Another dark day, another rainstorm, and another murder. If this guy doesn’t learn to appreciate warm, sunny weather soon I am going to be spending a lot of time wringing out my socks. Visions of wet dog syndrome dance in my head.
The last victim was an abstraction that I was forced to construct with only half of the materials present. That meant shading in whole sections blind and gods know if I was even close. The physical evidence was absolute zero. The weapon used was unidentifiable as it failed to register in the database. It was a stabbing weapon with several unique characteristics but we would need him to keep using it to get a better idea of what it is. Unfortunately he has decided he likes pushing people as well so no luck on comparing the weapon with the next victim.
“Detective!” The voice booms out over the sound of the pounding rain and what little focus I had on the current stream of thought is scattered to the wind. I turn to find the chief of police, one Gregory MacGregor, storming in my direction. Chief MacGregor is five feet three inches tall, thin and wiry like an acrobat with the attitude of a short man who has been treated like someone’s pet for most of his life. Being put into a position of power almost naturally made him run wild from the power.
“I hear you are claiming this murder had something to do with the stabbing that occurred several weeks back.”
“I did and it does.”
He is waiting for me to elaborate but I don’t have the time to indulge him right now. I need to see what this killer saw. I need to understand why he pushed this man into the street. The woman he killed because she stood out. How did this man stand out? Why risk killing this man in the midst of a crowd?
“The M.O. is completely different, the sex of the victim is different, the location and time of day is different. What could possibly lead you to believe that these two murders have anything to do with each other?”
He’s looking at me. Damn. He was just asking me something and I didn’t hear a word of it. For the life of me I can’t understand why people promote someone to a position and then insist on constantly questioning their ability to do said job. The whole idea of a supervisor is completely superfluous the vast majority of the time. The only thing they accomplish is slowing down the supervised with their idiotic questions.
“I am waiting for an answer.”
“What is?” he barks.
“That you are waiting for an answer. I am waiting for silence so I can concentrate. Looks like we are both going to have to grapple with our personal disappointments.”
He is giving me his jaw flex. This is his power move. Lacking muscle in his actual frame the only muscle he can flex that a person would visually notice any change in rests in his jaw. So he is giving me his best chest thump. I guess I have to stop what I am doing and play with him before he threatens to take his ball and go home.
“I wonder if you have taken a moment to speak with the eyewitnesses.”
“I have not.”
“I gather as much as that may have answered your question and saved me the trouble. How about you do that now and then we’ll both be satisfied.”
“Why should I ask them when I have my very own source of answers right here in front of me and this person is paid to answer every single question I might have, however inconvenient.”
I love a short man who likes to swing dick. It gets me all hot in the nether regions. At least it would if men got me hot in the nether regions. I guess that means it’s just another pointless exercise in the long list of mundane things I have to deal with to remain employed.
“Over thirty eyewitnesses and they all tell a similar story. The victim was in a hurry and pushed his way to the front of the crowd. He was waiting for the light like anyone else when a man dressed in black with a black umbrella either bumped, nudged, shoved or collided with him depending on the animation of the story. In the chaos everyone lost track of the man in black and it wasn’t until several moments later that anyone even gave the man a second thought. By that time he was long gone. Disappeared into the rain just like the last time.”
Captain MacGregor is thinking. He scratches his baby soft chin and furrows his brow. These are the telltale signs of the captain in deep thought.
“Similar attire doesn’t mean it’s the same killer. The method is still different as is the victim. What do these victims have in common? Not to mention the first victim was killed in relative isolation. This man was killed in broad daylight.”
Oh the absolute absurdity.
“I assume by, ‘broad daylight,’ you are meaning to say that he killed this second victim right in front of a mass of witnesses. As to that it still amounted to the same. Not a single witness could tell us more than the last set could. A tall, dark male character in a dark suit. The suit could be black, or dark blue, or brown. He was wearing some kind of hat. He is also carrying a dark umbrella. How many businessmen in this city fit that description? We would need to arrest half the city to start our interrogations. Would you like to apply for the court order or shall I?”
The captain is not amused. He opens his mouth to begin berating my stupidity again when one of the patrolmen approaches with a woman in an ostentatious scarf and makeup tracked all over her face.
“Detective, I am sorry to interrupt but I think you might want to hear what this woman has to say.”
I look at her and immediately think psychic. This looks like more of a waste of my time than the captain. At least it will be a change of pace from the annoying conversation I have been trapped in for the last several minutes.
“Yes, Miss. Do you have information relevant to our investigation?”
The fortune teller eyes me like she sees something she likes. I am wondering if I have sucker written on my forehead.
“I don’t know if it’s relevant or not but I was serving that man coffee right before he died.”
“Oh?” I say. So fucking what I think.
“He was a serious asshole.”
“Most men in suits are. What makes this man an exceptional asshole?”
The girl is caught off guard by my lack of tact. She is not the first nor will she be the last.
“I don’t know how to quantify his asshole-ness for you but when he was kicked out of the coffee shop the whole crowd gave him a standing ovation.”
I stand corrected. This oddly dressed wreck of a girl just gave me the very thing I was looking for. I underestimated her because of her eccentric style. I let the captain get in my head and it almost cost me. I need to drink less and meditate more.
“Was he the reason your makeup ran?”
She clenches her jaw and I think that her and the captain should go out for coffee after this and share workout routines for their angry face.
That’s all I am going to get for asking the insensitive question she just wanted me to intuit without verbalising.
“That’s the connection.” The captain looks confused and the girl looks indifferent. “This killer kills people who stand out. He killed the first woman because she was beautiful. She stood out for her beauty. He killed this man because he was a jerk. He stood out for being an asshole.”
I give them a moment to digest this before going on. “The rain also connects them. This guy knows that the rain makes gathering evidence twice as complicated. He is using it to make finding him that much more difficult. That and he isn’t planning these things. He has no connection to his victims for more than the two or three minutes before the impulse to kill them strikes him. That means we are dealing with a killer that is prepared at any moment to murder and he is smart enough to get away with it in such an impulsive way.”
A long silence draws out and I know that this monster is going to haunt me for months. Perhaps years. Most likely the rest of my life. Or maybe I’ll get lucky and stand out for the wrong reason on a rainy day and this will become someone else’s problem.
“So we have a killer that is killing with efficiency in a pattern that we can understand but in no way predict? You want me to go to the chief of police with this? To the mayor? What are we going to tell the citizens when the panic ensues?”
“Welcome to the big city. Population… something minus one.”
He glares at me. He wants a better answer.
“I would tell them they have nothing to worry about. The only people this killer is after are the ones that stand out. For the first time in history it will pay to be totally and completely ordinary. Be kind, but not too kind. Be pretty, but not stunning. Don’t be too fat, or too skinny. Don’t walk too fast or too slow. Do everything just enough and you’ll be just fine.”
I smile thinking of how impossible it will be for the vast majority of humanity to stay out of this killer’s way.
“Tell them all to just be mediocre and we’ll never find another dead body.”
The captain is still glaring at me.
“Or just tell everyone they have to buy bright colored umbrellas.”
The captain’s face takes on an introspective look and I am in sudden, desperate need of a drink.