The Nefarious Mr. X

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Chapter 12

12

Corigan was in his office the next morning, an icepack pressed gently to his scalp, his hand wrapped in a bandage and his chest, though unseen, was covered by small stitches, bandages and lots of antiseptic ointment.

Regrettably, it wasn’t magic ointment, so the pain still wafted through, making his eyes moisten.

Corigan was still extremely pissed. He quickly washed down three generic painkillers with a cup of warm coffee. He grumbled as he closed his palm in some vain hope keeping his fist tight would mean he could deck Officer Albom faster when he saw him next.

The doctor at the emergency ward offered to prescribe Corigan something stronger, but Corigan wanted his head clean of cobwebs. He knew too many painkillers and a thirst for revenge would lead to less than ideal results.

Luckily both his neighbor, an immigration officer for Canada Customs, arriving home from a late shift, and a neighbourhood watch supporter, an elderly fellow who spent his evenings from the crux of his window with a pair of binoculars, a digital camera and a notepad, were able to rush to his aid.

An emergency vehicle was called and it took the semi-conscious Corigan to Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington for examination.

The attending physician assured Corigan most of the wounds were superficial and would heal within a few weeks. No concussion, broken bones or anything else to be concerned with.

As for wounded pride, that would take a lot longer to scar over, if ever.

The elderly watchman from his street, Anthony, seventy years old, white hair, shriveled skin, but with eyes like a hawk, showed up at the hospital at three am with a quick apology that he never caught the assailant on camera.

Corigan offered his thanks, pointing out that he not only seen the attacker’s face, but he knew who he was.

Anthony left the hospital feeling vindicated, satisfied by the fact his watch over the community was a success.

The next visitor Corigan received was his home security liaison, a short stout man of forty with brown hair, green eyes, sausage like fingers stained by nicotine and a dumpy stride. He let Corigan know a specialist had been to the scene, took a report for the alarm company and to rest assured, his house was currently being watched until a new door could be installed.

Corigan thanked them for that.

Corigan left straight from the hospital the next morning to work to file a report and start his personal pursuit of Officer Albom.

Corigan made a few calls to the builder from his cell while driving, using his Bluetooth headset. His contractor happily offered to attend Corigan’s home to fix the door, window and closet before noon, all at a premium of course.

Another reason for Corigan to owe Albom one.

Corigan grumbled to himself as Catherine stormed in.

Her anger from the previous day vanished in seconds when she saw Corigan’s black eye, bruised lip and obvious pain-filled body.

She quickly leaned towards him, the sweet aroma of her expensive perfume smothering his nostrils as she touched his eye with the softness only a mother checking on her child could apply.

Her first question was not quite as nurturing. “What the Hell happened to you? Didn’t pay the pimp?”

At least Corigan could count on some semblance of normalcy.

“No.” Corigan replied, “Some of the officers had been bad mouthing you downstairs. When I felt they had forgotten some really important adjectives, I offered them up. They were so pleased, their backslapping praise and kudos got out of hand.”

“Nice.” Catherine dropped back into her chair to let Corigan nurse his own wounds from this point.

Corigan let out a breath. “Actually. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Catherine crossed her arms over her chest. “Maybe you’ll find another inmate to substantiate your story.”

“I apologized for that.” Corigan snapped, a bit firm, but the pain was not smoothing his temperament. “Not for my actions, but for doing of it without your involvement.”

Catherine, both having the night to calm down and in light of Corigan’s suffering, softened her emotional punishment.

“Okay.” She replied kindly, “But if you ever do that again…”

Corigan cut her off, his one bandaged hand over his heart, his eyes getting downtrodden and puppy-like, the other hand extended upward with his first two fingers pointing high. “Scouts honour.”

Catherine scowled. She hated the fact he could be so charming.

Corigan explained his call with his OPP contact from the night previous to the evening ending assault on his doorstep.

Catherine appeared horrified. “That jack-off from the complex was on suspension?”

“That’s what the OPP said.” Corigan noted. “And thanks for finding his administrative actions more disturbing than attacking yours truly.”

Catherine grinned. “I was more concerned with the things I’d never do.”

“And you’re still single… Why?”

Catherine gave Corigan the finger. She slid the red folder for Beckham out from under her desk tray. “So he was there because of Beckham.”

“So it would seem.” Corigan groaned.

Catherine looked on with concern.

“I’m fine.” Corigan waved dismissively. “After Albom had me down…”

Catherine cut him off, genuinely surprised. “You were down?”

“He came at me from behind. My laptop strap was wound around the doorknob and my arm, turning me into a sitting duck.”

Catherine looked to the corner to see Corigan’s leather laptop bag, and then to the left, to the trash receptacle where a matching strap was thrown inside, having been chopped by a pair of poorly sharpened scissors.

Corigan continued. “Anyway, after he had me down and right before I lost consciousness, he said ‘Beckham was guilty and his identity was no more?’ Then ‘Just close the case.’”

Catherine was mystified. “Identity was no more? That’s weirdly cryptic. But if he’s missing a few screws to start with…” She looked back at her file and to Corigan. “I guess we’ll have to get the OPP to provide us with a case history of Albom and Beckham to find any connections.”

Corigan handed her his notepad, filled with notations, scribbles and comments from his call with the OPP earlier. All the sentences ended with ‘No Connection.’ and ‘No known affiliation.’

“Possible hate crime?” Catherine asked. “Due to Beckham’s sexual orientation?”

“Checked on that too.” Corigan seemed disappointed. “Albom has a lot of failings, but bigotry isn’t one of them. Hate would interfere with his drinking schedule.”

“Maybe he saw him the news before the murder and felt an instant dislike for the man. Like Love at first sight in reverse.”

“Even so.” Corigan shuffled some papers off his desk into an internal envelope for scanning. “But how does that coincide with the murder or him being at the condominium?”

“I’ve got no idea.” Catherine responded.

Corigan slipped a report from under his laptop. It was type-written with track perforations along both sides, printed on a dot-matrix printer. Corigan assumed all these ancient units were out of service with laser printers on the market, but some businesses held to the classics. He began. “I got the security logs from the condo and it appears our Officer Albom was not only on Beckham’s floor, but he was there before we or the forensics team arrived.”

“Strange.” Catherine bit her lip. “How much before?”

“Not long after the murder itself. But two hours before the forensics team moved in.”

“Did he know about Beckham’s arrest?”

“Based on the time frame, Beckham was being arrested about the time Albom chose to take his guided tour of the fifteenth. So, no.”

Catherine’s curiosity was finally being piqued. The once clear-cut case was getting murkier and murkier.

“But that does not explain the why?” Catherine asked.

Corigan admitted, the ‘why’ was eluding them.

And even if Albom had a grudge to settle with Beckham, with all the evidence already collected, specifically the video recording of the murder itself, why go to the fifteenth floor at all. It was extremely risky for whatever reason he did it.

Catherine asked the question she knew Corigan was thinking. “Was Albom in the apartment?”

“We can’t tell.”

“Really?” Catherine appeared mystified. “No evidence at all?”

Corigan shrugged. “Susan brought me up the metal shavings report. Inconclusive.”

“Damn.” Catherine muttered. She noticed on the report, the shavings had been mixed with an oil based compound, normally found in lock guns.

A lock gun is a police locksmith device, made out of aluminum or steel. The tool is operated by pressing a trigger which vibrates while the normal torsion wrench is being used. It transfers energy upwards to the bottom pins and communicates to the top pins to trigger the upper ones to jump simultaneously and unlock the door.

Catherine offered a theory. “What if Albom was trying to cover for Beckham?”

“Not much of a partner if he left the murder weapon behind.”

Catherine smirked. “As an accomplice, that would make him one of the dumbest partners alive.”

“Let’s not discount that just yet. We’ve met Albom.” Corigan chuckled. His face grimaced as his muscles flexed with the laugh causing his skin to pull and the stitches to stretch. Corigan popped two more aspirin and continued. “But what if he stole something?”

“Like what?”

“A souvenir?”

“Possible.” Catherine was well versed in criminal psychology, knowing some criminals, mostly serial killers, took a memento from their victim to commemorate what they did. A precious treasure which allowed them to relive the crime. “But nothing appears to be missing.”

“It could have been something as small as a key or a pendant. Hell, we might never know.” Corigan shrugged his shoulders. “But since he has no connection to the killer as far as we’re aware, maybe he wanted some merchandise to sell online to support his booze habit.”

“Just what we need, an off duty, on suspension cop, breaking into crime scenes to steal memorabilia for online auctions sites to sell as murder evidence. However that presumes he knew the murderer before he was identified.” Catherine had placed a pen tip into her mouth, pressing it downward to give her the appearance of being in deep thought. “I would not want to be a public relations officer for the OPP at this moment.”

“Neither would I.”

Catherine got a quizzical look. “If he was that early, before we got there, he had to have been there all morning and up to the point we arrived. Any footage on that?”

“Surprisingly, our Officer Albom stayed completely clear of all recorded areas while visiting the complex.”

“Well, scratch ‘dumb’ off his biography.”

Corigan drummed his fingers on his desk. “So it would seem.”

“Have they arrested Albom yet?”

“Not yet. They have an APB out on him.” Corigan frowned, anticipation in his eyes at the prospect of seeing his assailant again. “But the OPP assured me, when they do find him, I’ll be the first one they call.”

“An APB for an OPP officer by the OPP?” Catherine asked, “Shouldn’t we be handling that? Conflict of interests?”

“You would think so, but it appears, since he attacked a detective of the only other agency capable of looking for him, it’s currently a shared assignment.”

“What about the RCMP?”

“The RCMP want nothing to do with it. They advised this is an internal matter for the OPP. That and it will not be bumped up to them unless Albom starts hunting down and killing detectives.”

“Sweet of them.” Catherine frowned. “Well I guess that means it’s up to us to find him.”

The phone started ringing on Corigan’s desk. “Speak of the devil…”

“And the devil appears.” Catherine snapped up Corigan’s phone before he could answer it. “Special Investigations.” She listened for a few seconds. “Yes. He’s my partner. Sure. You’d prefer we met you at the bar? Are you certain?”

Corigan looked confused.

Catherine nodded in his direction. As she listened, her frown deepened. “Of course. We can be there in twenty minutes.”

Catherine hung up the phone, bewildered at what she heard. “Maybe this is more than meets the eye.’”

“I beg your pardon.” Corigan chided.

Catherine turned to look into Corigan’s eyes. “It appears our Officer Albom is at his local pub.”

Corigan looked at his watch. “It’s ten a.m.?”

“Some alcoholics don’t have a too early on their watch.”

“And the reason they’re not arresting his ass?”

“Two reasons.”

“And they are?”

“One.” Albom is handcuffed to a bar fixture. He’s refusing to let anyone near him.”

“At least half the job is done.” Corigan remarked.

“Well the OPP want you down there because Albom claims he has no idea who you are, ever having attacked you, stealing a cruiser nor being at the Queens Quay Condominium yesterday.”

Corigan grabs his coat off the back of his chair. “Then let’s go reintroduce ourselves.”

Catherine had not moved yet. “Do you want reason number two he wasn’t arrested on site?”

“Does it matter?”

Catherine got an awkward look on her face. “Oddly enough. Yes.”

Corigan pulled his coat on slowly, pain filling his face. “Well?”

“You won’t like it.”

Corigan could tell Catherine was reluctant to tell him. “The staff at the bar claim Albom was there the night before.” She paused. “According to the bartender, Albom arrived at four pm, started drinking right away and was so drunk by nightfall, he was carried to a backroom to sleep it off.”

Corigan was thunderstruck. It didn’t make sense. “Maybe he snuck out? When no one was looking?”

“The bartender states he locked up before he left and when he opened up this morning, Albom was still there, passed out. And this is not the first time either. That, and more importantly, he claimed, based on the booze Albom consumed, he doubts Albom could have crawled anywhere, let alone walk or drive.”

Corigan was speechless.

This was impossible.

Two men in two days both having a double commit a crime in their names and claiming innocence?

It did not make sense.

Corigan remembered a recent fiction novel of clones being created for an unstoppable army to take over the world. But it made no mention of clones committing crimes and leaving their counterparts to deal with the repercussions. He found himself hard pressed to jump the line of reality to fiction just yet, but here it was.

Corigan looked at the red file for Beckham, to Catherine, to the office door and finally to his reflection in the shimmer off his graduate degree. He shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I’m already up and dressed. Let’s go meet this Officer Albom and see if he truly is the man we haven’t met.”

“You first, Sherlock.”

Corigan and Catherine left the office to meet Officer Albom, possibly for the first time.

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