The next morning at the Metro Toronto 17th Division Police Department, temporary headquarters and shared operations for the Metro Toronto 14th Division Police Department, in the heart of Scarborough, a single level complex, constructed over a full acre, encased entirely by glass and having ample parking, one could see the levels of energy were high and the bustle of activity was hectic.
Especially as this one building, designed to hold seventy-two officers, two administration clerks and two HR staff, was now home to two hundred and forty-seven officers, sixteen clerks and six HR members.
Luckily, not all on one shift.
Staff Captain, Andy Bishop, a short pug of a man, five-six with huge shoulders and a gorilla like chest was hard at work. He nodded frequently, which revealed a short and tightly curled black hair piece that dangled loosely over his Mediterranean fish bowl shaped face.
He stood tall, as much as he could, behind his counter, thick hands on the desk, holding court over all visitors as they arrived. He was responsible for all intakes and the accompanying paperwork that was associated with it, overseeing the entire enterprise. It was a duty he took very seriously.
Bishop directed prostitutes to the left, fights to the right, drunks to the tank, thieves to the cells and serious criminals to the waiting area, chained to floor bolted iron benches.
He felt, if you committed a crime, the least he could do was delay the processing.
If you asked anyone in Toronto, the worst thing they suffered was waiting. Either in line, for a bus, for a meal or whatever the case may be.
And he knew people hated it.
He could never recall a single news broadcast that started with, ‘And they made that poor rapist wait four hours. I mean, what kind of system is this? Is this what our tax dollars are spent on? Tonight, our story, Crime and the Long Line Ups.’
If the most he could do was inconvenience a criminal for a while, it was time well spent.
A loud smack at the front doorway.
Bishop looked up, waiting for the doors to open so they could bring their guest in.
Two large oak doors opened inward, the only natural thing in the place, with heavy metal hinges that squeaked in defiance, mostly from weight, as this frame was intended for lightweight glass doors, but the City Captain, Vertigo, had a thing for wood.
The doors led into a massive ten foot high room, layered by a black and white marble floor.
The officers were focused as they brought their catch forward.
Bishop howled aloud in amusement once he saw who was in their arms.
His two officers carried the man forward, handcuffs tight, keeping the man’s hands high behind his back. His feet were bare and his pajamas fluttered around him like a cape.
Bishop bellowed, causing a few spectators to turn in his direction. “Thank you! I can finally get that Amber alert removed.” Within a few seconds, Bishop reached for his phone, picked it up and uttered a few words which ended with, “We got him. Drop the alarm.”
The two cops, one a small Jamaican man with a stern face and a slim build, and the second, a larger British fellow with a pale appearance and a chipped front tooth, thrust the figure they had in their possession across the booking desk, letting him drop hard, causing a few pencils and a tape dispenser to hurdle to the floor.
Bishop left the items were they fell.
His eyes were on the prize.
The man on the desk let out a burst of air as he landed on his gut. His stomach took the brunt of the impact, as his hands were cuffed so tightly behind his back, he could not even twist to dampen the blow. Once flat, he drooped over the desk, letting trails of drool smatter down to the blotter.
Bishop reached forward and used the man’s shirt to wipe the saliva away.
Both officers did not seem disturbed by the toss. In fact, they appeared thankful, one wiping his hands on a nearby towel, disgusted beyond measure for having held him for any length of time at all.
Bishop on the other hand was not so bothered. He leaned in close. His onion and egg breath from a healthy Portuguese breakfast by his wife of many years oozed out like clouds of soot from a chimney cleaning. “Welcome back Mr. Lesfrud.”
Lesfrud peered up at Bishop, choking on the stench, looking from left to right, confused. His hair was in disarray. He looked lost. His eyes were rimmed with rivulets of bloodshot tributaries. Rivers of crimson seeking escape from his brain to the oceans of the world. His mouth was dry and gummy, like he had been sucking on chalk all night. The only thing he could sputter out was, “What the ’PH’uck is going on?”
Bishop feigned shock. “My, what language you have Grandma.”
Both officers behind him chuckled.
Lesfrud used his shoulders to push himself up and into a standing position, trying to gain some control of the situation.
Neither officer assisted him, nor offered.
Once fully erect, he let his eyes take in the full scope of his location. ‘The police station, the 17th?’ He was sure. He had been here on numerous occasions, never so crowded though, mostly when cops were reaching, pulling in all the sexual predators in the area, in some vain hope that by throwing out fish nets, they would catch a Coelacanth. But he had to admit, he was never brought in like this, with such disregard for his minor, if any, civil rights.
It’s not he ever expected a buffet hot plate waiting for him either, but today was different.
Lesfrud snapped at Bishop, angry at his treatment. “Why the fuck was I dragged in here like this?”
Both officers scarfed a laugh.
Bishop was not amused. “Are you seriously shitting me?”
Lesfrud found himself taken aback by the venom spewed forth from Bishop. He knew most cops hated him, but it was rarely displayed with such poison. He was a masturbator after all, not some rapist. But it seemed, not this morning, and not in the eyes of these officers.
But Lesfrud was a long time player in the police game, on his side anyway, and he knew aggression warranted an equal response. Especially when he felt he was being mistreated for only having a record. “I’m not fucking shitting you. What the fuck is this about?”
Bishop gestured for the men to hold their positions. He took his index finger, and curled it back and forwards, gesturing for Lesfrud to come closer, like he was going to share an intimate secret with him.
Lesfrud was cautious, but he knew, he was also cuffed, in a building filled with cops, all waiting for him to fuck up, so making this situation worse by disobeying was not a good decision.
He leaned over the desk and allowed for Bishop to close in, to whisper in his ear, like a lover to his mate.
Bishop said, quite softly, “They saw you.”
Bishop pulled back, just as peacefully, but with some haste, like proximity to Lesfrud meant possible contagion.
Lesfrud was still leaned over, his mind a mess of confusion. “What the fuck do you mean they saw me?”
Bishop was getting annoyed with explaining. He said with an exasperated tone. “They saw you. This morning. When you tried to snatch that kid.”
Lesfrud lost his balance. Air burst from his lungs, like the oxygen in his chest heard the news and it didn’t want to hold residence in his body anymore. ‘A kid? What the fuck was he talking about?’ He was in his room last night. He had no interest in kids.
He never did.
Then flashes of the night previous started coming back to him. He saw only dark spots, others cloudy and milky, sporadic, in trying to remember them. But his innocence seemed more pressing, so he endured.
After a second of nothing, he replied, some surrender in his voice. “Look. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Seriously? We have a lunch rush coming in the next couple of hours. I don’t have time for this shit.” Bishop looked like he was going to reach across his desk, drag Lesfrud down to the tabletop, and smack him around with his stapler. “Even when we got you ‘Dead to rights,’ you still can’t be a man and fess up?”
‘Be a man.’ It came back to Lesfrud like a lightning bolt. He was back in his apartment, last night. He had fallen asleep, after a quick bout with himself, showing how much of a man he was for putting that little faggot in his place. He then heard it, a scratching sound, like a rat scurrying about, with metal claws, tearing away at the grates, or maybe it was the door. He had turned to his wall clock. 3:27 a.m.
Bishop interrupted Lesfrud’s revelation waving his hand in front of his eyes. “Earth to Pervert!”
Lesfrud was panicking. ’What the Hell did they think he did?’ He offered a quick answer. “Look. I was home all last night. Alone.”
“Aren’t you always?” Bishop replied sarcastically, knowing Lesfrud’s history. He opened his hands with a gesture. “But I’m talking about this morning, not last night.”
Lesfrud had no idea what he was talking about. He was in his room last night, up and until this morning when the police arrived.
Bishop continued unencumbered. “Plus. Guess what asshole? We got the video footage from your hotel’s main foyer. From this morning.”
Lesfrud stared, bafflement in his face.
“You see. They’re always happy to give us the video. They feel it gives them some credit, a bit of leeway as it were, when certain clientele visit and cause… Problems.”
Lesfrud felt like a chicken thrown to the coyotes to distract and protect the henhouse from a full scale assault.
“Problems they want avoided.” Bishop smiled. “And you know what, they only have one camera in the whole place. The lobby.”
Bishop was asking Lesfrud like he had made the choice in the planning.
“So?” Lesfrud replied with some reluctance.
“So… We, me, and the others here, saw you, yes you, leaving through the lobby this morning, at five a.m.”
Lesfrud was shaking. “That’s not fucking possible. The last thing I remember is waking up this morning with your cops beating down my door.”
Beating on the door. Another memory came to him. He was in his bed, drifting into an orgasmic dreamland when he heard his door opening. Maybe it was the booze, the satisfaction, or the lack of sleep, but he was slow in responding to the sound. But he knew he was no longer alone. He had come into his room, so very stealthily, it was frightening. When he tried to fully awaken, he was startled to find the man above him. Before he could react, the visitor had placed a soaked rag over his face. It smelled like a chemical? It had a sweet taste. He knew this because his tongue was flickering in and out as he fought sucking in the fluid for air.
Bishop lightly smacked Lesfrud across the face, bringing him back to the real world.
Lesfrud pulled back, his cheeks burning, fear in his eyes, his skin going pale.
Bishop was not impressed. “What? Are you fantasizing what you’d have done had you gotten away with that kid?”
Lesfrud was terrified. He did not know what was happening, but whatever it was, it was happening very fast. “Look. I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Bishop rolled his eyes skyward. “You make me sick.”
Lesfrud was furious. He knew retaliation was his only option. “The only one sick here is me. Sick of my rights being violated whenever your Keystone cops here beating…”
Bishop cut him off. “I know there was some beating going on this morning, just not by my officers.”
Lesfrud was trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind. Threads of thoughts, tangled around his memory centres, fogging his visions of the night previous, killing brain cells in its path to remember. His only salvation, he was so exasperated by his self-satisfaction, he had not inhaled as deeply as the assaulter had hoped before the cloth was removed.
Bishop was preparing to dismiss him. “Look. I’ve got other scum to catalogue today. We got you this time.” Bishop reached into a pile of folders on his desk and grabbed the red one tagged with sticky notes. “I mean, trying to snatch a five year old kid from a day care, in front of all the other kids, at the busiest time of the morning?” Bishop paused. “What kind of fucking moron are you?”
Lesfrud had never done anything like this in his life. What the Hell was happening to him?
Bishop held up his smartphone, sporting a clean photo of Lesfrud at his original arrest years before, looking disheveled, his face, address and the crime he was convicted for on tabs one and two.
Lesfrud hated that App.
Bishop was in his element though. “As soon as we heard about the failed snatch. I typed in the address, the details and you know what, and my phone gave me you.”
Lesfrud really, really hated that App.
“And low and behold. Your big ugly mug came up first and foremost.” Bishop looked at the picture, scrolled a few pages, and showed Lesfrud the visitor history. “I guess a lot of people were watching you last night…”
“Come again?” Lesfrud was so disoriented, but that last statement sounded odd. “What do you mean, watching me?”
“On the App.” Bishop pointed out. “Somebody must have suspected what you were up to last night. According to the report, they checked you out as early as 2:00 a.m.”
Lesfrud imagined only one person, the faggot.
Lesfrud was thinking now. He didn’t do this a lot, but today, he did. He had to. This was very bad. He could complain his civil liberties were being violated, but most sex offenders found little support when defending them.
Lesfrud knew he had to remember. He needed to. It may be his only bridge to salvation. He took a deep cleansing breath and focused with all his might, to grasp at the neurons of his past, knowing his memory of last night was his only savior.
Within seconds, Lesfrud was back in his room, the night before. He remembered a man hovering over him, rag in hand. Before that, the man was in his room. He had picked the lock. He had stealthily crossed his living room to the bed. He grabbed Lesfrud and shoved a wet cloth over his face….
His blood ran cold. His face…
Lesfrud tried to reconcile his face. Something was wrong.
He was remembering wrong.
He had to be.
But before he could think of anything else, Lesfrud blurted it out. “I swear there was a guy in my room last night….”
“Good for you. Did he do it for you?” Bishop snapped, “Better than the kid you tried to snatch.”
Lesfrud ignored him. He knew his testimony of last night was all that stood between him and his innocence. Clarity returned to him. But he couldn’t be right. It was impossible, yet he knew it to be true. He turned to Bishop with compassion, hope and vulnerability. “The guy, the one in my room, he looked…” Lesfrud weighed his options and took the risk, knowing voicing what he saw would forever stain him. “He looked like me.”
All three cops belched with laughter.
Screams of hilarity, giggling and hissing so loud, it was piercing. Some of the prostitutes in earshot even chuffed while they listened.
Lesfrud did not see the joke.
After they all laughed themselves out, Bishop grabbed a quick breath and took the lead. “Really? That’s awesome.” He paused as he could see the seriousness on Lesfrud’s face. “You want us to believe some guy who looked like you, living in your complex and liked doing what you liked to do, did this?”
Lesfrud was hard pressed for an answer. “Yes.”
Bishop wasn’t on board. “And this guy, who looked like you, it was him and not you, we witnessed this morning leaving your hotel and then trying to snatch some kid…”
Lesfrud was feeling confident now, ready to rally the troops in support. “Yeah.”
“And failed.” Bishop said with some satisfaction. “And when this failed child-napper… you…”
Lesfrud sharply interrupted, “Not me!”
“So this other guy.” Bishop nodded. “After he failed, not a few minutes later, all excited, was spotted jacking off in the bushes…”
Lesfrud had no explanation as he knew he was not there.
Bishop paused for dramatic effect. “If I’m correct, that’s what you do isn’t it? Jack off all the time? And for fucks sake, was it not the last time we caught you, it was outside a daycare?”
Lesfrud whispered sullenly, knowing even as he said it, it would not help. “It was a school.” It sure did not sound like a defense, but it was true.
Bishop looked to the other officers and shook his head, still disbelieving Lesfrud was disputing it. “Besides all the eye witnesses’ accounts, including four kids you fuck…” Bishop snapped, pissed off at having to ask a kid for their testimony. “And every one of them described you trying to snatch their friend.”
“Bullshit. I didn’t do it.”
“Bullshit indeed.” Bishop continued. “And when you fucked up grabbing that kid, you decided to entertain yourself…”
Lesfrud looked horrorstricken.
Bishop barely registered Lesfrud’s facial change. “The guard on duty saw you, only you, relieving yourself in the bushes near the school while watching the kids at play.” Bishop shivered, hard to believe anyone could find sexual interest in such things, all the while glaring at Lesfrud with a pure hatred.
So hot with fury, it actually warmed Lesfrud’s skin.
Lesfrud couldn’t imagine it getting any worse.
“But best of all,” Bishop added, “You fucking sicko….”
Lesfrud was devastated, out of touch and tired. All he could whisper back was. “This is bullshit!’
“Tell that to G-Pop.“ Bishop said amused. ‘General Prison Population.’ “You know what happens to guys like you in prison, when the other inmates discover you molest kids.”
“I didn’t molest any kids.”
“Cause you failed to get him.”
Lesfrud was panicking. “There’s no fucking way it was me...”
Bishop smiled, a vicious grin, like a gargoyle on a rooftop, watching down over his dominion like an eagle, ready to drop onto unsuspecting citizens, dragging his prey up and out of sight, using his rocky talons and concrete teeth to tear at flesh and bone, munching away on cartilage with ease. “Where was I? Oh yeah. Best of all…”
Before Lesfrud could interject, Bishop reached under his desk and pulled out a bag.
A clear sealed bag, marked with red tape, and black lettering on it.
It read, ’Evidence.’
Lesfrud died inside. His world closed in, like one suffering from claustrophobia must feel when trapped in an elevator and the lights go out. The walls felt like they were closing in, the roof dropping down, the floor rising up, all at the same time, compacting the space, the air, escape, until it was all crushed into nothing.
Except now, it was really happening…
In the bag were the tissues from his nightstand.
His attacker must have stolen them from his apartment.
The one he had not bothered to throw away, kept for personal amusement. Another life error. Placed upon his tabletop, soiled with his fluids, his DNA, now scrunched up in the bag held by the cops, ready for testing, left at a crime scene he was witnessed at having attended.
He remembered that morning seeing them gone, but assumed the cops had simply knocked them off in the struggle to arrest him.
Lesfrud knew he was fucked. He felt himself rocking back and forth, like a child in his mother’s arms, not that he ever got that kind of attention.
Bishop ended his lesson with. “As for these, if they come back from DNA testing and it doesn’t match you, I promise, I’ll personally let you go.”
Lesfrud was not listening. All he could see was the man. The man in his room. His last memories of the night previous flickering like an old eight mm film strip. He knew it was his face, his eyes and his smile looking down at him.
In his mind, he knew this was impossible, but what else could he do. “I swear to God, he had my face!”
Bishop scowled, putting the bag away. “Take him to holding. He’s not going home ever.”
As they carried him away, Lesfrud’s feet dragged behind like a limp doll in a dog’s mouth left behind by an excited child with slides, swings and monkey-bars on her mind. He screamed down the hallway, for anyone who would listen. “It wasn’t me. He had my fucking face!”
Before he was pulled from sight, he screeched one last thing. “I was framed!”
Detective Catherine McPhail exited the washroom, passing Lesfrud on her way to the main foyer, shaking her head in annoyance, coming in for her shift. She muttered under her breath. “A lot of that going around.”
She was dressed in a red long-sleeved wool sweater, with a collar that bunched up and around her shoulders. She wore light blue jeans, brown boots with both her gun and badge looped over the matching belt.
She passed a few officers pouring hot beverages from the decanter.
One took a sip and his face scrunched up and spit it back. “Who the fuck is putting vanilla in the coffee?”
Catherine shook her head. Some cops from the 14th were obviously making themselves at home.
Catherine saddled up to her temporary desk, an architect’s table lent by the CSI team. It had a long pivoting radial arm affixed with a magnifying glass that lit up when touched.
She unrolled the blueprints of the building for the weekend’s protective detail, tacked tape to the corners, rememorizing the schematics and making small marks with a red pen.
Before she could continue, she could sense someone leering at her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She turned slowly and looked behind her.
Bishop, leaning on his desk, grinned in her direction. “Catch your partner yet?” Asked with a snide tone.
Catherine ignored him. ’It was best not to give attention to the monkeys or they’d keep throwing crap at you.’
She took a sip of her coffee, vanilla-free as she bought it elsewhere, and continued to make ticks.
A young sergeant barreled out of the washroom, cursing under his breath. He shouted. “Some jerk just dry-docked it.”
Bishop snapped, shock lacing his face. “Come on now. We have ladies present.”
Great, Catherine thought, My knight in shining polyester.
Bishop shooed the sergeant off. He moved towards Catherine’s work table. “I’m so sorry about that.”
“No problem.” Catherine, knowing the moment she asked it, she would regret it, but she was curious. “What is dry-docking by the way?”
Bishop explained like it was a fact everyone should know. “It’s when someone takes a dump, but the waters not high enough in the bowl, so it hits the side and leaves a trail down.”
‘She knew she shouldn’t have asked.’ She made the assumption, based on team loyalty, it was someone from the 17th.
Within a few seconds, Bishop had sauntered around her desk, looking over the plans. “Is that GTNN? No? You don’t have to do security detail for the Captain’s interview this weekend do you? You couldn’t have messed up that bad?”
Bishop understood. “The Brass figures you’re the best pick to keep your partner from taking another crack at Vertigo?”
Catherine stopped and turned to Bishop. “For your information, I’m lead detective on this protective detail. And my EX…“ She stressed the EX. “Is not going to take a second shot.”
Bishop held out his hands in surrender.
Catherine suddenly realized Bishop had removed his wedding ring.
“Hey. I’m not laying any blame. You know him best, so you’re probably the best choice to protect the Cap.”
‘I thought I knew him best.’ She felt suddenly guilty and let that last thought evaporate. She had faith in Corigan.
“Mind you, we’d never have let him walk out of our station after trying to kill our captain.”
Clearly an accusation.
Catherine glared. She did not like being second guessed, especially by an overweight paper pusher, who was clearly also a bully. “You weren’t there.”
Bishop raised his hands in mock defeat again. “I’m not saying you guys did anything wrong…”
Which was implied by the fact he stated his department would have succeeded where hers had failed.
Catherine wanted to retort, but she knew good officers had died, and fighting internally about it after the fact did nothing for their memories. Catching their killer did.
One she admitted to herself, slipped through her fingers.
But as Corigan told her on the phone, this was not some average scumbag. This villain was a master of disguise, voices and illusion. Had he not escaped that way, he would have had a backup plan and not to shoot herself for not catching him. No one has for years. In fact, this enemy was so damn good, no one knew he was out there.
And look at the bright side. Mr. X could have come as her. A joke Corigan offered knowing he came as him.
It was so perfect, right down to the bruising from the day before.
And according to the poor officers who helped ‘this’ Corigan escape, they said he looked and sounded like him too. Of course, they never said he looked ’just’ like him, they said, “It was Corigan.”
But that was the past.
Now was the present.
The GTNN station was the future.
The final showdown, if this Mr. X showed up.
Corigan was betting he would.
Considering all the damage Corigan was doing to the man’s legacy, if he was real, he’ll be monumentally pissed. And hopefully, he had no idea who was behind it.
But that was semantics.
Corigan explained, he had only one goal, to stay out of sight and prepare for all of Mr. X’s back up plans.
As he put it, if he misses even one, Corigan might as well size himself for an orange jumpsuit.
Catherine resumed her work without acknowledging Bishop again.
Bishop waited a few minutes, clucked his tongue a couple of times, not departing. He finally spoke up, nonchalantly, “I thought the Captain never did on-air interviews.”
‘God!’ Catherine thought, ‘Please don’t let him ask me out. And put your damn wedding ring back on.’
She tried to be polite. “He normally doesn’t. But the reporter, Annabelle something, pranced right up to him in a low cut blouse, her breasts bouncing in his face, and offered him a great PR opportunity. Vertigo almost did the interview on the spot.”
Bishop appeared surprised. “I thought he was married.”
Continuing to write, Catherine ignored her first thought. ’Pot calling the kettle black?’ but she replied with. “He is. He’s simply trying to rebuild some P.R. after….”
Bishop finished the sentence. “After a cop killed several of his own brothers in his own field office after being suspended?”
Bishop grimaced. “Guess all those PR hopes would be dashed if McAllistor took the Captain out on live news?”
Catherine could not believe his stupidity in his asking. “It would, but I know what I’m doing. So does the Captain.”
Bishop looked at the blueprints, still hovering. “This station looks pretty old.”
Catherine was not happy to be giving a history lesson, but knowing if she didn’t, the man might never go away. She explained. “It’s a former military barracks built during WWII.” She gestured to several wall structures. “The place is practically a fortress. Only three main entrances, all which will be guarded heavily by us. A few windows, but none big enough for a human being…”
Bishop interjected, somewhat curious. “Isn’t that illegal? Against the fire code?”
“GTNN got specialized approval from the government due to production needs. They made the case they needed to control all natural light and manipulate the ambiance for its programming.”
“And in the case of an emergency?”
Catherine explained. “They have numerous fire extinguishing units, more than needed. That and a high pressure sprinkler system which can, with the throw of a switch, dispense huge quantities of water, or in some areas, to protect the electrical equipment, dry retardant foam. Added to that, large cooling vents and air induction valves to assist circulation, keeping the levels of recycled oxygen maximized, or minimized in the instance of fire.”
“Impressive.” Bishop whistled. “By the way…”
Catherine dreaded what he was about to ask.
But he caught her off guard. “If you meet Weathers…Could you get his autograph for me? I loved his movies.”
Catherine turned in surprise, knowing what she knew, providing a fake smile. “I promise you this. If I do see him, I’ll bring him here personally.”
In cuffs, but she decided not to add this.
Bishop smiled she was doing anything for him at all.
But Bishop, true to form, threw in one last remark. “However, if your partner does take a shot at the Captain, take his ass out.”
As much as she hated to consider it, she had to. She was protecting the Captain after all on live television.
All things being equal, she had to make the assumption, no matter how far-fetched, if there was no Mr. X, and Corigan had lied to her in hopes of another shot at the Captain, then by God in all his mercy, she was going to make damn sure, Corigan McAllistor wasn’t escaping this time.
Dead or alive.