The knock at the front door to the Hazelton residence had come, of course, too late. But it was a genial knock, and the cops waiting for a response were in a good-natured mood. But no one was answering those knocks, nor the door buzzer, and after several attempts to get someone to answer that door, their mood shifted.
They tried the door handle, and when it turned, they entered the shadow world of the foyer and to its right, the sit-ting parlor. A world where now Mrs. Hazelton, asleep in her chair, was oblivious to the droning of the television.
The bigger of the two cops nudged the sleeping figure. “Mrs. Hazelton? Mrs. Hazelton?”
The eyes opened slowly, dully.
“Mrs. Hazelton?” She was slow to rouse. “You’d better have a look around,” the cop said to his partner. And the partner did, moving down the hall to the bedroom of the single story frame house.
The door was partly ajar, and he could smell something, something fresh but slightly offensive to his nostrils. It didn’t take long to follow that scent to its source and to behold a hor-rifying scene. The figure in bed, or what was left of it, bathed in blood, and missing a very important component.
“Christ.” And the cop was back in the parlor and on the phone in no time.
“What is it?”
“You don’t want to know.”
Yes, they had gotten there just moments too late, and gory photographs of this horrible tableau of death would shortly reach the desk of the Baton Rouge Gazette. Katt Hall’s sinister pursuer had struck again, and if you listened closely, the faint rumbling of his truck could be heard as it bumped off down the road.
In the police chief’s office, some of his deputies were reporting in. And all of the Big Katt’s former boyfriends seemed to have an alibi -- Arthur Smakes was out of town on business. Lyle Peterson was no longer even living in Baton Rouge. And Big George Lesslie was getting drunk with a couple of buddies, who swore up and down they were in a pool hall at the time Curtis Stephens met his unseemly fate.
There were several other names on the list, but most of them had left town years ago.
“A thought had occurred,” the chief said. “It’s not one of the boyfriends. But it’s someone who knew her, all right. Maybe someone she spurned at one time or another. I want twenty-four hour stakeouts on Smakes and Lesslie. Round the clock. And don’t let this psycho slip through.”
The deputy could swear up and down on a stack of bibles, no more screw-ups this time, but swearing wouldn’t necessarily make it so. The stranger had returned to his motel room and crossed Hazelton’s name off the list. He hid the bloody corpse head out of sight. He wasn’t stupid, this stranger of ours, and knew the police would be on to him soon, or to his potential victims. So he would work exclusively by night, and up the tempo. He felt his mind slipping -- slipping and slipping -- the way psychopaths and maniacs slip into some altered state, a state of complete, uncontrollable madness. But first, there was the matter of his date with the mojo man tomorrow night. He wondered if he could keep from killing again, could allow this night to pass first in that little room with the cheap bed. And he wondered how long he must wait to hold his beloved
Katt Hall in his arms again.
As for Katt Hall herself, she still wondered how she was going to drag a wiped out Spud out of bed.