2009 by Walter D. Reimer
Illustration by Kjartan
courtesy of Eric
There was a copy of
the paper on his desk when he got back to the office.
Chief Stagg, the desk sergeant
had reported in a hushed tone, looked unhappy.
That in itself was enough to make
Paulie reluctant to step into the whitetail buck’s office. He
squared his shoulders and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” and he opened the door
to find the Chief seated at his desk, looking at his own copy of the
paper. “I must concede that Mr. Stover’s prose style lends itself
to the sensational.” He glanced up at his subordinate.
“Close the door and sit down, Paul. You look rather disturbed.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Once he was seated Stagg sat back
and fixed him with a steady gaze. “How did this make the papers
“I believe the officer on the
scene was bribed, Sir.”
This elicited a resigned sigh
from the buck. “A common practice, and one I do not agree
with. So. What have you got?”
Paulie flipped open his
notebook. “Boarding house, used by student nurses employed at the
Polyclinic. Fifteen tenants out of sixteen available beds, all
good paying customers. The owners have never had any trouble with
prowlers or even pushy boyfriends.”
“But yet someone killed three of
The red deer cleared his
throat. “Five, Sir.”
It ordinarily took a lot to
pierce ‘Sir Frankie of Ass-Sit’s’ normally professional demeanor.
Stagg’s ears drooped and his eyes went wide. “Five?”
“Yes, Sir. Two more found
in a room on the second floor. Er, one of them’s a Yank.”
Stagg pinched the bridge of his
nose between his eyes. “I’ll have to go upstairs and tell them,
then. That’s my job, Lieutenant – to break bad news to those in
“Yes, Sir. Evidence
indicates that the girls were bludgeoned before their throats were cut,
and someone – the killer, we believe – wrote ‘God Wills It’ on the
first floor bathroom mirror in blood. In Latin.”
Stagg’s jaw muscles
twitched. “Disturbing. Keep me informed of your progress,
Paul. Anything you need, day or night, and feel free to call me
at the house if you must. We will most likely be told to have
this concluded with an arrest as quickly as possible.”
“Yes, Sir.” Paulie got up
and left the office.
As he sat down at his own desk
his stomachs growled, reminding him that he hadn’t had lunch yet.
He pulled his lunchbox out of a drawer and opened it. He smiled
at the sight of two thick lettuce and tomato sandwiches and a banana
for dessert. Jane knew how to take care of him. The thermos
flask inside the box contained homemade birch beer.
The vegetables had been grown in
their backyard greenhouse, and he relished the taste as he ate.
The banana was a rare and somewhat pricey treat. He promised
himself to chide her a bit about extravagance.
But not too harshly.
“Hey Paulie!” and he turned as
Bill sat down at his desk with a grunt. The bear’s uniform collar
was open and he asked, “I just got off the clock. Howza ‘bout you
an’ me head over to Shipman’s for a beer?”
“I’m still on the clock, Bill.”
“Never stopped ya before.”
“True, but they want us to get
this mess cleaned up quick, which means no long lunches.” He took
a sip of his birch beer and smiled at the spicy taste. “You can
tell me something, though.”
He pitched his voice lower as he
leaned into his friend. “If you needed money, Bill, you coulda
asked. I ain’t Silver-Paws Farkel, but if you need a five-spot – “
“I figger I asked you enough
times, Paulie,” Bill said with a shrug. “The guy didn’t take no
pictures, and he come high-tailing outta there like the Devil was on
his tail. I hear you found two more upstairs.”
The bear sat back and
whistled. “Damn. Makes ya wish for the good old days, when
all you had to worry about was a sneak thief or bar fight.”
The red deer chuckled. He
and Bill had broken up just such a fight at a billiards parlor years
back, and his nose was still slightly off-kilter after a drunken
brawler had taken a swing at him with a pool cue. The guy’s nose
had been broken with a hard jab for his trouble.
“Well, those days are behind us
now, Billy,” Paulie said. “Tell me something – you know this guy
“A little. Why?”
“I want to talk to him, on the
quiet if you know what I mean. See if he saw anything we didn’t –
or took something out with him.”
The bear nodded slowly. “I
think I can swing that.”
He grinned and clapped his
onetime partner on the shoulder. “Good. And later we’ll
have a beer, okay?”
Matt Stover, it
turned out, was a chubby fox who stood all of five feet six. Both
policefurs towered over him as Bill escorted him into an alleyway near
a waterfront bar frequented by sailors.
The fox straightened his fedora
and asked, “Whaddaya want from me?”
“Just a question or two,” Paulie
Stover’s expression grew
shifty. “An’ if I don’t spill?”
“Then . . . let’s just say you
might not like it.” Bill smiled and massaged his right fist in a
meaty left paw to underline Paulie’s words.
“I knew I shoulda stood in bed,”
the vulpine muttered. “Whaddaya want ta know?”
“I want to know exactly what you
saw in the Otterholt House,” Paulie said. He took out his
notebook and a pencil.
Stover replied, “Well, I get in
there, an’ it’s a madhouse, I’m telling you. Women screaming an’
crying, so I gotta take advantage, y’see? So I go upstairs.”
“First thing I sees is the
blood. I’m telling ya, it was everywhere in front of the dead
pooch’s room. I know my business, so I back off from it – I ain’t
gonna end up getting fingered for this, nosiree.”
“My Momma didn’t raise a fool,”
Stover said. “Lessee . . . I checked out the other two dead
dames. Both of ‘em cold as mackerel, blood everywhere. I
didn’t touch nothing, I swear. I’m startin’ to get creeped out,
so I start to go back down.”
“Well, I sees a footprint on the
“Man’s, or woman’s?”
“Guy’s. Big print too,
sorta wide, if you get my drift.”
“So you left.”
“Yeah, I figgered I seen
enough.” Stover leaned closer with a conspiratorial leer.
“Any of them dames get – you know?” He made a circle with two
fingers of his left paw, stuck his right index finger through the
circle a few times, and winked.
Paulie just looked at him.
“Aw, c’mon, Boss, you can spill
it – innocent young girls like that . . . why ain't they SAYING they
“You little creep,” Bill grated,
“I got a good mind ta throw you in the harbor.”
“An’ I’ll put your name in my
The bear gave the fox a push that
sent him sprawling out of the alley. “G’wan, beat it before I run
ya in for vagrancy.” Stover stumbled to his feet and hurried off
as Bill turned to his friend. “So, was they?”
Paulie looked at his friend
sourly and shook his head. “Didn’t look like it, but we’ll have
to wait on the Doc to tell us. Thanks, Bill.”
“Don’t mention it, Paulie.
Felt good – like old times.”
The buck nodded and looked at his
watch. “Time for me to get home. Say hello to Margie for
me, will ya?”
finished drying her paws after washing the dinner dishes and took off
her apron. Sounds of childish yelling outside indicated that the
children were out playing, watched by her husband as well as the other
parents on the street. The evening was mild and sundown wasn’t
for another half-hour.
The two youngest fawns would
likely need baths before they went to bed.
The whitetail doe took a pitcher
of birch beer from the icebox and poured herself a glass, then smoothed
out her dress and walked out of the kitchen and through the living room
to the front porch.
The screen door banged closed
behind her and Paulie looked up at her as she leaned against the
jamb. “Hi,” she said.
He grinned and patted the stoop
beside him. “Hi yourself.” She sat and they shared a
kiss. “How was your day?”
“Busy,” she said. “Took the
kids to the doctor, then went shopping. Jack says that Old Man
Grayson’s offered him a job sweeping up at his store.”
“That so?” Jack was their
oldest, all of twelve years old. “I’ll have a talk with
Carl. What’s he offering?”
“Jack says twenty-five shillings
“A half oak a week?” he echoed,
giving a soft whistle. “Not bad.” He glanced out at the
street, where his son was playing catch with some of the other boys
from the neighborhood.
She nuzzled him, taking advantage
of their nearness to run her fingers along the velvet cloaking his
antlers. He shivered and chuckled. “You should stop that.”
“Oh?” she asked teasingly.
“Because we might get a sixth
fawn out of it if we’re not careful.” They both chuckled at that,
and she hugged him.
“I’m in no hurry.” They
watched their children at play for a while, and finally Jane ventured,
“I’ve been adding things up.”
“And I think we finally have
enough stamps to get a couple of things.” New Haven’s economy
included a network of co-operative stores. Change for less than a
five-shilling piece, or ‘shad,’ came in the form of stamps, and when
enough stamps had been accrued they could be redeemed for consumer
goods at the stores.
“Oh? Such as?” He
turned to look at her.
“Well, we could get a week’s
worth of groceries, or a new carpet for the front room, or that new
dress I was looking at . . .” her voice trailed off and met his gaze.
He leaned close and kissed
her. “Get the dress,” he suggested. “You’ll look great in
Jane smiled, and snuggled a bit
closer. “Anything happen at work?”
“Too much,” he said with a
sigh. “Depending on what happens, I might be missing mealtimes.”
“No more than usual, I
think. Murder case.”
She blinked, her tail
flagging. “Murder? You mean what was in the paper?”
Jane was a policeman’s wife, and
the daughter of a merchant seaman. The Widow’s Walk was in her
She kissed him again and said,
“You be careful, Paolo. I want you to appreciate the dress.”
He grinned and returned the kiss.
Thursday May 13
New Haven Polyclinic
The morgue smelled
of formalin, carbolic acid, cigarette smoke and dry rot, and Paulie
grimaced as he walked into the main ward. The lights were on, and
a shrouded form was on the center table. A tall and very thin
mountain lion stood at a counter nearby, jotting notes on a
clipboard. A cigarette dangled from his lips and a thin haze of
smoke surrounded him.
The red deer stopped near the
feet of the corpse. “Morning, Doc. Got anything for me yet?”
Doctor Rivers stubbed the
cigarette out in an ashtray, coughed, and turned to face the detective,
blinking owlishly through thick glasses. “Hi, Lieutenant.
Yes, I have a few things for you.” He indicated a fat envelope
resting on the counter. “Photographs of all the girls, after I
got them cleaned up. I was just wrapping up the autopsy reports
when you came in.”
“I appreciate you calling me.”
That elicited a dry
chuckle. “I figured that since I’d been up all night, why should
others lie in?” He walked up to the shrouded form and drew the
sheet away as far down as the beagle femme’s cleavage. Paulie
recognized the dead girl as the fourth victim, Elaine Somerville.
The morgue: Doctor Rivers
& Detective Lieutenant Paolo
'Paulie' Pentaleoni. Elaine Somerville
Art by Kjartan - http://www.furaffinity.net/user/ karno/
- (Larger file here - 404 KBytes)
“Ordinarily I wouldn’t have
bothered to work so late,” Rivers said, “but this case is a
doozy.” He bent over and bestowed a kiss on the dead girl’s
Paulie’s frown deepened.
Rivers had an odd sense of humor. “Cause of death, Doc?”
“Ah. That’s all in the
reports, but I’ll spare you the suspense. Cause of death in her
case was massive trauma to the head. You see the bruising
here?” He turned her head slightly and thumbed back her fur to
display a bruise on the back of her head behind her right ear.
“Enough force to shatter her skull and damage the brain stem,” he
explained. “Never knew what hit her. The knife slash across
the throat severed both carotid arteries and both jugular veins, but
her blood loss was all post-mortem. The skull’s fairly thin back
there, you know.”
“Any idea what caused the wound?”
The cat shrugged. “Any
blunt object, really – hammer, maybe. But look here.” He
tipped the Somerville girl’s head back to indicate the slash
wound. “Very clean slice here, meaning a very sharp knife.”
“Hmm. Not the usual thing a
sneak thief might use?”
“Probably not. I heard that
there had been a party that night. Lab analysis of the stomach
contents and blood will be ready for you after lunch.”
“Great. Um, was there, um,
any sign of - ?”
“Sexual assault?” Rivers
shook his head. “A killer our boy was, but apparently a rapist he
“I’m sure that will be a great
relief to their parents. You can expect them this afternoon.”
The feline sighed and
nodded. “I’ll try to be more presentable by then.”
“What about the rest of the
girls? Same pattern?”
“The Jones girl – the one that
was with this one – had her throat cut before her head was bashed
in. From the positions of the bodies I’d say that the killer hit
Somerville, then cut Jones’ throat to keep her occupied.”
A chill went up Paulie’s back and
he felt himself flagging. “The first girl that was found, Sally
Jones . . . why didn’t she die immediately?”
“I think our boy was moving fast
by this time, maybe afraid of getting caught before he’d
finished. None of her head wounds were fatal; hard enough to
bruise, but not to break bone.”
A nod, and the red deer moved to
gather up the reports and photographs. “I’ll be around for the
lab results, Doc. Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.”
The other detectives
at ‘Morning Prayers’ listened raptly as Paulie finished giving his
summary of the case so far. The papers that morning had already
started calling it a massacre, and editors were calling upon the State
Police to solve the crime as fast as possible.
Chief Stagg had listened
intently, taking note after note while looking at the photographs
spread out before him. Finally he looked up. “Was Dr.
Rivers able to establish a time of death?”
“Yes, Sir. His reports
estimate that the killings took place sometime around two A.M., and
definitely between two and six. The Otterholts finished cleaning
up after the party at about eleven-thirty, and the lights were out at
midnight. Mr. Otterholt says that he and his wife went to bed
shortly afterward, and heard nothing.”
“And the girls’ statements?”
“Two of them turned in early,
explaining that they were very tired. One of the victims, Sally
Jones – the one who lived alone – complained of stomach pains and
another girl rang a local pharmacy for some powders. They were
delivered by the chemist himself, a Mr. Davies, at about one A.M.”
Stagg nodded. “And this was
corroborated by Mr. Davies.”
“Yes, Sir. Taken all in
all, at first blush it looks like we may be dealing with a maniac with
a religious bent.”
The whitetail buck scratched one
of his antlers. “How so?”
“The evidence so far – the
bloodletting, the words on the mirror and the fact that none of the
girls appears to have been raped – would point to that theory.”
A slow nod. “As a
preliminary theory, I’d say that it was sound, Lieutenant. But
keep an open mind, in case any new evidence disproves your theory.”
When the meeting was over, Paulie
collected his notes and headed back to his desk, only to stop when his
superior cleared his throat. “Yes, Chief?”
Stagg waved him back into the
conference room and closed the door before asking, “Somerville and
Jones . . . they usually slept late?”
After glancing through his notes
the red deer nodded. “According to the girls, they worked a late
shift, getting in around twelve or one. I’ll be following that up
today before I head back to the morgue.”
Stagg nodded, his expression
drawn. “Need some moral support, Paul?”
“Well, I’m lead investigator on
the case . . . but I’d be glad to see a familiar face, Chief. The
Ambassador won’t be any too happy, and I’ll have a bunch of grieving
parents on my paws.” He glanced behind Stagg and added, “And if
it’s all right with you, I’d like to use the chalkboard in here.”
“Yes, Sir. I want to get a
few things set up so I can get a full view of how this happened.
So many victims, you know.”
“Good thinking, and it’s an
excellent idea. It’s all yours.” Stagg went back to his
office, and Paulie started collecting his notes.
When he had everything he started
by drawing rough diagrams of each floor, with Xs to show the locations of each
dead girl. To one side he wrote the name of each victim, and on
the other side of the board he wrote a rough timeline.
He studied the board for a few
moments, then collected his squad of detectives and left the station.
Collegiate Medical School
The classroom was
designed for fifty students and was designed as an amphitheater.
Just before the detectives walked into the room, they paused as someone
within started to sing in a strong baritone:
“There ain't a damn thing I can
Or nothing I can say
That folks don't give me hell
But I'm gonna do what I want to
And I don't care just what
If I should have the notion to
take a jump in the ocean
't ain't nobody's bizness if I
If I go to whorin’ on Sunday
then drink all day Monday
't ain't nobody's bizness if I
If my gal ain't got no money
and I say take all mine honey
't ain't nobody's bizness if I
If I give her my last nickel
just so she’ll sit on my pickle
't ain't nobody's bizness if I
Hoarse male laughter greeted this
song, and Paulie shrugged at the others before opening the door and
walking in. Eight male students of various species lounged in
their seats under the watchful eyes of the Dean and the head of the
medical school. “Dean Paulson, I’m grateful for your assistance.”
The beaver shook paws with the
red deer. “No problem at all, Lieutenant. These young
gentlemen will be glad to assist you – and if they don’t, they know
what will happen.”
Paulie glanced up at the
“Quite. If you’ll excuse
me, I’ll leave them to you. Dr. Mason will help you.” The
beaver pulled a watch from his waistcoat and checked the time, then
glared at the students before walking out.
One of them, a lean hound, blew a
raspberry as the doors closed.
Paulie pointed at him.
“I’ll start with you. Name?”
“Albert Norquist. What’s it
to you, copper?”
“We’re going to be asking you and
the other guys here some questions about the party you attended at
“We never touched any of those
girls!” a slim stallion protested. “I don’t care what they’re
accusing us of – “
“No one’s accusing you of
anything, Walter,” Norquist said in a disgusted tone. To Paulie
he said, “You’ll have to excuse him – he’s an underclassman.”
“Mr. Norquist is right,
gentlemen. None of you are being accused of anything. But
if you don’t answer our questions, you will be accused – of hindering a
police investigation.” He allowed himself a smile. “And if
you think expulsion is a bad thing, imagine the inside of our lockup
downtown. I expect your full cooperation. Now. I want
to know if everyone is here.”
A feline seated near the back
raised a paw. “Roger’s not here.”
“And who is Roger?”
“Roger Farmer,” the younger man
replied. “After the party he said he was headed to Gnu
York. Last I saw him, he was headed for Republic Station.”
“How was he acting?”
“Sick, like he was going to
Paulie made a note of the name,
and the other detectives went to work.
The going was slow, and more than
once the students complained of how long the process was taking.
Paulie was patient, but firm.
After half an hour of
questioning, most of the medical students had been allowed to leave,
leaving Norquist and two others. Paulie asked the hound, “Where
did you buy the liquor?”
“There’s a shop over on Sixteenth
and E. Don’t worry, we’re all legal.”
“I’m sure you are. Med
“What are you studying?”
The hound laughed.
“Gynecology. I tell ya, some of the girls can teach you more
about that than any textbook. There’s this one little spaniel
over there, Sally Jones – man, talk about fast! She can trip you
up and be under you before you hit the floor.”
Paulie controlled himself with an
effort. “Miss Jones is one of the victims, Mr. Norquist.
S’matter, don’t you read the papers?”
The hound’s eyes bulged and he
started to stammer something, but the door to the classroom opened and
he stopped talking. Paulie turned to see who it was.
A gray-furred rabbit blinked at
him. “I’m sorry I’m late. I was told that you were talking
Paulie cocked an eye at
Norquist. “I thought you said that everyone was here who was at
“I forgot about him,” the hound
“Who are you?” Paulie asked the
The younger man shrugged.
“My name’s Wyatt Stevenson.”
“And why are you late?”
“I was cleaning up one of the
labs. I work as a teacher’s assistant for some of the junior
classes.” He sounded a trifle defensive.
“And you were at the party
“How come no one saw you then?”
“That’s just him. We call him Quiet Wyatt.”
The rabbit’s ears dipped.
“Shut up, Albert.”
Paulie noted the hound starting
to bristle and he jerked a thumb at him. “You can go, Mr.
Norquist. We have your address in case we need to ask you any
more questions. Mr. Stevenson, we’ll make this as brief as we
“All right.” The rabbit
moved to a seat, flagging slightly as Norquist walked by him.
Paulie noticed the display.
“You don’t like each other?” he asked after the door had closed.
“We both pledged the same
fraternity. He made it, I didn’t. And he never fails to
“What fraternity was that?”
“Phi Upsilon Kappa.”
Detective Banner sat down with him, and the questioning started.
Paulie looked over the notes
compiled by the other detectives as the rabbit was interviewed, then
Banner flipped his notebook closed. “You can go, Mr.
Stevenson. We’ll be in touch if we need anything else.”
“Good. I hope you catch
whoever did that,” and the rabbit walked out.
NHSP Crime Laboratory
The State Police’s
crime lab was part of the Collegiate School’s police academy, a small
warren of offices on the second floor of a building that had started
life as a dormitory. The wooden floors had a bit of spring to
them, and the stairs creaked.
It had taken a major effort by
Stagg to set up the laboratory, and he’d had to make do with whatever
accommodations, and whatever equipment, could be arranged.
Paulie opened the door and walked
“Hm? Oh! Lieutenant
Pentaleoni, come in, come in!” Professor Braganza looked up from the
knife he’d been examining and waved the red deer over. “I’m glad
you’re here. I found out a few things.”
“Yes,” the goat said. “The
knife’s been wiped almost clean, but I’ve lifted a small partial print
from the handle, here,” and he pointed at the spot. “The other
prints that you see were Officer Redgrave’s, so we can eliminate
them. Another partial print was taken off the mirror.”
“Do they match?”
“Different parts of the finger,
if in fact they came from the same fur,” Braganza said.
“Were you able to figure out if
the knife was the murder weapon?”
“Well, the blade’s joined rather
oddly to the handle, as if it had been removed at some point and
reattached. The missing tip – I’d suppose it had broken off, and
“Yes.” He swung a
magnifying glass into place and held the knife under it. “Look
here – the broken area’s been smoothed down, rather than simply
reforging the blade after it was broken. We recovered some dried
blood from the joint between the blade and the handle, and we’ve sent
that to the morgue.”
“And the bottles?”
“Samples of the contents sent on
to the morgue, and we lifted a lot of prints from the bottles.”
The goat propped his chin on his left fist. “We’ve asked the
Registrar’s Office at Collegiate for copies of student records so we
can match up the prints. Any others we can probably connect to
the landlord and the landlady.”
“Great work, Professor.”
Paulie thanked him and left.