The Ice Pick Killer case, as with all homicide cases, would be ongoing. Captain Meade and Powell hoped that Slaughters’ murder would be the last, or at least the last physical death. It was clear that Burke was a casualty. He just hadn’t died yet.
No new evidence had been brought to light and they remained as baffled as ever. The one person who could have “put it to bed” was gone and they were once again, at checkmate.
Powell had been assigned a new temporary partner named Conner Owen. He was a fresh out of school, raring to go, gung-ho, anxious to get his feet wet, ready to make a name for himself, rookie detective. He was twenty-one years old, just under six feet tall and had wiry brown hair that he tried to tame with hair products. Undoubtedly, he was under the impression that he was a real “stud-muffin.”
He was the son of a higher-up in another department and some strings were pulled. He wasn’t going to have to pay the regular dues by walking a beat for several years. That gave him a somewhat sense of superiority but Captain Meade had quickly put him in his place by saying “you’ll get no special treatment here. You’re just another gumshoe.”
The women thought he was “cute” but most of the men thought he was an annoying little “upstart.” He was going to have to work hard to be taken seriously. The department had seen so many young detectives arrive full of spit and vinegar, only to crash and burn after a short while, mostly due to boredom.
Eventually, they would move on to bigger cities with brighter lights. It was justifiable as not much happened in that sleepy little Southern town…that is, until the Ice Pick Killer struck.
Powell had to periodically reel Owen in when he started getting too overzealous. Owen wanted to shoot any and everybody who moved. He liked to talk big and barrel out his chest. He made a point to flip his jacket open, revealing his underarm service weapon. It was, he believed, not only an intimidation tactic but a sign of his power. Powell understood. He had done the same thing.
Powell told Owen a story that Captain Meade had told him and Burke when they first became partners. He reminded Owen that Captain Meade didn’t approve of curse words, so he told him he would take a little poetic license.
“There was a father and son bull standing on top of a hill, looking down at a herd of heifers. The son said ‘let’s run down the hill and fuck one’. The father looked at his son and smiled as he said ‘why run down and fuck one, when we can stroll down and fuck them all’?”
As Powell suspected, the concept was completely lost on Owen, just as it had been lost on him and Burke. With time, experience and maturity, it eventually made it sense to them and he was hoping it would be the same with Owen.
Owen had heard Captain Meade call Powell “kiddo” and asked if it was okay if he did. Powell shook his head and said “not if you expect me to answer.”
Of course, Owen had heard about the Ice Pick Killer and wanted to get involved. He was convinced that he could be the hero by solving the case. Powell was receptive but reluctant to discuss any particulars with him, especially when it came to Burke and of course, Slaughter.
Powell told him to take any files he wanted and see if he could come up with something. Owens’ eyes were wide with excitement and he acted like he had just been given a new toy.
Powell knew that having your first big case was like playing the lottery and expecting to come out a winner. It didn’t always work out but it didn’t stop the dreamers who had visions of becoming the next Sherlock Holmes.
Every few weeks, Captain Meade or Powell tried to reach out to Burke but the result was always the same. Burke was continuing on his downward spiral to an early grave.
Captain Meade made arrangements with the power company to pay Burke’s bill and get his lights back on. He was hoping to get at least an acknowledgment but he didn’t.
Burke had apparently gotten used to stumbling around in the dark and drinking room temperature beer and liquor. When your whole world consists of nothing more than playing Russian roulette with a bottle, the idea of tossing back a cold one doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Captain Meade asked Powell to check in with Burke’s landlord. It was just a matter of time before the Sheriff showed up at Burke’s door and told him to leave.
Captain Meade knew that Burke had money. He had always lived modestly and was often teased for being so frugal. Burke not having money wasn’t the problem. His indifference to the responsibility of staying alive was.
To be continued________________________