The rose-scented candles seemed like royalty in the middle of the small cherry table. Were they chess pieces they would represent the queen, a barbaric one dressed in wine red silk from the most shrewd yet talented spiders. They lay innocuously amongst many abandoned books, thrown haphazardly around the table and lingered in a prismatic shape, wary of the coffee strains. If you asked them they were the stars and the moon, shining like a precious jewel in the limelight. How very portentious of them!
The owner of the delusional rose-candles, the simple, round table and the cumbersome books filled with freakshow images and disturbing information was none other than David Gallagher, self-proclaimed detective extraordinaire. At only sixteen one would think he would be into sport cars or lovely ladies but he never had any inclinations about mechanics…or chasing maiden’s skirts. Not when mysteries come alive in the dead of night, twisting and turning, making everything right…
His esteemed father, Richard was a devoted police officer with a golden heart who while tender to his family tended to be missing in action whenever David had a crisis, or just wanted his existence to be aknowledged. The thought so bitter left him angry, therefore he started involuntarily reminiscing about last week’s phone conversation.
“Yes, father. Of course, father. I understand that important case can’t wait. Nevermind I have both my legs in an immaculate, shiny cast, we wouldn’t want the criminals to get lonely while you play good cop with them. I’m sure the bloodthirsty murderers will cooperate if you offer them candy” David said in a controlled, monotone voice.
“If I could come, I would Davie, you know I would. Next week is your birthday isn’t it son? Fifteen, already! I’ll be sure to make it!” Richard said, voice full of pride and emotion.
“Sixteen, dad!” David corrected while sighing.“Why can’t somebody else replace you? That donut-fanatic Hanson offered to so you could visit me!”
“Georgie’s not exactly…skilled enough for the job yet” Richard answered.
“Is that your way of saying he’s incompetent?” David asked slightly amused.
“Son I promise, I will be at your birthday…” Richard started reassuring him again.
“Okay, dad” David said in a shaky voice “I trust you”
Pressing the end call button never felt so pleasant.
Today was his birthday and surprise, surprise, his dad was absent. Leaving him socks as a present and an apology note. At least he didn’t have to suffer the indignity of having his legs in a cast also. Now having an absent father he could forgive, but having one that was solving puzzling enigmas without him? It was guillotine-worthy! Or at least silent-treatment worthy...
Luckily he had listened to the conversation his dad had with his boss, Mr Weaver of Shadows himself, in the dead language called latin. David would rather they’d spoken in pig latin as it would have sounded much cooler and it would have been easier to decipher. Nevertheless he understood the conversation, vaguely.
His father’s sombre boss had told him about a child serial killer called either Craddle Robber or Craddle Ripper, he was not sure about the translation. Apparently the idiotic murderer fancied himself Jack the Ripper and left a calling card…rose pettals on the victim’s body. His favourite way of murder was too gruesome to talk about on the phone.
The destination he was about to make was an abandoned graveyard. His dad would be there so he had to act fast and gather photos while being unseen. Also, being grounded would impede his investigation.
He was enveloped in comforting ebony, running like a headless ghoul towards the sinister place of sorrows. The putrid stench of death was like a guiding light at the end of the tunnel, it was revelled yet abhorred, and not just for odorous purposes. He’s found the crime scene, sees the pale as snow miniature body on the cold, worm infested ground and feels hot tears well up in his eyes, his nose turning runny. She looked like a wounded fairy princess…
He’s prepared to take some photos when a voice could be heard from behind him.
“Not you again, kid” police officer George Hanson answered from behind David, arms crossed.
“Hanson” Dave answered nonchalantly while snapping pictures of the victim.
“That’s Mr Hanson for you, punk! Why are you here? Wanting to help daddy on a case with your kindergarden deductive skills?” Hanson asks snarkily.
“I didn’t see you complaining when my ‘kindergarden’ skills helped you arrest that one-eyed psycho last time. But then again, you would not value my abilities seeing as your expertize is glazed donuts” David answered coldly.
“You know what your problem is kid?” Hanson asked.
“Illuminate me” David asked with a touch of sarcasm in his voice.
“You don’t know how to respect your elders!” Hanson shouted angrily.
“I respect my elders just fine” David grumbeled.
“Clearly” a rich and sardonic voice could be heard from behind them. The unknown person continued “You respect them so much you make childish remarks towards them”
The stranger was tall, slim and mysterious. He was dressed as a police officer, yet David had never seen him before and he knew all of his dad’s associates. Must be a new recruit, seems pretty young too maybe off the benches of an academy.
“Well?” the stranger interrupted his train of thoughts. “Tell us what you have found out”
David started to gather up his courage “Judging from the marks the weapon used was a kitchen axe, most likely from left to right. They also indicate the murderer was left handed”
“Interesting. How did you come to the last conclusion?” Mr. man asked.
“Don’t tell me you actually think the kid is right, Clearwater?” Hanson interveaned.
“You know I prefer Laminae now” Clearwater said while scribbling something on a notepad.
Before Dave could defend himself and explain his theory a shout could be heard from their left.
“Davie? What are you doing here?”
Great, it was his befuddled dad.
“Dad, I can explain” David started to say.
“Gentleman please don’t mind my son he always had a mind for the science fiction” Richard said in a pleading tone while dragging Dave away. He looked behind. Not caring at all about Hanson’s irate face, just noticing Clearwater’s pleased visage. Something was not right.
Laminae meant petal in latin and Clearwater also happened to be left-handed…Maybe it was an exaggeration, maybe it was because his pride was hurt but he rendered Laminae a potential suspect, most likely infiltrating the police ranks to gather information from the enemy. How undeniably clever…
He was told by his father to stay in the car, but David had an investigation to carry and so he picked the car lock with his trusted bobby pin and hurried home. He ran a couple steps before, it happened.
A ratty crook, dressed in dirty rags with piercing eyes and lips like curled worms. The windows of his soul seemed to glow.
“Gimme the money kid, or be prepared to meet your maker” the crook said in a self-satisfied tone.
“I don’t have any” David responded flatly then said in a chucklesome way “May I interest you in a shiny bobby pin instead?”
“I’m warning you kid…” the thug said before he was tackled and promptly arrested by Mr Clearwater of all people.
Why did he save me? David asked himself all the way home before falling into a deep sleep.
The gorgeous twilight shone on the horizon, sending ethereal beams of light that gingerly disturbed David, pulling him away from the realm of dreams.
He wakes up alert and wide-eyed. He almost died yesterday…
Well with his habit of following his dad on dangerous missions it was really just a regular Friday for him, so he should stop acting so shocked, David thought.
Deciding that he should testify his thoughts and frustrations, if only for his peace of mind, he started dialing the number of his number one confidant and seasoned secret keeper, Franklin.
“Yo, do you know what time it is? I bet not even roosters are up at this hour” came a mumbled response from a tired voice.
“Situation alfa, delta. Come to the base…don’t leave me hanging loyal trouper”
A groan could be heard from the other end before David ended the call.
His best friend came to his house because he was true-hearted and curious by nature. Also alfa-delta signified bad news.
The two friends sat on opposite chairs, one with a contemplative look on his face the other trying not to fall asleep and barely succeeding.
“I have no leads Franklin, absolutely none. Zilnch, nil, null, nada! Other than…Clearwater. And I am starting to doubt he has any involvement at all” David said, head held in hands.
“Come on man, if there’s anyone who can find out who the mastermind behind the massacre is, it’s you. Let’s guess. Maybe the killer is a half zombie half alien invader sent on earth to eradicate the new generation and that’s why he’s targeting kids” Franklin said, sure of himself.
David cackled than answered “You want me to make wild suppositions Frankie, I will! Let’s see. After he rescued me, I saw Clearwater smoking a cigarette. Smoking is an ugly habit that’s often cultivated from parent to child. If Clearwater’s mom smoked while he was in her womb then he could have developed some criminal tendencies”
“Hey, yours truly smokes too” Frankie said defending himself.
David grinned, walked towards him with a flashlight, and said with a smirk “Shall I interrogate you? No need to, I already know everything. Franklin Addams, seventeen year old member of the drama club and the next Wiliam Shakeaspeare. Never went to juvie, never vandalized anyone’s house…never even stole a piece of candy”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be half as talented as Shakespeare” Franklin answered candidly.
“You need not despair, future bastion of tragicomic acting, if you ever need inspiration for a lousy life, search no further. It seems lately criminals think I must be laced in gold, just ask last night’s crook. First dad ignores me, now this!”
“Is this about the criminals, or your dad?” Franklin asked furrowing his brow.