The line-up room was an old,
abandoned theatre. Three quarters of the room was taken up by
hundreds of collapsible metal chairs. A passageway three or
four paces wide, separated the front row of seats from the
stage. It had a varnished wooden floor and dirty chocolate
brown walls which had rarely been washed in the twelve years
since it had last been used as a theatre. Originally there
had been a dozen fluorescent tubes to light up the room, but
now it was lit solely by a powerful arc floodlight, at the back
of the room.
Eight men were led into the
room by an unsmiling, prematurely grey-haired police sergeant
and were lined up with their backs to the stage. The men were
all tall, thin, dark-haired and dark-eyed and dressed in black
or dark brown.
Constable Judith Brown helped
the woman to walk slowly down the line, closely followed by
The room was in darkness,
except for the glare from the spotlight. As it moved along the
line it returned one man to the shadows and gave him back his
sight, and highlighted the next man, temporarily blinding
Watching the distraught woman
being helped by the constable, Lieutenant Arafura knew that it
could take a long time if ever for her to recognise the man.
Sometimes even when they had the culprit in the line-up as many
as half-a-dozen victims would all fail to recognise him. But
not this time, however, as the woman had only passed the first
three suspects when she shrieked and pointed at a man.
"That's him!" insisted
Elizabeth Batlow. "That's the animal!"
Fighting against the grip of
Constable Brown, the woman tried to leap at the man, aiming for
his eyes with her fingernails.
"I want to kill him! I want
to kill him!" shrieked the woman as she was half dragged, half
carried away by the policewoman and two other officers who ran
across at the sound of her screams.
After the woman had been taken
away to be sedated, Lieutenant Anson Arafura talked up to the man
she had identified and asked, "Where were you on the night of
March the fifth this year?"
"I was on a stakeout with three
other officers," pointed out Sergeant Stanly Abbott, stepping out
of the line-up.
"I can vouch for that, sir,"
said Sergeant David Solo, also stepping out of the line as the
six genuine suspects were led out of the room; "he was with me
that night." Under other circumstances the exchange might have
been at least vaguely humorous, however, over the last three
years twenty-one women had been brutally bashed and raped by the
Mauler" as the papers had
tagged the rapist. In that time the police had made no progress
with their investigations, despite the fact that eleven of the
victims were able to give detailed descriptions of the
"Yeah, but you're hardly a
reliable character witness," said the lieutenant as the three
officers walked off the stage and headed for the adjoining
precinct building. This was the third time that Sgt. Abbott
had been identified by victims, however, Sgt. Solo had been
identified five times. "I'm starting to think that the two of
you must be in on it together."
"It'd be funny, if only it
wasn't so tragic," said David Solo as the two men changed out of
their old clothes, getting ready to go out on patrol.
"If only we had more manpower,"
said Stan Abbott, referring to the recent budget cuts which had
forced the department to spread their resources thin over the
last few years, to the point where patrolling officers went out
in squad cars alone, instead of two to a car as in past
"It can't be helped," said
Solo, sitting on a wooden bench to change out of his old shoes.
"But don't worry Stan, we'll get the bastard one of these
"But when?" demanded Abbott.
"And how many more poor women will be defiled before
Watching his buddy changing,
David Solo kept silent, knowing that Abbott took the rapes very
seriously, unlike many of the men in the force who took the
attitude that the women were probably all sluts anyway and deserved
whatever they got. They had been under a lot of pressure lately
to solve the murders, and Solo wondered if Abbott was on the brink
'I just hope you're not
the one to catch the animal, Stan,' thought Sergeant Solo as they
headed for their squad cars, realising that his buddy would
probably kill the rapist and murder his own career at the same
* * *
The woman, tall, blonde,
beautiful, and a prostitute, had finished work for the night and
was on her way home. Leg-weary and loaded with money she tried
to flag down a cab, but seeing her dishevelled state the cabby
drove straight past her. Sighing her frustration, she forced
her tired legs to start walking the twelve blocks back to the
seedy apartment building where she lived.
The prostitute was less than a
block from her apartment, when she was attacked from behind by
"Don't hurt me! Don't hurt
me!" she pleaded as he dragged her deep into a dark
"Here," she said, holding out
her night's takings, "over two hundred dollars. You can have it
all, but please just don't hurt me."
The man knocked her hand away
disdainfully, sending greenbacks scattering across the alley.
He was no common robber.
It won't be too
the prostitute as the man started to tear her clothes away. She
sold her body all the time to men, so she figured a freebie
wouldn't hurt her. But then the man began to beat her
mercilessly, blackening both of her eyes and almost flattening
the features of her face, before lowering himself on to
To the woman, falling in and
out of unconsciousness from her head injuries, the rape seemed to
go on forever, but finally the man was finished.
Leaving the woman lying on the
concrete in the alleyway, the man ignored the greenbacks which
fluttered around her, as he dusted himself off, then headed for
his car at the other end of the alley.
The radio was squawking in the
squad car, as the rapist approached.
"Sergeant Stanly Abbott
reporting in," he said into the mike. Then in answer to the
controller's question, "Just checking out a possible disturbance,
but it turned out to be nothing. I'm returning to base
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