Special Agent John Marston was making his way through the second half of an Arby’s Roast Beef at his desk when his cell phone began to buzz. “Willie Jeevish: County Morgue” appeared on the screen of his smartphone.
“Marston here, what can i do for you Willie.”
“You might want to come down here John. And…you might want to bring that english friend of yours. I’ve got something here you’ll want to see.”
“Thanks Willie. Be there in a bit.”
This should be interesting, John thought. Crossing his fingers, John told Siri, call “Harrington, Wizard”.
“Calling Wizard Harrington” Siri responded.
“Harrington. It’s always about a 50-50 shot that your phone will work. I just got a call from the country morgue. I have a feeling there’s been some foul play afoot.”
“My dear fellow, I’d be happy to accompany you to view another festering corpse, but I’m attending to Council Business…I kind of have my hands full, Old Chap.”
“Bring him/her/them along, a friend of the Council’s is a friend of mine.” Marston then heard a muffled voice on Harrington’s end.
“Ahem, yes, well, i suppose that is possible. I’ll meet you there in 20 minutes.”
At about 19:30, Harrington’s old British 1946 Standard 12 “Woodie” pulled into 11001 Cedar Avenue: the City morgue. Inside Marston saw Harrington at the wheel, and two other men he had never seen: one, dressed in the garb of a benedictine monk, and the other, a native american in a red hoodie with the words “Manchester United” sprawled across the front. The motley crew emerged from the vehicle and Marston approached.
“Good evening old chap, i’d like to introduce to you Father Abbot Athanasius, Order of Saint Benedict and Mokwa, of the tribe Algonquin.”
“You may call me Father Abbot” said Longinus.
“Mokwa,” said Mokwa.
“My apologies, Great Wizard for disrupting your evening,” Marston said with a smirk. “And i thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“Ahem, yes, enough with the formalities, let’s see what there is to see, shall we?”
Marston had been there before, so had Harrington. Yet before them was something new. On a stainless steel table laying face down was a corpse with two gaping holes in its back. Mokwa raised his eyebrows and sniffed.
Senior Coroner Technician Willie Jeevish clad in scrubs introduced the group to their new friend. "Meet Brian Kopack. Eight hours ago, he was found dead in a hotel bathroom over at the Holiday Inn on West 150th. You can surmise the cause of death: exsanguination. Hotel bathroom, I hear was a bloody mess. Time of death was ‘round midnight. Cleveland Police are calling this a homicide John, and it is, no doubt, a murder, for poor Brian here didn’t rip his own kidneys out of his body. I’m actually a bit surprised that you weren’t already called in on this. This is not your normal, run of the mill, homicide.
“Well you don’t see that every day,” Marston quipped.
“Look at these wounds. Someone just ripped out his kidneys in one swoop or scoop. He went into shock almost immediately, and died a few moments later from blood loss. There are also some bruises around his throat, probably why no one reported any screaming. The investigator left me a copy of his file. Take a look.
Marston flipped open the manilla folder. A quick flip through the file revealed some biographical information, a description of the crime scene. Names and testimony of the hotel staff. Inventory of items found on Kopack at his time of death.
Marston summarized: Brian Kopack, Age 45, Registered Democrat, Never Married, No car, Apartment in Midtown Towers in Parma, laid off from Lincoln Electric about 18 months ago. The house keeper who found him, a miss, Rosalita Hernandez, said, she opened the door, she saw a bloody mess, and she shut the door, and got her manager, a Mr. David Walters. Walters called 9-1-1. Police and forensics did their thing.
“My guess is they’ll have that room rented out again as soon as they get the smell of blood out of the air…maybe even sooner…there is a trade show at the convention center this weekend.
“I want to check out the hotel room, i have a feeling, my friends and I might be able to detect some things the crack Cleveland Forensics team may have missed. You fella’s with me?
“Like we have a choice?” said Mokwa.
They pulled into the Holiday Inn parking lot. An “Airport Transportation” van pulled in as another pulled out. They entered the main entrance into a carpeted foyer, a sports bar called “Holiday Grille” featured buffalo chicken wraps and two dollar domestics to the left.
Behind the clerk’s desk to the right, stood two clerks in uniform: “Sandy” a blond with heavy make-up registered a middle-aged couple. A thin 20-something eyed the group as they walked in. “Dave – Manager”, said, “I can help you,” “Welcome to the Holiday Inn.” Realizing the strange composition of the group he said slowly, “Do you have reservations?”
“I’m Special Agent John Marston, these are my consultants. I need to ask you a few questions.”
“Uh—absolutely, the Cleveland police have the full cooperation of the HOliday Inn and its staff.”
“I’m not with the Cleveland Police, Mr. Manager, we’re with the Bureau.”
“Ah, of course.”
“In fact, we’d like to see the room.”
“Yes, of course, right this way.”
“One of our girls found the…uh…body,” Dave Walters explained as they walked down the hall.
“Rosalita Hernandez,” said Marston. “I read the report.”
“Ah. You know then, that she opened the door, saw the blood, closed it, and came to get me.”
“You were working last night as well,” asked Athanasius.
“Yeah, I’m sort of pulling a double, here….short-staffed.” Walters pulled a key card marked, “manager” from his pocket and unlocked the security device.
Opening the door, Mokwa began to sniff the air. Even through the disinfectant, Mokwa could smell the lingering scents of about a dozen people, the blood of the deceased, the smell of fear, the victim’s most likely and…something else…something feral?
Marston noticed, There wasn’t police tape or anything and the room had been wiped clean.
“Why hasn’t this been marked as a crime scene?” Marston asked. “No police tape?”
“Cleveland Police was here for a couple hours. They questioned my staff, forensics did their thing, the room was “dusted” as they say. I asked how long this room would be occupied, and the officer told me that I could have the room fumigated and cleaned and back in business any time I wanted. Officer gave me a card, “Bio-Trauma 911” crime-scene cleanup. They came out this morning. Since there is a gun show at the convention center this weekend, I figured I’d have the staff get it ready as soon as possible.”
Especially since the police didn’t involve the Bureau in this investigation, Marston figured that it was reasonable that the gathering of evidence and clean-up could be done in a matter of hours.
“Anything else I can help you with? Otherwise, I’ll step into the hall and let you do your thing?”
“Did anyone report any noise or screams last night?”
“Errr, only one of the rooms was occupied. The police did question them. But, yesterday’s occupants checked out this morning.”
“Can we see the adjacent rooms? I’d like to test if one could hear screaming…”
“Well, both rooms have new occupants, but…let me see…on the second floor, there are rooms with the exact same layout. You can test your theory if you’d like.”
“Thank you Mr. Walters, that’d be extremely helpful. Do you mind if my associates stay behind, while we go upstairs? ” asked Marston.
“That’d be fine. Right this way.”
As, Marston, Athanasius, and Walters left, Mokwa dropped to all fours and the Warden went into the bathroom, where the murder occurred. Harrington began to stretch out his mystical perception. He sensed the familiar presence of death and fear. He also sensed the presence of a deep rage. Mokwa began to follow the scent out of the bedroom and down the hall.
The warden, also sensing the lingering presence of death, like an old acquaintance, decided to open his Wizard’s Sight. The horror of a hotel bathroom cannot be described. There were no lingering spells or enchantments. That which he sensed even before opening his sight was intensified. A being filled with rage and hunger committing a murder. The warden closed his sight and noticed that Mokwa was gone. He peeked out the door and began following Mokwa down the hall, through the lobby, and out the front doors into the parking lot.
Marston and Athanasius concluded that a very loud scream could be heard through the wall if there was one. They thanked the manager, and headed back down stairs. They found Mokwa and Harrington out in the parking lot,
Mokwa shaking his head, “this isn’t his car.”
Harrington concluded that Kopack’s killer must have left by another vehicle.
Mokwa said, “I’d probably be able to recognize the motor carriage if it smelled it, but there’s no way to track it through the city, I’m good, but not that good.”
The group decided that they wanted to check out Kopack’s apartment again. On their way their, Marston flipped through the file again, making a mental note to go back to the Morgue to obtain some of the objects that were on Kopack’s body at the time of his death, particularly his cell phone.
- * * * * * * * *
Harrington drove Mokwa and Athanasius, following Marston, to Kopack’s apartment in Midtown Towers on Broadview Road in Parma. What a dump. After negotiating with the landlord, they group was let in to Kopack’s sixth floor apartment. He told them that the police had already been by.
It’s not what you would call a tidy apartment. Empty hungry man dinner trays stacked next to the worn arm chair in front of the tv. the tallest stack of tv guides you ever saw—-no human would stack tv guides that way. Fridge covered with menus for take-out Chinese and pizza places.
Nothing else really out of the ordinary for a guy who has been out of work for a year and a half.
Marston called Willie down at the Morgue to see if they could stop by again, and check out some of the evidence from the murder scene.
Willie “I was wondering why you didn’t ask me about this stuff earlier. Someone from the precinct is going to be back any minute to pick this stuff up”
“Can you make a call Willie?”
“What kind of call John?”
“I want you to call the precinct and say that you’d be happy to drive that stuff downtown yourself in the morning.”
“Seriously John? Why?”
“We may need to borrow some of Kopack’s things. Come on Willie…”
“Alright John, you owe me one…”
Arriving at the Morgue, There was a copy of “Cleveland Scene Magazine”, Kopack’s wallet, a cell phone, Kopack’s shredded bloody clothes.
“Hmmmm…I don’t know anything about these new smartphones….”
“What’s a smartphone” Mokwa, Harrington, and Athanasius said simultaneously.
“I think I know a guy that could help us.” Taking out his own cell phone, Marston placed a call…
“Who is it?” Marston heard a female voice in the background.
“JIMMMMMY!!! I need a favor…”
“What do you want John? Can’t it wait, I’m….occupied….”
“JIMMMMY I need your mad hacking skills…I have a smartphone, and I need some information pronto…”
“Did you try googling…’hacking an iphone’?”
“I have no idea what that means….come on Jimmy Boy…I’ll owe you one…”
“Fine, Marston…you want to meet at work?”
“No, I know just the place.”
“Order anything you want,” Marston said, tapping the menu.
“Wow, Marston, you are so generous!”
“Two words Jimmy, Denny’s challenge. I want to see you try to eat the Denny’s T-Bone steak
faster than my buddy Mokwa here…”
“Just let me see the phone, Marston. I brought my toolz….”
“Here ya go, my boy…has some sort of password.”
Jimmy pressed the home button on the Apple Iphone. “O-M-G! 1-2-3-4. I came all the way down here for 1-2-3-4. I was making passionate love to my girlfriend…and you call me down here for 1-2-3-4.”
“E-hem…” said Athanasius.
“Times have changed,” said Harrington.
“Without even batting an eye…do you know what the word fornication is Jimmy?”
“I’m out of here. Keep your Denny’s challenge.”
All of a sudden Marston’s phone rang. It was the Bureau…
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Marston said. “Dave Walters body was just found, torn to pieces, in an empty parking lot off of Saint Clair.”