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Dear Mr & Mrs Kozach,

Thank you for showing interest in my business, but your offer of $20/hour is far too low for my employment. As much as your predicament touches me, I’m afraid I have bills to pay and debtors to keep away (in this economy, who doesn’t?) so you’ll have to look elsewhere.

- Noah Shay


Dear Mr & Mrs Kozach,

First of all, I am not willing to lower my prices. I’ve had more people than you come to me with a sad story and I haven’t taken less than $60/hour for anyone. Second of all, I advise just waiting for the police to do their job. If the police can’t catch him within the week, then come see me.

- Noah Shay


Dear Mr & Mrs Kozach,

I appreciate you upping your offer and it is very generous. However, I don’t want to be responsible for a family going into debt for something that’s not worth it. So, please, read this carefully; just move on.

It’ll be easier for you, emotionally and financially.

- Noah Shay


Dear Mr Kozach,

Your persistence is admirable. I presume that your wife isn’t exactly on board with this message, considering only your signature was on it, so please contact me with this email from now on; Nshay94@yahoo.com

- Noah Shay


From: [Redacted]

To: Nshay94@yahoo.com

Subject: Mr Kozach

Alright, alright. Mr Kozach, I understand what’s happening. I’m sorry to hear about your wife, it can’t be easy seeing her like that… but, I can see why she’s so emotional. I checked in with the local PD about you two and they won’t let me near the files.

So, I want to say that I’m willing to help you. You know my rate, sixty per hour. If you’re serious, then send me some details so I can get the police to work with me.


Verizon Database

Mobile Network; Mobile Call

Out-going (No#);[Redacted] (Noah Shay)

Recipient (No#); [Redacted] (William Kozach)

Transcript;

Shay: Mr Ko-

Kozach: Please, call me Will.

Shay: Will… I went ahead and got your case file from the police.

Kozach: Yeah?

Shay: Yeah and there’s some gaps here and there.

Kozach: Really? There shouldn’t be.

Shay: Well, there aren’t literal gaps… but, there’s loose ends all over it.

Kozach: Well, I answered all their questions.

Shay: Clearly they didn’t ask enough.

Kozach: So you want me to answer some more questions?

Shay: If you have the time.

Kozach: Wife’s out, so… fire away, I guess.

Shay: Alright, first thing’s first, says here that someone broke in but there was no forced entry… so they must’ve used a key. Do you know anyone who’d have a key to your house?

Kozach: No, only me and the missus.

Shay: Any spare keys lying around?

Kozach: Only one, but…

Shay: But..?

Kozach: It’s hidden in one of those fake rock things out back, handy when I come home after losin’ a key.

Shay: Well, not really handy now, is it?

Kozach: Excuse me-

Shay: Will, it’s a joke.

Kozach: Just… next question, please.

Shay: Are you tense, Mr Kozach?

Kozach: I’m fine.

Shay: Alright… Next thing is, you said the man who “broke in” immediately went upstairs and into the room across from yours?

Kozach: Yes.

Shay: How do you know he went straight for that room?

Kozach: Footprints. He left mud footprints straight from the door…

Shay: There’s no mention of footprints here, Will. How’d the police miss something as obvious as footprints?

Kozach: My wife cleaned them away. She’s one of those… whatcha’ call ‘em? OCD! She’s had it for a long time. I was searching the house to see if he stole anything and, when I came up from the basement, the footprints were gone and Shelly was emptying her scrub bucket.

Shay: I see… how long has she had OCD?

Kozach: Oh… three, maybe four years? Is that really relevant?

Shay: Probably not. Back on track, Will, what room did he enter?

Kozach: It was a bedroom. Across from mine.

Shay: Two bedrooms? Is anyone else living with you?

Kozach: No, sir.

Shay: Is it a study?

Kozach: No.

Shay: Well, do you have a son or daughter?

Kozach: Uh…

Shay: Actually… [rustling paper] …there’s some officer’s notes here. Did any of the officer’s ask about your… [rustling paper] …ah, about your son, Mr Kozach?

[Call terminated by [Redacted] (William Kozach)]


From: Nshay94@yahoo.com

To: [Redacted]

Subject: I’m coming over if you don’t answer this

Will, I’ve been trying to call you for the past four hours. If it’s just phone issues, email me back. But, I think you have something to hide… so, if I don’t get a response before tomorrow, then I’m coming to speak with you personally, Mr. Kozach, and then you can explain to your wife about the bill you’re running up by playing little hiding games.


Kozach Case Report #001

P.I. Noah Shay

I’ve decided to begin writing down notes for this case, mainly due to the events that transpired today. Since Mr Kozach refused to respond to my email, I decided to visit him personally. So, I double checked the address from the police file and went to their house. Needless to say, he wasn’t surprised I followed through. He even got his wife out of the house earlier that day. So, either he had decided to play a long con in hiding something or this meant he was willing to share. Luckily, it was the latter. He apologised for avoiding me and told me he thought he wasn’t ready to talk about it. He and I sat down and had a talk, which I have transcribed below:

N.S: So, are you ready to talk now?

W.K: Yes… again, I’m sorry I-

N.S: Water under the bridge. Let’s just get these questions answered, okay?

W.K: Alright.

N.S: So, you have a son?

W.K: Yes.

N.S: Does he live with you?

W.K: No.

N.S: Did he move out or..?

W.K: Not really…

N.S: Huh?

W.K: He didn’t move out on his own. He... got really hurt. We couldn’t look after him, so we sent him to a hospital.

N.S: Ah… I can see why you hung up. Must be tough.

W.K: Kids… you never know ‘till you have ‘em.

N.S: So, why would someone go for your son’s room?

W.K: I don’t know… nothing in there you couldn’t find in the living room. Better stuff downstairs, really.

N.S: Mind if I take a look up there?

W.K: Well, I… sure. Go ahead.

As hesitant as William was, he did show me upstairs and to his son’s room. The room looked like a wolverine had been pepper-sprayed and let loose in there. The bed was up-turned, curtains slashed, desk drawers were thrown out and their contents scattered over the floor. The wall-closet had those shutter doors, both of which were kicked in. It looked like the invader was actively looking for something, but the most valuable thing in the room was a VCR and a small TV, both of which were still there… though, the TV wasn’t intact.

I asked Mr Kozach if he was sure there wasn’t anything in the room that someone would want and he said he was.

So, after I requested a pair of gloves, I began to look in the wreckage. Firstly, the slashed curtains. They were definitely cut, the tears were too clean. Done with scissors or a knife or something like that. This was, in fact, backed up when I looked closer at the pillows and mattress, both having tufts of fluff poking through torn fabric. Did Will fight this guy and not tell anyone? Did this guy fight himself? Did he think someone was in the bed? I hoped checking the closet would provide answers but, as optimistic as that thought was, it did nothing like that… just filled with old clothes, probably the son’s.

After my search concluded, I thanked Will for his time and asked if there might be anything else I should know. He said there was nothing he could think of at the moment, but he’d contact me if he remembered something.

All in all, I’ve nothing to go on so far. I might check up on their neighbours, to see if they saw anything.


From: Nshay94@yahoo.com

To: [Redacted]

Subject: Kozach Case

Officer Carley, as I’ve been hired by the Kozach family to investigate their recent home invasion, I require some assistance from the local PD. Respond ASAP.


From: Nshay94@yahoo.com

To: [Redacted]

Subject: Re:Kozach Case

Thank you for responding so quickly, Officer. To answer your question, I have one lead so far. First, I’ll be talking to the neighbours. Then, I’ll need a warrant to search some hospital files.


Verizon Database

Mobile Network; Mobile Call

Out-going (No#); [Redacted] (Keith Carley)

Recipient (No#); [Redacted] (Noah Shay)

Transcript;

Shay: Hello?

Carley: What do you need warrants for again?

Shay: I’m fine, thanks. And they’re for hospital files, Keith.

Carley: Alright… why?

Shay: The Kozach’s have a son they neglected to tell the police about.

Carley: So, you’re looking for what… his birth certificate? Need proof he really exists?

Shay: No, they said he was hospitalised and I’ve tried asking all the local hospitals if they have anyone under the name Kozach.

Carley: And?

Shay: They just asked if I was family and when I said I wasn’t, well…

Carley: So, you’d rather have a warrant to search files rather than warrants to visit a patient?

Shay: The kid’s dad lied about him, Keith. What makes you sure that some Florence Nightingale wouldn’t lie to me too?

Carley: Right, well, I’ll file the paperwork for you then.

Shay: Thank you, Carls.

[Call Terminated by [Redacted] (Keith Carley)]


Kozach Case Report #002

P.I. Noah Shay

I followed up on my idea to check the Kozach’s neighbours. I knocked at the door of the first house for a while, before I snuck a glance in the side window… completely empty. No furniture, no lights, nothing. In fact, it’s probably been empty for… at least a year, from how it looked. Anyway, I digress. I checked the other house and, a few minutes after the first knock, the door opened. After being greeted by the smell of age-old fabrics and dust, I saw an elderly woman filling the bottom half of the doorway, sitting in a wheelchair. I gave her a smile and asked her if I could talk with her about the Kozachs. She responded with a gesture for me to step in as she rolled back into the house. As I made my way in and hung up my coat, we talked (a conversation I have transcribed below);

I.P: Please, come in, have a seat. My name’s Panner, Isabelle Panner.

N.S: Noah Shay, Private Eye.

I.P: Oh, I was right then.

N.S: Ma’am?

I.P: I had a feeling you were here about that little break-in next door. Terrible thing to happen…

N.S: Hm.

I.P: …to such a nice family too. Especially that poor dear, Michelle… she’s been through a lot.

N.S: Well, I certainly sympathise ma’am, but Mr Kozach hired me to find out who broke into their home.

I.P: I understand, dear. But, firstly, nobody broke into their home.

N.S: So, you saw it happen?

I.P: All from that window right there. [She proceeded to raise her aged, quivering arm to a near-by window. I glanced out and I had a clear view of the Kozach’s front door.]

N.S: Did you see who it was?

I.P: I’m frightfully sorry, Mr Shay, but I couldn’t see the man’s face.

N.S: That’s alright, madam. Thank you for your time. [I went to get up and leave, thinking such an old woman wouldn’t have been able to see much if she couldn’t even make out the face]

I.P: Wait, I did see a few things however.

[I took out my notepad and wrote down what she described to me]

I.P: He was six foot, I reckon. Looked strong, but he was wearing baggy clothes. A jacket with a hood pulled straight up, off-grey. Black jeans and these bulky boots… trampled through the Kozach’s garden with ‘em.

[That explains the footprints, I thought to myself]

N.S: Is that all?

I.P: No, no… he didn’t break the lock or any windows. He must’ve found one of William’s keys, he tends to lose them every other week. He unlocked the door and just went inside.

N.S: Anything else?

I.P: ‘Fraid not. That’s when the sciatica medication kicked in and I dozed off. [She chuckled softly, before sighing.]

N.S: Well, thank you for your help Mrs Panner. Now that we have a proper description, there’s a better chance at catching him.

I.P: You’re welcome, dear. Always glad to help our boys in blue.

Once I left and had a good few breaths of clean, must-free oxygen, I went to the police and told them the description. However, they told me that Will had already been in and reported a description that was practically the opposite of what I had. I was assured of two things before I left;

1. The police were going to look for both descriptions.
2. William was still hiding something.

The next thing I’ll do is follow up on the Kozach kid and then talk to Kozach sr. about this description.


From: Nshay94@yahoo.com

To: [Redacted]

Subject: You’re still hiding something

Kozach, how do you expect me to do my job if you’re hiding things from me. I talked to your neighbour, Mrs Panner, and she told me she saw the man who broke into your home… well, not break in, because he used one of your lost keys. Aside from that, the description she gave me was the opposite of the one you gave the police that day. You’re trying my patience, Will. I’m going to look around hospitals for your son, and then I’m coming back to talk to you.


Kozach Case #003

P.I. Noah Shay

After emailing Mr Kozach, I went hospital to hospital trying to find his son. Considering the employees would only slow me down with paperwork and visiting hours (P.I or not) I decided to just go straight into the files. Luckily, Keith got me a handy warrant… only applicable ‘till Friday though. Gives me a good three days.

Anyway, first hospital; [Redacted]

I went to the main hospital, biggest one and most likely. I went in, flashed my warrant and (after dealing with a sour-faced shrew of a receptionist) I was led to the current patient files by security. I looked through every file under K and there was nothing. Next hospital.

[Redacted]

This hospital wasn’t as big and was a bit out of the way for any kind of visits. Once again, I went in and showed them the papers so they’d show me theirs. Another trek with security and I flipped through a multitude of files. Again, nothing.

I decided to try one more hospital, before calling it quits; [Redacted]

Holy hell, getting through the staff was a bitch in this hospital. I had to get an officer down to the hospital just to have the warrant approved in person before that stupid clerk would let me After some digression and bother, I concluded that there was no Kozach in that hospital.


Verizon Database

Mobile Network; Mobile Call

Out-going (No#); [Redacted] (Noah Shay)

Recipient (No#); [Redacted] (William Kozach)

Transcript:

Kozach: Heyo.

Shay: Your son’s not in any local hospitals, Will.

Kozach: Oh, it’s you. Listen, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but my son’s not in-

Shay: Not in a hospital?

Kozach: Not in this state.

Shay: You couldn’t have told me that before?

Kozach: It didn’t matter! Why are you looking for my son?

Shay: Because, you lied about him. That makes me think he’s important to this. Especially since I know you’re hiding something from me!

Kozach: Is this about the description? I saw the guy from across the hall! But you’re gonna to put more belief in a senile woman who spies on us all day?

Shay: I’m on my way, Kozach.

Kozach: You can’t! My wife’s home.

Shay: You wouldn’t be yelling at me if she were.

[Call terminated by [Redacted] (Noah Shay)]


Kozach Case #004

P.I. Noah Shay

When I arrived at the Kozach residence, I saw Will standing at the door waiting for me. He didn’t wait for me to get close before he laid into me.

W.K: I know you’re probably mad, but-

N.S: Mad? No, I’m tired. You’ve been making me drive back and forth between hospitals and police and your house. I’ve been working nearly four days straight and you’re twisting and turning me to dead-ends.

W.K: How?

N.S: You withheld information, you gave false information to both me and the police, now you’re diverting.

W.K: Mr Shay, I have answered with what was relevant at the time.

N.S: Then why give a false description to the police?

W.K: I did no such thing. I saw what I saw.

N.S: Fine. Then why didn’t you tell me about your son?

W.K: That wasn’t the easiest part of my life, you know!

N.S: Your son got hurt and you pawned him off on a hospital! Oh, poor me… poor me… pour me a fucking drink.

W.K: Alright, you wanna be an asshole? Then you’re fired!

N.S: Fine, let me just write you up a bill.

W.K: Great, getting reprimanded on my own property and paying for the privilege.

At this point, William stormed inside and I sat on the hood of his car, trying to calm down. A few minutes passed and I went up to the door, knocking. William yelled at me about how I should just mail him the bill. Since he wouldn’t come to the door, I let myself in and made my way through the house, trying to find him. It wasn’t long before I found him in the basement, sitting on a stool at a workbench.

N.S: I’m sorry.

[He was startled by my appearance and he turned around, wiping his face with a rag.]

W.K: What are you doing down here?

N.S: I came to apologise. I’ve had to deal with a lot of bullshit today and I’m sourcing it all on you… my bad.

W.K: Right, fine, whatever.

[He turned back to the workbench]

N.S: I want to help you.

W.K: It was just a break-in, it doesn’t matter.

N.S: I think it was more. I think someone was after your son.

W.K: What?

N.W: The way the room was… the person may have thought your son would be in the bed and stabbed it. Then, wrecked the room when he was wrong. Plus, the way you’re hiding information about him… like you don’t want anyone to know about where he is.

[William didn’t respond for a little while. A minute at the most, probably.]

N.S: If anyone is after your son, please help me to figure out who.

W.K: Why would anyone be after my son?

N.S: I don’t know… but, I’ve dealt with a lot of people wanting revenge on a cheating spouse or want some blackmail for a big payoff. People find a motive, whether it makes sense or not… people justify what they do. Right now, someone’s trying to justify the murder of your son.

W.K: You don’t know that.

N.S: Yeah. It’s a hunch, I’ll admit. C’mon, what’ve you got to lose?

[William turned around slowly, and leaned back as he crossed his arms.]

W.K: What do you need?

N.S: More information about your son.

W.K: Alright… but not in person. I’ll email you tomorrow.

N.S: Thank you. And, please, no more lies Mr Kozach.

After we made our agreement, I saw myself out and went home. It’s been a stressful few days on this case, but I’m hoping I can wrap it up soon once I get that info.


[Below I have included the email I received from Mr Kozach about his son. Hopefully he took my words to heart enough and this will be the final lead I’ll need for a while.]

From: [Redacted]

To: Nshay94@yahoo.com

Subject: Your information

Mr Shay, this is the information I feel is necessary for you to find my son. Please, keep him safe… I want nothing for him but his safety. I love him.

He’s at [Redacted] in [Redacted] for severe burns, internal bleeding and total respiratory failure.

Hurry and help him. Please, help him.

[Just reading that email, I’d guess Will was feeling those same pains as he typed them. I’ll phone ahead and make an appointment to see the kid, no warrant I can get will work out there… at least not one I could get in time.]


Verizon Database

Mobile Network; Mobile-Landline Call

Out-going (No#); [Redacted] (Noah Shay)

Recipient (No#); [Redacted] ([Redacted])

Transcript;

Shay: Hello, is this the [Redacted]?

[Redacted]: Yes, this is Samantha in Reception and Records, how may I help you?

Shay: Yes, I’d like to find out if a certain patient is staying in your hospital?

[Redacted]: Are you family of the patient, sir?

Shay: …Yes, I’m his father.

[Redacted]: Sir, your call indicates you’re currently in [Redacted].

Shay: My son had an accident while in [Redacted], his mother and I live out here.

[Redacted]: Ah, I see, sir. Apologies, I’ve only been here on this job for three months… still learning a lot.

Shay: Of course, of course. Can you just tell me if you currently have a Kozach in intensive care? K-o-z-a-c-h, Kozach.

[Redacted]: Hold on, sir, let me just check. [computer keys tapping] I’m sorry, no Kozach in intensive care.

Shay: Maybe they moved him to another wing, could you check for that?

[Redacted]:Yes, sir. [computer keys tapping, mouse clicking] No Kozach has been admitted in this hospital for… six years. And the last visit was a routine check-up.

Shay: I see… well, thank you for your time.

[Redacted]: Actually, sir, could you spell that name again?

Shay: K-o-z-a-c-h.

[Redacted]: [computer keys tapping, mouse clicking, papers shuffling and rustling] I may have seen that name on record, Sir… Ah, here we are. Three months ago, listed in a prescription shipment.

Shay: Really? Where to?

[Redacted]: It says here the prescription is for a Kozach at [Redacted].

Shay: Thank you, Samantha.

[Redacted]: You’re very welcome, Sir. Have a good day.

[Call terminated by [Redacted] (Noah Shay)]


Kozach Case #005

P.I. Noah Shay

That bastard. That lying fuck. Kozach tried to send me on a wild goose chase all the way to [Redacted], but now I know where his son is and I’m gonna find him and figure out what’s so important about hiding this kid.


Kozach Case #005 – B

P.I. Noah Shay

I had followed my lead and, it turns out, the kid isn’t even out of state. He’s right in the heart of [Redacted]. dAll it took was a few buses and the rest of the change in my pockets to get to [Redacted]. I went up to the large building and entered… the place was very old. But homely, in an unnaturally conventional way. It’s like it was built to be warm and welcoming, but crossed into overly-eager “come play with us forever” territory.

There was silence in the hospital foyer, only the occasional sounds of a pen on paper at the receptionist desk. When I approached, he looked up at me with eyes framed by bags of exhaustion. He asked what I wanted and I told him I’d like to see someone by the name Kozach. When the receptionist sighed and told me to hold on while he checks their files, it made me wish Samantha had more than the kid’s last name. The receptionist soon groaned as he rose and I could hear the clicks of his back as he walked to the phone on the wall and picked it up, pressing three buttons and waiting. The man was no more than twenty, but he acted like a fifty year old… ‘what kind of work did they put on him?’ I thought.

A minute or so later he returned to the desk and told me “Dr. Harlon will be right with you.” I wondered what the doctor would look like if the receptionist was this ragged. I waited in anticipation on the hard, plastic waiting chair… the only sound being the mesmerizingly ticking clock. Tick… tick… tick… tick… tick… tick… creak. A door swung open and I had no clue how much time had passed. From the door walked an elder man, dressed in the white coat and slacks and tie… the usual doctor get-up. He put out a hand and I shook it, I could feel callouses across his joints and wrinkles permeating through every inch of skin… he was so aged. Eyes sunken with age, perched atop a beaky and crooked nose. A moustache adorned his dryly cracked lip. His eyes were a dull blue. Some people say it scares them to think of age… and now I’ve looked its personification square in the eyes.

L.H: Hello, I’m Doctor Lester Harlon.

N.S: Noah Shay.

L.H: I understand you’re here about… uh… oh, what was his name...

N.S: Kozach.

L.H: Ah yes, Kozach. J… or was it Fr… Kozach. First name escapes me. [He chuckled as he scratched his head. I feared I wouldn’t get much from him.]

N.S: Doctor, I was hoping I could see the boy, if you don’t mind?

L.H: Oh? I’m afraid that’s not possible.

N.S: Why not?

L.H: He’s no longer here.

N.S: Where is he?

L.H: We’re not sure…

N.S: Wh… how can a hospital lose its patient?

L.H: We didn’t lose him, he escaped.

N.S: Escaped?! Why... how..?

L.H: He slipped out during a transfer to another psychiatric hospital.

N.S: Psychiatric… this is a psychiatric hospital?

L.H: Yes, son, do keep up with me here. You don’t want to end up in here do you? [He chuckled again]

N.S: Dr Harlon, this Kozach boy, do you have a case file or patient file or something like that?

[At this point, I’ll admit, I was feeling panicked. Finally, I had a breakthrough in this case. After the dead-ends, I had found out something.]

L.H: I’m afraid we already sent his files to the other hospital… or to the police… or his parents… darned if I don’t remember.

N.S: Do the police know he’s missing?

L.H: The duty to report these things tend to fall to the reception or record staff.

N.S: You mean that guy?! [I gestured my arm over at the tired, prematurely-aged man]

L.H: Yes… wait, did I call them or..? [Harlon became distant quickly as he went into deep thought over his fading memories.]

N.S: Dr Harlon! This is a serious matter, I need to know what he was in here for!

[Harlon jumped as my words shook him back into reality]

L.H: I’m sorry, but I can’t remember. My memory ain’t too good, son. Never has been and this old clunker ain’t making it better. [He tapped his bald head with his knuckles.] And with how under-staffed we are here, your best bet is to find his case file or his family.

His family. Mr and Mrs Kozach. I thanked the doctor and left, dropping a few dollars in a donation box I spotted near the door… god knows they needed it.


Kozach Case #005 – C

P.I. Noah Shay

I’ve been trying to call William for the past two hours… but, every call goes straight to voicemail. Now I’ve had it. He called me, he hired me, he asked for help. Why is he fucking with me? With the police? What is happening with his son?

I’m going to their house and I’ll kick their door down if I have to. I am getting answers.


Verizon Database

Mobile Network; Mobile Call

Out-going (No#); [Redacted] (Noah Shay)

Recipient (No#); [Redacted] (Keith Carley)

Transcript;

Carley: Hello?

Shay: Keith, hey-

Carley: What is it, Noah?

Shay: I’ve made a breakthrough in the Kozach thing.

Carley: We’ve looked for people matching both the descriptions, but they’re too vague to match… well, anyone.

Shay: Yeah, well, that doesn’t matter right now, I-

Carley: Shay, listen, you can follow it as much as you want. Once you have concrete proof of something, come down to the station.

[Call terminated by [Redacted] (Keith Carley)]


Kozach Case #005 – D

P.I. Noah Shay

After my phone call to Keith, I hired a taxi and directed them down the roads to the Kozach’s suburb. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t hold anything against Keith, he’s been a good friend before… backing me up with nothing but my word. Cry wolf enough, I guess?

But, I had to focus. Confronting the Kozachs, that’s all I have to do now.

By the time the cab had parked up down the street, I was… well, ready. I paid the driver and made my way down the driveway. I could see light through the window blinds. A million thoughts ran through my head. What if there son was in there? What if Mr Kozach had a weapon? What if they killed their son? What if… what if… what if… By the time I put my hand on the doorknob, I had already pictured myself being shot or stabbed or strangled or knocked out and locked away in the basement. Felt like I was in a movie or something.

I tried to turn the knob… it was locked. ‘Damn’ I thought. Luckily, I remembered something Will had told me himself. The fake rock. The spare key. I made my way around the house, staying low below all the windows I passed. Around the back, I saw they had a sliding glass door at a small wooden-slat porch. To the right of the door was a pile of rocks, varying sizes. I searched through them quickly and quietly, until I felt the plastic in my hand. Once I tipped it upside-down, I saw the key pressed into a small compartment. I took it out and slipped it into the lock, opening the door and stepping in. Their living room was empty, but the lights were all turned on. I turned and looked at the sky as I slid the door closed, the sun was setting and spreading the mish-mash streaks of hazy oranges across the horizon. When I turned back to the living room, it was still empty. I looked around and found the same thing… nothing. Now that I think back to it, the whole house had a silence to it. Normally silence has a bit of fuzz to it… ambient noise. Kinda like a faint static. This silence was the kind where someone over-compensates and tries to quiet everything, so no one can hear them. But, a clatter in the basement broke this lack of sound.

When I went down there, I saw them. Mr and Mrs Kozach standing by a tipped over shelf, a flurry of nails and bolts strewn across the concrete floor.

N.S: You lying…

W.K: Listen, I can explain-

N.S: Bullshit.

[Will ushered his wife aside]

W.K: Watch your language around my wife.

N.S: Oh, ‘cause you’re a family man? You’re all about protecting your family, aren’t you?

W.K: I love my wife. I love my f-

N.S: What about your son?

[Mrs Kozach was taken aback, shocked]

M.K: How does he-

W.K: Shelly, I’ll handle this.

M.K: William, he already kn-

W.K: I’ll handle this, I’ve always handled this!

N.S: Mr Kozach, Mrs Kozach. Why was your son in a mental hospital?

W.K: My son isn’t in a mental hospital. He never was.

N.S: Dr Harlon told me he was there. Why was he there? How long?

W.K: My son is not crazy! He just… he was never...!

N.S: You know it, Mr Kozach! I know it, you know it, your wife knows it!

W.K: Michelle has been through enough, leave her out of this!

N.S: Then tell me!

[William reached back and picked up a hammer. I stepped back as he raised it above his head]

M.K: William, stop it!

[The hammer was frozen in the air, straight above William’s head and in the middle of his swinging arc. We both turned to look at Mrs Kozach.]

M.K: Mr Shay… I’m sorry. I can’t… I can’t take it anymore.

N.S: Mrs Ko… Michelle. Will you tell me about your son?

M.K: It’s… been so long since we had to send him away. He was always… I just… I’ve kept it so long.

N.S: Ma’am. Please... let’s go upstairs.

The Kozachs and I went upstairs, Michelle sat on the couch and her husband sat next to her. I sat on the arm of a chair adjacent.


[Below is the transcription of Michelle Kozach’s re-telling of her son’s incarceration in [Redacted].]

I don’t know where to start… the beginning? Alright. It must’ve been when he was eight or nine. Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t see something sooner. We thought he just had an active imagination, like every normal boy. He’d come up to one of us and say “The Doctor says I’m doing well” or “The Doctor taught me this.” We thought it was sweet, he and ‘The Doctor’ would talk for hours and hours… I remember asking him what this doctor looked like. “I don’t know” he said “I’ve only heard his voice.”

[Mrs Kozach turned to her husband and whispered something to him. He stood up and walked down to the basement, Mrs Kozach continued talking.]

Me and William didn’t pay much attention to ‘The Doctor’ after a while and we forgot about him completely until our son brought him up one day. William had offered some chocolate and he turned it down. We wondered why a ten year-old would turn that down and he said “The Doctor says that’s not healthy, Doctor wants me to grow up healthy.” I guess I thought it was just something he learned at school and, honestly, it wasn’t doing any harm. He ate healthy, he exercised and… he kept talking to ‘The Doctor’. Which wouldn’t have been so bad, but… it grew a little eerie when he was sixteen.

[Mr Kozach returned and coughed, clasping a thick folder in his hand. He dropped it on the coffee table and I picked it up, flipping through it as Mrs Kozach spoke again]

A few weeks after his sixteenth birthday, he began to mention ‘The Doctor’ more and more. We felt it was time for him to let go of such a childish thing and his father sat him down and talked to him.

[Mr Kozach interjected here]

W.K: I told him he had to grow up and that someone his age shouldn’t have imaginary friends. I asked him about his friends at school.

N.S: And what did he say?

W.K: He didn’t have any, he said. Boy pointed behind me and said “The Doctor says they’re…” What was it, Michelle?

M.K: Contagious… he told you they were contagious.

[As Michelle began again, I looked through the next few papers. They were therapist notes.]

We decided it’d be best for him to get help. Especially after he started holding open doors and pulling out chairs for ‘The Doctor’. It wasn’t right… his therapist agreed. She, Allison, told us it was just hallucinations, probably from stress or a defect. More sessions would’ve helped… but, he just got worse. The things he told her…

[Mrs Kozach began to cry and Mr Kozach put his arm around her]

W.K: She asked us if our son had been bullied at school or something… I said that he seemed pretty normal. Passing some classes, failing others… not gym though. [Will chuckled weakly] He had friends, once. Allison said it didn’t make sense, usually it’s a result of bullies or-

N.S: What result?

W.K: He tended to… said he… [Mr Kozach halted for a moment, in thought for barely a second]

M.K: He cut up animals. Allison said he cut up animals and hid them places. Birds without legs went behind a locker, squirrels without eyes inside mailboxes, two dead cats under the shed…

W.K: Told her ‘The Doctor’ said they were sick. Needed ‘the infection removed.’ Allison said he could have psychosis. Says there in her last notes.

[I flicked quickly through the notes, seeing various references to ‘Psychosis’ underlined through-out. Twice on one page, three times the next, then six, seven, once and finally… I dropped the file on the coffee table and slid off the armchair as I was startled back.]

N.S: On that paper, right there. Is that blood?

[Mr Kozach nodded as Mrs Kozach wiped her eyes with her sleeve. Before clearing her throat to speak.]

M.K: The last session with her. Late in the year, after he turned seventeen. When she got out of the hospital, she said our son kept staring out the window and talking to someone… ‘The Doctor’, of course. It took her some effort, but she brought his attention back. She said he looked tired, mainly in his eyes. Then, she told us, he said “Doctor knows you’re sick. You’re contagious. I can’t get sick. I’m healthy.”

W.K: He attacked her.

M.K: But, it wasn’t his fault! He was just… he can be helped. It’s why we sent him to [Redacted]. So he could get help.

N.S: How long was he there?

W.K: Six… maybe seven years?

N.S: What happened there?

W.K: It’s all in that file. They sent us things every month. From the doctors, from the hospital, from our son…


Patient #529704

Name: J.H. Kozach.

Age: 19

Height: 6’0

Weight: 180 lbs

Stay Duration: Indefinite (Current; 4 Years, 2 months)

Supervising Doctor: Dr. L. Harlon

Orderlies: [Redacted], [Redacted], [Redacted]

Incident #021

Patient was docile through the day, as per usual. Patient went through daily schedule, until 1200 hours, when he began to talk to a hallucination (referred to as ‘The Doctor’ by Patient) through a window (See Patient Report; “…patient claims ‘The Doctor only shows through…”) and gets increasingly angry and hostile, screaming about ‘Contamination’, ‘Sickness’ and ‘Contagiousness’. Orderlies [Redacted] and [Redacted] attempt to restrain the patient, but the patient over-powered them and ran. Patient was found half an hour later in a bathroom, unconscious and in critical condition.

Addendum #021-A

Patient was found injured in second floor bathroom, having smashed a mirror and used the shard to mutilate himself. Injuries were found on his left hand (used to smash and hold the glass) and the patient’s lips had been removed by aforementioned glass shard.

Through immediate first aid and surgery, the bleeding was stopped and the lips re-attached. Patient #529704 is to be moved to a more secure wing.

Addendum #021-B

Patient, upon waking, proceeded to tear the stitches from his lips. As he did so, he yelled at the infirmary window (transcription below.)

Transcription;

[Patient wakes and feels his face, then proceeds to panic and claw at his stitches. Orderlies arrive and attempt to restrain him.]

Patient: Take them off! They’re infected, I can’t be sick, please!

[Patient turns to face the window]

Patient: I’m sorry, please, stop them! Help me!

[Doctor L.Harlon proceeds to inject the boy’s IV with a tranquiliser. Patient sleeps and is prepped for surgery to repair stitches.]


M.K: It just kept happening…

W.K: He got more violent, found ways to get sharp things and attacked people and himself. They wanted to move him to another hospital, he was too dangerous for [Redacted].

N.S: And he escaped.

W.K: Yes.

N.S: Where do you think he could be?

[The Kozachs went silent]

N.S: You know where he is…

M.K: We just-

W.K: We thought we could hide him. Until everything blew over… then we could get him some help. Better help.

N.S: He was the one who broke into your home? Then why did he destroy his room? Why did you call the police? Why contact me?

W.K: I don’t know why he did that. And if we didn’t call the police, then that woman-

N.S: Mrs Panner?

W.K: Yes, her. She’d have called them instead. And what better alibi to have than hiring a P.I?

N.S: Mr Kozach, this is serious… your son is a violent, disturbed man.

M.K: He just needs help…

N.S: We can get him help… but, we have to get him now.

M.K: You’ll take him to the police. They won’t treat him right.

N.S: Mrs Kozach, we can’t let him just roam around. He could hurt someone.

W.K: He’s not roaming around. I sent him to our storage unit at the [Redacted].

N.S: Then I’m going there.

W.K: I’ll get the key for you.

N.S: Keep it, because you’re coming with me.

W.K: What, why?!

N.S: It’ll be safer for me… and, this way, I know you won’t be lying.


Kozach Case #006

Mr Kozach and I went to his storage unit at the [Redacted]. We took his car, but by the time we got there it was pitch black. I remember it was roughly eleven… maybe twelve, if memory serves me right.

The unit was right at the back of the lot, next to a chest-high brick wall that bordered a small thicket beside a ditch. For a second, I wondered if the kid might have run out in the woods just past the trench. But, when I heard a series of knocks in response to Mr Kozach’s quick rapping against the metal door, I knew I was wrong.

It was time to meet the elusive J.H. Kozach.

The door slid up, but only enough to let us crawl under. Inside was practically empty. A sleeping bag in one corner, a small pile of empty food cans, a few books, a flashlight and a man standing in the centre of the room, staring at us.

He was six foot, looked strong… well, more athletic. I reckon he’d lift me off my feet easily. He had a jacket on and kept the hood up, but it did little to obscure his face at this distance. His jeans were stained with mud and the brims of each leg were worn down and fraying. His boots were much of the same, worn and stained with dirt and grit.

I took a step forward and he squinted his eyes, that’s when I began to focus on his face. There were marks of stitches around his mouth, deep and plentifully scattered. His lips didn’t close together, must’ve lost a few parts of them every time he tore them off. I could see his teeth, very straight and white. His cheeks had small scars dotted across them, thin greasy brown hair lined his forehead and his eyes were weighted with sleep. It was… disturbing. The part in his lips made a small, unintentional grin and his eyes just looked tired, frightened.

Mr Kozach was the first to speak.

W.K: Hello, Jeffery. How’re you holding up?

Jeffery. That’s his name… the kid Jeffery, pointed at me.

W.K: It’s okay. He’s here to help… we’re gonna get you some help again, okay?

Mr Kozach approached his son slowly. Like a man walking on eggshells, every step was precise and deliberate.

J.K: Is he clean...?

His voice was raspy and dry, like he had laryngitis or something.

W.K: He’s clean, son. No infection, not contagious.

Jeffery looked at me, then over to the wall. To the window. He watched it intently as we all stood in silence. A minute, maybe half had passed before Jeff spoke again.

J.K: He says…

W.K: Jeff, please-

J.K: The Doctor says he isn’t clean.

W.K: The doctor isn’t-

William stepped forward and placed his hand on Jeff’s arm.

J.K: You aren’t clean either!

Jeff grabbed his father’s hand and twisted it, a crack coming from the wrist, before pushing Mr Kozach away. He retreated back against the wall and stared at Mr Kozach and I.

J.K: It’s spread. Always spreading. It was in the hospital, on the other doctors, on me... on my food... it’s in you. It was in my room. It has to go, I can’t be sick, it has to go, I need The Doctor!

Jeff knelt down and picked up a can of beans, still full, and threw it at the window. The window smashed and he bolted for it. I ran ahead to try and stop him, but he picked up a handful of shards and flung them at me. I felt them cut my cheek and nick my ear. Mr Kozach hurriedly lifted the door and I ran outside, turning the corner to find an empty alley. Jeff was gone.


Kozach Case #006 – B

It’s been two weeks since I last worked on the Kozach case and now I’m ceasing all investigation into it. I’ve handed over all my findings to the local police to help in their new case.

I remember reading the news one day and seeing it:

BODY FOUND IN PARK

Search continues for elusive "Doctor" killer.

That’s the second person they found with that "Doctor" carved into them.

Mr and Mrs Kozach will be put through the legal wringer for harbouring a dangerous criminal, I still have some sympathy for them… call me crazy. I saw what they did and knew what they wanted.

Don’t think they’ll ever sleep right again. God knows I wouldn’t after letting someone like that out.

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