Friday, November 25, 2011

Twisted Perception - 9th Seralized Post

“Why do you suppose seeing you would bother him?”

            “Well for heavens sake, hon, I don’t know. But I can tell you this, when he started toward me, I near lost myself. He scared the wits out of me. I don’t know why I showed him my cell phone. I guess I was trying to let him know that I could call for help if I needed to. But that didn’t scare him. It seemed to be what he wanted. He started nodding his head and yelling through the glass that someone was inside that car, he thought she might be dead, and would I mind calling the police. Well, let me tell you, I was more than happy to do just that.”

            “Do you remember what time you made the call?”

            “It was before six. That’s about the time I usually get here, and I was running a little early.”

            Elliot closed his notepad and tucked it inside his jacket pocket. “Thank you, Mrs. Smith. That’ll be all for now.” He stood on the sidewalk for a moment then walked over to the Mercedes, where Beaumont was standing. “You about through here?”

            “It’s all yours,” Beaumont said. Then he surprised Elliot. He put a hand on his shoulder, and with an expression that looked almost personable he said, “You look a little rough around the edges, Elliot. What’s bothering you?”

            As if on cue, a wind kicked up, a cool and swirling breeze that carried the faint smell of pear blossoms coming from some of the few blooms that had managed to survive the up-and-down temperatures. “It’s nothing,” Elliot said, “Just a bad case of déjà vu.”

            Beaumont raised an eyebrow and cocked his head, putting his hands on his hips, an imitation John Wayne in a Park Avenue suit. “Probably not the words you were looking for, but I think I know what you’re getting at. The Stillwater murders right? The victims had their throats cut, and as I recall, at least one of them was found like this, in the passenger seat of her car.” He paused and rubbed his chin. “That was before your time, too. I must say I’m impressed, old boy.”

            Elliot wondered how Beaumont knew so much. The Stillwater murders had happened a long time ago, seven years at least, and with no apparent connection to Tulsa. It was a stretch even for a fanatic like Beaumont. Yet he’d brought it up immediately. But Elliot’s knowledge of the events hadn’t been acquired by studying old case files, as he suspected Beaumont’s had. He’d been a little closer to the source, attending classes at Oklahoma State during the murders and reading about them in the Stillwater Gazette. “Before your time, as well,” he added.

            “That it was. Seems there was more to it though, some sort of messages. ”

            “Written in blood,” Elliot said. “And the slitting of the throats wasn’t like this, a simple cut. They had a pattern, a definite design.” Elliot’s own words sent a chill through him, but he said nothing more. How could he tell Beaumont the memory that had nearly brought him to his knees hadn’t come from Stillwater, but from a time period when he was a high school senior in Porter, Oklahoma?

“Morning, gentlemen.”

A team from the medical examiner’s office had arrived, and one of them, Donald Carter, had made his way over to them. “Hey, Donnie,” Elliot said.

            Beaumont gave a curt nod.

            Donald Carter slipped on a pair of half-moon glasses and said, “Some crazy weather we’re having, huh?”

            Elliot smiled and started walking toward the Mercedes while Donald Carter and Detective Beaumont followed. Less than a week ago temperatures had hovered around the high eighties, spawning a tornado that had ripped through the outskirts of town. This morning most thermometers would have to struggle to get above forty: Springtime in Oklahoma. Elliot stopped beside the open passenger door of the vehicle. “How long would you say she’s been dead?”

            Donnie stepped forward and ducked his head inside the car, for a closer look. He already had his gloves on. He pushed the skin with his finger, observing its elasticity then lifted one of her arms “Several hours. Seven or eight, if I had to guess.” He pulled his head back and stood straight. “Looks like she was killed in the driver’s seat then somehow maneuvered over to this side.”

            Elliot nodded. “A hurried attempt to throw us off. The victim was dragged over the console. I think she was killed somewhere else and brought here.” He paused, intending to stop there, but before he knew it he was verbalizing his thoughts. “I’ve got a tip-of-the-iceberg feeling about all this.”

            The look on Donald Carter’s face said he was interested, but one of his team members had called out to him. He turned and walked away.

Beaumont muttered something that Elliot couldn’t quite make out, and then he said, “You might be onto something. There are a lot of similarities here, perhaps a little too many. You don’t suppose we have a copycat on our hands, do you?”

            “Maybe,” Elliot said. And again, what he’d only intended to think came out. “Worse yet, maybe not.”

            Beaumont arched an eyebrow. “Surely you don’t think…” He shook his head. “Christ, Elliot, some psycho could’ve run across it in an old newspaper or something.”

            Don’t do this, Kenny. We can work it out.

            “Yeah,” Elliot said. “You’re probably right.” He got some plastic bags from his car and went back to the Mercedes, where he picked up the cell phone and gathered some fibers that looked to be from duct tape. In the glove compartment, he found a book of matches from some bar. For the first time, he hoped Beaumont was right. However, when he slid the necklace off the mirror and dropped it into the bag, he again thought of Marcia Barnes, her blonde hair caked with blood, her petite body riddled with stab wounds.

            “You going to be all right?” Beaumont asked.

            “Why wouldn’t I be?”

             Beaumont shrugged. “What’s up with that fellow Sergeant Conley took in?”

 “His name’s Bill Morton. He found the body.”

            “You think he had something to do with it?”

            “I don’t know. He’s got a record, everything from petty burglary to exposing himself to the sisters at the cathedral over on Boulder, but nothing like this.”

            “The real cream of society,” Beaumont remarked.

            Elliot watched the medical examiner’s people remove the body.

            “How’s Molly?” Beaumont asked.

            Elliot found that curious as well. Molly worked at the district attorney’s office and she and Elliot had been dating, but he hadn’t been aware that Beaumont knew that. “She’s doing better.”

            Beaumont nodded. “I know what she’s going through. It’s tough to lose someone, especially when they’re family.”

            “Not much more we can do here,” Elliot said.

Let me know what you think. Feel free to comment or email me at


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