Konan and Lilly left the scene after everyone else. Lilly sat on a boulder that overlooked a steep hollow. Hot tears dampened her cheeks. Konan sat beside her and put his arm about her shoulders. He pulled her close until she gained control of her emotions.
“What kind of sicko would do this, Konan?”
“I don’t know, Lilly.”
“You know Tammy hates you, right? She thought your lack of disgust was indicative of your guilt.”
Konan shrugged. It was always the same thing. His mind wandered to the past.
Scout Team Bravo was ushered into a small cave near a place called Hitt. Chained to the wall was their interpreter.
“What do you see, Element Zero?”
Konan pressed the mic and grimaced at the rank smell that filled his nostrils.
“It’s him, barely. Wild dogs ate his face and most of his torso.”
“How? He was armed.”
“Yeah, he still is. His sidearm is in its holster.”
“Someone did this to him, Billy. They chained him to the wall, arms overhead, and sliced his guts open. The dogs followed the scent and…”
“Alright. Get out of there. We’ll hire a local to dig him out.”
Konan looked out over the hollow, once he was satisfied that there was nothing out there, he looked up at the moon and sighed. Lilly watched him.
“Where did you go,” she asked.
“Tell me about it.”
“Later. Let’s get out of here. I’m famished.”
“Konan, I can’t eat. Not after seeing this.”
“That’s okay, Lilly. You can watch me eat.”
They walked down the hill and got into their unmarked sedan. Konan made a U-turn and headed back to town.
Paddy O’Shea stood outside of his pub with the doorman Brutus. A line of people stood outside the door and waited for a table to come open. Paddy gave Konan and Lilly a nod when they walked up.
“Hiya, kiddo. How’s the murder business?”
“Oh, you know Paddy. Murder is going to happen as long as there are humans and human nature.”
Paddy took Lilly by the arm and led them to the furthest table at the rear of the pub.
“Today’s special is lamb chops. Are you good with that kiddo?”
“Sure. Sounds good, Paddy.”
Paddy turned to Lilly. She shook her head no.
“Nothing for me, Paddy.”
“Yeah. I heard about that law clerk. Nasty piece of business. The young should never have to pay a tab such as that.” He jerked a thumb at Konan.
“This guy though, he’s got a cast iron stomach. Nothing fazes him.”
After a hearty meal, Konan and Lilly left O’Shea’s. The news of Tiffany Watkin’s horrendous death had made it to town. Lilly sat quietly in the passenger seat and stared out the window.
“Her poor parents,” Lilly said quietly. “They don’t even get a private moment to grieve. The media is going to run with it, the paper is going to print it up, experts are going to talk it to death, some racist two-bit ‘host’ is going to spin it so that they make it look like she went traipsing off because of ‘this privilege or that privilege.’ You can’t just die no more. Everything is some kind of sin.”
Konan didn’t say anything. There was no need to. Lilly was correct. The world was a madhouse, and they, like Alice, had tumbled headfirst down the rabbit hole.
Tia Mathers had left her unscheduled meeting with Billy and Khalid after giving her report. She sped through traffic and pulled into the garage. Konan and Lilly stood outside their car when she raced in.
“She’s in a hurry,” Konan said. Lilly nodded.
“Yep, it’s either an emergency or the consequences of a bad diet.”
“Or both,” Konan said.
Tia slammed the door of the car and walked to the elevator. She turned to Konan and Lilly.
“I want your report in five minutes,” she shouted as the doors closed.
Konan looked at Lilly, Lilly stared back and raised her eyebrows.
“If you want to head home, I’ll cover this,” Konan said to Lilly. She shook her head no.
“No, come on. Let’s go talk to her. If she’s not sick now, she will be when we’re done.”
Konan and Lilly took the stairs. After a long climb up the hill to the crime scene, and the long walk down, their muscles had tightened. Another climb to the second floor would break the stiffness loose.
They walked into the murder room. Tia sat at their desk.
“Well? What do you have,” she asked?
“Judge Traylor’s assistant was recovered at the scene. She was, um, in bad shape,” Lilly said.
“Is that it?”
Konan shrugged and smacked his lips. Tia stared at him. He stared back.
“Do you want details, Chief,” he asked Tia.
“Yes,” she said.
Konan turned and looked at Lilly. “Could you do me a favor, Lilly? I left my notebook in the car. Would you get it for me, please?”
“Sure,” Lilly said. Konan waited until she had left the murder room before he detailed the fate of Tiffany Watkins.
“She was chained to a wall, arms overhead. She wore a spiked dog collar and it had pierced her throat. The rats fed on her neck, legs, and parts of her torso. Cause of death is tentatively called a heart attack.”
“A heart attack,” Tia said. “So, it’s not a murder?”
“Well, I guess if you’re stupid enough to think that a modern, emancipated, career woman strapped her herself into a spiked dog collar and chained herself to the wall, then yeah, it’s not murder.”
Tia’s eyes flashed when she stared at Konan. Her lips formed a hard line. Konan met her eyes.
“Is it or is it not a murder?”
“Yes, it’s murder.”
“Then, I want you and Lilly to find this animal and get them off the streets.”
The elevator doors dinged. Lilly walked back into the room shaking his notebook. Tia nodded to Konan and left for her office.
“Did you brief her,” Lilly asked. Konan nodded.
“Yep, she’s briefed.”
“Okay. Let’s get out of here. I need a shower.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
Konan always felt dirty when dealing with politicians, superiors, and those who felt they could do no wrong. “From the look of things, this case would be chock full of all these types and then some.”