Leaning back in the bed, Corigan ached. His muscles were fraught with fury as his body parts wrestled with the ligaments and bones in an ever ending battle for who could cause the most discomfort in the shortest amount of time. He held his lower back with his right fist, using his left for support, all the while pressing down on his tailbone. He twisted to the right and groaned as he pivoted his body to give the lower spinal discs a good chiropractic crack.
Though grunting loudly, Corigan felt a flow of relief as the pain started to subside. Not completely vanish, but definitely the tides of soreness were pulling back into the seas of spasmodic existence.
’Maybe paying for that airline ticket would have been worth the price.’ He admonished.
Lifting hundred pound crates of medical equipment, both on and off an aircraft, onto a small cargo van and again onto docks with little to no help was painful and most of all, annoying.
Corigan had his fill of incompetent administrators, staffing clerks unwilling to sign for deliveries, and warehouse managers who couldn’t read a shipping manifest had it jumped out and bit them on the ass.
He understood the suggestion he not be carrying a gun while making deliveries. Many an instant he thought of how a well-placed shot into the rafters might grease the wheels of ineptitude, followed by the ceasing of all future business for his friend.
But worst of all was he had been unable to make his appointment with Doctor Lopes that afternoon.
Luckily, Doctor Lopes was courteous enough to allow him to bump the meeting until the next day.
Corigan had to admit, when he explained to the receptionist the delay was he was having difficulty getting a delivery done in Edmonton, she had to reconfirm, “I thought you were a detective?”
Corigan replied. “I am.”
“And you are making medical equipment deliveries, why?”
Corigan replied, “Because pizzas would get cold between Toronto and Calgary.”
She ignored the sarcasm and replied with, “Doctor Lopes feels this meeting is of the utmost importance and he’ll see you tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.” She paused for assurance. “Sharp.”
Corigan thanked her immensely.
She did throw in a quick jibe before ending the call. “Pizzas stay warm from Calgary to our clinic, just so you know. I like extra cheese.” She terminated the call without another word.
Corigan took a slug of white wine from a plastic cup he found in the cupboard poured from a 4L cardboard box in the fridge.
Corigan swallowed his last mouthful and imagined having a spare apartment like this. Admittedly, the bungalow was basic. In fact, Corigan was surprised a man of Gary’s wealth kept a small secluded location such as this, but then again, his friend was down to Earth.
It was a three bedroom flat, third floor of a condo complex, which consisted of a private bedroom, covered in world maps, plane schematics and engine designs. It included a living room with a leather sofa, glass table and a fully stocked kitchen with stainless steel appliances.
The bottom floor of the building was a shelter for abandoned collies. Corigan spend an hour down there playing with two golden haired beauties, both who looked like Lassie. One had a burned left side to its face from a recent fire, but not before this fine animal was able to drag the oldest child from the house to her waiting parents outside. The second had been left behind by a divorced couple who couldn’t decide who was going to take her.
The fire department had already petitioned to pay for the dog’s care until the family could move from their hotel, one that did not allow dogs, even hero dogs needed a roof over their head, while the other was waiting for the mother-in-law of the couple to arrive from Texas to take on the care of this wonderful animal.
And an hour of enjoyment with happy grins, lapping tongues and wagging tails with friendly canines who only wanted a warm hand and a loving heart to embrace them, made the dreaded chase of Mr. X seem to melt away.
Back in the apartment, after having brushed lots of shed hair from his sweater, Corigan was back at the file.
He had been a touch bitter at first, after getting a call from Gary laughing his ass off when he announced Corigan had his car towed from the Airport. Between bursts of hilarity, Gary mentioned he had a great bicycle if needed in the back shed.
Before hanging up, Gary assured him a drive. That and he had rescheduled the plane’s return the next day to later in the evening to ensure Corigan could get home on it after meeting with Doctor Lopes.
What were friends for, Gary added, followed by, “Next time, use the courier parking lot, not the airport security strip.”
Corigan thought he had, but he admitted to being distracted lately.
The X-File was scattered across the sofa bed.
Gary had another bed in the back room but his story of what could be found on or about his empty computer desk in that room kept Corigan off it.
Corigan had considered bringing his laptop with him, but because it was police issue, with a built in network card, the last thing he needed was roaming charges being billed back to the office. He would be in enough trouble working this case while on suspension.
And the I.T. team would report back quickly to the Captain once it was ascertained the searches he was doing on the unit.
Corigan had laid out the file in a feather pattern. It included six of the most prominent cases in and around Canada. All arrested, charged and convicted. All victims of Mr. X.
The majority of the discovered ones showed no pattern or victim profile. Mr. X usually kept his sights on men, but based on the file, a few times, when opportunity did arise, Mr. X inserted himself into the life of a woman. One such instance was a female cop in Saskatoon who now spent her weekends at a minimum security prison for killing a suspected rapist. Based on DNA, the man accused of rape was innocent, but the frame Mr. X constructed had her getting revenge on this unauthorized ravager of women in the form of a brutal killing by running him down with her car. The evidence was three eye witnesses, all who saw her run him down, get out and kick the man in the face with her police issue boots. The next day, the police discovered her dented front grill and the crimson-soaked boots in her closet.
Corigan was starting to hate that term.
The amazing thing was, as Patrick noted, none of these people suspected this phantom enemy. They all knew they were railroaded and victims of a broken system, but most believed it to be nothing more than mistaken identities. None ever imagined, or conceived, they were the intentional target of a maniacal master of disguise who inserted himself into their lives for a short duration by becoming them and framing them for these crimes, then fading away.
Corigan once heard that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was to convince the world he did not exist.
Mr. X was proving to be such an enemy of his victims.
Another particularly brilliant set up was of two identical twins in Burlington, Ontario. One a fiction writer while his brother was a sales manager in a department store. He had them framed for embezzling from both their wives. Using a simulated set up of trying to make the other twin have an alibi, Mr. X had both alibis proven false, intentionally, and both brothers charged with the crimes of the other. Both brothers came to one another’s defense, but the jury felt no identical twin would ever turn on the other and thus, convicted them both. Even with the wives in their corner, the evidence was not.
Diabolical in morality but ingenious in the delivery.
Mr. X seemed to pick his enemies at random, but in some instances, he went well beyond in effort and need, either making it more difficult or…
Forever the actor.
Without a pattern, drawing him out was going to be very hard, if not impossible, Corigan theorized.
Corigan had checked online at the shelter’s terminal downstairs, as Gary had all his computers with him, as he preferred portable machines, thus the bachelor pad was remarkably tech deficient. He saw on the newswire the Beckham case was in a full flare up over the possibility of a frame.
Beckham himself was even scheduled for some interviews.
All which only delayed the inevitable if Corigan could not catch Mr. X.
Drawing his attention back to his work, Corigan was impressed by several line items noted by Patrick.
One advantage of working for the federal arm of the Canadian Police force is you had some minor pull with Corrections Canada when you called in favours.
Based on the notes, Corigan ascertained Patrick had done his very best to ease the suffering of those framed by Mr. X.
But influence only went so far.
The sheer overwhelming evidence against the victims made it impossible for Patrick to exonerate them. The most he could do from the sidelines was to move them to safer prisons, have them served somewhat better food and in some instances, he personally funded prison bank accounts for victims to purchase food, treats or necessities.
It was the little things that made life more bearable.
Up until his murder, Patrick was still trying to prove all their innocence.
Patrick was a regular saint, when he wasn’t hunting Mr. X.
Corigan would try to champion the cause.
If these people were innocent, the least he could do was to clear their names.
Over the next few hours, he read three more dossiers on possible, if not highly likely victims, of Mr. X, even if not murders.
It seemed, Mr. X was a multitasking monster.
An I.T. student caught stealing hardware from the university he attended and sold on an online chat site which included a digital video of him in a homemade late night commercial promoting the stolen property.
A federal judge for soliciting a minor, all captured on a security feed as he entered the downtown hotel and taking her up to the suite. The police discovered her corpse in the room, her stomach was pumped for an overdose of rohypnol, all discovered in the judge’s car.
And finally, a family law lawyer from Hamilton arrested for emptying his own trust account, done in person from the bank, and him later gambling it away at a casino in Flamborough. All caught on tape, his face as clear as day.
Undeniable evidence and, “Slam-dunks.’
Corigan planned to remove this term from his vocabulary as he could never use it in the future in the same way again.
Amongst Patrick’s paperwork were consults, grids, charts, maps, designs, drawings, pictures, and calculations by mathematicians, paid for by his agency, all in some vain hope to discover a pattern to Mr. X’s machinations.
All ended with the same missing link….
Something Corigan hoped to have the next day, putting him one step closer to setting a trap.
By the time Corigan fell asleep, he had watched one full length movie, two television episodes and a musical.
Like the investigation, all had one star…
Jonathon Weathers aka Mr. X.