“Al, what are you thinking about? You got some idea about this freak?”
Delgado looked pensive then opened up. “I’ve been thinking he’s some kind of religious nutter, but now I wonder. I mean, what if he was hard done by instead?”
“You mean, someone might have done him harm in the name of religion?”
“Yeah. I mean it’s just as possible as him being some righteous fruitcake who punishes the wicked.”
Franks thought it over. “But what about the words he carves into their stomachs?”
“Yeah, I know. But we don’t really know what message he’s sending; we’ve just been assuming it means the victims are being punished. What if it’s a confession instead?”
“I don’t know, Al. Could be. But if he were confessing, why would he go around killing? Doesn’t make any sense.”
Delgado stared at his partner. “Bill, we’re talking about a serial killer who does unspeakable things to his victim. Sense?”
Oliver watched her car until it was out of sight. A cocktail of emotions swirled within him. Someday, he thought. He turned and walked back to his car. Returning home he sat down at his laptop and worked his magic on the department of motor vehicles. As the information he wanted came up on the screen he sat back and stared at it.
Her name was Maria Alverez. Maria. Mary. Of course. She came from a long line of the faithful. He closed his eyes and imagined himself with her. Looking into her eyes. Searching for the truth.
He created a file and saved it. He would savour the information for a few days. No need to be hasty. He would enjoy the police’s discomfort, knowing that they were no closer to finding him, let alone figuring anything else out.
Perhaps he would seek out another one in the mean time. There were so many that he needed to deal with, but only one would reveal the truth to him in the end. He would find her.
He felt the familiar urge to look at the letters again. He fought it. He tried to distract himself by doing some net surfing, but the pull was strong. At last, almost in a trance he went to the dresser drawer and took out the cigar box and opened it.
His hands trembled as he picked up one of the letters at random and opened it. He read the salutation. ‘My dear sinner’. His vision began to blur as he read on. He shook his head and continued. The blood pounded in his temples as the memories flooded in. Why did he do this to himself?
He put the letter back in the box and returned the box to the drawer. He caught a glimpse of himself in the dresser mirror as he turned to go. Rage overtook him without warning. He stormed out of the bedroom and whirled around the living room looking for release. He picked up a beer bottle on the coffee table and hurled it at the wall. It shattered and sprayed the furniture with broken glass. He clenched his fists and let out an agonized howl.
Sitting down, he buried his face in his hands, silent tears running through his fingers. He remembered the teachings. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.
Not any more, he thought. Not any more.
Part 6 Tomorrow