Things don't always go as you would want them to go. I looked at the dead body of 26 year old Carol Fisher. She had been mutilated by someone. Stabbed a total of seven times and then shot once in the head. The local police knew who the killer was. The problem was finding him. They had a name. They had proof. They had physical evidence that linked him to the crime and witness evidence. It was enough evidence to put him a way for life.
I was worned that he is a master of disguises. He can disapper with the blink-of-an-eye.
Detective Thomas McDonald looked at me when I was finished examining the body. "I heard about your reputation around here."
"What about it?" I asked
"If you can catch our killer, Charles Craig, I can promise a handsome reward." he replied.
I thought about it. Money. I needed money real bad. I was behind on rent for both my apartment and my office. Money is good.
"Fine. I'll take it," I said and I left back for my office. I reviewed the background and case file of Mr. Craig. This wasn't going to be easy, that was for sure. I decided to make a phone call to a few friends of mine to see if they would be interested in making some decent money in helping to find a killer who could blend in to even the smaller crowds.
It was dark and there was nothing I could do for the night. I'd have to start in the morning. So I went home for the night to get some sleep. The next morning, went to my office to make a call to a few friends to see if they'd be interested in making a few dollars in helping to find this killer.
"We're getting on that ship," I said.
Heimlich looked at me. "Marc? Are you sure about this? What if he's not on that ship?"
Nellie and Molly both nodded in agreement. Heimlich was right. But there was the smallest, slightest chance that he was going to be on that ship and if he was, I was going to get him. Not just me. But Heimlich, Molly, Nellie, and Charlie. WE were going to get him. All of us were going to bring him to justice.
"I think its a code. Everything he has, has been labled with the number '117'," I said, "If we're lucky, his room number is 117."
There was a silence that stunned them all. "We dont' have time to get clothes packed." Charlie said.
I looked up. "We're getting on that ship." I said. Everyone nodded. "Let's go," I said.
Everyone walked to the ship. The guard was standing there taking tickets. "Tickets?" he said as we walked up.
I pulled out my badge as well as everyone else.
He looked at us and rolled his eyes. Then he muttered something under his breath.
Heimlich walked up to the guard. "Look, we are after a high profile killer here...It would be a shame if you don't let us on to find him, and somebody else ends up getting killed."
The guard stepped aside and let us on. Something deep in my gut told me that Craig was on that ship to London. And we were going to catch him. Even if it took us to find him in London.
"Going to London eh?" I murmered,as I observed "the gang".
I couldn't let go of this case. My friends were on stake. The most important thing in my life,besides "family". Friends...
I knew what I did to them. I betrayed them. But they didn't know why... They just didn't know.
"Vulkie,you getting to London?" Jake whispered. "Jake,you know I have to follow them. They could be in trouble,BIG trouble. I don't care what the FBI thinks about it,I'm going anyway!" I replied to Jake and he nodded.
Yes,that's right. I am "working with" the FBI. They also had some "interest" of getting rid of one of those "mob" members.
"Jake,tell to Hoover that I'm leaving,for investigation. I'm sure he understands.." I said and Jake nodded. "Will do so".
Just then,the gang entered the ship. "I've gotta go to London and arrive before they do!" I said and Jake already had a reply ready.
"There's a speedboat waiting for you to "escort" you to London. Good luck Vulkie.." Jake said and he gave a small kiss on my cheek.
"Thanks Jake,I'll need it... I do hope they won't shoot me on sight...' I said and left for the speedboat,which was waiting for me.
Waiting at the pier with a cigarette in my mouth,I saw the boat arrive that "kept" the gang on it. And there they descended from it. Heimlich first,then Marc,then Molly,then Charlie and Nellie as the last person. They already saw me and rushed towards me..
"Gosh" I murmered and I just stood there...
***STILL ON THE BOAT!***
Molly waited until all the group was together, and then pulled out a cigarette. She studied their surroundings thoughtfully as she inhaled.
"A couple different things need to happen here," Molly said, looking to Marc for approval. He nodded and she continued, "I'm going to go see if I can get a hold of a passenger and crew list. Charles Craig is fond of using codes to communicate so if he's travelling under a false name, it might be a code or have some other clue to his identity. I think everyone should get their bearings. We NEED to have something solid on Craig BEFORE WE GET OFF THIS BOAT. A couple of you, or all of us should check out room 117. It's up to Marc and you guys how you want to split the tasks, put me wherever and update me when I return with the list."
Molly turned and strode off through the light crowd coalescing on the ships deck. She intended to ask the guard where she might obtain the list, when suddenly the hair on the back of her neck stood up. She whirled and searched the crowd with a practiced eye, and saw a man in a gray hat watching her with cold blue eyes. She started towards him, but a rush of people separated them and when she had fought her way through, he was long gone.
"That wasn't Craig." she said to herself uneasily, wondering who the man was and why he was watching her so closely. Shrugging it off, she flagged down the guard and finagled an extra copy of the list out of him with a few sweet words.
Hurrying back to the group, she kept her eyes trained on the paper as she felt someone's eyes on the back of her neck again. But when she whirled again suddenly, there was no one there.
"I've got it." she announced to the group. "What have you decided?"
As if the boat ride to London wasn't long enough, being in London just wasn't really where I wanted to be. I was mad, tired, cranky, you name it. The whole ride to the city, we had only one clue.
It was a not from Charles Craig himself. We found it in his room 117 in suite A.
"Detective Marc Lacrimosa,
I must congratulate you and your friends on amost excellent game of cat-and-mouse. The past few weeks, you have gotten to my sister, my mother, my favorite bar, came close to catching, and even tracked me down to this outstanding ship! As you already know, I am heading to London. Not because I am guilty of murder, but because, I know this city like the back of my hand. Finding me will be another game of cat and mouse. But I must say, Marc, bravo to you. You, yourself, came within just feet of catching me, but alas! I have outsmarted you once again, here on this ship, leaving you with nothing but this letter. I hope to see you again in London.
I got angry. There was nothing we could do except to search a ship for a man we could not find.
Just twelve hours before we got to London, we split up on the ship. We all split up and went to search for clues alone, because it was safer. No body was dumb enough to fire shots on a ship full of civillians. Molly went to get a crew list, Heimlich had gone to search the bars, Charlie had gone to search the decks along with Nellie.
When we all met back up, we had nothing except the letter that I found in his room.
"What have you decided?" Molly asked me.
Frankly, I had nothing. I was clueless. But I said the only thing I could think of.
"We go to London," I said, "Craig is too proud to bring us here and then leave just as we get here. He's not into that...he is toying with us. All this is a game."
As we landed in London we got off the ship and waited for each other as we were pushed and shoved by the eager crowd to see this wonderful city. (cnt....)
When everyone had gotten off the ship, we met up at the loading ramp.
"Charles is here. We know that much," Heimlich said, "Marc, if you dont' mind me saying, I think we should stick together while we're here in this place-London's a big city and getting lost isn't something anyof us want to do. Especially in a place like this"
Heimlich was right. Sticking together was going to be the best idea.
I nodded in agreement with Heimlich. "No splitting up in here. We all stick together." I said
As we made our way onto the pier to get into the city, something caught my eye. I looked and there about two thousand feet away appeared to be someone who looked a lot like Vulkie. I stopped and looked.
As I reached into my pocket, I felt the license that I had taken from here. When I felt the plastic laminated license in my pocket, my blood began to boil. I began to realize just how angry I was at her. I let go of her detective's license. No way was she going to get this back. Not from me anyways.
We exited the pier and made our way into the big city. The search for Charles Craig in London, had begun.
Molly still held the crew list in her hand as she followed Marc. She would hang onto it; she just had a nagging feeling there was something to be gleaned from it still. She folded it in half and in doing so, blinked in surprise as she saw Vulkie standing on the pier.
"Hm." she said, a frown just barely creasing her forehead. Alertly, she snapped her eyes to Marc, seeing the anger plainly writ across his face, and mixtures of surprise and anger on the others faces. She squinted at Vulkie, rather indifferent to the forlorn-looking woman. She felt no anger towards her, just a cold distrust.
"I wonder what she thought she would gain by trying to catch us here?" she wondered to herself, following Marc as he passed by Vulkie and continued on. She didn't spare a glance her way either; Vulkie was going to have to do a lot more than standing around with a hopeful expression to ingratiate herself into the ironclad ranks of the team. Pointedly avoiding her, she instead looked down at the passenger list and flipped to 117 A. The room was rented out to a Mr. Bucky Ingham.
"How odd." she thought to herself, then squinted again. "Bucky Ingham? Buckingham?"
She processed this information, then snickered. "Oh, that is TOO obvious. It must be a joke. But if its a chase he wants, maybe he left a clue for us...goodness I hate this man more and more with every step I take!" she said to no one in particular as she lapsed into her thoughts, following Marc's lead.
All of us left the pier, and made it into the heart of London. The first place went to check was the hotel. We went inside. All of us. I went to the counter along with Heimlich and Charlie.
"We're looking for a man by the name of Charles Craig," I said the little man behind the counter.
He pulled out the registration form and looked over it. "I dont' see a 'Charles Craig' here," he said.
"What about a Bucky Ingham?" Heimlich asked.
He looked over the sheet again. "Ah, yes, Ingham, Bucky. He is in room 117."
117! "We got him now," I thought to myself. This is it!
I assembled the team. Heimlich, Charlie, Nellie, Molly, and myslef.
"Bucky Ingham, also known as, Charles Craig, is in this hotel..room 117 to be exact. We're taking him down now," I said
Nellie piped up, "Room 117? Go figure,"
"No jokes, Nellie. This man is dangerous," Heimlich said
Within minutes we were up stairs on the third floor at room 117. Charlie stepped up to the door and knocked on it three times.
No one answered. He looked at Heimlich, who then looked at me. I nodded. Heimlich turned to Charlie and nodded.
Charlie raised his leg, and kicked the door in with such force, the door flew off it's hinges. As we piled into the room, there on the hotel table was yet again another note.
"To M. Lacrimosa and.....friends,
Bravo once again on finding out where I live here in London. As you can tell by this note, I'm not here. I will be honest. I didnt' go back to New York. I've decided to stay here in London and continue playing this game of cat-and-mouse. I'm not going to give a hint as to where I'm at. You all know how to find out where I've been. So just use your skills to try and find me. I must say this is some of the most fun I've had in years!
So take care for now,
Charles Craig. A.K.A, Bucky Ingham"
"So that's it? Another note?" Heimlich said. He holstered his gun and shook his head. (Contin...)
I was angry enough but this made it worse. I put my pistol away and walked out into the hallway. I was angry enough to punch a hole in the wall. But I didn't. We had already caused enough damage by kicking in the damage.
As we left the hotel, we had nothing, once again. It was like starting over from the begining. All we had was his alter ego, Bucky Ingham.
We made our way back into the streets of London. All around us, crowds of people swarmed the streets. Any one of them could be craig.
I pulled out my pipe and began to hold it in my mouth thinking deeply when I noticed a clean cut looking man watching me from the other side of the street. I took a step. Just as I stepped off the side walk, another person walked in front of the man. When the person passed, the man was gone.
It could only be one person. It was Craig, who had yet again, disappeared right in front of me.
I turned to the gang who stared at me with blank looks on their faces.
"What now?" Molly asked.
I had not one idea.
"I don't know, Molly....I don't know," I said. I looked at them all. They were tired and exausted. I could see it in their faces.
"What do you say we get some sleep, and begin again tomorrow?" I said.
They all nodded and we went back into the hotel to get some rooms for the night. The next day was going to be a long day and we had to be ready.
I woke up early, and very hungry. I knew Marc wanted us all to stay together but one everyone was sound asleep and two London is my town. This is where I live. I know London like the back of my hand.
As I made my way down the hall. I could hear Heim snoring loudly.
I headed down to the lobby and met the concierge Pierre Bagot a old friend of mine. " Pierre tell my friends I went to Chez Fromage to get a bite to eat." I told him.
" Mr. Cain, I have a note here for you please sir take it." Pierre told me handing me a small envelope.
I opened the note on my way out the door.
I know you and your friends are searching for a man in the city. You know that I hold you in high regards. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
I knew my friends over in the Hand could help me but I didnt want go there with out Marc's permission. So I headed off to the restraunt.
After all you gotta eat. And I was starving.
Molly watched Charlie go from where she had ducked around the corner. She wondered what the note had said. He had glanced around after reading it rather suspiciously.
She watched him walk off and thought. If Vulkie had betrayed them, it was just made startlingly clear that Charlie could too. She resolved to keep an eye on him, but she wouldnt bring it up to the others just yet. Instead she pulled her jacket close around her and started towards the gates of Buckingham Palace, the feeling she was being watched already raising the hairs on the back of her neck.
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