The Shoebox

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Veteran homicide detectives, Pringle and Daniels are hot on the trail of an elusive serial killer that has taken 4 lives already and is currently stalking his 5th.

Will they catch the psycho before he strikes again...

The Shoebox

By

Sharief Hendricks

Detective Pringle sat at his desk at the Bree Street SAPS Homicide Division, staring at crime scene photo #4. The murder investigation, that kept him and his partner busy for the past several months. In the photo, the victim, Mrs Nadine Meyer was sprawled over her couch with a gash across her neck and bloodstains trailed down her yellow silk nighty.

“Look at this Daniels,” said detective Pringle to his trusted partner and 2IC.

“Yes, Pringle, what’s up,” said the veteran homicide detective to his partner and lead detective.

“I have been looking at these crime scene photos, and I compared it to the picture provided by the victim's husband, Mr Meyer. The half-moon ear piercing, in her left ear, was removed.”

Daniels compared the photos and said, “damn, you right. You think our killer is into trophies?”

Pringle pushed the other two crime scene photos across the table, “what’s missing?”

Comparing the photos, Daniels lit up and said, “yes!”

Pringle opened his notebook and scrolled his finger to Eric Meyer’s cell number.

“Hello Mr Meyer, detective Pringle here from Bree Homicide. The reason for my call is to confirm something with you.”

“Yes detective, of course, have you made any progress in my wife’s case?”

“Mr Meyer was your wife wearing her half-moon ear-piercing the day it happened?”

“Yes, she never took it off, she loved it. Did the killer remove it, detective?”

“It’s just another lead we pursuing, thank you for your time sir. We will get the person responsible.”

“Thank you, detective.”

Pringle killed the call when he tapped the speaker button and said to Daniels, “the only victim out of the four that doesn't appear to be missing anything is nineteen-year-old Denise Ngidi.”

Pringle pictured her dead body lying in the subway tunnel at Park Station two months after the second victim. Her throat slit by a similar weapon.

“Well Daniels, I think we finally have a name for our killer, The Trophy Hunter. The media will love that. After we interview the two witnesses, we must visit the Ngidi family to confirm if Denise is missing anything in these photos. Then we will know for sure.”

The detectives entered interview room #1 and met Thabang Modise, the witness that discovered the body of the second victim, Bridget Maggs.

“I’m detective Pringle, and this is detective Daniels. We know you already gave a statement and have been interviewed before, but please tell us exactly what you remember?”

“Well detectives, like I told the other policemen, I was walking to the bottle store when I saw the blue Nissan in the veld, I thought there was an accident. When I got to the car, I saw, eish (oh crap) a white woman with her neck cut, so I ran to the bottle store and called the cops.”

“Thabang did you open the car door?”

“No Meneer (sir)”

“Did you open the victim’s purse and remove her driver’s licence? Because it’s missing?”  

“No Meneer (sir), I just ran!”

“Did you see anything suspicious?” Asked Daniels as he lit a Rothmans Mild.

“Yes Meneer (sir), a dead white woman.”

“No, Thabang, what the detective meant, is did you see anything out of place when you discovered the dead woman?” Asked Pringle as he placed a steaming mug of Douwe Egberts Medium Blend coffee in front of him, accompanied by a reassuring nod.

“Well, a white guy was walking past me on the footpath,” the witness recalled.

“What’s suspicious about that? Interrupted Daniels as smoke left his nostrils.

Eish (oh crap) you see officer,” said Thabang as he rubbed his head, “Robertville is a black area and the only white guys are the ones that work at the factories. This guy was walking away from the factories towards Fleurhoff, the black neighbourhood, so I would say that made him both suspicious and out of place.”

“Can you describe what the man looked like or what he was wearing?” Asked Pringle.

Eish (oh crap), guys I don't remember, I only remember that he was a whitey. Hold on a minute the guy was wearing a Protea Cricket cap. I remember it because he wore it back-to-front and it had my favourite player’s name on it, RABADA! so I liked it, you see, that’s why I remember it now.”

“Thank you Thabang you have been really helpful. You may leave now. Daniels, please call in the next witness.”

As the witness entered and Thabang made his way out, he stopped and looked at the man and said to Pringle, “you see, just like that guy is wearing his cap back-to-front, but that’s a golf cap.”

“Thank you, Thabang that is all.”

“Mr Nico Joubert, thank you for coming in, please have a seat, sorry to keep you waiting.”

After documenting all the witness testimonies, Pringle and Daniels made their way back to their table and the coffee pot.

"This is going to be a hard one to break, Pringle if all we have to go on is a guy who wears his caps back to front.”

“Yeah, but it’s something Daniels. Tell me why were you so hard on the last witness, Nico Joubert, you nearly crossed the line there pal. Taking the bad cop routine over the top, especially with someone who is a witness and not a suspect?”

“Sorry Pringle, I suppose I was too hard on him, I just didn’t like that smirk on his face, as if he knows something more and that he was lying to us, you know one of those attention seekers pretending to be a witness. It won’t happen again.”

_________________________________________**__________________________________________

"I know we didn't get any sleep last night Daniels but are you up to doing a house call with me to Mr Ngidi, or you wanna head on home?" Said Pringle as he emptied his 8th cup of Douwe Egberts Dark Roast.

“Nah, I'm good Pringle, I will join you in the interview and head on home afterwards if it comes up empty.”

“Remember Daniels, don't mention possible serial killer to the victim’s father.”

“Got it, Pringle,” said Daniels as the door flung open.

"Hello Mr Ngidi, I'm not sure if you recall, but I’m Detective Daniels, and this is-”

Before Daniels could finish the introductions, Mr Ngidi said, “Detective Daniels, I remember because it’s Jack Daniels, right.” He smiled as he opened the door wider, revealing his dark arms and legs as he was only wearing his house shorts and vest that was stretched to the limit by his large stomach. Daniels was about to inform Mr Ngidi that his name was Jacques and not Jack, but Pringle blocked him from responding. Pringle was impressed by Mr Ngidi’s positive demeanour given that his daughter was brutally murdered, at Park Station only a month ago.

“My wife and son are out at the moment,” said the burly man as he sunk into the couch.

“That’s quite alright, Mr Ngidi we are here to speak to you, sir. Mr Ngidi, I know this must be difficult for you, but please look at this photo. Is anything missing from her person? Take your time, sir, it’s important.”

“No need, my daughter is missing her pink headband. She always matched it with this pink Billabong top. My son always teased her about it,” said Mr Ngidi who, for the first time, looked in pain.

“Is there a similar one in the house we can look at Mr Ngidi?”

“No, there isn’t, but you have Denise’s cellphone. There must be a photo in there of her wearing it, I’m sure.”

“We will go through your daughter’s phone again, thank you for that valuable information. You have been most helpful. Thank you for your time Mr Ngidi. We will do everything in our power to find the person responsible.”

“Goodbye, Jack Daniels,” said Mr Ngidi waving and with a smile on his face.

“Turn left here Daniels into the McDonalds drive-thru.”

"Pringle how do you expect to lose that belly, if you are having this for breakfast."

“Don’t worry about my belly, just turn in here,” said the lead detective with a guilty grin.

“Pringle, tell me why you didn’t let me correct Mr Ngidi when he called me Jack Daniels and not Jacques?”

“Well Daniels I needed him to feel confident that he can help the case, and it worked didn’t it, besides it could have been worse.”

“Worse, how.”

“He could have called me “Pringles”, like the can, hahaha.”

An hour later, after finishing their Mcmeals, back at the SAPS precinct.

"I'm going to call the wife quickly Pringle, she gets annoyed when I pull an all-nighter, and I don't call her. She flooded my voicemail.”

Pringle plugged Denise’s cellular device into the laptop and scanned her gallery until he found the photo that he was searching for so eagerly. He clicked on settings and picture details, then asked Daniels, “when exactly was she killed?”

Daniels replied, “about five weeks ago.”

“No man, the date?” Said Pringle impatiently.

“Err, give me a second.”

Daniels frantically paged through the case file.

“What’s the matter Daniels, you seem distracted?”

"No, I'm good Pringle, I didn't get hold of my wife, she's probably tired and catching up on sleep from sitting up waiting for me all night.”

“You wanna go home and get some sleep, Daniels?”

“Thanks, but no need. I talked with my wife's mother now she's on her way over, they made plans on WhatsApp to shop this morning. Ok, here we go, I am back in the game. August 3rd.”

“Daniels, this selfie was taken on August 3rd. What time did the coroner list as the time of death?" 

“Err, umm, here we go, according to Labuschagne, around 9:16 PM."

Pringle pulled out his notebook and frantically flipped through the pages, then said, “Daniels look at this. The 717 train from Midrand arrived at Park Station at 8:54 PM that night. This selfie was taken at 8:53 PM, one minute before the train arrived. That’s about 25 minutes before she was murdered, zoom into the pic Daniels, then scroll left,” said Pringle as he removed his reading glasses excitedly.

“I don’t see anything Pringle.”

“Look Daniels, the reflection in the train’s window.”

Daniels took a closer look at the selfie then said, “can it be, is that RABADA on the cap?”

Eish, It’s the witness we interviewed that gave us the run around about the mystery Uber. The guy you didn’t like,” said Pringle.

Both men moved with a sense of urgency.

“Check the witness files Daniels, Nico something?”

“Got him, Nico Joubert!”

“Quick Daniels, get his work address and send the flying squad to meet us there, no sirens or lights!”

Forty minutes later.

“That’s him by the metal melting furnace. The one wearing his cricket cap back-to-front under his hardhat,” said the factory supervisor with an outstretched arm.

Weapons drawn!

Pringle screamed through the multitude of noises, with an authoritative police tone, “Nico Joubert! Do not move! SAPS! You, are under arrest for the murders of Nadine Meyer, Denise Ngidi, Bridget Maggs and Anna Clark!”

Nico looked unsurprised at the detectives and uniformed officers surrounding him as his colleagues fled the work area.

“Raise your hands above your head and get on your knees now! Why did you do it?” Asked Pringle.

"They all thought they were better than me, so they looked down at me. Well, in the end, my victims were looking up to me, and I was the one looking down at them after I pinned them under my blade. Their lifeless bodies sprawled out beneath me,” said the cold-blooded killer proudly, showing a perfect set of white teeth that contrasted with his furnace blackened face.

"Raise your hands above your head!" Howled, Daniels.

“Would you like me to reveal who my last victim is?"

“Shut up!” Said Daniels, “we know exactly who your last victim was.”

“No, you don’t! You don’t have a clue because you think you are better than me.”

Nico did not comply and instead reached into his overall’s back pocket and pulled out what looked like a gun.

Shots fired!

It was not a gun but a15cm blade with a thick revolver-like black grip.

Pringle watched as the bullets hit their intended target, as Nico, was flung backwards as the blade flew into the metal melting furnace and dissolved any chance of extracting DNA within seconds.

“Hold your fire! Daniels, I hope we did not just kill an unarmed and innocent man?”

“But Pringle we all saw the knife, and I bet my life it’s the same knife he used to butcher those innocent victims with.”

Pringle stepped closer to Nico’s still frame and said softly, “he is only the butcher if we find the evidence, otherwise it’s all circumstantial, and there is a factory full of his colleagues that will testify to that.”

Moments later, Pringle unlocked the padlock on Nico’s locker with the deceased’s blood-stained key and opened the door to reveal a semi-empty locker. The most items in the locker were photos of vintage cars pasted all over the inside of the locker door. There was a worn-out Levi’s 504 and a pair of Under Armour running shoes on the top shelves. Then he saw it, at the bottom of the locker, covered with old newspaper, was an old brown shoebox. Pringle lifted the shabby cardboard lid. With a sigh of relief, he said, “we got him, Daniels, we got him!”

The crime scene photographer carefully removed the items from the shoe box and placed it separately on the floor and proceeded to photograph it one by one, as Daniels looked on.

Denise’s pink headband, Bridget’s drivers’ licence, Nadine’s half-moon ear piercing, Anna’s bracelet and…

“At least we stopped him Pri-”

“Yes, we did Daniels,” said Pringle glancing over at his silent partner, whose tanned face was suddenly as pale as CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“What’s the matter Daniels, what have you got there?”

Daniels turned and raised his hand holding up a sapphire wedding band.

“It’s my wife’s!”

 

 

The End


Submitted: November 12, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Sharief Hendricks. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Ann Sepino

I knew something would happen at the end, I just knew it!

Anyway, good story. This was fun to read, and the MCs' names were fun as well. The narrative is more straight to the point than descriptive, but that works too.

Thu, November 12th, 2020 2:52pm

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much Ann Sepino !

I am so grateful you took the time to read and leave such a kind and positive comment...

Yes this is more direct as it was based on a time challenge... and I tend to keep my short stories ...well... short ...hahaha

I'm so happy you enjoyed the ending as almost all my stories have twist endings...

Thanx again !!!

Thu, November 12th, 2020 7:23am

88 fingers

Very good story from beginning to end.

Thu, November 12th, 2020 6:02pm

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much 88

I took a few weeks off, now I'm back, and I am so grateful to be welcomed back by such a kind and positive comment on the first story I posted in about a month...

Thanx again !

Thu, November 12th, 2020 10:37am

bloodman

Compelling story. Well done.

Thu, November 12th, 2020 7:26pm

Author
Reply

Thanx soooo much bloodman !

I really appreciate the read and the kind comment.

Been away for a few weeks and it is so encouraging to get such positive feedback on my first story in over a month.

Thanx again !

Thu, November 12th, 2020 12:06pm

Joe Stuart

This is an excellent detective story, Sharief. The twist at the end came as both a surprise and a shock, despite the killer implying earlier that there was another victim yet to be discovered. You did a good job working out the plot and making sure that every part of the story was consistent with the rest. I like the pace of the story too. A most enjoyable read.
I see, however, that you are still having a bit of a problem with capital letters where dialogue is attributed to a character. Dialogue is made up of sentences so it always begins with capital letter. An attribution, however, is not a sentence in its own right. If it follows dialogue, it is a continuation of the sentence. If it precedes the dialogue, it begins with a capital because it is beginning the sentence that includes the dialogue. But that doesn't change the need for dialogue to also begin with a capital letter. Perhaps a couple of examples from your story will help.
You wrote:
“Can you describe what the man looked like or what he was wearing?” Asked Pringle.
'Asked Pringle' should have been 'asked Pringle' because it does not begin a new sentence.
In another example, you wrote:
Daniels replied, “about five weeks ago.”
That should have been:
Daniels replied, “About five weeks ago.”
That's because putting the attribution in front didn't change the fact that “About five weeks ago” is still a complete sentence.
I hope you are still happy with me pointing these things out. You are so close to getting it right.

Fri, November 13th, 2020 8:52am

Author
Reply

Hi Joe
Thanx sooooo much for the read sir and the informative comment...

Let me start by answering your question...YES !! I most definitely still value and appreciate your advice, tips and guidence...it is only because of your generosity with your time to assist me that I am improving all the time...

Regarding the dialogue, all I did was , if the dialogue ended with a question mark or an exclamation mark, I started the next word with a Capital letter...now I understand that it is still part of the same sentence therefore it should not be capitalised...got it !

As for the story , this was one I wrote a while back and when I revisited it while on leave I was shocked at all the errors and pleased at how much I have improved to actually spot it since joining Booksie with all I have learned from generous writers like yourself and a few others...however I must also admit, that ignorance really is bliss hahahahaha...because now am editing my stories five times longer than I takes to write it...but it is so enjoyable...because I have a better idea now of what errors to look out for and what I am doing wrong....but there is still a long way to go for me...but I am loving the journey...

As for the plot, I wanted to create a fast paced exciting read, with alot of action and mystery. I did plant a few hints along the way, but I also disguised it just enough not to be too obvious (I hope)
This was such a fun story for me and I am so happy that writing is such a joy now that I have so much confidence !!

Thanx again Joe...you just made my day sir !!!!

Fri, November 13th, 2020 1:51am

Criss Sole

Yikes!
I was not expecting that ending.
Now we know who the last victim was!

Great story.

Fri, November 13th, 2020 11:35am

Author
Reply

Thanx soooo much for the read Criss...

Yes serial killers are very vain...and Daniels rubbed him the wrong way...and I am glad you didn't see the twist coming...

Thanx again

Fri, November 13th, 2020 12:06pm

hullabaloo22

Oh, this was a well told murder mystery, Sharief. Some nice humorous touches thrown in too.

Fri, November 13th, 2020 12:03pm

Author
Reply

Thanx soooo much Hully !

Yes, I am glad you picked up on the lighter fun moments...I didn't want it to be all dark and sombre...

I am so happy to get a read and awesome comment from you again, I have missed your feedback lately...

Thanx again Hully !!!

Fri, November 13th, 2020 12:14pm

Serge Wlodarski

You know something bad happened when someone turns Anderson Cooper pale. Brutal story.

Fri, November 13th, 2020 9:32pm

Author
Reply

hahahahahaha Thanx soooooo much Serge !

I took a bit of leave and played golf until I couldn't walk anymore, took a beating from the sun too, but loved it...

Now I am back and playing catch up on Booksie...

Thanx again SW !

Mon, November 16th, 2020 12:25am

Prince EL

Great story telling skills you got there, Sharief! Joe Stuart rightly and graciously addressed some issues, and you are very humble and willing to learn. That is very admirable. Keep up the great work!

Thu, November 19th, 2020 4:02pm

Author
Reply

Thanx soooooo much Prince of Poetry.

I am so grateful that you took the time to read my story and leave such an inspiring and confidence boosting comment !!

Yes, I am here to learn and grow my 'beginner' writing journey and I have been Blessed that writer's like Joe Stuart, Celtic Scribe-63, Jeff Bezaire and Sue Harris have taken of their own precious time to assist me with tips, advice and guidance, for which I am eternally thankful !

I have also been very Blessed to have obtained a consistent reader base who has not missed anything I have posted and therefore I am very thankful to Criss Sole, Jobe Rubens, Bloodman, Serge Wlodarski, Hullabaloo22, 88 Fingers, Bert Bromberg, Rob73, LE Berry, Gloria Dale, Roman Boukreev, Marvin Thomas Cox-Flynn, CuriousOne, Anne Sepino, Penetentman, Craig Davison and of course Bookie's own Prince EL, The Prince of Poetry !

Thanx soooooo much !!!!!

Mon, November 23rd, 2020 5:04am

CuriousOne

Wow! What a story SH! Great stuff!

Tue, November 24th, 2020 4:24am

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much CO

I really appreciate the read and the awesome comment !!!

Wed, November 25th, 2020 5:20am

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