Through the Eyes of Madness—Part Three
By: David K. Montoya

Tidwell turned at the sound of a familiar voice. "Morning, partner."

Dean turned and found his partner of the last two years, Detective Grayson Copeland, who was holding two hot and steaming cups of coffee.

"I figured with such shitty weather your lungs'll be hurting and heard that hot coffee helps," Grayson said. He handed his veteran partner one of the cup of java. "Here ya go."

Dean popped the top off the cup and then took a slow slip, afterward he looked at Grayson with a confused expression. "Wait. You heard? Dammit Grayson, are you talking to my ex–wife again?!"

Grayson Copeland never viewed Tidwell as a partner, but more a teacher and perhaps privately a father figure he never had. He was exactly half the veteran's age, but had the knowledge that rivaled anyone with twice his experience. Perhaps that's why Dean agreed to have him as his partner, that and he knew that Allan Pinkerton was the first known detective in history.

Unlike Tidwell, Grayson was still married to his first wife and had a two year old son that he adored. Copeland never judged Dean about the decisions made in his personal life, and figure he had his own reasons. Though over the last couple of years, senior detective became more like family then a co–worker.

Although, at first, it wasn't so sunny. Tidwell pushed Grayson while he trained him to be a detective in the field and for many months Copeland questioned if the two's partnership was a good idea. But, in the end Dean was unsuccessful in running the rookie off, but was successful as he trained a topnotch Homicide detective and possibly the most important—his best friend.

"Well, I happened to run into her at the store the other day, and she asked how you were fairing with the cold weather." Grayson replied to Tidwell's question. "The funny thing is, I had no clue you have breathing problem in the winter time. I guess it's a good thing since we're in the coldest months of the year."

"Yeah, lucky me," he said under his breath.

"Anyway, I'm sorry to get you out of bed so early, partner." Grayson said.

"Are you sure about that, Gray," Tidwell grumbled in response to his partner's apologies. "What have we got this time?"

Grayson pulled a small black notepad from a pocket of his overcoat and flipped it open while he covered the paper with his other hand. "Twenty–five year old Caucasian female, named Tracey Calaway."

"Any word on where she was last seen alive, or was she with anyone?"

"Well, she worked the night shift at a diner up the road." Grayson began to read. "Her boss said that nothing out of the normal happened last night. We have six eye witnesses who all clam to have seen her leave work alone and headed to catch the bus like normal."

Tidwell looked over at his partner with a stern expression as he processed the information. "Can we confirm she made it to the bus stop?"

"No." Grayson replied. After he put away his notepad he said, "according to the bus driver who knew her as a regular passenger stated that when she arrived at the stop that there was no one there."

"Maybe it was a robbery that turned violent." Tidwell thought aloud.

Grayson answered with, "Not likely. She was still wearing a watch, rings on both hands and a golden necklace."

"So much for that idea."

"Also her purse was found in the dumpster and the victim's paycheck was still inside." He finished.

The two detectives stood there in silence for a moment, each examined the crime–scene with their eyes. Slowly, and hoped they'd find a clue that could send them in the right direction of the victim's murder.

The silence was eventually interrupted as a deep and bloated voice echoed behind them. "Okay. Okay. Everyone out of my way. I'm here."

Tidwell's eyes made contact. "Bloody hell."

Larry Hoyles, a short, very heavy man with black curly hair which receded up his forehead and with a matching shirt that receded half way up his large belly. He was also the city's Medical Examiner and had a reputation of not being a very good one at that.

Hoyles waddled up to Tidwell and Copeland.

"You're late, Larry," Tidwell snapped.

"Well, you know some of us have a life outside of work," Hoyles explained.

"You out picking up hookers, again," Grayson asked with a slap to Hoyles' back.

"Careful, Gray, you don't want to contract anything." Tidwell joked.

"Cute, Detective." He said, and slowly waddled over to the corpse to get a better look at it. Grayson was concerned—this was the first encounter with Larry Hoyles—because by the time he reached the remains the Medical Examiner's breathing was labored and his skin had a deadly gray tint to it. "Let's see what we got here."

Grayson glanced over at Tidwell.

"Do I have to tell him everything again?" Grayson asked.

"Nah. It'd be pointless anyway, he doesn't listen for shit." Tidwell explained to his partner.

"I heard that." The Medical Examiner retaliated as he tried to catch his breath.

"Good. At least we know you're just ignoring us, when we talk and aren't deft… Are you going to be able to tell what the time of death is, Larry?" Tidwell asked.

Sweat ran down the Medical Examiner's face and still out of breath knelled down carefully as to not get blood on his light brown corduroy jeans which appear to have had been purchased in the 1970s. Larry Hoyles paused for a moment as his breathing became more labored and appeared to be on the brink of unconsciousness.

Eventually he extended a trembling arm and reached out to touch the victim's face, but stopped at the sound of Grayson's voice.

"You're not going to put on gloves before you touch her, Doc?" Grayson asked with a hint of discussed to his voice.

"Oh. Oh. Yes… Yes, you are right my boy," The Medical Examiner replied. He pulled a pair of black latex surgical gloves out of his pants' pocket and snapped them on. "There. There we go. I don't get paid by the hour, the sooner I start the sooner I finish."

The Medical Examiner leaned in and begin to study the woman's body, he handled her as if he was appraising a priceless antique. Hoyles spent a few minutes as he examined the body, then finally looked over his shoulder toward the two detectives and said: "In my professional opinion she died around three to four hours ago."

"How is that possible," Grayson questioned. He glanced toward his partner for answers.

"He's an idiot, Gray," Tidwell replied and then turned to walk away.

The Medical Examiner had a hurt and confused look as he asked Grayson, "I don't understand? What am I missing?"

"The girl was seen leaving work about two hours ago. It's impossible that she's been dead longer than that." Grayson explained.

"Wrong place at the wrong time," The Medical Examiner said with a shrug. "Welcome to the risks of living in a largely populated city. Case closed, let's go home.

"No. You can't be that lazy, dude." Tidwell said then turned and walked next to Hoyles, "Move over, Larry."

Tidwell knelled down next to him, his joints and bones popped then cracked—a sign of years of neglect to his body—as he bent down. The senior detective carefully examined the corpse with his eyes for quite a while before he said. "It's the same killer from the other murders."

"What do you base that theory off of Dean?" The Medical Examiner catechized. "If the Mayor's office catches wind that some detective files a notion of a serial killer in their city, they'll be all over us like stink on shit. So you better have a damn good notion before you start saying things like that!"

"Well for starters, the clothes have been removed and wrapped he face with the remains of her shirt. The last six murdered all were found in the exact same way," Tidwell pointed out.

"Which says to me that he was ashamed of what he was doing or already did and had to hide her face." Grayson added.

"Precisely. Second, it appears that she was stabbed multiple time in her abdomen, but see how the skin around the wounds look… Say, compared to her slit throat?"

"Yeah, different coloration," Grayson answered.

"That tells me that she was gored with a knife after she was already dead, exactly like the other murders." Tidwell continued.

"So what was the killing blow, Partner?"

To be continued…


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