Sunday, July 30, 2017

Leopard Detective: Predator or Prey, Chapter 4 - The Scarring Conclusion

“Where are you going now?” I asked.

“You know about shiva, Jewish mourning?” Detective Franklin answered.

“Of course. But isn’t the house still a crime scene?”

“Yes. Friends up the street are hosting. I’m going to go. I doubt there will be leads, but the family will appreciate it.”

“You can take me with you. I know a path back to the forest and we can talk about the case.”

It was true there was a path from their home to Rock Creek Park. But I wanted to visit the home myself.

On the drive we discussed the case. There was a strange shell company, no one could figure out what it was doing. The FBI has been brought in. But a secret about murder police, they don’t really care about why, they really just want to know who. They had produced a sketch based on my description and distributed to airports, police departments, and the intelligence community. With his distinctive scar, the suspect probably could not leave the country without being detected, although he could leave the area. But we knew nothing about him except that maybe he was Russian.

When we arrived, I slipped out of the car and carefully made my way among shadows, moving unseen. Scar man must do the same.

I arrived at crime scene. The entrances were blocked by police tape, but I climbed a tree and slipped in an open upstairs window. I wandered through the empty house. I smelled Goldman, his wife, each of the daughters. Downstairs, some others, frequent visitors. In Goldman’s office, his smell was very strong. The odors of his fear and blood were still strong. But there was another scent. I found the smell of a man, very different, but still a man. I could sense his pheromones too. He is a natural predator, like me. Nonetheless, at the moment of the kill the body releases strong scents. They were present. On a whim, I sniffed the file cabinet. It appeared undisturbed, but the man with the scar had looked into it. The scar-man’s scent was accompanied by something else. Something strange, but I had smelled it before.

I left the house and, still keeping to the shadows, made my way to Rock Creek Park. Scar-man also hides in shadows, never fully seen, even in plain sight. I didn’t have long to find him. Soon he would fade into the shadows completely. In the woods I found my tree and sat. Raccoons or some other scavenger had finished my deer. I was sated and had no time to hunt. I slept for a time and waited for nightfall.

Thanks for the image
I moved south and east, remembering where I’d encountered the smell before. I came out of the park on the east, north of the zoo. It was late. My instinct was guiding me, I can see the world in terms of space and smell. Then, someone walking nearby had the scent. It was dark so I could not see them, but from the sound of his walk I could sense he was wearing flowing robes – a priest. I smelled the odor faintly and followed it and found myself before a Russian Orthodox Church. So that was the distinct odor, the incense used in church services. What better shadow for scar-man to conceal himself?

The doors of the church are always open. I slipped silently through a side door. The church was dark and silent, but I could smell him. Great cats have the ability to make infrasound. That is noise below the range of human hearing. My phone is set to respond to commands at that frequency. I instructed texts be sent with my location to all of my contacts in the police department. They should arrive in a few moments.

Electronics make sounds at a frequency to high for the human ear. I heard one and began skulking towards it. I wanted to come close and take him when I heard the police close by. To kill him would have been easy, but it would not have served justice, nor would it have brought satisfaction to Goldman’s family. And Franklin would not be able to pay me without an arrest. I did need the money, I wanted to visit my home soon.

Predators are deadly prey. I moved soundlessly, but somehow the man with the scar knew I was there. No human would have heard him slide his gun from his coat pocket. But I heard it.

“Show yourself, and you may live,” he called out. His voice wicked thunder in the silent, empty church.

His gun was out and he was facing me. I gave an infrasonic roar. Inaudible to humans, it can stun prey. But scar man was no prey. I heard the safety go off on his pistol. I roared. But I threw my roar so bouncing off of the wall, it sounded like it came from his right.

As he turned, my muscles tensed and I leapt. I landed on him with my full force. He went down hard on his right side. The gun hand slamming hard on the stone floor, but not letting go. I placed my paw over his hand and unsheathed my claws. I would not kill him, but I would not hesitate to draw blood. He struggled, and he was very strong. But I weigh nearly as much as a man and he could not move. Of course, to kill him would have been easy – a nip of my jaw on his soft throat - and I had to fight myself not to do it.

I heard a car pull up and stop. Light footsteps outside, Detective Nguyen. The door opened and then the beam of a flashlight.

“Over here,” I called softly. In a minute scar man was handcuffed. On encountering me for the first time, people are generally paralyzed with fear and confusion. Scar-man was not.

Another car outside.

“Here comes Franklin,” Nguyen said, laughing a bit to herself.

“I must go,” I said abruptly. Franklin would ask how I knew where to look, I did not wish to tell him. To Nguyen I continued, “Check the file cabinet, even the inside, in Goldman’s office for prints. I expect you will find them.”

Then I slipped into the night and through the silent streets that were, for
now, almost home.

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