Stargazer

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Chapter 3: Winter Preparations

David looked out the back patio door adjoining the kitchen. The weather was still pleasantly warm but the beautiful autumnal kaleidoscope of yellow to brown coloring had swept over his yard. Everything had a cycle, everyone had a cycle. Nature had offered cycles to all living things on this planet and on others. How those cycles intersected gave us the apparent chaos of life. Intersecting elliptical orbits drawn out over the cosmos were really no different.

In fact their very paths directed the symphony of life itself as they brought light to darkness, warmth to cold and then back to darkness, back to cold. His life was no different, and sometimes he wondered did he ever really have his own agency. Was he just reactive to the stars in a very primitive way?


The barn basement had to be cleared out and washed down. The vermin issue he had returned to in the spring of ’95 had taught him that. The equipment he had used he always washed, but his mistake that year was not disposing of a complication then, and he had a similar issue this summer gone. He had rented an earth mover to deal with that as well as resurfacing the last 500 yards or so of his front drive. He had thought about keeping pigs, but his seasonal move to Florida really meant he couldn’t even keep cats. One of the eaves on the barn needed attention as well. Columbus Parks & Recreation still needed two pools winter prepped as well which would take most of next week and then it would be November and time to pack up. So much to do, so little time. It didn’t bother David. Copernicus hardly complained when he spent hours pouring over heliocentric models, did he?

**********


There was no sign of McEvoy yet at the office and in reality, Lewis was secretly glad. He’d had a productive morning so far. His ruse for Marcella was to pretend to be looking for unsolved homicides around Utah and in particular that part that Sadie’s killer was based. If this month’s theme was going to be serial killers, he might as well use it to his advantage.

Erbinger the district coroner had left a message at his desk asking him to drop by the morgue for early provisionals on the three found in Tar Hollow State forest. That was definitely a call he needed to make on an empty stomach. He’d seen plenty of bodies and what could be done to them in violence pre and post mortem, and had no qualms with the visuals.

But the morgue for him was about his other two senses, smell and sound. A dank heavy ferric smell of blood mixed with embalming fluid,combined with the constant drip drip of taps, turned his stomach every time.
Erbinger was his usual brusque self when he swang by. A career picking through the horrors and tragedies of humanity didn’t lend itself to social butterflies he thought. When the usual pleasantness of human interaction and daylight and all things generally fucking nice is replaced by a dark smelly cold room full of bodies, and all you can do is brew seditious thoughts in the fetid atmosphere all day, you get Erbinger. The only other thing Erbinger ever talked about except corpses was the latest scandal to plague the Mayoral office.
“Three males identified, all African American and a good fit dentally in two of the presumed missing. The third had no records. They match in approx age guesses as well. I’d bet my bottom dollar the DNA will get a match on all three though. All dismembered post mortem with a proper butcher knife and saw. No evidence of sexual assault, no semen on any of them, one prepubertal, two pubertal. Bodies separated into 4 limbs, torso in essentially almost two pieces split anterior to posterior, head severed infra-glotically, intestines missing, other organs intact state of decay advanced to make even a reasonable guess of time of death impossible at this point. One thing we can conclude though. These boys were killed and then frozen. If they weren’t missing in July, the state of decomposition would have made any examination now impossible. I guess we’ll be seeing the FBI boys soon so forensic entomology can take that.” Lewis knew Erbinger wasn’t stupid. The tone in his voice even seemed almost excited as he rattled off his mini report.

“All three appear to have died violently in the same manner. Each have at least 2 but not more than 3 distinct wounds to the head consistent with being hit by something blunt but small, a regular handyman hammer, business end as opposed to claw end maybe. On one there are defensive wounds, and on all three there are marks and bruising just below the nape of the neck consistent with a restraining hand holding the boy. This is somewhat subjective given the state of decay and skin condition. In the smallest, the eyelids have been sown open. I can’t say either way with the others due to post mortem changes, possible small animal bites. In each boys mouth, I found these printed notes.”

Erbinger walked around whatever latest fatality had been delivered overnight to a small metal table on wheels. On it the three notes were in small plastic bags and numbered. “ I’ll save you the bother Detective. No confession note I’m afraid. Some sort of equation.”

Erbinger had reached his joke quota for the day. He took the quip as a hint his allotted time was up. “The BSU could do a profile on McEvoy when they come down for this” Erbinger added. Lewis didn’t think he was joking.

———

Marcella knew. His ruse about Sadie’s killer and the NCIC check was a waste of time.

“Down with Dr Death this morning I see” she said in an almost accusatory tone. “Stormy meetings with the boss about those bear attacks too. Sounds juicy”.

Lewis wondered why he had ever thought he could fool her. Marcella was forty three, and with the murder squad just over six years. Being a woman meant she had joined later that she ought to have, having been stuck in Vice for nine years despite having put in transfer requests for the last four of them. There wasn’t so much of a glass ceiling back then for women in Columbus PD, more that one particular now retired Murder Captain had resisted until he was nearly out the door.

She was more Lacey than Cagney, but not quite a diminutive soccer mom. For starters she was 5’9 and maybe two hundred and fifteen pounds. And then there was the razor sharp wit and clearance rate which was the best in the unit for the last three years. But she was married with two kids and wasn’t afraid of turning up to work with a school project needing delivery that day.

He decided to spill the beans and tell Marcella everything. He could use her help as a proxy second partner given McEvoy would be largely a no show. Straight away she dismissed the possibility that someone in Missing Persons would be actively involved in the any killing assuming the three RESOLVED were murdered.

“You’re talking about either Spellman or Lorenzo back then. Spellman is dead and Lorenzo is in Lima now seeing out his last two years behind a desk. And Lorenzo is 5 ’8, one hundred and sixty pounds and spends most of his spare time caring for his disabled son. Hardly the profile of a prolific killer Tom. He’s worth a chat about what happened those files, no doubt, but that’s about it”.

The NCIC search 20 minutes later confirmed that they needed to talk to Lorenzo. There was no mention of the 2 “RESOLVED” cases at all.

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