The Consultant – A Francine Non-Adventure

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“Detective Karter, thank you for seeing me,” I said. I had shown up at the precinct and asked to see the detective, a few minutes later he walked out holding a file folder.

“Sure, what can I do for you?” He had the same leather jacket, unshaved, rumpled look from the first time we met even though it was barely past noon.

“There’s something I noticed the night of … the night I found the body in my living room. The victim was killed by a single cut across his neck. Arterial blood spray was found on the wall along with a smeared handprint presumably from the victim trying to catch himself as he fell dying.”

“You got all that from the few seconds you saw the body when you found it?”

“I had to walk past it to retrieve my medicine and the coroner was talking about the crime scene with someone.” The coroner had been fairly loud and loose-lipped about the body’s condition.

“We’ve already reconstructed the series of events,” he said unimpressed.

“Did you notice the blood spray overlaps the handprint?”

He frowned for a second before opening the folder he was carrying. How convenient that he just happened to be walking around with the relevant folder. He shuffled through some papers and photos until he found what he was looking for and stopped staring at the photo. He eyes widened and he looked at me.

“How did you see that?” he asked.

“I’m really observant.” He let out a short loud barking laugh. “And I have a little experience with investigation.”

“Do you know what this means?” He closed the folder

“The crime scene was staged and the victim was killed somewhere else,” I said.

“Yeah.” He seemed to zone out for a second staring over my head mumbling to himself, “Probably all of them were staged.” There had been more murders like the one I found in my living room. Murders the detective thought were connected.

“A serial killer,” I said aloud. My speaking snapped the detective back into the moment. His head darted back and forth looking around the room. He grabbed my arm and pulled me down the hall into a meeting room. Once the door was shut he began to pace.

“We think there have been four murders, including the one you found. The crime scenes are virtually identical, which would make sense if they’re staged.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“Six weeks since the first murder. Two weeks since we started thinking it might be a serial killer. Four days since we all but confirmed it. He kills every two weeks. We’ve been keeping it quiet because we have almost nothing to go on except the crime scenes. Now we don’t even have the real crime scenes just the fake ones the killer gave us.” He stopped leaned over the table head down.

“Well I think I’ll be going now,” I said. He head snapped up.

“Wait, I could use some fresh eyes on this. You said you’ve done investigative work before? Were you a P.I.?”

“Not exactly.” Girl detective was kind of hard to put on a resume.

“Doesn’t matter. I can get you clearance as a consultant. Strictly in-house. You wouldn’t have to go to crime scenes or hit the streets.” That I knew was a lie. I’m sure the detective believed what he was saying but I knew how these kinds of stories went. First I’m just working at a desk until a hot lead comes in. We rush to follow the lead and blammo! we’re in a shootout with the suspect. After that, I’m basically his sidekick following him around giving him insight into crimes he otherwise couldn’t solve. No thank you.

“I would rather not get more involved,” I said waving away his offer. It was better this way I would go back to my normal life and this killer would be caught in due time even without my help. I turned, grabbed the doorknob, and a thought passed through my mind. The killer always returns to the scene of the crime. It’s a silly cliché but silly clichés held more weight in my world than others. I could return home but that didn’t mean the killer would come after me there for whatever reason. Was this a buddy cop show or a crime thriller? Could I choose?

I turned back to Detective Karter and said, “You know, I think I can help you.”

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