Chapter Nine: A New Clue!
It had been three days with no results or victims. John was getting frustrated. He didn’t want another victim, but in order to progress, Anezka had to touch an unscathed victim to channel the culprit. He was very close to closing this case.
Simin saw the frustration on his face. She walked over to his desk.
“I take it this guy has been dormant for a few days,” she stated.
“This is my supreme dichotomy. I’m very happy we didn’t get any homicide calls with his name on them, but I’m ticked he hasn’t killed anyone so Anezka can touch a victim to find him,” john said.
“You’re new at this psychic thing,” Simin said.
“But I’m not new to homicide, Simin! His lack of activity has nothing to do with Anezka’s power! He’s just getting lazy, and I can’t find that lazy punk!” John exploded at Simin, and realized it wasn’t her fault. “Remember that inherent trait thing you were talking about? Well my trait is to complete my cases, and your placation can’t change that. I’m sorry for jumping on you.”
“You’re stressed, I get it,” she said. “I know it wasn’t meant for me. You aren’t a patient man.”
“I’m patient when I know of the particulars. I’m stuck in homicide limbo right now.”
“You know this game, John. Criminals aren’t on a schedule. He might have stopped,” she said.
“He won’t stop. He’s just being enigmatic. He’ll never stop,” John said.
“You can’t change the game.”
“You’re telling me that, and you introduced me to the game changer, Anezka. I may not be able to change the game, but with Anezka, I can cheat,” John said.
“Don’t be like me, John. Don’t put all of your eggs in the paranormal basket,” Simin warned.
“I won’t. I’m armed with good old fashioned know how. Anezka’s just the smart bullet in my clip. I was out of rounds, and you just gave me a special one.”
Simin was concerned about John at first, but when he said he wouldn’t use Anezka as his crutch, she felt better.
“You are experienced at this. I shouldn’t be worried. What are you going to do now?”
Just then, John’s phone rang. He looked and saw it was CSU.
“I was going to call Bellagio, but he has something right now.” He picked up the phone, “What’s the scoop, Bellagio?”
“I found out who our briquettes were. A missing person’s report was made by an anal wife with, go figure, vials of the victim’s blood. I guess they’re just in case came true. Our cadavers are Berry, and Terry Brickman. You know the Wachowski building downtown? Berry designed that. I’m thinking our perp might be one of his co-workers, and used all those extra murders to kill Berry, and throw us off the trail.”
“That’s an option, Bellagio. At least I have something to do today. Send the report, and I’ll check Berry’s background. That was his kid son wasn’t it?” John asked.
Bellagio hated to tell that fact. “The DNA states the other cadaver was his twelve year old son. This guy is gruesome, John. That was uncalled for.”
“He’s a child killer. He isn’t right in the head.”
“Get this guy. We can’t let him run roughshod all over Leavenworth,” Bellagio said.
“Send over the report, and I’ll get right on it. I haven’t been out in the sun for three days, and my bronze hue is getting pale,” John said. “See it in a minute. I’ll be waiting at my desk.”
“My gopher is on the way with the report, don’t leave,” Bellagio said.
“Trust me, Bellagio, with the itch I have on my brain, that report can scratch it. I’m not going anywhere.”
John clicked off of the line, and hung up the phone.
“So, Bellagio came through,” Simin said.
“Forensics handed it to CSU when there were no prints, and Bellagio took it, ran with it and spiked the ball. He found the names of the victims, and actually gave me a theory to check into,” John said.
“So, you’re out of your slump then. Bellagio filled up your gas tank again.”
“That’s the thing about working with competent people. You always have an outlet,” he said.
“Are you going to contact Anezka?” Simin asked.
“She can’t help with this one. I have to get back to the old school detecting for this. See, I have more eggs in my basket. I just have to drive in standard gear this time. I’m just glad I don’t stall driving up a hill.” He smiled.
“You’re a good detective,” she said. “You just have to stretch your legs again.”
Just then, Bellagio’s intern came to John’s desk with a folder.
“Here you are, Detective Chandless. Mister Qatar wanted me to hurry to get this to you.”
“Bellagio just understands the importance of this file, Benny, thanks.” John opened the folder, and saw pictures of the two victims. One was a business photo, and the other was a school picture.
“What’s your next move?” Simin asked.
“I have to interview all of the employees at the Ratcheck Architectural firm to see if I get any leads. Bellagio suggested that,” he said.
“Bellagio always wants to participate a little more in a cast other than DNA evidence. All that science stuff can get boring to him,” Simin said.
“Bellagio’s shielded from perp bullets in the lab. He better be glad that he’s not in the thick,” John said.
“You know he’s going to talk big in the lab with all those cadavers around him, but he’ll never get off the porch.”
“We’re in our correct vocations, Simin,” he said. “I have to get to Ratcheck.”
John left the station, and drove to Ratcheck Architecture. He was wondering if the culprit was there. He knew he could find him. Criminals always slip up.
He parked in the lot with all the foreign luxury vehicles littered with Cadillacs, and even a vintage Excalibur. His Dodge stuck out like that ‘different’ kid in class. He parked in the lot anyway, and went to the entrance.
John went to the receptionist.
“Welcome to Ratcheck Architecture, Sir. May I help you?”
John showed his badge, “Detective Chandless, Ma’am. Can you direct me to the president please?” John asked.
“If you can hold, Detective, I will alert Mister Ratcheck, and tell him you’re here,” the receptionist said as she picked up the phone.
She alerted Mister Ratcheck of his presence, and hung up the phone.
“Mister Ratcheck will be with you momentarily, Detective. Is this about Berry?”
“I’m on official business, Ma’am. I cannot say,” he told her.
“If Mister Ratcheck tells you that will be up to him.”
“I understand, Detective. Mister Ratcheck tells all of the staff what happens around here me included,” the receptionist said.
“This looks like a close knit business Miss…”
“Hargrove, Detective, Natasha Hargrove.”
“Nice to meet you Miss Hargrove,” John said. “It seems like everybody’s financially successful.” John thumbed to the parking lot.
“That’s a staple for Ratcheck Architecture. I even drive an Audi,” she said. “My husband drives a Porsche.”
Mister Ratcheck entered the lobby, and interrupted ther conversation.
“Hello, Detective Chandless, Carey Ratcheck.” He held out his hand. “What can I do you for?”
John shook his hand, and said, “Good day, Mister Ratcheck. Do we have a more private area to discuss things?”
“My business is an open business, Detective. What you can say to me, you can say it in front of my staff,” Carey said.
John looked at Natasha. “Well, I guess he gave you the okay, Misses Hargrove. We found the cadaver of a Berry Brickman. Your search is over.”
“How did Berry die?” Carey asked.
“Berry and his son were the victims of foul play, Mister Ratcheck.”
“That’s terrible! Berry wouldn’t harm a fly! Do you know who did it?” Carey asked.
“I’m in the middle of this investigation as we speak. Now since you know the particulars, do you still want to talk freely around your staff, the potential suspects?” John asked.
Carey thought about it, and decided although he trusted his staff, he wanted to keep this interrogation legit. He began to walk with John to his office.
“We can talk in my office, Detective Chandless, but I don’t think you’ll find your murderer here.”
“I may not, Mister Ratcheck, but that’s why I investigate—-to eliminate potential suspects. I’ll be out of your hair in about an hour. You have a staff of six for now, right?” John asked.
“Including Natasha, that number goes to seven, Detective. They’re all back from lunch so do your interrogations. My people are very busy at work unbelievably,” Carey said to impress upon John his efficiency would be greatly appreciated. “You can use my office.”
“Well, since you’re the owner,” John motioned to his office door. “After you.”
Carey opened his office door, and allowed John in.
“You can have a seat in front of my desk, Detective. I’ll inform Natasha to tell the rest of the staff they will be called on, and not to leave.”
He sat at his desk, and John began the process.
“So, Mister Ratcheck, what do you know of Mister Brickman’s demeanor, and attitude the last time you saw him?”
“Berry was fine as far as I saw. He had just closed the Horvitz deal for the mall project, and was leaving for home to get his son for a movie,” Carey said. “Do you think it was one of his clients?”
“At this point, Mister Ratcheck, I could be sitting in front of his killer now. This was my first lead. I just have to gather all of the particulars. I just got started so those questions would be premature at this time.” John said. “Was he current with his clients? Did you notice any bad blood?”
“Berry was ethical, Detective. No one had any vendetta against him. Berry was clean as a whistle.”
“Could you give me his former, and current client list? You never know if one of Mister Brickman’s constructions forced an old lady to move from her apartment, and her son wanted him gone.”
“Immediately. I hope you catch that disgruntled son,” Carey said.
“Again, Mister Ratcheck, that’s just hypothetical. It’s part of the investigation process. There might not be a disgruntled son, but if it happens, at least I would’ve expected it,” John said.
“Let me tell Natasha to get my staff in line so you can eliminate them like you will eliminate me.” He got on the intercom to tell Natasha. He also gave John Berry’s former and current clients.
John had to get into the meat of the interrogation.
“Where were you last week Friday, Mister Ratcheck?”
“After work, I entertained Roger Ellis from Greyson Construction. We went to La Flueva restaurant for dinner and drinks. My wife along with his can vouch for me,” Carey said, and reached into his desk. “Here’s the receipt. I keep them for tax purposes.”
John took the receipt, and read the date and time.
“Can I get a photocopy of this, Mister Ratcheck? This will clear you.”
Carey took the receipt, and copied it for him. He gave the copy to John.
“Here you are, Detective. I hope this helps your investigation.”
“Thank you, Mister Ratcheck. This might be the evidence I need to eliminate you,” John said. “You’re clear for now. Are the other employees available?”
Carey got on the intercom to ask Natasha if the staff was waiting, she said yes, and he told her to send in the first one.
“You’ll begin to realize, Detective, all of my staff is on the straight and narrow. None of them are criminals,” Carey said.
“Well I’ll know. I can tell you who is stealing office supplies. Send in the first one.”
Carey stood, walked to his door, opened it, and told Terrence to sit at his desk. Terrence complied. Natasha told him there was a detective in Mister Ratcheck’s office interrogating over the murder of Berry. Terrence was saddened, and appalled at the immediate inference of suspicion, but he understood.
Carey left while Terrence sat. John began the process once more.
Mister Ratcheck looked at all of his employees waiting for their turn, and walked over to Natasha.
“You know that you’re a part of this too. He wants to talk to everybody that knew Berry.”
“But I wasn’t around Berry, Mister Ratcheck. I didn’t go with him anywhere except the Christmas party that he took me home from,” she said.
“I don’t think he cares about your inebriation, Natasha. He’s wondering of your whereabouts last Friday after work.”
“I did a birthday party for my daughter last Friday. Trent spun records in my basement. I was taking care of Hannah, and her friends.”
“Don’t tell me that, I trust you. The detective said this eliminates suspects so he can find the real killer. I just think he likes busting chops because of that badge,” Carey said,
Terrence came out of the office, and Regina went in. He walked over to Carey and Natasha.
“That guy wanted to know what I was doing last Friday, When I showed him my Les Miserables play ticket stubs, he let me go,” Terrence said.
“He’s weeding us out, Terrence. He called a part of the interrogation process,” Carey said.
“Well, Mister Weed Eater better find Berry’s killer,” Terrence said.
“Don’t bitch about him. That’s his job, Terrence,” Natasha said. “You do your job the same way.”
“He’s going to peel your onion when you get in there,” Terrence said. “All of this dog and pony show, and we had nothing to do with Berry’s murder.”
“Detective Chandless doesn’t now that,” Carey said. “He’s detecting.”
“And he can peel my onion, Terrence. I didn’t kill Berry, and I’m used to men asking me intrusive questions,” Natasha said.
“Well I’m not a girl at a bar, and I don’t like it,” Terrence said.
Regina walked out of the office, and Alice went in. Regina walked to the group.
“I feel… violated, guys. He asked me where I was last Friday, and I had to tell him about that lingerie party I went to.”
“That isn’t violating,” Natasha said.
“It will be when he checks out Adventure Excursions, and finds out that with their lingerie parties they also supply… sex toys,” Regina revealed.
Natasha had to calm her down. “He cares about where you were, not what type of toy you bought. Anyway, what mature woman doesn’t have a vibrator nowadays? He’s a cop, not a priest.”
“But I’m a respected architect, Tasha. I don’t want a cop to know of my escapades!”
“You’ll never see him again, and you just said that in front of men you work with every day. How does a respected architect’s mind work again?” Natasha asked.
“She’s right, Regina,” Terrence said. “At least you didn’t say it in front of Trent.”
“I know who I talk to around, guys. If Trent was here, I wouldn’t have spilled,” Regina said.
“Well I won’t tell,” Natasha said. “What did you get?”
“I never said I bought anything, Tasha,” Regina said.
“Come on, Regina. You went to that party knowing what it was, and you don’t go to a party like that to just window shop. What did you get?” Natasha didn’t believe her.
“I’m not sure we only have a detective in Mister Ratcheck’s office asking questions,” Regina said, “Since your deduction skills are good, I bought the E-Zone Tickling Hummer.”
Terrence spoke up, “Hey, if it’s not a vintage Power Flower Krew action figure, I won’t know what kind of toy that is.”
“It isn’t a collector’s item you keep in the box, Terrence. You use it until the batteries die, rinse and repeat. Ask your wife. I’m sure she knows what kind of toy it is. She might even show you her collection,” Natasha said.
Carey smiled, “I bet you didn’t know that our receptionist’s tongue could leave marks like that.”
“I just want to get back to the Johansen Roman aqueduct design, Carey. It pokes at Trent, and I love it,” Terrence said.
Alice left the office, and Willow went in. She came up to the group.
“That detective is cute.”
“Where were you Friday, Alice?” Terrence asked.
“I didn’t mind him asking that question, but you, I mind,” Alice said.
“We just want to see if you’ve been ruled out, Alice. We don’t care about your escapades on Friday,” Carey said.
“Since you explained, Mister Ratcheck, I’ll tell you. I went to bible study at Faith Ministries. I’m the teacher there.”
“Well, I guess that rules you out. I wonder what Willow did Friday,” Terrence said.
“You know Willow cosplays every Friday. She likes to shed her suit, and let her hair down by being Princess Xilandra,” Regina said.
“So that leaves Old Man Merv, Trent, and you, Tasha,” Terrence said.
“I was doing a party for my daughter, and her friends while Trent did the music, so we both are covered. I don’t know what Mervin did,” Natasha said.
“How is Willow going to prove she was cosplaying?” Alice asked.
“You know Willow’s a picture hound, Alice. She’s probably boring him to death with her glossies in her outfit,” Regina said.
Willow came out, and Mervin went in.
“So, Princess Xilandra, did he kick you out before he fell asleep from your pictures?” Regina asked.
“He wasn’t bored, Regina. He actually liked my pictures. I even had to print one out for him,” Willow said.
“You know that was for evidence, right?” Carey asked. “I had to give him a photocopy of my receipt, and Terrence had to give him one for his Les Miz tickets. Regina had to give him the number for Adventure Excursions Lingerie Parties. Alice gave him the number to her bible study class. You aren’t special, Willow. I told him he wouldn’t find Berry’s killer here, I hire good people, and my background checks are of secret service quality.”
Mervin exited, and Trent went in. Mervin joined the group.
“What did you do Friday, Merv?” Terrence asked.
“I was at my Vietnam Veterans gathering, Terrence. You probably weren’t even born when we were avoiding platoon fraggings, Vietnamese hookers with the clap, and Charlie,” Mervin said.
“Yeah, I had to deal with camel jockeys, Punjabi prostitutes with AIDS, and terrorist towel heads. The time changes. War becomes new and improved, but the same,” Terrence said. “So we’re all in the clear.”
“I guess war makes you racist,” Natasha said. “An Arab isn’t a camel jockey.”
“See what you call them when they’re chucking grenades at you, dear. I don’t think it’s racist. I don’t think every Arabian is a camel jockey, just the ones on camels trying to kill me. That’s not racism, that’s a personal hatred for those camel jockey soldiers on camels,” Terrence clarified. “In any case, I’m good.”
“I rented disc jockeying equipment for Hannah’s party, and I paid Trent with a check so he should be good,” Natasha said. “He shouldn’t have cashed it yet.”
Just then, Trent came out, and motioned Natasha over. She walked to him.
“I need you to tell him I did the music for Hannah’s party. I cashed that check already.”
“With all the money from that Chan-Welters deal, you already cashed my check?!” she asked.
“That was my play money, Nat. I don’t booze with my bill paying money. How was I supposed to know I needed proof of my Friday activities today?!”
“Fine, Trent, let’s go,” Natasha said, and walked into the office. “I’m sorry, Detective Chandless, I know you didn’t call for me yet, but Mister can’t keep a record needed me.”
“So you can prove Trent’s whereabouts on Friday?” John asked.
Natasha pulled out a receipt for the disc jockey equipment, a check carbon copy for Trent, and showed John.
“I employed Trent to spin for my daughter Hannah’s birthday party. I’m sure he told you, but couldn’t prove it because he can’t keep a check stub, and he drank his service compensation away Saturday,” she said.
John took the receipt, and check carbon, looked it over, and looked at Trent.
“Misses Hargrove just saved your butt, Trent. You can go—I still need you Misses Hargrove,” John instructed.
Trent left, and Natasha sat down as John photocopied the items, and gave them back to her.
“You’ve been the eyes and ears of this company, Misses Hargrove. Have any of the clients rubbed you the wrong way?” John asked.
“Why no, Detective. Every client was respectable when they entered the office. No harsh words or financial disputes as far as I’ve seen,” Natasha said.
“How about outside of the building?” John asked. “There must be some punk spray painting the sign, or kicking the bushes.”
“No, Detective. Nothing like that,” then she thought. “There was an unsavory character at the library two weeks ago when I was doing research.”
“You still go to the library? Don’t you have internet?”
“Hannah got cyber addicted to social media, and her grades began to drop, so I got rid of the internet. I still use the archaic internet, the library,” Natasha said.
John had kids, but they were teenagers, way before the World Wide Web took over. They actually went outside to have fun.
“Who did you see, Misses Hargrove?”
“He was a Cuban, or Mulatto gentleman that took my book on the Wachowski tower. He just sat there reading. The funny part about it was he didn’t take out the book, and didn’t take down any notes,” she said. “That was Berry’s building, and our architects don’t get influence from one another. They’re in the business of one upping their co-workers slash competition. My research was meant for his roast”
That had to be it! Who would look up a skyscraper Berry made if it wasn’t for a thesis, and who wouldn’t take any notes, except for someone targeting one thing?
“Can you describe this man, Misses Hargrove?” John asked.
“He was a taller average looking man with black curly hair. He wasn’t studly or menacing, he was normal. I didn’t see any tattoos, and he didn’t wear any glasses,” Natasha described him.
“Was he fidgety or jumpy in any way? You know, nervous by being around people.”
“You haven’t been to the library in years have you? Since search engines, and online encyclopedias, the library has become a ghost town. There were only five other people in the library, and one of them was the librarian so he had no one to be fidgety around,” she said.
“I’m sorry, Misses Hargrove. I got too excited about this lead, and expected you to do what I’m trained for. To read everyone I come in contact with, forgive me,” John apologized.
“That’s alright, Detective. Since he hogged the only book I needed, I really paid attention to him. If he’s the one who killed Berry, and you need an eye witness, call on me.”
“I will do that, Misses Hargrove. What’s the name of the library, and book he hogged?” John took out his pad.
“Chearence Library on Municipal, and the book was called Wachowski Tower: The Modern Marvel,” she told him.
He wrote the information down. He thanked, and asked her, “Could you ask Mister Ratcheck in please?”
Natasha complied, and went to get Carey. He came back to his office.
“You were right, Mister Ratcheck. There was no killer in your staff. I can sniff them out. You might want to check out Trent though. He’s stealing your office supplies,” John said.
“If Trent wasn’t such a good architect, he would have been canned a long time ago. I have my ways of making his employment… uncomfortable. Thank you Detective Chandless. I hope you find him,” Carey said.
“This interview process was a fruitful one, Mister Ratcheck. I had nowhere else to look after this, but Misses Hargrove pointed me in the right direction.”
Carey shook his hand.
“I always hire great people, Detective. I knew they would be innocent. How did you know about Trent?” Carey asked.
“Trent may be an excellent architect, but he must be terrible at poker. I could see his tells from outside of your office,” John said. “Thank you, Mister Ratcheck. I have to go to Chearence Library to check out a book.”
John left the office, and drove to the library on Municipal.
John went to the research area of the library. Natasha was correct, hardly anybody was there. Just older people looking at newspaper clips, and checking out gardening guides.
These people need to be on Mature Page. They probably need a computer first, then they could meet people in gardening groups, he thought as he found his book.
He put on latex gloves, and pulled out the Wachowski Tower book. He went to the librarian, and told her that he retrieved his evidence so she could sign it out.
He put the book in an evidence bag he brought with him, and went to his car. He drove back to the station to give Bellagio a new bone.
As he walked in, Simin was on her phone.
“Right away, Pete. John is coming in right now. I think he’s tired of waiting at the starting line. He wants to run.”
John walked up to Simin, and showed her the book.
“I went to Ratcheck Architecture, and the receptionist told me she saw a strange man looking at the book about Berry she wanted. That was two weeks ago, but the library is a graveyard now, so I don’t think too many other people touched it. I think Bellagio’s gonna have a field day with this evidence,” he said.
“When it rains it pours, John. We have to visit a Shelly Pendergrass about a trauma she experienced with a man in a Penelope Prissy mask. I think we’re getting close,” Simin said.
“Let me get this to Bellagio, and we can travel to Miss Pendergrass,” John said.
He went to the CSU department, and saw Bellagio smoking super glue over a beer can in an aquarium.
“I got a good one for you, Bellagio. This book may hold the prints of our serial killer,” he said.
“Good, I’m getting tired of this feckless task from the chief. The principal of his daughters high school needs these prints, and DNA to expel a teenager for attending a college frat party, and underage drinking,” Bellagio said.
“This guy is Cuban or Mulatto. You might be able to pull him up on AFIS. He might be somebody,” John said. “I have another lead I have to get to with Simin. Call me if you find his picture.”
“You gave me some real work. Thanks, John.”
“The chief doesn’t need you the way I do. Murder is leaps and bounds over underage drinking,” John said.
“I’m on it, John.” Bellagio took the book in the evidence bag.
“I’ll tell you the status when I get back,” John said, and left for Simin.
John went back to Simin.
“Are you ready to rock and roll, Detective Khouri?”
“So you’re using my last name, Detective Chandless,” Simin said. “Let’s go, John.”
“People here never use your title. I think you’ve deserved that title, Detective, paranormal case closing and all,” he said as they began to leave.
They drove to Shelly’s house. Shelly’s father was sitting on the porch as they parked.
“Are you two the detectives?” her father asked.
John showed his identification.
“I’m Detective Chandless, and this is Detective Khouri. We’ve come to visit a Miss Pendergrass.”
“Shelly’s in her room. She’s been spazing since she came back this morning. Something about rats, and a thoughtless boyfriend, I’m Joe,” her father said.
“We just have to see her, Mister Pendergrass. We can calm her down,” Simin said.
“I don’t know, little lady. Marge has been with her all day trying to calm her down, and it aint workin’.”
The detectives walked to the porch, and Joe took them into the house.
“Marge, the detectives are here!” Joe yelled.
Marge came out of Shelly’s bedroom to greet the detectives.
Hello, Detectives. Shelly’s destroyed. That man… touched her naked body, and cleaned her with bleach. He didn’t care if it burned. He just kept scrubbing. He didn’t want to leave any evidence is what Shelly said.”
Simin looked at John. “At least she’s still alive. Anezka can touch her.”
“He kills in two, Simin. Somebody bit it, probably her boyfriend,” John said.
“Well, Detective, Rob hadn’t returned, and she keeps calling for him. That’s her boyfriend,” Marge said.
“We have to talk to her, Misses Pendergrass, will she be alright with that?” Simin asked.
“Shelly’s been asking for you ever since we found her walking aimlessly in the yard. She’ll be fine with you two,” Marge said.
“Can you show us to her?” John asked.
Marge pointed to her room, and walked towards the door. She softly knocked, and opened it.
“Shelly, the detectives are here.”
She directed the detectives into the room. John and Simin walked in, and John introduced themselves to Shelly.
“I’m Detective Chandless, and this is Detective Khouri. You’re a lucky lady, Miss Pendergrass, you got away.”
“T-that monster let me go. He said that I was a pure one, washed me, and left me about a mile away from here,” Shelly said.
“Did you get to see his face?” Simin asked.
“He was Penelope Prissy all the time, even when he washed me,” Shelly said. “That monster put his hands on me!”
Shelly began to wail, and Simin sat on her bed, and hugged her.
“It’s all over. You’re okay.”
“No I’m not! Rob is dead, and I had to kill him in order to live! He made me!” Shelly screamed through tears.
Simin was surprised at the events that transpired. That man never leaves anyone alive. This was different for him. He changed, and that might be his downfall.
“It’s not your fault, Shelly. He made you kill Rob. You didn’t want to.”
Rob was going to kill me first, but that didn’t happen. He doused me with water instead of scorpions! When that man told me that Rob didn’t care about me, he gave me a button to hang Rob! If I didn’t push the button, he would kill me, so I pushed it!” Shelly screamed again in despair.
“It wasn’t your fault, Shelly,” Simin repeated.
“But I wanted to push the button, Detective! Rob was going to kill me. That asshole was going to kill me!”
“If you didn’t push that button, Penelope would have killed you,” Simin clarified for Shelly. “That was self-defense, not premeditation.”
John was glad Simin was there. He hadn’t dealt with a distraught young lady for years. Simin was closer in age, and female. He would have arrested her for her murder confession.
Simin said, “Can you come down to the station. We need a psychic profile to touch you to find this man’s essence,”
“But he washed me with bleach naked! That profiler won’t find anything!” she screamed. “He burned my thigh in making sure there would be no evidence!”
“I think essence finding might get past bleach. I don’t think you can sterilize auras. Just come down, and let Anezka touch you. She’s an older Czech woman, not a guy,” Simin informed her.
“Is she cool?” Shelly asked
“Don’t worry about Anezka, Shelly. She’s a nice woman,” John assured her. “We’ll go back to the station, and I’ll get her there so you don’t have to be around criminals to long.”
Simin looked at Shelly’s nervousness, and tried to comfort her.
“We’ll go in a private room so nobody can bother us while Detective Chandless retrieves Anezka. I’m Simin by the way.”
Shelly felt more at ease with Simin. She knew Simin was more than a detective just doing her job—she cared.
“Let me tell mom and dad I’m leaving with you two so they don’t panic again, and we can go to your station,” Shelly said.
Simin smiles at her, and said, “You’ll be okay, kid. We’ll get Penelope because of you.”
“Just make sure he fries. He’s an evil man,” Shelly said, and began to cry on Simin’s shoulder again.
As Simin patted her back, John went to Shelly’s parents.
“Is she alright, Detective?” Joe asked.
“She’s a little worse for wear, but Detective Khouri is taking care of her,” John said. “We have to escort her to the station for further questioning. Is that okay with you two?”
Marge was slightly concerned, but Joe talked to her.
“The detectives aren’t the bad guys, Hunnybuns that creep is the bad guy. Shelly’s going to help them nab that guy so there won’t be another mother losing her mind over their abducted college kid.”
Marge looked at John, and said, “She’s fragile, Detective. Will you take care of her?”
“We’ll take good care of her, Ma’am. She’s the victim,” John assured her as Simin walked out with Shelly.
“Mom, Dad? The detectives are taking me to the station so a psychic profiler can touch me. Is that alright?”
Joe was sure at first, but when Shelly said something about a psychic profiler, he got concerned.
“So you people are using tabloid methods on my Shelly?”
Simin spoke up, “We have solved many cases with Anezka, Mister Pendergrass. She won’t harm Shelly.”
“I don’t believe in psychic profiling. That police work is way out in left field,” Joe said.
Marge interrupted, “I was taking care of Shelly all morning, Joe, and she wouldn’t come out of her room even if there was a fire. That detective got her out in five minutes. I trust Detective Khouri’s words, and if she says that they can solve this case by having this psychic profiler touching her then I don’t see a problem whether you believe it or not.”
John had guessed Joe’s first words got to her. He said them so he had no recourse.
“Okay Marge, if you think it’s okay…” Joe began, and Marge solidified the decision with his own words.
“I don’t think we should have another mother losing her mind over her abducted college kid.”
Simin thought Marge was a very passive mother who agreed with her husband every time he spoke, but Marge showed her otherwise in a good way.
“Okay Shelly, you ready?” Simin asked.
“No I’m not, but I’ll never be ready, Detective. I just have to swallow the medicine in order to feel better,” Shelly said.
“Can she ride up front, Detective Chandless?” Simin asked John.
“I don’t mind, Detective Khouri. I’ve always wanted to see a suspect’s view of the back of a detective’s head,” John said. “Shelly can take shotgun.”
Simin knew John was trying to make light of the situation. The tension was a bit heavy there.
“We have her, Mister and Misses Pendergrass. She’ll be fine. Let’s go, Detective Chandless.”
Joe got up, and escorted them to the door.
“You’ll be fine, punkin. The detectives are the good guys.” Joe put his hand on Shelly’s cheek.
Shelly leaned into Joe’s hand, and began to smile through her tears.
“Thanks, Daddy. We’re gonna get him.”
Joe smiled at his daughter. Marge gave her a kiss.
“Be safe, Honey.”
The detectives walked out with Shelly, and drove back to the station.
“Detective Chandless will return soon with Anezka,” Simin told shelly.
They drove Shelly to the station, put her in a private room, and John left to get Anezka.
“Is this Anezka woman… weird, Detective?” Shelly asked.
“She likes vaudeville acts, Phyllis Diller, and Cary Grant. If you think that’s weird, then she’s weird,” Simin said. “She’s not of the Mtv generation.”
“No, I mean strange weird. You know, tarot cards, and crystal ball weird,” Shelly clarified.
“Anezka Kranz is a nice woman that doesn’t hex you. She’s a psychic profiler, not a witch. Don’t get those two things confused.”
“But all those shows talking about psychic profiling makes them look like they exercise poltergeists on the weekends,” Shelly said.
“That’s for ratings, Shelly. Psychic profilers are just like you and me, but that would be too boring on TV. You wouldn’t be talking about them like you do now. They can make accountants mystical on television. The networks, especially cable, have their own little magic,” Simin said.
“I like Bring up Baby too,” Shelly said.
Simin looked at her in bewilderment.
“You know, Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn? “Nineteen thirty six. The classic movie,” Shelly said.
“I’m sorry, Shelly. I was watching Language du geste when I was your age. I was in Iran at that time,” Simin said.
“I’m a classic movie buff, Detective. All of my friends call me an old biddy because I like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ over ‘The Matrix’,” she said.
“I think Anezka will like you, and not hex you. She is what your friends would categorize as the old biddy example,” Simin smiled.
“Can Anezka find that creep, Detective?” Shelly asked.
“Anezka can find anyone with a clean conduit,” Simin said.
“Well, that creep cleaned me, but probably not the way Anezka wanted me clean,” Shelly said.
“Psychics don’t work in the physical that way. The only physical problem that happens is if you were burned.”
Shelly pointed to her thigh, “He burned me here.”
“I mean beyond all recognition—to a cinder. A sun or chemical burn won’t hinder her,” Simin said.
“She seems like she’s a powerful profiler, Detective.”
“She has helped me solve many a cases, Shelly. Anezka’s good,” Simin said.
They heard a knock at the door, and John came in with Anezka.
“Is everything alright?” John asked.
“We were just talking about movies, John. I guess I need to see Bringing up Baby,” Simin said.
Anezka lit up.
“Do you mean the Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn classic?”
“Yes, that one. I love that movie!” Shelly got excited. “I’m sorry, Ma’am, Shelly Pendergrass.”
“Anezka Kranz, Shelly. I’m the lady that can find the creep.” Anezka offered her hand, and Shelly took it.
Anezka looked as if she were shocked when she took Shelly’s hand. She began to hum in a trace with her eyes rolled back, and Shelly tried to retrieve her hand, Anezka had her locked in the trance. She was way stronger in the trance.
As John advanced to break the lock, Simin stopped him.
“Let it happen. You want to solve your case don’t you?”
“But Shelly’s losing it, Simin! Anezka, let her go!” John yelled.
Anezka was in another realm. She couldn’t hear him.
“You know she does this. You saw her humming over those ashes. Now she has a live wire. She’s not hurting you, is she Shelly?” Simin asked Shelly.
“This crazy lady has a power lifter’s grip, Detective! It doesn’t hurt, but I can’ get away from her!” Shelly screamed.
Just as John began to panic, Anezka’s eyes rolled back to normal, she stopped humming, and released Shelly.
Anezka looked at how terrified Shelly was, and quickly apologized.
“I am so sorry, Miss Pendergrass. When we touched, I found his essence immediately. My gift took over, forgive me. I like Bringing up Baby as well.”
Shelly felt strange that Anezka acted like the mystic episode never happened, and just resumed without acknowledging the previous event.
“I told you she wasn’t frightening, Shelly. Different, but not scary,” Simin confirmed “Did you find him, Anezka?”
“He is a mixed raced man with a deluded mission from his god. He thinks that if you live in this country, you are not worthy enough to exist. He is on a mission to destroy anyone he deems unclean,” Anezka reported.
“What’s his name?” John asked.
“It doesn’t work that way, John. Essences don’t have name tags,” Simin said.
“I can describe him, John,” Anezka said.
“Can you picture him from the essence?” John asked.
“Yes, my feelings are all visual, and are burned into my mind. Do you have a sketch artist?”
“I’ll call for one in a minute,” he said elated. “Do we need Shelly for anything else?”
“She can’t confirm the sketch because he wore that Penelope mask at all times, so I can take her home,” Simin said.
“Can you drop me off after the sketch is finished, Detective? I want to see the man that washed me,” Shelly said.
Simin understood. She knew that Shelly wanted to make the menacing Penelope Prissy a normal man. She wouldn’t deny her of that.
“We’ll go when you see your attacker, Shelly. I hope this will ease some of your pain,” Simin said.
“He put me in the position to kill Rob. Rob was an asshole, but he didn’t deserve death. I still feel terrible because he made me do that.”
“He did make you do that. He proverbially put a gun to your head. Don’t feel terrible—-it isn’t your fault,” Simin said.
John had called for Kenneth, their sketch artist. Kenneth knocked on the door, and came in.
“Who was assaulted, John?”
“It was Shelly over there, but she didn’t see her attacker. Anezka Kranz has the description,” John told him.
“Did Misses Kranz see the attacker?”
“In a way, Ken. She saw his essence.”
“Wait a minute. I’m drawing from an essence second hand, and not firsthand memory?! This strange for you, John,” Kenneth said.
“Anezka probably has a better image than an eye witness account, Ken. His face is burned into her brain,” John said.
Kenneth looked at John in a strange way.
“Okay, John, I’ll do it, but don’t be surprised if this rendition is a blur.”
Kenneth went to Anezka, and began to sketch.
“Is Ken feeling like you felt?” Simin asked.
“Kenneth is a realist like I was. This mystical stuff is what he doesn’t understand,” John said.
She looked over to Kenneth, and saw him sketching away at Anezka’s direction, and looked back to John.
“It looks like Ken is embracing the mystical as we speak.”
John looked to Kenneth, and saw his hungry eyes soaking in Anezka’s description.
“Well I’ll be. Anezka can do that,” John said with a smile.
“If she can turn you, she can turn our sketch artist,” Simin said.
“Is there a cafeteria here, Detective Khouri? I’m starved,” Shelly asked.
“Sure, Shelly. What do you want? We have hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled cheese.”
“Do you have any salads? I’m a vegetarian,” Shelly revealed. She finally got her apetite back.
“Yes we do. The cafeteria is down the hall, two doors to your left.” Simin pointed to the cafeteria.
“Thank you, Detective Khouri,” Shelly said. She went out the door, and left for the cafeteria.
“Looking at her, she needs some meat in her system,” John said.
“You’re like all those idiots that say a lesbian just needs a big thick one to get them back to liking guys. She’s a vegetarian, John. A drum stick won’t cure her of the disease she doesn’t have,” Simin said perturbed.
John dismissed the chiding, and walked to Kenneth.
“How’s that psychic recollection coming?”
Kenneth was furiously sketching, and said, “This is one of the best descriptions I have ever heard before. I wish all of the victims could describe their attackers this way. I’ll be done in a minute.”
“So it’s not a blurry rendition?” John asked.
“I was fooled by all those shows, John. Shut up, I’m almost done, and I might know this guy,” Kenneth said.
“I’ve been hunting this guy for weeks, and you think you know him?!” John got excited.
“I said I think I might know him. Let me finish, and I’ll tell you.”
John was getting excited. The first phase of investigation may be over, the clue gathering phase. He was ready to apprehend the assailant, and close this case. He never thought past his finding out about who he would be. He thought the assailant would resist in a threatening manner which gives him authorization to use lethal force. It would be like the Batman against the Joker, except this Batman would kill his Joker so he wouldn’t escape to terrorize the city again.
Kenneth finished his sketch, and looked at it as if it were a mug shot. Anezka looked at it, and said, “That is the man. You are excellent at your job.”
“Thank you, Misses Kranz. Are you sure you have never met this guy before?” Kenneth asked.
“No Sir, I have never physically met this beast. If I did, I probably wouldn’t be here to describe him to you. He would call me impure.”
Kenneth definitely knew this guy.
“I do know him, John.”
John went to Kenneth.
“Who is he, Ken?”
“That’s Mister Predjin. He was an art teacher at my technical college a few years back, He taught painting, and color congruency,” Kenneth said.
“What’s the name of your technical college?” John asked.
“Algonquin Art. I wanted to visit him when I got my career here, but when I went to see him, he had already left.”
“He’s still in the records, Ken. I can finally nab my perp!” John stayed excited.
“That school was shut down for financial reasons last month. Something about artist not being viable enough for trades, so nobody wanted to go to an art tech college. It’s a rec center, fitness gym now.” Kenneth gave the hard news to John. “I’m sorry to pour salt in your wound.”
“You just gave me accurate information. Now I have to go to city hall instead of interacting with art hippie professors, uh, no offence,” John said to Kenneth.
“None taken, Grizzled Old Man. I guess I can just go to lunch, and listen to The Beatles.” Kenneth took offence.
“Hey, I’m not that old, grizzled maybe, but not that old.”
“When you were my age, you didn’t live in America, you lived in Pangea,” Kenneth joshed him.
“Let me know when you get to my level, Art Boy,” John said.
“I’ll be painting like Da Vinci by then.”
“Guys, guys. We have to get our perp. Stop getting each other’s goat.” Simin interrupted their verbal jousting.
“Sorry, Simin, but he started it!” Kenneth pointed at John.
“I’m going to get Shelly. Cool it fellas,” Simin scolded them, and walked to the cafeteria.
“What are you, six?” John began to mock Kenneth. He hit me first, mom!”
“My six year old ass kick started your investigation again, John. Respect the skills.”
“You need to get on the streets. That immaturity will die when a meth head matures you immediately,” John said.
“I use my brains instead of my brawn. You live longer that way,” Kenneth said.
John grabbed his hand, and saw that it was manicured with perfect nails.
“Your hands look very feminine, Ken. Look at these callouses.” John showed him his much bigger, more rugged hand.
“I bet your girlfriend hates those sandpaper paws,” Kenneth said.
“I don’t hate them. I find them strong,” Anezka interrupted. She wanted to defend her man.
Kenneth looked surprisingly at Anezka, and then looked at the surprised John. He pointed at both of them.
“You two are together? Naw! There’s no way you would hook up with a psychic profiler! You don’t believe in this stuff!”
“Anezka just described a person to you that you know, and she has only seen him through his essence. How could I not believe? If she was that good of a con, her last name would be Madoff,” John said.
Kenneth looked at Anezka.
“You must be really good, Misses Kranz. You turned a skeptic.”
“That was when Simin came in with Shelly.
“Are we playing nice again, boys?” she asked.
“We’re good, Simin. Ken was just flexing his young muscles at a veteran. You know, guy stuff,” John said.
Simin looked at Kenneth, and he looked fine with John’s explanation, so she continued.
“Okay Shelly, this is what he looks like. Show her the picture, Kenneth.”
Kenneth showed Shelly the picture, and she was surprised at his look.
“I was scared of that? He doesn’t look menacing.”
“In our line of work, looks can be deceiving,” Simin said. “He did make you kill your boyfriend.”
“Ex-boyfriend. Rob was an asshole,” Shelly said.
“Stop calling him that, Shelly,” John said. “If you keep saying that, I could arrest you on motive. Saying that you didn’t like him anymore before you killed him gives you motive, and being in a police station isn’t a good place to confess your dislike.”
“I guess it’s ill to talk about the dead. I’ll stop, Detective,” Shelly said. “Are you ready, Detective Khouri?”
Simin was ready to take Shelly home. She did her bit for completing this investigation.
“We can go, Shelly. Do you need a ride, Anezka?”
“No thank you. I will wait for Detective Chandless,” Anezka said.
“Do you have her, John?” Simin asked.
“I’ll say he has her.” Kenneth answered for him.
John pointed at Kenneth. “Cool it, kid. I escort my psychic profilers automatically.”
“Don’t call me kid, John.”
“What are you, twenty seven? I’m almost twice your age, I can call you kid until you overtake me in age, and the only way to do that is me dying. That’s when it wouldn’t matter anyway,” John said.
“You guys just don’t quit. You’re old, he’s young, and we get that. Let’s go, Shelly, before the testosterone stains your blouse,” Simin said.
“I’ve been dealing with testosterone laden men ever since high school. Guys don’t change, Detective,” Shelly said.
“See, John, you have the same maturity level as a pimply teen boy. That isn’t the way to recapture your youth.”
John just looked at Simin with faux irritation. He didn’t care about her admonishment. He was about to capture his suspect.
“I’ll feel very grown up when I nab this Predjin guy.”
“You still need evidence, and probable cause. Like you said before, psychic witnesses won’t hold up in court,” Simin said.
“I gave Bellagio a book from the library that I’m sure he touched. I just have to go through the conventional means to gather my evidence to catch him legitimately. I’m going down to CSU to tell Bellagio who to look for. Can I borrow that picture, Ken?”
“Hold on.” Kenneth pulled out his phone, and took a digital picture of the drawing, and left the room. He came back a few minutes later with a copy of the drawing.
“I’m an artist. I like to keep my work. Here’s a copy. Give that to Bellagio.”
John took the sheet of paper. He understood Kenneth’s request. He went to CSU to take the copy to Bellagio.
“I have something for you, Bellagio.” John announced his presence.
Bellagio looked up from the computer, and saw John showing a picture.
“How’d you get this?” Bellagio asked as he took the picture.
“An ethereal eye witness sighting, or should I say essence witness,” John said.
Bellagio looked at the picture, and saw a detailed drawing.
“Kenneth drew this?” he asked.
“Ken’s pretty good, wouldn’t you say?”
“What’s an essence witness account?” Bellagio asked.
“He drew this profile from the description of a psychic profiler drawing the killer’s essence from a victim,” John said, and saw Bellagio’s skepticism. Just compare it with the AFIS I.D. scans, and see if one matches.”
“Some of these people probably aren’t criminals, or important enough to be on AFIS,” Bellagio said. “Some of these people may be homeless, and just like to look at skyscrapers.”
“I know the library has become the public shelter for the indigent, but I’m looking for another guy,” John said.
“Who are you looking for?” Bellagio asked.
“I don’t want to mix the actual police work with the mystical police work. Lawyers would make sure the evidence would be kicked out. Just come up with the findings. I’ll cross reference them later.”
“You know that showing me this picture motivates me to find that certain person right?” Bellagio asked.
“I’m just trying to streamline your method of finding the guy. How you find him is strictly legitimate police work to the courts. They won’t care if you cheat. We just won’t tell them.” John gave him that look.
“So they’ll think this will be by the book,” Bellagio said. “This won’t go to trial will it? He’s going to resist, and won’t be taken alive. You’re going to shoot him.”
“An experienced detective covers all of his bases. He may just give up. I just hope that he doesn’t.” John agreed with Bellagio.
“You’re about to get this guy. One way or another,” he said.
“Let’s just hope it’s another, Bellagio,” John said.
Bellagio smiled, took the picture, and got busy.
John left CSU, and went back to the victim room. They all looked at him to see if he would say anything, so he spoke.
“Bellagio’s looking for that certain someone. We know who it is, we just have to prove it.”
Simin looked at John, and understood what he was doing.
“You don’t think Anezka’s evidence will fly in court. You want some tangible evidence.”
“I’m just helping out our lawyers, Simin. When I nab him, my job is done. A defense lawyer’s job is to get his client off. I don’t want to help them do their job.”
“Okay, John. We need to take everyone back home. I’ll take Shelly, you take Anezka,” Simin suggested.
John began to smile as he took Anezka home.
“I think you did it, Anezka. We finally have our guy because of you,” John said as he drove to her house.
“That man is very cunning. You have to be careful.”
“I know he’s cunning. I won’t let him get away off of a technicality,” John said.
“I’m not talking about court, John. I’m talking about catching him. He will not come quietly,” she said.
“Actually I hope he resists. Those victim’s families deserve street justice.”
Anezka became concerned immediately.
“You are going to shoot him, aren’t you?”
“If he resists, I have the authorization to use deadly force,” John said.
“You shouldn’t stoop to his level, and become a death dealer. You haven’t shot anyone else, have you?”
John thought about what she said.
“I never had to.”
“Well you don’t ‘have’ to now. You’ve made correct choices your entire career. Don’t change out of frustration, and revenge,” she said.
Anezka could do what only Simin could. She made him rationalize his intent. She brought him back from the ledge.
“Okay, Anezka, you win. I won’t shoot him,” he said.
“Common sense is the victor this time. Vengeance is a reckless, quick state of actions that destroys common sense, and when consequence emerges, vengeance lets common sense try to explain those mindless actions. Don’t put your common sense on the spot like that,” Anezka said.
“Do all Czechoslovakians make this type of sense?” John asked.
“Just the mystical ones that sic renegade pom-poms on somebody from vengeance,” she said.
“I saw that, Anezka. That was self-defense,” he said.
“No, John that was vengeance. The police could have stopped him at any time. I wanted him to feel the terror he administered to others. I wanted that. Vengeance left, and my common sense was cursed with people calling me a witch. My common sense has been afflicted from vengeance ever sense,” she said.
John realized the comely, sweet woman he knew was damaged from what she did live. She had this dark omen with her since she was born, and sometimes she couldn’t control it. Emotion had no restraint, and her omen just waited for certain emotions to become unruly. That was when the omen would explode without her control. She tried to control what couldn’t be controlled constantly. The perpetual omen was relentless, and was patient with her slipping, and losing her harnessing of her emotions. When they became liberated, the omen basked in its evil.
“You’ve been through a lot, Anezka. I won’t contest you on this one, but if Mister Predjin tries anything that threatened my life, I can’t lie, I’m going to use deadly force,” John admitted.
“If the man wants to kill you, shoot him. Do not hesitate because of my convictions. I’m just worried about your attitude, and your malice. If there is a reason to shoot him. Do not be stupid, and not fire because you feel obligated to me. I would rather have a living intelligent boyfriend instead of a dead obligated boyfriend,” she said.
“So I’m your boyfriend now,” John said.
“Yes, John, and with that label, you get all of the fringe benefits.”
“What fringe benefits?” he asked.
“Now, John, I said I wanted an intelligent boyfriend. Don’t become stupid now. Whatever fringe benefit you can imagine, it is probably the fringe benefit you will get.” Anezka put an alluring look in her eye.
John had never dealt with a forward woman before. Every other woman had always waited for him to be amorous. Anezka took more control of their relationship. It was kind of sexy to him.
They drove to her house, parked, and John walked Anezka to her door.
“I know you’re still at work. I would ask you for a nooner, but you are too dedicated to be late. Come back later tonight, and we will make it an evening,” she said, and kissed him on the lips.
John thought, if she’s pitchin’, I’m definitely catchin’.
“I’ll be back here at eight. We can go out tonight,” he said.
“Or we could stay in.” she gave him that look again.
“We can do whatever you want,” he said.
She gave him a hug, and said, “You are becoming intelligent, John.”
John gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I really have to go because if I don’t, I won’t.”
He released her, said bye, and walked towards his car.
As he walked to his car, he said under his breath, “You’re gonna help me snag some shoe string catches tonight.”
“What did you say?” Anezka asked.
“Uh, nothing, Anezka. I was talking about my shoestrings. I’ll see you tonight.”
As he got in his car, and left, Anezka thought, funny, wingtips don’t have shoestrings.