Through the Eyes of Death

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Chapter 1

Every living soul has a story to share. My story is really no different from another’s. In time, you might think of me as a monster. Yet I’m really not that different from you.

If you were to know me, you would identify an honest, hard-working person. I sweat and bleed just like you. I pay my bills and taxes just like you.

I have an occupation that requires my attention, diligence, even mercy—just as you might. I have hobbies that keep me distracted from the ritualistic boredom of day-to-day life. I play the sax for comfort. I work with wood, not to mention sharp instruments, because I love being creative. But for sheer entertainment and intellectual stimulation, I kill.

Do you really want to know me? I’m not so sure. I read in the papers daily about your obsession with the likes of me. So just this one time, I will tell you what it’s like.

For those who might enjoy my thoughts, don’t even think about joining me. I will find you and, like the others who have tried, destroy you. For the rest…Sleep well.

It’s at night that the horror truly manifests itself.

It didn’t take detective Ben Simeon long to realize that getting back to work was going to be just about as much fun as it was before his medical leave. The captain was already pissed off at who knows what. The shift supervisor was barking orders and demanding answers yesterday from work that just hit Ben’s desk this morning. And, of course, the phones were a nonstop symphony since he walked in to his office. Yep, another glorious day for the living, Ben thought as he got to work.

When Sue Garrison came into his small, well-organized office, she was carrying a Manila envelope. Ben regarded Sue as something more than a fellow police officer. She was about ten years younger and tall with beautiful green eyes. They had gone out for drinks a few times, and he felt that, in time, they could become closer. And when he had been in the hospital from his injuries, she’d been there at his bedside every chance she could spare. Yes, she was someone very special, he thought. Maybe soon I’ll get the nerve to ask her out on some kind of special date. Whatever that means.

“That for me?” Ben asked. Being honest with himself, he didn’t care why she was there. He was just glad that she took the time to stop by.

“The desk sergeant said some kid dropped it off about an hour ago. He asked me to bring it up to you. How you feeling today? First day back and all.”

“I feel okay physically,” Ben replied. “Mentally, I feel like I’m swimming in a toilet full of crap, and the captain has his hand on the lever.”

They both laughed at the reply. Ben felt comfortable around Sue. She had a way of making him relax. And after her encouragement in the hospital, with her, he felt like he could overcome any obstacle.

Reluctantly, she handed Ben the packet. She knew that doing so meant the end of their conversation, and she wasn’t quite ready for that to happen. She too had feelings for Ben. She thought he knew, but nothing had ever been spoken, and she wasn’t going to be the first to do so. Hoping he wouldn’t mind, she would just wait until he opened the envelope, figuring she could talk to him for a few minutes when he was done.

Ben looked into Sue’s eyes. He saw something that told him she wasn’t ready to leave. Instead of rushing Sue away, he looked at the package for a few seconds, and then tore it open. Inside were a letter and an exquisite diamond and ruby necklace.

Ben didn’t know what to expect, but he certainly wasn’t expecting this. He didn’t know if it was some kind of hoax from someone in the department. He was just coming back to work, and his buddies could be roguish in their attempt to catch him off guard. He didn’t know if it was a perverse joke or someone trying to get to him. He didn’t know what to think. But once he read the letter, he no longer believed any of that.

“Ben, what’s wrong?” It was Sue’s voice that he heard, but for a second it seemed as if she were far away. When she touched his arm, Ben came back to the reality of the moment.

“Where did this come from?” he asked, as if nothing before had registered.

Sue could sense a tone of panic in Ben’s voice, but she had no idea where it was coming from.

“I told you. The desk sergeant told me that some kid dropped it off about an hour ago. He asked me to give it to you. What’s going on?”

“Look, I can’t talk anymore. I have to go see the captain,” he spoke over his shoulder walking away. “I’ll talk to you later.”

Captain Donald Black had a reputation as an in-your-face, no-holds-barred man who was difficult to get along with. He stood six feet six inches tall and walked around with a permanent scowl. The simple fact that he was married amazed most people who knew him. Most wondered how there could be a woman in this world that would live with the man. On the other hand, the fifty-something man had matured with a chiseled face. It wouldn’t take much imagination to see that in his youth he had been a mixture of G.Q. model and NFL linebacker. Truth is, he did play college football for Berkeley, only back then he was fifty pounds lighter and a wide receiver. He hadn’t been as muscular then as he had become over time.

When Ben entered his office, Captain Black was on the phone and didn’t bother looking up. Whoever it was would just have to wait.

Ben waited for about thirty seconds before interrupting the captain, knowing full well that he would not be a happy man.

“You need to see this sir.” Ben handed over the envelope and its contents.

The captain noted stress in the detective’s voice and perspiration dotting his forehead. It didn’t keep the captain from his usual diatribe.

“This damn well better be good, son,” the captain said, his voice booming. “I was on the phone with the mayor. Maybe you know the guy. He’s the one that authorizes your paychecks. And frankly, right now he wants a piece of our collective asses.”

“I understand, captain. This just couldn’t wait.”

“Okay, Simeon. What the hell is this?” The captain, known to be fair, if not patient, just looked at the envelope.

“It was just dropped off at my desk a few minutes ago. I came to you as soon as I read it.” Ben was still shaky, concerned about the information the envelope contained and the prospects of what it might mean if it were true. “I thought you needed to see it immediately.”

The captain opened the envelope and examined its contents. He pulled out the letter and jewelry and began reading. Ben, facing the captain, stood rocking on his feet, anxious to get the captain’s interpretation. Ben didn’t realize how slow the captain read when faced with a dilemma.

Dear Detective Benjamin Simeon,

I have heard for years that there is no such thing as the perfect crime. I have read that with technology today, every crime leaves a clue.

If that is the case, then I wonder if the crimes I have committed, remain unsolved because I am so VERY smart or the police are just incompetent.

I know of nine different deaths that took place two years ago that haven’t been discovered. As a matter of fact, the police still have them listed as “missing persons.” Now isn’t that interesting?

As a detective you might inquire how I would know so much about these crimes. It’s simple. I killed them.

I am sure that you might be asking yourself many additional questions: Who are the victims? Is this letter some sort of hoax? Who am I? Why is this letter coming to me? There are others, I’m sure. But you get the idea.

So let me tell you a couple of things up front. Then I will tell you what I expect you to do in response to my demands.

First, I can assure you that this letter is not a hoax of any kind. I have no reason to lie to you. To prove that I am on the level, I have left a small token of my commitment to you by enclosing a personal item of one of the missing persons whose fate you are about to discover. The necklace enclosed belonged to the young and beautiful Amanda Douglas. The San Francisco police department had her listed as a missing person on March 13th almost two years ago. You will need to look her up and then confirm that the necklace belonged to her. I am sure you will find my information to be accurate.

Second, I am offering you the opportunity to help the families of these nine individuals find closure to the mystery of their missing family members. However, it is to you that I am offering this information and nobody else. I am bored with the incompetence of the police and the FBI. You are on a short list of the few that I believe will take me and what I want seriously enough to obey my rules.

Finally, I have not taken any lives—at least none you need be concerned about—for the past two years. That is going to change soon. It is up to you to find me if you can. Starting tomorrow at six p.m. you have thirty days. I am giving you this month because you will need time to find the bodies. You will also need to get acquainted with the victims’ families, various law enforcement agencies, as well as the media. It is your responsibility to attempt to succeed where so many have failed. Your job is simple. STOP ME!

There are rules, detective. They must be followed to the letter. Failure to obey these rules will cause me to sever our communications. Breaking the rules will force me to add a name or two to my list; perhaps someone near and dear to you, or perhaps even yourself.

Right now your friends and family are safe from me, even if you don’t find me during the allotted time.

Now, for the rules.

You, and only you, must be in charge of this investigation. It will take you into multiple jurisdictions and require the cooperation of many police agencies. Even the FBI must give way to what you must do and how you must direct this investigation. (I only say this because once they realize that the nine people lived in three different states, they will want to take over your job.) You can use them, but only you can make the difficult decisions that must be made.

There will be media coverage on this investigation, specifically television. That is not a request, Detective Simeon. I realize that normal policy is to exclude the press from active investigations. However, since I am being helpful to you, I should be granted some leeway in this matter. If your superiors were in charge, they would not let you do this. It is up to you to find a way to bring all of this to the public’s attention as I desire. My intention is not to cause a panic. Rather, I intend to make a statement. You will have to make the appearances yourself. It is you I want to see. I want to see your eyes. I want to hear the strain in your voice as you tell the public just how helpless they are. The nation will look to you for answers. They will hope and pray for you to find me. They will also know whom to blame if you fail.

Tomorrow, on the six o’clock news, you will make an announcement to me, Mr. Smith, that you have received this letter and agreed to the terms and conditions set herein. You will tell the public that you have been notified about the nine deaths and that you will be leading these and all related investigations. Once you have done this, I will assist you in finding Ms. Douglas’s body and all the others. Every few days, should you continue to follow my instructions, I will give you the location of the next victim you are to find and describe the manner in which he or she was executed.

By now, I am sure that you have much to do to get ready. I would say good luck to you, but frankly I don’t really think that luck has anything to do with what either of us has to do over the next thirty days.

By the way, should you have any questions for me, please feel free to fire away during your news spot. I will only answer questions relating to these nine cases. I will not respond to anything regarding what lies ahead.

Until tomorrow night,

Mr. Smith

“Holy shit!” That was all the captain could muster for the first two minutes. He looked at Ben. “Find out about this Douglas woman. Go to San Francisco and get us the confirmation we need before we do anything else. Also, I don’t want you to say a fucking word about this to anyone. And I do mean anyone. Don’t even give the relatives of the girl any information on this until we figure out what we’re going to do. Leave now, and get back here as soon as you can.”

“What about my other cases?” Ben queried, though he already knew the answer. “Thou shalt not leave thy ass uncovered,” he mused.

“Just leave them alone for now,” the captain responded. “At least until we know for certain that this son of a bitch is for real. If he is, then there are no other cases for you to work on. Now get the hell out of here and get me some answers.”

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