.
“Yes… but particularly at Detective Goren. She felt that she’d been lied to. I want her to understand that wasn’t the case. And… if it was that monster that attacked Detective Goren, then I think Maggie would at least understand some of what he’s been through.”
Deakins couldn’t deny that logic.
“That’s all right by me, Mrs Coulter.”
Susan paused at the door.
“I’m sorry for barging in like this, Captain Deakins. If I’d had any idea…”
“Please don’t apologise,” he told her. “You couldn’t have known, and I think Captain Cragen’s unit has been careful about not releasing anything to the media just yet.”
She stared at him, then offered him a small smile.
“Thankyou for your understanding. And please, tell Detective Goren our prayers are with him.”
Deakins nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He watched as a uniformed officer escorted Susan Coulter out of the Major Case bullpen, and back towards the lifts, waiting until she was out of sight before slumping back into his chair.
“Excuse me… Captain Deakins?”
Deakins looked up, barely able to hide his frustration. What now…
“What is it, Hanlon?”
Terry Hanlon took a tentative further step into the office. He’d drawn the short straw to come and speak to Deakins on behalf of the group of the Major Case detectives on duty at that moment, and he didn’t like it one bit.
“Well, Hanlon, what is it?” Deakins snapped.
“Sir, those of us on duty at the moment… We’d like permission to finish up early.”
Deakins stared piercingly at the detective.
“Well… We put some money together, and we want to go and buy something for Goren, and then go and see him in hospital.”
Somehow, Deakins kept a neutral look on his face, though his hopes suddenly shot skyward that perhaps the animosity displayed by his detectives towards Bobby was finally abating.
“If you’re doing it purely out of guilt, Detective…”
“No, Captain. Well… Not totally out of guilt. But it’s just… Blake got a call from Nolan not long ago. He and Boyd went to see Goren in hospital.”
“Yes, I know, Hanlon. Get to the point
“Blake said Nolan was pretty shook up by it. The thing is… When you told us yesterday morning about what had happened, I don’t think it really registered with any of us just how bad it really was.”
Deakins’ jaw tightened.
“Should it have mattered?”
“No,” Hanlon muttered, his eyes fixed very firmly on the floor. “What we really wanted to say, Captain, is that we’re sorry. We were acting like total assholes…”
“Yes, you were, but I’m not the one you need to be apologising to. That particular individual is currently in ICU at St Clare’s.” He paused, then tore a sheet of paper off the notepad on his desk and began to write quickly on it. He’d nearly filled the page before he handed it to Hanlon, along with two fifty dollar bills from his own wallet. “But it’ll be a good start if you’re serious about this. Now, those are some of his favourite books that I know of. If you men are serious about wanting to buy something for him, then I suggest you buy him some books. All of his were destroyed.”
Hanlon nodded as he took both the note and the money from Deakins.
“That… That’s a good idea. Thanks, sir.”
“And yes, Hanlon, you’ve all got my permission to go now.”
Hanlon nodded again, and took a step back towards the door. “Thankyou, Captain.”
Deakins sighed softly as he watched Hanlon quickly cross the floor to where the other detectives were gathered, waiting for him. He watched as Hanlon spoke rapidly to them, waving the page in the air with the book titles that Deakins had hastily scribbled down. He watched as they responded with what appeared to be enthusiastic nods before going to grab their respective coats and hurrying from the offices.
Picking up his phone, Deakins hit speed dial for the Chief of Detectives’ office.
“Yes, this is Captain James Deakins, from Major Case,” he said to the assistant who answered the phone. “I’d like to speak to Chief Richards, please.”
There was a long moment, and then he spoke again.
“Yes, sir, it’s Deakins. I just wanted to inform you, Major Case is shutting up shop for the day. I’ve given my detectives permission to go early so they can visit Bobby Goren in hospital… Yes, sir, I know we have a back-log of cases, but they’re just going to have to wait. …Thankyou for your understanding, sir. …No, I don’t know anything more as yet. You’d need to speak to Don Cragen at SVU for any information on the case. …Yes, sir, I’ll be heading to the hospital myself shortly. Thankyou, I’ll be sure to tell him.”
Hanging up the phone, Deakins grabbed his coat and hurried from the office before anything else happened to hold him up.
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