Detective John Caster, slave to his wife, and crimefighter in Silverbanks Police
|Detective Story #1
The alarm went off at 5:30 A.M, ringing so loudly it vibrated and nearly fell off the dresser that lay next to John Caster’s bed. With marked decisiveness he shut it off, and swung his legs out of bed, not wasting a moment to dwell in the usual daze of morning grogginess. His wife, Danielle was still turned over on her side, deep in her sleep. Her white gown fluttered lightly from the open window of their home in Silverbanks.
Silverbanks, California was a moderately large city, numbering about 400,000 in its population, and it was located about two hundred miles north of Los Angeles.
His promotion to Sergeant was still in the works, and had been so for many years. So beachfront property was a financial burden. It had been his birthday present to Danielle two years ago, almost as a late answer to her wish at the beginning of their marriage. Between her career as a real estate agent, and his as a Detective, they were able to make it through, but not with much surplus.
Danielle had a habit of pinning all their plane tickets up on the wall of their bedroom. So far, there had only been two. One to Washington D.C., and the other to Hawaii, both only by the providence of a salary bonus from both their careers.
John stepped outside, letting the glass door swing shut. It was a cool summer morning, and the sun had barely peeked over the horizon. He took a minute, in his shorts, shirtless, to let the breeze cleanse him of his pressures. He jogged down to the beach, and flexed his toes in the sand once he reached it. The waves rolled in, and receded, their perputal motion so encapsulating.
He twisted his torso, loosening his muscles, and bent down to touch his toes. Then, digging his toes into the smooth beach sand, he bent forward into a sprinter’s stance, and took off, pushing harder and harder into the sand, a perfect way to work himself up for a 15 hour work day.
John idly twiddled his thumbs, staring at the blank, white surface of his desk, in the Silverbanks Metro Police department. To his right was a coffee, already cold from its stagnant condition. Files were piled to his left, but were all completed assignments. The last two weeks had simply been a robbery case, after a robbery case, nothing to truly stimulate the workings of this crime-fighting mind. The desk in front of him was empty and had been so ever since he had been on the force. He couldn’t help but to think that the few grey hair he had, at 38, wouldn’t have been there had his career not forced him to be such a lone wolf.
“Caster!” Sergeant Mallory called his name, a stern look on his face, though it was often that way. “Snap out of your fucking trance and smell the pizza.”
Mallory had a way of conducting himself…quite unappealing but a price one had to pay in such a line of work. He dumped a hefty file onto his desk, the papers slid out nearly perfectly aligned with each other, slanting down until they touched the table.
“Dead husband, missing wife….” Mallory turned away and walked back to his office, barely hazarding a glance in John’s direction.
John shook his head, and opened the file, looking at the case report. Husband, was a Taylor Johnson, shot three times in the chest, execution style. He was married, so there was no “mysterious partner.” Taylor’s wife had been kidnapped shortly after the murder. The forensics team confiremed the spray of blood on the edge of the corridor wall in front of the main door was not Taylor’s but his wife Rita’s.
Rita was buxom, but fit at the waist. Her hair was tucked back behind her left ear. A pretty lady…
John flashed his badge, and stepped under the yellow tape into the crime scene. The house was very humble. Seemed like a house an electrician would have. It was painted gray on the outside. The main door was red, and had no windows, and on either side there were mounted two incandescent lamps. The windows on the left and right were closed, as they had been on the night of the crime. The lights were still on. The intruder must have seen their shadows. But the garage was closed, and no vehicle was visible, though there was a Ford Escape registered to his name.
John stepped through the main door, ignoring the forensics team that was busy putting any stray objects or any strands of hair into tubes for further analysis. He closed his eyes for a moment…a technique his father had always taught him. His father had been a metal worker, and did the heavy duty labor and would cut steel rods. The factory was loud, with men barking orders left and right and the high pitched grating noice of blades on steel…his father would do just that…he’d close his eyes, count to twenty, taking deep breaths, and turn to the task at hand. Sadly such techniques never prevented a stray metal shrapnel flying into his jugular a few years later causing him to bleed to death.
After he reached twenty, John opened his eyes, though nobody had left the house, everything seemed much quieter…all his senses were more attuned to the crime scene. He strode forward and knelt first by the wall where there was a streak of blood across the bottom right hand side…it was almost directly on the corner of the wall…there had been a struggle. The forensics team had confirmed that the blood streak had indeed been that of Rita Johnson. Judging from the length of the streak, John concluded that the wife’s head must have been forcefully smashed against the wall, perhaps to make her unconscious.
There were scratch marks on the wooden tiles. The wife had been wearing shoes of some sort, perhaps even stilettos, looking at how deeply etched the marks were. Yet there was hardly a foot print from the culprit.
“Caster!” Mallory shouted as he walked in. John grimaced in frustration, as he lost his focus, and turned to Mallory. He feigned a smile to his superior. With him was Sheriff Blakely, a blond woman, about five foot 10 in height, a good three inches taller than Mallory. The best description of her physique would be to ask one to look at Sharon Stone during her role as Loli Quaid. Stocky, but still elegant, and a strange inner strength that exuded from her. She was in her mid forties, but looked nearly 10 years younger, and her lack of a ring, had led to much rambunctiousness from some of the officers in the department.
“I guess I don’t need to introduce you two?” Mallory said, raising his eyebrows.
“Not at all Sergeant Mallory, I’ve heard great things about you Detective Caster. Your work on the heist case last summer was phenomenal. Keep it up and you may just get that promotion.” She smiled…so nice. When someone sitting at the top of the food chain could exude such courtesy what prevented Mallory, only one rank superior to him, from doing so? John often wondered.
“Don’t give him a swelled head.” Mallory said his voice even, and his gaze burning into John.
“What do you have on this case Detective?” Blakely asked…respectfully.
“Well ma’am, the evidence here indicates a struggle between our culprit and the Taylor’s wife. The struggle was contained to the corner there,” John pointed to the blood streak, “and it was done so with the use of some blunt force trauma. It appears he smashed her head into the corner of the wall. And the man…seeing that he is lying close to the door it’s presumable that the culprit shot him before trying to take the wife. He probably was surprised once the door was opened, seeing the look on his face.” John pointed to Taylor’s dead body, his eyes wide open, and pupils fully dilated. Though the three holes were fairly localized around his solar plexus, blood had nearly drenched his entire polo shirt.
“At least, it’s not as bad as some of the stuff we hear of in Essex County.”
“The Hooker Butcher?” John asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Can’t help but to admit, as sick as the crimes may be, that the name has an interesting ring to it.”
“This culprit does not appear to be as savage.” John remarked, looking back again at Taylor’s body. “He was quick…at least with the male. The whereabouts of the female are still unknown.”
“Well….keep at it Detective, I only expect the best, from the best.” She smiled again, and turned to leave.
“You do good now Caster.” Mallory fumed, staring him in the eye. “You even so much as fuck up one step of this thing…”
“I promise you sir that I will deliver the highest quality of work.”
Mallory stared at him a few moments longer before leaving, trailing behind the sheriff.
The hassles of detective work were immense. He filed his report, took detailed notes for himself, before packing his files away, and shutting off his computer.
It was 10 pm by the time John got into his Chevy Impala. It was a base model, no fancy gadgets. Just a CD player, the standard AC/Heater dashboard, and power windows and locks, another compromise he had to make for beachfront property. He’d have still been driving a Mustang had it not been for that venture.
As he drove back along the winding road back to the house, he rolled down the window, feeling the cool ocean breeze against his face…The Essex County Serial Killer drifted into his mind. Essex County was perhaps the dirtiest section of Silverbanks, a red light district. Drug Trafficking, Prostitution, Racketeering, Embezzling, and just about every illegitimate activity a good legal official could put his finger on. Yet the police always seemed to turn a blind eye on it. The investigation on the Essex County Serial Killer, who’s nickname was the Hooker Butcher, due to the killer’s explicit targeting of prostitutes, was abruptly ended when the kidnapping of one of the millionaire’s daughters occurred a few years ago. Reports constantly came in, about one dead prostitute, or another kid shot dead on his way home from school, yet the police did very little to stop any of it. It was always about the glory, and putting themselves in the limelight. But he knew better than to open his mouth.
As he eased his car around the left bend of the Canyon, he couldn’t help but to be ashamed to call Essex a home. He’d been born and raised in the dump…and as far as he’d moved away from it, it seemed his heart still couldn’t be clean. The friends he had made there, if he could even call them friends today…
He pressed the accelerator down further, amping the speed to 70 miles per hour.
The disgrace it brought…just the thought of it…
80 miles per hour
85 miles per hour
90 miles per hour
He swerved his car into a right turn, and a pair of headlights flashed by him as he nearly collided with the SUV headed in the opposite direction. The road descended to ground level, and he reached home shortly.
“Hon, I’m home.” John called out into the house as he entered, and shut the door behind him.
John walked into the kitchen and found a yellow note lying on the granite counter.
Out Shopping, will be back before midnight
It had scribbled on it, with shopping underlined twice….as if she had to rub her affair in his face any more.
Reflecting on his own married life, John had started to place more and more faith in the value of arranged marriages…who would have known the kind of gold digging termite his wife was. The first year was perhaps the best of his life.
He went upstairs to their bedroom.
They’d had sex almost every night during the first year. So much so they had to replace the mattress twice. Soon enough, it occurred to her that the beachfront property had sucked John’s savings nearly dry, and it was time to go onto another man…but the beachfront property…and of course the potential bonus that could buy her a trip to the Caribbean or some other exotic place kept her in the house.
He changed into more casual clothes, before going to the fridge, and pulling out a heat n’ eat burrito from the freezer, and putting it in the microwave. As the plastic crackled within the microwave, so did his temper. Not even a decent home cooked meal? Or even the slightest feel of welcome in his own house? Was that too much to ask for? The rooms around the kitchen were dark, their lights off.
John’s delving into his personal agony was interrupted by the beeping of the microwave. He pulled out the burrito, nearly dropping it as the vapor that had condensed within the bag burned his hand. He tossed it onto the hound.
“Fucking Bitch!!” He yelled in anger-at his wife or at his scalding hand he could not say-shaking his hand.
The artificial flavors sunk into John’s mouth as he bit down into the burrito. He chewed the burrito idly, not enjoying the food, but simply to fill an empty stomach…one that had been empty for a long time.
Humans were a desperate species. If they were thirsty they would drink anything. If they were starved, they would eat anything, and John had starved nearly his entire life, so when he saw food, he did not hesitate.
John had been idly swirling the stirring straw, watching the cream dissolve into the dark expanse of the drink, running the details of the case through his mind. The blood streak…the struggle…was it some personal vendetta? It was too early to establish an MO for the culprit. No matter how deeply he probed, the path was as dark as the coffee he had in front.
“Caster!!” Mallory yelled, walking behind him. “Family living down the street from the Johnsons have something to say on the matter. They called in this morning. I want you to go check it out.” Mallory yelled, and rapped his knuckles on John’s desk, snapping him once again, much to his disappointment out of his train of thoughts.
“Yes sir.” John said curtly, and gathered his badge, and gun, before heading out to the car.
The Driscolls, that was their name. Their house wasn’t much bigger than that of the Johnsons. It was a lighter shade of gray, and had a slightly larger door, with two tall windows on directly adjacent to the main door on either side. Outside was parked a Chevy Aveo and a Pontiac Grand Prix.
When John rang the doorbell, the man that opened it looked about as antiquated as his own Pontiac. He was a short man, about five foot six in height. He was stooped of course, and with age. His hair was graying and his skin had about as many wrinkles as his driveway had cracks in the asphalt.
“Hello Mr. Driscoll. I’m Detective Caster, I’m with the Silverbanks Metro Police Department. I hear you have something to contribute regarding the murder-kidnapping that took place two nights ago?” John said flatly, wearing a little of Mallory’s persona.
“Yyyess…” Mr. Driscoll stuttered. “Yes, of course. Well…it was damp that night, I remember I’d just gotten the mail and was heading back in…and I heard the car racing down the road…the tires skidded right about there.” Mr. Driscoll pointed to the area where the street turned out into the main road.
“Do you remember what kind of car you saw? What brand by chance?”
“Uhh…no I’m sorry, automobile brands are not my strong-suit.” Mr. Driscoll rubbed his head. “But I’ll tell you this. It had two doors…an SUV actually…two doors one for the passenger and one for the driver, and two doors that opened for the trunk.”
“Did you get the plate number by chance?”
“No sir...it was dark out…but I do believe the SUV was a dark blue in color. Yes, that’s right. Dark blue.” Mr. Driscoll smiled weakly.
“Well,” John said, jotting down the details in his notepad, “thank you for your assistance Mr. Driscoll, it’s greatly appreciated. If you remember anything else you saw that night please do let us know.”
He raced his Impala back to the station, pushing its V6 to the limit, as he cruised to a stop into the parking lot.
John headed into Mallory’s office, and sat down in the chair in front of his desk.
“What have you got?” Mallory demanded hardly looking at him.
“Witness says he saw a blue SUV racing down the street the night the crime was committed. He wasn’t able to provide a brand name or the plate number-“
“Well, I suppose that witness was fairly useless don’t you think? There’re thousands of such SUVs throughout Silverbanks John. A Detective with your experience should truly know how fruitless the work you’ve just done truly is.” Mallory condescended, speaking in a milder tone than he normally did.
“I have my doubts.”
“Do tell, enlighten me if you will.” Mallory spat, leaning back into his chair.
“Look sir, we know the SUV is blue. He also stated to me that it had two doors, one for the passenger, and the other for the driver of course, and there were two doors that opened into the trunk. Windows were presumably dark. There’s surely a stoplight near that address, if not the plate number, we can get the make of the SUV.”
“Do what you will, just get me the results. I can’t afford to have you fucking up on my account.”
The footage was easy enough to acquire, and as he’d presumed, there was a stoplight less than half a mile away from the street where the Johnsons’ house was located. At around 10: 20 PM, an SUV drove by through the green light…it was dark blue in color…and the insignia was that of a Chevrolet. He zoomed into the picture, and upon close inspection, it became clear that the license plates had been removed.
Yet again, he had hit a dead end. There were hundreds of such SUVs throughout Silverbanks, and finding a needle in a haystack was never a fruitful activity.
John sighed in exasperation, and shut off the traffic camera’s video footage, and left the evidence room, head slumped down.
“What’s the matter John? Contemplating how to tell me how right I am?” Mallory bullied him, and snickered.
“All we can do now is wait Sergeant. And every minute we wait, he advances, and plots his next crime.”
“Well, then wait is what we’ll do. Next time…realize when you’re being an idiot, and listen to the advice I give you!!” Mallory scolded before leaving. “We wait.”
“Yeah…kinda like we’ve been waiting on the Hooker Butcher case for the past few years right Sergeant?” John retorted, losing his cool.
Mallory’s face reddened, and his eyebrows furrowed, as he leaned forward making his face even with John’s.
“You’re in here because of me John…because I had the decency to feel pity for you and keep you in here to lick my boots. So you better goddamn well know your place!” Mallory yelled, spraying a droplet of saliva onto John’s face, almost landing it squarely in his eye. John flinched, wiping his eye with his sleeve.
Mallory leaned back again, shaking with anger.
John got up out of his chair silently and left the office.
John returned home at around 5:30 this time, though not really relishing the thought of returning home earlier than usual.
“Honey, I’m home.” John called out in a dull manner.
“In here.” Danielle called out from upstairs.
John climbed the stairs, taking off his blazer, and slinging it over his shoulder. He stepped into the bedroom. The blinds were opened, and the orange evening light from the sunset filtered in from the beachside. He could hear the waves crashing outside. The ocean seemed a little choppy today.
“You’re early.” Danielle said, hardly smiling.
“Yeah. Didn’t have much to do this time around.” John replied and went over and sat down on the bed.
“How’s the case coming along?” Danielle tried to force some conversation.
“Listen, I have to-“
“Go out shopping?” John finished the sentence for her.
“And come back at around midnight again right?” John pressed further. His temple bulged and he clenched his jaw biting back a sharper retort.
“John, I didn’t ask you to promise my dad you’d ‘protect me forever’. ” Danielle mocked, waving her hands around.
“Yes Danielle, of course, it’s my fault, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for trying to be a good husband. In every good there is evil right?” John asked sarcastically. His temples bulged as he clenched his jaw in anger. Outside the waves crashed harder against the shore.
“John,” Danielle sighed frustratedly, “you knew the kind of girl I was, there were no surprises. You knew what I wanted, what I expected, and all that and here you are again complaining that things didn’t turn out as romantically as you wanted. I was honest with you John when I said I’d been with three men before. I didn’t ask you to propose to me that day.” She sighed frustratedly and got up from the bed. “Any way, I have to go shopping. I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah, go for the pricey things while you’re there.” John snapped at Danielle. She spun around, fuming, but kept her mouth shut. “Only the best for you right Danielle?” John prodded. The waves were crashing even more loudly, their tempestuous nature ever ascending.
Danielle looked John up and down,
“Obviously, I made a mistake.” Danielle scoffed.
John’s face grew hot with anger. He felt the blood rushing to his head as he clenched his fists, digging his nails into the hard skin of his palms.
“What’re you going to do John? Hit me? Like you tried to last time? A real man would’ve swung, but…oh yeah…I made a mistake remember?” Danielle challenged, raising her eyebrows, staring at him sarcastically.
Danielle turned and went into the bathroom.
“I hope they find your dead ass in Essex.” John muttered after she’d entered.
He took off his shirt, and changed again into his shorts, and jogged out to the beach as he had done in the morning. The anger fueled his every move, as he dug his toes into the sand and leaned forward into a sprinters pose, and finally took off down the shore.
The wind rushed by his face, it’s warmth soothing to his flushed face.
He pressed harder into the ground and increased his speed.
He was strangling his wife, in his mind of course.
He ran fasster, kicking up the sand behind him.
She rasped as she tried so desperately to breathe.
His big toe nearly broke as he pushed even harder.
Her eyeballs bulged, as he pulled harder at the garrote wife, digging into her neck
Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead and down his face, as he raced further down the shoreline, making his house a small speck in the background.
Danielle’s blood sprayed onto the wall in front of them, as the wire finally cut into her throat and the last gasp of breath escaped her.
John slowed to a stop, and bent over on his knees, nauseous from the physical exertion. He often envied those to whom murder was more than just an idle thought. He took a minute to catch his breath, and turned back, and return to the house where of course, Danielle would not be.
The waves seemed to have calmed down, rolling more gently against the smooth, white, beach sand.
He walked into his office the next day, in a daze from the fiasco of the day before. The fans seemed to spin slower. His legs moved slower, and his arms, as if he were encapsulated by a container of viscous liquid, his every movement, thought, and feeling delayed.
But of course there was always Sergeant Mallory to snap him out of everything.
“Caster!!” He yelled from his office, beckoning him to enter.
John entered quietly, and sat down.
“Now I’m not here to let you sit on your ass all day until you get a lead. I’m going to have you work with Detective Jones today. He’ll fill you in on the details.”
John stared back at Mallory.
“Go on, I’m not here to admire your facial features. You have your wife to do that for you.” Mallory taunted, and pointed to the door. “There’s the way out John, in case you didn’t know.”
Detective Jones was a tall African American man, about six foot two in height, about two inches taller than John himself.
“Detective Jones, I’m-“
“Detective Caster, I’ve heard many things about you. That case-“
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get me a swelled head .” John joked, laughing weakly.
“It’s not your swelled head I’m worried about…perp here walks into the 7 eleven store, wearing a ski mask and a jogger suit all black. Asks the cashier in to empty the cash into his duffel bag. After he cooperates, the fucker…you know…I’ll just show you the footage, it’s easier to interpret that way.”
Jones showed John the footage in the evidence room.
The culprit as Jones had described walked in casually, dressed in a black jogger’s suit. Wearing a ski mask. But his face was turned so it hadn’t aroused any suspicion in the cashier.
After what seemed like 5 minutes he raised his weapon and turned. The security feed didn’t pick up any audio, but from the cashier’s actions it was clear. The cashier, a portly little man, probably five foot eight in height, backed up against the wall, his hands up in fear.
Slowly but reluctantly he edged towards the cash register, and started to unload the cash into the duffel bag. It was hard to tell what quantity of money it was.
The next move was surprising. He motioned for the cashier to come around the counter towards him. Once the cashier was about three feet away from the culprit, the cashier attacked the culprit. He grabbed at his gun arm, pushing it upwards. Unfortunately, the culprit was smart enough not to fire and leave behind a potentially traceable bullet. The cashier pushed forward, with all his strength. The culprit seemed experienced and allowed himself to be pushed back. Just as he reached the door, he pulled the cashier in further, and kneed him in the stomach, and hip throw, smashing the butt of his gun into the cashier’s face twice. The cashier fell unconscious, and the culprit left the store with the duffel bag.
“And that’s the swelled head.” Jones said, pointing to the wound on the cashier’s face. “Alright…ready to crack some heads…for information that is.” He snickered, and patted John on the shoulder.
The store was small for most seven elevens around Silverbanks. Barely larger than his bedroom, John couldn’t help but to feel a little claustrophobic, surrounded by Jones and a few other officers who had arrived on the scene. The cashier was getting the bruise on his head treated by a medic, and he sat staring downwards, as Jones and John approached.
“Hello Mr. Fontanne, I’m Detective Jones and this is my temporary partner on the case Detective Caster. We’re just here to ask you a few questions about the events that’ve transpired of late.” Jones said with a smile.
“Yeah, sure, what do you need.” The cashier said still in a daze.
“How tall would you say you are Mr. Fontanne?” Jones asked.
“About five eight.”
“And how tall was the culprit would you say?” Jones asked.
“Probably six foot, maybe six one? I don’t know, it all happened so quickly. Last thing I remember was his gun smashing into my fucking head and that’s all man.”
“Did he take anything aside from the money? The security feed doesn’t capture activity in all portions of the store.” John asked him this time.
“Nope, not to my knowledge. Just the cash.”
“And how much money would you say was in the register?”
“Maybe about two hundred bucks, that’s it. Business was a little better this season, but otherwise we’d only had about ninety or a hundred on a daily basis.”
“Did he say anything in particular? Besides ordering you around.” Jones asked.
“No, not really. He never really raised his voice actually, if he didn’t have his gun honestly I wouldn’t have been startled. Very calm voice, icy calm.” Fontanne said, looking down at the ground.
“Well thank you very much Mr. Fontanne, that’ll be of great help, and I admire your bravery…”
“Hey, the man had a gun, I had to do something.” Fontanne remarked, raising his eyebrows.
Jones smiled, and nodded at the rest of the officers, and turned to leave, beckoning him to follow.
On the drive back, Jones asked John,
“The motherfucker was trained. The perp I mean. He’s not some, off the street perp. All that ninja shit man.” Jones commented, resorting once again to his more informal way of conversation.
“Naah, veteran would have too much respect for his country to do something like that. This had to be some kid who took karate, got real good, and decided to be bruce lee before he became famous. You know that about Bruce Lee right?” Jones asked.
“He was a little gangster before he became that superstar in Hollywood and everything. Street fights and all that. Soon enough he straightened his life out. Of course, Bruce Lee didn’t need no gun.” Jones chuckled as he drove back to headquarters.
“The guy was smart. Wore gloves, didn’t fire a single bullet, and covered himself completely. Another dead end. You’re in the same boat as me. Waiting for another lead.” John sighed, looking out the window as they pulled into the parking lot.
As the two of them entered the station, Mallory was already downstairs waiting for them.
“Get your ass back in your car Caster.” Mallory said. “It’s over…the fiasco. I’m coming with you on this one.”
“Gotta be where the cameras are rolling huh?” John muttered under his breath.
“Nothing.” John quickly replied. He waved goodbye to Jones before heading back out.
“So what happened?”
“Police up near Santa Barbara caught the fucker. The driver was caught speeding. He had the butchered body of Rita Johnson in a garbage bag, in the trunk of that SUV that you mentioned. Prints were over everything.”
“No plates.” Mallory grunted with satisfaction. “This’ll really put me higher up on the payroll.”
“I say it’s a lead.” John said, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel as he slowly turned the bend of the highway.
“Oh really, why do you say that?” Mallory asked, his voice laced with sarcasm and arrogance.
“This was way too easy. It’s hardly been two days since the murder and we already have the guy? Think about it Sergeant.”
“Don’t tell me what to think about Caster, I’ve been in this field longer than you, I know better than you, and you better damn well shove your naïve arrogance down your fucking throat before-“
“I’m sorry Sergeant.” John cut him off.
“You better damn well be.”
The interrogation room at the Santa Barbara Police Department was slightly larger than the one in Silverbanks. He checked in with the detectives that were standing outside, and introduced himself. They let him inside to interrogate the individual.
“Kerry Sommers.” John read out from the file as he stepped inside. The supposed culprit was a thin man, but tall, about two inches taller than John. He had a thin wiry beard around his cheeks, and his brown hair was disheveled. The shirt he wore was torn in multiple places and he sat in his chair lightly shaking.
“Why’re you shaking?” John asked, sitting down in front of him. “It’s fucking summer weather. It’s like ninety five degrees outside man.”
“I’m fucking scared man.” Kerry esclaimed, shaking even more noticeably.
“I don’t blame you…kidnapping, and double murder.” John said, raising his eyebrows.
“Look man, I didn’t do it, I swear. I know-“
“That’s what they all say.” John said, cutting him off, though in his own mind he couldn’t help but to believe the man. Another difficult thing about his career, not being able to speak his mind.
“I swear man, I swear.”
“Alright, alright Kerry, I’m a decent guy. Tell me what happened.” John said in an amiable tone.
“Look man…he paid me off…like a couple hundred bucks, that’s it. Told me to take the car, and just drive, as far north as I could, and then dump everything in Seattle if I could. I was just taking a walk, near the Rosewood Turnpike, just blowing off some steam alright? Had a fight with my wife and kids, and I just needed to forget it all. Then this SUV guy comes driving around the corner stops me and that’s how it all went down man, I swear!!”
“Dump it in Seattle?Was he also too stupid to realize that the Pacific flowed south and it’d all end up down here again?”
“I don’t know! I seriously don’t know what the fuck was running through his mind.”
“You agreed to dispose the body? To get rid of incriminating evidence for a couple hundred bucks.”
“He threatened my fucking family man…I have a wife, and two kids. It’s already a single income family….” Kerry started to break down.
“Hey…hey, calm down.” John reassured him. “I’m not here to demonize you, or make you the bad guy. Nobody is bad, or good…you get that?” John said, trying to encourage him. “Now give me some more.”
“He paid me off, and told me to drive, and that’s what I did. I knew it was fucked up. No license plate.”
“Well, your story sounds great John, it really does, and I think it’d win the case…but there’s only one thing missing here…” John said, still maintaining an amiable tone. “The finger prints…how do you explain that? Your finger prints were found on every single one of Rita Johnson’s body parts Kerry. They couldn’t have magically appeared there now could they?”
“He made me load everything into the bag…without gloves. The guy was a sick fuck!! He’d probably wiped everything down before making me do it…He put a fucking gun to my head man!! What the hell was I supposed to do?!!” Kerry whimpered, and tears began to roll down his eyes.
“A gun? What kind of gun?”
“Some pistol I don’t know…”
“Listen Kerry…how tall was this guy? Do you think you could give me a rough picture? Any special facial features…anything of the sort?”
“I don’t know…like six foot, maybe six one? He was wearing sunglasses man…”
“Any facial hair?”
“Not that I can remember.”
“What was he wearing?” John pressed…could there be a connection?
“Some jogger suit, it was black.”
John left the interrogation room, and nodded towards the two detectives standing at the wall.
“He’s not the one.” John said, shaking his head. One of the detectives, a Koby Russell, replied,
“Why do you say that? Prints are on everything…”
“I have a feeling our guy is slicker than we may think. Keep him in holding, we need some more time on this. It’s way too easy. Besides, the description he gave me of the guy who apparently asked him to drive this SUV…he could potentially be our suspect for armed burglary down in Silverbanks.”
“You say potentially. You want us to keep this guy in a nice holding cell under such uncertainty from your side? Despite all the fingerprints we’ve acquired?” Russell stated.
“Just give it some time…another week. I have a feeling this guy is going to strike again. The guy even wore the same clothes as the one who did the armed robbery. The jogger suit. This could very well be a strong lead and I don’t think it wise to let it all go so quickly.”
“You have one week, and then he’s our business.” Russell said, and pursed his lips.
“Sergeant, I suspect a connection between Jones’s case and mine.” John said after they returned to Silverbanks headquarters.
“And why the hell would that be?” Mallory said, raising his eyebrows as he shut the door to his office. “Sit.”
John sighed, as he sat back in the chair, they were so close yet so far away.
“This guy…this Kerry dude they’ve got holed up in Santa Barbara. He says he was intimidated into driving the car. Says the guy made him load the butchered body into the garbage bag with his bare hands so that his prints would be on there. Here’s what else…the guy was wearing a black jogger suit, and was about the same height as the guy we saw in that security footage at the Seven Eleven. They gave-”
“A week, I know. You ought to be licking my ass for what I did for you. They’d have sucked this case right outta our ass if I hadn’t fought tooth and nail.” Mallory said in an officious manner, rubbing the favor in John’s face.
“Thank you, sir. I don’t know if I could have done it without your help.” John replied, making the sarcasm very clear in his voice.
“You just solve this damn thing.”
“Yeah…this fucker is still out there Sergeant. He doesn’t even have a vehicle anymore. Even harder to track now…” he gestured with his hand.
“Motherfucker’s keeping us waiting day after day.” Mallory fumed, slamming his fist down on the desk, his name plaque almost falling off.
“We’ll get him…in time.”
Danielle wasn’t home, as John had anticipated. He took off his coat and lumbered up to their bedroom. It was almost 11 PM, when he’d returned, and now sleep was more important than food. His eyelids drooped, and his limbs felt sore, and more than anything else, his mind felt drained of its juice, its capacity to think and solve.
As he lay down, his cellphone buzzed, and he pulled it out to see. It was a text message from his wife.
Shopping went well
It said and underneath was a picture of her topless, lying on top of her lover. John gripped the phone tightly, his fingers squeezing the metal ridges, wishing to crush the screen and shatter the picture that sat in front of him. As he squeezed another picture appeared, and another….the pictures flooded in.
“Aaaaah!!” John yelled in anger, and threw his phone at the wall, where it still failed to shatter, the battery flying out, and it’s screen cracking down the middle.
The trees cut into Adrian Keller’s jacket as he broke through the foliage onto the road, back onto the turnpike, the last place the authorities would’ve expected him. He had to move fast, the process was to be complete. His two hundred dollars were exhausted on Kerry, and all he had were his ski mask, jogger suit, gun, and sunglasses. He jogged up the turnpike, around the road, until he approached the suburban area.
As if by bolt of fate, an auto shop lay to his left side, about a five minute jog from where he was standing, and a gas station hardly a minutes drive away.
Adrian took off his jacket and threw it behind a bush that sat adjacent to him. He jogged down towards the auto shop, and ducked behind the wall leading up to it, taking a moment to put on his ski mask and prime his pistol.
“Alright, nobody move.” Adrian said coolly as he walked into the shop, aiming his pistol with military precision. His time in the Marines had allowed him to hone his skills. “Everybody cooperate and this’ll be over quick. I want you to take the plates off the Mustang over there, to the right…go on.” He said, pointing his gun at the man who seemed to be the head mechanic.
He hustled over, and removed the plates, his hands twitching in anxiety.
“Good, not give me the keys to the car.” Adrian pressed and walked forward.
The man did so, and Adrian patted his cheek almost tauntingly. “Thanks buddy.” He snickered.
The Mustang’s engine roared, as he left the auto shop and took off towards his next victim.
Martha Lane’s house was a small one. Just a two bedroom house. Adrian had come there two months before, posing as an electrician. She was a journalist for the LA times, and had been a vehement opposer of military action overseas, going as far as to call his fellow soldiers murderers, and psychopaths who lived for sheer blood lust. Today she would eat her words.
Adrian parked the car a block down, before getting out. As he stepped onto the pavement, his heart beat faster, he grew warmer, and aroused as he came closer and closer to his next kill. The cold wind hardly bothered him, and in the heat of the very bloodlust which Martha Lane condemned, he completely forgot about the jacket which housed his gloves.
The lights were on. Inside he saw a figure moving about…Martha no doubt. She was a single woman, just a little older than Rita. A Harvard degree to flaunt and rub in others faces. To what avail? In a few moments she’d be as red as the articles she’d published. She’d live by the paper, and die by it.
Adrian rang the door bell, retreating to the side, as his training had taught him. He heard Martha’s footsteps echo from inside. The knob turned. The door opened. Adrian rushed forward, kicking Martha square in the chest. She was larger than he’d anticipated, but not a hindrance.
Adrian aimed his pistol at her as she struggled to get back up.
“Stay the fuck down, bitch.” Adrian fumed. “That article you published…on military action overseas…get it. You probably have it somewhere in this dump don’t you?” Adrian pressed.
“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Martha stuttered. “I’m just-“
“Just a fucking bitch who likes to insult men who risk their lives for shits like you?!!” Adrian yelled.
“I swear…I don’t know what this is about!”
“Shut the fuck up and get me the article.” Adrian yelled, and fired a bullet into the wall beside her. “Come on, move your ass!!” He yelled.
Martha struggled to her feet, and walked around into her living room where her work was scattered out across the floor amongst other things. Newspapers, coupons, magazines…
She dug under through the piles and extracted the article.
Criticism on Native Foot on Foreign Soil
The title read in large black print.
“Good, now follow me...come on, no time to waste.” Adrian ushered her to the door, and pushed her out. He pushed the gun into her lower back, and Martha stumbled forward towards the car.
Adrian told her to get into the driver’s seat,
“Drive…” Adrian said, pulling the hammer of his pistol back.
Had John known, Adrian’s lair was hardly a fifteen minute drive from his place on the beach. Located with unfortunate convenience to Adrian between the pier and a neighboring rock cliff, He had found an old supply room, which had long since been abandoned. The beach was deserted nearly during the night, and the daytime only saw a few visitors, most of whom either stayed closer to the shore or were too busy milling around to really pay attention to an old rusted iron door in a rock shelf.
Adrian had Martha park the car just past the entrance to the beach. It was a five minute walk down to the shore line.
“Why are you doing this?” Martha asked, her voice shaking, her breaths rapid.
“Just shut the fuck up and walk.” Adrian fumed and pushed her forward.
In a flash, Martha turned around, quite stupidly, swatting her arm at Adrian’s gun arm. She grabbed his wrist, trying to point the gun upwards. Her nails dug into Adrian’s skin
“Aaah!” Adrian yelled and shook her off. She planted a solid, though amateur kick into his thigh, knocking him down onto his knee. “Fuck!” Adrian shouted as Martha began to run back towards the car.
She’d hardly run a yard when Adrian-having been an excellent marksman in the Marines- pulled the trigger, cold and precise in his aim. Three bullets ripped through Martha’s chest from behind. She slowed, and staggered, still in shock at what had happened. She stumbled, turning around, getting one last look at her killer, before she fell backward, and died choking on her own blood.
“Fuck! Fucking’ bitch!” Adrian yelled, running up to her. He hooked his arms underneath and dragged her down the path, towards his lair. Seeing the smear of blood that followed, he hoisted her fairly hefty body onto his shoulders, and walked down the rest of the way. The moon illuminated the eerily calm waters, its light directly shone upon the door to which Adrian walked.
Inside, Adrian laid Martha down on the metal table, where he’d kept his butchering tools. His past armed robberies in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, had earned him enough money to purchase the tools necessary. But he preferred the meat cleaver above all else. The satisfying crunch of bone and flesh as he swung down was arousing.
He stripped off her clothing, and bleached her body, as he had done Rita’s. And proceeded to butcher the body.
He too stripped down to his underwear while doing this. Covered in blood by the end of the task. He dragged the garbage bag with the butchered parts, out towards the door. He took off his underwear, and jogged towards the sea, and dove in, letting the cold water cleanse him of the blood.
He dressed again, and carried the bag towards the car. Before putting the bag in the trunk, he took the newspaper article Martha had written and tossed it in with the rest of her parts.
The body couldn’t be dumped here…a little ways down it had to be…as he drove the Mustang down, his eye caught a beachfront property. He slowed, as he saw a car backing out of the garage before turning onto the main road. Luckily it was headed in the same direction as him.
He trailed far behind and finally arrived at the house. Adrian hoisted the bag out of the trunk, and carried it down to the shore in front of the house…it’s residents would get a beautiful view in the morning.
The next move was important. Adrian took Martha’s cellphone, and called the police…
John was surprised to find that by the time he reached his house, the police were already there…lights flashing, and officers swarming through the beach. His wife had returned, he could see from the Aveo parked in the driveway.
A chill ran up his spine and he broke into a sweat as he ran down towards the beach where the commotion seemed to be.
His wife was on her knees, vomiting, a medic comforting her…Hope she pukes her fucking guts out...he thought as he ran down to the scene.
“Sergeant Mallory?” John asked as he saw his fiery boss turn his head.
“Hi, son, come on and join the party.” Mallory snickered. “You’re officially under my fucking custody.”
“What the fuck? Why?!” John contested, his eyebrows furrowing.
“Because we just found the butchered body of Martha Lane lying on your beach…nice house you’ve got here. Give me your badge, don’t make a big deal out of it.”
“You fucking bastard!!” John heard his wife yelling in the background, before she returned to vomiting. Stupid twat!! The thought rushed through his head, for a second he wished it’d been her in the bag.
“Look what evidence do you have huh? Fingerprints? You’ve got fucking nothing!!”
“Sorry kiddo,” Mallory mocked, relishing his power, “you’re on my watch now.”
To Be Continued...