Chapter 02- "Batman was a rich jerk"
“Detective Greyson. Good to be working together again.” David nodded firmly, shaking Ben’s hand.
“Well, obviously. I care about your well being and career a bit too much to not have come.” Ben shot back, a smug smile playing at his lips.
“Well, I understand you aren’t exactly a fan of my face, and my presence for that matter, so don’t worry. I'll make sure you don’t get to see me more than you absolutely have to.” David responded dryly.
“That will be appreciated.” Ben replied. David merely glared slightly at the man before heaving a sigh. “So, where are we on the case?” Ben asked after a while.
“Before you joined, the team did interviews with the victim’s families. Nothing from these two, but we are yet to follow up on the third . Some of them behaved pretty weird. The wives, of course, didn’t react well to the fact that our detectives mentioned the victims possibly having coitus before being killed.” David informed, handing Ben the case file.
“So that’s the part they are worried about?” Ben quipped, looking at the details, as Rohan stood next to him, alert and absorbing all the information.
“But why isn’t there anything about this third victim? Wasn’t there anyone to interview?” Rohan asked, cocking his head to the side.
“No, we haven’t sent a team there, yet. We will soon.” Came the reply from a lady, who had joined them just now. Her coal gray eyes were serious and her 5 foot 6 figure stood straight, a solemn expression on her face. The grey button down shirt she wore was tucked neatly into her black pants and her brown hair rested in a high ponytail.
Ben acknowledged Marcella’s presence with a nod, and Rohan exchanged greetings, shaking her hand.
“Arrange these interviews. We will visit all three of them again. There has to be something we are missing.” Ben turned to Rohan.
“Detective. We got a call. There has been a murder in Bainbridge– Richard Owen. It follows the same pattern as the other three. We have dispatched a team to collect evidence and examine the site of murder.” Officer Mason entered the room, his expression hard, greeting everyone with just a nod.
Perry Mason was a fellow detective of Ben Greyson’s, back when he was still in service. The hulk of a person had skills which Ben was not shy to compliment. His deep brown eyes and a buzz cut on his head, alongside the massively built body of his was enough to intimidate criminals.
“Okay, so make that four.” Ben said nonchalantly, looking at Rohan.
“So you are Robin Miller? Henry Miller’s wife?” Ben asked a young looking woman. The woman nodded, her eyes empty and face void of any expression.
Ben and his team were currently at the victim’s house, checking everything and interrogating his wife.
“Yes.” Robin answered.
“So, how were things between you and your late husband? And do you mind telling me where were you at the time of the murder?” Ben asked, his questions to the point. He inspected the victim’s wife, all the while, trying to either rule out or catch any possibilities of her being involved.
Robin's cold hazel eyes narrowed slightly as her body tensed further, not liking the invasion of her home and the questions she was being asked.
“Look officer, I have already provided your department the details. I was at a conference in California. I have even provided video proof. I don’t know, what more you need?” She told Ben, clearly annoyed.
“Is it true that you two were about to apply for a divorce?” Ben wasted no time in asking another question, not paying attention to her earlier remark.
“Yes, things weren’t exactly ideal. And we thought it would be good to just stop trying and take a permanent break.” Robin answered. “If you think it’s about the money, then let me inform you that I earn way more than he does. Or at least way more than he used to.” She said with a sigh and crossed her arms.
“Since you have such a good alibi, you don’t have anything to worry about. Then why did you try to avoid meeting our officers for so long?” Rohan hopped in on the questioning. His glove clad hands resting on his sides as he gazed around the living room they were seated in.
The victim and his wife surely enjoyed quite the luxurious life. From the marble tiles on the floor; to the blinding glass chandeliers and the magnificent staircases. The house was filled with the paintings one would see around any rich snob’s house.
Robin Miller sat on the golden chaise lounge sofa across from them, her form fitting blue dress clinging tightly to her body. She had her legs crossed and sat upright, looking down at the detectives like the scum of the earth.
“Because that lean guy over there,” Ben pointed towards Detective Perry Mason. “-told me that Henry had called some friend over here before he got killed.” Ben told her, stressing on the word, 'friend'. “If I knew, I would have divorced him earlier.” Robin replied, a scowl settling on her face.
Ben threw a glare at Perry over his shoulder and then turned his attention back towards Robin.
“I apologize, Mrs. Miller. I know this would have hurt you, however, we are still exploring multiple angles of the case and nothing is final yet.” Rohan said to the woman, in hopes of consoling her.
“Did he mention anything? Anything unusual? Or perhaps talked about someone?” Ben inquired.
“No. We didn’t really talk, unless absolutely necessary. And he looked normal, nothing different.” Robin answered.
“Look officer, whoever killed Henry, I hope he gets caught. But I am not interested in this any more than that. I have told you everything I knew. I hope you and your people don’t bother me anymore. I’m sure you can show yourself out.” Robin announced, getting up from her seat.
“Alright. Thank you for your time. You are to be let go for now, but you still aren’t allowed to leave the state until the investigation is complete. The murder of your husband is part of a series of murders and we need you to co operate even if it bothers you.” Ben told her as he too, got up from his seat, shoving his hands into his dress pants.
“Great! Now I have to pay, and not be able to move freely just because you guys didn’t do your job properly. Sometimes the government is truly unbelievable. Henry gets himself killed by some whore and now my life is a living hell!” Robin exclaimed as she walked out of the room in anger, her heels clicking against the marble floor.
“Off to the next jolly family then.” Rohan muttered in the awkward silence, “When did people turn so weird? I mean they don’t even have basic decency anymore! We really messed up something along the way.” He added with a sigh.
“Sorry to burst your bubble, but people were not fond of cops at any given point in time, whatsoever. Get used to this.” Ben had a rare laugh as they moved towards their car.
“Hello officer. Hope you are doing good.” The man greeted, stepping aside to let the detectives enter his house. He seemed more cheerful than the people Ben and his team were used to.
“Very good. Thank you. I would like your permission for my team to take a look around the house if that’s alright.” Ben asked.
The man’s eyebrows shot up slightly as he flashed them a smile, “Yes, of course. That’s no problem.” He answered.
Ben nodded to his team and they got to work. He then turned to the man.
“So, Mr. Johnathan Moore, I believe you were pretty close to your brother.” Ben started, eyeing the man.
“Yes officer.. Greyson. That’s a nice name. Me and Richie were like friends, the best of them.
He used to say, ‘Johnny we are
going to the Bahamas and we will rock the hell out of this place, I am done with this hellhole.’” Johnathan replied, the longing for his brother present in his tone.
“That’s a nice bond. But then why would you lie about being in Paris to my team on the night of the murder? While I believe, you were in The Blue Sun resort. That too, under a pseudonym. Or maybe perhaps you just fondly call it Paris. Hmm?” Ben said to him, holding the receipts in a plastic bag, in front of his face.
“Oh. Oh God.” Johnathan’s face drained of color as he let out a nervous airy laugh. Ben arched a brow but other than that, kept his face straight and his stance, intimidating.
“Look. I.. I lied. Does Amanda know about this? I just wanted to be away from her, so I pretended to be in Paris for a meeting. I lied officer but I didn’t kill Richie. He was my brother. I would never do that to my own blood.” He said, frantically.
“Please don’t tell Amanda. You already know where I was.” He continued, wiping his sweaty hands against his jeans.
“So what else have you been–” Ben stopped midway as he spotted a figure coming out of Richie Moore's home office. “Who is that woman?” he asked, eyes fixated across the room.
“Oh that’s Anna–Anna Ross. She is Richie’s accountant. Or was. He ran a small business, nothing fancy though.”
Ben nodded at Rohan, and he brought Anna over to Ben. Anna was a rather pretty young woman, seemingly in her late 20s. Her large green eyes were visible behind the thin rimmed glasses she wore and her ash blond hair was up in a neat ponytail. She was clad in an impeccably ironed purple button down shirt tucked neatly into a black pencil skirt. Low heeled sandals clicked the hardwood floor as she made her way towards Ben and Johnathan.
“I am Detective Benjamin Greyson, from the Seattle Police department. We would like to ask you a few questions about Richard Moore, if that’s alright.” Ben told her, extending his hand as she shook it after readjusting the box she was carrying in her hands.
“Sure, officer.” Anna replied.
“How long had you been working for him?” Ben asked.
“Um, almost five years. He was a good boss. Unfortunately, his time had come. God rest the poor man’s soul. He had been like a guardian angel.. giving me this job.” She replied calmly, eyes tearing up as she thought of her boss.
“I’m terribly sorry, Miss Ross. I know this is not a good time but we must gather information in order to capture the culprit.” Ben said to her and she nodded, blinking the tears away.
“Did he mention anything unusual? Anything from work? Or someone he was about to meet?” Rohan questioned.
“No, officer. We weren’t that close. But I didn’t notice anything unusual. I was his accountant, so I only dealt with the numbers in his business. The rest, his assistant might know.” Anna answered.
Ben and Rohan exchanged looks and then nodded grimly at Anna.
“And where were you at the time of the murder?” Ben asked her.
“My mother has dementia, so I often go to her place, checking in on her. That day, she was particularly unwell so I stayed the night. Then I got ready for the office in the morning, but I received a call that Mr. Moore had been murdered.” She said, her eyes downcast.
“Okay, you can leave now. Thank you.” Ben told the woman and then walked to a side, Rohan following at his toe.
“Detective, can I trust you on the Amanda thing? We are okay right?” a nervous Johnathan followed them.
“Well, we don’t need to tell her that now. It’s not relevant to the case, and only one of us turned out to be a liar some time ago, so yeah I suppose you could take my word for it.” Ben replied, his voice filled with sarcasm.
“So, you think any of them could be involved?” Rohan asked, squinting at the sunlight and putting on his sunglasses once again. Retracting his feet from the sand he sat cross-legged next to Ben, facing the man.
“They are all lying. None of them has a motive to murder. Although sometimes, even a stupid motive is good enough. We will still have to keep an eyen out for everyone. Every little detail counts.” Ben replied, never opening his eyes or changing his position on the baby blue beach sheet–which was legs spread out and arms crossed under his head.
“Even during our time off, this is what we are talking about.” Rohan muttered. “Anyway, all these years and you never told me why you became a detective. What’s the backstory here?” He added, curious to know more about his colleague and friend.
“Why? Why do I have to have a backstory?” Ben answered, still in the same position.
“Everyone has those! That’s what makes us cool. What are we without them? Everyone has a history as to how they got to their present.” Rohan continued.
When Ben didn’t reply, he started once again, “No seriously, think about it. I mean, without a backstory, even batman would be just another rich jerk.” Rohan grinned widely at Ben, even though he couldn’t see him.
Letting out a sigh, Ben opened his eyes and looked toward the blue sky–the portion not covered by the umbrella they were seated underneath.
“My father was a businessman–a pretty successful one at that. And like every other father, he wanted me to take over his legacy. He wasn’t a bad person, just boring, plain boring.” Rohan listened intently.
“Interesting.” He replied, not wanting Ben to stop his story.
“He just seemed to care more about the ‘how much and when', not about the ‘why and how'. I was more focused on how things happened; what they are and why are they like that, you know.
So yeah, we didn’t gel much.” Ben continued.
“You know what, I should be having conversations like these with my girlfriend and not you.” He chuckled after a pause as Rohan laughed.
“Yeah, but you don’t have one. The hookers charge by the hour and I’m pretty sure they want something else in that hour they have with you, rather than hear your backstory. And that my friend, is where I jump in. You’re welcome.” Rohan knew Ben like the back of his hand and so never shied away from speaking his mind. Ben laughed at Rohan’s words, shaking his head before speaking again.
“I did join the business. Tried to take forward the so-called empire, you know. Unfortunately, failed miserably. I just couldn’t do it. Didn’t have the mind for that sort of stuff, so. Dad and I didn’t speak much after that, rarely interacted. Except for a speech at his funeral. Which of course, he wasn’t there to listen to.” Ben’s voice grew solemn as he continued, “I was pretty miserable. But then along the way, I found out I liked solving puzzles. Didn’t know if it would make me happy, or less miserable, but I thought, if I am going to stay like that, why not be it while doing something I am fond of. And here we are.” Ben had a smile on his face, as the sound of water hitting the rocks filled the background. The chime of his phone broke the moment as he quickly picked it up and read the message.
“The fingerprints we found at two of the crime scenes have matched. They are of some Erica Hudson. Lady works for a local escort club. Photos match the description by the bar owner who saw her leaving with Richard. I think we got our girl. This mess can end now.” Rohan said aloud as both of them went through the latest details they had been sent.
“Looks like a mad ex lover, going vigilante. The question however, is, why are all her lovers desperate middle aged men? Whatever this is, it’s something personal. I think it would be good hearing it from her. Let’s get her before she hunts more of them.” Ben commented, his eyebrows furrowing.
“If we know everything about her, why isn’t she here by now?” Chief Morgan asked no one in particular.
Ben stood in front of the chief’s desk, Rohan standing to his right whereas Marcella stood to his left.
“She is probably in hiding. But we are trying every way possible to get to her.” Ben replied.
“Trying isn’t enough Detective Greyson. It’s getting to national media now. You know how those guys fantasize about serial killings. Finish this up before it gets out of hand.” Chief Morgan ordered with a stern face. Ben responded with a nod.
“Detective Greyson! We have a tip. Our suspect, Erica Hudson, is trying to escape the country.
Probably to some Caribbean Island.” Detective Mason barged in, conveying the new information.
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s just finish this once and for all.” Greyson said as the group walked out of the chief’s office and headed towards their vehicles.
“Perry, I really like how you always storm in with some important information. It’s so.. movie-like, you know.” Rohan commented earning a cheeky smile from Mason.
The vehicles came to a sudden halt in front of the airport doors and police officers swarmed into the area, securing the location before signaling to Ben and his companions.
They quickly walked towards the check-in desk and Perry pulled out his badge,
“This is a police matter ma’am. We need information about an Erica Hudson. She is booked on a flight to the Caribbean.” He told the lady working behind the counter and she quickly searched for the said woman.
“Yes, she just checked in through Gate 5. The plane will start boarding in 10 minutes.”
The officers nodded at her, before rushing towards Gate 5. Upon reaching, they spotted her figure sitting in the waiting lounge, going through some magazine as she kept glancing around the place, nervously.
Her eyes met with Ben's and they widened when he gave her a smirk, her lips parting to let out a curse.
She whispered and slowly got up from her seat. The officers took cautious steps towards her and she watched in horror as they drew closer. In a second, she had sprinted and was now running towards an exit.
“STOP!” Ben ordered with a yell as they ran after the woman. She pushed past people and increased her pace when the officers began to catch up. Taking a sudden right she ran down the escalators, and looked for an escape route.
More and more police officers had swarmed into the building now. Pushing past through a set of doors that said 'Restricted', she kept running as the workers yelled at her, telling her that the place was off-limits.
She threw a glance behind her and let out a relieved sigh, seeing that she wasn’t being chased anymore.
Erica looked around and saw that she had entered into the luggage area and then took a right to move right past the doors and onto the area near the runways. Slowing down her pace, she panted, relieved that she had lost the police, before her little joyous moment turned into a nightmare as she saw a group of police officers surrounding her.
The doors through which she had ran, opened, revealing Ben and his team as they walked up to her. Perry pulled out his handcuffs and grabbed Erica’s hands, effectively stopping any movements.
“Erica Hudson, you are now arrested in the suspicion of involvement in serial killings, as well as running away from the police. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do will be held against you.” Perry said as he yanked at her arms and then nodded at the other officers.
“Take her away.” He ordered.
“Why did you kill them?” Ben questioned.
“I didn’t kill any of them.” Erica replied, glaring at him. Her hands were cuffed, placed on the table in front of her and she was now in an interrogation room at the station.
“Look, you have to speak the truth. Now or four days later, trust me it won’t change a thing. So it’s better we cut this bullshit and you tell me everything that you’ve done!” Ben placed emphasis on every single word he said and slammed his hand on the table.
“I am not lying! You have to believe me. I didn’t do anything!” She started sobbing, her voice rising with each word.
“So, you just magically appear around all three victims, and go home with them the night when they are murdered. And you say you didn’t do anything.” Ben said rather calmly, but his tone was one the calm before the storm. “If you are as innocent as you claim, then pray tell, why did you hide all this time? Why were you leaving the country? And why did you run when you saw the cops approach you?” Rohan added from his position against the wall. He was leaning against it, arms crossed at his chest, his face hard.
“I was scared, okay. He killed all of them. He will have me killed, too. I won’t live long now. He will kill my sister, every single one in my family!” Erica yelled at them, sobbing even more as she placed her head in her hands.
Ben and Rohan exchanged looks before Ben turned to her,
“Who is he?” Ben asked.
“I am just an escort, officer. I-I got a call. A guy asked me to meet.. to meet Henry Miller, and seduce him and then leave. I swear I didn’t do anything. I just did what he asked, and then left. I didn’t stay for more than an hour or so. P-Please, you have to believe me.”
“So, you just take random orders like that?” Ben asked, raising an eyebrow.
“He said it was a prank on his friend. Offered me good money so I thought okay, it’s an easy job anyway.” She replied.
“And the money didn’t make you suspicious about something else going on?” Ben continued.
“Anyone that has some money, wants more and more of it. I got greedy too. But I didn’t kill anybody.” She told him.
“I would appreciate it if you answered my questions without adding these personal pearls of wisdom.” Ben said to her, annoyance filling his words.
“Okay, for a second, let’s believe you aren’t the killer. And you just did your job, seduced the guy and left. But you must have known your client had been murdered. Why did you continue then?” This time it was Rohan who asked the question.
“I found out the next morning. But.. but I also got another call that day. He threatened to kill me the same way, and knew all about my family. I-If I refused to do what he said.” Erica replied, fresh tears falling down her cheeks.
“So, you went ahead and repeated the same with Richard.” Rohan stated. Erica confirmed with a nod.
“What did this guy sound like? Did you notice anything when you talked to him? Anything in the background maybe? Did he mention anything about the victims?” Ben inquired, sitting back on the chair again.
“His voice was mechanical. He just spoke short sentences like.. telling me where to find the guy and then leave after my job was done.” Erica told them, eyebrows furrowing as she tried to remember.
“Did you use anything to trick the victims? Drugs?” Rohan asked.
“I just used myself.” Erica’s reply was short, as she averted her gaze from the two.
“Fool a man into being loved, and he needs nothing more to intoxicate him.” Ben quipped, staring at Erica, to which she weakly nodded.
“What about the money?” Ben asked.
“I got it the moment I came back, both times. I can give you all the details.” Erica told him.
“Of course you will. Now that you have been caught, you have to be nice. Listen, you may have not murdered those guys, but you still helped. Three times. Three fucking times! So you’re just as guilty as the murderer.” Ben exclaimed as he left the room, the wheels in his head turning at the new information he’d just received.
“Detective Greyson.” Marcella ran into Ben as he was walking through the corridor.
“It better be good news, Rodriguez.” Ben told her with a sigh. Although, sensing the urgency in her voice, he knew he would be wrong.
“Unfortunately it’s not. We have another murder. Same circumstances, same manner.” She informed him, grimly.
Ben didn’t say a word as he looked behind Marcella at nothing in particular.
“Looks like this girl wasn’t lying after all. What are we missing, Rohan? There has to be something! Some link that binds all of them together.” Ben had begun to get frustrated. They were constantly chasing ghosts and ending up at dead ends.
“Let’s start once again. Go through each murder from the start. The crime scenes, perhaps?” He suggested and Ben nodded.
Rohan went to the board in the office they sat in, and began to go through each murder.
“What happened?” Marcella was surprised by Perry’s voice as she looked over her shoulder at him.
“Oh, hey. Just standing by myself, you know. Quality time.” She replied, her face somewhat relaxed, although her mind was anything but.
“Yeah.. nothing says quality time like sulking alone in a dark alley. Right?” Perry commented, coming to stand beside her.
“No, I am fine. I just informed detective Greyson of another murder that happened. And he looked at me like I was the killer, for like a good four minutes.” Marcella explained, slightly rolling her eyes.
“First of all, breaking the news is my thing– you stole my thunder. Secondly, don’t mind detective Greyson. He is just a little odd. His ways are rather different but he is an incredible detective.” Perry said in an upbeat voice, glancing at Marcella.
“Yeah, it’s fine. I’ve heard that about him. I don’t mind, as long as he doesn’t treat me like other people on the force.” Marcella said, met with a nod from her fellow officer.
“Well, I will tell you what my trauma therapist loves to say, ‘Open up Perry. Bottled feelings are like a time bomb. They can go off any minute and everything gets ugly after that.’” He told her, earning a chuckle from Marcella.
“Sometimes, I wish the straight-up ‘in face’ sexism that I used to be subjected to, was better, you know? At least they didn’t pretend.” Marcella began, surprising Perry as she opened up.
“It’s just subtle now. They don’t say it aloud. Although, always doubting the information just because I brought it in. Sending a male colleague along just because ‘I may need it.’” Marcella’s eyes narrowed at the pavement in front of her.
“Taking another look every single time just to be sure, or believing I slept my way to the top here. It’s all there, you know. People announce a lot more about who they are, not by what they say, but how they act when given a choice. We act like things have changed, and it’s not the same anymore, but all we have done is get better ways to package it, and be hypocritical about it.” Marcella said to him, taking a deep breath.
“And you know what happens if I bring any of this up? It’s my fault for acting like a bitch.” She ended with a bitter laugh. Perry remained quiet, his own eyes hard as he took in Marcella’s words.
“Benjamin. Come up with any theories, yet?” David entered Ben’s temporary cabin at the station, while the case was being solved.
“What happened to ‘Detective Greyson?’” Ben shot back, leaning back in his chair and looking at David.
“Come on! Be nice to me for a change. You know what? You’re like Seattle’s weather– cold and relentless.” David told him with a glare while Ben simply stared at him with a bored face.
“Why are you even mad at me? Look, I recommended your suspension because I had too. It was nothing personal. One of us had to follow the rules and we know it wouldn’t have been you.” David went on, earning a glare from Ben.
“Yes, of course. I am the one that brings up my past every time we meet.” Ben growled out, moving forward to rest his hand on the desk.
“I hope you are a different person deep down, because if not, it’s pretty difficult to be you.” David said with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
“You know what your problem is Coleman? You just want everyone to like you. There’s this.. ruse, that you’ve put up. And you only allow yourself to be surrounded by people who act the way you want them to. And the rest, you carry a fucking grudge against, for no damn reason.” Ben spat at him, David visibly flinching at his tone.
“And yes, it’s not personal with you, either. I just happen to strongly dislike every single moment that me and you are in together. And you know, the conversations too, like this one. So, I am just going to cut this one short, before it adds to the list too.” Ben said to him, leaning back against his chair.
“Anyway, I was here about the case. The phone number that girl gave us, is not registered anywhere. Probably, just some internet app. The bank account also has fake details, we got nothing. But one thing is sure, it’s not some psycho killing people randomly, or doing it for fame. All this is definitely linked to something big, and we need to get to this.” David got straight to the point and explained the newly found details. Ben nodded at him.
“Been a pleasure, Ben!” David called out as he left the room, his tone derisive.
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