Sunday 11 – Wednesday 14 May 2014
‘Hahahaha,’ Drew’s laughter echoed around the vast space that was his home. ‘You actually picked the lock? You’re kidding me? You still know how to do that?’
Felipe Martinez nodded. Despite his olive skin tone, and the deep suntan he always wore from endless hours working outside, Butcher and Coleman could see his cheeks reddening with embarrassment.
‘Oh, bro, you’re good. You’re really good.’ Drew was still laughing at his friend’s ingenuity.
‘What?’ Felipe said. ‘Ever since, y’know, that . . . thing when we were seventeen, I always have a set of lock picks with me. Turns out, that’s a good thing.’
‘You’re a real life hero, buddy.’ Coleman slapped Felipe on the shoulder. Their familiarity unsettled Butcher. She was reconsidering the sense in being there alone.
‘Not to totally destroy this beautiful moment between you two, but I just want to point out here, that anyone else might think about the fact that the two of you could be setting me up. You could be working together to kill these women. Maybe this rescue was a way to throw me off the scent that you’re as guilty as all hell. And maybe I might be the next victim.’
‘And yet, Detective Butcher,’ Coleman lowered his voice and spoke in hushed tones, ‘you still came here alone.’
‘He’s messing with you, detective,’ Felipe hoped his kindness might allay any suspicions that Butcher was currently having.
‘Strange sense of humour that your friend has when he’s around you, Felipe,’ she replied.
Carrie Butcher was eager to bring the meeting back to its purposes – a further discussion regarding the identity of the Pool Man killer.
‘Well, we’ve successfully established that Mr. Coleman has a creepy sense of humour, now if we could move on, please, to discussing the Pool Man killer.’
‘Indeed, Detective Butcher, we should, but if you wouldn’t mind, do stop calling us Mr. Coleman and Mr. Martinez. This is an informal gathering, as you were at pains to assure me last time, so let us keep the formalities for the police station. We are Drew and Felipe, and you are Carrie.’ Coleman beamed, and Butcher saw what it was about him that had women throwing themselves at his feet.
Coleman tapped the space bar of his laptop computer, and brought the machine to life. A few clicks on the track pad and Coleman’s documents that detailed all of the information that he had on the Pool Man killer popped up on screen in various positions, each one available at the tap of the track pad.
‘Where do you want to start, Carrie?’
She considered Coleman’s question. There was so much that she wanted to cover, but really, there was only one place to begin.
‘I need any information that Felipe can give me about his clients.’
‘You mean the ones who were murdered?’ Felipe asked.
‘No, I mean all of them. I believe that there’s a lot of information that we don’t have about the victims, but I also want to figure out why, if the Pool Man is trying to set you up, why have those particular women been chosen as victims? Why not all of your clients? That would make more sense if you were setting someone up, right?’
Coleman created a new document as he spoke. ‘Come on, buddy, you tell us about your clients, and I’ll take down the notes.’
Felipe began slowly, remembering every tiny detail that he could about the women, their homes, and who he’d seen coming and going from their properties when he was working. Between them, Drew and Carrie compiled an extensive list of victim attributes, and intricate details of whatever parts of the home and property that Felipe had been given access.
‘Felipe, you and Inga Svensson have come the closest to seeing the killer. Inga is too traumatised at the moment, which is entirely understandable, so I need to know from you – what did you see of the killer?’ Butcher readied herself for any piece of information that he might impart.
‘Honestly, not a lot,’ he replied. ‘I wish I could give you a description of the killer’s face, but I didn’t see it. Mrs. Svensson got the best look at the killer. I just kinda got a side-on glance, but because of the hoodie, I didn’t see the face.’
‘Gives us something that we didn’t have before,’ Coleman tapped away on the computer while he spoke. ‘Our killer wears a hoodie. What colour, Felipe?’
‘Dark blue but it had patches of fading, so probably an old one. Well washed, and hung out in the sun.’
‘What about the lower body?’ Coleman continued.
‘Black jeans, denim. Trainers, also black. Those Converse ones, not the high tops, the low cut ones.’
‘Hands?’ added Butcher.
‘What? Well of course the killer had hands.’
‘Oh, dear God, Felipe. I meant was there anything on the Pool Man’s hands? Like gloves?’
He took a moment, closed his eyes, and tried to recall the moment he arrived in the Svensson’s backyard.
‘I came through the side gate . . . almost tripped over the rake. Put my gear down by lawn chairs. Spun around to head to the pool, saw the red water, realised there was someone standing by the side of the pool, and looking down into the water. Followed their eye line into the water, saw Inga, ran screaming towards the pool. The killer ran off, scaled the side fence, I think. Hands . . . hands . . . what did you have on your hands?’
‘Latex gloves. The Pool Man was wearing latex gloves. The black kind that you sometimes see law enforcement using on TV. Do you guys use them in real life too?’
Coleman smiled, and tried to stifle a snicker. The train of thought was typical of the Felipe he had grown up with. The pool cleaner was always seeing and thinking about things from a different point of view, tangentially to almost everyone else. And that was what made him such a successful hacker. At least it had, until they got caught and arrested.
‘Yes, Felipe, we do actually wear them in real life. We wear whatever brand and style and colour latex gloves the Department heads buy for us. The gloves are why we haven’t managed to pick up fingerprint evidence.’
‘I looked before I dived into the pool,’ Felipe’s mind was processing information from the rescue again. ‘The run. Something about the run and the jump up and over the fence that was familiar.’
‘I want to say that there was a familiarity about the way the Pool Man killer moved. I’ve seen it before . . . a lot of times.’
* * * * *
Lucas Miller pulled up out the front of his girlfriend’s house, unaware that his work partner was conducting a secret investigation into the Pool Man killer with a couple of civilians. It had been a very long day at work, and Lucas was looking forward to relaxing with Jenna, and sharing a pizza and a couple of beers. Lucas appreciated that she was the sort of woman who was as happy at home, eating pizza, and drinking beer, as she was at a classy restaurant or cocktail party with her high society friends.
He slowly got out of the car, and retrieved his overnight bag from the back seat. Shaking the exhaustion from his body was proving difficult, and the best he could do was stumble and drag himself from the car to Jenna’s front door. Even pressing the doorbell was a chore in his current state. He leaned against the wall and waited for Jenna to answer.
Lucas was left waiting. Jenna Albany did not arrive at the front door, bubbly and thrilled to see him. Apparently, it seemed that she was not home. He bent down and lifted up the ceramic poodle statue that Jenna kept by the door. Lucas had told her many times that it was the ugliest thing he’d ever seen. She’d only shrugged and giggled in reply. He’d also mentioned that it was not the smartest place to hide a spare key.
‘How will you remember where it is if I don’t make it obvious for you?’ Jenna had replied.
‘If you don’t be careful,’ he’d said, ‘I’ll be saving you from the Pool Man killer.’
She’d laughed hysterically at that comment, and then fobbed it away by plying him with alcohol.
He pulled the key free from its hiding place, and returned the ugly poodle statue to its place. He unlocked the door and wandered inside.
‘Jenna?’ There was no response. He hadn’t expected one, but thought it best to call out again so as to not scare her if she happened to be sleeping. ‘Jenna? Are you home?’
Lucas moved through the house, checking room by room for Jenna. Finally, throwing himself down on her sofa, he closed his eyes, just for a moment.
When he eventually woke, neck aching from the uncomfortable position he’d been in, he was confronted with the very person who had eluded he and Carrie Butcher. The Pool Man killer was face to face with Lucas.
. . . To be continued . . .