Ted and Amos were sharing a convivial breakfast while they listened to the radio. But what they heard next made them stop and listen.
Ted turned the radio up making it buzz and crackle a bit.
“I’m Steven Links reporting to you at the Life Park. This small patch of greenery in the concrete jungle became a place of terror late last night.
A young woman was attacked by two men that dragged her back into the darkness of the park to rape her. But they hadn’t banked on a killer stalking them and bringing it’s own form of justice. The two men died with their throats ripped out making them the sixth and seventh to die in a bizarre way.” The reporter was trying to ramp up the emotions. “Does Lincoln have a big cat, a Black Leopard, prowling the streets.
Captain Harrison can you shed any light on these reports of a big black cat.”
The Captain coughed nervously before answering.
“We are not ruling out the possibility of a animal attack, though our experts doubt if that it is the case. We will know more when the pathologist and the scene of crimes officers have finished their investigations.”
Amos turned it back down.
“You were up in that area last night with Alan, did you see anything?” Amos asked.
The two young men had become fast friends
“No nothing, what about you when you visited Leslie?”
Leslie Watt’s was seen as a possible future step mother in Ted’s eyes and he wouldn’t have minded if that was the case, he quite liked the woman. What he didn’t know was that she was his fathers Macmillan nurse and was helping him to prepare everything for after his death as well as monitoring his palliative care.
He went to see her to talk over the reasons he hadn’t told Ted and work on a strategy how to explain to him what the future held.
“No nothing but then I was back well before midnight unlike your good self. When did you get in?” Amos said seriously.
“You know full well what time I came in dad. It was two O’clock. Alan and I went to see the new revue at the ‘Trivoli Theatre’, it was its last night.” Ted helped himself to a half a grapefruit. “I know I’ve got to be a good boy and focus of the fight coming up, but this was the last chance to see it.”
“And of course the fact it had burlesque dancers had nothing to do with your choice.” His father smiled at him.
“No none what so ever. If anything they taught us some new moves for the ring.” Ted blustered his face colouring with embarrassment.
“Ted.” Amos faltered unsure this was the best time to tell his son, being just before a fight.
“You were going to tell me about yesterdays cancellation?” Ted asked.
“So I was son, so I was.” Amos poured out the orange juice to give him time to order his racing thoughts. “I was asked to do the ‘Canteen’ books, you know that place over on boulevard. I noticed a inconsistency, a small mistake.”
“They had been cooking the books?”
“Yes and no. The books I saw was one of a pair, one set with the true figures and another with only the legitimate figures. It was the second set I was looking over. They had missed one payment of a hundred dollars to a holding company, a company that I knew from experience was false.”
“Then what did you do dad?” Ted asked concerned.
“I visited the precinct house and spoke to Officer Mason. I had the relevant book with me. Mason understood the relevance straight away. They had apparently concerns over the firm. They suspected it was laundering gangland money. The book and my explanation was what they were waiting for. They raided the place and found the other set of books in the wall safe.
They had wanted me on their payroll to give them the appearance of legitimacy. I took all the books I had over to the precinct house and underwent a real grilling from Mason.
To give him he’s credit he was sincere in his apologise afterwards. He had to make sure I wasn’t involved in the shady deals.”
Amos grimaced in pain.
“Will you be okay dad?” Ted asked misinterpreting Amos’s facial expression for worry about repercussions.
“I’ll be fine son. They are keeping my name out of it.” Amos looked down at his watch. “You better put a hustle on son or you will be late.”
“You too dad.”
They embraced each other confirming the love they had for each other, a powerful bond they both shared.
After Ted had gone Amos crossed over to the piano and lifted up one of the photos that sat upon its polished surface. The beautiful vivacious smiling woman in the picture heartened his soul.
“I’m trying my best darling. Don’t think badly of me, I just couldn’t tell him.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “It won’t be long before I’m with you again.”
He put down the picture and wiped away the tear that rested on his cheek.
He picked up his suit jacket and briefcase and made his way out of the apartment.
Captain Harrison crossed over to where some of his officers stood waiting for him.
“Well what have we got gentlemen that I can tell the press about? Not a wildcat I hope?”
Detective Lieutenant Cord, the slimmer of the two plainclothesman, looked uneasy.
“Well.” He said cautiously.
The Captain groaned.
They ducked under the police tape and crossed to where the two men lay.
“Over there by the tree is Officer Macintyre. He was the first on the scene.” Cord led his superior a little further to where the forensic team was at work.
On the ground were both corpses and the girls clothes with the knife that had cut them off.
“That was were the girl was found. She was naked and curled up in a ball, terrified.” Cord flicked open his note book. “I managed to have a few words with her before the ambulance took her. She’s being kept in at the Free.
I’ve detailed July Atkins to stay with her but I don’t think we will get much out of her yet, she’s in shock and heavily sedated.
She says a big black beast attacked the two men and killed them in a second. It’s head appeared above her. She said it was the head of a big black cat.”
“That’s all I need.” The Captain looked across to where the chief forensic scientist was waiting for them. “Who’s that with Quill?”
“Because of the nature of the attack we’ve got the big cat expert from the Metropolitan Zoo to help us.” The lieutenant explained.
“I’d rather that you didn’t but it’s to late for that now.” The Captain crossed over to where the zoo keeper and Quill stood waiting for them.
“Well what have you got for us Quill?” The Captain asked giving the zoo keeper a nod of acknowledgement.
“This is John Johnson the chief keeper with the big cats.” Quill was a short man with a pair of sparking blue eyes and a wicked sense of humour, but he was also the most thorough investigator.
The Captain and the Lieutenants shock hands with John.
“As you can see gentlemen the victims have had their throats ripped out in a manner that suggests a wild animal. I’ll know more when I carry out the autopsy.” Quill’s voice was clipped and professional
“So we are dealing with a big cat, an escapee from someone’s private menagerie?” The Captain asked.
“Not unless they have learned how to walk on their hind feet.” Quill said with a smile.
“Mr Quill showed me the paw prints he had found. They are definitely of a big cat but there are no front paw prints.” John explained.
“The depth of the imprint suggests a mighty beast indeed, its whole weight was on its hind legs. The angle of the imprint suggests it was leaning forward using its tail as a means of balance.” Quill informed them.
“I found scratch marks on a tree trunk suggesting that was where it had been resting while waiting for its prey. There were scratch marks that showed it used its forepaws to go up and to come down again.” John pointed to the tree beside them where the three policemen could see clearly the scratch marks.
“One question? Are we dealing with an animal or a man dressed up as a black cat?”
“If it wasn’t for the way the victims throats had been torn out I would suggest a human or at least a human and a Black Panther.” Quill answered.
With that the two men excused themselves leaving the three officers on their own.
“That all we need is a nut job prowling around with a tame Panther on a lead.” The Captain sighed. “I’m going back to the Precinct House and draw up a press release to keep the hounds at bay. Keep me in formed of any developments.”
With that the Captain left allowing the two officers to relax.
Police Lieutenant Carlos Samurez was a hansom Hispanic that could charm the birds out of the trees as apposed to Cord who would frighten them into submission. Not only were they co-workers they were also good friends. Carlos had been Cord’s best man at his wedding last year.
The men began walking back toward there own car and the waiting press pack.
“Are you going to see the boxing amigo?” Cord asked.
“If I can get a ticket yes. They only announced the fight this morning. Why do you want to come?” Carlos Spanish accent wasn’t strong but there none the less.
“You get the tickets and I’ll get the peanuts and hotdogs.” Cord laughed.
“Sergeant!” Carlos called over to the uniformed policeman.
The man quickly joined them.
“Tell the press that the Captain will give a press conference back at the Precinct House. And can you get us two tickets for the fight.” Carlos smiled at the man. “What’s the odds on the three bouts?”
“I can get you tickets but they won’t be cheap.” The Sergeant told them.
“How much?” Cord asked.
“Twenty dollars each for the cheap seats at the back. Fifty dollars for ringside.”
“Two ringside.” Carlos said.
“Did anyone tell you that you’re a crook. ”
“What me I’m as pure as the driven snow. As for the odds. I can give you evens on the Alan Pratt fight, two to one on Jim Harper, and a hundred to thirty on Ted Grant beating the Italian destroyer.”
The three men laughed as money changed hands.
Cord carefully put his ticket into his billfold.
“I swear old Copper could get you odds on anything.” Cord said with a laugh as they got back into their black plainclothes sedan.
“Bravo Tango One to dispatch come in please?” Cord said into the radio mike in the car.
The radio crackled and wheezed for a moment before a tinny voice replied.
“This is dispatch to Bravo Tango One. Officer Atkins requests your presence at the Free.”
“Bravo Tango One received and understood.” Cord scratched his chin thoughtfully. “I wonder what’s up.”
“Only one way to find out amigo.” Carlo spun the steering wheel turning the bulky car round in the tight space and roaring off toward the hospital.
At the Free they found officer July Atkins waiting for them in reception.
“Morning July. What have you got for us?” Carlos asked the young officer.
“Angie is still sedated but the doctors have said it’s okay to talk to her as long as we don’t distress her. The doctors have looked her over, except for shallow knife cuts and scratches from when she had her clothes cut off she is fine and thankfully she wasn’t raped.” She delivered the information to prove her efficiency to her superiors but it was spoilt by her yawning mightily. “Sorry.”
“Thanks July. Get one of the other girls to replace you and got home and rest. It’s been a long night for you.”
Angie lay in her bed staring at the ceiling reliving every moment of what had happened to her.
Unseen a black paw pushed open the window and its owner slipped inside.
Angie turned her head at the slight sound and stared dumfounded at the vision standing by her bed.
A massive black panther stood on its hind legs staring down at her with its yellow eyes. In truth it was neither man or beast but something in between. Clutched in one paw clumsily was a bunch of flowers which it lay on the table beside the bed.
Angie raised her hand and the mighty beast lower its head so she could stoke it.
Eyes wide open in astonishment, that was precisely what she did. The creature purred deep in its throat before speaking in a thick New Amsterdam accent that made it sound punchy.
“You no fear, you safe now. I sorry I scared you.” It said.
“Who are you” She said tickling its chin.
“No name. You give me name?”
Angie though bemused didn’t feel any fear and naming the creature seemed the most natural thing to do.
“Panther, no Wild Cat. Yes Wild Cat.”
It purred even deeper.
“Wildcat. Yes I like that. I be Wildcat.” It lifted its head and it’s ears swivelled to catch a faint sound coming from the corridor to her room. “People come. I go. Goodbye Angie.”
The creature was just easing its way out of the window when Cords face appeared at the round glass window that looked in from the corridor.
With a yell he burst into the room drawing his sidearm just in time to see it drop from the sight.
He raced to the window in time to see it vanish around the outside of the building its claws biting into the brick work.
Carlos joined him.
“Tell me I didn’t just see what I thought I saw?” He said his eyes wide.
“If you saw a black panther then you did.” Cord turned to Angie who was shaken from the explosive action that had taken place at the end of her bed.
“Are you alright Angie.” July asked.
“Yes.” She said. “He brought me flowers.”
She pointed at the bunch that laid on the table.
She sat up in her bed.
“I was safe with Wildcat, I knew he wouldn’t hurt me. He had come to apologise for frightening me.” She actually smiled. “I stroked his head and his chin.”
“How did you know he had come to apologise?” Carlos asked gently.
“Did you just call it Wildcat?” Cord asked.
“He told me and then he asked me to name him. So I chose Wildcat. He seemed to like that. He was very gentle.” She paused a moment as a thought struck her. “He save my life last night and from a fate worse than death didn’t he.”
“Yes I think he did.” Cord was at the flowers looking for a clue as to where they come from. “No card but then I didn’t really expect to find one.”
He looked at the thin see-through wrapping and could make out part of a name.
“July could you get vase for the flowers please.” He asked.
Dutifully the policewoman trotted out and came back with a vase to find Carlos sitting on the foot of the bed in deep conversation with Angie.
“Is there anything more you can tell us. Was there anything distinct about his voice.” He looked up at his partner with a pained expression. “Yes I know I didn’t expect to be asking that question either.”
“His voice was almost like a purr. It sounded like he came from New Amsterdam. He sounded like my friend who comes from the Bronx.” She frowned a moment. “He used short sentences as if he was punchy, you know like he’d had too many fights. Like in the films.”
Cord nodded and made a note in his note book.
“Thank you for your help Angie. Now we are going to detail an female officer to be with you over the next couple of days just to settle you back in at home. Unless your have family you can stay with?” Cord knew the answer from what July told him but had to ask just in case their were people they weren’t aware of.
“No I have no family to stay with I’m an orphan but I do have two close friends that may let me stay there.”
“It may be better if they stayed at yours.”
He turned to July.
“Get the social officer Lyons to look after Angie here, will you please, then go home and rest. Be back at the Precinct House by six o’clock for a briefing.”
With that they made their farewells and left the young woman to her thoughts.
The search had begun but did they really want to catch the chimera Wildcat only time would tell.