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Another comedy mystery/cop story.

Submitted:Dec 23, 2010    Reads: 41    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

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 Lieutenant Arafura.

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 him.
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 "New York 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 attacker.
"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 years.
"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 days."
"But when?" demanded Abbott. "And how many more poor women will be defiled before then?"
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 of cracking.
'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 time.
* * *
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 the New York Mauler.
"Don't hurt me! Don't hurt me!" she pleaded as he dragged her deep into a dark alleyway.
"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 bad, thought 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 her.
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 now."
© Copyright 2010
Philip Roberts


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