I wasn’t there when it went down, but I pieced it together from the police report. You get to be good at that in my line of work. There’s the bits they write down, the bits that aren’t there because they didn’t see them, and the bits that aren’t there because they don’t want to admit they saw them. Recognizing those last bits is the important part, the part they don’t train you to see, the part that you have to work out on your own. Maybe that’s why they keep me around. It sure as hell isn’t my sunny disposition, I can tell you that.
It was the evening of August the seventh, about 1930 hours. The moon was waxing gibbous – that isn’t in the police report, I’m adding that tidbit by way of painting a dramatic picture. It’s also by way of saying the moon wasn’t full, which discounts a few things. Boston PD was called into what sounded like a domestic in the Leather District. Multiple calls from neighbors complaining of shouting followed by smashing glass and furniture followed by screams followed by “sounds that could not be identified,” as the official report notes.
Officers Wächter and Fischer arrived at the domestic to find anything but. Official report indicates that after knocking forcefully on the door Officer Wächter heard what she later claimed to have identified as the tortured scream of a woman. At this, Officer Fischer planted his size twelve on the door, nearly ripping the thing off its hinges.
This is where the report gets fuzzy. The official account makes about as much sense as a copy of Playboy under a Catholic priest’s bed. After blowing into the room like Schwarzenegger, Junior Officer Fischer somehow managed to piss his pants and black out. Now solo, Officer Wächter reports that a lanky five foot ten African American male wearing pajamas was standing over the victim, who would later be identified as resident Carla Song. Wächter observed the late Mrs. Song laying in a pool of her own blood and entrails, having been eviscerated by her alleged attacker, who himself was covered in blood – again, according to the statement of the now solo Officer Wächter. Officer Fischer was still in a comatose state at the time the report was filed.
After that, Wächter unloaded five rounds at the assailant, who responded by jumping out the window onto the fire escape. For an unspecified reason Officer Wächter did not pursue, attempting instead to render assistance to the victim and her piss-soiled partner, the former of which was obviously deceased and the latter was only at risk of dying from embarrassment.
This is where I got involved. See, I work for a company that’s on a list of consultants the government brings on board when they get in over their heads. Cult activity, Satanic sexual bloodbaths, ritualistic killings… you know, generally weird shit. The incident in the Leather District certainly qualified. Bringing us in was particularly trivial since we’re headquartered right here in Boston. Not that I mind traveling. On the contrary, I hate when shit happens in my own back yard. Investigating something in your own town is like shitting where you eat. I like to believe there aren’t things that bump in my neighborhood, even though I know better.
Sargent Finnegan was waiting for me outside the door to the third floor apartment promptly at eight. “John, long time no see.”
That’s me, John Carlos Ocampo. I guess the most succinct job description I can give you is security. Of course, reality is always more complicated than a succinct description.
“Not seeing me should be a welcome turn of events for anyone.”
Finnegan – so much an Irish cop stereotype that it hurt to look at him – chuckled and shook his head. “I guess so, John. We need you on this one though.” He handed me a manila and opened the door, holding up the police tape as I ducked in.
The room was a disaster area. I’d only seen more blood one time before, and in that case it had belonged to fifteen different people and three goats. I nudged my shoe against something brown and decided it was a piece of her liver. The real disturbing thing, the detail I knew was going to keep me up that night, was the wall. Thumbing through the two page report I found the bit about the suspect fleeing through the window. Presumably this was the wall with the cited window. I was using my keen deductive reasoning to work out that the gaping hole of jagged brick was where the window used to be.
“That where the suspect fled?” I asked, nodding my head at the literal hole in the wall.
All Finny could muster was a stuttery nod.
I was starting to understand why the officer hadn’t pursued. Some dude blows through a brick wall right in front of your eyes and I don’t care if you’re the biggest bad-ass in the biker gang, you might just let him walk. When I started to move to the window Finny urged caution; the city was sending someone to check the integrity of the wall but he wasn’t going to arrive until after lunch. I assured him I wasn’t going to make a stain on his pretty sidewalk and peered out. I was looking to check the state of the fire escape. Something blows through a wall you’d expect it to hit the landing pretty hard.
I turned back to Finny, who was standing uncharacteristically quiet with his hands in his trouser pockets. “It says here,” I said, quoting from the file, “that the suspect exited through the window onto the fire escape.” I closed the file for emphasis. “There’s no fire escape.”
“Must be a mistake.” He wasn’t looking me in the eyes.
“Some mistake. Guy jumps from here he’s only got three floors before making a landing. That’d be a hell of a mistake for him.”
Finny’s only response was to make a detailed case study of the ceiling’s corner molding. I opened the file again to get the name right. “I want to talk to Officer Wächter.”
“We can call her into the station for questioning.”
“No, nothing so formal. Just tell me where she lives and I’ll swing by her place.”
“She’s on patrol.”
If I didn’t like running my mouth so much I’d have been speechless. “She went on patrol after a night like this?” I said, motioning at the room.
“She shook it off. Olive’s tough as nails. Nearly slugged her superior when he suggested she take personal time.”
Not gonna lie, I was liking this chick. More important I thought I could get the truth out of her as long as she could cloak herself in he-said she-said deniability.
“Fine, let dispatch know I want to track her. I’ll take her out to lunch somewhere near her beat. As for this,” I took one last look around the room, noticing for the first time that Mrs. Song was probably pretty when all her guts were inside her. “A.P.S. will be in to do the forensics. No charge for the fine people of Boston. Part of our tax agreement with the mayor.”
Finny nodded. He’d been around long enough to know how hands washed one another. “What about my men?”
“Secure the scene and don’t let anyone else in. Oh, except that city inspector; I don’t want the wall coming down on anyone. Just make sure he doesn’t disturb anything or puke on the late Mrs. Song here.”
As I expected, Officer Wächter did not appreciate me taking her away from her duties. She told me as much when I informed her who I was and that I needed to ask her some questions about what happened. She told me forcefully to leave, using a phrase that is not suitable for polite discourse.
She was not the first Hispanic chick to give me that directive, but to my knowledge she was the first that said it while brandishing a badge. Still, I got her to talk to me in the street.
“I’m not talking to any investigator without my lawyer. Union rep told me that was my right.”
“Why do you think you need a lawyer?”
She rolled her eyes so hard I thought mine were going to get dizzy. “You don’t really think I’m dumb enough to answer that.”
“Can’t blame a guy for trying. But you’ve got me wrong. I am investigating something but it’s not you. I’m from an independent consulting firm brought in on cases with potential Satanic influences.”
She turned pretty pale when I said that, which was absolutely not a good sign, but I took the opening. “Can we talk over lunch? It’s already cleared with dispatch, but you’re welcome to check in.” She did, then we grabbed a back table at this Greek place she knew.
“I’m not going to spoil your lunch asking you to recount details, but there are a few things I need to ask you to your face. First off, this is off the record.”
“What do you mean, off the record? What’s the point then?”
“I have questions, you have answers. This isn’t an investigation into you. In fact, you probably won’t hear about this case after today, which is good because I imagine you’re trying to forget it.” I let her sit with that for a minute. She was cool as a cucumber.
“Ask your questions.”
“The window was closed before the suspect went through it, yeah?”
“Near as I remember.”
“Near as you remember, was there a window in that wall?”
“And a wall? There was a wall in that wall, ‘cuz now there’s just a hole.”
Her eyes narrowed and she responded through gritted teeth. “Yeah, there was a wall.”
“Did it have a knife?”
“The suspect. Did the suspect have a knife. Before you answer, know that I could give a rats ass if you shot at an unarmed man. This is important.”
She hesitated, eyeing me like only a suspicious cop under investigation can. “I think so, but I’m not sure.”
“Is it possible its hands were just bloody?”
“Why do you keep saying `it’?”
“Is it possible its hands were just bloody?”
“Did you say it was African American because its skin was very dark, or did its face look African American?”
“I think I want my lawyer.”
I stood, tossing a few dollars on the table for my untouched coffee. “That’s alright, I’m finished. Believe it or not Officer Wächter, you did good work, and that’s the message I’m going to communicate to your superiors when I leave here. I’ve seen more experienced do far worse.” I thought about mentioning her partner, but in her heightened state she was likely to lay my brown ass out if I sassed him. I’ve no doubt she could do it, too. “Just one other thing. You didn’t pursue the suspect out the window. Tell me, did you let it escape because it steam rolled through the wall, or because after it did so it landed on the rooftop across the street?”
I walked out of the restaurant after that. I hated to leave her in that state, but her face told me everything I needed to know in the split second before she recovered. She was good, concocting a story like that after seeing the aftermath of that thing’s debut performance. That’s what it had to be – a first time appearance. There was too much blood on the floor otherwise. Waxing gibbous moon ruled out the obvious, but I needed to rule out the truly uncommon before I could continue.
She saw the thing. She knows what it was or wants to think she doesn’t. All my other questions were just banter, warm-ups so I could assess her poker face. I didn’t expect her to answer the real question. For that I just needed to see her face and catch her off guard.
A scrawny black-skinned creature dripping with blood blew through a brick wall right in front of her and rather than fall three stories to the ground it jumped thirty feet to the rooftop across the street. There’s a goddamned vampire in Boston, and tomorrow’s supposed to be my day off.
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