Corigan found himself on Queens St W at 11:15. Sunny skies with a light drizzle combined with a crispy cool breeze, causing a chill to run up his spine which did not feel weather related.
Corigan was letting the unsettling sensation permeate in his bones to better aim his focus. He quickly scanned the streets for anything suspicious or which may have triggered his senses into hyper alert.
You do not have to be paranoid to think someone is following you… but it helps.
The street was filled with shoppers, tourists and workers on lunch. There were several homeless people, some begging for change while others strutted along the walkways with carts, dragging rusting wheels along the concrete with no grocery stores in sight.
No one stood out which was disconcerting.
He hated to think he was being followed and unable to spot the tail.
He continued walking, having taken the subway up from Union Station.
There were numerous second-hand bookstores, vintage clothing shops, jewelry vendors where you could sell your broken or unused gold for cash, like people kept lots of this around, several coffee houses, bakeries and other unique enterprises.
The one thing Queen Street did not lack was variety.
At the corner of Queen and Spadina, to the left and past Chinatown was a little restaurant, a pit stop more than an eatery, called Mike’s Chicago Deli.
The restaurant was across from a small television studio running 60’s programs, no competition to its big brother down the road that targeted its music, movies and programs to the teenage and college markets.
The deli was red brick with an old style candy cane coloured awning pulled out and over the sidewalk to provide shade. One customer, an elderly woman with a long cigarette in her hand, dangling from her fingers, an inch of ash holding precariously on for dear life, sat and stared. It appeared the woman had dragged her table outside so she could enjoy Toronto’s ambiance.
Corigan found the place had a unique appeal. He had never eaten there before, but he enjoyed new experiences.
Corigan entered the front door.
A tiny bell, dangling from the ceiling on a blue ribbon, behind the frame, jingled.
A warm enveloping smell of spiced hams, roast beef, barbeque chicken, fried sausage and other delicacies wafted making his stomach growl.
Scanning the location from left to right, Corigan could see there were fifteen small red tables, all well used, with matching coloured seats behind them. The walls were laden with sports memorabilia, posters, pictures, a pair of purple boxing gloves hanging from the laces, shots of small time television producers in walnut frames, all who promoted sports programs in town, covering the walls.
There were many characters Corigan did not recognize, but then again, he never considered himself much of a sports aficionado.
Behind the back counter of meats, fresh vegetables in basins, spices of many varieties and sauces was a large beefy man, with short brown hair, thinning at the front. He wore a thin sheen of sweat on his skin from standing near the heat trays too long. Not unsanitary, as it was simply the appearance of a diligent worker. He had big green eyes and when he spoke, his double chins would flap.
He waved Corigan over with a gesture of friendliness.
New customers brought that out in some business owners.
Corigan could see the man had large cigar sized fingers, more like four extra thumbs.
“Welcome!” he bellowed from across the restaurant, obviously not concerned with disturbing his other patrons. “I’m Mike. And you are?”
Corigan smiled. “Corigan.”
Mike smiled. “Welcome Corigan.”
The restaurant had six customers, two young women, a baby and three men.
None appeared old enough to be Anthony Patrick.
Corigan walked up to the counter and examined the huge display of breads, from rye to whole wheat and ancient grains to honey pumpernickel. There were layers of turkey, black forest ham, sliced chicken, shorn roast beef, curried lamb and more, all freshly shaved from huge blocks placed directly behind Mike.
Corigan questioned right away as to why he had not been here before. After several thorough examinations, he ordered a Montreal smoked meat sandwich on rye with a side of coleslaw and one large kosher pickle for good measure.
He would order Catherine’s after to ensure it was fresh.
After Corigan ordered, but before he could pay, he felt the barrel of a gun placed gently into the base of his spine. He never heard the door open or the bell.
Damn, Corigan thought. Catherine was right.
A gentle, but firm voice, older and sounding like the detective from the night before whispered, “Pay for your order and move to the back, single booth, outside of prying ears. Keep both hands on the tray and don’t move quickly as be assured, as old as I am, I can pull a trigger faster than you can throw a butter knife.”
Corigan nodded, trying to act nonchalant.
Mike talked animatedly, watching the man behind Corigan with confusion. He nodded his head as though the two men shared some unknown secret. He stopped chatting.
Corigan carefully pulled his billfold from his front pocket, in such a way that Patrick could watch every move, and paid for his meal.
Since the man hadn’t shot him right away, Corigan presumed he likely did not intend to. If he was a spree killer, alerting the only cop in a room of civilians was not a brilliant move and once the first shot was fired, the rest of the patrons would panic and at best, he would get two, maybe three before they escaped.
Hostage takers never realize until it’s too late how fast a person running for their life can move.
Corigan carried his order, both hands on his tray as instructed, walking toward the booth. Not to an alley or a hidden basement filled with torture toys, but the public dining area. Corigan took comfort in that, presuming you could really take any comfort with the barrel of a gun resting on your spinal column.
Though he did not see his face, even when he tried to spot his image in the reflective surfaces of the stainless steel counter, he was certain he was being escorted by Detective Patrick.
Corigan walked slowly to the table. He sat down, keeping his hands in plain sight, holding the sides of the tray.
The man took the seat in front of him.
He was an older man, late sixties, silver hair with hints of black, deep blue eyes and a firm muscular body. He was six feet in height but had a slight gait, caused by age, regardless of his commitment to keeping his body and soul young.
The man placed the gun beneath the table, out of sight, but still aimed at Corigan’s privates.
Corigan tried to lighten the mood. “Could you aim that at my feet, or my thigh, or my kneecap perhaps? I have a personal life and any lead poisoning can be very detrimental to love making.”
Patrick almost smiled, but he remained stoic.
The table was thin in width. The most you could fit was two trays, side by side.
Patrick reached across the table with his fingers extending towards Corigan’s mouth.
Corigan threw in as he pulled back “Look, I can feed myself, thank you.” He leaned away from Patrick’s probing fingers.
Patrick paused giving Corigan a few seconds to hear the familiar sound of the weapon’s pin being cocked back to fire.
Corigan leaned forward again.
This time Patrick reached fully across and pinched Corigan’s cheeks.
Corigan had no idea what he was doing, but he let him do it, as opposed to having a bullet punched through him.
If Patrick was reliving the years when Grandma pinched his cheeks, Corigan hoped he did not seek reciprocation.
Patrick pulled away, seemingly pleased. He moved his hand to examine Corigan’s eyes. Corigan seemed a bit hesitant again, but the memory of the weapon’s firing pin cocking into position alleviated those concerns.
Patrick pushed the top lid up, looking for something.
Corigan had no idea what.
Patrick drew back his hand and asked, “What killer did I tell you I caught last night on the phone?”
“Did you forget?” Corigan, being sarcastic on instinct could clearly see Patrick was not amused. “The Pretty Pink Rapist.”
“What name had he wanted?”
Corigan found this questioning an odd start. “The Red Ribbon Killer.” Holding up the red ribbon he brought.
Patrick sagged his shoulders, relief flowing through his veins. He pulled his weapon up and showed Corigan he was holstering it beneath his jacket.
Corigan was tempted to reach across and slap the man, but he held his cool.
“I’m sorry.” Patrick began. “I had to be certain it was you.”
Corigan wanted answers, as this allusion to his identity stumped him. “What were you looking for?”
Patrick put his hands together, almost conspiratorially, speaking low but loud enough so only Corigan could hear. “I wanted to be certain you were not wearing make-up, a mask or contact lenses.”
Corigan gave him a confused look.
Patrick leaned back and crossed his arms. “When I explain, you’ll understand. And when I’m done, I damn well bet you’ll start doing the same thing.”
Corigan doubted it.
“I told you I was going to turn your world upside down, so prepare for the head rush.”
Corigan had to admit, he was intrigued.
Patrick reached under the table and brought up a briefcase. Obviously he had arrived earlier in preparation for this meeting. With speed and efficiency, he withdrew from within a large green manila folder filled with papers, maps, envelopes and lots of notes.
Stamped on the front was a huge letter “X”
Corigan chuckled. “An X-File?” He felt his enthusiasm starting to deflate.
Patrick looked insulted. “When I finish, you’ll agree with the name as I think, it’s the one that fits. As for that television program, it was a load of crap with an extra-large shovel of bullshit.”
Corigan liked the show, but he was not here for a television critique.
Corigan took a sip of his drink. “You’re not going to order anything?”
“No. I ordered an hour ago. Wanted to keep my hands free. But please, feel free to eat. I’ll do most of the talking anyway.”
Corigan felt comfortable with that as he picked up his sandwich and took a large meaty bite.
Patrick interrupted. “But before I begin with my little lecture, I want to ask, what’s your theory?”
Corigan looked at him, mouthful of sandwich. He chewed quickly and swallowed hard. “So much for MOST of the talking huh?”
Patrick was starting to feel more at ease as he smiled. “I can’t very well lay out my theory to help your investigation if I have no idea what’s yours.”
Corigan walked Patrick through the past two days, in thorough detail like he was conversing with a colleague. He started from the arrest of Beckham, the evidence, including the damning video footage, the interrogation and the weapon found in his home. After that he talked about the attack by the doppelganger OPP Officer until his meeting with Patrick today.
Corigan tried not to leave anything out as he trusted Patrick. Based on his record with the RCMP, which he had read that morning, before he retired, his opinions and theories were solid.
Patrick took the information in. “What if I tell you, you’re not looking for a cult of crazy men who follow people and commit crimes. You’re also not looking for a clone, a body snatcher or an angel that can jump body to body.”
Corigan was not impressed. His tone was deeply mocking when he responded. “I assume you’ll pay me back for lunch so I don’t feel I wasted my time?”
Patrick snapped back. “Your captain is right. Your fast tongue can get you in some trouble son.”
Corigan smirked at that. His Captain talking about him with retired cops made him feel kind of special. “I’m not interested in what I’m not looking for. I’m seeking information on what I need to look for.”
“One man.” Patrick stated.
Corigan’s left eyebrow rose. “Excuse me?”
“You’re looking for one man. And based on your story, I know exactly which one.”
“One man did all this?” Corigan could not hide his incredulity.
“Yes. And I’ve been after him for years.” Patrick sounded pissed at that. “And I should tell you, this man has killed at least twenty-seven people.”
Corigan nearly choked. “Pardon?” Particles of sandwich speckled from his lips.
Patrick remained unfazed. “Yes. And those are only the ones I know of.”
“How the Hell can there be a killer like that out there, in Canada, and no one is talking about it?”
“Because no one knows he exists.”
“How is that possible?”
“Because the people who got charged with the crime took the fall and the case closed.” Patrick looked pained that Canadian citizens may be sitting in prison right now for his having failed to catch this elusive killer. “You’d be surprised how fast police politics can shut down an investigation when everything is open and shut, but your gut says it’s not.”
Corigan was doubtful, but he felt a kinship. Patrick once shared the place Corigan was in now. A man in his sights, possibly framed for a crime he did not commit, but the last time, Patrick was forced to let it go.
Corigan replied, “Understand. I have my Captain in my office every few hours asking me to close this case.”
“And yet you don’t?” Patrick appeared pleased. “Why?”
“Same as you. My gut.”
Both men nodded to one another, sharing an unseen bond.
Patrick continued. “Now I know you have difficulty understanding it’s only one man, but it is.”
“Not lack of understanding.” Corigan tried to mask his annoyance, swallowing another bite. “It’s disbelief. I can’t… No… I refuse to believe it.”
Patrick had one firm response. “Believe it.”
“Okay,” Corigan finished his sandwich. “Who is he?”
Patrick looked at his file and back to Corigan. He took a deep breath and replied, “The only name is the name of the file. Mr. X.”
“Then how do you know HE exists?’ Corigan emphasized the sarcasm.
“When I’m finished, you’ll either believe me, or you won’t. If you do, you can have all my files and take up where I left off. If you don’t, I’ll continue my search to find someone who will.”
“Passing the buck?”
“More like passing the torch. This is a high priority to me, but I’m getting far too old to chase down a nemesis like this. I need younger blood. And from what I heard about you, and what you’re doing for this Beckham, it makes me believe you’re the one.”
Corigan felt confident in that.
“Finished your lunch. Good. We’re going to the University of Toronto Library.” Patrick declared.
“My file is comprehensive on the crimes and the victims, but not the man I’m pursuing. That information is too much to carry around. I’ll show you what I know and hope you can catch him.”
“Alright, let’s say I believe you.” Corigan wiped his upper lip with his napkin. “How the Hell do I catch a guy like this?”
Patrick smiled from ear to ear. “Son. If I knew that, I wouldn’t be here.”