FACING THE MONSTER

Now the counselor consoled her. Hallucinations were part of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Apparently Rebecca was suppressing something that needed to come out. To find out what it was, the counselor hypnotized Rebecca, and then asked her to recall the night of the attack.

Rebecca remembered the man crouching in the street, looking at her. She was afraid, but her friend needed her. She'd gone to call 911 and then rushed back with towels to place on the wounds. Then Rebecca's memory went blank. The counselor urged her to look beyond...and then Rebecca recalled the paramedics rolling Heather over onto her back and the sight of Heather's bloody chest.

"I was holding all the wrong places," Rebecca cried. "I thought I had killed her." For over a year, she had been living with the guilt of believing she'd almost let her friend die.

Rebecca got rid of the gun. Even though she replaced it with a security system, she felt she was reasserting her beliefs over her fear. But she remains fragile.

One night this October, a knock on the door startled Rebecca. A woman stood on the porch. In the old days, Rebecca would have opened the door, invited her in. Now she left her standing there in the porch light.

"I have a book I need to give to Heather," the woman said. "Does she still live next door?"

"Heather doesn't live around here anymore. You can leave the book, and when I run into her, I'll give it to her."

"Well...could I use your telephone?"
"No," Rebecca answered. She felt bad, but she was afraid. He had done that to her.

"Do you have a portable telephone you could hand me?"
"Just leave the book," Rebecca repeated. "What is it, anyway?"
"Well," the woman said. "It's not really a book...it's an Avon catalogue Heather ordered."

Finally the woman walked off into the night. Rebecca rebuked herself for being paranoid. She decided to call Heather.

"Did you order an Avon catalogue?"
"No. Why?"
Rebecca explained, and they laughed: Some poor Avon lady now thought Rebecca was crazy as a loon. But both women remembered that Luther had been known to send girlfriends on his errands before.

Last Thursday, Thomas Edward Luther was arraigned in Denver District Court and pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault in the case of Heather Smith; the trial is not scheduled to begin until after the Elder trial.

"It's a bogus case," says Cleaver, Luther's attorney, of the Heather Smith charges. "That's not what's exciting in Mr. Luther's life."

"I have the best evidence there is," responds Detective Scott. "My victim is still alive. There's a whole lot of credibility when a victim can get up on the witness stand, point to the defendant and say, `That's the man.' And Heather will be a great witness."

Heather isn't as confident. She's sure she has the right man--but she's afraid. Ever since she identified Luther as her assailant, she's been waiting to find out why he couldn't be the man. For someone to say he's too short. Or has an alibi.

So far, they haven't. But even so, Heather does not look forward to being interrogated by Cleaver on the witness stand.

She has moved from the little house near Washington Park. There were too many dark memories there, and it no longer felt safe. But otherwise she constantly pushes herself. She entered the Bolder Boulder race to prove she could regain the athlete's confidence she once took for granted. At home she reads murder mysteries to test the limits of her fears. And she dreams of revenge.

Luther tried to kill her. Now she'd like to return the favor. Stab him five times and see if he has the courage and strength she showed.

Still, sometimes it seems like the suffering will never end. This past summer she had to undergo another operation: The blow to the back of her neck two years ago had fractured her C7 vertebra, the same vertebra that was fractured when Luther attacked Mary in Summit County.

Heather knows all about Mary. She met her this fall through mutual friends. After a phone conversation, they got together at a restaurant. Having heard what happened to her, Heather was surprised by how strong and cheerful the smaller woman looked.

Mary admitted that she still fears Luther. The beating cost her some of her hearing, and she is tormented by headaches. She has been told that if he is convicted for the murder of Cher Elder, she may be called during the death-penalty phase to testify about what he did to her.

Despite how he'd hurt her, Luther hadn't ruined Mary's life. She'd gone on, gotten married, and now has a family. "I made a choice to live," she told Heather. "Just like the choice you made." She was happy. "And you will be, too."

The monster had not ruined her life. She could still fall in love. Have children. Enjoy the moonlight and stars that shine through the dark of night.

Mary had been willing to take the stand and point her finger at Thomas Luther before. She would be willing to do it again if it might protect another woman.

Someday soon, Heather will do the same. She will go into the courtroom and confront the man she believes attacked her.

If Thomas Luther is the monster she believes he is, she will face the monster, point her finger and say, "That's him. That's him."

end of part 2

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