I present part one of my new four-part John Garrison serial. Every Tuesday for the next few weeks, we’ll follow Garrison to see if he can catch a maniac murderer, and stay sober doing it.
Blood on the Paddle – Chapter One
‘Qu’est-ce Que C’est?’
Gin Garrison, the guys down at the precinct had taken to calling him. A “nick” name.
But a John Garrison drunk on two bottles of Gordon’s was still twice the detective of any man down there. Meaning that he’d have to drink four bottles to be merely as good as them. If he were to drink any further gin beyond that point, then of course that would render him inferior to them, but if they were to have any gin themselves in the meantime too then that would have to be taken into account as well, but the point is, there’s a lot of gin between him and them. They had some nerve, those guys down at the precinct.
‘He’s not fit for duty,’ Garrison overheard one officer wearing a towel say to another in the locker room.
‘He’s lost it,’ another one sneered, shaking his head.
‘The sarge needs his head examined if he thinks Gin Garrison can catch this serial killer.’
Maybe they were right. Maybe Sergeant O’Lynam did need his head examined. But if it was examined they’d probably find traces of ‘being a smart guy’, because if there was one son of a bitch on this planet that could find this killer – it was John Garrison.
‘Someone’s killing all the Lollipop Women in the city’, O’Lynam briefed Garrison. ‘The media have dubbed him the Lollipop Woman Killer. Until someone thinks of something better anyway.’
‘Jesus Christ,’ growled Garrison. ‘A city without Lollipop Women.’
‘It’s chaos out there,’ nodded O’Lynam. ‘The bastard leaves a note with each corpse. It contains a sick joke.’ O’Lynam produced a scrap of paper inside a tiny plastic bag and read it aloud. ‘Why did the serial killer cross the road?’
‘To murder the Lollipop Woman?’
‘Yes that’s… exactly what is says. How did you know that?’
Garrison looked gravely at O’Lynam and then into the middle-distance. How did he know that? Was it because, given his 38 years studying them, he knew exactly how these sons of bitches thought? Or was it because, given the context of what was happening, it was a fairly straightforward and logical response to the traditional joke set up? Or was it because John Garrison was the serial killer all along – but just didn’t know it yet?
‘Call it a hunch,’ Garrison croaked as he lit a cigarette, flagrantly disregarding the city-wide ban on smoking in public buildings.
‘So… How’ve you been sleeping, Garrison?’
There it was… finally. Garrison had expected it sooner, but he knew it would soon rear its ugly head before long. The concern. The pity. The cowardice. O’Lynam wanted to support Garrison, sure. But deep down he longed for a reason to haul him off this case. Something to take the decision out of his hands. A health issue. A ‘well I tried, but I gotta follow the docs on this one’. Garrison wasn’t about to make it easy for him though.
‘Good,’ Garrison smiled. ‘I’m sleeping well.’
‘What about that sleepwalking?’ O’Lynam raised his eyebrows. ‘You know, where you’d fall into a really deep sleep and then wake up in strange places. Miles from home? Is that still happening?’
‘No,’ Garrison lied. ‘Anyway that’s entirely unrelated to this case. Let’s get back to that, the case, now.’
‘I’m sticking my neck out on the line here Garrison. Don’t let me down.’
‘Have I ever let you down before, Sarge?’
‘No,’ sighed O’Lynam. ‘And that’s what I’m worried about.’
Garrison wasn’t entirely sure what O’Lynam meant by the quip. But it was a nice button to end the conversation on. So he didn’t reply.
To be furthered…