Lieutenant Fraser and Sergeant Jager came into the Chesterfield late, both of them in thoroughly foul moods. Four days rooting around in city sewers will do that to a man. It didn’t help that a change of clothes and a thorough shower in both their cases hadn’t totally removed a certain, well, air they had acquired while doing so. The alacrity with which the crowd parted before them, and the thought of what their wives would say when they reluctantly came home didn’t help matters, no, not one bit.
They didn’t have to worry about privacy when they reached their habitual booth. The M.E. had a similar air about him. Winslow and the Doc didn’t, which was totally unfair. It was Winslow who was responsible for their sewer slog, in their view, and he should have been along and not holed up in a nice, clean, ozone-smelling computer cubicle. They didn’t hesitate to say so.
“Hey”, said a hurt Winslow, “It’s White Lightning who’s responsible for your being there. She put the bodies there, not me! I just picked up the lead from Indianapolis and a couple of other towns we know she’s been in. Without that, we’d still be wondering what she did with the bodies of those gangsters.”
“There’s worse things than wondering” groused Fraser. “My wife threatened me with a wire brush and sandpaper last night if I couldn’t get the smell out. As it was, I had to sleep on the couch on a plastic tarp.”
“This morning my wife was asking me where she could get about forty gallons of mule disinfectant!” said Jager. If they start comparing notes I’m gonna have to leave town till the outer layer of skin wears off!”
“I thought my family was used to the smells I brought home”, said the M.E. glumly. “I was wrong. I’ve got a wife and two daughters demanding I shave my hair off—all over. They say that’s what’s trapping the odors. I may have to join you.”
Lamentations along this line continued through the meal. Full bellies and a few pitchers of beer relaxed them, however, and they were finally ready to get down to business.
“To summarize” said the M.E. “our sewer search has so far recovered fourteen human skulls and enough bones to account for at least that many people. We seem to have some extra bones which might bring the toll up to sixteen or so when the sewer search is completed. I’m told that’ll be sometime next week. Stop groaning Jager, I’m down there too, remember!”
”To continue, twelve of the fourteen are male, two female. We have so far identified five of them. Four are known gangsters of the gangs involved in the recent street war. Surviving bits of clothing and pocket junk suggest the majority of the remainder—perhaps all the males—are also gangsters. The identified female is (drum roll please) the long-lost and unlamented Mama Goldfanger!”
There wasn’t quite a round of applause to this announcement, but faces lit up all around the table. The dead woman was a sex trade recruiter and trafficker of notable viciousness who had successfully dodged the Vice Squad for years. “I don’t recall any of the skulls having gold teeth” commented Fraser. “Lot of missing teeth though. Could our girl be trading in gold teeth? Maybe a word to Pawnshop is in order, have them ask around the gold buyers.”
“I was going to suggest that. Mama clearly had her gold teeth wrenched out of her head postmortem, and one of our other skulls had a gold filling that’s missing along with the tooth. Our girl seems to believe in ‘waste not, want not’.”
“Or else she likes to keep souvenirs. I remember my dad telling me about Marines in the Pacific who collected Japanese gold teeth. He was never sure whether they were greedy or just a bit crazy or what.”
“Since she lives by hunting maybe it’s just a gruesome type of practicality. I agree, we might get a trace on her by looking for sales of gold teeth and filling, as well as personal jewelry. Men’s jewelry, since they’re the majority of her victims.”
“You’re assuming she’s still in town” said Winslow. “I think I may have a trace on her back in Indianapolis. Maybe we should be asking them to be checking for gold teeth.”
This little bombshell caused a bit of a stir, mostly along the lines of “why didn’t you say this sooner?” Winslow’s answer was, of course, “I couldn’t get a word in edgewise—you were all blaming me for sending you into the sewers! Are you ready to listen now?”
They were ready to listen. They were not ready to hear what he told them.
“There was an incident in Indianapolis about three weeks ago. It didn’t go out to other departments because it was strictly local interest, or so they thought. I picked it up while doing some digging into their files hoping to pick up some more behavioral clues from her time there. Instead, I found this relatively current item that looks very suspicious based on what we know of White Lightning.”
“Officially, some chick overdosed on meth, or cocaine or whatever, and went on a rampage. She appeared out of nowhere downtown, about ten P.M. running and jumping around madly. One witness says she was whooping “Cofffeee” at the top of her lungs. She got into two fistfights within ten minutes, both with male drifters a lot bigger than her, and won both of them. She apparently didn’t like the way they looked at her. Then—this is the killer—she actually ran up to a motorcycle cop, challenged him to a race—and won! She outran him the length of two blocks, to an intersection where he had to stop because of traffic. She dodged through the traffic, then, to add insult to injury, she pulled up her shirt, pulled off her bra and flashed him! She threw the bra over the phone lines and ran off. The cop swore that in dodging traffic at the intersection she jumped over a car. She was spotted in a number of other places for the next half hour, sans shirt, which got her some attention, then ran into the high-rise area of downtown which is pretty deserted at night, and they lost her. She’s described as five foot or so, black hair and white skin, long-legged for her height, generally athletic build. No sightings since.”
Stunned silence greeted this report, followed by snickers and one guffaw from certain sources. After a bit more silence, Jager said “the physical description is right, but it just doesn’t sound like her. She keeps her profile low, adopts other persona when interacting with other people, definitely doesn’t go on public rampages. Maybe it was a normal chick on drugs.” “God knows we see enough of them, though this little spree does sound kind of extreme, even by our standards” said Fraser. “I don’t know what to think.”
“I can think of a couple of things, right off the bat” said Doc. We know her metabolism isn’t entirely human because she isn’t entirely human>” “We do?”, someone whispered. “Yes, we do! She can’t have a normal human metabolism and body chemistry and do the things she does! Given that, the scream of ‘coffee’ is awfully indicative of something. It could simply be that her revved-up metabolism reacts disproportionally to caffeine, or maybe caffeine and other things in coffee.”
“Or”, said Fraser, “maybe she indulged in meth and/or coke like ordinary chicks and it really got to her. And it wasn’t ‘coffee’ it was ‘cofffeee!’ “
“Given that yell, I’d go with the caffeine theory” said Winslow. “It would indicate she knows what gets her high, and it’d be easy enough for her to get exposed accidentally to the stuff even if she doesn’t go on binges. Hell, you find caffeine in antihistamines for heaven’s sake, and there’s bottled water with the stuff added.”
This, of course, led to a good deal of discussion. The general consensus was that it was probably caffeine, and that they had now identified a weakness in their prey—maybe. As Jaeger commented “deadly as she is sober, I wonder what we’d have to face if we got her high!”