Mary Had A Little Lamb: Chapter Six
I Love It
I really do love the fact that all of you are playing along, looking at the clues, and trying to figure out what the hell is going on with this story.
I’m happy to report that I do know where this is going and all of you are partially correct.
How’s that for a teaser?
Mystery writers are famous for foreshadowing. We rarely leave meaningless clues, and what appears, in the beginning, to be meaningless, will gain in importance as the story unfolds.
This really does feel like a book, doesn’t it? What if I laid it all out but didn’t tell you who the killer was? I’d save that for the book-to-come.
Now that would be cruel! LOL
Let’s get with it!
Ninety-five patrol cops, ten detectives, and various upper-crust administration types sat in on the bullpen session following the death of Rose Marie Swayze. Emotions were running high. Most in attendance had a child of their own, and I had no doubt they saw their own child’s face on the photos displayed on the cork board in front of them.
The Chief of Police had five children. He was not a happy man.
“O’Dowd, Robie, sum it up for everyone.”
As lead detective it fell on me, so I walked to the front of the room.
“You all have the file in your hands. We’ve got a highly-intelligent individual who likes to play games. He’s big into nursery rhymes and evidently he likes the old rock group The Lovin’ Spoonful. He is meticulous. We have found zero in the way of forensic evidence at any of the scenes and, quite frankly, the scenes are almost other-wordly. He is either snatching the kids, or dumping their bodies, in places that would seem impossible. The only time he got sloppy was this last murder, Rose Marie, where he just dumped her body in broad daylight. His vehicle was seen but that’s where our luck ends. No license plate was seen, no solid description of the vehicle other than red and a minivan, which narrows the search down to about fifteen-hundred in Thurston County alone.
“We had one suspect, Anthony Bitron, really more of a guy who felt good for it because of some gut instinct, but Dawn and I were watching him when this last body was dumped, so our gut instincts were pretty much worthless there.
“And that, I’m afraid, is what we have!”
A hand shot up from the back, a patrol cop named DeBord.
“Detective,” he said, “You’ve solved what, over forty murders, so you must have a feeling about this. A hunch of some sort? What are we looking at?”
Good cops play more hunches than the public might want to know about. Hell, they probably play more hunches than their superiors want to hear about, and that explains why I hesitated before answering DeBord’s question.
“I think we’re looking for a team of killers.”
On the Road Again
The meeting dragged on for another fifty minutes, but eventually Dawn and I escaped the questions and hit the road again.
We had, of course, discussed the possibility of more than one killer. We had rejected it outright at first, but then cozied up to it as the body count rose. We were riding the theory that what is impossible to do for one may not be impossible to do for two. We were also trusting in my gut, and my gut still told me that Anthony Bitron was somehow involved in that depravity.
“Where to?” Dawn asked me as we got in our sedan that early Tuesday morning.
“Let’s go talk to Bitron again but first, swing by Perfect Cup so I can grab a mocha. I’m buying today.”
“Big spender! In that case I’m getting a quad,” and she laughed, and not for the first time that morning, I felt some unprofessional urges. I loved her laugh.
Into the Spider’s Web
The Craftsman bungalow, midnight blue with burgundy trim, still sat on 8th Avenue Southeast, across from Bigelow Park. Bitron’s car was in the driveway. A white Ford Econoline van was parked behind Bitron’s car. It was nine a.m. on a stunning Olympia morning, mild temperature, sunshine promising a day of warmth, five little kids on the Big Toys, parents close by, dogs, cats, birds singing, squirrels chattering, an urban setting right out of the Saturday Evening Post.
Dawn pulled to the curb and shut down the engine.
“Let’s not go in yet, Dawn. You can bet Bitron knows we’re here. I just want him off-stride a bit when we talk to him. Let’s get out of the car, and while we’re talking we’ll point to different things around the neighborhood, like some things are pretty damned important.”
She followed my lead and we leaned against the trunk, looked in various directions, pointed, played our parts in the mini-drama.
“It seems so far-fetched, you know,” Dawn said while pointed at a car down the street. “Two killers? Pretty unusual, Bill.”
“Unusual, yes, but not unheard of at all. The Gallegos, Starkweather and Fugate, Lucas and Toole, there was a couple in Italy, one in England, killing as a team, in some ways it makes sense, makes it easier to commit the murders, easier to plan, and easier to establish alibis. On the other hand, two killers doubles the chances of leaving DNA behind. Anyway, I’ve got absolutely nothing on our friend Bitron other than a feeling the guy is hinky from his underwear to his Docker slacks.
“Well, we’ve given him ten minutes of us pointing at things. Let’s go see what Mister Anal Retentive has to say this morning.”
Our knock on the door was answered by the man himself. Anthony Bitron was one of those people who probably crawled out of bed perfectly groomed. His slacks were creased, his shoes polished, not one hair was out-of-place on his head when he answered our knock.
“Detectives, good morning! To what do I owe this pleasure? More questions about my sighting?”
“Good morning Mister Bitron!” I said. “I was curious, do you like The Lovin’ Spoonful? You know, do you believe in magic, in a young girl’s heart, or are you more of a Mary, Mary, quite contrary sort of guy?”
If he heard the question he certainly made no reaction to it. He just smiled and held open the screen door.
“Come in, come in, I was just having coffee with a good friend of mine,” and he closed the door behind us and led us to a small brick patio just outside the kitchen. There sat one of the most ordinary people I’ve ever seen. That was my first impression. There wasn’t a distinguishing feature about him.
He was average height, about five-nine, five-ten, and average weight, maybe one-fifty. He had dull brown hair, cut medium length, brown eyes, no moles, no scars, and no tats. He rose when we came out of the house.
“Detectives O’Dowd and Robie, this is an old college friend of mine. Gerald Banks, say hello to the detectives.”
Banks stood and reached out a hand.
“Detectives, Anthony was just talking about you . . . the famous Houdini Detectives! It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
THE PLOT THICKENS
So there you go, and here we are! A new player has joined the game, and that’s where we’ll leave this story until next week.
Thanks so much for joining me. I’ll see you all next Wednesday, same time, same place.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)