The Bayou Katt Murders

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Chapter 17

“Look, Daddy, look.” Katt Hall was pointing to a headline in the morning newspaper. “Baton Rouge honors the return of the Big Katt with a fundraising rally.”

“They what?” Josephus was sipping his morning tea as they sat around the ornate dining room table.

“Tomorrow night, I am accorded the status of guest of honor at a fundraising rally in the old high school gymnasium.”

“Let me see that.” Sure enough, the town was hosting a rally for the Big Katt. He wondered whether the cops were aware of it, and he was quickly on the phone.

“It was our idea,” the voice at the other end of the line told him. “A trap. No way can the maniac resist this.”

“Don’t be so sure.”

“Cover your back in case he tries something, and keep Spud out of sight. Tell your little girl to look her best. Your little Venus flytrap is going to catch herself an ex-husband, and we’ll be right there to throw the net over him.”

Yet Josephus remained unsure. The ex-husband stalking Katt, whose name was Richard, wouldn’t be so stupid as to be caught in such an obvious trap. Then again, a whiff of the Katt was enough to intoxicate any man, especially an ex-husband maniac, and this was more than a whiff they were putting on display at tomorrow night’s rally.

Back at the police station, the chief remembered they had a consulting psychiatrist on the payroll.

“What’s that jerk’s name?”

“Samuels.”

“Dial him up for me and make an appointment. He’s on retainer.”

And within two hours he was in the shrink’s office, spread out on a couch, and he felt as though he was the one being psychoanalyzed.

“Hey, this is nice,” the cop said.

The shrink eyed him shrewdly. “The nut, you want to know all about the nut.”

“I didn’t come here to discuss the weather.”

“Or would you rather we explore your neuroses?”

“The nut. Tell me about him.”

“I read the newspapers. He hated his mother.”

“How profound.”

“Or loved her too much. Go figure.”

“That’s what we pay you to do. I hated my mother -- well, we had issues. But I didn’t go around stalking my ex-wife and killing people.”

“Did you love her -- the ex?”

“Of course I did. But we’re here to talk about the nutcase.”

“And never felt vengeful, not for a single moment?”

“Well -- ”

“I’m divorced,” the shrink revealed. “There are times I’d like to kill the SOB.”

“For God’s sake.”

“I jest. About your psycho. Psychosexual dynamics are always tough to figure. What do you feel about it?”

“What difference does it make what I feel? I came here to get your insight. We want to catch this guy, remember?”

“Puerile, infantile psychosis, perhaps brought on as a result of a single argument with one or both of the parents that triggered something psychopathic deep within him.”

“What kind of gobbledygook is that?”

“The kind that wins awards and recruits me lots of confused patients. This is a racket just like anything else.”

“Thanks for the reassurance.”

“Meanwhile, your time is running short. Like anyone else, you’re on the clock.”

“We pay you a yearly retainer. You shouldn’t grouse.”

“That retainer is subject to surcharges. I wouldn’t want you to abuse your privileges.”

“Sure.”

“Anyway, maybe what you’ve got is a simple case of transference. He hated his mother, he hated his wife. But one day he got lonely, so somewhere in his twisted mind, the only way he could fully consummate his hatred was to possess the wife once again. I know the logic of this seems tortured.”

“Just a bit.”

“What you really want to know is, what is he going to do next. He’s going to go after George Lesslie. He won’t go for the big prize until he’s taken away all the obstacles. These sickos are thorough.”

“And tomorrow night -- the Big Katt is hosting a fundraising event, as you might already know.”

“It’s the Lesslie fellow he’s after. Still, he’ll find a way to sniff around, but he won’t get caught. No matter what you try, he’ll elude you tomorrow night.”

“Thanks.”

“George Lesslie is the key. That’s your best chance to grab him.”

“And if we don’t?”

“Then you’d better lock the Big Katt in a cage and surround her with twenty-four hour armed guards.” He paused to reflect. “The Big Katt, everyone wants the Big Katt. And can you blame them?”

“Dirty old man.”

“Hell, if she were sitting over there right now, I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t be right on top of her. Human frailty, of course, being what it is.”

“Of course.”

“Just because I spend my days listening to weirdos and paranoid schizophrenics doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate beauty when I see it. If she ever dumps this fellow Spud, she’ll need the comfort of an analyst. A shoulder to cry on. For her, all consultations will be free.”

“How compassionate.”

“She’s a real cougar, that one. Her Daddy and I are old acquaintances, you know. When that girl reached puberty, the boys were beating down her door. But for now, keep your eye on Big George Lesslie.”

“You’re pretty sure about that?”

"Absolutely.”

“One more thing.”

“Shoot.”

“We need to know where he is likely to hide, this killer-maniac. He bailed out of the motel he was staying in just ahead of us.”

“Sneaky guy.”

“Yeah, well, any ideas?”

“He won’t entirely leave the area. Maybe a roominghouse nearby. Somewhere he won’t be conspicuous.”

“That what they teach you in medical school?”

“He’s too close to the kill to bail out now. Not to worry, though.”

“Oh?”

“In the final analysis, she’ll do your work for you.”

“She?”

“The Big Katt. It never fails.”

“Oh?”

“You take that kind of bait, you’re going down.”

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