Andrew’s door hung ajar. Strange.
His confusion lingered for a second morphing into a panic, but he kept his complexion stern. He recalled the night before leaving with the door locked. Andrew entered the room, the bright light shone in his eyes—stark compared to the hallway. This meant the lamps were on, he never kept them on. Andrew’s pale eyes swiped cold white walls, searching. His polished slacks sunk into the muggy carpets as he made his way forward. He paused, he found the intruder’s first mistake. On the edge of the rough corned cupboard a piece of frizz, brown, thin about half a centimeter, most likely from a quick brush against.
Andrew continued to scan the next doorway. He found a light scuff lining the lower door frame, black from darker boots, whoever was in the apartment was in a rush to leave. To his right, the phone on the side table hung on its side. He slowly went down, crouching, perspiration sitting squat on his brow.
The pristine white carpet was spoiled. A small scarlet speck almost unseen to the eye, but there. He smelt it, blood. Andrew got to his feet, he squinted, and another speck, this one slightly larger in size. He ran his finger along the carpet, the red was wet and warm. It had not browned, its release was recent. Andrew's hands twitched, he found a tear in the curtain beside him, frayed at the edges, a knife. He descended down his eyes finding holes within the carpet deep almost touching the wooden floor. Andrews's eyes zoned in on a streak of crimson leading to a location, the bathroom.
He hurried into the small space halting in the entrance. A corpse lay in the bathtub, a gapping slit in its chest leaking blood into the drain. Its hip lowered and punctured with limbs dangling lifelessly off the edges of the white tub. The clotted thick liquid laid on every surface painted the room a startling scarlet. The corpse's face was covered in the shower curtain that was wrapped tightly around its neck. The head of the shower hung off the hook swaying and dented, most likely used in the assault. Andrew reached out to the shower curtain, though he knew he would be spoiling the crime scene with his own fingerprints, his curiosity itched at his insides, and resisting it was no use. He pulled the thin cloth material over the corpse's head and drew in a quick breath, his eyes widening. The man's mouth was open encapsulated in a widened shape of pure shock, his eyes bugging out of his skull wide and fearful. The corpse's eyes were distinctly a glazed gray color, one shade that he had only seen on one individual, his brother, Fin.
Andrew had not seen Fin for years, his face was almost unfamiliar, he had been visiting the city for a few days and had wanted to meet. Suddenly realization. Andrew stood running to the door, retracing his steps. Andrew visualized the killer breaking in, Fin waiting in the house for him to get home, meeting the intruder.
He ran to the phone. The killer dashed, getting fuzz on the cabinet. He reached his brother all while scuffing the door, tackling him, he brought out a knife. Now with both men on the ground, Fin tried to flee. The killer stabbed the knife but missed creating punctures in the carpet. Fin stood as a slash grazed him slightly also while tearing the curtain. They traveled, moving to the bathroom leaving a trail of scarlet. His brother met the wall, they fought, using the shower head, the knife and the tub. Until finally the intruder wrapped the shower curtain around Fin's throat. Then the killer left through the door abandoning a corpse in the bathtub.
Andrew by this time was crouched at Fin's side having navigated the house orderly. He placed his hands on his chin, thinking. He rearranged and organized his thoughts. Andrew got to his feet, his eyes examining the body though he was interrupted by a click at his temple. The click of a cocking gun.
“You ain’t goin’ anywhere” a thick voice sounded in his ear.
Adrenaline pumped in his ears like a loud roar. He left his arms in front of him eyes closed and his breath steadied. Andrew slowly turned, every inch of his body on high alert, setting his feet ready to dodge. He looked behind his eyes flying open. He was expecting a masked figure but was met with something else entirely. Andrew sighed, in front of him stood a bloated, middle-aged man with an impressive amount of chins, a nametag, and a gun, the police had arrived.
“You’re comin’ with me,” the man yelled.
“Is that so?” Andrew asked with a raised eyebrow as the officer grabbed his hands and pulled them into cuffs. He wanted to resist but it would put him in a place of conflict so he stayed shackled.
“Don’t speak” the gruff man said, grabbing Andrew by the shoulder and roughly taking him outside of the apartment. He lowered him into the back seat of the police vehicle then got in himself.
Andrew immediately assessed the car, a dark interior, fake leather along the seats tied together with cheap Chinese thread, linen, and no cotton. Crumbs lined the crevices of the small car slightly discolored both old and new, a pastry. Stains of brown lined the front seat giving scents of mildew and muddled caffeine. The ceilings were low and peeling, the design of the vehicle was a dated model, at least 30 years. So what conclusion did Andrew arrive at, the police officer was an old man on the force working only on night shifts because of his age and form, running mainly on coffee and pastries. Wonderful. The car ride was grudgingly long, consisting of thick silence, so viscous that it was almost hard to breathe through it. Though he had been in a similar car before he would never have imagined himself in this position in this seat. The city lights took his attention away from his thoughts, they passed in an endless blur of color. The bustle was loud even at the hour of the night, so deafening even from inside the vehicle. Andrew was taken from the view to the twisting knots in his hands, he felt the cold cuffs bite tightly on his wrists begging for attention. He ignored it. The car came to a stop sounding of screeching tires on asphalt.
“Up, on your feet,” the man spoke, grasping Andrew's arms and pulling him into the station. He felt a moment of blindness as light showered his eyes, there was a shout and a fist met his skull. Darkness consumed him.
He woke up in a cell with wrists attached to the steel table and chalk walls, his only company, the air around him that hung damp and heavy. He waited tapping his fingers along the sleek surface, although there was no clock in the room he could hear a ticking that dredged in his ears at every minute. It was an endless loop, three ticks, ten, thirty. Andrew began to feel restless. The traces of roses and fresh orange peels greeted him, relieving him of the haunting sounds. He was in the presence of a slender woman with black slacks gracing her shins, copper locks framing her complexion, the most notable feature an ivory file wedged in her arms. He never thought he would be so joyed to see his old boss, Captain Moore.
A loud tsk-ing noise echoed around the room followed by a glare in his direction.
“Andrew Johnson, what am I going to do with you?” she sighed pulling up a chair beside him.
Her eyes met Andrews, a collision of gray and blue, each daring the other to break the gaze. “I didn't do it” were the only four words he needed to say and Andrew was certain she already knew it.
Moore simply nodded before taking the handcuffs off his throbbing wrists.
“The man who took you in, we call him itching fingers. Has wanted to make an arrest since day one,” she explained as they made their way into the station's main quarter. “How long was I out?” Andrew asked gingerly tracing the vibrant outlines on his wrists.
“A few hours. We cleared the scene at your residence along with any evidence to aid us, it should sparkle when you return” she replied. Andrew masked his disappointment well.
“We got data on another guy, the fingerprints on the bathroom walls checked out” Moore spoke. Andrew raised his brow in question of the identity of the suspect.
“Look I understand your curiosity but you’re not part of the force anymore, leave this to us, please,” He nodded curtly and bent down to tie his laces.
“If there is no further need of questioning I will be on my way” Andrew had never been a man of many words.
Just as Andrew's feet trailed to the doorway a tight grip pained his arm, and he gazed upwards.
“Keep out of trouble Andrew,” Moore's eyes were frigid.
He nodded before swiftly pacing out of the station and into the brooding September night. The air hung heavy around him like gray smog. Through the consumingly endless black, lights contained in steady beams lit the sprawling pavement.
Tented arch and ulnar loop fingerprints. 5 '3, 132.6 pounds, male, 36 years of age
Captain Moore was slipping, perhaps her accumulating age. A shame, she left her folder open. Letting Andrew a moment to tie already made laces and smuggle a glance at the suspect's papers, some might think her amateur. He let out a chuckle. Andrew hoped Jermy Dickenson enjoyed the view of metal bars. Andrews' expectations with the police department were not met at the moment. Though it did benefit him so he could not complain. His access to their database had apparently been prolonged or forgotten. Either way, Andrew now had grabbed every file, PDF, arrestment, and investigation through the last fifty years. Three hours and thirteen minutes was the time spent that Andrew dedicated to knowing every detail about Jeremy Dickenson. At the end of the marathon of data, he knew the man likely better than the suspect's own mother. But there was a peculiar fact through the lined black ink. One that made Andrew’s attempt to understand Dickenson futile. He has been jailed since 2018.
Then the question arose—how did a man that was hidden behind bars for four years release his homicidal rage into a secure city complex? The answer is he did not, more specifically he could not. Meaning that once again the police department was a failing enterprise, their top suspect was incorrect. Andrew felt scatterbrained, his eyes ached from the illuminating screen and he couldn't help but feel a sense of wandering in a loop. He had come around the curb just to the same place he was long before sitting at the side of his brother's dead corpse in a wrecked bathtub except now he knew a mass amount of information on a man named Jermey Dickenson or Jay as almost every person in the police department labeled him. Andrew paused in his train of thought, Jay.D, brown hair and ulnar loop thumbs…
Realization struck him. He would scold himself later for his stupidity, Andrew bolted to his cupboard, thirty square boxes in even rows all lit by a single dull lamp. Jay.D his first attempt at an arrest in his earliest years, a failure. His eyes scanned the drawer, squinting as he found the labeled box. The man was slippery, a fish in a pond full of the same swimming creatures. Andrew's fingers flew across files intaking name after name, shuffling through the formation of paper. He slowly lifted a yellow sharp folder into the light, he had found it. Jeremey.D “recorded file” CLASSIFIED.
Big bold daring scarlet letters that begged Andrew to peek inside. A glint entered his gaze as he opened it though the open face was not a thing he expected to see. Red smudged the white startlingly bright wiped on with a pointer finger, almost glowing. It spelled either a threat, a warning or clue, or maybe all. Wolf and pig joined at ankle, you are no wolf, I am no pig. A phrase large and haunting in glorious question biting at Andrew's mind like a sparrow to grain. Those words and a glove wet and crinkled with blood was all the killer left him.
Andrew put up a board, cheap cork on oak pinning down papers and the glove. He copied the suspects file from memory, stretching the scene. He muttered filling in questions as black ink flew on pale papers. The soft light of day entered his home like flies thrown by wind. He had completed the board. He sat on his bed with a sigh tying his lips. Andrew felt a sudden heaviness in his eyes. His head drooped gravitating towards his pillow and before he could protest and drink a pint of caffeine he was out cold to his current enemy, sleep. When Andrew awoke, dawn encased the apartment. He cursed, and hurriedly slipped out of his mattress, bed sheets trailing across the floor. Impatiently he found his computer checking the recent events on the police database. Andrew grumbled an incoherent sentence. He shot to his kitchen counter, snatched a handful of coffee beans, and dashed out the door. He picked the strange dirt from under his fingernails while muttering complaints.
The cold air around him hit his chest as he raced down the street. He bit the bitter morsels that kept his eyes from drooping with distaste. ‘Couldn't even turn them into coffee’
By the time he had gone three blocks down he heard the shrill shriek of police sirens. The alleyway ahead of him stood tall and climbed higher to the muddy sky. Blue and red ate at the scene, police mingled. He perched behind a vehicle observing the area from afar.
The scene was restricted with yellow and black tape it signaled danger, and struck fear into the souls of any passing pedestrians.
The camera screen fizzled into static.
He was right, it all made sense. Andrew in that moment came to one frightening conclusion that shifted his very sense of reality.
He was the killer.