After shooting out the surveillance cameras all along the community college’s parking lots and behind the main building, he unceremoniously dumped his “pet” alongside the dumpsters. It was still dark as his SUV pulled into his garage.
“Aw, look who came to see me. Who’s my good boy? Are you ready to go night-night?”
The dog’s tail wagged for his master and trotted upstairs to the bedroom. While the television droned in the background, he was already researching his notes on his next victim.
“Seth, sweetie? I made you breakfast.”
Melanie kissed her husband's face and forehead until his eyes fluttered open. Seconds later, Malachi jumped into the bed and helped Mel rouse the sleepy author from his bed.
“Okay, okay! I’m up. I swear it.”
The rich scents of percolated coffee and bacon made Seth’s stomach rumble. He brushed his teeth and headed downstairs, still in his pajamas. It felt like a Saturday but he knew it wasn’t. He was trying to remember what day it was when he reached the kitchen. All of his breakfast favorites were set out on the table: bacon, French toast, Mel’s famous yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit, coffee and orange juice.
“Mmm, this looks delicious, babe. What’s the occasion?”
“No occasion. Can’t I just spoil the man I love?”
“Spoil away, my dear. I was just surprised, that’s all. Did you call off work today?”
“As a matter of fact, I did. I’m playing hooky today. Well, not really. I miscounted. I had an extra use-it-or-lose-it vacation day so, rather than lose it; I took it. I forgot to tell you last night. I was so sleepy after dinner. It just slipped my mind. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you put something in my food to make me sleep.”
They laughed at her joke and even Malachi seemed to know it was a vacation day. The mood of his humans felt more jubilant than normal. Regardless of the reason, he enjoyed the strips of bacon that were being slipped to him under the table, presumably without the other’s knowledge. Even clean-up seemed to be less of a chore. Melanie and Seth acted more like newlyweds; washing the dishes together and spraying each other with sudsy water. And then the phone rang; the elephant in the room or the turd in the punch bowl. It was the one thing that, lately, seemed to divide them and intrude upon their otherwise idyllic lives. For a brief moment, she stared at him as if wanting to say, “Let it go to voicemail”, but she didn’t.
“Aren’t you going to get that? There might be a new body.”
Seth smiled and answered his phone. She’s too good to me. She knows I’ll end up going out and she’ll be left all alone but she lets me do what’s best for my writing. I’ll make it up to you one day, Mel. I’ll have enough money to get you anything your heart desires.
Melanie watched her husband’s face light up and she knew what it meant. Her vacation day would be spent with Malachi unless she could find one of her friends in between shuttling their kids from one event to another. Lost in a state of ennui, she barely noticed as Seth dropped a kiss on her cheek before he raced upstairs to shower.
The community college was not more than ten minutes from Seth’s home. He’d never been to a crime scene in the daylight before and it felt oddly out of place. On one hand, it seemed so much less threatening but on the other, it was much easier to see what had happened to the victim in full scale. The throng of workers only added to the chaos. Every few seconds another cell phone snapped photos or onlookers tried to do amateur video reports to post on social media. Eventually, the police were forced to demand that the college’s employees be sent home so that the victim’s privacy could be protected. Seth stayed off to the side and out of everyone’s way as they worked. The onslaught of new victims brought more law enforcement out of the woodwork. Even the FBI decided to grace the local authorities with their presence.
“The killer knew this girl.” The new agent announced. “Look at the way she’s placed here, so delicate….and covered with a hand-stitched blanket. There was some sort of bond here. We need this girl’s identity ASAP! I want prints and forensics now, not in ten minutes, not tomorrow, NOW!”
Seth gaped at the newcomer, shocked by his rude demeanor.
“He’s a real ass; isn’t he?”
The words came from behind him and Seth nearly leapt out of his skin.
“Damn, Bill! Give a guy a heart attack, why don’t ya? Sheesh!”
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Your lovely wife would kill me if I gave you a heart attack on top of everything else. What Agent Dictator doesn’t know is that we’ve already done all of that. Even more, we already have an ID of the victim because she was taking night classes here.”
“I assume you’re being facetious and his last name isn’t really dictator, or is it?”
“I’m so glad you get my sense of humor, Seth, but be careful about assuming. You know what they say, right? Sadly, this unfortunate SOB’s last name is Videla.”
“Um, I’m not following you.”
“Jorge Rafael Videla was a ruthless dictator in Argentina. A redundancy, isn’t it? Ruthless dictator. Anyway, I saddled him with the nickname Agent Dictator during the Rhymes case and it stuck. You can see why. I’ll be back in a minute…the journalists and television news crews have arrived so I’m going to go make Agent Dictator look like the idiot he is.”
Seth smiled. Seeing obnoxious people get served their just reward made his day. Just as Bill had anticipated, Agent Dictator tried to bask in the spotlight. He preened before the cameras and boasted about the FBI’s involvement, vowing to take over for the overburdened local police. Grinning for the on air reporter, he continued.
“As we speak, our men are collecting data to uncover the latest victim’s identity and we will--”
“If I may, Agent Di, um, Agent Videla” Detective Crash interrupted. “The overburdened local police has already obtained the victim’s identity and, after her family has been notified; we will release a statement.”
A plethora of reporters and newscasters called out his name begging to ask their questions. Bill obliged as Agent Videla seethed in the background. Seth’s muffled guffaw drew curious looks from Angela and Kim. He waved them over and explained what Bill had done.
“I’m setting my DVR to record every local news program tonight so I can watch it over and over again. The look on that FBI agent’s face was priceless. Don’t you just love when rude people get owned?” Kim laughed.
“Especially him,” Angela agreed. “Agent Dictator is such a jerk. If anyone deserved to have their tongue cut out and lodged in an uncomfortable place; it would be him.”