aside to let him pass. Saxon walked behind the counter. Morrison walked over, leaned his elbows on the counter, and regarded the acting chief steadily.
âYou can stop looking at me so accusingly,â Saxon said irritably. âI donât know why she pulled that. Maybe sheâs just got a grudge against all cops.â
âPulled what?â Morrison asked quietly.
âFaked my raping her.â
âI saw it,â Morrison said in the same quiet tone.
Saxon said hotly, âYou saw the tail end of a deliberate act. She lured me into her cell by pretending she meant to hang herself. Then she ripped her own clothes and jumped me.â He came back out from behind the counter. âCome with me and Iâll prove it.â
He led the way back to the cell block and stopped before the first cell. âYou couldnât see into the last cell,â he said to Coombs. âBut you could certainly hear everything going on. Tell Sergeant Morrison what happened.â
âSure,â Coombs said. âYou raped the woman.â
Saxon glared through the bars at the man, âQuit horsing around, Coombs. This is no joke. Tell the truth.â
âIâm telling it,â Coombs said calmly. He looked at the sergeant. âThe chief here kept going back to the last cell and asking the woman if she wanted a little company. I didnât like the way he asked it, and neither did she, because she kept telling him to get lost. Finally I heard him unlock the cell and go in. I heard her say, âLeave me alone! Stop it! Are you crazy! Youâre hurting me!â Not all at once. There were little gasps and cries and suppressed screams, like he was holding his hand over her mouth, in between. A couple of times there was the sound of tearing cloth. It was clear to me he was raping her, but locked in here, I couldnât do a thing about it.â
Saxon stared at Coombs with his mouth open. After a long time he said, âWhy, you lying punk! Youâd go that far to get even for a lousy traffic ticket?â
âYou told me to let the sergeant know what happened,â Coombs said reasonably. âSo I told him.â
Saxon strode back to the last cell and looked in. The woman still lay sprawled in the same position. She looked at him with such hate that, in spite of himself, he couldnât suppress a twinge of guilt, immediately followed by a rush of anger at both her and himself for allowing her histrionics to begin to get to him.
Returning to the first cell, he said, âNow that youâve had your little joke, Coombs, tell the truth.â
âHow many times do I have to say it?â Coombs inquired. âYou raped her.â
Saxon looked at Morrison. âDo you believe this guy?â he demanded.
âI told you the way it really happened. Your prisoner deliberately framed me. And Coombs is backing up her story because heâs sore about being jailed.â
Morrison slowly shook his head. âYouâre not getting through to me, Chief.â
Saxon felt his face redden. âSo what do you plan to do about it?â
âI can hardly place a police chief under arrest in his own headquarters,â Morrison said tonelessly. âBut Iâll be damned if you get away with raping a prisoner of mine left in your custody. I want a doctor to examine this woman before she leaves here. And I want your district attorney brought down here to decide what to do about you.â
Saxon stalked past him back to the desk, lifted the phone, and dialed the number Jenny Waite had left in case of emergency. It was the private home of a friend of the meter-maidâs, and he had no trouble getting her called to the phone.
âSorry to break up your party, Jenny,â Saxon said. âBut I need you at headquarters right away.â
âOh, no!â she said. âTonight of all nights.â Then her tone became resigned. âOkay,