“There are twenty seven bones in the human hand. This is, of course, factoring in the wrist bones. I’m not going to waste time reeling off the names of all of them. I could, but I’m not going to.
You may be asking, ‘What’s the point?’. The point is: I know everything about you. I can take this knife, and point it at every organ one by one. Easily, without much thought. I can remove your ear lobe without damaging the inner ear. I can actually map out your sinus cavities. I know that much about your body.
I’m not a doctor. Never went to med school. I simply find the human body fascinating. I find it so interesting, in fact, that I consider myself somewhat of a hobbyist. Look around you, right now, what do you see? Yes, jars upon jars of various parts of human bodies! They’re my pride and joy. Collected, one after another, labeled and categorized. Filed away like someone would do with comic books or baseball cards. This is my legacy. But it’s not complete.
That’s where you come in.”
“Hey, Carl, get your ass in here!”
Slowly, his mouth and eyes both slide themselves open. Pried, is more like it. As if someone had taped them down. The afternoon light fluttering in through the blinds bathed the entire room in an orange-yellow hue. Dust particles drifted to and fro, swirled around by the wooden ceiling fan. The whole thing looked straight out of a corny detective novel. Which is appropriate, he thought.
Carl Ballis widened and blinked his eyes several times to adjust to being awake. Bending his back over the chair, he reached his arms around and pulled his spine over the back until it gave off the satisfactory number of cracks. He wasn’t aging gracefully, that was for sure.
That grating voice, it was amazing how much higher pitched it seemed when awaken from a deep afternoon nap. Why did he hire an assistant again?
“Yeah, yeah, can it would ya, I had a long night.”
“Well, you’re about to have a lot longer of a day. They just found another body. This one’s missing it’s eyeballs!”
Ballis startled. Didn’t he already have a pair of eyeballs?
“Alright, you’ve got my attention… hey, is coffee made?”
“It was made this morning, it’s probably disgusting.”
“Good. Just how I like it…”
“The body of 27 year old Ally Gaston was found by a local jogger near the west bank of the Mississippi at 7:23 AM this morning. The body showed no signs of having been dumped in the river. Investigators believe this to be the work of the Anatomy killer. This marks his thirteenth victim this month. That’s seven more than September and ten more than August. Police Chief Michael Tatum had this to say.”
“We’re doing all we can to apprehend and stop the Anatomy killer. Our task force is —“
The tv flashed off, giving off a split-second illumination of the entire room. The detective novels stacked on the book shelves, the tables, even the floor. Then, the room returned to pitch darkness. With only a little of the midday light leaking in through the tightly closed blinds.
“I don’t buy it. I just don’t think this one’s the Anatomy killer.”
Amber sighed and rolled over onto her back, setting her hands gently behind her head. Her cat leaped up onto her chest and started licking at her chin. She allowed one hand to free itself and gentle stroke the fur along his neck. She turned her attention from talking to no one to talking to her feline companion.
“It doesn’t make sense, Jack. He, it has to be a he, keeps leaving the body in urban areas. Why the wilderness? It’s not his M.O. Any good detective would know that! Oh sure, they should figure out who killed this girl, but they can’t just go and lump it in with the Anatomy killer. They’ll never find him if they do! I guess it’s time to call in another anonymous tip!”
Amber rolled violently into a sitting position, tossing the helpless animal screeching off her onto the floor. She reached next to her on the couch and scooped up the cordless phone, hitting “6” on the speed dial. After two rings, there was an answer.
“Hello, St. Jerome Police Station, how can I help you?”
“Yes, hi, I need to speak to Detective Marty Simmons. Tell him it’s the Great Lady Amber! He’ll know who I am…”
“Just a moment please…”
As the elevator-style hold music blasted out of the ear piece, Amber idly kicked at some balled up note pages on the floor, causing one of them to roll towards the confused cat. Jack the Ripper lurched forward and swatted the ball across the room, eagerly chasing after it. The phone clicked back on, bringing Amber’s attention back to the important matters at hand.
“Amber, dammit, I told you to stop calling me…”
Ballis stretched his arms above his hand, clasping his hands together and turning them palm-side up. He let out an audible grunt as he attempted to pull himself out of his shoes. His back was killing him…
“Ballis! You old dog you! Are they still letting old geezers like you wander around crime scenes?!”
“They do when you young pups can’t seem to get anything right.”
“Oh, give me a break Carl. This one’s kickin’ our ass. I suppose you think you’ve got it all figured out, huh?”
“I seem to know more than Tat-DUMB told the news outlets.”
“What do you mean? You got a theory?”
“Of course I do. Simmons, I taught you to question everything, didn’t I? For one, I’m pretty sure that’s not a victim of the Anatomy killer. And two, that tie is horrid.”
“Ha ha. You’re kidding, right? Carl, come on. This has to be him. Then again, you’re not the first person today to give me that theory. Granted, you’re slightly more credible then my other quote unquote expert.”
“Let me guess, the Great Lady Amber? Is that crazy broad still callin’ you? How long has it been since you blew it off with her, three years? Four?”
“About eight months actually. Wow, time really does move faster when you’re old, huh? She still calls from time to time to give “hot tips” about cases. She buries herself in those stupid murder mysteries, and suddenly she thinks she’s an expert. All she said was that the victim was placed in a wilderness area when usually the bodies are found in more urban environments. As if that’s enough to can the Anatomy killer theory on this one.”
“You know, that’s not a bad point. Maybe she should be the detective and you can be the crazy agoraphobic! That’s not what turned me off of the theory, however.”
The two men walked down the river bank as they spoke, the former homicide detective taking the lead. He quickly dodged and brushed aside various tree branches, most of which proceeded to swat his former pupil in the face.
“Will you… slow down… you’re not a cop anymore. Ugh, anyway, I suppose you’re going to make me beg for your theory?”
“Naw, I’ll give this one to ya for free. Eyes.”
“He already has a pair of eyes. One of the first things he took. Remember, August 16th, that college student they found in the University parking garage? Both eyes torn violently out of her head? Victim three?”
Marty Simmons’ own eyes, still very much inside his head, widened.
Without any more to say, he quickly took off, cellphone in hand.
“So, you thought you could kill someone and take my place, did you?”
The sound of screaming, muffled behind the duct tape, didn’t even register over the whirring noise of the electric carving knife.
“Oh, come on now. Do you think someone is going to help a copycat killer? No one is going to feel sorry for your death. But, you are doing me a favor. I mean, just look at how strong that chest of yours is. I bet you have a very nice, strong ribcage under all that muscle, don’t you! It’s going to be a very nice collector’s piece!”
This time, a new sound did ring out louder than the knife. It was a wet, splattering sound, followed by the sound of a motorized blade sawing into shoulder bone.