Sammie Wilson

 'A professional writer is an amatuer who didn't quit' - Richard Bach
I didn't quit. 

My Journey - Free Fiction

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The Tessa Rose Case Files

Posted by Sammie on March 8, 2011 at 4:53 AM Comments comments (0)

I was standing in my office his letter in my hand. He was taunting me, daring me to catch him. It’s been like this every summer for two years.

 

Detective Tessa Rose,

Beautiful  isn’t it? This time of the year. I know you were waiting to hear from me. You missed me didn’t you? I missed you. So much so that I left you a gift at the Davis memorial. Hope to see you soon detective.

Regards,

The Artist.

 

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath; I knew what was waiting for me, I even knew who – A woman named Rachel Fairmont.

I walked out of my office to find my partner.

“The artist is back,” I said as a greeting.

With a mouthful of bagel he asked. “Where?”

“Davis Memorial.”

Carlos swallowed. “I’ll call uniforms to secure the scene.” He chucked the rest of his breakfast in the bin - probably just lost his appetite. “I was really hoping he was dead, you know?” he said as we made our way to the elevators.

“We’re not that lucky Carlos.”

We drove to the cemetery in silence; the thick cloud of guilt covering us both was almost suffocating. Every year we have a whole summer to crack this case and prevent more deaths and every year we fail. I looked out the window watching people on the streets busily starting their morning. The man in the business suit; the mother with a pram hurrying to find the specials. The many men and women in dishevelled clothing proving they’d slept in them and were now on their way home from a big night at one of the many casinos. They had no idea of the potential dangers out there, but I did. And I wasn’t doing enough to keep them safe.

Driving through the gates of the Davis memorial was like déjà vu. The yellow tape, the cops standing around, the coroner, us - it was the same every time. The car rolled to a stop and I climbed out the passenger side. Reluctantly, I ducked under the crime scene tape and proceeded toward the body. Rachel Fairmont lay on her back, her legs slightly spread and her arms crossed over her chest. Just like all the others every bone in her body will be broken but her face will be untouched. In fact, the face is always perfect. Foundation, smoky style eye shadow, blush to define the prominent high cheek bones, bright red lipstick - It’s always the same style. Beside the body will be a portrait of the victim, sometimes of her unconscious, other times while she’s huddled up into the corner of some room, we think it’s his way of saying ‘look what these women were before I found them, and now look at them’. It’s why he chooses women that have the potential to be beautiful but let’s life get in the way.

 I stood looking at her unrecognizable body; if it wasn’t for the face we’d never be able to identify her at all. I always wonder at what point does the pain stop? According to the ME he uses a sledge hammer, could you imagine having your bones snapped that way?

“Same MO?” Carlos asked.

“Mostly.”

“The bow around her neck is new.” He squatted down, the balls of his feet supporting his weight.

“His note said this one was a gift to me.”

“Why? What’s changed?” He got back up after getting a closer look and faced me.

“What do you mean?”

“This guy is meticulous, his MO has never changed before, but now it has.”

I thought for a second. “Maybe he wants to get caught.”

Carlos shook his head. “Nah not this guy, he gets off on this. Domination is the drug and the power is the high, he’ll never want to give that up.”

“Ok so it’s a clue, he needs to give us something more than he already has to make us feel even more useless then we already do, giving him more power.”

Nodding, he said. “That makes sense.”

“First things first,” I said getting my iPhone out. “We need to confirm that this is Rachel Fairmont.”

I snapped a picture then sent it off to our in-house genius - Celeste Brown. While waiting for confirmation, shouts from near where we parked got my attention. I lifted my head and moaned. Manny Rodriguez was waving frantically. The reporter was relentless in his pursuit for a good story I’ll give him that.

 Ready to go anyway, I walked over with an expression that said ‘piss off’, but like always he ignored my annoyance, plastering a wide grin across his face like we were buddies from way back.

“No comment Manny.” I said.

“Come on detective, can’t you give me something?”

Folding my arms I shook my head.

“Alright, just nod your head; is it true that he dumps his victim’s body on the grave with the name of his next victim?”

His information was spot on, it didn’t surprise me either, actually what did surprise me is that it took him this long to find out about it. Still, I kept my face expressionless; it’s the only way to deal with people like Manny. One twitch of the eye or tightening of the mouth would tell him he was right. I kept my poker face in check.

He threw his head back and barked out a laugh. “Ok fine, play it that way.”

I smiled, I couldn’t help it. Manny was a charismatic kind of guy, a major pain in my ass but charismatic all the same. It’s no wonder he was in this kind of a profession, it suited him to a T.

I bent back under the yellow tape and got into the car. Just as Carlos jumped in, my phone beeped a text from Celeste.

It’s your girl. Sending you the file on her now.

I text back my thanks with the name of the potential new victim (not that we’ll have any luck finding her in time) then went to my email and opened the attachment.

“Rachel Fairmont, 26-year-old associate at Harper & Collins law firm. She’s just like the others. Young, bright future ahead of her, a work-a-holic.”

We left behind the crime scene and drove back toward the precinct. My mind was swirling with the names and details of his other victims. I could recite anything written in their files just off the top of my head, the many hours I spent combing through them to find something, anything of significance was too many to count. Sarah Cole, Jessica Price, Katie Phelps, Tina Jefferies, Hayley Croft, Sally Williams, and now Rachel Fairmont. So many young lives cut short.

“We have to go back to victimology.” I said.

“But we’ve been over it all,” Carlos took his eyes off the road and glanced at me.

“I think we’ve missed something.”

Back at the station house, I claimed the conference room. White boards hung along the far wall like a class room and a rectangle wooden table was positioned in the centre. I had every intention of staying right here until we caught a break. I outlined the case on the white boards pinning up photos, writing down the basics when Carlos walked in with two steaming cups of coffee, the smell for me was like fresh air, this stuff was just as important as oxygen in my book.

Mumbling my thanks I grabbed the handle and started sipping.

“I’ve been thinking. “ I said finally.

“I’m listening.”

“I thought about it in the car. All of these women have had something bad happen to them.” I took another sip.  “I don’t know why we didn’t see it before.”

“We always agreed that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove these women weren’t picked at random.”

“The way they’re killed means something Carlos. All their bones are broken but not their face, their face is done up to the nine’s making us focus on beauty. Why?”

He shrugged.

“Because he’s telling us that they’re beautiful but broken. He’s purposely leaving clues. Every single girl so far has had something life altering happen in their past from rape to loosing someone close to them, the clues are with the victims, so that means the victims are what’s going to lead us to our psycho.”

“It’s something to look into but Tessa it’s a stretch.”

“I know but it’s possible.”

With that we sat in the conference room for hours going back over the victimology, every detail about their lives were laid in front of us, we compiled lists of their everyday habits trying to see if they’d crossed paths with one another; ate tea at the same place; shopped at the same mall. Nothing really jumped out at us and it was starting to get frustrating. I jumped up and opened a window, it was dark outside and I realised I hadn’t had anything but coffee all day, we both hadn’t. I breathed the air deep into my lungs and closed my eyes. I calmed myself by thinking of home; I lived just outside of Vegas in a one bedroom cottage surrounded by wide open spaces and the echoes of wild life. After being amongst the hustle and bustle all day getting home always felt like a weight being lifted. I was free, relaxed and alive out there but here I was surrounded by death and evil. To say it was hard to deal with sometimes would be an understatement. 

I turned around when I heard Carlos get up; I leaned my back against the window sill and crossed my arms over my chest. “I’ve just wasted hours of our time, we’ve done all this before and got nothing I don’t know why I thought any different.”

His eyes locked with mine, “We had to try, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t.”

He walked over and I was acutely aware at how good he looked. His impressive gym toned body stood out even while wearing a suit, and his eyes; they were what made me eager to see him every day. Emerald green eyes, the windows to his soul and the only soft part about him. Everything else represented that manly strength but his eyes showed his true feelings, like right now. They were burning into mine; it was the kind of heat that caused my heart to race, and places low in my body to tighten. Nothing’s ever happened between us but both of us have wanted it to, it’s in every look he gives me, it’s every time we purposely brush against one another as we walk past. But we’re both committed to the job, I think we both know if something were to happen it would spell the end of at least one of us in this division, it’s just moments like these – it makes me want to take that chance, it makes me want to risk our partnership on the job for a relationship off.

His body was so close I could hear his breathing. His hand came up and I let him tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear, his fingertips glided along my skin so softly it gave me goose bumps. The lump in my throat made it hard for me to swallow and the overwhelming urge to grab him by his tie and crush his lips to mine was getting harder to ignore then cutting through the silence my phone rang. I jumped and Carlos turned and walked out mumbling that he was going to pick us up some dinner, it was probably a good idea I don’t think I could have talked with him still around.

Clearing my throat I answered. “Hello.”

“You are so gunna love me after I tell you this.”

“Hay Celeste.”

“I just found a common link between all your victims.” She paused.

“Yeah ok spit it out.”

“They’ve all been in the Vegas sun for their past, breaking news stuff I tell ya but that’s not the only link. Guess who’s by line is on all their stories?”

“C’mon Celeste tell me already.” I hated guessing games and she knew it.

“Manny Rodriguez.”

“You sure?” I may have been feeling the heat only minutes before but hearing that was like getting a bucket of cold water splashed over me.

“Yeah I’m sure, I also know who the next target is - Cindy Wells, a resident at the Sunrise hospital and the survivor of a boating accident at Lake Mead, I’ve already sent uniforms to make her aware of the situation and stay with her until you say what to do next.”

Words couldn’t describe the way I felt right now, finally we’d caught a break – maybe the break that was going to get this bastard. “What about Manny did you send for him?”

“Yeah but uniforms haven’t found him yet, his boss said his chasing some leads on a new story.”

“Ok keep them looking.”

“Will do.”

“And Celeste you’re a freaking genius you know that!”

I could hear the smile in her tone. “Of course I know that.”

I laughed and just as I ended the call Carol the desk clerk poked her head in. “One of the guys told me to tell you your car headlights are on.”

Not thinking much of it I grabbed my keys and headed out to turn them off. I was too excited about the new info to think about anything else. All that was running through my head were the clues. Could the fact that he’s targeting just Manny’s stories tell us that Manny was in danger as well? I hoped we could find him, perhaps it has everything to do with Manny, maybe he’s the key. What if someone was trying to get back at him for something? It became clear I needed to find Manny and I needed Carlos to hurry up so we could move on this.

I approached my car, the lights were indeed shining brightly but it dawned on me that if I’d left them on this morning they would be dull if not completely dead. Stopping suddenly, my hand went for my gun but it was too late, an arm came around my waste and a cloth covered my mouth, screaming wouldn’t help me so I held my breath and started to fight, I kicked and bucked my body but he was a strong son-of-a-bitch. Finally, I had no choice but to take a breath, the smell was sweet and it took only seconds before parts of me started to feel numb and my vision began to blur.  

“You sure you can’t give me something detective?” His voice was distorted and a little hard to hear but I knew who it was.

The last thought I had before nothing but black claimed me was I was right. Manny Rodriguez was the key to the case – he was the killer.    


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