Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

“Talk, damn you, talk!” screamed Fin, a cop known for keeping his cool in the interrogation room. But the green parrot in its dingy cage – a conure — refused to say a word.

“Is our witness starting to ruffle your feathers, Fin?” said Munch. Despite the joke, this was no laughing matter and Munch knew it. This parrot might have been the only witness to a brutal sexual murder in a New York alleyway, and the tortured, miserable end to a young girl’s stolen life.

“Maybe Polly want a lawyer,” joked Fin. But no one laughed. Fin didn’t expect them to. He just had to say it like cops do sometimes.

From behind the one-way mirror, Captain Cragen and District Attorney Alexandra Cabot watched. “This is going nowhere,” said Cragen. Cabot agreed with her old friend’s assessment. She always had looked up to him, and it didn’t hurt that she also thought he looked like Commander Stargazer from SilverHawks.

“I’m not here to berate the department,” said Cabot. “It’s just that we need answers and we need them fast. You see… the mayor’s daughter has been missing for two days. She may be out there hurt and alone, and knowing this serial strangler-rapist is out there isn’t making the mayor feel any better about it.”

“We’ll have to play this manhunt close to the vest then,” said Cragen. “The last thing we need is a media circus and the mayor’s daughter connected to it. Some crazy might get the bright idea to take her hostage.” Cabot still agreed and she was pretty much just nodding her head at this point.

Meanwhile, in the squad room, Stabler, Benson and Strauss stood around the wall of screens that’s in every police department. “Strauss, you said you’ve been chasing down this strangler for the last two years. You have anything on him?” asked Benson. Even though now both of the uppermost buttons on her blouse had accidentally come undone, no one could say anything because it would mean they had looked.

Stabler had noticed it but decided to let Benson figure it out on her own. Maybe the next time she went to the bathroom she’d see it in the mirror and re-button them. Hmm, but am I being a good friend? he asked himself. Then she’ll just wonder how long they’ve been unbuttoned, and then she’ll think about why I didn’t say anything and how I let her walk around like that.

“The closest we have to a name is an old alias: Ricky Wayne Bolgers,” said Strauss pulling the slide back on one of his three chrome-plated .50-cal handguns. “When I was with ECHO, we just thought Bolgers was your garden-variety face-chopping strangle freak. Then forensics came back with evidence of sexual assault, and well… everything we knew flew right out the window.”

“So you got reassigned to sex crimes,” said Benson.

“I requested the reassignment,” said Strauss, returning the .50-cal to its holster. “Anything that’d let me stay on Bolgers’ trail. Even if it meant working Predator Strike Force.” Both Benson and Stabler nodded grimly. Even with everything they’ve seen, they knew PSF detectives had it a million times worse.

“While you guys were strolling down memory lame,” said Munch, “Dr. Doolittle here got something out of the parrot.”

“How’d you do it, Fin?” asked Benson.

“Easy, I remembered Bird 101: I put a blanket over its cage and made it think it was nighttime — which happened to be the time of the murder,” said Fin. “Soon as I did, it started squawking a minute-by-minute playback of the sounds from the alleyway that night. We sent it to the lab and hopefully we’ll have all the leads we need this afternoon.

“Also, Liv, you have like two buttons on your shirt undone and we can all see your business.”

“Fin, you never were one for subtlety,” laughed Stabler, who was just glad that that was over with.