The Train: Episode 67

“Me?” Michael asked.

Stunned by Dr. Ricer’s revelation, Michael stared at the professor waiting for an explanation. When Ricer said nothing, Michael asked,

“Would you please elaborate on that?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, Michael,” Ricer said, shaking his head. “Remember, I only see what history records, and according to history, the killer was an unidentified male found dead from an apparent suicide. The police released a facial composite of him to the public hoping someone would come forward to identify him. The drawing is you, Michael.”

“That’s impossible,” Michael argued. “It’s 1970! I won’t be born for another 8 years!”

“Something must have changed,” Nicole suggested.

“How is that even possible?” Michael snapped.

“Do NOT bark at me!” Nicole warned.

“Sorry,” Michael said as he recoiled. “It’s just a lot to take in. I’m not even born yet and already I’m accused of murdering five people.”

“Who was the original killer?” Nicole asked.

“Ronald Gibson. A forty-two-year-old police officer. No known family. He lives alone in an apartment about three blocks from here,” Ricer answered.

“And what about the first body?” Nicole asked.

“The first victim was James Nolan. He was a father of two. Worked as an aircraft mechanic. His body will be found tomorrow morning in a rec center six miles south of here,” Ricer said.

“All right then,” Michael said. Then taking a deep breath he added,

“Let’s go find James Nolan.”

“No,” Nicole interrupted. “I’ll follow up on Nolan while you and Ricer go learn more about Gibson.”

“What about me?” Lucy asked. “What can I do?”

Nicole bent down and smoothed Lucy’s soft blonde hair.

“I need you to keep an eye on him,” Nicole said, pointing to Michael. “Make sure he behaves. Can you do that for me?”

Lucy smiled up at her and nodded. Then she reached out and took Michael’s hand.

Through a forced smile, Michael asked,

“So why are you suddenly ordering everyone around?”

“Because you’ve already somehow changed history, and not only has it gotten worse, but you’ve gotten yourself involved. Maybe if we do things my way for a change, they’ll play out differently,” Nicole explained then turned her attention to Ricer.

“Doc, don’t inform me of the changes unless it’s dramatic or I ask for an update.”

As Ricer nodded, Nicole met Michael’s eyes.

“Problem?” she asked.

“Nope,” Michael responded.

Nicole turned on her heels and walked away.

As he watched her head down the sidewalk, Michael asked,

“Doc, you know I’ve always been the leader of this group. Why am I taking orders from her?”

“Because she could easily kill you,” Ricer replied.

Michael shook his head that he understood and said,

“Scary when you think about how fast it would be.”

* * *

Officer Ronald Gibson lived on the second floor of a brownstone in Brooklyn.

Michael and Dr. Ricer walked the three blocks there with Michael carrying Lucy most of the way. Just outside the building, they stopped. A set of stone stairs led up to the front door.

“How many of the murders take place in Brooklyn?” Michael asked.

“All of them so far,” Ricer answered. “And all within the same grouping of neighborhoods.”

“That’s odd,” Michael said.

“What is?” Ricer asked.

“The last stop before this, the one where we saved Cynthia Cooper and her son, wasn’t that in Brooklyn?” Michael asked.

Before Ricer could respond, the front door opened and a middle-aged man with light brown hair going gray around the temples stepped out and closed the front door of the brownstone behind him. He was dressed in a policeman’s uniform, so Michael assumed he was Ronald Gibson.

As the officer made his way down the steps, Michael raised his hand to catch his attention.

“Excuse me, Officer Gibson? I’m Vincent Chase with the New York Post,” Michael said, slipping into one of the many random backgrounds he had created.

“What can I do for you?” Gibson smiled.

“I was hoping for a moment of your time to answer a few questions. I’m doing a story on depression among civil servants, and I was told you’d be a good source,” Michael explained.

“Of course,” Gibson said. Then noticing Ricer and Lucy, he asked, “Why—”

“Oh never mind them,” Michael laughed, cutting him off. “They’re my father and my niece. They just wanted to see what a day at work was like for me.”

“Pleasure,” Gibson said, touching the brim of his hat.

“Okay. Here we go. First question,” Michael said. “How happy are you right now with your job?”

The wheels in Michael’s head started turning as he watched for signs of Gibson lying or hiding something.

How to tell if someone is lying:

Step 1: Look for a pause or delay in speech or response.

Most people are not good at lying on the spot. When asking a question, allow the person time to answer the question without interruption. The length of time between your question and their answer dictates whether the subject is pausing or coming up with a lie.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Gibson said without pause. “Everyone in my department has said that I need to make detective if I want to make any decent money, but I like being on the street helping people. I’m not in this job for the money. I’m in it to help people.”

Step 2: Look for a disassociation between what they say and what they do.

Most responses come from thought and consideration. Therefore, when some people respond with a yes, they subconsciously nod. Lying goes against the subconscious and forces the mind voluntarily to control what is normally an involuntary response. A look, body language and head movement don’t sync up with what is being said.

“I was wondering if you have ever felt frustration or anger towards the people you encounter. I know you don’t always receive a positive response, and I wondered if you ever feel anger or frustration at that,” Michael said.

“Oh heavens no. My father used to say that a true hero does the right thing, not for the glory but because it’s the right thing to do,” Gibson said, his head shaking no.

Step 3: Look for tells.

In poker a person’s behavior will change in response to a hidden agenda or mindset. The same is true for lying. A subject telling a lie, especially an elaborate one, will usually look away, trying to hide their mouth or eyes. They may even clear their throat or find some way to cover their face in an attempt to hide the guilt they feel from lying.

“Have you ever felt angry or frustrated towards your fellow officers who might not take the job as seriously as you?” Michael asked.

Gibson crossed his arms and his smile cracked a little.

“No, I do not. Despite what people may think, we are not perfect. I know that every one of my fellow officers struggles, and I do everything I can to help them in the challenges they face every single day.”

Reading Gibson’s posture, Michael said, “Sorry if I offended you.”

“You didn’t offend me, Mr. Chase, but if all you’re going to write is a story bashing the NYPD, then the interview is over,” Gibson said indignantly.

Step 4: Look for personal grooming.

When the subject is lying, they tend to focus on personal grooming which looks like they’re fidgeting. What the subject may be doing is trying to cover the guilty signs of a lie by making everything else perfect. This can also double as a tell, giving the liar something else to look at in lieu of eye contact.

“No, sir. That’s not the kind of story I’m writing. I apologize if I came across that way. On behalf of the people of New York, thank you for all you do,” Michael said, reaching out his hand.

Gibson’s hard stare melted into a smile and he shook Michael’s hand.

“I appreciate your support. You have a good day,” Gibson said.

Stepping out of the way, Michael let Gibson pass then waited until the officer crossed the street.

“Well he’s not guilty,” Michael announced.

“Even I can see that,” Ricer said.

“Doesn’t make any sense. At first I thought maybe someone framed him for the murders, but now I can’t think of any reason why anyone would want to harm him. He’s one of those people everybody seems to like,” Michael said.

“Not the type who would murder five women,” Ricer said.

“I hope Nicole has better luck.”

* * *

Nicole was within a few blocks of the rec center when she saw the smoke. Fire trucks screamed past her, escalating her dread. She began running, hoping she was not too late, but when she reached the center, her fears were confirmed. As the flames engulfed the building, fire fighters fought to get the fire under control.

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 6:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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