Part II: A Closer Look
The cigarette dropped into his fifth cup of coffee with a hiss as he exhaled a cloud of bluish smoke. Detective John McKinesy stood alone in the middle of the late Esther Miller’s apartment, the victim (being Esther Miller) still hung by the neck with a rope that was tied to the ceiling-lamp inside her bedroom. More than ten police officers stood by the apartment’s door along with the forensics team, and two dozens others guarded the building. A few cop-cars barricaded the street from either side just to prevent anyone from coming close to the building, even the press couldn’t go near it. The light from the cop-cars lit the street, beams of yellowish light cut through the brisk air, and shone into a window in Esther’s apartment where the detective stood with a hard face and peering eyes, contemplating every aspect of the crime scene. By the chief’s orders, no one was allowed on the crime scene except Detective McKinesy with members of the force and the forensic team under his command. The Chief himself sat inside one of the cars on the street, he was too old for this mess —at least that’s what he told McKinesy. The detective tried to make sense of what lay before him, his mind twisted and turned inside his skull trying to figure this whole thing out, trying to locate the key to this case amidst all this mess. It was quite obvious to him —and to anyone with half a brain that the murderer was looking for something. Knowing the killer’s methods; John deduced that the killer was angry, a bit frustrated too, because no matter how gruesome the crime scene was, the Surrealist left it spotless. He tied that idea with the fact that the killer had a maximum of one hour to do the deed, that’s how long it took John to drive from the police station to Ms. Miller’s apartment. John knew that the murderer was aware of that fact, and part of him suspected that the murderer was present when the late Ms. Miller made the call. Of course, all that thinking could be in vain, because the killer showed obvious signs of psychosis and did not really need a reason to kill. However, the connection between the first victim and the second was too strong to merely disregard. McKinesy’s mind went blank for a few moments as he tried to remember everything he leaned from the chief all those years ago.
The answers to the most complex of questions lie amidst simplicity itself, all you need to do is take a closer look.
“The old man used to say all kinds of crap.” John whispered to himself as he shuffled his footsteps, one in front of the other towards the bedroom. He froze after the second step as an alarm started howling inside his brain. Somehow, his brain saved up an image from the last crime scene, an image he barely noticed. The image lingered clearly in front of his eyes, a wooded bureau close to Angela’s bed, its lock had scratches on it. The wood around the lock also had small scratches on it.
“He was looking for something at Angela’s place,” John whispered to himself “But he didn’t find it, it’s the same thing he was looking for here.”
John abruptly turned around to see the broken bureau next to the upside down table, the bureau was broken into pieces. He walked to it, bending down to search for anything of use. John found the lock; he held it in his hand and peered at it. The golden lock did not have a scratch on it.
He broke it open. John thought, but as he flipped the lock around, he noticed that it wasn’t locked.
“Then why did he break it if it wasn’t locked?” John questioned himself and thought for a moment. “Because there was nothing in their.”
He imagined the rush of joy when the murderer noticed that the bureau was unlocked, and the sheer frustration he must’ve felt when he found nothing in there. McKinesy dropped the lock into the pile of broken wood, and stood up. All the frustration the killer must’ve felt sat heavily on McKinesy’s chest, but that weight was eased by the thought of finding another connection between the two murders. Something more than friendship tied the two victims together, something worth dying for.
But what? He questioned himself.
Detective John McKinesy walked to the bedroom and stood in front of the victim, he looked up at the crimson hole that were once her eyes.
“What secret did you keep?” he said in awe “A secret that was worth your life, tell me Esther, what was your secret?”
John walked away from his lifeless listener towards the bedroom window. He needed some fresh air, all this thinking suffocated him. He opened the window and a brisk wind wailed at him, slapped him on the face with its cold fingertips. John turned around and saw Esther’s limp body turning from the wind. John closed the window and walked back to the victim’s body.
“You can’t even look at me.” John said with a bitter tone.
But the body never turned back, the rope that was tied to the ceiling-lamp snapped and the girl’s body fell to the ground with a loud thump. John gasped a little bit, but recollected himself right away. He bent down towards Esther’s dead body; he took the noose off her neck and saw the reddish/purplish marks under her jaw. He brushed the hair off her face and straighten her body out on the floor. He lifted her left hand to put it on her naked breast but something fell out of her palm. Something that looked like a thin piece of wood, less than a quarter of an inch wide and half an inch long. Curved on the top and bottom but straight on the sides with a brown hue that’s light at the top and darkened towards the bottom where something that looked like a tiny dark bead at the end.
A seed! How did that get here?
John ran outside of the apartment where the men stood lazily.
“Can I get an agricultural expert over here!” John yelled at them.
“That’s Mark, he’s down stairs.” One of the forensic team members mumbled.
“Well, get’em damnit!”
John went back inside the apartment to the bedroom where Esther’s dead body lay on the floor; he sat on the floor next to it, his mind rambled its flashing thoughts. He sat with his back to the window and facing the area of the wall that was once shielded by a closet, now the wooden closet lay on its side. John got up so fast he almost fell down from the head rush, he stumbled towards the brown closet and stared at the lock on its bottom drawer.
“Scratches!” he exclaimed.
He pulled the handle and the drawer slid open. John fumbled with his hands inside the drawer as a young man entered the room.
“Sir,” the young man said “My name is Mark and—”
“Shut up!” the Detective yelled.
He felt something at his fingertips, a paper. He pulled it out and saw that the paper was in fact cut in half, missing one half. John’s eyes shot through the piece of paper.
“This seed sir,” Mark said hesitantly “Belongs to the olive family; it’s french name is Frène noir, but it’s also known as—”
“Black Ash…” John whispered.
John put on his hat and ran outside of the apartment, the adrenaline rushed through his body, accelerating his heart beats. He ran like a madman with one thought in mind.
[End of Chapter Five, Part II.]
(To be continued…)