(A Zach Colt Adventure)
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Sarge?” Quinn’s voice was low-pitched and serious.
“Yeah, a perfect place to get laid. Or dump a body,” Bernier replied, equally serious.
Both men could feel the adrenalin begin pumping into their systems. They were poised for the chase. When they lost sight of the BMW’s red taillights, they quickly parked their patrol car and Bernier radioed in their location.
“Dispatch, Alpha-One-Alpha. Unit 5. Code 19. Out on foot patrol in the area of the M.D.C. Locks. Over.”
“Roger Alpha-One-Alpha Unit 5. What do you have? Over.” crackled back the response.
“We have a suspicious male with a female on the grounds of Paul Revere Park. We’re going to check it out. Over.”
“Affirmative. Do you have a tag to run? Over.”
Bernier turned to Quinn. “What’s the plate number?”
Quinn felt his cheeks flush. “I didn’t get the tag. I thought you had it.”
“Shit!” Bernier was steamed. “We’re doing some crackerjack police work tonight, ain’t we rookie?”
The sarcasm stung Quinn, but Bernier was right. SOP was to memorize the license plate number and he had forgotten to do so. He vowed to himself to make no more mistakes that night.
“That’s negative for now, over” Bernier spat back into the handset.
He keyed off and slipped out of the car. In his left hand, he grasped a large, battered Kel-Lite. With his other hand, he unclipped the safety on his holster, prepared to pursue the suspect on foot.
“Should I take the shotgun?” Quinn softly called.
“Nah. It’s just one bozo. We’ll sneak up on them and make sure the party’s not getting out of hand.” Bernier slipped into the tunnel beneath the Charlestown Bridge that led to the park, Quinn close behind. Soon their ink blue Boston Police Department uniforms merged with the shadows and they disappeared.
Mustafa maneuvered the BMW down a crushed gravel road, which ended at the riverbank. He parked and turned off the engine, leaving the key in the ignition. The orange dashboard lights faded to black. He sat quietly, enjoying the view. The engine fan cycled on and off with a soft whir. With a flick of a switch, he rolled down his window, letting in the night air and traffic sounds from the city.
The blonde woman lay snoring peacefully in the seat next to him. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could make out the outlines of her face and see the gold mist of her hair splayed against the car’s tan leather seatback and headrest.
She smelled good. It was an expensive perfume that he could not identify. He reached out to stroke her hair. It reminded him of the girls he had known in Amsterdam so many years ago. It reminded him of the bitch who had angered him earlier that evening.
He slipped the clasp knife from his pocket and flicked it open. The stainless steel blade winked in the moonlight as he deftly cut open her dress and then sliced her black bra in two, exposing her breasts.
With perverse tenderness, he teased the knife along the skin of her neck. He traced tiny, bloody patterns with its tip over the top of her breasts and up over her jaws onto her cheeks.
The drug had done its job. She did not even twitch as he cut her. Quietly he began humming to himself a Tuareg folk song as the movements of his blade grew more intricate.
Quinn and Bernier walked soundlessly up the track toward the BMW. The white sedan was outlined against the backdrop of the nearby, spotlighted MDC dam and the towering façade of the Garden rising across the river.
About twenty feet away from the vehicle, they slowed their pace. Hunched over and hyper-alert, they crept slowly up beside the Bimmer. They had done this sort of thing many times before. Bernier delighted in surprising couples necking in cars. On a good night, he’d find one or two couples going at it, oftentimes buck-naked.
As usual, Quinn let Bernier take the lead. Besides, he couldn’t figure out what was going on in the car. There was some kind of weird singing coming from inside. It was in a language he could not recognize. In any event, he was relieved that it did not sound like someone was in distress.
Bernier signaled Quinn to move up the passenger side while he sidled toward the driver. When Bernier reached the driver’s door, he cautiously straightened up.
The curious singing coming from the car continued, the occupants unaware of the cops.
Bernier flipped on the powerful Kel-Lite and yelled, “Police!” The singing immediately stopped. In the moment the light flooded the interior, Bernier and Quinn saw a man hunched over the woman’s inert body.
At first, Quinn thought they had been kissing. When the man swiftly reared back, Quinn saw exposed in the harsh light the entire top of the woman’s torso. Thin, bleeding swirls of knife cuts tattooed her neck, face, and bosom.
The unknown man’s left arm swung toward the open driver side window. There was a shout. Bernier’s flashlight dropped to the ground. Quinn heard Bernier scream, together with dull thuds of something pounding repeatedly into the older police officer’s chest. The muzzle of Bernier’s .40 Glock pistol exploded, accompanied by a dazzling flash of light.
Quinn jumped away from the car, scared and disoriented. He cursed. His eyes could not adjust again to the darkness. He fumbled for his weapon and accidentally dropped his own flashlight.
His pistol free, he tried to focus on something or someone to shoot, to decipher the sounds, to figure out what the hell was happening on the other side of the car. He started to run around the front of the vehicle, determined to help his partner, to stop the screams.
As Quinn rounded the hood, the beam of light from Bernier’s dropped flashlight showed a terrible tableau. Bernier was on his knees, his pistol in the dirt in front of him. His hands clutched his chest, which was pumping dark, red blood through his fingers, splattering the ground. He groaned in agony as he lifted his head toward Quinn, attempted to stand, and then toppled helplessly into the freshly seeded loam. His fall released a cloud of dust that swirled above and around his body before blowing away in the soft night air.
Quinn fought his panic. He sensed movement to his right. Crouching low in a combat stance, he pivoted and fired twice at the hole in the night where he thought the man should be.
The gunshots scared him even more. Now fully panicked, he started to scramble toward the lighted locks. If he could make the catwalk that extended across the top of the lock gates, he could sprint over them to safety on the other side of the river.
He ran frantically, gasping for air. The soft lawn of the park quickly transitioned to the concrete of the dam. Soon his footsteps clanged on the metal catwalk as he zigzagged across the top of the lock chambers. He could see the Garden ahead and even a few cars cruising up and down Causeway Street.
Halfway across the dam, he glanced over his left shoulder and saw the form of a man rapidly overtaking him. Then Quinn felt a stab of excruciating pain in his lower back. His legs stopped working and the momentum of his body propelled him another few feet before he collapsed on the iron catwalk.
Quinn’s head faced the direction of Causeway Street. He wanted desperately to keep running toward the white lights and safety that beckoned ahead. The fingers of his outstretched right hand twitched and grasped the air.
He could not understand why he had stopped moving and why he suddenly felt so cold. With all his will, he tried to stir his unresponsive body. He failed. His vision dimmed. His brain shut down before he could frame a last prayer. Darkness, fear, and death swallowed him.
Above Quinn, his killer paused for a brief moment, sucking in oxygen.
The sight of Quinn’s hand clawing feebly at the ground as death embraced him amused Mustafa. It was always the same, death. Unexpected. Unpleasant. Unwanted. He bent over, lifted Quinn’s body, and rolled it over the rail into the Charles.
The corpse splashed into the water. Mustafa gazed for a moment at the ripples spreading prettily across the surface, shimmering in the light. The graceful outline of the Leonard Zakim Bridge looming one hundred yards away added to the view.
A loud noise came from behind him. Mustafa looked up at the tower where the lockmaster worked. The lockmaster pounded the window glass with his fists, shouting. Mustafa neither heard nor cared.
Time to go. The dam was close to the State Police Marine Unit. He risked capture. So far, it was surprising to him no one was in pursuit.
Mustafa calmly walked the remaining twenty yards across the locks and into the parking area behind the Garden. There was no attendant on duty at this hour of the morning and few cars in the lot.
He crossed the parking lot and down a side street. His destination was the Green Line MBTA station, where he intended to catch the T, connect with the Blue line, and ride back to East Boston.
The many bars in the area were still open and doing a lively business. A few drunken revelers reeled past him. A siren sounded in the distance. Soon there were more. Mustafa picked up his pace.
It was late.
For him, the evening’s fun was over.
The sun would soon be up.
In a few hours, he had a ship to catch.