Chapter 7: "Sea Dogs"
Detective Smith at mid morning drove himself down to Foster's and Wilson's condo, and this time neither of them were home. Wilson's morning job was his next stop, a restaurant that would not open until later in the afternoon. But as a prep chef, she (and two other kitchen staffers) were already there, going in and out of the back door with supplies, preparing soup, bisque, and chowder, cutting vegetables, marinating meat and simmering sauce. Smith parked in front and walked around back to meet her, waving as she carried boxes from a storage shed to the kitchen door. She waved back, and then waved him into the back door with a smile. It was a spacious and very nice kitchen, all stainless steel and gas and hanging cutlery.
“Another woman was killed last weekend, down in Olympia, with an axe. This time the victim was a bass player, her name was Katherine Wells. She was 29,” he said.
“You think it was the same person?” she asked him.
“It could be,” answered the detective. “The style, though, was different. This woman was eviscerated; your friend was only struck once. And the woman in Olympia was raped. But the similarities are undeniable. Both victims are female musicians and both crimes involved an axe.” He watched her eyes when he said the word “rape,” looking for any possible ember of jealousy or conflict or surprise or arousal or deception or omission. But the woman was placid. She stirred a pesto sauce.
“A straight edge punk band, and her colleagues are vengeful, the Olympia police tell me. I'm about to see to what extent; I'm about to go interview them,” he said. He gave her Detective Wallace's card. “I have to ask you this. Where were you and Mr. Foster on last Friday and Saturday night?”
“Kelly Sammys on Friday. We stayed in Saturday,” she answered. “By the way, Tina's Aunt Janice will be here tomorrow afternoon, and the memorial service is at 11 o'clock Saturday,” she offered.
“Thank you,” Smith answered.
Wells' bandmates were gathered within 15 minutes of the detective's arrival at the guitarist's apartment. Rather, the drummer showed up 15 minutes later at the house, completing the scene where the rest of the band lived and was already present, including their new bassist, eating potato chips and cold sandwiches for lunch on the porch. It was one of those campus area rental homes, bearing the marks of many generations of communal student living. Smith explained that the loss of their friend might be the result of a serial killer, and as such, any information in support of the investigation might not only help bring to justice the responsible parties, but also save the lives of any forthcoming victims. He mentioned Santos' memorial service scheduled on Saturday.
“So it's in all of our best interest,” the detective said, “to get to the bottom of this as quickly as we can.”
David Wallace rang Smith as he lunched at his desk, about 2 o'clock. “We have something weird. Meet me back at the port terminal in an hour,” Wallace said. On the way to his car, Smith finished his own sandwich. He arrived at the Port of Olympia Marine Terminal about 30 minutes later. He saw Wallace's unmarked vehicle.
“You gotta see this,” Wallace said. They walked toward dockside, north and west of where Wells' remains were discovered.
Hanging from a scale hook was a great white shark, upside down, hooked through the tail cartilage. A female. According to the scale, she weighed about 1,500 pounds, the dock supervisor said. Shoved thoroughly into its throat was an axe. It was difficult to tell if it really had been shoved up there or if the shark had for some reason purposefully bit whomever had held it, receiving the axe for dessert. But the more important question for Wallace and Smith was: Who hung that shark on that hook, at the scene of the Wells' homicide? And whose axe was it? Even if that wasn't the one used on Wells, it was a stretch to call this coincidence. And, for a broader audience, a more compelling question would be, who is swimming around in the ocean with an axe? A riddle they might have to solve in order to move forward. And one that might be impossible to answer.
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