Copyright 2017 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California
Jonesy drove pass George too fast and barely missed hitting the white fire hydrant at the turn onto Hyde Street. In the back seat, Special Agent Parker tapped the brim of his fedora and nodded to George as their car sped by.
George could not keep from laughing aloud when he saw how the police car wavered with a jerk whenever its tires crossed over the cable car rails.
As he followed the police car, George assessed his new acquaintances. Special FBI Agent Parker, in his early 40s had expensive taste in clothes, a fast thinking mind, and the respect of those who worked for him. His team of agents included one woman and he treated everyone on his team as equals.
In contrast, Detective Fontino, about the same age, was less particular about his clothes. They were not shabby but if you put the two overcoats side by side, it was obvious in the weave of the fabric that one person would stay warmer than the other. In regards to the men working with him, Fontino had their respect, but in such a city, the largest melting pot in the world, discontent pulled an ugly disloyalty thread through every department. It was not a situation anyone could control.
“All this time,” George spoke to himself aloud, “the Serial Killer has been drifting through the apartment buildings like a ghost. And how easy it is,” George said as he pounded his steering wheel, “with all the noise from honking horns of traffic jams, and the bickering of angry people, the killer glides in and out of these buildings.”
He was familiar with the confusion tourists created when they gathered at a crime scene, hoping to see some more horrible things happen. When they go home, they will talk of the most dramatic lure of their lives. They’ll say, “I stood in front of the Murder Building in San Francisco. And who knows, the Serial Killer might have been watching me all that time.” Their friends and neighbors will forever regard them as someone extra special. And that, is all part of human nature.
Bush and Powell Streets will become more notable than that of a quiet neighborhood where a flower stand nestled on the corner across from a grocery store. And when the overloaded cable car comes down Powell Street, tourists will hang out further from the front bench poles to capture a picture of the Murder Building. This killer either has a big appetite or a deep need to search and kill. How are we going to find out what it is that he’s after? He’s changed the city and its history. He moves around as if he’s invisible. Suddenly the screams of a young girl he heard earlier ripped through his mind. That young girl, she’s still in trouble. Then, as if he could communicate with her telepathically, he thought, Where are you?
As George continued to follow Jonesy on Hyde Street, he noticed that the scenery had changed to one of tight tenement buildings and shops catering to a Chinese community. White T-shirts and socks, left over from the morning’s laundry, hung from the windows.
A group of men walking by in dark jackets and hats raised their fists in defiance toward Detective Fontino’s police car. George got the sense that he would soon reach the next dreadful murder scene for these were the people who roamed the streets spewing their discontent. Whenever the vigilantes gathered near the scene of a crime, they poisoned reporters with false statements, and did whatever they could to discredit the local police force.
The groups of vigilantes roaming the streets added to the pressures already in place. George had seen tonight, how Detective Fontino had to hold the telephone earpiece away from his ear. While Fontino listened to the impatient Police Chief who repeated what the Police Commissioner had said, George had overheard the conversation. He composed a visual in his mind of a fat toad on a frog’s back, croaking repeatedly, “Where are my results? Why haven’t you made any progress?” Threats of dismissal for the whole department, mixed with vulgar words to emphasize the severity of his threats, preceded the end of the call with the slamming of the Chief’s hand-held receiver.
Somehow, we’ve gotta get a break, find a clue, and catch this killer. God, I hope no one else dies tonight.
“Hey, Jonsey, watch out for that curb. You always jump the curbs. Hey!” said Fontino pushing against the door as he and Parker swayed to the left. “Aw, why did I ever pick you for a driver?”
“Sorry, Boss. That just comes with driving fast in the dark, you know?”
“No excuses, Jonesy. Just get us back to that bloody neighborhood quick and safe.”
Fontino exhaled with a huff and turned to Parker, “At the next crime scene we’re going to find another woman dead.”
The detective watched Agent Parker nod his head up and down, his eyes pensive as if he were solving a puzzle.
“What’s on your mind, Parker? Let me in on your thoughts.”
“I’m thinking that the charcoal picture we found at Robin’s will make life harder for the killer. Once the picture has been distributed around town, seen on television, and posted in store front windows, we should get some good results to work on.”
“Yeah,” said Fontino. “Though, how and why did it show up at Robin’s house? What’s the connection there? And what about how George connected with Robin’s nightmare? This guy’s loaded with intrigue, Parker. He also hears a girl screaming for help. What’s all this confusion leading us to?”
“I’ve never come across anything like this,” said Parker.
“At least we have some things in good order,” said Fontino. “Robin and Hayley are safe together, and Eric and Fire Chief Mullins should be at the crime scene now.” Fontino leaned back in his seat and sighed. “How many bodies do you think we’re going to find in that neighborhood tonight?”
“I won’t bother to guess. Though I think, he killed those women and girls today because they saw him. Other than using a knife and leaving a crime scene in shreds, I don’t see a pattern.
“This guy’s a monster. Where does he get his energy? What drives him to kill over and over again?”
“Someone will notice that he doesn’t belong in their neighborhood or that he’s acting weird in some way,” said Parker. “That’ll help us get him.”
“Maybe he’s superhuman. You know, like Superman,” said Jonesy from the driver’s seat. Both Fontino and Parker did not find the added comment helpful, and their silence was notable.
“Oh, um, sorry Boss, sorry Agent Parker. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”
Fontino shifted in his seat. “Parker, you haven’t told me all the details of your conversation with Stetson. Is the man you’ve been following the same as the man in the picture? Is this also the man you had a conversation with tonight at Stetson’s table? Is it him? Did you by chance have dinner with Stetson’s killer?”
Parker rubbed his forehead. “I find it hard to believe that I had been speaking with Stetson a few hours ago. And yes, the man I’ve been following and the man I met at Stetson’s table in the Buena Vista Cafe do look like the drawing.”
“Well, those details puts some pluses on our side. Let’s hope for more progress tonight.”
Jonsey double-parked in front of the Murder Building. “Looks like the action is all across the street, Boss. The bodies keep popping up on this street. I wonder why the killer is stuck in this neighborhood.”
“That’s a good question, Jonesy,” said Fontino.
Fontino and Parker pushed their car doors against reporters and photographers who had leaned in for attention. Reporters ignore what time of night it was and yelled for answers. Flashbulbs fell left and right to the ground as photographers took pictures of them non-stop.
One angry man, whom Fontino thought he recognized as one of the old time leaders of the local vigilante group, demanded, “Has it happened again, Detective? What are you going to do next?”.
Another jeering voice from a different direction said, “Yeah, why haven’t this killer been caught yet. Are all of you, too stupid?”
Fontino pushed through reporters and pointed to one of his officers. He dragged his finger in the air to indicate the man in the back edge of the crowd. “Take that guy in and charge him for trying to incite a riot,” he said.
Reporters and photographers turned to see the offender, but all they could see was the backside of a man wearing an overcoat and hat running up the street. Three police officers with their billyclubs swinging in the air ran after him. “Stop! In the name of the law, stop!”
Murmuring spread through the crowd. Someone else yelled, “You should have had the killer in jail by now. It’s taken too long.”
As George arrived in his plain looking van, an officer spotted his special pass and waved him on. He got out of his van and saw Fontino waving at him to come closer. Together with Parker, they plowed through the tight crowd to the marble steps leading to the next crime scene. Martino stood on the landing by the front door.
Halfway up the steps Fontino stopped and turned. He stared at the Murder Building across the street. Its tenants had shut their windows and turned off their lights. The bedroom window to Hayley’s apartment had been nailed shut. “Those poor girls,” Fontino said aloud as he thought of how they had been there to discover the bodies of a Grandma, her daughter, two granddaughters and a little dog. He shook his head at the type of gruesomeness that had captured his hometown.
Parker reached the landing first and saw the worried look on Martino’s face when he greeted them. “You’re not going to like this scene either, Boss.” He leaned in close and whispered, “It’s a hoax. There is no real body. It’s a hoax.”
“Really?” said Fontino with exaggerated look of surprise. He pushed back his hat, scratched his head, and then pulled the brim down tight. His startled face disappeared as he shook his head from side to side. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
“It’s not…” Martino started to say more, but Fontino held up his hand and stopped him.
Fontino stared at the caged elevator to the right side of the lobby. He stamped his feet hard on the worn carpet. “The layout of this building is the same as the one across the street,” he said.
Parker nodded at Martino and nudged Fontino toward the stairs. “Let’s see what similarities this scene has for us. Maybe the Serial Killer is setting us up for ridicule.”
“Yeah, or maybe it’s a bunch of teenage copycats,” added Fontino. He pointed at Martino, “Don’t let any of these details get out. Push everyone back to the other side of the street. Get the police photographer to take pictures of the crowd. Then find Eric and Chief Mullins for me,” he smiled and added, “I’ve got a plan.”
Copyright 2017 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California