A tale of weddings, betrayal, murder, and revenge. He never really liked the comparison of knots with marriage. It always made him picture someone tying a noose and hanging themselves. Marriage is ...
As she flipped through the 11th day, she found the headline: MATRIMONIAL MURDERER STRIKES AGAIN! The article spoke of a young girl, just about Annie's age, who was brutally murdered in her apartment on the day of her wedding. The killer had been hopping from city to city, and targeting young brides. The pattern had been going on for two years, and the authorities still had no leads toward the killer's identity.
The piercing ring of her phone sent the newspaper flying out of her hands. She was meaning to turn the ringer off that day.
"Hello?" Scarlett answered a bit shakily.
"Hey, how have you been holding up?" Bob asked. He spoke softly, something he rarely ever did.
Scarlett didn't know how to answer. As far she knew, she wasn't even holding on. It felt like the day had just been passing by without her, like an autumn leaf being pushed around by a river's current.
"Scarlett? Are you still there?" Bob called out when she failed to answer.
"Yeah," Scarlett replied, her voice sounding distant.
"What are you doing?" Bob decided to steer away from the topic of Annie.
"Reading the newspapers from last week. I found something about that serial killer."
"Oh," was all Bob could say. It was impossible. Scarlett's life now revolved around Annie and avenging her death.
"What exactly did the cops tell you?" Scarlett asked. She ran away before the police arrived. There was no way she could've stayed near her sister's auburn corpse.
"They said that we're not alone. There's been murders across the state just like Annie's."
"I'm going to the police station. I want to know more about those murders," Scarlett decided.
"I'll go with you," Bob offered.
The police station seemed smaller from what Scarlett had remembered. The last time she had been in there was during a field trip in the third grade. Everything seemed so much bigger back then. Now the world was too small. It seemed as if the earth was trying to suffocate her.
It almost looked like a dentist office. The walls were a shade of pale yellow and there were a couple of potted plants placed on opposite corners. There was a woman dressed in her blue police uniform. She was very tall, about 5'9, with a kindly appearance to her face. With her smile, she seemed too nice to be a police officer. Her skin was a beautiful shade of almond brown, and she wore her hair in long tiny braids that extended to her shoulder.
"Can I help you?" the lady asked.
"I want to find my sister's killer," Scarlett said bluntly.
The woman's expression became softer with sympathy. She listened patiently as Scarlett told her story with all the painful details. Bob was at her side, saying nothing but making sure that Scarlett didn't fall apart. When Scarlett was finished, her voice broke and she sucked in a sob.
"I'm very sorry for your loss," the woman had a sincerity in her voice, as if she could feel Scarlett's pain.
The officer reached over and handed Scarlett a tissue, and waited as she took some time to breathe.
"I found this article," Scarlett said with a sniffle, placing the newspaper on the desk.
"Yes, we've been working on this for about two years now," said the woman, almost shamefully.
"And you have absolutely no suspects?" asked Bob.
"No, not a single one," the woman said softly.
"I need to know who did this," Scarlett said firmly. "I want to help with this case."
"I don't know what to tell you," the woman replied. "I don't know how you can help."
"When did this all start? What's the first record you have of this type of murder?" Bob asked.
The woman looked at them for a moment, contemplating about giving them the information.
"Come with me," she said, walking over to the side of the desk and opening the door that lead into an office.
She walked Bob and Scarlett through a narrow hallway with closed doors. She walked quickly, trying to avoid any attention from her coworkers. She came to a stop near the end of the hallway and opened one of the doors with one of her many keys on her key ring. She locked the door once Bob and Scarlett stepped in.
"By the way, the name's Shirley," the woman said with a wink, offering her hand to Scarlett.
"Scarlett," she replied with a small smile as she shook her hand.
"I'm Bob, her cousin," Bob said shaking Shirley's hand after Scarlett.
"Have a seat," Shirley said, directing them to the two chairs sitting in front of a computer desk.
Shirley wasted no time in finding the police records from the computer. She entered a few passwords and typed in the dates.
"Okay, the first record we have of this type of incident occurred about two years ago in Belleville. But in this particular murder, the bride and the brother of the groom were both found dead. The groom was missing, but we found his clothes soaked in his blood a couple of months later. We suspect that another murder in that city is connected with the same killer. A young woman was killed three days after the previous murders. Afterwards, there were at least a dozen reported murders of young women on their wedding day," Shirley explained.
"Don't you at least have a suspicion on who could be doing this?" Bob asked.
"We did suspect the boyfriend of the young woman who was killed three days after the first wedding murder, but we didn't have any evidence against him," Shirley replied.
"Is it possible we can talk to this guy?" Scarlett asked.
"I can't give you that information," Shirley declined.
"Maybe I can just talk to him. He lost someone, and I lost someone. We'd understand each other," Scarlett pushed.
"I'm really not supposed to give you that information," Shirley repeated. "But I want to help you out."
Shirley typed in a few words on the computer.
"I could lose my job if anyone finds out I did this, but I know what it's like to lose someone you love," Shirley wrote something down on a sheet of white paper. "And I think it's time we catch this killer."
She folded the paper and handed it to Scarlett.
"The guy's name is Ray Toro. That's his address. He doesn't live too far away from here. It's about an hour drive," Shirley said lowly, as if someone was listening.
"Thank you so much," Scarlett said with gratitude.
"Good luck," Shirley whispered with a smile.
"How can we ever thank you enough?" Bob asked.
"By catching the bastard who started all this," Shirley replied. "If you ever need anything, my number's also on the paper."
As they stood up to leave, Scarlett gave Shirley a sincerely thankful hug. She had a feeling that she had already gained a new best friend. She flipped the paper over and memorized the address. She couldn't wait to hear what Ray Toro had to tell her.