by Tim Britto
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
The cops nearly shot me when they entered the apartment. I never found out who had called them, but they burst in as I was leaning over the still unconscious woman. They assumed I had broken into the apartment and attacked its two occupants. I was held in the back of a police cruiser for over an hour as they questioned people in the building and talked with Kyle.
The paramedics showed up and saw to my former passenger and the woman. She woke up as they loaded her into the ambulance and told her story after a few unfocused moments. Her name was Charlotte and she was a call girl. The police realized I had probably saved her life. They began searching the women-hater’s apartment after hearing Charlotte’s story, and that was when the horror show truly began.
They found the left thumbs of five different women in plastic takeout containers in his fridge. He also had several articles of women’s clothing, all bloodstained, under his bed and a gallon container filled with chloroform. As you’ve probably guessed if you’ve been reading the papers or watching the news at all over the past few months, I had helped catch Kyle Feller, the “Thumbs Down” killer.
Kyle said very little when the cops first showed up. But they kept asking if Charlotte was his girlfriend or wife. He shouted that he would never allow a woman to put her chains on him. By the time they found all the evidence in his place, he could no longer contain his rant.
“No woman will ever keep me under her thumb!” He shouted. “I’m doing the male gender a public service and expect a medal.” And then he pointed at me. “The cab driver knows what I’m talking about.”
They put him in the car I’d been held in and apologized to me for twenty minutes. Charlotte told the paramedics she was fine and gave me a big hug and kiss that caused more than a few whistles from the guys in the area. She even whispered in my ear that I could have a free go for saving her life. I can’t say I wasn’t tempted, but I never took her up on it.
A few reporters showed up. I made a few statements and smiled for their cameras. One reporter, Ian White, wanted to do a full interview, but I just wasn’t up for it. He gave me his card and I promised to call but didn’t really want the attention.
Two days later, I went down to the precinct to give my official statement. I’d told the cops at the scene that Kyle had left some mail in my cab and I was trying to return it. They seemed to buy this story at the time, but at the precinct they were much more skeptical.
“So, you tracked this guy down just to return some mail you found in your cab?” one detective asked as I sipped my watery coffee.
“Yes, sir, it seemed important, and he’d been a good tipper.”
“You think a lot of cabbies would’ve done that?”
“Can’t say for sure, but probably not.”
“So, you’re just... what? A Good Samaritan?”
“Well, I like to think so.”
“And it was just a coincidence that he was about hurt Charlotte when you showed up?”
“You know, I’ve been doing this for eight years, and I’ve learned that the only things rarer than coincidences are honest defense attorneys and sane murderers.”
“Rare doesn’t mean they never happen,” I said as I started to really worry about this line of questioning.
The detective, Greg Rogerio, studied me. He looked to be in his late thirties. He had a receding hairline, a sharp nose, and acne scars on both cheeks. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbow. He seemed to know everything I wasn’t telling him just by looking at me.
I told myself over and over that I was just being paranoid. I’d done nothing wrong. I had, in fact, saved a woman’s life and exposed a serial killer. I was a goddamned hero, and this guy was treating me like a criminal. As I repeated this in my head over and over, my fear slowly turned to anger.
“Look, buddy—” Detective Rogerio started to talk, but I cut him off.
“No, you look, Detective, I’ve done nothing wrong. All I’ve done, in fact, is try to return some mail to a guy I thought was nice. I didn’t think he deserved to go crazy looking for it. I ended up saving a woman’s life in the process. I don’t know what you’ve seen over these past eight years, but you can add a new thing to that list: you’ve seen a Good Samaritan who was in the right place at the right time. You’ve seen a coincidence.” I stood up. “Now if there’s nothing else, I believe I’ve answered all your questions several times over.”
The Detective didn’t say anything. He simply nodded and looked to the door. I let myself out and kept my hands from shaking until I was several blocks away from the precinct. I was still pumped on adrenaline when I got back to my apartment. Just as I was opening my door, I heard Lauren behind me.
“Lou! How are you? I heard about what happened on the news.” She said this last part as I turned around, and she hugged me. I happily returned it. I could’ve hugged her for the rest of the day but eventually she pulled away and smiled at me. “I can’t believe I live near a hero.”
I blushed. “I was just in the right place at the right time. If I’d been thinking at all I probably would’ve run in the opposite direction.”
“But you didn’t. You saved that woman and who knows how many more that guy would have killed.”
Since I’d been thinking the same thing at the police station, I didn’t argue with her. “Yeah, I guess.”
“No guessing about it.”
I smiled at her and she smiled back. Then I spoke without thinking. Sometimes that gets a person into trouble. But sometimes it’s the smartest thing to do. “Would you wanna go out to dinner with me?”
Her smiled widened. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that for months.”
“Really. How’s Friday?”
“I can wait three days. How about seven o’clock? I’ll come pick you up.”
“Sure, try not to get lost on your way over.”
That Friday at seven on the dot, I knocked on her door. Lauren opened it with an embarrassed smile.
“Right on time, wish I could say the same,” she said as she let me in, and I noticed she was wearing a robe. “Just give me a minute.”
She took closer to ten minutes. I spent that time studying the books on the shelves in her living room as I ignored a nagging feeling that time was running out. It felt like I was walking across thin, cracking ice ready to give way at any moment. But I wasn’t going to let anything ruin my mood before this long overdue date. By the time Lauren was ready, I was well-practiced in ignoring the cracks at my feet.
Dinner started off great. The food was delicious, the conversation was flowing, and, miracle of all miracles, my jokes were working. But then I saw two uniformed cops enter the restaurant. Detective Rogerio led them.
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised. I knew things had been going too well to last, and I would fall through the ice at any moment. I had hoped to make it to dessert, though.
* * *
Copyright © 2018 by Tim Britto