Rough chapter 1. 1976. Small town in northern Michigan experiences hell on earth. pls revu
|It is still dark. Daybreak is within the hour, but much has happened since darkness fell. Much is still happening. Come and see.
Let us start at the beach. Although this day will welcome in tourists, no one will be swimming at this little beach on the tip of Michigan’s little finger (if you, like many, agree with the mitten resemblance). To the south, the town of Frankfort has gotten ready for the July 4th celebration, the residents helping comb the beach, just as those north, in the town of Empire, have done. But here in Silverton, there will be no swimming. Thousands of dead fish blanket the cool sand. A few are still flopping, but that will stop. The gulls have already arrived, hundreds of them picking and plucking. Those gulls not on the beach dive bomb the mass of fish floating on Lake Michigan. If there were eyes to see at this time of day, the floaters would extend out into the lake two, maybe three hundred yards. But there are no eyes other than those being eaten by the greedy gulls.
Moving east now, into town. Main Street. What little imagination the town founders must have had. Main Street indeed, with the equally imaginative Lake Michigan Drive to the west of Main Street and South Leelanau Highway to the east. Crossing perpendicular are the clever street names of Washington, Pine, Elm, Oak, Maple and Cedar. We will get to those later, but for now, let us concentrate on Main Street. Particularly, 610 Main Street, Silverton, Michigan. A sign above the door states “Olde Café”. Apparently, the current town residents dip their buckets in the same, simplistic pool of names as their forefathers.
Soon, someone will be knocking on that door. For now, it appears that there is no one inside. But wait, movement inside behind the counter. Knives are pulled from their block and carried to one of the tables. The knives are very sharp, the pride of the cook, who is now sitting at that table. There is nothing at the table except for the cook and his knives. He begins cutting, changing knives based on the ‘cut of meat’ he is currently preparing. Soon, the red and white checkerboard tablecloth is just, simply, red.
Now we pan north and east, toward the intersection of Washington and South Leelanau Highway where, in a few hours, the service station on the corner will garner much attention. For now, let us concentrate on the building behind the Texaco star where a man looks out a filthy kitchen window towards his backyard, a lidless dented garbage can partially blocking his view. He extinguishes his cigarette butt in the overflowing ashtray, smashing it into the center and knocking out half of the butts onto his kitchen counter. He immediately grabs the crumpled, nearly empty pack of Winstons, tears the filter off one of the cigarettes, flips it around and sticks it in his mouth. He used to roll his own, a habit he picked up rolling joints in Nam. Now his hands shake too much, but he can still always roll a perfect second joint of the night. He grabs his Zippo, flips it open (he always loved the metallic ‘clank’ noise it made), steps back from the window and lights his smoke. He clanks it closed and runs his thumb along the engraving. A map of Vietnam is on one side and his favorite phrase on the other. “YEA THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL FOR I AM THE EVILEST SON OF A BITCH IN THE VALLEY – DA NANG 66-67”. Best years of my life, he thinks and has a drink of Kessler’s. He has forgone glasses and chugs it right out of the bottle. The past nine years since his ‘best years’ have not gone very well for him.
He has been looking out of that window for the past two hours. When he first saw movement in the yard, he was ready to be the EVILEST SON OF A BITCH in his own little valley, bursting out of the back door and ready to kick some trespassing ass. What he saw literally stopped him in his tracks like a mime hitting an imaginary wall. He slowly backed away towards the door, almost tripping over the garbage can, went back into the house and very quietly closed and locked the door. He had never been this scared, not even in Da Nang, and the warm, wet patch in his crotch exemplified that point.
The activity in the yard continued over the past two hours while he drank, smoked and watched. More than once, he questioned whether or not the whiskey was the culprit or perhaps the hit of LSD he took that morning but the acid had long since worn off and, although the bottle was almost empty (it had been full and newly purchased when he picked up the smokes after dinner), whiskey had never made him see things. And see things he had.
He reaches for another Winston, repeating his ritual and lights it, the flare of the Zippo illuminating his face. He freezes, stops breathing, the Zippo still lit creating a dancing flicker in the darkened room in front of the window, the part of the ritual where he steps to the side away from the window all but forgotten. Here I am. Look at me. He slowly closes the lighter, afraid that even the ‘clank’ will draw attention. He steps back and to the side of the window, into the safety of the dark, his crotch once again warm and wet. Whimpering, he braces his hands on the counter, leans to the side and peers out through the window. He drops the Zippo, knocks over the whiskey bottle and screams like a little girl.
Finally, at least for now, let’s go south a bit. We pass Maple, Oak and Elm streets and settle onto Cedar Street. The street is still dark, still quiet. . .but not quite. Barely audible is a tune, out of place on this quiet street.
“Run, run, run but you sho’ can’t hide. . .
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I’ll set you free. . .
Rap on brother, rap on.”
We follow the sound and see motion, barely discernible in the dark. Otherwise the street is deserted. Closer now, we can hear the lyrics more clearly. . .
“Oh, Great Googamooga,
Can’s you hear me talkin’ to ya
Just a Ball of Confusion, oh yeah. . .
That’s what the world is today, hey”
The motion is also clearer. It is fluid, rhythmic, a bicycle in motion. Occasionally, the rider throws something at one of the houses, his projectile flying in a high arc, landing on various porches, just in front of various doors.
And so it begins. . .
By 5:30, Jimmy was a quarter of the way done with his paper route. His dad got him up at 4:45 and Jimmy was tired. He had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, watching Sir Graves Ghastly. He watched him every Saturday night and last night, the movie Sir Graves presented was “Count Dracula”. Jimmy just had to watch it. His parents wouldn’t let him see it when it was at the Royal Theater two years prior, when he was nine. They cited too much blood. Even though he watched it on the black and white Zenith in the family room, it still spooked him. He thought the lack of color made the blood that much more realistic. Jimmy also thought Christopher Lee looked like Mr. Dreckling, who lived two doors down. That was the first stop on his route and he was glad that Mr. Dreckling wasn’t on his front porch, drinking a bloody Mary. Actually, Mr. Dreckling liked to dress up like the Count every Halloween, which made the resemblance uncanny.
This time of morning always spooked Jimmy. It had been a hot night and the streetlights illuminated a vaporous mist that swirled along the sidewalk. Daylight was beginning to brighten his surroundings and the streetlights all simultaneously turned off, momentarily darkening the street. It almost gave the appearance of being in a black and white movie and Jimmy began to look between the houses, almost expecting to see a caped figure emerge out of the mist. He nervously laughed out loud, frightened even more by his unexpected snicker. He turned on the transistor radio in his newspaper bag, hoping some good Motown music would help him shake the willies. CKLW was playing “Ball of Confusion”. He sang along with the Temptations, knowing the words by heart from the singing sessions with his older sister Margaret during their after dinner dish washing.
It was Margaret’s bike that he was riding. Margaret was three years older than him, so the bike was big, pink and ugly. He didn’t have one of his own, hence the reason for the paper route. Every time he complained about getting up early, his dad would say, “Remember, Jimmy. Keep your eye on the prize”. This particular prize was a brand new Schwinn Orange Krate, complete with a 5 speed Stik-Shift, spring fork, rear shocks, banana seat, chrome fenders and a sissy bar. Oh, and don’t forget those wonderful handlebars, just made for strapping a newspaper bag onto.
Jimmy’s route consisted of six streets; Maple, Oak, Elm, Cedar, Pine and Washington streets, in that order. Jimmy’s current joke with his mom was that if Washington hadn’t cut down the cherry tree, he would be delivering papers in a forest. Three streets down, three to go and so far, Jimmy was batting a thousand. He had hit every front porch from the confines of his sister’s bike, even when the street lights went off.
He turned onto Cedar just as true dawn came to being. Not light and not dark. Not night and not day. Twin sister to dusk. The sun was still below the horizon, so Jimmy could only make out general shapes, not real detail. A car here, a mailbox there.
The first five houses went without a hitch, each paper being tossed expertly onto the porches. The sixth house was a disaster. Although every light was on in this house, the extra illumination did not help. The paper went wide to the left, hitting what appeared to be a rose bush in a large terra cotta planter. Any other house and Jimmy would have just pedaled on, but this was the Davis place. Just two weeks ago, the same thing had happened. The next day, Mr. Davis was on his porch and summoned Jimmy up from his bike. Mr. Davis explained that Mrs. Davis loved that rose bush and that it was from her mother’s house. He explained that Mrs. Davis’s mother had just died and although there was nothing that could be done about it now, please make sure that the paper gets on the porch, not the rosebush. Mr. Davis promised Jimmy an extra five bucks the next time he collected the money if he got it on the porch every time. That money would just about put him over the top for the Schwinn Stingray.
Jimmy got off the bike, nudged the kickstand with his foot and started towards the front porch of the Davis house. The light coming out of the picture window helped him find the stray newspaper and he bent over to pluck it up. Just then, all of the lights in the house suddenly went off. Surprised by the sudden lack of light, he started to stand, lost his balance and fell backwards. The front door opened and a figure appeared in the doorway, the light still being too weak to make out detail.
“I’m. . .I’m sorry, Mr. Davis”, Jimmy stammered. “It didn’t hit the roses, just landed on the ground next to the porch”.
The figure stepped forward into the twilight. Jimmy saw that it was Mr. Davis and he was wearing nothing but his underwear, what Jimmy referred to as tighty whities, only they weren’t white. Jimmy could see black spots on them. Actually, Jimmy could see black spots covering all of Mr. Davis. Some were small splatters and some were very large smears. Mr. Davis was moving his arms in and out, back and forth, kind of like that Lawrence Welk guy that his parents watch. There was something in his hands. Every time he moved his arms there was a noise that Jimmy thought sounded like scissors opening and closing. . .very big scissors. Mr. Davis looked down at Jimmy. The light was getting better, and Jimmy was now starting to wish it wasn’t. Mr. Davis was looking at Jimmy, but he wasn’t. He was looking through him. Jimmy could also see that it was hedge shears in Mr. Davis’s hands and it seemed like the shears were covered in the same black paint or oil that covered his body. Only now, the spots weren’t black. . .they were red.
“You are NOT the King of Tyre”, Mr. Davis screamed. He then turned around, walked back into his house and closed the door.
Jimmy backpedaled like a crab until he regained his balance, turned and ran to the bike. Grasping the handlebars, he ran the length of two houses until he hopped on and rode home, forgetting about the rest of his route.
Alex Betcher got to the Silverton P.D. headquarters just after six. He had gotten a phone call from Hazel fifteen minutes ago, asking if he could come in early. Something was going on, but Hazel didn’t have a handle on it yet. Alex parked in the spot reserved for “Chief Betcher”. As far as headquarters go, it wasn’t much more than two aluminum sided, double wide trailers with an enclosed walkway between them. One trailer held a reception area, the dispatch desk the squad room and a small closet that doubled as an armory. The other trailer held his office, a small kitchen and four ten by ten holding cells.
He went in the back door of the first trailer and straight to Mr. Coffee. He purposely ignored the dozen donuts that Hazel brought in on a daily basis. It had less to do with trying to break stereotypes than trying to control his ever increasing girth. He wasn’t in bad shape, but at 42 he had just recently changed his uniform order from a size 34 waist to a size 36. Since Susan had died two years ago, he had been eating out almost every night, the time split between the Olde Café and his brother’s house. The nights that he did stay in, it was usually a TV dinner.
Hazel, the dispatcher/receptionist/housekeeper that had been with the department for the last twenty two years had called Alex ten minutes ago, asking him if he could come in early because she had gotten a phone call that worried her.
“Who are you talking to now”, Alex asked her.
Hazel held her hand up, shushing him, and kept writing. Patiently waiting, Alex sipped his coffee as he spied the sheets of paper on Hazel’s desk. Walking over, he shifted them so he could read them.
The first call came in at 5:50. John Krazinski had called, saying that his son Jimmy had gotten spooked while delivering the Silverton Sentinel. He said he thought there was something going on at the Davis’s house on Cedar Street. That was the call Hazel called Alex about. The second call came in at 5:57. This time it was Joy Bridges. Joy goes to the Olde Café every morning for coffee and a Danish. The Olde Café’s doors were locked, but she could see someone slumped over one of the tables and, no matter how much she banged on the door, she couldn’t get the person to wake up. Phil McPhearson called at 6:05, his voice slurred by another night of heavy drinking. Apparently, he had never gone to sleep and stated that someone was in his backyard digging a huge hole for the last hour. 6:11 had a frightened Ellie Thompson saying someone was on her porch, looking in the windows. By 6:15, there had been a total of five phone calls, which is five times more than there usually are by this time of morning. Currently, Hazel was talking to number six.
Hazel finished the call and, hand still raised to ward off any interruption, finished jotting her notes. She finally lowered her hand, looked up at Alex and smiled.
“Morning Chief”, Hazel said. “Yes, I sent Tommy over to Cedar Street right after I talked to you. No, he hasn’t called in yet”.
Tommy was Thomas Granholm, the youngest of the five man police department and a third year criminal justice student at Ferris State University. Alex had first hired him four years ago, during the summer between Tommy’s junior and senior years in high school. Tommy had approached him with a proposition. He would be willing to work the summer, without pay, if Alex would be willing to write a letter of recommendation to the dean of the criminal justice program at Ferris. With summer being the tourist season in the Grand Traverse Bay area, Alex jumped at the idea and did him one better, paying him two dollars an hour over minimum wage, writing the letter and hiring Tommy every summer since, increasing his pay rate, duties and responsibilities each summer. This was the first summer that Alex had actually sworn Tommy in, making him a fully fledged, although temporary and unarmed, Silverton officer of the law.
Just as Alex was going to ask Hazel for the radio, it crackled into life, Tommy’s voice sounding panicked, on the verge of hysteria.
“Hazel, is the Chief there? Oh my God. Hello, Hazel? Chief? Anybody?”
“Tommy, settle down. What’s happening out there? Where are you?” Alex asked.
“Oh thank God, um. Uh. They’re all dead. Come out here, Chief. You gotta get here fast. I don’t know what to do. I think I’m gonna be sick.”
“Alright. Slow down and tell me what’s happening. Take a deep breath. Where are you?”
“The Davis’s house, over on Cedar. I think they are all dead. I’m looking in the window now, and I see someone on the floor and there’s blood all over and the front door is locked and no one is answering and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
Realizing that Tommy didn’t have a sidearm, Alex wanted him to stay in the car and wait. It would only take Alex five minutes or so to get to Cedar, but in those five minutes, a lot could happen, including the escape of the assailant, if what Tommy was saying was true. If it was true, and someone was still alive and in danger in the house, five minutes could literally be the difference between life and death.
“Ok. Tommy? I want you to walk around the perimeter of the house. Check the back door and make sure it’s locked. Check the windows and make sure none are broken. I know you don’t have a gun, so if you see anyone you don’t know, or feel you are in danger, take cover in the patrol car but keep your eyes open. I’ll be there in five minutes.”
As Alex unlocked the armory closet, he instructed Hazel to call in the other three members of the police force.
“Have Peterson go to the Olde Café and tell Mike and Shawn to meet me on Cedar Street”.
Grabbing a shotgun from the closet, Alex ran out of the station house, jumped into his cruiser and sped away. He turned on the siren and flashers for the first time in two years, the sound breaking the serenity of a northern Michigan daybreak.
Tommy Granholm walked around the Davis’s residence, keeping his eyes and ears open. He was hyperventilating and shaking like a leaf. He knew he shouldn’t be here. Hazel hadn’t known the seriousness of the situation, otherwise she would have sent Peterson to check the house out. So far, all of the windows were closed and the shades were drawn, with the exception of the front picture window. That was where he saw the blood and the body.
From his vantage point on the front porch, Tommy could see into the Davis’s living room and as far back as the dining room. That was where he saw Bill Davis walking around the dining room table. Davis hadn’t noticed Tommy.
Round and round he goes. On the floor of the living room is Cindy Davis. Her body is in front of the Zenith console, her head lying next to an afghan on the love seat. Good thing Mrs. Davis had the plastic covers on the furniture, Tommy thinks. He chuckles, and then vomits.
Tommy would have waited for Chief Betcher to arrive if it wasn’t for the afghan. As Tommy glanced up after retching on Mrs. Davis’s rose bush, he saw the afghan move. It didn’t move much, but enough to tell him that one of the kids was under the afghan. From the size of the shape, he guessed it was Elizabeth. At three years old, Elizabeth was the youngest of the Davis’s three children. He could only imagine where ten year old Billy and seven year old Brian were.
Tommy still would have waited if Bill Davis hadn’t suddenly decided to walk/run into the living room. He stopped inches from the picture window, staring directly at Tommy, but obviously not seeing him. There was no recognition on Davis’s part that Tommy was on the porch. If there had been, then Davis’s attention would not have been suddenly redirected towards the afghan. Tommy watched as Davis slowly turned towards the love seat. Tommy began banging on the picture window, trying to divert Davis’s attention away from Elizabeth, but to no avail. Davis took a step towards the love seat. Tommy grabbed the planter holding the rose bush and threw it at the picture window. The planter exploded, showering Tommy with potting soil and his own vomitus. The window did not break. Davis paid no attention, slowly inching his way closer to the love seat, the afghan and Elizabeth. Finally, Tommy grabbed a boulder from the carefully manicured flowerbed and heaved it underhand at the window. The combination of the shattering glass and the rock hitting the oak floor was enough to garner Bill Davis’s attention. As Tommy was trying to clear the glass out of the window frame, Davis reached out and grabbed him by the shoulders of his uniform. He dragged him through the jagged opening, tearing a gash in Tommy’s left forearm.
Still holding onto Tommy’s shoulders, Davis spun and threw Tommy across the room. Even though Bill Davis stood six foot three and weighed in at two hundred and sixty pounds, Tommy was thrown across the room with strength. Tommy hit Cindy Davis’s credenza full force and fell crumpled in front of it.
Tommy watched, dazed, as Davis picked up the object of Cindy Davis’s demise. The hedge shears were covered in blood and gore and Davis began once again to approach the love seat, Tommy momentarily forgotten. Knowing he did not possess a sidearm, Tommy grabbed the next best thing, his five cell Kel-Lite. Although Tommy had never used it as anything other than a flashlight, he knew it also doubled as a baton. He struggled to his feet and called out to Davis.
“Mr. Davis”, Tommy screamed, ever the respectful Eagle Scout, even in the face of terror. “Hey, Mr. Davis! Hey! Bill! Mr. Davis!” Davis paid Tommy no attention, instead he raised the shears. He was still ten feet from the love seat but Tommy knew he was out of time.
Tommy raised the flashlight behind his head, holding the knurled handle in both hands. He brought it down on the back of Davis’s head, holding back from being full force at the last minute. Again, ever the respectful Eagle Scout. The sound of the six pound flashlight hitting the back of Davis’s head made Tommy queasy. It was the sound of something solid splitting, yet Davis had no reaction. Tommy raised the flashlight again and Davis spun around, snapping the shears at Tommy’s exposed neck. Stepping back and away, off balance due to his pre-strike stance, Tommy slipped on the puddle of Cindy Davis’s blood and fell full force on the floor.
His attention now on Tommy, Bill Davis raises the shears, the closed blades forming a gleaming, two handled spear. Tommy, eyes closed, arms covering his head, called out for his mother as Davis brought the blades down in a deadly arc.
At the time that Tommy Granholm was heaving the rock through the Davis’s picture window, Alex Betcher was speeding along Lake Michigan Drive towards Cedar Street. He had already tried to radio Rob Atkins over in Empire for assistance. He and Atkins had both graduated from the Ferris State Police Academy and both had decided to stay in northern Michigan. He received nothing but static in return. There was also no answer from the Michigan State Police post in Traverse City, forty five miles to the south. Alex had never asked for assistance in the past, but he had also never experienced this kind of emergency in his twenty years on the force.
Alex called Tommy’s radio. Only silence answered back. Alex was worried now. It was obvious that Tommy was not in the patrol car, otherwise he would have answered. He hoped that Tommy took his advice and was staying out of harm’s way. Alex felt sick about having Tommy at the Davis’s residence. He didn’t belong there. He was supposed to be setting up parking cones around the beach parking lot, which Alex was just passing. As he passed the beach, he instinctively slowed down, mouth agape, and stared at the mass of fish. Holy shit, Alex thought. What else could possibly happen this morning? What the hell is going on? Alex literally shook his head to clear it, stomped on the accelerator of the Chevy cruiser and continued to Cedar Street with a feeling of dread coming over him.
Tommy regained enough sense to roll to the side, just as Davis finished the downward swing of the shears. They hit the oak floor where Tommy’s chest had been a split second before. The force of the swing buried the blades into the flooring, giving Tommy precious seconds to gain his balance and get to his feet. As Davis pulled the shears from the flooring, Tommy spied his Kel-Lite where it had rolled away when he slipped. Keeping his eyes on his assailant, Tommy bent down and groped for the flashlight. Unable to grab the flashlight and watch Davis at the same time, Tommy finally redirected his attention away from Davis and towards the light.
An excruciating shock struck Tommy’s left shoulder where the blade bit into his flesh, hitting bone. The combination of the slashed arm, the stabbed shoulder and the adrenalin rush of the attack made the world gray as consciousness faded and Tommy, completely defenseless, passed in and out of reality.
Bill Davis opened the shears, exposing the just sharpened edges of the blades. He knelt down next to Tommy, straightened Tommy’s collar and slapped Tommy’s cheek hard enough to jerk him awake.
“I want to watch you watch me”, Bill Davis said in a high pitched, sing song voice. Tommy’s eyes rolled up and his lids closed. Davis slapped the other cheek, harder. Tommy’s eyes flew open. “Don’t you dare close your eyes”, Davis said, his voice now low and tinged with rage. “I want to see your eyes. I want to see your soul. I want to see your life drift away.” Bill Davis screamed and brought one of the blades down towards Tommy’s neck. “We’re going to do this slowly. We will take the time to enjoy this. You’re going to like this. A lot!”
Bill Davis unbuttoned the top two buttons of Tommy’s khaki uniform shirt, exposing his bulging Adam’s apple. Davis lightly ran the blade across that bulge, causing a trickle of blood to course down Tommy’s neck. Davis ran his index finger along the sliced skin, licked his finger and grinned. Davis sliced Tommy’s neck in five more places, the blood flowing freely. None of the wounds were life threatening, but that would soon change.
“Cindy didn’t understand”, Davis said. “I thought she would have enjoyed our little lovemaking session, but she went a little crazy after I played with Billy and Brian. You might say she lost her head!” Davis opened the shears, placed the V shape of the blades on either side of Tommy’s neck and looked into Tommy’s eyes. They were closed.
“Wake! The! Fuck! Up!”, Davis screamed. “Open! Your! Pretty! Little! Eyes!”
Davis began squeezing the handles of the shears together, cutting into either side of Tommy’s neck. Tommy’s eyes fluttered open just in time to see Bill Davis’s torso explode. Tommy slowly, painfully turned his head towards the picture window and saw Alex Betcher, climbing over the jagged glass, the shotgun in his hand still smoking.
“Aw Tommy”, Alex lamented. Alex rolled Bill Davis’s body off of the young man, saw the blood soaking Tommy’s shirt and frantically looked for something to use as a compress.
“The afghan”, Tommy said.
Misunderstanding, thinking Tommy was having the same thoughts as himself, Alex hurried to the love seat to grab the afghan, hoping to stop the blood flow.
“Elizabeth”, Tommy whispered. “Don’t let her see”.
Alex grabbed the afghan off the love seat. Beneath it, shivering on the plastic covering was the Davis’s Border collie, Kimba. Tommy closed his eyes and wept.
As much as Alex wanted to ride in the ambulance with Tommy, he couldn’t. This wasn’t over and Alex was needed in Silverton. He watched as the ambulance sped away towards Empire. Although Traverse City had a better equipped hospital, Alex felt that time was of the essence and Tommy needed care immediately. Based on that, Alex had Tommy sent to Empire Memorial.
No amount of time could help the Davis family, however. Alex stayed at the Davis home until the medical examiner from Traverse City arrived. Cindy and Bill were already loaded into the coroner’s wagon while the attendants were gently preparing the bodies of Billy and Brian.
Mike Wilson and Shawn Moore, deputies that Alex had hired five and seven years ago respectively, arrived at the Davis house five minutes after Alex had shot Bill Davis. They had already looked through the entire house, under the porch and in the crawl space with no luck. Little Elizabeth Davis was nowhere to be found.
Joy Bridges was sitting on the bench in front of the Olde Café when Harry Peterson pulled up in his cruiser. She had been sitting there since she made the phone call to Hazel a little over an hour before from the pay phone across the street. She almost didn’t stick around once the sun rose. The shades on the windows of the Olde Café were open and a diagonal slash of bright morning light illuminated the Olde Café’s only occupant. Joy had seen more than she had wanted to. She was, however, a part of this community, by golly, and it was her civic responsibility to see this through, or her name wasn’t Joy Bridges, dog gone it!
“Mornin’, Mizz Bridges”, Peterson greeted Joy with respect reserved for beloved teachers, which was just what Joy Bridges was, now retired. Not only had Joy taught music at both Silverton Elementary and Silverton High School, she also gave private piano lessons. Harry Peterson had taken lessons from her for seven years and had become quite an accomplished pianist.
“Good Morning, Harold. Thank goodness you are here. I think we have quite a conundrum in the Café. I tried the front door. It’s locked. I went around the back. Locked. From what I can see through the window, I think we may have seen the end of Charlie’s omelets”.
Charlie being Charles DuMonchel, retired executive chef of the Detroit area restaurant where Jimmy Hoffa, the infamous Detroit Teamster Union leader had last been seen less than a year earlier. DuMonchel retired shortly thereafter, moved up north and began making the best omelets in the northern Lower Peninsula.
Peterson checked both doors. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Joy Bridges, but it would have looked bad if he had taken her word and later discovered that the back door had been unlocked. Finally, after trying to unlock the front door with his arsenal of police picks, he used the same model Kel-Lite that Tommy had to tap out the pane of glass adjacent to the door lock. Peterson slid the bolt, opened the door and stepped inside.
Harry Peterson had not checked in from the Olde Café yet. Alex decided that he would stop at the restaurant on the way to Phil McPhearson’s house. Alex had gone to high school with McPhearson, had fought over the same girl (Alex won and had married Susan) and had fought in the same war as McPhearson. That was where the similarities ended. Where Alex was an M.P., McPhearson was a grunt. Where Alex had Susan to come home to, McPhearson had no one. Stateside life had been no different. Alex became a pillar of the community, a founding member of all that made Silverton special. On the other hand, Phil McPhearson became your proverbial dreg of society. He was an unemployed, drug addicted alcoholic who had seen the inside of the Silverton police headquarters more than once. Still, Alex found it vital that he talk to McPhearson. If McPhearson saw something that might be related to this tragedy, Alex would soon find out.
Alex got into the cruiser and made his way to Main Street. He tried to piece together what happened this morning, without success. Absolutely nothing could have predicted Bill Davis’s spiral into insanity. Bill had been president of Silverton Savings and Loan. He had been an active member of both the city council and the chamber of commerce. Bill had attended St. Mark’s every Sunday with his family, the five of them in their Sunday best. Most of all, Bill Davis idolized his family.
Alex pulled his cruiser into a parking space in front of the Olde Café next to Peterson’s cruiser. He took a deep breath, today’s events reminding him of the day Susan died. Bill Davis had been there to talk to in the months following Susan’s death. They went fishing on a weekly basis, their Saturday morning catch being their Saturday evening meal. Bill had been the Cub Master for the Cub Scout pack that both Bill’s own sons and Alex’s nephew belonged to. The pack had come to the police station on an annual basis to learn about civil responsibility. In short, Bill had been one of Alex’s best friends. Alex sat in the cruiser and grieved for both his and the town of Silverton’s loss. Finally, regaining his composure, Alex left the car and walked over to Harry Peterson, who was standing outside the door of the small restaurant.
“What’s up, Chief”, Harry asked. “Man, you look like shit.”
“You look a little green behind the gills yourself, Harry”.
“So, what was going on over on Cedar?”
“Well, Tommy’s on his way to Empire Memorial, I had to shoot Bill Davis dead, and he had already killed the rest of his family, except, we think, Elizabeth. But we can’t tell for sure because we can’t find her. Other than that. . .”
“Oh, Alex. I’m sorry,” Peterson said. It was a well known fact that Alex and Bill Davis were close. “Tommy’s gonna make it, right?”
“He’ll be alright, at least physically. But I’ll tell you, almost being decapitated will probably really screw up his confidence for being a cop. What’s going on inside?”
“Come on, I’ll show ya. I had to break the glass. Both doors were bolted shut from the inside”.
Alex and Peterson entered the café and walked towards the table where the restaurant’s only occupant was seated.
“What do you think, Chief? Did you ever see anything like it? I never thought someone could do that to themselves”.
Alex was still two paces behind Peterson, his eyes transfixed on what was left of Charles DuMonchel.
“What I don’t get”, said Harry, “is the fact that he used tourniquets. It’s like he wanted to prolong it, like he wanted to suffer. Not only that, but I can’t believe he didn’t pass out from the pain.”
Charlie was seated at one of the tables, naked from the waist down. His feet were covered in blood. Above that, the flesh was gone. The tibia and fibula bones were still in place, picked clean. A ring of flesh encircled his knees, not enough meat, followed by the white femurs. On the table, neatly stacked on plates, were expertly butchered cuts of the meat missing from Charlie’s legs.
“I can only guess he used the cleaver last”, Peterson said, pointing the dismembered hand lying in a meat loaf pan. “He kept on chopping after that, see?” He pointed to a platter of arm “steaks”, laid out like an appetizer, bright red flesh encircling white bone.
“Aw, Christ”, Alex said. He made his way back to the cruiser, called Hazel and had her contact Traverse City to send the coroner back.