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3S Round Robin

Chapter 8

by Janet Rivenbark

 “He was a bad man, Dah-dee,” Jacob insisted.

 “You said that, Jacob, but what else did you see?” Vincent sat on the edge of his son’s bed.

 “He had a stick and big bwack eyes.” The boy made circles with his thumbs and index fingers and held them up to his eyes.

 “What was he doing, Jacob?”

 “Walking behind Di-nanna,” he said, nodding for emphasis.

 “Anything else?”

 “Nuh-uh.” He shook his head, eyelids starting to droop.

 “What makes you think he was a bad man, Jacob?” asked Vincent.

 “Just was, Dah-dee.”

Jacob yawned and snuggled down into his pillow and was asleep before Vincent could lean down to kiss his cheek.

 Vincent spent the rest of the day mulling over what he had read and what his son had told him. Was it a real precognitive dream or just a three year old’s active imagination? Jacob hadn’t really been told anything about bad men. Even when he asked about his mother, no one ever used those words. He was just told that his mother died right after he was born. His concept of bad was someone who didn’t obey, or took more than his share of cookies, not someone who hurt other people.

Several hours after he’d put Jacob to bed for the night, he came to a decision. “It won’t hurt to let her know,” he said out loud to his empty chamber.

 

Vincent knew Jamie would be home from class, but she wasn’t in her chamber. After sending a message on the pipes asking for her location, he was informed she was in Mouse’s chamber.

 “But Mouse doesn’t need that,” Mouse was saying as Vincent entered the workshop. “Got it here.” He pointed at his head.

 “What have you got there, Mouse?” asked Vincent as he walked up to the couple sitting at the table.

 “The stuff Jamie is learning in school Uptop,” said Mouse.

 “Calculus and higher math,” added Jamie.

 “Perhaps it is like someone who plays a musical instrument by ear…learning to read the music can be a distraction,” suggested Vincent.

 “I think you are probably right,” agreed Jamie, closing the book.

 “Vincent need Mouse’s help?” asked Mouse, hopefully.

 “No, Mouse. Not this time. I was going to ask Jamie if I could borrow her phone again.”

“Sure, Vincent.” Jamie picked up her backpack, stuck the math book back in it, then pulled out the phone and handed it to Vincent.

 “I’m just going to call Diana again. I’ll bring it back when I’m done.”

As he walked through the tunnels to the place he could make the call, he went over what Jacob had said. How could he warn Diana without sounding too alarmist or paranoid?

 

It was late, so Vincent punched in Diana’s home number. After four rings, the answering machine picked up.

 “Hello, Diana. Are you there? It’s Vincent. Please pick up the phone if you are there.” He waited a couple more seconds, and when she didn’t pick up, he ended that call and punched in her mobile phone number. She answered after only one ring.

“Bennett.”

“Diana, it’s Vincent, I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” he asked.

“Hi, Vincent.” Her voice immediately softened. “No, I’m just backtracking and rechecking the crime scenes.”

 

“You’re in the park?” he asked, his alarm creeping into his voice.

 

“That’s where the crime scenes are,” she pointed out. She stopped in the middle of the path and did a slow twirl, her eyes scanning the ground in the meager light of a nearby light. She noticed a man walking slowly around the curve behind her. He had a cane in one hand that he tapped along the path as he walked slowly. He wore dark glasses and carried a paper bag. Blind, she noted to herself, then directed her attention back to Vincent on the phone as she watched the man approach.

 

“You aren’t alone, are you?” he was asking.

 

“Well, yes I am. You know I work better that way. Can’t think with all the usual chatter going on when there are people around me, but there are plain clothes officers crawling like ants all over. ”

 

“I’m sorry I’m disturbing you,” Vincent apologized.

 

“You don’t disturb me,” she assured him.

 

“It’s just that something Jacob said earlier today has been bothering me, and I felt that you should know.”

 

“What is it, Vincent?” She could tell from his tone that it was important. She stepped off the path and went to sit on a tree stump under the light, thinking that she might want to get out of the blind man’s way.

 

“You know that Jacob and I possess some unusual talents.” It was more of a statement than a question.

 

“Yes. You have an empathic connection similar to the one you had with his mother.”

 

“That’s right. In the past I’ve occasionally had precognitive dreams, and Jacob has had the occasional precognition also. Usually in dreams, like mine…” He hesitated.

 

“And?” Diana prompted as she absently watched the blind man tap his way toward her on the path. She looked away to study the dried leaves around her feet.

 

“Well, he said he had a dream about you. He said there was a bad man following you. A bad man with a stick and big black eyes.”

 

Diana quickly looked up at the man as he tapped his way down the path away from her, while she listened to what Vincent was saying. “I don’t know where he got the idea that he was a bad man. I asked, and all he could say was that he just was. I don’t want to alarm you, but I’ve just had this feeling all day that I should tell you.”

 

“Hey, no sweat Vincent. I’m usually very aware of my surroundings, but when I’m working on a case, I do tend to drift off into a world of my own. If Jacob’s dream makes me look at the people around me more, then it could be helpful.”

 

She looked down at her feet again and idly scuffed her foot back and forth in the leaves as she talked. Her toe hit something that gave a faint ‘tink,’ and then she caught a glint in the light. She reached down and brushed the leaves away to find a drug vial. She couldn’t make out any details, but it could be an insulin bottle. But never one to assume anything, she interrupted Vincent.

 

“Vincent, I’ve just found something, and I need to hang up so I can make a call.”

 

“What is it, Diana? You aren’t in danger, are you?” he asked.

 

“No, nothing like that. I’m just off the path, near one of the crime scenes, and I’ve found something that could be important. It is just far enough from where one of the bodies was found that I guess the crime scene guys missed it. Unless, of course, it has nothing to do with anything and someone dropped it yesterday. I’ll try to get Below sometime soon and update you on what is going on,” she promised. “Good night, Vincent.” She broke the connection almost before Vincent had the chance to say good-bye.

 

Diana didn’t move off the stump, but she punched in Detective Mohr’s number.

 

“Mohr, this is Bennett. I’m close to where the second body was found, and I may have found something that was missed. I need someone here to bag it and take some pictures.”

 

“You got it. There should be a foot patrol near you. I’ll send them over and then call the desk.”

 

Diana broke the connection, dropped the phone back in her tote, then carefully stood up from her seat on the stump, trying not to disturb anything any more than she already had.

 

***

 

Further up the path, in the other direction, the blind man had stopped when he’d gone around another curve and was out of sight. He listened as the woman ended one call and quickly made another one. He couldn’t do anything while she was on the mobile phone talking to someone. They would undoubtedly know that something had happened and send help.

 

She ended the second call, and he saw his chance and started back up the path toward her. He reached the curve just as she stepped back on the path, at the same time as the foot patrol cop came around the bend from the other direction. Good thing he’d noticed that. She might get suspicious if she saw the blind man pass a second time.

 

He’d just have to give up the idea of doing this one. It was getting late, and he’d be pressed for time to find another one tonight. He’d have to move fast.

 

***

 Diana stood to one side and watched as the vial she’d found was carefully placed in a plastic evidence bag.

“Anything left in it, Zeke?” she asked.

Zeke held the bag up to the light so she could see. “It’s about half full. You know, with some of these drugs, the hospital policy is to dispose of any partially used vials when a patient no longer requires it.”

 

“Yeah, but they don’t pitch them into the dumpster; so unless that is an insulin vial, I’m wondering how it got out here in the park?”

 

“Nope. It’s not insulin. The label says it’s Haloperidol,” he said, squinting at it in the bad light.

 

“What’s that?” she asked, taking out a pad and writing it down.

 

“Don’t know. You’ll have to ask a doc or a nurse.”

 

He turned away and headed toward the van. Diana turned to Mohr, who had just arrived.

 

“I’ve got to go talk to a doc. I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

“Doctor?  You sick?” Mohr actually looked concerned.

 

“No, I want to find out something about that drug.”

 

“The hospital is that way,” Mohr called after her as he pointed in the opposite direction that she was walking.

 

“Got a friend,” Diana called back.

 

Mohr nodded as she walked briskly up the path away from all the activity.

 

She quickly went over all the thresholds in the vicinity, and the closest was the one in the drainage culvert. Tonight she would take the chance.

 

She was halfway to Father’s chamber before she thought to stop and tap out a message on the pipes; but when she stopped, she listened and found that two sentries had already reported her approach, and Vincent had answered that he was on his way. She met him just before she reached the hub.

 

“Diana, is something wrong?” he asked as he stopped in front of her.

 

“Nothing’s wrong, Vincent,” she assured him. “I just wanted to talk to Father.” She glanced at her watch when she noticed that Vincent was in his night clothes and robe…it was after 1AM. “It’s not too late, is it?” she asked in concern.

 

Vincent gave  her a hug, which she gratefully returned, then took her hand and began walking toward Father’s chamber.

 

“No. Father and I are both night owls. He’s probably still got his nose in a medical journal. Why do you need him? You aren’t ill are you?”

 

“No. When I said I’d found something when I was talking to you on the phone, it was a drug vial. I just thought Father might be able to tell me what it is.”

 

They’d reached Father’s chamber as they talked, and when they entered, they found Father just as Vincent had said. He was reading a medical journal, with a cup of tea at his elbow.

 

He looked up and smiled as they entered.

 

“You are visiting rather late, Diana,” he observed.

 

“I’m sorry, Father, but I’m glad you are still up. I have a question, a medical question.”

 

Father turned to face her fully and pushed his glasses up to the top of his head.

 

“What is it, my dear?” he asked.

 

“I need to know something about the drug Haloperidol.”

 

“Hm, as I remember, the more common name is Haldol. It is an antipsychotic, I think.” He turned to Vincent. “Vincent, hand me that Physician’s Desk Reference from the shelf behind you.”

 

Vincent turned and pulled the large book off the shelf and put it on the desk in front of his father. Father pulled his glasses back down to his nose and started paging through the book.

 

“Could it be used to knock someone out?” asked Diana.

 

“Ah yes, here it is. I was correct, it is used to reduce the symptoms of mental disorders such as schizophrenia. It also says that it is used to control involuntary muscle movements and one of the side effects is sleepiness. If the therapeutic dose will do that, I would imagine that in larger doses it might be used as a sedative or might possibly even paralyze someone temporarily. Why do you want to know this?” he asked.

 

“The killings in the park. Puncture wounds were found on the bodies of the two sisters who were killed the other night. They looked like needle tracks to me, and while I was up in the park a little while ago, I found a partially empty bottle of Haloperidol buried in the leaves near one of the crime scenes. If the victims were unconscious when their throats were slit, that would explain why no one heard anything, especially from Teresa Gutierrez, who was killed practically outside the front door of Mt. Sinai Hospital.”

 

“Did all of them have the needle marks?” asked Vincent.

 

“We aren’t sure. The only bodies left at the Morgue are Gutierrez and the Thorton sisters; the others have already been released to the families for burial. The doc was going to check the body left in the morgue and let me know. All the women had bruising on their wrists and faces; they obviously struggled, they all had slashed throats.” She looked up at Vincent. “By the way, the reports said that the weapon was probably wielded by a right handed person. They were all young women, but that is where the similarities end--they don’t look alike, they are all different heights, come from different backgrounds, do different work, so this killer isn’t after an exact type.”

 

“I’m going to leave you two to hash this out,” said Father as he rose from his chair and headed for his bedchamber. “Good night.”

 

“Good night, Father. Sleep well,” said Vincent as he took Diana’s hand and led her out of the chamber.

 

“Good night, Father. Thanks for your help,” Diana called back over her shoulder as they turned toward Vincent’s chamber.

 

“Isn’t it unusual that a serial killer would not have a certain type of person in mind?” asked Vincent as they entered his chamber.

 

“Yes, but not totally unheard of,” said Diana. “For him it could be just that they are all young females. But I can’t help thinking that I’m missing something.” She dropped her tote on a chair and pulled out a file folder and dropped it on the table next to Vincent’s journal.

 

Vincent went to the table and picked up his journal and slid it and his pen into a drawer in the table.

 

“Would you like some tea, Diana?” he asked.

 

She looked up at him and smiled. “You know, that sounds good.” She glanced at the tapestry that separated Vincent’s chamber from the small side chamber that Jacob occupied. “Do you mind if I look in on him?” she asked. “Maybe it will clear my mind.”

 

“Not at all,” said Vincent as he set a kettle on the brazier. “He’s missed you. He asked this afternoon if you would come to see him tonight.”

 

“I’ve missed him too,” she said as she pushed the tapestry aside and entered the room.

 

Jacob had just recently moved into the chamber and into his ‘big boy bed’; he was very proud of that achievement.

 

In typical three-year-old fashion, he was sprawled on the bed and had kicked off the blankets. Diana gently pulled the covers up over him, smoothed the hair out of his eyes and was turning to leave when he woke.

 

“You came to see me, Di-nanna!” he exclaimed sleepily.

 

She went back and sat down on the bed beside him.

 

“I missed you!” he said, throwing his arms around her waist in a fierce hug.

 

“I missed you too, Tiger,” she said, using the pet name she’d given him shortly after he’d figured out that he could growl like his Daddy. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

 

“S’OK,” he insisted. “Did you get away from the bad man?”

 

“I didn’t see a bad man, but your Daddy told me about your dream. What made you think he was a bad man?”

 

“He just was,” Jacob insisted. “He had a stick and big bwack eyes.” Jacob repeated making circles with his thumbs and index fingers and putting them up to his eyes.

 

That jogged something in Diana’s brain. “Big black eyes? You mean glasses, like Eric’s?” she asked.

 

“Uh-huh,” said Jacob, his head bobbing up and down. “Onwy they were bwack.”

 

“And what kind of a stick did he have?” she asked.

 

“A long, skinny one. He kept waving it back and forf.” He waved one arm from side to side in front of him.

 

Diana hugged him. “I think you’d better go back to sleep before we are both in trouble with your Daddy.

 

“We’re gonna have b’sketti for dinner tomorrow,” he told her. “You can come and eat wif us.”

 

“I’ll try to do that, Tiger. You go to sleep now,” she said, kissing his cheek and tucking him in.

 

“G’night, Di-nanna.” He was asleep almost before he finished speaking.

 

Back in Vincent’s chamber, she sat down in a chair next to the table as Vincent handed her a heavy ceramic mug of hot, strong tea.

 

“You know, I think I may have seen Jacob’s ‘bad man’ tonight,” she said after a sip.

 

“You did?” Vincent took a seat across the table from her.

 

“Yes. While I was talking to you, a blind man passed me on the walkway. He had on dark glasses and was using one of those red tipped white canes as he moved along the path. He fits the description that Jacob gave of the man in his dream.”

 

“Then he wasn’t really dreaming of any real danger to you,” said Vincent with a sigh of relief.

 

“Probably,” she agreed, “but it would make a good disguise,” she mused.

 

As they drank their tea, Diana looked through the file from her tote. She and Vincent tossed ideas back and forth and finally gave up. Vincent offered to walk Diana back to the tunnel under the manhole cover near her loft. It would be safer for her to go Above there than in the park.

 

When they reached the ladder, Vincent climbed up and pushed the manhole cover aside so Diana could climb out. Before she climbed the ladder, she turned and hugged Vincent. “Thanks for being my sounding board and letting me bounce ideas off you,” she said.

 

“I’ve missed the mental challenge,” he said with a smile. “Good night, Diana. Sleep well.”

 

“Good night, Vincent.” After one final, quick hug she ascended the ladder and disappeared. Vincent climbed up to pull the cover back into place, but turned to watch as Diana walked up the alley and around the corner to the front of her building. He waited until he saw a light go on in the window of her loft before he replaced the cover and returned to his chamber.

 

***

 Diana’s phone started ringing just as she flipped on the light.

 She glanced up at the clock on the wall; going on four. It must be important. She snatched the handset out of the cradle.

“Bennett,” she snapped.

“This is Mohr,” said the familiar voice. “There’s been another one, just like you said.”

 

“Damn!” she swore. “Where?”

 

“’Bout half a mile up the footpath from where you found that drug vial. It was called in about fifteen minutes ago. I’m on my way back.”

 

“I’ll meet you there. I have a question, Mohr,” she said before he could hang up.

 

“What is it, Bennett?” he asked.

 

“Did any of the people you interviewed, the potential witnesses, say anything about a blind man?”

 

“Um…as a matter of fact, Hunter mentioned that the only person other than his caped guy that he usually sees in the park is a blind man with a cane, the homeless woman mentioned a blind guy and the two interns said that they passed a blind guy as they were heading toward the meadow. One of them said that he saw him in the lobby of the hospital when he went back to call the police after they found the body.”

 

“Why wasn’t that in any of the reports?” she asked through gritted teeth.

 

“A blind guy? I doubt that he’d be a good witness,” he said with a chuckle.

 

“But he might be a murder…in disguise.”

 

“Hell, Bennett. I never thought…”he started.

 

“Obviously,” she said as she remembered her analogy to kids in the chocolate factory. “So, get the uniforms, mounteds and plainclothes out scouring the park. Tell ‘em to look for a guy in a dark wind breaker, jeans, running shoes, with a white cane, the collapsible kind, I think; he has dark glasses with large lenses, and he’s carrying a paper bag a little larger than a lunch bag but smaller than a grocery bag.”

 

“Where’d you get the description?” he asked.

 

“I saw him, while I was walking from one crime scene to the next. He passed me while I was talking to someone on my mobile phone.”

 

“I’ll take care of it Bennett.”

 

“I’ll be there in a few, she said and hung up. Sleep deprivation was a way of life when she was on a case like this.

 

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