• Sara McNabb

Season 1, Episode 4 Transcript


Episode 4: “Homework”

SARA: The question, knowers, is why. Why stage the abduction of a popular high school senior? Why frame a penniless drifter who it seems never committed more than the pettiest crimes? Why lie about it all, even decades later?

LINDY: Why do you think Petra’s lying?

SARA: Y’know, this kind of thing was funny back when you were seventeen and I was thirteen. Right now, while I’m recording for the podcast, not so much. Now I have to start over.

LINDY: Hang on, hang on. I’m not trying to be a jerk.

SARA: Then you’re doing a really good job despite yourself.

LINDY: I didn’t know you were recording your podcast. I thought you were dictating notes.

SARA: It’s kinda both. Don’t -- don’t worry about it.

LINDY So you think Petra lied? That she’s still lying about Rufus and the abduction?

SARA: I’m positive she is.

LINDY How?

SARA: All of it. When she tells her story, she repeats certain parts of it, like she’s trying to convince you of what she’s saying.

LINDY With what happened, she maybe needs people to believe her.

SARA: Who hasn’t believed her, Lindy? In twenty years, who hasn’t believed her on any of this? And the way she tells it, it’s not like she’s describing something that happened. It’s more like, like she’s reciting it -- like a part she learned for a play, where she needs to start at certain places to remember the lines.

LINDY: So you don’t like the way she tells the story of her abduction? C’mon, Sara --

SARA: And -- and as rehearsed as she is, she still doesn’t even have her facts straight.

LINDY: People forget things.

SARA: Not like the eyes of somebody holding scissors to you throat. Nobody forgets that.

LINDY: Why do you say she forgot?

SARA: Her story. Her police statement. They don’t match. I read her statement that night after Mr. X called.

LINDY: Mr. X?

SARA: The mystery caller.

LINDY: You named him Mr. X?

SARA: I have to call him something. Look, her police statement -- quoted in the newspaper -- said she saw him in her rear-view mirror as he put the scissors to her throat.

LINDY: That mirror was broken . . . I broke it the night before.

SARA: I know. Petra told me the same thing.

LINDY: Then why would her police statement . . . ?

SARA: My guess is because it was prepared – and rehearsed -- before you broke the mirror.

LINDY: But when they questioned her --

SARA: Nobody questioned her. She was abducted. She was a teen, a girl -- the victim. And the daughter of the deputy police chief, to boot -- they kept her cocooned all the way through the trial.

LINDY: But they found her at that farmhouse. It was two hours away.

SARA: I didn’t say none of it happened.

LINDY: So you’re thinking, you’re thinking Rufus was framed? By who? For what?

SARA: For what, I don’t know yet. By whom . . .

LINDY Look, I’ll be the first to admit back in the day Petra could be a class-A bitch sometimes. But to put a man away in prison, “just ’cuz” -- that’s not her.

SARA: I don’t think that’s it, Lindy. I think there’s more.

LINDY: “More” like what?

SARA: More answers to point to what really happened.

LINDY: You already talked to Petra. This is Etta. There aren’t that many people --

SARA: There’s Rufus. His version of the story --

LINDY: He’s a schizophrenic serving time in a penitentiary. You’re not going to get in to question him pretending to catch-up over coffee.

SARA: The police had to have taken his statement. There has to be a case file.

LINDY: What if it’s gone?

SARA: That’ll tell me something, too.

LINDY You’re not going just walk in to their office and ask for it.

SARA: No. But I was just now wondering . . .

LINDY: Wondering what?

SARA: Can you get me in touch with C.J.? Tonight?

SFX: FOOTSTEPS IN AN EMPTY HALL

C.J. FISCHER: So, this is for your show, the podcast?

SARA Yes it is.

C.J. FISCHER: It is so cool that you’re doing that! And it’s all about crime.

SARA: Cold cases and unsolved mysteries. People love mysteries. Lots of research to get each one ready. I really appreciate your help on this, C.J.

C.J. FISCHER: Hey, we’re practically in the same business, right?

SARA: Right.

C.J. FISCHER: So what kind of cases are you looking for here?

SARA: Don’t know yet. I’m in town visiting, and talking to Lindy and I thought I should do some research here -- hometown and all --

C.J. FISCHER: Here we go. Let me ring you in with me.

SFX: CARD SWIPE, DOOR DING, AND LOCK CLICK

C.J. FISCHER: After you.

SFX: METAL DOOR OPENING

SFX: FLOURESCENT LIGHTS HUM

SARA: Wow. It’s more file cabinets than I thought.

C.J. FISCHER: Yeah. Etta got that Federal grant to update our record keeping like eight years ago.

SFX: METAL DOOR CLOSING

C.J. FISCHER: Everything from then on is electronic.

SARA: But everything before is still on paper . . .

C.J. FISCHER: Good news is, small town, low crime -- aside issuing tickets, we can go days and weeks without much to process.

SARA So how are these organized? By date? Type of record?

C.J. FISCHER: Both. Criminal is over here -- that’s going to be your odd burglary, shoplifting, and all that. Over here is all citations – everything from burning leaves to parking and traffic.

SARA: Ah, the famous Etta speeding tickets.

C.J. FISCHER: Yeah . . . Y’know, the other day, I didn’t know that was you --

SARA: It’s part of the job. I get it.

C.J. FISCHER: If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never been all that comfortable with it.

SARA: Etta’s got to generate revenue somehow. Besides, if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have bumped into you and had a chance to come here.

SFX: FILE CABINET DRAWER CREAKING OPEN

C.J. FISCHER: You didn’t mention -- is there a particular case you’re looking into?

SARA: Small towns can be really interesting for their unsolved cases. Those girls in Delphi a few years ago, that bully in Skidmore, Missouri --

C.J. FISCHER: I know that one -- that was back in the eighties. From what I read, it sounds like the community just finally took care of a problem.

SFX: FILE CABINET DRAWER CLOSING

SARA: That’s one view of it.

SFX: FILE CABINET DRAWER CREAKING OPEN

SARA: I was thinking about doing a show on Rufus Knobbe and what happened back then

SFX: RIFLING THROUGH PAPERS

C.J. FISCHER: That’s not unsolved or cold, Sara.

SARA: No. No, it’s not. But it’s kinda personal for me. Petra used to spend so much time at our house, so with Lindy and her --

C.J. FISCHER: Oh, I remember.

SARA: What do you remember?

SFX: FILE CABINET DRAWER CLOSING

C.J. FISCHER: I mean, Petra and Lindy.

SFX: FILE CABINET DRAWER CREAKING OPEN

SARA: Yeah?

C.J. FISCHER: Well -- last two years of high school, they were connected at the hip. But you knew that.

SFX: RIFLING THROUGH PAPERS

SARA: I know what a thirteen-year-old paid attention to.

C.J. FISCHER: If she hadn’t had her big college plans -- man, she was always talking about getting away from Etta -- I mean, we all assumed they’d be getting married.

SARA: See, that’s what I thought back then -- A-ha --

SFX: FOLDER DRAWN OUT, LAID ON CABINET

C.J. FISCHER: Got it?

SARA: Yeah . . . it’s not very thick . . .

SFX: FILE PAGES FLIPPING

SARA: The investigation notes seem pretty sparse . . .

C.J. FISCHER: Well, sure. Petra ID’d Rufus and they brought him in two weeks later. There wasn’t much investigation.

SARA: Here’s the arrest report . . . your dad brought him in.

C.J. FISCHER: Yeah. I was pretty proud of him for that.

SARA: Tell me about that.

C.J. FISCHER: What’s to tell? The biggest thing to hit Etta in my life, and my dad apprehended the perpetrator. We all knew Petra -- she was one of us -- and anyone who would stab a high school girl like that. . . I was glad to see him locked up.

SARA: Everybody seemed to feel that way.

C.J. FISCHER: Why wouldn’t they?

SFX: C.J.’S RINGTONE

C.J. FISCHER: Hang on, I gotta take this. Reception’s lousy in here, and I can’t leave you --

SARA: Oh, sure, I get it. You’ve already done me a big favor bringing me in here. I don’t want you to get in any -- oh, wow, this is a transcript of Rufus’s police interview --

C.J. FISCHER: You know what, just stay here. I’ll be -- I’ll be right outside. This won’t be long.

SARA: Thank you.

SFX: LOCK CLICK, METAL DOOR OPENING THEN CLOSING

SARA: He is a sweetheart and I shouldn’t take advantage. But --

SFX: PHONE CAMERA APP PHOTO SOUND

SARA: Why did I let Mom talk me out of the upgraded camera? These better not be too fuzzy to read later . . .

SFX: CARD SWIPE, DOOR DING, AND LOCK CLICK

SARA: Oh, crap --–

SFX: METAL DOOR OPENING

TOM NOVAK: C.J.!

C.J. FISCHER: Oh, hey, Chief --

TOM NOVAK: C.J. I’ve told you -- it’s not “chief” anymore. Just Tom.

SARA: Of all the times for a police reunion . . .

C.J. FISCHER: It’s been either “deputy chief” or “chief” since I was five years old. Gonna need more time to break that habit

TOM NOVAK: Fair enough. How’s your mom? I heard --

SFX: PAPERS SHUFFLED CAREFULLY INTO FOLDER

SARA: Let’s hope this corner’s out of sight from the door . . .

C.J. FISCHER: Treatment’s going well. And her doctor likes what he saw in her last scan.

TOM NOVAK: Good! Good news. Are you holding up all right?

C.J. FISCHER: Oh, sure.

TOM NOVAK: Listen, I know from experience how hard a parent’s illness can be on their --

C.J. FISCHER: I appreciate that, Chief -- er, Tom.

TOM NOVAK: If you need anything, you’ll call me, right?

C.J. FISCHER: Absolutely. Dad always told me we could rely on Chief Novak.

SARA: Petra’s dad -- ?

C.J. FISCHER: Hey, are you still working on restoring that old Ford?

TOM NOVAK: I tell you, I’m not giving up on it at this point --

SFX: LOCK CLICK, METAL DOOR CLOSING

SARA: Where are those last few pages . . .

SFX: PAGES FLIPPING

SARA: Arrest warrant, witness statement, Now, that’s a mugshot . . .

SFX: CAMERA APP SOUNDS

SARA: . . . transcript . . .

SFX: CAMERA APP SOUNDS

SFX: LOCK CLICK, METAL DOOR OPENING THEN CLOSING

SARA: Where to put my phone . . .

C.J. FISCHER: Sorry about that. We should probably wrap-up. The chief . . .

SARA: Lindy? Hello? Lindy, I can’t hear you.

C.J. FISCHER: Might as well hang up. Like I told you, there’s no signal in here.

SARA: Yeah, it rang, and I saw it was Lindy and thought it might be important . . .

C.J. FISCHER: If you need to step outside --

SARA: No -- no. I’ll call him back -- Was that Chief Novak?

C.J. FISCHER: Yeah. I think he just wanders in for the coffee.

SARA: If it’s coffee he wants, he should wander to his daughter’s place.

C.J. FISCHER: Petra?

SARA: Yeah -- Is he here a lot?

C.J. FISCHER: The chief? I see him maybe a few times a month.

SARA: Sounds more like he comes in for more than coffee.

C.J. FISCHER: He’s retired, probably bored. I also think he’s sweet on Tilly, our dispatcher. So what else can I help you find?

SARA: Actually, there wasn’t as much in here as I hoped. I really appreciate --

C.J. FISCHER: Not a problem. But do me a favor: Not that you couldn’t have made a sunshine law request for this, like you said, but --

SARA: I won’t say anything to anybody.

SFX: PRINTER SOUNDS

SFX: PRINTER SOUNDS STOP, THEN BEEPING

SARA: Lindy, you’re out of paper!

LINDY: If you’d told me you were printing all this, I’d have brought paper back with me from the shop.

SFX: CABINET OPENING, CLOSING

LINDY: Here. This is all I’ve got in the house.

SARA: There’s only a couple pages left.

SFX: PRINTER SOUNDS

LINDY: I can’t believe you took pictures of the file.

SARA: C.J. was really helpful, but I didn’t think he’d let me use the copier.

LINDY: That might have been pushing it. This is the arrest report?

SFX: PAPER HANDLING SOUNDS

SARA: Yeah. It’s all just “check the boxes” stuff. Nothing useful there. Same thing with the arresting officer’s narrative: “Received information suspect spotted in Scottsville . . . arrived at Scottsville . . . identified and detained suspect . . . placed suspect under arrest . . .”

LINDY: That’s vague. Is that Petra’s witness statement?

SARA: The only witness statement.

SFX: PAPER RATTLING

LINDY: This is kinda scary.

SARA: It’s exactly as she told it to me, except for the part about the mirror.

LINDY: Why would you expect it to be different?

SARA: I mean word-for-word exactly the same -- like a part she memorized for a play.

LINDY: Rufus’s criminal record . . . it’s just a long list of vagrancy and trespassing charges.

SARA: A couple shopliftings scattered in there, and that thing with the knife at the Three Bells Tavern.

LINDY: He had a knife at the Three Bells?

SARA: Yeah.

LINDY: But Petra said he threatened her with scissors.

SARA: Homeless, schizophrenic vagrants aren’t known for keeping track of their things.

LINDY: His log sheet here says he had a knife in his possession at the time of arrest.

SFX: PAPER RATTLING

SARA: You’re right . . . I don’t know. Throw some OCD on top of the rest of his issues, and maybe . . . maybe he only uses the knife at night. Or only against men . . .

LINDY: I guess.

SARA: What’s a duty log doing in here?

LINDY: A what?

SARA: The police duty log, all the officers who signed in and worked that Friday she was abducted, and on through the following week.

LINDY: Stuff gets misfiled, sometimes. With that timeframe, it’s probably related to the case.

SARA: I guess, but look at it -- it’s signatures and times, all scrawled in, and they’re not even in order. And these four here -- it’s four different cops on different days but they’re one after the other, all the same handwriting.

LINDY: They mobilized the cops like crazy when it happened. I remember hearing they were all volunteering time.

SARA: So?

LINDY: So maybe Tom Novak or the chief or someone else in charge went back and got everybody to log their hours. The department’s gotten in trouble before over unpaid overtime. It could’ve been to get them all paid and keep everything clear with the police union.

SARA: That makes sense, I guess . . . Look at this.

LINDY: What is it?

SARA: The transcript of Rufus’s police interrogation. They keep trying over and over to maneuver him into saying he did it. That’s how some of these interrogators work. They keep you in a chair for hours, tag team you with another cop to wear you down -- for the love of -- look at this: at one point, they even try “repeat after me” like some effed up Mister Rogers to just get the words out of his mouth!

LINDY: And?

SARA: They get him to say a lot of things -- “I’m fond of the hippopotamus” is one -- what the hell -- but he says “no” about Petra every time. Why didn’t he have a lawyer?

LINDY: Like he was in a condition to ask for one.

SARA: Exactly.

SFX: PAPER SHUFFLING

SARA: See? He was declared incompetent a year before, when he was brought in for shoplifting.

LINDY: So he was in no condition --

SARA: So he wouldn’t have been able to decline his rights. At trial . . . an attorney should have been able to . . . Maybe tomorrow I’ll drive out to the county courthouse, file for court transcripts . . . I’m running out of places to look for records.

LINDY: What about the Etta Weekly?

SARA: I looked before I came out here.

LINDY: You looked online.

SARA: Yeah. Small town weekly newspaper? Not much there besides high school basketball results, church and library updates, and classifieds.

LINDY: Their web archive only goes back about three years, when they stopped the print edition and went digital-only. But they still have their old morgue file, with print copies and clippings going back to the nineteen forties.

SARA: And you know this because -- ?

LINDY: Who do you think they came to about getting it all digitized?

SARA: You do that?

LINDY: No. But when you run the only tech business in town, you get a lot of questions. Last year I helped them find digitizing services, get quotes . . .

SARA: Why do you tease things out like this?

LINDY: Tease?

SARA: It’s some weird, cruel big brother thing.

LINDY: Sara.

SARA: Lindy -- How late are they open?

LINDY: They only open the office Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

SARA: So we’ll go tomorrow.

LINDY: Sure. Or you can look through all these clippings I got the Weekly’s admin to pull for me while you were out committing felonies at the police office.

SARA: You’re hilarious. Let me see the file already!

SFX: PAPER SHUFFLING

SARA: Have you looked through this?

LINDY: Nothing there I didn’t know.

SARA: There’s an article about the trial that I haven’t seen before . . . and score! It gives the name of Rufus’s public defender -- Edward Dial. We’ll have to look --

LINDY: Edward Dial. I wonder if that’s Eddie Dial.

SARA: Somebody you know?

LINDY: I don’t know him, but if it’s the same guy, he’s got billboards all over the county --– “Dial Eddie to sell your house for cash”.

SARA: A real estate guy.

LINDY: A lot of contracts and papers to file. Straightforward work for a lawyer.

SARA: At least his phone number won’t be hard to find.

LINDY: And you won’t have to fake laugh and touch his forearm to manipulate him into showing you the case records --

SARA: You’re mental! I never did anything like that. I called C.J.!

SFX: PAPER SHUFFLING

LINDY: I heard you in the kitchen -- you did the phone version of fake laughing and touching his forearm.

SFX: PAPER SHUFFLING

SARA: Whatever -- Whoa . . . What did you ask the paper to pull for you, exactly?

LINDY: Everything about the Petra Novak abduction. Why?

SARA: It’s everything Petra Novak-related, all right. There’s a “Police Blotter” column here from a little over a year after the abduction. It says Petra was ticketed by Etta police for going 28 MPH over the speed limit right over by the exit. It even notes reckless driving’s thirty or more over the speed limit.

LINDY: So she dodged the big bullet for speeding after coming home for the semester. I don’t know why they’d run that in the paper, anyway.

SARA: Mostly they do it for other crimes, to alert the community about break-ins and that kind of stuff. But here’s the thing: this police blotter column looks like it trails about a week or two after the actual reported incidents -- which makes sense that they gather reports from one week and report them the next.

LINDY: Okay.

SARA: Here’s The Weekly’s front page from the week before.

LINDY: “Police Officer Killed in Hit-And-Run” . . . wait a minute, that was C.J’s dad. I remember hearing about it . . . He was hit by a passing car -- while he was doing a traffic stop.

SARA: It doesn’t say here, but with the time and date on the police blotter article, it was Petra he had pulled over when he was struck by the other car.

LINDY: They never found the driver of the car that hit him.

SARA: How did it not get around that it was Petra he had pulled over when it happened?

LINDY: In Etta it wouldn’t.

SARA: Damn.

LINDY: Damn is right.

SFX: KEYS RATTLING

SARA: Lindy, where are you going?

LINDY: Out. I’ve gotta get out of here, right now --

SARA: Lindy, don’t.

SFX: FRONT DOOR OPENING

LINDY: Don’t what?

SARA: Don’t leave. Don’t go talk to anybody. Don’t do anything stupid --

LINDY: I don’t need you mothering me.

SARA: And I don’t need you getting yourself hurt. Or killed.

LINDY: What do you know?

SARA: What do you mean?

LINDY: Four words Sara. It wasn’t hard.

SARA: It’s, it’s getting dangerous. My caller, Mr. X . . . he called me again, he warned me --

SFX: FRONT DOOR THUMPS CLOSED

LINDY: When did he call you?

SARA: That night I arrived in Etta. He knew I was here.

LINDY: How would he know that?

SARA: My guess is he lives here. Maybe he has the place staked out. It’s not hard to figure out -- whoever he is knows us, and you live in the house we grew up in.

LINDY: You said he warned you.

SARA: He said it was about to get dangerous.

LINDY: Get dangerous? It is already, if somebody murdered Charlie Fischer over it!

SARA: I know, I know. But I can’t let anything -- I don’t want to see --

LINDY: What?

SARA: We’re too far in. Promise me you won’t talk to anybody about this but me.

LINDY: Sara.

SARA: Promise me.

LINDY: Why?

SARA: Because it’s not just Petra. He also told me everybody’s lying. Whenever I look around in Etta now, that’s all I can think of. It’s all I can see -- People lying, hiding terrible truth.

LINDY: We can’t trust anyone.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE

SARA: It’s him.

SFX: SARA’S PHONE RINGTONE



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