Chapter 1: FALCO
I got out of my car and looked at the house. This was the place. The porch light was lit and I could see the number 6016. It was a modest two-story home with lace curtains in the windows. Light was emitting from the windows. I walked down the front walk, up the stairs to the porch and knocked five times. I heard feet on floor approaching the door and stop.
“Who is it?”
I heard the door unlock, the chain unlatched from the door, and the door creek open.
“Come in Mr. Falco.” The man had balding, unkempt hair and a pock marked face. He looked like he hadn’t shaved for days. His body odor suggested he hadn’t bathed either. He wore a weathered bathrobe over sweat clothes. He smelled like he’d been drinking.
“Thank you, Mr. Girard. Falco will do.”
“You can call me Bill.”
I looked over the front room. There was a coffee table behind which sat a comfortable looking sofa with end tables on each side. There was a slight looking woman with long, straight dirty blonde hair that reached half way down her side. Her visage was gaunt as though someone had sucked the joy out of her soul.
“Mrs. Girard?” I said approaching her with my hand extended. She reached up and grasped my hand. It felt cold. Her breathing was short and tight sounding.
“My name is Edith. Get Mr. Falco a seat Bill.”
Bill went into the dining room, retrieved a chair, and brought it into the living room, set it next to the coffee table near Edith. I sat down.
“Do you have what I asked for in my email?”
She pointed to a photograph on the coffee table of a beautiful little girl and slid it over toward me. She looked like she was nine or ten when it was taken. She had a lovely smile with sparkling eyes, high cheekbones and a dimpled chin. He hair was tied in pigtails and fastened by checkerboard-patterned ribbons.
“Is this a recent photo?”
“About six months ago. Katy’s her name.” Edith said.
“And the other thing?”
“Bill, can you get it? I’m so weary,” she sighed.
Bill turned and left through the door opposite the dining room and returned with a sweater.
“I don’t know why you need this. But here it is…”
“Like I said in my email, I need a recent photograph and a personal item to determine if I can help you.”
Bill walked over to me and handed me the sweater. I lifted it to my face, up to my nose and breathed in deep. I could smell the scent of her body, her sweat and grease and hair. I closed my eyes and suddenly psychically rushed out of the house, down the street about six blocks to the child’s school, back two blocks down an alley, up a fire escape to a third floor room. Inside the room was a weak-chinned man, about 22 years old with little muscle definition and an empty, dull look on his face. My spirit rushed through his apartment to a utility room. There was a freezer lying on the floor. Inside were Katy and another little girl. Both dead.
I put the sweater back on the coffee table.
“I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Girard, but I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to help you.”
“I suppose you’ll be expecting to be paid,” Bill said gruffly.
“That’s not how I work. I only ask for compensation when I think I can be of service. I’m so sorry Mr. and Mrs. Girard. I can only hope that the police will find out your lovely little girl’s fate. I can let myself out.”
I got up, walked to the front door, opened it and strode back into the night. When I reached my car I decided to walk in the direction my vision had led me. If I couldn’t save this little girl I could salvage the evening with a meal.
The initial years following my transformation were difficult. My feedings were opportunistic, spur-of the moment affairs. Often times in high-risk situations. Not that I thought I couldn’t escape, but control of the situation and discretion dictated that a little privacy was more prudent.
So I thought I’d become more entrepreneurial. I decided to take my old friends advice and get involved on the Internet. I created a website that advertised my newfound psychic abilities. I even created a one-word name that would sound mysterious and spooky. I mean Rick Jason didn’t exactly sound like someone who could conjure up spirits from beyond, so I chose the name Falco.
HAVE THE POLICE AND THE FBI GIVEN UP ON YOUR LOVED ONE?
I MAY BE ABLE TO HELP.
INITIAL CONSULTATION FREE.
ONLY DUE AFTER RETURN OF YOUR LOVED ONE.
There was a dramatic picture of only my head with my face in shadows and my eyes lit as by spotlights. There were rays of light emanating out of my head. The background was billowing purple satin.
Interested parties clicked on the contact button, which brought my email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My email was routed through several servers first in Europe, then China, then Australia, then Canada and then back to the good ole USA.
I didn’t want anyone finding my home base which after the success of my website was set up pretty nicely for a person of my persuasion.
I was one of the first tenants of an abandoned office building, the Broderick Tower, a mix of Neo Classical and Beaux Arts that was built in 1928. I took a sixth floor space and had it outfitted to my specifications. The walls, floors and ceilings were reinforced with steel. Closable steel shades were installed over the windows and doors. I had a secret room constructed at the end of the unit and walled up as though it was the end of the room with a retractable steel door that looked as though it were part of the wall. It was all protected by steel plates. This was my hiding place.
The rest of the apartment was done up handsomely with black leather, glass and steel. The kitchen countertops were granite and I had marble floors with thick throw rugs strategically placed. There was a faux fireplace, luxurious sitting area and a workstation where I kept my main computer. I often took my laptop with me on the road to jobs.
My service provided me with two things I needed: an income to provide me with the means to protect myself, and hopefully a steady supply of worthy victims to sate my unholy desires.
I thought about that as I walked toward the location I had seen in my vision. Billy Barky, callow child rapist and killer. And not the first time either. This would be the last however.
I reached the alley I’d seen earlier and turned down it and walked toward the fire escape at the end. I leapt up and landed noiselessly on the bottom platform and began to climb up to the third floor. Upon reaching the third floor landing I looked into the window. Billy was in another room. I tried the window and slid it up carefully and stepped in the apartment and looked around. My sense of smell had become quite acute and I could smell that the sweaty, greasy, foul Billy was in the room to my left. I walked in and turned right facing him. He was sitting at a dinette in his kitchen. He moved to jump up but I instantly rushed over and had him by his neck. I opened up my mouth and displayed my sharpened, fearsome teeth and hissed at him.
“Well Billy, I think you’ve been a very naughty boy. It’s time for your punishment.”
I dragged the whimpering Billy into the utility room, flung open the freezer exposing the corpses of Katy and the other poor little girl.
“Please! Ple…” he attempted to plead. But it was too late. I had sliced open his carotid artery and begun to drain the life out of his evil soul. After I finished I separated his head from his body with my obsidian knife and left the way I came in.
The meth lab was in the second floor of an abandoned engine parts factory. The first floor had high ceilings and what was left of the massive machines that pumped out parts for Detroit’s once dominant auto industry. The machines had been stripped of whatever could be pulled off, salvaged and scavenged. What remained are primarily the large heavy forged steel bases. The second floor is a large office complex, part of which is now devoted to the production of crystal. The third floor sits on top. Not as wide but with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. This is where the executives had been located. There is a large lobby that one time served any manner of social occasions and company parties. The large stone façade at the top of the building had giant raised letters in art deco style that said: MADISON MANUFACTURING. It was located near the intersection of Hastings and Piquette.
“Brock the Rock” was milling about looking out the window. Brock Sikonalski was a gigantic six-foot five-inch bundle of fearsome, paranoid (he had a taste for crystal), muscle-bound ball of anger waiting to explode. He had recently gotten out of prison where he had apparently managed to lift heavy weights the last seven years. He had prison tats, a tightly cropped moustache and a goatee.
“You guys hear from Knoxie?” Brock said.
“Give him time big guy!” Brenda Berkowitz said.
“Shut up Brass,” Brock snapped.
“Come on Brock. You know Knoxie always comes through.”
“Well, I guess you’re right. I’m just so impatient.”
“So what else is new?”
“He’s on his way,” Pete the Creep said quietly. “We’ll get to the bottom of it.”
The stairway into the lobby creaked open. Mouse, Jimmy, Fred and Bigsy walked in removing their gunner’s headgear with deck helmet and oxygen masks. Got them at the local army surplus store. Looks like they’d just finished cooking a batch of crystal.
“I could sure use a cold one.” Mouse said.
“Don’t look at me,” Courtney Darling (Sweetcakes) said.
“I’ll catch up with you later hot stuff,” said Mouse.
The others laughed. The four meth cooks walked over to the cooler that was under the conference table, opened it up, pulled out four beers, cracked the tops and started drinking.
“Man! I don’t know how many more times I’m going to be able to stand wearing this shit,” said Bigsy, a slight, smart, geeky and funny guy who had a close personal relationship with his .357 Magnum.
“Here he comes now,” Pete said as a pair of headlights pulled into the factory’s driveway and parked in front. “He’s got a guy by the collar. He’s dragging him inside.”
Brock looked out the window, furrowed his brow and said, “Time to deal with a rat. Gangsta and Shank! Come with me!”
Jeff O’Reilly, otherwise known as Gangsta Jeff, and Jimmy Franklin otherwise known as Jimmy the Shank got up and followed Brock to the stairway down to the first floor.
They made their way to the supply room in the center rear of the building and opened the door. Mike Knox (Knoxie Rocksi) had Ron Beckman, Brock’s former roommate, with his arms lashed to a steel chair with electrical cords.
“Well, well. If it isn’t my old pal Beckman the snitch. Because of you I just spent the last eight years in prison.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about Brock. I told nobody nothing!”
“That’s not what you told Sweetcakes,” Jimmy the Shank said as he put a ten-inch tactical blade next to his right cheek.
“Please! Please! Don’t cut me!” he said as Jimmy sliced his cheek open from his chin to his eye. He repeated the cut on his left cheek and crossed both lines with additional cuts. Beckman screamed.
Brock pulled out a glass pipe popped a rock in it, sparked up a lighter and let the flame dance over the rock as he sucked the poison into his lungs.
“I got this piece of paper that swears I told the cops nothing!” Beckman exclaimed. “Don’t you want to even see it?” He started crying.
Brock exhaled slowly and looked down at Beckman. “Want a toke?” he said as he offered the pipe to Beckman.
“Sure. Just let me go. I’d love a toke.”
Brock looked over at Gangsta Jeff and said, “Shoot him.”
Jeff cocked his Glock and pumped four rounds into his chest.
It was mid-afternoon. The sun was shining brightly. Butterflies and sparrows were flying around and alighting on surfaces. A large lawn sprinkler methodically shot long jets of water to the lawn interrupted by a piece of metal interrupting the stream and increasing the reach of the water.
Dan Stone sat in a patio chair on his back patio watching his wife Julie gardening while daughters Lucy 4 and Susan 6 helped.
Their romance had been kind of a whirlwind. Their path to happiness seemed positively greased. Six months after they met they married and moved to Bay City. Six months later they had Susan.
It was much nicer out here. Safer too. The TV news was a constant reminder of what they had left and both were glad for it. But there was something about Julie that had always bothered him. She seemed to conceal a deep sadness and sense of loss from him that never seemed to abate. He had asked her to confide in him many times, but she always denied that there was anything wrong. She was happy with her life, she would exclaim. He always accepted her admonition and relaxed with her assertion. But there the late nights, the dreams, the terrible dreams. He would wake up and watch her, sweat pouring out of her as she would writhe in her place and moan silently. There was a terrible torment that operated beneath her placid demeanor that bedeviled him. He had been unable to penetrate her secret.
The girls were digging in the dirt with their toy shovels and pails while Julie was tending to her flowers, trimming off the dead and sick leaves and stems and fluffing up the ground at the bases of the plants to help create a catch basin for water.
“Darling?” Julie asked Dan. “Do we have any lemonade for the girls?”
“Of course. I’ll bring it out to you.”
The girls began squealing for lemonade, jumping up and down. Lucy jumped on Susan. “I can drink more lemonade than you,” she boasted.
“No you can’t!” said Susan.
Julie was beside herself with delight. “Now you girls get along with each other. You don’t know how much you will need each other one day.”
“Need Susan? No! I’m big! I don’t need anybody!”
Susan walked behind her smaller and younger sister and wrapped her hands, playfully around her throat and gave it a little squeeze. “Not so fast you little shrimp!”
Lucy squealed and tried to get away. “Mommy! Make her stop!”
Julie could barely contain her smile. “Susan! Let her go,” she pleaded.
“But Mom! She’s such a brat!”
Just then the sliding glass door opened and out came Dan with a tray filled with a pitcher of lemonade and four glasses. The girls rushed over to the patio table as Dan filled up four glasses. The girls greedily gulped down the elixir as fast as they could, leaving splashes on their faces and tops. Julie joined them, picked up her glass and lifted it to Dan.
“To the best husband a girl could ever have.”
They clinked glasses.
“Hey!” exclaimed the girls. “We want to clink too!” said Susan.
Julie and Dan knelt before their darling girls and all clinked their glasses together.
The yellow tape said CRIME SCENE. DO NOT CROSS.
Lieutenant Frank Kowalski of Special Investigations Divisions (SID) approached from the stairway. He ducked under the criss cross of yellow tape sealing the door and walked inside.
“Hey Frank. Looks like it could be your guy.”
Frank looked up and found the voice. It was Rafer Johnson, a six foot two black guy, who was the kind of guy you wanted on your team in a pick up game of basketball and a helluva detective.
“Where’s the stiff?”
“Through here. Utility room.”
They walked through the front room, then the kitchen into the back room where they saw it. The body on the floor. The head separated. The freezer door lifted up. Frank walked past the body and peered into the freezer. Two bodies. Two little girls. He stifled a pique of rage and put the deep sorrow he felt to the back of his heart and mind.
“CSI get the blood work?
“Yeah. But there’s not much. The body’s pretty much drained.”
“Time of death on the girls?”
“They were in the freezer Frank. It’s hard to tell now. CSI will give us a better idea later. It does look like one of them was in there longer than the other. CSI will give us a good guess.”
Frank looked at the body and the severed head. He looked at the scene deep in thought.
“Looks like your guy Frank. Body drained of blood, head chopped clean off. I don’t know who this guy is, but some of the guys in the department approve of what he’s doing. No trial. No prison. He’s just gone and no other pretty little girl will die at his disgusting puke hands.”
“We need the DNA to be sure.”
I awakened to the strains of Mozart’s Divertimento: “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (a little bit of night music). A completely appropriate piece considering my present condition.
I opened my eyes in my sealed room, hit the switch, causing the steel plates to retract, rose and walked into the room. I stretched my arms out and yawned. Even vampires needed their beauty sleep.
I walked over to the refrigerator and opened the door and selected a bag of blood and poured some into a juice glass and took a sip.
“Ahhh! That should calm the bloodlust for a while.”
I took my glass over to the computer workstation.
“Let’s see. Do we have a new job or two to attend to tonight?”
The computer woke up and the monitor came to life. I clicked on my email account, entered my password and my email list came up. One was asking for help finding their runaway teenage girl, one was asking for help finding a missing husband and the other was asking for help finding a missing college student.
Intrigued, I opened the missing college student email again.
We’ve lost track of our daughter Marie. The police say she doesn’t qualify for missing person status, the FBI told us to go to the police. We hired a private detective who doesn’t seem to know anything.
She’s a good girl. She’s never done anything like this before. We’re convinced something may have happened to her. Can you help us?
My name is Richard Vickers. My wife’s name is Gloria.
I clicked the reply button.
I may be able to help you. Can we meet? I will need a recent photograph and a personal item. Once I can examine them I will know more. I hit send and waited.
I got up and luxuriated in the Mozart. Such a joyous sound! Such genius! It made me feel almost human!
There was a beep from my computer. I walked back to it and saw that I had a reply. I clicked on it and opened it.
We want to meet. We will have what you need. Our address is 26518 Franklin Avenue.
I will come to you in one hour.
I closed down the computer, went to the closet, selected my leather jacket, leather pants and fedora. Before putting on my jacket I put on the shoulder harness that held swords which actually rest on the inner side of my arms. The harness was a spring loaded contraption that would propel the swords into my hands. There was a sheath at the back of my neck that held my obsidian knife. I put a couple of loaded Nighthawk Custom Bob Marvel 1911 .45s in custom made shoulder holsters that hung on my sides. I put on my leather jacket and dark glasses, locked down the apartment and made my way down the elevator into the basement garage.
When I hit the floor I walked out and walked over to my parking spaces. There it was. The Aston Martin Vanquish! What a machine! Anytime you needed to disappear in style this was the vessel. Tonight, however, required something a little less conspicuous.
I unlocked the door to my 2001 Honda Civic, got inside, powered it up, drove to the exit, hit the boulevard and headed toward Franklin Avenue.
After turning left on Franklin, I looked at the numbers. 28000 and going down. I slowed down and watched the numbers drop. I reached the 26000 block and halfway down, found a parking place, parked and turned off the engine.
I got out, locked the door and walked down the street til I found 26518.
It was a large, ornate house. Perhaps at one time it had been the lair of one of the movers and shakers of the industry. Now?
I walked up the steps, found the doorbell and rang it.
I heard shuffling within the house coming closer to the door and a voice demanding, “Who is it?”
The chain was lifted form the lock, the latch released and the door flung open.
“I get that a lot. It’s Falco. Like on the website.”
“OK. Can you help us?”
“I will tell you when I can examine your daughter’s photo and her personal item.”
Gloria Vickers waited by the fire place, which was fully engulfed in flames, and emanating heat throughout the room. She walked forward. “Mr. Falco? There are blogs on the internet that extol your extraordinary powers.”
I shrugged my shoulders, frustrated at my attempts to be known only as Falco.
“I’m not sure I can fulfill all that has been promised of me, but I’ll try to accomplish what I came here for.”
“Good,” said Richard. “What do you want?”
“Only what I asked for in my email. A recent photograph of your daughter and a personal item.
“Gloria? Can you get them for him?”
Gloria walked from the hearth through the double doors leading into the heart of the house. Several minutes later she returned carrying a snapshot and a shawl.
She brought them to me, set them on the table in front of me and sat down in a chair near me.
I picked up Marie’s photograph. I studied it. A lovely young woman. Perhaps an earlier version of her voluptuous mother. She had raven black hair, pouty lips, dimpled cheeks and black eyes that reflected the light like spotlights. She was a beauty.
I picked up her shawl and like so many before I lifted it to my nose and face and breathed in deep. I inhaled her scent, her grease, her essence, her hair and whatever else was there. With a crash I was psychically transported out of the house, down the boulevard and out to the interstate. Miles beyond the interstate out of town I went. Maybe 60 miles I went until I came upon a collapsing barn to my left and I followed it down a long country road until I came upon a cottage with inviting lights shining out. I was however drawn to the darkened shed to the right of the cottage. Into the shed I saw the door in the floor and the dungeon beneath. Marie was at the bottom in chains, weeping.”
I broke off my trance short of breath and attempting to rest.
“Well?” Gloria said. “Can you help us?”
“Yes. I think I can.”
I pulled out escrow papers. “This is standard. I ask that you put $50,000 in escrow. When Marie is restored to you, the money is deposited into my accounts. If not, it reverts to you.”
Richard Vickers looked at me, trying to decide whether or not he could trust me. Gloria came up to Richard. “It’s an escrow account, Richard. What do we have to lose?”
Vickers called his after-hours banker to make the arrangements, and then he and Gloria signed all copies of the documents. I pocketed mine and gave them theirs.
“Alright. If all goes well, the next time you see me will be with your daughter.”
Gloria’s mouth opened in a state of awe. “If you can accomplish that. We will have spent well.”
I arose. “Time’s a wasting. I must go now.”
I turned and walked out the front door into the street and into my Honda Civic, powered it up, pulled it into the street, pulled a u-turn and headed for the interstate and out of town to where Marie was held captive by an FDS: Future Dead Scumbag.
I had been propelling my Honda Civic for 50 minutes now. I was getting close. I looked ahead and could see that this was not yet it. After 9 more minutes I slowed down and noticed a notch in the road and the collapsing barn I had seen in my vision. I took a left, which took me onto a rough road into the hills. After several country miles and road ruts I slowed up and came upon the cute little cottage I saw in my vision. Lights emanated through the windows, smoke pumped out through the chimney. All was at peace. I looked to my right toward the barn I had seen in my vision.
I walked toward it, opened the door and walked inside. I saw the door in the floor. I knew Marie was in there. I also knew that the scumbag who put her in there was nearby. I knelt down by the door and lifted it. Marie and another woman were in the pit, consciousness gone.
I lifted my consciousness to the room in front of me.
And then I saw it! The undulating mass of humanity rising up and forming a rich, copulating, vibrating and thrusting force of flesh.
They were alive! All would live but one.
I ran down to Marie and the other woman and released them from their chains.. I gently lifted Marie up. Her eyes flickered and opened.
“Are you my angel?”
“No, I’m not an angel.”
“Then, what are you?”
“Something else. Your father and mother asked me to find you. I’ve kept the first part of our bargain. You must make sure I keep the second part by staying alive. Are you ready to join your family again?”
They rose slowly and agonizingly. They reached their feet.
What’s your name?” I said to the other woman.
“OK. Marie and Cynthia come with me,” I said. I put my index finger to my lips asking for silence.
I cracked the door to the barn and looked into the night. All seemed at peace in the cabin, but something bothered me.
“Stay here for now. I want to check something.” I pulled out a .45 and handed it to Marie. “Just in case.” I showed her the safety and slipped outside.
I glided noiselessly up to the cabin and peered through the window. I saw no one in the room with the fireplace. My acute hearing detected the soft grass behind me being compacted and in the reflection of the window I saw a man approaching with a shovel in his hand getting ready to throw a blow, which he commenced to do. As the blow flew toward me I leapt about 15 feet into the air and landed behind him. I grabbed him by the throat, ripped the shovel from his hands and flew into the forest with him in tow. I stopped in a small grove of Eastern White Pine trees and tossed him up against one of them.
“Looks like you’re at the end of the line. Got a name?”
Not too friendly sounding, but I’ve dealt with worse.
“I was hoping you’d let me try out my latest thing.” I clicked the switch projecting the sword into my right hand.
His eyes became full with fright. “What are you gonna do?”
“Really, Fuck You? I think you know.” I flung the sword across his throat, severing his veins and arteries. He fell to the ground vainly attempting to quell the flow of blood from his body. I knelt down and gently removed his hands from his throat. ”There, there. It’s all for a good cause. I can’t have you molesting any more young women.” I said as I brought my lips to his neck and drank my full from the sanguine fountain he no longer possessed. Sated and satisfied he was dead. I severed his head.
I flew back to the barn and whispered. “It’s OK. You’re safe now. Come out.”
The door creaked open and the two young women emerged from the barn, Marie holding the .45. “I’ll take that.” I said as I gently pulled it from her grasp. They were both trembling and sobbing as I led them to the Civic. I opened the doors and bade them enter. “Wait here. I’ve something else to do.”
“OK,” Marie said. “Just don’t be long.”
“Back in a flash.”
I walked and then flew to the corpse of Fuck You, grabbed his head and body and flew toward the cabin, went inside, tossed the head in the fireplace and put the body in front of the hearth. I ripped his sofa cushions open, pulled out the stuffing, spread it on his body and looked for an accelerant. Out behind the barn was a gas powered lawn mower and a gas can. It was about half full. Perfect for my use. I took it back into the cabin, doused the body and poured a generous trail into the fireplace, which immediately started to burn furiously, engulfing the room in flames. I walked out toward the Civic. The girls were looking back in horror at the cabin, which was now a raging conflagration. I walked over to the driver’s side and got in.
“What did you do?” Cynthia asked.
“He’s not going to hurt anyone else ever again.” I turned the key; the engine turned over, I popped it into gear and drove back down the rutted country road to the interstate and back to the city.
Dred looked out the window from the executive lobby. “Somebody’s coming…”
Brock leapt up and angled for a view.
“From the looks of that Cadillac STS I’d say Frank’s come to pay us a visit.”
Brock looked at Dred with some annoyance and nodded his head.
The car parked, the door opened and Frank Morgan stepped out, attired as always in a fine tailored suit, diamond cufflinks and a snappy pair of Italian shoes. He looked up at the eyes peering at him from the third floor and walked into the first floor.
Brock and the others waited in the executive lobby and listened while footsteps grew closer and louder up the stairs until the door opened and Frank walked in.
“Good evening,” he said with a satisfied smile. I’ve got something for you.”
Brock walked over to Frank slowly, reached out his hand, which Frank took with his and they shook vigorously.
“What’s the deal Frank?”
“We’ve got a thriving little enterprise here, but it’s come to my attention that some lowlifes are trying to horn in on our dope business. The head office takes care of the crystal distribution, nasty business, but these scumbags are in our turf stealing customers from us.”
“What do you want us to do?” Brock said.
“Go over to their house, steal their stash and dough, break their legs and let them know they’re crapping in their own house and they’re about to be buried in shit if they don’t stop.”
“Sounds like fun,” Dred exclaims.
“Any girls in the house?” Pete the Creep asks.
“Should be a few,” Frank says.
“Got an address?” Brock asks.
“Sure. 56718 Chattanooga Avenue. Take a solid crew. You know what to do.”
Frank turned and walked toward the door, stopped and turned back toward the gang. “How many pounds of crystal have you cooked?”
“About 12 pounds,” Mouse said.
“Keep it up and make sure you have 20 by the end of the week for delivery.” Frank opened the door to the stairwell and disappeared from view, the sound of his steps fading as he made his way to the first floor.
Dred watched as he got into his car and drove off.
Brock looked up at everybody with a sneer and said, “You heard what the man said. Knoxie, Dred, Creep, Gangsta and Shank. Saddle up. It’s time to go bust a nut.”
“How come we don’t get to go,” Mouse said.
“You and Bigsy need to keep your nose to the grindstone and cook the rest of that crystal Frank needs.”
Brock picked up two Sig Sauer .45s and a couple of extra clips, which he slid into his pocket, the .45s in his belt. Knoxie Rocksi checked his Glock 9 then massaged his brass knuckles. Dred picked up a Tromix 12 gauge Saiga AK Semi-Auto Shotgun with spotlight and 20 round drum terminator. Gangsta Jeff picked up his favorite: the MAC-10 with a 50 round clip and a spare. Pete the Creep selected a Mossberg 500 Chainsaw pump-action shotgun and loaded it with 6 12-gauge shells. He packed a bag with 18 more. Jimmy the Shank pulled out his favorite weapon: a Gil Hibben Extreme Survival Bowie knife with a 10 inch blade and powerful sawback teeth. He also picked up a couple of United Cutler Sub Commander Black Mini Boot Knives and slid them into his boots. He then picked up a Ruger LC9 Lightweight Compact 9mm Pistol. The kicker was it was loaded with 9mm shotgun shells.
The men filed down the stairs, walked out of the factory and headed to a black Escalade with blackout tint.
Brock took the wheel. Knoxie took shotgun. The rest of the men poured inside. Brock fired up the engine and they tore out of the lot.
I pulled into an empty space near 26518 Franklin Avenue, got out, walked to the passenger side and opened the door for Marie and Cynthia. They both gingerly exited the vehicle. I reached out for their hands. They grasped mine. We held hands as I walked them to the front door. I stopped and rang the doorbell.
Gloria Vickers asked through the intercom “Who is it?”
“Do you have any good news to report?”
“Open the door and see.”
I heard the chain being lifted from its spot and the door open. Gloria Vickers’ eyes filled with tears as she exclaimed “Marie! Thank God! I thought we’d lost you forever!” she said breaking down with emotion and weeping profusely.
“Mother!” she sobbed. “I thought I’d never see you again. I thought I was going to die! That man. He was so horrible. But this man. He is so wonderful. How did you find him?”
Gloria came forward and embraced her daughter, tears flowing down her cheeks.
“Thank you Falco.” She said with a quivering in her heart. “I had no idea what they said about you was true.”
“Before you get too emotional, remember the escrow account.”
“Of course. I’ll have Richard release the funds to you. You have done a great thing for us. Your payment is a pittance compared to what you have done for us.”
“This is the service I provide and nothing more. I am at your service Madame.”
Gloria walked up to me and grasped my face with her hands.
“I don’t know who you are, or how you got to be the man you are, but I am so thankful that you are who you are.” She wept openly. Marie and Cynthia also wept.
“I need to go now.”
“Won’t you stay? If only for a little while?”
I shook my head. “No I’m done here. Cherish your daughter.”
I turned, walked out of the house, got into my car and drove off.
Lt. Kowalski opened the door to the morgue, ushered in the Girards and approached the attendant.
“We’re here for a viewing, to see if we can get an ID. This is Bill and Edith Girard. Their girl has been missing for three weeks now and they deserve an answer.”
The attendant walked over to the refrigerator doors that held the bodies of the dead.
Lt. Kowalski said, “Please Mr. and Mrs. Girard come with me. I know this is painful and difficult but you can help with the case.”
The attended opened the refrigerator door to D16 and slid out the sled that held one of the two victims pulled out of Billy Barkey’s freezer.”
“Take a good look Mr. and Mrs. Girard.”
They both gasped with relief. “It’s not her!” Bill said.
“I cautioned there were two. The second?”
The attendant opened the refrigerator to D17 and pulled out the sled.
Bill Girard’s face turned pale, his mouth hanging open, an empty look on his face. Edith started trembling as tears began to stream down her cheeks. “It’s her. Katy. My poor, dear Katy,” she said as the sobs began in her abdomen and spread out throughout her body.
“Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Girard. I know this is a difficult time, but you’ve helped us immensely. I’ll visit you soon. I want to ask you about anything else involved with this case, no matter how unrelated it seems to be.”
“But what about the monster who did this to our Katy?” Bill blurted out.
“We’re close to making a break now. I’ll update you when I see you next.”
“Alright,” Bill said as he led Edith slowly out of the morgue both sobbing in suppressed tones, giving into the fullness of their grief periodically and they walked through the door to the morgue and into the hallway.
“Show them to me.”
“You always want to see them. But CSI can help you more.”
“I owe it to them. I want to see how they look in death so that I can find justice for their memory among the living.”
The attendant opened the doors to D-16 and 17 and slid out the sleds that held the corpses of the two little girls. They were pale. Both had ligature marks around their necks. Apparent strangulation. Kowalski stood there contemplating their corpses and imagining the unspeakable horror they had had to endure until a monster ended the brief lives. What a waste! He shook his head, did the sign of the cross over their bodies and pulled back slightly.
“Okay,” he said, his eyes misting up. “I’m done, Murphy.”
Murphy slid the sleds back into place and closed the refrigerator doors.
“Thanks again, Murphy.”
Kowalski turned and headed out of the morgue and over to the basement floor elevator and pressed the up button. After a solid minute the elevator reached the bottom with a clunk. The door whirred open; Kowalski walked in and pressed 3. The door closed and started up to the third floor. The door slid open, Kowalski walked out and down the hallway to CSI and walked in. He looked up and saw Bill Signorile, the agent in charge of his case, walked over to his desk, pulled up a chair and sat down.
“What do you have for me?”
“The first girl had probably been dead for about six months. The second, 3 weeks. Both had their hands tied tightly behind their backs. Both had semen in their vaginas. Both had been strangled.”
“Any DNA match?”
“Yes. One William Barkey, a 99.9% match with the semen extracted from the girls and what was left of his blood. Looks like we’ve got a dead perp. Your other concern is a bit more difficult to explain. Who killed Barkey? There was no evidence in the apartment to provide the slightest clue to suggest a perp. What we do know is most of the blood was drained from his body and then his head was severed with a sharp jagged blade. Messy affair. I know this is your real case. I don’t know what to think. Somebody going around murdering scumbags the law can’t find? I’m not sorry he did this one.”
“Can’t say I disagree with you. Still, vigilantism went out of style with the Old West. Email me a file of your report.”
“Will do chief.”
Kowalski walked out of CIS and down the floor to the conference room next to SID, unlocked it and walked inside shutting the door behind him. The walls were covered with bulletin boards with dozens of photographs from crime scenes displaying corpses whose heads had been severed from their bodies. The Barkey killing was of a piece with the rest of the disgusting array of death and dismemberment. Barkey belonged on the bulletin boards not just because of how he had died, but in what he was. Kowalski viewed the rogue’s gallery of killers, child molesters, petty thieves, thugs, pimps, crack dealers and meth dealers. All scumbags of the first order and all dead. Maybe Johnson and Signorile were right. This guy was doing a better job than they were.
Raymond Chang poured out a nice bit of coke on the small bamboo cutting board he had brought for just this purpose and started to chop it up.
Raymond’s mother was Vietnamese Chinese and his father was black. They had been lovers when his father was stationed in Vietnam. His father married her and managed to bring her back to the states in 1975 when Raymond was born. Shortly thereafter Raymond’s father left. He never knew him. Consequently Raymond’s mother retained her family name: Chang. It was a name Raymond wore proudly.
Marcus Carter lifted his 1911 Desert Eagle .45 caliber handgun and laid it on the table, pulled a pack of Camels out of his back pocket, pulled one out and lit it.
“Still after that shit?” Raymond said.
“Fuck. Gotta die a somethin. This ain’t shit,” said Marcus, a light skinned black. Definitely too black to pass but closer to white than black. Hell, he had freckles plain as day. The darker skinned ones would require a microscope and an infrared light to find theirs.
Raymond separated a couple of lines of coke, pulled up a straw and snorted the closest one, slid the board over to Marcus who picked up a straw and snorted it up. “We should smoke some!”
“We start smokin coke and we gonna have to pull Brad and Jerry out of the back room and share with them. Those fuckers have serious work to do on our shit.”
“You guys doin coke again?” Rhonda said from the couch in front of the TV.
“Just go back to your shows,” Raymond said. “Unless you want a taste.”
“I can’t sleep when I do that shit. Couple more bong hits and a shot or two of Vodka and I be fine.”
“Good girl. Know what you like & do that.”
Raymond pulled out his vial and poured out another load of coke and started to chop it up and shape the lines.
“That was a nice little score we made today. Half a kilo!” he said pointing at the stack of cash on the table.
Marcus started fingering the money, cracking a smile. “We’re just a little closer to the next level.”
“Say Rhonda? Cindy tell you what she’s doin?”
“She’s takin a nap. She’s in the back bedroom.”
The black Escalade rolled slowly down Chattanooga Avenue looking for 56718.
“Two doors down,” Knoxie pointed.
“Got it,” Brock said. He pulled the Escalade to the curb and the men poured out of it.
“Gather round boys. Jeff. You, Pete and Shank go around the back. I’ll send you a text when we’re about to breach the front door. You go in the back. Wait a sec.” He moved to the back of the Escalade opened the rear and pulled out two 31 pound Zak Door Rams, handed one to Shank and the other to Knoxie.
“When you get my text, knock in the back door. We’ll be coming in the front.”
The house was modestly sized with a large porch. It was surrounded by an aging wooden fence with gates on each side. There was a home to the left, but to the right was only a driveway with a 5 car carport at the rear. Pete, Gangsta and Jeff made their way toward the carport and discovered an old picnic table in one of the carport spaces.
They lifted it up and walked it over, next to the fence. They climbed up on the table, leapt over the fence and made their way to the back door, Jimmy carrying the 31 pound Zack Door Ram. Pete stood next to him holding the Mossberg Chainsaw Shotgun.
Meanwhile, Brock, Knoxie and Dred walked up to the front door, Knoxie holding the ram. Dred flanking Knoxie with the Tromix Semi-Auto 12-gauge.
Brock sends a text “Showtime”. He nods at Knoxie as Knoxie pulls back on the door ram.
The door rams hit nearly simultaneously, startling the occupants, shaking the house. Dred eyes Rhonda through the now open door. She starts screaming. Marcus quickly pulls up his 1911 Desert Eagle that was sitting on the table as Raymond pulls out his Heckler & Koch Compact .45 from his waist band in the small of his back.
“Don’t think about it fucker,” Pete the Creep yells from the kitchen, pointing the Mossberg Chainsaw at Raymond and Marcus. Marcus turns to fire on Pete who lets a blast go catching Marcus full in the chest and face, shielding Raymond from the full force of the blast. Dred comes through the front door, whirling to his left and fires four quick shots in Raymond’s general direction, shells ejecting automatically with a fresh round chambered as fast as the trigger can be pulled. The blasts blow a hole in the dining room table and blow out serious chunks of drywall. Brock steadies Dred. “We’re not here to kill em all.”
“Why not? I love this gun!”
The sliding door from the back room opens and Brad starts firing his Barsa Thunder .32, hits Gangsta Jeff in the left shoulder.
Jeff says “Cool,” and opens up in full auto with his MAC-10 on Brad, cutting him down handily.
Brock walks over to Raymond with Knoxie standing sentry at the door. Jerry is sneaking into the hallway from the back room’s other door, keeping low, his Beretta Tomcat 32 out in front. He starts to draw a bead on Knoxie, when he feels the cold steel of Jimmy the Shank’s 10 inch blade up against his neck.
“Give me a reason. I’d like this.”
Jerry drops his weapon.
“Good choice,” Jimmy says, keeping the knife to Jerry’s neck, motioning him to get up and walk into the living room.
“Look what I found!”
Rhonda’s still screaming.
“Somebody shut her up,” Brock says. Rocksie walks over to her and slaps her face and grasps her by the mouth and says, “I’m only going to ask you nice once,”
She stops screaming, but continues to blubber and whimper, tears & snot flowing down her face.
Cindy awoke with a start as the house shook at the breach of the front and back doors. Shotgun fire rocked her sensibilities. The firing of the MAC-10 pierced the wall to her room. Petrified, she only thought of running. She slid the window up on her side of the house and started to climb out.
In the kitchen, Pete heard the sound of the window slide up, ran out the back door, into the back yard and into the side yard only to see Cindy as she was about to reach the gate. Pete ran toward her as she struggled with the latch and caught her.
“Leaving so soon?” He looked her over lasciviously and licked his lips. “Looks like this little party’s about to heat up.” He grabbed her arm and forcefully led her back into the house.
“You’re hurting me!”
“That’s nothing. I’m gong to really hurt you later. You’ll see. Now get inside.”
Pete led her back to her bedroom through the back room.
Brock knelt down regarding Raymond.
“What are you? Some kind of Nigger-Chink mix?”
“Fuck you, nazi,” he spat.
“I think you don’t understand this situation. You’re dealing to my customers in my part of town. This was inevitable,” he said while grandly unfurling his arms to the room. “Now what I want is your money and your stash.”
A gurgling sound emitted from Marcus.
“That fucker’s not dead yet?” Dred exclaimed. “I thought Pete would have had trouble handling that thing. Where’s Pete?”
“Where do you think?” said Knoxie.
Dred smiled. “Didn’t see the other cooze. Pete always had a nose for pussy.”
“What’s your name Chinker?” Brock said.
“OK Raymond. Tell me what I want to know and I’m going to forget you pulled your gun on us.”
“OK. Got this dough here. Got a floor safe in the back room.”
Brock cocked one of his .45s and motioned Raymond up.
Raymond walked slowly into the kitchen ahead of Brock and into the back room.
“Shit,” Raymond said viewing Brad’s bullet-ridden corpse. “It’s back here in the closet.”
“Allow me,” Brock said, opening the closet door peering in.
“There’s a safe in the floor, under the carpet.”
“Let’s get to it.”
Raymond lifted the carpet from under the rear baseboards and pulled it through the doorway, the carpet still fastened at the front. There it was. An Amsec Square Door Floor Safe.
“Nice,” Brock said admiringly.
“There’s a gun in it.”
“That’s a good career move, Raymond.” He pointed his cocked .45 at Raymond’s head. “Open it.”
Raymond twirled the combination wheel backward and forward until he hit the last number. “Do you want me to open it?”
“Jimmy! Get in here! Watch this guy!” Jimmy came running.
“I’m thinking Raymond here is not as dumb as he looks, but just in case, watch him while I get their shit.”
Jimmy pulled out his Ruger and points it at Raymond. “The loads in this are 9mm shotgun shells. I’m itchin to try them out on a living target. Make a wrong move and you’ll be the first.”
Raymond raised his hands up and shook his head.
Brock, looking at Raymond and Shank turned to the floor safe, flipped the latch and opened it up.
“Gotta say Raymond, I admire your style,” he said as he pulled out a Walther PPK .38 auto. He reached in and pulled out stacks of cash. “This is a big fuckin safe Raymond. Nice choice!” At the bottom he pulled out some sealed bags. They looked like a kilo each. There were ten of them. “What’s in these?”
“Heroin. It’s Afghani. Through Cambodia.”
“You’re helping your cause Raymond. Looks like you had your boys weighing out and bagging some coke and weed. Where’s the rest?”
“Front bedroom closet. Got a footlocker.”
Raymond rose up and walked toward the front bedroom with Brock right behind him, opened the closet, Jeff taking up the rear.
A wailing rose up from the back bedroom. Cindy.
“Please! No! Please! No!”
“You know how to turn me on bitch. Try and hurt me!” Pete the Creep.
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“God doesn’t like a liar. You do want to hurt me. You want to kill me you bitch! Before I get through with you you’ll confess it to me!”
Brock opened the footlocker and pulled out sweaters and shirts. He next pulled out three sealed bags of sensimilla, about a pound each and four kilos of coke. “Jackpot! Nice!”
Raymond sighed, his shoulders slumping in defeat.
“Now you know I’m supposed to fuck you up. But I’m thinking… Shank! Bring in the cash.”
Shank ran back to the back room and came back in.
“Sorry Brock. It’s too much. Had to find a shopping bag to hold it.”
“How much do we have here?”
“It’s about 450K,” Raymond said. “Six years of my life.”
“Well, I’m taking your cash and your dope. You can’t do business under our noses any more. That 450K was mine from the beginning.”
“Can’t you leave me something? Leave town. Buy a new start somewhere else? Away from you?’”
“I got better ideas for you Raymond. You got connections I want. We should form a partnership.”
“What kind of partnership?”
“Think of it as a hostile takeover.”
Kowalski parked his car and looked out to the house number: 6016. This was the place, a modest two-story home with lace curtains in the windows. Kowalski walked up the stairs to the porch and knocked. The door opened. A gaunt woman appeared.
“Yes. Lieutenant Kowalski. You said you’d have news. Come in.”
“Thank you ma’am.”
She opened to the door wide for him and he walked in, his hat in his hand.
“Is your husband in?”
Would you mind getting him? I’d like to talk to you both.”
“Not at all. It’ll just be a moment.”
She disappeared into the house. Kowalski got up and looked around their living room. Over the hearth was a family portrait. They all looked so happy. Now…not so much. The murdered are gone forever, he thought. But the murder and the loss continues on in the lives of the survivors forever. They live with the loss and the regret and despair and sorrow for the rest of their lives. As bitter as it was, the child’s suffering was over. Her parents? Their suffering was just beginning.
Bill walked into the living room. Edith followed carrying a tray with a bottle of Bourbon, a pot of tea and several glasses.
“Please sit down Lieutenant. Care for a drink?” Edith said.
“A cup of tea will do Mrs. Girard.”
Bill poured himself a double shot of Bourbon. Edith poured a glass of tea for Kowalski and her self.
“You said you had news?” Bill said anxiously.
“I do. The case is solved. Your daughter was murdered by a man who lived in the neighborhood near the school.”
“My poor dear Katy!” Edith started sobbing. She steeled herself. “I’m sorry Lieutenant.”
“Is he in custody?” Bill asked.
“No. He’s dead.”
They both gasped.
“How do you know he’s the one,” Bill asked.
“DNA. 99.9 percent certainty. Blood type. Hair (he didn’t mention semen). He kept her in a freezer in his home. The other girl you saw in the morgue? She was also in his freezer. I only wish you hadn’t seen her. It gave you false hope.”
“But he’s dead. How did he die? I mean, I’m glad he’s gone but how did he die? Did you kill him?”
“No we did not. That’s not our task. Society asks us to investigate crimes, collect evidence to be presented in court where the accused are either convicted or exonerated. Justice is meted out by the jury and the judge. The police are the tool of the court in theory.”
“Did someone else kill him?”
“I wish I would have killed him. Am I a suspect?”
“I know you would. But no, you’re not a suspect.”
“Why not? I would like to be a suspect!”
“The way in which he was killed. It followed a particular pattern. One, which we have been following for several years now.”
“Pattern? What do you mean?”
“It’s not important. But what I need to know from you is was there anything unusual that happened from about the time your daughter disappeared until this moment?”
The Girards rested back on their couch and breathed out with a collective sigh.
Edith spoke first. “Well, after the Police told us they didn’t have any idea or suspects in the case and when we learned that the FBI wasn’t interested in our daughter’s case, I did some research on the internet. I found this website that claimed that he could help when the police and the FBI couldn’t.”
“He? Do you have a name.”
“Yes. Falco. I sent him an email. He responded. He asked for a recent photograph and a personal item of our daughter’s. He came here and sat in the very chair you are seated in. He looked at our daughter’s picture and breathed deeply through our daughter’s sweater. He went into a trance and when he came out of it he said he was sorry and could not help us. He didn’t ask us for any money. He left. He seemed genuinely sorry that he couldn’t help us.”
“Falco. You’re sure.”
“Yes. He made a point of it. Whenever we addressed him as Mr. Falco, he seemed annoyed and insisted we address him as only Falco. Does this help Lieutenant Kowalski?”
“I don’t know where this connects with your case. But you said it was a website.”
“Yes. Just Google Falco find lost children. His email address is on his website. It was memorable: ”
Kowalski rose. “Thank you for the tea and thank you for this bit of information. I don’t know if it’s significant or not but it’s something I’m going to look into. I have to say, I find this information intriguing at least.
“Mr. and Mrs. Girard, Bill and Edith, once again permit me to express my deepest sorrow and profound grief at the loss of your daughter. Please forgive my departure.”
“Dear Lieutenant!” Edith said “You’ve been the kindest of all the policemen who have visited us.”
“Thank you ma’am. Bill?” Kowalski said as he extended his hand to Bill Girard. They shook hands. Kowalski turned and left.
Julie had been having the dreams again. She was tied up in the house. Rick was there. Victor was there. There was a pulsating orb of red light over her head that emanated bolts of lightning in all directions. It exploded. Victor was gone. Only Rick was there. In front of her. His eyes glowed red. He smiled and displayed a mouthful of sharp teeth. She looked at the floor. There were five headless bodies there. One was engulfed in flames. Rick effortlessly lifted her as though she were weightless. A shroud of darkness engulfed her and she was back in her old apartment. She woke up.
She was breathing quickly with a sheen of perspiration on her forehead, neck and shoulders. Her mouth was dry. She reached for the glass of water she kept on her night stand, took eight gulps, returned it to the nightstand and lay there in the dark. The dream was so vivid. It took her back to that night ten years ago. The ordeal that she and Rick shared. She had been drugged much of the night and much of what happened seemed shrouded in fog. What she did know was that Rick had saved her from being murdered and saw her almost all the way home and then disappeared from her life. Thinking about Rick opened up a hollow spot in her heart. Where did he go? Was he still alive? Why didn’t he return as he promised?
Dan stirred and rolled over. His eyes were open. He was watching her.
“I had another dream.”
“What was it about?”
“A nightmare. Monsters were trying to kill me. Someone from my past stopped them.”
“You should tell me about it. It might help.”
“I don’t know. I’m not ready,” she said as she got out of bed, walked over to the chair she dropped her clothes on, picked up a long night shirt and put it on. “I think I’ll work a little while. Then come back to bed.”
“Don’t stay up too late, honey. It’ll screw with your natural rhythms.”
“My natural rhythms are already screwed,” she said as walked from the bedroom and into her study where she sat down before her computer monitor and keyboard, touched the keyboard, typed in her password and looked at the screen. She opened her browser which went to the Google home page and typed in “disappeared persons find” and a page of results come up. A lot of ancestor web sites and places that asked for a fee to search their data base. Then there were police department websites by city as well as the FBI and missing persons listed by state.
She typed in “missing persons psychic help” which brought up a list of psychic web sites. One of the sites caught her attention. CONTACT FALCO.
HAVE THE POLICE AND THE FBI GIVEN UP ON YOUR LOVED ONE?
She clicked on it and it loaded Falco’s page. There was something piercing about his glowing eyes. The message read like this was a place of last resort. She clicked on the contact link and it brought up the address .
She typed: I have a dear friend who disappeared ten years ago. I am wondering if you can help find him. Please let me know.
She hit send and sat pensively for a moment. She then quit her browser and returned to bed.
Back in the executive lobby of MADISON MANUFACTURING, Brock was pacing impatiently. Suddenly he stopped and bellowed, “Hey, Brenda! Go down and check on Bigsy and Mouse!”
“Aw. Why me?”
“Cause you’re here and I told you to.”
“Shit. Can’t you do this shit by yourself?”
“We’re not going to have a problem are we?”
“You better do something nice for me.”
“Just do it!”
Brenda picked herself up off the couch, stubbed out her cigarette, walked over to the door to the stairwell and walked down to the second floor.
Brock found himself thinking about his dead brother Chris. Chris, the smart one. The attorney. The guy who had all the angles figured. The guy who made all the connections. Chris had class and style. Brock admired him. After Chris was murdered, that prick Frank Morgan stepped in from the gangsters Chris had connected with to expand their business. Hell. I was in jail before all this went down, he thought. I’d of suspected Frank and the mob of the murder, except for the way it went down. Chris’s body drained of blood. Decapitated. Fucking ugly. Nobody deserved that. It was like that fucker Zarqawi. The prick who decapitated Nicholas Berg in Iraq. As bad as the mob was, they weren’t into beheadings…yet. The Mexican drug cartels, they adapted Zarqawi’s methods to strike terror into the hearts of their enemies.
The stairwell door opened. Brenda walked in.
“They’re almost done. Nearly twenty pounds of crystal cooked, your highness.”
“Don’t be so smart ass Brass.”
“That’s why I gots the name!”
“Shit,” Brock shook his head and suppressed a smile.
“Tell them to come up and see me when they’re done.”
“Don’t have to. They’re coming up. They’re done.”
Brock heard the footfalls on the stairway leading up to the third floor. The door opened and in walked Bigsy and Mouse sans protective gear.
“Got that fucker done! I need a beer and a joint!” said Mouse.
“Ditto that motherfucker!” said Bigsy.
“You guys get some refreshments and come and see me. I’ve got something important for you to do,” Brock said.
They walked over to the fridge, opened it and each pulled out a beer, cracked it and chugged it. Tossed the empties in the garbage can next to the fridge, reached in and pulled out another beer each and cracked those and then walked over the Brenda who had commandeered a huge bag of weed.
“Give it up girl!” Mouse exclaimed. “You got papers?”
She reached into her purse and tossed a pack of Zig Zags on the coffee table.
“Thanks. Don’t mind if I do.”
Mouse pulled out a paper and loaded it with a huge load of sticky marijuana flowers and rolled it up, just barely closing it. He licked the glue and fastened it to the other side of the paper. He sucked the joint into his mouth and coated it with saliva. First one end then the other. He examined his creation. The ends were open with a large amount of weed exposed. Not one of those pussy joints that were twisted closed.
“Give me a light Brass.”
Brenda reached into her purse and flipped a Bic lighter toward Mouse, who swept it up and sparked the flame to the blunt. He sucked on it and it was slow to light due to the thickness of the resins in the dope. But it finally caught fire and he sucked the sweet smoke deep into his lungs, holding it in and passed it to Bigsy, who followed suit.
Mouse exhaled his hit and felt the rush of intoxication envelope his mind and body.
Bigsy finished his hit and did the same.
The two walked over to Brock with their beers and the joint.
“What’s up boss?” Mouse said.
“I got something I want you to look into.”
“What’s that?” said Bigsy.
“It’s about my brother Chris. I want to find out who murdered him. I want to rip out his living guts and shit down his throat. You guys are good with the computers. You’re great at stealing identities that we can sell. I want you to get some leads for me to follow up on. I’m hot to do this. It’s been too long.
“All I know is that he was getting serious about a chick named Julie Rivers at the time he was killed. Maybe there was somebody in her life that didn’t want her to be with Chris. Find her and maybe we find him.”
Bigsy and Mouse looked at each other and then at Brock. “It’s been a while,” Mouse started. “But we’ll see what we can dig up.”
“Thanks. Let me know what you get.”
I woke up from my rest and flipped the switch that automatically opens my tomb. I rose and walked in the kitchen, the hunger palpable, gnawing at my center. I opened the refrigerator, pulled out a bag of blood, poured some into a juice glass and sipped. It felt so good going down. The pangs of hunger receded. I put the blood bag into the refrigerator. I’m going to have to lay in an additional supply of this stuff. Kill opportunities seem fewer and far between. I don’t have to descend into savagery.
I sat down at my computer work station, brought it back to life and logged onto my email account. There was a message from a woman in Indiana who wanted me to contact her dead aunt. I deleted it. There was a message from a man in Northern Michigan who was looking for his long lost father. I deleted that. There was a message from a woman in Port Austin who asked me to help her find her missing boy. I clicked to respond and sent her my standard request for a personal meeting with a recent photo and personal item. The next email startled me. It was from Julie. She was asking Falco to find me! I felt the old longing that I suppressed as well as I could. I wanted to see her again. But it had been so long. She couldn’t know. My heart rate increased. My breathing became faster. I breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly, relaxing me. I frankly wasn’t sure how to respond. I clicked to advance to the last email. It intrigued me. It was from a Lieutenant Frank Kowalski of the Detroit Police SID. He had met with poor Edith and Bill Girard about their late daughter Katy. He said their daughter’s murder was solved, but he was trying to tie up some loose ends regarding the investigation. He wanted to interview me regarding my meeting with the Girards.
I leaned back in my chair and wondered. Who is this Kowalski and what is he investigating? Could he possibly suspect that I am the killer’s killer? I clicked the reply button and wrote him that I would be happy to meet and help resolve his investigation. I told him I doubted I could be of any help but was willing. I clicked send.
The sound of the truck was growing and growling. Brock looked out the window of the executive lobby of MADISON MANUFACTURING and saw it. It was a Mack Truck towing a huge flatbed trailer loaded with pipe. It barreled into the lot, horn blaring and pulled up in front. Brock took off downstairs and burst through the first floor front door.
“What the hell is this?”
Fred and Jimmy hopped out of the cab. “Construction site,” Jimmy said. Security guard’s got a couple of extra holes in him. This load of pipe ought be worth something to Frank and his friends.
Brock put his hand to his chin, deep in thought. “It was a helluva a bad idea to bring it here. What if the cops are looking for it? Drive it off site, someplace remote and call me. I’ll call Frank and see what he wants to do.”
Fred and Jimmy hopped back into the cab, started the truck up again and drove it back into the street.
Brock speed-dialed Frank, who picked up on the first ring.
“”Frank. It’s Brock.”
“Yeah. I got caller ID. What’s up?”
“Dred and Shank just highjacked a load of pipe off a construction site. They got the truck too. What do you want them to do?”
“Shit. This is kind of short notice. But we might be able to use that shit. We got a warehouse near Dearborn. Have them drive it there. They can park inside and we can figure out what the score is.”
“How do my boys get back?”
“Send a car.” Frank gave Brock the address and hung up.
Frank dialed up Fred. “Hey Freddy. Drive the rig down to Dearborn. 6660 Wessex Ct. I’ll send a car to pick you up.”
They both hung up.
Detectives Rafer Johnson and Tony Rodriguez pulled up in front of 56718 Chattanooga Avenue in their slickback: police slang for unmarked car. Yellow CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS tape criss-crossed the front door and the side gates. There were several black and whites parked with their multi-colored light bars flashing. Uniformed cops were in the front yard and inside the house.
The detectives walked up to the first uniform they saw on the lawn.
“What’s your name officer?” Johnson said.
“Ronald Carter. And you?”
“I’m Rafer Johnson,” and then pointing to his partner. “This is Tony Rodriguez.”
“What the hell happened here.” Johnson said.
“”Neighbors called it in after it was over. They were afraid to call it in while it was happening. Didn’t want to be next, I guess. Apparently there was some serious ordnance being fired. Three stiffs inside. Apparent home invasion.”
“Who’s in charge?” Rodriguez said.
“That’ll be Sergeant Perez.” He said pointing to the uniformed officer directing traffic on the porch.
“Thanks.” Johnson and Rodriguez walked down the walkway and up the steps onto the porch and pulled their badges out.
“Sergeant Perez?” Rodriguez asked. Perez nodded.
“Looks like we’re taking over this crime scene.”
“Good. Happy to hand it off to the suits. We like the O.T. but I’ll be happy to sleep in my bed tonight.
“What’s your take Perez,” Johnson said.
“Well it looks we had a coordinated door breech of the front and back at the same time with shooters coming in from both doors. Stiff in the front room looks like he took a 12 gauge full in the chest and face from the rear door. Then it looks like somebody came in through the front door and fired 4 shots from a 12 gauge, blowing up part of the dining room table, the other three rounds into the drywall. I’d guess he was shooting at somebody who walked out of here.”
“Carter said there were three stiffs,” Rodriguez said.
“Let’s go inside,” Perez said.
Perez walked through the front door. Johnson and Rodriguez followed and turned left around the splintered front door and looked at Marcus’s ruined corpse.
“Looks like he pulled on someone who had the drop on him,” Perez said.
“Why do you think he pulled a gun on somebody?” Johnson said.
“Look at the table. The bamboo cutting board, the razor blade, the straw. Somebody was cutting and doing lines of coke. Based on other parts of the house I’d say these were drug dealers who were in the process of being taken down by a superior force. Guys like this are never unarmed. The perps probably took the guns. They’re worth a lot of money.”
“You guys keeping this pristine? Has CSI been called?”
“Cleaner than a virgin on prom night. CSI is on the way.”
“Show us more.”
Perez lead them into the kitchen. There were bullet holes on each side of the door to the right into the back room. They walked in and saw Brad’s bullet ridden body.”
“Jesus!” Rafer exclaimed. “What do you think they used here?”
“I don’t know. Something converted to full auto. Maybe a MAC-10. The pattern of bullet holes in the body, the walls entering the room and the walls on the far side of the room suggest something difficult to control. The MAC-10 is notoriously hard to control, but fires a lot of bullets fast.”
“And the last?” Rodriguez said.
Perez led them through the back room’s other door, left down the hall to the last bedroom.
“There it is,” Perez said.
“Not leading us in Sergeant?” Johnson said.
“You go first. I’ve already been in there.”
First Johnson, then Rodriguez entered the room, Perez following, and they saw her. Cindy lying on the bed. Massive contusions to her face. Black spots on her ribs and breasts. There was a huge wound from above her navel through her vagina to her anus. Her throat had been slit and the bed was soaked in her blood.
The hardened police officers gasped and choked as they viewed this scene of unspeakable cruelty and sadism.
Johnson turned and left the room. Rodriguez followed. Perez taking up the rear.
“I’ve seen a lot of evil shit. But that just might be the topper,” Johnson said.
Perez was holding his throat, a tear running down his cheek.
“Let me show you the rest.”
He led them back into the back room and led them to the closet and the empty floor safe.
“Looks like the guys in this house had something to hide. What do you think it was?” Perez said.
“Money. Dope. Dope. Money.” Rodriguez said. “That’s a big fucking safe.”
“That’s probably what the perps said,” Perez said. “Then there’s one last stop. The front room closet.”
Perez led them back into the hall, this time turning right into the front bedroom and the closet with the footlocker opened and empty.
“I’m guessing there was more dope and money in here. The guys who took this place down had a serious motivation to put these guys out of business. I’m figuring they were low-level competition who had gained too much market share.”
“Perez! You ever think about taking the Detective’s exam? I don’t disagree with a single thing you said!” Johnson said.
“Fuckin A,” Rodriguez said.
“Nah. I like the street action. I’ll let you brainiacs take care of the tough stuff.”
“Glad to make your acquaintance Perez. You’re making my job easy! I’ll be glad to see you on any case I’m assigned to,” Johnson said.
Bigsy and Mouse were locked into their laptops, performing multiple searches on public data websites, news articles, social media websites and email servers.
Bigsy had written a worm that could break through firewalls and extract sensitive data, including deleted data from data bases on a variety of private and public websites.
He was just waiting for it to compile the data he had asked for: Chris Sikonalski, Julie Rivers, decapitation, Michigan. Chris’s body had been found on Beaver Island. Bigsy wanted to eliminate Michigan before expanding the search to the 50 states and Canada.
“Hold on. I think I’m getting something,” Bigsy said.
His window said it was compiling. It was 38% complete. The progress bar was moving slowly, but moving up to 39, 40, 41%.
“Shouldn’t be long now.”
Mouse looked up at Bigsy.
“I hope you’re right.”
“Oh yeah. I’ve got something for sure.”
I walked into the Starbucks at 10 Mile Road and Michigan Avenue. I looked at the patrons and approached the middle aged, world-weary man with the expression of a basset hound.
I reached out and shook Kowalski’s hand and sat down.
“Can I order you something?”
“It’s too late for coffee for me. I prefer something more nourishing this time of night.”
“Well. Thanks for seeing me Mr. Falco. Sorry. Falco. The Girards mentioned you were sensitive on the topic.”
“I don’t think about it any more. I’m becoming accustomed to being addressed as Mr. It’s a sign of respect. I welcome respect.”
“OK. We’ve solved the murder of Katy Girard. The Girards told me you were unable to help. The testimonials on your website grant you with extraordinary insight and ability in helping recover their loved ones. Assuming all the claims are true, why did you refuse to help the Girards?”
“I didn’t refuse to help them. I only told them I could not help them. I saw that their daughter was dead. Telling them served no purpose. They were better off with false hopes. I had no hope for them.”
“How did you know she was dead?”
“I have some skills. Skills I have acquired. I have learned how to direct them. I use them to help the living. The dead I cannot help.”
“You’re an unusual man Falco.”
“Do you have any more questions Detective?”
“I suppose not. How do I get in touch with you?”
“Email’s best. See how quick this meeting transpired?”
“But what if I need to meet you quicker than email?”
“This is my preferred method of meeting.”
Falco stood up. “If there is nothing more then I have business to attend to.”
Kowalski stood up and shook Falco’s hand. “All right Mr. Falco. Sorry. Falco. You intrigue me. I have a case that you might be able to help with.”
“Case?” Falco said.
“It’s a serial killer case. We’re up against dead end after dead end. A parade of scumbags. All drained of blood and decapitated. Would you be willing to come to my office and view the photos.”
So it was as I suspected. Kowalski was seeking my help in capturing me. Did he suspect me? I didn’t think so. I should probably accept his request to help. At least I’d find out how much he knew.
“Serial killer. How gruesome. Like I said. I have a greater connection with the living. But if you think I can be of help, I’ll look at your investigation.”
“Thank you Falco. Perhaps you could accompany me downtown to the station to see my exhibit?”
“I told you I had business to attend to. Perhaps tomorrow. Send me an email.”
Bigsy watched as his program reached 100%. “Bingo! Got it!”
He hit the file with the cursor. It opened and flew down to fill the screen and scrolled down to the bottom.
“I got her! Name’s Julie Stone, formerly Julie Rivers of Detroit, MI. Married Daniel Stone, stockbroker seven years ago currently living at 13657 N. Monroe St., Bay City, Michigan!”
Bigsy sent the file to his wireless printer. Jumped up and waited for it to spit out the page. It slowly churned out. He grabbed the page and briskly walked up the stairs to the third floor executive lobby.
“Paydirt!” He exclaimed handing the page to Brock. “This is her name and address. And her husband’s too!”
“Nice job Bigsy. I think we got a girl to see.”
Kowalski walked out of the Starbucks behind Falco. He started to tail him. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but there was something about Falco that troubled him.
The guy was very slick. The leather jacket and pants. The shades and the Italian shoes. The slicked back hair. The shades. Something about the shades. They hid his eyes. It was night and he wore shades. What was he trying to hide?
Falco reached a car. A Honda Civic. Kowalski stepped into an entryway of a shop to avoid detection.
Rick was amused at Kowalski’s inept tail. He had a sixth sense that Kowalski could never imagine. He got into his car, powered it up and drove away.
Kowalski ran down the street to his car, unlocked it, jumped inside, started the motor and peeled out in search of Falco’s civic.
After a couple of blocks he thought he spotted a Civic that looked like Falco’s. He settled back in traffic three vehicles deep.
Rick smiled. Kowalski was following him. He would lead Kowalski far away from his lair, lose him and double back.
He took the exit to the 15 and punched it. His speed increased to 70, 80 and 90 as he flew down the highway. Kowalski attempted to follow suit, but Rick had beaten him to the punch. Rick took it to 110 and took the next exit. Kowalski cruised past doing 80 and continued up the 15.
Rick turned the civic around and headed back into the city.
Rafer Johnson sat across the table from the Detroit PD’s gang expert, Lee Taylor.
“OK. We’ve got a home invasion robbery and murder at 56718 Chattanooga Avenue. We think rival drug dealers got into it and one of the gangs was put down, permanently.”
“On Chattanooga? There’s only one crew that would be interested in taking down a bunch of cockroaches in their backyard. That’d be Brock Sikonalski’s gang.”
“Who are they?”
“Exceptionally bad guys. Doesn’t matter what you worry about. They doing it. Drugs, stolen goods, robbery, prostitution, murder. These badass motherfuckers are into it all. Take the Chattanooga Avenue case. One of those fuckers mutilated a woman. Imagine! One of God’s most beautiful creatures mutilated! I don’t understand how a man could treat a woman like that.”
“S’allright Lee. I don’t either. What we gonna do is figure about how we’re gonna find this motherfucker and burn his ass into the ground.”
Kowalski logged into his laptop and hit Falco’s email address.
Per your request. Let’s meet at police headquarters so we can go over my investigation photos. 9pm tonight?
He hit send and waited. A reply came back. 9pm it is.
Kowalski closed the computer and walked over to the cafeteria. It had been a while since he ate and he decided to eat some of what was available.
He got a cup of coffee, two creamers, one sugar. One turkey on rye with lettuce and tomatoes. A cup of chicken noodle soup and a slice of lemon meringue pie. He grabbed 3 packets of mustard and took his tray to an unoccupied table.
He dug into the soup first. Unremarkable, but nourishing. Next he tore open the mustard and squeezed it onto the rye bread and took a bite. Bland, but satisfying. He consumed it all and wiped the mustard from his cheeks and dug into the lemon meringue slice. It was wonderfully tangy with a creamy texture. It went well with the coffee that washed it all down.
He thought about Falco and his purported psychic powers. He’d read the testimonials on his website. They were quite powerful. And if true, Falco had impressed a great number of people of his provenance. Kowalski would wait for his turn.
After parking my Civic on the street, I proceeded through the front door of the Police Station. An act I’d assiduously avoided. Well, maybe as a child I had had my run-ins with the police. But once Mother no longer cared what I did and I had ceased to care about the rules, my only interest was in not getting caught.
I walked up to the receptionist and asked her, “What floor is Lieutenant Kowalski on?”
“Third floor. Just take the elevator up to three. It’s room 316.”
I pressed the up button and waited. The door slid open and I got in. It slid closed and rose up two floors to three. It opened and I got out. I looked to the left and then to the right, chose right and walked down the hallway. I came up on room 316 and knocked on the door.
There was no answer.
I opened the door and entered the room. It was a large conference room. There were bulletin boards and large easels at the far end of the room. Each vertical surface was adorned with a photograph of a headless torso with a head in the background. Evidence of my feeding. I was alone in the room. There was on display a tableaux of death and decapitation on the walls. My victims.
The door opened up and Kowalski walked in.
“Sorry I’m late Falco. But thanks for coming. I’m pursuing a long-shot. Maybe you can help me.
“I’ll see. What do you want me to do.”
“I want you to look a these pictures and tell me if you can find a unifying factor. “
I feigned absorption in the photos. They were obviously my handiwork. It was like viewing meals consumed in the past. Some were memorable. Some were not.
“These are very disturbing pictures. All these decapitated corpses. What could I possibly tell you that you don’t already know?”
“I want to know the identity of the person who did this. That I don’t know.”
I looked at Kowalski. “I don’t think I’ll be able to help you. These people are already dead. I specialize in the living.”
“Thanks anyway for humoring me, coming down here and considering my request.”
Kowalski ran down the stairs to the first floor, cracked the door and waited for Falco to emerge. His explanation had sounded reasonable enough, but there was something not quite right about him. He wanted to find out more about him, where he lived, what made him tick.
The elevator door opened and Falco walked out into the lobby, through the door to the outside, through it and into the car he had parked on the street. He got in and drove away. Unbeknownst to Rick, Kowalski had planted a GPS bug under the rear bumper. It didn’t matter how many successful evasion maneuvers Rick made, Kowalski would always know where he was.