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Heads and Tails
The skyline of New York City was filled, illuminated, with the flicker of distant lights, the hieroglyph for hard charging newspaper men, law enforcement, and the other part of the population who stayed up late, loomed in the twilight of it all. The scrumptious smell of the evening lingered and blended with the exotic aromas of the daytime which had passed in the earlier hours.
He tromped madly through the rain washed city streets as dusk approached threateningly. The gray haze which loomed over the town made him appear all the more mysterious and, above all, dangerous. The young man had one thought on his mind, murder. It had been his profession since about the age of fifteen. The stars gleamed incandescently with a tormenting purpose, an outline to his destiny.
If the man, who could hardly be called by such a name, found his next victim easily, it would be a sign for him, a good night, but if he had to play chase, a game of cat and mouse, then the evening would be furthermore torturous than the previous, when he had found his victim effortlessly. He had taken him quickly, just a normal businessman off to his next late-nite conference, while tonight he was hungry for something else; a ripe young woman.
Walking on a lonely street through the light drizzle which the royal violet sky brought with it, she had a melancholy expression on her face, one which shared the lonely, grim feeling of the road she walked on, her path of destiny, her fate. With a tight wool pencil skirt that hugged her hips divinely, she moved onward, not bothering to glance behind her with those wide green eyes, aware of the stranger who might attack, sometimes unnoticed. The same noise resounded in her ears, her high heel patent shoes, that echoed violently through her delicate ear drums that provided a steady beat, a pulse to keep her advancing forward.
The man moved forward quite slowly, mirroring her every step, following her tracks like a hungry hound of sorts. Then, he was ready to make his move. As the woman’s eyes darted around crazily, sensing the breath of danger on her neck, he quickened in pace and found himself no more than three feet from her, claustrophobically close. His movements were quick, her buckle in his embrace, fast, and the swift motion in which he dragged her into the forlorn, forsaken, and ivy-ridden alleyway was incredible.
Her scream in the night was silent to all those around, the residence in their homes sipping coffee and watching sitcoms quietly, the late partiers holding their slim glasses of various, tainted drinks, the regular inhabitants in the near proximity would never notice a thing as she slipped into the darkness, the deep state of sleep we call death. The man finished her off with ease as he had the night before with his last victim and merely left her lying peacefully on the cobblestones as the rain rolled over her like warm bathwater. He took nothing, left all of her precious, now insignificant, possessions on her because, this time, it was for sport only. The pleasure of feeling innocent life course through his fingers, flow seductively and silkily down his hands like a satin ribbon of memories. It was done. He had done it; this had been the fifth time. And he would surely as the sky is blue do it again.
FBI agent, thirty years of age, William Darius sat musing at his desk as the hot afternoon sun of New York mulled over him, bringing about a relaxing, mellow atmosphere. He had been on the job for nearly five years now and this appeared to be just another case, another ordinary person struck down for no real reason, no tangible motive but the mad desire of a lunatic to hold power over another. His short cropped hair of a light chestnut and murky brown eyes which displayed a look of pure exhaustion were all part of the perks that came with the job. The late nights in the office, working over-time constantly added to the utter lack of enthusiasm for the other areas in his life.
Rarely being home and always being on call made his social life, well, nonexistent. His few friends had the “normal” occupations which everyone, William thought, should have, the lawyer, the artist who really, truthfully, couldn’t paint so started a small pastry business, the teacher, ec cetera. The bizarre and, frankly, odd cases caused him to slip a bit from reality over the years and he always had some source of caffeine on his persons to drive his ideas forward, to propel him to solve the case and prevent him from drifting into a dream-like state throughout the long, tiresome, and usually tedious, day.
Being on the FBI personnel for the time he had been, William grew to bond with those around him, become family with his colleagues and abandoned the life he once led. As the evidence was laid out in front of him, displayed like a marvelous piece of artwork, by his boss, Jonathan Mere, the examination had begun and the night would push further and further with the hours he would be working, accompanying him in the dark, early morning hours. William closed his red rimmed eyes and took in a deep gust of air, sighed for a moment, and lowered his head a measure, the clear indication that he knew that he would be, for the third time that week, be working from sun up of that morning to sun down tomorrow morning. His boss glanced at the clock unsteadily and looked quickly back to the face of his now expressionless employee.
“Now, Will, I know you’ve been up late the last few nights-”
“And it’s only Thursday, Jonathan, might I remind you,” he said as he hung his head again and put his hands on the front part of his face so his dirty, callused fingertips brushed his hairline.
“I know, don’t remind me. I already feel guilty enough of depriving you from much-needed and well earned breaks so don’t start. But this case is extremely important,” Jonathan replied with a low tone of regret in his steady voice as he observed Will curiously, inspecting the damage the week had amounted to. “This guy has murdered four other people, this is his fifth and now we think he’s starting to get cocky.”
“Killing for the fun of it, I suppose?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what we think. I don’t really know what to do in this situation, where most of my men are on vacations with their wives sipping coladas and I have you working double, sometimes-”
“-most of the time-,” William interjected once again.
“Triple overtime on a case like this, especially a homicide, a serial killer. Overall this man is just a young, arrogant jerk who thinks he untouchable.”
“So. What do you want me to do about it?”
“Touch him. Show him he’s not the big cheese anymore, that there is always a right and wrong and that good will prevail as it was intended to do,” his boss concluded, a talk of philosophy which Will was not ready for nor cared to hear.
“Even though, Jon, we may live in a world that is black and white, I highly doubt people think there is a true, bolded outline of wrong and right, good and evil, especially not these wackos.”
“Then maybe they should watch some Batman movies or something, a figure that displays those old traditions.”
“Traditions and rules are meant to be broken and morphed, modernized. People don’t care nowadays. Sorry, Jon, that I had to be the one to break you out of that fantasy. But people these days, in the city more than not, aren’t as they use to be,” he stared out the window, awaiting the departure of his boss, to be enrapt in the pure and utter silence of the office that had once held its spell over him only minutes ago.
“All righty. Well, you go and get to work. The fast and earlier you get it done, the earlier you get to leave this darn place.”
“Though it’s not as if I have anything else to do or anything to really go home to; if you know what I mean,” he looked at his boss for some type of reassurance and found it, discovered that softness, in his expression as Jonathan’s eyebrow de-furrowed and the lines of his forehead dissipated, revealing the lines now around his eyes that gave him the remotely same appearance as William. Then, once he had thought there was the peace and quiet he needed to return to had come again, his phone buzzed in an obnoxious, slicing noise through the crisp cool air.
“Darius,” he said without great care, watching the soles of his boss’s feet march down the carpeted path back to his own private office.
“Agent Darius, this is Bret Gleason from Special Forces. We have liable information that someone has taken a hit out on you. Sources say that the man who has been committing these most recent murders has been hired to kill you. He might be in your building as we speak, I’m sending S.W.A.T. right away but whatever you do, don’t panic. Remain where you are and, if he’s not there, we’ll escort you to your private residency immediately.”
“Wait, wait. You’re telling me I have a guy outside my office building trying to kill me but to stay calm, cool and collected?” he began to get heated as the conversation continued, as though speaking to a lover in a quarrel.
“Please, Mr. Darius, just stay where you are. Stay put and don’t go anywhere. If you do, everything will be fine.”
“Hold on, Gleason. I know who it is,” his voice shook with fear from the realization that had just struck him, made him dumbfound.
“What are you talking about, Darius?”
“It’s my old co-worker. Agent Dallas. Remember him? He was an old FBI member and he went mad after someone killed his wife while he was on the job?”
“You may be right! The pictures of all of the woman he killed all have a striking resemblance to his wife. And the man he killed looks exactly like her killer but with darker hair. How in the world do you do that, Darius?”
“I don’t know. I look for these connections, search for them. And Dallas is in every picture outside of the crime scene. It has to be him,” Will didn’t hear the shots until a moment after they had been fired. “Oh God, I think he’s in the building.” The gunfire echoed and sent vibrations through the phone and Bret Gleason’s voice wavered with fear as he responded to the terrifying, horror-striking event he had just heard.
“Listen, do what I said and stay there. S.W.A.T. is approaching your place as we speak. Just stay on the line. Don’t-”
“I don’t think I can do that, Gleason,” with the phone he held pressed against his ear as a comfort object, crouched on the side of his desk, his eyes scanned the place with in a crazed frenzy. “I’ve got to go get Mere, he’s the only other person in the building. I’ve got to find him.”
“Darius, don’t go. Don’t you dare. Don’t-”
Will hung up the phone and placed it back on his desk with care. “I’m sorry.”
He had fired the gun, unsheathed the .9 mm from his waist belt and shot two rounds high into the air. He walked to his boss’s office and opened the door triumphantly. “Good-bye, Jon.”
And, with that, the one, final shot fired made its way straight through the front of Jonathan Mere’s skull and lodged itself nice and snuggly into the back of his head. After placing the gun carefully back into his belt, Will casually took large strides back over to his desk and grabbed up his jacket, turned off his desk light, retrieved his keys, and tucked his sunglasses into his shirt front.
He slipped out of the building to find S.W.A.T. awaiting him. He waved it off, like a pro, and briefly said, “I handled the situation. It was an easy job and now Jonathan is taking the poor guy down to the station,” as though Jonathan Mere were not lying on the floor, stone-cold dead.
“What about the shots we heard?” the lead officer inquired.
“Oh, those,” he shrugged it off, “he was just trying to scare us.”
And so he would go off to the mental ward to find Agent Phillip Dallas and “take care of him” and make sure he was never to be found again, make people believe he truly was the murderer.
With great confidence, Will swaggered out into the night with his sunglasses swaying back and forth on the front of his shirt, his jacket swinging freely over his shoulder as he held it with one curled and crooked finger. It had been an easy night for the man. A sign that that night had been as easy as the last, and might be as easy as the next to follow. The next victim to be as effortless to take, mere prey for its hunter, an amusement for the twisted mind of a self-proclaimed hero.
The body of Mr. Jonathan Mere was not to be discovered until the next morning by a shocked employee. As for Mr. William Darius, he, miraculously, disappeared. Vanished.