3 – O’Dea
Roman had on a white bathrobe and was drying his hair with a white towel. He left the towel around his shoulders as he brushed his teeth. He rinsed his mouth out with antiseptic and bared his teeth at his reflection in the mirror to make sure they were as clean as they felt. He combed his hair and put on some expensive cologne.
He slipped his white slippers on and proceeded down the stairs. If he had a heartbeat, he was sure it would have stopped when he heard the knock at his door and saw the police cars in front of his home. He opened the door expecting to find a half dozen or so detectives and officers, ready to take him away, but instead, he opened the door to find one person. This person was a short, beautiful woman with long brown hair, pulled back in a pony tail.
“Dr. Roman?” she asked.
He forced a look of shock on his face to make it seem like seeing the police was an unexpected occurrence. “Why yes, I’m Dr. Roman.”
“Hello,” she smiled. There was an awkward pause due to the fact she was expecting a older, rounder, balder person. Instead, she found a tall, strapping, attractive man. She swallowed hard and continued. “I am Detective O’Dea. Do you mind if I have a word with you?”
He noticed that there was another car at the end of his driveway. It looked as if there were two, possibly three officers there with her. He decided that allowing this visit to happen would most likely bring the least amount of trouble his way. “Not at all. Come right in,” he said.
He led her through the foyer and into the living room. “You must excuse me, I have just had a shower. I wasn’t expecting anyone.”
“That’s fine. I should have called ahead,” she said.
“Do not give it another thought,” Roman said. “Can I offer you something to drink perhaps?”
“No, I’m fine,” she said. “I’m here in an official capacity.”
“To be honest,” Roman said, “I have never had a social call from your department so I gathered as much.” He walked in and sat on the narrow, white sofa across from her. “How may I be of assistance to you, Detective O’Dea?”
“Well, you did some work for the department before, correct?” she asked.
“Yes,” Roman said. “About five years ago I believe. I helped out on a case for Detective Hardman.” He thought to himself for a second. “How is Detective Hardman?”
“Dead,” she answered.
Roman opened his eyes wide to show some sort of disbelief. “That’s terrible.”
“Yes it is,” she said. “The reason why I am here is that there have been a series of murders in the city where the murderer has removed the brain and then taken it with them.”
Roman was getting a lot of practice in for normal, social, facial expressions. “That is ungodly,” he said. He tried to keep the look of shock on his face but was having a hard time keeping the facial muscles in check. “How many victims are we talking about here, detective?”
“There was one last week, then two victims in one house four days ago and then we had another four victims this morning,” O’Dea said.
“And the brain was missing from all the victims?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered.
“Can I ask how this was achieved?” Roman asked.
“It seems as though the killer cracks their skulls open with a blunt object then uses some sort of extraction device, maybe something surgical, to open the skull…”
Roman hid a smirk with his hand. He tried not to laugh. He thought that prying the skulls open with his hands and the claw hammer was messy, but found it humorous that the police thought it was done with something surgical.
She continued, “After the skull has been pried apart, the brain is then removed from the…”
“Cavity,” he said. “What about the brain stem?”
“Yes, right under the brain stem is where the break occurs.” She cleared her throat and was visibly nervous about the specifics of the dissection.
“I see,” Roman said. “And what is it exactly that you would need my expertise for in this case?”
“Dr. Roman, am I right to say that you are the foremost researcher in the field of neurological science?” she asked.
“You would be,” he said.
“Good,” she said. “We don’t know why someone would be doing this. It seems that the motive for these killings, is to collect the brain.”
“That does seem like the obvious conclusion,” he said.
“But we don’t know why.” There was a new sternness in her tone that wasn’t present before.
“Madness,” he said.
“Excuse me?” O’Dea said.
“Madness. That seems to be a reason for someone to go about collecting brains as you put it,” he said.
“I was actually thinking that maybe there was a black market or something that researchers like yourself would go to find specimens for your research.” She leaned back into the couch.
Roman looked at her with his head on a tilt. He wasn’t sure if she was implying anything by that statement or if she was actually implicating him. “Well as far as I am concerned, the university takes care of all my research material but it has been years since I have done any kind of research on dead brain tissue. I wouldn’t know where they get them or where someone would go to be able to get one illegally.”
She leaned forward and stared blankly at the table that sat between the two of them. “That’s what I was afraid of. We have no leads, no clues, no… nothing.”
Roman grinned. “There has to be something. Something not quite right about all this; besides the lack of brains at the crime scenes.”
“Well,” she said. “There was one thing different about today, two things actually.”
Roman was intrigued, but he already knew what she was going to say. “Really?”
“Yes, one of the victims seemed to have struggled with the killer and a bite was taken out of his arm. We are running DNA tests on the bite now checking for saliva or blood.”
“That sounds promising,” he said.
“Yeah, we will see,” she said. “But the weirdest part of this was that there was originally, five bodies at the scene when we got there and when the coroner came to pick up the bodies, there was only four.”
“So, someone came and took a body?” he asked.
“Or it got up and walked away,” she said.
Roman chuckled. “That’s absurd!”
“I know,” she said. “It leads me to believe that the fifth body was one of the killers.”
“You think that there are more than one killer?” he asked.
“I didn’t until today. I can’t see any other explanation. Maybe the killer’s body would’ve led us to another killer. Maybe a cult,” She said.
“Or maybe the fifth body wasn’t dead?” he said.
“That was my thought too, but the officer that found the body originally was sure that he had no pulse,” she said.
“That is a highly peculiar event there detective. I guess the DNA is your best bet,” he said.
“Yeah, as long as he has been in the system, we should have a name by the end of the day,” O’Dea said. She seemed to not have much hope for that outcome.
Roman had never been in the system.
“I don’t know what help I can be to you detective, but I would be very interested to see what you come up with. This is a very highly unusual case,” he said. “But if there is anything that I can do, please let me know.”
“Thank you so much, Dr. Roman. I will keep you up to date.” She handed him a business card. “If you think of anything that may be of use, do call me.”
“Indeed I will,” he said.
Roman walked Detective O’Dea to the front door and let her out. “So long, detective.”
“Thanks again,” she said.
As Roman was shutting the door, he saw Officer Rivera, the man that found him at the scene, leaning up against a squad car. Roman’s face didn’t flinch at the sight of him but knew that being that close to one another would not be good for him. He decided that something should be done about that.