Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
- Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
The Dagger: Part 3
“It is a dagger.” Cane stated, his correction not in the least bit antagonistic nor confrontational – which only piqued Detective Pineclay the more. Had the surveillance cameras in the interrogation room not been monitoring, the detective would have granted this blood-caked killer a more up-close examination of this dagger…
Yet Pineclay restrained himself. Rather than lose his cool and go off like an apoplectic gorilla – a tactic which in the right circumstances had its merits – he would instead undertake a different tact. Slaps and insinuations having provoked nothing from this kindly gentleman – a kindliness bordering on the saintly which Pineclay found revolting – he would entertain Cane’s intellect, if only to grease the wheels of the interrogation. Anything that got him off the streets and a step closer to the chamber, Pineclay reasoned, was advantageous.
“A dagger, huh?” he said, toying with its sixteen inches of silver and bronze. “You don’t say? And it’s Mesapo….Mecepo-”
“Mesopotamian.” Cane smiled without a trace of antagonism. “Or at least from an age prefacing the earliest Mesopotamian civilisations. The craftsmanship does not correlate with anything I have studied before. It is entirely unique. Born of its own creation, somehow.”
As though a concrete monument upon which pigeons roosted, Cane spoke these words while sitting entirely motionless at the table, appearing neither anxious nor nervous nor even the least bit excited. There was only one adjective with which Pineclay could describe the killer’s disposition: content. Blissful, pleasant, Christmas Day-armchair content. Revolting…
“Well guess what, professor. When I run this dagger of yours for tests I can promise you this– your prints will be all over it.”
“That I would have assumed.” Cane shrugged his bare shoulders. “For more than a month that dagger has scarcely left my hands – but not for the reasons you would assume.” he added.
“Enlighten me. What do I assume?” Pineclay enquired with a facetious wave of the dagger. “Don’t tell me you’ve been using this thing to carve up your Thanksgiving joint? You serial killers…where’s your sense of hygiene?”
“I would never dream of committing such a profanity.” Cane tittered. “No, I have been studying that dagger punctiliously ever since the wonderful Mrs. Haven brought it to my-”
“This Mrs. Haven?” Pineclay pointed the dagger to the top-most photograph on the heap – a middle-aged woman surgically dissected into two rib-exposing fillets. “You’re going to have to help me, Cane. It’s not easy putting a face to your victims after you’ve skinned them.”
Cane glowed with moon-like innocence, not in the least bit offended by the detective’s bunt. “As is my expertise, the departed brought the dagger to my offices and requested that I perform a thorough investigation of it.”
“I’d say you did more than that…”
“I did what any proficient historian would do – I focused the entirety of my attentions into uncovering the mysteries surrounding the artefact placed in my charge. For weeks I locked myself in routine: I made do with a single meal, a single hour’s rest, not answering my phone nor checking my emails nor corresponding with friends or acquaintances or the last of my remaining family until I had succeeded in my task. I assure you, detective – my efforts, my every waking hour since receiving it, have been fixated absolutely upon that very dagger you hold in your hands.”
“And the verdict?” Pineclay glanced over the glinting blade. He noted that for the first time the killer did not meet his eye. As though air expelled from a worn-bald tyre, the old man sighed despairingly.
“Triumph…I found none. I failed in my objective, wasting so many hours, days…years…” His words evanescing at the cusp of his lips, Cane seemed for a moment swallowed by self-pity. It took some time for him to reassert eye contact with the detective.
“You recognise the ugly hollowness of which I speak, do you not, Detective Pineclay? The wrenching comprehension that your best years upon this earth have been squandered thanks only to your misguided priorities? You know this feeling, deep in your gut? Yes?”
Uncomfortable, Pineclay switched his attention from Cane’s gaze to the weapon, twirling it with dismissive fidgets. All the while, the police badge in his pocket seemed to double in weight. The gun at his hip felt as heavy as a slab. “Hollow, huh? Not your smartest choice of words…
“Tell me,” he pried, lurching himself down on the table and back into the position of aggressor. “What’s this thing worth? I’m no expert on antiquities like yourself, but I’ll bet it’s twice my salary.”
“You are correct. It is a treasure of immeasurable value.”
“Wow. As that much? So that’s why you killed the wonderful Mrs. Haven…”
Cane whistled a laugh, genuinely amused by the accusation. “No, Mrs. Haven did not allow me the opportunity to commit a theft so rash – even if I had intended to. Rather – to her eternal detriment, I may add – as an award for my fruitless endeavours for which I was emphatic that I apologise, she presented me with a gift.”
Pineclay paused his fidgeting. “A gift?”
“Yes, detective. A gift so valuable it can not be measured against mere currency.”
Cane leaned across the table and extended his delicate blood stained hands into the form of a nest.
“Would you care for me to share with you this gift, detective?”