“He’s been out of action for five years. Maybe his MO has changed. Maybe he’s been locked up someplace and learned new tricks? I have no idea. However strange it is, he’s got your new business cards and he’s connected to you somehow. This guy knows you better than you know him.”
That was probably what terrified me most. He’d always seemed to be a step ahead of me. Facing him scared me to death, and yet I’d been obsessed with catching him. Obsessed with making him pay for killing that young girl…
But I hadn’t made it happen. When we’d busted through the door to his cold water flat in South Trenton, all that was left was a note for me. In that same, meticulous handwriting he’d written: “I’LL BE BACK.”
“You okay, Mick?” Bill asked quietly, pushing a cup of what he called coffee into my hands. I nodded, but didn’t trust myself to open my mouth. Years of psychotherapy down the drain with one dead woman and three little words. My nemesis had murdered four people before he suddenly disappeared. I’d celebrated by marrying Elise. Somehow a musky perfume like hers had been in the air at that run down apartment and I’d taken it as an omen of good things to come. A year for major errors, it would seem.
I sipped the hot liquid and ran my fingers through my hair. “Okay. I’m better trained, have better resources and don’t have a family to worry about this time around. This time we win, Bill. I promise.”
He nodded, knowing how painful the whole thing had been for me. The killer, who’d become the “Ice Man” to us, had almost destroyed my life. My very own Jeffrey Damler. Just what I needed.
I stood and looked at Bill. “Can I have a copy of that report when you’re done? Today I’ll get clear to handle this. Tomorrow I start to track down Damian Harbinger.”
He nodded and looked at me like an older brother who knew I was headed for a broken heart. “Promise me you’ll ask for help with this. You were way too close to the edge last time.”
“Sure, Bill. Don’t worry. But I’m going to get him. That’s a promise, too.”
The Captain called me in, and I stood at parade rest before his desk. “Close the door, Holmes, and have a seat.”
I sat in the chair, resting my left ankle across my right knee. “Yes, sir?”
“Judging from this autopsy report and the evidence collected from the victim, looks like the Ice Man is back in town. Should I put someone else on this case?”
My heart just about jumped out of my chest, but I kept the Captain from seeing it. “No sir, I want to work this case. I wouldn’t mind some help this time, though. The only thing that counts is that we catch him before he murders again.”
I looked at him closely and knew I was already too late for that sentiment. The Ice Man had been a busy, busy man. I hung my head. “Who and where?”
“Just before dawn, we figure. Your ex-wife’s next door neighbor.”
“Not, Marge? Please, tell me it wasn’t Marge.” My resolve to stay professional oozed out through my slumped shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Mickey. We’ve put your ex in protective custody, but she’s not happy about it.”
“Tough. Does she know about Marge? Does she know how lucky she is to be alive?”
“Doesn’t sound like she considers herself lucky about anything, if you ask me. Will your talking to her make any difference?”
“Yeah. It would probably make it worse.”
“Try. Next time she calls your cell phone, answer it. Get her calmed down.”
I shook my head, but there was no use arguing with the boss. “What do we have on Marge’s murder?”
“Ice pick to the throat and a few other places. Mutilated breasts. The killer’s one very angry fellow.”
I ran the old files back through my brain like a worn out black and white slide series. “By the time the killings stopped last time, I wasn’t so sure our killer was a man.”
“You did the work at Quantico, Holmes. You know women serial killers are few and far between.”
“But not all together absent. And we both know this is personal. It’s connected to me, somehow.”
Cap waved me toward the door and reached for the phone. “The press will be all over this Oberhauser murder. I expect the FBI will be sniffing around end of the week.” He picked up a pen and pointed it at my chest. “You be careful and take Cyrus with you. You’ll need a partner. A sharp one.”
I closed the door behind me and wondered how the day could get worse. Ordered to talk to an ex-wife who would like to see an ice pick sticking out of my anatomy and enlisting a partner who had a chip on her shoulder like Mike Tyson. Damn.
To be continued….November 23