Part Eight: Kalo Junction
Part Nine: Foster Got Fingered
Part Ten: Assignment Terror
Part Eleven: Pineapple Rendition
Part Twelve: The Clemens Callback
Part Thirteen: Run In With The Devil
Part Fourteen: Women And Children
Part Fifteen: The Tarantino Situation
Part Sixteen: Our Nada Who Art In Nada
Part Seventeen: Photo Finish
May 28th …it is a matter of public record that the other prostitutes on South Lake Avenue got pinched twice as often as Mary Durward. Some of the working girls said it was because she was a snitch but Mary insisted that she was just lucky that way.
On this night she wore her dark hair pulled back, she had on tight jeans, a half shirt and too much eyeliner. As usual she walked the perimeter of Washington Park looking for customers. It had been a lousy night for business, cool with a hint of rain. Most of the drive ups had been giggling college boys that lost their nerve the minute she started to negotiate prices. Thankfully she still had her regulars, husbands looking for the oral sex they couldn’t get at home and old men in need of handjobs and conversation. At two AM she decided to call it a night.
Mary might have made it home alive if she hadn’t decided to take that shortcut through the park home. Sure she knew about the murders, but she wasn’t worried. Death was something that happened to other people.
Still though, she played it safe, keeping to the sidewalk that passed between the artificial pond and the tulip garden. The sound of her pumps clicking on the concrete must have been just enough to mask the sound of being followed. The last thing she heard was her murderer unsheathing his blade.
Mary’s luck had run out…
…by the time I heard her scream it was already too late. Ever since the third murder I’d started patrolling the area around Lark Street: not patrolling in a superhero sense mind you, patrolling in a reporter sense. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to get involved in any weirdness, that this blog would be nothing more than a haven for Fantasy Football stats and occasional anecdotes about working at a pawn shop.
But here I was again.
Like I said, by the time I heard the scream it was too late. I went tear-assing through the park to find Mary Durward, well what was left of her anyway.
She was lying on the sidewalk; her throat had been slashed and she had been split open from gut to groin. Police reports said that the other victims had their internal organs removed. I was too uneducated on human anatomy and too busy throwing up on myself to be sure.
The Ripper had struck again.
Well, not THAT Ripper. Not exactly but kind of.
Don’t believe my crazy theory? Neither did law enforcement, the newspapers or my landlady Mrs Vincenzo, but it all added up. Women, usually working girls, were being savagely, swiftly and expertly eviscerated by someone that knew exactly what they were looking for.
Once I was done emptying out my stomach I started running, as I ran I dialed 911 from my smartphone. Sure I didn’t have to report the poor woman’s body, someone else would find it soon enough, but it would have felt wrong to do otherwise.
No one believed me that this was somehow connected to the events of 1888 but the pieces all fit. There had been other murders, seemingly in every generation but always in a different country- England, France, Germany, Finland, and finally here. And every time it was five murders before the killer stopped. That’s twenty-five killings spread over one hundred and twenty-five years.
I was pretty sure I knew where the killer was going, that’s why I ran eastward losing myself in the trees and brambles. It was pitch black but there was kind of a trail to follow, a trail made by adventurous bicyclists and wandering college students. It led towards Washington Park’s number one eyesore. Halfway down the trail and I could almost see it. I ran faster.
My foot caught a root or a rock or something and I fell on my face in a spectacular fashion.
The Ripper, the stuff of legends. How many books were written about those murders in Whitechapel? How many theories have been flying around as to the killer’s identity? If nothing else my hypothesis will go down in history as the most insane, but the names and dates all match up. There are even rumors of confessions hidden in anagrams but that part I can’t be sure about. The ‘confessions’ are in print in three different languages- and each of them was published years after the murders took place.
Except this time maybe. If I was right and I was clever there might not be another gruesome tell-all masquerading as a childrens’ book again.
How long did I lay face down in the dirt trying to remember my name? It seemed like forever. When I finally sat up I discovered that I’d landed on my iPhone and smashed it. How many is that I’ve wrecked now?
Good thing I work in a pawn shop.
I started running again, stumbled a few times, then actually managed to reach the long abandoned Grecian Shelter. And just in case you have no idea what one of those is, imagine a long rectangular structure with no real roof but plenty of Corinthian columns. Another term for this kind of structure is a Croquet Shelter and they do have a very ancient Greece kind of look to them.
Especially since the one in Washington Park had been left to rot since 1929. Redesigns of the grounds had left it out of sight and out of mind. Sure every few years there were outcries from the local community to either restore it or knock it down but nothing ever got done.
That kind of thing happens a lot in Albany.
The structure was overgrown with vines and some of the columns looked ready to give way but that was to be expected; what wasn’t to be expected was the ugly purple glow coming from the inside. The hair on the back of my neck prickled as I drew closer.
“Auditurum cantáte!” A voice cried, “Salve regina red!”
Great. I thought. Latin. That’s never a good sign.
Once I was close enough I could see that the illumination was coming from a device that looked like something a meth head locked in a Radio Shack overnight might build. There was a sickening odor in the air, like pork but sweeter. I did not want to be there, I didn’t even want to be in the same area code, but if I was right, who else could put a stop to this?
The voice cried out, “Rubrum regina mater omnium mortalium est!” It was ragged but still familiar. Everyone in the Capital District knew that voice, it was one of our local celebrities; children’s’ author and philanthropist Preston Myers.
Whenever these murders happened it was always at the hands of a children’s’ author, always at the height of their careers and always when they were in their fifty-sixth year: Preston Myers, Tove Kontio, Annette Richter, Xavier Perrault, Charles Dodgson- the pattern fit perfectly.
“Rubrum regina mater omnium mortalium est!”
I would have loved to have gotten a picture of this but my phone was in bits back down the path. The purple glow deepened, I stepped into the Grecian Shelter.
Preston Myers was visibly startled by my appearance, so I had that going for me at least. He was pudgy and bald, his beard was black and flecked with gray. He always went out in public wearing a suit and a tie, but as you can imagine his suit and tie were streaked with gore. When he spoke he didn’t growl or hiss, he used exactly the same tone he used when doing readings for the kids at the public library. He said, “Who are you?”
“I’m Brian Foster,” I stepped closer, “and I want to know who you’re doing this for.”
“For the Rubrum Regina of course,” the knife he pulled out of his jacket was cruel and curved, “you shouldn’t be here.”
“Tell me about it.”
“I’m going to kill you,” he stalked forward, “if you’re a good boy I’ll make it quick but if you run… If I have to chase you…”
“What is the Rubrum Regina?” I stepped left, he stepped right, like it was all some kind of murderous dance. “What makes you do this?”
“Rubrum regina mater omnium mortalium est!”
Not the answer I was hoping for. I pointed to the tangle of wires and bulbs, “And what is that?”
“The sanctum fenestram,” he smiled.
“All the better to see you with.”
Preston Myers charged at me I feinted left but dove to the right, crashing headlong into the ‘sanctum fenestram’, smashing it to pieces…
…I’m not telling if I wrecked that crazy machine by accident or if it was all part of a brilliant plan. What I will tell you is that as soon as it broke apart Preston Myers dropped the knife, fell to the ground and started to convulse. He was dead in a matter of minutes. I watched him struggle for breath but didn’t lift a finger to try and save him.
The police discovered Preston Myers’ body about an hour after they found Mary Durward’s remains. The reports of his death overshadowed everything else. By the six o’clock news the murders of five Albany hookers had been dropped in favor of tributes to and remembrances of the great author.
No mention was made of the sanctum fenestram, or the knife, or the blood all over the great author’s clothes. The official story was that he’d suffered a heart attack while taking a walk near his home.
His home is miles away from Washington Park by the way.
Of course you and I know different but that and a five dollar bill will get us an expresso at Starbucks.
All I have left now is questions. Why the cover up? Was what I did enough? Did I break the chain or will the bodies start piling up again sometime around 2037?
If so, I doubt I’ll be around to worry about it.
By the way did you figure out the last part of the story? The kicker? Remember how I told you the first murderer was named Charles Dodgson?
And remember the ‘Rubrum Regina’ Preston Myers kept going on and on about?
Well, ‘Rubrum Regina’ is Latin for ‘Red Queen’.
And you might know Charles Dodgson by his pen name Lewis Carrol.
Sleep tight kids.