Read Double dexter Online

Authors: Jeff Lindsay

Double dexter (page 5)

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“Jesus,” says Vince Masuoka, suddenly materializing at my side and craning his neck to see past the yellow rain suits and into the car. He wore an army surplus poncho and looked dry and contented and I wanted to kick him even before he spoke. “It’s unbelievable.”

“Very close to it,” I said, marveling at the iron control that keeps me from attacking him for his ninny-hood.

“That’s all we need,” Vince said. “A maniac with a sledgehammer and a hard-on for cops. Jesus.”

I would not have brought Jesus into the discussion, but naturally I’d had the same thoughts as I stood there turning into a small piece of Florida’s aquifer. Even when someone was beaten to death, we had never before seen it done so savagely, so thoroughly, and with such maniacal focus. Among all the annals of Miami crime fighting this was unique, unmatched, brand-new, never seen before—until this evening, when Detective Klein’s car had appeared on the shoulder of I-95 at rush hour. But I saw no point in encouraging Vince to make any more witless and obvious remarks. All clever conversation had washed out of me in the steady flow of the rain pouring into my clothing through my flimsy jacket, so I just glanced at Vince and then returned to concentrating on maintaining my solemn face: furrow the brow, turn down the mouth—

Another car slid to a halt beside the patrol cars already parked there on the shoulder, and Deborah got out. Or to be more formallycorrect, Sergeant Deborah Morgan, my sister, and now lead investigator on this new and dreadful case. The uniformed cops glanced at Debs; one of them did a double take and nudged the other, and they moved aside as she stalked over to look inside the car. She was shrugging on a yellow rain jacket as she walked, and that did not endear her to me, but she was, after all, my sister, so I just nodded at her as she passed, and she nodded back. And her first word seemed carefully chosen to reveal not merely her command of the scene, but a picture of her true inner self as well. “Fuck,” she said.

Deborah looked away from the mess in the car and turned her head toward me. “You got anything yet?” she said.

I shook my head, which caused a small waterfall to roll down the back of my neck. “We’re waiting for you,” I said. “In the rain.”

“Had to get the sitter,” she said, and shook her head. “You should have worn a poncho or something.”

“Gosh, I wish I’d thought of that,” I said pleasantly, and Debs turned back to look at the leftovers of Marty Klein.

“Who found it?” she said, still staring through the Crown Vic’s window.

One of the officers, a thick African-American man with a Fu Manchu mustache, cleared his throat and stepped forward. “I did,” he said.

Deborah glanced at him. “Cochrane, right?”

He nodded. “That’s right.”

“Tell me,” she said.

“I was on routine patrol,” Cochrane said. “I spotted the vehicle in its present location, apparently abandoned on the shoulder of Interstate 95, and recognizing that it was an official vehicle, I parked my patrol unit behind it and called in the tag. Receiving confirmation that it was indeed a police vehicle signed out to Detective Martin Klein, I exited my patrol vehicle and approached Detective Klein’s vehicle.” Cochrane paused for a moment, possibly confused by the number of times he had said “vehicle.” But he just cleared his throat and plowed on. “Upon arriving at a point where I could make a visual surveillance of the interior of Detective Klein’s vehicle I, uh—”

Cochrane stumbled to a stop, as if he wasn’t sure what the correct word might be in report-ese, but the cop beside him snorted andsupplied the missing word. “He hurled,” the other cop said. “Totally lost his lunch.”

Cochrane glared at the other cop, and harsh words might have been spoken if Deborah had not called the men back to their purpose. “That’s it?” she said. “You looked inside, threw up, and called it in?”

“I came, I saw, I blew chunks,” Vince Masuoka muttered beside me, but happily for his health Deborah didn’t hear him.

“That’s it,” Cochrane said.

“You saw nothing else?” Debs said. “No suspicious vehicle, nothing?”

Cochrane blinked, apparently still fighting the urge to punch his buddy. “It’s rush hour,” he said, and he sounded a little testy. “What’s a suspicious vehicle in this mess?”

“If I have to tell you that,” Debs said, “maybe you should transfer to code enforcement.”

Vince said, “Boom,” very softly, and the cop beside Cochrane made a choking sound as he tried not to laugh.

For some reason, Cochrane didn’t find it quite so amusing, and he cleared his throat again. “Lookit,” he said. “There’s ten thousand cars going by, and they’re all slowing down for a look. And it’s raining, so you can’t see anything. You tell me what to look for and I’ll start looking, all right?”

Debs stared at him without expression. “It’s too late now,” she said, and she turned away, back to the blob in the Crown Vic. “Dexter,” she called over her shoulder.

I suppose I should have known it was coming. My sister always assumed that I would have some kind of mystical insight into a crime scene. She was convinced that I would know instantly all about the sick and murderous freaks we encountered after one quick glance at their handiwork, merely because I was a sick and murderous freak myself. And so every time she was faced with an impossibly grotesque killing, she expected me to provide the name, location, and social security number of the killer. Quite often I did, guided by the soft voice of my Dark Passenger and a thorough understanding of my craft. But this time I had nothing for her.

Somewhat reluctantly, I sloshed over to stand beside Deborah. I hated to disappoint my only sister, but I had nothing to say about this.It was so savage, brutal, and unpleasant that even the Passenger had pursed its glove-leather lips with disapproval.

“What do you think?” Deborah said to me, lowering her voice to encourage me to speak frankly.

“Well,” I said, “whoever did this is off-the-charts insane.”

She stared at me as if waiting for more, and when it was clear that no more was coming, she shook her head. “No shit,” she said. “You figured that out by yourself?”

“Yes,” I said, thoroughly annoyed. “And after only one quick glance through the window. In the rain. Come on, Debs, we don’t even know yet if that’s really Klein.”

Deborah stared inside the car. “It’s him,” she said.

I wiped a small tributary of the Mississippi River off my forehead and looked into the car. I could not even say for sure that the thing inside had ever been a human being, but my sister sounded quite positive that this amorphous glob was Detective Klein. I shrugged, which naturally sent a sheet of water down my neck. “How can you be sure?”

She nodded at one end of the lump. “The bald spot,” she said. “That’s Marty’s bald spot.”

I looked again. The body lay across the car’s seat like a cold pudding, neatly arranged and apparently intact, unpunctured. There were no visible breaks in the skin and no apparent blood spill, and yet the pounding Klein had taken was total, terrible. The top of the skull was perhaps the only part of the body that had not been shattered, probably to avoid ending Klein’s life too quickly. And sure enough, the fringe of greasy hair around the bright pink circle of bare skin did look a lot like what I remembered about Klein’s bald spot. I would not have sworn an oath that it truly was, but I was not a real detective like my sister. “Is this a girl thing?” I asked her, and I admit I said it only because I was wet, hungry, and annoyed. “You can tell people apart by their hair?”

She glanced at me, and for one terrifying moment I thought I had gone too far and she was going to attack my biceps with one of her ferocious arm punches. But instead, she looked over to the rest of the group from Forensics, pointed at the car, and said, “Open it up.”

I stood in the rain and watched as they did. A shudder seemed togo through the whole group of watchers as the car door swung open; this was acopwho had died this way, one ofus, so terribly hammered into oblivion, and all of the watching cops took this as a very personal affront. But worse than that, somehow we were all quite sure it would happen again, to another one of us. Sometime soon, this frightful pounding would fall once more on one of our small tribe, and we could not know who, or when, only that it was coming—

It was the dark of the moon, and a dark time for Dexter; there was dread spreading through the ranks of all Miami cops, and in spite of all this fearsome unease Dexter stood dripping and thinking only one dark thought:

I missed my dinner.

FOUR

IT WAS PAST TEN WHEN I FINISHED, AND I FELT AS IF I HADbeen standing underwater for the last four hours. Even so, it seemed like a shame to head for home without checking some of the names on my list. So I cruised slowly past two of the more distant addresses that were more or less on my way. The first car was parked right in front of the house; its trunk was unblemished and I drove past.

The second car was under a carport, hidden by shadows, and I could not see the trunk. I slowed to a crawl, and then nosed into the driveway as if I was lost and merely turning around. There was something on the trunk—but as my lights hit it, it moved, and the fattest cat I had ever seen raced away into the night. I turned the car around and drove home.

It was past eleven when I parked in front of my house. The light was on over the front door, and I got out of my car and stood just outside the small circle of light it cast. The rain had finally stopped, but there was still a low bank of dark clouds filling the sky, and it reminded me of the night almost two weeks ago when I had been seen, and an echo of unease clattered through me. I stared up at the clouds,but they did not seem intimidated.We made you wet, they sneered,and you’re standing there like a schmuck while your whole body puckers.

It was true. I locked my car and went inside.

The house was relatively quiet, since it was a school night. Cody and Astor were asleep, and the late news muttered softly from the TV. Rita dozed on the couch with Lily Anne tucked onto her lap. Rita did not wake up when I came in, but Lily Anne looked up at me with bright and wide-awake eyes. “Da,” she said. “Da da da!”

She recognized me right away, a brilliant girl. I felt a few of the interior clouds roll away as I looked at her happy little face. “Lily-willy,” I replied with all the great seriousness required for the occasion, and she chortled back.

“Oh!” Rita said, jerking awake and blinking at me. “Dexter—are you home? I didn’t,” she said. “I mean, you’re out so late. Again.”

“Sorry,” I said. “All part of the job.”

She looked at me for a long moment, doing no more than blinking, and then she shook her head. “You’re soaking wet,” she said.

“It was raining,” I told her.

She blinked a few more times. “It stopped raining an hour ago,” she said.

I couldn’t see why that mattered, but I am full of polite clichés, so I just said, “Well, it just goes to show.”

“Oh,” Rita said. She looked at me thoughtfully again and I began to feel a little self-conscious. But she finally sighed and shook her head. “Well,” she said, “you must be very— Oh. Your dinner. It was getting so— Are you hungry?”

“Starving,” I said.

“You’re dripping on the floor,” Rita said. “You’d better change into some dry clothes. And if you get a cold …” She waved a hand in front of her face. “Oh, Lily Anne—she’s wide-awake.” She smiled at the baby, that same mother-to-child smile Leonardo tried so hard to capture.

“I’ll get changed,” I said, and I went down the hall to the bathroom, where I put my wet clothes in the hamper, toweled off, and put on some dry pajamas.

When I came back, Rita was crooning and Lily Anne was gurgling,and although I didn’t really want to interrupt, I had some important things on my mind. “You said something about dinner?” I said.

“It was getting very— Oh, I hope it didn’t get all dried out, because— Anyway, it’s in a Tupperware, and— I’ll just microwave the here, take the baby.” She jumped up off the couch and held Lily Anne toward me, and I stepped in quickly and grabbed my baby, just in case I had not heard Rita correctly and she really did mean to microwave the child. Rita was already moving in the direction of the kitchen as Lily Anne and I sat back down on the couch.

I looked down at her: Lily Anne, the small and bright-faced doorway into Dexter’s newfound world of emotions and normal life. She was the miracle that had brought me halfway into humanity, just by the pink and wonderful fact of her existence. She had made mefeelfor the first time, and as I sat and held her, I felt all the fuzzy sunrise thoughts that any mere mortal would feel. She was almost one year old, and already it was clear that she was a remarkable child.

“Can you spell ‘hyperbole’?” I asked Lily Anne.

“Da,” she said happily.

“Very good,” I said, and she reached up and squeezed my nose to show me that the word had been too easy for a highly intelligent person such as herself. She gave my forehead an openhanded smack and bounced a few times, her way of asking politely for something a little more challenging, perhaps involving movement and a good sound track, and I obliged.

A few minutes later, Lily Anne and I had finished bouncing through two verses of “Frog Went A-Courtin’ ” and were already working out the final details to a unified field theory of physics when Rita came bustling back into the room with a fragrant and steaming plate in her hand. “It’s a pork chop,” she said. “I did the Dutch oven thing, with mushrooms? Except the mushrooms at the store were not very— So anyway, I sliced in some tomatoes and a few capers? Of course, Cody didn’t like it— Oh! And I forgot to tell you,” she said, putting the plate down in front of me on the coffee table. “I’m sorry if the yellow rice is a little—but the dentist said? Astor is going to need braces, and she’s completely …” She fluttered one hand in the air and started to sit. “She said that she would rather— Damn, I forgot the fork, just a minute,” she said, and raced back into the kitchen.

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