Chapter Five:Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
John was just waiting for the next victims. Since Anezka told him what dvou meant, he began to call the man the dual killer. He couldn’t put serial on it yet. He hadn’t struck again.
He was going through his pictures of cult sculptures. He picked up a few books at the library. He wanted to know the meaning of that heinous display on the pitcher’s mound.
Anezka didn’t help any with finding him. She just showed some of her wizardry, and told him that she couldn’t get out of idle until he put her in drive by killing another. He had to crack the nut for her to eat the pistachio.
Simin walked over to John’s desk.
“Have you seen anything similar to the screwed up sculpture that was in the park?” she asked.
“I don’t think that dark display meant anything other than to confuse me,” John said. “In the note he said detectives love puzzles, so I think he gave me one to misdirect me.”
“So he’s playing with your head,” Simin assumed. “Are you going to put this one in the unsolved file?”
“I can’t do that. I have an obligation of completion to a kid named Tolly, you gave me Anezka, and this investigation isn’t over yet,” John said.
“So you’re believing in the unconventional now,” she said. “You called this line of investigating hocus-pocus.”
John knew Simin was rubbing it in.
“Hey, when life gives you lemons, you work with lemon flavored witches.”
“You better not let Anezka hear you call her a lemon witch,” Simin said. “She would sic some psychotic paper plates on you.”
John just looked at her.
“I didn’t call Anezka a lemon witch, it was a metaphor. She’s the only one with any results, I’m not biting the hand here, Simin.”
“You do understand that I have to have my I told you so moment right?”
“I just know when you’re right you go for the throat. I’m just taking my medicine. You’re the castor oil of an ‘I told you so’,” John said. “Now I have to go and visit Anezka. I know she’s waiting as much as I am.”
“What are you going to tell her?”
“She’s a lonely woman. I think some companionship would ease that,” he said, and saw Simin’s knowing look. “For police protection purposes of course.”
“So where are you taking her for your date, Galahad?”
“This is most certainly not a date, Simin,” John said. “You said Anezka was my responsibility now, and I want my responsibility running at peak performance.”
“So you’re taking her out to dinner for her tune up,” Simin said. “I’m a detective as well John. She’s the same age as you, a widow, and her sons are in Michigan. She looks ten years younger than her actual age, and you think she’s pretty. You want to tune her up, but it isn’t because of her performance. Her engine is purring just fine, and I think that’s the reason you want to visit her.”
“That’s why you don’t have a boyfriend,” John said. “You’re too busy flavoring other people’s drinks to worry about the taste of yours. I’m just assuring her safety, nothing more.”
“Are those monkeys flying out of my butt?” Simin grinned. “I guess not, which means I don’t believe your bull.”
John gave her that look again. Simin knew him. She also knew he wouldn’t tip his hand, so why come clean?
“Believe what you want to believe. I won’t stoop to your gossip level,” he said as he grabbed his keys.
“Wow, you’re denying it all the way. Full commitment in your shaped story. I compliment your conviction when we both know it’s a lie. You’d be a good character witness for a hit man using you for innocence on trial. I’ll let you live the lie for now. Just remember, I know exactly what you’re visiting her for,” she said.
“You aren’t supposed to assume. Simin, you told me that,” John said.
“When the assumption is this obvious, a woman’s intuition takes over.” Simin smiled at John. “It’s almost quitting time. You’ll be late for your date.”
“This is police business, Simin.”
“Yes, and I‘m sure that you’ll ask for overtime. Go on your date, shoo.” Simin shooed him.
John gave up his defense. He had to get to Anezka so he could ask her out, and arguing a lame point with Simin was the antithesis of that. He turned to leave the station.
“As John parked in front of Anezka’s house, he practiced his lines. He wanted to sound professional to her to enter with ease. He also hoped that she was gullible, or at least would allow herself to be. She was too smart to be kidding herself on purpose.
John took a deep breath, assured himself of what he was doing, and opened his door. He went up to Anezka’s front door, and rang the bell.
It was twilight, but her house, somewhat, seemed darker than the rest of the neighborhood. He found out why later. It took her a minute, but after looking through the peephole, she opened the door. Big band was playing in the background as she addressed John.
“Good evening, Detective Chandless. Do you have any more results on your case?”
“Good evening, Misses Kranz. The results are stagnant at this time. I just wanted to check on you. May I come in?”
Anezka was surprised by his visit. She was lost in curiousness as John waited to enter. It took her a second to speak, but then she caught herself.
“I am very sorry, Detective, come in please.”
John entered her house, and smelled broccoli.
“Have I interrupted your dinner, Misses Kranz?” John asked.
“I have some broccoli soup, and Wiener schnitzel cooking, Detective. I just began preparing my meal,” Anezka said. “It is just cooking now. I don’t need to babysit it. My timer is on. Why did you come?”
“Call me John, Misses Kranz. I just came to see if you were alright. I know me, and I get very tired of waiting,” John said.
“Call me Anezka, John. I haven’t been Misses Kranz since before Hugo died. This waiting goes with the investigation. I know I am a little more experienced than you are in this realm, but I am fine,” Anezka said. “It does seem like you are exasperated with this investigation. Talk this over with your wife.”
“I’m not married, Anezka,” John revealed.
“Do you cook?” Anezka asked.
“If you consider microwaving cooking.”
Anezka answered, “No, microwaving isn’t cooking. That must mean you go home after work alone, and without a hot meal that doesn’t come in a package,” she said. “I think you need the help John. Would you like to talk, and have some wiener schnitzel?”
All of that wondering of how to ask Anezka about her accompaniment to dinner, and she turned it around on him. He just got hit by the interest truck that he thought he was driving.
“Uh, this is strictly police business, Anezka.”
“So is that a yes?” she asked.
John knew when his script was flipped, “Yes, Anezka. I would love to talk over Wiener schnitzel.”
Anezka smiled, went into the kitchen, and added another frankfurter to her just beginning dinner.
“Do you like broccoli soup John?!” Anezka asked from the kitchen.
John didn’t want her to yell, so he walked in the kitchen as she was adding another croissant to the oven.
“This is a homemade meal, I’ll eat anything you make,” he said.
Anezka smiled because she knew John probably hadn’t had a home cooked meal since he was a teenager in his mom’s kitchen, and she loved to cook for a man that desperately needed it. This would beat a TV dinner any day.
As she closed the oven, she turned to John, and said, “It should be ready in about twenty minutes. We can sit and talk until then.”
John acknowledged her, and went to the living room. Anezka brought the already hot coffee on a tray, sat in her chair, poured two cups, and offered John one.
“I remember, John. You take your coffee black,” she said.
John took the cup. “Thank you, Anezka.”
As she sipped her coffee, she asked John.
“How hard was it for you to come here by yourself after work when you didn’t know if I would invite you in?”
John knew his attempts to get to know her better initially by cooking up that police business fallacy was burned to a crisp. How he thought that ploy would work on Anezka was very stupid on his part. He decided to come clean. Since she knew, it shouldn’t be that difficult.
“I had been rehearsing those lines from the station to get them believable enough for you to let me in.”
“So that police business thing was fake,” she said. “Why do men always make things so complicated? I live alone, I’m sure Detective Khouri told you that I do not leave with anyone. You know that my children are in Michigan, and I’m a lonely old woman. Why not ask me directly instead of coming here under false pretenses?”
“There’s one flaw in your explanation,” John said. “You are in no way old, you’re experienced, and the reason for my round-about way to get here is because, well frankly, you scare the hell out of me.”
“How tall are you John? Around six two?” she asked.
“I’m six four, Anezka,” he corrected her.
“I’m five one. How do I scare you?” Anezka asked.
John was into the conversation now. He knew he couldn’t lie to Anezka, so he revealed what he had seen.
“I watch the news religiously, Anezka. When you become angry. Or threatened, you send hellfire at whoever angered, or threatened you.”
Anezka knew that John was talking about her pom-pom defense. When you’re in a live broadcast on the news, you could never live down your actions.
“I can control my gift when you anger me. My gift is automatic when I am intentionally threatened. To ease your fright, you just have to not do two things. Don’t make me mad, and don’t hit me. If you do not do those two things, you can tip toe past the sleeping wolverine without getting bitten,” she assured him.
“I’m still going to be on guard. It’s a detective thing,” he said.
“You can stop playing detective with me, John. You don’t have to investigate me. I will give you full disclosure,” Anezka said as she sipped her coffee.
“What was she doing? He knew that he liked her, but he never thought she would have mutual feelings for him. The last time he dated someone, he had to arrest her brother on overdosing minors with an experimental designer drug. That relationship went south quickly. Let’s just say after the arrest, he never called, or heard from her again. His job kept getting in the way of his relationships. He didn’t want his job to callously intrude once more.
“Did you hear me, John?” Anezka snapped his doomed train of thought. “I am wide open. I know you have typical, and atypical questions for me—-ask them.”
He couldn’t help but to interrogate her. Sometimes his job didn’t intrude. It became an asset.
“Okay, Anezka, this has been kicking me in the head ever since I visited you initially,” he began. Why is the property around your home darker than the rest of the neighborhood?”
“You are very perceptive, John,” Anezka said. “My home and property have a mystical security system I call my guardian devil. Whenever anyone comes here to do me true harm, they get, how do you say, excommunicated from the premises.”
John realized that word had to do with the church. “Excommunicated?
“Banned, cursed, dismissed, ousted,” she clarified. “I do not know how, but I just have an excellent security system.”
“You’re a unique woman, Annie,” John said.
“Call me Anezka please,” she requested. “I am not a dancing orphan with red hair. Do not feel inadequate by calling me Annie. Most people want to shorten my name. I am just informing you that I do not like Annie. You are a cordial man, and will not do it again.”
John felt strange for a second. Most women wouldn’t explain their unique requests. They would just mindlessly correct you. Anezka explained, and rationalized her request. She was a strange lady.
“Forgive me, Anezka. I guess I got a little too comfortable with you. I know my boundaries now.”
“You are still being a detective by assuming what I said means I don’t want to get comfortable with you. Stop reading into things I say, relax, and drink your coffee,” she said. “I would not have told you those security things if I didn’t want to get comfortable with you.”
“You know, Anezka, you’re a different kind of lady. A normal woman would have called me rude for shortening her name, and not explain the reason why not to. I would have normally felt like an ass, but you went farther, and told me why,” John said. “And to think, I was very nervous coming here without any official police business, so I made one up. Color me apprehensive then. Now, I’m relaxing, not reading too much into your statements, and drinking my coffee.”
Anezka smiled at him. He was thinking the same way she was. She would have never initiated. A woman wouldn’t do that. She would’ve acquiesced, and just lived with her crush on Detective Chandless.
“Do you have any other questions?” she asked.
John sipped his coffee, and thought of something else. He wanted to know of her past, and why she worked with the police.
“Where were you born in Czechoslovakia, and have you had your gift all of your life?”
Anezka sat her cup down, and began to tell her tale.
“I was born in a town called Znojmo. It is north of Vienna Austria. I think that with your bachelor persona, and bachelor sausages, you might be a bit more familiar with that city.
I was born with my unusual gift. My matka, I am sorry. That is mother in Czech. She always said that I was special, and the other children did not have the gift. When I was eight, I discovered how powerful it was when a boy attempted to beat me up. He was stopped by a horned Czechoslovakian folklore Krampus demon bearing its fangs. I found out later my true gift was to find what you were most afraid of, and whatever it was became my ethereal bodyguard. Isaac never bothered me again.
The other children called me a čarodějnice, a witch, and they were frightened of me. I became a very good student because I had no friends. Learning was what kept me sane, and my gift kept me protected.
When I became pubescent, another gift had developed. I began to be able to read auras. If you touched an item, I could read your essence, and know of your general intentions.
I married Hugo at a young age. We moved to America because Hugo was an amazing software designer. He created that Mature Page site. Do you know of it?”
John was surprised. “Uh, yes. I have a profile on that social media site. He created that?”
“As I said before, Hugo was an amazing software designer. He figured the adolescents, and young adults already had a page, so he made a much simpler site for the mature, and the young adults avoided it like the plague. Advertisers realized the mature were wiser, and purchased what they needed.
I never had to worry about retirement because psychic profilers usually didn’t have pension plans. My inheritance is very lucrative. The only reason I live here is because a mansion would need upkeep, and I would scare off the servants. That was never me. I like my house.”
Anezka just told him she never needed anything. With the inheritance, and residuals from Mature Page, she could buy the station if she wanted. She didn’t work for the police because she needed extra money, she did it to fight off her boredom.
“Your turn, John. Where were you born?” she asked.
John had never thought he would have gotten this far. All he thought of was getting to know her. Then when he realized the feeling was mutual, he had to switch gears. This meeting was progressing smoothly, and he didn’t want to burn out first gear. He switched to second.
“I was born in a place called Sioux City Iowa. Right in the heartland of America. We, as kids, worried about horses, chickens, and bulls instead of greasers, and organized crime. I think those things have changed from the sixties now, but it was simpler back then.
“I used to watch detective shows when I was little. I Spy, The Fugitive, Ironside, shows like that. I always wanted to be a detective. Sergeant Friday was my hero at six.
I guess that was my calling. All the other kids wanted to play football with the Hawkeyes, or baseball with the other Hawkeye team. I was what they would call a book worm nerd. I read detective magazines, and watched Dragnet. I understood that my dream of being in law enforcement’s odds were better than being a professional athlete. My brother was killed in Vietnam, so the Army was out.”
He took a sip of his coffee, and asked Anezka, “I’m not boring you am I?”
“No, John, your earlier years are very interesting to me. You always wanted to be a detective, and your brother was tragically killed in the war. Your gift was certainty. My children still don’t know what they are going to be. Their college has been paid for, even extra years if they want to go for their masters. However, their careers haven’t come about yet. They definitely know they don’t want anything to do with law enforcement. I guess I tainted them on it. They should follow in Hugo’s footsteps, and work with computers. It made Hugo scads of money, and they’re just as intelligent if not smarter than him.
I’m sorry. You asked me about your story, and somehow, I turned back to me, go on,” she said.
“No, no, don’t apologize. Even I was boring me. The typical U. S. upbringing is a normal one. Your immigrant adventure is more interesting.”
“We are on the other side of the same mirror. I thought that my childhood was boring, and yours was riveting. So when did you become a detective?” Anezka asked.
It was true in the sense of John being finished with his childhood, so he continued.
“I went to the academy in seventy eight. The Godfather had been out for six years, and there were many mobsters emulating Michael, and Sonny at that time in New York. I cut my teeth on Sicilian bad guys when I walked my beat. I did my job by rounding them, the car thieves, and drug dealers up. I made detective in ninety seven, and have been working homicide ever since.”
Just then, a buzz from the timer in the kitchen alerted Anezka of her food being ready.
“Excuse me, John. I have to get the food. Go to the dining room table, and I will bring it.”
“I see the table, Anezka, but we need plates. You get the victuals, and I’ll grab the plates, and utensils,” John stood, and went to the kitchen. “One question, Anezka. Where are the plates?”
Anezka went into the kitchen, and pointed to a cupboard, and took the utensils out of the drawer.
“Here you are, John. Bring those, and the coffee. I will be there with the food momentarily.”
John got the plates, utensils, and walked to the table. He went back to the living room to get the coffee. Anezka was right behind him with the food.
They both sat, and had an enjoyable meal. That was the time for relaxing, and getting to know each other. Both of their speculations of the other were correct. They got closer to each other, and that would be vital at a later date. Now, they just listened to Louis Armstrong’s gravely, eloquent voice sing about how phenomenal our planet was.