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Chapter 18

For most of the day, Katherine drifted in and out of consciousness.

“She won’t be goin’ anywhere,” Bruno said, as untied her.

Jack had inadvertently taught Bruno that violence was natural if one wanted to dominate. Unfortunately, for Katherine, she was to become a recipient. I can do what I want with her. She’s mine.

He was the epitome of a menacing figure. Wrapped in a bedsheet from atop Katherine’s bed, but naked beneath, he sat in the soft armchair in her room. Having exhausted his energy the desire to sleep approached.

“I don’t remember fallin’ asleep,” he muttered, as he stood at the bedroom window. He was curious to see any outside activity. As they glowed onto the snow-covered street, and having signalled the arrival of darkness, the haloed-encircled streetlights resembled eerie aliens. “No one’s goin’ out in this weather. No unexpected visitors. The phone’s rung a few times. Probably her parents. If they only knew!” He chuckled. “I’ll watch some TV.” As he walked into the living room, the absence of a television soon became apparent. “Everyone fuckin’ has one!

Pulling on his pants, socks and gloves, he then made his way to Sophia’s apartment.

The ringing of the front door buzzer startled Bruno. He was in the process of removing the television from the living room when the unexpected noise caught him unawares.

Bare chested and shoeless he stood motionless with the television clamp-like in his arms. Again, the buzzer rang. Keeping the apartment in darkness was deliberate on his behalf. It needed the appearance of being unoccupied. The upstairs apartment, though, indicated otherwise. A sliver of light showing through the front window’s drapes would bear witness to it being in use.

The knocking intensified.

With sloth-like movements, he placed the television carefully onto the carpet, then just as slowly peeked from behind the drapes. A patrol car, with headlights ablaze, and red and blue lights flashing their warning, sat double-parked in front of the building. The vehicle’s coloured lights illuminated the surrounding area as they reflected from walls of buildings opposite. With one officer at the front door, another sat in the driver’s seat.

“It’s the police! Is there anyone home?” the officer yelled, as he tapped the door with his baton.

Not receiving a reply, he again struck the door. “Open the door!” His voice was loud, but it also registered his frustration.

Bruno turned suddenly, to face the hallway. The banging on the door had roused Sophia from her unconsciousness.

Ooh!’ The pain in her skull was excruciating. Being unconscious, she was oblivious to her head injuries, but awake, her troubles were just beginning. Another infliction was about to befall her, nausea.

Initially a sense of panic overcame her, but she quickly realised, to survive, remaining calm was her only option.

What happened to me? I’m having trouble breathing. I’ll drown if I vomit.

An image of Katherine suddenly appeared in her mind’s eye. Where is she? If I’m like this, she could be, too. I must survive! I have to find her!

Shit! She must’ve heard the cop! Did he hear her? Bruno’s heart was racing as he again peered around the edge of the drape. “Thank God!

The officer had walked down to the sidewalk and was looking at the Harris’s living room window.

“Keep goin’,” Bruno said quietly. His encouragement was not for others to hear. He felt a sense of relief as he watched the officer return to his partner. Before driving away, the car’s warning lights switched off.

He approached Sophia’s prone body. The impact from his vicious kick to her stomach would almost have assured another bout of unconsciousness. However, his next action was paradoxical. Reaching down, he pulled the tape from her mouth. Unwittingly, it may have saved her life.

They’ll be back.” With the words ringing in his ears, he knew to hurry was an understatement, if he was to remove all trace of his presence.

A frantic search in the kitchen uncovered a plastic bottle of bleach, which, he thought, would help with eliminating any evidence, and a hand towel pulled from the chromed towel ring near the bathroom washbasin was used for the absorbing the liquid. Even though he had only ventured into two rooms, he was methodical with his cleaning.

Liberal quantities of the cleanser wetted the towel as he went. Wiping Sophia’s binding tapes also received attention. The search and eradication for possible prints or DNA continued throughout Katherine’s apartment. The toilet also received a thorough cleaning.

Unfortunately, for the unconscious Katherine, his last act of self-preservation was to wipe her from head to toe.

As he approached the building’s front door, a strong feeling, of something forgotten, raced through his body. In a reflex action, he tapped his coat in the region of his left armpit, to ensure the bloodstained sheets, pillowcases, and the bleach-soaked hand towel were still in place.

His sense of urgency to leave had intensified. “What in the fuckin’ hell have I forgotten?”

He glanced at his gloves. “It’s not fuckin’ them. I’m sure I’ve missed somethin’.” The feeling of uncertainty was preventing him from leaving of the building. His mind was now running at full throttle; he was desperate.

The dishtowels!” His stress level received a reprieve.

Stepping over Sophia’s inert body, he rushed into the kitchen, to snatch the blood-soaked towels from where they lay in the sink. Running hot water, he dispersed any smeared blood down the sink. Satisfied, he strode to the front door. He opened it, partially, and rechecked the balaclava covering his head. As he peered into the night for signs of movement, a strong gust of wind pushed against his body and entered the building. It was a warning of what lay ahead, the chill. Knowing the swirling snow would envelop him, he chose to sprint to his truck.

He clambered in, after clearing snow from the windshield and driver’s side window. Only then did his eyes search the desolate street for signs of activity. With the street like a scene from the Artic, he felt assured of remaining anonymous.

He was smiling as he drove away, but he was not aware of it. I’m just like Jack.

He disposed of the blood-soaked and bleach-infused items, including his shirt, while on the way to his apartment.

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