Jannie Balliett

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Leave a Whisper Bookcover

Leave A Whisper

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Chapter Fourteen - Summation continued
 
 "You haven't kept them abreast of the latest victims. Especially the symbolic ritual victim. So, they wouldn't be able to distinguish any childhood history patterns from his first few victims," she said. "All they were able to evaluate from is the information they had available at the time, was he's probably in his thirties, white, and works a low-profile job, and is not very educated. The typical profile was he's a woman-hater, more than likely due to inadequacies, has low self-esteem, and takes empowerment with control over his victims."

"You're right. Okay. What kind of job does he have to enable him to select his victims? They aren't prostitutes, they aren't night-shift workers, and they all come from various economic and social classes. All I can come up with is, he's met them somewhere that they have in common," he said.

"He has a job that he probably misses a lot, even abuses. But the boss doesn't care or needs help too badly to fire him. He might even intimidate his boss, thus, keeping his job. He's under the radar and knows how to push the envelope, if you know what I mean. Just enough to not get fired. He can stalk and select his victims at day or night, because he might work nights or different shifts, and selects them by his shift schedule. They could be going to work or shopping; just leading their normal lives, when he sees them. He probably hasn't seen or met them before spotting them by accident, or out and around scouting for them. And I don't think he has any preference, but knows what he wants when he sees one that elicits his desire," she theorized.

"That makes it harder to stop him, not knowing if he stalks by day or by night and not having a particular type woman to categorize."

"If we can get enough clues into the victim's daily lives, we can rationalize his pattern and pinpoint more where he might work and who he is. There might be only certain days that he can devote to his endeavor. Let's look closely at the intervals and correlation of when they came up missing for an idea of his schedule," she responded.

"Then that's what we'll do. Although, we've already analyzed that we didn't have any pattern to go on. But then again, I didn't have your help and insight at the time either."

"Thanks, flattery will get you everywhere... but I really haven't offered anything that you wouldn't have come up with on your own. By the way, that reminds me, I'd forgotten to mention it earlier. I heard his whispering and chanting again tonight," she informed him, feeling the creepy feeling she always felt when hearing his whispers.

"Again? Does that mean he's killed again?" Meadows bellowed.

"No, not necessarily. Not yet. I think it means he's stalking his next victim right now. He's got someone picked out."

"What did you hear?"

She hesitated, chill bumps crawled up and down roaming over her skin, and hair stood up on the back of her neck and arms, verifying the revulsion she felt was real. "In summary, he said, 'time to come for further work,' which I've interpreted as he's found his next piece of art, or rather, sacrifice," she solemnly responded, while briskly rubbing her arm.

Chapter Fifteen -Media Coverage

Toni was having difficulty sleeping, but was used to it. Some coffee and a sweet roll, a long hot shower, and she'd be functional for the day. She planned to go into Meadows' office with a renewed perspective, although she didn't know how she'd clear her mind for the new outlook. The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. It was a refreshing change, and that in itself, offered a bit of rejuvenation she needed.

******

"Good morning, Toni," Meadows greeted, sitting at his desk reading the morning's local newspaper. There were multiple newspapers with the national syndication, stacked on the floor beside his chair, giving an indication he planned on reading each one.

" 'Morning. Local paper?" she asked, seating herself in the comfortable chair Meadows had swiped for her from the Chief's office.

"Yeah, and it's not good either."

"Why? What's it say?" she asked, knowing that when the last victim was discovered, it would be in the news no later than this morning's edition.

"It reports more than we wanted. The Chief called the paper yesterday and told them not to run certain aspects of the story, but they did anyway," he replied, handing her the front page.

"Front page! It hasn't made the front page in while now. So, why now?"

"Read it. You'll see why."

Meadows sat in silence sipping coffee while watching her facial expressions as she read. Her body language was as clearly evident as her lowered eye-brow was. Toni sat crossed-legged, shifting with discomfort while subconsciously kicking one foot back and forth, while chewing her nails. Body language.

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" she repeated, not looking up, her eyes remaining fixed on the newspaper.

 "I know. The bastards ran every damned aspect. Right down to the last friggin' detail," Meadows raged, slapping his palm on his desk.

"They printed all the details! The letter 'R' and crucifix symbol, the mutilation, even the fact that red roses were placed in each severed hand!"

"I know," Meadows repeated, "there's nothing left out and it's bound to start a wide-spray public panic. Mark my words-- you wait and see."

"Well... hell yeah, and the pressure's on for us to do something about this even more. It's bad enough there are eleven victims, but this is his twelfth and the public knows too much about it now," Toni said, handing the paper back to Meadows.

Meadows pulled the folder marked, E238231/Robinson, Michelle Denise, Victim #12, then cut out the front news page article and placed it inside the folder closing it, and laid it to the side out of his way.

"I think we need to go back to the scene. We can sit here and bitch about the damn media or how they might of gotten the details, but that doesn't change anything-- and we can't accomplish anything here with what we've got to go on. There's bound to be aspects we've overlooked out there on our first visit," he told her, getting up from his desk and snatching a pen from a coffee mug he used as a pencil holder.

They walked through the squad room when John interceded. "Uh, Detective Meadows, sir, there's news media crews outside."

"Hell, it's started already. Has the chief assigned our liaison to deal with them yet?" Meadows asked.

"I don't know, sir. He might not know about the media outside yet."

"Thanks, John. Is he in his office?"

"Yes, sir, and he's been reading today's paper. He looks pissed off."

"Okay. Thanks for the heads up, John," Meadows told him. He took Toni by the elbow to escort her into the chief's office, with a look on his face much like a little boy mustering the courage to walk into the principal's office.

Meadows saw him sitting at his desk and could tell by the sneer on his face, he wasn't pleased with the newspaper's publisher and editors breaking their professional confidentiality agreement. He hesitated, then tapped on the glass door, waiting for the chief to motion them inside.

"Meadows, those horses' asses ran with the entire story. Did you read it?" he asked, throwing the newspaper across the room.

"Yes, sir. I read it. It's printed on the front page of all the national syndicated papers," Meadows answered.

 "Well, that certainly screws up our end on this investigation. This fucker--" he stopped short and looked at Toni, "excuse my language, Ms. Taft-- but this sick bastard knows what we have now, and more importantly, what we don't have. And the FBI-- well, they will surely intercede this case now-- take it away from us entirely--because of this blatant media coverage and probability of mass public panic. Hell, we've been lucky to hold them off doing most their footwork and the promise of resolution; catching this son-of-a-bitch-- but what are we going to do now? They'll take this case right off our plate and won't leave any crumbs to lick!"

Toni glanced at Meadows. "I agree with you about him knowing what we have-- and don't have. And what's worse, I think he wants the attention and notoriety. Now, thanks to the media, he's got it. As far as the FBI goes, chief, maybe they should intercede. Get them to deal with us. Make a deal that we can continue working the case and keep each other abreast of our information. I always say that two heads are better than one, and the FBI is another head, you know." After Toni said it, she thought about how the chief, or anyone else, didn't know about the whispers she'd heard, and didn't know they had an assumption the killer's concept of his work was his art form. "But chief, it's exactly what the killer wants-- media coverage, attention, acknowledgment and fame."

"You're right. Most of these serial killers want attention. They feed off it," the chief agreed. "If the FBI comes knocking, all I can do is try to barter with them, and if all else fails, I have a friend in a high authority position that can help keep us stay in the game. But, let's see if they come knocking first."

"Let us know, chief-- if they do come banging down our door. We're going back out to the crime scene. I'll keep you updated," Meadows told him, leaving his office.

******

Reddick sat in the middle of the living room floor in his dark, raggedy apartment. Eleven newspaper clippings were perfectly laid out in front of him, each displayed in chronological order with stars symbolizing their worth. He added the twelfth creation from the morning 's newspaper. He read them one by one, stopping on the sixth victim's article, "Georgia Emma Bartlow, age nineteen, daughter of George H. and Emma Bartlow, was found earlier today by police..."

That's where I've heard that name! Bartlow. She was my sixth creation! The pretty brunette is her sister!

He sat watching the television while drinking his morning beer. He didn't like coffee or the taste it left in his mouth. He'd gotten up early, went to the corner store, bought a morning paper and a couple packs of smokes, then stopped at a pay phone, calling in sick for the day. He had plans.

Just as he was about to get another beer, a live news flash interrupted the talk show he was watching: "Ms. Taft, is it true you're consulting with the local police on the serial killer case?" the newswoman asked, with a microphone up to her face.

Meadows continued holding Toni's arm, hurrying her down the steps, trying to brush past the crews fighting to stick their microphones in their faces. Cameramen were everywhere, some close by their anchor people, others scattered for better angles, each like vultures ready to pounce on them as though they were road-killed carcasses.

"Ms. Taft, is it true that the last victim was crucified?" one newsman asked, as another asked, "Detective Meadows, do the police have a suspect yet, or any clues that leads to the suspect's identity? What about the red roses, what does that mean?"

Meadows and Toni ignored them all as they tried to get into his car.

"Ms. Taft... Ms. Taft... tell us..." a blond reporter shouted, grabbing Toni by the arm to swing her around to face her and the cameraman. "Tell us, is it true you haven't been able to assist police in this case unlike the cases in the past you've consulted? That this case is headed no where?"

Toni stopped. She thought it would be easier to respond than continuing to avoid the inevitable stalking by the media.

They all crowded around her smothering her with microphones lined up in front of her face, camera flashes sparkling in her eyes, and video camera crews fighting for closer angles.

"No. That's incorrect. We have leads that we can't make public for obvious reasons. I'm working closely with the investigators and we've progressed on a normal schedule as all the cases before. We have it under control. Thank you, end of my comment," she concluded, getting in the car.

The crews continued to follow her, surrounding their car while tapping on the windows, frantically pleading for more information. Each wanting the opportunity for an exclusive interview. They fought among themselves trying to get closer when someone threw an egg on the windshield of their car.

Toni glanced over to the direction where it was thrown, and saw protesters marching directly across the street from the police station, carrying signs. The first sign was written in huge, red letters, 'DITCH THE PSYCHIC BITCH, YOU IDIOTS-- CALL THE FBI.' They tried to drive away, dodging hoards of people while trying to get through the crowd.

Reddick stood in front of the television, his attention glued to the screen, watching the live news broadcast of Toni Taft.

He smiled. I have fame. Finally.

Toni Taft, forensic psychic, was beautiful and oddly familiar. I haven't about her before, but I plan to learn all I can about her. Now I have a new plan, Ms. Toni Taft.

...Fame is now mine.
And it's time to give an encore.
For what they have witnessed,
of my art, so cleverly perfected,
is only the alpha,
of what I can create.
Until I prove there is no omega,
unless I choose to spawn,
an ending to my game,
in my own sweet time...

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...Until I prove there is no omega, unless I choose to spawn an ending to my game  in my own sweet time...

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