“A homeless man found him this morning,” a forensic investigator told us as she led Sandra and me to an alleyway next to a business adjacent to Town Square. “I think, given his dissheveled appearance, no one took him that seriously. The responding officer said he walked all the way to a mattress store before someone called nine-one-one.”
“The mattress store where Reed Radley worked? That’s a coincidence!” I remarked.
The forensic investigator politely differed, “Hardly! Take a look.”
She used her wand to pull aside a white sheet that surround the crime scene, and it stunned us to see a man lying dead beside the trash can with a sign that read: “He’s not the first, and he won’t be the last! Surrender to the Fay!” The message got hung up using discarded hangers, and it, too, got its ink from blood! “This is just like Reed Radley’s murder! Except they left the body here. Maybe they had too many potential wtinesses nearby.”
“We think that the victim put up a good fight,” the forensic investigator informed us. “We found a blood smear on the wall behind you.” After Sandra and I jumped a little to distance ourselves from the evidence, the forensic investigator added, “The DNA matches the sample obtained from your previous crime scene.”
“So, we have a serial killer on our hands,” Sandra stated.
Thinking about how the forensic investigator mentioned the witness finding the body this morning, I followed up with, “When’s the estimated time of death?”
She replied, “Somewhere between three and six a.m.”
“Ah, so Aidan’s not off the hook yet!” I concluded. “We need to test his DNA against the killer’s samples. Damn, why didn’t I think of that this morning? It could have saved us several hours of questioning!”
“Not necessarily. He could’ve orchestrated the murders without doing it himself.” When it clicked for her that she had been talking about someone she fancied, she suddenly amended herself, “Not that Aidan is capable of doing anything like that…”
I tried not to roll my eyes. Sandra struck me as a very intelligent person, but something about Aidan really fogged up her logic! I just simply commented, “Well, let’s see where the evidence takes us. Did you take a look at-?”
Before I could finish my sentence, I heard some sappy, old-school love ballad blaring from Town Square, which seemed a little strange but I tried to ignore it. I attempted to ask my question again, but then I heard a familiar voice echo out, “Shannon, Baby, please come home!”
I buried my face into my forehead, but I could sense the investigators and officers still on the scene’s eyes all fall on me. I couldn’t believe that he had done something so drastic and utterly stupid! Sandra tentatively queried, “Uh… isn’t that Ben?”
“Yes!” I admitted with my hands still covering my face.
“Did you tell him you were coming here?” Sandra inquired.
I responded, “No!” She brought up a good point, and the very idea of her concept pushed aside all of my embarrassment and prompted me to march right over to his little stunt. The rest of my colleagues followed me out of sheer curiosity.
It totally mortified me to see a crowd surrounding Ben, who dressed like a character from a cheesy, eighties’ romcom, and they all cheered at my appearance. Ben used his wand to lower the music from his boombox (where he got that from, I’ll never know!), and he addressed me, “Shannon, I know I screwed up, and I’m really, really sorry! I miss you so much! Please, come back to me!”
The crowd began chanting, “Do it! Do it! Do it!” He conjured up some roses and tried to hand them to me, and I wouldn’t take them. The crowd really urged me to forgive him and take him back at that point. He really made himself look like a romantic, and I looked like a jerk for not accepting his apology! They had no way of knowing what he did to me, and then it suddenly occurred to me the best way to end this…
I pulled out my wand and pointed it at my throat so I could amplify my voice against the cacophony of the crowd. “This man cheated on me with several hookers and stole my money to pay for them!” The crowd grew disgusted at him and hurled insults at him before they dispersed. It pleased me to see my plan working, but it also annoyed me that I had to air out our dirty laundry in order to do it! He just stood there in a humiliated astonishment, so I seized the moment to let him have it, “You son of a bitch! You left us homeless to feed your addiction, and you expect I’ll just fall for that stupid gesture and forget everything you did to me?”
“I wasn’t gonna leave you on the streets!” he protested. “I had it all worked out for us to stay at my mother’s house ’til we got our own place again.”
“You mom lives all the way in Baltimore! You expected me to drive three hours to get to work each day? And three hours back?”
Ben argued, “You could’ve used your magic to get you there faster!”
I yelled, “Ugh! Really? You think I have the energy and the concentration it takes to do a spell of that magnitude twice a day, five days a week? I may be smart enough, but I… Wait, what am I saying? That’s assuming that I’d forgive you for sleeping with the hookers and the Fay!” That last word renewed my focus on why I had come to Town Square in the first place, which led me to ask him, “How did you know I was here?”
“I got a police radio,” he confessed. When I gave him a reproachful look, he defended himself, “Well, you wouldn’t answer my texts or return my calls! I had to find some way to get you to talk to me!”
“So, this is your solution? Harassing me at work? You see that crime scene over there?” I gestured towards the alley. “A man just died! I’m investigating a gruesome murder, it’s kind of important! So, I’m going back to my job now! Any future communication should be done through an attorney!”
I turned to leave, but he stopped me by saying, “An attorney? Why would I need an attorney? I already did my time for the whole prostitution thing!”
I bellowed, “A divorce attorney, you idiot!”
His face contorted into confusion, and he actually asked me, “A divorce attorney? Wait, you’re leaving me?”
The idiocy of that question made my head hurt. I didn’t know how to respond, and I honestly didn’t want to explain it to him. I needed to get back to my investigation, and I was about ready to tell him to shove off when I saw a blue streak pass me. Sandra chased after it while commanding, “Stop in the name of the law!” I shot one last dirty look at Ben before I joined her pursuit.
When I caught up with Sandra, I realized that we were chasing a Fay! I wanted to ask her what he did to warrant that pursuit, but with both of us running at top speed, neither of us had the breath to talk about it. I took a mental note that I really needed to get back into shape, and then I concentrated on catching this Fay. I had no idea why Sandra started chasing him, but I felt positive that she did so for a very good reason! He turned down an alleyway, and after we did too, we saw multiple pathways that he could have ran and we had no indication of which way he went. We stopped to catch our breath, and then Sandra half joked, “I’m getting too old for this!”
A garbage truck tried to go down the path opposite from us, but when the driver saw us, he stopped and waited for us to finish our operation. I suggested to Sandra, “Well, since we know he didn’t go that way, how about you look left and I look right?” She nodded in agreement, and we split up.
I kept my wand in the ready in case he decided to ambush us. I had no idea who this Fay was or what he was capable of, but I figured that if it hadn’t been urgent, Sandra would have let him go. I crept quietly and checked behind every trash can and dumpster, but I saw no sign of him. It smelled pretty badly though, and I hoped that we could find the suspect quickly so that the sanitation worker could continue doing his job! All of a sudden, I saw some bins ahead of me rattle, and I knew that the Fay was about to make a run for it. I really didn’t feel like doing another chase, so I used all of my remaining concentration on a spell. Luckily, I pointed my wand at just the right spot at just the right time and I nailed him! He got knocked to the floor, and I rapidly swooped in to cuff him. As I did so, the Fay bemoaned, “This isn’t right! You can’t arrest the victim!”
“This isn’t an arrest, you’re just being detained,” I told him as I snapped the cuffs on him. I had a lot of people pronounce that I had no legal authority to arrest them after they ran from me, so it had become customary for me to explain that I just needed their cooperation until a thorough investigation was conducted. Sometimes people at the scene ran for arbitrary reasons, but we needed to know what happened before we just released them! I prepared to explain to him that we needed to make sure of his claim before we released him, but the last part of his statement now stood out to me. “Wait, what do you mean, victim?”
Sandra had seen me apprehend the subject, and she ran over to assist. “Nice work!” she complimented me.
“Sandra, who is this?” I asked her. “What happened?”
She answered me, “This is Dion Cielo. He’s the murder victim from your crime scene!”
“You’re the murder victim?” I stared at him incredulously. He acknowledged the validity of these words, but he didn’t say anything else. His behavior flabbergasted me! In every other case I came across that involved a Fay, I had never seen one who refused to explain how they became a victim! Normally, they like to stir things up by really making the crimes against them seem worse than they actually were. Like, when I was a rookie cop and met my first Fay at that trailer park, he really hammed up his chihuahua bite as attempted murder, but someone actually killed this man and he refused to talk! “Why’d you run? Who did this to you?” He pursed his lips and didn’t say another word.