Monday, November 5, 2012

Son of a Preacher Man: The Carver, Part Two

 Takeshi Sato, now off duty, clutched the ink smudged paper in his white knuckled hand as he stood in front of what he hoped would be the final chapter to this horrible nightmare. While his team had been able to decipher the code engraved upon the men, all it gave was an address to a used bookstore.
 Not exactly helpful.
 But then Takeshi had received a note from one of the numerous clerks that worked beneath him, saying it'd been left with a Polaroid photo.
 A black one.
 His forensics team had been able to determine it was a picture of the night sky in the city, the city lights blotting out the starlight and the moon going through its New Moon cycle. Written on the back had been a simple scrawl:
"Two truths in life: the blues and jazz will always be classic, and there is always a Silver Lining. So lounge about for a bit and enjoy some company one dark night."
The cold night air whipped by him as bundled up couples moved past him into the lounge where the low, mournful sound of the blues poured from.
Shaking away the chill of the night, he moved to the door, pulling it open. The low murmur of the crowd was pleasantly muffled by the blues group pouring out melancholy words of misery and sadness. A cheerful attendant stood behind a podium, smiling at the aged Asian officer as he walked up to her.
“Um… my name is Takeshi Sato. I think there might be somebody waiting for me here this evening?” Takeshi asked, feeling stupid for his wild guess that tonight would be the night the Organ-Snatcher would choose to meet, the darkness of the streets from the lack of a moon fitting his modus operandi, his only modus operandi that Takeshi was ever able to tag him with.
Much to his surprise the girl nodded and pointed to her book. “Yes sir, you have one of the private booths in the back near the band. Let me walk you there and I’ll have someone take your order for you.”
Following her through this surreal moment, Takeshi’s eyes scanned the rear booths, all shrouded with curtains for privacy, lit by candlelit from within. There was only one booth with the curtains drawn tight.
“My… friend, has he… has he been waiting long?” Takeshi asks above the den of the crowd, causing the hostess to turn and look at him with a thoughtful expression.
“He came in around seven, so only about three hours.” She said with a laugh, quickly covering it up. “He didn’t seem to mind waiting though, making requests from the band as often as we’ll let him.”
“What does he request?” Takeshi asked, his curiosity eating him alive as the wove through the sea of tables.
“He’s had the band play this one song three times now, the Son of a Preacher man, but otherwise he asks for Johnny Cash songs.” She said with a genial shrug, stopping outside the booth. “Mr. Salinger, your guest is here.”
“Go ahead and undo the curtain, but please close it after he’s settled himself in.” Came a calm voice with just the barest hint of an accent. “And anything he orders, just put on my tab.”
“Yes sir!” The hostess chirped before turning to Takeshi, “A waitress will be here in a moment.”
“Thank you,” Takeshi stuttered as he pulled the curtain open and moved into the booth seat, pulling the curtain closed as he took in the appearance of the man he’d spent a full year hunting.
He was disappointed.
The man was slightly older, yes, but Takeshi was older than he was easily. This man had greying hair peppered with black flakes desperately hanging on, skin that had just started to crinkle with age, around the corners of his lips and his eyes. Truthfully, Takeshi couldn’t place his age to save his life, but for some reason, be it the way the man held himself or by the haunted look of his hazel eyes, he looked far older than the rest of his body did.
He was dressed in a fine coat and suit with a blood red tie, golden cufflinks sparkling from his wrist.
“So…” Takeshi started, looking at the man he knew to have killed at least eighty people between the killings a few nights ago and his previous stint. “Why?”
The man, this Salinger, merely leaned forward, an expensive tray of delicious looking steamed crab and shrimp sitting untouched by his elbow. “Because a good crime can only be a great one if the people understand it.”
“Chief Detective… not much more room for advancement for you, is there?” Salinger asked, changing the subject. “Barring a good number of people go missing or die in a sudden way.”
“What do you mean by that?” Takeshi asked, a little afraid to know the answer. He couldn’t exactly pull his gun on this man in such close quarters, and he saw the autopsy reports from his victims’ years ago, the pictures of those foolish enough to think he was harmless.
“What I mean is that you are stuck in a virtual quagmire of office politics and bureaucracy that will see to it that you’ll never advance beyond where you are now, and you know it.” Salinger said, once again leaning back in his seat, just as the curtain opened up and a slender arm reached in dropping off a martini with three olives and a medium rare steak.
His favorite.
He looked up at Salinger who merely waved it away. “You’d feel better not knowing, trust me. Now, the only way for you to advance is to have you make headlines like you did with my case.”
“But I never solved it!” Takeshi said around a mouthful of steak.
“Because you couldn’t. But I noticed you trying, and let me tell you if the game had been fair back then you would have caught me.” Salinger said with no bravado or derision, just as a man stating facts. “Go ahead, I know you’ll never be able to rest should you never be able to ask certain… aspects of my killings.”
“What were you doing with the organs that you stole? How did you choose who to attack?” Takeshi asked hurriedly, ignoring the eerie fact that the man somehow seemed to know what he was thinking.
“Eleven surgeons across the state of New York would trade with me the stolen organs for polluted blood taken from the ill: HIV patients, Hepatitis victims, and the like.” Salinger replied while lifting a small stray hair from his coat with a gloved hand. “As for how I chose, I’d usually choose them from weddings I would attend.”
“Yes, at a Temple I used to frequent. As you may not have ever guessed, I’m-”
“Jewish… that’s why there were three months when there were no attacks!” Takeshi said suddenly, interrupting Salinger, who merely sat by bemused. “The New Moon fell on the Sabbath!”
Nodding, Salinger clapped a few times while letting out a low chuckle. “I know you had the police searching the city from top to bottom for my supposed extra victims, but I never hunted on the Sabbath.”
“But why hunt during the full moon?”
“Well that would be because I’m a Vampire.” Salinger replied simply enough, holding up a hand to prevent Takeshi from saying anything. “As such, I have certain abilities that allow me to hunt better within the darkness, to read the minds of those around me and grant me a certain measure of strength and speed. Makes me an excellent killer, truth be told.”
“You’re a Vampire?” Takeshi chuckled, his opinion of this criminal mastermind slowly warping into that of a deranged killer who’d merely had a savant level of planning to prevent himself from being captured.
“Proof would change your opinion of me I assume? And savant’s are good at only a few things, while I excel at hundreds.” He asked.
Takeshi, unnerved by the comment, merely shrugged as he cut another slice of steak away, waiting for Salinger to turn into a wolf or bat.
Instead he turned into a corpse. Slowly at first, so slow in fact Takeshi couldn’t tell. But with every second that ticked by Salinger grew thinner, his eyes more sunken, his skin sallow. Blue veins stretching along his neck and temples slowly turned black, radiating out like spider webs over his frame as his hazel eyes turned a hellish red, his mouth distending as a pair of snake-like fangs unfolded from the roof of his mouth. His skin continued to grow paler and paler as it began to shed and flake away, as if all the moisture was being drained from his body. His bones creaking while his skin rustled like dry leaves in the street, he reached into his coat and pulled a flask from an inner pocket before passing it to me, his arm shaking from the strain.
“Take it…” he hissed, his voice now a series of sibilant tones whispering at the fringes of my mind.
Grasping the silver flask and unscrewing the top, I’m instantly revolted by the coppery scent of blood that comes from the flask, a scent that seems to send Salinger into a fit of blissful shivers.
“B Negative… my favorite…” The voices whisper in my ear, coaxing me to hand the flask back to the… thing sitting across from me. He takes it gratefully, putting the flask to his lip and drinking greedily from it.\
Within moments his body is once again whole, his skin flushed and pink, his eyes now a soft green color. Screwing the cap back onto the flask, he tucked it into his jacket in silence, staring at me with a wicked smile.
“Believe me now?”

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