On his way to work the next morning, Burke tossed different scenarios of this particular dream around in his head like a word salad.
It was such a strange dream and such a random number. Nothing creepy like 666 or odd or ethereal like 111 or 222 or 333. Still, he just had the feeling that he had seen that number somewhere before. He even entertained the idea of playing the lottery but he really wasn’t much of a gambler.
Burke didn’t want to be in the office so he drove by the mills to check on any new activity. No more fires had been set and the presence of the police officers seemed to have done just what they were supposed to do.
He decided to pay a visit to Ceebee, who in his fatherly fashion said “good to see you up and at ’em boy. I was kinda worried about you for a while.” Burke said “yeah. I hit a rough spot and I was a real mess. I wish I could have seen myself that day you came over.” Ceebee looked at him and softly said “no you don’t.”
A long handshake on his way out was Burke’s way of saying “thank you” to Ceebee.
More than once Burke found himself parked in front of Slaughters’ place…just sitting, imagining and unjustifiably hating Pittman. Even if he had never suspected him in Slaughters’ death, he would have still hated him.
Burke’s end of watch was now at four o’clock every day. After that, his time was his own and his time was solely devoted to the Ice Pick Killer case. One whole wall of his apartment now resembled a scene straight out of an investigative detective show on television.
Crime scene photos coupled with before and after pictures of the victims were taped to the wall along with interviews of the next of kin. There had been only one suspect. Pittman. He had been cleared but in Burke’s mind, he was guilty.
Maybe he wasn’t guilty of murder but he was certainly guilty of being an absolute horror of a human being. Burke had even changed his name to “piece of shit Pittman.”
Piece of shit Pittman’s information was right on top of the stack. There was the lengthy interview by Slaughter and of course, notes from his own interview with John Foote.
He glanced at the notes from Slaughters’ interview with Caldwell and smirked, “it’s entirely possible that he and piece of shit Pittman were born from the same animal and separated at birth.”
Sometimes Burke made himself smile with his ridiculousness but mentally and verbally mutilating Pittman made him feel better.
While he was putting Burke’s file together, something caught his eye. He had gotten just the briefest glimpse of what looked like the number 510. As he thumbed through the pages, it seemed to elude him. For a split second, he thought to himself, “am I dreaming again?”
He gathered the papers together and sat down in his chair. The same chair where he had spent so many months in that dark world of despair and desolation. The chair where he sat as he lost any resemblance of sanity…but things were different now. That chair had also been the place where he re-entered the world of the living.
He perused the file with determination. Beating a dead horse was not always bad, he thought. Sometimes, you’re so focused on the beating that you are blind to the result of the blows. At least that’s the way he saw it. Over and over, he read the interview with Pittman, the interview with the parasite, notes from Caldwell and Foote…everything.
Then came the “aha” moment. There it was…in black and white. Number 510. He knew he had seen that number somewhere. It was an address. “510 Hanging Moss Terrace.”
He looked for interviews, follow-ups or conclusions but couldn’t find one ounce of evidence that this person had ever been contacted. His next question was “why? Why had nobody interviewed this person? How had they been completely overlooked?”
Even if this person had been out of town, there would have been a notation…and this person was certainly somebody who should have been “looked at.”
He shuffled through the other files, searching for notes or an indication of an interview, something that may have been misplaced somehow. There was nothing. Nothing from Powell. Nothing from Slaughter. Somebody had really dropped the ball.
Burke grabbed his car keys. He was headed to 510 Hanging Moss Terrace.
When he arrived, he tapped on the door.
As it opened, a voice said “I’ve been wondering when somebody might knock on my door.”
To be continued_________________