Wrenge (8) by Louise Dragon
Later that night, Brad carried in the box of artifacts. How could he have known, at the time, that he was removing a block of major evidence from the scene of a serial killer's first hit?
(That's what friends are for!)
The Memphis-Mangler deaths had been all over the front pages for the past month. The Memphis Daily Appeal was having a field day at the expense of the entire police force. Brad could barely hold his head up at the station these days.
After his session with the chief, Brad decided it was time to check out the box. If he could determine for himself that it contained nothing to move the case along, he could dispose of the items and chalk them up as dead-enders. If, on the other hand, he found any leads to the killer, then it was his duty to see that the clues got into the right hands so that this madman could be stopped. Maybe then Brad would feel slightly exonerated.
Spreading the paraphernalia out across the desk in his study, Brad checked each item. He did not relish this chore but felt he owed it to the department. He could remember, as a child, watching his dad pour over evidence in this way, hoping for a clue. It had looked like fun to him then -- now he was at a complete loss about where to begin.
The books were standard issue -- could be purchased anywhere. The rest was a mystery. Elizabeth had been up to something -- something weird.
Aimlessly, Brad poked about in the box of drawings, looking for something -- anything -- familiar. As he laid out the bizarre rhymes and patterns randomly, he came across a rough drawing of a winged oval surrounded by crudely drawn red and black symbols. For some reason his father came to mind again.
There was something . . .
A case. That one case where his Dad had spent many hours in this study rifling through garbage like this. Weird iconic symbols drawn in red ink . . .
(It really wasn't ink, was it?)
Dad had finally cracked the case after hours of studying similar clues. The perp had been a cult leader of some sort. Brad could remember his father's voice on the phone speaking of sacrificial deaths committed in the city. Several deaths bracketed by secret rites with mysterious symbols etched in blood across walls, floors, and even corpses.
Photographs, that's what Dad had been mulling over. Lots of photos from a grisly murder scene back in the seventies. Brad had been a young boy. A young boy with plans to follow in his father's footsteps . . .
A winged oval . . .
Carved into the flesh of . . .
The perp's name? It had been an odd name. Memorable, somehow.
Brad closed his eyes and concentrated. His father's voice rich and deep: talking excitedly on the telephone. They were going to arrest him -- the perp -- the murderer. He lived in Memphis on Chelsea Street . . . Part of Dad's beat.
Nightside? No . . .
Nightshade -- that was it! Joe Nightshade.
The man had lived in an old church on Chelsea Street. Had practiced voodoo black magic there with blood and human sacrifices. Had gone to prison for it too.
Continued . . .
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