The Nefarious Mr. X

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Chapter 4

4

March 17th, 2008

The morning was cold. A deep frosty low temperature that made groundhogs dig for cover and bears decide that another few months in their cave hibernating was a good decision.

But for Corigan McAllistor, it was time to get up.

Time for work.

His alarm clock was always set for six forty-five. Each morning, he prided himself on the fact he could always beat it to the punch. Five minutes to spare, every-time.

Not that he had an audience to thank.

A bachelor’s success of getting up before the buzzer was celebrated alone.

He rolled over dragging the duvet with him. He reached out his muscled arm, tenderly touching the button, deactivating it, and retracted his fist back to the warm comfort of the blankets.

Sometimes he hated getting up.

Sometimes he hated mornings.

Today, it was a little bit of both.

He groaned.

Monday mornings were always the worst too. That cartoon cat always complained about them. The cat knew what he was talking about.

He rolled out of bed, throwing the covers to the left and tossing two pillows to the chair in the corner on his right. They landed perfectly with a good solid thump.

He cracked his neck back and forth, gave his underwear a quick adjustment and stood up.

‘Time to catch me some criminals.’

He entered the bathroom and stood before the mirror.

Corigan McAllistor was a very fit man. He wasn’t overly muscled, but he was definitely not slack in any of his extremities. He stood at a graceful six foot one with light brown hair, even if tussled, which dropped to a casual comfortable style at almost all times. He had nice chiseled facial features, lightly tanned skin with a deep set of icy blue eyes which always made most bad guys stop cold.

He prided himself on his appearance.

He may not exercise every day, but he did try his best to keep fit for the job.

A cop’s life may not always be exciting, but it was something he cherished.

A half hour later, after having showered, shaved and styled his hair, he felt confident. A little hot water and a splash of cologne always brightened his day.

He pulled on a black turtleneck shirt, a pair of blue jeans and a brown ultra-suede jacket. He put his feet into his cowboy boots and felt complete. Almost. He snapped on his lucky ‘S’ pin to the lapel of his jacket. He did a few tugs to make sure everything was tucked, pressed or fit.

He grabbed his Swiss watch from the dresser, one he acquired in a poker game. After several long rounds of Texas Hold’em, four beers and a pretty little brunette waitress in a tight red dress, much less ‘tight’ later on, winning the bold navy blue faced timepiece and it’s white Greek symbol emblazoned at the top, always reminded him of that game. He wrapped it on.

Some trophies are put on shelves and some you carry with you every day.

He grabbed his weapon, which he had locked under his bed. He checked the clip. The magazine was to the left of the butt, behind the trigger. He pulled back the slide, making sure no round was in the chamber. He slid it back into place and dropped it into his shoulder harness. He had cleaned it the night before. He checked it then too, but at morning, before putting it under his jacket, he examined it again. Sure it was time consuming, but every cop will tell you, those seconds invested are worth their weight in gold.

He wandered downstairs to the main level of his townhouse, dressed fashionably in his estimate, and ready to eat.

He entered the kitchen, his coffee pot percolating to the right, set on automatic timer. His bread was toasting in the toaster oven, placed the night before. Sure by morning it got a bit stale, but it was toast after all.

He boiled a few eggs, crushed them and made himself a healthy protein filled breakfast. He grabbed his meal, his newspaper from the front door, and sidled down to the breakfast bar.

The lead story, “MOVIE CRITIC KILLED IN BRUTAL SLAYING”

Corigan felt discouraged by the headline. ‘Killed and slaying in the same sentence.’ He thought, ‘It was the same as saying, having breakfast at morning meal time.’ Obviously the editor was asleep at the wheel.

He read a few more articles, commenting on one reporter knowing too much, meaning a dumb rookie cop couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

A reporter’s bribe barely covered the embarrassment when that ‘guess’ was a mistake. Could ruin a life in a matter of seconds.

Or worse, if it was a murder, all they did was scare the killer underground.

Corigan poured himself another cup of coffee. With a touch of sugar and blob of cream, he stirred it in and continued. It felt good going down.

The rest of the article was mostly guesses and suppositions. Nothing of any substance. Good cops never released any real information, so any rookie reporter with just an earful of data, usually tried to make their best guess. It was usually wrong. It was always the same, reporter catches wind of something juicy, and in trying to beat the competition, provided some fiction.

Corigan folded up the paper, pivoted on the bar stool and aimed his remote at the TV. The one thing about being a bachelor, you could keep the TV remote on the kitchen counter and voilà, it was there the next morning when you were looking for it.

Not neatly put away when you least expect it.

Flipping through a few channels, he found another crime story. Not something he had come to expect a lot of in Canada on a Monday morning. Sure we had our murders, but rarely two in a row.

The talking heads were blabbering on with opinions and so forth, but then the meat of the tale started.

A pretty blonde took to the screen. She was dressed impeccably in a designer business suit with perk little breasts, golden blonde hair, and just enough skin shown to keep even the most uninterested male viewers locked on.

She was standing in front of a building, a headline running along the bottom of the screen. “Hollywood North Meets Shocking Murder.”

Corigan almost choked on the melodrama.

The reporter started. “Late last night. Tragedy took hold in a downtown condominium of renowned movie critic, Matthew Vails. His murder is a shock to newspaper readers who always welcomed his childlike observations and sometimes scathing commentary of the musicals inside the Toronto core. Reviews that began with such controversial lines as “I would have preferred to stay at home’ or “God, if I could travel in time, I would go into the past and take back the two hours I just wasted.”

Corigan raised the volume.

”But nothing could prepare the tenants of his posh high rise apartment than the brutal slaying by one of their own, long-time resident, Deryl Beckham.”

The reporter vanished and a security cam video started playing.

It was grainy at first, black and white, but as the focus picked up, so did the video. Even with the black and white grey scale, the video clearly showed a man, Matthew Vails, walking through the underground parking lot.

Corigan was not sure what annoyed him more. The fact this piece of clear evidence was sent to the media before the police, or the fact the morning news was playing it with such disregard.

Vails had exited his car and was walking, seemingly late in the morning, towards the security elevators. The next camera took over. Vails moving off screen to the next covered location.

Corigan watched in dismay as the silhouette of a man seemed to melt from of the shadows. The shadow quickly overtook the young writer and subdued him. Then, under the watchful eyes of the camera, the shadow starting choking the life out of him.

Corigan felt his grip tighten on the remote.

The pretty little blond reappeared, “The rest of the video is too graphic for our viewers, but suffice it to say, Mr. Vails did not suffer long.”

The blond vanished one more time as the camera took up after Vails was laid on the ground.

The shadow stopped and turned.

The shadow’s face was hidden by both the haze of the garage and the camera lens, one in dire need of cleaning.

But then the shadow did something Corigan did not expect. He turned and started walking forward toward the camera.

In all his years of police work, even Corigan had never seen anything this brazen.

This arrogant.

‘He knew’ Corigan was stunned. ‘He knew he was being taped and he killed him anyway.’

The figure stopped, stared into the lens of the security cam and grinned.

A vicious sort of grin like you would find on the face of a gargoyle lurched over a church edifice, glowering over its parishioners as if to remind them of the cost of any failure to make penance.

The picture froze right before the man waved to the camera.

His facial features clearer than a day.

Corigan didn’t need a line up for this one.

Whomever they caught on tape was finished.

Seconds later, the cameraman panned to the left, catching two Toronto officers escorting a struggling man from a coffeehouse.

The reporter could be heard in the background. “It appears Mr. Beckham was arrested at a local hotspot this morning after a short standoff with police. As of this report, the police have yet to find out the motive for this most heinous crime.”

Corigan mused. ’How about a robbery gone wrong?”

Corigan then chided himself for making an uneducated guess before seeing the evidence. ‘Now I feel like a reporter.’

The man, though fighting furiously to hide his face, unsuccessfully, was clearly the man from the video.

He was dressed a lot more casual than that morning in the garage, but the face said it all, they got their man.

As they pushed him towards the squad car, the man seemed furious, arguing with the officers, now restrained by cuffs. It appeared the showcase of defiance was for the cameras only.

Beckham stared to media and declared aloud, “It wasn’t me Goddamn it… It wasn’t…” A bleep sound resonated on screen. “… ME!”

The officers quickly shoved the man into one of the vehicles, holding his head down to prevent it striking the roof.

Corigan flicked off the TV. “Buddy. You’re guilty. How much evidence will it take to convince YOURSELF you did it?”

If Corigan hated one thing, it was people who didn’t admit when they were caught red handed.

And on tape to boot.

Little did Corigan McAllistor know, his life and perspective on this presumption was about to change… drastically.

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