“What’d I miss, Cal?”
Detective Lovegrove looked up at Ashley and murdered his cigarette, crushing its life against an ashtray. He folded his arms and leaned back. “This one is a long shot, Ash. There’s almost nothing to go on.” He stared at the stage and took a deep breath. “Fuck, this place is depressing. There’s no tits and no scotch. Only…despair.” He grunted and pursed his lips.
Cal gestured to the chair next to him and waited for Ashley to sit. He folded his legs and wiped a bit of grime off his cheek. “I am here because a serial killer in the neon jungle is bad for business. It’s bad for everyone – the department looks bad, and the characters who rely on the loopholes in the NYPD suddenly become cynical. Everything falls apart.”
After a moment, Cal frowned and tapped his fingers against the table. “I am sorry to hear about Detective Smith’s passing, but this is larger than him. You cannot take this case on an emotional joyride. If someone is truly cutting up the ladies of the Carousel, then they’re doing it deliberately. They’re trying to destroy the fabric of business that allows the underworld and the NYPD to coexist. That’s the only reason I’m here. If this was a grimy neighborhood in Brooklyn, I’d have walked away.”
Cal then offered a smile. “Well, the only way to walk is forward. Let’s assess what we have…This ‘florist’ is murdering young ladies in the neon jungle, which is about as bold as it gets. By doing so, you risk offing the darling of a crime lord or affluent businessman. It’s either a deliberate scheme or he wants to be caught. However, you can immediately eliminate the latter. Smith comes too close to the truth, and he winds up dead. It’s about as clear of track covering as I’ve ever seen.”
Cal continued. “Even though we would have come to this conclusion by proximity, the killer wants us to know that they’re connected. This is again an impasse – he is either stroking his ego or wants to create a frightening caricature to scare the masses into chaos. Perhaps both. These are not emotional killings – each murder has been silent perfection, carried out with immaculate technique. From what we have to go on, this is about as close to a motive as we can find.”
Cal looked over to the bar. “They’ll listen to you before they listen to the guy on suspension. I want you to walk up to that lovely hostess and ask to see their books. Get a list of all tenants on the nights of the two murders and let’s cross-reference them.”