Writing 101, Day #4: the serial killer

microphoneDay #4 and the assignment is right up my alley: serial killers. My background is in criminal law and criminology and I love that I can make this story fiction. I don’t know how many parts there will be but here is your introduction to …

The Substitute Lead Singer

Rodney was looking through his papers. Absent-mindedly, he sorted them in several piles: to file, to delegate, to shredder, and private. Cleaning up his desk did not turn out to be as easy as he thought it would be. An overwhelming feeling of loss had crept over him ever since he got some boxes from Deb, the secretary.

“You are the best boss I worked for, Chief. Gonna miss you.” With that she had handed over four folding boxes. When he looked down he saw she had already labelled them: private property of Vance County Police Chief Rodney Luc.

I swear I can see tears. Silly woman, so sentimental. But I am gonna miss her. The best and most efficient secretary on earth, that she is.

“Thank you, Ms. Brynn. I will miss you and the entire staff. Just promise me not to throw any last-minute parties, ok? I am not sure I can handle that … I mean, I’m not one for parties. OK?

“Yes, sir.”

I just know the guys have something planned. I just hope they will keep the speeches to a minimum. 

Back in his office, the outgoing Chief started to sort his files. All ongoing crimes, administrative papers such as his notes from Town Hall meetings and his monthly reviews with the local Fire Department Chief could stay where they are. The new Chief could reshuffle the content in the drawers if that’s what she wanted.

I wonder how she’s gonna hold up with all these guys. I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff here. I gotta warn her for Peeter and Zeke.

The new Chief had been elected a few weeks ago after Luc announced his retirement. Having been the Deputy Chief under Luc did not guarantee her the position. She had faced quite some competition especially from Chiefs from other states who had applied.

What had secured Athena’s election was her loyalty to her men and women through the worst crimes that had happened while Luc was in command … and had failed to provide leadership. Without once shattering her boss’ image and reputation she had silently stepped in and taken over from behind the scenes. Patrol knew who gave the orders. Investigations and Special Events were all aware who had designed their strategy. Athena had handled the briefings with grace and had instructed public relations. The official for the department was a trustee. Nobody ever knew.

Needless to say, Luc was grateful and so were the men and women who served under him. Thanks to Athena, the town stood united with their officers when Vance was hit.

Rodney looked up from his papers and grabbed a photograph from his desk. It was a picture taken backstage. Athena on his right, and the rock band on the left. The picture was unique as it featured the band’s front man. Normally, that would never have raised one eyebrow with anyone. But during one period in this band’s existence, they had a substitute lead singer.

“Chief?” Rodney looked up and saw Athena in the doorway. A short, strong woman with unruly curls look at him. “Are you ok?” The concern in her voice was obvious. She had agreed to stay in her own office for the first months of her tenure as Chief. No rush, that’s what she told everyone indicating she held Luc in the highest esteem and allowed him to set the pace in the transition.

“Remember this one, Teena?” Luc was the only one who was allowed to call her Teena. For everyone else especially the Mayor, she was Deputy Chief Hanson.

“Yes” she said softly walking towards the desk. “I read their last tour was a major success. But they are taking a break now, maybe do some recording.” Her eyes drifted to the spot in the Chief’s neck where he has the puncture wounds. The scars had faded over time but the skin had discoloured where the needles had entered his neck attempting to pump air into his aorta. Luc touched the spots. He knew she was looking but from her, the woman who saved him, he could handle it.

As his fingers caressed the scar tissue, his thoughts went back to the time the Benedict Brothers’ tour brought them to Vance for three concerts. All sold out within minutes after the ticket office of the Vance Stadium opened.

It had been a bad winter and many were down with the flu. The band was struggling too. The band members were all under treatment. Luc and Hanson had met with the manager. He had impressed on them to have their finest physicians on call. “If Adam catches a cold it will affect his voice and we are ruined!”

The ruin did not come from the flu. It came from the past where someone had watched Adam and the band. Where someone had made use of the many press releases, Twitter updates, and photography to plot a course while strengthening their muscles and studying the band’s repertoire. Especially Adam’s vocals, mimics, the mike’s position, and his breathing pattern.

Of course, the band traveled with some musicians who had performed with them before and who were familiar with their repertoire. But replacing Adam meant a radical change. As front man, he was their face, he got the fans going, and his voice … unique. The band had experimented with different singers when Adam took paternity leave. The fans understood but the sound … it just wasn’t the same.

“Who knew that he was bat-shit-crazy?” Luc shook his head. Athena sighed and sat down. “We missed clues in the beginning, Chief. We disregarded the mother’s warning because she was so obviously spiteful.”

“A mistake that costs us people.” Luc turned away to study his calendar wall. While he took that moment to compose himself Athena’s hand searched for the pendant Adam gave her after he recovered. The inscription said simply “With Love, Adam” but it meant much more.

UPDATE: this post became a long short story of 13 parts and is included in my ebook.

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