His cell phone was lying on the table, redundant. Maybe he would re-activate it and give Katie a call. He pressed the on button. It lit up. Four missed calls in the last ten minutes. All from Katie. He frowned, and called her back. Busy. He ended the call. Immediately his phone rang. Katie on the display. He hit the transmit button. “Hi Katie, you in some kind of trouble?” Some kind of trouble wasn’t the half of it.
“Mac, you’re taking a break, courtesy of Uncle Sam,” said Chief Amos. “So butt out.”
“Not this one, chief, it’s personal.”
“It’s personal, you’re not objective.”
“Chief, I was there. First cop on the scene.”
“So write up your report and give it to Andy. He’s running with it.”
“Listen up, will you, please. How’s this sit with you. The perp who killed Josie Forbes is the same one who killed Maria Hopkins. I know forensics will confirm the link.”
“Mac, you sure about this?”
“As I said, Chief, I was there.”
Chief Amos groaned. “Mac, get your ass back in here pronto. Get Andy in here, too. If there’s a serial killer loose in Longfield, we need to talk this one through.”
Chief Amos’s office was not for show. No fancy pictures of him kissing ass with the politicians. He was a long-serving, hard-bitten cop. One of the old school. Now looking very concerned as he waited for Mac to make his pitch.
“Chief, I want Elmer in on this. He’s got this perp profiled.”
“Your ex-partner? No way,” replied Chief Amos, waving his huge paw at Mac.
Mac thought back. He and Elmer Layton were LA’s finest. Until they overstepped the line. The ‘victim’ was a known drug baron who had indoctrinated kids, including Elmer’s son. The boy, at fifteen years of age, had died from an overdose. In his mother’s arms, while they were on surveillance patrol. It had never been the same between Elmer and Carol after that.
They were off duty when they broke into the man’s apartment and forcibly restrained him with a baseball bat. When he came round, Elmer injected a whole phial of Chinese pure white into the man’s veins, and gave him wings. They all knew in the precinct, of course, but the DA was a devout family man. He went out on a limb to approve their permanent secondments elsewhere. ‘In other countries, it would be regarded as an honor killing,’ he said, off the record. In Longfield, only Chief Amos was in the picture.
Mac pleaded. “Chief, Elmer can work with Andy in the precinct. I won’t get in their way; I’ll be out on the streets most of the time.”
“It’s a hell of a risk,” replied the chief. “You want to add to my worries, huh?
“Chief, we’re in deep here. We’ve drawn a blank so far on the Maria murder. We-need-Elmer.”
Chief Amos shuffled his papers and gave it some thought. Mac could see he was figuring the odds. Finally he said, “It’s not your ass on the line, but what the heck; I’m up for retirement soon. Might as well go out punching. Go and call Andy in.”
“The killer is sending a message. He wants recognition for his art. He would call it that. Probably fame and fortune has eluded him, shunned by his peers, he wants media exposure. Show the world how talented he is. If we deny him this, he’ll continue to kill.” Elmer paused. “It is also sexual; maybe he has some mental or physical disability. His violation of women is his way of handling rejection.” Elmer closed his notebook. “I think that sums up my initial impression of what motivates him.”
They were sitting in Chief Amos’ office, drinking coffee. The chief had gone out on a limb, and the rules of engagement had been cast in stone. Elmer had been seconded specifically for this case, and this case only. Elmer would report to Andy, who was the precinct focal point for the latest two homicides. It had been made quite clear to Elmer and Mac. And then Andy.
“You’re telling us, he’ll kill again if we keep it under wraps?” asked the Chief.
“Almost a certain bet,” replied Elmer, relishing the opportunity to test out his theories. “And soon. He’ll get mad and risk another one.”
Chief Amos chewed on his pen. “Any ideas how we go about it, then?”
Elmer was ready for this one. “We have to assume he’s local or at least staying here. First, the Longfield papers. Local TV. Try and give him the exposure without getting the nationals involved at this stage. He won’t be satisfied, but could give us breathing space while he thinks through his next move.”
Andy put down his cup “You got a profile of this perp, yet?”
“It’s a bit thin,” replied Elmer. “However I can flesh it out, if you pardon the expression, with the latest homicides.” They all laughed. It helped ease the tension.
After the meeting Mac called Katie. “It’s Mac. Can I come over? I need to talk to you.” He hesitated. “It’s about Josie.”
Her voice was trembling. “Mac, I’m scared. Really scared. Suppose the guy comes after me next?”
Mac took a deep breath. “That won’t happen, I can vouch for that.”
Her voice rose. “How can you be so sure? Maybe he saw me at Josie’s house, like he was hiding in the bushes watching? Maybe he’s outside waiting?”
Mac heard the panic starting to surface. “Katie, take it easy will you. We got a twenty four seven patrolling your street.”
She still sounded distraught. “It’s okay for you Mac, but I see shadows everywhere. I’m drugged up to my eyeballs but the nightmare won’t go away. Make it go away, Mac, please.” She sniffled, and started to cry.
Mac heard her suffering. And he was going to heap a whole lot more on her. “Katie, I’m coming over, right now ok? Don’t open the door to anyone until I get there.” He heard her whisper okay between sobs, and ended the call.
She clung to him as if he was her savior. Perhaps he was. The initial shock and horror had faded, only to be replaced by torment and terror. It would take a long time.
She surprised him. “Mac, I’m sorry, being selfish and all on our dates. I won’t ever again have a problem with you doing your job. Just catch Josie’s killer for me.” She hugged and kissed him chastely on the cheek. “Please catch him.”
That was the opening he needed. “Katie, we need the media’s help to catch this one. He’s an egoist. If we don’t open it up localy, he’ll kill again -- we’re pretty firm on that.” He paused, let her digest the information. “Katie, it means Josie’s killing will be in the news. It would be better for you to take a break somewhere safe for a couple of weeks until it blows over, and we catch him.”
She shook her head. “Mac, I can’t do that. You know my folks are gone. I need to see about putting Josie to rest.”
Mac had gone through the options on his way over to her place. He had prepared for this. “You got a couple of weeks before the coroner releases her; we’ll take good care until you come back, I promise.” He waited while she thought it through.
“Where’s safe Mac?”
Mac took a deep breath. Somehow Josie’s death had brought them closer, but this was going to be a big step for them both. “My folks, San Francisco bay. They always wanted a daughter. You’d fit in real fine.” He looked at her. “I mean it Katie.” And he did. Did she feel the same?
She nodded her head, and found a smile. It was one of those smiles that kind of lit up her face. “Well they got a son, and they should be damn proud of him, I’ll see to that.”