Jeff watched his Aunt and Uncle as they hastened to pack their bags after receiving the call that their son Robbie was in the hospital in Riverview. He couldn’t blame them for dropping everything to go to him. He understood that Uncle Shon wanted to be there to help in the search for Robbie’s fiance. None of that helped him. Once again he was the odd man out. The one left on his own to handle things.
“Jeff I’m sorry,” Shon said stopping in the study to say goodbye. “I’d stay and help if I could.” His voice and manner showed the conflict he was in.
“Don’t worry about it Uncle Shon I understand,” Jeff found himself saying despite the war waging inside him prompting him to shout that he wanted someone for once to drop everything for him. To know that he was that important to someone. It never happened that way though. Someone else was always more important than him. He wondered if it would have been like that if his parents were still alive.
Shon hesitated at the door looking back at his nephew. Coming back into the room he gave the boy a hug “I’d stay if I could. You know that right?” he asked peering directly into the boys eyes. “I know you need help I…maybe I could have Evelyn go to Riverview first and if they need me I could go later…”
“No Uncle Shon,” Jeff spoke pulling away from his Uncle “you need to go now. Your son needs you. You shouldn’t be thinking about anything else. I appreciate the offer but you need to go.” He shoved his Uncle lightly but firmly towards the door where Aunt Evelyn was standing waiting for him.
After they left Jeff stared at the white boards wondering what he was missing. There had to be a pattern other than the obvious one. As hard as he searched he couldn’t see anything. They were all makes and models, all relatively young men. The professor was the oldest and he wasn’t exactly ancient being only in his mid thirties. All had different hair and eye colors. No one particular race. They were all just male with two year olds.
Rubbing his eyes he got up and went to the kitchen for a snack. The house was silent. It felt unnatural to him. He smiled at the thought knowing his Uncle would tell him he had been in the city for too long. In the city it was never quiet. He could hear his neighbors moving around in their apartments. The street noise that never ceased no matter how late in the evening it was. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to complete silence again. He kept straining his ears to hear something. He finally zoned in on the ticking of the clock on the wall which only served to demonstrate that with every tick the killer was getting further away. Another victim being stalked. Another life lost.
Tossing the remnants of his snack in the garbage Jeff went back to the study and stared at the white boards for another hour. The ringing of the phone sounding unnaturally loud in the stillness of the room. “Hello,” he said sounding calm despite the hammering of his heart in chest and ears.
“Have you made vacation plans yet?” the voice asked on the other end.
Jeff’s lips quivered and the corners lifted a little upon hearing the familiar voice. “Some” he said not willing to broadcast much over the phone even if they were speaking in code. “You were supposed to wait for me for details” Jeff chided.
“I got bored” the voice said “give me something to look forward to.”
“What happened to relaxing in the sun?” Jeff asked.
“I got sun burned” the caller responded back.”
“That’s why I vacation in the snow” Jeff replied.
“I might have to try that,” the caller said in turn “email me the brochure so I can check it out. I could really go for a ski lodge in the Alps.”
“On it’s way” Jeff typed as he spoke sending the requested encrypted email.
Humming softly Jeff realized the call had put him in a better mood. Something was going right for a change.
Jeff stopped humming listening to the stillness of the house around him. Something wasn’t right. He had heard something. A creaky floor board as someone moved around downstairs. Adrenaline spiked through him as he grabbed the eraser and wiped the boards clean. Made sure the police files were encrypted on his lap top and stashed the computer in it’s hiding spot in the floor his Uncle had shown him and advised he use. Running his hands through his hair he wondered what else he could do. His eyes fell upon his Uncle’s bottles of wine, brandy and whiskey he grabbed one at random. Poured himself a stiff drink. He swallowed half the contents that made his throat burn and his eyes to water. Whiskey, he didn’t care for whiskey at the best of times but he didn’t have much time to be choosy. He let some of the contents dribble from his mouth, down his chin and into his shirt collar. He hoped it would give him the impression of having drank too much.
He was positive whoever was downstairs was searching the house by the distinct noises that were coming to his ears. Sounds that may have been overlooked by someone not paying attention or who was in a drunken stupor. It was only a matter of time before they came upstairs. Jeff had to make good on his ruse as he reclined back in his Uncles chair putting his feet up on the desk and faked passing out.
Hushed voices carried from the stairs and into the study. “Looks like boy wonder has developed a taste for booze” an unpleasant but familiar voice said above him. The man harshly laughed loudly as he lifted the whiskey bottle from the desk. Jeff kept his body still not wanting to alert his visitors he was awake. It was increasingly obvious that the men were confident no one else were home as they resumed speaking in their normal voices and their search continued as drawers were opened and their contents spilled onto the floor. Suddenly one of the men grabbed Jeff’s face forcing his mouth open forcing the whiskey bottle in his mouth. He tried to spit the whiskey out but the flow was to fast he had no choice but to swallow to avoid drowning in it. Gagging Jeff opened his eyes and despite despite the not so clever disguises his unwelcome guests were wearing he still would have recognized them. One he heard everyday throughout the course of the day at work and the other visited the office quite often. Father and son. He didn’t even need the conversation that followed to know who it was.
“Dad,”the younger one yelled in an appalled tone grabbing the mans arm stalling the flow of alcohol.
“You idiot,” his older companion growled as Jeff’s head lolled to the side.
“He’s had enough. Don’t give him alcohol poisoning,” the young man’s voice quivered in a mixture of concern and fear.
“If he wasn’t so well connected he’d follow the path of his partner,” Jeff heard his captain mutter tossing the whiskey aside “look for those files. I know he has a copy of them.”
Several minutes passed while drawers and cabinets were opened and inspected. Jeff wondered if all of his Aunt’s house looked like this. “It’s not here,” the boy said in a high squeaky voice.
“Then you missed it. He has to have them,” the captain gripped Jeff’s shirt and bodily picked him up from the chair “where are the files?”
Laughing softly at his precarious predicament Jeff shook his head seeing pinpricks of light dance before his eyes. He should have finished that snack maybe if he had the alcohol he had consumed wouldn’t be sloshing around his brain. “What files?” he said once his mouth obeyed his command to form words.
“You’re not going to get anything out of him in that condition,” his son said pulling on the man’s arm “you should have questioned him before pouring all that whiskey down his throat.”
“I wouldn’t even be here if you hadn’t killed that guy….”
A sharp intake of breath followed his dad’s comment. “How many times do I have to tell you I didn’t kill Dennis. We got into a fight. He was alive when I left. How was I supposed to know he would disappear the same night I beat him up?”
“Yeah and I’m Santa Claus,” his father scoffed.
“Ugh dad why won’t you believe me?” Kody junior cried slamming his fist on the desk sending papers flying.
“Because that would mean I killed a good detective to save your sorry ass for nothing,” the captain snapped.
Jeff felt the pressure around his neck increase as the man half strangled him with the grip he held on his shirt. The alcohol Jeff consumed was making it increasingly difficult to think straight. A snail would have been able to run him over at the rate his body was obeying commands from his brain. His eyes refused to focus on the sneering face of Captain Quinn. His thoughts were left floating in the wind when Kody Junior gasped in shock “you killed Zayne? He had a kid….”
“So did the guy you done in,” the captain pointed out ramming Jeff’s head into the window behind him as if to ram his point home.
Jeff felt the window panes break and slice into his skull and nape of his neck. Felt the warmth of his blood as it flowed from the gashes. The pressure around his neck slackened as he was allowed to fall to the floor semi-conscious. The sounds of gagging from the corner of the room he last saw Kody junior almost made him laugh. Kody Junior complained “I think I’m going to be sick,” followed shortly by the sounds of retching.
“Shit,” the captain exploded as he grabbed his son’s arm and propelled the boy from the room “you idiot,” he growled with the beginnings of despair coming through in his harsh voice. Perhaps he too was beginning to realize that his son may have been telling the truth. No serial killer would get sick at the sight of blood; especially not the the killer Jeff was after not judging by the shape the bodies were found in. The killer was someone who enjoyed the sight of blood.
Jeff followed their retreat from the house with his ears as his eyes slowly closed. His mind drifted on a sea of alcohol and pain. The only thing he knew from this little escapade was that the Kody’s were not the serial killer he was looking for. A low chuckle escaped his lips that quickly turned into a moan. If the captain only knew. Unconsciousness over took him as the sound of running feet sped up the stairs towards him.