“Oh, he’s in there, all right,” Harry whispered to his best friend, Jimmy, as they huddled in the bushes, peering out between spiky twigs at the building across the street. “He’s in there, and he’s got another one.”
Jimmy shifted impatiently, his knees aching from kneeling on the ground for so long. “No way it’s for real,” he scoffed. “It’s gotta be a joke or something.”
“No, I’m telling you, there’s a sign on the door.” Harry gestured wildly as he spoke, eager to recount the tale again. “I saw it with my own two eyes. And when I walked past the door-“
“-I know, you told me a million times,” Jimmy interrupted, rolling his eyes.
“When I walked past,” Harry went on, ignoring the interjection, “I heard a woman crying.” He lowered his voice ominously.
Jimmy squinted at his friend. “Well… even so…”
“I’m telling you, I’m right! I was the one who was in there, for Chrissake!”
The two friends fell silent, their eyes glued to the door at the top of the stone steps.
Jimmy was the first to break the silence. “This is dumb. There’s nothing to see from here, let’s just go.” He started to stand, brushing off the knees of his jeans.
“Wait!” Harry exclaimed, almost shouting in excitement. He grabbed at the sleeve of Jimmy’s T-shirt without turning around. “Look!”
Directing his attention back to the building, Jimmy saw the door swing open. A woman in a dark blue skirt and white blouse stepped out, her long, blonde hair glowing ethereally as she walked into the sunlight. Her high heels clacked pleasantly on the cement as she made her way down the steps, rummaging in her pocketbook as she walked. She fished out a crumpled fistful of Kleenex and began to dab at the corners of her eyes.
“See! That proves it!” Harry reached up and seized Jimmy’s arm, pulling him down so hard he sent up a cloud of dust as his knees hit the ground.
“Hey!” Jimmy protested, yanking his arm free. “Quit it!”
“Sorry, sorry. Just look at her, will you? She’s been crying, too. And look how she’s all wrinkled and her hair’s all mussed. See?” Harry’s eyes gleamed as he pointed at the woman through a hole in the prickly bushes.
Jimmy stared at the strange woman while she jammed the Kleenex back into her pocketbook and took out a compact. She stood in the middle of the sidewalk, rubbing at the dark circles under her eyes and smoothing the flyaway hairs around her face.
“Well… I guess she is kind of messy,” Jimmy conceded. “But how do you know she’s coming from there anyway?”
“Because she’s crying,” Harry replied impatiently.
Jimmy furrowed his brow, considering his friend’s logic.
The two boys watched in silence as the woman put the compact away. She tucked the pocketbook under one arm, and walked briskly down the street, quickly disappearing from the boys’ view.
Jimmy turned away from the building. “It’s weird, I’ll give you that,” he said. “But why would people keep going in there?”
Harry sat back on his heels. “I don’t know, but I think he’s a doctor. Maybe he’s drugging them or something.”
“Oh, come on,” Jimmy replied incredulously.
“Well? Why else would anyone go in there?”
“I don’t know…” Jimmy ran a hand through his dark, shaggy hair as he always did when he was thinking hard about something. “But wait, it’s illegal. How can he just keep doing something illegal, and put a sign on the door and everything?” he asked. “And maybe drug them,” he added with a laugh.
“I don’t know!” Harry looked annoyed as he stood up and took a step away from their hiding place in the bushes. “I know you don’t believe it,” he said. “So see for yourself.” Harry motioned for Jimmy to follow him with a swift nod of his head. He turned and started across the street without waiting to see if his friend was following.
Jimmy only hesitated for a moment. He trotted after Harry, catching up with him as he reached the opposite side of the street. Together they walked up the steps and Harry pulled open the heavy door with the dark tinted glass.
The building was cool inside and surprisingly well lit. Harry gestured to Jimmy to keep quiet as he led him into a little alcove to the right of an old elevator.
“I don’t think there’ll be too many people around, but just in case,” Harry whispered as he sidled along the wall to a door labelled Stairs.
“Why? Aren’t we allowed in here?” Jimmy asked, hugging the wall behind his friend like a spy on a covert mission.
“I don’t really know actually,” Harry admitted as he led the way up a narrow flight of stairs to the second floor. “But I don’t want him to see us anyway. Who knows what he’d do?”
“Yeah, I guess…”
The two boys walked along the second floor, flooded with natural light streaming in from a large picture window at the end of the hall. The carpet under their feet was an ugly mustard yellow, but thick and new, dampening the sound of their footsteps as they creeped along past doors shut fast, some with small name plates and carefully stenciled letters on the front.
The corridor opened into a waiting area set up with red cushioned chairs.
“Oh, good. Last time, there was someone sitting there,” Harry gestured vaguely at the seats. “Okay, there, see? Look at the door.”
Jimmy glanced warily around as though he were committing some indefinable crime that had not yet been given a name. He examined the neat, black letters on the door before him.
Jimmy’s eyes grew wide. “No way…”
Harry came up beside him. “What’d I tell you?” he asked triumphantly.
Jimmy nodded as he sounded out the word on the door.
“Psycho the rapist.”