On a snowy December night, five people become irrevocably entangled in a murderer’s psychotic journey.
Cain Machinovic, a young homicide detective who is growing weary of dead bodies, is revitalized with the discovery of Kendra Holland’s lifeless body. Somehow, the sweet old lady’s death touches him.
This investigation reveals the warped mind of a cult like killer, and connects him to deaths spanning sixty years. Unaware of the evil awaiting him, Cain looks for answers to this strange puzzle.
He presses on with his customary doggedness…Two women, Gretchen and Zari, help him find his way back from his depression and point him in the right direction, and toward the crime's solutiopn. Cain’s pursuit unwittingly involves his loved ones in this chronicle of death. Which number will come up in the end? The answer is determind by Cain and the murderer.
In the kitchen off the front hallway, Kendra Holland concentrated on cleaning the last bit of cheese dip from a teakwood bowl. Kendra took pride in being a dedicated cleaner. Only one task remained, the packages stacked on her coffee table, the final items on her list. She gathered her gifts and walked gingerly toward the hallway.
Standing on her toes in front of the hall closet and stretched to her full length of five feet-two-inches, she sighed in exasperation, barely able to shove the final gift into place. A last look, and then Kendra noticed the garbage bags in the hallway. Four bags marked one of four, two of four, three of four, four of four, in bright blue marker. The trash would have to wait, especially in this weather. That ought to show her friends. She could be as sloppy as the next person.
Kendra glanced up at the clock, chuckling once more at the black and white cat with its rolling eyes and swinging tail. That clock never ceased to amuse her. It surprised her to see that it was after midnight. She sighed again at the thought that it was already tomorrow, the eighteenth. This day was a blessing. Her surprise retirement party was finally over, and her weekend had begun on a joyous note.
As she walked past the side window, she could see that the predicted storm has begun with gusto. Snow buffeted the window pane. Thank goodness everyone had decided to leave early. Her only concern was for her best friend, Juanita the last to leave. Luckily she had only a few blocks to travel.
Finally relaxed, Kendra’s eyes wandered toward the plaque presented by Reverend Holmes. Three decades of service condensed on a piece of oak with a brass plate attached to it, thirty years of dedicated work and friendship.
She smiled at the date engraved at the bottom. It was incomplete. It showed 1972 followed by a dash, with no ending number. Doak Williams had been in charge of the engraving and he’d procrastinated, never calling the engraver back to confirm the final year. He presented the plaque and told her that the dash was what was important. It signified the time between the beginning and the end. He could sure make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And darn it, he had brought a tear to her eye. Doak was a fool, but he was right. It was the dash on the plaque that meant the most…
A muted knock at the front door startled her…
Three minutes later the lovely spirit that had been Kendra Holland was dead. The slowly forming pool of her blood collected at the edge of her retirement plaque, which had fallen from the table. Roses lay scattered. Kendra’s lifeless hand stretched out toward them, surely in a protest against the disorder of it all. The storm outside grew in intensity, and soon a blanket of snow covered the building containing the once warm and vital form of a good neighbor and good friend. The sound of the falling snow created a quiet hymn to accompany Kendra’s demise. Fate is often heartless and random. In this case her death was driven by a principle as formidable as gravity.
Timing is everything…
The cell phone sung its macabre song. Cain had downloaded a ring tone that played Butterfield’s Lullaby, otherwise known as Taps, to alert him when it was a call from work. He answered abrasively, “Machinovic speaking… what’s the problem?” It was Zari. She’d caught him licking the sauce from an Isaly’s chipped-chopped ham sandwich.
Zari’s voice was edgy. “I’m at the station. How about meeting me? We have another body. It’s a wonderful way to start the week.”
“I’m having a sandwich, partner, but I’ll be there soon.” He closed the connection and licked the mayo from his lips, wondering what lifeless body would greet him today. This was his seventh year in homicide. Years that had passed quickly, but each year connected to events that irrevocably damaged his soul. Every death, every lifeless body, took a double measure of his being.
Twenty minutes later he stood at the entrance of a three story brick apartment building in Duquesne Heights, another murder site, another loss. The stone steps and brick front made the exterior seem inviting. He paused… A nice place to live, in a great town. He looked at the mounds of snow. Staring at the stark whiteness briefly disoriented him, and for a second he lost his place. He was somewhere, oblivious to his surroundings. It was all déjà vu, only the names changed.
He mumbled out loud to no one in particular, asking a question aimed only at his soul and his resolve. “Where in the hell are we?”
A voice he didn’t recognize answered his question. “220 Plymouth Avenue.”