“Detective Inspector Shane Devouc, you and I are gathered here in this room, on 10th April 2010, to discuss the events of the dispatch call on 13th May 1990, at 3 am, where you were the first responder” I say and then stare at my smart phone recorder.
“Oh shit,” I say again, and look up; embarrassed at my rookie mistake.
The burly man with head full of hair as white as snow stares at me impassive.
“I’m sorry, Detective Inspector.” I say. “We’ll have to go over this again. I forgot to press the record button.”
He grunts, and I start over. I can see that he is trying to brush this off as just another interview. Cool as a cucumber, or at least that is what he wants me to think. But no matter how hard he tries, he can’t hide his twitching fingers.
“Detective Inspector”, I start, again. “You and I are gathered here in this room, on 10th April 2010, to discuss the events of the dispatch call on 13th May 1990, at 3 am, where you were the first responder.”
He grunts again and then picks a strand of chicken stuck between his front two teeth. He pulls it out from the crevice slowly, like stretched bubble gum as I watch fascinated. That visibly obvious strand has been distracting me since the past fifteen minutes and now that he is pulling it out, I can’t help but feel a sense of strange relief.
“Can you tell me about the events of that night, Sir?” I ask, my eyes fixed on that long strand as he finally pulls it free and then pops out back into his mouth, chewing slightly.
“You must know, girl.” he says. “There was an internal investigation on this case.”
I clear my throat, antsy at being referred to as ‘girl’.
“Sir”, I say, sighing. I had anticipated that the old man would be difficult. “I’m aware. However, you must know that I’ve been assigned to the cold cases from 1981 to 1990, and I’m in the process of interviewing the first responders involved in those cases.”
“Fine!” he raises his hands in the air, as if waving away my unreasonable millennial objections. “That one was a slow night. A couple of attempted thefts and a domestic battery call. My partner, Sheila Mendez, God rest her soul, and I were on the night patrol and had stopped the cruiser to grab some donuts. That is when Dave from dispatch alerted us to a call that he had received from the neighborhood. He said, “It as a weird call made by a crying child. Possibly a girl. Could be nothing.”
Devouc sighs and pauses. His twitching fingers are now pulling at the white collar around his neck.
“And…” I ask.
“Look Miss…?” Devouc looks at me, a bead of sweat trickles down his forehead.
“Bailey Simons, Sir…” I add.
“Yes, Miss Simons… I really don’t want to go through it again. You have everything you need in the files.” he says, pointing to the files that lie on my laps.
“Sir, I’m sorry but I’ve already told you that it is my job to interview the first responders.” I say, my voice taking on a tinge of annoyance.
He lights a cigarette, even though we’re in a nonsmoking zone. But I don’t mind, that whiff of tobacco is enough to remind me of what I quit.
“Okay… it was the next block. 66 primrose drive, flat number 310.” he trails off.
“I’ll never forget the address, you see.” he scoffs.
My stiff hands clench into a fist. I wished he would move faster.
“We entered the flat, Sheila and I. The door was thrown wide open, almost torn from the top right corner.”
“Immediately a rotten stench assaulted it. A stale, metallic waft emanating meant that we would be walking into a blood bath. We braced ourselves to witness worst nightmare of every cop in homicide. Bloody, mutilated bodies. What we did not know was, what else would we be walking into?”
Devouc is now scratching his neck. From his index finger nail, he seems to flick off bits of dead skin onto the orange carpet.
“Go on, Sir…” I encourage him.
“The whole house was in darkness, but we heard sounds coming from our right. I did not know what the sounds were, but Sheila whispered into my ears that this is exactly the kind of slurping sound her cat makes when she laps up her milk. I directed my flashlight to where the sound came from. On the way, the glow from my flashlight fell on the sofa.”
Devouc pauses and unbuttons his collar, freeing his neck. There is a dark line, around his neck, as though he has tried to strangle himself with a rope. I realize that Devouc has been scratching at it like a dog in frenzy. Of course, everyone knows that after the cases in 1990 Devouc attempted suicide twice by hanging himself. Unsuccessfully though, unlike his partner Sheila Mendez.
“What did you see there, Sir?” I ask quietly, my fists still clenching.
“There were three people sitting there. Their heads neatly resting on the back rest. A man and a woman of about forty and a little boy of around ten.”
“Were they alive?” I ask, almost breathless.
This is the best part, I think. The discovery of the bodies. All those years gone by, and yet their face flinches like it was just yesterday. My heart has started pounding by now. I squeeze my legs together; a slow throb is growing in my groin.
“Hell no, Miss Simons, they weren’t alive. and if you have read the case, you bloody well know they weren’t alive! Jesus!” he says.
“Sorry Sir…”, I say. A slight smile on my lips. “Please continue…” I squeeze my thighs tight. The food for my gory appetite is just around the corner.
“There was a pool of blood, growing by the second under the sofa. All three were dead as a doorknob and we did not even need to check their pulse to know that.” he says.
I notice now, that there are micro bits of flesh and blood lining the nail of Devouc’s index finger as he scratches away and flicks them over to the carpet.
“How’s that, Sir?” I ask, feigning ignorance.
“Miss Simons,” his voice has taken on a hard tinge. My feigned ignorance wasn’t fooling this seasoned detective. “The reason we know that they were dead was because there were big chunks of flesh missing from their bodies. The biggest one was from their necks. The same number of big, gaping, bloody holes from all the same places on all three bodies. As if the animal that ate them, systematically started from the neck, to incapacitate them, just like a predator in a jungle. And then moved on to other juicy parts.”
Devouc breaks into a debilitating cough and continues coughing for more than a minute, much to my impatience.
“Sir, could you please tell me about their expressions?” I ask.
“Miss Simon”, he almost shouts, “their expressions were of terror; pure, unadulterated terror, just like anyone else, if they were being eaten alive.” he says, and spits on the carpet.
My legs are closed together tight and the throbbing has taken an intense beat after his last statement.
“I moved my flashlight to the slurping sound then,” Devouc continues “afraid of what we might see. And we were right to be terrified. There sitting behind the sofa, feasting on the blood gathering below, was a girl of around twelve. She looked up the moment my flashlight illuminated on her and scampered behind the sofa like a cornered animal.” Devouc’s hands are unabashedly shaking, by now. He doesn’t even bother to hide it.
“And …” I ask. my heart is pounding now.
“Shiela ran behind her and grabbed her. The girl screeched like a rat, boiling alive inside a cauldron. I called for dispatch and backup.” He says. His neck is an angry red now.
“Did you speak with the girl?” I ask.
“She was hysterical. she kept screaming, ‘I am sorry… I’m sorry, but I was hungry. Please I’m sorry, Mummyyyy…’” he says, wiping his forehead, which is now sheened in sweat.
“And…?” I ask.
“And she kicked Sheila in her gut, escaped from her vice like grip and jumped off the third-floor window.” he says, shaking his head, his voice heavy.
“Did you ever find her?” I ask. my stomach is lurching in anticipation.
“No, we expected her to be lying in the alley behind the window, dead or with broken bones; but nothing, we found nothing. As you know, Miss Simons, there was a nationwide search for her, but she was never found.” He says.
“Yes, I know, Sir.” I say.
“We were going to write off the attack as a rogue animal attack, but this was just the beginning. That year, there were five more families eaten alive in their suburban homes, and we never found who did it.” He says.
“You think that the girl did it, don’t you, Sir?” I ask.
“Hard to believe huh… but yes I do. Even though no one believes me, but that girl wasn’t a child, she was a monster, a fucking, hungry monster.” He says, vigorously scratching his neck now.
I smile. “Thank you for answering my questions, Sir.”
He grunts and the room descends in uncomfortable silence, until I break it.
“Would you like to eat?” I say. “I’m hungry.” And he stares at me, just like he did 20 years ago.