Cutter (Detective Jimmy Parisi Thriller series)By: Thomas Laird
She runs like someone who knows her business.The full stride,the long legs pumping fluidly.Pumping right toward me.She is only a block away.She’ll be right in my lap in just seconds,and I’ll reach out from behind this convenient thorny elm and I’ll have her.
Why do they run at dusk?Don’t they have any fear about that rush of darkness that comes on so quickly at this hour at this time of year?It is mid-fall.The day dies in a hurry at around 4.30 p.m.
Two hundred more feet and she is on top of me.I reach into my gym bag and I remove the bottle.I hurriedly pop the top and pour the ether onto the wad of balled-up T-shirt.The odor rises so rapidly that I’m almost woozy,but I cork the bottle and I hold the saturated pad downwind from myself.
Fifty more feet and she’ll be here.
The blade is in my right hand.I’ve taken it from my leather jacket’s pocket.No scent emanates from that finely honed steel.
I can’t tell the color of her running shorts nor can I discern the hue of the jacket she wears.It is already too dim.The sand and the water are behind her now and the beach has been deserted for the better part of a month.It is late October,the middle of this preparatory month of the year.Fall is like the fluttering inside a cardiac’s chest.They say that readiness is all.But I can’t remember where I read it.
She is fifteen feet away as I rise from my crouch.In three strides I appear before her in the middle of her running lane.The young woman cannot stop in time to avoid me.I lurch at her and I clamp the soaked sleep-laden cloth over her suddenly oval-shaped lips.
My runner doesn’t even have time to scream.
He was reading poems to me as we headed toward the Lakeshore. Doc, the PhD copper with the degree in English Literature from Northwestern University in Evanston. He was reading poetry to his guinea homicide brother detective. Some Polish woman who’d just won the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm, Sweden. I told him the Swedes are better known for big tits and manic depression, but he never skipped a beat, he just went on reading to me until we arrived on scene.
He was driving our new squad car — a navy blue Taurus that any street cheesedick could make as a copper ride in less than a heartbeat. But we’re homicides, so we didn’t usually have to sneak up on anyone’s ass.
We saw the lights and the yellow barrier ribbons as we came to a halt. I saw my temporary partner from a few years back. Jack Wendkos. He worked a double homicide with me when Doc was supposedly retired in order to finish his thesis at that very expensive university, north of the city. Doc never landed a teaching position, so he came moping back to homicide just in time to help me finish off several murders at a place called Cabrini Green. It was the time I lost two women inside twelve calendar months. First my wife, Erin, died of breast cancer. Then the woman I fell in love with later on found a way to get herself removed from my life via a street punk named Abu Riad. But that was another thing altogether.
‘Jack. How’ve you been?’
‘Jimmy. Just fine. I see the senior partner is still breathing.’
‘Hiya, sonny. What’ve you got for us?’ Doc cracked.
‘I don’t know that I can describe this one for you, Lieutenant Parisi.’ Wendkos grinned. It was one sorry-assed grin, too.
‘That bad?’ I asked.
He headed toward the victim.
‘Jesus. Holy Jesus,’ Doc lamented. I mean he truly sounded sad, moved. And he’d seen more stiffs than I had by a far piece.
The plastic had already been removed from her remains, and I felt as if the air had been sucked out of my lungs.
‘Oh my,’ was all I managed. I couldn’t come up with any on-site quip.
She was torn open from the throat to the pubic hair. Now I knew why all the uniforms were keeping their distance from this victim. They didn’t want to become ill: it was considered pussy to lose your dinner in front of a trio of homicide investigators.
I noticed the half-dozen or so stab wounds below the slit that had eviscerated this young woman. I also saw that her eyes were closed. Interesting. Either the knife guy closed the lids, which I doubted, or she was knocked out while he did his cutting.
‘Yeah. Her eyes are closed. I can see that,’ Doc told the forensics officer. ‘See if you can get any prints off the lids or off the eyeballs.’