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The Darkness

By Michael J. Spoula

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A book of this nature normally would not have a dedication; however I dedicate this novel to those that put their life on the line every day, the men and women in blue that serve and protect us.

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The Darkness

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This is a work of fiction. The characters are fictitious as are the incidents and places portrayed. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is completely coincidental.

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Darkness Strikes
Darkness Strikes Father Miles Grimm removed his purple stole and hung it in the closet of the sacristy. He removed the white alb and hung that up too. Normally he forgot the sins of the people that came to him to celebrate the sacrament of penance right after they had finished confessing, he was sure that it was a special grace that God gave to all priests. Today was different because the man who chose to stay hidden behind the screen instead of confessing face to face had confessed to him that he had murdered someone, not recently but in the past. The screen hid the man from view but there was no way the screen could prevent the body odor of the man from permeating through to him. Father Miles began to breathe through his mouth. The man almost seemed proud of the killing and described it in vivid bloody detail to him. When he asked the penitent if he were sorry for the murder he told him that not only was he not sorry, he was going to do it again and again and again. It was at that point the man abruptly left the room leaving the odor of evil along with the description of his heinous act that Father Miles could not get out of his head. Miles sat in the confessional room another fifteen minutes and heard two more routine confessions including a woman accusing herself of adultery and a teen age boy confessing masturbation, the same sin in two forms. He dealt with these two sins compassionately, routinely and swiftly, uttering the words of absolution for each of the poor sinners and then he waited a few more minutes. At eight oclock the hour for celebrating the sacrament came to an end and it was time for him to lock up the church. He closed the closet door and turned and walked into the church. He went into the first pew and as was his custom he prayed for all of those that had come to him for sacramental forgiveness that day. He also prayed for the strange man who proudly proclaimed his guilt and did not wait around for forgiveness. Of course, the odorous man had not been sorry for his sin so there would have been no way

The Darkness P a g e | 6 for Father Grimm to pronounce the words of absolution that would have welcomed even this man back into Gods good graces. Father prayed hard for the strange man, praying not for his conversion, but that the man would not carry out his threats. The old priest was in a dilemma. Although there had been no sacramental confession, at least no absolution, he toyed with the idea of calling the police. But then what would he say to them? Look for Mr. Stinky; I think he might be planning a murder. Then he realized that the man as evil and as repugnant and unrepentant as he was, had come into the confessional and had spoken to him as a priest so the conversation was therefore protected by both canon and civil law. He could not call the police or share what was said with anybody and no one, not even the Pope himself could compel him to reveal what was said in the confessional. He finished his time of prayer and walked to the side entrance. He turned off the lights and now the only light was by the altar where the red candle light above the tabernacle proclaimed the presence of Christ. He turned and armed the alarm and then opened the door and went out into the chill autumn night. He fumbled for his keys, found the one that he was looking for and locked the church up. He was just turning around when the dart hit him in the neck. He felt a burning pain and a moment later he fell to the ground. He could not move and worse than that he could not breathe. Panic started to set in but he could not express it. His entire body was paralyzed. From the shadows a big man came and looked down at him right in the face. The odor from his killers body enveloped the dying priest even though he could not smell it and as consciousness left him he saw the round face smile at him. After that Miles answered the call to come home and he moved towards the light. The man was big, three hundred and fifty pounds if he were an ounce. He had no hair at all on his body. The bald head was bullet shaped and his teeth were a dentists nightmare. He was very strong and moved with an agility that was surprising for a man of his great bulk. He reached into the dead priests hand and snatched the keys from the mans fingers. The eyes of the dead cleric stared at the

The Darkness P a g e | 7 killer in mute protest. He opened the door of the church and stepped in. Quickly he typed in the code to disarm the alarm and dragged the cooling body into the church. He dragged Father Grimms corpse to the confessional room. Then he went to the sacristy and pulled the alb and red stole off of their hangers and went back to the confessional room and he dressed the deceased man in his priestly attire. He dragged him to the chair and manhandled the priest into it. He adjusted the red stole so that it hung properly and he smiled at his handiwork. So that there would be no mistake, he took the dart which he had shot into the neck of the priest and wrapped the fingers of the dead man around it. They would soon know that he had the power of death and that he would dispense it frequently and at will. With that he knew his work here was done so he turned and left through the door he had come with his last act being to reset the alarm. He thought cheerfully that the alarm being set would fox them; they would never know how he got the code. The killer went off to his next destination and into the darkness. Several blocks away another tragedy was playing itself out. Sister Gwendolyn listened to the old ladys breathing sounds and knew that the cancer would soon claim the ninety four year old grandmother of fourteen. Angela was ready to die, she had made her peace with God and family and there was a look of serenity on her face that belied her current circumstances. Now Angela, youre doing okay, you need to rest. Gwendolyn told her. The old lady squinted at the nun and whispered; For a nun you sure can lie pretty good. I know I aint got long to go and I sure aint afraid. Angela, I know you know you are dying. I just dont think it will be today. Well Sister, if you are a betting woman, put your money on the reaper. Im leaving today, before dawn. Okay, okay Angela, I believe you. Can I bring your children back in now?

The Darkness P a g e | 8 Yeah, send them in, but Christ, tell them to be a little more upbeat, this crying crap has gotta stop. The Hospice Nun smiled and packed her stethoscope in her bag. She checked to make sure that the morphine drip was full and that the oxygen was set at one hundred percent. She turned and took a final look at Angela. It was funny but some people knew just when they were going to die. Although Angelas lungs were still working and the telltale rattle of imminent death was missing the nun knew that Angela would die sometime tonight. She went into the hallway and told the family that they could go in. She explained that Angela was very close to death and that she might even die this very night and that they should not wait to say anything to her that they deemed important. Jacqueline, Angelas sister started to cry. Sister Gwendolyn told them what Angela had said about crying and that Angela was ready to die and was not afraid. Jackie wiped her eyes and tried to compose herself. The hospice nun gave a card with phone numbers to be called to Jackie if death came to claim Angela during the night. Jackie nodded and hugged the nun and then the Jackie and the other six standing watch, Angelas children, went into the bedroom to continue their death watch. Sister Gwendolyn put on her coat and went out into the late autumn coolness. Her car was parked half a block away from the house. She turned and walked toward it. She sensed but did not see a presence in the area. There was an odor of unwashed body very heavy in the air. She looked to the left and then she felt a sting in her neck and in a moment she collapsed. She could see and hear but she could not move. She tried to scream but she could not breathe. A huge bald bullet shaped head appeared in her line of sight and smiled at her, revealing a set of peach stone teeth. He just stood there staring at her. His ghastly smile was the last thing she saw on this earth. Her last thought was that she was being sent ahead to prepare things for Angela. The ogre pulled the dart from the nuns neck. He picked her up as if she was a sack of flour and carried her to her car. He looked in her purse and found the keys to the ancient Ford. He unlocked the

The Darkness P a g e | 9 car and placed the nun in the back seat, sitting her straight up. He thought that it was a shame that nuns no longer wore black and white outfits, what he was doing would have been even more dramatic if she had been in religious garb but he was a realist and he knew that he had to work with the materials were provided. He reached into her medical bag, took out the stethoscope and placed them in her ears. He carefully unbuttoned her blouse and pulled down her bra exposing both of her small breasts. He received no sexual thrill from the exposed breasts. He was neither hetero nor homo nor bisexual. This creature was a creature that was totally asexual. He took the stethoscope and placed it on her left breast as if she were listening to her own heartbeat. He taped it there with some adhesive bandage he found in the nuns bag. Finally he left his calling card; he opened her mouth and placed the dart sideways in it. Too bad if the responders nicked themselves on it and were treated to the same horrible death as the so called holy nun. Then as an afterthought, he put the keys in the ignition and started the engine. He turned on the radio and set it to his favorite station, the one that featured twenty-four hour a day preaching, he turned up the volume a little so that the good nun could enjoy hearing the so called word of God. What did these damn preachers know anyhow? He was the one who decided who lived and who died and isnt that what God was supposed to be so very good at? Maybe he was God! Satisfied that his work was done, he locked the doors of the car, leaving the key inside and the engine running and walked again into the darkness which was his only friend.

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Damn I Hate Country Western

At the Starting Gate John Mikals was dreaming about Denise his ex-wife. She was laughing at him and he was getting angry and then she started to sing do wacka do wacka do wacka do and the dream suddenly ended and he popped his eyes open loosing the vision of his witch of an ex-wife but still hearing the do wacka do. He turned his head and slammed his hand down hard to turn off the musical alarm. He sat up, opened the door on the CD player, reached in and removed the Roger Miller CD and flung it across the room. Two good things about losing Denise to divorce were first he did not have to listen to country western music anymore and second he could get rid of all of those damn boxer shorts she insisted he wear and he could go back to wearing his beloved tighty whities. Those damn boxers rode up and became most uncomfortable at the most inconvenient of times and he had taken great pleasure in throwing every colorful but uncomfortable pair into the trash the day after she left the apartment. He looked at the clock, damn it, it was ten after five, he was late in making his call. He sat on the edge of the bed and called Lieutenant Bradfords cell phone. It rang once and his boss immediately answered it. John, youre late. I only ask two things of you John, what they are? his boss demanded in a stern voice. Ted, I am supposed to call you, my sponsor, before I take that first drink and I am to call you at 5:00 AM every morning to check in with you. Sorry Im late, I overslept by five minutes. Were you dreaming about drinking John? his boss asked, his voice taking on a gentler tone. No, Ted, I was dreaming about her, shit, she was laughing at me even in the dream. Well, dreaming about her is to be expected, you and her were together for fifteen years and not all of those years were bad years where they? Ted, they were some of the best years and some of the worst years I ever lived. The last two where my drinking dragged me down to the bottom were the worst. I cant blame her for leaving me,

The Darkness P a g e | 11 but I wish she had left me for another guy, but for another woman, hell, thats what pisses me off about the situation. I sometimes think that the other guys laugh at me behind my back. But you know the program teaches me that I cant live in the past and hope to stay sober, so let her and her bull dike have a very fucking happy life. And John, I appreciate all the help youve given me since I got out of rehab. Look, I gotta get dressed and get to the six oclock meeting. Buddy, youre never going to hear this from your sponsor again but to hell with an AA meeting, I want you down here now, we got a couple of murders, bad ones, good people taken out in a bizarre way and everyone downtown wants the goof that did these killings in jail no later than yesterday so I need you down here sooner rather than later. We can have a private meeting in my office before I brief you on the case if you want to. Cripes Ted, this town has two murders an hour on some hot summer days, what the hell is different about these two? John reached over and picked up his cigarettes, pulled one out of the pack and stuck it in his mouth. He did not light it because he was trying to quit the filthy habit. Its bad John, two real good people were killed and you aint gonna like it. Father Miles at Sacred Heart, you know the old good natured geezer and just a couple blocks away, Sister Gwendolyn, you know the one they featured in the paper a couple of weeks ago, she was killed too, also by the same guy. Sister Gwen was killed! John could not believe it. The nun known simply as the Hospice Nun was loved by everyone. She was the one that helped Denise and him through the death of their son from a brain tumor. She went above and beyond the call of duty sitting with them two nights in a row as the end approached, taking care of them while she made Mickeys last hours as pain free as possible. Mickey was the only good thing that had come out of their marriage and now he was gone. The thought of their nine year old lying in bed, so white, so cold, so innocent, brought tears to his eyes and he felt that he needed a drink, just one small one, to ease the pain. He thought through the drink and

The Darkness P a g e | 12 remembered that there was no problem that alcohol couldnt make worse and the craving, a symptom of his cunning, powerful, and baffling disease passed him and he said; Im gonna get this scumbag and if he is lucky he might just make it to the station when I find him. Jesus, Sister Gwendolyn was so fucking gentle how could anyone want to hurt her? Ted, I am on my way, and yeah, I gonna need a meeting, I just thought about Mickey and felt like I could use a belt. Well boy, you live ten minutes from here, Ill give you five minutes to dress, you can shave and shower here, which means I should see your smiling face standing in front of me in fifteen minutes. If you are here in sixteen minutes, you can bet your sweet ass that youre gonna be blowing into a balloon for me, now get your ass moving, youre on the clock as of right now. He presented himself in his bosss office in fourteen minutes. Gracie, the lieutenants aide told him to go right in. Ted was a typical senior Chicago cop. He was one pound over the limit of being in good shape and headed north of fitness slowly but surely as the years on desk duty took their toll. Gray hair colored his scalp except where his hair had given up and stopped growing and that patch was getting larger day by day. His face bore the marks of many years on the beat and even a longer time in a command that dealt with so much of the inhumanity one person can inflict on another. As a matter of fact there was a time when he decided to treat his symptoms of sorrow with scotch whiskey, mass quantities of it taken daily, and eventually he lost his family through the booze. A former partner, now with a big office downtown had taken him in hand and brought him to his first AA meeting. At first Ted thought that AA was bullshit but as he put the plug in the jug and started listening he heard his story over and over again. During those first meetings he had said nothing when it came around for his turn to talk, saying instead a single word; pass. Then one day, with tears in his eyes, the first tears he had cried since he was a boy, he realized that he belonged at the meeting and when his turn came with a broken voice he said; My name is Ted and I am an alcoholic.

The Darkness P a g e | 13 He then told his story, withholding some facts that first time to be sure, but he told it, he got it out and finished it by thanking Frank, his sponsor for dragging him to the meetings. Things got better for Ted from then on. He now really believed that he had to embrace life one day at a time and to live in the now. He knew that he didnt have to drink today. Maybe he would drink tomorrow, but for today he didnt have to. That was the secret of course, the have to. Regular people could have a drink but he and other alcoholics could not stop at one. He also had to drink because it allowed him to anesthetize the pain in his life. But the pain always came back so he would have to down some more scotch to dull it. He drank more and more and eventually the pain would no longer go away. He became a nasty drunk and ran off his friends with his evil attitude towards life that is everyone except his future sponsor. His sponsor cleaned him up when he puked and did not take offense at his drunken ramblings and curses. He now was paying forward what Frank did for him by sponsoring John. John was not as stubborn of a drunk as he had been which surprised Ted. But it only took a couple of meetings before John broke and accepted the fact that he was an alcoholic. John was a hard case but Ted was a hard sponsor, it was as if they were made for each other, thank you Higher Power! John had been sober six months now and went to at least one meeting a day. At the start John, while he was on medical leave for two months had gone to as many as twelve meetings a day so he could be with other alcoholics and let the program seep into his very bones. John was working the program one step and one day at a time but Ted was hard on him and kept a close watch on his friend. Ted had the self assurance of a man that knew his job and he knew that no one could do it better than he could. His spirit was strong now and as long as he kept today in focus he could deal with the pain. His desk was littered with files and papers and notes all in what appeared to be in random order but if he wanted a particular file, he could easily find it in just a few seconds. Come on in John, grab a cup and lets talk.

The Darkness P a g e | 14 John went to the sideboard and filled a large Styrofoam cup with what Ted called coffee but what others in the stationhouse called low grade diesel fuel. His cup filled with the steaming brew he took his place across the littered desk from Ted. You still need a meeting John? Yeah I need a meeting! I need to meet the asshole that killed Sister Gwendolyn, thats the kind of meeting I need now. The older lieutenant took his coffee cup, studied the liquid inside it for a moment and tipped some of the strong coffee into his mouth. John took a sip of his too and waited for his boss to talk. He knew that the drinking coffee gesture was Teds way of saying wait. John, I have to tell you, I am taking a chance giving you this case. I know you had a relationship with the sister so I hope that this doesnt color your judgments in the case. But I need the best detective that I got on this because I have a feeling that this goof is killing for reasons known only to him and that he is going to keep on killing until we catch him. I think that there will be precious few clues that lead anywhere and its going to be a ball buster of a case. I am going to assign a partner for you, now wait John, I know you pride yourself on working alone like damn Dirty Harry so this partner will remain in the station, Ive given her an office and all of the authority she needs to get whatever it is you need to solve the case. On the other hand she isnt chained to the stationhouse; you can use her for whatever legwork that you want to use her for. John smiled at his boss; Did you say shes got nice legs and I can use them for whatever I want to use them for? Ted smiled too; John, you play nice with her. You know her, its Dolores Hanson. I gotta tell you that she isnt too thrilled about being kept in a closet, but she really wants to work with you. What do you say?

The Darkness P a g e | 15 For you good buddy, I will play nice with Dee and I wont keep her locked up. If she can work with me then she can hang with me otherwise its back to the closet and the computer she goes. Does she know I am in the program? Ted looked seriously at John and said; Why dont you ask her yourself. I certainly didnt tell her that you were a friend of Bill W. You know that I cant do that without your permission. Even if she was in the program I couldnt and wouldnt tell you that even if you asked me. Well said good buddy. Lets get this jerk in the booty cage as quickly as we can.

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The Creature Sleeps

Go towards the light and you will be safe! The creature slept and while he slept the city was safe. He had arrived home in the wee hours of the morning feeling pretty good about the nights work. Two enemies had been taken down and sent to their god by his own hand and he felt a strange peace as he watched as life fled from the sacks of bone and water that all humans were. He laughed aloud and robustly at the panic he saw in their face as they tried to draw breath and couldnt. It filled his heart with joy as he saw their weak spirits of life leave their body. Afterwards he enjoyed posing them and the act of posing the two stinking holier than thou bastards itself would confuse the profilers that they would certainly bring in to try and capture him. There was no message, rhyme or reason why he posed the priest as he did. The priest was in the sin forgiving business so he thought he should be found in his uniform while the woman who styled herself as an angel of mercy; he just thought it would be funny if they found her listening to a heartbeat that wasnt there because he had extinguished it. The thoughts just came to him after the act of murder. That was what was important to him; the act of killing and bringing the world back in balance was the be all and end all for him. Next time he would not rely on chemicals, even though he had a large supply of them, no, the next time he went out he would wet his hands in doing the job, and he could hardly wait. But now the creature slept with the picture of his mother, her sallow face captured by the camera as he always remembered it, sullen and disapproving especially of him, was on the nightstand beside him, and the city was safe as he snored, farted, and gurgled his way in dreamless sleep as the rest of the world lived in the light of day.

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Hanging with the guys

Yeah shes got nice legs! John left Teds office and went into the squad room. It was a large room painted in industrial off white and set up in a 1980s style open office plan which oddly enough was when the last coat of paint had been applied. There were twelve desks including one reserved for John that he used as little as possible. There was a coffee pot that always had some brown mystery beverage hot, thick, and ready for the troops when they needed it. There were three interview rooms each painted in a non-descript color and having a small table and three chairs, one of which was secured to the floor. There was also one very Spartan office designated for the use of visiting VIPs and it was to this guest office John went. He looked in and sitting behind a desk was Dolores Hanson who was known to everyone simply as Dee. Dolores was just a couple of years over what you could consider young but you could not tell that by looking at her. Her face was fresh with a minimum of makeup and her hair formed a natural golden crown atop her head. She kept her hair short and the shortness gave her face the extra boost of youthful magic that helped it match the rest of her fit body. She was in very good shape and she routinely ran marathons with her last performance in the Chicago Marathon bringing her in at a very respectable 349th place. Her police skills were next to none and it was said she could shoot the wings off of a fly at a hundred yards. She took not a bit of crap from the other detectives and they for their part considered her one of the boys. At the current time she wasnt involved with anyone but when she was involved with a man she was very passionate and very protective of him so much so that some said she was too protective and too clingy. She had fear of abandonment issues and it was for that reason she held so tightly to her lovers, smothering them with her personality. Her relationships with men didnt last too long because of the stranglehold that she placed on them. Her lovers may have loved her for her long legs and firm body and her passionate responses to their love making but in the long run each of them hated the way she clung to them. But if all of those that had experienced her body were brought

The Darkness P a g e | 18 into the same room they would all readily agree that while the ride was in motion it was a magnificent ride, a combination of the Merry Go Round, trampoline, roller coaster, and water slide. It was for the grandness of the ride and her unbridled wild passion that her lovers put up with her clingy, controlling ways for awhile but eventually even the grandness of the ride was not enough to keep them coming back. Today she was sitting at the computer intent on the case she had been assigned to. She really liked John both as a man and as a detective. Her fantasies about him were intense and frequent. Sometimes alone in her bed in her mind she could feel his strong arms around her and his mouth covering hers and his hardness inside her as they passionately made love. Fantasizing about the muscled, slim, and good looking detective made her loins moist and tingly and no other man could fuel her sexual fantasies like John Mikals could. She seemed to have a second sense as to where he was at when he was in the building. Even now she could tell without looking up that he was standing in the doorway looking at her. She pretended not to notice and kept her attention focused on the computer. Hey Dee, get your sweet buns over here, we got a fool to catch! Dee looked up and frowned at John; John, you have no idea how sweet my buns are! John walked into the office and looked at the computer screen. He wished he knew more about how the damned things worked. He looked at Dee and for the thousandth time he thought about her and found himself entering a fantasy zone. He thought once again what a good looking woman she really was. He loved the fact that she wore her hair short, he found that sexy, and he loved that she wore just enough makeup so as not to spoil her natural beauty, and he loved her just the right size breasts and could imagine the areolas surrounding each perfect nipple. Most of all he loved her long shapely legs and how she walked, walking sexy without even trying. On more than one night his randy

The Darkness P a g e | 19 thoughts had focused on what he thought she would look like standing before him bereft of clothing, her passions aroused, and her obvious desire being for him to take her into his arms and make long, slow, sweet love to her until their bodies exploded in mutual orgasm. On those cold and lonely nights these thoughts stirred his libido into action and fueled his fantasies and manual ministrations. John shook his head and brought himself back to reality. The stirrings in his loins would have to wait, but it appeared that this part of his body hadnt received that instruction yet. He took a deep breath and told his brain to focus on the dead Sister Gwen and his excitement waned. He noticed that Dee was staring at him. He blushed and she smiled, perhaps she suspected what was going on in his mind. He made himself back into John Mikals, master detective instead of a different kind of master. Dee, the boss man envisions you staying safe and secure in the stationhouse. I say shit to that! Youre coming on the road with me for this one young lady. We will be working closely together, so grab whatever you need to grab and lets go look at a couple of crime scenes. Dolores tilted her head and almost reached out to grab at Johns groin, just as a joke, but she wisely thought better of it and simply reached back and got her light fall jacket, picked up her purse, gun, badge and laptop and soon they were off to the first of two crime scenes. The drive was a short one to Sacred Heart Church and soon the two of them were standing before the side door where it was thought that the actual killing had taken place. On the way over they had discussed what they knew about the case so far. The mechanism of death seemed to be some sort of drug injected by of all things a homemade dart. The pictures showed the victim dressed in a white surplus and a red stole seated in the chair in the confessional room. They both agreed that the perp had made a mistake in dressing the priest because he would have been wearing a purple stole if he had been hearing confessions so they were probably looking for a man that was unfamiliar with the Catholic Church. In the priests right hand he clutched the dart that had killed him. That had to have been done very shortly after death. The medical examiner told them that the name of the chemical the dart was

The Darkness P a g e | 20 dipped in would be the first thing he would have for them and the coroners office is where John and Dee would be heading right after they checked out both of the crime scenes. The church was closed and being guarded by a patrolman who was keeping everyone out until the crime scene boys released the site. Dee and John showed them their IDs and the officer made a note of whom he was letting in and the date and time. They both gloved themselves entered the dimly lit church. To the right of the door was the keypad for the alarm system. It was a sad world indeed that required churches to be locked up and alarmed but there was no shortage of kooks at least not in Chicago. The log provided by the alarm company showed that the alarm had been armed at 2012, disarmed at 2015 and rearmed at 2032, showing that the act of murder and dressing the victim had taken a bare twenty minutes. The killer did his job and left, he did not linger. Their first thoughts were that perhaps this was revenge for some sexual sin committed by the old priest in years past and while that was something that they would have to look into both of them felt that this was only a bare possibility. The crime scene yielded dozens upon dozens of prints and it would probably take a hundred years to run them all down all to no purpose. They believed that their killer would not have left any because the only prints on the homemade dart were the priests. There was some hope because the dart would have been shot from a blowgun and perhaps some of the saliva from the killer found its way onto the dart. The CSI boys were going to check that out for them. John and Dee decided that the CSI team had gotten it right and that they had mined all of the evidence from this scene and so John and Dee turned to leave. As they left Dee dipped her finger into the holy water font at the door and made the Sign of the Cross. John noticed and smiled; she was a Catholic, so was he, kind of. They got back into the car and travelled to the evidence garage at the impound lot to take a look at that the killing field that claimed Sister Gwen. As they got closer to the garage John thought to himself that this was going to be a bitch of a case and his gut and experience was telling him this. He knew he would be dealing with a person that didnt have a working brain box and he

The Darkness P a g e | 21 knew that this would make the case hard to solve. Still he knew he would be the one that took this kook down and put him in a cell with a cellmate that was practicing hands free proctology!

They entered the garage and approached the aging Ford. The technicians had finished with it and had already reported that the car would not be the piece of evidence that solved this case. The only prints they found in the car belonged to the victim. John knew that this case was going to grow cold very fast unless the perp killed again and sadly he thought that this would be the more likely scenario. Dee and John again donned gloves and went over the car meticulously hoping to find something that the CSI team missed. They spent thirty minutes and found nothing. It was time for lunch so the two of them got back into their car and went to Kramers Deli for one of his famous quarter pound hot dogs. They then went back to the station and busied themselves the rest of the day with a review of the case and other paperwork. About eight thirty they decided to pick up the trail the next day and left the station just as the sun began to set.

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The Last Amen

He could not overcome the darkness. The creature awoke and ate some cold garbage pizza, half of a fourteen inch pie, which was his most favorite food of all. He went once a week to Antonios Pizza and picked up five large pies which would keep him fed for the whole week. After dining and wiping his lips on his shirt, he reached under his bed and took out a large box. Inside the box were weapons of various kinds. He selected the antique pre world war one bayonet and marveled at the simplicity of three sided blade which had been outlawed by the international community because of the severe damage the thing afflicted on the victim unlucky enough to be on the pointed end of the weapon. He placed it into the scabbard and after carefully locking his bedroom door he went out into the night. Reverend Jeremiah Isaiah who was known to his loyal followers as the Reverend Jerry was tired. He had preached, shouting what he considered blithering nonsense for two hours at two thousand handpicked, well healed, and personally invited supporters at the elegant Chicago Theater which he had rented for the occasion. He was a very popular television evangelist that scared the devil out of the reprobates that he preached to but the only religion he really believed in was the greenback dollar and the pleasures of the flesh that the amazing amount of ready cash he pried from the pockets of his good intentioned but gullible followers allowed him to purchase. He was satisfied that the free will collection he had taken up was good, the two thousand guests gave sixty three thousand dollars to his ministry and that would mean he could continue to live for the rest of the week at the Palmer House in the eight hundred dollar a night suite that he loved so well. This week he was in Chicago, next week he was scheduled to flimflam the suckers in St. Louis. He hated St. Louis during summer and fall, it was hot and muggy and the only place available to him was the baseball stadium near the Arch. He had sent personal letters out to fifteen thousand Gold Bell Club members inviting them to come to the crusade.

The Darkness P a g e | 23 He should clear a couple of hundred thousand without breaking a sweat so he thought that putting up with a little Indian summer mugginess was worth the trip. After the service today his chief usher had brought him a breathtakingly beautiful but brokenhearted wife in need of special counseling because her husband was cheating on her like a dog. He sympathized with her as he held her in his arms. His underwear was becoming tight in the crotch as he gently rubbed and felt her ass, there was no telltale panty line and that turned him on. With a tear in his eye and sincerity in his voice he told her that her story had touched his heart and that he would like to see her for some special private counseling in his suite at the Palmer House and for her convenience Greg the usher would take her there in a limo and afterwards he would drive her home. She was asked to wait in the room and he would be along directly. Of course if she wanted a bit of brandy to steady her nerves she should feel free to have some. She was not told that the brandy was laced with Ecstasy. Within ten minutes of his arrival back at his room he had the drugged blond naked and in bed, she had swallowed two large brandies while she was waiting for him and hadnt a clue what was going on or where she was. He was counseling the hell out of her within ten minutes after his arrival. He had helped her undress and felt her quiver with excitement as he removed her blue silk panties. He undressed himself slowly standing before her and she looked at his hard maleness with drug induced adoration as he pulled down and stepped out of his underwear. He gently reached out and felt between her legs and found that she was already wet and ready for him so without further preamble he had carried her to the bed and began the first counseling session with him standing with her shapely legs on his shoulders. He entered her slowly enjoying the warmth and tightness that encased his manhood and he listened to her breathing and reveled in the excitement it revealed. She whimpered as he slid his whole length into her an inch at a time and so very slowly until finally he was as deep into her as he could get. With building tension she moaned as he began to slowly pump her. She met each thrust

The Darkness P a g e | 24 as if she wanted to have his whole body inside her. He was a skilful lover and he paced himself until she had her first orgasm of the night and then with her passionate screams and heavy panting in his ears goading him on he closed his eyes and let his body claim the orgasm he had worked for so patiently. He felt the tingle that shot from groin and then up and down his back, with closed eyes and the electricity of orgasm pulsing through him he flooded her with his semen as she bucked and squeezed his maleness by bringing her thighs together. He felt immense sexual release, but he lusted for more of this shapely and suddenly passionate housewife. She too wanted more of him as the drug had blossomed the sad victimized housewife into a passionate whore. As soon as he had withdrawn from her she pulled him on to the bed and got between his knees and she counseled his manhood still slick with their respective fluids back into stiffness using her soft warm lips and tongue. His stiff member felt like it was immersed in warm velvet as she greedily nursed on the tip of his stiffness. Her tongue swirled around and her head bobbed to and fro and she coaxed a thundering orgasm out of him as his love juice spurted into her mouth as he plunged himself with abandon deeply into her throat. She made sure that she captured all of his spendings. Both of them lay back on the bed, tired but still turned on after the counseling sessions. She reached over to him and stroked him. He didnt know if he had more to give to this insatiable woman. However, after a couple of minutes of her soft hands on his organ he was rock hard again and he counseled her again, this time in the missionary position slowly and tenderly, not for her sake, he wanted to sculpt his last orgasm of the night like a sculptor who used hammer and chisel to turn a simple piece of marble into a statue. He didnt care about the girl, she was just there to be used, a vehicle to contain his manhood, it was his pleasure that he was after, the hell with her. He felt the stirrings deep within his groin, the chills of approaching orgasm traveled out from between his legs and

The Darkness P a g e | 25 up his spine. He remained disciplined and held back as the stirrings of his impending orgasm became more urgent. As for the woman she panted, groaned, clawed his back, pulled him closer into her, called his name, and then once again a passionate scream escaped her lips as her loins exploded in orgasm not once but several times in a seemingly endless wave of pleasure. Then the Reverend gave in and released his load of semen and allowed the absolute last drops of his male juices to spurt and dribble into her as she shivered and panted with the best orgasm she had had that night. Too bad she wouldnt remember it. Who would believe he could perform in bed like this at the age of fifty six! After a moment he withdrew and soon he was limp and satisfied and it appeared that she too was finally was satisfied as well as she lay there breathing deeply as his liquids made a wet spot on the sheets as they escaped from her. He was drowsy and fell into a deep sleep. They both slept for an hour and she rested with her head on his chest. He awoke her and without ceremony he pushed her out of the bed and followed her to the bathroom. She sat on the toilet for a moment and then he helped her into the shower. He helped her wash all of the evidence of their sexual encounter away, providing her with a bottle of douche as well. He watched as she used the douche. As she was drying off he left the bathroom and he found her light blue silk panties and put them in the bag where he kept his trophies. Back in Clearwater he had a bag with over two hundred pairs of various sized panties and not one of them was from the same woman. He gave her a brand new pair of ordinary white cotton panties to wear; they were like the ones his sister wore when he got his first look at the female anatomy by secretly peering into her bedroom so many years ago. So as she put those simple white panties on Jerry relived that defining moment in his sexual life where he watched his sister strip prior to her going to take a shower. She had turned and he had gotten a marvelous frontal view of her young womanhood, or at that time it was girlhood. That was the first view of the female anatomy he had ever had. With that view he became a convert, he lusted after girls nonstop and by his senior year in high school had become known as a real expert in all aspects of

The Darkness P a g e | 26 sex, every one of the bad girls had gone to bed with him and he still had the panties to prove it. The women he had sex with never left with the panties that they came in. After his conquest of the evening finished dressing without kissing her, after all she had had his sex organ in her mouth, he sent the silly drugged out slut packing with a Jesus comic book under her arm, a pat on her wonderful ass and with him holding her check made out to his ministry for five hundred dollars. Greg, the reverends son and the usher poured her into the car and took her to her home, leaving her off half of a block away from her suburban house. She left the car and staggered to her house and the dog of a husband who was stepping out on her. The husband was later taken away by the police on a domestic violence charge as she nursed a black eye and a fat lip and the next day she visited an attorney and began the process of filing for divorce. Meanwhile, as a man of habit, Jerry always left the hotel after sex, alone and incognito without his usual gang of body guards in search of a bar and some more fun. It was very late and all of the licensed places nearby were closed but he knew where there was a wonderful after hours place, very discreet, where if a guy brought in the right amount of money the booze and cocaine would flow until sunrise. The club was about three blocks from the hotel. Earlier he had taken five thousand dollars from the collection bag for the evenings entertainment, which should insure him of a good time. He left the Palmer House and turned north and then he turned east at the corner and was passing an alley between two buildings when it happened, he was enveloped in a sea of stink which gagged him as the creature pulled him into the alley and plunged the three sided bayonet into Jerrys heart. Jerry never knew what hit him. One minute Jerry was musing and reliving the sexual encounter he had had that night and thinking about the slut he had just vanquished and the next moment he was standing before God explaining himself. The day had ended badly for the Reverend.

The Darkness P a g e | 27 Just so they would know who to credit, the creature took one of the darts he had brought with him, although this one did not have any drugs on it and he plunged the weapon deeply into the dead mans chest right above the heart. Funny he thought the wet work he had so looked forward to was not as much fun as killing with the poison darts. Jerry had died so fast that The Creature could not enjoy seeing the preachers life leave his perverse body. True, justice had been meted out but it was unsatisfying. The creature was not pleased and his lust for murder was not satiated. Reverend Jerry would not lead the faithful astray anymore and would not be robbing widows of their money. The Creature had been a bit careless this time because he left a witness to his crime. Sitting in a dark doorway in the alley, the derelict who when he could remember his name answered to the name of Fred, could not believe what he had just witnessed. He waited until the huge man, who stunk worse than he did, left the dead preachers body and went out into the night. The drunk then picked himself up leaving the place where he usually slept each night and mumbling and laughing staggered away in the opposite direction. Tonights work was done. He was relieved that he had finished three of the killings that were needed to bring things of his world back into balance. There were just a few more to go and then The Creature could retire and live out his life quietly and alone just the way he liked it. He preferred staying in his room at the house. It was only here that he felt safe. Only once did he have to temporarily abandon his safe harbor. The drug addict had burst in and was using his living room to shoot up. The Creature took immediate action, using the first of his darts to kill the intruder. He had shot him with the dart and hurried to watch as the junkie passed from this world to the next. He threw the track marked and jaundiced body outside the door of the house with the dart still in his neck and for the next couple of days he waited silently in the darkness of the secret room in the basement. After he had murdered the junkie he had taken all of his possessions to the

The Darkness P a g e | 28 secret room and waited for the house to be abandoned again. The police had searched his place; he knew this because he could hear them and they had turned on the lights. Since the day the junkie died

and the police lost interest in the place no one came anywhere near his house as it was considered bad luck and he had enjoyed the privacy that he craved. Today he arrived back and entered the house and retired to his room, carefully closing and locking the steel door that guarded him from the outside world. The sole window in his room was painted black and boarded up. After eating some pizza he went to his slovenly bed and left this world in sleep just as the sun was coming up. The city was safe again.

The Darkness P a g e | 29

What Does a Medical Examiner Do For Fun?

Strange brew Dee and John arrived at the station at seven in the morning. John had gone to his six oclock meeting and felt that he was well grounded to experience life on lifes terms that day. This was before he arrived at the office and was immediately pulled into Teds office, Dee was already there. You sleep good John? His boss asked with a hint of irritation in his voice. Yeah sure I slept well, no stinking Denise in my dreams, so whats on your mind Ted? I guess you aint seen the papers yet. Your boy struck again while you were nestled up so comfy cozy in your bed. He went and killed himself another preacher but this one is much more of a public figure than even Sister Gwen. He went by the name of Jeremiah Isaiah but he was known affectionately to his flock as the Reverend Jerry, a TV evangelist that has a ton of followers. He had rented out the Chicago for last nights little shindig and his son says that they cleared sixty thousand dollars in the collection plate last night. None of it went missing, the preacher was out at three in the morning and we think he was headed for the Paradise, you know that little after hours place that the rich playboys go to. The asshole had five grand in his pocket, fresh fleece shorn from his well to do flock. How do you know its my boy that did this? John demanded of his boss. Well Reverend Jerry was stabbed through the heart with a bayonet, a relic from pre world war one because it was triple sided, and that stopped the reverend in his tracks. We got the knife. My boy kills with darts, not bayonets. The jack legged preacher had one of those too, right above his heart, put there postmortem, the dick wanted us to know that he did this so he left his calling card. Now downtown is all over me on

The Darkness P a g e | 30 this one. They want this guy so bad that they can smell the pasture that they are going to put me in if you and Dee dont get this goof soon. I need you to pull out all the stops. I dont care how you do it. If it looks like you got the guy but he might skate because of constitutional issues, well you know sometimes shit happens and I can see no reason why it cant happen to him, you just gotta be sure John. Up until this point Dee had been silent because she was the junior detective in the room. Ted and Johns reputation was legendary in the department. She could not believe what she heard Ted just say. Ted, I cant believe what I just heard. We are not the judge, jury and executioner for this perp, we have to bring him in and make him face the judge for what he did. Dont you go making it open season on this jerk. Ted looked at Dee and his features softened; Dee, John and I talk shit all of the time. He always has brought in his prisoner in generally good shape and I have no reason to believe that he will change his ways even if little balls of crap escaped my mouth. Dont worry. I just sometimes panic when the suits downtown start sniffing around. I want him alive. Now, Harold at the coroners office wants to see you toot-suite so shake a leg. The Chicago medical examiners office was located on Harrison so they made their way to Damen Avenue and headed north. They got to the office and parked the car. Chicago was showing her Indian summer side today and it was pushing ninety degrees. They entered the lobby of the building which was deliciously cool and they presented their credentials at the desk and were allowed to the bank of elevators that would whisk them to the lair of Dr. Harold Killman, no joke that was his last name. He was the assistant medical examiner who caught the cases of both the padre and the nun. He was a grizzled old bird with a very strange sense of humor although he tolerated no nonsense when he was

The Darkness P a g e | 31 dressed for an autopsy. More than one assistant had been sent packing by the gray haired doctor when he or she screwed up. He was just finishing up Sister Gwen whose nude body bore the typical scars of the Y incision that the doctor used to open her up. Dr. Killman respected the modesty of all of his patients and the lower half of Sister Gwendolyn was covered by a sheet, thank God John thought. The doctor now covered her up and the assistant took her away for storage until she was called for. The religious order said they would send an undertaker around later that day. The good doctor adjourned to the sink and beckoned John and Dee to follow. He stripped off his gloves and washed carefully. He finished by using a couple of paper towels which he threw into a waste can marked BIO-HAZZARD. He turned and smiled at John, they had seen a lot of cases together and it was the good doctors skill that put more than one criminal into Illinois death row to await execution. Of course since the time of Governor Ryan, who was himself doing a six year time out in a federal prison, there had been no executions and now the Illinois legislature abolished the death penalty in the state so death row was empty and would stay that way. Harold didnt know if this was a good thing or bad. Some crimes simply shouted out for death to be the penalty for such outrageous behavior. In ancient days in some cultures the death penalty was how fallible man would send a miscreant to God for judgment. For example John Wayne Gacy guilty beyond a doubt of the murder of thirty-three young gay men today would be sent to jail for life without parole. Was this justice? But then again he probably would not have survived too long in general population, convicted felons had their standards. Good honest bank robbers, embezzlers, stick-up artists, and burglars put men such as Gacy on the bottom rung of the food chain. No, Johnny would have been found one day with a broomstick up his butt because killers of children were fair game and the fact that he was so notorious would enhance the chance that he would have been executed by his own kind thus saving the cash strapped State of Illinois the expenses of endless appeals and the money spent keeping an executioner on the payroll that his death sentence had cost.

The Darkness P a g e | 32 Hey Big John, the tests came back, I was really hoping for something more exotic like Rocuronium or one of the other neuromuscular agents, but alas, both the good father and Sister Gwen were killed by curare liberally laced on the point of the dart that was found with them. There was enough poison on the darts to kill two people. It would have been a terrible way to go. They would have been paralyzed, unable to breathe but still fully conscious. Neither one of them was disturbed sexually nor did I find any other wounds on the bodies. The priest had been killed in one spot and then dragged to where he was found as was the nun, her heals were all scraped up because she lost her shoes as the killer dragged her to the car. The priest was dressed after death and the nuns scene was staged in her car, with her stethoscope taped to her chest and some damnable fear of the Lord channel preaching to her dead ears as her car ran itself out of gas. Other than that, the old priest was close to a heart attack, his widow maker was nicely blocked, about eighty percent and if that didnt get him, I found a small tumor inside his head, cancerous but very slow growing, it would have been years before any symptoms would have caused him to seek help which by that time it would have been too late. Sister Gwen, well she was destined to live a good long time. Her heart and lungs were clean, no sign of disease anywhere. The asshole that killed her needs to be caught. I would love to meet up with him professionally speaking that is. So, Doctor, what you are telling us is that you got jack shit, nothing that we hadnt guessed before you dragged us all the way down here. Dee said with more than a hint of irritation in her voice. The doctor looked at Dee as if she had grown a third nostril and it was leaking badly. He turned to John and said; John, who is the rookie, I though you worked alone? Jesus, a rookie and a girl at that John smiled at his old friend knowing that he was just trying to get Dees goat. He remembered the times they worked together to bring one piece of repugnant scum or another to justice and those

The Darkness P a g e | 33 early years when the doc had spouted a similar remark about the rookie to his now Brook Brothers suited and office occupying friend downtown. Belay that rookie talk Dr. Killman, may I present my partner, Detective Delores Hanson, who is known the world over as Dee the Wonder Cop. But I kind of agree with her, we guessed all of this stuff and you could have phoned this in. So I know you got more for me, so give! She looks like a rookie to me, but John, Ill take your word for it. If you vouch for her she must be good indeed. Detective Hanson, please accept this old mans apology. Dee smiled at the old doctor and shook her head and waited for him to get on with it. All of this man cave stuff was getting them nowhere and we were told by Ted to catch this guy as soon as possible and now with a third murder to his credit there would be even more pressure. Well, we did catch a break; at least it will be a break once we have a suspect. I got DNA off of the dart that ended the priests life, a good sample from saliva. Thats the good news, the bad news is that I ran it through every conceivable database and it came back zilch, no matches. Dee was over her snit and she asked the Doc, No matches anywhere? No not one match unfortunately, but you get me a suspect and we will be able to match him without any problem. We also got a partial print on the sisters dart, but not enough to mean anything, at least thats what the CSI boys tell me. John and Dee thanked the doctor and as they were leaving Johns phone rang and it was Oscar at the station telling him and the lovely Dee to get back to the office because the killer slipped up and left a witness to the last crime. John and Dee hurried back to the office because this could be the break that they needed to catch this goof.

The Darkness P a g e | 34

The Witness
They also serve those who stand and wait. John and Dee sped to their office knowing that a witness could break this case wide open. To date they only knew what the killer did, how he did it but had no idea as to why and most importantly they had no idea who did it. They entered the office and were greeted in the squad room by a man John knew well, Police Officer Patrick Wilhelm, an officer with nineteen years of experience, all of it in uniform. Patrick had been offered a detectives shield on six separate occasions but he turned it down every time. He loved being on the beat and getting to know the people he was sworn to serve and protect. Today his love of uniform work might just be the thing that will help John and Dee break the case. Hey Patti, I hear you brought me a real live witness, tell me its true sweet prince. John said this with a twinkle in his eye, Pat and him went back a lot of years and had been partners at one time. Well John, come here. The two veteran officers walked towards Interview 3, the nicest of the interview rooms that the station had available. They walked into the room next to the interview room and looked through the one way mirror at the witness waiting next door. Johnny, that there is Frederick Winestock III of the Highland Park Winestocks. John looked into the room through the two way mirror and saw a bum sitting eating an Italian beef sandwich with sweet peppers. He was eating it as if it were the first food he had eaten in years. John was immediately disappointed. Dee came in looked through the glass and bitterly said; Aw shit, cant we catch one break in this case, that guy does not look like someone who can reliably describe his name much less a killer, shit, shit, and double shit! Dee shook her head in disgust

The Darkness P a g e | 35 as she looked at Fred wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his dirty and tattered shirt and then taking another large mouthful of his sandwich chewing it with mouth agape. Patrick looked at Dee with amusement and said; Hey, Freddie has lived for years in the back doorway at Double A sports very close to where the body was found. He is good friends with Armando the owner. Armando lets him sleep there and when he comes in every morning he puts a broom into Freds hand and has him do some sweeping for a couple of bucks. When I heard that they did not find Freddie passed out in a spot where he had bedded down almost every night, winter, summer, spring, and fall for the last ten years I thought he might have seen something. Now John did you know that when you look at Freddie your eyes may see a bum but you know he really is a dyed in the wool Highland Park Winestock. The Winestock family owned everything that was worth owning in and around the north shore of Chicago which is where all the Nuevo wealthy folks hung their hat. There was a lot of money in Highland Park, but not a whole lot of class, the class lived in Winnetka and Indian Creek or south in Barrington. The richest and classiest of them lived in Lake Forest. Old man Winestock was a typical offering from this tony town. May God rest his ornery and miserable miserly soul, made his money in flowers, his online flower store undercut the other major players in the industry while still providing first quality products and as a result he carved himself a big share of the flower business. Then he went public during the dot com boom and his dot com brought him forty million dollars, and he went from rags to riches in just a couple of years. He invested well and unlike most millionaires he kept it all for himself and his family, and that has become a family tradition. Youll never find the Winestock name as a donor of money for any cause unless it can directly benefit their family. They are a close knit group, almost like gypsies in their attitudes. They marry close and keep to themselves. All in all they are a waste wad of a family.

The Darkness P a g e | 36 Jesus, look at Freddie, he is the quintessential bum. How did that happen? John asked. Pats eyes gleamed with more amusement as continued the story; Well, when Freddie turned twenty five his trust fund was turned over to him, he was a little strange even back then, he signed the papers making it his and he walked away from it. Imagine fifteen million bucks just sitting in a bank earning interest every day and the owner of it sleeping every night in the back of a sporting goods store and taking a two dollar handout from the owner. But Freddie is not only a bit nuts, he also is a petty criminal and has done time in the Cook County slammer. It seems he was really down on his luck and he got himself one of his old suits, a very expensive one that they had bought him for his pops funeral. Well he put it on and stationed himself at the front door of the Conrad Hilton and sure enough some asshole rich guy from Florida came up to Freddie who kind of looked like a bellman which made him invisible to the rich dude, and he put this big and genuine Louis Vuitton bag into Freddies hands and told him to follow and be quick about it. The rich guy went into the lobby to continue registration formalities and Freddie; well he was quick about it because he left with the bag which contained the fools clothes and about five thousand dollars worth of travelers checks. Well, Freddie tried to cash one of the checks at a bar on Van Buren Street, I think it was the Dill Pickle, and they knew him there and called the cops. Freddie did ninety days of R and R in Cook County jail and the rich idiot got his bag back, sans clothes except for one pair of underwear which was in an inside pocket. To say Freddie was abused in jail would be an understatement; he was passed around the gang members in residence there like they pass around a Mary Jane joint. He drank before he went away and since he has gotten out he has doubled his intake of alcohol and he isnt too particular about what kind. So you are dealing with a severely damaged criminal mastermind! There is no flipping way that he could have done the job on the preacher, look at him; I would think he only weighs eighty pounds if we count the dirt on his shoes.

The Darkness P a g e | 37 Patrick, his story finished, laughed and said, Good luck. At least I fed him for you, on the house, and oh I am sorry about the stink. With that Patrick still laughing left the room. John looked at Dee and Dee looked at John and together they realized that they just had to get some information from Freddie. John entered the interview room and his nose was assaulted by the odor of stale urine, alcohol and the faint aroma of a Chicago style Italian beef sandwich. Shit, he would never be able to enjoy a Falcos Italian Beef sandwich again without thinking about this clown. Falcos on Archer Avenue in his old Brighton Park neighborhood made the absolute best Italian beef sandwiches he had ever had, juicy and easy on the garlic just enough to make it an interesting experience for your taste buds. The only other place that had a better sandwich was The Original Ricobenes pounded steak sandwich (with red sauce and a pound of fries) on 26th Street in Bridgeport, well, he thought, enough of the food channel, lets get this guy to give up what, if anything he knows. He smiled at the millionaire bum. Mr. Winestock my name is Detective John Mikals and I think you can help me solve the murder of Reverend Jerry. Can I ask you a few questions? Freddie looked up into Johns eyes. Freddies eyes were bloodshot and half closed and were shouting to the world that no one was at home. John shouted; Freddie, wake up! Damn your sorry ass, we fed you and are treating you well, I need you to focus and answer my questions. He walked over to Freddie and slapped him with medium force on each side of the dissipated face and Freddie shook his head and the eyes appeared to focus as the life seemed to flood back into them. Help you he said as he shook his head up and down.

The Darkness P a g e | 38 John wanted to take it down a notch now that he had Freddies attention. He smiled at the bum and sat down in one of the chairs. Dee remained behind the mirror and would be taking notes. Freddie, did you see who killed the man? Freddie nodded his head and then said: Big man, big Man, no hair, big man, big man. Yeah, yeah, big man I get it, but you say he was bald? No he not be bald, no hair anywhere big man three hundred pounds, big man, stink. Did you notice the color of his eyes Freddie? No, I not see eyes dirty clothes, worse than mine, stinky big man. John realized at this point he might get something, but not very much from this drunk. He had pity on the poor devil because he realized that he was one drink away from being where Freddie was. There was a lesson to be learned here even from this disgrace of a human being. Freddie, what happened? Freddie shook his head and John could almost hear the marbles clanging against Freddies skull. But with the burst of adrenalin that the slap had provided him Freddie finally gave some good information, not that they hadnt guessed it already but it served to confirm their theory of the crime. He grabbed the man in the suit from behind as he passed the alley. I saw him pull out this big knife and stab the guy in the chest. Then he lowered him to the ground and stabbed him again with something smaller. Then he looked around, he did not see me, his face was fat, very fat, big man, stinky man, I could smell him from where I was. He did not see me in doorway, he walked away and I ran the other way.

The Darkness P a g e | 39 It was as if to celebrate the fact that he had placed several coherent sentences together that actually made sense Freddie let loose a stream of urine which soaked the front of his already stained pants and the fluid, seeking its own level it pooled in a disgusting puddle at his feet. John thought that there is no flipping way he was going to clean up this mess. He realized that Freddie had rendered all of the service that he could to the Chicago Police Department and he said thank you to the millionaire bum who had sunk back into stupor. He left the room and told the desk sergeant that they would need to get Freddie out of the interview room and into the drunks tank and that they probably should bring a mop and pail of water and for gods sake, double glove before you touch this guy. Hey Dee, what was it you said when you first saw Freddie, wasnt it shit, shit and double shit? Well I got to agree with you. Shit, shit and double shit.

The Darkness P a g e | 40

Hot Revenge
Midnight Strike The creature woke up about nine in the evening and feasted on cold pizza and then he began to prepare himself for the nights work. He took out one of his darts and carefully applied the curare to the hand honed and needle sharp tip, being very careful that he did not nick himself although his work gloves should protect him from that catastrophic event. This dart he had made with special loving care because tonights patient was the man who started the whole mess and he deserved to die more than any of his other victims. He had purchased over three hundred darts, the pointed part of the dart along with the shaft from thirty stores at various times. It was with tender care that he made the flights, the feathers on the end that stabilized the dart in flight so that it would fit into the ornately carved blow gun he had purchased from an antique dealer several years back, in another town; this was before he decided to bulk up. Today the flight was made in cherry red to symbolize the hellfire he wanted his victim to feel. Before he had tipped the dart with the poisonous payload he had tried the dart and found that it shot true and straight. He put the drug on the dart and placed a cork on the tip to guard against errors and prepared and tested his back up dark which he had similarly handcrafted the night before. It too tested perfectly so he was sure that once his target appeared that within minutes the bastard would be conversing with the devil that spawned him. The creature knew he had plenty of time because his patient would not be ready until about one in the morning. He packed his work bag, putting in besides the dart and blowgun a pint bottle of cheap whiskey, oddly enough; the same brand that his target would even at this very moment would be drinking. He brought the things out to Mothers car. Funny, he still thought of the Dodge Spirit as her car even though she had been dead now for almost ten years. His anger began to bubble and spurt inside his head as he thought of all of these people who had lived ten years without paying for what they had done. Tonight he would dish out a big chunk of payback, but there was still more coming due and payable and he was the paymaster that made sure

The Darkness P a g e | 41 everyone was paid in full. He left his room and treated himself to a cold shower, he hated hot water, and he redressed in the same filthy, stinking clothing he had on before the shower. He went to refrigerator and swallowed another slice of garbage pizza and then he sat down to wait for the hour and a half before he had to leave. Lous was a cops bar. If you werent a cop you were not welcome in Lous but they would not throw you out, they would simply make it very uncomfortable for you to remain and you would voluntarily leave. For example, one day a couple of young punks from the neighborhood came in and ordered rum and Coke. What Louie served them was Bacardi Dark Rum and Royal Crown Cola, a combination that tasted like spoiled syrup with a wet cigar floating in it, in other words it sucked. The two punks not only did not order another drink, they paid and left. Another time a tough from the south side decided he was going to get himself some Northside money so he walked into Louies, pulled a large switchblade out and told Louie to stand and deliver. Who the hell did this guy think he was, the Scarlet Pimpernel? Right after he exposed his knife to Louie the clueless Southsider heard thirty guns cock and dropping his knife he turned and fled. He was picked up a few minutes later and was awarded a ton of time in the house of many doors where it seemed he became careless and would fall down stairs when guards transported him from building to building. In the olden days Louies wife and daughters cooked food in the back kitchen and many of the current deskbound, suit wearing managers on the force grew up by stopping at Louies for a bowl of his beef stew and cold beer. Louies was near the el tracks on Lincoln and Addison in the Lakeview neighborhood. Back then Lakeview was a middle class neighborhood; today it was tonier than it was middle class but some things never change especially if you were a cop and could control the outcome of certain things. Louie never had any problem with city inspectors nosing around for lunch money so the bar would get a passing score, as a matter of fact Louies hadnt seen a city inspector for over thirty

The Darkness P a g e | 42 five years. It was okay because Louies was a well run, clean, well ordered family business. Their taxes were paid on time and in full when they came due. When Louie passed away just about every cop in the city made it to the wake to console the family and to leave a twenty dollar bill or two so that they could have some prayers or masses said for him at St. Andrews Church which on the day of his funeral was full of customers who remembered the kind bartender who took care of his clients so very well. The funeral procession ran to some forty-five cars and two flower cars. You would have thought that Louie was some hot shot politician or mob boss (actually the job descriptions of politician and mob boss have a lot of things in common today) instead of a humble bartender. Even the mayor and police superintendent came to the funeral. The daughters who used to cook in the back pledged to keep the business running and so far ten years after Louie died, his bar lived on. There were a lot of regulars at Louies and Sergeant Martin Morales was not only a regular, he was a fixture. He arrived after his shift at about eight oclock each night, except for Sundays and drank sparingly and only drank Old Crow Bourbon over ice. Old Crow is a very inexpensive brand of bourbon and Louies only kept it in stock to please Morales. Morales was not there to get wasted, he was there for the company. He hated going home to his basement apartment two blocks from Louies on Addison Street, it was a lonely place. Three years previously he had captured much of the American dream, he had a nice house, a beautiful wife and two adorable little girls. The problem with Amanda, his ex, was that she hated the fact that he was a cop, she hated the hours, and she hated the worry. On more than one occasion he and she fought about his career choice. Amanda wanted Marty to quit being a cop and to take a job with her brother who was in the insurance business. Eventually he had enough of her whining and told her that if she didnt like being married to a cop maybe she should do something about it. The next day she did, she filed for divorce and soon he was looking for a bachelor pad where he could hang his revolver at night. The place was nice, if not luxurious. It had three bedrooms all of which were small and a huge eat in kitchen. The one thing he didnt like about the place was that it was on the

The Darkness P a g e | 43 great circle route to Wrigley Field. Morales was a White Sox fan and detested those drunken Cubs fans that decided that they had to pay rent on the beer they drank while they watched the Cubs go down to defeat by leaving it in his gangway which on hot days stunk like an outhouse. But all in all it was home and when he had the girls they each had their own bedroom which he allowed them to decorate however they wanted to. He never drank at home, he could not stand the thought of becoming a lonely alcoholic so he never had any alcohol in his house, he only drank at bars, and the only bar he would go to was Louies. Tonight he was sitting there nursing his second Old Crow and he was not being particularly sociable. Amanda had called him on his cell that morning and said that she was sorry but the girls would not be coming by this weekend because they had a couple of birthday parties to go to. She made the announcement and promptly hung up and would not answer the call he placed to her. He eventually gave up and decided that you could not fight the allure of birthday cake and Chucky Cheese. Amanda could be such a bitch. He tossed down the second drink, something he never did and motioned for another one. Jack, the bartender, the late Louies cousin, looked at him; decided that he was not drunk and poured him a double. The barkeep told him it was on Louie. He thanked Jack, toasted Louie and sipped on the powerful drink. He would, he decided get elbow crawling drunk that night. He swallowed the double and by one in the morning, his self proclaimed curfew, he had swallowed four more doubles. He was feeling no pain. He got up to leave and was a bit unsteady on his feet. His friend Sergeant Joe Sangirarti, a policeman just on the verge of retirement took pity on him and told him that he would help him home. Joe knew that Martin lived close to Louies. They both put their jackets on and headed for the door. It was a cool but not cold night and the coolness seemed to perk Martin up a bit and he didnt have to lean on Joe so much to walk. They had just crossed to the south side of Addison Street and were walking slowly toward Martins apartment in the middle of the block when a sea of stink enveloped them. Joe was turning around when the dart hit Martin. Joe steadied Martin and continued to turn when he saw this huge man, three fifty point what appeared to be a blowgun at him.

The Darkness P a g e | 44 He reached for his piece but the dart entered his eyeball and suddenly he not only could not see out of the eye he could not breathe. He let go of Martin who had a dart in his neck and both of them tumbled to the sidewalk. The monster walked over to Martin first and just before Martin died he whispered in his ear; From Mom to you asshole. Then he turned his attention to Joe who was just starting to die. He whispered in Joes ear; Sorry. With both officers dead, he decided to pose them, it was becoming fun. He removed each of the officers guns and placed them in their hands. Next he opened each of their mouths and placed the others pistol into it. Finally he opened the bottle of Old Crow that he had purchased and poured it on Martins head saying; I baptize you in the name of the devil and of his demons and I hope you rot in hell. Satisfied at what he had done, he dropped the bottle next to the corpses and he walked back to his car and drove home.

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Heat in the kitchen

We gotta catch a break What had been a tough case became even tougher. John and Dee when they arrived at the office were immediately told of the death of the two officers and were told that the asshole had now made this personal and that John and Dee had better pull out all stops and bring him in. His instructions were very clear, dead or alive, and it did not matter which one he chose. Now that two brother law officers had been killed by this perp they knew that they would be watched by every suit at headquarters and they had better get this guy sooner, much sooner, than later. Dee and John went over the evidence again. They were looking for a connection between the victims and Dee using all of her skill could not find one that jumped out at them. The heat in the kitchen was getting hotter and would soon be approaching the boiling point. The only evidence they had was some poison darts dipped in curare, no fingerprint matches, a shitty description of a big stinky man weighing over three hundred pounds and that was about it. There were puzzles that they had to solve as well. For example hey could not figure out how this perp could have found out the code to arm and disarm the alarm at the church. They had spoken with the security firm, a large trusted outfit that protected all of the Catholic churches in Chicago with state of the art alarms and monitoring and their records showed nothing out of the ordinary on the night of the priests killing. They also could not figure out what posing the victims did for the killer. There was no pattern to what he was doing after he killed them. For example he posed the priest and the nun but the jack legged preacher he left on the ground like a sack of rotten fruit. The cops he killed and posed, using their own service pieces to make a statement of some kind. He also poured cheap whiskey on the head of one of the cops, Martin, but left the other cop alone. Dee postulated the theory that Martin was the target and said that he almost never got drunk. She said that she believed that Joe by helping Martin just happened to wander into the wrong place at the wrong time. John had to agree and it was a break in the case, sort of. It kind of

The Darkness P a g e | 46 proved that the murders were not random killings and that the perpetrator had an agenda. It also showed that he would not be stopped and was not afraid to kill innocent bystanders if the need arose. There had to be a connection. Dee manned the computer and started to look for what the connections between these people could be. It was either a very loose connection or a connection that while not loose was quite obscure to the average investigator. John had called in favors from street people, confidential informants, but that well had gone dry fast. No one knew anything about this kook but each of his people were told to keep their eyes and ears open and to immediately report anything that they heard or seen, no matter how irrelevant that they thought it might be. To a man they smiled, nodded, smiled, and assured John that he would be kept informed. Dee had a similar experience with her much smaller stable of snitches and Ted their boss pulled out all of the stops and grilled his contacts and came up with Maggies drawers as well. This too was a break of some kind too because it told them that in all probability their boy was not a professional criminal, just an insane killer out to prove something. This meant that they almost assuredly could eliminate any member of the mob from being mixed up in this extravaganza which they had guessed before. So seventy-two hours in they knew a few things but not much. One thing that they did know is that he was still out there and the city wasnt safe and would not be until they captured this waste of a human being. John was beginning to take this personally because he hated the fact that this killer was sullying the earth by breathing the same air that John had to breath. At this moment, the odds were not in favor of the killer actually making it to the court system. John thought; Thats why God gave us drop pieces, so that we could rid the world of this kind of garbage.

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A Good Day for a Funeral

You want embalming fluid with that? The monster removed the clothing that he had been wearing for the last three weeks and stripped naked. He put on what passed for clean clothes in his bizarre world, his old suit, now a bit snug on him, as he would be working during daylight hours today and he wanted to fit in a little bit better. Because of his recent bath, he didnt stink as badly as he normally did, he just smelled a bit sour. He left, got into the car and drove to a south side florist shop. He went in and purchased two dozen red carnations paying cash using one of the one hundred dollar bills from his stash of money. The red carnation is a traditional funeral flower. It is said that at one time there were only white carnations but a new color bloomed where the tears of Mary, the mother of Jesus fell as she watched sorrowfully the death of her son on the cross. The killer did not know this story; it was just that the red carnation was prominent at his mothers funeral so that bringing them to this death would only be fair. He started the car and began once again to make his way to the north side. Sean OBrien the late patriarch of OBrien Funeral Chapels had started his family funeral home business on the north side of Chicago with their first, largest, and still the most ornate chapel being the one on Southport Avenue. This chapel could accommodate up to four hundred mourners at one time and had the ability to be sectioned off so that they could accommodate four funerals at once. Indeed, there were times in the old days where all of the partitions were open and all four hundred folding chairs were occupied by mourners mostly in police uniforms and there were lines of uniformed cops spilling out the door as they waited their turn to pay respects to a fallen comrade. OBriens was the place in the old days where cops that were killed in the line of duty were waked because Sean OBrien gave hefty discounts to the family of slain officers, sometimes he charged them nothing at all. This tradition was adhered to by all of the OBriens down to this very day although the family very often would choose one of the smaller, more modern, and more intimate chapels offered by the concern. The

The Darkness P a g e | 48 four other chapels the family opened over the years in different neighborhoods in the city were better patronized because the taste of his customers had changed from demanding the ostentatious and ornate to demanding a more modern and simpler look. Although this change in customer values was a fact of life and even though the parking for the Southport location was atrocious with the parking lot in the middle of the block and patrons having to cross a busy four lane street and given the fact that the embalming room was hopelessly dreary and old fashioned, the family kept the flagship chapel open because some of the wealthier customers demanded only the very best and the OBrien family were ready to deliver the very best for the right sum of money. Dennis OBrien was the fourth generation to own and operate the funeral concern and he took command from his father five years ago when the beloved by all Aiden died at the ripe old age of ninety two. Sean, now in his sixties ruled the firm with an iron hand just as his father before him had done so that he could wring every dollar of profit out of each funeral that he could. He was teaching the business to his son who would take over once he like those that came before him availed himself of the Friends and Family Discount. To the bereaved families that came to him in their time of need Dennis was the modicum of decorum and he treated the customers well. He cried with them, sympathized with them and the funeral director in him was skilled at figuring out the maximum amount that a family could afford for a funeral, not necessarily what they wanted to spend mind you, mostly they wanted to keep the costs down, but what they should spend. It was with that figure in mind that he guided them to spend appropriately. For example, many families would start out at the cheaper caskets perhaps even considering the hideously colored purple boxes he kept in stock designed to make people want to buy something better since all but the most destitute could and in his estimation should spend more. In his showroom the purple paper covered box that had been received from the factory had been received in perfect condition. To make it less than desirable he had removed the lid and carefully soaked the cheap wood in water so that the cover would warp. If a family really chose that particular model of coffin, he

The Darkness P a g e | 49 would not dignify the purple monstrosity by calling it a casket, he would congratulate them on their wise selection and so that they could see how it would look closed he would pull the lid down and they would see that the box really didnt close right. He would gently argue with them when they demanded to see something better, which he explained to them meant more expensive, and finally seemingly reluctantly he gave into their demands and humbly guided them to the pricier casket that he knew that they had the money for, money that rightfully belonged to the caring directors and employees of OBriens Funeral Chapels. It was in the embalming room that the bereaved family really did get their moneys worth. Each patient was embalmed and restored professionally using only the best state of the art chemical and cosmetic preparations, expense was not taken into account, and it did not matter if the casket was pricy or modest. The cases that Sean didnt do himself, he oversaw and inspected and tweaked. OBriens claim to fame was that they would labor incessantly to make sure that every person that went into their embalming room as a cold pale cadaver, that no matter what disease or accident had done to their bodies as their life came to an end, came out of their embalming room as a person restored to dignity who gave every indication of being alive, well, and simply asleep. He helped the family complete the process by guiding them in choosing the most tasteful and expensive casket that that their budgets would allow, very often helping them to mentally increase the budget to accommodate their choices. Finally the illusion of sleep instead of death would be completed as he used his years of experience as he set the overhead theatrical lighting so as to provide a perfect final memory picture of the beloved deceased resting in quiet slumber that the survivors could take to their own graves after whispering to those standing around their deathbed that it was to the OBriens that they wanted their mortal bodies entrusted. It was testimony to the quality of the work that was done in their embalming room that over ninety nine percent of the wakes held in his shops were open casket affairs even when the loved one had been received by them bearing terrible disfigurements that lesser funeral practitioners would give

The Darkness P a g e | 50 up on. If you gave the OBriens a picture on how the loved one looked in life they would duplicate that look in the sleep of death. Woe to the embalmer or cosmetician that cut corners to save a couple of dollars. Sean had been taught and believed that the money for the next funeral would come from what the mourners saw in the present one. Scrimping in applying the embalming and restoration arts was not a wise thing to do. A closed casket no matter how expensive would not generate future sales and future sales are what kept the bills paid and the lights on. Dennis was not one hundred percent pleased with the way Mr. Benjamin looked in his twelve thousand dollar Canyon Copper Bronze casket. The lights were adjusted properly; he just looked well, not happy in his deluxe case. Dennis went up to the casket and turned Mr. Benjamins head slightly to the left and that was all that was needed it softened the look and now it did not appear that Mr. Benjamin was occupying a box. The embalmer, one of the best in the business had been brought in especially for this case, for Mr. Benjamin would be a showcase. His professionalism and talent showed in Mr. Benjamin as he had used just the right amount of shade in the embalming fluid to change the pallor of death into what appeared to be restful sleep. The cosmetics were applied by another imported professional and she had done herself proud. The casket itself was impressive. It was made of semi precious metal, continuously welded along the bottom and treated to keep corrosion at a minimum. Dennis was just glad that he wasnt a pall bearer; the casket weighed a ton and would be a bitch to carry. The least useful part of the casket was what most people thought was the most important element for preservation of the body, the five dollar rubber gasket, which in this case added hundreds of dollars to the cost of the box and was a key selling point Dennis used to pry the princely sum out of the estate of the late Mr. Benjamin. It was important to remember that Dennis NEVER said that the gasket helped to preserve the body, he mentioned that the gasket would keep the elements out of the casket, which the gasket did well, and he let the family fill in the blanks, erroneously, for themselves and what they assumed was not under his control. If the family only knew that by sealing the loved one in

The Darkness P a g e | 51 an airless cocoon that they were insuring that the body would soon turn into a mass of liquefied corruption they would be shocked. But the odds of them ever finding out were very slim because once the loved one was in the ground he would not be dug up again. The undertaker buried the misconceptions of the family with the corpse. As a bonus he had beat out the cemetery at selling them a vault. Since he counseled the family into buying the best casket for Dad and since Dad left a lot of money, he further counseled them that could help preserve their investment (not the body mind you, he never said that) by placing the deluxe bronze casket into a Deluxe W and B Bronze Vault, a seven thousand dollar add on. The weight of this vault is approximately three thousand pounds and it featured concrete coated with asphalt and it was covered with a hard faux marble-like smooth surface, ostentatious perhaps, but after all this is what he convinced the family that this is what they wanted. Yes, OBriens would be making a ton of money on this burial and the family would walk away and tell their relatives and friends what a help Dennis and the OBriens had been to them in their time of need. He checked the chapel and verified that all four hundred chairs were in position as Mr. Benjamin had been an esteemed Chicago businessman and it was expected that the chapel would be filled to capacity the next day. Satisfied that all was in order for Mr. Benjamins big day he turned off the lights, adjusted the air conditioner to keep it quite chilly in the chapel to better preserve the corpse and prepared to leave. He turned around and was confronted by a big man, hairless, looking like an ogre, dressed in a suit that was two sizes too small for him and in his hands was a large batch of carnations, red ones. This was probably a mourner that would not be able to attend the wake or funeral and had come in wanting to pay his last respects. Dennis immediately reverted to his funeral director role and approached the mourner with a look of kindly concern stitched on to his face. Before he could say anything the big man raised a tube to his mouth and fired a dart into his neck. Dennis fell to the ground unable to breathe. He recognized that suit, he knew this man. The hairless man approached the casket and easily heaved poor Mr. Benjamin out of the expensive casket and flung the corpse to the

The Darkness P a g e | 52 floor smearing make up and exposing the fact that the corpse was wearing clothing cut in the back and sporting tightly fitting plastic underpants underneath the Brooks Brothers finery. He then went and picked up Dennis and flung him into the casket, Dennis felt the luxury of the Sealy mattress give under his weight. Dennis could not breathe and was on the verge of panic for he knew that soon he would be collecting the friends and family discount. That is when the fat man showed him a long pointed tube, a trocar which is used to remove fluid from cavities of the dead. The monster raised it up and thrust it into Denniss heart. Blood squirted out until the heart realized it had a hole in it and quit pumping as life faded from Denniss body. The crimson stain saturated the luxurious champagne velvet interior of the casket making it a bright red. The killer flung the flowers on the corpse valets body and he then he smiled thinking that his work was almost done and that there was just one more to pay back and then he could retire eating pizza every day using the rest of Moms money to keep him satiated. Of course he would not stop killing, he had a taste for it, but after he exacted justice one more time he would choose victims completely at random. He intended to use all of the three hundred darts that he had purchased. With a light heart he left the chapel; carefully locking the door behind him and got into his mothers old car and with a puff of blue smoke he went home. On the chest of Dennis OBrien who was temporarily using the Benjamin casket the killer did not see the business card that lay amongst the flowers that said James A. Armstrong LLC, Florist, Specializing in flowers for Funerals, Weddings, Special Occasions, Archer at California Av, Chicago IL. The ogre had made his first real mistake.

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Day Four
The Case Breaks our Way The report of another dart murder caused quite a stir at headquarters. The suits, normally only concerned with budgets and lunch were getting upset because this time the victim was a prominent Chicago funeral director who had been good to the Department. To add insult to injury, the gussied up corpse that was going to be put on display at the wake beginning the following day had been unceremoniously dumped out of the casket and Dennis OBrien had been put into it. He had the usual dart in his neck, but he also had a trocar sticking out of his chest and there was blood everywhere in the expensive casket. There were a couple of dozen red carnations thrown on his chest and finally a clue, a real live clue! John hadnt been so excited in years. He took Dee and they rode to the florist shop which was in his old Brighton Park neighborhood. He did not know the owners of the shop but being back in the neighborhood where he grew up brought back so many memories. They entered the small store which had the aroma of a funeral home and he saw why. On the side was a huge wreath in lilies, carnations and other flowers he could not identify that spelled Beloved Father. The owner, a skinny bald headed guy greeted him and when asked said that he did remember someone coming in and buying two dozen carnations, red, and paying for them with a hundred dollar bill. Dee asked if he still had that bill and the man smiled and said that he had. Cmon John, pony up, I got sixty bucks. Aw Dee, you know we aint gonna get this money back. he said as he reached into his wallet and took out two twenties and gave them to Delores. Delores gave the hundred bucks to the owner and then came around to the cash register and asked the owner to open it. He did and she saw the lone one hundred dollar bill sitting there. She reached into her purse and pulled out a pair of latex gloves and an evidence bag. Touching the bill only

The Darkness P a g e | 54 by the sides she gingerly placed it into the evidence bag and sealed it. She signed her name on the seal as did John and she placed the wrapped bill into her purse. She then asked if the owner could describe the man that used the bill to purchase the flowers. He said he could do better than that he had a security tape he could let them have. Dee smiled for the first time in three days. The man went into the back room and came back with the tape. He said that the strange man who was about five foot ten inches tall and weighed over three hundred pounds had been the only walk in all day, most of his business was through FTD and phone orders from undertakers, when you see a customer, thats the guy that gave the hundred. He then mentioned in a matter of fact fashion that the guy had no hair and smelled like he had been rubbing rancid grease all over himself, he stunk pretty badly and he didnt fit into his black suit. Dee and John thanked the owner and gleefully walked back to the car. Finally they had something that they could wrap their arms around, real evidence. When they got back to the office they immediately went to the Electronic Evidence Division (EED) and the tech there spooled up the footage, copied the original to a DVD and played it for them. They had to say one thing for the owner of the store, he was industrious because the footage revealed he did not stop working for two solid hours and wouldnt have stopped then except he had to when a cash customer, the suspect came into the store. They stopped the DVD at this point and focused in on the bizarre looking creature that purchased the flowers. He was 5 10 about 350 pounds and as described by the owner he was in an expensive suit that was about two sizes too small on him. They focused on the face but try as they might they could not get a perfect view of the face, but what they did get confirmed what they knew already. He was a big, fat, hairless man. His face was quite full and the skin was very white. He entered the shop made his purchase and left. They watched the DVD a little bit more and in the reflection of a mirror behind the counter they saw an old Dodge Spirit puff some blue smoke and drive north. The tech said that he was sure that he could enhance the face in the DVD quite a bit and in a couple of hours they should have a fairly decent idea of that this jerk looked like.

The Darkness P a g e | 55 Before they left the flower shop they had taken the owners fingerprint and they sent the bill to forensics to see if they could raise a print on the bill. About an hour after they sent it they got good news, there were two sets of prints on the bill plus many smudged prints that could never be identified with any certainty. One set belonged to the florist and the second set a beautiful thumb on one side and a finger on the other side were beautiful and the tech would testify that due to the oil that the prints of the florist and the unidentified ones were made on the same day. The prints of the florist WERE in the system, in the 1970s he had been arrested at the democratic national convention in Chicago for disorderly conduct, he paid the fine and was released. The mug shot taken on that occasion showed a man with long stringy hair bobbed in a pony tail and eyes that looked like that they were used to being stoned, quite the opposite of the hard working small business owner shown in the video. The other set of prints were marvelous, they had fantastic ridge detail but the joy ended there as they were not in the criminal database. Since it was known that the man that tendered the bill to the florist was a person of interest in this case of multiple murders they widened the search to other databases which included Interpol where a match was considered very unlikely, and to about a dozen state and federal databases. The results were pending. John was pleased and if his forty dollars would help catch this demon in human form, well it was the best money that he ever spent besides it could be worse, Dee was out sixty dollars! The EED called and said that they had a good picture of the goof in the florist shop, one that should allow them to if nothing else eliminate obvious mismatches. Dee went down and retrieved the picture and looked at it carefully. As she looked at it she felt as if she knew the man in the photograph but to her knowledge she had never seen anyone so unkempt and dirty during her career. Still, the face bugged her, but she did not remember a face that fat crossing her path. She brought the picture to John and she remarked that someone so fat, hairless, and ugly should stand out like a fan dancer at a nuns convention no matter where he went. Their boy was smart they decided because he went to the far

The Darkness P a g e | 56 southwest side to buy his props and committed the murder on the north side. If it werent for the advertising card that the florist put in the flowers there would have been no way to trace the flowers. John suggested to Dee that she set herself in front of the computer to check for other murders and she was just doing that when they got a call from the tech guy who told them that they got a partial on the plate, it was an Illinois plate starting with the letter G. He had already checked and in the Chicago area there were sixty seven blue 1991 Dodge Spirits with the statewide total being just a shade over two hundred, of the total seventeen in Chicago and one-hundred-nine statewide started with the letter G. They had their work cut out for them. They started to talk about running down the plates and John pointed out that the plate might be stolen and has nothing to do with the case but they should run them all down. They should have checked for previous cases.

The Darkness P a g e | 57

No Hurry
Planning is everything. The creature was pleased with the progress he had been making so far. Only one more person needed to have their account settled. This one would be special; there would be no quick and easy death for her. It would take several days to prepare everything for the party. Mentally he ticked off what he would need. He would need a mattress for her; she would need to sleep between sessions. He would need to have a way to keep her in place, so chains, locks, handcuffs and the like would need to be procured. His secret room downstairs was already sound proofed so he would not need anything to keep her from screaming, in fact her screams would be music to his ears. He would need a bucket for sanitary services and he would need to bring his equipment down to the secret room. No, there would be no hurry either now nor once he had her in custody. He would need to take a road trip because he did not want to make things too easy for the cops and so he wanted to obtain his supplies from out of town. Since once again he would be going out during the daytime, he took a bath, carefully cleaning himself up and then naked he went to bed. The next day he would start final preparations to bring the world back into balance and to prove to his mother that he COULD finish something that he had started. Thinking about what he had in mind for his victim caused a strange stirring in his groin, something he hadnt felt since the age of twelve when Mother caught him with his pants down around his knees. She had punished him severely and told him that he was a dirty little boy and she wacked him down there with a ruler that had a metal piece in it and the blow had caused some blood to appear. He still had the scar from that day. After that not a day went by that his mother didnt remind him what a dirty little boy he was. She would have him strip and then she would prance about naked and watch and wait for his twelve year old body to respond to the sight of a naked female body and then she would smile that evil smile and then she would put him over her knee and spank him hard until her arms were too tired to continue and his buttocks was fire engine red. Then when he was thirteen she stopped

The Darkness P a g e | 58 hitting him all the time for just having a reaction to her nudity and as a matter of fact she encouraged it. As a family, he and his sister and his mother would do things. Mother would guide him and his sister in what to do to each other and to her. At first it felt wrong but his young body loved the thrill and release of the orgasm and he craved more. When they were done, Julie, his sister was sent out of the room and told to clean herself up. Then still naked he took his position across Mothers lap and received his spanking. At first the spankings hurt and he cried as Mother called him over and over again in that scratchy shrill voice that she had a disgusting dirty little boy. Then after awhile he began to enjoy it as her hand came down again and again on his buttocks and he would be aroused again. She would see his pleasure, smile, then laugh at him telling him that he would always be a boy and never a real man and then she would fling him off of her lap and walk out of the room leaving him to his own devices. Today however the stirring in his groin confused him because he never thought about sex at all anymore and there was no pornography made that could arouse him. He considered himself sexless. Once Mother died he wanted no other sex partner for no one could replace her, she knew how to arouse him, she knew how please him and she knew the secrets of his body better than he did. He could not consider sex with any other person he ate like a pig, bulked up, and quit bathing so no one male or female would find him in the least bit attractive or have any sexual desire for him. He tried to drive the sexual thoughts out of his mind and it was only with great difficulty that the pressure finally left him. The bitch would have to pay for that as well, for waking up in him what needed to remain asleep and he would make sure that she received payment in full. She was a cop and was the one who helped to arrest Mother and got her sent to that place where she died alone and friendless. It was this cop who separated him and his sister and got him sent to that wretched foster home. Her partner had paid for his crimes and now she would pay for hers and he would make beg to be sent to the bowels of hell where she belonged because he planned on keeping her for awhile, a week, two weeks; it just depended on how he felt. He was in complete charge, he was her god.

The Darkness P a g e | 59 All of the others had something to do with Mothers death, for example, the pompous ass of a priest had heard her last confession, the whore hospice nun had been with her at the end supposedly easing her way out of the world while actually killing her with drugs and the smooth talking radio preacher had infected mothers mind with nonsense and the cop had had hurt her when Mother resisted getting into the bus that was going to take her away. Yes, they all had paid, but this last one was a cop that deserved very special attention and she would get it. Her name was Delores Hanson. The stirring in his groin renewed itself. He ignored it and for once he slept albeit fitfully during the hours of night. When he woke up once again he showered. He cleaned up pretty well for an obese ogre. He dressed in fresh clean clothes and went out to the garage. He selected a new license plate from his stash because he did not want to take a chance that the cops were on the watch for the one that was on Mothers car. He picked one of the Indiana plates and he took the time and removed the Illinois plates replacing them with the Indiana tags. He put the Illinois tags in the trunk of the car. He had a long drive today; he was going to buy supplies in Davenport Iowa. He clicked the garage door open drove out into the alley and began his trip. He was going to make it a fun trip; he would stop in a little town about half way there for the night even though he could if he wanted to he could easily make the round trip in a single day. He closed the garage door, turned on the radio station that featured preaching and listened to the son of Reverend Jerry talk about how good his father had been. The monster laughed at the load of crap that was coming from the sons mouth. Maybe once he finished settling Mothers accounts he would take time to teach that mealy mouthed son of a jack legged preacher a final lesson. But for now he was on his way to Davenport to buy supplies and the thought of spending the night in a small town caused his newly awakened sexual feelings to stir. Who knows what kind of fun he could scare up in a sleepy little town?

The Darkness P a g e | 60

Police Work
We earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.

The pressure was still on the dynamic duo of Mikals and Hanson or as they were becoming known as the comedy team of John and Dee. So far they had made very little progress even though they had a grainy out of focus picture of the person of interest and his Illinois license number. The problem was neither of the clues led anywhere. All of the registrations had been checked and none of the numbers led to an obvious suspect. Dee spent a little bit of time looking at the video; there was something in the picture that was nagging her but she did not know what it was. She played it over and over again, staring at the person of interest and his car. She was really irritated with herself. If she knew the person in the video and she could not identify him then every murder this puke committed could be charged up to her account. On the other hand if it turned out that there was nothing there then she was wasting her time and giving the perp all of the time he needed to kill again. She sighed deeply and watched the video again. John came into the office carrying two large Styrofoam cups of steaming hot coffee, black. He handed one of the cups to Dee and he stared into her eyes. He seemed to make a decision. Get your coat, were going to do some thinking and we need to get to a peaceful place to do that. Dee thought that she wasnt making progress here. John stuck his head into Teds office and told him that he and Dee were going to do some soul searching. Ted seemed to know just what John meant and silently nodded. They got into the car and Dee started to ask John where they were going. John shook his head and told her to be quiet until they got there. They drove for awhile actually leaving the city and they

The Darkness P a g e | 61 entered the suburb of Hillside. John turned into a cemetery. The sign on the outside said it was Mount Carmel Cemetery. John pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. He motioned for Dee to follow him. She started to speak and once again he silenced her telling her to just enjoy the day which was kind of cool. The trees in this city of the dead were rapidly turning colors and there was crispness in the air that spoke of autumn. They walked in the silence imposed by John for a few minutes until they came to an imposing monument surrounded by a lush growth of evergreen shrubs. John stood there in silence for a moment then he turned to Dee and said; I come here when I am out of ideas and it appears that the case I am working on is rapidly going cold. If it is in the warm months, I listen to the birds and crickets singing their joyful songs, and if it is in the cold months I revel in the silence. I allow myself to breathe and to think. You may ask why I come to this particular graveyard and why this particular grave. It is very simple. The person that owned the bones rotting underneath that imposing monument once had it all. He had money, fame, and power, absolutely everything that a man would lust for in this life. I remember stories on how he made his wealth off of the weaknesses of others and how he dealt with adversity in the workplace, with guns and baseball bats. He was a man of violence, a man with a temper; he once brained two of his employees with a bat because he thought they were being disloyal to him. He was a man to be respected and feared. In his time he was his own law. No one could tell him what to do or that he was wrong. He thumbed his nose at the government and the police. His name was Alphonse Gabriel Capone. I come here to look at this monument which was raised to him and his sorry life and remember that this pile of garbage had a personal fortune that totaled in the hundreds of millions of dollars. His crime was bootlegging and money came in eight or ten times faster than he could spend it. The feds tried to get him but they failed. And then some little needle nosed bookkeeper happened upon the idea that this man was living far beyond his means as a used furniture salesman and decided that they could get him using the income tax laws. And do you know what? They did get him and they threw him

The Darkness P a g e | 62 in jail for eight years. Then when he was let out for medical reasons he was a complete moron because early in his life he had sex with a prostitute that left him with syphilis that he never bothered to have treated. In his last years of life this powerful man, this man that could have owned the world was reduced to fishing in the swimming pool in his Miami home. This was all because of a little bespectacled bookkeeper who kept things simple and won. Thats why I come here when a case gets me down because I can see that ultimately the victory is assured. I see that this powerful man lost everything because of a low level deskbound cop. I feel pretty good and pretty proud about the victory and I know that if I go back and do basic police work I will crack the case. Ive been watching you and I can see your morale dropping as we go from one dead end to another. I want you to stop and think about where we should go next. I want you to walk all around this grave and get a feel for the great criminal that rots here. I dont want you to talk until we get back to the station, just think and generate ideas. I will be doing the same thing myself in silence. They spent about fifteen minutes next to the grave of Scarface and they drove back to the station in silence. Then when they got back to the station John noticed a change in Dee, she seemed more alive and the sparkle had returned to her eyes. She looked at John and smiled and adjourned to her office.

The Darkness P a g e | 63

Road Trip
On the Eve of Destruction He could have made the trip in one day but he had decided that he would spend a night away from home, he had to explore these new feelings that he was experiencing. He pulled off the expressway at a small town named Francis Junction about an hour from his ultimate destination. As he drove into the town he saw that it was a fairly good sized place for an Illinois small town. This wide spot in the road consisted of about three blocks of downtown streets with five or six bars scattered here and there. He decided that this town would be perfect for his purposes. He found a seedy motel, a no questions asked sort of place that advertised a four hour nap special. He entered the office and told the man sitting and smoking a very cheap and very smelly cigar that he needed a room for the night. The manager looked at him and simply said forty bucks. The monster opened his wallet and peeled off two twenties and handed them to the man. The manager accepted the cash and placed it into a cigar box under the counter and gave him a registration card and room key. The monster smiled and peeled off another twenty handing the money and the blank registration card back to the manager who was not slow in getting the meaning of the gesture. He told the monster that they could skip the formalities and that room twenty at the end of the lot was his for the night. The monster nodded accepting the key and drove the Dodge Spirit to the space in front of his room. He unlocked the door and entered a room that could be classified as dingy provided that a team of professional cleaners spent a week scrubbing walls, floors, and carpets. If cobwebs were money he would be a rich man. The bed featured a mattress that at one time had been one of the best made but it squeaked painfully when he sat on the edge to test it. He opened the bathroom door and discovered that the bathroom was seedy but functional. Surprisingly the toilet flushed and the sink was reasonably clean and there were some of those little soaps that his mother loved so much in an ash tray on the sink. There was a tumbler with a paper cover over it that was marked SANITIZED FOR YOUR PROTECTION. The dust on top of the paper cover gave

The Darkness P a g e | 64 lie to the promise of sanitization. He would not use the glass to urinate in much less drink from. The shower was moldy in places and even a person wearing hip high rubber waders would probably develop athletes foot if he was foolish enough to step into the filthy stall. He did not bother to turn the water on in the shower. All in all it wasnt a bad place at least for his purposes since he would not actually be spending the whole night there. He put his suitcase down and left the room watching as a couple of men entered one of the rooms, probably for a four hour nap together. Yes this was a perfect place for what he had in mind since all of the guests were more or less engaged in questionable behavior so that they probably would not want to have their stay at the Nautical publicized. He got into his car and found a restaurant that featured pizza. He ordered a large garbage pizza and taking it out to his car he ate all of it because he would need his strength tonight. He then drove to and parked across the street from one of the bars he had seen, this one was on a side street and he parked where he had a good view of the entrance. The bar was named Rustlers and in his mind he could smell the stale beer and he could almost see the mechanical bull that the shit kickers would ride after they had swallowed some Buffalo Burger Chili which was proudly advertised on a sign in the window followed by a couple of cold cans of Coors. After a few minutes, he decided that this place would be perfect as his base of operations this evening because it had the look of a place where hookers would be working the farmer and cowboy trade in this town. He drove back to the motel after he stopped in an alley and changed his license plate to one from Kentucky because he was sure that the manager although he had accepted the extra twenty to allow him to stay without signing a registration card most certainly had written down his license number, not that it mattered since he had no idea what car that plate had come off of, but why take chances? He would have to deal with that boy before he left. He smiled as he thought that he probably would be able to get the money back he had paid for the seedy room. Once he arrived at the motel he removed his clothes, laying naked on the cool sheets, and slept because he would be up late that night. Every

The Darkness P a g e | 65 time he moved the mattress under his bulky body creaked, groaned, and squeaked. Sometime, perhaps an hour after he had climbed into the bed, he was woken up as he heard voices from the room next to him, a male and a female, and then the mattress in that room started playing a plaintive sonata as the inhabitants began to enjoy their four hour nap together. He simply turned over and went back to sleep again. About seven in the evening the monster, with the last hint of autumn sun teasing the evening sky awoke and after causing the ancient bed to squeal one final time as he left it; he entered the bathroom and washed as best he could with what was at hand. He took the soap and the towels he had used and left the water running for about a half hour to clear the drain of his DNA. It was not that he suddenly felt the need for cleanliness, no, in the morning he would have to be among people and he did not want them to remember the smelly guy that purchased the supplies that he would need to take care of that damn female cop. He wanted to do his best to fit in. He dressed in the set of clean clothes that he had brought with him and when he finished he went into the night. He drove to the bar; his parking space right across from the bar was still there. He parked and waited. The working women would wait until their johns had a chance to get some beer into them. Beer made even the ugliest prostitute look beautiful and the john would thus be willing to pay a bit more for the wares that they were offering. At about ten thirty she appeared. She was a working girl that was worse for wear with makeup that looked like it had been applied with a spatula but she must have a certain charm for the country bumpkins that inhabit this town the monster mused thoughtfully. This would be his subject for the night. He flashed his headlights and she walked across the street and peered into the car. He held up a hundred dollar bill and she smiled and got into the car but she kept the door opened and one leg on the street. He pulled out a second hundred and she pulled her leg in and closed the door. He smiled at the whore and after starting the car he put it into gear and headed back to his room. In the doorway of the

The Darkness P a g e | 66 bar Clem lit a cigarette and watched Ginger take off with the guy. He had seen two hundred dollars make it into her hands and he would have her account for it to be sure. He took a deep drag on the generic cigarette and then flipped it away and turned to go back into the bar. He couldnt get used to the no smoking policy the state forced on them but he couldnt do anything about it. He went back into Rustlers and ordered himself another Coors. Her real name was Gladys Glominski but she went by the professional name of Ginger. She glanced at the strange creature next to her. When she got into the car he had given her two hundred dollars in advance so it was his party. She could not remember once when a john had paid her so much especially since she was older than the other girls that worked Rustlers. The fact was that she was old enough to be this fat fools mother. God, he must weigh three hundred pounds and I hope that he only wants oral. Two hundred dollars or not there was no way that she could tolerate his bulk lying on top of her. He was silent but that didnt bother her because she had other customers that preferred no t to talk to a prostitute and as long the money was there, it was okay by her. But she decided to try and break the ice with this mope. Well let me introduce myself, I am Ginger. I love big strong men like you. He turned and looked at her, shook his head and put his fingers to his lips motioning her to be quiet. She settled back into the seat thinking that he would have to make the first move. She saw the Nautical Motel which was once a very nice place but it had fallen on bad times. She used to keep a room there to facilitate her work but Clem said she could go out in the back of the bar for a lot of her work and that it was a waste to keep a room when the alley would do. He was quick to point out that she wasnt a spring chicken nor was she a grand a night escort; she was a down and dirty whore on the wrong side of fifty so she shouldnt expect much. She remembered years gone by when she was young and not too bad looking. Then the work was steady and like now she was good at what the customers

The Darkness P a g e | 67 wanted and did her her best to accommodate their needs and to make them feel good. It was her attitude that made her good at the job and kept her busy. She still could deliver the goods even if the goods were best displayed in the dark. So this weirdo wants peace and quiet, well he paid the money so he is entitled to what he wants. The car turned into the Nautical and went to the end of the property to the last room. She knew this room; it was the worst room in a motel that specialized in sleaze. The weirdo did something strange. He hopped out of the car and opened the door for her. Well he was a gentleman weirdo she had to say that. She hooked her arm into his and together they walked to the door. He opened the door and they stepped in. She felt a pinch in her neck and she stumbled toward the bed and collapsed into it causing the ancient springs to squeal in protest. She slept. The monster was not shy about what he had in mind. He turned her over and ripped the dress from her body exposing a black bra and panty set probably from the Hooker Ware collection at Victorias Secret. He removed the bra and threw it on the floor and did the same with the panties exposing the prostitutes product. He stood there and stared at the exposed flesh and the familiar stirring in his loins brought him back to the times with his mother. He fixed his gaze at the unconscious womans genitals; they were not like mothers. Where his mother had hair, this lady had none. He inspected her breasts. The breasts he was looking at now were firmer than his mothers and the face had more makeup than his mother used in a year. Although he was aroused at the sight of the naked whore, he knew he could not do the things to her that he used to do to his mother and sister. He opened his wallet and threw two more hundred dollar bills on the bed then he gathered his things and placed them in the car. He wandered to the office and looking in he saw the same man that had taken the forty dollars from him. He gently opened the door and approached the man who was watching wrestling on the television. He grabbed the managers head and twisted swiftly breaking the mans neck; he never knew what hit him.

The Darkness P a g e | 68 He opened the cigar box under the counter and took out three twenty dollar bills and placed them in his wallet and he looked in the box that held the registration cards. He found one with his room number on it and sure enough the bastard had copied down his cars license plate number. He put the card in his pocket and looked out the window. There was no one about so he went to his car started it up and left the Nautical Motel. He got back on Interstate 74 and drove towards his ultimate destination. A couple of hours later the sun rose on another day. The town of Moline Illinois disappeared behind him and he had crossed the river into Iowa. He continued on Interstate 74 to the Spruce Hill Drive exit and turned left following Elmore Avenue past Duck Creek Park to the Home Depot on Middle Road. He checked his wallet and found that he had enough tens and twenties to make his purchases. He did not want to leave a hundred dollar bill here because he didnt want to draw attention to himself at all. He was going to be Mr. Joe Average making an ordinary purchase of ordinary things that eventually he would put to extraordinary use. He smiled.

The Darkness P a g e | 69

Basic Police Work

Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves It was another fine autumn day but what made it different is that there was no new murder for Dee and John to work on. They just had the ones that they had yesterday and did not need to visit a new crime scene today so they could engage in some basic police work. Dee finally got back to her computer and started to do some basic searches and she was rewarded almost immediately. She did a basic search on the method that the perp used to kill his victims to see if there were any similar murders. It turns out that there was one other besides the ones that they were investigating. The victim was described as a male a junkie who was killed with a poisoned dart. It had happened in Chicago about two years ago. She entered the case number in the computer and was slightly disappointed at the lack of information that she found. Since the man was a junkie it was probably unofficially classified as an NHBI which meant no human being involved case. This meant that it had been written off by the investigating detective as most likely a drug deal gone bad case and so the victim and his case was worked without too much enthusiasm and just the minimum amount of work was processed to make a file to eventually send to Cold Cases. The sad part about it was that this case had been poorly investigated even as an NHBI case. There were no witnesses, no interviews, no fingerprints and the only evidence was the dart that they had found embedded in the neck of the junkie. The location was in a neighborhood that had once been nice but owing to the bad economy and the bad mortgages that the banks made, had changed it into a neighborhood of boarded up houses, pimps, prostitutes, drug salesmen, gang bangers and unfortunately innocent citizens that for one reason or another could not leave the neighborhood. Drug sales were brisk in the area as were shootings and stabbings. But as she scanned the sparse data she realized that the perp had to be someone who was familiar with that neighborhood, perhaps someone who still lived there. She made a note of the address of where the body had been found and the area around the house might give her

The Darkness P a g e | 70 some insight as to what happened. The crime scene pictures showed it was in the front of a brownstone house that was boarded up and abandoned. The CSI unit had broken into the house and searched it from top to bottom but did not find any evidence whatsoever that the junkie had ever been in the house. They made sure the lights were turned off and they carefully closed it up again in the vain hope that vandals could be kept at bay by a locked door. In another police station half a state away another cop was doing basic police work. At about three in the morning a call came in from that pest hole called the Nautical Motel. Gladys, also known as Ginger was found naked and screaming in front of room twenty. His deputy looked in the room, which was really just one step short of a flop house and didnt see anything that shouldnt be there. The state evidence unit did their thing in the room and found dozens upon dozens of fingerprints, the room was never cleaned. Sheriff Laski thought it was kind of ironic that the one thing in the room that should have delivered beautiful prints, a glass tumbler that had one of those paper covers on it, yielded nothing. The deputy who answered the call about a naked woman screaming in the parking lot then went to talk to the manager to find out why he hadnt called them regarding this disturbance and he found that the owner manager, one Vincent Marzetti, was unable to make the call because he had suffered a broken neck and now was helping St. Peter check people into heaven or maybe helping the devil check people into hell. It wasnt for him to judge but he considered the latter more likely than the former. Again they found a plethora of prints, the CSI boys said they think they had at least a hundred latent images that would yield good matches if they were in the system. Great, he thought. We can spend the next two hundred years tracking down transients and perverts. He wasnt sure what the motive of the murderer was. Vince who was also know as Vincent The Kid Marzetti, a low life had his watch, a cheap Rolex knock off which he probably thought was real and the cigar box that served as a till had several hundred dollars in it so it would seem they could rule out robbery. The box yielded only two different sets of prints, one set belonged to the late lamented Marzetti and the other belonged to

The Darkness P a g e | 71 someone else. Thus extra print was significant because Marzetti did not have any employees; no one would want to be associated with this shoddy motel of low repute, so his prints should be the only one on the cigar box. Damn, this place made him itchy and he was going to have to shower once he got back to the office, this place was so dirty that even a self respecting bedbug would look for better lodgings. He thought and discarded the idea that this could have been a hit by the outfit, because Vincent was small potatoes and his pest hole motel was nothing any self respecting Mafioso would want to be involved in, the money just wasnt there. His radio crackled and one of his deputies had gone to the Rustler to talk to the man that provided Gladys with a roof and food every so often all for sixty percent of the take plus a charge for room and board which meant that on a good day Gladys would net about a dime on the dollar. He hated pimps. But the man answered to the name of Clem and the first thing they did was to check his alibi and the bartender told his deputy that Clem had been at the bar until it closed at four in the morning. The bartender said Clem was stewing about getting his hands on the two hundred dollars he saw a john give Ginger. He described the man she went with as a big fat slob in an old light blue Dodge Spirit. Unfortunately he did not remember the license plate number nor could he provide any description. Sheriff Laski sent out a BOLO on the Dodge Spirit but didnt expect anything to come of it. Back at the office he typed the report into the computer and sent it to the State Crime Database. No one would mourn for Vincent. Quite the contrary his passing would cause property values to go up in the town but he was pissed that on one night two crimes were committed on his watch. He would get the son of a bitch and put him in jail until the locks rusted shut on the cell doors. It was getting to be lunch time. He went to Rosies diner and had a plate of her stew and kidded around with the waitresses a bit and then he got on with the business of enforcing the law and protecting the good people that called Francis Junction their home. The murder of The Kid did not generate income like writing speeding tickets did. He would let the state boys do the leg work and he would pick it up once they were done.

The Darkness P a g e | 72 While the police labored to find and catch him, the monster had completed his purchases and found his way back to Interstate 74 and started back to Chicago. It wasnt long before he was passing the Francis Junction exit and he toyed with the idea of riding through the town but he knew that doing this would be a major mistake and to his knowledge he hadnt made any mistakes yet. True, he didnt kill the hooker, but she should be happy about the four C notes he left, maybe she wouldnt even report what he did to her. But even if she did report him he was long gone and had no intention of ever visiting Francis Junction or even Davenport again. About half an hour later he stopped at the Triple B Truck Stop and filled the Dodge with gasoline and checked out the restaurant. Unfortunately this was probably the only truck stop in the world that didnt offer some sort of pizza so he got into his car and got back on the interstate. As he was leaving the truck stop he passed an Illinois State Police car. Unfortunately the Smokeys attention was on the panties of the lot lizard that was bending over to pick up something she had dropped. He missed seeing the old Dodge and the monster drove off and as he neared Chicago the anonymity that his non-descript car offered him was restored and he soon arrived at his home and placed his car into the garage. He walked over to the pizza place and bought himself an extra large garbage pizza and ate it all. He wiped his lips several times on the sleeves of his shirt and with a satisfied belch he made his way to his hovel and collapsed into bed. The city was still safe for the monster slept. John was exhausted. He had made the rounds of his snitches which were officially called confidential informants and once again he struck out. Dee had called him and told him about the murder that happened two years ago and he had to suppress a yawn because he was both tired and bored by the news. A two year old murder in a part of town that kept the medical examiners busy three sixty five was hardly anything to get excited about. She also told him that it appeared to be a NHBI case that received less attention than normal. He couldnt see how that old case could be relevant. He promised Dee that he would review the case with her in the morning. He drove to his old Southwest

The Darkness P a g e | 73 Side neighborhood and pulled into Falcos lot. He entered the restaurant at Archer and California and ordered himself an Italian beef, dipped, with sweet and hot peppers and melted provolone cheese with a large order of fries and he slowly ate his way through one of the best meals that anyone could ever hope to have in Chicago. He then made his way home. He collapsed into his recliner and turned on NCIS marveling at how quickly they could solve cases. He wished he had with they had, a good script writer. He fell into a troubled sleep and dreamed about Dee, not a sexual dream, but a dream where a faceless man had her tied up and he was unable to do anything to save her. He woke up in a sweat, got out of the chair, had a drink of water and toddled off to bed where he forgot about the nightmare and slept dreamlessly until a quarter to five in the morning. Dee owned a white Ford Mustang, not one of the modern ones, but a classic one from 1963. She purchased the car cheaply because it was in such bad shape that the owner who had purchased the hulk from a buyer over the internet decided to part the car out instead of restoring it. She heard about the car, bought it and had it lovingly had it restored, except, she insisted on a V8 with four barrels in the carburetor, lots of chrome under the hood and a competition Hurst shifter controlling a six speed gear box. It was not your grandfathers Mustang! She made the car comfortable too, adding such luxuries as heated leather seats and she had the AM radio removed and replaced by the best BOSE CD changer she could find. She also added turbo boost for added speed when she needed it and air conditioning because Chicago summers could be hot. One evening she put the pedal to the metal on the Kennedy expressway and got her sweet ride up to one hundred ten miles per hour. The officer that had pulled her over didnt give her a ticket when she produced her shield but he told her if he caught her again he wouldnt care if she were the newly appointed police commissioner, she would not only get a ticket, she would get a free ride in the back of his car as they towed her car off for investigative purposes. He reminded her that pound charged by the day and the tow would cost at least a hundred bucks even if they brought her to the station and then just let her go. Then he asked her for a date and since he was

The Darkness P a g e | 74 kind of cute, she accepted. The relationship went nowhere and she ended up shaking his hand good night and walking off. She swore he heard him say bitch as she walked back to her car. That angered her and she burned rubber as she left. Today she was driving sedately and she was on autopilot and thinking about their case. The bodies were piling up and she was sure that the case from two years ago was perpetrated by the same suspect. When she told John about it, she could detect boredom in his voice and she knew that he did not think what she found was a breakthrough. They had arranged to meet at the station at nine in the morning. She would get there early and do some more digging. She had driven the last fifteen minutes without really thinking about the road but now she was home. She pulled the car into her assigned parking space and entered her apartment building. Her mail was the usual crop of advertising with a side dish of bills. She opened her door entered her three room apartment and after carefully locking the door behind her, she threw the mail on the counter and pulled a frozen dinner from the freezer and placed it into the microwave to heat. She went to the bedroom and changed into her pajamas and put on her comfortable slippers. Then she turned on the TV and ate her cardboard meal and watched the news which featured the cases she was working on. Disgusted with the tone of the reporters she clicked the television off and after checking the doors one final time, she was a creature of habit when it came to security, she went to bed and soon was in dream land.

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Early Morning on Death Day Eve

Sunny with a chance of murder

Dee woke up early while it was still dark and she decided that she could not sleep anymore so she arose and did her daily dozen exercises and rode her stationary bike until the sweat had beaded on her forehead. She undressed and padded to the bathroom and turned on her shower, super hot just like she liked it. She showered in the heavenly hot water for a full five minutes then she turned the spray on full cold and almost screamed when the icy Lake Michigan water hit her. She was most definitely awake now and it was still dark out. She looked at the clock, it was four thirty. She swallowed a yogurt for her breakfast, dressed and armed herself with badge and gun. She decided that she would go out to the address where that first murder had occurred just to get a feel for the killer to try and get inside his head. She walked to the Mustang, the sight of the car always sent a chill of pride and pleasure down her spine and she loved everything about this vehicle because it expressed her personality like no other car could. She got in and started it up and listened to the engine growl angrily at being woken up so early in the morning. She checked mirrors and made sure she was belted in and then she was off. She turned on News Radio 78 to hear the headlines. She was relieved that the lead story was about some federal prosecutor going after a party big wig in the state government. So what else was new? The next story was about how the State of Illinois was going broke and how the wimpy Irish governor with Jell-O for a spine was going to push the burden brought on by years of mismanagement on to backs of the over taxed citizens of the State of Illinois so that he could pass out raises to his incompetent team of empty headed yes men. The ordinary hard working man would drool over the amount of these raises but they would never see them in the real world. Dee would be most happy to lead a delegation of law officers to Springfield and arrest that sorry piece of donkey meat for impersonating a public servant. The only thing in polite society that was worse than being a politician would be being a bank officer. She turned northwest onto Milwaukee Avenue and drove to Diversey

The Darkness P a g e | 76 Avenue and turned right on Troy Avenue and stopped in front of a boarded up brownstone with a fenced off front yard. This is where the body was found. She stopped her car and exited the vehicle. The gate for the fence was lying on the mud patch next to it and she stepped on to the abandoned property and walked to where the body had been found. She walked around just to get a feeling for the place. The report said the officers responding had searched the house and found nothing inside of any worth. She looked at the house and then back at the place where the body had been found. This place gave her the creeps for some reason. Behind the door the monster had heard the deep rumble of a car sitting in front of his house. He left his safe room and cautiously approached the door and peeked through the window. He was amazed at what he saw; the bitch had delivered herself into his hands. He quickly went to his room and came back with a rag and a can. He would have to await his opportunity but he knew that before much longer his dream would come true and she would be in his clutches and she could pay her debt in full. Dee turned and decided to see if the house was open, she just wanted to see the inside because she believed that the dead junkie had been using the place for a shooting gallery. She walked up to the house and turned the door knob. She was surprised that she could open the door. She was just turning to go back to her car for her flashlight and radio when an arm grabbed her from behind. She was going to kick him in the groin when she realized that there was a rag over her face. She felt dizzy and suddenly darkness claimed her. The monster dragged her deeply into the house and using some large nylon cable ties he bound her hands behind her. He used two more cable ties to shackle her legs together and carrying her like a sack of potatoes he brought her down to the secret room in the basement. He threw her down on the foul mattress and using the chains and locks he had purchased in Davenport he made her and the room one. He gagged her with some shop rags tied together and with that she was in his power for as long as he decided that it was necessary. The problem was he wasnt quite ready to start

The Darkness P a g e | 77 yet. The anesthetic he had given her would wear off soon so he went into the supplies he had already brought down and gave her a shot of 200mg of Phenobarbital which would keep her sedated for six to eight hours. He knew he would not be ready to start then so he would administer an additional dose before then. Right now, he had to get rid of that car. He found the keys and got in, it was a tight fit, and after stepping on the clutch he started the machine up. He put it in gear and let up on the clutch, too quickly because the Mustang lurched ahead a few feet and then stalled. This was going to be tricky. Again he pressed down on the clutch, started the engine, put it into gear and slowly let up on the clutch. This time the thoroughbred car began to move forward. He pressed on the accelerator and the car moved a bit faster but the engine was screaming. He pressed down on the clutch and ground the car into second gear and the protesting transmission muted itself. He kept it in second gear and slowly made his way a couple of blocks north without stopping. The street he was on now was a gang ridden street and he felt confident that the beautiful Mustang would soon be stripped and burning. He got out of the car and took the keys with him; he did not want the hoodlums that infested this street to think this was a bait car and he waddled back to his house. The day was just beginning for the rest of the world. It was seven in the morning. When he arrived home he went into the basement and made sure that the bitch was secure and still asleep. Her breathing was deep and regular. He checked the cuffs and chains and was satisfied that she would not be able to get out of her restraints. He closed the wonderfully camouflaged door and toddled off to his breakfast eating a couple of slices of Tonys pizza. With a sigh of satisfaction at the fullness he felt in his belly and the joy in his heart at having captured his final victim so easily he decided to take a nap. He fell asleep almost immediately as his head hit the pillow. Snorting and snoring he rested his body because soon there would be some work to be done; work that would keep him up long into the night. He slept a couple of hours and then got up and got busy.

The Darkness P a g e | 78 Jason Pedziwater was known on the street as Little Guy because he was only two inches over five feet tall. His small stature and boyish good looks belied a nasty, evil, and violent nature. He was never known to accept an insult or an apology. Antagonize Little Guy and if you were lucky you would receive a beating to within an inch of your life. If you were unlucky as some people in the past had been the beating would cross that imaginary line and you would find yourself dead and waiting to be buried. Once he was done with you if he was mad enough, and he usually was, he would do the same to your wife, your girlfriend, or in a pinch your mother. In a fight he never let the fact that someone had lost consciousness deter him from stomping and kicking them to drive the lesson home. Little Guy has seen the fat man park the stang and walk away. It did not look as if he had locked the door either. The car was a beauty, with magnificent chrome wheels. He carefully approached the car. The fat ass that parked the car did not appear to be a cop but today a guy couldnt be sure because there were a lot of fat cops. He looked in the window of the magnificent street rod and he noticed that the keys were gone and this was good. Usually a bait car came complete with keys and once you entered the car and started the engine the doors would be remotely locked and could not be opened until the cops came and cuffed you. All in all he did not think it was a bait car, he decided it was manna from heaven and that he should take immediate advantage of it. There was at least a couple of thousand dollars worth of parts ripe for taking. He walked away from the car feigning disinterest for any onlookers and called Diablo, or as his mother knew him, Bobby Lang, who was Little Guys best friend forever and lieutenant. He told Diablo to get the crew together pronto and meet him in the cul-de-sac and to bring all of the tools and the truck because they were going to clean up today. It was now 7:30. It wasnt more than ten minutes later when Diablo, Rat, Tino, Joe, and Eagle arrived with enough tools to stock a garage. They saw nothing but quality here. The first thing that they noticed was the Cooper racing tires rated for 120 miles per hour mounted on beautiful chrome Race Star wheels to the beautiful paint job. But they were not there for a car show; they were there to make what belonged

The Darkness P a g e | 79 to someone else theirs! It only took a moment for Tino to get the car up on the jack and another minute or two for the experienced choppers to remove the four tires and wheels. They followed that by removing the special racing brakes and rotors. Rat pulled the truck up to the crew and they started placing the booty into the panel truck. They removed both doors and began to remove the seats when they made the discovery of the police radio. They were too far into the job now to quit so Diablo opened the radio and removed the battery, just to be sure that there was no way the thing could broadcast their position. He threw the radio on to the floor of the back seat. They quickly removed the Buddy Club racing seats, each worth at least half of a grand and carefully put them into their truck. The rear seat, which no one could fit in anyway, was stock so they left it alone. Next they removed the Sparco custom steering wheel and the Bose Stereo unit and the speakers. Everything that was valuable was soon in their truck which left the scene with their treasure. The whole process took only thirty minutes. Little Guy siphoned out a quart of gasoline into a malt liquor bottle and stuffed a rag into it. The crew disappeared and Little Guy lit the rag, waited a few seconds then threw the Molotov cocktail into what remained of the formerly beautiful Mustang. He jumped back and watched with satisfaction as a fireball formed and the car erupted into flame. Little Guy looked at his handiwork one more time and disappeared into the shadows. The fire department arrived a few minutes later and put the fire out but all evidence of the thief or thieves who had torched this car was gone. A cop came by and took down license and VIN number and after arranging for impounding of the hulk he looked at his watch reported that he was off the scene and on lunch. It wasnt until the end of his shift that he filled out and filed the paperwork required to be filled out on the derelict car. The name Delores Hanson meant nothing to him and calls to her house went unanswered. He clocked out and went to the bar to sop up some suds and wash the filth of the street out of his mind. It was now ten in the morning on the day before the day the monster was intending to do his work.

The Darkness P a g e | 80 Dee was on the verge of conscienceless and her brain tried to make sense of the situation that was beyond its learning. In a semi dream state her brain brought her to familiar places and once she moaned her Daddies name. Failing at making sense of what was happening her brain fell back into a very deep sleep without dreams. Every so often she would briefly awaken and realize that she was bound and unable to move. Her mouth was dry as cotton and then she realized that she had a gag in her mouth. She tried to move her hands to remove the offending material and found she could not. She once again fell into stupor. Once she thought she saw a big fat man but sleep claimed her again before she could get a clear look at him. It was eleven in the morning on the day before the last day she was likely to see. She slept and began to awake in the early evening. As night began to fall the monster entered the room and could see that the drug was wearing off. He prepared a fresh dose of the powerful barbiturate and was getting ready to administer it to Dee when her eyes opened and she recognized her tormentor for a moment. He smiled malevolently at her and as she tried to twist and turn to loosen her bonds he gave her the shot and in a moment she quit struggling and fell into a drug induced slumber. He turned to the table behind him and picked up the large, sharp, boning knife and approached Dee. With a few deft movements he had cut off her clothing and flung it to the ground, she would not need the clothing anymore; when and if her body was found she would be furnished clothing by the undertaker if there was enough to bury! She lay there in bra and panties looking so innocent but was so very guilty. He noticed that she had wet herself and he touched the wet patch on the panties and then with the knife he cut the blue garment off of her. He did the same with the matching bra and now she lay there naked and defenseless. He inspected her body from top to bottom. He spent a lot of time staring at her nipples and the hair between her legs. Her nudity brought him no pleasure, she wasnt his mother. He felt the weight of the knife in his hands and sensed the power it gave him over her. Now he began to feel aroused and he brought the point of the knife and placed it lightly on Dees thigh. He began to become more and more aroused as he gently

The Darkness P a g e | 81 dragged the blade across the silky white thigh, not pushing it hard enough to break the skin. He closed his eyes and in his mind he saw his mother in living color and saw her hand as it came down hard on his naked buttocks again and again and he heard her tell him with every whack what a dirty little boy he was. There in that dirty dank basement room he felt the thrill of climax race from his groin and up his spine. At the conclusion of the orgasm he opened his eyes and brought himself back to the present and sadness descended over him because it was not yet tomorrow. Tomorrow would be the day. Tomorrow at six fourteen in the evening his mother would be dead for two years. That is when he was going to start, that is when she would begin to pay for what she had done to him and his mother. She changed his beautiful life forever and he would end her life for committing that offense. But she would have to beg for death many times before he would grant that favor to her. He would be god to her because he would have the power of life and death, of heaven or hell and she would pray to him for forgiveness and release with her screams and once he was satisfied that she had paid her debt to him and his mother in full with interest he would execute her slowly and painfully. He once again checked her shackles and made a mental note of when she would be due for her next injection. He then went up and after wolfing down three quarters of a pizza he went to sleep and he dreamed about his mother and saw her smile at him as he collected on his debt. He took that as her approval for what he would be doing the next evening but in the morning he had to make the game more challenging. He was going to tell her partner about her plight. With any kind of luck he could kill two cops with one knife. He would allow her to awaken now so she could enjoy the night hours wondering and imagining what was going to happen to her. Time passed and the drug racing through Dees body began to wear off and with a struggle she tried to cast off the clouds that fogged her mind and eventually she became more and more alert. She felt that she had been on a three day drunk. Her mouth was as dry as cotton and as a matter of fact she realized that it was actually filled with a cotton rag and it was making her most uncomfortable. She was

The Darkness P a g e | 82 cold and she was laying in a chilly wetness and realized that she had wet herself multiple times. She had no idea how long she had been a prisoner in this little bit of hell. She then remembered the ogre she had seen; the man that gave her a wicked smile that chilled her even more than the dampness of her surroundings. He knew the monster and she cursed herself as a stupid ass because she had had the answer in front of her yesterday in those pictures, it was Charles, the abused boy whose mother she had helped take to the booby hatch when she was found wandering naked in the winter two years ago. The story had come out that Charles had been cruelly sexually and mentally tortured by his mother. He had been a nice looking teenager two years ago but today he looked like a monster. Dee had tried to comfort the boy as he drove him to Childrens Services where he would be placed in foster care. Charles had said nothing to her during that ride and had glared at her evilly as he got out of the car and was placed into the system. He was sixteen almost seventeen back then so today had to be eighteen going on nineteen and most assuredly he had been bruised and battered by the foster care system and now he had turned out of the system and was fully qualified to be a predator. She wondered how he had put on all of that weight and why he had done it. She was now more frightened than before because she realized that she was dealing with a boy who considered punishment a form of love making and one who enjoyed both receiving and inflicting pain. She lifted her head and glanced at her thigh and saw a thin red line and realized that it was the mark made by a knife being dragged along her skin. She shivered as she imagined what he must have in store for her. She struggled against her bonds but found that she was as secure as a man strapped to a gurney in the Texas death chamber. Like the Texas inmate she realized that death was most assuredly the outcome of this encounter with evil except unlike the Texas executioner Charles was not bound to rules that the state was under to keep her death as painless as possible. She noticed a clock that had been placed in her view, it was set to show military time and it said 23:45 or fifteen minutes to midnight. She realized the clock was Charles way of telling her that her time was running out. . Just a short distance away the monster slept, he would have to be

The Darkness P a g e | 83 up early. On this night the moon which was but a sliver in the sky was covered by dense clouds and the darkness outside was inky black and complete as a fog permeated the chill autumn air.

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The Day of Darkness Begins

Where the hell is she?

Detective John Mikals had finished his check in call with his sponsor and boss and decided to call Dee because she was known to be an early riser. He dialed her home number and after four rings her voice announced that she could not come to the phone and that he should leave a message. He assumed that meant that she was already on the road. He dialed her cell phone and it immediately went into voice mail which meant that either she was speaking on the phone or the thing was not on. He reached over and picked up his cigarettes pulling one from the pack and placing it in his mouth without lighting it. As he passed the waste basket he pulled the cancer stick from his mouth and threw it in to join about twelve companions all unsmoked, he was starting to get used to not smoking. After waking his muscles with some exercise he went to the bathroom and did the three Ss and dressed. He checked his Sig Sauer P226X Golden Dragon 9mm pistol, which was not quite regulation but then he did not ask his superiors if he could use it and they for their part did not ask if he had it. The clip held nineteen rounds and he considered this beautiful piece of the gunsmith art his insurance policy against harm. He was a good shot and nineteen rounds would assure that an assailant would not do well against him. It was an expensive policy, he had paid over three thousand dollars for the custom made handgun but he did not consider it an extravagance. He placed the gun into its holster and was comforted by its heft on his hip. He put on his sport coat and was just about to leave his apartment when the telephone rang. The monster had been up since four thirty. He did not go to see if his patient was still chained in the secret room because the fact that he had not been awoken by a swat team assured him that the cops did not have a clue about him and his plans for the bitch Delores. It was with this in mind that he decided that he would not visit her or drug her any further. The next time he saw her punishment would

The Darkness P a g e | 85 start in earnest. He breakfasted on cold pizza and noticed he was down to his last pie; he would have to get some for tonight. With a light heart he went to the table and looked at the cheap prepaid cell phone it showed that the battery was fully charged and there were bars indicating that he had wireless service so the phone was ready to use. He would be making only one phone call with it. He put on his jacket and went into the dark. He walked several blocks and was winded from the exertion as his enlarged heart labored to keep blood circulating in the great bulk he had sculpted out of pizza and inactivity. He dialed the non emergency number for the Chicago Police Department and the call was immediately picked up by an operator. Chicago Police Department, Operator seven oh two how may I help you? The monster hesitated for a split second because this was the point of no return. Once he delivered this message he would be a marked man and the clock would start ticking. But then they did not know who he was and where he was at so it was fairly safe because the minute he was done with this call the phone would be dropped into a storm sewer. He answered; I have a message for Detective John Mikals. Do not speak or interrupt me or what happens next will be your responsibility. Tell the detective that his partner Delores is with me and that she is in mortal peril and emphasize the mortal part of it. I recommend that he rescue her from me because by sunrise tomorrow there wont be enough of her left to fill a baby coffin and she will have suffered greatly. I will start today at exactly 6:14 PM when my tool of choice will be a boning knife. That deadline if you forgive the bad pun is just twelve hours from now. My mother says hello too! Have a nice day. He ended the call and turned off the device. He began walking back home. He saw a storm sewer and he threw the phone into it. He heard a splash and he continued home to wait. He would be a man of his word. He would not start the end game until 6:14PM.

The Darkness P a g e | 86 It was 6:30 in the morning when John picked up the call fully intending to give some grief to Dee for not picking up his call earlier. But when he answered it turned out to be both his boss and a communications division supervisor. They told him the gist of the message and told him that there was no way to trace the call as it had been too short. John told them he was on his way to the office and hanging up he went to his closet and picked up what was called in the trade a drop piece. A drop piece was a gun that was completely clean, untraceable, and could be used to fix issues that might arise with police oversight boards when a perp died under mysterious circumstances; this certainly could happen in this case. He was sure of one thing; if this guy hurt Dee he would never see the inside of a police station. Placing the cheap gun in an ankle holster he was out the door in a flash and he ignored the speed limit and went to the station using lights and siren. He arrived at 6:36 AM; he had less than twelve hours to figure out who this goof was and where he was holding Dee.

The Darkness P a g e | 87

11 hours 32 Minutes to Go
Carpool The impound lot for cars suspected of being used in a crime was at 103rd Street and Doty Avenue. Warren had been employed there for over twenty years and he wasnt sure why he didnt put in his papers to retire but he was pretty sure that it was because he enjoyed the feeling of knowing that with his senior civil service status that his future was secure, he could work until the day he died if he wanted to. Now if the work was hard, he most certainly would be retired by now but he was being paid sixty thousand dollars a year for carrying a clipboard and a pen. His job was to check in the cars that were brought to the impound yard. The tow trucks would bring the cars in and he would check license plate numbers if they had one and VIN numbers and compare them with information the cop entered on the form he gave to the tow truck driver. If the numbers matched, and they always did, he would mount the tow truck and direct the driver to a spot in the yard to park the car. He would write the spot number on the form and allow the driver to drop him back at the office. He would then go into the office and turn the forms over to a clerk who would enter them into a computer. He was also supposed to keep watch to make sure no one touched the impounded cars but the bright lights and the fourteen foot high fence topped with razor wire kind of made that an unlikely scenario. That is all he had to do to keep sixty large coming in. Warren leaned back lazily in his chair and took a bite of the Dunkin Doughnuts jelly filled bismark, arguably the worlds best jelly doughnut, and he took a sip of their fantastic breakfast blend coffee, black of course, and wondered how the other half were living today. He found himself thinking about retirement again. This new jackass mayor who was a neurotic reject from Obamaville was running roughshod through all of the city departments because Mayor Daley had left the city in such a mess. Now he wasnt talking about the real Mayor Daley but rather his son who stayed in office just long enough to bring the city to the verge of bankruptcy. This new mayor was looking for ways to save money and Warren was sure that cuts in his department were almost sure to be

The Darkness P a g e | 88 coming. For example, there was no reason that he and his fellow workers couldnt write down the information and enter it into the computer, no reason at all. He assumed that some of his friends would be getting the axe sooner or later. It would probably not be him because he was very senior. Although it would make him sad he decided that if they offered a good enough buyout package that he would consider it. The sad thing about being a city worker today was that politicians were no longer of a mind to protect their patronage workers. That meant that it was not as much fun as it used to be to be a city worked and this was thanks to his honor the mayor. No, if push came to shove he would retire. He was just starting on his second doughnut when the flat bed from Rogers Towing pulled in with what for all intents and purposes was no longer a car. It had been stripped and burned. Funny, even in its present state the car looked familiar to him. It was formerly a Mustang which looked like it had been tricked out before it had been chopped. He approached the car with his clipboard in hand and the driver, a young Latino got out smiled and gave him the form the cop had given him that authorized him to tow the car. Warren checked the VIN and the license and they matched. He signaled to the driver and guided him to a spot. He watched as the young boy, he could be no older than twenty one, expertly positioned his truck and dropped the hulk exactly into the space Warren indicated. The driver reentered his truck and waited for Warren to get into the passenger seat. Warren signaled the driver to wait a moment and he went back to the Mustang. The crooks had taken everything but left the struts. He looked at them and saw that they were high performance Bilsteins which had been adapted for the older model mustang that they were installed on. Then it hit him, this was the car he helped restore for that detective, because he had found the adapters so that the high performance struts could be used. The suspension on this car cost over a thousand bucks! He took a closer look at the car and in the back he saw the familiar shape of a police radio which was burned but still recognizable. He was right! Warren got back on the truck and with a spray of gravel the young Latino drove him back and left him at the office. He immediately called that station where Dee worked; she wasnt in so he spoke to John Mikals who he

The Darkness P a g e | 89 heard was her current partner. They spoke for about five minutes and when the call was over Warren hung up the phone and noticed that his hand was shaking. He ignored the jelly doughnut because what John told him made him lose his appetite. John hung up the phone and thought about what Warren had told him. The car was most definitely Dees Mustang and John knew that where the car was found was the fiefdom of an animal and dirt bag who answered to the name of Little Guy. He once did a favor for Little Guy Pedziwater and got him thrown into jail for ninety days in protective custody while John worked on getting one of his rivals off of the street. This man styled himself as The Count. His real name was Leroy Jackson the Third or as John called him Leroy the Turd. Leroy was a humorless evil man and had vowed to kill Little Guy because Little Guy had been literally caught moving in on The Counts woman, who was actually kind of ugly but she was the type that loved to give her favors freely without strings and Little Guy liked free samples. Little Guy fled for his life by jumping through a window clutching his underwear, pulling it on as he ran down the street dodging several gun shots supplied by Leroy who shot to make Little Guys escape more memorable. Leroy the Turd was a terrible shot and missed the rapidly moving mostly naked target. Luckily for Little Guy Leroy had murdered a couple of guys for trying to muscle in on his drug business; one of the victims was an undercover cop. They scraped up Leroy like the turd he was and after a fair and fancy trial they sent him downstate to wait while he exhausted his appeals and was treated to a lethal injection courtesy of the state. Of course his sentence was commuted to life without parole when Illinois got rid of the death penalty but at least he was off of the street. John was only beginning to trust computers. He did not yet trust them to the point where he would put a whole lot of information into them. He went to his almost unused desk and opened the drawer. He pulled out a file box filled with index cards. Each of the cards carried name and phone number of either a confidential informant (aka snitch) or someone that owed him a favor. He flipped

The Darkness P a g e | 90 through the cards and found the one he made out for Little Guy. He had a cell phone number for him. He picked up the office phone and dialed. One ring, two rings, three rings and voice mail came on. John left a plea for Little Guy to call him back within two minutes or be sorry that he didnt. Sure enough within thirty seconds after hanging up his phone rang and he picked it up and young Jason Pedziwater had answered the call. Yeah what the fuck do you want? Jason, I need to see you at Arts Coffee Shop in ten minutes. Come alone. Shit, I got stuff to do. Cant we talk over the phone? Little Guy I dont care if youre screwing, singing, or eating Chinese takeout, meet me at Arts in ten minutes. If I aint there yet, you sit down and you wait until I get there. Feel free to order a cup of coffee. Oh and get a piece of pie for yourself if you want, Ill pay. Well talk for a few minutes and then youll be on your way. Dont make me come looking for you. Got it? Yeah I got it; coffee and pie at Arts coffee shop in ten minutes, come alone. My fucking feet are like fucking wings. Little Guy broke the connection. John grabbed his keys and almost sprinted down to the garage. He fired up the Chevy and peeled out of the garage lights and siren blaring. It normally was a twenty-five minute drive to Arts but with lights and siren he made it in ten minutes. He did not want to get Little Guy in trouble with his crew so as he approached he turned off the lights and siren. He parked right in front of the coffee shop; the space was always available as Arts had a real nice fire plug right in front of his place. Art was kind of an interesting guy. He took a ten year holiday in Joliet for a manslaughter beef and was discharged after completing the whole sentence; he rejected parole stating that he deserved to serve every day of the sentence. Actually it had been a murder but with a shaky case the suits had plea bargained it down. To

The Darkness P a g e | 91 look at Art you wouldnt think that he could hurt a fly but that one time he became so angry that he strangled his own brother with his bare hands to settle some family quarrel about of all things walnuts. It appeared his brother ate them all one Christmas morning and Art decided that his brother would eat no more. Stupid, yes the crime was stupid. But Art did his time and came out more honest than when he went in. He started this little business and made it pay and paid forward the favors he received by those that helped him by hiring ex cons whenever he could. One good thing of being a discharged convict was that he got his civil rights back and he could hang around with anyone he pleased. The place was well run and the coffee was fresh and hot. Art baked all of the pies he sold having learned the craft in prison. He was a rare testimony to how well the system could work but seldom did. John entered the coffee shop and saw Little Guy sitting in the gunfighters position in a back booth. John signaled to Art who immediately poured him a fresh cup of his special Columbian coffee and he took the steaming mug to the booth inhabited by Jason Pedziwater. He did not smile at the criminal sitting in the booth with his own coffee which was almost as white as milk. Little Guy was absently stirring the brew with a spoon. John sat next to Little Guy who frowned at being crowded into the booth. John came right to the point. Little Guy, I know you and your crew stripped down a real nice vintage Ford Mustang yesterday and I need to know everything you know about who left the car there. John lifted up his coffee and took a sip, waiting for the miscreant next to him to talk and mouth the obvious lie that he expected to hear. Hey man, I know two things about a stinking Mustang; jack and shit. John was expecting that sort of answer and he accidently poured some of the steaming hot coffee into Little Guys crotch. Little Guy for his part tried to get up but John pushed him down. John said;

The Darkness P a g e | 92 I havent got time to dissect the truth out of your lies. Now I could give a shit about the Mustang, let the damn insurance company pay the owner for it. But that car belonged to my partner and she has been taken hostage by a nut job that is going to carve her up unless I can find her by six tonight. I will give you and your crew a walk on the theft but you gotta tell me what you know and you gotta do it without wasting a whole lot of my time. If you lie to me, If Dee gets hurt because you give me shit, I will frame you and fit you out for something that will send you away for a long time and the charge will involve child molestation and kiddy porn and I will see to it not only that it sticks I will also make sure that everyone knows what youre in for and to top it off I will make sure that you get The Count or as I know him The Turd as a cellmate. Wouldnt that be a whole lot of fun for you? Now talk and no bullshit or I swear to God that your little guy will be beet red from coffee burns before I fucking arrest you right here and now. Fire burned in Little Guys eyes. If only this wasnt a cop he would be doing a tap dance on his liver by now. He glared at John and was about to say something smart but he remembered that the coffee John had was still hot and he thought better of it. He knew John was a man of his word and if he said his crew would walk on the theft, well then they would walk. He also knew that John could fit him up with any charge he wanted to and he did not think too much of his chances coming out of prison on any charges that would involve molesting children. Guys that did that and were placed in general population usually ended up with a broomstick for a tail. Okay, officer, you got me. My crew and I chopped the Mustang; we didnt know it belonged to a cop until we were almost done. We couldnt reassemble it so we took what we could and torched the rest. The guy that left the car was a real fat ass. He drove the car in and left it in the cul-de-sac where I live. I called my crew and did the job on it. The fat ass waddled away and I dont know where he went. He was big and fat and disgusting to look at and boss, that is all I know.

The Darkness P a g e | 93 You ever see this jerk around the neighborhood before? I saw him at the pizza shop once, buying enough pizza for a party, five of them. He carried them to a car that I wouldnt steal even if he left the key and the engine running, some type of old Dodge, light blue where it wasnt rusted and it was a smokin Joe. I havent got a clue where he went. Me and my boys, were clear aint we John seemed to digest that news and getting up from the table told Little Guy that neither he nor any of his crew members would be a suspect in the theft and torching of the Mustang, he had his word on that. Then he told him to get the hell out of Arts and in the future make sure that the car he was boosting didnt belong to a cop. To the untrained eye the interview with Little Guy produced nothing. But actually it was a treasure trove of information. He knew that the perp lived between Little Guys cul-de-sac and Antonios Pizza. Actually to call what Anthony turned out pizza bordered on perjury. Of course he had access to the worlds best pizza in his old neighborhood at Falcos. Anyway now all he had to do was narrow down the location. He knew Fat Ass couldnt walk very far so he had to be within blocks of where Dee was right now. Unfortunately, close wasnt good enough in this game. He had to work harder. He left Arts and made his way to Antonios. The so called pizza joint which he suspected sold more than pizza to some of the low life that entered the dive was about six blocks from Arts. The owner Anthony Pirelli was clean as far as a police record went but his restaurant was a place where you just might get cockroach skins in your salad; it was a place for a food lover to stay away from. Anthony was on the wrong side of fifty but had bushy black hair, all his and not dyed and bushy eyebrows that made a person think of the late Andy Rooney. He wore an apron that once was white but now was a rainbow of stains some of which were years old. How this dump passed city inspection was beyond

The Darkness P a g e | 94 John; there had to be some sort of payoff involved. Anthony was in the shop making pizza dough. He always came in early and made all of the pizza dough himself. John saw Anthony through the window and knocked. Anthony looked up from his work and frowned. He shouted that they were closed. John displayed his badge and the faux chef again frowned but came and opened the door and let John in. Yes officer, what can I do for you, I know I was late with my last payment, but cant you tell the guys downtown that business isnt as good as it used to be and that I am doing the best that I can? Mr. Pirelli, I could give two tin hoots about your payoff to whoever gets the money, thats not my department or the reason why I am here. Now, I dont have a lot of time and I need some information and I need it fast. Every so often an ugly fat ass comes and buys pizza to go from you, about five at a time. Do you know his name? I know who you mean big man, three hundred plus pounds, huge, dirty and he stinks like he takes a bath in shit every day. He comes once or twice a week and yeah he buys five super size garbage pizzas at a time. He drives a real old Dodge Spirit, blue, rusty and smoky. The only thing that I know about him is that his name is Charles and he pays in cash and always picks up the pizzas himself, never delivery. I get him in and out of here as quickly as I can, his stench empties the place. When was the last time you saw him? Yesterday night he bought five pizzas, probably see him the end of the week. Anthony turned back to his dough and continued working it. Cop or not, he needed to get this done before the lunch orders started to come in. In his opinion he made one mean Italian beef sandwich and his sausage was second to none. One more question and Im out of here; know about where he lives? John didnt expect a useful answer but he had to ask.

The Darkness P a g e | 95 Anthony stopped and thought for a minute. I seem to remember him bitching about a street light out on his block some time back. It was either Francisco or Sacramento, not sure. John thanked Anthony and was happy because he had just narrowed the search cone down from six square blocks to just three. This was still not good enough. He got back into the car and headed for the station, he needed to look at cases that Dee had been involved in. There were now eight hours and ten minutes to the deadline.