Precinct: Issue Eight
was wrong, Johnny, there was nine."
Just what I didnt need to hear. The cab
had gotten me to Jackson Heights in record time
angry cop can make traffic part like Moses and
the Dead Sea deal
and Vic Fleming was waiting
for me in front of the apartment building on 87th
"So when did eight turn into nine?"
"Hey sue me okay?" Fleming answered
through a puff of unfiltered cigarette smoke.
"We missed one under some clothes in a bedroom
closet. Friggin people live like cockroaches here
so its no wonder."
I ducked under the yellow crime scene tape to
make my way into the main entrance and hustled
on purpose just to make Fleming jog to keep up.
"And were sure its the same
"Same MO, same stupid crap written on the
walls." He gasped as we jogged to the fifth
floor. The elevator would have been faster but
even if I wasnt already pissed at Fleming
the stairs were the way to go. I doubted the killer
would have taken the chance of getting stuck in
an elevator, so I checked the stairway as carefully
as I could while taking them two at a time. Crime
Scene Analysis would do the down and dirty work
of looking for trace evidence but it didnt
hurt for a detective to look anyway.
The door to 5C was open so I brushed past the
sea of blue and had to come to a skidding halt
once inside. Blood everywhere. Area rugs were
saturated with it, the walls were splattered in
drying red, and without even counting I knew that
there had to be at least a dozen or more lab rats
working to sort through the mess.
"He, Jesus why the frig you gotta run,"
Fleming coughed behind me. "He did most of
them here in the living room, all but the kid
in the closet, and wait till you see the kitchen."
I stepped carefully around the kneeling green
lab coats as I followed Fleming into the kitchen,
and there was no doubt he was right. All that
mess meant eight people were butchered in the
living room and their bodies moved
"The frig this guy trying ta say?"
The kitchen table was one of those big old round
ones, the kind you could add sections to, and
it was open as wide as possible. Eight chairs
around the table inside of the unusually large
kitchen. Eight chairs with eight people sitting
"Shrinksll call a friggin convention
over this one, eh, Johnny? Jerkoff does a slice
and dice then stops to cook. Stove was even still
warm when I got here and not for nothin but that
paella aint half bad."
A bowl of colorful rice was in front of each
of the victims and a large pot of more of the
same sat on the stove, cooling, but still retaining
some warmth. The handle of an eight-inch chefs
knife stuck out of a silverware holder next to
the sink, and the sink itself was clean.
"You tasted it?" I asked once the full
impact of what Fleming had said sunk in.
"Not like I chowed down, I took a taste.
And dont look at me like that okay, wasnt
me putting on the feedbag at some fancy restaurant,
some of us work overtime you know."
I drive all the way to Queens in a cab just not
to let on that Id had a meal with Jessica
and they knew. That meant
"ME says that aint the knife
either." Fleming offered just so he could
hang on to the one-upmanship that came from arriving
first on the scene. "Things too sharp
and the Doc figures it was some kinda ragged-edged
blade he offd em with, serrated kinzoo or
something like that, just like the crack house
killings in Soho. And before you ask, no, we aint
found it yet."
"Who called this in?"
"Old lady next door found them, a Mrs. Gonzalez."
Fleming answered as he flipped through the pages
of a dog-eared notepad. "Says she stops in
every Wednesday night to pray with Mrs. Veras,
thats the deceased female sitting next to
the fat guy at the head of the table. She knocks,
gets no answer, the door is open so she waltzs
in and gives out a helluva scream before fainting
right in one a the big pools of blood. Nosy bastard
across the hall, I think Sam got his name, sounded
like Carnoza or something, he runs over to see
whats up and gives the 911."
"And dont tell me, but no one saw
or heard anything else."
"Bingo, the kids a detective. Same
as all the others, Johnny. Walls in this hole
so thin you could hear a rat fart three doors
down, but not a peep. The foods another
twist sure, but the writing on the bedroom wall
is just like all the others. Shame to let all
that extra rice go to waste
Maybe someday Id be able to eat in a room
full of dead people, but not yet. The horribly
mutilated bodies of the adults were bad enough,
but looking at the kids, their throats torn open
the youngest couldnt have been more than
six or seven
"You wanna see the kid in the closet before
the body-jockeys tag and bag?"
I didnt but I had to take a look at what
was written on the walls so I followed Fleming.
Large kitchen and cubbyhole bedroom meant that
thered been some remodeling done, but thats
typical of Hispanics. Gather and eat, be happy
and invite half the neighborhood. Decent, good
people, family people who deserved more from their
city and if I already didnt want to collar
this creep bad enough the smeared scrawl of blood
on the wall over the headboard clinched it for
JUSTICE FOR ALL
"Ya think the frig would come up with something
"Vic, you were the Primary for the Soho
investigation, werent you?" I interrupted.
"Yeah. Well, sort of. I had that kidney
infection, remember, and the Boss gave most of
the legwork to that asshole from narcotics because
it looked drug related. No skin off my nose, we
pinch the bastard and I get some of the juice
"They were all Irish, werent they?"
"The victims? Yeah, so what? Not like back
in the old days but in case you hadnt noticed
a lot of Micks still live in the city, kid."
"And the Mott Street Social Club, Sam handled
that one, didnt he?" I continued.
"Sam and that new broad, Flo, yeah. Nice
ass but chicken legs belong at KFC. You know me,
Johnny, meat on the hoof or I dont taste
"Were they all Italian?"
"Duh. Mott Street. Social Club. Ring some
bells? No wait, three were dagos and one was Portuguese
I think. Not like you can tell them apart so if
Sam first thought it was some wop hit dont
All Irish, then Italians with one mistake and
now all Hispanic. Justice For All.
"You gonna look in the closet so we can
get the hell out of this dump or what?"
I took the obligatory glance at the young girl
crammed into the tiny closet and told Vic Id
meet him back at the house. Enough death for one
evening, enough of trying to hold back the feelings
of outrage and helplessness. Time to catch the
son of a bitch, time to see if my hunch had any
It was getting chilly outside but I turned down
a ride from one of the uniforms. I wanted to walk
this one off a bit, and I needed to think. Three
separate and seemingly unrelated mass murders.
No connections except for the obvious dis-connection;
throwing out the misfire the perp made in mistaking
a Portuguese-American for an Italian-American,
all three crimes done with ethnic purity. I walked
and thought, and was deep into sorting through
what it could mean when a flickering light over
a small, shuttered-in candy store caught my attention
and I did a double take.
The Howies Sweets sign shouldnt have been
on at all if the store was closed, but thats
not what made me stop and stare. I was alone on
the street but my reflection was not.
"Best I can do, John." The familiar
voice whispered from seemingly far away and yet
very close. "Chinatown. Not yet, but soon
maybe. Try the duck."
Boyd Castanets reflection faded until all
I could see was the glow from the cigarette in
his hand, and that winked out a moment later.
[ END ]
©2002 Bob Yosco