Chapter 8: Life Rarely Imitates Theatre of the Absurd
From error to error, one discovers the truth.
- Sigmund Freud
Gideon and Reid rode in silence most of the way to Brady's apartment, each agent wrapped in his own thoughts. The city, just beginning to wake, sped by the windows, and Reid stared out at it, not really seeing anything. Gideon drove carefully as he always did, but he drummed his hands against the wheel, a sure sign that he was weighing something.
"Two UnSubs," Gideon finally said, breaking into the younger agent's thoughts.
"We don't know that for sure," Reid replied, a frown creasing his brow.
"I questioned Henry. I believed him. He's been leading us around this whole time," Gideon said ruefully.
"So you think Henry is Hamm?" Reid said as he turned toward his mentor.
"Yes." He ran a hand over his close-cropped hair as they sat at a stoplight. "Like you, I think Lacey's murder wasn't part of their plan. Brady decided to expose Henry, and Henry decided to end the game."
"Henry despises everything in his world, including himself. It's why he loses himself in the plays; they allow him escape," Reid reasoned. "Most of all he despises the part of him that can't stay away from prostitutes, but he's too weak to kill them himself."
"Like how Hamm is too weak to kill himself, even though he longs for death," Gideon agreed, accelerating as the light turned green.
"So he recruited Brady to do it for him. But what ties them together? Why won't Brady leave Henry, like Clov won't leave Hamm?"
"I don't know," Gideon admitted. "Hopefully we'll find something in Brady's apartment that will at least partially answer that question. Tell me, Spencer: what happens at the end of this play?"
Reid's mouth quirked. "Nothing. It's Absurdist, sir: Jack explained to me that nothing ever happens in Absurdist plays."
"Yes," he agreed, "that's the point. So, more accurately, what doesn't happen?"
"Hamm doesn't die and Clov doesn't leave. They both remain. That's the last line of the play, in fact: 'You remain.' It's generally thought to be directed at the audience, though Hamm's speaking to his handkerchief, but still."
Gideon parked the big black SUV in front of Brady's building and sat quietly a moment, lost in thought. "Hhhmm," he said at last. "Somehow I think Henry's endgame is going to be a bit more final than Beckett's, don't you?"
"Life doesn't usually imitate Theatre of the Absurd," Reid said as he climbed out of the car.
Gideon shook his head, smiling, and followed the younger agent into the building.
"There're vests in the back," Hotch told her as they jumped out of the big car.
They donned the bulky vests, checked their weapons, and hurriedly approached the dilapidated building. "We have no idea what we're going to find in here," he reminded her. "Whatever happens, we stick together. Do you understand?"
She nodded. It wasn't her first hoedown, but he was the boss. "Yes, sir."
They started up the steps, but halfway up he stopped. "And no funny business," he said, gesturing toward his head.
She frowned indignantly. "My 'funny business' has proved invaluable in numerous--"
"Jackson," he huffed impatiently.
"Yes, sir," she replied, sulking a little. They reached the graffiti-covered double doors and hesitated. "Do we knock?" she asked softly.
He glared at her. Reaching out, he pushed against one of the doors. It was locked, of course. Padlocked with a chain. "The chain and padlock are new," Hotch observed.
"Yes. And heavy; we're not getting through those with our good looks and charming repartee."
This earned her another glare. "I doubt Henry wrestles with this chain every day. It would be too visible to the street, and it would take too much time, especially if he came here with Tanya. Let's look for another way in."
They circled the building, and in the back was a much smaller, less impressive door. The lock was smaller, too. "This one I can handle," Jackson told him. "It'll require a bit of funny business, but not the kind you were referring to earlier."
He eyed her askance, but comprehension dawned when she pulled out a set of lock picks. "What are you doing with those?" he demanded.
She grinned. "They teach you lots of useful skills at the CIA. Shall I? Or should we wait?" He considered briefly, but then nodded. She bent to her work, and in a few moments stood with a triumphant smile. "Easy peasy. He should invest in better locks for the back."
Hotch shook his head. "I'm going to pretend that didn't happen. Stay behind me, and for God's sake stay quiet."
Raising a brow at him, she fell in as he moved through the door. They didn't have their weapons drawn yet, but they both felt tense, and their adrenaline was pumping. Clearing her mind as best she could, Jackson tried to listen for any wayward minds in the building - especially Tanya's.
"Lloyd Henry," Hotch called out, his voice echoing in the empty, cavernous space, "this is Agent Hotchner and Dr. Jackson with the FBI. Show yourself."
Despite the brightness outside, inside the theatre it was almost pitch black. The agents pulled their flashlights and allowed the points of light to penetrate the darkness. The beams showed brief flashes of a space as rundown and neglected as the exterior. It was as cold, silent, and dark as a tomb. Jackson shivered. "We should look for a basement," she whispered. "It would be more soundproof down there, and the money he spent must've gone somewhere."
Hotch nodded, still scanning the darkness. "Mr. Henry, we know about Tanya. We just want to talk to you," he said. Jackson's light flashed across something and Hotch reached back, stilling it. "There," he said as the beam illuminated an exit door.
They approached it slowly, and when the door swished open on silent, well-oiled hinges they exchanged knowing looks. Hotch pulled out his weapon and Jackson followed suit, and they cautiously descended into the depths.
Outside Lloyd Henry's apartment building Morgan tapped on the window of the police cruiser with a knuckle, and the cop inside nearly spilled his coffee in surprise. He rolled down the window, clearly irritated. "Can I help you, buddy?" he demanded.
Morgan displayed his credentials. "Yeah, I think so. Been pretty quiet so far?"
The guy snapped to attention, fumbling a little as he placed the paper cup in the car's holder. "I just got on a couple of hours ago, but so far nothin'. Here's the report from last night."
Morgan scanned the page quickly, and then he showed it to J.J. She shook her head, bright blond hair picking up the morning sun like a beacon on the gray street. "Nothing. If he skipped, he must've gone out the back."
"It couldn't really be that simple could it?" Morgan asked incredulously. Neither Gideon nor Reid had mentioned another entrance to the building, but that wasn't what they'd come for, so they might simply not've noticed. As for Jackson...well, Morgan's personal jury was still out on her. She didn't suck, but he didn't like unknown components on his team.
"Hey, look," the cop was saying as he leaned out the window, "is there a problem? Our guy's sittin' tight up there, snug as a bug in a rug."
"We've got witnesses who place him on the street last night," Morgan told him. "Our boss sent us over to check it out. You wanna head up with us, or stay out here?" It always paid to play nice with the locals.
"On the street? Ain't possible." He frowned, stroked a well-trimmed salt-and-pepper beard. "Let's go check it out. I'll call it in."
Morgan nodded. "We'll wait for you inside. Cold as shit out here."
The cop grunted in appreciation. "Got that right. Gimme five."
Morgan and J.J. headed inside where they confirmed that the building had only one entrance. "It was dark last night," J.J. said. "No moon. Everyone here wears thick coats, hats, scarves; it's easy to disguise yourself without even trying."
Before Morgan could reply, the uniform from outside joined them. "I'm Agent Morgan and this is Agent Jareau," Morgan told him.
"Klontz," he offered with a nod.
"Alright, Officer Klontz, let's see if our boy's at home." The three took the stairs quickly, and Morgan pounded on Henry's door with a closed fist. "Lloyd Henry, FBI and Detroit P.D. Open up!"
Klontz shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. "Look, our guy watched him all night--"
"No one's blaming you or your department, Officer," J.J. said. "Henry is more than any of us suspected."
"J.J., call Detective Jurczak. See if he can rush a warrant. We gotta get in there," Morgan told her.
She nodded and stepped away to make the call, and only a few moments passed before she returned. "He's on the way. He said he knows a sympathetic judge. Let's go grab the super so we're ready for him."
"No way," Morgan said. "I'm not waiting. Hotch and Jack are at that theatre now; they need what we find in here."
"I'll go get the super," Klontz said, hurrying away.
It wasn't long before Morgan, J.J., and Officer Klontz were standing inside Lloyd Henry's meticulously clean apartment. "Wouldja look at this place?" Klontz said. "I've seen operating rooms messier."
"Yeah, fits the profile. Our boss mentioned it before," Morgan said, scanning the room with concentration. He noted what the other team members had noticed yesterday: the obsessive order, the generic artwork, the furniture that looked brand new, the cork board covered in ticket stubs.
"Wow. He went to a lot of plays," J.J. said, shaking her head. "All closing nights, you think?"
"No," Morgan said, jaw tense, "I think he saved closing nights for the murders. They were special to him. Look." He pointed to the board. "There's a ticket for Hamlet, but it's not a stub. He really didn't go."
"Jesus. Agents, get a load of this," Klontz said as he opened the coat closet. It was full of coats, all right, but not Henry's. The closet contained ten matching, brand new, perfectly aligned women's coats. They still had the tags. Something about the sight, so cold, so clinical, was desperately unnerving.
Morgan and J.J. stood staring, matching expressions of horror and comprehension dawning on their faces. "These must be like the coat he gave Lacey," J.J. said at last.
"He said he gave a coat to some of the other girls, too," Morgan said, voice gone cool with anger. "God damn it," he swore. "The coat. That's how Brady knew which girl to kill. That's why he asked Janet if she were one of 'Lloyd's girls.' She must not've had a coat yet. I've gotta call Gideon."
Ohhh noes! Hotch and Jack close in on the UnSub(s?); Gideon and Reid push papers; J.J. and Morgan battle evil coat closets...what's next for our heroes?! Tune in to Chapter 9 to find out. ;)