Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Denver Cereal - Chapter One Hundred and Forty-Five : The Plan

CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and FORTY-FIVE

Sunday evening — 7:35 P.M.

“I’m sure it’s no surprise but I don’t agree with the FBI profile,” Homeland Security Agent Arthur “Raz” Rasmussen said.

“How so?” Lieutenant Colonel Alexandra Hargreaves asked.

“I don’t believe Saint Jude is decompensating,” Raz said. “I believe he’s withdrawn and, given time, will return to his former behavior.”

“Slow down,” Seth said. “Let’s start with a run down of Saint Jude.”

Raz looked at Seth then glanced around the room. Delphie, Valerie, and Charlie looked confused. Jacob and Mike looked puzzled. Max Hargreaves, Alex’s identical twin, and Colin Hargreaves scowled. Sergeant Margaret Peaches looked up from the journal she was working on and shook her head. Outside of Seth and Alex, no one knew what Raz was talking about. He changed directions.

“We know now that the killer we call Saint Jude was born Henry James in Greeley, Colorado on October 28, 1954,” Raz said. He flipped his laptop around and pulled up Henry James’s high school graduation photo. “His father was a butcher at the one of the large slaughterhouses in Greeley until the family moved to Brighton when Henry James was six years old. The James family opened a butcher shop where they sold meat from animals they raised on their property outside of town.”

“Celeste says their shop was two doors down from her father’s convenience store,” Delphie said.“Good,” Raz’s eyes returned to assessing the people in the room. “Does Celeste know anything about James’s childhood that’s pertinent here?”

“Like what?” Delphie asked.

“There’s something called the MacDonald Triad,” Raz said. “Bed wetting, animal cruelty and pyromania are often exhibited by serial killers in childhood.”

“But,” Seth added, “it’s the animal cruelty and pyromania that seems to be a better predictor than the bed wetting.”

“Celeste says…” Upset, Delphie flushed and shook her head.

“Celeste says the James family was cruel to their children and their animals,” Jacob said. “Henry James liked to start skinning and butchering animals before to killing them.”

“That’s monstrous!” Charlie said.

“She’s not sure about the pyromania.” Regaining herself, Delphie cleared her throat. “She doesn’t know about the bedwetting but says he was kind of a peeping Tom.”

“Voyeurism is in the collection of behaviors common to serial killers,” Raz said. “He sounds like a weird kid. Was he bullied?”

“Celeste says Henry James was bullied,” Delphie said. “One of the bullies, a kid named Josiah, was the worst. He threw rocks at the boy, took his lunch money, and sometimes beat him up. He used to call him a filthy animal. This went on every day until Josiah’s brain was destroyed.”

“What does that mean?” Raz asked.

“Something happened to him,” Jacob said. “No one ever knew what. One day the boy was a bully, the next day he was virtually a vegetable. Asphyxiation or something like that. There wasn’t a mark on him. Josiah lived in the Brighton mansion.”

“And you think Henry James did this?” Raz raised an eyebrow.

“Celeste does,” Delphie said. “It was never proven, but everyone thought he did it. Most kids stayed away from Henry James after that.”

“Well, thank you Celeste,” Raz said. “Henry James legally changed his name to Thaddeus James when he was sixteen years old. His family was Catholic and he was born on feast of Saint Jude.”

“Right,” Delphie said. “No one thought anything about his name change. Celeste says he was super religious. His mother used to say it was Celeste’s fault that Henry didn’t become a priest.”

“Then something happens,” Raz said. “I can’t tell what, but something happens around the time Henry James graduated for high school. Does Celeste know?”

“She says she met Mark when she was seventeen,” Delphie said. “They met in her father’s store. Mark told her later that he went in to rob the store and stole Celeste. They met and got married in a few months. Henry James went ballistic when he found out. She was so afraid of him that she graduated early and they moved out of town.”

“To the Brighton mansion,” Jacob said.

“Now we know what happened,” Raz said. “Serial killers are usually very controlling. Losing Celeste must have been a final straw for him. He killed Celeste?”

“Right after she had her baby, Nuala. He made some efforts to steal the child, but Celeste’s father was certain the James family was involved in Celeste’s murder. He left town the day after she was murdered. He and Mark fled to Fort Collins,” Delphie said. “Henry James killed Mark about a year later.”

“He used to talk about a baby,” Charlie said. “Razor used to joke with Jeffy about it. It was like a modern day Jesus baby, but born to destroy evil.”

“Nuala must have destroyed his evil world,” Raz said.

“Why did he go to medical school?” Mike asked.

“How did he even get in?” Charlie asked.

“Not all serial killers are brilliant,” Seth said. “But he is.”

“He was accepted to every school he applied to,” Raz said. “He was initially on track to be a surgeon, but switched to psychiatry. He killed during this time.”

“According to his records,” Seth said. “We’ll retrieve those bodies next week.”

“Can we get back to the profile?” Alex asked. “Sorry, I’ve got to talk to the profiler’s boss in an hour.”

“The FBI profiler and I agree that Thaddeus James… Saint Jude is a visionary serial killer,” Raz said. “According to everything we found in New Mexico, he believes he must find the child who will remove the evil from the world. He kills children after discovering they aren’t the ‘one.’ From what I’ve read about that creature in Brighton, I believe Saint Jude is ‘God mandated’ to find the one light that will destroy that demon.”

“God mandated is a type of visionary serial killer,” Seth added. “They are God mandated or demon mandated. And you don’t think he’s demon mandated?”

“No. He seems to select people with an innate ability to resist the creature,” Raz said. “Has Celeste met the monster?”

“Yes,” Delphie said. “Henry James showed the monster to her. He told her about its power, strength and the depth of its evil. Celeste saw it as a puff of dark smoke – no more, no less. They had a bitter argument over it.”

“Celeste wasn’t affected at all,” Jacob said.

“Henry James saw the creature as the devil incarnate,” Delphie said. “Celeste thought he was crazy.”

“He is crazy,” Raz said.

“Where do you and the profiler disagree?” Alex asked.

“The profiler believes that by taking and hanging Ava, Saint Jude is decompensating. However…”

“He killed Bonita,” Seth said.

“And other adults he felt like were inhibiting his progress, starting with Mark Gilmore…”

“He’s killed lots of adults,” Charlie said. “Jeffy used to talk about it. Anyone who got in Saint Jude’s way tended to disappear.”

“God, more deaths,” Seth rubbed his hand over his forehead.

“Or an exaggeration to keep the kid in line,” Raz said. “We know he killed Mark Gilmore, Beth, and Bonita.”

“Not to mention a Denver Police officer,” Seth said. “You don’t believe he’s decompensating?”

“I believe he has retreated to his tunnel,” Raz said. “He knows you have access to his residences. He will retreat for as long as it takes until you move on to something else. I’ve reviewed Detective O’Malley’s notes from the original six bodies found at the ball park. You found his residence? His work place? His vehicle? His girlfriend?”

Seth nodded.

“He retreated to the tunnels then,” Raz said. “What’s the time between killings?”

“Three years,” Delphie said. “That’s the longest gap.”

“I would guess he’s prepared to wait at least that long,” Raz said.

“You’re saying that we have time,” Alex said. “No need to rush. He’s going to be there a while.”

“If his hideout is in the tunnels, he’ll be there for a while,” Raz said.

“Long enough for us to collect him?” Jacob asked.

Raz nodded.

“Let’s figure out where he is,” Seth said. “You finished the map?”

“With Max and Colin’s help,” Alex said.

“I’ve translated Tunnel Rat Mike’s book,” Sergeant Margaret Peaches said. “He meticulously documented every segment of the tunnel. I can match his work to the map.”

“Great,” Seth said. “We might just have a chance.”

“We’ve identified three areas,” Mike walked to the map that lined the south end of the room and pointed out three areas. “These areas looked like places for employees. One had a series of old lockers.”

“According to Tunnel Rat Mike, those areas are heated from old gas lines,” Margaret said. “There’s even some electrical lines.”

“Our team contacted Xcel Energy to see if we could shut those off,” Seth said. “They have no record of them. At all.”

“Phantom gas lines,” Raz said. “That’s interesting.”

“Where did you go, Charlie?” Alex asked. “While we were waiting for you, Charlie told me about meeting Saint Jude. He went into the tunnels with his friend Jeffy a couple of times.”

“Four times,” Charlie said.

“Four times,” Alex repeated.

“Did you see him?” Seth asked.

“Not in the tunnels,” Charlie said. “But Jeffy was hiding from him.”

“Jeffy knew the tunnels?”

“Only where Saint Jude had been,” Charlie said. “Jeffy was like Delphie. He thought the tunnels were creepy. We went there to get out of the cold.”

“You went where?”

Charlie jumped to his feet and walked to the map. He looked from place to place then pointed to a spot near the areas Mike had pointed out.

“Here,” Charlie said.

“That’s where we found the lockers,” Jacob said. “There’s gas lamps and running water at that location.”

“And easy access,” Margaret said.

“Right,” Charlie said. “We slipped into the tunnel. No problem.”

“Delphie?” Max asked.

Delphie looked at Valerie. Valerie smiled and held her hands out. Delphie closed her eyes.

“Under Wynkoop Street,” Delphie said. “Under…”

“Union Station,” Margaret and Delphie said at the same time.

Stunned, everyone fell silent.

“That’s got to be it,” Seth whispered. “We found him.”

“How do we get him?” Charlie asked.

“I didn’t get it before, but looking at this map Seth is absolutely correct,” Raz said. “He’ll hear us coming a mile away.”

“Not if he expects company down there,” Jacob smiled.

“That’s a sinister smile,” Valerie said.

“What do you have planned?” Mike asked.

“Nothing specific,” Jacob said. “Maybe some minor flooding from an underground utility project.”

“You don’t have a project going there,” Mike said.

“We did,” Jacob said. “Dad finished a sewer and water project under Lower Downtown during the redevelopment about ten, maybe fifteen years ago. Part of our contract was to monitor seeping from the sewer into the tunnels. There’s a tributary to the South Platte that runs along there. At the time, there had been seven or eight years of drought.”

“The land was mostly dry,” Valerie said.

“The State didn’t want the cost of capping or diverting the tributary until it was necessary,” Jacob said. “We go down there every year, usually in the summer.”

“When were you were last down there?” Alex asked.

“Last summer,” Valerie said. “Takes about three days to set up, do the check, document and clear out.”

“I can have a team down there tomorrow morning,” Jacob raised an eyebrow.

“Herd a serial killer?” Alex asked. “Make him move where we want him to go? I bet that will work. We closed off the tunnels at the Castle when we were guarding Mike.”

“The Castle is a couple miles from LoDo,” Jacob said.

“There’s lots of side tunnels and places to hide in between Wynkoop and Race Streets,” Margaret said.

“I bet the State’s going to call Lipson Construction and ask them to close off that tributary,” Max said.

“In fact,” Alex said. “I bet you’ll find that work was in your original contract. No need for the water to leak into the rest of the tunnels.”

“And if there’s no water?” Valerie asked. “In all these years, there’s never been a drop.”

“It’s the State of Colorado,” Mike said. “They do stupid projects all the time.”

“Val and I will lead the team,” Jacob said. “Val thinks he’s looking for her. If he is, he won’t be able to resist talking to her.”

“Especially since she’s pregnant,” Charlie said. “Baby and all.”

“Draw him out and capture,” Raz said. “Nice. Can the Denver Police be trusted to actually capture him?”

“You mean instead of killing him?” Seth asked.

“The families deserve a trial,” Delphie said. “They need to see this man receive justice.”

“I’ll hand pick the officers,” Seth said.

“Homeland Security will be there with a team,” Alex said. “Of course, my team won’t miss a chance to kick ass.”

“We can mix them in with our construction crew,” Jacob said. “I’ll pick a few people who were there last year. If he saw them last year, or the year before, he’ll recognize them.”

“Wow…” Seth let out a breath. “We’re going to get him. We’re really going to get him.”

“We’re going to get him,” Alex said.

~~~~~~~~

Sunday evening — 9:20 P.M

“Sure Jake,” Honey Lipson Scully said. She turned her wheelchair to face him. “I went down last year and the year before. Remember I worked for Jerry before I started working for Bambi.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” MJ Scully , Honey’s husband said. “She’s almost four months pregnant and…”

“I don’t like it either,” Sam said.

“I can do this,” Honey said. “I want to do it. Can I see the picture again?”

Jacob gave her Saint Jude’s driver’s license photo.

“He looks kind of familiar,” Honey shrugged. “I could have seen him last year.”

“No one from my team can be involved,” MJ said. “Alex says we look like soldiers.”

“You are a soldier,” Sam said.

“Well, there’s that,” MJ smiled.

“I’ll be fine,” Honey said. “Have you talked to Jerry?”

“He’s in,” Jake said.

“Then I am too,” Honey said. “I’ll get the team together.”

“We have four or five Homeland Security agents,” Jacob said. “Seth is hand selecting a few Denver Police.”

“Once you get the tunnel shut off, we’ll set up surveillance – heat, motion, everything we have,” MJ said.

“I can keep everyone in line,” Honey clapped her hands. “Finally, I get to do something.”

“You work full time,” MJ said. “You’re taking your core college classes, helping out at the house and gardens; that’s not to mention the fact that you’re pregnant. You do a lot.”

“Now I get to do something to catch a serial killer,” Honey said. “It’s like being on America’s Most Wanted.”

“America’s Most Wanted?” MJ chuckled.

“If anything close to risky happens, I’m going to take you out of there,” Sam said. “No argument.”

“Ok, Dad, I promise. No arguments,” Honey said.

Sam leaned down to kiss Honey’s cheek then took the stairs up to Delphie’s apartment.

“Go on, Jake. Jill’s waiting for you,” Honey said.

“Thanks,” Jacob jogged up the long stairwell at the top he turned to wave.

“America’s Most Wanted?” MJ asked.

“You’re not the only crime fighter in this family,” Honey said.

Shaking his head, he followed her to the stairwell to their basement apartment.

~~~~~~~~

Sunday night — 11:20 P.M

“Seth?” Ava’s deep voice came from under a pile of covers on the bed.

Seth came into the dark room and closed the door to the hall. Pulling at his tie, he went to the bed to see her.

“Were you playing at Charlie Brown’s?” Ava asked.

“Charlie Brown’s?” Seth asked. “How did you know about…?”

“Sandy told me,” Ava said. “Did you go to play?”

“No,” Seth said. “I was with the Chief and a couple Captains. We spent the evening picking officers to work with Jake and his people. We’re going to get Saint Jude next week. These guys have to fit into their crew… and be willing to start at 4:30 AM.”

He leaned over to kiss her face.

“How are you?”

“I’m really good,” Ava rolled over to watch him undress.

“Your voice is gorgeous,” Seth said. “Deep and incredibly sexy.”

“Warm water, lemon juice and honey,” Ava said. “It’s some kind of cheerleading remedy. Lizzie told me about it. I used Delphie’s honey.”

“Seems to have helped,” Seth said. “I thought Blane was coming by this evening. Did you see him?”

“I did,” Ava said. “I really like him. He gave Dale some acupuncture too. Dale and I had dinner. He told me what you said… about us.”

Seth turned to look at her.

“I’ve asked a lot from you,” Ava said. “And you’re right. We’ve only been dating a few weeks. Are you okay with… everything?”

He nodded and went into the bathroom. She got out of bed to follow him. Her eyes watched him brush his teeth and get ready for bed.

“You don’t have anything to say?” Ava asked.

“There will be a time when we both have a lot to say,” Seth said. “Now’s not that time. I’m very tired and have a huge day tomorrow.”

Her eyes puzzled at his response as he moved passed her to the bed. He slipped under the covers and retrieved his pillow from her side.

“Come to bed,” he said.

“You’re not going to play tonight?” Ava slipped in beside him.

“Too exhausted,” Seth said. “Plus, I think I may have finished the last piece.”

“What’s going to happen tomorrow?” Ava’s voice cracked.

“Five DPD officers, five Homeland Security and a group from Lipson are going to start working on the coal tunnel where Saint Jude is living,” Seth said. “The plan is for them to close off the tunnel near where he’s been living. He can’t skulk away in the dark. Then we’ll lure him out and capture him.”

“You’re not involved,” Ava said.

“Outside of the planning and monitoring, I’m too recognizable to him,” Seth said. “God, Ava. You would not believe how much he hates me. He devoted an entire wall to me in his trophy room in New Mexico.”

“You went there today?” Ava asked.

“By helicopter,” Seth said. “Alex’s guy wanted to go so they arranged transportation. What a place! I’ll have to go back there after we collect him. But…”

“Why does he hate you?” Ava asked.

“Bonita and I were working things out,” Seth said. “She left him for me.”

“Like Celeste,” Ava said.

“Like Celeste,” Seth said. “Only he hasn’t been able to kill me, though he’s tried over and over again.”

“I’m glad he hasn’t killed you,” Ava said.

“Me too,” Seth said. He leaned over to kiss her cheek. “You need to rest. Are you working tomorrow?”

“I don’t think so,” Ava said. “I’m worn out from today. But we’ll see. I definitely want part of this collar.”

“I think you own the collar,” Seth said.

“Are you ever going to tell me how you figured out the Cigarette Killer?” Ava asked.

“You’ve never asked,”  Seth said.

Ava didn’t respond. Leaning up, Seth saw that she was asleep. Smiling to himself, he fluffed the pillow and joined her.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

~~~~~~~~

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