Chapter Three Further Investigations
Back at the Precinct house Steffi added what they had learned to the file on Bruno.
She sat deep in thought a moment ignoring the telephone ringing on the desk.
Julie picked it up.
The new lieutenant Jay Moore crossed over to her desk.
“A penny for them.” He had been introduced to her earlier on and for a moment she resented him being their instead of Steve but that soon faded.
Jay was a pleasant open man who listened to anyone’s idea’s no matter how stupid they sounded.
“I think she knows more than she’s letting on about Bruno. I think she is somehow linked to his disappearance.” Steffi’s reply was carefully worded.
“I think I need to have another word with her.”
“You better hurry.” Robin said putting down the telephone. “We have just had an incoherent message from her apartment from her maid.
Something about an attack.”
Steffi spun into action.
“Julie with me! Get the dispatcher to give us a decent car.” She turned to four others.
“Tom, John I need you to get ready to collect the scene of crime officers. I don’t care what you do to get them ready just do it.”
“I’ll follow in my own car.” The lieutenant called.
“Appreciated. Donna, Margret sit on the phones ready for any messages.”
The room was in controlled chaos.
They screeched to a stop just outside the apartment block and dashed into the foyer.
The doorman lumbered up to them.
“Ladies I’ve a set of spare keys should you need them.”
“Thank you.” Steffi said as he threw them to her.
She caught them deftly spinning round to enter the elevator.
They were soon at the door of the apartment.
The door was ajar and they could hear uncontrolled sobbing from within.
“Hello!” Steffi called as she led the way in. “Its the police.”
Gun in hand she pushed open the door to the lounge.
The maid was sitting on the floor rocking to and fro the telephone held loosely in her hand.
She wasn’t so much crying as being in hysterics.
Steffi put away the pistol and crossed over to where the maid sat and knelt down beside her.
“It’s alright.” She said softly. “We’re here now. Try and tell me what has happened.”
The answer came in great gasps. The only words she understood was skin and wall.
With a frown Steffi looked up to see something stretched along one wall.
“Oh my God!!” She said when she recognised it.
It was human skin, and more importantly the skin of Laura Cantrell.
It was then that the stench hit her, the stench of blood.
“Take her to another room?” Steffi told Julie as she looked around for the source of the smell.
Everywhere was spotless. You wouldn’t have known that a person had been flayed.
She crossed to the easel and what she saw stopped her in her tracks.
“Julie stay where you are.” She yelled unhooking her pistol out of her holster.
“Look at the painting.” Steffi said before exiting the room.
Julie walked over and looked at the image on the canvas.
A bowl of blood sat at its base with the blood soaked brush across it, dripping on to the floor.
The image had been changed since the last time.
It depicted the young woman cut open and displayed like a medical dissection. The image of Steffi was depicted looking over the body.
Julie dash out of the room pass the still hysterical maid and into the bedroom on the right to see the image in the painting duplicated in real life in front of her.
She wanted to throw up but tried to control it by taking deep breaths.
Mistake, a big mistake.
The smell hit her so hard she had to dash out of the room and vomit down the toilet.
White faced Steffi came out of the room.
“What have we got Steffi?” The lieutenant asked as he came into the apartment. He took in the shocked white face and decided to take a gentle approach. “Tell me if you can.”
“A double murder by someone who’s sick in the head.” She took a shuddering breath. “He’s cut the skin off Laura Cantrell and hung it on the wall. We haven’t found the body yet.
In there is the body of her model surgically opened up like an autopsy.
He knew I’d be back. He painted using Laura’s blood with the paint me discovering the body.”
He put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
“Can you show me?” He asked gently.
She nodded and took him first into the main room, showing him the skin and painting, and then into the bedroom.
Once outside the room the pale Lieutenant offered her a cigarette.
She shook her head.
He paused before putting them away.
“Yes I know a filthy habit.” He crossed to the phone and called up the precinct. “Get the forensic down here pronto.”
He listened a moment.
“Yes thank you. When? Where?
I see thank you.”
He slowly put the phone back on to its cradle.
“Scene of Crime are on their way.
They have found Bruno.”
“He’s dead isn’t he?” Steffi asked as she crossed over to the painting which Julie noticed earlier.
“He was dumped outside the Precinct house minus his head.” He told her.
“Lovely.” She wiped a hand over her face. “So that’s three murders?”
“Yes I think so.”
I’ve got to go back to the Precinct house to sort it out. Can you manage here till forensics come?”
“Yes.” Steffi said distractedly as a grey looking Julie entered the room.
“Stay with the Sergeant.” He looked her up and down. “I don’t suppose there’s much chance that you haven’t contaminated the evidence.”
He sighed and shaking his head he left.
The hand turned over the next card to show a young woman brandishing a sword. The ‘Page of Swords’.
The poor maid had been simply left to her own devices through all this.
Steffi crossed over to sit by her side and took her hand uttering soothing sounds.
“It’s alright we’re here. Nothing can hurt you now.”
The young woman took a sobbing breath in an attempt to calm herself down.
Slowly, carefully with many tearful steps she obtained the statement of the maid.
She had not a lot to tell them. She and her girl friend, the model, had gone out to a restaurant two blocks away.
After their meal Leonora noticed that she had left her own apartment keys back at the Laura’s.
“So she came back for them?” Steffi asked.
“Yes.” Was the tearful reply.
“And you didn’t come back with her?”
She had come back with her but decided to stay down stairs talking with Patrick the doorman.
When she hadn’t come back Bella came up to find the scene as they have found it.
By this time the forensic team had arrived and the ambulance crew took her away to hospital suffering from shock.
“Shock! I’d think anyone would be in shock after what she’s seen.” Julie said with some venom.
“Don’t blame yourself for being sick I nearly joined you and our esteemed Lieutenant didn’t find it as easy as he looked.”
Steffi was staring at the painting of central park with a frown.
There was a figure in the distance that she didn’t remember being there before.
Suddenly the figure rushed toward her making her take a step backward.
Hanging crucified before her was the skinned body of Laura. Horrifically she was still alive.
An eyeball rotated in its socket and stared at her.
The lips parted and a thin weedy voice full of agony spoke.
“It’s going to kill again. You’ve got to stop it.” It screamed as it dwindled back to where it was in the painting.
Steffi shook herself.
“Are you alright Sergeant?” Julie asked obviously oblivious to what had happened.
“Yes. You said you knew this place. Could you take us there?” Steffi asked.
“Yes. Yes, I think so, but can I ask why?”
Steffi pointed at the tiny figure in the painting.
“Because our killer may have left us a clue.”
Julie stared at the extremely detailed figure. A cold sweat ran down her spine.
“Come on lets go.” They left the apartment issuing orders right and left.
“Wendy follow the ambulance and make sure the girl is alright. Tom stay here with forensics.” Steffi told two of her squad as they came in.
“John if the Lieutenant calls in tell him that we have gone to Madison Gardens by the Lock Bridge and slipway. We think we know where the body is.”
In the Starr Labs hospital annex a concerned voice called out to another.
“Sugar levels risen along with adrenalin.”
“It seems our patient is going to flee or is going to fight. I wonder which.” John Jones replied.