Downfall IV: The Seeker

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.”

“That’s interesting.”

“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.

Downfall III: Pusher

“No, goddamit, this isn’t correct.”

Belligerence before 7 o’clock in the morning should be a crime.  The money lender in the overpriced power suit does not share this sentiment however and the pay-by-the-hour aspiring painter/actress/writer is brought to tears for misunderstanding what money buys one beyond the material, it affords one the right to belittle and berate all those of a station deemed only as, ‘below.’   She shall now pay for her crimes in tears.

“I am so sorry sir.  I prepared the order as it was given to me.”

Honest though this answer may be it will not avail her.

“So you’re telling me that the incompetent one is that bitch over there?  The one that took the order?  She fucked it up first and now you are just the bearer of bad news?  Is that the story?”

He is shouting with such vehemence that the veins in his temple throb like a woofer.  The song might have been, “Another one bites the dust.”

“I don’t care which one of you cunts was the originator of this mess I just want to know what you are going to do to make it right?”

The girl is timid.  She has learned by now that speaking will only incite him to further anger.  She has tried unsuccessfully now three times to derail him with kindness and honesty only to fuel the fire.  At a loss for what avenue to pursue next her hesitance only brings about the next volley before she can make a choice.

“It’s beyond me how such a simple fucking job could be so easy to fuck up.  I mean, for chrissake, this is fucking coffee.  Is it really that hard to understand?”

The girl stares back, still searching.  Her limp blonde hair hangs from her like her now beaten spirit.  Her whimsical attire has lost its flair and the playful makeup running down her face has transformed her into a kind of drunken circus clown, one who has been wandering the streets giving out hand jobs after the last show went south.

“It isn’t that, I just…”

The stammering definitely does not help.

“Do you know what this costs me, you ignorant bitch?”

She opened her mouth to speak but he was not actually looking for her to answer.

“It costs me time.  Do you know what my time is worth?  Ten minutes in my life could mean the difference between hundreds and hundreds of thousands.  I could have bought a small fucking country in the time it took you to stick your head up your ass and fuck up a drink order.  I could have purchased your entire backwater family and sold them into prostitution in Thailand and then bought fucking Thailand with the profit by now.  But no.  I have to stand here and get a stupid look from a cunt wearing a hippie bandana with yin yang tattoos who doesn’t realise that the worst thing about the drug addled sixties was that every last one of those hippie fuckers were dirt fucking poor.

“Oh yeah,” he gesticulates like the enormous raging hard on that he is, “free love and drugs.  That’s the ticket.  Then maybe you’ll write a screenplay and tell everyone about your feelings and it will sell a million copies and you can buy fucking flowers with it you dopey bitch.  Sounds like a real winner.”

The girl is crying uncontrollably now.  The tears that fall are not from the pain of being exposed but of being so woefully misunderstood.  They were the tears of bearing labels that were not hers to bear.  The scarf was her mothers and the tattoo was not a ying yang.  It was a picture of two intertwined women that represented the love of her life.  What did that matter to this man though?

“I’ve got some advice for you,”  he whispers.  “You want to sell that screenplay?  Write that book?  Be in the big film?  The place to start is right here.”  The man places his hand on his crotch.  “Sucking my dick would finally give you a story to tell that someone might want to listen to it, mind you up the word count on the details of my cock and tone down the bits about your second hand ass.”

“Sir,” in steps the manager.  It took him this long because his spine was left somewhere in the stock room and he needed his balls to find it and those were also MIA.  “We are going to have to ask you to leave this establishment.  You are not welcome here anymore.”

Tough words.  If only he had managed to say them whist standing in front of the girl, rather than behind her.  A full five feet behind her.

The man in the suit laughs.  Expulsion at this point is the perfect finale to his tirade.  It could not have fit his agenda more perfectly.

“You want me to leave?  Fine.  I’ll leave.  You just wait till I get back to my office and light this shit hole up on social media.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Tumblr.  Instagram.  Your ass is about to be mud.  You have no idea who you are fucking with.”

The girl mumbles something under her breath.  She is attacking back but the fear gets the better of her.  She cannot fling her arrows as straight and true as this man.  She simply lacks the hate that he is capable of.

“What was that you dike bitch?”

That last one does it.  Attacking her mother pushed her further than she had ever been pushed.  Mocking the tattoo brought her to the line.  The last insult finished it for her.

“I said I am surprised that someone who claims that their time is so valuable would waste it playing around on sites like those.  Aren’t you afraid someone will buy up Thailand while you are updating your statuses?”

The entire coffee house erupts in applause and the man claps along.  His hubris is bulletproof. He strides out through a rain of jeering patrons into a torrential downpour.  He grabs an umbrella from the rack near the door, not one belonging to him but that is irrelevant, and strides out into the city streets.  He is thinking of nothing but what the rest of the day will hold for him.  The applause got him going and the fight in that girl’s eyes when she finally got the nerve up to say something.  He liked that.  It got him hard.  He would have to find out where that little hippie lives and pay her a visit.

He steps up to a crowded intersection and the light is red.  He pushes his way to the front and glares at the light.

Damn lights in this city are never ending. 

He looks down the street and sees a delivery truck speeding toward the intersection. Just then he feels someone nudge into him.  The last thing he remembers in life is a soft voice whispering into his ear.

“Rudeness is an intolerable defect.”

As the throng of people scream, panic ensues.  Several people would recall later to the police seeing a man in black with a dark umbrella turning from the scene just as the man fell before the speeding truck.

Not a soul could remember a thing about his face.  The only thing they seemed to recall was the umbrella.

Downfall II: Gumshoe

Rain.  I hate the goddamn rain.

The dead woman I don’t mind so much.

Murder with so little flair is passé.  If it weren’t for how beautiful this woman had been no one would have given a second thought to her being stabbed in the street.  But with the obvious expense she had gone to to do herself up it warranted all the big guns.  Sirens, cameras, tape and media.  Let the circus begin.

Does that make me the ringleader or the clown?  Perhaps I can be that lout with the whip trying to tame the lion.  Or maybe I am the lion.  With the way my head feels now it would make sense.

“Christ man, what a waste.  Why kill this girl?”

The forensics team has arrived and they feel the need to add irrelevant blather to my list of problems.

“For all the same reasons that any human kills another human.”

Cue the dumfounded look of a scientist who only understands test tubes, slides and DNA.  These people understand humans on a molecular level, all the little bits and pieces that actually make them substantial in a physical way.  They understand the crude matter.  Forensics people spend their lives studying humans, not human nature.  Motive is something they will never get.

Turning to the collector of all those little pieces that amount to the truth of humanity in a court of law I can’t help but feel exhausted.  It is my job to understand the reason and their job to understand the method but like all humans these too desire to be the thing they are not.

“Money, love, rage, jealousy, fear, loneliness, impotence, hate, lust…”  I look into the blank face and know that the truth is not getting through. “None of these are the reason this woman is dead though.”

I walk away knowing this case will come to nothing.  This woman is dead and I will never find the killer.

“So what is the reason?”

He just had to ask.

Feeling the rain hot on my face I know the answer to that question without a second’s hesitation.  It has been staring me in the face from the first moment I laid eyes on the body.  This wasn’t a crime of passion.  This wasn’t even planned.  This was a crime of circumstance.  It was totally spontaneous.  She was killed for standing out at exactly the wrong moment in exactly the wrong place.

“He killed her because she was remarkable and because he could.”



Downfall I: The Umbrella Man

A tall, lean woman stepped from the train gazelle like with her blonde hair trailing behind her.  Heads turned like falling dominoes as they watched her move fluidly amongst the crowd, a soft skinned spectre smelling faintly of vanilla.  She had a date and she was late.  The woman was obsessive about punctuality and abhorred the state in which she now found herself.  How had this happened? 

The crowd came to a bottleneck, forcing her to slow, and she pushed a stray hair behind an ear and brought her long, slender arm up to look at her watch.


There was nothing to do but accept that she would arrive less than ten minutes early.  This was unacceptable.  Her attire was immaculate, purchased at all the most well known designer stores and her body she kept with equal care.  Her skin was moisturised, her hair meticulously washed and conditioned.  Even her scent was perfectly researched so as to perfectly accent her natural aroma.  She spent an hour a day doing vigorous exercise and ate only all natural foods.  Her body was a temple and it was cared for and accessorised as such. 

The crowd began to pour from the building and she was released into the night only to be approached with a new horror.  It was raining and she had no umbrella.  This was the second thing this evening she had not thought of or planned for.  Her brows knit in frustration and disbelief.  She must have checked the weather report before leaving her office.  This was a detail a woman of her organisation would never overlook. 

Exasperation began to overwhelm her when a man emerged from the crowd like a dark god stepping out from the mist.  A man in black with eyes like a dragon and a knowing smile.  He saw her plight and had come to rescue her, umbrella in hand. 

If pressed to answer she could not have said what it was about him that caused her to completely lose track of all the things she had been thinking and feeling but she had.  He was stark and real unlike any man she had ever seen in her life.  He took her hand and led her into the night. 

“I have a date.”

He only smiled and she followed.  They stepped from the train station into the darkness, the rain pelting down.  It was a hot, summer rain at the end of a long day. 

The stranger led the woman into the heart of the storm and her mind began to fight back.  It was the time that did it.  She could not be made to be any more late than she already was.  She reached up to dislodge herself from his lead and he spun her into his arms.  She pushed back halfheartedly, anticipating his lips and the heat they would bring.  Her feelings were all wrong.  What was happening to her? 

When she came face to face with the stranger her eyes locked with a darkness she could not comprehend. 

This was no gentleman. 

This man was death. 

She realised it a moment too late and the piercing pain in her back just below the shoulder blade told her there was nothing left to fight.  He kissed her, long and deep, and she felt her life leaking from her in a torrent. 

“Why?”  The words tumbled from her trembling lips as her heart betrayed her, pumping faster and faster, speeding her to the end.

“For the same reason any man destroys a beautiful thing, to ensure that it is his and his alone for all time.  It was the only way to truly have you.” 

She slipped from his arms to collapse into the dark street.  The rain began to wash away her perfectly painted mask, all the time and care amounting to nothing in the last moments.  Not a single eye turned to see what had become of the creature only moments ago they could not pry their eyes from.  Her life flowed into the night and the man with the umbrella strode away.  The darkness enveloping him as completely as it had produced him and her last fleeting thought was of how terribly late she would be now.