The distinct ripping sound duct tape makes as it's pulled off the roll is like music to my ears. Tearing the strip of tape free, I used it as the final piece affixing the clear plastic sheet to the wall. The first sheet of many needed to cover the room's interior wall to wall, floor to ceiling.
The Dark Passenger quivered in anticipation of what's to come as I prepared the kill room.
Steve Dayton's choice of playground spots was something to be desired. A musty storage room at the back of a rented garage space was not what I would call ideal. Still, this is where he killed them. It is a perfect place for Steve's appointment with my Dark Passenger, and a private place no one is likely to find.
But if I was able to find it, could that Sherlock Holmes find it? The Dark Passenger hissed at the thought of his name. I frowned and stopped my work as I mentally walked though the steps I took that led me here.
Once I learned Steve's name, I ran his name through the database and learned that he was arrested on assault charges, twice. I paid a visit to the hotel where he works and collected a DNA sample that proved a match on all three girls. After that, it took me only a couple of days tailing him around town to find this garage.
I continued taping the plastic and reassured myself. If Sherlock Holmes does find this place, Steve and I will be long gone.
The Dark Passenger, smiling wide, agrees.
After about an hour, Sherlock was still going over the evidence of the other murder victims. Not because he needed to, but to buy some time. He glanced up at the clock. 8:30pm. Almost time.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
Sherlock dropped his gaze to the source of the irritating voice.
The one and only Sergeant Doakes. He stood on the other side of the office window with his arms crossed and glared in with a disapproving, and maybe even a disgusted, frown.
Sherlock's expression hardened and he narrowed his ice blue eyes.
"Doakes, leave him alone," said LaGuerta as she walked up. Her tone sounded tired and annoyed as if she had to say that to Doakes all the time, a detail that Sherlock picked up.
"Why is he in there? We don't know who the fuck he is. Could be another psycho for all we know." Doakes just about snarled to LaGuerta, but kept his eyes locked in a deadpan gaze on Sherlock.
"Relax. He checks out, and he seems to be quite popular in London. He's all over the news over there," LaGuerta said with a nod toward Sherlock. "So leave him alone."
"No, James. Drop it."
Sherlock had remained still as stone during the exchange, his mind going over all the possible insults at his disposal he could use against Doakes. He relaxed slightly when Doakes gave in and stomped off toward his desk like a scolded child.
LaGuerta gave Sherlock a warm smile. "I'm sorry about that, Mr. Holmes. Please just ignore him. He's like that with everyone."
He gave her a small smile that he hoped showed he accepted the apology. It worked and LaGuerta walked away with a playful wave.
For a moment, Sherlock considered the possibility that the check LaGuerta did on him might alert those back home where he was. His being in Miami wasn't for them to know since he was there looking for Irene who was supposed to be dead. However, he didn't really bother to conceal his tracks, so it really didn't matter.
He realized he hadn't thought about her since he walked into that crime scene. The thrill of a murder to solve overwhelmed his thoughts just as it has many times in the past. Besides, maybe she was going to make him wait two days before replying to his text and it didn't matter. He had something to pass the time.
The evidence he'd been going over did serve to answer some questions, but something wasn't right. Sherlock knew the victims were connected because they all stayed at the same hotel, but that fact seemed to have been ignored.
Probably due to their ignorance, Sherlock thought. Or is Dexter hiding the evidence? Indeed, there were pieces missing to this little puzzle.
Time to test a theory.
Time to make a phone call.
I'd just finished sharpening my favorite playtime toy, the butcher knife, and carefully placed the knife on the large metal tray along with the other tools of my trade. As I stand in the plastic covered room, I look over all the details important for my ritual.
The metal tray rested on a small cart next to the table in the middle of the room. Taped along the wall at the foot of the table was a photo of each of Steve's victims. Every square inch of the room was covered in plastic. I'd often wondered why other serial killers didn't use plastic like this. Not only does it keep the evidence contained, but it sure makes cleaning up that much easier. I mean, people like their garbage cans with trash bags, don't they?
Everything was perfect. The Dark Passenger purrs its approval.
I checked my watch. 8:30pm. Since I had acquainted myself with Steve's schedule, I knew he was currently at work at the hotel where he selects his victims.
Time to flush him out.
Time to make a phone call.
In the privacy of the lab, Sherlock set the office phone back into its cradle and glared at it with narrowed eyes. After a bit of clever manipulation, he'd earned the number he needed to confirm a suspicion; Dexter was not at Rita's.
Sherlock rolled this information around in his mind and did not come up with anything conclusive yet, but it did indicate that Dexter was involved in the murders somehow. Moving on, the consulting detective picked up the phone and called the hotel, the place all the victims had in common.
He told to the desk clerk he was police office and demanded a description of anything or anyone unusual in the past week. After listening to several bits of dribble, the desk clerk eventually produced something useful. An employee by the name of Steve Dayton had just received a phone call, seemed rather disturbed in a 'I just got caught red handed' way, and then abruptly left work explaining there was an emergency.
Sherlock immediately processed the new clues. Steve Dayton, as an employee, would have access to the victims. Steve's days off corresponded to the timeframe the victims disappeared. Adding this to what he already knew, the facts pointed toward Steve Dayton as the killer.
However, Sherlock was sure Dexter was involved and the question was how. He smiled as his fingers formed a steeple. This case was becoming more interesting the more he learned about it. Oh, how he loved these kinds of cases.
Still, there was work to be done. Sherlock called on Masuka to pull up a record of Steve Dayton where learned the man had a record of theft. Boring. Masuka, of course asked if Steve was a suspect, and Sherlock told him it was just a hunch.
While he was more than happy to blast Scotland Yard with the details of his brilliant deductions, he knew that this wasn't Scotland Yard. This was not a place for making a mistake. He had to be sure he was right. He had Steve's address now, memorized from the record, and he was going to pay him a visit.
The Dark Passenger is driving now. I am in the back seat, watching. We're in Steve Dayton's house, lurking in the shadows. Waiting to strike. Headlights flash across the living room window. A car parking in the driveway. He's here. Holding the syringe in our hand, we stand ready. As soon as he walks through that door, he will be ours.
"Pull over here," Sherlock said to the cab driver and as soon as the car came to a halt, he tossed the driver a twenty and stepped out of the car. "You don't need to wait."
The cab sped away and the consulting detective stood alone on a dark street just a few houses away from Steve Dayton's address. Night had fallen and Sherlock looked up at the clear sky that sparkled with the few stars that can be seen through the glow of the city lights. Noting that there were few street lights that actually worked in this slightly run-down neighborhood, he made his way down the sidewalk.
Once in front of Steve Dayton's home, Sherlock scanned the house. There was no car in the driveway and there wasn't a single light on indicating that no one was home. He pulled on a pair of latex gloves he took from the station and made his way to the back of the house. Thankfully, none of the neighbors seemed to be home either ensuring his break in would remain secret.
Once inside the house, Sherlock pulled out a small flashlight and shined the beam of light quickly across everything and just as quickly absorbing all the details. The most important of those details included photos on the wall of who had to be Steve smiling next to a classic car in front of a garage and the spot of fresh blood on the edge of the coffee table in the living room.
The detective spun on his heel this way and that as he examined the room more closely. There were definitely signs of a struggle judging the even the obvious evidence such as the overturned ashtray on the floor and the bunch up carpet in front of the sofa.
Those signs meant only one thing, Steve Dayton has a victim right now.
In light of this new information, Sherlock's mind raced into overdrive as he searched the house for clues as to where Steve takes his victims. The sudden urgency that drove Sherlock really had nothing to do with saving someone's life; rather it was the need to discover the truth, to prove how clever he really is, and to win. If anyone was saved or sent to prison while Sherlock fed that need, it was a mere side effect.
In a back bedroom, he forced open a locked drawer in a cheap wooden desk and discovered photos of men and women bound, gagged and bloodied. There was one picture for each victim and this confirmed that Steve Dayton is the killer.
Now Sherlock had to find him.
We open the trunk of Steve's car finding Steve still unconscious. The Dark Passenger smiles a wide grin. A quick scan of the area confirms there is no one around to see us pull Steve out of the trunk and take him inside the garage.
In the plastic covered kill room, we lay our playmate on the table and begin wrapping plastic wrap around his body. The Dark Passenger smiles in delight of the game.
"Come on, where are you!" Sherlock snarled as he mentally poured over all the details of the house he'd remembered since walking in. The photo of Steve in front of the garage came into focus and Sherlock snapped his fingers.
Dashing into the living room, he ripped the photo off the wall and examined it closely. The garage was a rental. He spied a stack of papers on the coffee table and frantically rummaged through mail and bill until he found what he was looking for, the bill for the garage.
The address was nearby and as Sherlock bolted out of the house and down the street, he smiled in the delight of the game.
To be continued.