Chapter 33: Research
Giselle tapped her fingernails on the counter top impatiently.
It hadn’t taken her long to accumulate a list of young ladies named ‘Lenora’ in Cellar City. The process of elimination had been more lengthy. Her contacts were able to eliminate many of them based on the information on their Identifications; girls with blonde, red or brown hair were out, and all except green eyes were taken off of the list as well.
After that, Giselle had to eliminate ‘tall’ candidates, which was anything over six feet tall. Useless had said she had been little – which also eliminated a certain weight class; she assumed by his standards that meant anything over 250 pounds. And lastly, Giselle took the liberty of eliminating any Lenoras over the age of 30. The target age ranges for Martin’s clubs was 18 to 30, so anything older would be pushing it, she felt.
After two weeks of this painstaking process with her friend in Forensics at the Cellar City Police Department, they had limited the results to 31 Lenoras.
Giselle was so frustrated she wanted to scream.
Deciding not to tell Martin what she was up to had been her original intention. However, Giselle had not accounted for just how many people were registered as Cellar City residents. She did not account for the lengthy search either, and she was still in the dark as to who this Lenora girl was.
The worst part was that she couldn’t help thinking the name sounded familiar.
“Here we are.”
Giselle lifted her eyes to see her friend from forensics. His name was Will. He was pulling the door shut behind him, toting a document box under one arm. He was a good looking older man, and in previous situations, he had the pleasure of her company in exchange for a few favors.
This time his efforts had been cheaper. Two nights at a nice hotel, champagne included. Giselle liked the touch, and if he wanted to think this was more than business, it didn’t hurt her at all.
She took no responsibility for the poor idiot’s feelings.
“Is that all of them?” Giselle slid into a stool at his kitchen counter. He had let her in last night, and she had been waiting in excruciating patience all day while he was at work. It was now past five, and she contemplated making him pay for delivery.
Will nodded, thumping the box onto the counter and peeling off the lid.
Giselle peered inside with a groan.
More paper files. Why so much paper? Was Cellar City that much in the Stone Age that they still used paper to file their Ident. Records?
Will laughed in his throat. “A bit much, I know. Their computers are too secure for me to risk being tracked doing unauthorized work.”
Giselle shot him a look. “Seriously? Afraid of some heat, Will?” She licked her bottom lip, and was satisfied by his uncomfortable shift of weight.
“Doesn’t matter.” Will shrugged, taking his own seat across the counter, box between them. “They keep print files for all new Idents. Hypothetically, all of these Lenoras should have files and pictures.”
Giselle glared at the box, and she felt her eyes chill over at Will’s laugh.
“Dig in.” He pulled out a stack of folders. “Only 31 to go.”
Giselle eyed Will, remembering how they had first met. Giselle had been taken in for questioning, some time in her youth for reasons she couldn’t even remember. She did remember hitting on anything with two legs to make things easier on herself. Will had been one of those things.
She hadn’t made any moves on him until two years ago, when she realized that a connection in the police might actually be worth something to her. She had seduced him outside his apartment then, and they had one wild night, making a sad mess of his modest bedroom.
He called her from time to time, but she hadn’t the time for his casual acquaintance. So, when she needed him, she found the time to answer his calls, suggest some restaurant (because he liked picking up the bill – she didn’t argue with a free meal,) and then go back to his apartment and screw.
Will was also very open to helping her get information – as long as they had their pretend little romance going on.
He was a good looking guy – he had that celebrity aging going for him, where the older he got the stronger he looked. He didn’t disappoint in the bedroom either – apparently police training wasn’t worthless if you kept up with it.
Giselle pulled out a stack of file folders and grimaced at the thin layer of dust coating everything. “Christ, where do they store these things?”
“The basement.” He glanced briefly over at her before resuming his search. “It accumulates a lot of dust down there, with the fans going all the time.” He smirked. ’I would have dusted them off for you if you weren’t so damned impatient.”
Giselle snarled unkindly at him and he only grinned into his batch of paperwork.
She turned her attention back to the dusty folders and began her own search. There weren’t that many folders, not really, but sifting through all the records printed in tiny font size and flipping through pictures of traffic violations or newspaper clippings took time. And nothing was organized, not really. It was as if some idiot in the Police Department had one job – to randomly clip articles and print useless reports about everyone in Cellar City, and stuff all of it haphazardly into a folder to be stored in a dingy, dusty basement for no one to see.
How did that even make sense? How much did this guy get paid to do this worthless shit?
Giselle passed by three Lenoras that were definite ’no’s. They wore glasses, and Useless hadn’t mentioned anything about glasses. Two more followed because their ‘green eyes’ were Scab green and not normal green. They had an eerie effervescence to them that she felt Useless would have mentioned.
She had four more in the maybe pile; two had recent ocular upgrades permanently changing their eye color to green, and one had black liberty spikes in their Ident. picture. The last had short cropped black hair that was altered to be permanent, but the picture was a few years old. That meant that Liberty spikes and short hair could have different hair styles now. Besides, Useless hadn’t mentioned hair length in his confessional.
“Huh.” Will muttered, putting a file off to the side.
“What?” Giselle snapped. Her eyes were starting to itch from the dust. She just wanted to go home, screw Will, or burn this whole stack of paper.
Will looked up at her, the tiniest smile glimmering at the corner of his mouth.
“Whitmore sound familiar to you?”
“No. None of this shit –“ Giselle caught herself. Cocking her head to the side, she cast her eyes to the ceiling, letting the thoughts sift to the surface. “Wait… it does, doesn’t it?”
“I recognized it. Here. Maybe this will help. This is Whitmore’s, and this folder was picked up because it fit a cross reference I ran on Residents named Lenora.” Will slid the folders he had over to Giselle’s open hand, and she spun them both to face her.
Giselle flipped the first one open and was assaulted by the dust of disuse. Crinkling her nose, she picked through the birth certificate, Children’s Sanctuary Registration and high school graduation certificate, and came upon the Ident. Photo.
She was pretty enough, and looked like a wounded animal with those doe eyes and frail features. Giselle was positive that she could crush this girl under a spike heel.
Whitmore. Why did that name sound so familiar?
She filtered through the rest of the file, resolutely ignoring the dust that floated in the air between her face and the paper. There were some hospital records that she didn’t care to jargon-through, but otherwise Whitmore’s folder wasn’t ringing any extra bells. Eventually she opened the second folder, and came upon a small briefs article, clipped out of some local sector 7 newsletter. It was obviously a print out that had been trimmed by the poor schmuck with this job, and it was crinkled from where it had been unceremoniously stuffed into the folder. Past that were police reports.
Giselle smoothed out the article and read the few lines of highlighted text that caught her eye.
‘Lenora Whitmore, age 25 and resident of Sector 7, was found late last night outside of the sector 7 emergency response building. She suffered multiple injuries of a severe nature, and was apparently found wrapped in black silk just outside the sliding door access and waiting room. The origins and nature of this brutality is yet unknown, although we did discover that the injuries were intimate in nature, and Miss. Whitmore had suffered physical and sexual assault by an unknown assailant. It is also unknown as to who left Miss Whitmore at the hospital…’
Giselle stared at the article, sliding it up next to the picture and narrowing her eyes at them both. “Fuck.”
“What?” Will asked, still filtering through his own stack of folders.
“I fucking know this. There is something… Something here sounds so fucking familiar. God damn it.”
Giselle lifted her eyes to Will.
He caught her gaze, and sighed. After a moment, he had a cigarette lit for her, and she was sucking on it patiently, blowing little circles at the picture.
After what felt like hours, Giselle deduced that if it was one of the meat-toys that Martin sold off to the highest bidder, no one would know her face better than Ms. Kushin, the old Madame.
Giselle’s first tutor.