Continued from Chapter 5.
Someone had turned on the lights in The Spike. The harsh fluorescent lights combined with the blackened windows made it impossible to tell whether it was day or night outside. At first appearance the orderly displays of merchandise on racks, hanging from the walls and under glass counter tops seem to be nothing more than an old style variety store. A closer inspection revealed the “merchandise” to be of a more interesting nature.
The book titles on the rack were such bestsellers as “The Naughty Stepdaughter” and “Russell, the Suck Slave.” The magazines, like “Shaved Lesbians,” “Farm Love,” and “Black on White on Black,” with their glossy, graphic covers, would probably never be offered by Ed McMahon and Publisher’s Clearing House.
Dildos, in various shapes, shades and sizes, stood at erect attention on the counter tops, while hanging from the wall were samples of leather garments and the necessary chic accessories, including, but not limited to, nipple clips, cock rings and bondage gags.
There were the gag gifts: little toy wind-up penises, coffee mugs shaped and painted like a woman’s breast, and what appeared to be soup cans labeled, “cream of cum,” and “pubic noodle soup.”
What clever fellows, thought Colin. He recalled the first time he had been called to a similar establishment during his rookie year.
He had somehow been teamed up with another rookie, Patti Fremont. They had been working downtown and received a radio call of a disturbance at the Broadway Adult Emporium; a man with a possible gun in his pants pocket.
When they arrived, they had been met by the tearful proprietor, Nelson. He told them that the man had been viewing a movie in one of the cubicles. When he came out, “he had a large bulge in his pants pocket.” He wandered around the store for a long time, and being alone, Nelson thought he was there to rob him — or worse.
“He left just before you got here,” said Nelson, regaining his composure.
After Colin and Patti eyed each other, suppressing laughter, Colin took out his notebook in good rookie fashion to take the necessary information for appearances. Patti, who was also a virgin to the prurient side of life, spotted a display of nipple clips hanging from the wall, each one connected by a chain and suspending consecutive larger weights in the middle; the largest weighing a pound.
“Don’t those hurt?” Patti had inquired of Nelson.
Nelson replied with a coy smile, “Oh yes, they certainly do.”
Patti and Colin had simultaneously promised to look for the “gun” man and beat a hasty retreat.
Colin was jerked back from his reminiscing as Joe let out a low whistle. Joe had made his way to the far end of the counter and was now looking down, shaking his head and making quiet “tsk, tsk,” noises. As Colin approached, first the feet and then the legs of the girl came into view. By the time he reached the end of the counter where Joe was standing, he had still not prepared himself for the sight.
The girl had perhaps once been pretty. That was then, this was now. The description by Trudeau and Joplin could not have prepared anyone for this butchering. She was lying on her back, her torso was cleaved open from the right shoulder to the top of her stomach. Her lungs, heart and intestines had simply flowed out of her body into the coagulated pond of blood surrounding her body. There were only a few splatters of blood on the wall behind her, confirming Trudeau’s observation she had only been struck once, but that was sufficient. She was fully clothed and, other than the fatal blow, had only one other obvious sign of trauma: three very small parallel scratches on her forehead, running from the hairline to the bridge of her nose.
To the left of her head, the blood had been smeared and had the obvious signs of fabric impressions. Several small footprints on the floor and a hand print on the adjacent counter indicated “someone” had fallen into the mess.
“I’ll bet the coroner won’t have to much trouble figuring out the cause of death on this one,” said Joe.
“Jay-sus,” said Colin, wincing and wondering if he was going to hold down the bagel he had eaten earlier, “It looks like the scene in Apocalypse Now where they slaughter the water buffalo.”
“I’m afraid I missed that one, partner. I’m not much into religious films,” replied Joe, gingerly stepping over the body, beginning to look for the machete. Finding it, he motioned to Colin, who was crouched down looking at the girl’s face.
“Looks like this guy doesn’t fuck around,” said Joe pointing to the machete protruding from under the counter. It was about three feet long and was weighted at the end, looking almost like a bladed club. The handle was wrapped with a leather thong with a small loop at the end.
“How do you think she got the scratches on her face?” asked Colin, “They look post mortem. There doesn’t appear to be much blood flow.”
“A razor…maybe?” answered Joe, shrugging.
“No…They’re too wide and jagged for a razor,” continued Colin, thinking out loud. “They all look like they were made at the same time by one object, kind of like little tiny finger nails.”
“Well, make sure Flash gets some good close-ups,” responded Joe. “At least we know they’re probably not the cause of death.”
“C’mon Joe,” said Colin shaking his head and feigning chastisement.
“Hey, you got a keep a sense of humor. I know it’s some serious shit, but I’m not gonna have nightmares over it, okay?” said Joe with his hands extended, “mea culpa” fashion. Particularly with the sedative I’m gonna take tonight, he thought, already forgetting his hangover and planning his next jag.
“Two down and one to go,” said Joe standing up, feeling his head spin. “Let’s check the back room.”
Colin followed Joe as he regained his balance and walked to the storeroom.
The storeroom was like any other. Labeled boxes were stacked neatly on the floor on one side and on a shelf on the opposite side. There was a rear entrance with the illuminated EXIT sign above it. A metal desk covered with invoices, pencils, a stapler, an ashtray and a small lamp was adjacent to the door. The rear corner had a small four-by-four foot room; the open door revealed a toilet and sink. Overhead, a fluorescent shop light hung from the ceiling, an orange utility cord running from the fixture across the ceiling, down the wall into an electrical outlet, providing the power to the low wattage bulbs which barely illuminated the room.
In the center of the floor lay the third body. He was about thirty, with a shaved head and large goatee of reddish brown hair. He was on his side, ankles duct-taped together. The pastel blue jockey shorts he had been wearing were pulled down just above his ankles. In the center of his right knee was a gunshot entry wound, but there was no obvious exit wound and only a small amount of blood from the wound.
A second bullet wound had mangled his genitals, the delicate organs now a mass of torn flesh and coagulated blood.
His hands were also duct-taped, behind his muscular body. A dark blue tattoo of gothic letters spelled a crescent shaped “DAGO” on his abdomen. Not to be confused with the Italian slur, “Dago” was old slang for “San Diego.” Probably first coined by Marines on liberty from Camp Pendleton during World War II, Dago was now used almost exclusively in prison tattoos to claim hometown identity. Another tattoo of a circle with a swastika inside and two lightning bolts as a backdrop was visible on the left pectoral. Another gunshot wound was located just below the tattoo.
The underside of his left forearm was exposed revealing more gothic lettering forming the word “POWER,” no doubt accompanied by a companion tattoo of “WHITE,” now concealed on his right forearm. With his arms pinioned behind him, only a small portion of a Teutonic scene was visible. Complete with castle parapets and a sword wielding Viking, the tattoo appeared to cover most of the back.
A strip of duct tape had been placed over his mouth, the remainder of his face was a bluish color and distorted from a single gunshot wound at the top of the bridge of the nose. Although swollen, the head was otherwise intact. As with the girl, there were three small scratches on the forehead.
“Think we can rule out suicide?” said Joe.
“He was one big drink of water,” replied Colin, indicating the muscular 6-foot-plus frame.
“Probably a result of the free weight exercise and peanut butter diet, provided courtesy of the State of California’s Corrections Department. Looks like his last place of residence was San Quentin,” said Joe pointing to a gothic “Q” tattooed on the body’s left side above the hip.
“What do you think?” asked Colin.
“Well…,” began Joe, “…I think this is what happened. The Hitler wet dream here was snakin’ the little blonde in the next room. ‘Cept she’s already got a boyfriend, and judging from the size of this one here, probably even bigger. Anyway, the boyfriend brings them both to the store and Christmas wraps this one. Didn’t you tell me that guy you listen to, who is it…Ho-Ho Nixon…said you can do anything with the right amount of duct tape and WD-40.”
“I believe you’re referring to the singer, Mojo Nixon, and he was talking about going on a concert tour, not mass murder.” replied Colin, shaking his head and smiling. Funny, that was the second reference to one or another Mojo since this whole thing began. He made a mental note to look up the definition sometime.
“Anyway,” continued Joe, “the tape was enough to subdue this one for a little talk first. Probably knee-capped him first, shot off his balls, and then finished him with the chest shot. The head shot was just insurance. You don’t want him gettin’ better.
“The girlfriend was probably watching or waiting in the other room. The bad guy tells her I hope you learned your lesson and I know you’ll behave from now on. They start to walk out of the store and Paul Bunyan whips out the old machete, swings around and hacks her open. He was probably still a little pissed off.
“As for Pete, I think E was right,” concluded Joe. “Wrong place, wrong time. Pete either walked in on him or he walked out into Pete.”
“Do you think the victims or the suspect worked here?” asked Colin.
“Maybe, but the glass panel looks like a forced entry to me.”
“I think you’re right. I’m going have the owner try to I.D. these two anyway. I’ll ask for an employee list too,” Colin added as an afterthought.
“Those scratches on the forehead got me stuck,” said Joe, puzzled. “It’s not anything I’ve run across before.”
“Maybe it’s some sort of prison gang thing. I’m sure this one,” said Colin, indicating the dead man, “had a limited circle of friends. Probably, San Quentin alumni.”
“Yeah, I think we had better check with State Parole for I.D. and associates,” said Joe. “Let’s get together with Jessop and see what he’s got from the ‘eyewitnesses.’”
Nodding in agreement, Colin turned to leave the store. “Well one thing’s for sure, we’re looking for one big psycho son of a bitch who’s carrying a pistol and shotgun. He likes to kill, and he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to cops.”
As they left the store, neither detective knew just how incorrect they were about their assumptions.
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