“Why don’t you tell me about when it started, Mary.”
"I'm not really sure when it started, Doctor Halliday," Mary warbled, tears beginning to flow down her lined cheeks.
Halliday handed her a box of tissues from the table beside his chair, and then said soothingly, "Well that's understandable Mary. Often in these cases the victim is unsure of the timing. Things seem to simply happen, with no connection between one event and the next. It might help if you try to recall the last thing that is absolutely clear to you."
She sighed, blew her nose delicately, and disposed of the tissue before saying thickly, "I was driving."
"Good, Mary," Halliday said patiently, biting back a curse as he realized getting the story from her would be like pulling teeth. "Where had you been?"
"In town," Mary replied, and then expanded on that with, "getting supplies for the farm. Marvin usually does that, but he had to tend a sick cow. Our best milker, that cow."
To keep the recall moving, Halliday interjected, "Marvin is your husband?"
"Then you were driving home," Halliday commented. And - when Mary confirmed this with a nod - he asked, "How far from town do you live?"
"We're fifty-three point seven miles from the store," said Mary with a small smile, seeming more relaxed now, more sure of herself.
Casually, so as not to disrupt her equilibrium at this delicate point, the doctor asked, "How much of the drive do you remember clearly?"
Mary's smile faltered briefly before she said, "Thirty-two minutes."
Like a cat luring a mouse out of its hole, Halliday asked, "And how do you know that so precisely?"