What does one thing have to do with another? At what point do the two intersect? If a person murders another, are they automatically related? Are passionate impulses triggers for homicidal rage?
At some point, observation will lead one to clues, and the clues will lead eventually to a hypothesis. Once a hypothesis becomes supported with facts, you can test it. Testing the hypothesis can lead you to the truth.
There is no method or pattern to madness. No hypothesis, observation or clue will lead you anywhere but deeper into the depths of despair. No formula will show that madness, love or passion followed a set pattern.
Thermopolis Konan sat in his mobile home and sipped his coffee from a yellowish mug that was crafted by an amateur potter. The glaze refused to stick to the clay. It was a flawed mug, and Konan thought it deserved a home. He spent his free hours looking for broken and flawed items at his local Goodwill.
He finished his coffee and wiggled his toes. The sun had not risen from its bed yet. He changed from his pajamas into Wrangler jeans, Red Wing boots, and a Carhartt pull over. He had not slept for two days. Konan shoved his knife, a 13-round magazine for his 9mm Springfield Hellcat, and his bundle of keys into his pocket.
His lack of sleep was often brought on by a hypersense that something bad had occurred. He had spent the past two days wired for trouble. It had not come. Still, sleep eluded him. As he put on a tan cap that advertised a local oil rig, a knock came from the door. Given the early morning hour, he peeked out the peephole and saw two police officers standing on his porch.
“Can I help you?”
“Former Detective Sergeant Thermopolis Konan? Of the 117th?”
“We need to speak to you.”
“Please open the door.”
“No. What do you want?”
“There has been a murder….”
“So? Call the cops.”
“Lilly Thompson sent us to pick you up.”
Konan opened the door. “What does Lilly want?”
“She wants you to come observe the body.”
“I am no longer a cop. The former Chief of Police took my job.”
“She told us. However, she insisted this was right up your alley. We need to get you to the scene.”
Konan locked the door and walked to the car. The two officers took the front seat, Thermopolis sat in the back. They rode in silence until they reached the abandoned warehouse section of Fredericksburg. Years ago, this section of town had been a major hub for shipping. Companies from all over America had a warehouse in town. Now, it served as the stomping ground for the homeless, and a junkyard for the debris the town no longer wanted. It was where dreams went to die.
Of course, Fredericksburg’s glory days were before what was now known as “The Town-Killer Incident.” The officer who had spoken to Konan through the door looked at him in the mirror and cleared his throat.
“Captain Thompson didn’t inform us why you lost your job at the 117th. Is it a secret or do you guys not talk about it?”
“Naw, it ain’t no secret.”
“I punched out Chief Mathers at the Christmas party.”
Both cops laughed. Konan shrugged and went back to staring out the window. He knew what was coming next.
“Why did you do that?” Thermopolis met the driver’s gaze and gestured with his hands. He continued to stare at the abandoned warehouses they passed.
“Seemed like a good idea. She had it coming.” The cop stared at him through the rearview mirror. Thermopolis ignored him.
“Come on, man. There has to be more to it than that. Why would you punch out your boss?”
“There is more to it than that, and why wouldn’t I? Haven’t you ever wanted to smack the stupid out of your boss?”
“Thompson is my boss.”
The cops clammed up, and Konan was thankful for the silence. Both cops seemed frustrated with the shortness of his answers. Konan saw no reason to explain himself. The explanation he gave of what transpired would have to suffice.
“What do you guys know about the murder? Were you first on the scene?”
“Yeah, we were there first. It was pretty gruesome. We are almost there.”
“Any ideas of who might have done it?”
“None.” Both cops paled when he asked about the body. The two cops seemed new to discovering the depths of human depravity. Konan changed the subject.
“Is Lilly on scene now?”
“Yeah. She is on scene. Most of the detectives thought they could handle it without involving you. Lilly wouldn’t hear it though.”
The driver brought the car to a halt next to a warehouse that stood next to a railcar depot. “What a horrible place to die.” Buildings were in ruin; the old rail cars rusted beyond use. Hobos stood next to burn barrels; their clothes were in as poor condition as the railcars.
In the distance, Lilly stood outside of the ticker tape and watched her people secure the scene. Konan walked up and stood next to her.
In the nine years that Konan had been off the force, Lilly had not changed. Her hair was the same length, had the same curls, and she had not gained a single pound from the look of things. Lilly gazed at Thermopolis from the corner of her green eyes and lifted her chin in greeting.
“Thermopolis Konan, you haven’t changed a bit. Were you gentle with my officers? They’re green. This is their first murder.”
“Yeah, I noticed. Hello to you too, Lilly. Why am I here?”
“You remember our last case together, right?”
“We didn’t solve my last case. The city council fired me before we could solve it.”
“They fired you because you cold-cocked your superior.”
“Yeah. She had it coming though.”
Lilly’s mouth twisted into a grin, and she chuckled. Konan’s face remained bland of emotion.
“Well, I suppose we all have it coming.”
Thermopolis nodded. Lilly lifted the ticker tape and beckoned for him to follow her into the warehouse. He ducked under the ticker tape.
“Come on, Konan. I need you to look at the victim. It’s been a while; you want a facemask?”
In the back of the warehouse, where there were no windows, and the shadows were the longest, sat the victim. The killer had nailed her to the floor. Long cuts were on the victim’s face, the body naked. Konan pushed his nose into the sleeve of his shirt.
“Dear holy God…”
Lilly looked at Konan and nodded.
“Yeah, she is young.”
“According to her school ID she turned fifteen last month.”
“Jesus. Where did she go to school?”
“She attended Fredericksburg High. According to the school ID, she was a freshman.”
The Medical Examiner came up to Lilly and pulled down her mask. Ashley Wilkinson nodded to Konan and averted her eyes. He returned her nod.
“This is a horrific crime, Lilly.”
“Okay,” Ashley said, as she pulled off her gloves. “First off, the perpetrators raped her brutally. There is swelling in the vaginal tissue and lacerations. There was semen deposited, and we took a sample. The cuts didn’t kill her. She was alive when the nails got drove in. From what I could tell, she was conscious.”
“Poor girl. How soon before we know who raped her?”
“It was multiple assailants. There were two samples. I should have said that to begin with. Sorry. I have a fifteen-year-old daughter myself. Um, I will put a rush order into the lab. Two or three days maximum.”
“Okay, thanks Ashley. Let me know when you have the results in.”
Konan and Lilly watched the medical team place the body in the back of the ambulance. Ashley loaded into the back with it. They watched the ambulance disappear from view.
“What do you think, Thermopolis?”
“I don’t miss it.”
“I meant about the case.”
“The only similarity that they share is that the killer nailed the victim to the floor. Other than that, it’s two different cases.”
“Maybe the modus operandi changed. It has been years since the last victim. Did the killer get bored, or perhaps it’s a copycat?”
“Who knows with these sickos?”
“I want you to consult with my lead detectives. We would appreciate any help you could give us.”
‘I’m sorry, Lilly. I can’t do that. Your lead detectives would not appreciate my involvement.”
“I’m not asking, Konan. I need you working this case. Leave the past where it belongs. You’re a cop, whether you hold a badge now. The town needs this psycho caught.”
“I can’t, Lilly. I’m sorry.”
Lilly watched as Konan walked toward the car that brought him to the scene. She nodded to the officer when he looked her way, as if to ask permission to take Konan home. She nodded and went back to the body.
At home, Konan tried to get the young girl’s face out of his mind, but he failed to do so. He sat in his maroon recliner and leaned back. He turned his television on and tuned in to Tom and Jerry. It wasn’t long before he was sound asleep.
At 0330 in the morning, a knock came from his front door. Konan cracked his eyes open and reached for his sidearm. Quietly, he sneaked to the front door and peeped out. Two patrol officers stood on the porch.
“Yeah? What do you want?”
“Lilly Thompson requested your presence.”
“What now? Jesus, y’all need to take a hint.”
“There has been another murder, sir. This time it’s a cop.”
“Look, I told Lilly….”
“Sir, we need to go right now.”
Konan shoved the door open and stormed out onto the porch. “Listen…”
“Sir, it’s LT. Daniels.” Konan stopped talking.
“Let me get dressed.”
Konan threw on jeans, his boots, and a T-shirt. Then he shoved his keys into his pocket and walked out. He slid into the back seat of the vehicle.
“Who is LT. Daniels?” The officer started the car, checked his mirrors and shrugged.
“She was Lilly’s partner, um, after…”
“After, I got canned.”
They rode in silence until they reached the warehouse portion of town where the cops had discovered the last body. Like the previous victim, Daniels was naked. Ashley Wilkinson knelt beside the body. Long cuts scarred her face. Konan blinked back his tears and shook his head.
“Ashley, was she raped?”
“Thank God,” Konan whispered.
Carved into Daniel’s chest was the word “PIG.” In the same vein as the other body, the killer nailed her to the floor. Konan stood and walked out the door. He wanted to rage, to hit something or someone, instead he looked into the window of the patrol car and stared at his image until he calmed down.
Lilly walked to where Konan stood. She put her hand on his shoulder. Konan turned and looked at her.
“I worried about you, Lilly. I’m sorry you lost your partner.”
“Me too. Daniels wasn’t the brightest tool in the shed, but she did her job. She didn’t deserve to die in this manner.”
“Why am I here, Lilly?”
“There was a note stapled to her chest. It’s addressed to you.”
She handed him the evidence bag, and inside it was the note. In black ink on an old piece of parchment, the killer had written: “Hello, Thermopolis. Let’s see you ignore this.”
Konan’s breath caught in his throat. He struggled to breathe. Lilly waited for him to gain his composure.
“Chief Janko would like a word with you before you return home.”
“I don’t know. I was told to pass on the message.”
“Fine. Can you spare an officer to take me there?”
“I’ll take you.”
She flagged over an officer and told him to take charge of the scene. Twenty minutes later, Konan walked into the building. Mayor Tim Smith had his office on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building. Konan took the stairs.
A wooden door with gold letters announced he had made it to the Mayor’s office. Konan pushed the door open and walked into the foyer. A secretary sat behind a glassed-in portion of the room and looked up.
“Can I help you?”
“Yeah, I am Thermopolis Konan. I am expected.”
She nodded and walked around to the door. She motioned for him to follow. At the inner door, she pushed the intercom. A deep voice came across the speaker.
“Mayor Smith, Thermopolis Konan is here per your request.”
“Send him in.”
She pushed the door open, and Konan walked in. Mayor Smith sat behind an antique desk. Chief Janko sat in a chair beside it.
“Have a seat, Konan.”
Konan nodded and sat in a plush chair. It was apparent to Konan that the mayor had spared no expense in outfitting his office. Chief Janko said nothing. He sat in silence while Konan sat down.
“Do you know why we summoned you here?” Konan shook his head no. “You’re here because we need your help.”
“I am no longer a cop, Mayor Smith.”
“Chief Janko and his department are more than capable of solving this, sir. There’s no reason for me to be involved.”
“I’ve already told him that, Konan.” Janko crossed his arms and continued. “He wants you to consult with us on this case.”
“Lilly wanted me to consult, and I turned her down.”
“Yeah, I know. Now, we have two bodies, one of which is a cop,” Janko responded. Konan bit down on his lip to keep from responding in anger. It didn’t work.
“Don’t lay that on my doorstep, hoss.”
Mayor Smith slammed his hands down on his desk and leapt to his feet.
“Both of you shut up. You have no choice, Konan. You either help or you can sit in jail until this case gets resolved. Janko, I expect Konan to be treated with the utmost respect by you and the department. Do you understand me?”
Janko nodded his head yes, but Konan was not through.
“Put me in jail, I don’t care. They retired me nine years ago. I don’t play this political nonsense.”
“So, you don’t care if we catch this killer? Some cop you are, Thermopolis,” Janko sneered. Konan leapt to his feet and grabbed Janko by the throat.
“I busted your buddy Tia in the mouth at the Christmas party, didn’t I? I’ve done more for this stupid town than they’ll ever know. Don’t throw this crap in my face, Janko.”
Janko snarled like an angry wolf. Spittle formed in the corner of his mouth. “He looks like a rabid dog.” Konan let him go.
“You’re not worth the jail time, Janko. Your city council fired me. Who do you think I am, Sherlock Holmes? I don’t consult on cases.”
“The police will give you a car for transportation. You will receive a daily stipend of 150 dollars per day, and you can fill up at the fuel depot. Now that I have properly motivated you, I suggest you get the case notes and do your job.”
“Understood, Mayor Smith.”
Janko rubbed his throat and glared at the former detective. Konan flicked his hand down his shirt and met his eyes.
“I will see you soon, Thermopolis.”
“Whatever, Janko. I’ll catch ya later.”