Thursday 8 – Saturday 10 May 2014
In reality, it had only taken a moment, but for her it seemed like forever as she was pulled to the bottom of her pool. The chains, the weight around her midriff pulling her down, there was little point in fighting against them. Besides, she was too tired to fight. She’d spent too much energy when she was first attacked to fight now. Despite her current situation, she was remarkably calm, and her mind was clear. She would not allow her attacker, her killer take any more of her.
She didn’t know how many gallons of water her pool held, or how much was between her and the surface, but she was convinced that she could still see her attack’s face relatively clearly. The refraction caused by the water and its red colour distorted the face, making it appear elongated and grotesque.
‘At least I think it’s the light and the red in the water that’s doing that. But maybe it’s because I’m dying.’ The thought lingered in her mind.
‘God, I don’t want that to be my last thought. Think of the kids, think of Harry, think of Barney the Wonder Dog . . . ’
It was surprisingly easy to take a breath underwater. She didn’t bother to resist the urge she had to cough the water back out to prevent choking. There was no way out of this. She took another breath. But her ability to remain calm disappeared the moment that she saw her killer bolt away from the side of the pool. Panic set in, and suddenly she was desperate to get to the surface – a feat that was utterly impossible.
The surface of the water broke, and she saw a familiar figure propelling towards her.
‘Felipe! Felipe! Help me! Save me . . . ’ Her thoughts frantic, silently urging her pool man towards her. Now, she had to hold on, she had to fight; she had to struggle to survive. She promised herself that she would not give up until Felipe had exhausted every possibility to get her out of the water.
Felipe fumbled to get a good grasp on her. She prayed it wouldn’t take him too long to pull her out, but feared that the weights would get in the way.
‘Why didn’t he dive down with bolt cutters? He’d be able to cut through the chain. I’m going to die so close to being saved.’
Her lungs were past burning. She needed to take a breath, even if it was water.
‘What the fuck is he doing?’
Felipe wasn’t trying to lift her from the bottom of the pool. Instead he was fumbling around with the chain.
‘He’s never going to pull it off me. Use your head, for Christ’s sake.’
The pressure from the chains and the weight on her stomach lessened. Whatever Felipe was doing might just be working. He fiddled around a little more until finally, he was able to remove the chain that bound her to the weights. Almost out of breath himself, his lungs burning from the lack of oxygen, Felipe wrenched her from the bottom of the pool. Pushing his way through the blood red water, he surfaced as quickly as he could.
‘You saved my life,’ she gasped.
‘Yep,’ replied Felipe, breathlessly, as he guided her to the side of the pool.
* * * * *
He’d walked almost to the intersection that would take him into the next block before Carrie Butcher caught up with Felipe. Breathless, she stood next to him at the traffic lights, waiting for the pedestrian crossing lights to turn green.
‘What do you want, Detective Butcher? You don’t think that you and your rabid partner interrogated me enough today?’
‘I’m sure we have, Felipe, but I’m sure you also understand why you were questioned in such depth,’ she replied.
‘So I ask you again, what do you want?’ His reply was curt.
‘It’s hard to explain without it sounding like some conspiracy theory, but your friend, Drew Coleman, we spoke at some length about an idea he has about the killer.’
Felipe looked dumbfounded, and appeared unsure what to say.
‘I know what you’re thinking. Why is a detective getting advice and help from a former hacker turned multimillionaire businessman about a huge case? The answer is . . . I was stuck. I had no ideas who we should have been looking for, no ideas where to go with what little evidence we’d been able to collect. I had nothing. Your friend contacted us, came in for a chat, and in an unofficial capacity, I dropped by his apartment to discuss the matter off the record.’
The pedestrian crossing lights turned green, and the throng of people waiting on the kerbside pressed forward, spilling out on to the road. Felipe and Carrie were carried with the flow of the crowd.
‘You’ve really spoken with Drew?’
‘Yes. You can call him if you want. Confirm that I’m telling the truth.’ Carrie struggled to keep up with Felipe, as all manner of people forced their way between the pair in an attempt to get to where they needed to be just that little bit faster than anyone else. Losing sight of him somewhere around the middle of the crossing, Butcher shoved her way through the crowd. She was breathless by the time she reached the opposite kerb and, momentarily, she was terrified that she’d lost Felipe.
‘Over here,’ he called to her. She turned to her left and saw him standing by a coffee shop away from the stampeding crowd. ‘If you insist on talking, the least that you can do is buy me coffee and something to eat. I’m starving.’
She followed the pool cleaner into the coffee shop, sat down opposite him in the booth he’d chosen, and gestured to the waitress to being them two coffees to begin with. When she arrived with two mugs and the coffee pot, Felipe took the two menus she had tucked under her arm, and handed one to Butcher. He quickly perused what was on offer, and settled on his favourite diner food – a burger, fries, and a big slice of cherry pie.
‘You eating, Detective Butcher?’ he asked.
‘Um, yeah, I guess.’ She looked at the waitress. ‘Make that two of everything, thanks.’
The waitress gave them her well-practised smile, collected the menus, and took herself back to the counter where she slid the order through to the cook.
‘What did my good friend Drew have to say then?’ Felipe blew the hot coffee before taking a sip.
‘He’s got quite a collection of information about this case.’
‘He’s got quite a collection of a lot of cases, Detective Butcher. One of his hobbies is to analyse data, and his favourite kind of data to analyse is crime data. He gets it all from the media or the Internet, and then compiles these detailed charts and maps of crimes. If I didn’t know him well, I’d say he was a creepy serial killer,’ added Felipe.
‘Mr. Coleman has his own, very detailed theory as to who he believes the Pool Man Killer is, and I think that he might be on to something. I want to run a few things by you, see what you think.’
‘I don’t understand. Why do you want to know what I think?’ Ignoring the temperature of the coffee, Felipe emptied the cup and signalled the waitress for a refill.
‘I think there may have been some things that you saw or heard that can help us apprehend the killer. A lot of those women were your clients, and if your friend is right, I think the real killer is using you as a scapegoat for these crimes.’ Carrie stopped speaking when the waitress returned to fill Felipe’s cup.
‘So why aren’t you going over this stuff with me at the police station? Why do this without your partner?’
‘Because if, and it’s a big if, if Coleman is right, then there’s a link between the Pool Man killer and Lucas Miller, my partner. Felipe, I need you to tell me everything that you can remember about the homes, the women, anything and everything that you can give me.’
Felipe smiled. ‘Then this is gonna be more than a burger, fries, and cherry pie meal.’
. . . To be continued . . .