A QUAINTE PLACE
The Captain's office was deathly still as each of the detectives pondered the significance of this day. The Captain had called the meeting this morning hoping they would have something new to tell him. Tomorrow was the date they predicted the killer would strike again, yet they were no closer to finding him then they had been weeks ago. The only thing accomplished was capturing the copycat.
"I've called Braxton for extra help from their off-duty men for a few days, and the Highway Patrol will set up road blocks coming into Quainte. The HPD will start today and stay through the weekend, with the excuse it's a safety check, to get a better look at all the occupants," the Captain said.
"Well, if he's already here, the road block won't help," Ray grumbled.
"At least they'll be there if anything does happen, and he tries to leave town," the Captain snapped.
"And what if he comes by boat?" Ray added, not knowing when to quit as Carl elbowed him for the fourth time in the last hour.
"The water's been too choppy for boats in this weather," Carl said to ease the tension as the Captain glared at Ray.
The toll of the long hours and sleepless nights had pushed them to the limit. Plus, the Channel 12 lawyers had begun harassing the department after the reporter's outburst on camera about her life being endangered.
The station was also blaming her injured ankle on Detective Knight, and for their reporter's loss of work the past few days due to the injury.
"Yeah, the weather may be in our favor," Charlie added, "At least the tourist trade has fallen off since the cold spell hit. Probably won't have too many weekenders either."
"Thank God for small favors!" the Captain sighed, leaning back in his chair to stare at the ceiling.
"I just can't understand how he can show up, write me a note and disappear without anyone seeing him. He must be wearing disguises as he roams through town," Sam said as he stretched out his legs, crossing them at the ankle. His head was tilted with his chin close to his chest as he slouched in the chair, too tired to sit up straight any longer. Not only was he worn out from the tension at work following up the thousands of leads the department had sifted through over the months, but he couldn't get Kelly out of his mind. She blamed him for what had happened and he'd only been trying to protect her. He hadn't seen her since their argument that night in front of her place. At least Linsley is no longer a threat, he thought.
Startled, Sam looked up at the Captain, realizing he must have been daydreaming too long.
"Sorry, it's been a long night and my mind's turning to mush. What was the question?" Sam asked.
"I just asked what your opinion was on the idea of disguises, since you brought it up. But never mind. You and Charlie get some sleep . . . for now," the Captain said waving his hand in dismissal.
Sam reached for the alarm clock to stop the incessant ringing, then realized it was the telephone. Grabbing it after a couple of fumbling tries, he put the receiver to his ear.
"Yeah?" he muttered groggily.
"It's Ben, Sam. Sorry I woke you, but the Captain said he wants another meet of you guys . . . at six."
"What time is it?" Sam asked rubbing his eyes. He felt as if he hadn't slept in a month and his body was protesting at this interruption.
"It's five-fifteen, Sam. I know you just got home a few hours ago, but . . . well, sorry, Sam," Ben stammered.
"Okay, okay, Ben. It's not your fault. Tell the Captain I'm on my way," Sam said with a yawn, swinging his feet over the edge of the bed.
A quick shower and shave, and he felt a little better. Sam stepped out the door into a bright late afternoon sun, reflecting off the ocean surface, and felt a stinging burn in his eyes. This was the first time the sun had been out in days, and Sam stepped back inside to retrieve his sunglasses to break the glare.
By the time Sam reached the corner of Beach Drive and Center Street, he had made up his mind to circle past Kelly's place to see how she was doing.
He knew it was wrong, and the Captain had said to keep his distance while the lawyers were involved, but he wanted to tell her he was sorry for all that had happened. When he thought of how he'd handcuffed her to the bed, he wanted to kick himself for being so stupid. At the time it seemed a good idea, but then he was tired from lack of sleep and too intent on capturing Linsley to think straight.
Sam pulled up into Kelly's driveway and was about to walk up the front steps when the neighbor appeared in his yard.
"Hello! Aren't you the detective that caught the criminal the other day? I watched it again on television," the man said loudly.
Sam nodded with a tight smile. He was in no mood to carry on a conversation with a nosy neighbor.
"You're wasting your time, detective, she ain't home," he called.
That stopped Sam. He turned and cocked his head, waiting for the rest. No doubt the man was dying to tell him where she'd gone.
"Gone off to a meeting at that TV station she works at. That fella that's always running the camera for her picked Miss Daye up . . . oh, maybe twenty minutes ago."
Sam mumbled a thanks, and started back to his car.
"She's doing pretty well with that cane, but you can tell her foot's still bothering her. Such a nice lady, that Miss Daye. Too bad that happened, don't you think, detective?" Mr. Greenwood said with a knowing smirk.
Sam nodded again and got in his car. Damn busybody, probably thinks I'm the one who hurt her foot. Well, welcome to the club! Everyone that watched that news broadcast thinks I'm an evil ogre picking on the poor little reporter, Sam thought irritably as he drove away.
His mood wasn't much better when he sat down at his desk. Turned out the Captain couldn't get there before seven, and Sam was wishing he'd had that extra hour of sleep. He rested his elbows on the desk and propped up his chin with his fists. A photocopy poster of the serial killer was lying in front of him, and Sam stared at it, hoping somehow the picture would magically tell him where this deranged monster was hiding.
With a weary sigh, Sam grabbed a stack of messages and started dialing a number from one of them. These were just a few of the many call-ins of people who claimed to have spotted the man. While he listened to the man relate the facts of his siting, Sam picked up a pencil and started doodling on the poster. After the fifth call, he yawned, wishing he could go back to bed. So far, the calls had been mainly from people worried that the killer was still in Quainte. Sam glanced up when Charlie came in, looking distressed. Without thinking, Sam hung up on the person.
"What's the matter, Charlie?" Sam asked concerned.
"It's this report on Linsley's capture at the reporter's house," Charlie said, waving the papers in his hand.
"Yeah . . . so?"
"Look at her signature at the bottom, Sam," Charlie said, his hand trembling as he handed the paper to Sam.
Sam took the paper and skimmed down to the bottom to the handwritten signature. It was signed: Mary Kelly-Daye.
"Oh Jesus!" Sam exclaimed.
"Yeah . . . she's the Mary Kelly we're looking for, same description right down to the age," Charlie said somberly.
"We better call the Captain, and . . . and." Sam was so upset from the shock he couldn't think any more.
Minutes later, the Captain walked in followed by Ray and Carl. They all stopped short as they looked at the obvious distress on Sam and Charlie's faces.
"What happened?" the Captain asked as he tensed for their answer.
Silently, Charlie pointed to Kelly's signature on the report, and the three men leaned forward to inspect it.
"Oh, shit! Does she know? Have you talked to her?" the Captain asked. "Better go over and get her, we need to put her in a safe place. Tomorrow's the deadline date."
"She's not home. I stopped on my way in and her neighbor said she went to a meeting at the station," Sam said, covering his eyes with the palm of his hands. Think . . . think! What to do next? Sam thought desperately.
"Goddamn! Mary Kelly was right under our noses all the time and we didn't know it. No wonder we didn't find her," Carl said in exasperation. They had scoured the area looking for someone named Mary Kelly for the past month.
The Captain hit the intercom button. "Ben, get me that Blaney guy at Channel 12 now . . . right now, and tell whoever answers the phone it's an emergency!"
Officer Hadley walked in seeing the Captain's irate look, he handed Sam an envelope, whispering, "It was on your windshield when I came in, Sam."
"No!" Sam shouted. He grabbed the envelope, startling Hadley.
"He couldn't have her already," Sam muttered, as he shakily tore it open.
"On the windshield again! Damn, he's like a ghost that appears out of nowhere," Ray said, anxiously waiting for Sam to read it.
Sam groaned and dropped the note.Last ClueThere once was a man named Jack
With plans he had kept right on track
Jack has his last quarry
The one known as Mary
To finish, then Jack will never be back.Bye-bye, Detective!
"We're at the deadline and we have no idea where he is!" he said hopelessly.
They all jumped as Ben's voice came over the intercom.
"Captain, Mr. Blaney's secretary is on the line."
Quickly, the Captain grabbed the phone.
"I'd like to speak to Mr. Blaney, please, this is an emergency . . . He's not in? Well, is Kelly Daye still there . . . I know she's been out of work all week! . . . she went there today for a meeting with Blaney!" Captain Brodersen shouted, losing his patience. His expression changed and he glanced up at the detectives.
"You say there isn't any meeting? . . . You haven't seen Kelly in days? . . . What about her assistant?" He let out an exasperated sigh. "Whatever you call the guy that goes with her . . . Yes, her cameraman, that's the one . . . You saw him a few hours ago? . . . Well, check to see if he's still there . . . and Miss, will you please hurry? This is an emergency!"
Putting his hand over the receiver, he muttered a string of swear words, then became attentive again as she came back on the line. "You say someone saw him leave, and they are certain he was alone? .....Well, if Ms. Daye shows up, please notify me immediately . . . yes, we tried her home . . . there's no answer . . . " he said, looking at Sam nodding agreement. "Thank you . . . and please remember to call me as soon as you hear from Ms. Daye or her cameraman . . . yes, yes . . . I'd appreciate it . . . good-bye."
"That sonofabitch lied to me!" Sam growled, as he stood up to leave. He hurried out the door, not waiting for the others.
"Sam!" the Captain shouted. "Damn him, I wish he would think first before jumping off the deep end! Go . . . all of you . . . and keep him from punching the guy!"
"Do you think that neighbor's the one? The killer?" Carl asked.
"He seems to have an unusual interest in his pretty neighbor from what I've seen of him. Anyway, he's the only lead to Kelly right now," Charlie answered as they hurried after Sam.
Pulling up in front of Kelly's house, Sam glanced in his rearview mirror to see Charlie and the others pull in behind him. He paused for a moment before opening the car door, deciding whether to check her house or pounce on the neighbor for lying. Making his decision, he stepped out of the car and walked over to Charlie. If Kelly was inside, already a victim, he did not want to be the one to discover her body.
"You guys check out her house while I talk to Greenwood next door," Sam said as he hurried up the walk to the neighbor's home.
Before he reached the door, it opened, and a puzzled Mr. Greenwood waited.
Sam covered the distance between them quickly, and grabbed the man by his shirt collar, causing the man to give a yelp of surprise.
"You goddamn liar! Where is she?" Sam growled.
"Wh . . . what do you mean?" Greenwood stuttered, trembling as he tried to loosen Sam's grip.
"You said she left for a meeting. There-is-no-meeting! They haven't seen her since Monday," Sam shouted, giving him a shake.
"She sa...said that's where sh...she wa..was g-going," he whimpered.
"Sam! She's not at home," Charlie said coming up behind him. "Ease up a bit, will you?" he whispered in Sam's ear.
Relieved to know they had not found her body, and realizing he was going overboard with the guy, Sam dropped his hands, releasing his hold on the man.
"Tell us, Mr. Greenwood. We wouldn't want to haul you in. Where is Kelly Daye?" Charlie said.
Taking in the size of the detective, Mr. Greenwood looked about to faint.
"Honest to God, she left with that cameraman of hers in that van of his. Talk to the florist . . . Parry's Flower shop at the mall," he stammered, anxious to please these angry detectives. "He was leaving when the cameraman pulled up. And . . . and," pointing across the street, "Mrs. Wagner. She lives over there, was just coming home at the time. She waved to me right as they were pulling away. She saw her get in the van . . . ask her!"
Before he finished, Ray was already sprinting across the street to Mrs. Wagner's house. Carl said he would check with the florist.
"Please . . . please detectives, come in! Look around. She isn't here. In fact, she's never been in my house . . . or even my yard! You can see for yourself that she isn't here," he pleaded, standing aside for Sam and Charlie to enter.
Back at the station after a thorough search of Greenwood's home, Sam was lectured for getting tough with him.
"You should be thankful that the man saw Kelly leaving, or we wouldn't have any idea what happened. At least now we know the cameraman is with her . . . or was . . . until the killer found her," the Captain said.
"Right. The florist and the lady across the street confirmed that too," Carl agreed.
"She's been gone for . . . ," Sam looked at his watch," . . . if she left at around five-thirty, that's at least three hours. We don't know when he found her, and we have no idea where to find him," he said hopelessly. Sam felt utterly useless to stop events from happening, and the idea of Kelly being in the killer's hands was tearing him apart inside.
"All the leads haven't turned up a thing to bring us closer to finding him," the Captain said wearily.
"Maybe not the leads . . . but take a look at this, Captain," Ray said, leaning across Sam's desk to get a better look at the poster of the killer Sam had been doodling on before he hurried away to confront the neighbor.
Instead of the round face with heavy jowls, the man now had a short beard and mustache, hiding the man's defects with a youthful, leaner appearance.
"The cameraman!" They said simultaneously.
"And that bastard has had her since she left the house," Sam said grimly.
"That's three hours in the killer's hands," Charlie added.
"But it's not the ninth yet, at least until after midnight. He's been keeping his schedule all this time . . . why change now? Maybe he's just holding her captive until then," Ray suggested.
"God, I hope you're right," Sam said.
"Okay, we'll bank on this guy keeping the schedule, and pray we're in time. First, where does he live?" the Captain said, pressing the intercom again.
"Ben! Get Blaney's office back on the line, pronto."
"I'll check with the Highway Patrol to see if he passed by, and which direction," Carl said, picking up his phone to place the call.
"Put out an APB on the van . . . , man armed, dangerous and may have a hostage with him," the Captain said to Sam.
Sam nodded, reaching for the phone, glad that the Captain was making the decisions, since his mind was in a turmoil over Kelly.
"Captain, his secretary's on the line," Ben said over the intercom.
"Miss, we need Kelly Daye's cameraman's home address . . . ," he paused to listen, and as his face flushed in anger he shouted into the phone, "I don't give a shit about your rules! Get that address now or I'll get you for accessory to murder . . . understand? Now-get-that-address!"
Minutes later they had the address, a condominium located on the south side of Braxton. Sam, again, was out the door before the others, leaving the Captain swearing after him.
"We're getting into Braxton's territory and we have no authority there. Okay, Charlie you go with me. We'll call Braxton P.D. from the car. Carl, you and Ray take your car . . . and let's hope we're not too late."
"The Highway Patrol said they saw the Channel 12 van leave Quainte, but it hasn't returned yet," Carl said, as he hurried along behind the Captain.
"Good, at least they'll stop him if he heads back to Quainte."
Sam found the condo unit easily enough. The building was a rambling beige stucco four-story in landscaped surroundings without a security entrance, just a broad arched entry. He eased his gun from the holster as he stepped on the short walkway to unit 32B.
"Oh my!" a woman's voice gasped behind him.
Sam turned quickly and faced an elderly woman carrying packages, standing on the same walkway with her key in her hand.
"I'm Police Detective Knight from Quainte," he said, moving the gun to his side and showing her his badge clipped to his belt.
"Were you looking for me?" she asked in surprise, peering over her glasses to study him.
"Is this your place?" Sam asked, wondering if in his hurry to get here he had mistaken the address.
"Why . . . yes. Whom were you looking for?" she asked, relaxing now that she knew he wasn't going to point that gun at her.
Sam was speechless for a moment as he realized he didn't even know what name this killer was using now, he only knew that Kelly called him Jay.
"I'm looking for Jay, the Channel 12 video camera assistant to Kelly Daye," Sam said, cautiously keeping his eye on the window of the unit for movement inside.
"Oh yes," she smiled, then shook her head. "But he doesn't live here, I mean actually live here, he just uses my address for his mail. You see, he didn't want a lot of people bothering him . . . you know, asking him for help getting into the TV business and all that," she laughed. "So he pays me a monthly fee for using my mailing address . . . to supplement my social security, which I must say has come in handy!" she said, holding up one of the packages.
The more she chattered on, the more Sam became alarmed, thinking this was their only lead, and they'd hit another dead end.
"Did he mention where he does live?" Sam asked hopefully.
"Well . . . no. He just comes around about once a week to pick up his mail. He was here Wednesday, but I still have some that came since then. Is he in trouble? I really don't want to have trouble with the police!" she said, stepping past him and unlocking the door.
"Won't you come in, Detective? I'll be more than happy to give you his mail, if he's in trouble. I definitely do not need the money that much if it makes me an accessory to some sort of crime!"
As they were about to step inside, he heard the hurried footsteps of the Captain and the other detectives coming up behind them, weapons drawn.
"Goodness gracious! Are these more policemen?" she asked, her eyes becoming wide behind her glasses as she looked at the four men with the guns.
"Its okay Captain," Sam said, pointing at their weapons. "He's not here." Sam glanced around at all the faces in the windows of other units surrounding this one.
While Sam explained in a low voice to the other detectives, the elderly lady disappeared inside, returning shortly carrying a handful of mail.
"Here, Detective. Please . . . take these. I do not want to be involved in any crimes," she said, noticing her neighbors cautiously peeking around drapes to see what was happening.
"Thank you, Mrs . . . " Sam looked at her quizzically as he took the mail.
"Ms. Thomsen . . . I'm a widow, so I don't use the Mrs. anymore. Do you think he intends to give me trouble? I don't want any trouble. You see," she said, ready to continue with her chattering again when Sam interrupted.
"No, Ms. Thomsen, I doubt you'll see him again," Sam answered.
"Sorry to have bothered you, ma'am," the Captain said as he motioned
for the men to leave. "Thank you for your cooperation, we appreciate it,"
he added, then groaned when he spied the Braxton police officers walking
toward him, dreading the explanation he would have to give for usurping
By the time they returned to Quainte's Police Station, the men were tense . . . it was now after eleven o'clock. Kelly'd been gone nearly six hours, and time was running out. They had checked with Braxton's police and the Highway Patrol and there's been no luck in sighting the van.
The Captain had the Braxton detectives speak to Blaney, explain the situation, and find out if he knew of any other addresses for the man. The answer from Braxton was that Blaney had no other address and had not seen him since early that morning.
Sam looked at the mail, wondering how long the killer had been using this identity, and what kind of mail he received. There seemed to be a lot for just a few days. Some of it was the usual junk mail, a few magazines, catalogs, and a couple of letters. All were addressed to a Jay Couper except one in a legal size, formally addressed to Jacques Couper.
Ray standing next to Sam as he sorted through the various pieces, quickly laid his hand on Sam's arm then pointed to the envelope.
"That's French!" Ray exclaimed.
"Yeah, I can see that," Sam answered wryly.
"No I mean that's French for to cut. Couper means to cut."
"Christ!" Charlie answered. "He had nerve enough to use that? He must have been laughing at our stupidity all this time!"
"Well, hell, we never suspected him . . . or had a reason to wonder about his surname," Carl said defensively.
Sam picked up the envelope and looked at the return address. The letter to Jacques Couper was from Cromwell's Property Management Company in Braxton.
Praying that this might be a new lead, Sam tore open the envelope and pulled out the letter.
"Got it!" Sam whooped.
"What, an address?" the Captain said hopefully.
"Yeah, now we got the sonofabitch!" Sam said, elated, waving the letter. "This is a letter wanting to know if Mr. Couper would like to renew his lease on the house he's renting. A farm house. 450 Stover Road."
"You know where that is?" Carl asked.
"Off the main highway, halfway between here and Braxton," Sam said getting up and tossing the letter to the Captain as he headed for the door.
"Go with him!" the Captain said, as he pushed the intercom. "Ben,
get me Braxton P.D. and HPD."
* * * *
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