Detective Nelson walked me back to the hotel.
“There is one other thing Ms. Kwan.”
“Isn’t there always?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact. Get used to this sort of thing. It is part and parcel to the business. Secrets and information are our business.”
“You mean lies?”
Eric didn’t like that comment.
“Secrets don’t always mean lies Ms. Kwan. Some things must remain out of the public for good reason. I think you know that. Even inter-agency secrets.”
“Ok. Yes. That’s true. We can’t always blab everything we know. Call it “Aces in the sleeves” if you will. Ok. Play your ace detective. I’m all ears.”
The detective motioned for us to go into my room. Once we were inside, the Detective opened his briefcase and withdrew a plastic bag. It had an evidence seal on it. Inside was what looked like a business card. He handed me the bag.
“Evidence from. . ?”
“The rapist leaves one of these at each crime scene.”
I was shocked.
“You said there was no evidence?”
“I said there was no biological evidence.”
I looked closely at the card in the evidence bag. It was the size of a business card. But this card didn’t advertise any business. On it was a symbol, an astrological sign.
“Yes, but this refers to it in a way no one expected.”
“Why? What does it mean?”
“He leaves one of these at each scene. A calling card if you will. Refers to himself as Scorpius, a God.”
“How the hell do you know that? It doesn’t say it on the card.”
“He told us.”
“Back in the early 90’s in Medford, Oregon, there was a series of home invasion rapes of young girls. The only evidence left at each scene was a card with the astrological sign of Scorpio.”
“At what point did this rapist tell you he was a God? I am missing something.”
“When we caught him.”
Ok. This was too much.
“Then you know who he is? He’s here now? How did he get out of jail? I assume he was put away?”
“We have no idea who he is. The Medford rapist died in prison a year ago.”
I could not hide my shock.
“So, what you are telling me is that we have a copycat?”
“What I am telling you is that we have a serial rapist who uses the same MO and leaves the same signature as the Medford rapist who died a year ago.”
“Sooo. . .a copycat.” I repeated.
“It could look that way, except for the fact that the signature, this calling card, was never made public.”
The detective let that tidbit set in.
I let it sink in.
“Ok, there was a leak in the Medford police department. The info got out.” I said with certainty.
“That was the thought at the time except that the chain of evidence was never broken. No one could have known about it outside the department and they all passed polygraph tests AND our current rapist could not have seen a copy of that business card. Ever.”
I suppressed a laugh.
“Oooooooh. An X File. Scary.”
“We really don’t know what to make of it. It is disturbing never- the- less.” The Detective was no longer looking at me.
“That’s your analysis? What part disturbs you more? The fact that someone knows about this little signature tidbit or that no one knows about this and yet, here it is, in the bag? Impossible. There is nothing comforting about this detective. Either you have a copycat rapist or a ghost. Neither is good.”
“It gets better.” The detective stood up and paced a little.
“Oh I can’t wait.”
“The Medford rapist escalated. His fourth and final victim was murdered.”
“Crap. So, if all of this is to be believed, and I have no reason to doubt it, then our copycat plans to kill the next victim.”
“Wait a minute.” A reality hit me square in the gut.
“Why did you show me this? I am not officially on this case. Did you just break the chain of evidence?”
The Detective looked grave.
“I am out of options Bobby. I want these rapes to stop and I am willing to do just about anything at this point. Even if I lose my job, if it prevents a single rape, it will be worth it.”
“But what happens to me is just collateral damage then I take it?”
“What would you have done in my place?”
I smiled at this.
“I guarantee I would have done EXACTLY the same thing.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure Bobby. This could get messy before we are done. You will be on the same hook I am if this goes south.” Eric dried his hands on his pants.
“You did say that you spoke to my ex-supervisor at Quantico right?”
“I don’t think this is an accident then.; our working on this together.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember when I told you that sex crimes were my specialty?”
“It’s deeper than that. I specialize in sex abuse of minors. I understand the victim-ology of these crimes. It has made me wonder why I was sent here to investigate fish. It seemed like a waste of time. But, now I wonder. . .”
After a few moments something occurred to me.
“If we fail we are both screwed. You know that right?”
“We can’t fail. We have to stop this guy.”
“What if we can’t make it stick because we broke a few rules?”
“That’s a bridge we cross when we get to it. Agreed?”
“Agreed. But let’s try and limit the damage eh?”
The Detective smiled.
“Can’t promise anything.”
I suddenly blurted, “CRAP. Sheriff Johns is expecting me right now.”
“I’ll drive you. Where are we going?”
“To the hatchery. The tribal hatchery.”
“Ok. You call ahead and I’ll bring the car around.”
I fumbled for my phone. There were two new messages waiting.
Next – A frantic mother