Wednesday 30 April – Sunday 4 May 2014
Surviving on as little as three hours sleep a night was something that Drew Coleman was adept at. On average, since his mid-teens, he would sleep for five, maybe six hours a night. The therapist Drew’s father had sent him to had put the change in his sleeping habits down to the death of his mother, but Drew wasn’t entirely convinced that her passing was really behind it. Looking out across the city, he finished his second cup of coffee. It wasn’t that he had the most aesthetic view of the metropolis that he called home, but it was his view, industrial, dirty, derelict as it was.
Returning to the sofa and his laptop computer, Coleman hit the space bar, switching off the screensaver. He reviewed the changes that his friend Felipe suggested for the warehouse security system and, content that all of the holes in the system had been plugged, he turned his attention to what he considered an equally pressing issue: The Pool Man killer. Having previously bookmarked a number of news sites, he pulled up the latest reports that were cropping up on the Internet in relation to the murders.
‘Still no ideas, eh? Women being murdered left, right, and centre, and the police haven’t a clue. Maybe it’s time that I gave them a helping hand.’
Drew clicked open a folder on his flash drive, and a list of file names appeared. He selected and opened the file named ‘PMK’, and reviewed the information that he had saved. Everything about the Pool Man killer that had been released to the public was contained in the document displayed on the screen in front of Coleman. Fancying himself as an amateur sleuth, he had been compiling details of notorious crimes since he was in college. It was an odd hobby to have, according to his college friends, but unlike the pastimes of those friends, it cost Drew nothing but time and a little effort.
He scrolled down the page, quickly reviewing the data, trying to establish some kind of pattern amidst the choice of victims or the locations. His hacker’s mind was processing the information at speed, linking commonalities together. His entrepreneur’s mind analysed the data as though it were parts of an actioned business plan. Coleman hoped that somehow, between his two different approaches to looking at the data, he might be able to find something that the police had missed. It had become a daily ritual for him since the media connected the murders and announced that the police were hunting a serial killer.
‘Seventy-fifth time lucky looking at this stuff. Tonight is the night. I’m gonna find something tonight. I can feel it.’ He paused and looked around his home. ‘And if anyone saw me talking to myself, they might think that I was nuts.’
A glance back at the screen, and one entry struck him.
‘Oh my God, there you are, you little shit. And you’ve been so close all this time.’
* * * * *
‘What about the kids?’ He knew his partner would have organised Social Services to step in and provide care for the children of the latest victim while they located other relatives. Butcher couldn’t bear to see a kid in trouble.
‘Social Services have spoken to . . . I’m not exactly sure who they spoke to, but the kids will be taken in by family. I was told it will be a couple of days before the family arrive, so the kids will spend that time with a foster family. Where are we on this latest murder?’
‘Same as the others,’ Miller replied. ‘Nothing. At all. No evidence other than the body, the dye in the water, and the fact that she was weighted down in the pool. The same that we’ve had for every one of these deaths.’
Butcher’s face was etched with frustration. Miller thought he caught a glimpse of tears welling in her eyes, but she turned away from him before he could be certain.
‘We’ve let these kids down, Miller,’ she mumbled, hoping it would disguise the sobbing that accompanied her tears.
‘How’s that, boss?’
‘We could have done more to catch the killer, to prevent another murder. This rests on us, as police. We’ve failed the community, and we continue to fail the community as long as this Pool Man killer is out there.’ She stabbed at the air with her right index finger, demonstrating that she was referring to the world outside of the police station. ‘We, you and I, need to put a stop to these murders, and we need to do it quickly, before another woman is killed on our watch.’
‘Detective Butcher?’ A uniformed officer strode into the room towards Carrie. She snapped her head around to see who had called her name.
‘What is it?’ she asked.
‘There’s a guy downstairs who wants to speak with you. Says he can help you with the Pool Man killer. Says he’s found something that might help, but he only wants to talk with you and Detective Miller about it. Won’t give me any other information except his business card.’ The officer held the card out to Butcher. She leapt from her chair and snatched it from his hand.
‘Thank you, officer. Tell Mr. –’ she paused while she read the details on the card. ‘Coleman that we’ll be down shortly.’
‘Will do,’ he replied, and marched out the way he had entered.
Carrie handed the business card to Miller, who examined it, back and front.
‘Why are you so eager to speak with this Coleman guy, Carrie?’
‘If he wants to help us, he’s either involved in the killings, or he knows who is committing them, or, and it’s a big or, he’s legitimately found something that we’ve missed.’
‘Or,’ Miller said sternly and as if he were addressing a petulant child, ‘he’s just a nuisance.’
‘No, no, I don’t think that’s it.’
Carrie scratched her nose, and then tapped a few keys on her computer keyboard. She moved the monitor so that her partner could see the screen.
‘That’s why.’ She pointed to the screen. ‘Drew Coleman is a well-known businessman. He’s got a background in computers, great business acumen, and a hell of a lot to lose if he’s perpetrating a hoax.’
Miller shrugged his shoulders, unconvinced by his partner’s explanation of the man waiting downstairs for them.
‘If you’re sure . . . ’
‘That’s the point, Miller. I’m not sure about anything to do with this case, so what can it hurt to hear what Coleman has to say?’
She grabbed a notebook and disappeared out of the room, taking away Miller’s opportunity to respond to her logic. He stood for a moment, alone in the room, wondering if he was about to regret allowing Butcher to railroad him into an idea he didn’t necessarily like. Once Butcher discovered the link between Miller and Coleman, albeit tenuous, he was sure that she would want a better explanation of the situation than Miller could give her, but that was a worry that would have to wait until after Drew Coleman said his piece.
. . . To be continued . . .