The Case of Shannon DeMarco

“Good morning, Dorice.” Detective Henry Jackson tipped his hat to the round waitress, almost looking pretty in her light blue skirted uniform. Rows of red empty red leather booths greeted Jackson as he walked in. The lights were still dim, and were quickly being overtaken by the rising sun. From the kitchen there was the bubbling of coffee and the bangs of pots being arranged.

“Detective. What can I get you?” Dorice replied with a platonic wink, as she prepared tables for the not yet open diner.

“Just a cup of coffee. I need to wake up and get down to the station. Got a big investigation, I’m afraid.” Jackson removed set his hat down in the booth next to him, his thinning hair dropping across his eyes.

“Is this about the Shannon DeMarco girl who went missing?” Dorice poured coffee into a white mug, dribbling some of it down the side.

“I can’t say more than this, but she ain’t missing anymore.” Jackson’s eyes fell to the table as he let out a light sigh. Dorice walked over and placed the mug down on the table. She placed her hand on Jackson’s shoulder.

“It’s always hard when Belton loses one of her own. But you can at least give us some closure.” Her hand squeezed gently and let go.

“Just wish there was someone who could give that to me. Thanks for the coffee, Dorice. I’m just going to take this with me if you don’t mind. I need to get going.” Henry picked up his brown fedora and placed it back on his head.

“What about the mug?”

“I’ll return it on my way back, don’t you worry your little head.” Henry nodded slightly and gave a weak smile and headed for the door.

“Take care of yourself, Detective.” Dorice continued to set up tables for the few regulars who would no doubt be arriving soon. Just before the ringing of the bell on the door filled the small diner Henry turned back and said, “Sometimes, I wish I was the only person I had to worry about.”

Jackson had parked his sedan in Dr. Malley’s driveway. The small ranch style house was weather worn and no care had been taken to its appearance. The green and misted mountains rose behind them in sharp cliffs and bluffs. Jackson slowly approached the house. Although Millie had died a few springs back, Jackson still entered the house silently as if there was someone to avoid waking up.

“Jackson?! That you up there?” A gruff and aged voice emanated from an open stairwell.

“Yeah, it’s me. Want me to come down?”

“Yeah you might as well, you ain’t gonna like what you’re going to see. Just warning you right now.” Malley’s voice was stern and self convinced. Wisps of smoke made their escape up the rickety wooden stairs. As Jackson descended he was hit with a wave of pungent odor. This was going to be bad.

She was already opened up. There was one cut straight up the navel and through her ribcage. Another crossed that first cut perpendicular. Numerous other smaller cuts were made seemingly at random along her sides and the rest of her body.

“Jesus Christ, Malley! What the hell have you been doing to her?!”

“I’ve not done a damn thing to her!” The doctor didn’t look away from the girl’s body as he spoke. “Sh-She came in like this. I’m surprised the deputy managed to get her in here in one piece. God, I’m too scared to do anything else to the poor thing, she’ll just fall apart.”

“This is going to be one of those days then, isn’t it?” The detective shook his head slowly, closing his eyes but unable to shake the image of the girl.

“’Fraid so. No way this was caused by an animal, or even some kind of accident. Those are always so messy. This, this here was precision. He knew what they were doing. We have to get whoever did this to Shan, Henry. We have to get them and make sure he disappears. Court’s too good for 'im.” Malley’s cigarette slowly burned; he’d not touched it since he lit it. He just kept staring at the naked eviscerated body of a girl whom he’d delivered some 20 years ago.

“We’ll find whoever did this, Pat. You don’t do something like this and not get caught. I’m going back to the station to talk to the person who found her. If you need anything, anything at all, you give us a call, alright?” Jackson turned to walk up the stairs. They seemed far taller than when he had descended them. A long day alright, but it had to start with a single step.

“You better not let me get my hands on the guy who did this, Jackson. Cause if I do, I-”

“You’ll get your ass knocked down before you can touch the guy. We don’t carry out punishments, Pat.” Jackson paused as he ascended the stairs. “But it’s things like this that sure as hell make me wish we did.”

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