Happy Face Killer – Chapter Twenty-One

NOT EDITED

Chapter Twenty-One

6:13 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK

Freshly showered and changed into a flannel and a pair of jeans. Bo set his laptop on the small table in the nook and tapped the power button. He pulled his belt from his shoulder, watching his screen come on as he threaded the belt through the loops on his jeans. He leaned over and typed in his password before buckling his belt. Clearing his throat, he opened one of the applications on his desktop and headed for the kitchen.

He grabbed a coffee mug and poured himself a fresh up. Stirring in sugar and creamer, he walked back to the nook. He slid into his seat and set the mug on the table. In the photo editing app, he brought up the sketch they’d done with David’s help. He stared at the sketch’s empty eyes, at the cowboy hat that looked so unbelievably out of place on her head.

Bo let out a breath. He clicked the eraser tool from the side and got rid of the hat. He switched to the pencil tool and finished drawing out the top of her head. He stared at the image, at how alien she looked without her hair.

Hats tended to make the forehead look larger than it truly was, especially when the hair was swept back beneath one. Bo lowered the forehead with a little bit of help from the manipulation tool–not enough to be extreme, but enough to tone down how odd the woman looked. He frowned. The sketch artist hadn’t drawn anything for the woman’s hair, and Bo had never asked for anything about it.

He grabbed his cell phone and dialed David’s number, thankful the police chief usually woke up around six, as well.

“Lab geek,” David greeted after the third ring. “What can I do for you, Bo?”

“The woman at the bar. Allie. Did you get a good look at her hair?” Bo asked.

“Uh… it was dark?” David suggested.

“Okay. Do you remember anything about how it was styled?”

“I think it was in braids. Like, uh, piggy tail braids but lower and closer to her ears.”

“One braid on each side?”

“Think so.”

Bo nodded. “Thank you, David.”

“No problem. Whatcha working on?”

“I’m looking at the sketch you worked out with the sketch artist. I’d like to change a few key features on yours and Will’s and run them both through one of my apps again. When I ran them through for social media recognition, nothing came up. If she has social accounts, I’m hoping changing a few things about her will ping a few recognitions or ressemblances. I might expand the range too, let it pick matches based on fewer attributes of the face. And then, you know, I’ll go from there.”

“Sounds busy, but it sounds good. Keep me updated?”

“I will. Thank you again, David.”

“No problem, Bo. See you in a few.”

Bo nodded, though the chief couldn’t see him. “Yes, I’ll see you at the station.” He waited for David to end the call before pulling his phone from his ear and setting it down on the table. He stared at the sketch, a frown on his face. He could sketch foreheads and eyes and faces. He could sketch bodies and muscles and bones. He had taken plenty of anatomy courses.

But he’d never taken a class to teach himself to draw hair. Maybe he’d have to alter his plans a bit and wait until eight to call the sketch artist to the station.

He lifted his head at the sound of footsteps. “Good morning, Kay.”

“Morning, Daddy.” Kayla padded into the breakfast nook and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “Whatcha working on?”

“Well, I was trying to adjust a few of the features on this sketch so I could run it through recognition again.”

“Is she supposed to be bald?”

“Unfortunately, no. I’m not well-versed in drawing hair, so I’ll just have to wait until I can call in the station’s sketch artist.”

“What kind of hairstyle is she supposed to have?” Kayla asked.

“Well, kind of like when Alice has her hair in braids, I suppose. The ones that start by her temple and work their way around her ears.” He turned his head toward the girl. “You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, Daddy, I get it.” She rested her chin on his shoulder. “I could draw it for you.”

“Really?”

“Mmhmm. hair’s, like, the thing I’m best at, Dad.” Kayla straightened herself out, gently shoving at her father’s shoulder. “Move your butt.” Bo slid out of the chair, grabbing his coffee mug as Kayla sat down in his seat. “Do you think you can make waffles for breakfast?”

“I can… Yeah, baby, I can do that.” Bo leaned down and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “You’re a lifesaver, sweetheart. Thank you.”

“Sure thing, Daddy.”

8:06 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB

With the girls dropped off at school and the boys in daycare, Bo sat down in his usual seat at the table and opened his laptop. He unlocked the screen, watching the tailend of his algorithm as it finished running the new sketches through the system. With slightly different portrayals of the woman from the original sketches, the new sketches both had their difference, as well. The four sketches together would ping more accounts and give Bo a wider range of people to dig into.

If the sketches turned up anything important, he would take all four versions of the sketches to Jacob. The lieutenant could send them to the news and have four possible images of the woman’s face plastered on every television screen, phone, tablet, laptop, and electronic billboard in the state.

Bo watched several social media accounts pop up on his screen as his app matched them with features from the sketches. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, one MySpace account–he had no idea how that had slipped through the cracks of his ‘recent’ parameters–a couple YouTube accounts, and a few on a service he was entirely unfamiliar with. Bo’s brow furrowed as he grabbed his phone. He unlocked the screen and brought up his text thread with Jensen.

Bo: What in Jupiter’s name is ‘Collective Kingdom’?

Jens: Idk. Something super cool and hip for the youngins? Just a sec.

Jens: OH. You mean Social CK. It’s a newer social media app. Like Instagram but like… better and worse at the same time.

Bo: I’m afraid I don’t understand.

Jens: You post pictures to brag about how cool you are and how drunk you get. So, you know, Instagram and what Snapchat used to be for. Sort of.

Bo tugged down on his beanie, a frown set deep on his face. He used Instagram to look at pictures of his children, pictures of Jake and his family, pictures of Cecilia, David, and their little girl. Bo used it to keep tabs on his uncle and his family. Sometimes, he got lucky and his mom posted a picture of herself and his dad.

Was it really meant to show others how ‘cool’ one believed themself to be?

“I don’t understand you people,” Bo mumbled, typing up another text for Jensen.

Bo: Right, okay. Makes sense. Thank you.

Jens: Lol it makes no sense to you. Wish I was better at explaining social media to you, babe. Sorry.

Bo: It’s okay.

“Nah, I’ll do what I can to work on it a little.”

Bo looked up to see Jensen standing in the doorway of the lab. “Hello,” he greeted.

Jensen smiled, a soft chuckle falling from his lips. “Hey, baby.” He crossed the room and perched himself on the edge of the table rather than his usual chair. “So the social media thing came through?”

“Since I minimized how many features it needs to match for a successful hit, I’ve ended up with well over twenty matches.”

“Hey, that’s great, baby. Want help searching through them?”

“I… would love that, yes. But we should have David look at them, as well. Unfortunately, neither of us saw this woman.”

Jensen snorted. “Yeah, if you’d seen her, we’d know every detail of her face.”

Bo smiled faintly, shaking his head. “Potentially. That would’ve depended on how much of my focus was divided to you,” he said, poking Jensen’s chest. “That’s generally where a majority of it is.”

“Because I’m hot, yeah?”

“I was going to say because you’re a troublemaker, but I suppose that works too.”

Jensen chuckled, squeezing Bo’s hand. “So, we need David to look at the pictures. How do you want to go about it?”

“I think we should go through the accounts first and find good, clear pictures of the women, compile them, and then take them to David. We’ll see if he can’t pick out a woman who looks like our fake-name Allie from the bar.” Bo pulled out the other chair from under the table and patted the seat. “Still willing to help?”

Jensen smiled, switching to his usual chair beside Bo. “Always willing to do whatever I can, babe.” He wrapped a hand around Bo’s chin and turned his head, leaning in to kiss him. “So… let’s jump into it, shall we?”

Bo smiled. He leaned up and kissed the tip of Jensen’s nose. “I think we shall.”


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