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By: Wayne Brown
The lifeless body lay facedown in a spreading pool of blood on the worn asphalt of the narrow alley behind the liquor store. The homicide detective stood nearby along with some uniformed officers gazing upon the familiar crime scene. Too familiar, it was the fifth homicide this month with the same criminal labels: A dark alley, a single victim, three shots into the torso, cartridge casings on the ground, all 44 Cal. Magnum loads. Sometimes it was a liquor store, sometimes a pawn shop, but always in the alley and always at night.
The detective studied the victim lying facedown and remaining untouched until all elements of the crime scene were secure. This guy had really bled out before being discovered. The large pool of blood was slowing the process as the investigators attempted not to disturb the natural positional relationships within the crime scene. The man was a well-dressed type with a nice sport jacket and cream colored slacks. The Italian loafers on his feet looked to be of the expensive type. Like the others, seemingly well to do. He began to wonder how these folks found themselves in a dark alley in the evening hours. What brought them out here? There was nothing about the crime scene that offered a hint, not one. Each scene basically contained the same elements, a body, blood, spent cartridges. Nothing else of consequence or even remotely connected to the crime could be found…no prints, no hair, no fiber. Other than the gunshot wounds to the torso there was no indication of a struggle.
There was one thing about the victims that gnawed at him. All of them, one woman, and now, four men had all worked downtown in the building where he also worked. They had all worked in the police department. Two of the men were uniformed officers killed while off-duty, the remaining two men, one being this guy, worked in administrative support processing fines and ticket payments. The woman was a jailer who normally worked day shift and weekends. Whoever was behind this obviously had some kind of beef with the police department and those working there.
He glanced at the shell casings lying near a pothole full of rainwater. The gun that fired those shells was damn cannon that could almost cut down small trees with its impact. He looked at the victim sizing up the damage surrounding the entry points of the wounds in his back. It was definitely not point-blank shooting. The shoots had been fired from some distance, possibly 20 to 30 yards. Based on the position of the body and the blood spatters and smears on the back wall of the liquor store, the first shot must have driven the victim into the brick wall and then shots two and three came in rapid succession, almost without thought, before the body could slump to the ground. If the shooter is firing at a distance, he must be good with this pistol, really good with a pistol considering the recoil force of the .44 handgun. He also must be really pissed-off shooting those two extra shoots like that. The first one did the job every time.
A uniform steps into his vision to announce that the crime scene boys were wrapping up and the morgue was on the way to pick up the victim. Plans were in place to secure the scene and keep it secure for the rest of the night. The CSI boys would be back in daylight for one more pass on the area before security was dropped sometime tomorrow. There was nothing more to be done tonight except maybe get home in time to watch the news and see what the media was doing with this insanity.
The suits downtown were beginning to turn up the pressure. The chief wanted this shooter off the street yesterday. The shooter was slick, careful not to leave any tracks behind. He was convinced this guy had no motive other than just selective joy killing. He certainly had an MO, a method of operation, and he, he stopped suddenly realizing that he had already assigned a male gender to this unknown shooter. That was an easy enough conclusion to reach in that he had not met a woman who would want to attempt such shots with such a powerful gun. No, he thought, this is a guy, a woman would opt for a much more controllable weapon especially for multiple shots that were all hitting their mark. He didn’t relish the thought of meeting with the Lieutenant in the morning and having to tell him they were hitting a wall. Something had to break and quick.
He moved toward his unmarked cruiser hurrying a bit as the first drops of rain began to fall into the night air. He started the engine but sat for a moment looking back toward the alley where the crime scene was still visible to him. The thought crossed his mind that the shot could have easily been fired from about where he was sitting. If that was the case then the shooter had to have help. You can’t fire from here and lure someone into an alley at the same time. Maybe he was making some progress but not enough to find a killer. He pulled the transmission into the drive position and pulled away hanging on his last thoughts as he drove off into the rain.
The wipers work back and forth across the width of the windshield in a never-ending struggle of dominance with the rain drops as he takes the freeway ramp and heads southbound on the commuter towards home. The police radio chatters away in the background with an endless litany of exchanges between dispatchers and units scattered around the city. There is never a dull moment in this line of work especially when the night hours arrive. He remembers his years of working night shifts as a uniform. The hours just seemed to melt away with the call to call excitement. It was never dull then. Now that he was working homicide, the heart beat was a bit slower. Initially, it had been exciting but after a few years, if you had seen one crime scene, you had seen them all one way or the other. Uniforms changed the subject with every call. Homicide detectives fought to stay focused on the same case. The work was definitely different now.
The sound of the wipers brought him back to real time again. He looked at his note pad and saw the word “Milk…love you, Honey” written out. It jogged his memory just as his wife had planned when she scrawled it this morning and shoved it in his shirt pocket. He had missed his usual bowl of morning cereal today because there was no milk. She was going to make sure that did not happen two days in a row. He would just scoot down an off ramp here and grab a half-gallon at one of the convenience stores that were so conveniently located on his way home. He eased the cruiser to the right as he slowed a bit to take the next ramp.
Pulling up to the traffic signal, he looked in all directions and quickly spotted the bright sign of one of the local convenience chains. He turned right in the intersection and proceeded in the direction of the store. As he approached, it was apparent that business was good based on the number of cars in the parking lot and around the gas pumps. He quickly saw a side street to the left that ran west adjacent to the store lot. He turned onto the street hoping for a parking spot along the curb. His hunch was correct, there were a couple down a ways on the right-hand side. He could easily run back down the walk and around to the front of the store from here to fetch his precious milk.
As he left the cruiser and headed across the street, he noticed a woman standing near the rear of a gray sedan parked behind the convenience store. She waved to him and he walked in her direction assuming she had mechanical problems. As he approached, he saw the car was pulled into the alleyway with the rear of the car facing the street. The woman, dressed in blue jeans and holding a light jacket over her head to keep off the rain, began telling him that she had a flat tire on the left front and needed him to help as she pointed around to the left front of the car. Understanding her dilemma, he proceeded past her and began walking forward to examine the problem with the left front tire.
A Ford Taurus with faded blue paint pulled forward in the alley just down the block. The driver pulled forward just enough to see the alley behind the convenience store. The driver side window whirs down as the barrel of the .44 extends out in the direction of the store. A pause, steady the sight, wait for the moment to come, don’t rush it. Time seems to stand still.
The first shot rang out from the .44 into the wet night air sending its deadly message toward the mark. In an instant the projectile arrived at the selected destination slamming the detective forward into the cinderblock wall of the convenience store. Quickly, two more shots rang out in quick succession hitting the intended victim before his body could fall to the ground.
The seeminly distress woman was back in the gray sedan in an instance and backing into the street speeding away. The blue Taurus coasted up along the curb and stopped just short of the alleyway entrance. The shooter exited the car and walked to a spot near the body of the fallen detective. With an admiring glance toward the carnage administered by the .44, the shooter quickly tosses three spent casings to the ground and walks rapidly back to the Taurus.
Pulling away from the curb, the shooter concludes that it has been a good day’s work that warranted a bit of rest. Yes, it was time to sleep before her next strike. She smiled knowing she could hardly wait. As the Taurus sped away a small scrap paper was lifted on the wind briefly then fell back on the sidewalk. It read “Milk…love you, Honey”. The ink began to run as the pool of blood surrounding it soaked into the paper.
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