I lit Jan's cigarette. She looked at Pat sadly for a moment. She blinked a couple of times, and I wondered what had got her upset.
"Pat, there are two possibilities. One is that Leo killed Charlotte." She shrugged. "That's obviously one explanation for the facts that we have. But there is one other possibility."
"But first, let's back up. Why is Vicki not here with us, discussing this with us?" Pat started to speak, but Jan continued. "Is it because she would be jealous to hear about an ex-boyfriend of yours? Would she resent your trying to help him? Would she be upset that you had dated a man before you met her?" She shook her head. "Does that sound like Vicki? I don't think so, and I know her fairly well.
"Alright, let's leave that. There is one other possibility for Charlotte's death. I asked at the hospital about her wound. It was deep, but it didn't hit any vital organs. It would have taken a while for her to die of that injury.
"So, it's possible that she was stabbed somewhere else. Out on the street? No, Freddy would have noticed cuts and blood on her coat as she passed him coming into the apartment, and there were none. Besides, unless there was a substitution, we've seen the coat.
"So, perhaps she was stabbed elsewhere, and then she put on her coat and went home. To die in her bed, beside her boyfriend."
She pursed her lips. "But then, if she was stabbed, why not go to the hospital? Or why not go home and wake her boyfriend to get his help?"
I could tell this was difficult for her, but I remained motionless, listening.
"What this looks like, Pat, is fear. She went home because she was afraid not to. And you're afraid, too, that's why you haven't shared this with Vicki, and why you wanted to help Leo but you didn't want to see him. I think Charlotte was afraid of Leo, I think he probably threatened her and maybe beat her, and that's why, even with a stab wound in her back, she went home and collapsed in bed next to him. She was afraid not to.
Jan looked at Pat, who had started to cry. "You're not afraid of Leo anymore, you're too strong for that now. He's out of your life. But you still have some feelings for him, and you know, or you think you know, Vicki's reaction if she found out that Leo used to beat you. Or that he had even threatened you. You think she would kill him."
"She wouldn't, you know. She is very careful, both with her strength and with her authority here. But you should tell her, because she would want to know, and because you would want to know, if your positions were reversed. And because it's the only thing that will help you feel better."