“Where are you getting with these wing murders, Purdue?” Dennis Lopez strode into her office with a pair of styrofoam cups of steaming black coffee.
She looked up from the file she was studying, “I just can’t figure out what the connection between them is Chief.” Taking the cup he offered, she took a drink and shuddered, “God, did you brew this in one of your old boots?”
“Well, I have some bad news for you.” He said, taking a sip from his own cup, “The mayor is running out of patience.”
“He wouldn’t give a shit except this is an election year,” Purdue said pinching the bridge of her nose. Almost absently, she drank half the cup of coffee in one long swallow. It was so hot she exhaled a small cloud of steam. She glared at the cup and Nebecenezer laughed in the back of her mind, the bastard.
“I’m not arguing with you there, but it is what it is.” He shrugged, “I know you’re a good detective Purdue, but you’re the lead on this one and it’s getting a lot of attention after that kid got killed.”
“Interesting how nobody pays attention when it’s a few homeless people and a few people of color, but kill some rich white kid and suddenly it’s an epidemic.” She picked up her jacket, “I need a smoke. You wanna come?”
“You know I quit.” He said, “I can’t stand the smell of tobacco smoke now.”
“Can’t resist it you mean.” She tapped a cigarette from her pack and tossed it on the desk. “I get it. I know I should quit too, but it’s just one more straw on the camel’s back.”
Purdue walked out to the alley and lit up, drawing smoke deep into her lungs. “Why can’t I find the common denominator?”
‘You know I could help you.’ Nebecenezer whispered, ‘It’d be easy. All you need to do is ask.’
“Yeah, I know better you little bastard.” She muttered through a cloud of smoke, “You’ve got enough of a hold over me.”
“What was that?” Lopez walked out the door with one of her American Spirits in his mouth.
“You quit.” She said, “You don’t want to start again for something as stupid as this do you?”
“You ain’t telling me everything.” He said, “You got a light?”
Purdue handed him her Zippo. “You’re right, I’m not. Are you sure you wanna know?”
He lit the cigarette, handed her lighter back, and looked at her with narrowed eyes. “Yeah, I want to know.”
“I can’t prove it, I have no evidence, but my gut is telling me this is religious.” She blew a smoke ring, “I know that might seem obvious what with the angel wings, but not everyone sees things in the same way.”
“What religion? What sect?” He coughed and sighed.
“I don’t know.” Purdue said, flicking the ash off her cigarette, “Although Christianity is really the only religion with angels. Other cults have winged humans, but really I don’t think it’s any of them. What I can’t figure out is why angel wings would be involved with all the victims.”
‘I can tell you!’ Nebecenezer whispered mockingly.
“Maybe it’s some kind of cult, or some guy with a vendetta?”
“It could be any number of things. There’s just not enough evidence.” She stubbed out her cigarette and threw it into a trash can. “Whoever is doing this is too careful. All they’ve left is pieces of old parchment under the tongue of their victims. No words or anything to identify what the significance of it is. The only thing that forensics can tell is that the paper is likely torn from the same sheet, and that it’s old; around two thousand years old.”
“Who would use such an ancient piece of parchment and what kind of message would they be trying to send?” Lopez mused.
‘Pick me, pick ME!’ Nebecenezer crowed.
“Oh hell.” Purdue said. “This is bad. This is really really bad.”