Mary Had A Little Lamb: Chapter Five
A Random Observation
One thing about rain that is nice for me: it gives me the ability to totally zone in on my writing with no distractions. There is no way I’m going outside this morning, again, after feeding the animals. It is that miserable.
But at least it isn’t a blizzard!
I was watching a 20/20 episode, or maybe it was some other show . . . anyway, it was about this young, single mother, age twenty-one, who just disappeared one night. Her body was found six days later but at the time of her disappearance there was no clue. It was a bit spooky, but it was also a bit ordinary. People go missing daily in this country. It’s a big country, and it’s not hard at all to snatch up a child, or a woman, take them somewhere remote, and do the deed.
That’s just the reality of life here in the U.S., and it is the basis for my dark stories. Evil is out there and you have to be careful.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get back to the story of the murdered children.
And just like that, the killings stopped!
“It doesn’t make sense,” Dawn mentioned as we were wolfing down a heart-attack-in-a-bun at McDonalds. “Serial killers increase their frequency of killings. They all have in the past. But this guy, four killings, one after another, and now two weeks and nothing?” She took a bite of her Big Mac and grimaced. “It doesn’t make sense.”
For sure, it didn’t make sense. This guy was not playing according to the rule book.
We were scheduled to sit on Anthony Bitron at one that afternoon for a four-hour shift. The Department had been tailing Bitron for two weeks, and during that time the guy had been a veritable Boy Scout. Was Bitron our guy? Did he know he was being followed and so decided to wait on his next victim? Or was the perp someone else, maybe someone currently sitting in jail for some lesser offense? I didn’t know whether to be grateful that the killing had stopped, or frustrated/pissed because, with no activity from the killer, we were really spinning our wheels.
We had sent out an alert to neighboring states on the off-chance our guy had moved out of town, but so far we had heard nothing from Idaho, Oregon, or California.
Just like that the killings had stopped, and it didn’t make a damned bit of sense.
Olympia was on edge. The Mayor was under increasing pressure, as was the Police Chief, and since shit flows downhill, Dawn and I were feeling the heat. Two nights earlier a guy was out walking his dog, ten o’clock at night, and some neighbor thought he was the killer and shot him. The hotline was still taking in hundreds of tips each day, and ninety-nine percent of them were panic-inspired.
I threw half my burger into the sack and dumped it in the trash. My appetite was AWOL.
“Let’s go see what Bitron is up to,” I told Dawn.
When Perfect Is Imperfect
Anthony Bitron fit the profile, single-white male, a professional, immaculate, he had called in a tip two weeks earlier and I immediately got bad vibes upon meeting him. We had nothing else to go on with Bitron other than my bad vibes, but a cop learns to trust those vibes and I wasn’t ready to give up on Bitron just yet.
Bitron had been tailed by Olympia’s finest for two weeks and he hadn’t even jaywalked yet.
Dawn parked our department-issued Crown Vic at the curb along Eighth Avenue, a block from Bitron’s house, with an unobstructed view of his home. We settled in for our shift on a damned-near perfect Olympia afternoon, mid-seventies, slight breeze, puffy white above, kids playing in the park, and the obligatory chirping birds to cap off the Norman Rockwell setting.
“It’s too perfect,” Dawn said to no one in particular.
Three hours into our shift Bitron came out and began washing his car. He yelled out to a neighbor, shot the shit with her for a few minutes. He turned on a radio and listened to some Classic Rock, Credence down on the bayou, and when another woman walked by with dog on leash, Bitron stooped down to pet that dog, giving it what appeared to be a treat, laughing the laugh of a good neighbor, absolutely nothing suspicious about him at all.
And then our radio came alive.
“O’Dowd, Robie, come in!”the radio squawked. It was the Chief of Police.
“We’re here, Boss,” Dawn said.
“We’ve got another body. Looks like Houdini again, but this one is fresh. Two teenagers out walking saw a red van pull to the side of the road out on South Bay Road, dump a body, and drive off. We’re processing the scene now. Get your asses over there now.”
Dawn started the car, hit the gas, and we left Bitron to his impeccable life.
None of it made sense! A new body, but not staged in the middle of the night like the others, just dumped in broad daylight?
None of it made sense!
Out on South Bay Road
One arm was at an impossible angle, turned in a direction arms are not supposed to go. She wore a yellow shirt, and on that shirt was a picture of a young girl, watering plants, and the words “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.” There were rope burns on her delicate neck and long, wild red hair tried desperately to cover her partially-nude body.
“How’s the rest of that nursery rhyme go?” Doc Meyster, the M.E., asked.
“Something about cockle shells in a garden and pretty maids all in a row,” Dawn answered.
“Some think it was an allegory about Mary, Queen of Scots, and it’s about torture,” I added, looking down on someone’s daughter, once a vessel of life and laughter.
We already knew who the child was. Her panicked mother had called 9-11 three hours earlier to report her daughter, Rose Marie Swayze, age five, missing from her upstairs bedroom where she was taking a nap, her mother downstairs cooking in the kitchen. Cops went to the home, questioned the mother, agreed it was suspicious, obtained a picture of Rose Marie, and a BOLO was issued a half-hour before the body was dumped.
Pretty maids all in a row!
“I guess we can stop watching Bitron,” Dawn said.
“When will we know for sure it’s Houdini, Doc?” I asked Meyster.
“We already do,” came a voice from behind us. I turned and saw the Chief of Police.
“He called ten minutes ago, identified himself as Houdini, and took credit for the murder. He also had a message for Detectives O’Dowd and Robie. His exact words: do you believe in magic, in a young girl’s heart? End of quote!”
“The Lovin’ Spoonful?” Dawn asked to no one in particular.
“How the music can free her whenever it starts,” I added, looking once more at Rose Marie Swayze. “Someone cover her up, please. Direct sunlight isn’t good for her fair skin.”
The Broth Thickens
Well, we really have a sticky wicket now, don’t we?
What do you think is going on? Anyone? Bueller? Ferris Bueller?
I guess we can forget about Bitron.
Or can we?
I’ll be back next week with another chapter in this increasingly confusing story of depravity. Thanks for joining me.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)