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Secrets of the Asylum Ch. 1 Part 1
File Case 1: Blood Money (Sept. 25, 2009)
The body was so light, and yet it seemed to possess more weight than a man of twice his size. The body was so small and yet it seemed like it loomed higher than the buildings that stood, motionless on either side. The body and person dragging it moved so quickly across the open ground and yet through the eyes of the person, who was dragging the body, the ground went on forever and the alley refused to come any nearer as the strong wind howled, seeming just to torment the man dragging the body.
The man dragging the body could only hope that he was having a nightmare. He kept trying to convince himself that his experience was just a dream, but this pitiful attempt at reassurance only served to heighten his fear as he pinched himself and realized that the body was real and what had happened to it when it was alive was also real and no illusion could change it.
However time is unstoppable, no matter how slow it seems from any perspective, so the guilty man finally got the corpse to the dark, deserted alley. With a deep sigh the man set his burden down and glanced up, at the stars. So beautiful and tranquil the stars sparkled in a way that seemed hardly appropriate for the terrible thing that had befallen the dead man that night, the bitter wind had been far more appropriate, but that had temporarily ceased, to create an unnatural, and haunting calmness. The stars reflected off of the polished blade of a long, thin knife that the man had drawn from one of his pockets. Then the stars glimmered off of the knife as it was plunged into the throat of the body.
After that the man drove the dagger in deeper, and deeper, until he was deep enough, then with an amazing effort to hold back the need to yell, the man dragged the knife across, until the wound was fully opened.
When the bloody deed was done, the man pushed, with all his might, upward until the body fell into the dumpster. The sad little grave would remain undisturbed for five days and for every second of each of those five days the guilty man was tortured by the memories that his conscious would not allow him to release.
Jake Hawk stepped into the quaint apartment building at the end of the lane, but not to get out of the harsh wind blowing northward, he had something else in mind, something in mind that he had studied for, for over four years.
Actually Jake had studied for nearly the last eight years. Ever since his grandmother had told him stories of legendary criminals like Jack the Ripper, the Faceless Vigilantes, the Hillside Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and The Killer Clown, Jake had been fascinated by crime and punishment, but there was one story that Jake’s grandmother had always refused to tell…the story of who Jake’s parents were and what had happened to them.
Despite all those years of study Jake still didn’t know what to expect. Nick Hanson had been recommended to Jake by several reliable people. However the question was what had Nick been recommended for? Some had recommended Nick since Jake was looking for a job in criminal investigation, while some recommended that Nick be hospitalized in an insane asylum. It was because of the aforementioned mixed recommendations that Jake Hawk stood nervously at Nick’s apartment door preparing to consider if he would think about knocking.
Of course Jake had established telephone contact with Nick, but while Nick sounded normal enough he had several unusual requests that Nick had asked of Jake. First of all Nick had asked Jake to meet him at his apartment, no later than seven o’clock a.m., second of all Nick had asked that Jake add his skills in stealth, shooting, and hand to hand combat to his résumé. While requests like that could be considered expected in some professions, Nick was a private investigator, so naturally Jake became curious as to what had been left out of the telephone conversation.
Jake hesitated for a second before knocking. Once Jake knocked he did not feel better for having done so since a mysterious hammering sound seemed to followed his knocking. For a second Jake worried, try as he might he couldn’t think of a reason that someone would be hammering in an apartment so early in the morning. However whatever worries clouded his mind were erased as the door was answered.
Jake’s fears were quickly put to rest, but not in the way that Jake had expected. When Nick Hanson opened the door he looked kind, and his grey eyes showed no sign of insanity, or even any signs of being disturbed. However he did look strange due to the fact that although Nick looked to be in his late forties he had hair as white as milk. “Hello, can I help you?” Nick asked in a polite voice.
“My name is Jake Hawk, and I’m here to apply for a job as assistant private investigator,” Jake stated very straightforwardly.
As Jake said his name a look of recognition spread across his face. “Ah, yes, I was wondering if you would arrive on time.” After opening the door wide enough to let Jake through Nick spoke. “Please come in and tell me about yourself.”
Once Jake was past Nick’s apartment’s threshold Nick closed the door, plucked a remote off of a nearby table and turned off his radio, which had been playing the Beatles “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” Jake noticed the apartment walls first. Like Nick the apartment in question was normal except for one thing. It had white walls, white curtains, white furniture, white cupboards… needless to say this was probably one of the contributing factors to peoples’ ideas that Nick was disturbed or even insane.
After noticing that Jake was staring at the apartment Nick answered the questions that Jake had not verbalized. “I see that you are looking at my apartment, well the answer to your unspoken question is that since my hair has turned such a shocking white the only color that truly camouflages me well is white, if my apartment wasn’t white then I would be an easy target in my own house.”
Jake couldn’t understand why a private investigator would need that much protection. “I see, but who exactly do you have to hide from?”
“This is a dangerous business, when you start putting people away the list of people who want to kill you gets long, and the more successful you are at this job the longer the list gets. For example my list has fifty three names on it, only counting the obvious ones, but who’s counting,” Nick said with a jolly grin spreading across his face.
It wasn’t long after that, that Jake found himself enjoying a hot coffee with Nick as Nick read over Jake’s résumé.
After a few minutes of studying Jake’s résumé Nick looked up at Jake, and spoke. “So why do you want to work as a private investigator?”
Jake had prepared himself for that question. “I have three reasons. First of all I want to be able to choose my cases and how I use my time. I don’t want all of the restrictions that come with being a police detective. My second reason is that I hear that you get the hardest cases, because the local police trust you as their main consultant, and since I was the best in my class I think that I could get used to that. My final reason is that my grandmother always told me that my father and mother were both private investigators, so I feel sort of like I have to live up to my...”
Jake’s voice trailed off as he realized that a cell phone was playing “All you need is Love”, by the Beatles and that Nick was digging into his pocket to answer it.
Feeling a little awkward Jake sat for a few minutes until Nick came back in the room and made his announcement. “By the way, do you have any diseases or allergies?”
Jake replied honestly. “Well, nothing serious, but I do have some trouble with smoke.”
Nick wasted no time in putting on a white coat as he opened the door. “Good you’re temporarily hired so that you can show me how good you are in the field, now come with me.”
Initially Jake said that he would follow Nick to the crime scene on his motorcycle, but Nick objected, saying that they could save gas if they both rode in Nick's car, which was, a sleek little Honda car, that was unsurprisingly white.
“When we get to the crime scene I’ll have to introduce you. Once we’re past the crime scene tape don’t touch anything until the forensics team takes a picture of it, and touch absolutely nothing without gloves,” Nick explained to Jake while simultaneously keeping his striking blue eyes fixed on the road.
“Speaking of the crime scene, where is it?” Jake asked.
“An alley in Southern D.C., near to the pine tree forest in Northern Virginia”
Looking a little skeptical Jake voiced his question. “I was told that you were only called in by the police when they couldn’t figure it out for themselves, so what’s the complication?”
Betraying no emotion Nick stated the facts. “The man who did the autopsy, Conner Allen, can see that the victim had a slit throat, and that that is his only possibly fatal wound. However he also thinks that the wound was post mortem.”
Captain Steel leaned against the side of a building with a toothpick clenched between her molars, she knew that most men weren’t turned on by that particular habit, but she had opted a long time ago to be able to hold her ground in a tough city, and if that meant sacrificing a few boyfriends that she was sure would leave her later anyway, then she didn’t mind.
That was when she saw Jake Hawk for the first time. He had black hair and green eyes, both in major contrast to Nick Hanson’s white hair and blue eyes. “So he finally got a partner,” Captain Steel commented to herself as she removed her toothpick from her mouth, and transferred it to her pocket.
As Nick and Jake got closer Captain Steel started speaking in her low, yet still decidedly feminine voice. “Mr. Hanson it’s good to see you. Oh, yes, and who is this?”
“I’m Jake Hawk, Nick just hired me.” Jake replied, “literally.”
“Okay, great, but we can talk later, for now proceed right this way,” Captain Steel said as she lifted the yellow tape and led Nick and Jake deeper into the dusty alley, carefully maneuvering between many different articles of trash.
In just a few seconds Jake was facing his first actual crime scene. He looked around. There was a large overflowing dumpster, with a puddle of blood on the ground next to it, and a few forensics scientists moving about carefully examining the scene.
“The garbage men came around to collect the trash from the dumpster, but fortunately one of them saw the blood, and then we came and dug up the body, the coroner estimates the time of death at five days ago,” Captain Steel explained.
“Did any bugs speed up the decomposition?” Nick asked.
“Unfortunately yes, that’s why all we can tell about the victim is that he’s a Caucasian male of about thirty years, with no wounds except a post mortem wound going straight through the throat.”
“Perhaps the killer thought that the victim wasn’t dead when he slit his throat,” Jake suggested.
Captain Steel put on a pair of sunglasses, to protect he eyes from the sun’s rays. “That would make sense, but still why bury someone, but not clean up the blood?”
“I think I know,” Nick stated as he stood up after inspecting some leaves on the ground. “Well if we assume that this was a clean-up then the murderer would have buried the body first so that no more blood could get on top of the ground, however it has been very windy for the past six days and its fall so the leaves are on the ground. Therefore it’s possible that the killer was distracted from the blood pool long enough for the leaves to settle on top of the blood and letting him or her miss a spot.”
“It’s a good theory, but we still need suspects in this case,” Captain Steel replied as she rubbed some pine tree sap off of her hand that had come from the trees that fringed the south of the area that they were in. “So I’ll proceed to our list of suspects,” Captain Steel continued. “We have no suspects, therefore it is a rather short list, however there is a man that lives close to here who we want to question. So do you want to come along with me to question the man, Nick?”
“What will I do?” Jake asked.
“You’re going to do what rookies, like you, do best,” Nick replied without a note of sarcasm. “You’re going to get coffee for us.”
A little while later Jake was once again riding in a car, however this time the car was a squad car and the person driving was, this time, not Nick, but instead a rookie named Zach Jacobs. Therefore the atmosphere of this particular car ride was naturally different than the car ride that Jake had had earlier that same day with Nick. This time the car was silent, devoid of sound other than the faint murmur of the car’s engine. With a different person this particular ride might have been enjoyable, but instead the car remained silent for a long time, only broken by a single sentence from Zach.
“So, you’re Nick Hanson’s new assistant. Man, I wish that I were you right now.”
Jake was intrigued. “Why?”
Zach responded quickly, in excitement. “Well he’s featured in the newspaper nearly every month, for one thing and for another thing I’ve wanted to know what happened to him ever since I joined the force.”
Now Jake’s natural curiosity was truly aroused. “What do you mean?”
Zach spoke in an excited whisper as if someone might hear. “Well I don’t know any details. All I know is that you should never ever touch Nick’s left shoulder. However some people say that Captain Steel, Conner and Tim have been around here long enough to know all about the incident.”
Jake would have pondered Zach’s words more carefully, but the ring of his cell phone (playing Queen’s "Under Pressure") interrupted his thoughts. Jake answered his phone. “Hello this is Jake Hawk.”
The response came from Nick Hanson. “I just met with the suspect his name is Ricky Kendal. Nothing too suspicious about him, he answered all of our questions without hesitation, and he doesn’t have a record, however he’s into guns and knives, he’s a veteran, so he has had plenty of experience with killing before. In fact he was just telling me how just this week he camped under a maple tree next to a pond for two days to shoot a deer, the deer’s head is now on his wall.”
“So, do you think that he could still be involved?” Jake asked.
“Yes, but I still can’t figure out why the victim's throat was cut post mortem.”
“Wait, how did you get my cell phone number?” Jake asked, as he suddenly realized that he had never given Nick his number.
“I’ll explain to you later,” Nick replied, without giving a hint to the answer.
Having no more to say Jake closed his cell phone. As he did so he reflected how much easier it had been in college. It was probably because this was his first real case, and now unforeseen twists occurred that were unprecedented which meant that the answers couldn’t be found in a textbook or clichéd murder mystery novels. However the thing that occupied most of Jake’s thoughts was what he didn’t know. For example, he didn’t know that much about Nick, he didn’t know why the killer had slit the victim’s throat after the victim was already dead, yet he knew that at least half of the mystery was right in front of his face, waiting to be sorted into a logical idea.
Jake didn’t have to think about the mystery for very long, though, because Nick called Jake via cell phone, and stated, rather loudly, “I think I cracked half the case open, but I could use coffee so that I can wake up and solve the other half,” and then Nick hung up without uttering another word.
“Has he solved the case already?” Zach asked, seeming not in the least surprised.
“He says that he solved half, but he needs coffee to solve the rest,” Jake replied.
“Then we better get this coffee to him quickly,” Zach replied, while at the same time, pressing the pedal harder for emphasis.