A Serial Mystery: Part 1

The night was darker and colder than it needed to be, or so Genevieve thought as she tightened her coat around her, shifted her backpack to a more comfortable position and stuffed her fingers into her thin jacket pockets. Her English class had gone exceptionally well, so well in fact that she thought she just might be a teacher after all. Student-teaching had initially been just another thing she had to do to graduate, but now she looked on it more favorably.

As she approached her car, Genevieve scanned the deserted streets for anyone or anything that should not be there. Having had a policeman for a father, Genevieve had developed a watchful eye early on in life. I’m paranoid, really, she thought in derision as she hurriedly dug her keys out of her pocket, anxious to get out of the icy wind. Having a policeman for a father had had its upsides, but mostly they had been downs. He had not been home much while she was growing up and the only character trait she thought she had inherited from him was his paranoia. I’m like one of those crazies on those silly crime shows… Except I don’t kill people.

Genevieve yanked open the door to the car she had lovingly dubbed Rusty. Dumping her backpack onto the backseat, the keys slipped out of her hands. Genevieve cursed.

Paranoid and clumsy, that’s lovely. Great resume, she thought bitterly as she hunched forward to retrieve her keys. Then something crunched on the ground behind her and she froze. Her last clear memory was the red bowling ball rolling slowly across the soggy snow.

~ ~ ~

Blood: it wasn’t a pleasant sight, regardless of the time of day. It was as unwelcomed at three in the afternoon as it was now at one in the morning. Particularly frozen blood, William Madden speculated as he squatted in the snow next to the abandoned car, which looked more like a rusty barrel than the Grand Prix that the VIN said it should be. The comment about the blood looking like a slushy hadn’t helped the matter and Will was fairly certain he’d never eat again. Stupid forensics guys, he thought angrily, how they can be so insensitive is beyond me.

The body had long ago been taken to a lab for further inspection and Will was one of the few police left on the scene. Most of the men and women still roaming around were either forensics or reporters, and it was hard to know which type he disliked more. The only thing that could mess up a crime scene more than forensic compilers were the media hounds.

And profilers, they’re always trying to make something out of nothing, Will thought as he chewed the inside of his lip and tried to ignore the biting wind. Even though he was only 28 years old, he’d already had his fair share of psychologists and not just criminal profilers, either. He hadn’t even been able to stomach the therapists he had been forced to see as a child after his parents had disappeared.

“Madden, the Chief wants you,” Jay, his shorter than average partner and best friend stood above him, momentarily shielding Will from the icy wind.

Will stood, slapping his gloves against his right knee as he did so, “Thanks, Jay.”

“I don’t like this. At all,” Jay was saying.

“It’s murder, Jay; you’re not supposed to like it.” Will could not keep the sarcasm from his voice, and immediately regretted having done so: Jay was a good and loyal friend and partner.

Jay glared at him, his dark eyes angry, “That’s not exactly what I was referring to.”

“Then what were you referring to?” Will blew out all his breath in an attempt to be civil.

Jay turned away, “Chief’ll tell you.”

Will followed his partner over to where the Chief stood, barking orders and ignoring the press as much as possible.

“I already gave a statement,” Chief said, brushing aside the microphone that a particularly persistent reporter had thrust in his face.

“Chief.”

“Ah, Will,” the Chief smiled as he turned away from the microphone. “Walk with me.”

Will followed without a word, Jay on his heels.

As soon as they had settled into the squad car, safely out of the wind and cold, the Chief spoke, “Look,boys, I know this case should be yours, but I’m giving it to someone else.”

Jay’s eyes flicked towards Will, but he ignored him, stubbornly, “Why, sir?”

“Because this is not just ‘a case’, so to speak,” said the Chief. “Did you not notice the bowling ball? This is either a very well plotted and carried out copycat or you-know-who is back.”

Will felt Jay’s eyes on him once more and knew immediately what Jay had disliked so much. He waited for the Chief to continue.

It wasn’t the Chief who had anything to say, however, it was Jay: “So who is taking the case, then?”

“The people who investigated it before, the ones already familiar with him,” said the Chief.

“But I thought that they quit,” said Will slowly.

The Chief shook his head. “Didn’t quit; they’re just doing something new now.”

Jay frowned. “They’re Feds now, aren’t they?”

The Chief nodded.

Jay sighed. “Well, I’m heading home, then.” He put a hand on the door. “Will, you’ll brief ‘em?”

Will nodded. “Sure.”

Jay left, leaving Will feeling disgusted and angry. This might have been his chance to show some of the older, more experienced cops that he knew what was what, but they were handing this case on to someone else.

“Will?” said the Chief, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“Sir?”

“It’s okay; you can call me Grandpa now.”

Will squirmed but didn’t answer. Didn’t the Chief realize that this was the root of the problem? Being the boss’s grandson had automatically caused everyone to think that the only reason he had gotten this job was because he already had a foot in the door.

“Look,” said the Chief. “He’s going to be here soon.”

“I thought there were two of them.”

“There were two of ‘em… I don’t know if they’re both coming though.”

“Right,” said Will. He turned towards the window of the car and scowled.

The Chief reached out a gnarled hand and rested it on Will’s shoulder. “Will, I want you to help them; be the personal liaison as far as communicating with the police goes. It can be a way to break your wings in, so to speak.”

Will nodded, but barely managed to contain a snort, Right, not even Gramps thinks I could handle a case like this by myself.

“It may not be the most ideal of circumstances, but it’ll have to do. If this is who we think it is, it’ll be best for everyone involved to have these two back on his trail, and if it’s deemed to be a copycat, then you can have the case back.”

Will nodded again. “I understand, sir.” He glanced out the squad car door to see a large, black SUV pull up.

The Chief opened the door. “They’re here.” He glanced back at Will and seemed to notice the frustration on his grandson’s face. “Look, this will be good experience for you. I’m trying to help you out.”

“That’s the problem. You’re always helping me out. I need to do some things for myself.”

The Chief sighed. “If I do too much for you, it’s ‘cause I love you, Will…like I loved your parents.”

“Sure, sure,” said Will, scrambling out of the squad car. He stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets and hurried to the SUV which had just parked.

Just then the door started to open and Will quickly stepped out of the way. A man emerged, but it was too dark to make out any distinct features other than the fact that he and Will were nearly the same height. Will at 6’2’’ stood perhaps an inch taller. The man moved smoothly and carefully giving Will the impression that he was meticulous in his every action, but there was also a recklessness in the way he lively stepped out of the vehicle. To Will, these attributes added up to a person who he would never mess with. The fact that this man was also a Fed just reinforced this notion.

Will extended his hand, “I’m Detective Will Madden, and you are?”

The man, instead of returning the greeting, walked quickly past Will and towards the crime tape, calling over his shoulder as he went, “Don’t you just hate SUVS?”

Ciara Zaketti
Column Editor