The Adventure of the Hunter in the Darkness
It was late in the city directly down the street from the major hospital in the city. Sirens could be heard screaming, red and blue lights of the police, SWAT Team, and fire department cut off access to the small narrow street. SWAT team members deployed around a narrow, Victorian house badly in need of a makeover. A voice came across a loud speaker admonishing the people in the house to surrender themselves, because they were surrounded by SWAT team and police. There was no response from the small house. A SWAT team member moved to the side window, broke the single pane of glass and tossed in a tear gas canister. Smoke poured out of the broken pane of glass and rose toward the sky. Suddenly, flames could be seen moving far too fast toward the ceiling of the tiny kitchen. Firefighters pulled out their hoses and connected them to fire hydrants and began to pour water onto the houses surrounding the house now on fire. A primal scream came from somewhere in the house and a figure recognizable as a man, raced across the back door and yanked it open. He dashed inside and immediately began coughing, but he continued to move through the smoke down the hall to the front door and slowly began to climb the stairs. With a sudden cracking the huge timber that supported the second story gave way and the entire second story of the house crashed down burying the first floor in flaming debris. The police and fire fighters surrounding the house heard a scream from inside the house and caused the men to pause in horror when they realized that someone and maybe more than one person was trapped in the fire. Hours later not much was left of the small house was left but smoking ruins the remains were still too hot to go over in detail. It would be many more house before the fire fighters would allow anyone to enter the scene and begin to look for remains. The police would find the remains of a woman, two children and died as a result of their actions. The man who had rushed into the house lowered the paper he was reading in the small cafeteria of a small county hospital. He was furious, that there was no apology, no remorse, no nothing as far as he could tell from reading the article. He gently touched the bandages on his face and hands, which he told the hospital had been caused by a barn fire as he had rescued prized horses and foals from the burning barn. The doctors had murmured about his courage going into the fire to save the animals. He rose, paused at this table, gathered the dirty dishes and put them into a tub specifically set out for that purpose. He cautiously left the hospital and walked to the near-by bus station and paid for a ticket to a different city from the one he had come from. Three months later, feeling that he was no longer associated with the fire in the city he has come from the first police officer in the major city he now lived in the Hunter had made his first kill. There would be many, many more deaths before he reached New York City.
It was either every early or very late when the cell phone lying on the nightstand next to the bed. It buzzed and continue to buzz until long fingers slid out from under the covers. They took hold of the buzzing phone and pushed the answer button. “Queen.” The fingers placed the phone against the ear of a sleep filled face. A deep dangerous voice came across the line dripping in venom and hatred. “I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. You have found my victim; he is not the first nor will he be the last. I have just begun to hunt, there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.” The line went dead and Chief of Detectives Richard Queen looked at the face of the iPhone he held in his hand. “What the hell?” He shook his head hit the off button set the phone back down on the bedside table, rolled over and went back to sleep.
A blue-coated police officer casually walked along the sidewalk listening to the soft murmur of voices coming from his radio. He whistled to himself as he moved past the locked and closed storefronts. There were several bars still open and he paused at the door of one, opened it and stepped inside. There were a few men sitting at the bar and some couples out for a late dinner after attending a movie or a play. He nodded to the barman, “How’s everything Joe?”
“Pretty quiet for a Sunday evening, not much happening.” The man standing behind the bar slowly wiped the highly polished surface of the bar. “Can I get you anything Peter?”
“Nah, just checking the open joints on my beat, ya know?”
“Thanks’ for that, Pete, I appreciate it. Keeps the place quiet, I like quite especially on Sunday night.”
“Know what you mean, Joe. Well good night, see yah on Wednesday, as Monday and Tuesday are my days off.” The officer turned and left the bar. He paused at a corner looking both ways just checking out the traffic that was moving slowly past him.
A man yelling “Police!! Police!!” came running towards him waving his arms wildly in the air. A car screeched to a halt as the frantic man ran in front of it.
The beat officer quickly moved into the street and grabbed the frantic man by his upper arm and escorted his back across to the side he came from. “Now, see here my man, ya just can’t go running out in front of cars that’s a good way to get yerself killed. Now, what’s the trouble?”
Puffing and trying to get his breath, the man pulled himself free of the cop’s grip. “There’s…there’s a body in the alley between my building and the one next door, come on I’ll show you.” He turned and began trotting toward the entrance of an alley.
The beat cop pulled his long-handled flashlight from his utility belt and followed the man to the entrance and paused. “Now, where’s the body you just spoke of?”
“Down there about halfway lying up against a dumpster,” the frantic man pointed. “I would’ve called nine-one-one, but I left my phone upstairs in my apartment. When I saw the body, I ran to the street and spotted you, and you know the rest.”
“All right you stay here and let me check it out.” The blue coat turned on his flashlight and cautiously moved down the alley. He swung the bright light back and forth ahead of him. Reaching the halfway point, he found the still, lifeless body of another beat cop. He recognized the officer at once, sucking in a breath he quickly grabbed his mike and pressed the contact button. A female voice responded.
“Nineteenth precinct, what is your emergency?”
“My name’s Officer Peter Burrows, I’m in an alley between West fiftieth and West fifty-first and Amsterdam and Lexington. I need all available units and get hold of Chief Richard Queen at home I have the murder of a police officer.” He released the button on his mike, rose and returned to the man who had led him to the alley. Pulling out a note pad and pencil, he opened the small notebook. “What’s your name?”
“James Williams, I live in this building,” he pointed to the door opening onto the sidewalk. “I was throwing my trash into the dumpster as trash-day is Monday. I heard a noise, kind of like a gurgle, you know. When I looked toward where the sound was coming from, I spotted the body. I got scared so I lit out to find a cop and saw you standing at the light. I had to attract your attention and well…I guess I wasn’t thinking so straight. I ran right out in front of that car. Thankfully, you saw me, and you checked it out. Is there anything more you need from me? I gotta go and get my kid to bed,” He hurried toward the open door of the apartment building, pausing he turned toward the police officer, “My apartment number is Three C.”
The man quickly entered the apartment as sirens were coming in from all directions. Peter Borrows quickly returned to where he had found the lifeless body of his brother officer.
He looked up as a car entered the alley for both end lights on bright and halted several feet from the scene. A man of huge proportions exited one of the vehicles, closed the patrol car’s door and strode over to Peter.
“What have you got Borrows?” The huge man crouched down and looked closely at the motionless corpse. There was a dark stain in the center of the officer’s chest which slowly dripped a dark red fluid down the center left of the man’s uniform.
“Civilian found him when he threw out his trash less than ten minutes ago. He came running towards me, nearly got himself run over by a car. I managed to get him off the street and he led me here. I saw the body and quickly put a call into the nineteenth and told the operator what was what and had her put in a call to headquarters to the Chief Queen as I know he’d want to know as soon as possible.”
“Good job, Borrows.” Sargent Velie reached out a hand and with two careful fingers touched the pulse point on the side of the downed officer’s neck. There was no bumping beneath his fingers and as he looked closely at the body, rising, he looked around and began barking out orders at various police officers and they all grabbed flashlights and began searching the alley for clues.
The call came in at two in the morning and in less than an hour a police car lights and sirens blaring screeched to a halt and discharged two men who casually strode through the small crowd that had gathered at the scene of the crime crowd. One was a short gray-haired, man dressed in a black three-piece suit with a starched white shirt, and dark blue and white stripped bowtie who moved silently towards the two men standing in front of the body. He was followed by a tall, lean man dressed in tweeds a hat and sweater. He towered over the older man as they came along side of the other two men. Chief of Detectives Richard Queen stopped beside a giant of man as he heard the older man’s soft voice as he gently voiced a question as he looked up into the eyes of the giant. Richard Queen waited patiently for the answer to his softly asked question. “Well? Velie what have we got this time?”
“Police Office Edwin Turner of the nineteenth was found murdered approximately twenty minutes ago by a civilian who, then alerted Officer Peter Borrows who immediately notified the nineteenth and had them call us in. Proudy should be on his way here. Looks to me as a single shot from back to front the bullet went all the way through, got men searching for both the cartridge and the bullet.”
“Will you get outta my way you great big oaf?!” The assistant medical examiner muttered as he shoved past the sergeant and knelt in front of the body. “Bring two of those patrol cars in closer and focus that search light down here. I need more light to see with.” He eased the body down onto its’ side and began looking closely at both the front and back wounds.
“Do you have anything to add to this Officer Borrows?”
“No, Chief, it’s just as Sargent Velie described it. Oh, here’s the civilian’s contact information. If you need him, he lives in three C in the building right behind us.” He tore out the page from his note pad and handed to the smaller man.
“Good job getting that contact information Borrows. How long have you been on this beat?”
“Just started my fifth year, Inspector, took my all my promotions tests at the end of last month, my captain, that’s Captain Moss says I’ll be in the next promotion cycle.”
“Good Borrows, very good, you go back to your beat and finish or are you already finished for the night?”
“I go off shift in thirty minutes, I need to get back to the station so I can complete all my paperwork”
“You go right ahead and do that and make sure to ask your superior to send me a copy of your report.”
“Will do Chief.” The officer saluted and turned toward the Amsterdam entrance of the alley and before he could take a step Ellery stepped forward. “Is this a normal part of your beat Officer Borrows?”
The officer startled, then looked slightly upwards into the younger Queen’s face. “Uh, yes sir. My beat goes from the nineteenth precinct, which is on forty-second street to seventy-second street which belongs to the twentieth. Then I cross Amsterdam and go back down to forty-second street. It takes me four hours to walk the thirty-blocks going up-town and four hours to walk back down-town. I’ve never experienced any problem on my beat in all the time I’ve been here.”
“Not even so much as a shoplifting case?”
“Oh, those, Inspector Queen mostly the juvies are pretty good around here, they know me, and all the other beat cops and they try to keep themselves out-a-trouble, if you know what I mean If there is any crime it’s mostly small stuff, candy and things like that.”
“Thank you Officer Borrows, if you can think of anything strange or you hear about anything unusual, let your C.O. know or get in touch with Velie.”
“Yes, sir I’ll be sure to do that. Good night Mr. Queen.” He nodded and exited the crowded alley.
“Ellery, come here and take a look at this.”
The younger Queen moved over to his father’s side and crouched down beside him. “Did you notice anything unusual about this?”
His father pointed to the very small bullet hole in the officer’s back.
“That looks like it came from a .38 caliber. Am I right?”
“Good guess,” Doctor Proudy looked at the entry hole in the back and the much larger hole in the chest of the dead officer.
“Are you saying there’s a possibility that another cop shot Officer Turner in the back?” Velie snarled as he stood and looked around. “Damn, why would one cop shoot a brother officer?” He looked around and snapped, “Hess, Piggott, Flint, Hagestrom!!” the two plain-clothes officers quickly appeared at the huge man’s side. “Have everyone search for a police issue .38 bullet and cartridge, it’s gotta be here somewhere.”
“Right, Sarge,” They quickly disappeared in opposite directions and gathered the other officers around them, giving them their instructions.
Doctor Proudy, Ellery and Chief of Detective Richard Queen rose as two men came up beside the corpse and opened a large black zippered bag. They placed the body of the fallen officer into it, then placed the bag on the gurney, strapped it down, then headed toward the medical examiners van and loaded the entire thing into the back. “I’ll have the autopsy to you sometime tomorrow late or middle of the morning day after.”
“Alright, Proudy this shouldn’t be all that difficult, should it?”
“No, but then you never know what you’re going to find once you get in there.”
“True enough,” Richard looked at his son, shook his head and started for the police car that had brought them to the scene. “There’s nothing more we can do here Velie has it under control And I’m dead on my feet I need sleep. Let’s go home tomorrow will be soon enough to question Mr. James Williams.” He yawned and opened the car door. “Coming Ellery?”
“What? Oh, yes,” the younger Queen opened the back door and got in, then closed it. “By the way did you notice that Officer Turner’s badge is missing?” The car pulled out of the space it had created for itself and headed up-town to the Queen’s Eighty-Seventh street apartment. The Crime Scene Units were quickly taking the place of the Queen’s patrol car. “Dad I have this nasty going to lose to this killer.”
Bright and early Monday morning found Doctor Ellery Queen behind his desk at Columbia reading a very large pile of student test results from his lectures from the week before. In a file folder lying on the corner of his desk were all the reports, pictures and statements from the crime scene of the night before. One of the searchers had found the casing for the bullet that had taken Officer Turner’s life, and another had found footprints not made by any of the officers on the scene or the civilian who had found Officer Turner. Among the reports were photos of the entire alley from one end to the other. Included in the photos were impressions of the casts of the footprints and several car tires. Photos of the deceased were also among the others. He shuffled through the reports from every officer present on the crime scene including Officer Borrows was among the stack. He separated the photos from the reports, shoving the photos into one folder and the reports into another. Velie had informed him that he had assigned two patrol cars on site one at each end of the alley to prevent anyone from contaminating the crime scene any more than it had already been. Not even the trash truck had been allowed to enter the alley to take away the trash. The crime scene techs still had to go through the dumpsters to eliminate any potential clues in the murder investigation.
Across town at police headquarters Chief of Detectives Richard Queen looked up as Police Commissioner Miles Gilbert and Deputy Commissioner Donald Hayes entered the room. Richard rose from his seat behind the desk. “Oh, sit down, Q” the Commissioner growled as he and his deputy took the chairs across the desk from Queen. “From the reports I’ve read, there is nothing to go on, except a single bullet and casing. There is no other clue as to who and why Officer Turner was shot. The media are having a field day with this. He was a good man and a good cop, and I want his killer.”
“So, do I Miles. So, do I. But as you said we have nothing to work with. I’ve got Hagestrom and Hess interviewing the man who found Turner and everyone within a two-block area around the scene. I’ll be getting their reports this afternoon along with the autopsy report. Velie and the rest of the team are going to head back to the alley and see if they find anything more in the daylight than we did last night. There has to be something, some clue as to who did this and why.”
“I’m not so sure that the answers are in that alley, Dad.” Ellery entered from the hallway as he looked at his father and the rest of the men who had gathered in the small room. “What evidence there was might have been obliterated by the patrol cars, other officer’s footprints, our own prints, who knows how many people entered and left that alley before Officer Turner was found.”
“You’re right about that son, but we have to check on everything, including those trash cans and dumpsters I’ll assign more detectives for this investigation.”
“Excuse me, Inspector, but I know from what Borrows told me last night, that there wasn’t anyone else in that alley when he and Williams got there. He also told me that from what he saw as he moved through it that there were no other footprints except the ones that Williams had made when he went to throw out his trash. He also checked for other footprints as he moved toward Lex from Amsterdam and found only Turner’s and his own.” Velie read from his note pad that he had pulled from the inside jacket pocket of his suit coat.
“Anything else Sargent Velie?”
“No, sir. There was a total of twenty officers searching that alley and two patrol cars with lights on bright and both search lights focused on the crime scene, because Doc Proudy ordered the additional light to aid in his prelim. That did not include the CSU.”
“Very good Velie.” The Commissioner looked at the other men in the room and nodded his head. “We need to keep this under wraps, I’ll have communications work with the press and release a statement regarding the loss of Officer Turner.”
The Chief’s phone buzzed, and he picked up the receiver. “Queen here,”
A familiar dark, dangerous voice filled with hatred and venom filled the speaker of the handset.
“I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. You have found one of my victims; he is not the first nor will he be the last. I have just begun to hunt, there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.”
The horrifying laughter on the other end of the line caused the Chief to turn paler than he already was. Slowly lowering the receiver to its’ cradle, he sat motionless and blinked several times as he tried to calm himself. “Dad…Dad? What’s wrong?” His son touched his shoulder and he startled violently and remembered where he was.
“I…I,” he shook himself all over and tried to start again. Taking in a deep breath he slowly let it out. “I’m not sure if that was a crank call or our killer.”
“What did he say Q” The D.A. leaned forward in his chair, resting one arm on the corner of the desk.
Swallowing hard the old gentleman man tried and found his mouth was so dry that it was hard to talk. He felt another touch on his shoulder as Ellery handed him a glass of water. “Thank you, son.” He took the glass and drank the contents in a single gulp. Setting the glass on the desk blotter he tried to speak again. The voice identified itself as the Hunter in the Darkness and said that I or rather we have taken something from him, so he has taken something from us. He said that Turner was not his first victim, nor would he be the last. He said that he had just begun to hunt and there would be many, many, more victims before he was caught.”
Richard closed his eyes and breathed deeply again getting ahold on himself and his emotions.
“All right, if Turner is not his first victim, then I’m going to have every precinct go through a complete roll call, I want to know where every single one of my officers are.” Commissioner Miles Galbert stood and left the office followed by the other men. Grace closed the door after the other men had left and took her seat again steno pad and pen ready to take notes. “Grace, please write this down,”
The woman silently nodded in assent and waited patiently for her boss to begin.
“The voice said the following: “I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. You have found my victim; he is not the first nor will he be the last. I have just begun to hunt, there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.” Richard looked across the desk at his son and his right-hand man. “So, how do we keep this nut-case from killing more cops?
The side door to the Inspector’s office opened and Doctor Proudy entered carrying a manila folder. “The P.M.” He dropped the folder on top of the desk and dropped down into the only unoccupied chair across the desk from the inspector. “Sorry, for the interruption.” Before he could turn and leave the office the voice of Richard Queen stopped him. “Proudy give us an over-view of the postmortem?”
Proudy turned and looked at Velie, Ellery, and Sampson. “What oh, yes, Chief. Death was the result of a single gun-shot wound caused by person or persons unknown. Officer Edwin Turner was a thirty-year-old Caucasian male weighing one hundred sixty pounds, standing five-feet eight inches tall. He was killed sometime between ten and midnight on Sunday night. Cause of death was a single shot through the back entering the heart causing instant death. Nothing else of note, unless you want to know what he had for dinner.”
“Thanks. Proudy. If there are any further questions, I’ll be in touch.” Proudy nodded and exited the room.
‘There has got to be more clues left behind in that alley. I get the team together and go over that alley with a fine-toothed comb,” Velie stood and exited the room.
Ellery looked at his father as he dropped into the chair opposite the older man. “I think what needs to be done is to search for those first victims or victim.”
“I agree, but where do we start, besides the obvious places?” The Chief leaned back in his chair and regarded his only child.
Ellery shifted to lean back in his chair stretching out his long legs to rest the heels of his shoes on the arm rest of the other chair on his side of the desk. “I think I’ll give my junior and senior students a challenge. I’ll have them search through every police department in the country looking for causes of death for officers killed in the line of duty.” Ellery dropped his feet to the floor, rose, clapped his hat on his head and moved toward the door. “If you need me, call my office, I’ve got late classes today and even later office hours, so I won’t be home for dinner, you might want to eat out.” Ellery exited through the door and disappeared down the hallway.
In a room hidden in the dark, dank basement of an old warehouse among many abandoned buildings along the Hudson River. A bare light bulb lit one wall covered with photos, sticky notes, an enlarged map of Manhattan denoting the outline of each precinct and the area of the borough it covered. He marked off with a stickpin the location of the dead officer’s location. On the wall to the left of the map was another map, this one of the United States. Marked on each state were colored stickpins found in the most populace cities of each state. On the directly across from the map of Manhattan was a cork board nearly filled with golden badges, each one taken from the body of a dead police officer. The final wall held the door to the small room and standing in the center of the room was a tall, lean figure cloaked entirely in black. A hoody was pulled up covering the head and most of the face of the figure. He looked around in satisfaction as he moved toward the map of Manhattan and picked up a push pin from a box resting on a shelf located directly below the map. He shoved the pin into the map of Manhattan with great satisfaction. He looked closely at the map and nodded to himself. He would hunt again tonight he looked closely at the map, made his decision as to which precinct he would hunt in tonight. He turned, reached out flipped out the light, closed and locked the door behind him leaving his collection to the darkness.
Professor Ellery Queen stood in the center of the lecture hall and looked up at the students scattered among the desks. “All right, every come down to the first five rows. This is not church, and I want to see your faces and be able to hear you without shouting. Now, move.” He heard the groans and moans as the students as they gathered their stuff and moved to the first five row in the lecture hall. “Now, that I can see you and hear you. I want to make sure that you’re supposed to be here. This is Criminology five hundred. In other words, you are all senior or juniors. I am going to give you your first assignment. I want you,” Ellery pointed to a young man sitting in the corner seat to the professor’s right. “Count off from one to ten. Once that is complete, I want everyone who called out the number one to gather around Mr. Phillips. Each person is to gather around the person who first called out your number. Once you are in your groups I’ll begin.” Fifteen minutes later all the students were gathered in their groups. “All right let’s begin. You will work with your group on this project, you must use every available resource you can get your hands one. You can work with other groups, and I strongly suggest that you do. For the next several weeks you are going to research the death of police officers from every police department, state patrol, state police, DEA, ATF, FBI and Homeland officers who have died in the line of duty. I want to know their names, ages and cause of death, time and location if their badges were missing.” Before he could continue a hand shot up and a female voice asked, “Excuse me, Doctor Queen are we hunting a serial killer?”
“Your name Miss?” Ellery asked the young woman.
“I Mia Craig. Am I correct Professor?”
“It’s possible, the police aren’t sure, but it’s a possibility. And before you ask, the police don’t have the time or resources to do this kind of research. We do, I am also going to do the sociological, psychological, and criminological aspects I am also going to include a statistical to all this research. Police departments throughout the five boroughs are preparing their clerical workers to help you with anything you might need, this includes police headquarters. I want you to bring all your research to me and at the end of October we are going to meet here and put all this information together and see what we come up with. So choose your team leaders and get going, there’s a lot of work to be done before October.” Ellery gathered his belongings and left the lecture hall.
The woman officer entered the alley and slowly moved toward a dumpster. She reached it and moved it out from the wall of a building which housed a store and above that apartments. Pulling it out, she looked behind it and closely examined the accumulated dirt and trash located beneath the metal trash container. There was nothing of interest to her or the police department. She pushed the dumpster back against the wall and moved toward the next dumpster and repeated the same procedure. She was hunting for used needles and evidence of Heroin addicts using the alley to shoot up. So far, there was nothing to indicate that any addict had used this particular alley to feed their addition. She heaved a sigh and continued her inspection unaware of the figure in black following her. The Hunter slowly pulled a very small hand gun then quickly replaced it. He had made from different recycled gun parts. The little gun was small, and powerful out of all proportion to its size. There was no rifling in the barrel, nothing to identify the bullet or which type of gun the bullet had come from. He moved cautiously behind the woman police officer and quickly moved onto a set of concrete stairs leading into the basement of an apartment building. He leaned against the left side of the stairs and watched the woman ahead of him. Suddenly, he heard the scream of a pair of cats and one flashed past him as the other raced off in the opposite direction. He heard the woman breathing heavily as she once again moved another dumpster. He could hear her mumbling, “Damn cats, going to give me a heart attack one day.”
The Hunter smiled as he agreed to the woman’s statement. Cats weren’t that scary in themselves, it was just that they could scare the hell out you when you surprised them or stepped on them. He once again slowly removed his gun from the pocket on the front of the hoody. He lifted his right foot to the step above the one he was standing on. He pulled out a silencer of the other pocket and screwed it into place. Rising his left arm he rested it on the handrail and put rested his wrist on his forearm. He took aim at the center of the back of the police officer. Rising the barrel just slightly he waited for her to rise. After a few minutes, she rose, replaced the dumpster. The Hunter took a deep breath released half of it and very gently pulled the trigger. There was pft sound and the bullet struck home. The police officer dropped face down into the dirt as the bullet severed her spinal cord, killing her instantly. He shoved the pistol into its’ pocket and trotted toward the motionless body. Reaching her, he rolled her onto her right side and swiftly removed her badge. He shoved in to his pocket and quickly ran to the street at the end of the alley. He paused at the corner, looked around to make sure that no one was paying attention to anything or anyone. He dropped the hood of the hoody, and casually merged with the crowd moving along in both directions on the sidewalk. He disappeared into the crowd leaving the dead body of the police officer behind him.
Chief of Detective Richard Queen sighed heavily as he replaced the hand-set of the phone. “That was Chief of Inspectors Charles in Brooklyn. They found Officer Jamie Kendall dead in an alley. She had been shot just above her bullet-proof vest right through the spinal cord, she died instantly. There was no bullet or casing on the scene and as for footprints there were hundreds in that alley, there’s no way to find out who shot her or why.” He leaned back in his desk chair and regarded Lieutenant Velie and Ellery. Before he could speak the phone rang again and he picked up the receiver, “Queen. “I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. You have found my victim; she will not be the last. I have just begun to hunt, there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.” He slowly lowered the receiver and returned it to the cradle. He was so pale that he had to pause and get a hold of himself before he spoke to Velie and his son. “Our killer just called again, he told me he was responsible for Officer “That makes three in Brooklyn this month. There’s been one officer’s death so far in each of the other boroughs. El, what have you and your overly smart students come up with?”
“Not much so far, they are currently busy accumulating data from the other forty-nine states, although I don’t think Alaska and Hawaii are going to contribute anything. So far, there no pattern that they could detect, yet at least three officers have been killed in the major cities of the contiguous forty states. Here in New York, some of my students have been in touch with Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse and the five boroughs. The only thing that ties the three killings into the data bank we are building is that all three officers in Brooklyn were shot in the back. That seems to be our killer’s modus operandi. I gave my advanced students until the end of October which is two weeks away. They are all working together as a single unit, of which I heartily approve. While they have been searching current records, I’ve gone looking in the other direction and see if I could find out the trigger for this serial killer, which is what we seem to be dealing with, don’t you agree, Dad?”
“Not necessarily, El, this could just be a single killer out to make a name for himself. A lone wolf if you like. So far, this killer has only hit in Brooklyn, and none of the other boroughs. It’s not as if we haven’t lost officer in this manner before, there’s records in the archives to prove that. Velie had some of his team doing the research. The last time we lost officers, besides the nine-eleven-aught-one incident, was in twenty-twelve in November/December and then only six officer’s lost their lives in the line of duty.”
“Dad, is there any way I or rather my students can get access to those files? We need to add that information to our database to make sure we have all information available. I have them searching the Main Public Library, Columbia’s library archives, all the newspapers, magazines and any local flyers, that sort of thing. Several of my students are even interviewing some of the retired officers in all five boroughs. They are researching the internet, contacting police departments throughout the country. Any other suggestions Velie, Dad?”
“No, Maestro, you seem to be covering everything. Do you want the info my team comes up with, Maestro?” The giant of a police officer asked as he pulled out his note pad out of his jacket and began making notes.
“I don’t have any suggestions.” Richard Queen settled himself more comfortably in his desk chair. He looked up as the hallway door to his office opened and Doctor Proudy the assistant medical examiner entered and dropped a file down on Richard’s desk, pulled an empty chair up alongside Velie’s and plopped down placed his heels on the corner of the desk. “Cause of death for Officer Jamie Kendall was single bullet right through the neck by person or persons unknown. And before any of you ask, I have no idea what the caliber of the bullet was. Small hole at entrance point, large hole on exit, the bullet tore a fairly large hole through the esophagus and trachea and disappeared who knows where. There was no bullet casing left on the scene, or if there was the CSU hasn’t found it. According to Officer Kendall’s super, she was searching that alley for signs of Heroin users, hiding behind the dumpsters in that alley. There have been addicts know to hide in the shadows or behind dumpsters to shoot up.” The M.E.s heels hit the floor with a thud, he rose and turned to face the door. “If you need anything else, let me know. I hate doing p.m.’s on officers just as much as I hate doing children. Although, come to think of it, I hate doing children even more. Kid’s just shouldn’t die, they just shouldn’t.” He opened the door left the room and closed the door behind him. Richard shook his head and opened the file folder glancing over the contents and threw it to Ellery, who caught it deftly.
“Nothing, in there that Proudy hasn’t told us. She was due for promotion at the end of the month. She would’ve been off the streets as a detective first grade and been transferred here. I was seriously considering having her assigned to my staff. She was a good officer and she will be missed.”
“Yeah, she will. Her husband is a good officer as well. He’s assigned to anti-terrorism unit. Sam Kendall, is very smart and he works hard. His widowed mother lives with them to take care of the kids. Jamie leaves behind two young daughters and three month old son. Sam’s going to be heart broken, he and Jamie were childhood sweethearts, and they grew up together. I’m going to have go to Brooklyn and see Sam, give him my condolences on the death of his wife.” Richard rose, grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and put it on. “Coming Velie?” He looked at Ellery, “You going back to Columbia or home?”
“Columbia, I’ve got class in two hours, the office hours and counseling after that. I have a couple of students with falling grades and I want to know why. They are academy cadets, so I’ll find out what’s going on before they fail completely. I’ll see you for a late dinner, Dad.” Ellery rose, clapped his hat on his head and left the office. The hallway door opened and Richard and Velie left the office and headed down to the motor pool to get transportation to Brooklyn to see the newly widowed officer.
Ellery sat behind his desk in his office on the top floor of one of the class room building on the edge of the campus. His window was open and there was a very slight breeze coming from the corner window and the side window. His papers fluttered and he quickly put his skull on top of them to prevent them from being blown off the desk. He heaved a sigh as he read through the first of a huge pile of student papers on the first three chapters of their Criminology text book along with applied Sociology and Psychology and Statistics in Criminology. He looked at his wrist watch, noted that his office hours were over, rising he grabbed his briefcase, stuffed all the papers into it, shut off the light in his office and locked the door behind him. One of the janitors was busy scrubbing the hallway and the middle-aged woman asked in an Asian accent, “Do you want your office cleaned Doctor Queen?”
“No, thank you Ming, right now it needs to stay messy, I’ve got several student projects being worked on by my senior students and I don’t want anything moved as right now everything is organized and we know where we can get out hands on the information we need. Please, let the rest of the cleaning crew know not to enter my office for any reason, will you Ming?”
“Of course, Doctor Queen, I will tell them. You have a good night, Doctor Queen,”
“Thank you Ming,” Ellery pressed the elevator button to call the mechanism. He left the building, walked to the subway entrance and took it toward eighty-seventh street. He shoved the key into the lock of the apartment he shared with his father. “Dad?” There was no response, and he called again. “Dad!”
“Sorry son, on the phone to HQ.”
“Oh,” Ellery quietly entered his study and pulled out his papers from his briefcase, then dropped them on to the desk. Sitting down behind it, the younger Queen picked up the paper he had been working on and continued to make corrections to the errors this particular young man had made. He gave the paper a fairly low grade and indicated for the young student to see him in his office as soon as possible. Setting that aside he picked up another paper and watched his father as the older Queen hung up and dropped into his favorite chair in his son’s study. Richard stared empty eyed as he looked down at the carpet underneath his slippered feet. “What’s wrong Dad?” There was no response from the gray-haired old gentleman. “Dad?” Ellery spoke again, then rose and went over to his father and crouched down to get into his father’s line of sight. Reaching out, he gently laid his hand on the older man’s hand that rested on the arm rest of the chair. “Dad?”
“Oh, Ellery, that was Velie on line, he called to let me know that Teddy Jones was found dead not more than twenty minutes ago. Shot in the back just like the two officers in Brooklyn. Teddy’s been with me since I was Captain of the twenty-second. He was such a gentleman, he really loved his job. How am I going to tell Charlotte that her husband is dead?” Richard asked his son as he slowly rose to his feet and headed toward his bedroom to change his clothes. Several minutes later, the old gentleman entered the study. “Will you come with me, El? I really need your company right now, this is the one part of the job I really hate.”
“Of course I’ll come with you. I’ve known Teddy just as long as you have, I remember when he first joined your staff. He told the funniest jokes, usually about something rude and crude it made everyone at a murder scene breakup laughing.”
“I remember, I’m going to miss that, and Ted. He was such a good man, Gods why Teddy? Thankfully all his kids are grown and out on their own. But, Charlotte, she’s not going to handle this well, but then, neither am I.” Outside they caught the attention of a cab drive and gave him the address. Nearly an hour later, due to traffic and congestion the Queens were deposited on the sidewalk in front of Theodore Jones’ small narrow house. The door was open and the Queens entered the small house, entering the crowded living room. Charlotte Jones was a small, petite, pretty woman in her middle sixties. She was surrounded by police officers, her neighbors, and other officer’s wives. She looked up from the position on a couch, her eyes red rimmed from crying and met the sad, pain filled eyes of the Chief of Detectives Richard Queen. “Oh, Richard, Ellery, I’m so glad you came. Thank you so much, it’s been far too long since you’ve come over for dinner. Would you and Ellery be good enough to have dinner with…?” She paused, the put her hand up to her mouth and began to cry again. Richard stepped up to and put his arms around her shoulders. “It’s all right, Char, it’s all right.” He whispered in to her ear as she clung to him and the two of them shared their mutual grief at the loss of someone special to both of them. Finally, after getting hold of their emotions the two separated and Ellery held out two glasses of spiked Lemonade. “Thank you Ellery, I’m glad to see you as too.”
Charlotte gulped down the lemonade and sighed. “I needed that, too much crying, I suppose.” She patted the younger Queen on his upper arm and moved past him. Ellery gently put his hand over hers and gently squeezed it in acknowledgement of her gratitude and grief. “I’ll miss Teddy too.”
“Thank you, Ellery, you and your father will catch this….this killer won’t you?”
“Yes, we’ll catch him, I’m sure that Dad feels the same way, we want this guy, whoever he is. This killer now have over thirty-six thousand-six-hundred police officers hunting him throughout the five boroughs.”
Charlotte, nodded thanks and moved past the tall, young Professor and began speaking with the other people gathered in her living room to provide their support and comfort the new widow. The Queens stayed for another hour, then left the small house. After stopping a Chinese restaurant for dinner, father and son entered their apartment. “Go to bed Dad, tomorrows going to be a very, very long day. I’ve got to finish these papers and get the grades recorded, before I go to bed.”
“Thank you for coming, El, I appreciate.” Turned and headed toward his bedroom. “Oh El, will I see you at the office tomorrow?”
“Yes, just as soon as I get through my classes.”
“Good, very good. Goodnight son,”
“Good night, Dad, sleep well.”
Ellery turned out the overhead lights in his study, leaving only the desk lamp on, lighting his pile of papers and the large amount of work he had to do. He sighed, sat down behind the large wooden desk and began to grade papers.
The Hunter was pleased he had gotten a detective’s badge to add to his collection. He pinned it to the cork board right next to the Jamie Kendall’s badge. The gold badge glimmered in the light of the single bulb in the tiny space. He looked at his photo board and moved over to it and picked up a marker and Xed out the picture of Theodore Jones. The Hunter looked at the picture of the commander of the SWAT team. “You’re next.” He patted the cheek of the man in the picture. Turning, he paced over to the far wall and stuck Theodore Jones’s badge on the cork board, just one among many from all over the United States. He knew he would have to wait to get his sights on the commander of the SWAT team. There were many more officers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, thirty-six-thousand-six-hundred police officers. So many possibilities, so many potential targets to hunt and so much territory to hunt in. He would make sure to hunt only to hunt his chosen targets only a night, so much safer and much more cover to move through. The people in this massive city didn’t want to get involved in what was going on around them, on the streets, or in their work place, or in their apartment building. They all seemed to want to be an island unto themselves. He turned and left the room, flipping the switch to turn off the light, he locked the door behind him. He found a greasy spoon dinner and sat down at the table, ordered a hamburger, fries and a drink, when a pair of patrol officers entered the dinner and sat down at a table right behind him. He picked up a paper he had purchased on the way from his lair to the dinner. He listened to the two officers discussing the death of Theodore Jones. Shaking the paper as he turned the page and continued reading with a lop-sided smile on his face. He found an article on Theodore Jones’s life and began reading. “This guy is too good to be true.” He thought as he read about the dead officer’s life. He paused in his reading to look carefully at a picture of Theodore Jones, his wife Charlotte, their two natural children and four adopted children, all the adopted children were the children of police officers. According to the article, Theodore Jones was a beloved man, by his family and the other officers he had worked with in different precincts. There was even a statement by Chief of Detectives Richard Queen, who was Jones’s current supervisor. According to Queen, Teddy Jones had been a very valuable member of his staff for more than fifteen years and Queen stated how much he had come to depend on Teddy Jones. Also in the article, was a statement by a Doctor Ellery Queen about the effect Theodore Jones had had on his life and how much a difference the man had made in his life. According to the Doctor, Jones’s loss was going to felt for a long time to come. The hunter lowered his paper as the waitress delivered his food and he began reading and eating at the same time. Finally he finished both reading and eating, picking up his check, the Hunter quietly left the dinner and quickly slipped into the shadows that hid the length of a long alley. He hid beside a dumpster and waited for the two police officers. He watched as the paused at the corner of the alley and a main street, shook hands and parted to continue their routine patrol. One of the officers turned down the alley completely unaware of the Hunter hiding in the shadows. The Hunter watched as the officer moved past him oblivious of the human shaped shadow following him. Suddenly, there was an incredible pain in his neck and he fell lifeless to the ground beneath feet. The Hunter quickly ran forward, rolled the dead officer onto his side and grabbed the shiny silver patrol officer’s shield. He quickly glanced around and ran from the alley headed toward his lair and the safety it provided.
Ellery and his father ate dinner in a strained silence, both men were having a hard time concentrating on the dinner their cleaning lady had provided. Mrs. Braithword was an elderly woman who had lost her husband within the last year. Along with losing him, she had lost the small pension he had coming in from the transit union. She had needed the work and the money the Queens provided her. They not only paid her for cleaning and cooking for both of them. She was a wonderful lady, feisty, and opinionated about everything. There was nothing that she did not have an opinion and she was happy to give voice to her opinions at the least provocation.
“Well, Mrs. Braithword out did herself this time. We’ll be eating left-overs for weeks.” Ellery pointed his fork at the large crock-pot sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. He dropped his fork into his bowl alongside his spoon. He had picked at his food a clear indication of the disturbance of his mind.
“Have you found anything or any indication as to who you are hunting?” Richard dropped his soup-spoon into his bowl and leaned back in his chair.
“Some, we’ve come across a pattern, where police officers were being shot, most times from the back, but several killings…” The phone rang interrupting Ellery’s answer. “He quickly left the kitchen and trotted into his study and picked up the receiver. “Queen’s residence.” A familiar voice came across the line, “Oh, Hi Velie, yeah, Dad’s here, want to speak to him?” Ellery held out the hand set to his father who took it. “What have you got, Thomas?”
Richard’s face expressed his reaction to his Lieutenant’s report of the death of another officer. “We’re on our way.” Richard replaced the hand set and said, “Another dead officer, whose badge is missing. Let’s go El.” Father and son quickly left the apartment and got into the unmarked police car that had just pulled up in front of their apartments.
A half an hour later, due to traffic congestion, the Queens crouched down alongside the corpse. They both looked toward Assistant Medical Examiner Doctor Proudy as he shook his head. “Same as the previous three including Teddy Jones.” He stood, and indicated for his two attendants wheeled a stretcher with a large black body. They worked in silence as they placed the body in the body-bag, the placed that on the stretcher. Rolling the stretcher to the morgue wagon, the two attendants put the remains and stretcher into the wagon, got in and left the scene headed toward the morgue. “You’ll have my report, tomorrow late, we’re a little backed up, but I’ll get to Officer Whittaker as soon as possible” He informed the Queens. Richard nodded in acknowledgement as Proudy turned and left the crime scene. Lieutenant Thomas Velie waited patiently for both Queens to finish with the Assistant Medical Examiner. They finally turned their attention to the Lieutenant and Richard looked up at the giant of a man. “What have you got, Thomas?”
“Officer Charles Whittaker, age 36, single, had just come back on duty after his hour lunch hour. He continued his patrol down this alley, searching for indications of Heroin use in the area. There hasn’t been any sign of Heroin use within Whittaker’s patrol area, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t, Whittaker just hasn’t seen any indication of it. He had lunch with Officer Robert Knight from the twenty-sixth. Whittaker was with the twenty-fifth, their patrol areas overlapped for two blocks on either side of this alley. Knight and Whittaker had just left Nobels dinner,” Velie pointed over his massive shoulder behind him and the neon open sign in a large pane of glass. “According to the waitress who works there, the two men come in daily for lunch, and there was nothing unusual about either one, nor did they discuss anything unusual within her hearing. We asked her about any different customers or anything unusual about any of her customers. Name of Phoebe Brown, worked here for fifteen years, both Knight and Whittaker were regular customers. There were only two new customers, two men she didn’t recognized, but there’s been a lot of new people in the area due to all the demolition and new construction. So she’s not that surprised that there are new customers coming in. I asked her if she could describe the new customers she served before Whittaker was found dead. She gave a description of a Latin American, who had just gotten a job on a demolition team, according to Ms. Brown. He was from Puerto Rico and had moved to New York after the last Hurricane, he doesn’t want to go through another one. The other man she said, was an architect and working on the new building going up three streets uptown. He had burn scars on his head and face, and when she tried not to stare he smiled and told her it was all right to stare, he didn’t mind. He had received his burns when his Humvee drove over an IED in Iraq. He said that he was the only survivor from his unit. He told Ms. Brown that he supposed God had plans for him. He was now waiting for God to get around to telling him what he was supposed to be doing.”
The Queens nodded and neither one had any further questions regarding Whittaker’s death. The Chief’s phone buzzed loudly and the old gentleman answered. “Queen.” A deep dangerous voice came across the line and Richard quickly covered the microphone on the iPhone he held. “El!” He motioned to the phone he held in his hand and Ellery quickly stepped next to his father and listened to the voice. “I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. You have found my victims; they are not the first nor will they be the last. I am hunting, in your city and there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.” Ellery looked at his father deeply concerned “Are you all right Dad?”
“I’m surprised he has my private number, I would dearly love to know how he got it. The calls don’t bother me too much as they come after the murders. If they came before the murders I would be really worried. I’ll see if our tech people can trace this call. If there is anything you need to know, I’ll be in touch.”
They departed, Richard heading toward One Police Plaza and his office while Ellery headed toward Columbia and his lectures and office hours.
The Hunter rose, rubbed his face, stood upright stretched and looked around his small room. He smacked his lips and proceeded to the sink, where he brushed his teeth, rinsed his mouth with mouthwash and picked up the razor, lathered his cheeks, chin and under his nose. He shaved, then stepped into a tiny shower and completed his absolutions. Finished, he dressed in his clean clothes, all in black as usual. Before he left the room, he looked at the picture hanging above his bed. Reaching out to touch the clear glass that covered the picture. The picture was of a beautiful young woman with laughing brown eyes, dark almost black hair. In her arms was a beautiful laughing little girl of about two, and in her arms was a tiny baby, sex unknown, its eyes were closed and he looked as if he was asleep. A second picture held the same woman and both children, in the background was an older man and woman of Latino heritage, both smiling at the camera. “I will avenge you there will be justice for your unnecessary deaths. Many have died, and many more will die before justice is achieved. I know you are waiting in Heaven for me and will be joining you soon.” He kissed his fingers, and placed them on both pictures, then on the crucifix that hung between the pictures and the door. He opened the door and left the small room. Reaching the dinner, he saw several officers both sitting in the dinner and in patrol cars out in front of the restaurant. He nodded causally toward a pair of officers standing outside on the sidewalk. “What’s going on?” He paused beside the pair of officers. “An officer was killed in the alley that runs past this restaurant several days and we’re canvasing the area to see if there were any witnesses. Did you see anything, sir?”
The Hunter shook his head, “Sadly no, I wish I had. I’ve just got back from Afghanistan yesterday. Finished my sixth deployment. He tried to smile, but because of the scars from the burns he had suffered trying to rescue his doomed family. “I’ve just gotten a job here in New York working with an architectural firm. I am so sorry that I can’t help you.”
“Thanks for your service, sir. We appreciate it.” One of the officer’s said holding out his hand.
The Hunter took it, and shook the officer’s hand. “Thank you, and thank you for your service keeping all of us safe. It’s not an easy or a safe job and you volunteered, but them so did I,” he chuckled as he released the officer’s hand. “Well, I had better get breakfast, then get to my new job,” he reached out grabbed the dinner’s door handle, pulled it open and entered the large open room. Sitting down at a table, he ordered breakfast, the opened his paper which he had purchased at a small news stand just down the street. He began reading. Breakfast quickly came and the Hunter ate quickly, dropped a tip on the table and paid for his meal at the check stand. He quickly left the area, it was too dangerous to hunt here because of all the police activity. He whistled loudly, catching the notice of a cab driver. The bright yellow cab stopped right in front of him and he got in, gave the driver an address and they disappeared into the traffic. He leaned back against the seat, nodding to himself, he would hunt in the darkness, and there were many, many officers to hunt in the darkness. He knew he would find his prey, he would just have to be patient.
The funeral of Theodore Jones took place two weeks after his murder. There were police officers from every department in attendance. The Jones children all six of them entered the Old Cathedral of Saint Patrick’s. The Queens sat in the second row of the pews, as both Richard and Ellery would both be speaking of Theodore Jones and the effect he had on their lives. There wasn’t even standing room, the building was packed. The casket lying on the bier was covered by the flag of the United States, Theodore had fought in Korea, and in Vietnam, then married his childhood sweetheart, joined the New York City Police Department and rose through the ranks to become a Sargent working on the staff of Chief of Detectives Richard Queen. The Hearse pulled to the side door of Trinity Episcopal Church and the pall bearers slid the flag covered coffin out and onto the bier that would carry it into the sanctuary for the viewing and the service to follow. All the attendants of the funeral service filed past the open coffin, then entered the sanctuary. Finally the last of the mourners entered the sanctuary and seated themselves. Proceeded by an escort of uniformed Police Officers representing every state in the union the bier carrying the mortal remains of Theodore Jones entered the sanctuary surrounded by the Chief of Detectives staff leading on the right side was COD Richard Queen with Ellery on the left side. The rest of Richard’s staff followed each man had a hand on the brass railing running the length of the coffin. Covering it was the flag of the United States. The clergy followed the bier and when it reached the alter, it stopped and the men moved off to either side and sat down in the second row. The family of Theodore Jones filled the front row of both sides of the sanctuary. The Priest a tall elegant man, with greying black hair, silver framed glasses and a white chasuble and black stole stopped at the head of the coffin, and intoned, “Please rise,” He begun, “I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord. Whoever has faith in me shall have life, even though he die. And everyone who has life, and has committed himself to me in faith, shall not die for ever.
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last he will stand upon the earth. After my awaking, he will raise me up; and in my body I shall see God. I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him who is my friend and not a stranger. For none of us has life in himself, and none becomes his live in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord. So, then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's possession. Happy from now on are those who die in the Lord! So it is, says the Spirit, for they rest from their labors. Amen.”
Father Spencer Innis was a medium height man with greying black hair and silver frames glasses. He had a deep, melodious baritone voice that carried easily to the pews in the back of the church. He began by asking the congregation to stand and continued, “O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that your servant Theodore., being raised with him, may know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” The service continued with readings from the Holy Bible by different members of COD’s staff. Then Father Innis rose from his chair and assisted by several deacons they served the Eucharist to all the attendants. Once that was complete, several men stepped forward and began to share their memories and some of the funny things that Sergeant Jones had done and even some of the funny puns and jokes he had shared at various crime scenes. When those men were finished Ellery rose and walked to the head of the bier, spoke of how important Teddy Jones had been in his life and how much he would be missed. He finished and Richard walked past him and the two exchanged a gentle touch on the arm as they passed. After Richard had completed his short, heartfelt remembrance, of the murdered officer, the pall bearers walked the bier to the side door and carried it to the waiting hearse. All the flower arrangements followed and were placed alongside the coffin and the doors were shut. The two men from the funeral parlor entered the hearse and waited patiently for the limousine carrying the family to pull in behind it. Ahead of the hearse, were over one hundred motorcycle police officers readying their motorcycles to proceed the hearse and lead it to the graveyard where Theodore Jones would be interred. The signal was finally give and the roar of the engines was enough to deafen anyone in the vicinity. They moved out at a slow pace and the hearse was followed by more official police vehicles and the rest of the mourners as they made their way to the graveyard. Police Officers lined the route each man saluting the hearse bearing the coffin as it moved past. Others had gathered to add their silent presence as the cortege moved past. Finally they reached the graveyard and the Hearse stopped just past the open grave. The funeral workers opened the back door and allowed the pall bearers to remove the casket and they followed with several wreaths, other attendees removed the rest of the flowers and placed them around the freshly dug gave. Father Innis waited until everyone was gathered around the grave. He spoke briefly, then began the “Lord’s Prayer” and those gathered around the grave repeated the words. Finally, Charlotte Jones, picked a rose from one of the wreaths and laid it on the casket as it was lowered into the grave. She was followed by all those gathered and the coffin soon disappeared beneath many colored roses. The limo waited for the family as the attendants filed past them to speak a word or two the Charlotte or one of her children. The finished talking to everyone who wanted to speak to them, then got into the limo and it took them home. At the house, the ladies of her church circle had gathered and laid out a huge buffet for everyone who had come to the house to share in their memories and sympathies with the family. Ellery, followed by his father, and Lieutenant Velie moved along the buffet, helped themselves to whatever food they found appealing and exited the house to find a space in the small back yard. Sitting at a small picnic table. A few minutes later Teddy Jones Junior joined them and Richard looked across the table at him. “You take your promotions exam yet, Teddy?”
“Yes sir, Got the results yesterday. Made Sergeant, now all I have to do is wait for my new assignment.”
“Good, then I can ask to have you assigned to me. You’ll be very useful in hunting down the man who killed your father and three other officers.” Richard ate the food that was on his fork, chewed it and swallowed.
“You want me on your staff?!” Teddy junior squeaked in surprise as he dropped his fork in top of his food.
“Sure do, if you’re anything like your old man, you’re going to be a great asset to my staff, am I right Velie?” Richard looked up at the giant seated across from him.
“Sure, are Chief,” Velie responded as he filled his mouth with a forkful of food.
Teddy junior turned to Ellery who was silently eating his food. “You working on these cop killings too?”
“Sort of. I’ve got my post grads working on building a spreadsheet and data base tracking police officer killings across the country. I’m working on it my usual style. My post grads should have everything put together by the end of the month, which is in two weeks. They’ve been working on this since the beginning of August. I’m not sure what they’ve come up with but they’ll be doing a presentation for me, Dad and his staff when that happens you should be part of Dad’s team. I do know that they’ve got a huge amount of information to present, so I’m looking forward to see what they’ve come up with.” Ellery ate another forkful of food, then laid the utensil down on his empty plate. Rising, he excused himself and headed inside to put his dishes with the pile of dirty ones already sitting on the kitchen table. He head the dishwasher running, cleaning the first load of dishes. He thanked the two women in the kitchen working on the cleanup. Searching the small house he found Charlotte sitting in the living room on a couch. She was surrounded by several people who all seemed to be chattering at once. Charlotte rose, excused herself and walked over to Ellery. “Thank you so much for those kind words you spoke about Teddy. I really appreciate it.” She laid a hand on Ellery’s forearm and asked, “Are you sure you’re going to catch this killer?”
“Yes, we’ll get him. But how soon, I’m not sure. He will be caught eventually, no one can hide forever, especially with all the electronic devices out there today. Maybe, in the past he might have gotten away with killing police officers, but not in this day and age.”
Charlotte smiled sadly, and sighed. “I know Teddy junior took his Sergeant’s exam and he got a one hundred percent on it. He showed me his results yesterday. I was so proud of him and I know that Teddy senior would have been too. Thank you again Ellery, please if you need anything please let me know, I’ll help you all I can.”
“It’s I who should be helping you, Charlotte, not the other way around.” Ellery bent over and kissed the small, beautiful woman on the cheek, the straightened. “Call me if you need anything, Charlotte, I’ll help you and the kids as much as I can.”
“Thank you, and just so you know, Ellery, I consider you one of my kids as well. So, don’t forget that.”
Ellery smiled, kissed her again, and headed toward the kitchen, when his father and Velie entered the living room. “I’ve already said goodbye to Charlotte, I’ll meet you outside.” The tall, lanky younger Queen left the overcrowded room and headed outside to wait for his father and Velie to join him.
Hunter sat behind the wheel of his rental car and watched all the people coming and going into the small brownstone. There were police everywhere. Far too many police to make an easy kill. He would be caught in mere seconds and that would not do. He needed quiet, darkness and anonymity to do his hunting. He was not stupid, this was neither the place nor the time to hunt. He watched as a tall, lanky young man exited the house and stopped to lean against a patrol car. Several minutes later he watched two other men join him. They spoke briefly together, then separated and the tall, younger man and a short, whitehaired, older man walked beside each other heading up town.
Hunter started his engine and moved past the pair and paused at the stop light. He carefully lifted a camera with a telescopic lenses attached and quickly took several pictures of the pair. Before anyone could honk their horn at him he left the scene.
He pulled into the rental car agency, returned the keys and headed toward his safe room. After checking his watch, he opened the door of the dinner he had come to like. He had memorized the menu, so found a seat to the right of the cash register. He found an evening paper lying on the seat, so he picked it up and began reading. There was a small startled noise from the young woman standing at the cash register and he looked over the top of his paper. Two men in their early twenties or late teens were talking to the young woman. The tone of their voice was threatening and he could tell by the look in Sherrie’s face that she was frightened. He laid the paper down, without making a sound and rose. He moved a single step at a time as one of the young men reached into his pocket. Hunter could see the butt of a gun and he reacted immediately. He jammed the young man’s elbow effectively forcing the kid’s wrist and hand back into his coat pocket and as the gun went in it exploded firing a bullet through the coat and through the young man’s upper right thigh and lower left leg. Before his partner could react, Hunter kicked him in the groin and then in the chin effectively incapaciting him and he dropped to the ground unconscious. Hunter grabbed the cordless phone and dialed nine-one-one, gave the operator the details and requesting police and ambulance for the wounded would be thief. “Stupid…stupid, kid. What the hell was he thinking?” Hunter muttered to himself as he put pressure to the large hole in the kid’s thigh with the towel he had been handed by one of the dinner’s workers. “Wonder how many times he’s tried to pull this off, probably several, stupid kid. Another of the dinner’s worker’s was busy putting pressure on the left leg as Hunter applied a tourniquet on the right leg above where bullet entered. Once that was done, he reached into the kid’s jacket pocket and removed the weapon, which he placed carefully next to the cash register, and he did the same with his buddy’s weapon as well. He heard sirens suddenly very loud and just as suddenly shut off and two police officers with bullet proof vests and guns drawn entered the restaurant. “Their weapons are next to the cash register. “No one else is armed.” Rising with his hands in the air, Hunter stepped back from the kid with the gunshot wound. “He needs an ambulance, he accidently shot himself.” Hunter indicated the young man lying on the floor. The kid’s partner was just coming around when the ambulance arrived. Two paramedics enter the dinner, with a stretcher and their gear. Hunter slowly moved pass one of the officers as he put his gun back into its holster. The officer’s partner did the same thing and Hunter seated himself at the dinner’s counter. The waitress behind the counter got out a cup and poured Hunter and the two officers coffee. One of the officers sat down next to Hunger and asked. “Could you give me a statement, please?”
“Sure, I was sitting at that table,” Hunter pointed to the table on the other side of the cash register. “I was reading the evening paper when those two idiots came in carrying guns and were demanding Sherri that the girl at the cash register to hand over all the money in the till. I lowered my paper and grabbed the kid with the gunshot wound by the elbow and shoved his wrist and hand back into his pocket. The gun went off and the bullet went through his upper right thigh and lower left leg I applied a tourniquet.”
“Are you a first responder?” whose name tag read Fitzhugh continued to write in his note pad.
“No sir, just got home. I’m an Army Ranger, I was just honorably discharged and I’ve just gotten to New York. My name is Jason Hunter. Staff Sargent, United States Army, Serial number BXT6655DAR7853. Had first aid drummed into my head since boot camp and had continuous refreshers in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.”
“Thanks for your service, Sarge, I appreciate it. Without guys like you we’d be fighting them here at home.” Fitzhugh commented.
Hunter chuckled, “Thanks, but I should be thanking you guys,” He raised his cup in salute and the cop did the same. The paramedics took stabilized the younger man, put him on their stretcher and wheeled him out of the restaurant.
Fitzhugh looked at one of the paramedics and he nodded, “I’ll be right behind you. I just have to finish up here.” The cop tuned his attention back to Hunter and continued. “Where are you staying Mr. Hunter?”
“Right now, the Hotel Pennsylvania. Check in time isn’t until three, so I have to hang around for a while longer, then go and check in. You can contact me there. I won’t be starting my new job until Monday. I’m a structural engineer, I was just hired by a really good firm, Whetland, Theopolis, Cavanaugh and Morgan. Once I start, I’m going to have to find a place to live. And that ain’t going to easy, until I get my Army pay from the credit union transferred to a credit union here. Got any recommendations, Fitzhugh?”
“Sorry, no I use the NYPD credit union and you have to be current or former NYPD officer to join. They also include NYFD as well, but the same rules apply. Wish I could help,” Fitzhugh reached into his pocket, and pulled a small wallet out, then opened it and handed Hunter his card. “If you can think of anything else or you need assistance call me, or as you know nine-one-one. Thanks, Mr. Hunter and welcome to the Big Apple.”
Hunter took the card, put in his pocket and saluted the officer and his partner with his raised coffee cup. The two officers left and Hunter’s order was placed on the counter beside him.
“This is on the house, for saving Sherri and your service, Mr. Hunter. Thank you for your help tonight and your service overseas.”
“You don’t need to do this, I’m happy to pay my way.” Hunter picked up his knife and fork and began eating.
“I know I don’t son, but I own this place and I can do what I want. Besides that little meal you’re eating don’t cost that much.” A large bald man stood behind the counter and refilled Hunter’s coffee mug. “If at any time you need a good meal, you just come back here and I’ll see to it that you get fed, no matter what the circumstances are.”
“Thank you, I’m not sure what to say. Thank you doesn’t seem to cover it” Hunter took a deep swallow of the coffee.
“You just saved my daughter, so don’t say anything.” The dinner’s owner said.
“Thanks again, the foods real good here and I really like the service, all of your wait staff is so kind, and they never stare or make rude remarks about my scars. I really appreciate that, so many people stare or make really rude remarks. I earned these scars trying to save my men when our Humvee ran over an IED. Got all my men out, but got burnt doing it.” Hunter lied.
“Gods, what a horrible thing to have happen. Did your people survive?”
“All but one, he was sitting where the brunt of the explosion was. There was nothing I could have done to save him. Truthfully, there wasn’t anything to save. He was a good man, and he really loved this country. I stopped in North Carolina to see his folks and had a long talk with them about their son. I’m glad I did,” Hunter finished his coffee, rose and dropped a twenty on the counter.
“As I said, Mr. Hunter you’re not paying for this little meal.”
“This is a tip for your girls, split it between them, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the extra money. Hope the rest of your day is better than the past hour was. I’d better go and check into my room, and try to find my new office building, so I won’t get lost on Monday. Have a good night, and thanks for the meal.” Hunter exited the dinner and headed toward the downtown part of Manhattan. He whistled as he disappeared around the corner.
Early Monday morning Ellery Queen entered his class room and looked at the twenty students sitting in the first five row. He was followed by his father and the entire staff of detectives attached to him. Ellery put his things on the shelf of the lectern, leaned against it and asked. “Do we have enough information to give Chief of Detectives Richard Queen and his staff of detectives an idea of who we are looking for?”
An athletic, blond young man rose and began. “Yes, sir, if you’ll oblige me by sitting down, we can begin the presentation.”
Ellery moved to one side of the room sitting down next to his father and watched as a screen was pulled down from the ceiling and the lights were turned off. A projector came on and the beginnings of the presentation began. “What we started with was an assignment by Doctor Queen to find out the causes of the death of police officers across the nation. We were to gather as much information as we possibly could. This information included, how, when, where, and anything unusual about their deaths, this was to include as much other information regarding the officer’s death as we could get. Our sources were from the internet, articles in local newspapers, police journals and magazines. We also called all the major cities in each state and spoke with that cities communications officer. Every single department we called was more than happy to assist us in this endeavor. What we have found is this. Over three hundred police officers across the nation have died as a result of gunshot wounds. At a minimum two police officers per state were shot during armed encounters. That leaves us with one officer per state who had died in the line of duty. Several of these deaths were notable as the officer’s badge was not on his or her uniform and could not be found at the crime scene. We believe this is the mark of what we would call a serial killer. We have found several cities where the trigger point could have taken place, but as yet we have not located the exact city where this killer has come from. We are still working on that, what you are receiving is a paper copy of this presentation. All the information we have gathered is in this packet. This includes the data base, the spreadsheets, and photocopies of all the articles we have located so far. Do you or your men have any questions, Chief?”
“I don’t this is very good work all of you. Please keep working, we need as much information as you can get your hands on. If you need any information from the NYPD, please let Ellery know and we’ll work together to get you what you need. Any suggestions Velie?”
“No Chief, it’s going take us some time to go through all of this,” the huge man said flapping the large bundle of papers he held in his hand.
“All right, then we’ll leave you, to get one with your work. We’ll keep in touch through Doctor Queen.” Richard rose, followed by his men and they left the class room.
“Good job, everyone.” Ellery rose and moved to the center of the class room.
“You’ve put together a great deal of information in a short period of time. I want you all to continue doing just that. This looks like it’s going to be a semester long assignment. There will be no tests or lectures, just this project. So far, you’ve all earned an A+. Keep it up, any questions?”
“Doctor Queen, is the Chief of Detectives related to you?” One of the students asked.
“Yes, he’s my father. I’ve practically been raised by the NYPD. My father started out as every officer in the NYPD starts out. He was a beat cop, then became a detective and rose steadily through the ranks. When he became and Inspector he put a staff of detective together and they’ve been with him ever since. My Dad just lost one of his best detectives Theodore Jones. His funeral was last Saturday. Please, be sure to include all of his information into your data base and on the spreadsheet. Anything else?” The room was silent and he picked up his stuff and asked. “Why are all of you sitting here, shouldn’t you be working on some aspect of this?”
The students mumbled, grabbed their belongings, shut off the projector and returned the screen to its position in the ceiling and left the class room followed by Ellery.
Chief of Detectives returned to his office after having met with the Commissioner of Police and his tw deputies. The three men had gone over the recent promotions list and Queen asked for Theodore Jones the second to be assigned to his team. It had taken quite a bit of fast talking on his part to get the young Jones assigned to his staff. But after a lot of persuasion he had been given what he wanted. He entered his office to find his son sitting behind his desk looking over the recent spate of police officer killings and comparing it to the data base and spreadsheet laid out on his father’s desk in front of him. “Find anything interesting or different?” The old gentleman asked as he seated himself on the other side of the desk.
Ellery looked up, “Oh, hi Dad, did you just get back? Grace said you were with the Commissioner in a DND meeting. Everything OK?”
“Yes, everything is fine. I had to do a lot of very fast talking to get Teddy junior assigned to my staff. He’ll be joining us this afternoon. I don’t want him out on the streets any longer than he has to be.” The Chief leaned back in the hard wooden chair adjusted his bones into a more comfortable seat as the hallway door opened and Velie entered the room. “Excuse me Chief, Grace said you were in a DND meeting with the Commissioner. Did you get Teddy junior?”
Richard grinned like the cat who got all the cream to himself. “Yep. He’ll be here after lunch, has to finish up some reports and other things, pack his gear, go home change into plain clothes, that sort of thing. Give him his father’s old desk, if he doesn’t mind. If he does see who’ll switch with him.”
“Hey Maestro, how it coming along?” Velie asked as he seated himself next to Chief.
“Oh, hello Velie, I think I am beginning to get the picture but it’s too fuzzy to make an accurate identification. There are still somethings missing, before I can direct Dad and your team to the correct person. I need hard evidence to give you not just conjecture. So far, all I have is conjecture, Sampson isn’t going to go to a grand jury without some hard evidence to give them.” Ellery leaned back and regarded the two men. “Am I sitting in the wrong place again?”
Richard chuckled as rose and indicated for his son to move around the desk. Resuming his rightful seat the old gentleman looked at the papers the younger Queen had been going over when he entered. “Dad, could you do me a favor?”
“That depends on the favor. What do you need El?”
“All the info on the recent killings, including Teddy’s. My students need that info to put into their data base and their spreadsheets. We’re trying to narrow down the information. I need everything especially the pieces and parts that weren’t given to the press. Can you get that for me?” Ellery seated himself, leaned back and rested the heels of one shoe on the corner of the desk and crossed the other ankle over the one on the desk.
“You certainly don’t ask for much do you?” The Chief leaned back as well and put his heels on the opposite corner of the desk from his son’s shod feet.
“Oh come on Dad, you know it’s necessary if we’re going to get the right man. And yes, it is a man who is doing the killings. We can assure you and your staff of that much. Also, it looks like there just might be a pattern to his killings. I can tell you from what I have discovered using criminal psychology and criminal sociology and that includes statistical criminology as well, that this killer of ours has had a psychotic break. He’s basically lost his mind, he seems to be out to revenge something, I’m just not sure what, yet, but I think I am getting close.”
The door opened and newly minted Sergeant Theodore Jones knocked on the door frame and stuck his head around the opening. “Can I come in?”
“Of course, Teddy,” The Chief indicated for him to join them. The younger man pulled up a chair and joined Ellery and Velie around the Chief’s desk. “We need more information, Velie I want the entire staff out today, including you Teddy, you work Velie for a while until you get used to how we do things around here. Go back to that dinner and start asking questions, especially about anyone hanging around or suspicious that includes anyone new that they haven’t seen before, you know what to ask Velie, get the boys and get going.”
Velie rose, grabbed Teddy by the shoulder of his jacket hauled him to his feet and opened the door, shoved the younger man out into the hallway and disappeared behind Teddy junior closing the door to the hallway.
“Have you had lunch yet, Dad?”
“No.” The little old man’s stomach growled in response to Ellery’s question.
Ellery laughed and rose, “Come on, I’m buying,” He pulled his hat out of his jacket pocket put it on his head and held the door open for his father. The two Queens walked past the Chief’s secretary and Richard paused briefly at her shoulder. “I’m going to lunch, should be back in an hour, and if you need me call my cell phone. Without looking up she kept typing “Yes, sir. If it’s something I can’t handle, I’ll call you. Have a nice lunch.”
“Thank you Grace.” Richard walked across the open space between his door and the offices of his staff. He hooked his son’s arm and led him to the bank of elevators.
The Hunter downloaded his photos from the funeral onto his computer and carefully began to sort through them. He had hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the handle of the door to his room. He selected several pictures of potential prey. So far, he had killed four police officers, a great many police officers from all over the country had been in the city for the funeral of Theodore Jones, there had been too many eyes, far too many eyes watching him and everyone else at the funeral. No that was not the time to go hunting. He looked closely at several photos, one of which was a short gray-haired, older man and a tall, slender man dressed similarly dressed to the older man walking beside him. He closed his eyes, trying to remember what he had heard about the two men. “Ah, yes that is what I remember.” He said to himself as he opened his eyes and looked at the picture again. The old man was Chief of Detectives and the young man was some kind of consultant, who was related to the older man, a nephew or maybe even more importantly a son. He didn’t have a Chief’s badge, even though he had almost two hundred police badges on his cork board in his safe room. He wanted that solid gold badge more than he wanted anything else. He knew that he was going to have to take a long hard look at this Chief of Detectives and the younger man who walked with him. He needed to find out where the Chief lived and what his daily routine was. He also need to know about the younger man as well. Shutting down his photo album, he opened his favorite search engine and typed in the name of the Chief. There were several links to a Chief of Detectives Richard Queen of the NYPD. He had a sterling record, and multiple commendations, and numerous medals, including the Medal of Honor, the Medal for Valor, Excellent Police Duty, and the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Purple Shield. This small, older man was quite the hero in his younger days, he also had medals for Firearms Proficiency chest bar, the Twin Towers chest bar and the American Flag chest bar. He paged down reading as much information as the internet or rather the NYPD would allow someone to have on one of their Chief of Detectives. He switched search engines and typed in the last name, then the first name into the New York City phone director and waited. There was no Richard Queen listed anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City, neither was there an E Queen listed. “They have to get mail, so where do they live?” He typed in another search parameter and according to the Census Bureau the Queens, father and son lived on West eighty-seventh street between Amsterdam and Lexington avenues. Nodding in satisfaction, wrote down the address, shut down his computer. Put it in its’ carrying case, the he put it on the bottom of a drawer and buried it under his underwear and socks. He left the room, making sure that the door locked behind him. Reaching the lobby, Hunter crossed it and was met by the doorman. “May I call you a taxi, sir?” the uniformed older man saw Hunter’s nod of agreement. He stepped to the curbside and let loose a whistle that would halt a regiment. A bright yellow taxi cab pulled up to the curb, and the doorman opened the rear door, closing it after Hunter got in. “Where to Mister?”
Hunter gave him the address to the Queen’s home. It took much longer to reach the address then he had imagined. “Sorry, about taking so long, but its rush hour and everyone wants to get home.”
Hunter exited the taxi and handed the cabby his fair and a good tip “I understand this is New York and everyone travels at his or her own speed, mostly in slow gear.”
“You got that right, Mister. If you need a ride back to your hotel, give me a call.” The cabby handed Hunter his card, then headed off into the traffic flowing along West Eighty-Seventh Street. Moving to a position where he could see the front door of the brownstone he quickly made his way up the steps and opened the front door. Looking around he spotted the mail boxes and found the one labeled Queens. He carefully made his way to a large heavy door, labeled The Queens. Removing his lock picking set, he quickly let himself in to the apartment putting on his disposable gloves he carefully looked around the tiny vestibule. To the right of the door was a hat stand and beyond that were two doors, each leading to a bedroom. Straight ahead was obviously a study and to the left was a living room, dining room and kitchen. He moved across the vestibule and entered the study. Right across from the door was a large wooden desk covered with papers, files a desktop computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Along the left side of the room were bookshelves filled with books from floor to ceiling. Right down the middle of the room ran a counter which held a microscope, and a very large fish tank. He turned his attention to the filing cabinets hidden by the door. Hunter walked over to the cabinets and tried to pull the top drawer open. The entire cabinet was locked and he didn’t feel like wasting time trying to pick the lock. On the wall opposite was a counter with filing cabinets below and book shelves above the counter. The counter itself was covered with framed pictures, scrapbooks, and other personal paraphilia. NYPD awards with a picture of a much younger Richard Queen, the award was also accompanied by a newspaper article describing the reason for the award. One framed photo was of a very young man in his early twenties holding his doctorate award in front of him and looking straight into the camera with a smile on his face. There was a framed photo of a very young Richard dressed in a Morning Suit standing next to a beautiful woman wearing a wedding dress. Another showed the couple again holding a baby wearing a Christening dress. Those were the only two pictures of the woman, Hunter supposed that she had died, leaving the father and son alone with each other. He continued to move around the room finally reaching the paper covered desk. There was a shellacked skull with the mandible attached. It was holding down a large stack of papers. He moved the skull aside and shuffled through the papers. There were files on books in progress, or rather making no progress at all and files full of case notes. He replaced the skull and looked at the computer, it was shut off more than likely password locked. Moved around to the other side of the desk and continued to go through the papers stacked in wire baskets to someway control the accumulated papers. There was no rhyme or reason as to how the files and papers were stacked. He found Ellery’s class notes on his lectures and even the answer keys to the quizzes and tests he would be giving his undergrads. He found an empty file labeled postgrad class project. He dropped the folder back down on the desk and looked around. There were newspapers stacked in one corner of the room, a pair of wingback chairs standing in front of the book shelves a table between the two chairs and an antique radio cabinet with the radio set to a local classical station. So the younger Queen was more of an intellectual than the old man. That was not something he had considered, that the younger Queen just might be helping his old man investigate these killings. He looked at this watch and swore silently. Moving as quickly as he could without disturbing anything, not realizing that he had left evidence of his entrance and exploration of the Queen’s apartment behind him.
Ellery set down the sacks of groceries he was carrying and unlocked the door to the apartment he shared with his father, who was right behind him carrying two sacks of groceries. “Do you want to fix dinner or do you want me to?” Richard headed into the kitchen and put the grocery bags on the counter. “Dad!” He turned and headed quickly into his son’s study. “What is it El?”
“Someone’s been in here?”
“It doesn’t look like it to me, it’s the same mess it’s always been.”
“The skull is in a different place, my files have been gone through and whoever it was left them out of order.” The younger Queen stood behind his desk and reached for the file labeled police killings postgrad class project. He looked at his father as he raised the empty folder. “This was not where I left it this morning, thankfully I left all the information contained in the file at school locked in my desk drawer at Columbia. The rest are books in progress or rather lack thereof.”
“Was anything taken or is there something you can’t find?” Richard turned around looking at the crowded space. “But, then considering this pig sty I’m surprised that you can find anything at all, let alone know if something is missing or has just been misplaced.”
“Thanks so much Dad.” Ellery threw down the empty file in disgust. “I take then that you don’t believe me about an intruder?”
“Of course I believe you, I’ll bet he wore gloves too.” The Chief entered the room and walked over to the desk. “Any files missing or copied from your computer?”
“No, thankfully it’s shut down. I rarely use it now, I prefer my laptop, much more convenient to use. All my most important files are on it.” Ellery picked up his briefcase, showing it to his father.
“You want me to call Velie and have the CSU come and give the room a thorough going over?” He shoved his hand under his suit jacket and pulled his cell phone from its holster.
“Oh, don’t bother Velie. From what I can tell whoever broke in here didn’t take anything, and besides all my case files,” the younger Queen waved a hand indicating the filing cabinets against the far wall. “Are locked up and that lock I have been assured is nearly impossible to pick. Not that there’s anything really important in there.” He dropped down into his desk chair put his heels up on the corner of the desk and chewed his thumbnail.
“I’ll get dinner started.” Richard turned and left Ellery to his contemplations. He knew that his son would eventually come to him to discuss what was concerning him. He finished preparing dinner, shoved it into the oven, then went back to the study. He went into his bedroom, put on his pajamas and his robe and comfortable slippers. “Dinner’s ready, son.”
“Oh, right.” Ellery rose and followed his father into the kitchen and quickly set the table as Richard dished out the meal. The two men sat across the table from each other and silently ate their meal.
“Have you and your students found any new information regarding the killings?”
“I’ve looked over the data, and several things stand out.” Ellery drank his milk in a single gulp.
“What things?” Richard set his fork down and drank his milk.
“So far what we’ve determined is that a multiple number of police officers deaths have several things in common.” El leaned back in his chair.
“What else, and be specific Ellery.”
“Okay, specifically, nearly two hundred police officers have been killed in the line of duty. They all had this in common. One: they were shot in the back. Two: they had their badges taken. Three: My students think that the badges are a trophy. Four: they are all convinced that the killer has had a psychotic break caused by a tragedy of kind. According from what I have researched, they are right. We have a psychotic serial killer somewhere in this city. How you are going find him, except to set a trap of some kind. I can tell you that he is very smart, knows how to scout the location he’s going to use. He carefully selects his victim and makes sure that the victim enters his “kill zone.” Ellery hooked the first two fingers of both hands and continued. “I have this feeling that we’re looking for the same person, Dad, I just haven’t been able to put a face and a name together yet. I have this sneaking suspicion that I have seen and even spoken to our killer, but I just can’t get my brain to give me the answer to this puzzle.”
“Humph. I think your right about looking for the same killer. Why don’t you have your students gather all the data pertaining to our mutual killer and bring all that data, newspaper clippings and spread sheets to my office, say by Friday? Will that be enough time?”
“I’ll make sure they have everything together and to you or Velie by Friday afternoon. Dad, I want in on this hunt and I’m sure my postgrad students want to be kept in the loop, if it’s all right I’ll keep them informed. I don’t want them looking for this man.”
“I agree, I don’t want some kid going off half-cocked and hunting down this guy. I’ll let Velie know to expect you on Friday afternoon. I’ll have everyone on my staff make themselves available and you can go through all the information you and your students have gathered.” Richard rose and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, put the dish powder in and closed the machine’s door and started the dishwasher. The two men watched a couple of their favorite t.v. shows, then went to bed after the late news cast.
The Hunter checked into The Hotel Pennsylvania and followed the bellhop to the elevator. They got off on the twenty-second floor turned left off the elevator and walked to the door at the end of the corridor. The bell hop unlocked the door and allowed Hunter to proceed him into the room. He put the duffle on the luggage rack. “Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”
Pulling his wallet out of his out of his back pocket, opened it and removed a five dollar bill. “Thank you.” He looked at the bellhops name tag, “Jamie.”
“Thank you, sir. I hope you enjoy your stay here. If there is anything you need just dial zero, it connects directly with the front desk. Have a good night.” The bellhop left the room closing the door behind him. Hunter looked around the small room, sighed in contentment and dropped down on to the end of the bed. He reached behind him and removed his laptop from his briefcase. Rising, he moved over the small table sat down, put his computer on top of the table, opened it and turned it on. He continued to research both Richard Queen and his son Ellery. He had already been to their apartment on West Eighty-Seventh Street. He hadn’t found anything in the apartment that could link him to any of the police killings anywhere in the nation, something for which he was very thankful. He had researched Chief of Detectives Richard Queen, now he began his research on the son. It did not take long for him to find information regarding the son. According to the internet, he found that Ellery Queen was a professor of Criminology at Columbia University. His students came from the NYPD police academy, pre-law and those law students going to criminal lawn or prosecutorial law. Also included in among his students were FBI, DEA, ATF, Sherriff’s deputies, and Coast Guard. He found that Ellery combined sociology, psychology and statistics to assist law enforcement to better understand the criminal they were pursuing. He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his chin, feeling the stubble he had missed during his morning shave. He sighed heavily and tried to think about his next victim, he was going to need to take another victim soon, maybe, just maybe he would take a civilian instead of another cop. They took his two beautiful innocent children, they would never grow up or grow old. His wife and his parents also died in the fire caused by the police. The police had not only misidentified him as the criminal they were hunting, but in their arrogance they got the address completely wrong and they attacked his family without warning, well now it was time for a little payback. “Yes.” He thought to himself, he needed an innocent someone completely unrelated to the department. He wasn’t going to go after Ellery Queen no that would be stupid, to go after the son of a Chief of Detectives. Right now, all the police were on high alert and were becoming far more protective of each other and their families. Somehow, someway he had to take a victim, maybe a transit cop, or someone not directly associated with the “men and women in blue.” He pulled up the NYPD web side and looked at the different bureaus somewhere he could unexpectedly attack, collect another badge, maybe not a police officer’s, but a badge was a badge. He leaned forward again and began typing in different parameters, he finally chose he would take someone from the housing bureau. Nodding in satisfaction, he shut off the laptop, shoved it to his briefcase, then closed and locked the leather case. Standing he picked up the briefcase and put it into a drawer and covered it with his underwear and socks. He pulled his black hunters outfit out of his duffel bag. He stripped, showered, shaved and dressed in his blacks. He carefully opened the door to his room, and looked down the hallway. Directly across the hall was the fire escape, he left his room making sure that the door was securely locked. He dashed across the thick carpet, and opened the door, he dashed down the stairs for several floors, then exited and casually walked to a bank of elevators and headed to the lobby. He exited across the marble covered lobby. Making sure that no one noticed him he left the lobby and sauntered down the sidewalk heading toward the subway.
A woman dressed in the uniform of the New York City Transportation Bureau and over it was glow in the dark vest so that people were able to recognize her immediately as a representative of the City of New York. She moved along the tiled subway platform making sure that everyone stood behind the yellow line as the subway train slowed to a stop and the doors hissed open and people spilled out and quickly either headed up the escalator or the stairs, or elevator. People moved constantly, swirling around the uniformed woman as she moved along the platform. A busker stood with his back against the wall, his guitar across his chest as he played familiar tunes, his guitar case lay open at his feet. People occasionally dropping coins or even paper money in to the open case. The Transportation officer moved out of the way of the crowd as the either wanted off the train or onto the train. Finally, the whistle blew and the train slowly began to move forward heading toward the next stop on the line. Hunter leaned against the wall, his hands shoved into the pockets of his hoody. One knee was bent the foot placed flat against the white tiled wall. His hood was pulled forward casting shadows hiding his face. He stood at the far end of the platform hiding among the shadows. Once the train was gone he slowly straightened and with soft rubber soled shoes silently made his way toward the woman. A door marked janitorial services stood open and Hunter smiled to himself. “How convenient, a suitable place to hide a body.” He thought, “Although dropping the body down on the train tracks was also a good way to eliminate a body, the train would make a right mess of the remains. Being run over by a train is not something that anybody, no matter how large would not leave quite a mess and give the medical examiner a hard time determining the official cause of death. Yes, use the large bladed knife on the woman, then toss the lifeless body down on to the train tracks. He noted the position of security cameras and smiled to himself marking their positions and the visible angle of how much of the platform could be seen by the cameras. The only areas of nearly complete darkness was at the opposite ends of the platforms. He moved back into the shadows and waited patiently for the transit police officer to enter his killing zone. She moved past the motionless figure and waited for her to get to the far end of the platform. Silently, he moved behind her drawing the knife from the front pocket of the hoody. He slipped up behind her wrapped his arm around her neck and brutally shoved the sharp knife into her back. She made no sound as the gloved hand over her mouth prevented her from making any sound. Quickly sliding his hand down her left shoulder he felt the badge slide under his questing fingers. He quickly removed the badge from her shirt and he dropped the now lifeless body down off the platform. It lay across the rails hidden by the darkness. The Hunter turned, paused then dropped the knife down onto the train tracks where it too would be run over by the train. He casually strolled back into the lights of the platform shoved his gloved hands into the pockets of the hoody he wore. He was stopped by a man wearing a transit cop uniform.
“Excuse me, have you seen a woman, with blonde hair and wearing a uniform exactly like this?” The transit cop looked at him earnestly.
“No, I’m sorry, I just came down on the escalator. It’s getting cold out there.” He muttered as he shoved the hood back from his face.
“Yeah, I suppose so”?
Hunter laughed, “I’m used to a much hotter and dryer temperature that what you have here at night in New York.”
“Oh, where you from, sir?”
“I just got back from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. U.S. Army Ranger.” He showed the transit cop his military I.D.
The cop smiled, “Thank you for your service, sir. This your first time in New York?”
“Yep, never been east of the Mississippi until I was honorably discharged. I will be starting a new job tomorrow morning. Looking forward to it, actually. First time in a long time I won’t be shot at just going to the john ya, know?” Hunter walked alongside the cop chatting amiably as they approached the up escalator.
“Well, I had better continue looking for my partner. Hope you enjoy living in New York, sir.” The transit cop touched the brim of his hat, then disappeared into the rapidly filling platform. The Hunter watched until the transit cop disappeared, the he headed up the escalator to street level. He found a bus heading in uptown direction and got on. After paying his fair, he asked the driver how to get as close to his safe room as possible without drawing attention to himself.
The bus driver gave him the directions he needed and a transfer ticket for the crosstown bus he would need to take to get where he wanted. He found a seat, settled down and watched the scenery and the people go by. Hunter watched people both on and off the bus. People were constantly on the move, seemingly going every which way. He remembered a sentence piece from a song, “The city that Never Sleeps.” Good old Frank Sinatra and his song “New York.” He settled back to enjoy the ride, the people and all the crazy traffic.
Ellery let himself into the apartment he shared with his father and entered his study. After dropping his briefcase and a large expanding file folder full to over-flowing on top of his desk. He went into the kitchen, opened the fridge and looked at the nearly empty shelves and sighed heavily. He shut the door, walked back into the study, called their favorite Chinese restaurant and ordered enough food for the two of them, then sat down behind his desk. Opened the expanding folder, pulled out the first stack of papers and dropped them on his desk. Sighing heavily, he rose, went into the bathroom, took out his contact lenses, rinsed his eyes and looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes were slightly swollen and red, he rinsed his eyes a second time, and began patting himself looking for his glasses. He couldn’t find them and began searching his dresser, and the night stands on either side of his bed. No such luck, he began muttering to himself as he exited the bedroom. The door opened and his father entered the tiny vestibule. “Oh, hi Dad.”
“When did you get home?”
Ellery put his watch up against the tip of his nose. “Oh about forty five minutes ago. Dinner will be here shortly from Chou’s the delivery boy should be here.”
There was a knock on the door and young man’s voice came through the stout wooden door. “Delivery from Chou’s for an Ellery Queen.”
Richard moved out of the way as his son pulled out his wallet and opened the door. “How much?”
“That will be five dollars, Mr. Queen. Ellery handed the youth a five dollar bill and a dollar and fifty-cents as a tip.”
“Thank you sir, have a good night.” The young man turned and disappeared down the stairs.
Ellery held out one of the bags of food and closed the door behind him. “I’m going to have to clean out the fridge again. There’s nothing edible in there. Good thing the milk man comes tomorrow. We also need milk, butter, ice cream, and eggs. At least that was what I think I put on this week’s order. I also need to go grocery shopping for other staples. We’re out of flour, sugar, orange juice, and cereal, things like that. And since I much more available time to do the shopping, I should be able to get it done by tomorrow night. I thought you’d rather stay home and eat instead of going out. You look exhausted, are you all right Dad?”
“Nothing that a good night’s sleep won’t cure.” Richard reached the dining table and began unloading the paper bag he held in his hand. He put the container down on the table along with chopsticks, napkins, fortune cookies and different packets of sauce. He watched as his son unpacked at least a dozen containers of various food items. “Do you just want to eat out of the containers or rather you rather eat off plates?”
“Doesn’t matter to me, I’ll just shove them in the dishwasher, so take your pick. Ellery why aren’t you wearing your contacts?” Richard helped himself to Cantonese Pan Fried Noodles with seafood.
“Too much time staring at a computer screen. I took them out and I can’t find my glasses, you have any idea where they are?”
“Look on that disaster area you call a desk.”
“Dad, my desk is not nearly the disaster you claim it is. I know where everything is and what it is, well nearly any way.” Ellery shoved his chopsticks full of food into his mouth.
“Dad, what’s going on, you’re worried.”
“I’ll tell you all about later, much…much later after I’ve managed to digest this dinner.” Richard shove another mouthful into his mouth and chewed.
“My postgrads have narrowed down the search fields. And they’ve come across several possibilities for our cop killer. I’ll show it to you when we’re done.” Ellery took a large drink of water and swallowed. “They’ve done a really excellent job and they are working well as a group. So far, I want them to keep this project going for as long as possible. Ellery put his container down, reached into his pants pulled out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes with it.
“Ellery, what’s wrong with your eyes? They look swollen and red.” Richard finished and put his empty container into the bag still sitting on the table. Ellery followed his actions. “As I said, I’ve just spent too many hours staring at a computer. Let’s go have a seat in the study and discuss what’s happened on your watch and what my students and I have been up to.”
Father and son made themselves comfortable and Richard began, “Earlier today we got a call about a missing transit cop. Her patrol was the subway platforms from seventh to Eighty-Seventh Street. She would inspect the platform, restrooms, janitors closets, and making sure that all passengers had their paid their fair. She would ride the train in both directions, her armed presence seemed to assure the passengers that she was there to protect from threats real or imagined. Her partner who would walk the platforms and ride the trains making sure that everyone obeyed the rules and if someone did need assistance they were there to provide it. Well according to her partner Steven Chang they had split up each one taking half of the platform. When Helen Morgan didn’t meet him he began to search for her. He reached the end of the platform just as the train’s light brightened the tunnel. This was about two a.m. this morning. Steven thought he spotted something on the track, but the train prevented him from see whatever it was. He remained at the end of the platform as this was a short stop only five minutes. Once the train left, Steven dropped off the platform and using his high-powered flashlight and he found Helen’s head between the rails the rest of her was scattered along the tunnel. It was not a pretty sight to say the least, according to Doc Proudy, he’s not even sure that he has everything there wasn’t much of her left. Transit is going to shut down the tunnel, using maintenance as an excuse to bring in lights bright enough to illuminate the tunnel for about half a mile. Doc Proudy and the CSU are going to be going over that tunnel with a fine toothed comb. Somehow I have this nasty suspicion that we’re going to involved sooner than we would like. Now, what’s your news?” Before his son could answer his phone rang and he pulled it from it’s’ holder and answered “Queen,”
“I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. You have found my victim; she is not the first nor will she be the last. I have just begun to hunt, there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.”
“The killer again, Dad?” Ellery recognized the unhappy and stressed expression on his father’s face.
“Yes. The tech people at headquarters still haven’t figured out how this clown’s gotten hold of my phone number, since neither of us have a listing in the directories anywhere in New York.”
Ellery heaved a sigh leaned back in his chair. “I wish there was something I do. You could always get a new phone and number.”
“I know, but those things are a little too pricey for my budget. Besides I don’t think my bosses would like me to change my phone and number right now. They know that the killer calls me after every kill and repeats just about the same statement. I can record it every time he calls.”
“Well according to our database, there are approximately six different men, and yes, they are men who match several salient points that are reoccurring in the data bases and spreadsheets. I’m going to have my students go over the data bases and spreadsheets with me and pull out all the common identification markers and pull all that information together. Once we do that tomorrow, we should be much closer on identifying this killer. And before you ask, I think that this killer you are looking for is the same one we are looking for. Once I get everything together, I’ll come by the office and we’ll have a meeting with your staff and go over all the information you have and put it together with the information we have come across and see what we’ve got. But, right now, I’ve got to get these papers graded for the undergrads.” Ellery leaned forward and picked up the pile he had pulled from the expanding file folder. He sighed and patted his hand around the desktop and found his glasses where he had left them several days before. He looked up as he dad rose and headed out of the study. “Going to bed, Dad?”
“I’m going to take a hot bath and soak for a while, then watch the evening news and go to bed.” Richard left the room disappearing into his bedroom.
Ellery heaved a sigh, shook his head and turned his attention to the papers he need to grade before the end of the week.
Chapter Twenty Three
Dinner consisted of pot roast, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and celery. Ellery sat across the table from his father and moved the food around the plate. “All right, what’s wrong Ellery?”
“It’s this case, I from all the data that my postgrads have gathered, I believe that we are working on the same case, Dad.” Ellery gave up and dropped the fork on the plate, leaned back and regarded the old gentleman.
“Explain.” Richard also dropped his fork on his plate, wiped his mouth and leaned back in his chair.
“We have discovered multiple police officer deaths, which have several things in common. Firstly, every officer in this new data base we have built was shot from behind. Secondly, the bullet and casing have no markings no them. There are no fingerprints nor any DNA or other identifying marks. Thirdly, all the officers who have lost their lives within the last year have had their badges taken. There are over one hundred officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty due to gunshot, and no clue as to who is responsible, and the person who committed these murders did not live in the area, nor did he come from the surrounding area. We think that the killer is a transient who moves from place to place. He never takes more than two police officers from the major cities of each state and we have investigated the contiguous forty-eight. We chose to leave out Hawaii and Alaska because there have been no officer deaths. So far, there have been five deaths here in New York that fits that pattern. My students have collected all the articles, and all the information from those police departments where one or more than one officer had died by GSW and had their badges taken. So far, all the officers who have died here fit that pattern, with the exception of the transit officer. Although, her badge is missing, I am not sure whether or not she is a victim of this killer. What we need to find is the turning point or more accurately, what accurately what caused this person to start killing police officers in the first place. We haven’t been able to locate that point yet, but we will find it.”
“Why do you think this killer is here maybe even long term and not just some transient who is moving around the country?”
“The reason we think our killer has settled down is because there is far more police officers and other related functions here in New York than anywhere else. As you know there are the following associations such as the Patrol Services Bureau, Special Operations Bureau, Transit Bureau, Housing Bureau, Transportation Bureau, Counterterrorism Bureau, which includes fifteen more bureaus. All of which are a part of the New York City police department. This gives our killer a huge range of targets.”
“I can agree on that. The commissioner has over thirty-six thousand, six hundred officers under his command.” Richard rose and began picking up the dishes. He scraped the remains of dinner back into the pot that contained the pot roast and fixings. He set his plate and Ellery’s in the sink, plugged it and began running hot water into it. He added soap and waited while the water filled the ceramic receptacle.
Ellery rose, rolled his sleeves up to his elbow, turned water down to a trickle and began to wash the dishes. “Is there anything you would like to see in our data bases and spreadsheets?”
“What I’d like is for you and your students to come to headquarters and present this to my team and every detective in the department, including the commissioner and his deputies. I would also like you to have all this data put together so that the ordinary patrol and beat patrol officer can understand. I want them to be able to possibly identify this killer while he is out on the street and maybe catch him before he kills again. Is that possible, El?”
I think so, let me think about this and talk to the team I have working on this. Can I contact you tomorrow afternoon, about this?”
“I’ll get in touch with everyone and let you know a date. Would you be able to get a large lecture hall at Columbia were everyone can meet, say sometime early afternoon?”
“I should be able to do that, but it’s going to take maybe a week, which should give my team the time we’re going to need to pull all this information together.” Ellery finished the last dish and grabbed a towel to help is father dry.
“That sound like a plan, if anything changes, we’ll keep in touch and try to settle on a date and time for this pow-wow.” Richard put the last of the dishes in the cupboard and hung up his towel. “How about some t.v.?” He headed into the living room and picked up the remote.
“Thanks, but I’ve still got papers to grade, and several projects from the academy students. The Fed students also have a cooperative projects that need grading. It’s going to be a long night, I’ll see you in the morning, Dad.” Ellery entered his study, sat down behind his desk and began working his way through his stacks of papers.
Chapter Twenty Four
The Hunter sat at his drawing table in his new office working on a design for a new library in a small New York town about fifty miles north of the city. He sighed and looked at the outside of the building the city council had wanted. They wanted classical design along the lines of the Carnegie libraries throughout the country. They also wanted sculptures of classical figures, such as Plato, Socrates, Homer, Aristotle, and more recent authors posted through the library’s gardens and along the sides and portico of the building. Hunter looked up at the knock on the door of his office. “Excuse me, but the library committee is here to look at the drawing for their new library.”
Standing, he grabbed the drawings and the model and followed the secretary down the hall to the conference room. Entering he finished putting on his suit coat, and paused at the foot of the table. “Sorry, I’m late, there were some corrections that I needed to do before I presented the model and my drawings.” He placed the model down in the centre of the table and laid out the drawings around it. “As you can see, I used the Carnegie library as a base model and expanded on it. Your current library is far too small for your growing community. You will need meeting space, community rooms for local groups to meet, space for a computer centre, a display area for artwork, or other kinds of things you and your community wish to display. And you are going to need shelf space for books, DVD’s, CD’s, magazines, reference materials, graphic novels, at least one if not two digital printers. Not to mention regular printers, and other electronic devices. You will also need a place to put a very large battery package for the solar panels located on the roof as you requested, this solar array will not only cut down on your carbon footprint it will also lower your electric costs. Do you have any questions?”
“When do you plan to give your presentation to the city council?”
“I could present it to your city council,” he paused and looked at his calendar on his iPhone. “How would next Wednesday be? The reason I would like to take an extra week is to get the color drawing completed before I do my complete presentation.”
“Let me check with the Mayor,” A tall man dressed in a business suit stood and moved over to the window. He spoke softly into his phone, when he finished he returned to his seat. “That’s fine, the city council is looking forward to see the final plans for the library. Thank you Mr. Hunter for your wonderful plans for our new library and we look forward to the final presentation.” The man and his party rose, shook hands with Hunter and left the conference room taking the model and drawings with them. Once they were gone Hunter sagged and dropped into a chair at the conference table.
“Good job, Hunter. You handled that committee just right. Now, they are looking forward to seeing the final drawings, model and blueprints for that new library.” Donald Petersen one of the architecherial firm partners.
“Thank you sir, it’s my first real design, not counting what I did in college, but then those don’t count do they?” Hunter rose and headed back to his office. He looked at the clock and decided that he had done for the day. He took the elevator down to the street and headed downtown to his room in the hotel. He changes his clothes and headed back out using the stairs to the lobby. He left the building and headed uptown looking for a decent place to eat. He found a small dinner, entered and waited for the hostess to seat him. He quickly perused the menu and ordered. Several minutes later his diner was served along with the beer he ordered. After eating, he paid his bill and left the dinner. He walked to a near-by bus stop and waited for one that would take him to west eighty-seventh street and the Queen apartment. He got off and paused outside the brownstone and looked up at the windows. He could not see any movement, so he crossed the street and entered the building. Silently climbing the stairs, he paused at the door and removed his lock picking set. Within minutes, he was inside and he paused again in the tiny vestibule. He listened closely for any indication that there was someone in the apartment, the only sounds he could hear was the noise from the cars passing back and forth on the street below. He moved into the living room and looked around. There were a pair of chairs facing a fireplace over which hung a large screen television. A couch was to the right of the chairs with a coffee table in front of it. There was a table behind the couch with lamps on either end of the table and behind that were the windows facing the street. He looked at the table between the two comfortable chairs and the floor to ceiling bookshelves. He walked to a swing door and pushed it open and looked around the tiny kitchen. A stove and over was to the left and a refrigerator was to the right of the door. Next to the fridge were cabinets both above and below a narrow countertop. The sink was to the left of the counter and to the left of that was a small red topped table and a pair of red vinyl covered chairs. There was nothing of note in the tiny space. He left the kitchen, going through the living room and into Ellery’s study. He moved over to the desk and found papers covered in information from databases, spreadsheets, newspaper articles and various other sources. He quickly checked the computer that was sitting on the desktop. It did not take him long to access the younger Queens, computer. He found all the files, databases, spreadsheets, and articles detailing his crimes. It seemed to him that the only thing the younger Queen didn’t have was what had triggered his killing spree. He needed to leave a message for the younger Queen. Smiling, he took out a lipstick he had taken from the transit cop and wrote across the monitor. “Stop looking for me, or you are DEAD!” He quickly erased all the information on the hard drive, shut off the computer and picked up the papers from the desk top. Quickly, leaving the apartment, he took the bus that had stopped at the corner and headed back downtown. Finally, he got off the bus and walked down a narrow alley to his safe room. He made sure that no one could see him as he entered the basement door. Once inside, he quickly entered the safe room, turned on the lights and moved over to a computer stand which held a computer, printer and shredder. He turned on the shredder, and fed every single piece of paper into the machine. When it was done, he emptied the shredder’s box into a cardboard box, shut off the shredder, and left the room. Locking the door behind him, he left the building and headed back toward the street. Turning left he, walked past several alleys with dumpsters and passed them by. When finally felt a safe distance from his safe room, he dropped the cardboard box into a dumpster and walked down the alley to the opposite end from which he had entered. Finally, finding a bus going in the right direction, he boarded and returned to his hotel. Entering his room, he stripped, showered and dropped into bed, he was asleep within minutes.
Ellery followed his father into the apartment, they were busy talking about the increasing number of deaths due to the killer who hunted police officers. Ellery reached over the old gentleman’s head and flipped on the living room lights. The living room was a mess, books were thrown everywhere, lamps were knocked over, cushions slashed and thrown about. “What the he…”
Ellery quickly spun about and entered his study, flipping on the lights. Papers were strewn all over the rug, his microscope lay on its side. He cautiously moved around his desk and stopped in shock. “Dad!” He dropped into his desk chair and stared at the message written on the screen. He looked up as the elder Queen trotted into the room.
“What is it Ellery? Besides the usual mess I mean.”
“I am not this messy and you know it. Take a look at this.” Ellery turned the monitor so the old gentleman could read the words written on it.
Without a word the Chief pulled his phone out of its holder and punched in a number. “Thomas, I want you to bring a team to my apartment immediately, someone left a message for Ellery and whoever it was not messing around. I will see you shortly.”
Within twenty minutes sirens could be heard approaching the brownstone that contained the Queen apartment. There as a bang on the door and Lieutenant Velie entered followed by several members of the Chief’s staff and the CSU. “Chief!?” Velie’s deep bass rumbled in the tiny vestibule.
“In Ellery’s study, Thomas.” The Chief was busy picking up papers and stacking them on the counter that held Ellery’s microscope, now up right and in its former position. Ellery was feeding his fish who were gathered at the top of the tank letting the younger Queen that they felt neglected and want attention as much as they wanted food.
“Take a look at the computer monitor screen, Velie,” Ellery replaced the cap on the small tube of fish food. “Our killer has been in twice now, he’s completely destroyed my computer, taken all my files and threw everything else on the floor. I’m going to have a hard time sorting this mess out.” The younger Queen stopped suddenly and looked at the giant of man towering over his father and himself. “Thomas can someone give me a ride over to my office at Columbia? I need to check my computer and my paperwork. My postgrads have just completed narrowing down our field to three possible suspects.”
“Sure Maestro, Flint, take the Maestro wherever he wants to go.”
“Sure Velie, coming Maestro?”
“Go on El, I can handle things here.”
“Thanks Dad, let’s go Flint.” The two men left the apartment and a pair car doors could be heard slamming down at street level.
A half-an-hour later Ellery unlocked the door to his office, flipped on the light switch and swore under his breath. He stepped carefully into the book lined space. “Watch where you step Flint, those papers are important, it might be better if you remain out in the hall, while I take a look around.”
“All right Maestro, whatever you say.” The older man moved out of the doorway and leaned against a wall watching the younger Queen move slowly and delicately toward his desk. He finally reached it and opened the lap top he used for teaching. The screen was smashed and the words “You’re DEAD” were written in indelible ink across it. Ellery picked up the compact laptop and it felt much lighter than it had this morning turning it over, the professor found the back open and the hard drive missing. This time he swore audibly and nearly flung the now useless computer across the room.
“What happened here, Doctor Queen?” A tall, young man of athletic build stood in the doorway.
“Someone broke in and made sure that all the information we had gathered on the cop killings over the first half of the semester has either been destroyed or he took all the information with him and destroyed it later.” Ellery set the computer down on his desk, bent over and began picking up pieces of papers. He was joined by Flint and the young Criminology student. “Just stack them on the conference table, I’ll have to sort them out later.” The Doctor of Criminology reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his iPhone. “Oh, hello Dad, it’s even worse here. My laptop is completely destroyed and the hard drive was taken. The floor is covered with papers and it’s going to take me an age to get them sorted. Do you need Flint back? No, good then he can help me sort this mess out. I think I will send him back and have him pick up all the papers that were scattered about the study and bring them back here; that way I can put everything together. Could you also send the CSU down here when they are done up there. Thank, Dad, I’ll see you at home later.” Ellery tapped the phone’s surface and shut off the call. “Flint, would you be so kind and to back to the apartment and pick up all the paper my Dad hands you?”
“Sure Maestro, need anything else?”
“Yes, but not just now. Mr. Holden and I can get started picking up here.”
Flint excused himself and disappeared down the hall way toward the elevator.
“Ummm, Doctor Queen?”
“Yes?” Ellery looked at the serious young man who regarded him with clear blue-green eyes.
“I’m not Mr. Holden, I’m Sattler, Douglas Sattler. Mr Holden isn’t in any of this year’s classes, he graduated last spring remember?”
“Yes, I’m sorry Douglas, too many things going on in my brain right now. Let’s see if we can make some sense of this before it gets too late and we need to head home and get some sleep.”
The two men were actually making headway when Detective Flint, followed by the CSU entered the office. “Here you go Maestro, the Chief just handed me this entire stack, and he said you could get the rest in the morning.” The detective set the huge stack of papers on the end of the conference table, then turned to the CSU people as they scattered around the room to search for evidence. “Be sure to check the computer inside and out, the hard drive is gone and the screen is broken, so be careful.”
“Right, Sarge,” The team broke up and very carefully moved about the small space. The found a great many fingerprints, to which they would have to compare them to what they had on file and they were going to need to take fingerprints from all of Ellery’s students in order to eliminate them from the suspect list.
“Yes, Mr. Sattler?”
“Why do they call you Maestro?”
Ellery chuckled and looked at his student. “I got that moniker when I was about your age. I helped my Dad solve a very high profile murder case. There were very few clues which could lead us to our murderer, I took both of us working together finding clues in different places and at different times. A man names Thomas Velie, who is my Dad’s right hand man and his chief of staff, hung that moniker around my neck when I finally managed to put all the clues together and figure out who the killer was. I had all the clues, but putting the evidence together took longer, but in the end, with my Dad’s invaluable help we pieced together a case the D.A. could take to court and get a conviction.”
“What happened to the killer? Is he still in prison?”
“No, he was the last person executed in the state of New York. The death penalty was abolished in two-thousand-five.”
“Do you believe in the death penalty?”
Ellery paused and thought his way through the question. “Yes, and no. The death penalty was originally used as a deterrent to keep people from committing capital crimes. It didn’t work, I think there has to be a better way to correct people’s behaviour, but don’t ask me what that is, I have no idea. I do think that in some extreme cases, like the one we are working on, the death penalty is necessary. If the person who has committed all these murders we have been researching if finally caught I think he will extradited to a state where they do have the death penalty. He should not be allowed a chance to escape and begin killing again. Please remember that this killer has taken over two hundred police officer’s lives. He needs to be stopped before he can kill another police officer or even a civilian who might be related to a police officer.”
“Like you and your father?”
“Do you ever worry about your father being killed in the line of duty?”
“Yes, that’s always a possibility. But my Dad is more of an administrator, although he does conduct investigations like the one we are working on.”
“My Dad was a cop, not here in New York, but in Los Angles. The reason I’m studying here instead of in California, is because I got a full ride scholarship. I graduated with a perfect four point oh. And I got a perfect score on the SATs and PSATs. My Dad died in the line of duty, he was on the highway the One-oh-One and had stopped to help someone and got hit and killed.” Donald continued to separate the different sheets into the correct piles.
“I’m very sorry to hear that Don. I’m sure he would be really proud of you going to into law school next year. Do you know what kind of law you want to practice?”
“Yes, I want to work either with the district attorney’s office in L.A. or the Federal Attorney’s office. I want to put bad guys where they belong. And, yeah I know I’m idealistic, but I’m young and I’ll learn.”
“Everyone starts out that way. You don’t by any chance have the postgrad’s project on your computer do you. And if not can you access it?”
“Sure, Doctor Queen, that’s not a problem. Do you want me to print it out for you?”
“No, not yet,” Ellery turned to Flint. “Flint, could you take Don here, back to his dorm and keep an eye on him. He’s got important information on his computer that we’re going to need later this morning.”
“Sure Maestro, no problem, just let me check in with the Chief and get approval, if that’s all right?”
“Sure, go ahead and tell Dad, I’ll meet him outside the main lecture room at nine o’clock.”
“Not a problem Maestro.” Flint moved over to the window to get out of the way of the CSU and Ellery and his student as the continued to clean up the scattered paperwork.
After disconnecting, Flint looked at the younger Queen. “Chief said to go ahead, and he’ll see you at nine.”
“Thanks’ Flint.” Ellery and his new teaching assistant continued to place the last of the papers on the stacks on the conference table.
Hunter walked around the construction area where his library design was being built in a medium-sized town in central New York State. He spoke to the supervisor, indicating the corrections he required, showing the man where the error had occurred according to the blue-prints he held loosely in his hand. The supervisor nodded in agreement, left Hunter’s side and moved to the far side of the construction zone. He spoke to several workers and they immediately went to work to correct the error, making the hole in the ground twice the size that they had made it. The hole would eventually become the basement of the new library. It would hold the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. There would be shelves containing batteries that would hold the electricity the solar panels on the roof. The electricity would be used to light, heat or cool the building at night or on bad weather days. Also in the basement were storage areas that were temperature and humidity controlled these areas were to be used for delicate documents, or any historic items that needed such conditions to remain in the condition they were currently in. There was also, a large area that could be used for lectures, demonstrations, classes, and community meetings. The HVAC and water heater would be in a room hidden in a corner of the basement so that they were out of the way. The sewer and electric connections would be put.
Hunter slowly moved around the grounds, looking down into the hole that the back-hoe was digging, enlarging the space. He looked around and found the supervisor and unable to locate him. He bent over and began to move the stakes that marked out where the back-hoe was to dig. By the time, he finished, the stakes he had moved enlarged the basement by three times the original excavation had begun. The building was going to be three times larger than the original library had been. The building had been struck by lighting and burned to the ground as the local fire department had been unable to stop it.
Hunter, walked over to a temporary drafting table that had been erected for use by himself and the construction supervisor. The town council had happily approved the design, and the entire city and county had approved an increase in their taxes to build the new library. He unrolled the blue-prints and looked down at the beginnings of building, the foundation. The citizenry wanted a corner stone, with a time capsule inside the corner stone that would be opened in one hundred years from the date of completion. The stone was being constructed with the time capsule incorporated into it. There would be a ceremony where items that would be put in the time capsule and the capsule sealed and the corner stone laid in place, but before that could happen the foundation had to be complete. He rolled up the blue-prints and headed toward his rental car and the hotel he had taken a room in for the duration of the construction. He nodded to the supervisor and several men of the construction crew. After arriving at the local hotel, he parked, shut off the engine, and got out. Pulling a long leather tube out of the car, he locked the car and entered his room. He dropped the tube on the long table to the right side of the room. Dropping onto the bed, he sighed, and wondered where to go for dinner. Sitting up, he moved to the desk, pulled out the centre drawer and removed the thin phone book. He looked through the yellow pages finding the listings for restaurants located in the area. He was surprised to find a Chinese, Italian, Mexican and French restaurants listed there also a pizza place, a hamburger joint and steak restaurant. He picked up the phone and dialled the Chinese restaurant and asked about delivery, there was such a thing, and he placed his order. He took a long hot shower, dried off and changed his clothes, when there was a knock on the door and he grabbed his wallet. He opened the door to a fresh, faced young man holding up a large bag, marked with the name and symbol of the Chinese restaurant.
“That will be twenty five dollars, sir.”
Hunter took out thirty dollars and give it to the young man, who thanked him politely and left. He closed the door, dropped on to the bed, picked up the remote for the television, turned it and surfed around until he found something he could at least watch while he ate his dinner. Finishing, he dropped the containers back into the bag, and dropped the bag into the trash can. He sighed, feeling restless, he changed into his familiar black clothing, and moved to this suitcase and removed his weapon. He checked the breach, making sure that it was loaded and reclosed the breach. He shoved it into the pocket of his hoody, and picked up his room key, shoved that into his pocket. He pulled the curtains on the single window in his room making sure that the light from the lamp could be seen, but nothing else could be seen from outside. Putting the do not disturb sign on the door handle, then left his rental parked outside his room and disappeared into the darkness. Moving silently through the town he moved easily, street plans in most town, or small cities were exactly alike, the only difference was the names they were given. He finally found the business district and moved easily with the crowd moving on both sides of the street. He found an ice-cream parlour and went in. He ordered a double scoop of his favourite, paid and left the small business. He ate his ice-cream as he walked along finding a walkway that moved down from the main street to follow the river that ran through the town. There were huge trees, benches, flower beds and couples moving on either side of the water. The serial killer, found a bench and seated himself and just people watched. It was a very pleasant summer evening, after he finished, he breathed deeply of the clean, water cooled air and continued to people watch. He noted a pair of police officers walking along the opposite side of the river. They paused occasionally paused and spoke to people. He noted that the two officers seemed to be well liked and known by everyone they spoke to. Hunter quickly made a decision not to go after either one of the officers across from him. There were other police officers to hunt and they would be much easier targets to take. He rose and continued to walk the entire length of the Riverwalk. At one end was a small mall of different little stores, which sold all kinds of different items. One store sold Christmas items, another sold toys, and another was an art gallery featuring photography of the area and paintings of the area. One small store sold candy, taffy, popcorn in various flavors and other items. He exited on to the main street and walked across the street to look in the store windows at the various items for sale. Most of the items were geared toward the tourist trade, there were wines, bicycle rentals, guided tours, maps of hiking trails, and posters for horseback riding stables. He continued his walk along the main street of the town where his deign was being turned to reality. He spotted a single police officer moving into a narrow alley between two wood clad buildings caught his curiosity. He moved silently behind the officer following his new target. He approached to within point blank range, and drew his gun. He quickly screwed the silencer into the barrel of the gun. He paused, looking both ways and even up toward the rooftops of the buildings surrounding the alley. He raised the gun and pointed it toward his victim. There was a pft noise and the police officer dropped silently face down into the dirt of the alley. Hunter swiftly moved to the motionless body, bent over and reached down to the shoulder of the dead body. He found the officer’s badge and removed it from the shirt, stuffed it into his pocket and quickly left the alley. As he walked out he paused and looked around carefully to make sure that no one was watching as he came out of the alley. He spotted a police officer and trotted up to the young man. “Help, please help me!” he cried as he paused to catch his breath.
“What’s the problem?” The officer gently placed his hand on Hunter’s shoulder.
Pointing back the way he had come he gasped. “There’s…there’s a man lying in the alley, I…I think he’s dead. I felt for a pulse when I found him, but I couldn’t find anything. My cell phone is dead, I forgot to charge it, I was trying to find an open store or something and ask to use his phone, but no such luck. Luckily, I found you, please let me show you where I found him, maybe you can help him better than I can.” He stood-upright and move beside the officer and they walked several blocks before they came to the alley opening. The officer looked at the burned half Hunter’s face, he was cautious but curiosity over took politeness. “What happened to your face?”
“Got caught in a Humvee that hit an IED in Afghanistan, burned my hands badly too,” he held up his glove covered hands as they turned into the alley.
“Sorry about that, and thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
“Thanks, that means a lot.” They found the motionless body and the officer squatted down beside his brother officer.
After touching the motionless man’s pulse point in his throat he rose, reached up to his mike and pressed the button to activate communication. He spoke softly and ended the communication, then turned to Hunter. “I need to get your information, while we wait for back-up.”
“My name is Jeremiah Hunter, I’m in town to oversee the building of the new library. I’m an architect for a company out of New York City. I now live in NYC, at the Hotel Pennsylvania until I can find an apartment.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, opened it and removed a business card “Here is my card, it has my cell phone number, the office number and my email. I’m staying at the Roadhouse Motel room number 1. You can leave a message there for me and I will get in touch with you. Can I go now?” He was uncomfortable and wanted to get away before the police officer discovered he carried a gun and had the dead officer’s badge in his pants pockets.
“Yes, thank you for your assistance, Mr. Hunter. One of the detectives who will be assigned to this case will be in touch with you.”
Hunter nodded, and went back out of the alley the way he and the officer had entered. He walked back to the motel thinking hard about what to do. He needed to hide the badge and possibly get rid of the gun. Yes, he had to get rid of the gun and he had the right place to do it. It would never be found, being buried in the dirt under the newly built cement. There were other weapons he had made at the safe room back in the city. He reached the motel, unlocked his door, and entered shut the door behind him and locked it, making sure that the curtains were tightly pulled. He undressed and wrapped the badge in his dirty underwear and put that into the plastic bag he carried for dirty clothes. He took a shower, to make sure that he washed off any traces of the murder scene on his person. His shoes he wrapped in another plastic bag along with the gun. He would bury everything in the new hole that would soon be filled with the concrete that would become the foundation. He put on new boxers and pulled back the blankets, then laid down, shut off the light and went to sleep. Very early in the morning, he got dressed, ate breakfast, and took his bundle and the tube containing the blue prints and put everything in the passenger seat. Getting behind the wheel, he closed the door, put on the seatbelt, and started the car. Arriving at the construction site, he shut off the engine, and got out his hard hat, put it on and grabbed the bundle he was going to bury, and his tube containing the blue-prints. He unlocked the gates to the construction site, looking around he did not spot anyone. The construction crew would be at the site between eight and nine o’clock. He squeezed past the entrance, relocked the gates making sure that the lock was on the outside of the gates. He quickly went to the construction office and unlocked that. He entered, turned on the light, and dropped the tube of blue-prints on the desk. He exited and went a storage shed located next to the construction office trailer. He unlocked that and looked at the equipment, finding a shovel, he grabbed that and headed toward the huge hole in the ground. He made his way to the center of the hole and began to dig. Once he was satisfied that he had dug deep enough, he dropped the plastic encased bundle into the hole. He moved all the dirt he had dug for the hole back in place, then stamped on the dirt to make sure everything was invisible and he began to walk around the hole inspecting the size and took the shovel moving dirt here and there as if he was trying to level out the area. He heard a car engine, then several car engines and tires on gravel. He heard car doors slamming and men’s voices. The engine of earth moving equipment began as the men scattered to their assigned jobs. He walked out of the hole, went toward the construction office trailer and called. “The floor of the basement needs to leveled and there are too many ridges, would you please get the grater to smooth out the bottom of the hole, before the forms are placed for the basement floor?”
“Sure, Mr. Hunter,” The construction supervisor began giving instructions and a large earthmover entered the hole and began leveling the bottom. Later that day all the forms for the basement of the library were in place and cement trucks were lined up waiting to pour their contents into the forms. Men were working in the cement lying re-bar to strengthen the concrete that would be the basement of the library. The cement would be poured in layers over the coming week to fill the forms. The basement walls were being poured at the same time so that the basement would be completed at the same time. Stairs were also being laid down that would lead up to the first floor of the building. Hunter walked through the forms watching the men moved around the large spout that poured the thick semi-liquid into the forms. Once each form was filled men took spreaders and began smoothing out the concrete to make the basement floor. Satisfied, he nodded to the workmen and left the hole. He walked over to the construction trailer, entered and spoke briefly to the supervisor. He emptied the tube, handed the blue-prints to the supervisor, shook hands and left the office. He would be in New York City in time for a late dinner.
Chief of Detectives Richard Queen looked around the huge lecture hall. Most of the seats were filled with detectives from every precinct were seated in the room. He walked over to the microphone and picked it up. “All right every one move down as close to the front as you can, you are going to need to see the screen.” He watched as the detectives grumbled as they moved down to the front of the room. Richard nodded to himself as his son Ellery and a young, blonde giant of a man following his son. The young man peeled off heading toward the back of the room to program the projector and lower the screen. Richard walked over to his son and waited for him to finish shifting all the papers he had brought. “Ellery, everything all right?”
“What!?” Ellery looked at the bird-like little man. His grey hair was neatly combed and he was dressed in a black three-piece suit with a matching tie. “Oh, hi Dad,” The younger Queen looked into his father’s silver eyes. “Give us just a minute to get organized,” Ellery handed over a large stack of papers. “Could you please, hand them out to everyone here?” He turned his attention to the back of the room where his teaching assistant was busy with the projector and screen. “Are you ready Don?”
“Yes, sir, everything is ready to go. Do you want databases or spreadsheets up first?”
“Databases, then spreadsheets. We’ll go from there to giving the detectives a description of how we narrowed the list down to the five different suspects the group believes are the strongest group.”
Don nodded, then quickly typed instructions into his computer to bring up the databases that the postgrads had put together from all the different sources around the country they had contacted. Included in that database were lists and lists of police officer deaths in the line of duty. The spreadsheets took that database and collated all the information, by state, county, and city. The detectives now sitting in the hall needed to be aware of this information and how to use that information to locate this prodigious serial killer.
Setting the stack of papers down on the table he motioned for Lieutenant Velie to pass the papers out to everyone present. The chief’s cell phone buzzed from the holder on his belt. Sighing heavily, Richard pulled the iPhone from his belt holder. He tapped the answer button on the phone and put it up to his ear. “Queen here.”
“I know who you are but, you don’t know who I am, but you will soon. I am the Hunter in the Darkness. You took from me that which was more precious to me than my life and I will take from you that which you value the most. Another of my victims has been found. He will not be the last. I will continue to hunt, there will be more victims many, many more victims before you finally figure out who and why I am hunting in the darkness. I will call you again.”
The phone we dead and Richard stared mutely at the face of his iPhone. “How in the name of all that’s holy did this nut-case get his private phone number?” He replaced the phone back into its holder and dropped the suit jacket back in place to cover it.
“Who as that?” Ellery asked as he looked at his father.
“Seems, that our killer has a rotten sense of humor. Although why he keeps call me and taunting me is not very funny.”
“Dad, I don’t like this, how did he get your cell phone number?”
“Probably by calling headquarters and asking to speak to me, they knew I was out of the office this morning, for this presentation, so they switchboard just transferred it to my cell phone.”
“I think you ought to tell the switchboard from this moment forward to transfer all your calls to voice mail if you are out of the office, just to be safe.”
“I’ll do that once I get back to Police Plaza One, when we’re done with this. Are you ready, son?”
“Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, for those who don’t know me, my name is Ellery Queen, and I am a professor of Criminology, here at Colombia. I have doctorate’s degrees of Criminology, Sociology, and Psychiatry, with a masters in Statistics. I have worked as a consultant to the NYPD since I graduated Harvard. Many of you know my father Chief of Detective’s Richard Queen. The reason you are here on a Saturday morning is to go over all a massive amount of data that I and my postgrad students had gathered since the first police officer here in New York was killed. Let us begin with our databases.” The huge screen at the front of the room lit up with a printout showing the beginnings of the database. “Please refer to the first page of the handout you’ve been given. What you are seeing is the data we have gathered by calling all major cities in the contagious United States. In other words we left out Alaska and Hawaii as these states have not lost a single officer to gunshot wounds.” Ellery paced easily back and forth in front of the huge white screen. “Next, please, Don.” He looked out at his audience, who were riveted to the several pages of data sheets, organized by state, city, date of shooting, and finally officer’s name, age and length of service. Highlighted in this database, you will notice deaths that have common aspects to them. Each of these highlighted officers, were shot in the back, the bullet had no rifling or any marking. Secondly: it did not matter whether the officer was a man or woman. Thirdly: each officer who was killed by this serial killer, and yes I said serial killer, ladies and gentlemen. And finally: the officers who were killed had their badges taken as a trophy, which as I am sure you are all familiar with is an indication of a serial killer. Here is what we have discovered. The killer is a man, approximately six feet to six and half feet tall. We believe that he is Hispanic or Latino in nationality.” Before Ellery could continue, a student ran into the room.
“Doctor Queen, we found it. We found ground zero and we think we’ve also identified who the serial killer is.” The young man handed the younger Queen a sheaf of papers. While he was doing this a fellow student handed out the same sheaf of papers to everyone attending the meeting.
Ellery and Richard looked through the sheaf of papers and Ellery continued. “According to this new information, our serial killer is a military veteran. He original came from Grover Beach California. A year ago, the town’s SWAT team made a horrible error. They attacked a small house two block from the city’s main hospital. They were after a known gang member and drug dealer whose home is at a completely different address. Unfortunately, they attacked the wrong house with a similar address, looking for this person. A second grave error they made was failing to properly identify the person they were after. The SWAT team surrounded the house and tossed in smoke grenades to try to flush out this person they wanted. What they did not realize or even take into consideration was the possibility that there might be other people living in the house. Unfortunately, there were others living in this house. Two women, one in her mid-fifties, one in her late twenties, one man in his mid-fifties and two very young children. The house, very old, dry and flammable, the house caught fire, and by the time the fire department arrived it was too late for the people living in the house. Eventually, the bodies were identified, the older woman was Eva Gonzales Hunter age fifty-three, Joseph Michael Hunter age fifty-five, Maria Jimenez Hunter age twenty-five and her two children Consuelo age two-and-a-half and three-day-old Vicente. As of today, there has been on apology on behalf of the Grover Beach police department or anyone in the city government. They did not acknowledge their mistake, which took four innocent lives, nor have they made any attempt to contact a Mister Jeremiah Hunter. Neither have they attempted to compensate Mister Hunter for the loss of his parents, wife and two children. This is what we have been looking for, the trigger point. I believe that this is what caused what the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit would call a psychotic break. The person who goes through this is perfectly rational, can function in a job or even high stress situations, but he is psychotic and very dangerous. He approaches his victim from behind, shots them in the area of the neck right above the bullet proof vest. This is always a lethal shot, he does not miss, ever. This man has killed over two hundred police officers. Recently, there was an officer who was shot in the back in Binghamton New York. There was no evidence as to who committed the crime, but there was one outstanding clue, the officer had no badge on his shirt or vest. The officer was found by a tourist following a group of people who routinely used this particular alley as a short-cut to the upper business district. There is also a paved walkway along the river that runs the entire length of the business district. This alley also had entrances from shops along both sides of the alley. The people who had passed through the alley did not notice or find the dead officer, which means that the officer was killed after they had passed through. My team and myself agree that the serial killer was responsible. We spoke with Chief Queen and his team and with their able assistance, we believe that the serial killer has now made New York his home.”
Papers were being passed among the attendees and they looked at the picture of a man in his early thirties. He was a handsome man of Latino or Hispanic origin. He had wavy black hair, dark brown eyes, a narrow aquiline nose, and full lips in a ready smile. He was dressed in army fatigues, with the insignia of a drill sergeant.
“There is a possibility that Mister Hunter may or may not have burn scars on his face and hand from the time when he tried to rescue his family.”
Holding up the picture, Chief Queen waved it in the air. “This picture is going out to every precinct and every department within the NYPD. I want everyone, and I mean everyone to be on the lookout for this man. Be careful, he is armed and dangerous and has military training. If he is spotted, do not try to detain him yourself, follow him and wait for backup before confronting him, is that clearly understood?”
Everyone agreed, and Chief Queen released the attendees to return to their precincts and begin the search for the serial killer.
Hunter stood in the centre of his safe room, looking around at the walls covered with pictures, articles, badges and a very large collection of guns of various calibers. He looked over the different weapons finally choosing one. He reached down to a shelf below the guns and picked a box of cartridges and opened the breach. He filled the magazine, then dropped a handful into the front pocket of his pants. He turned off the light, locked the door behind him and left the building. Wondering down the street he paused at the corner and waited for the light to change from red to green. He made a decision and crossed the street to take a bus going north. Boarding he paid his fair asked the driver if he was going as far north as eighty-seventh street and the man behind the wheel of the bus nodded saying that the stopped at eighty-seventh and Amsterdam. He watched the city streets crowded with cars and people going in every direction. The bus crossed Amsterdam and stopped as Hunter go out and headed down eighty-seventh street. Finding the address he was looking for he walked up the steps and entered the brownstone building. Without pausing he went straight to an apartment and looked at the solid wooden obstacle preventing him from entering. He removed his lock pick set, chose the correct set and swiftly unlocked the door. He entered and locked the door behind him. Without turning on any lights, he entered the living room and moved to the large window overlooking the street. He peered through the curtains and glanced at the street below him. There was no one walking or even driving, all was quiet, he decided that he was just going to wait for his next victim in the victim’s own home. He knew he was being hunted by the NYPD and he had to keep a low profile, so the only way he could take his next victim would be to take that victim in the privacy of the victim’s home. He made himself comfortable on the sofa and wait for his victim to come home. He checked his watch noted that it was nearly six o’clock which meant that Chief of Detectives Richard Queen should be home shortly.
Outside on the sidewalk, Chief of Detectives Richard Queen waited for his son to pay the cab and join him. Once Ellery did he turned toward the front door. “What do you want for dinner tonight, El”?
“There’s all the leftover turkey in the fridge, we really should eat some of it, or cut it off the bone and freeze it so it doesn’t spoil. I know Mrs. Baum want’s the carcass for soup stock and she promised to give us half of it. If you’re tired of turkey, I can get something from Pop’s. I need to go and get the evening papers anyway.”
Richard paused, his foot on the first step and his hand on the railing. “I’m sick and tired of turkey, so let’s give that thing to Mrs. Baum and she can do with it what she pleases. Just cut off the breast meat and freeze that for us, Mrs. Baum can have the rest. Since you’re going to Pop’s pick up some soup and we’ll have turkey sandwiches with the soup.”
“Sounds good to me. I’ll be home in twenty to thirty minutes.” Ellery turned and headed down eighty-seventh street toward the small local grocery and news stand that served the area.
Richard climbed the stairs reaching into his pants pocket and pulled out his keys. He selected the main door key and let himself into the building that housed the apartment he shared with his son. He climbed the short flight of stairs and unlocked the door to the apartment. After entering he entered the living room and stopped dead in the entryway.
“Please, keep your hands where I can see them, Chief.” A deep menacing voice came floating from a darkened corner of the living room.
“Who are you and what do you want?”
“Please come in to the room and as I asked before keep your hands where I can see them. I am armed and I would really rather not have to shoot you so soon.”
Richard raised his hand above his waist and entered his living room, turned toward the windows overlooking the street and saw a dark man shaped form standing in the corner between the window and the wall. The Chief tried to make out the figure, but the lighting was difficult the sun was on the other side of the building and the street lamps had not come on yet.
The figure moved slowly pulling the curtains closed, darkening an already dark room. “If you don’t mind, I rather have it dark in here, light has been hurting my eyes recently for some reason. I suppose I should go to the eye doctor. Do you know a good eye doctor, Chief?”
“Yes, Doctor Kopelli, I’ve gone to him for years. His office is over on Amsterdam and ninety-fifth. Can I put my hand down, it’s rather uncomfortable holding them up?”
“Of course, just don’t reach for your weapon, because if you do things will get messy, especially for you.”
“You’re Hunter aren’t you?”
“Oh, very good, Chief. Yes, I am Hunter. I saw my picture on the front page of the newspapers, all of them I might add, and my picture is on every television network in the city. How did you guess who I was?”
“I didn’t guess, I didn’t have to. My son was doing research on serial killers with his post graduate students and we were talking one night at dinner and we realized that we were looking for the same serial killer.”
“Your son? You have a son, Chief?”
“Yes, he and I share this apartment, we have lived in this apartment for my son’s entire life. My wife and moved here when we found out she was expecting.”
“Where is your wife now, Chief?”
“She’s dead, Bridgette, died when our son was a small boy. I’ve raised him by myself with a great deal of help from a lot of friends.” The old gentleman slowly lowered himself down onto a hassock and eased his weight off his feet. “You don’t mind if I sit down, do you? I’m not as young as I used to be.” Richard laid his hands in his lap and regarded his strange visitor.
Chuckling, Hunter slowly moved toward the sofa and the table behind it and paused as he heard the door to the apartment open, then close.
“Dad, I hope you like minestrone, because that’s all Pop’s had. I also got fresh bread for Kneads for Life, and there’s…” Ellery stopped dead in the doorway as he looked between the dark clad figure and his father.
“You must be the Chief’s son, please come in a join us, won’t you?”
Ellery entered the living room and carefully placed the newspapers, fresh bread and soup on the dinner table, then turned to face the figure in the darkest corner of the living room. “Are you the Hunter?”
“Very good, Mr. Queen. Yes, I’m the Hunter and I have a very good reason for what I’ve done.”
“I’m sure you do, every murderer I’ve ever encountered says the same thing, but as far as I know, there’s no justifiable reason for murder.”
“How about vengeance?”
“What about it?”
“The police were responsible for the deaths of my entire family. My mother, my father, my wife and our beautiful two year old daughter and our three day old son. Isn’t that enough justification for you?”
“No, you’ve taken over two hundred lives of police officers who did nothing to or your family, why kill them? That’s not revenge or even justifiable homicide, its murder plain and simple. And that’s never justifiable no matter what happened before or after you killed them.” Ellery crossed his arms over his chest and crossed his ankles and perched on the edge of the dining table.
“Oh, listen to you talk, what do you know?” Hunter stepped into the dim light of the hallway and pulled off the black silk mask that covered his face. One half of his face was untouched, the other was covered with burn scars from the top of his head all the way to his collar bone. “Ugly, isn’t it? This is what they did to me, not just my face, but both my hands are badly burned as well. Those monsters they…they didn’t bother to make sure that they got the right address or even the right person, they just went ahead and attacked my house hoping to chase me out so they could kill me. They broke the kitchen window and tossed in tear gas canisters, they smoked up the lower part of the house, and they caught the upper story of the house on fire. They burned my entire family alive, I tried….I tried to rescue them, but the entire upper floor was involved and before I could even get up the stairs to them the entire upstairs crashed into the lower floor. I dove down into the basement, it took me time to get out and by that time my face and hand had been badly burned. I manged to get around the police and made it out of town and into Hemmit where I was treated at the ER. I lied to them about my name and how I got burned. It didn’t matter to them who I was or how I got my burns.”
“I’m very sorry to hear about your family. That’s heartbreakingly sad, is there something my father or I could do for you?”
Making a sharp, snorting noise, Hunger leaned against the table and looked at father and son. “It’s too late for that, far…far too late.”
“So, what do plan to do, shoot both of us?”
“No, just the old man.”
“Please don’t, I don’t want to lose my father and he’s not ready to die yet.” Ellery stood upright and stepped between Hunter and his father right in the line of fire. “If you have to shoot someone then you can shoot me.”
“What you volunteering? Why”
“Because I love my father. Is that so difficult to understand? He’s the only family I have and I’d prefer that you don’t kill him. I know what you want.” Ellery stepped back until he felt his father’s hand pressed against his back. The younger Queen turned slightly, still keeping an eye on Hunter and reached inside his father’s suit coat and gently removed the case that contained his father’s badge and police identification. Additionally, he slipped his long fingers to his father’s shoulder holster, unsnapped the strap that covered the trigger and removed the weapon from its holder. Turning back to face Hunter, Ellery took a long step forward and dropped the case on the table next to the serial killer. “You collect these, you’ve taken the badges of every police officer you’ve killed in the last sixteen months. You can have this one, please just don’t kill him.” He stepped back making sure that he was between his father and the killer.
“How can you love him? He’s a cop, a natural born killer, they all are!” Hunter snarled waving the muzzle of the gun around in the air.
“I love him because he’s my father. He raised me, with some help along the way from very good people who were police officers and other friends of his. There are a great many good people in the police department. If you don’t remember the number of police officers killed on nine-one-one, I certainly do. They responded to the twin towers and helped as many people as they could, they lost their lives helping people. I know a great many of them personally and I still miss them and I always will.”
“How come you aren’t a cop, like your old man?”
“Because, I can’t see past the end of my nose without either my contacts or glasses. And Dad forbid me to even contemplate or consider going to the police academy, he did not want to see me humiliated, which is exactly what would’ve happened if had applied. The class work would have been no problem, but the physical would have been. I’m not athletic by any means not even close, I’m more academically inclined, which is why I am a professor at Columbia University. I have a doctorate in Criminology, Sociology, Psychology and a Masters in Statistics.”
“That’s how we finally figured out that you were the serial killer we were looking for. My son and his post graduate students built a database and used spreadsheet and statistics to narrow down the field. They also used articles from newspapers and police reports from every state except Alaska and Hawaii.” Richard moved from around behind Ellery to stand at his side. He was aware that his son had a plan, he knew that when Ellery had taken his badge case he had also loosened his gun in his shoulder holster.
“What university did you attend?”
“Harvard. I was hired right after I graduated. Colombia had a degree program in criminology. They wanted me to teach it, I have a proven track record where catching criminals are concerned. I use a completely different approach to evidence, witness testimony, and testimonies of others involved in the particular case that is being investigated. I also have written over twenty books on criminology and the application of sociology, psychology, and statistics to apprehend and prosecute the correct criminal in each case.”
“Ellery’s been exceptionally helpful as a consultant with the department and he and I have worked with my personal staff for a good many years and we have a very long string of successful cases racked up. Even the district attorney and the federal district attorney for the southern district of New York can affirm what Ellery’s just told you.”
Hunter kept the muzzle of the gun pointed at the Chief as he reached for the leather case and the badge contained within. “Give me a very good reason why I shouldn’t just kill you both?”
“Neither of us want’s to die, nor even if you do kill one or both of us, are you never going to get out of New York alive. I’m sure by now, you’ve seen the newspapers and television.” Ellery picked up one of the papers and showed Hunter the front page. “There are over thirty-six thousand six-hundred police officers in the five boroughs of New York, you don’t stand a chance of escaping.”
“You never know, I just might,” Hunter picked up the leather case and stuck it in the pocket of his black leather jacket. He cautiously moved sideways toward the doorway into the tiny vestibule. He raised the weapon preparing to squeeze the trigger.
Ellery reacted far faster that Hunter, he knocked his father off his feet, reached inside the old gentleman’s jacket grabbed the gun drew it and fired in a single motion. There was a huge double bang, on coming from Hunter’s gun, the other from the Chief’s gun. The door to the apartment flew open and Lieutenant Thomas Velie followed by several other detectives entered the apartment. Lying motionless between the living room and the vestibule was Hunter, his eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, seeing nothing, he had died before his body hit the floor.
Richard pulled himself out from under his son and grabbed the younger man by the shoulder. “Ellery!! Ellery!! Speak to me, son are you alright?”
Ellery groaned and pushed himself up on his left side and looked at his father. “I think so, although I’m not quite sure.” He continued to push himself into a sitting position and calmly regarded Velie and several other detectives from his father’s personal staff. “I shot him, Velie?”
“You did Maestro? With what? You don’t carry a gun.” The giant of a man stepped over the corpse and moved calmly into the living room. He bent over and looked at the weapon still in the college professor’s hand. “You can put that down now Maestro, he’s not going anywhere except to the morgue. Flint, call it in and get things rolling.”
The other detective nodded, turned and disappeared down the stairs and out of the brownstone to the sidewalk.
“No, I don’t carry a gun, but Dad does, so I used his.” Ellery tried to get to his feet, but dropped back to the floor and looked at his father. “Umm, Dad, I think I’ve been shot.”
Richard quickly moved to his son’s side and looked at the bullet hole in his son’s shoulder. Blood was streaming out from both the smaller hole in the front and a much larger hole in the younger man’s back. The Chief quickly got to his feet and trotted into the kitchen, grabbed some old towels and came back placing one against the small hole and the other on his son’s back. He took a seat on the hassock and pressed his knee against his son’s back. “Ellery, just lean against me, son. The ambulance will be here shortly, son just hang on.”
Ellery did as he was told, leaning back against his father’s knee which increased the pressure on the bleeding hole in his back. His father held him tightly and pressed as hard as he could against the hole in the front of his shoulder. He looked up onto the worried face of the old gentleman and gave his a crooked half smile. “Sorry about the carpet, I’ll pay to get it cleaned.”
“Never mind the damned carpet, it needs to get replaced anyway. Your great aunt Agatha gave that to your mother and I for a wedding present. I’ve never liked it and now I have a very good excuse to get rid of it. Your great aunt had the worst taste in furniture and rugs that I’ve ever seen. I won’t miss the damn thing. We can have the floor sanded down, re-stained and sealed. Who needs rugs anyway?” The Chief groused as he tightened his hold on his son. “How are you feeling, El?”
“Kind of funny, a bit dizzy and I’m starting to get cold.”
“Thomas where is that ambulance?”
The huge police officer went to the window just as a siren cut off and two people got, raced to the back of the vehicle and opened the doors. They pulled out the stretcher with their gear already on top and headed up the stairs and through the main door of the brownstone, then up the short flight of stair leading to the Queens apartment. They entered stepped over the corpse and went straight to Ellery and Richard. One of the paramedics knelt down and helped the younger Queen get his jacket off, then his blood soaked sweater and shirt. He grabbed a pressure bandage and placed it tightly against the wound in the front, then took a second pad and placed it against Ellery’s back. Between the two paramedics and Velie, they got Ellery on the stretcher and lifted him over the corpse still blocking the entrance to the living room and headed downstairs.
“You go with the Maestro, Chief, I’ll take care of things here.” Velie quickly began giving orders to the rest of the Chief’s staff. He pulled a large evidence bag out of his pocket and turning it inside out he picked up the gun, then flipped the bag right side out, wrote the location, date, time and reason for the Chief’s gun being taken into evidence.
Richard, ignoring the huge blood stain on his trousers quickly followed the stretcher and paramedics. “You will have to ride in the front, sir.” A young man informed his as he pulled the doors closed and his partner ran to get behind the wheel. Richard opened the passenger door and got in beside the other man. He closed the door, pulled on his seat belt and looked at the other younger man as he started the engine, put on his seat belt, his the sirens and shoved the lever into drive and stomped on the accelerator. The medical vehicle screeched around the corner leaving behind it the smell of burnt rubber.
“Don’t give up, we’re only two minutes to Lenox Hills.” He quickly avoided cars, taxis, and other vehicles which tried to get out of his way but were having trouble as there was a great deal of congestion. Exactly ninety seconds later the ambulance pulled into the emergency entrance of the hospital. The back doors swung open and the one in front, put the ambulance in park, opened his door and ran to the back to help his partner get the gurney out. They ran in through the automatic doors, and passed the reception desk straight into a ready and waiting treatment area, with doctors and nurses already to begin taking care of Ellery. “GSW through and through, right shoulder. He’s lost a lot of blood, we’ve got Lactated Ringers running wide open, O2 is on 2, and BP is down to ninety over fifty, respirations are eight per minute and labored, pulse is one hundred fifteen.” The two paramedics helped transfer Ellery from the stretcher to the hospital’s gurney, they gathered their equipment, and left the hospital personal to get on with their job of saving the college professor’s life.
Richard dropped into a padded seat and leaned forward resting his forearms on his knees. “Sir are you injured?”
“Are you injured? There’s blood on your pants.”
“Oh, no I was using my knee to apply pressure to my son’s back. He was just brought in with a gunshot wound to the shoulder.” Richard looked up a pretty middle-aged woman with chestnut colored hair and emerald green eyes.
“Thank you for your concern, nurse,” He peered closely at the name tag, which read Misty. “Misty, I appreciate it.”
“Is there anything I can get for you?”
“All I really need is to find out how my son is. He was just brought in.”
She smiled and turned, “I’ll see what I can find out, I’ll be right back.” She disappeared through an electronically controlled door that opened before her.
Richard continued to lean forward resting his forearms on his knees. Misty feet appeared and he looked up. “My son?”
“He’s been taken to surgery and that is going to take time. Here, the restroom is over there,” she pointed to the clearly marked door and she handed him the scrubs pants. “If you’ll change into to these, I’ll get the blood out of your pants before the stain sets.” She smiled as the old gentleman rose and headed toward the restroom. Several minutes later he exited and handed her the pair of pants. “This won‘t take long.”
After an hour Misty returned carrying the Chief’s trousers and held them out to him. “All nice and clean and they’re even dry.” She smiled as he rose again and disappeared in to the men’s room. “Are you hungry?” She took back the scrubs and indicated for him to follow her. “The cafeteria is at the far end of the hall, when you get to the end turn right and go through the doors.
“Thank you Misty, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.” He smiled sadly at her as he slowly headed down the hallway. After reaching the café, he paused in the doorway and looked around, he found the coffee and headed over to get a very large cup. Once he had filled the extra-large cup, he sat down in a chair and carefully sipped at the dark bitter liquid. After setting the cup down on the table top he closed his eyes and let his memories race across the blackness of his eyelids. He saw his son as a small child, laughing wildly as he was being chased by a very much younger Richard Queen. An older Ellery, struggling with mathematical calculations far beyond anything he had any ability to understand. An even older Ellery packing his bags getting ready to leave for Boston and Harvard, he had received a full ride scholarship for achievements in academics. Another scene of Ellery holding his PhD’s each one framed and a glow of pride on his face. There were three PhD’s and a Masters. His reverie was interrupted by a gentle touch on his shoulder. Lieutenant Velie set down his coffee cup and slowly seated himself across the table from his commanding officer. “Any word about the Maestro?”
“He’s in surgery as far as I know.”
“He’ll make it, don’t worry too much Chief.” Velie took a deep drink of the dark bitter liquid.
“I know, I just hate not knowing and I hate waiting, I always have.” Richard finished the rest of his coffee, rose and went over to a counter and refilled his mug. He re-seated himself and took a deep drink. “Give a report Velie, I need something to concentrate on.”
“Internal Affairs took your gun, and will be getting in touch with you soon. According to Proudy, Hunter died from a single gun shot wound right through the centre of his heart. The bullet was lodged in his spinal cord. He said he would have the autopsy on your desk tomorrow afternoon. CSU covered the entire scene, which I told them was ridiculous, since you prints, the Maestro’s and your cleaning woman, Mrs. Baum should be the only fingerprints that they would find in the living room or anywhere else in the apartment. Oh, I got this back for you,” Thomas reported as he handed a leather wallet over to the Chief.
Richard opened it and looked at the gold badge reflecting the light from directly above the table. He closed it and shoved it into the back pocket of his trousers. “Thanks, Velie. Ellery gave it to Hunter hoping that by giving it to him, he wouldn’t kill me. You know, it just never occurred to me that Ellery would actually kill someone. It was a justifiable shooting, he saved both our lives.”
Velie watched the man he had worked with for more than three-quarters of his career. He sighed, leaned back and regarded his commanding officer. “Chief, what’s wrong?”
Richard sighed, and turned his cup in his hands around and around in his fingers. “I’m not sure Thomas, I just have this horrible feeling that somethings gone or is going to go wrong, and Ellery’s right in the middle of it.
“Chief Queen?” A female voice asked.
“Yes?” Richard looked up into the face of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
She smiled and seated herself. “I hope you don’t mind, do you?”
“No…no of course not, how can I help you?”
“I’m Doctor Jeneva Sheffield, I operated on your son Ellery.”
“He’s all right?” Richard turned in his chair to face her.
“Yes, he came through just fine. He’ll be on the critical care ward once he wakes a bit more. He’s in recovery right now, I thought I make get some coffee and go to the ER to try and find you. I met our head nurse Misty and she told me that she directed you here. You’re son lost a lot of blood, and we’ve transfused him and continue to give him blood and fluids to keep his blood pressure up. He’s heavily sedated and will be out until late afternoon tomorrow, I know you want to see him, that won’t be a problem, but can you wait for another hour or so?”
Richard smiled, “My dear Doctor, I have no problem waiting, just as long as my son is alive and is going to be alright.”
“Good, Ellery will be taken to the fifteenth floor in room fifteen-twenty-five. Just take the main elevators to the fifteenth floor, get out and turn left, take an immediate right and follow the purple arrows to the critical care ward. I’ll meet you there in about an hour-an-half.” She rose and silently left the two men, who rose as she left the table.
An hour-an-half later Richard Queen followed by Thomas Velie followed the doctor’s instructions and reached the nurses station. And looked around trying to find the correct room. “May I help you, sir?”
She came out around the desk and indicated for the two men to go. “Go to the end of the hall, turn left it’s at the end of the hall.”
Queen and Velie followed the instructions and finally entered Ellery’s hospital room. He was lying on the bed, a monitor beeped with every beat of the younger Queen’s hear. Intravenous fluid and blood flowed down through tubes and an infusion pump, then into the catheter inserted into Ellery’s arm. A nasal cannula provided oxygen to the still motionless man in the bed. Richard quietly walked over to the bed and took hold of his son’s long fingered hand. “Good to see you old son. I was praying pretty hard there for a while, until your surgeon came and told me that you’re going to be alright. The doctor told me to come back after dinner tomorrow and you should be more awake. Just take it easy, and I’ll be back to see you tomorrow.” He stepped forward leaned over his son, kissed him on the forehead and quietly left the hospital room.
Chapter Twenty Nine
Ellery shifted to try to find a more a comfortable position in the hospital bed. His father was perched on the right side holding his son’s hand. “Are you going to work today, Dad?”
“I’m on administrative leave until I.A. finishes their investigation of Hunter’s death.”
“What’s do you have to do with Hunter’s death? I’m the one who shot him.”
“Ellery, you shot him with my gun, remember?”
“Of course, I used your gun, it was the only one available at the time, so I used it. What’s I.A. up in arms about now? I’ve readily admitted that I’m the one who shot Hunter, not you.”
“I know, but they have to investigate every officer involved shooting, El, you know that.”
“But you weren’t involved, I was. What is the problem?”
“I wish I knew, son. I wish I knew.”
There was a knock on the door to the private room and a young man stuck his head into the room. Can you have visitors, Doctor Queen?”
Ellery smiled and indicated for his teaching assistant to enter the room. “Come on in and bring the rest of them in with you.” Four college aged young people entered the room. They were carrying piles of papers and they set the stacks on the bed table that crossed Ellery’s lap. “And what is this?” He reached out and rifled through the papers.
“All these need your signature before we give them back to your undergrad students. We were told by the administration that you had been seriously injured and would not return until next semester. So we took over your classes, all of us. We all got together and divided up your classes between all of us. We even do counselling sessions with students who are having a hard time. No one seems to mind that we’re teaching your classes for you. Even the administration doesn’t seem to care. We’ve checked with all the different law enforcement departments and we’ve been told that as long as their students get their required courses and pass them, they didn’t care who taught them. So, we’re teaching them. I never realized just how much work you put into our classes until I took over giving your lectures and tests and reading all those papers, gods that’s got to drive you crazy. Doesn’t it?” A pretty, pert young woman smiled shyly at the man in the bed.
Ellery tried to laugh, and grabbed hold of his shoulder, “Please, don’t make me laugh, it hurts too much.”
“Miss Sullivan, are you the one in charge of this,” Ellery waved his hand indicating the large stack of papers on the table across his lap.
“Of course, Doctor, who else would take this on?”
“Well, there is Don, he’s supposed to be my teaching assistant.”
“Yes, I am your teaching assistant, and I grade all the quizzes, tests, and papers and the rest of the class take on the lecture and counselling sessions. A group of us get together every Saturday and write next week’s tests, papers and who’s going to be giving the lectures. I keep a spreadsheet so we know who is doing what. We’ve also decided to send representatives throughout the entire state to the local high schools for recruitment day. We may even go to New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. We are also going to start contacting the local vocational schools as well.”
“Sounds like a good plan to me, and suggestions Dad?” Ellery looked at his father.
“Nope, their plans sound good to me. Although I would suggest that they spend the Christmas vacation working with the different law enforcement departments that they are teaching right now. Maybe they can tailor your classes to each law enforcement department and what they will need to know as they pursue their law enforcement career.” Richard stood, released his son’s hand and headed toward the door. “I will see you later son, don’t work too hard, and as for you lot, don’t over work my son.” He paused in the doorway looking at his son surrounded by his students.
They all looked at the old gentlemen and in unison, “Yes, sir. We’ll take good care of him.”
Richard smiled and disappeared knowing full well that his son was in good hands, and those young people whose future was in law enforcement and maybe even in teaching future law enforcement personal. He smiled, shoved his hands into his pants pockets knowing that the future of the job he loved was in good hands too.