Monday, September 15, 2014

Murder Mystery

She was naked when she died.

The cold water flowed through the gutter where her remains lay, washing away her sins and those of the parties responsible for her current state of lifelessness. Only a flickering street light could make her visible under the shroud of darkness with trails of white bouncing off the plastic sheet was wrapped in, as if she were posing for a morbid photoshoot.

Not that she’d ever done anything to merit such a gruesome fate. Destiny has its own sacrificial lambs and the blue-eyed brunette just happened to be one of them.

An old hobo made the harrowing discovery.

“I walk around here every day at the same time. From far I saw this weird reflection.”

The officer taking his statement could barely make out what the toothless man was saying.

“Could you repeat that slowly please? There aren’t any interpreters at my disposal right this second.”

A few feet away, the crime scene investigators were laden in what appeared to be full body gloves in their effort to gather evidence and snap photos of who they’re currently dubbing as Jane Doe.

“Too bad it’s the last time anyone’s going to take her picture,” said lead detective Christina Romero. “She was a looker all right.”

“She might be a model then,” her partner Justin Chamberlain responded. “We can try to match her photo to a modeling database or ask around agencies.”

“Model. Prostitute. Same difference,” she threw back at him whilst lighting up a Davidoff cigarette.

It was a frigid December night in Denver, Colorado. Even murderers tend to take time off to celebrate Christmas and stay indoors in front of a fireplace. Detective Romero was bemused over the fact that she stood in an alleyway intersecting 16th Street Mall in downtown on this day of all days. This street is usually as dead as this woman

“This is the most grim Christmas eve I’ve ever had to work through,” said Chamberlain, glancing over the body once again. “She’s wrapped up like a bad present.”

Romero shifted her gaze to where he was looking.

“Make that the worst Christmas present,” she said before let loose a cloud of smoke from between her pursed lips.

The pair walked over to continue canvassing the crime scene along with the rest of the staff and so Romero threw the cigarette butt and extinguished it with the heel of her shoe, dragging a thick, beige trench coat behind her.

“Hey Chris, take a gander at over here.”

A baritone voice emanated from behind a camera, both too big for their bearer.

“What’s up, Ricky?”

The little person wearing gloves and an Armani suit took a last picture before he looked up to Romero. Dr. Richard Calderon held up a shiny, clear necklace. It was a lot less clear than it should be owing to the blood stains.

“This is our murder weapon. Whoever made this is a sadistic fuck. The design is well-crafted but holds an unseen attribute,” he said as he brought the object closer to the two coppers.

“If you can focus on each separate diamond orb, you’ll notice they’re finely sharpened making it impossible to wear unless you have a thing for being bitten or having things dug into your skin.”

Chamberlain put on a pair of gloves and was careful to only grasp the string part of the piece of jewelry.

“The jagged edges are consistent with the wounds on our vic,” Calderon continued. “You can’t just strangle someone with that, it’ll just end up cutting them open. She’s also been here for a hours judging from the stiffness.”

“Someone went through a lot of trouble to make this,” Chamberlain remarked.

“I’ll only know more when I get her back to the lab. None of my crew was able to get any fingerprints or bodily fluids or anything.”

“Thanks for the effort either way, Ricky,” said Romero.

She then walked back to her squad car and Chamberlain trailing behind her and his unkempt brown hair wrestled with the wind.

“This reminds me of the Cherry Creek strangler case from ten years ago but that a polished piece of rope,” Romero commented. “It’s sickening how elaborate these guys get.”

“I’ll try not to lose any sleep over it,” Chamberlain said. “Are you going home?”

“Yeah there’s not more I can do here. I just got my kid the new Kingdom Hearts video game so she’ll freak out tomorrow morning after she wakes up.”

“Mom of the year you are. Happy Holidays, Chris.”

“Happy Holidays, Justin. Give my regards to the family.”

She got into her white and blue Crown Vic and disappeared into the night.

As the police vehicle moved through the empty streets, a shadowy figure loomed from the rooftop of the Masonic Building a couple of blocks away. The beady eyes tore themselves away from the binoculars he had used to monitor the situation and then walked away undetected as if he weren't there to begin with.

He could never decide whether he wanted plain Cheerios or Corn Flakes. Whenever he went to a supermarket, he could only stare at the two, very different cereals and get utterly perplexed at the monthly dilemma presented to him. The people working at King Soopers were always amused at the sight and looked forward to seeing him and some even had a pool over which breakfast food he’ll choose.

This month he didn’t take as much time, which somewhat disappointed the staff there. He had a hankering for something different and so he got Coco Pops. There goes Chad the Manager’s fifty dollars.

The middle-aged man walked out briskly with his grocery bags and was welcomed by a warm, endearing sun. As he approached his car, a terrifying thought occurred to him.

“Goddammit I forgot the milk,” he said to himself.

He turned around to head back to the store and made his way past a woman who stood there looking at him with her own groceries but he failed to notice her.

“I know you.”

The man stopped at his tracks.

“Do you, now?” he said as he turned to face a woman.

“I remember you from TV. You covered that 16th Street gutter murder from a few years ago.”

“In all honesty I can’t recall,” he lied through his teeth. “It might’ve been one of my colleagues.”

“Your name is Don Wheeler.”

He was stumped.

“Well, it might’ve been me.”

“Cut the bullshit,” she said sternly. “I know it was you. That murder victim was my sister.”

“I’m really sorry about that,” Don said.

“You said she might’ve been a prostitute,” the lady retorted.

“I was going off what I overheard from one of the medical examiners. I—“

“In an opinion column you said she might not have been loved enough by her family.”

“Look sometimes bad press happens. I already got a lot of flack from my bosses and that was bad enough.”

Wheeler attempted to walk away but was held back.

“Don’t walk away from me!” she shouted. “Her murder still hasn’t been resolved.”

“So I’ve heard, but there’s not much that I can do about it. I’m not a cop.”

“You’re not, but I read about you,” she said. “There’s a record of you helping the police solve a few crimes over the years. They say you’re brilliant.”

“I really don’t think I’m brilliant,” Wheeler responded. “I just got lucky a few times.”

“Maybe you’ll be lucky again if you help me find more about what happened that night,” she said.

“There are police reports and other means,” he stated.

“You have a video report from a your news station,” she replied. “It would help me sleep better at night if you could get me a tape. I want to see if someone missed anything from that night.”

“Doing something like that could get me fired.”

“You might get fired either way once they find out you’re bedding the network president’s wife.”

Wheeler took a few seconds of stunned silence to comprehend what he just heard her utter.

“Wait, how—“

“My name is Rachel Fontaine. I’m a private investigator, and you’ll help me find out who killed my sister,” she spewed confident words of resolve and all Wheeler could do was stand there with his mouth agape at the unexpected surprise.

To be continued...

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