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Wednesday, April 5


I know you saw me doing it. I know you're planning to report. The last person to do so is in the grave - along with her parents, siblings, best friend, bodyguard and her pet cat.
So let's be good friends. Be a good girl. Keep your mouth shut.
- Staying Alive
* * *
The detective, Barradale, had spent many sleepless nights attempting to solve this case. His eyes had grown baggy, he had lost weight, and his hair was falling off. To make things worse, the public pressure had mounted to the point of derision.
He was deep in thought. So deep that he had spent his whole evening at a bar, doing nothing but drinking and thinking. His colleagues had left him much earlier, for he was known for his appetite for theorisation and monologuing.
He was equally pensive when he finally left the bar, not caring to respond to greetings from well meaning folk. The four suspects were waiting at his station, and surely, he had to close this case.
The serial murderer had gotten away with thirty lives already - twenty-five young ladies, tw
o boys and three men. None of the victims were related, but all of them followed a clear pattern: They had been shaved bald, pedicured, and tattooed. In addition, their livers had been removed.
What made things even stranger was the fact that this killer always mailed a letter to the police, leaving a clue of his next move. But his riddles, however exciting, proved elusive. He had made a mockery of them, and called to question their relevance in the grand scheme of things : The three men killed were policemen.
The fear grew worse with each death. It was hard to find a soul loitering after dark. It was even harder to hire a prostitute, and nightlife was all but alive.
So how did this killer grab his victims? It seemed he was a familiar face. There was never evidence of a struggle. Indeed, one theory was that, they even stayed with him for some days; some had left home weeks before their bodies were found.
So how did he kill them? Certainly not by force. The manicure was too intricate and delicately done, even on the male victims, to have involved force. He most likely took out their innards after they had died.
What was this killer's motive? Probably a sexual fetish? An overbearing need to manipulate and control others? Revenge? Even his letters did not give away too much.
And, now the most important question of all : Who was this killer?
This is where his powers stopped short. At least all could agree that he had to have a storeroom, or a lair, where he could keep his victims. This person had to be rich. Otherwise, they had to be a group of people.
On arriving, he scanned through the evidence over and over again, as he stared at the suspects absentmindedly, pacing up and down the hallway.
Could it be the mayor? He had the resources. On the night of the last murder, he was caught red-handed by his wife, having a threesome. His exploits out of marriage were well known, and he was quite popular for his generosity and the failure of his political opponents to use his flaws against him. But he had been mayor for more than a decade. What then, could be his motive? And he certainly could not cut flesh to save his life - he was a vegan.
The mayor stared out the window, as though he couldn't wait to be released.
Could it be the surgeon? The mere sight of him breathed eccentricity. On the night of the last murder, he was found buried in books, preparing for a landmark bowel surgery. Surely he had the skill to dissect. But manicure? Murder? That man had only a few friends, wouldn't touch anyone or anything without washing his hands, or wearing gloves - not to talk of courting twenty-five lasses. But the outcry was against him too.
The surgeon turned the pages of the day's newspaper, as though there were better things to be bothered about.
But what if it was the legendary playwright ? His job demanded auditioning so many people, including ten of those now deceased. Costumes for plays and make-up came naturally. Even tattoos. He preferred women who were willing to take up male roles. And he had come to town only a few weeks before these murders began. On the night of the last murder, there was a play. Could he still be the one?
The writer stroked his chin excitedly every now and then. He obviously couldn't wait to pen down this experience.
The last suspect was the merchant. He was filthy rich. He even sponsored this investigation. Barradale was sorry he had to be dragged through this inquest, but a lot went against him. For instance, he was the first to be found standing beside the body of the last victim, even before the police arrived. It is alleged he used the foulest of means in dealing with competition - a Capone of sorts - and wouldn't hesitate to torture, if that is what it took. His wife, the beautician, was seated out, nervous.
The merchant was furious - his face was red - to think he had sponsored his way to an interrogation.
Barradale remained pensive. Hesitant to point out the most likely culprit, he saw a letter slip under his door.
He opened it to find a familiar handwriting, with words that sent a chill down his spine, "Get set, Barry, you're next!"
A sudden realization dawned on the detective.
"I've figured it out. I know who it is!", he barked at all gathered, as he reached for his pen. "It is..."
Immediately he became stiff, foamed in his mouth, and fell into a seizure. He struggled to overpower whatever was causing it, reaching for paper in a futile attempt to pen down his discovery.
The suspects looked on helplessly, though the surgeon tried to make a difference.
His eyes were popping, and he was biting his tongue. Urine smeared his clothing, as his skin turned red with heat.
He had passed.
And so, the young Barradale left, with the closest chance there was to ever solving this case.
But far off, a silhouetted figure smiled triumphantly, as he marked another name on his checklist, and was ready to serve another drink, to another victim.
Oddly, the mystery of the Opera Square remains just that - a mystery.
Unless, of course, dear reader, you have solved it already.
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- A Case of Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Inspired by a true story

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