Be sure to check out Part 1 available Here. # I pulled the baton out of my purse, thought better of it, and grabbed my Glock. Gun laws be damned. I eased my way up
Be sure to check out Part 1 available Here.
I pulled the baton out of my purse, thought better of it, and grabbed my Glock. Gun laws be damned. I eased my way up the rest of the stairs, staying close to the right wall. A faint light leaked through my open door. Not the overheads, probably the lamp by my desk.
I bent low next to the door frame and risked a quick glance through the opening. The room was dark, except for my desk. A man sat there, his face illuminated by the computer screen. He had a mat of unkempt brown hair, and was maybe a week past clean-shaven.
I sighed and stepped into the room. “Lucky, what have I told you about breaking into my apartment?”
He didn’t look up. “Only in emergencies. But I got your text and figured you’d want me to get started right away.”
“I do, in the office. Or your apartment. Or really anywhere that isn’t my living room.” I tucked the gun back into my purse and closed the door.
“This was closer.”
“You live across the hall, the only possible way my apartment was closer is if you were already inside.”
“Fine, my computer’s busted again. Won’t connect to the network. That’s why I had to use yours.”
I made a mental note to change my password again, not that it ever helped. “When are you going to replace that piece of junk?”
“Right after you give me a raise.”
“Touché.” I flicked the rest of the lights on. “I guess you can stay, but you better have something for me once I get cleaned up.”
That got his attention. He sized up my disguise in a glance and whistled. “I don’t know, boss, maybe you should dress like this more often.”
“Ha ha. Don’t make me regret not shooting you.” I went into my room and closed the door.
The heels went first—they were always the most uncomfortable. Then the shirt and skirt, landing unceremoniously in a heap. I went into my bathroom and began the process of wiping, peeling, and washing my face back to its normal appearance.
As my hands worked, my mind wandered back to the case. The kind of clean incisions the medical examiner described don’t happen by accident, and you don’t learn that kind of skill overnight. Whoever did this was either trained, or left a trail of bodies along the way. I’d have a better idea of which when Lucky finished his search. But Jim had implied there were other, similar cases….
Next question: why remove the brain at all? It’s too complicated to just be convenience, there has to be a reason. Cannibalism? Trophy? Psychopathic compulsion? Whatever the reason, there was no brain at the dump site, so the killer had either kept it, or dumped it somewhere else. I hadn’t heard any reports of random brains being found, though the police hadn’t found the body until I stepped in either.
I opted for a quick shower, letting the hot water wash away the last of the makeup and my thoughts about the local police’s ineptitude. Resentment rarely catches killers.
What was the next step? Contact the client about finding Hilsberger and get paid. Solving murders for the police was a great public service, but it didn’t pay the bills anymore. Maybe I could arrange a meeting for tomorrow. It was short notice, but in my experience, people who are willing to pay a private investigator want the information as quickly as possible.
After drying off, I threw on a towel and went back into my bedroom. I picked up my purse, carefully removed the Glock, and then dumped the remaining contents onto the bed. The gun and the glasses went into the top drawer of the nightstand with my other eyewear. The baton returned to its holster, hidden between the headboard and the mattress. The rest of the junk that somehow accumulates in all purses went into the Drawer of Shame at the bottom of the nightstand.
I really need to go through that at some point.
I put the purse and the heels back into the closet, where they joined the odd assortment of styles I’d gathered over the years. There was something for every kind of disguise.
Then, remembering that Lucky was waiting in my living room, I got dressed and went out to meet him.
“Time’s up, what’ve you got?”
He looked up at me from the computer. “C’mon, it’s been like an hour; so, everything.”
“Lay it on me.”
“Well, I started by going straight to the source, you know, so I didn’t waste either of our time with false comparisons.”
“What are you saying?”
“I went through and found the case file.”
“You hacked into the police database from my laptop?”
He looked hurt. “What kind of idiot do you think I am? I didn’t hack into anything. Last time you sent me to drop off paperwork at the police station, I happened to notice Detective Van Wert’s password and, well, memorized it.”
“You ‘happened to notice’ his password?”
“It’s not my fault he left it on a sticky note attached to his monitor. The man’s a detective for crying out loud, he should know better.”
I glared at him.
“Look, do you want the information or not?”
“Fine, but if I go down for this I’m taking you with me.”
He laughed. “Like you could make any of this stick to me.”
“Lucky, the cops hate you. If I went down to the station right now and said you were Jack the Ripper, you’d be in cuffs before I got home.”
“Try it. You’d be in a padded cell before they knock on my door. So, Hilsberger?”
“Right, what did you find?”
“This is a bad one. Two other bodies have shown up in the last six months that, if not found in dumpsters, would look like they died mid brain surgery. Both unidentified. Only our Mr. Hilsberger had his whole brain missing though.”
“Maybe. There are also at least a dozen open missing person cases which could be related, but the bodies haven’t been found yet.”
“But no open missing person files for the two John Does?”
“No, according to the reports they looked to be homeless. Probably nobody thought to look for them.”
“Where were the other bodies found?”
“Uh, first one was in the dumpster behind Li’s Diner and the second was behind the Royal Egrets Motel.”
“Those are practically across the street from each other, but Hilsberger was stuffed in the trunk of his car in a parking structure uptown. What changed?”
“Someone reported him missing.”
“So, they knew people would come looking.” I slammed the laptop shut. “Grab your stuff; we’ve got work to do.”
To Be Continued…