Friday 7 October 2016
‘People don’t forget the bad things that happen to them. Not really. They might block them out for a period of time, but it’s always there. And eventually, they always remember it.’
Bonnie Teller put her feet up on her desk, and reclined in her chair. It creaked under her weight. She scratched her head, puzzled about why Ryan was talking this way.
‘Look, I have no idea what you’re going on about, Ryan. You wanna start from the beginning?’ It was more of a demand than a request.
‘I’m just saying, Bonnie, that people don’t forget the bad things. That’s all. I would’ve thought you realised that working in this job for so long.’
She shook her head, unsure if it was disbelief she was feeling or if she was baffled by Ryan’s current level of stupidity.
‘We’re cops, Ryan, of course we see bad shit happening to people. It’s a hazard of the job. We’re never really going to see the best parts of people’s lives. It’s kinda the point of the homicide squad.’
Frustrated by Bonnie’s inability to understand the point he was trying to make, Ryan feigned banging his head on his desk.
‘Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie, you just don’t get it, do you?’ He waited for her to respond but she only looked at him, eyebrows raised and a smirk across her lips. ‘Think beyond what we have to deal with. Think about what happens after we leave, after we close our cases. What then? What do those poor people go through when we waltz back out of their lives?’
‘That’s why we give them information about counsellors and therapists. You need to let this go, Ryan, because you’re going to drive yourself mad, and more to the point, you’re going to drive me mad if I have to put up with this all day.’
* * * * *
Autumn leaves fell from the trees growing throughout the cemetery. They littered the ground in random piles and patterns of browns, oranges, yellows, and reds, crunching under foot as people braved the autumn chill to visit their deceased loved ones. Sitting at the boy’s grave site was difficult, but more so at this time of year. Little Joe Lawson loved fall because it signalled the arrival of Halloween, a holiday that he particularly enjoyed. The autumn chill in the air bit at her exposed skin, and the damp seeped through her jeans as Kathy Lawson sat in front of her son’s headstone.
Five years had passed since she lost her nine-year-old to the murdering bastard who’d taken four boys before Joe, and sixteen more since. Twenty-one little boys had disappeared, twenty-one little boys had been assaulted and murdered, and eventually, twenty-one little boys had been discovered buried in a remote part of the national forest. The police taskforce charged with undertaking the investigation into the murders had turned up very little in the way of suspects, but Woodrow Kane, detective in charge of the taskforce, had promised Kathy that the murderer would be brought to justice.
She took a handful of tissues from her handbag, and wiped the dew from Joe’s headstone.
‘One day, Joey, I don’t know when, but one day Kane will get him, and he’ll pay for what he did to you and the other boys.’ She poked the wet tissues back into her bag, and then adjusted her coat collar higher around her ears.
‘It’s nearly Halloween, Joey. Your brothers and I decorated the house and the yard yesterday. We used all of your favourite decorations, and the scary skeletons are just where you used to put them on the front stoop. Your dad’s gonna buy some more of those cobwebs that you liked to scare me with.’
Kathy thought back to the last Halloween Joey had been alive. For three weeks before the holiday, he’d bugged her to let him dress up as Frankenstein, all grey and green, and bolted and stapled together. He lumbered around the house practising his Frankenstein walk, and responded to any questions with low groans, and almost inaudible mumbling. It had driven her up the wall. She wished she could go back to that day, and let Joey play Frankenstein again. This time, she’d savour every groan, every mumble, every lumbering shuffle instead of being annoyed and irritated by them. She’d laugh more at his attempts to get into character, and how he’d tried to frighten the daylights out of his brothers. She wouldn’t tell him off, not this time.
The tears had begun without Kathy even realising. There was little point in wiping her eyes because they would continue to flow until she got it out of her system, and there was no telling how long it would take this time. Her husband knew where to find her, and he’d promised to drop by Joe’s grave after he finished at work. He’d be there soon, and he’d tell her to stop crying, that it wouldn’t bring their son back, but later that night she’d find him in the study bawling his eyes out. Together, they’d spend most of the night crying and reminiscing, and wondering where it all went wrong.
* * * * *
He watched her at the kid’s grave. Every year she came on the same day just before Halloween. He’d remembered one of the kids saying something about loving the holiday because he got to dress up in weird costumes, and go trick or treating. He vaguely remembered the kid told him he was going to be Frankenstein that year, if he was allowed to go home. Of course, he wasn’t allowed to go home. None of them ever were. But there was some fun for him in stringing them along to think they’d get back to their precious parents, and homes, and brothers and sisters.
He didn’t think she’d spotted him there, watching her grieve, not in any of the five years they’d been coming to the kid’s grave site. There was a large amount of pleasure he took from watching their great festering wound of suffering. Their grief made his job all the more enjoyable. And he had a plan for them. He was going to take away another of her boys. The cops weren’t expecting him to hit any of the families again. He’d given no indication, created no patterns that might lead to them suspecting that he’d go back to any of the families. That was the genius of his new plan. A second strike, a second black Friday.
. . . To be continued . . .