Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney

The Dagger: Part 2

On coming face to face with the man accused of the murder of twelve people – the murder and mutilation of at least twelve people, he reminded himself – Detective Pineclay had to double-check the mugshot in his file against the unremarkable figure seated quietly at the table. For a moment he assumed his bungling captain had made one of his all-too regular oversights and sent him to the wrong room. Maybe it was all a rib? Cap’s idea of a thigh-slapping hee-haw? 

But Pineclay was indeed in the correct interrogation room, and this was indeed Andrew Walton Cane – an elderly man just as slight, straight, commonplace and bland as the walking aid with which he shared his name. The only noteworthy feature to distinguish this most forgettable of men was his state of dress: he wore smart shoes, trousers and belt – but no shirt. From the waist up, Cane was completely bare-

And coated in a semi-set residue of dried blood as thick as psoriasis.

Standing guard beside the door was a young officer – arms folded, yawning – clearly just as underwhelmed by this killer as the detective. 

With a pat of his side-arm, Pineclay inferred that the yawning officer take his leave. “Uncuff him before you go.” he added with typical curtness. This duty the officer performed without concern, freeing the killer’s binds before locking the door on his way out.

“There. Now it’s just us…all on our lonesome.” Pineclay winked to the killer. He allowed the tension inside the cramped and already claustrophobic little room to ferment; when he sensed it was at its peak, like that of pre-thunder, he reached up and disconnected the CCTV camera in the corner, making sure that the killer was observing him – a ploy, of course, as the interrogation rooms’ cameras could only be deactivated remotely, but the old tricks worked the best. In addition, the detective switched off the overhead lights so the only illumination was that which hummed from the lamp on the table, at which the killer was seated. Pineclay wanted no outside interference, nothing that would distract either he or the killer from the task of substantiating the latter’s guilt. To this end, the room’s heating had also been dialled down beforehand.

“Cold?” the detective commented knowingly, leafing absently through his wedge of documents as he stalked the lamp light’s verge. “Bit cold to be going around half-naked, no? Not good for an old man with barely a chicken wing’s worth of fat on him. And balding. Yeah, I can see the goose-pimples behind your ears. Haven’t you been offered anything? A coat? Coffee? Not even a nice hot water bottle?” 

Needless to say, the arresting officers had made no such proffer of magnanimity – considering the atrocities he was deemed to have committed,  this little man was lucky to have made it through the system without a succession of heavy beatings, never mind a snuggle. Still, the detective posed the question all the same. Keep the ‘suspect’ guessing, that was the key. Pineclay was well versed in every devious manoeuvre, knowing them all like the back of his hand – the back of a hand which he summarily lashed across the killer’s Dunchenne smile.

“Get that smirk off your mouth!” he barked, jabbing a knuckle into the killer’s exposed and somewhat flabby torso. “Where’s your shirt, huh? Did you burn it? Where’d you dump it?” he escalated with an old-school wrestler’s chop, coating his forearm in flecks of smutty dried blood. “And whose blood is this?”

Pineclay was well aware that his inquisition was only just getting warmed up, very much in its developmental stages. Nonetheless, in spite of such stimulating motivation, he was perturbed at the killer’s lack of reaction. The majority of murderers the detective had subjugated during his long career – from the crime of passion housewives to the harelipped boilers of children – would have either pissed their pants or tried to bite him by now. But this mild and diminutive Cane…if even a wrinkle of disconcertment had blemished his ordinary face then the detective had been too slow to catch it.

“Nothing, huh? Figures. I guess you’re not so brave when you’re unarmed. And to think…an hour ago you were found kneeling next to this.” Pineclay said, tossing the ream of crime-scene photographs across the table, the bloodiest and most heinous anyone in the department, including the coroner, had ever seen. “Ring any bells? How about this one? Him? Her? Any of these?” he added, slapping down photo after photo, each more gruesome than the last. “Same pattern every time, same signature – one cut. Head to bowels. Like a hog for the pit.”

Table strewn with images of violence, the detective moved to strike the killer again – but just as before, much to his frustration, the killer did not flinch beyond an initial twinge of inconsequential imbalance. Worse, in fact. Upon casting his eyes across the photographs, the colourless man seemed only to examine them with a religious wonder, as though baring witness to some obscured beauty nestled within the proliferated deluge of so much blood and entrails. To Pineclay’s growing sense of umbrage, it felt as though he were merely presenting this gentile old codger with nothing more unsavoury than the Polaroids of his newborn children, the residue plasma which accompanies a labour irrelevant and essentially invisible when set against the miraculous inception of a child. 

Having been indisposed for the birth of both his children, however, Pineclay could not confirm this assertion – he thus accelerated his interrogation, pacing ever-tightening circles around the killer.

“Yeah, you were a clever bastard, I’ll give you that. No connections between your victims, no trail of breadcrumbs left for me to follow. Guess I’m getting old and fat, huh? Not so willing to make the sacrifices as I used to be…otherwise I’d have brought you in myself.” he snarled regretfully.

“Yet still I’m left wondering,” the detective pondered with intentional theatricality. “Little sprout like you, arms like pea shoots. Some of those victims, your victims, were big lugs, twice your size – how’d you manage to slice them up so clean? Always figured you used a power saw, or some kind of spinning blade like they have down at the abattoir. Never pictured you wielding this hunk of junk.”

Slipping it flippantly from its evidence bag as though the last chip in the packet, Pineclay held the long-bladed knife under the lamplight, rotating it from side to side so its blade did glare into the killer’s eyes – not that he blinked.

“What is this thing, anyway? Some kind of letter opener you got in a cracker?” the detective teased, juggling the knife from palm to palm. It was heavier than it looked, its sixteen inches of silver blade and bronze handle weighing nearly as much as a brick. This being the first time he had actually seen the murder weapon, the detective now saw that the tip of the blade curved into a small hook no wider than an owl’s claw, while the intricate and ornate detailing around the handle was perhaps Grecian? Egyptian?

“Mesopotamian.” the killer announced with a disconcerting softness, a voice equally as genteel as the man himself. “And it is not a knife, detective, nor a letter opener.”


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