Archive for February, 2018

Beyond Redemption,

I”m nearing the last chapters of the novel I’m writing.  Having just finished a difficult chapter to write I wanted to celebrate.  So I’m posting the third unedited chapter for your enjoyment.

Chapter Three

At one-thirty Vanessa left the police station.  The coroner had called and had asked to see her.  He greeted her briefly before he told her of his findings.  “We made an identification through an appointment card we found in his coats’ inside pocket,” he said.  “His name is Marcel Bishop.  He is twenty-seven and is an engineer for a construction company.  He is married and has a three-year-old daughter.  We have not contacted his wife.  She will need to have to come to make a positive id.”

“I’ll have our people check to see if he has a record or is known to us or to any law enforcement unit.  Did he have alcohol or drugs in his system?”

“No, no there’s no alcohol in his system.  Drugs are a different matter.  He had been drugged and had died of asphyxiation some time after that.  The drug caused him to lose consciousness, but it did not kill him.  We found an injection site on his back a little below his neck.  Given where that site is on his back, it would have been virtually impossible for him to have injected himself.  That icepick you found stuck in him had been pushed into his heart’s aortic valve shortly after he had taken his last breath.  He died at approximately eleven-fifty last night.  I think you will also be interested to know that the blood on his thumb and finger was not his own and had dried about the same time as the blood on the injection site.”

“Did you find anything else that might be of interest to me?”

Nothing!  Whoever committed that crime was careful to leave no evidence aside from that ice pick stuck into his heart.  We’ll look at everything again.  I’ll call you whether we find anything else or not.  Good luck determining a motive.”  He reached for his notepad on which was written an address.  “And I don’t envy you having to go to talk to his wife.”

They spoke for another twenty minutes then Vanessa set out to see the man’s wife.  She radioed the station, gave Kimberly the name and address of the victim, and asked her to begin procedures for checking into the victim’s background.  Before she intended to return to the station she wanted to talk to the man’s wife, but she knew the lady might need support and may not be able to answer her questions.  She was acquainted with the area where the victim’s family lived.  It took her a half hour to reach the house.  She tried to gather her thoughts in preparation for meeting the wife as she parked.  This was part of her job, the part she found most difficult.  She uttered a silent prayer as she walked toward the front door and rang the bell.

Vanessa could see the fear in the woman’s eyes as soon as she showed her the police badge and asked, “Are you Mrs. Bishop?”  The young woman’s lips began to quiver.  Vanessa’s heart went out to her, when she said her name was Amanda Bishop in a shaky voice.  “There is no easy way to tell you what I must say, Mrs. Bishop.  Can I come in for a few moments?”

“Yes, of course.  Please come in,” the woman stammered.  Vanessa noticed that Amanda Bishop was several months pregnant and asked her to sit down to help her cope with the tragic news she had to tell her.  “I am sorry to have to tell you your husband was killed late last night.”

The lady began to sob.  Tears began to trickle down her cheeks.  Vanessa let her weep for a few minutes before she asked.  “Is there someone I can call to come and support you?  You will have to come down to make an identification for us as soon as you are able to do so.”  Vanessa took her trembling hand and said, “I sorry for your loss, Mrs. Bishop.”

“Would you mind calling my mother, Officer?” she asked and gave Vanessa a number to call.  “My poor baby will be waking up soon.  How do I tell my daughter her father, whom she idolized, won’t ever come home again?” she lamented.

Vanessa called the number and briefly told Amanda’s mother, Mrs. Carstairs, the reason for her call.  The mother at first did not believe what she heard but assured her she would be on her way to her daughter’s house within the minute.  Before hanging up she pleaded with Vanessa to remain with her daughter until she arrived.

“What can I do for you until your mother gets here, Amanda, and please call me Vanessa.  It’s all right to cry.  I know this is the worst news anyone could have brought you, and if I can help in any way, please tell me.”

Amanda looked at her with tear filled eyes.  “How did my husband die,” she asked.  His brother had called him after dinner time last night saying he had taken some drugs and felt like he was going to pass out.  My husband rushed to his place right away.  He called me at about nine-thirty to say he would be a couple more hours and was going to take his brother to the emergency room.  When I went to bed and he had not come home, I thought after he had taken his brother to the emergency room, he had remained at the hospital with him.  He had done this several times before in the past months.”

“We do not have all the facts yet, Amanda.  What we have learned is that he had been given an injection which immobilized him.  Then he was smothered.  It is estimated he died a short time before midnight.  His body was found in the deserted parking lot at Riverside Park.  We believe he had been taken there and left there after he had passed away.  Given the time of night when this occurred there may not have been any witnesses.  We will send out news bulletins asking for anyone who had been in the area to contact us.  It appears a couple driving into that parking lot later found him and called our office well after midnight.”

“Was our car not in the parking lot?  Marcell drove to his brother’s place in our SUV.  It is a red Chrysler with roof racks.”

Vanessa shook her head.  “No. we have not found a vehicle belonging to him,” she said and asked for the license plate number and model of car.  She also asked Amanda when she might be able to come to the lab to identity and verify the individual’s body is in fact her husbands body.  “I would also like to speak more at length with you.  Information you can give us may well lead us to the killer or killers.”

Amanda wiped away her tears.  “You have been very kind to me Officer Vanessa,” she replied.  “If you can accompany me to the lab, I will do it tomorrow morning.  We can also meet then, and I will you help in anyway I can.”  She broke down with those words and wept silently.

Vanessa stroked her hand.  She wanted to wrap her arms around her but remained seated beside her allowing her to grieve.  Soon Mrs. Carstairs arrived, and Vanessa saying she would pick Amanda up at nine the next morning left.  She felt deeply for this family.  She wished she could do much more to support this young woman who with two infants would now have to face life without her husband.  Glad that Amanda had parents to whom she could turn to she walked to her vehicle.

Back at her office she called the head of the traffic division and passed on the information of the couple’s SUV and asked that she is notified immediately when it is found.  She also called Nadia Sprengler, her friend, in the public relations’ office.  She asked her to arrange times for her to speak to various media people to request air time and ask possible witnesses of the activities in the park the night of the murder to contact her department.

She began to make notes of her time with Amanda Bishop when Claire knocked and slowly entered.  “Sorry to come by so late,” she began.  “I stopped for a coffee with Brent and Tom.  After that I checked.”

Before she finished her sentence Vanessa said, “It’s all right Claire.  The coroner called to see me, and I left before you had returned.  He had a good deal of information for us.  Before coming back I stopped to see the victim’s wife.  That I could not do quickly.  So, I’ve not been here for long.  Please have a seat.”

Claire looked confused.  “This man was married?” she asked.

“I’ll tell you what information the coroner had for us.  It supports many of the conclusions we had drawn,” Vanessa said.  When she had finished relaying that information and had told her about her visit to Amanda she asked Claire what evidence she had collected.

Claire told her she had found nothing other than tire marks near the end of the parking lot that appeared to her to have been made by a vehicle whose driver was in a hurry to leave the park.  “It looks to me that the Ice Pick Devil, as the media has called him, has left us another victim and no clues that could lead us to him.”

“We haven’t got much.  The blood on the body’s hand may eventually be important.  I did find a small handful of black hair that had to have fallen into the grass from the dead man’s hand when he was draped over the railing in the park.  I have send it to get analyzed.  I have a hunch the victim briefly struggled with the killer and had grabbed hold of his hair.  The hair strands were quite long the coroner told me and may have come from a woman.”  She explained how she thought the hair came to lie below the man’s hand.

“There are many ways that hair could have been there,” Claire said.  “The victim’s hair color is sandy blonde.  It’s obviously not his, but it could have been there for a week.”

“I don’t think so.  It had not been subjected for long to wind and rain.  There also was one hair of the same color on his hand.  I kept it separate from the other evidence.  We will know if that bunch of hair came from the same person or not.  It appears to me this man struggled with his attacker while he was still in a lucid state.”

At this point Kimberly rang relaying information for which Vanessa had waited.  She thanked her and a moment later hung up.  Turning back to Claire she told her the information Kimberly had passed on to her.  It established that Marcel Bishop was not on the radar of any police unit.  “All they had on him was that he had requested a personal record check a year earlier.  He had been involved in planning a renovation for a public school and followed school district policy about adults in schools.  That personal record check came back squeaky clean,” Vanessa said.

For a few seconds Claire looked like she was shocked to hear it.  Finally she said, “Well, that creates a new twist to our investigation, doesn’t it?  We might have to consider a copycat possibility after all.”

“Or a mistake, or a different motive by the serial killer,” Vanessa said wondering if another reason they couldn’t see immediately could apply.  By the way, I had a call from a Detective Darren Whitestone in a small city east of Boston.  He has decided to open a closed file of a murder there.  When he heard of our investigations and thought there were several similarities in our cases to the case he has now reopened, he wanted to know more about what we had here.  It may pay off for us to put a countrywide memo out to see if there are other places where similar murders occurred in the past five or ten years.  Moving around the country maybe one way this individual uses to attempt to hide and to avoid incarceration.”

Claire did not reply immediately.  She frowned and seemed to be deep in thought before she asked, “What can I do to help all this move forward?  It just feels to me like the first three cases in our lap are growing cold.  There are a couple things I want to check on when we are finished here, but I want to get at those tasks you would like me to cover first today.”

“Thanks Claire.  I appreciate that.  Please try to contact Mr. Bishop’s employer today.  Find out how Marcel Bishop got along with everyone in the company and ask if any of their clients had lodged grievances against him.  Also, please see if any of the previous three victims knew each other, and if they had contacts in the Boston area.  I will be spending a good part of the morning tomorrow with Mrs. Bishop and her husband’s brother.  But before you go, can you think of anything we have overlooked?  What else should we explore?”

“I think we are doing everything we can do right now.  We need a break.  If I get an inspiration, I’ll get in touch with you.”  Claire turned and leaving the room said, “I’ll drop by to see you for an update tomorrow.”

“Yes, let’s touch base in the afternoon,” Vanessa called after her, “and thanks for your report.  Let’s hope we will get a break soon.”  She watched Claire leave and thought, she doesn’t smile a lot.  In fact, I can’t recall her smiling.  I wonder what dark days are in her past?

Vanessa spent the major of the afternoon going over the four files of the murders they were investigating since she had taken over this division.  She made a new list of the similarities and studied them for several minutes.  Looking at her calendar she penciled in times for interviews and called Kimberly asking her to get in touch with five people she had identified to see.  After making several phone calls, she sat back letting the time she had spent with Marcel Bishop’s widow replay in her mind.  I’ll check into Amanda’s background before I go home, she thought.  She shook her head.  “I don’t think she is involved in any negative way,” she whispered. “but I can make that determination after going over her background, looking at their marriage, and finding out all she did the night of the murder.”

Her heart went out to the young woman.  Meeting her and considering the house, it looked to Vanessa like she could have had a bright future ahead of her.  Judging by her reaction after she had learned of her husband’s murder, Vanessa realized the marriage was solid.  Those two little ones will miss their dad every day and at their school and sport functions, she thought.  What a pity!  The one on the way will never have seen him.  She sighed thinking of her son and the child she would bring into the world in a few months.

Learning of Amanda’s background was not difficult.  She had grown up the younger of two children, had attended a Catholic secondary school and had completed two years at a college where she had received excellent marks before she had married Marcel.  She had no blemish on her record not even a driving violation.

The clock on the wall showed Vanessa that it was nearly six.  She decided to call it a day and closed the Bishop file when Carmen, who now tended the front desk, rang her and told her a gentleman who wanted to see her.  “I have him waiting for you here in the reception area,” she said.  “He seems to know his way around here.”

Vanessa placed the file into the filing cabinet, put her coat on and walked from her office.  As soon as she opened the door she could see him standing at the front desk chatting with Carmen.  “Carmen, you said there was a gentleman here to see me,” she laughed.  “Where is he?”  See smiled at Casey and said, “It’s terrific to see you, Casey. Thanks for dropping by.”

“I was in the neighborhood and thought why not drop in and see my princess.  You know me.  Once I get an idea there’s no stopping me.”

“Well, I’m glad there was nothing stopping you.  But come to me office.  We’ll have a coffee and chat.  It’s been a long time, Casey.”

Seated in front of her desk they smiled, happy to see each other well.  “I just came in for a minute.  You’ll be swamped with work judging by the headlines in the news, but I thought I detected a note of frustration or worry when we talked on the phone recently, Vanessa.  Is everything all right?”

“Yes, those three murders have us guessing and up to our necks investigating them.  As of this morning we have another one that looks a lot like the other three.  We can’t rule out that we might be dealing with a serial killer.  I’ve also had a call today from a detective who had opened a cold case back east that suggests there are others like ours on this continent.  So, we’re trying to find out if there are others with similarities anywhere else.  But what about you?  Is retirement agreeing with you, or do you miss police work more than you thought you would?”

“Oh, I love the long weekends every week.  Sometimes they stretch out through the whole week,” he laughed.  “Simone and I also do a fair bit of traveling and visiting the grandchildren, but to tell you the truth, there are days when I do miss the investigations, the station, the people with whom I had worked.  I see Karl every now and then, and Charles and I go to the odd ball game.  I think of you a lot, princess.”  He stopped to look at her for a moment before he continued.  “And this will make you happy.  Simone and I started to attend church services in a little church not far from our house.”

Vanessa’s face beamed.  “That great, Casey.  I was just thinking I should invite you and Simone to a concert we are having at my dad’s church.  William and I are on the program.  We are bringing a special number in song.  We could get together afterward and visit.”

“I think Simone would like that, Vanessa.  It would give me a chance to make sure your William is behaving and not tempted by things that glitter.”  He embraced her and said, “You look more beautiful than ever. And how is your little guy?”

They talked for another ten minutes.  Casey told her again he thought Simone would like to come to the concert.  He promised to call her later that evening and confirm it with her.  He related his thoughts on the murders briefly to her before they said goodbye.

His visit had taken Vanessa’s thoughts off the cases in which she had been immersed for most of the day.  She felt lighter and was eager to get home.  Thinking of William and her son she left the precinct.

“Catch me Daddy,” Andreas laughed as soon as William had taken him out of his car seat and placed him on the ground in the three-car garage.  His little legs pumping like mad he raced out of the garage and toward the front door.  William hustled after him but remained an armlength behind him pretending to huff and puff in his playful attempt to catch his two-year-old son.  Just before the little fellow reached the stairs leading to the front door William reached for him, swung him around in his arms, kissed his brow and hoisted him onto his shoulders.  Andreas giggled while William, pretending to be out of breath, said, “Wow! You sure can run fast, just like a deer.”

As they entered the house William noting that the Buick was not on the premises knew Vanessa was not at home yet.  He looked at the clock on the mantle of the fireplace that showed it was almost six.  She hasn’t left a message, he thought, so she won’t be much longer.  He had heard of the night’s homicide on the early evening news when he tidied his office in preparation to leave for Marvelous’ house to pick Andreas up.  “I wish she would stay home with our son or just work part time,” he whispered, “but she loves her work, danger and all.  I know what it’s like to love what you do.  But then my work isn’t dangerous.”  He smiled thinking back to when he had met Vanessa and added, “At least it’s dangerous no longer.”

Believing Vanessa would have had a full and hard day he thought he would feed his son and then make wings and a salad for him and Vanessa, but before he settled on what to prepare for Andreas he decided instead of making wings to order in one of Vanessa’s favorite meals.  He remembered her saying she might make that dish when she got home this day.  “I’ll order beef, greens and red pepper stir-fries in and ask them to deliver it at seven-thirty” he whispered.  That should give Vanessa a few minutes to relax and spend time with Andreas.  He smiled thinking of his wife hoping she would not be much longer.

Vanessa drove down the hundred yards of the driveway to the house thinking I should have picked up something for dinner.  William and Andreas will be hungry.  She parked at the edge of the stairway to the front door not wanting to take the time to drive into the garage.  Her heart was with the two people in the house and she was eager to be with them.  When she walked through the door and glanced into the kitchen, she saw William seated at the kitchen island with Andreas on his lap feeding him.  He had looked up when he had heard the door close and began to smile seeing Vanessa looking at them.  Andreas raised both of his arms shouting, “Mommy,” with food spurting from his mouth.  William stood up with their son in his arms, licked off the food from the spoon he held and crossed hurriedly to her kissing her softly while Andreas reached his arms around her neck.

Vanessa’s heart sang.  Her day suddenly felt bright and warm.  From William’s kiss she tasted of the apple sauce he had fed Andrea.  “I see our son is having his favorite dessert.  Has he eaten his dinner too?”  She kissed her husband then took Andreas into her arms.  Smiling brightly at him she embraced and kissed him tenderly.

“He’s eaten it all even his broccoli,” William said.  He took his son from her so she could take her coat off.  If you want to relax for a minute, I’ll finish giving Andreas his applesauce and set the table for our dinner.”

But Vanessa took her son again and sat down with him saying, “Please let me finish feeding him.” She took the spoon he held out to her and asked, “And what did you cook for us?  I’m famished.  Whatever it is, it smells good.”

“Stir fries a la Sylvia’s Kitchen.  The order had arrived only minutes before you came.”  William laughed.  “I thought you might be tired and wouldn’t want to go out for dinner or start making something.  By the time I had prepared Andrea’s dinner it was a bit late for me do make anything more than a salad, so I ordered in from our favorite restaurant.”

They smiled at each other for a long moment.  The love in their eyes was unmistakable.  To Vanessa the harsh, hectic world of her day had faded away and given way to sunshine and calm.  She didn’t notice that William had walked behind her chair until he had placed his hands on her shoulder.  She felt him bent down to her ear and then heard him whisper, “I love you, and I’ve missed you.”  She closed her eyes for a moment letting his love sweep over her.


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