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CHAPTER 5. THE NEXT MORNING IT WAS RAINING AND THE traffic was crazy, like it always is in Miami when it rains




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  1. CHAPTER 1
  2. CHAPTER 1
  3. CHAPTER 1
  4. Chapter 1
  5. CHAPTER 10
  6. CHAPTER 10
  7. Chapter 10
  8. CHAPTER 10
  9. Chapter 11
  10. CHAPTER 11

THE NEXT MORNING IT WAS RAINING AND THE traffic was crazy, like it always is in Miami when it rains. Some drivers slowed down on the slick roads. That made others furious, and they leaned on their horns, screamed out their windows, and accelerated out onto the shoulder, fishtailing wildly past the slowpokes and waving their fists.

At the LeJeune on-ramp, a huge dairy truck had roared onto the shoulder and hit a van full of kids from a Catholic school. The dairy truck flipped over. And now five young girls in plaid wool skirts were sitting in a huge puddle of milk with dazed looks on their faces. Traffic nearly stopped for an hour. One kid was airlifted to Jackson Hospital. The others sat in the milk in their uniforms and watched the grown-ups scream at each other.

I inched along placidly, listening to the radio. Apparently the police were hot on the trail of the Tamiami Butcher. There were no specifics available, but Captain Matthews got a lovely sound bite. He made it seem like he would personally make the arrest as soon as he finished his coffee.

I finally got off onto surface roads and went only a little faster. I stopped at a doughnut shop not too far from the airport. I bought an apple fritter and a cruller, but the apple fritter was gone almost before I got back into the car. I have a very high metabolism. It comes with living the good life.

The rain had stopped by the time I got to work. The sun shone and steam rose from the pavement as I walked into the lobby, flashed my credentials, and went upstairs.

Deb was already waiting for me.

She did not look happy this morning. Of course, she does not look happy very often any more. She's a cop, after all, and most of them can't manage the trick at all. Too much time on duty trying not to look human. It leaves their faces stuck.

Deb, I said. I put the crisp white pastry bag on my desk.

Where were you last night? she said. Very sour, as I'd expected. Soon those frown lines would turn permanent, ruining a wonderful face: deep blue eyes, alive with intelligence, and small upturned nose with just a dash of freckles, framed by black hair. Beautiful features, at the moment spattered with about seven pounds of cheap makeup.



I looked at her with fondness. She was clearly coming from work, dressed today in a lacy bra, bright pink spandex shorts, and gold high heels. Never mind me, I said. Where were you?

She flushed. She hated to wear anything but clean, pressed blues. I tried to call you, she said.

Sorry, I said.

Yeah. Sure.

I sat down in my chair and didn't speak. Deb likes to unload on me. That's what family is for. Why were you so anxious to talk to me?

They're shutting me out, she said. She opened my doughnut bag and looked inside.

What did you expect? I said. You know how LaGuerta feels about you.

She pulled the cruller out of the bag and savaged it.

I expect, she said, mouth full, to be in on this. Like the captain said.

You don't have any seniority, I said. Or any political smarts.

She crumpled the bag and threw it at my head. She missed. Goddamn it, Dexter, she said. You know damned well I deserve to be in Homicide. Instead of She snapped her bra strap and waved a hand at her skimpy costume. This bullshit.

I nodded. Although on you it looks good, I said.

She made an awful face: rage and disgust competing for space. I hate this, she said. I can't do this much longer or I swear, I'll go nuts.



It's a little soon for me to have the whole thing figured out, Deb.

Shit, she said. Whatever else you could say about police work, it was ruining Deborah's vocabulary. She gave me a cold, hard cop-look, the first I'd ever had from her. It was Harry's look, the same eyes, same feeling of looking right through you to the truth. Don't bullshit me, Dex, she said. All you have to do half the time is see the body, and you know who did it. I never asked you how you do that, but if you have any hunches on this one, I want 'em. She kicked out savagely and put a small dent in my metal desk. Goddamn it, I want out of this stupid outfit.

And we'd all love to see that, Morgan, came a deep and phony voice from behind her in the doorway. I looked up. Vince Masuoka was smiling in at us.

You wouldn't know what to do, Vince, Deb told him.

He smiled bigger, that bright, fake, textbook smile. Why don't we try it and find out?

In your dreams, Vince, Debbie said, slumping into a pout that I hadn't seen since she was twelve.

Vince nodded at the crumpled white bag on my desk. It was your turn, goody. What'd you bring me? Where is it?

Sorry, Vince, I said. Debbie ate your cruller.

I wish, he said, with his sharp, imitation leer. Then I could eat her jelly roll. You owe me a big doughnut, Dex, he said.

The only big one you'll ever have, Deborah said.

It's not the size of the doughnut, it's the skill of the baker, Vince told her.

Please, I said. You two are going to sprain a frontal lobe. It's too early to be this clever.



Ah-ha, Vince said, with his terrible fake laugh. Ah-ha ha-ha. See you later. He winked. Don't forget my doughnut. And he wandered away to his microscope down the hall.

So what have you figured out? Deb asked me.

Deb believed that every now and then I got hunches. She had reason to believe. Usually my inspired guesses had to do with the brutal whackos who liked to hack up some poor slob every few weeks just for the hell of it. Several times Deborah had seen me put a quick and clean finger on something that nobody else knew was there. She had never said anything, but my sister is a damned good cop, and so she has suspected me of something for quite a while. She doesn't know what, but she knows there is something wrong there and it bothers the hell out of her every now and then, because she does, after all, love me. The last living thing on the earth that does love me. This is not self-pity but the coldest, clearest self-knowledge. I am unlovable. Following Harry's plan, I have tried to involve myself in other people, in relationships, and evenin my sillier momentsin love. But it doesn't work. Something in me is broken or missing, and sooner or later the other person catches me Acting, or one of Those Nights comes along.

I can't even keep pets. Animals hate me. I bought a dog once; it barked and howledat mein a nonstop no-mind fury for two days before I had to get rid of it. I tried a turtle. I touched it once and it wouldn't come out of its shell again, and after a few days of that it died. Rather than see me or have me touch it again, it died.

Nothing else loves me, or ever will. Not evenespeciallyme. I know what I am and that is not a thing to love. I am alone in the world, all alone, but for Deborah. Except, of course, for the Thing inside, who does not come out to play too often. And does not actually play with me but must have somebody else.

So as much as I can, I care about her, dear Deborah. It is probably not love, but I would rather she were happy.

And she sat there, dear Deborah, looking unhappy. My family. Staring at me and not knowing what to say, but coming closer to saying it than ever before.

Well, I said, actually

I knew it! You DO have something!

Don't interrupt my trance, Deborah. I'm in touch with the spirit realm.

Spit it out, she said.

It's the interrupted cut, Deb. The left leg.

What about it?

LaGuerta thinks the killer was discovered. Got nervous, didn't finish.

Deborah nodded. She had me asking hookers last night if they saw anything. Somebody must have.

Oh, not you, too, I said. Think, Deborah. If he was interruptedtoo scared to finish

The wrapping, she blurted. He still spent a lot of time wrapping the body, cleaning up. She looked surprised. Shit. After he was interrupted?

I clapped my hands and beamed at her. Bravo, Miss Marple.

Then it doesn't make sense.

Au contraire. If there is plenty of time, but the ritual is not completed properlyand remember, Deb, the ritual is nearly everythingwhat's the implication?

Why can't you just tell me, for God's sake? she snapped.

What fun would that be?

She blew out a hard breath. Goddamn it. All right, Dex. If he wasn't interrupted, but he didn't finish Shit. The wrapping-up part was more important than the cutting?

I took pity on her. No, Deb. Think. This is the fifth one, exactly like all the others. Four left legs cut perfectly. And now number five I shrugged, raised an eyebrow at her.

Aw, shit, Dexter. How should I know? Maybe he only needed four left legs. Maybe . . . I don't know, I swear to God. What?

I smiled and shook my head. To me it was so clear. The thrill is gone, Deb. Something just isn't right. It isn't working. Some essential bit of the magic that makes it perfect, isn't there.

I was supposed to figure that out?

Somebody should, don't you think? And so he just sort of dribbles to a stop, looking for inspiration and finding none.

She frowned. So he's done. He won't do this again?

I laughed. Oh my God, no, Deb. Just the opposite. If you were a priest, and you truly believed in God but couldn't find the right way to worship him, what would you do?

Keep trying, she said, until I got it right. She stared hard. Jesus. That's what you think? He's going to do it again soon?

It's just a hunch, I said modestly. I could be wrong. But I was sure I was not wrong.

We should be setting up a way to catch him when he does, she said. Not looking for a nonexistent witness. She stood and headed out the door. I'll call later. Bye! And she was gone.

I poked at the white paper bag. There was nothing left inside. Just like me: a clean, crisp outside and nothing at all on the inside.

I folded the bag and placed it in the trash can beside my desk. There was work to do this morning, real official police lab work. I had a long report to type up, accompanying pictures to sort, evidence to file. It was routine stuff, a double homicide that would probably never go to trial, but I like to make sure that whatever I touch is well organized.

Besides, this one had been interesting. The blood spatter had been very difficult to read; between the arterial spurting, the multiple victimsobviously moving aroundand the cast-off pattern from what had to be a chain saw, it had been almost impossible to find an impact site. In order to cover the whole room, I'd had to use two bottles of Luminol, which reveals even the faintest of blood spots and is shockingly expensive at $12 a bottle.

I'd actually had to lay out strings to help me figure the primary spatter angles, a technique ancient enough to seem like alchemy. The splat patterns were startling, vivid; there were bright, wild, feral splatters across the walls, furniture, television, towels, bedspreads, curtainsan amazing wild horror of flying blood. Even in Miami you would think someone would have heard something. Two people being hacked up alive with a chain saw, in an elegant and expensive hotel room, and the neighbors simply turned up their TVs.

You may say that dear diligent Dexter gets carried away in his job, but I like to be thorough, and I like to know where all the blood is hiding. The professional reasons for this are obvious, but not quite as important to me as the personal ones. Perhaps someday a psychiatrist retained by the state penal system will help me discover exactly why.

In any case, the body chunks were very cold by the time we got to the scene, and we would probably never find the guy in the size 71⁄2 handmade Italian loafer. Right-handed and overweight, with a terrific backhand.

But I had persevered and done a very neat piece of work. I don't do my job to catch the bad guys. Why would I want to do that? No, I do my job to make order out of chaos. To force the nasty blood stains to behave properly, and then go away. Others may use my work to catch criminals; that's fine by me, but it doesn't matter.

If I am ever careless enough to be caught, they will say I am a sociopathic monster, a sick and twisted demon who is not even human, and they will probably send me to die in Old Sparky with a smug self-righteous glow. If they ever catch Size 71⁄2, they will say he is a bad man who went wrong because of social forces he was too unfortunate to resist, and he will go to jail for ten years before they turn him loose with enough money for a suit and a new chain saw.

Every day at work I understand Harry a little better.


: 2015-09-13; : 4;







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