Cooney's been sitting on his desk, leaning back and pretending to listen, but now he stands and says, "Maggie, let me just stop you there. I know this has been a hard time for your family, and I know you want to see justice, but we made the decision not to pursue any charges against your ex-brother-in-law here and I don't want to waste your time. It's not here. The evidence, the legal basis, none of it." He waves the folder in the air. "Too much time has passed, and pursuing something so . . . uncertain takes resources away from the cases we can win."
I try to keep my voice upbeat, 'collaborative,' as they say. "But if you'll just read what I have. I talked to one of Erin's classmates, who was at the—"
He smiles sadly. "Maggie. Please. We have limited resources, limited manpower. We need to focus it on more recent crimes. The MS13 threat is growing in Suffolk County. You know that better than anyone. And there are bad people out there, people who are committing crimes now. Let's work together to direct our resources toward getting those people."
Marty clears his throat next to me.
"You don't think people are in danger?" I ask Cooney. "You have no idea whether Frank Lombardi is a danger to anyone right now or not. He's a sociopath, Jay. I found diaries in my basement, in Brian's things. Frank was awful to him when they were kids. He was controlling and abusive. And what's the message to the women of Suffolk County here? Are we telling them we couldn't give two shits about them, about what happens to them?"
Marty puts a hand on my arm and says in a low voice, "Maggie."
But Cooney rises to the bait. His face is red now, his upper lip curling in anger. If I'm honest, I get a thrill of satisfaction when I see how rattled he is, when he gathers up all of his six feet one inch and looms over me, trying to scare me, trying to make me shut up.
"Maggie, we don't have a legal basis to charge. We just don't. There's not enough here and it's been too long to go out on a limb on this. And your connection to the case—you know this, I don't need to tell you—it taints everything. It just does. I told Marty this. I don't know why—" He looks at Marty, whose discomfort radiates from him like a fever.
"You have everything you need," I say. "You know you do. I saw Marty's wrap-up. The interview with Devin O'Brien. It was corroborating. It was!" Marty's grip on my arm is firmer now, telling me stop.
Cooney says, "It was twenty-seven years ago! I'm not going to risk the good reputation of this office in order to satisfy some personal grudge. I know this has been an incredibly difficult time for your family, but I'm done. I'm done talking about this. Marty, take care of it."
The air in the room feels thick and hot, crackling with tension.
Marty looks right at Cooney and says, "She's not a child to be managed, Jay. She's a lieutenant on the homicide squad and she has every right to lodge a complaint about a case. But I think she's done that, so we'll be going now. Thank you for your time. We appreciate you being willing to hear us out."
The us makes my throat seize up. Marty didn't want to do this. I had to convince him to ask for the meeting. He must have known it was going to go like this. But he did it for me.
"Okay. Goodbye." Cooney's hands are in fists at his sides, and as we leave the room, I can feel him waiting to release all his anger. Something's going to get knocked over or thrown once we're out.
Marty's silent all the way back through security and out to the cars. I try to break the awful quiet by saying, "That went well."
Marty looks at me, doesn't smile. He's sixty-two, wiry and compact. He looks more like a high school wrestling coach than a cop. He's a small guy, only five feet seven or so, with a gray buzz cut and a slightly elfin face that's usually set in a judgmental frown. But he and I are close now, and I get to see his truly face-transforming smile more than a lot of the other detectives on the squad. He was right there with me after my ex-husband Brian's suicide. And Marty was the first person I told about Brian's brother Frank and his friends raping my cousin Erin when she was in high school and about
what actually happened all those years ago in Ireland.
Marty took statements from my ex-brother-in-law, Frank, from Frank's friends. He gathered all the evidence to present to Cooney's office, even though he must have known they weren't going to do anything with it. Marty sat in my living room with me and my daughter, Lilly, for hours in the days afterward, as the whole thing unspooled here and over in Ireland. I shiver, remembering.
But his smile isn't there right now.