Roman sat in his car. It’s been two weeks. He thought. I had hoped this might be over. I’m just glad I took my time getting here today. A rap on his car window woke Roman out of his personal conference.
“Good morning.” Bryson hollered through the car’s glass. “Mind opening the window?”
Roman nodded and rolled down his window. “Sorry about that, partner.”
Bryson stuck his head closer to the warm air flowing through the open window. “Are you doing okay this morning?”
Roman unbuckled his seatbelt and reached over for his notebook. “Yeah. I’m just a little tired of looking at rotting corpses.”
“Well, then you’re in a for a treat,” Bryson said sarcastically. “These two joggers had been murdered no more than three days ago. If the initial estimate by the Doc is on target.”
Bryson stepped back, and Roman rolled up his window and got out of his car. The cold weather wasn’t unusual for February, but Roman still hated it. He cinched up his trench coat and closed the door on his warm hideaway. Roman recognized things were different this time. The killer had chosen the soccer field. That was a bold move. If anyone had been in the park at the time the killer likely would have been seen.
“He’s getting bolder,” said Bryson. “Two bodies this time, and there’s another change. It looks like the killer returned last night to expose the bodies. Like he’s taunting us.”
Roman stopped and looked at Bryson. “Who says the killer is a he?”
“How many women have been known to kill other women in cold blood.”
Roman nodded. He had to admit; it was unlikely. For men, cold-blooded murder was a matter of control over others. They all seemed to have an illusion that killing somebody gave them power. Sadly, they never realized anyone could murder. It’s the healing and creating that’s the challenge. In contrast, most women killed for a personal wrong. The crimes tended to follow a pattern linked to a relationship or relationships with women.
Roman responded. “Point taken.” They both continued towards their familiar white tent. “How’s Piper holding up?”
“Oh, she’s not here.”
Roman stopped. “Is she okay? Has anybody checked in on her?”
Bryson nodded. “Oh, yes. Her sergeant is here this morning. She’s been out the last few days with the flu.”
They both began walking again, and Roman said, “Thank goodness for the flu. I’m tired of this whole thing. I can’t imagine what a patrol officer would feel like dealing with this. She’s only been on the force a couple of years.”
Bryson gave a sly grin and said. “You seem to know a lot about her.”
“Easy, partner. She’s in my area and works my shift. We talk.”
Roman shook his head. There was going to be a new rumor around the station whether he liked it or not. He’d have to warn Piper before she thought he was the source. It’s not that I wouldn’t go out with her, but cop couples have it hard. If our shifts change, or one of us gets a promotion, it could throw everything out of balance. He pulled himself back to reality as they entered the tent.
Roman asked Bryson, “Who found the body.”
Bryson nodded to a corner of the tent. Roman immediately recognized the straight black hair falling midway down the back of the witness. She wore a blue beanie and had on what appeared to be a black jogging suit. He looked over at Bryson, “Not a woman, huh? Excuse me.”
Roman walked and stood behind the woman. “Hello, Ally.”
The woman turned around. She was in her mid-thirties. Tears flowed from her bloodshot blue eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Roman said in a quiet voice. “I thought you were somebody else. I’m Detective Roman Jones. What is your name?”
She composed herself and said, “Zoey Hall.”
Roman asked her how she discovered the body. Much like Ally, she was jogging when she made the discovery. He got her personal information and let her know he might be in touch later. Roman would follow-up, but he already knew she was not his connection to these horrible crimes.
Bryson walked up as Roman was wrapping up his interview. “Roman, the lab boys need you at one of the bodies.”
Roman winced. He wanted to miss looking at the crime scene just once. After all, there were plenty of people already at the location, and he knew they would not find anything. Both men walked back out into the cold. The soccer fields were a dormant brown surrounded by bare sleeping trees in the cold winter air. Everything was still, except for the crime scene.
Roman stopped and stared at the dead woman. She was an African-American in her mid-forties. Her corpse was intact. On her stomach was carved the initials “RJ.” Roman said, “Nobody mentioned our victim was a different race, and older. Are we sure this is the same killer? The other bodies were not mutilated. Any ideas what RJ means?”
Bryson answered, “It gets stranger. The other victim is Asian, and I’m guessing barely nineteen. We are still working on the initials.”
Roman ran his fingers through his thick black hair. “This isn’t adding up.”
A lab tech walked up with a plastic bag and a piece of paper inside. “Detective, I believe this note is for you.” Roman read the note.
I thought you were smarter than this. What do I have to do, drop a body at your front door?
Roman stared at the note. A spark of fear ran through his spine. Bryson’s voice broke through. “You okay, Roman?”
He nodded, handed Bryson the note, and said, “I will be. Who is this guy? We have a long list of criminals that hate us, but nobody who would do this.”
Bryson put his hand on Roman’s left shoulder. “Whoever it is, partner, they are trying to get your attention.”
Roman sighed and mumbled, “They have it.”
Episode 3 coming Monday.
The Daily Post – Carve