Ryan glanced the text again with a small sigh. James had sent him an address after he had emailed him a quick rundown of his attempts to track down O’Connor. Giving up fighting with the map function on his phone he flagged down a taxi and crossed his fingers that he had enough cash. The final tally made him flinch but he paid and slid out of the cab facing the lines of cop cars and yellow crime scene tape. He did not recognize any of the cops on duty but he forced his stride level as he approached the tape, his leg burned from walking all over town tracking down leads.
“Ryan Harris, I’m working with James D’Atri, he asked me to come.” The cop raised an eyebrow but made no comment beyond radioing it in to whomever was running the case.
“Ryan Harris!” A voice boomed out, making both of them jump and drawing the eyes of everyone outside.
“Hey Mike.” Ryan said with a small grin, ducking under the tape to meet his friend. “Didn’t realize you were working homicide still.”
“Like they could get rid of me.” Mike said pulling Ryan into a quick hug. “Good to see you, mate.” the homicide detective said with a grin, gesturing Ryan to follow him into the apartment building.
(Need to rewrite this next bit)
Ryan gripped one wrist, thumb and fingers white knuckled, caging the joint, bones grinding against each other. He let the pain ground him as he watched James prowling the crime scene. The victim lay sprawled in a pool of blood, the iron taste of it filling the room. The woman’s limbs had been flayed, the muscle carefully teased away from bone and trailing in a fan shape away from her arms and legs. The lips, cheeks, and nose had been removed, granting the victim a skull like visage.
James rattled off lists of the muscles that were displayed, descriptions of the missing lengths of skin and bone. The wrists showed signs of restraints but there were none present. The victim had been raped and strangled before being stripped and mutilated.
“Come on, even you people can’t be this dense! The body was moved to its current location, redressed, and posed in a pool of blood that did not belong to the victim. Which means there is a high chance that if the blood is human that we have another body waiting to be found.” James snarled at the forensics team scattered about the room. This was the third such body that had been found in the last month. All partly dissected, muscles or skin flayed into patterns, the body moved to its final location after the dissection and posed.
“The perp even fixed her hair and makeup for god’s sake! He’s meticulous, a planner. The details have meaning to him so yes, everything in the room is important, even the fucking trash! Just do your jobs so that I can do mine!” He snapped, whirling and heading out the door. Ryan simply gave Mike a small grimace and followed James into the hall where he was violently pacing, tucking an unlit cigarette against his lips yet making no move to light it..
“Was that really necessary?” Ryan asked quietly, shifting to block the hall, forcing James to stop and face him.
“Yes, it was. This perp is smart and detail oriented. Everything in that room was staged, planted and arranged as he wanted it, no detail too small and they sent a herd of elephants through stomping everything to dust. Utterly ruined!” He snarled, tugging at his hair with one fisted hand.
“Now there is a good chance we will have to wait until the next body turns up and another victim dies before we find enough to catch this guy.”
“You think he is leaving clues deliberately?”
“Of course he is, this one is smart. He wants the world to see his skill, his genius. That was his idea of a work of art and they just shattered it.
“Artwork.” Ryan murmured turning and walking to the window. “You said he fixed her makeup?”
“Yes, might be a bit OCD. He needs everything to be staged, perfect.”
“But this is his masterpiece, right? Him showing off his skills?”
“Exactly, you don’t make a masterpiece and not leave a signature, something that says in neon light that I did this. We just have to find it.”
“OK, what do we know about him?”
“The victims so far are all young and fairly photogenic. Two of the victims are blonde, one female, one male. The first victim we found was a brunette woman. All of the victims are in their early twenties.”
“Photogenic, like models?”
“Possibly, I can get some of Mike’s crowd to hunt down the local modeling agencies, see if anyone is missing.”
“You said the entire thing was staged, planned…so he planned to fix their makeup and such so he would have had to have on hand right?”
“Yes, I ran the cosmetics but they are all common formulations. Could have been any of fifty brands, no real way to track where it was purchased.”
“What about the clothes?”
“What about them?”
“He redressed them, right. Did he make any additions or changes to their clothes?” Ryan asked, turning to face James, “It had to be perfect right? What if their clothes weren’t after the struggle?”
James gave a sudden grin, spinning and charging his way back into the crime scene.
Mike wandered over from where he had been watching.
“He’s worse than Sam ever was, I’ll give you that.” Ryan said with a small smile listening with half an ear to the rant James had started over how the clothes were being processed.
“Not by much.” Mike put in, tugging off his gloves and stuffing them into his jacket pocket. “Sam was in it for the thrill, he wanted to rescue everyone guns blazing. James just wants to prevent more victims.”
“Well, who doesn’t want to do that? That’s why most people go into law enforcement, to put away the bad guys, right?”
“Ten years ago, sure. Lately it seems most of the recruits are in it for the power or the paycheck, not much else.”
“Is most of the precinct going to be pissed that I am working with him?”
“Depends, if you can calm him down a tick they might up your status to God instead of just legend.”
“Oh, come off it. I was never that good. I did my job.”
“Ryan, you and Sam were a force to be reckoned with. Between his gut and your head the two of you brought down more low lifes than most cops catch in a lifetime. Only one to come close to your record is D’Atri. I’m just waiting to see how well you two mesh. You could be brilliant or wind up killing each other.”
Ryan hummed softly in response, eagerly turning away to watch James barrel out the door.
“Come on, got a nibble.” James said gesturing for Ryan to follow as his long legs powered him away from the crime scene. “Homeless kid that is supposed to have known O’Connor, stays down on __.”