Green Eyed Girl
Alexa King sat on a bus and stared at her reflection in the
window. She saw grassy green eyes and a
sharp nose above chapped lips that were a red hue of beige. Stringy yellow platinum hair framed her
features, but her focus was on her eyes, her own eyes. She didn’t try to see the darkness outside
the window. There was nothing out there
that she hadn’t seen before. She was
trying to see the gold flecks her father said lived in her eyes. But, like most people who looked at Alexa’s
face, her eyes were soon drawn to the scar that traveled from just beneath the
corner of her left eye down to her chin.
She reached up and touched it gingerly, as if it were still fresh.
The bus stopped. People got on, people got off, but Alexa didn’t notice. Someone sat down beside her, but she wasn’t interested.
“Excuse me, ma’am?”
Reluctantly, she tugged her eyes away from the window and gasped when they fell upon him. He was absolutely beautiful. Smooth lips twitched up into a charming grin. His brown eyes were different from hers, and she swore she saw gold in them. His features were rugged, masculine, but he spoke kindly. He was a gentleman.
She returned his smile, blushing slightly, and sweetly answered, “Yes?”
“I think this fell out of your purse?”
She blinked at him, then looked at the chapstick he held in his hands. She didn’t recognize it at first, but it was her brand, and she thought it was possible that it had rolled out of her purse. Slightly confused, she said, “Yes… thank you,” and took the chapstick from him. She used it immediately and then dropped it back in her purse.
“Your eyes are the prettiest shade of green,” he said, sounding so sincere.
Her heart fluttered. “You’re sweet…” She shrugged her left shoulder and smiled coyly.
“Where is a lovely girl like you headed on a dreary night like this?” he asked. “You aren’t up to no good, are you?”
“No…” she said. “Just heading home after work.” She knew that he couldn’t seriously be interested in her. He saw the scar that crossed her face as clearly as everyone else.
Something seemed to occur to him. “I’m sorry, ma’am, where are my manners?” He held out a hand. “My name is Lincoln Meyer. Everyone just calls me Link, though.”
She took it, but hesitated with her name. “Why are you so interested in me, Mr. Meyer?”
He seemed surprised by the question. “I’m sorry if I’m coming on too strong, ma’am, I don’t mean to scare you. I know how this looks. A guy like me chatting up a young lady like yourself, but I mean no harm, I assure you. I’m from Missouri, a little place called Union, and I’m used to people being friendly and polite. In a big city like Vegas, I can see how that sort of behavior is suspicious.” He laughed and she cautiously joined in. “If you like, you can give me a fake name. I won’t ask for your number, or anything. Just small town curiosity.”
She made a quick decision. “My name is Alexa,” she said.
“Well, Miss Alexa, your voice is cute as a button, just like the rest of you,” said Link. He looked out the window behind her, then up at the bus driver. Alexa stood up.
“This is my stop,” she said, offering Link another smile.
“How about that, mine’s just up the road,” Link said. “Do you live far from here?”
“Oh… it’s only a few blocks,” she said as the bus rolled to a stop. He stood to let her out. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Meyer.”
“It’s raining something fierce out there,” said Link, grabbing her arm before she went down the steps. “And a dark street at this hour is no place for a lady.”
“I manage,” she said.
“Please, I insist on walking you home.”
“Oh, oh, no, that’s fine…” she tried to say.
She got off the bus and he followed. She was instantly soaked and so was he. He lifted a newspaper above his head and grinned at her from beneath it, and she was immediately warm, despite the rain.
“I can give you my card, to prove my identity,” he said, handing it to her. She looked at it, and he held the newspaper over her head instead. It read, Lincoln Meyer, St Louis Public Defenders Office.
She was impressed. “You’re a lawyer?”
“Well, I try,” he said, modestly. He offered her his arm.
“I guess I can trust a lawyer,” she said, gladly taking it.
“I think you’re the first and last person I will ever hear say that,” Link said with his flashy grin.
She returned the expression. “I think you’re right.”
Finley Park was alive with activity during the day. It was a popular spot for parents and nannies, due to the lure of the interactive leaping fountain, particularly on hot summer days in Vegas. The paved bike trail attracted the athletes and the wide off-leash area drew in animal lovers from across the city. But at night, when the fountain was off and the off-leash area was closed, the park became a very different place. More than once, the sun had risen at midnight in the form of floodlights and flashlights, and teams of experts spilled into its vast acres, analyzing the scenes of crimes. The most common were thefts, assaults and rapes off of the winding bike trail, which was lined with trees and bushes and any number of nooks and crannies for monsters to dwell.
Unfortunately for Finley, it was just one of those nights.
Nick Stokes beat back the bushes and ducked under the yellow tape with Greg on his heels. He was anxious to prove himself, after getting chewed out by Ecklie about proper protocol when taking evidence from a crime scene. He was mildly surprised that the whole issue seemed to slide off of Greg and Sara’s backs so easily. Neither one of them seemed bothered by the event at all. Then again, it had been his car that had been stolen. Things were going to go right this time around.
Sara was already there, crouched over the body and her head cocked to the side in thought. Brass was off to the side by the trees, talking on the phone.
Nick called out her name and she looked up. He waved. “What’s the deal?”
She sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. “It’s not good. This is just like the one I saw two weeks ago. Brass is arguing with the chief about whether or not we have a serial killer.”
“What do you mean ‘just like’?” Greg asked. “What’s the same?”
“The body was found wrapped in this sheet.” She gestured to the white sheet beneath the victim, smeared with blood. She then pointed very specifically to a laceration on the face. “The last victim had this exact same wound. See how it starts, near the left temple and ends at the chin.”
“The sheet’s not unusual,” said Nick, crouching down and looking the body up and down. “And there are all sorts of ways that people’s faces get cut up.”
“Look closer,” Sara insisted.
He and Greg exchanged looks but obliged. The wound had been stitched up and had begun to heal.
“The other vic was stitched up just like this one.”
“That’s a little weird,” Greg agreed.
“There’s more,” Sara said. “The burn on the chest, what does it look like to you?”
Greg frowned and tried to get a closer look, but Sara answered her own question.
“It’s an iron. As in, what you use to get the wrinkles out of your shirts.”
“Don’t worry about it, Greg,” Nick said with a patronizing smile. “We’ve seen your clothes. You can’t recognize the mark an iron leaves when you’ve never seen one.”
Greg flashed him an irritated grin. “At least I know how to lock my car.”
Nick’s smirk vanished. He turned back to the task at hand. “What else have you got, Sara?”
She sat quietly as she stared at the body, her brow twisted in deep thought. “I don’t like this.”
“You mean Nick’s bad jokes?” Greg asked.
“What?” She blinked at him. “No. The scar, the burn, the ligature marks on his wrists and ankles, the bruises… and look – the even haircut. And look at these…” She held up a pair of cracked glasses.
“Vic was near-sighted, so what?” Nick shrugged.
“Except that he wasn’t,” Sara explained. She handed Nick a wallet. “Look at his ID.”
Nick’s lip stuck out as he considered it. “Could belong to the perp.”
“He was wearing them,” Sara said. “The last victim had glasses, too. Very specific victim profile if you ask me.”
“Right down to the very last scar,” Greg said, kneeling by the face. “What do you think this guy’s game is?”
“I don’t know…” Sara muttered. There was something else in her voice. “But there’s something else about this that’s bugging me and I can’t place it. Something familiar about his face that makes me –”
“Like hell you are!” someone shouted from behind them.
Nick frowned, looking over his shoulder. “What’s up over there?”
Greg rose to his feet. “I’ll check it out,” he said as he strode over to the crime scene tape. Brass was in a heated discussion with a blonde women in a navy peacoat. Her hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail.
“… may be in your backyard, but he’s our public defender,” she was saying to Brass.
“How did you even hear about this?” Brass asked. “We just found out who he was an hour ago.”
She opened her mouth to reply when she noticed Greg standing there watching them. Her eyebrows shot up. “And what do you want?” she asked impatiently.
Brass looked behind him and noticed Greg, then turned back to the woman. “You can’t talk to him like that, he’s my CSI.”
Greg looked at Brass, and thought he should explain. But the woman just closed her eyes and her shook her head quickly. “Whatever, look, just give me access. This is my jurisdiction.”
“Because he’s from Missouri?” Brass scoffed.
“Because he was my friend,” she said.
This shut Brass up.
The woman looked down, then back up again, all business. “We heard about the other murder two weeks ago. We thought it might match an unsolved case from St. Louis. It’s why I came here.”
“And you brought a lawyer with you?” Brass asked.
“Link wasn’t here for that,” she said. “He was visiting his kids. They live here with his ex-wife. But he was supposed to pick me up from the airport today and he stood me up.”
“That still doesn’t explain how you found out he was our 419,” Brass pointed out.
She sighed. “I went to the station to talk to you about the James Sherman case, and they told me you were here. An officer gave me a ride. I heard Link’s name on his scanner.”
Brass looked about to say something, but Greg cut him off. “You mean you just found out that your friend was dead on your way over here?”
She nodded. “Twenty minutes ago,” she said.
Greg stared at her. Her eyes were dry. “You look like you’re handling it well.”
She scowled. “Don’t you have evidence to collect, CSI?”
Nick and Sara approached. Sara looked strangely withdrawn. “Nope, actually,” Nick said, having overheard the woman. “We’re done here.” He looked at Brass. “Who’s she?”
She stood up straight and flashed a badge. “Detective Riley Adams. St. Louis PD.”
Sara nodded. “The lawyer,” she said, quietly. “He has a Missouri license.”
The detective said nothing. She turned to Brass. “Can you fill me in on the Sherman case?”
Brass hesitated, then nodded slowly. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Sure.” He looked over his shoulder. “While we’re here, do you want to see the—”
Greg wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw her brave façade waver.
Brass nodded. “I think that’s a smart decision,” he confessed.
“Then why’d you ask?”
“Because most people think that they do want to see it.”
She looked down, then back up again. “And it’s years of watching them that’s taught me that I don’t.” She looked somewhere over Brass’s shoulder. “No, I’d rather remember him how he was, if that’s OK.”
“Greg, you coming?”
He blinked and looked at Nick, who was already by the car with Sara, waiting for him. He nodded at them, then turned back to Riley and held out his hand.
“It was nice to meet you,” he said.
She looked down at his hand, then up at Greg. “What’s your name again, CSI?”
Greg pointed to the name on his vest. “Greg Sanders.”
The corners of her lips twitched and she almost smiled. She took his hand. “Yeah, the pleasure’s all mine,” she said. And Greg ran off after Sara and Nick.
She was weeping as she pulled him over the concrete in her little red wagon. He was too big to carry on her own, but also too big to fit in the wagon, so his feet hung over the end, dragging on the trail along with the sheet she had so carefully wrapped him in. She found an old thick-trunked sycamore towering over the trail and came to a stop, looking up at it as if it were the face of God.
She sniffed and wiped her eyes with the back of her wrist before dropping the handle to the wagon and looking back at her precious cargo. She crouched down and put one hand in the crook of his knees and the other supporting his back before hoisting him up, laying him at the foot of the tree like a sacrifice. In the transfer from wagon to resting place, the sheet fell away, and his glassy black eyes stared up at her. She took a sharp breath and stumbled backwards, staring back at them in turn.
She swallowed the lump in her throat and knelt down next to him. She took the glasses that hung from the neck of her green tanktop and placed them gingerly on his face. From those frames, he looked like more of who he should have been, and she relaxed and exhaled a sigh of relief. Still, she took the sheet and folded it over his frozen face, hoping it would never see the light of day again, for his sake as much as her own.
She closed her eyes and uttered a silent prayer to the tree, then rose to her feet. As she looked down at him, she felt into the pocket of her jean shorts and pulled out a card. Lincoln Meyer, St Louis Public Defenders Office. She frowned in thought, crumpled it in her fist, and tossed it on the ground, before making the journey back to her familiar bus stop.
She briefly wondered what she was having for dinner, and if she’d meet a kindly gentleman on the way home.