The coroner’s report on the Sizemore kid, nebulous at best, provided more questions than answers. Acute cardiac arrhythmia… However, the few words jotted on a yellow Post-A-Note stuck to the report, and signed by Dr. Lester himself, gave rise to some possibilities:
Detective Hawkins, I once had a similar case involving murder by pentaflouroethyl ether, an odorless, tasteless, almost totally undetectable poison. It is absolutely lethal in small dosages and I think it bears some investigation, in this case, especially given the fact that Mr. Sizemore was a very young man in reasonably good cardio-vascular health. If I can be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me.
J.T. Lester, MD
“Homicide... Hawkins...” Pencil tucked neatly behind his right ear, Detective First Grade Grenadier Hawkins stared at the monitor in front of him, his long fingers absent-mindedly guiding the mouse to place the cursor in just the right spot while waiting for the caller to speak.
“I know something that you don’t know...” The voice, shrill and nasal, sounded almost adolescent as though the speaker were taunting a middle school friend; the tone a sing-song mask of challenge and disdain.
“Pardon me? I don’t believe I heard you correctly, would you mind repeating?” Hawkins stood up and frantically waved his right arm in a circle, the signal to start a trace of the call. Several squad room detectives picked up phones and began softly speaking into the mouthpiece.
“Oh, go ahead... trace it all you want, you won’t find anything. I’ve been naughty, haven’t I?”
White... probably twenties or early thirties... “Well, lots of people are naughty, these days. I’ve been known to kick up my heels a little, myself. Care to be more specific?” Keep him talking.
Now a high-pitched laugh, followed by a couple of snorts and a pronounced cough. “Oooohhhh, Detective, you do beat all... know that?” More laughing and coughing accompanied the insanity.
“Hey, that’s a nasty cough you’ve got there, my friend. Have you considered seeing a doctor?” Do this by the book, be patient.
“Oh, now, aren’t you the very model of concern?” The voice paused and Hawkins heard him clear his throat. “DON’T SCREW WITH ME, MOTHERHUMPER, CUZ I’LL KILL YOU JUST AS EASY AS I OFFED THAT OTHER ASSHOLE!” Pure, unadulterated rage... the guy’s barely hanging on. In the background, detectives scurried about, one holding his hands with palms together, moving them outward and back together. Extend... extend...
Hawkins gestured with his hand in the air, “Whoa, whoa, whoa... calm down, I’m not your enemy, man.” He wiped a small bead of sweat from his brow, pausing long enough to look at the moisture on his fingertips. “Just talk to me. We can work this out, can’t we? You sound like a reasonable guy.”
The voice became abusive and surly. “We can work this out, can’t we...” he mocked. “Well, I’ll give you something to work out, Sambo... aren’t you the slightest bit interested in how I know you’ve been assigned to this case?”
He knows I’m black... good! Sam Klosterman waved his hands in front of Hawkins, pulling his cellular out of his pocket. Damn! He’s on a cell phone! “Tell you what, Peckerwood, you being so bad and all, why don’t you tell me where you are, and I’ll give you the chance to kill you a nigger!”
Again, the giggle... “Heeheeheehee... I guess you aren’t. No pig wants to hear that the Thin Blue Line is broken. You think I won’t waste you? I’ve got you by the short and curlies, Rastis... You got no idea who I am, and I know what you had for breakfast this morning... same as you have every morning... watermelon! Hahahahahahahahahahaha...”
“You don’t sc—“
“SHUT UP, MAN!!!” the voice commanded, interrupting Hawkins. “I was just warmin’ up with that idiot deejay— primin' the pump, so to speak. Boo hoo hoo... now we won’t have Billy B polluting our airwaves any longer... waaaahhhhh! But, you better watch your back, bro’… if you ‘axe’ me, I’d say you got a snitch on your payroll.” Then, a little chuckle.
The stone-faced veteran of twenty hard years sat down in his chair, not quite believing what he heard.
“Sleep tight, Sweetie-Pie... I’ll be in touch.” Then, two wet, smarmy lips bussed the phone in an exaggerated smooch, just before the click. The line went dead.
Grenadier Hawkins stared at the other detectives in the room, did you get a trace? Sergeant Conover ‘Connie’ Briggs tossed his pencil on the desk and shook his head. “No, it’s a cell… too short.”
Hawkins listened to the tape recording of the conversation several times before clicking it off. I’ll be a son of a--! He doesn’t know he missed...