Eighty Nine

Site four is still being processed by forensics, Casper comes over.
I give him the locket and the work glove, “We picked them up by the edges and put them in the zip-locks. Rain has likely made prints useless but that’s what was out there.”
“Not bad, if someone recognizes the jewelry, that’s a start, and if the glove has blood, it’s a better start.”
“Your people find anything out here?”
“The body, they were all nude, not so much as a sock. The ground did give us partial shoe imprints, boots, waffle sole, size twelve.”
“So he’s not a small guy.”
“No, but we kind of figured that from his ability to haul around bodies. A hundred thirty pound dead body isn’t simple to just carry. He’s placed them prior to rigor, which made it easier, but he’s gone down some fairly steep slopes with the body over his shoulder. They didn’t walk down on their own.”
I think to myself, ‘they didn’t walk out on their own either.’
Zoe C, ‘You are an evil man, but funny.’
‘All humor has tragic coloring.’

Casper calls over a tech, “Take these, if that’s blood on the glove, find out if it’s from a victim.”
Tech, “Which victim?”
Casper sighs, “If the glove belongs to the killer, it could be from any one of the victims, it could be from a victim we haven’t found yet, it could be Christ’s blood from the cross. Since we don’t know, compare it to all four blood samples we have. And don’t fucking drag your feet, I want an answer and not next week.”
“Oh…yeah…got it ma'am,” suitably embarrassed he heads off with our makeshift evidence bags.
Casper, “Jesus, newbies, sometimes it’s like swimming through quicksand, I’m not sure most of them can even spell forensic.”
“It’s with a ‘k’, right?”
She frowns at me, “Everyone’s a comedian. If you can wait a half hour, we should be able to let you trample over the stuff our people have trampled over.”
“We aim to serve Constable.”
Casper, “I know why I like her,” points to Zoe C, “even in jeans and a sweatshirt she’s gorgeous. That doesn’t explain why I like you.”
“Probably because I’m with her.”
“Must be,” she trudges off to the body.
Zoe C, “Poor bastard must be getting heat from the top, bottom and both sides.”
“She’s a tough cop, glad to see she hasn’t fallen into don’t give a shit. Homicide is a bitch, either it’s easy, boyfriend, husband, or it’s a one off street killing, and then there are these cases, no leads, no motive no connections among the victims. Fibonacci is either an intentional clue, or an intentional distraction.”
“You mean the numbers may mean nothing? Lot of trouble not to be a signal.”
“But a very good distraction.”
“Do we drop it?”
“Can’t yet, we need to see what Elle comes up with.”
The techs leave, waiting for the coroner’s people to bag the body Casper lets us down to examine it while we’re here rather than traipse off to the morgue.
Dead bodies are clammy things, particularly with the blood drained and lying out in the woods. Zoe C and I snap on gloves and start in.
She counts the cuts again, even though the forensic team has already done it. Same number, size and location as the others.
“Chef, take a look,” she peels apart the right big toe from the second, “look like a puncture wound to you?”
“Yep,” I call Casper over, “The techs notice this?”
He peers down, Zoe C flicks on a penlight, there is a tiny hole and the very slightest bruising around it.”
Casper, “Fuck, I’ll get the ME to examine the other one.”
She goes off, probably to read someone the riot act but that’s not our problem.
“They did a screen for drugs, any other toxins, nothing showed up.”
“People don’t stick needles between their toes unless the needle is attached to a syringe and the syringe loaded with something. They missed it, likely because the cause of death seemed so obvious.”
I call Natalie, “Get McKenzie to do a search for poisons that are extremely hard to detect, send me whatever she finds.”
Why McKenzie? She’s focused, she’s focused when she feeds her pal, when she cooks, when she swims, when she studies stocks, when she surfs the web. And she is undestractable, when she’s working on anything the world is in deep background, near non-existent.
Before we disconnect I hear McKenzie say something, then her face is on the phone. She hasn’t had time to surf for poisons.
“Got any ideas Mac?”
“Succinylcholine and potassium chloride. SUX causes asphyxiation and paralysis. Potassium chloride causes severe heart arrhythmias and looks like a heart attack. Both break down into elements that occur naturally.
 Aconite can be absorbed through the skin or consumed, two milligrams of pure aconite or one gram of the plant will kill.
Tetrodotoxin in sufficient quantity will freeze the diaphragm and cause suffocation. It may take some time to work, two hours to six.”
She walks off, nice chatting with you Mac.
Natalie laughs, “I’ll text you the ones she mentioned.”
“Good, I can’t pronounce them much less spell them.”
The names show up in my messages, I tell Casper, he writes them down.
“You have a poison expert?”
“Sort of, we have a daughter who remembers everything, she’s never done any actual chemistry or pharmacology.”
“A daughter? How old is she?”
“You’re kid…you’re not kidding.”
“Nope, don’t bother to ask, we don’t know.”
“I’ll call it in. But why would he poison them? I mean, if they died of blood loss and shock, what’s the point of poison?”
“No clue. He must have cut them up before the poison to get the blood to drain…no, wait, mortuaries drain blood from dead people all the time.”
Casper, “So we can’t know if they were poisoned or cut first.”
“Had to be administered before they died, the poison needs to be pumped through the system or it would just sit at the injection site wouldn’t it?”
“Sounds right. When they look for the ones you mentioned I suppose we’ll find out. Or not, the first two you said look like natural elements.”
“I’ve reached my limits on the subject, have to leave it with the forensic people.”
“How does it help us figure out who did it?”
“Might not, but the more clues we stack up, the more people get ruled out and a person or personality type begins to emerge.”
Zoe C, “If the stain on the glove is blood from the victim, we know he’s cautious but careless.”
Casper, “What do you mean, cautious and careless?”
He’s cautious enough to use heavyweight gloves, careless enough to lose one. I found it around where he must have exited. If it turns out to be his blood, then we have something found at the scene that he wore. The poison, if that’s what it is, leads to someone who has access that sort of thing. The Fibonacci series is an open question, maybe just a distraction or a clue so arcane only he knows what it means.”
Casper, “Someone who knows poisons and can get them, who has some kind of math background, big enough for a size twelve shoe and strong enough to haul dead bodies around.”
“See, we aren’t completely empty.”


Casper calls me late in the afternoon, “The glove stains were blood from the last victim. The ME thinks the poison was potassium chloride, she had what looks like a heart attack, a myocardial infarction, the heart gets brown or yellow spots he can see from the autopsy.”
“And the others?”
“The first two showed no signs of a heart attack, the third did.”
“Ah, our target is testing poisons. And since the first two were cut up so badly, the ME had no reason to look for poison.”
Casper, “Nope. We’re still missing something. He wants to test poisons, why slice them up? They’re gonna die from the cuts.”
“Our young genius is on the phone, I’ll call you back.”
Zoe C puts McKenzie on, “Fibonacci sequences are used in homeopathic medicine. The strength of the dosage goes up the scale, fifty five is the strongest, occasionally the next number which is eighty nine.”
“Does any of it work, to heal I mean”
“Placebos work, so long as the patient believes, they don’t do anything medically but the belief releases endorphins in the brain and the patient feels better.”
“Thank you, anything else?”
“Feed Zelda,” McKenzie disappears, Natalie comes on laughing, “Now you know where you stand in McKenzie’s pecking order. You’re the last pecker…well, not exactly, Zelda is first, all the rest of us are down the line in no particular order.”
“I don’t mind, if my family was normal I’d be bored.”
“Any idea when you come home?”
“No, we’ve pasted together a few clues but nothing like TV, you know, when they all dash to cars, light up flashers and sirens, race to save the victim before she’s a dead victim.”
“Well don’t linger, Zelda goes around to the bedrooms and is perplexed when yours and Zoe Cs are empty. Mac gives her an extra beef jerky to compensate.”
“She give you one too?”
“No, but it’s a thought. Of course I have Elle to myself, she has a marvelous way of keeping me occupied.”
“So you’re toughing it out.”
“Woman of steel, go find the killer and come home,” we click off.
Call Casper back, “Fibonacci is used in homeopathic medicine, each number in the sequence represents a higher potency. Fifty five is the highest, with an occasional exception of eighty nine, the next number in the series.”
Casper, “Can you loan us your daughter for future confusing cases?”
“If one comes up, give me a call, when she’s on a project she’s a laser.”
“What are you doing today?”
“Then think hard, one more body and the public will be calling us village idiots.”
Zoe C takes the phone, “We’re going to research homeopathic practitioners in the area.”
Casper, “We can do that.”
“I know you need this solved, can you give us a day or two? Cops showing up with cop questions almost insures silence, nobody want to be considered a suspect. If they are too forthcoming, your guys come back with more questions. Who wants that?”
“Point taken, okay, two days, today is one.”
“We’ll be in touch either way, something or nothing,” she clicks off.
“We have things to do Chef.”
We search, cripes, there’s a list of the thirty best homeopathic stores in Seattle, which means many more.
“We need a second car. And I think we should start at the bottom and look for ones not listed. A successful outlet doesn’t need the grief.”
“Better to look at them all Chef. Any outlet could have a whack job in the mix. And where do they get the so-called medicine? They can’t all be making it.”
I do another search, “The biggest supplier is Washburn Homeopathic Products but it’s in West Virginia.”
“Okay, nothing there, back to locals. And just exactly what are we looking for? We can’t walk in and ask if they have any homicidal psychopaths on the payroll.”
“No, we tell them we heard about treatments that use the Fibonacci numbers to measure potency. We have to throw around a bit of new age jargon I suppose.”
“Casually mention your guru, or shaman, or astrologer, not all three, that starts to sound spiritually greedy. We can say he put us up to it, the Fibonacci thing. Maybe even act dumb, like we can quite pronounce the name correctly…fybonaki or some variation close enough to the real name. If someone in the place knows about it, we have a new lead and people to follow around and spy on.”
“Good call, that’ll work well enough.”
“And you’re going to have to slob up yourself. Not homeless, today’s sloppy casual, the late in the day Walmart look that says, ‘I’ve fucking given up’. You go in with your cashmere slacks, dress shirt and a jacket, they won’t believe you have a new age cell in your body.”
“Another good call, you got game today. Find a secondhand store, need something used and looks it.”
“I’ve got to send a photo of you as a slob to the girls, they’ve never seen anything but you stylin’.”
“I like good clothes, not to be dapper, just high quality and reasonable comfort.”
“You dress splendidly, which is why the photo will be so funny.”
We shop, I kind of resemble The Dude in The Big Lebowski, a cult hit the general fascination with I never grasped. Well worn ugly cable sweater, sandals, and pants that look like pajamas. Despite the high comfort apparel, I am not comfortable.
Zoe C, “Chill Chef, it’s undercover work.”
“So I have to wear pajamas in public?”
She giggles, “Well…yeah…and to tell you the truth, you look totally ridiculous.”
Zoe C and I bonded over blunt honesty. She’s a Gold Star lesbian, never been with a man. I’m a Whatever Star hetero, women only. A friend you can lay it all out with, throw a cheap shot at, get shot in return and laugh with…that’s fucking golden, it can’t be bought or sold…priceless comes to mind.

Ninety One

Rent a second car, I take half the list, Zoe C the other. Other than the time it takes from one place to the other, the actual interview is simple and quick. I use Zoe C’s doofus scenario. People in head shops, marijuana dispensaries and other new agey stuff like homeopathic meds, are universally friendly and accommodating. Particularly when a dork like me comes lumbering in and inquires about Fi-bone-achy secrets and the gold..something. 
I got a dozen nothings, check in with Zoe C, both of us are drawing bad cards.
Then I walk into Head Space. The shop is the size of my closet, which in fairness is pretty big, but still.
Glass topped counter, good for leaving fingerprints so I touch nothing. Wall behind the counter is lined with herbal whatever, the counter case has the usual assortment of head shop gear, bowls, pipes, grinders, vape sets. The walls have no shelves, no product for sale, left painted off white blank, right with…what is that?
Frick, it’s the Fibonacci spiral but masked by the Leonardo Da Vinci drawing of Vitruvian Man, which people have misattributed as drawn with the Golden Ratio in mind. Actually, there are better instances in his Mona Lisa and Last Supper. 
I need to change my shtick, inquiring about something right on the wall is a giveaway, I go to dumb.
The proprietor comes from behind a curtain on the right, the door dinged little bell when I came in. He’s thick, not as tall as size twelve shoes would suggest. He’s maybe five eight, with small hands. His face is circular and he wears glasses with lenses that could be clear plastic hockey pucks.
His voice is on a higher register than I’d have guessed, he squeaks out a, “Help you?”
I grin something between used car and moron, “Wa’s that thing?” I point to the Vitruvian Man, “Ain’t no Saytannic devil worship is it?”
He grins, “It’s mathematics, not religion, the Golden Ratio found everywhere in nature. The ratio follows natural rules, to guide me in how strong a preparation should be for the patient to get well.”
 “Well damn, that’s totally scientific innit?”
“I think so. Are you here for medicine, or perhaps to buy accessories?”
“Need something for headaches, got a pinched nerve in my neck, damn doctors can’t do nothin’.”
“I have just the thing. Three drops under your tongue three times a day for eighty nine days. The herb will balance your chakras, your internal energy paths, and relieve the tension that’s causing your head to hurt.”
“Fer real? How much?”
“Forty nine for the eighty nine day supply. Don’t skip any, three a day, right?”
“Well, uh…lemme see,” I dig around my pockets, then my wallet, give him three twenties, he gives me a ten, a one, a little bottle of rose tinted liquid, the dropper is the cap.
“Thanks,” I pick up a business card, Head Space, Paul Porter, Doctor of Natural Healing.
There’s a flyer with a list of things Porter can heal with his flower medicine, the list covers physical and mental ailments numbering in the dozens. It occurs to me that he would know about toxins and poisons. Something pops in my head, I read someplace that a toxin is a poison made naturally by organisms.
“Can this stuff hurt, I mean if somebody took too much?”
Huge eyes behind huge glasses studies me, “Many healing herbs can become toxic with an overdose, which is why you come to see an expert like me. The concentrations I use are effective but never toxic. I can’t have patients dying on me, can I?”
A smarmy grin, this guy radiates swamp and slime.
“Wouldn’t be in biz long would ya? Killin’ off the customers.”
“Anything else? I’m starting a complicated mix and the first stage is done.”
Good, he’s encouraging me out the door, it’s clear my question got a rise and he wants me gone.
“Thanks for the remedy doc,” I wave and leave.
Zoe C is in my brain, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!’
“So it seems, you have the drone and our listening gear. I’m going to find us coffee and something simple to eat.”
“Want a tracker on his car?”
“Sure do…hang on…I have one here, I’ll do it.”

I stop, turn on the device, stick the magnetized case under the rear bumper and hear it thunk on the steel strut. Return to the car and go in search of caffeine and sustenance. By the time I return, Zoe C’s vehicle is nowhere to be seen.
I check in, ‘Find a secluded spot?’
‘A good one, use the GPS to find me.’

I do, she’s backed into what looks like an old stable or small barn. Weeds grown up around. If you walked past it would be hard to see the interior.
She’s manipulating the drone. After our driving around visiting herb shops, it’s turned near dusk. We sip coffee and break off bits of protein bars.
“You found the ones we keep at home, Premiere Protein.”
“Yep, thirty grams of protein in a dark chocolate almond bar, only nine grams of sugar and they don’t taste like cardboard, not exactly a Snickers with almonds, but better than most protein bars.”
“Think this is our guy?”
“No idea, he’s the only one we found who mentioned the Fibonacci method, he didn’t call it that, but that’s what he meant.”
“Something’s not right. Why carve the series into bodies then have the same thing on his office wall?”
“Logic and serial killing aren’t much compatible. This guy is at the least eccentric, gravitating towards weird. My first impulse was to ask him if he spent a lot of time around schoolyards, but that’s old school, those types spend their time on the internet trying to convince young girls to meet up.”
“So he’s not an old school schoolyard stalker.”
I laugh, “Not this guy, he’s so…something, slimy, cops would arrest him near kids on general principle.”
“He’s not killing kids, just women, all of them past teen, not way past.”
“I can’t grasp the psychology, the motivation.”
We’re looking at the shop through the drone cam, sign on the door flips from ‘open’ to ‘closed’. Paul Porter doesn’t come out.
His building is a standalone painted concrete block, a one floor box. Aside from the front door there are no windows.
“Fly it around back, see if there’s a rear entrance.”
There is, plain metal door, no glass not even a peephole.
Zoe C, “Guy wants privacy, front door of painted glass, no windows, sealed up back door.”
“I don’t see anything that looks like a basement exit either, couldn’t tell from inside if there were any interior doors.”
“Yeah, I watched through your eyes, he had the curtain covering the entrance to the rear of the shop. A door to a cellar might be on that side.”
“Before we get Porter tried and convicted, let’s settle in. I’ll use the handheld, you operate the drone mic. Maybe he talks to himself and confesses.”
She laughs, “That would be handy, considering we have no idea if this is our boy.”
A half hour expires, “He’s either told me the truth, he’s working on a new distillation, or he’s playing solitaire, or he’s online trying to convince a teen girl to show him her tits.”
Zoe C, “It is too quiet in there. Even if he’s absorbed in cooking a fresh batch of whatever, something would make noise. My drone mic and your parabolic wouldn’t miss all movement.”
“No, which is telling me he’s either asleep or there’s a basement. The problem is obvious.”
“Yep, how do we find out?”
“See if there’s a property description.”
Her fingers flit over the phone, one site leads to another until….
“Finally,” she reads, “Commercial zoning, retail or office only. Property registered in the name of Head Space, owner Paul Porter. Concrete block, off street parking, fifteen hundred square feet, ah hah! Gotcha, five hundred square foot storage basement, hwh and furnace.”
“What’s hwh? Oh, duh, hot water heater.”
“Land purchased ten years ago, one hundred thousand, building permits issued, construction signed off on, good to go. I don’t see the construction costs, the property tax value is two hundred, which is typically low. This is still Seattle, land is expensive and developed land is more expensive.”
“Most property taxes don’t reflect anything like sales value. Our place in Malibu is twenty million after land acquisition and development. For tax purposes it’s one percent of assessed value, not market value. Assessed value tops out at ten million, our tax is around eighty thousand. We got distracted, how do we figure out what Porter is up to from out here?”
“We don’t, we go in there.”
“I’ll check the doors, maybe he left one open.”
He didn’t, but neither door presents a problem, the locks are standard, key operates either side.
‘Keep listening, I’m going in.’
‘Got it.’

I’m standing at the rear door and there’s no street behind the place, just dirt leading to a stand of trees. Pick and click, I’m in, ease the door so it’s not quite closed, start my snoop.
The basement door is easy, the only interior door except for a toilet and sink to the right and that door is open. I step over to the basement door and lean close. I hear Porter’s smarmy voice.
“Don’t worry dear, you won’t feel anything.”
Mumbled something, panicked start and stop like hyperventilation.
“Be still, if you don’t this is what the rest of your life will feel like.”
A groan that would be a scream if the mouth weren’t covered. I test the basement door, locked, should I pick it too? Will he hear?
Zoe C, ‘Quit dithering, he’s in there preparing to murder someone. Either pick the damn lock or stomp around like you’re a burglar.’ 
‘That’s a better idea, make him come to me.’

I decide to go vandal. The back room is full of herbs, bottles of alcohol, a distillation apparatus, sink, tiny bottles like the one he gave me, with eye dropper caps. I fling  a handful of the bottles against the basement door, then overturn the distilling apparatus, that makes lots of noise, stainless steel and glass clattering on the tile floor.
I move to the front room, put my foot through the glass case, it shatters, herb jars smash along with it. Hope he wasn’t just watching a horror movie in the basement after a hard day of selling fake medicine to suckers.
A nasal whine, “What are you doing?”
A question I’ll answer, he’s got a revolver pointed at me, looks like a Bulldog .44 Special. Small gun, big bullet and at this range I’m toast. Except…
“Shoot me and you’re going to have to explain the girl in the basement Porter.”
He grins, “I’m very good at making blood disappear.”
“Then shoot.”
Zoe C is behind him, “And realize that if you do, I’m going to make your brains blast out of your skull.”
‘Jump to one side Chef, now.’
I do, he fires, she clocks him with the butt of her Glock. Porter wobbles, steps, falls forward face first into the shards that will uglify his round fat face….or in his case, perhaps improve it.
Zoe C checks, “He’s going to rest for a bit,” she takes his revolver.
“Go downstairs and see what’s what.”
I stay with Porter, Zoe C hit him hard, he’s about as useless as the distilled water he sells as medicine.

Ninety Two

I wrap Porter in duct tape and nylon ties.
Zoe C, ‘She’s freaked but aside from a one inch slice on her ankle, physically okay.’
‘Take her out the back, she won’t see me or him.’
‘We need to think about the next step. If you want to interview Porter, I have to do something with the girl.’
‘Sit with her in the car, ask questions and let her talk. It will take just long enough for me to get answers.’

I drag my capture to the rear, then down the steps to the basement. I drag him by his feet which allows me the satisfaction of hearing his head clonk, clonk, clonk against the steps.
There’s a sink, a common garden hose and a drain in the middle of the floor, enough slope that any liquid is going to wash down and drain away. I presume there’s other evidence in the drain until I spot a gallon of bleach in the corner. He’s taken care of evidence with bleach, otherwise known as NaCIO, sodium hypochlorite dissolved in water. They can forensic all they want, they’re not finding jack.
I have my captive in the same position he had his captives. Tied to a pole with fat nylon ties around ankles. His back to the pole, arms are around it, wrists tied together. To insure he doesn’t just slide down, another tie is tight around his neck. If he moves he suffocates.
I find a bucket, fill it and splash a gallon of cold water in his face. He sputters, head lols back and forth, I fill the bucket and dump it over his head.
I get the impression he’s faking, awake but pretending to be out of it.
Fuck-head, I grab him by the balls and squeeze…hard. A lovely yelp of pain and his eyes snap open.
“I have a few questions, you will answer them clearly and succinctly. Good stuff, you get to live, bullshit gets you dead.”
His head flops to one side, “You think I’ll tell you anything?”
“Yeah, I do, I think you’ll tell me everything.”
He’s quiet, “It takes a certain personality type to torture, I don’t think you have the stuff for it.”
“Let’s see then,” I flip open my flick knife, blade is six inches of ceramic sharp, a razor plus.
I swipe it three times across his nose, blood runs down across his lips.
“Damn, that was fun, what about...,” I swipe it from his forehead down to his chin, now he’s bleeding like a motherfucker.
Fat Face wets his trousers.
I look at the mess, “I believe we’re communicating. Tell me all of it. If I think you’re fucking around, it gets worse, much worse.”
His new whine is even higher that his normal whine, “You can’t just torture me and get away with it, the police will…”
I swipe my blade through his slacks, my latex gloved hands pull out his manhood, not a lot of manhood, “Want a sex change? Stay on topic or I will keep you here for days, then give you an anesthesia free sex change.”
 Move the tip of my blade to his eyeball, “Blind, how’s blind sound, no balls and blind,” I poke the tip to the white of his eye, tears flow.
He begins to hyperventilate, I help distract him with a short sharp punch to the gut, just below his sternum. 
Sharp intake of breath followed by a up from the depths groan, he’s not hyper anymore.
“How many girls? When and where.”
“If I tell you, you won’t hurt me…again? I’m in terrible pain.”
“I’m not you Porter, give it up and I leave you be, stall and it gets worse.”
He blinks at me, the glasses are off, I wonder how clearly he can see me, “Six, the sixth was the girl you found here, the idiot police missed one. She was the first and I buried her in a shallow grave. Figured the critters would catch the scent and dig her up. Either they didn’t or there wasn’t enough left for someone to spot.”
He hesitates, I poke his cheek with the knife, blood drips, “In the book.”
“Don’t make me angry, where is the fucking book?”
“In the safe, the safe is in the cabinet,” his eyes flick to a metal storage cabinet in one corner.
Open the cabinet door, there’s a cheap safe on one shelf.
“They key is in my pocket.”
I nod, take my regular knife out, swipe the blade over the lock in the crease between the top and bottom. The latch clicks open, I raise the lid and take the notebook.
“The safe is junk.”
He tries to save face, which will be hard since I’ve made a right mess of it, “I didn’t think anyone but me and a guest would ever be down here.”
He’s started to coagulate, face looks like a B grade slasher movie poster.
Zoe C pops in my head, ‘She’s getting antsy, wants to go home.’
‘You can’t take her directly home. Take her someplace safe, call Uber and let her go. Once she’s on her way, return the car to the rental agency, I’ll pick you up there.’

Flip through the notebook, every girl is documented, where he abducted them, time under treatment…treatment?...where they were left.
Still paging through I ask, “What do you mean by treatment? You sliced them to represent the Fibonacci series winding up at fifty five cuts in the final block, one hundred fifty three cuts in all.”
He grins, realizes it hurts like hell, moans, “Beautiful isn’t it? I’m the Leonardo of Death, they were my canvases, nothing more.”
I have the notebook, it’s essentially a confession without the regret part and it’s detailed. I give him a better deal than he gave his victims, leave his ass to bleed and wait on the cops. Check his ties, solid, he’s going noplace. I leave the notebook on the open cabinet shelf.
Leave the back door unlocked, strip off latex gloves, collect Zoe C and head to the hotel.
“Call Blue Sky and get us home in the morning.”
Zoe C, “Done, I watched the last part, up until them I was occupied with the girl. I figured we weren’t hanging around to chat with Casper.”
“She’s going to pout when she finds out we’re not only gone, but we aren’t the two people we said we were.”
“Oh well, she gets the notebook and the killer. And we were disguised enough to make any association with us difficult. Did the girl ask much?”
“Too freaked to think straight, she may wind up with PTSD.”
We stop for fried chicken, then to the hotel.
While we gnaw on chicken, I ask, “Should I have put a bullet in his head?”
“Chef, we’re the middleman in these things, we got the bad guy, the insane bad guy, you left him wrapped up with a confessional notebook. He took a shot at you, which will be verified, his gun, bullet in his wall. Let Casper have a win.”
I shrug, “Prison will be about as kind to him as he was to his victims. He thinks he’s Da Vinci you know.”
“You’re kidding…I suppose he has to think he’s something, cart around one delusion or another. We don’t know how he got there, maybe the cops can root out a backstory.”
Fed and bed, then up and out, home in a couple of hours, it’s near noon.
Hugs from Nat and Elle, hugs from Mickey, sniff check from Zelda, I see Burma at the top of her cat tree waiting for an unsuspecting family member to walk by. Her technique is to leap, bounce off whoever, land on the floor and scurry back up her tree. I volunteer to play, walk past the tree like I’m headed upstairs, thunk! She bonks me on the back, I can barely hear her soft landing. By the time I turn she’s disappeared. Poke my nose near her openings, I see her watching me, head shifting back and forth, she comes to the edge, raises her paw and strokes my nose gently, letting me know she’s only playing.
I hold out my arms, she jumps and curls up so I can scratch her belly. What a brat cat. 
Mickey plops on the couch, I ease Burma down and she scoots to the back of the couch, leaps, clears it and lands in Mickey’s lap. Two seconds later she’s asleep, wish I could do that.
I join the others at the kitchen island, McKenzie is stirring tomato bisque and cranking out grilled cheese sandwiches. She hands me a plate, sandwich and chips, bowl of bisque alongside.
“Thank you McKenzie, looks tasty.”
And it is, is there anyone who doesn’t like grilled cheese? Not around here.
When she’s gotten everyone served, she heads off to the office. The market is still open, maybe she can make a quickie trade for a few bucks. 
I ask Nat, “She make any money this morning?”
“Haven’t a clue, I was in the office too but engaged in a half dozen negotiations.”
Elle, “I was in and out, she bought something but I have no idea how it turned out. She doesn’t like to announce her results until the market closes.”
“Do you know of she has losing trades?”
“Yes…no, sometimes she doesn’t make much, but on ten thousand shares, even after the bid/ask spread sucks a few cents out a quarter point is still twenty five hundred, and she holds the position for only five, maybe ten, minutes.”
“I thought she generally made a few hundred to maybe a grand.”
“I told her to buy more shares than she was buying…or selling short. Instead of a thousand, she trades up to ten thousand.”
“Doesn’t that affect the price, so many shares.”
“I showed her how to track the volume and adjusts her trade size to account for it.”
I shake my head, “And we still don’t know how.”
Nat, “Chef, we don’t know how she does anything in that brain, she doesn’t know how she does it. It’s numbers in motion, she likes numbers, she likes movement.”

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