Sunday, November 1, 2015

Still Life, Chapter Two

Murphy walked up the stairs leading to his apartment, his coat buttoned up to his neck where a plume of smoke wafted away in the wind from his cigarette. He’d spent an additional three hours at work calling all the leads and contacts he had in an effort to locate Morsely before he could perform the hit, but he’d so far been unsuccessful. This had led to him dispatching a squad car to picking up Carlos Alonzo, the tattoo mogul. The Captain had been unhappy, as housing the man for the night was proving to be difficult due to Mr. Alonzo’s lawyers, but Murphy didn’t care; that wasn’t his job.

Stopping at his door, he pulled out his keys and flipped through them until he came to his apartment key before sliding it into the chipped doorknob. The front door had seen better days, with peeling paint and visible rust, but it was durable and for that Murphy was thankful. Closing the door behind him, the only light in the dark apartment was the burning cherry of his cigarette. Flipping on an overhead light, he began unbuttoning his coat while walking over to the air conditioner. Turning on the heater, he threw his coat over the back of his recliner and walked from his bedroom into his open kitchen. The sink was full of dirty dishes, the trash was overflowing and a stack of pizza boxes was nearly as high as the to-go Chinese containers.
In short, he needed to clean.
Filing that away for a time when he gave a damn, Murphy opened up his fridge and pulled out a cool can of soda, cracking open the top and guzzling down the sweet nectar. Wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his dress shirt, Murphy set the can down before dropping his cigarette into the open container, a slight sizzle indicating the flame being put out. Walking down the hall towards his bedroom, he turned and made a pit stop in the bathroom.
Staring into the mirror, he looked at himself. Unshaven with gray in his stubble and temples, he wasn’t the spring chicken he’d been when he’d first joined the force. The crows feet at the corners of his eyes and the wrinkles forming around his mouth showed that the stress of the job was getting to him. On the plus side, the time he spent at the gym kept him trim; he patted his flat stomach as he stared at his slate gray eyes.
“Is this what you wanted for your life?” He asked his reflection. When it didn’t answer, he walked out of the bathroom, shaking his head, and began to disrobe. Once he’d changed into a tee shirt and pajama pants, he walked back to the living room and grabbed another can of soda before walking over to his recliner. Dropping down into the seat with a plop, he grabbed the book he’d left on the side table and opened it up where his bookmark had been left.
Murphey found reading philosophy and literary classics to be calming to his frayed nerves, something that the stations psychologist had practically demanded he find a way to do. O’Neil had suggested that Murphy tried dipping his toe in the dating pool again, but he’d been married once; it hadn’t ended well. He didn’t feel like getting involved with someone only to be hurt again.
Turning the page of Le Nausea, Murphy’s mind drifted to the killer he’d been hunting for the past week. While dangerous, he wasn’t exactly someone to be terribly frightened of; O’Neil didn’t understand Murphy’s fascination with him.
Murphy didn’t expect him to.
William Morsely was scum, pure and simple. He was a con that had been shaped by the system from a young age, making him into the deadly weapon that he was today. The six and a half foot tall Nordic man had a tattoo over his right eye and preferred using edged weapons on his victims though he was no stranger to firearms.
No, what had Murphy interested was what he’d heard from his contacts throughout the city in regard to Morsely.
He was shopping for girls, which wasn’t strange in and of itself. But he had specifications for the girls that perked Murphy’s interest. All of them had to be twenty-one years old, virgins and born in July. From what Murphy understood Morsely had already purchased a pair of twins, smuggling them away somewhere for his use at a later date. What Morsely planned to do with the girls, Murphy had no clue. Girls sold into slavery in the criminal underworld were generally used as sex slaves, but Morsely was a eunuch according to his medical records when he was in Three Rivers Correctional Facility. From what he’d read, the “surgery” had been self-performed with a long knife he’d made from some metal scraps he’d managed to gather.
This made Murphy curious. Why would a eunuch want virgin girls? From what his source had said he’d paid top dollar for the twins he’d acquired, which meant he wasn’t looking to sell them himself. All of Murphy’s contacts were at a loss as to what the burly Nord was up to, and not many wanted to approach him and ask. He’d developed a reputation as somewhat unstable, which was saying something among the criminal circles that operated within San Antonio.
Closing his book, he set it aside and sipped his drink. The pieces were there, he just didn’t see the big picture. And he couldn’t rightly bring in Morsely like he’d told O’Neil. No, that would leave questions unanswered, and possibly two young girls abandoned somewhere to starve to death. No, he had to figure out what Morsely was doing, and fast.
Reaching over to his side table, he set aside the book and picked up the manila envelope that held the classified information on William Morsely. Flipping it open, he looked at the first mug shot from twelve years ago when the man was merely a child of thirteen. Scrawny with short blonde hair, he held up a placard showing his prisoner number with a scowl on his face. He’d been brought in for assault on his mother with a steak knife.
Looking over her statement, she proclaimed the boy to “be the devil” and didn’t want him in her home anymore. She’d signed the forms to turn him over to the state, whereupon he’d been put into a juvenile correctional facility until he was seventeen, when he was released.
He hadn’t lasted a week. He’d been found in the woods with three young boys, cutting out their tongues. The boy’s throats had been slashed and they’d been hung from the boughs of a tall tree by their feet, allowing him to wander under the flowing blood while nude, bathing in the substance and rubbing it into his skin like an ointment. The police had not been able to subdue him before he’d eaten the tongues.
This mug shot was closer to what he looked like today. Broad shoulders and hair hanging down to his mid back, with a thick beard and piercing blue eyes. He’d bulked up over the years, obviously having taken advantage of the gymnasium at the correctional facility. Over his right eye was a prison tattoo that was unlike any Murphy had ever seen. It almost looked like an hourglass with a line bisecting it, done in a vibrant blue. Murphy made a mental note to contact a specialist at the Federal Bureau of Investigations in regards to gang tattoos and what this one represented. Sipping his drink, Murphy stared at the mug shot for several minutes before flipping over to the notes on Morsely in his second trial.
He’d been held for a week to determine his psychological makeup and if he was even competent to go to trial. He’d been deemed after two days, and an attack on a nurse, to be competent and extremely dangerous. The trial had only lasted five weeks, where the jury had sentenced him to ten years at Three Rivers. He’d served six years before he was released for “good behavior”. Flipping through the file, Murphy frowned.
Six years in a maximum security prison and no known gang affiliations? That was unheard of. Lighting up a cigarette, Murphy breathed in a lungful of smoke before exhaling through his nose.
“How did you manage to do that?” Murphy asked the mug shot, holding it up with two fingers. Thinking on what one of his contacts, an arms dealer that operated out of a seedy pawn shop on the south side by the name of Alastair Grimes, had been the one to alert Murphy to Morsely’s activities, reporting that the man came in and wanted to know about any and all slave operations going on in the city. When Alastair had pretended that he didn’t know anything, Morsely had lost his temper and pulled a buck knife on the old man, grabbing him by the front of his shirt and pressing the blade to his throat.
Alistair had spilled his guts, figuratively, after that and made it out of the encounter alive.
Setting down the mug shot, Murphy picked up a transcript of books and websites that Morsely had accessed while he was in Three Rivers. “Hmmm… it looks like you were into the Occult. That might answer a few questions I have about your little girlfriends. But what do you believe you’re going to do with them?”
Standing up, Murphy slapped the manila folder down on the side table and walked to his bedroom, puffing on his cigarette the whole way. Stopping at an old filing cabinet, he pulled open the top drawer and began flipping through the files he had stored there. He kept a hard copy on every case he ever worked, as well as transcripts from all recorded conversations he had with his contacts.
After spending five minutes sorting through yellowed pages, he pulled up a thick file before closing the cabinet. “Here we go,” he said, sitting down on his bed. Opening up the fat folder, he began pulling out the thin sheets of paper slowly, looking over them for any useful data.
This was a case he’d helped on nearly twenty years ago; a cult to some fake god had set up shop in the Northwest side, recruiting just like any other gang. They’d proven dangerous, using firearms and threats of violence to get what they wanted. But unlike most gangs at the time, they didn’t want money; they wanted specific pieces of art from the museums around the United States. An undercover agent had been able to warn of the terrorist-level attacks on the various museums, bringing in the majority of the cult into custody.
“The Followers of Yus,” Murphey read aloud, taking a drag off of his cigarette. “Fifty-seven cultists arrested fifty-seven convictions on acts of terrorism. The agent involved was unable to get a hold of the inner circle of the cult, let alone the leader, but they went into hiding after the agent drained their bank accounts.”
Setting aside the report, Murphy sighed. There was nothing in these papers that even hinted at the symbol over Morsely’s eye, or what he was doing with the women. Placing the papers back in the manila folder, Murphy returned it to its home in the filing cabinet before walking back out into his living room, flicking ash from his cigarette carelessly as he went.
Rubbing his eyes, Murphy sat down in his chair and grabbed his soda, taking a sip as he pondered what he could possibly do next.
“I shouldn’t be focused on some lone man,” Murphy told himself as he crushed the can and threw it in the general direction of his trash can. “We have that truck load of drugs and automatic weapons coming in any day now, we’re going to need every bit of information we can dredge up on this that we can.”
Leaning back in his chair, Murphy closed his eyes as he did his best to stop thinking about the Nordic hitman and instead focus on the true matter at hand. But no matter what, the haunting face of the scraggly killer with Occult leanings kept flitting through his mind.

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