“But not stabbed again?” Fuzz paced the room as I sat in front of his desk watching him. He reminded me of a little wooden figure going in and out of a clock, a really angry little wooden figure with claws and fangs.
“Nope. The hanging killed him for sure and he was beaten up pretty badly before that, but no stab wounds,” I replied. “Sit down Fuzz, you’re making me nervous.”
He waved my request aside and continued his pacing, “And apart from the leaflet about Dr Alter’s businesses, there was nothing to link the two deaths?” The swinging stiff had nothing on him apart from a dog-eared three-fold leaflet extolling the virtues of Dr A’s wares, all of them with innocent sounding descriptions dreamt up by some marketing type to distract from the fact that the “super powerful lighthouse beam alternative to normal bulbs” was actually a death ray capable of sinking several of O’Toole’s Ironclads in one go. The little cartoon logo of Dr Alter herself was mighty cute though…
“Er, I guess not…” I was halfway through a reply before I realised it wasn’t a question.
“But then two deaths in two days is a mighty big coincidence.”
“Well the first guy had only been dead for twelve hours or so, this new one had been hanging at least a week. Different MO, different location, different times.”
“Which could be worse!” Fuzz said running his fingers through his hair. Or fur. I was never quite sure.
“How so?” I asked.
“Two killers instead of one. And if John Doe was killed whilst investigating smugglers then I doubt the general populace is in danger, whereas if we have a different killer on the loose then who knows? It ain’t good doc, that’s for sure.”
I pushed my chair away and got to my feet, “Well if I can do anything Fuzz, you know where I am, but I have to get back to the slums.”
“Hmmm,” he was distracted, “Oh yes, your patients. You get back to them, doc, they’ll be missing you.”
“It’s more than that Fuzz,” I replied.
He looked at me, concern evident on his face, “All ok over there? I know it’s a bit wild…”
“Ha! It’s more than wild Fuzz, as you and the Council know. But it ain’t the tong this time, some Chinese kids came to my place after your nun left this morning, seems there’s a fever spreading.”
“A fever? Is it dangerous? Should I let the Council know?” Fuzz knew as well as I that the slums were a breeding ground for all manner of nasties and it bordered on some of the finest real estate in the city.
“Worried about property prices, Fuzz? We can’t have the great and the good cancelling their balls due to projectile vomiting now, can we?” I shouldn’t have said it but I said it all the same. Sometimes my mouth opens wide enough to take both of my feet in at once and right now I was knee deep in gums.
“Hey! That’s not fair doc and you know it!” Fuzz looked hurt and I felt lower than a worm’s beard.
“Yeah, sorry Fuzz, but well you know what I think about the slums and the council…” I trailed off.
“I know doc, I know. Look, get back there and find out what’s going on. Let me know and if it needs to go to the council I’ll do my best for you, fair enough?” he said with a small smile.
I smiled back “Fair enough,” and began to head for the door leaving the city’s sheriff to solve two grizzly murders in my wake.
“Doc,” Fuzz’s voice stopped me as I grasped the handle, “stay out of the dens, eh?” My shoulders went rigid and I stood stock still for long seconds before I slowly opened the door and left without saying one more goddam lousy word.
To be continued after a short break…
All the “Goodunnit? Murder in Steelhead!” posts can be read here.
Links to other blogs and stories:
1) The murders are discussed at the weekly town hall meeting here.
2) Dr Alter discovers she’s not only in the frame again, but seems to have a publicity department she was previously unaware of here.