The three walked into the Police Station. Derek had a small cup of plain coffee, and Lola had the biggest size of the sweetest coffee she could order. Thomas had gotten nothing except a plain bagel.
They walked into the briefing room, where multiple police officers already were, and stood next to the bulletin boards. It had been discussed that Lola would open, and then Thomas - Derek would remain silent unless needed.
The last of the cops sat down in their sears and looked up at the board. Lola’s free hand tapped against her leg twice, and she took a drink of coffee far too slowly.
Control freak, Thomas thought.
She cleared her throat and looked up at the papers and digital map. “Ok, so we have further developments involving two cases: the original Split and the plagiarist. Let’s start with the original, yeah?” she asked the rhetorical question. “Split is targeting a specific group of people.” She clicked a button, and the next slide on the screen came up. “For the sake of not having to say all their names, we’ll call these people the Spiders.”
She took another sip of coffee. “However, for your notes, I will say their names individually.” A red light circled an older man. “The first victim, John Monk, had his tongue cut out. The second victim, Edward Drack, had his eye cut out. Ben Larn was missing his tongue. Mike Laymen had his tongue cut out. Haymen Govern was missing an ear.”
Her fingers loudly snapped. “What is the connection? Yes, I am asking for participation.”
Thomas lowered his face into his hand and sighed.
“They are all missing an eye, tongue, or ear,” someone said.
“Yes!” Lola said. “And what is the symbolism?”
“Hear, see, and speak no evil,” an officer said.
“Haven’t we already gone over this?” someone mumbled loud enough to be heard.
“Yes, we have, but it is also part of our job to go over the facts again and again,” Thomas said, shooting the officer who had asked the question a warning glare. “But if you don’t feel as though that’s a part of our job and if this is somehow annoying you then, by all means, leave.” The cop didn’t move. “Lola, please continue.”
Lola pulled out her phone and quickly pressed a few buttons before she threw it on the podium.
Thomas felt his phone buzz in his back pocket. Did she just text him while standing a foot away from him? The curiosity got to him, and he glanced at his phone, reading the message: thank you. He slowly put the device away and looked back at Lola. She was standing behind the podium now, her leg bouncing a million miles a minute as her free hand silently snapped.
Social anxiety? Thomas thought. Or do you not want anyone to see? Why hide? He understood her anxiety when it came to performing her . . . talent with people watching, but this was a simple lecture.
“As stated before,” Lola said as she glared at the cop who had questioned her, “the symbolism is the hear, see, and speak no evil. These people have abused Split, and now that we know these people are Spiders, a motive is clear.
She went to the next slide, which was a stand-alone picture of John Monk. “John Monk was a lawyer at one of the top firms in the city . . . he was also a defense lawyer who was very good at his job.” The second victim appeared. “Edward Drack was the owner of Los Insurance.” The next slide. “Ben Larn’s was a judge, and if you can’t tell from his age, he was highly respected and rarely questioned.” The next slide. “Mike Laymen owned Laymen Industries.” The next. “Haymen Govern owned his own tombstone business as well as a graveyard across the city.” Two people popped up on the screen. “John and Dayna Solest owned their own medical company; both were surgeons. Also, take note that Split did not kill these two, they died in a car accident sixteen years ago, but they are important.”
Thomas looked over at her, just like back at the house, he was faintly shocked by the lack of emotion in her voice while talking about her parents. Now, he was sure that Lola thought of her mother and father as simply another fact for her to memorize.
“Those are all the dead Spiders.” Her lip twitched into a smile. “Let’s look at the live ones.” A new slide appeared. “Stacey Mack is an allergist.” The next slide. “Barbra and Nick Daft are notorious loaners.” The next one. “Finally we have AJ Finley who owns the L.A. Press . . . but he has four wives . . . girlfriends?” She paused and tilted her head to the side, her heel hitting the floor twice. “Side chicks?” she asked herself.
Thomas couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This was what she was getting caught up on?! What to call the man’s multiple partners?! Brush over your parents’ death but get hung up on a subtitle, he thought with a sigh. Detached? Weird? He continued to try and add to his profile of her.
“I think they’re all married to him,” Lola murmured.
“Lola, please,” Thomas mumbled.
Lola snapped out of whatever trance she was in and continued as though nothing had happened, a few cops and detectives glancing at each other in confusion.
“How are the Spiders connected?” someone asked.
Lola banged her hands against the podium in . . . excitement? “I’m so glad you asked. Almost all of their clients were older people. I’m not one-hundred percent sure the process; I know most but not all. Just know that the Spiders purposefully killed people for money, and none of them went to jail. The system sent one client to every Spider so that person was drained of money from a business and then referred to the next and the next until they had nothing left. Also, there is not any information on them because they have paid people to forget details. This is where Tom comes in.”
Thomas looked up at her, startled.
“He’s conducted interviews with all the families of the deceased, and I have not been involved so I can solely focus on the profile of Split. However, we will now go back to those families. Tom, do you mind sharing what you found?”
“Yes,” Thomas stepped forward, “no one close to the deceased knew why they would be killed. Based off of that, I believe that the . . . Spiders were very secretive, and Split knows this, hence why the family members haven’t been killed. Now that we know who the other victims are, I want to have cops with them at all times.”
Various cops nodded and began to write down more notes.
“I also want the area that Lola mentioned last time to be re-looked at.”
“Split,” Lola continued, “will work someplace where they can take care of people - a hospital, homeless shelter, and so forth. He is overly emotional and will want to work someplace where he can show that. All these killings are due to having too much emotion, unlike the normal psychopath we see that has little to no emotion for their victims, Split has too much.”
“That means that we will want to look at professions that involve caretaking. Check every occupation similar to that and ask around to see if any workers get too involved with their patients, and he’s supposed to be connected to the Spiders,” Thomas said. “Also, remember that he’s supposed to drive an older jeep.”
Lola tilted her head to the side at the aspect he using her profile as a basis to find the killer. “Now, let’s talk about this copycat.” She snapped twice. “This person is the complete opposite of Split. This person is also a guy but doesn’t specifically fall into my definition of a Hunter. He is more of the textbook style psychopath.”
Lola began to pace. “He’ll live in a big family but will be ignored due to him being the oldest. Will work a minimum wage job and will still live with his parents. Whereas Split kills out of emotion, the copycat . . . Split Two-Point-O? Second Split?” She froze and stared off into space.
“Lola,” Thomas whispered, faintly annoyed that she was more caught up with a name rather than ‘facts.’
She snapped her fingers and spun around. “Second Half!” It was a terrible nickname, but she seemed to like it. “S.H.,” she corrected.
Thomas sighed and had to bite his tongue from saying anything.
“Anyway,” she continued, “S.H. kills for emotion. To feel alive and get out of the rut his life is in. The victim is random and will continue to be random. Continue to not release any information regarding the fact that the tongue, eye, or ear is taken because S.H. doesn’t know it. He does the stitching but not the symbolism.”
“We received this letter by the copycat a day or so before he killed.” Thomas held up the bagged letter. “From this, we can estimate that this person wants their fifteen minutes of fame.”
“Correct,” Lola said. Her heel thudded into the ground twice. “They are tired of not being seen, and this is how they think they will do it . . . even if they aren’t caught. The fact that the news will be grouping S.H.’s killings with Split will be enough for him. This person lacks the OCD Split naturally has, so his car, house, and even workspace will be messy.”
A cop raised his hand. “How do we know Split has OCD. There are no shockingly strong characteristics to suggest otherwise. Also, you said Split broke the mold of a common psychopath, but OCD is one of those traits.”
Thomas looked over at Lola at the mention of OCD for some unknown reason. He watched her hand twitch and wondered if the action was voluntary or not. He almost felt sorry for her at the fact she had to have all this control and organization in her life and yet she had no control of herself.
“When I say OCD, I mean the ‘OCD’ that the majority of this room has - not like me. The ‘OCD’ that’s merely fixing crooked objects and liking a specific routine. That’s the ‘OCD’ I’m talking about.”
Thomas pursed his lips as she said this, hearing a slight hint of anger in her voice.
Lola sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Think of it like this. You move into a new house; for the first week or so, you keep it pristine, but then as the weeks continue, it falls into a category of organized chaos if you will. It may look messy to someone walking into your house, but to you, you know where everything is, so it isn’t messy. To you. Split is the same way. These killings happened on specific days, and the bodies were left perfect. Now, the dates are random, and our latest victim sloppily had a tombstone on top of him.”
She began to pace again, making Thomas realize she was a bit more tickish than usual. “Split is finding a comfort zone, a groove if you will. The stitches are the only area of the house he wants to keep clean. S.H., on the other hand, has no tick or organization to the house. It isn’t organized chaos. It is pure chaos . . . which makes catching him all the more difficult. There will be no method for who or when he chooses to kill, so we have to catch him fast because he is more dangerous than Split.”
“How so?” someone asked.
Lola smiled; it was nice to see they were taking an interest in her findings now. They were desperate, and she knew it. Thomas knew it. Derek knew it.
“Organization will always fall apart because it is subsequently trying not to break. Pure chaos is already broken and, therefore, harder to spot.” She smiled again. “Any more questions?”
When no one raised their hands or asked anything else, she stopped pacing.