Mary Had A Little Lamb: Chapter Four
Waiting on My Muse
That’s how it goes with me. I have an idea so I begin. The remaineder of the story comes to me eventually, when my muse is ready. I don’t rush her. I give her space, and occupy my time giving background and developing characters.
That’s what I’m doing now. I have the basic story in my head but it’s not ready to completely reveal itself.
Anyway, thank you for joining me once again. Let’s see what is happening with Houdini and the cops determined to catch him.
A task force was formed immediately after the discovery of the body of Tammi Ferris.
Four small children, murdered and brutalized, will kick a city into high gear, and Olympia was running at top rpm’s.
Dawn and I were put in charge of the task force, called “The Houdini Murders,” and given five detectives to assist us. We were assured by the Chief of Police, and the Mayor, that we would have everything we needed to solve the murders.
But we were on a short leash and we knew it. The public was terrified. The Governor was irate and, always the politician, concerned what the murders were doing to his voting numbers. Olympia was a city on edge, a swirling cauldron of fear, Dawn and I were in the eye of the storm, and if we didn’t solve it quickly, the remainder of our careers would be spent in a patrol car.
What the public didn’t know, what the Governor didn’t know, and what the Mayor didn’t know was that we didn’t have a clue.
Houdini was a complete mystery. He had seemingly done the impossible, and he had done it not once, not twice, not three times, but on four separate occasions.
A hotline was established. On average, twenty-two calls were answered every hour, all of them sincere, all of them fueled by terror. They were screened, prioritized, and those deemed as “possible” were given to detectives to follow-up on. It was a hit-and-miss process at best, and we knew it.
Running Calls Down
We were responding to one such call, from a Mister Anthony Bitron, who claimed to have seen a suspicious man hanging out at Bigelow Park, watching children play on the Big Toys three of the last four days.
Bitron lived on 8th Avenue Northeast, on the south side of Bigelow Park, with a perfect, unobstructed view of the park’s activities. Dawn parked our department sedan at the curb and we looked at an immaculate “Craftsman” bungalow, midnight blue in color with burgundy trim, front porch the entire width of the house, supported by four posts, an immaculate lawn, landscaped to perfection.
As we began to climb the steps the front door opened.
“Are you the police?”
Anthony Bitron was as immaculate as his home, early forties, six foot, trim, perfectly-styled hair, and snow-white teeth. He was wearing tan Dockers, a forest green shirt, and what looked to be Italian loafers. He flashed a smile and reached out his hand.
“Anthony Bitron, at your service. I called the hotline two days ago. I was wondering if my call would be taken seriously.”
Dawn shook his hand.
“I’m Detective Dawn Robie and this is my partner, Detective Bill O’Dowd. We’d like to discuss your hotline tip if you have a few moments to spare.”
“Certainly, certainly, come in, please. Let’s get comfortable in the living room. Can I offer you two coffee or tea?”
We both declined on the coffee offer and were led along a gleaming wooden floor to the living room, all dark wood, meticulous craftsmanship, one wall a built-in bookcase, overstuffed furniture, with antiques, to complete the picture of successful professional. Dawn and Bitron sat opposite each other while I slowly toured the room, stopping in front of the bookcase, a bookcase filled with children’s books, Seuss and Mother Goose, Silverstein and Nancy Drew, and twelve titles by Anthony Bitron.
“You’re an author, Mister Bitron?” I asked from across the room.
“I suppose you could say that, Detective, although there are some in the literary world who don’t equate writing children’s books with being an author. There are snobs in any business, I’m afraid.”
“Self-published, Mister Bitron?” Dawn asked.
“No, no, I was fortunate. Penguin offered me a contract ten years ago and I’ve been with them ever since. But you aren’t here to discuss my writing, so let me tell you what I saw.”
“What kind of books do you write?” I asked him, thumbing through one of his works.
“Why, mysteries, Detective. My main character is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, but he’s fifteen years old. I’ve found a comfortable niche, and my books have been well-received over the years.”
I joined Dawn on the couch.
“All right, Mister Bitron. Why don’t you take us through your sightings. Describe the man as well as you can, and give us any other impressions you remember.”
Bitron described a man of average size, perhaps five-ten, muscular, weighing close to one-ninety, with dark-wavy hair.
“He always seems to be pretending to take a walk, or pretending to eat a snack, if that makes sense. He goes through the motions, but his eyes are always on the children in the park. The first time I didn’t think much of it, but then he returned, and returned again, and finally I just couldn’t stay quiet any longer, so I called the hotline.”
“Did he drive a vehicle?” Dawn asked.
“I saw none. He always appeared to be on foot.”
“Was there anything distinctive about his clothing?”
“No, not really, jeans, sweatshirt, one time a windbreaker, and always one of those white sailor caps, you know the type, with the embroidered insignia on the front.”
“A sailor cap?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, not the type they wear in the Navy, but the type that yachtsmen wear at regattas. I thought that strange as well, it not being normal wear for a small park in Olympia.”
Dawn made a final note and sketched a cap in her notebook.
“When was the last time you saw this guy?” she asked.
“Three days ago. He was there three days in a row and I haven’t seen him in three days.”
I got up. Dawn did the same. I reached out my hand.
“Thanks for your time, Mister Bitron. If we need any more information we’ll be in touch. We appreciate you calling the hotline, and if you see the man again, call 911 immediately.”
Leaving the Scene
Our perfect host said goodbye to us from his perfect home. We got into our car, Dawn started the engine, and looked at me.
“What do you think, Bill? Can we trust his eyewitness report? Maybe we should have a plainclothes cop sit on the park for a few days. Maybe that guy will return.”
I looked back at the house. Bitron was still on the porch. He waved. I waved back.
“I think that’s a hell of an idea, Dawn. Call it in, get someone over here within the hour, tell them to park a block away and approach on foot. I want them carrying a lunch, maybe a book, some legitimate reason for being here, and make sure it’s a female cop.”
“Okay, and I’ll give her a description of the guy, including the sailor cap.”
“Don’t bother with that, Dawn. Just give them a description of Bitron and his address. I want to know where this guy goes at all times. You and I are heading back to headquarters. I want to know more about Bitron.”
The Plot Thickens
Oh, don’t you just love a mystery?
Is the killer this Bitron guy?
Or maybe Bill is smoking some funny grass and they should be concentrating on the sailor cap guy?
Or maybe there’s another player in the game we know nothing about?
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)