Flack opened the door sharply and slammed it loudly behind him, all the while glaring at the man who sat before him. He then proceeded into the room, stalking his prey sat at the table as a big cat would a small, fluffy bunny.
Plenty was unphased, sat upright with a sneer on his face that said something very unpleasant was close by. His black hair was still neatly parted and greased to his head. Not a speck of dirt seemed apparent on his clothing and he clasped his hands comfortably together as they rested on the table before him.
Flack knew this man would not rise to any bait, at least not yet.
"Thanks for coming in, Mr Plenty," Flack gruffed in his best sarcastic voice.
Plenty smiled in an arrogant way. "Nothing is too much for our great New York Police Department."
Flack growled deep inside himself and pulled out the chair opposite Plenty, casually dropping into it.
"So, you came down to get Margaret Rosterick's body," he grinned. "I'm afraid that won't happen for a good while yet."
"Yes. I was informed by the aged medical examiner that it wouldn't be possible. It doesn't surprise me. I realised I was being hopeful in thinking you might all be able to do your jobs efficiently enough to have this wrapped up quickly," Plenty replied spitefully.
Flack snorted a laugh. "Oh, I wouldn't say that, Mr Plenty. Edward, isn't it? Do you mind me calling you Edward?"
"My name is Mr Plenty to you," Plenty said derogatorily, giving Flack a look. "You seem to have woken up a bit more than this morning. A few extra cups of coffee is it? Perhaps a doughnut or two?"
Flack pursed his lips but refrained from getting riled up. No, he could play this game too.
"So, why were you so keen to get the body back?" he asked casually.
"The mistress belongs back at her estate," Plenty said coolly. "Funeral arrangements will need to be made, she was much loved, and many people will want to pay their respects."
"Oh really?" Flack asked in feigned surprise, eyebrows raised and a high pitch to his voice. "You see I heard very differently."
"I beg your pardon?" Plenty asked, staring at Flack with vehemence.
"Tell me something, Edward, why is it that every single person I questioned seems to have a strong dislike for Margo Rosterick. That is, except for you?"
Plenty's lips turned into a thin line and a flash of anger showed in his eyes. "Everyone loved the mistress. It is so easy to talk ill of the dead once they are gone but I won't lie. She was wonderful, we all adored her."
Flack smiled and showed his teeth. "So, she didn't suffer from violent tempers, mood swings or screaming fits?"
The detective could see he was starting to irritate the tall butler.
"The mistress was a very emotional person, but it is healthy to be in tune with one's emotions," he replied curtly.
"She abused her husband, Edward. He has scars on his body from what she did to him!" Flack exclaimed.
Plenty unclasped his hands and lowered them beneath the table. Flack had a suspicion he was clenching them there in anger, however the butler's face showed only calm.
"The master was not always a good man. He was away much and left the poor mistress alone most of the time," Plenty replied.
"You must have been close to her then?" Flack asked lightly.
"I was her confidant, she had no one else to talk to," Plenty agreed. He smiled as he spoke.
"Did she ever hit you?" Flack inquired.
"What?" Plenty said loudly. "How dare you, Detective! She never would have hurt me, she lov…"
The butler cut himself off, a look of shock and discomfort on his face.
"Oh, I see," Flack laughed. "So, Margo Rosterick loved you."
"I meant platonically," Plenty explained.
"But you must have returned these feelings, what with you being so close and all," Flack prompted.
"Of course, I loved the mistress. And the master too for that matter," Plenty replied.
"And yet you didn't speak so well of him a moment ago," Flack commented.
"He made her life very difficult," Plenty replied casually.
"And why is it that Hester Maythorpe disliked Ms Rosterick so much?" Flack pressed.
"As I told you back at the house, the old lady is in ill health," Plenty replied shortly.
"And Harold Love and Evelyn Chambers?"
"The master's friends would think that," Plenty sneered.
"Why is that, Edward?" Flack asked coolly.
Plenty paused for a moment, thinking quickly. "She was different to them, so they tended not to get on."
He has an answer for everything, thought Flack.
"Where were you between 12 and 2am this morning, Edward?" Flack suddenly asked, changing his line of questioning.
Plenty sighed irritably. "I have already explained I was asleep in bed."
"So, you didn't hear all the screaming and fighting?" Flack asked.
Plenty paused a moment too long before replying and Flack knew. He knew that the butler had heard every word.
"I wear ear plugs."
"I don't believe we found any of those back at the house. It must have been very upsetting for you to hear Ms Rosterick being shouted at by Mr Strange. You must have felt like you needed to protect her," Flack suggested.
Plenty pursed his lips. "I already said I didn't hear any shouting."
"Is that why you got the pistol out?" Flack asked, eyes gleaming as he neared his endgame.
Plenty spluttered, finally caught off guard. "I have never held a pistol in my life!" he exclaimed.
"Funny that, because we found your fingerprints on the pistol that killed Margo Rosterick," Flack revealed.
"That's impossible," Plenty admonished. "You must have made a mistake."
"Why'd you kill her, Edward?" Flack pressured. "Did she reject you? Didn't she return your love?"
"Stop it!" Plenty snarled.
"You heard that argument between Margo and Tony, didn't you?" Flack yelled.
"I was asleep!" Plenty spat back.
"And it made you feel so jealous, didn't it? That there was that level… that height of emotion, of feeling between them? Something that you would never have with Margo?"
"No!" shouted the butler, finally losing his cool.
"That's it, isn't it," Flack laughed. "She was going to leave you both, Tony and you, and disappear forever!"
"No, no, no," Plenty yelled, standing and banging his fists on the table. "She would never have left me. She loved me. We were in love!"
Flack smiled widely and sat back, pausing for a moment before he spoke. "So, you were in love. Then why is she dead with your fingerprints on the murder weapon?"
"I loved her," Plenty yelled, slamming his fists down once more. "I would never have hurt her!"
Flack was suddenly reminded of the conversation he'd had with Margo's husband not long ago.
"And yet you shot her through the head!" he accused.
"No," Plenty screamed, rage pouring from him. "I loved her. I didn't hurt her. I loved her. She's free now!"
"Free?" Flack said sharply.
Plenty looked at Flack with pure hatred and disgust. "You would never understand," he admonished.
"She refused you didn't she, so you killed her!" Flack snarled, laughing at the pathetic butler.
"She was going to go back to him!" Plenty screeched. "She said she was leaving him, divorcing him and we could be together at last."
"But it was a lie!" provoked Flack.
"He had left the house, but she ran after his car. She was screaming and crying that she was sorry. That she made a mistake! I ran after her and she collapsed in my arms. I held her to me, all I wanted to do was protect her. But she laughed at me. She said she would always be with Antony, that they were meant for one another. And she pulled herself away from me and laughed. She laughed at me!"
"What did you do, Edward?" Flack prompted.
"She stormed away from me, into the house and I went after her. I've had my little pistol ever since I moved to America. You never know when you might need one here. I sourced it through the man who delivers the fruit and vegetables so there was no record of it. I went to get it from my sock drawer and then looked for Margaret. She was in her bedroom, sat on the bed."
Flack stared at the butler; the man was sweating. His hair had slipped from its place when he'd stood up in rage. He had finally cracked.
"She laughed when I entered the room. 'Oh Plenty, I could never love you like I love Tony' she said. I went to her and said I understood. I cradled her in my arms, put the gun to her head and then pulled the trigger. It was so easy. I felt such relief after I'd done it and I simply held her body to me. In that moment she was finally mine. I don't remember how long I sat there with her, and then I put her to bed and laid her out to be perfect. I'd done what no other man ever could, I'd freed her from her pain, from the constraints of this life and she was back where she belonged, with the angels."
A smile came to Plenty's face that made Flack feel a little sick. This man was deranged.
"But she wasn't an angel, Edward," Flack snarled. "She was a human and you murdered her."
"I set her free," Plenty smiled. "Free of this world and free of her husband."
Flack stared with absolute revolt at the man before him.
"What did you do with her ring?"
"I threw it into the lake. It tarnished her, the connection with that man. I cleaned her of that."
"And why did you leave the pistol in the driveway?" Flack asked.
"It was in my pocket when I went out to throw the ring away. I knew I'd dropped it somewhere, but it was still dark outside. As soon as it was light, I searched the grounds but didn't find it. I assumed it would be near the lake and only looked there."
Flack sighed and nodded his head. Plenty collapsed back into his chair and put his head in his hands.
"Oh God, what have I done?" he cried. "I loved her so much, I only wanted to protect her!"
Flack stared at the top of his head. It seemed that all the men in Margo Rosterick's life had simultaneously loved and hated her. That all who laid eyes on her experienced an overwhelming sensation to protect her. That she was an unearthly creature, innocent and perfect, and that she needed caring for against all evil in the world. Flack laughed bitterly to himself. It was too ironic that the only real evil in these men's lives was Margo Rosterick herself. Some part of him felt sorry for the man before him. Flack remembered that he himself had been entranced by Margo's beauty but at least that had only been in death, he had not known her while she was still alive. But this man, the butler, and her husband, had both been infatuated with her and it had been their downfall. She had ruined both their lives and they'd been powerless to stop it.
Flack read Edward Plenty his rights and left the room, nodding to the uniforms outside the door. He walked back to the other interrogation room to search out Antony Strange. The poor man deserved to know the truth.
At least one of you will find a truth today…
"Detective," Strange nodded at Flack's reappearance. His tears had now gone and he once more seemed calm.
"Tony," Flack nodded and then sat down.
"What is it?" Tony asked, and in that moment he looked like a small child.
"I thought you should be the first to know, we've arrested Edward Plenty for the murder of your wife," Flack calmly stated.
Strange cried out and then squeezed his eyes closed, a hand moving to hold his chest over his heart.
"Plenty?" he breathed questioningly.
"He was infatuated with her," Flack informed Strange. "He thought she was going to leave you for him. He eventually realised that she did not return his feelings."
"She used that man," Tony said bitterly. "She used him just as she used me. Led us both on. I don't blame him. She destroyed both of our lives."
"That's very generous of you," Flack said, eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Oh, don't get me wrong. I'll never forgive him," Tony said sadly. "He's taken away everything I ever loved. But I don't blame him."
"I'm sorry," Flack replied, unable to find the words to convey the utter sorrow he felt for this man.
Tony gasped and then looked down. Flack knew that the events of the last twenty-four hours had taken their toll on him and he was very nearly at the edge of breaking forever.
"Life will go on," Flack murmured.
Tony glanced up at him. "Do you really believe that?"
"I do," Flack said definitely. "I'm not sure if this will give you any peace, but Plenty said that after you drove away from the house last night Margo ran after you. She regretted saying she would leave you. She loved you very much, in her own way."
Tony stifled another sob and looked back down. Flack watched him sympathetically, understanding the loss Tony felt more than the other man would know.
"Tell me, Detective, as you seem to have all the answers…" Tony spoke gently.
"What's that?" Flack asked.
"How do I go on now?" Tony asked looking up. "How do I go on living, knowing I failed to protect the one thing in this world I loved?"
Flack looked away as he felt that familiar heat in his eyes. That was the million-dollar question. How was it possible to go on living without the person you loved? Knowing you hadn't been able to protect them from the world. Flack knew that all too well.
"You live," he choked, looking back at Strange. "You talk to your friends, and you live. Don't drown in the self-pity and loneliness you feel."
Strange looked up at Flack with a peculiar look. In that moment Flack knew. He knew that Strange had recognised him. Had seen that he too was drowning from same guilt and loneliness.
"Good luck with your life, Antony Strange," Flack coughed, clearing his throat as he stood.
"Thank you, Detective," Strange replied. "Good luck with yours too."
Flack smiled and then exited the room. He leant upon the closed door for a second, taking a deep breath, and then he hurried away; not wanting to be caught by Mac at that moment. He made his way through the bullpen and out of the back of the precinct into the parking yard. A couple of uniforms were smoking cigarettes a few feet away and Flack turned from them, holding a hand to the side of the building to keep himself steady.
Flack gulped down the fresh air consisting of fumes from the city. It went to his head and he felt his thoughts clearing. 'You live', those were his own words and he knew now what he must do. Jess would have wanted it that way. He smiled as he thought of her and tears spiked at his eyes again.
"Detective Flack?" a soft voice squeaked, breaking into his thoughts.
He looked up to see Adam standing nearby. The mild-mannered lab-tech looked nervous.
"What are you doing here, Adam?" Flack scowled.
"I was processing Antony Strange's car. I came to let Mac know what I found," Adam replied timidly.
"Edward Plenty, the butler, did it. We got a confession," Flack sighed tiredly. He slid down the wall and sat on the ground, knees bent with his back against hard bricks.
"That's great!" Adam said cheerfully. He watched as Flack closed his eyes and dropped his head to his chest, forearms balanced on his knees. The man looked exhausted. Adam made his mind up and then slid down the wall next to Flack and sat there quietly.
"What are you doing?" Flack asked gruffly without moving or opening his eyes.
"Thinking," Adam replied.
"What?" Flack asked tiredly.
"Hard case, wasn't it?" Adam thought aloud. "That poor Mr Strange losing his wife like that."
"What would you know?" Flack snorted, still not moving.
"I wouldn't" Adam shrugged. "But that doesn't mean I can't sympathise."
Flack didn't reply and Adam eyed over the detective. He really looked as if he'd given up completely. That this case had been the final straw. The final nail in the coffin.
"It must be so difficult losing the person you love like that. Never getting to say goodbye, or that you love them one last time. And then they're snatched away from you, gone and it's so unfair. Like the world is turning against you."
Adam looked over at Flack who hadn't moved. He noticed slight vibrations running through the detective's back.
"It must leave you with a lot of guilt," the timid man surmised. "Guilt of all the things you never said or did, guilt of the life you'll never have with them and guilt that you couldn't save them."
Adam slowly reached out a hand and ever so gently placed it on Flack's back. He was surprised when the other man still didn't move.
"But life goes on. And if you have good friends, and other people who love you then it can make life a little less hard."
Adam suddenly felt the sharp shudders that ran through Flack's back. He rubbed his hand soothingly up and down the detective's back and moved closer to Flack.
"None of us our superheroes," he said knowledgably. "We all try our best, but we can't save everyone."
Flack snorted out a loud cry that he'd obviously been trying to hide and then looked up. His eyes were red and face glistening. He was sobbing sorrowfully, gasping for breaths between the shudders.
"I couldn't save her," he cried desperately.
Adam pulled his friend close to him, a comforting arm over his back, cradling the detective against him.
"It's okay Flack, let it out. Just let it out." And Adam sat with Flack while he finally let go. He finally let it all out and cried.
Flack cried for his lost love, for the release of his guilt, for the death of his loneliness and the recovery of his mind. He cried for Jess' life. He cried for his own life. And he cried for the life of Antony Strange.
And finally, when Flack quietened and cries no longer came to him, and he was simply held by Adam all he heard was silence.
There was nothing else there any longer. The tiny voice had gone.
And Flack managed a weak smile to himself.
This was a challenge 'Seasons Challenge by Kates89' and the options I received were: Don Flack, Season 6 and Heartbroken.
I really wanted to explore a story that delved into Flack's grief from Jess' death that excluded the fact he also committed the murder of Simon Cade. I think the show, and also some of my own stories in the past, focused too much on the latter and ignored the former.