Happy Face Killer – Chapter Twenty-Two

NOT EDITED

Chapter Twenty-Two

9:49 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, CHIEF OF POLICE DAVID QUINN’S OFFICE

“Christ, I’m sorry, Bo. Some of these girls look like they could be her, but none of them have her eyes,” David said, handing Bo’s phone back to the blonde.

“Her eyes? Was there something particularly special about them?” Bo asked, glancing down as he locked the screen of his phone.

“She looked dead inside. That spine-tingling, ‘This chick has no emotions’ type of dead inside. She can feel anger, I guess, but nothing I saw went past that. Her eyes were just empty. Those girls look like they at least pretend to be alive.”

Bo nodded. “Yes, okay. That’s okay.”

“I’m sorry, Bo.”

“It’s okay. That’s… that’s okay,” Bo repeated.

“Anything I can do to help?”

Bo shook his head, tapping his phone against his thigh. “No, it’s okay. I’ll just reconfigure a few things in the algorithm and see if I can’t account for a difference in her eyes. Were they wide? Narrow?”

“I don’t know, Bo. Just… dead. That’s all I got for you. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Bo jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “I’ll be in the lab.”

“Why don’t you go sit with Jensen for a bit instead?”

“I’m not going to fall off the wagon simply because the first thing I tried fell through. I’m not a child, David.”

“I didn’t mean it that way. I-I get nervous, Bo. Jesus, you’ve said ‘it’s okay’ five times in the last, like, sixty seconds. I’m worried, that’s all. You’re my best friend, have been for over a decade. I’m worried. Friends do that sometimes.”

After a moment, Bo nodded. “Yes, they sure do.” He offered a smile. “I’m better, David. This case isn’t like the Hacker. This isn’t a suicide. This isn’t someone harrassing people to death. This is… this normal homicide. This is my bread and butter. I’m okay. I can do this.”

David studied his face before nodding. “I’m glad to hear that, as fucked up as homicide bread and butter is.”

Bo cracked a smile. “Back in L.A., you would’ve been proud of that.”

The chief chuckled. “Yeah. Yeah, I would have. I still sorta am, honestly.” He drummed his hands against his desk. “You’ve got a lot more on your shoulders than you used to, Bo. Give me something to do to help, something that doesn’t involve me sitting in this damn office all day.”

Bo scratched the side of his head. “Well… do you play golf?”

“I’m absolutely terrible at it, but I do play. Is being good at it a requirement?”

Bo snorted. “No. Lincoln is the judge in court today. He likes golf, according to Frank. I thought that if one of us played golf with him, it would be pretty easy to talk him into signing a warrant for the receipts. Jamal did it quite often in L.A.. I… don’t see why it wouldn’t work in Clinstone. You could help me with that?”

David nodded. “Of course. I’ll do what I can.”

“Thank you.”

“My pleasure, lab geek. I’ve got the golf game taken care of.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it. Don’t get the ball stuck in the sand trap.”

“Pfft, you don’t own what I do with my balls.” Bo raised a brow. “Wait. I didn’t—”

“No, too late. Committed to memory.” Bo held up both hands as he took a step back. “David owns his own balls. I’m happy for you.”

David snorted. “Get your ass outta here. I’ll let you know how golf goes.”

Bo saluted the man. “See you then.”

9:59 AM; MAGNOLIA, THE HAPPY FACE KILLER’S FARMHOUSE, BASEMENT

Brandan stared up at the ceiling, his brow furrowed. His eyes scanned the white ceiling as he listened to the floor above. The house was quiet. The creaking of the floorboards above had ceased with the loud close of a door.

“Fiona?” he asked. “Fiona!”

There was no movement upstairs, no noises, no creaking, no talking. Jesus, she had left him there to die.

If he ever made it out of this damn house, he’d never buy a woman a drink again, lonely or not. They were fucking crazy.

10:57 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, PARKING LOT

Bo leaned back against the passenger door of the car, flipping the small pack of cigarettes in his hand. It was unopened, as per usual. Holding onto the thing was purely a comfort. If he truly fell off the wagon, he’d rather turn to smoking again rather than giving up his seven years and three months of sobriety.

Truly, if he had to be honest, that Thursday morning wasn’t that bad. He was tired, and he wanted to find the woman who had murdered a young teenager. He wanted to find their vigilante killer before they snatched anymore of their killers, technically closing one case while opening another. He needed a call from Mekhi so he could get back to Carmine. Depending on the nature of the call, he may or may not be the cause of a war between the Lucchese crime family and some cartel.

He wasn’t exactly fond of the idea that a war could be waged within only a few hours or days, that it would fall on his shoulders.

Bo flinched as his phone rang. Holding the cigarettes to his chest, he reached down and pulled his phone from his pocket. He stared at Mekhi’s name for a moment before sliding a thumb across the screen. With a sharp exhale, he pressed the phone to his ear and closed his eyes. “Hi, Mekhi.”

“Hello, Mister Austen, sir.”

Bo’s teeth sank into the familiar scar on the inside of his bottom lip. He knew that tone all too well. It was a complete one-eighty of Mekhi’s usual, playful tone, and Bo knew it never led to good news.

“So… I did some digging, sir.”

“The boss ordered it?” Bo asked, his voice quiet.

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you know why?”

“As far as I can tell, Lorenzo has a brother that stole money from Isaac. So Isaac ordered someone to kill Lorenzo to get the message across to his big brother, get his money back,” Mekhi said. Bo leaned his head back against the car, holding his breath. “Sir?”

“I’m about to start a war, Mekhi,” Bo whispered.

“I know, sir.”

“I’m going to have to explain to my husband that I have no choice but to help start a war.” Bo forced his eyes open, staring up at the sky, far too blue and happy for his own mood. “It’s only been nine days, Mekhi.”

“I know, sir. I assure you the job doesn’t always go like this.” A pause. “If Mister or Misses Lucchese need anything, you can assign me to it. You never have to leave Clinstone to handle this if you do not want to.”

“Never?”

“Never, sit.”

Bo nodded. “My family. Are they in danger in this… situation?”

“No, sir. No one’s going to find out you helped Mister Lucchese find this information. He isn’t going to be screaming it from the rooftops. Neither will I. You’ll all be safe, sir.”

Bo closed his eyes for a moment, processing. “Are your promises as noteworthy as Jamal’s?”

“Not quite, but I’ve never broken one, sir. I simply don’t have the notoriety Mister Pitman does.”

Bo snorted, though the faint smile disappeared as quickly as it had come. “Promise me that my family is safe and that you will do every single damn thing in your control to guarantee it stays that way.”

“I promise, sir. I will uphold that promise with my life.”

“Good,” Bo whispered. “Thank you, Mekhi. For all of your hard work, thank you.”

“A pleasure, sir.”

Bo nodded, though the bodyguard couldn’t see him. “I’ll, uh… I’ll talk to you later, Mekhi.”

“Of course, sir. I’ll keep you updated on the happenings in California.”

“Thank you. Stay safe.”

“Always, sir. You do the same.”

“I’ll do what I can.” Bo pulled his phone from his ear and ended the call. He opened up his contact list, selected Carmine’s name, pressed the green phone button, and moved the device back to his ear.

“Go for Carmine, Chief.”

Bo closed his eyes, letting his head fall to his chest. “Lorenzo’s brother owed the cartel money. Isaac ordered Lorenzo’s death to prove he meant business. You… I’m afraid we are waging war, Carmine.”

“Good to know,” Carmine said, the nearly playful tone from seconds before gone. “Sorry, Chief. Looks like you’re gonna have a dead man in L.A..”

“I assumed as much.”

“In your district?”

“Yes. I can control the fire easier that way.”

“All right. I’ll call you tonight when the Twins are done with him.”

Bo swallowed roughly and licked his lips. He forced out a simple, “Okay.” Clearing his throat, he scrubbed his free hand over his face. “Try not to let the Horrors decapitate him. I don’t need my people any more on edge than the body puts them.”

“I’ll do my best, Chief. I’ll make a suggestion, but we both know that nobody really controls the twins.”

“I know,” Bo said quietly. “But I appreciate you relaying the ‘suggestion’. Talk soon, Carmine.”

“Talk soon, Chief.”


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