Thursday April 6th, 2:31 pm: (Present day)
C.S.I. Agent Catherine Willow speeds along the busy four-lane Vestal Parkway in her rented Crown Victoria. The thirty-eight year old strawberry blonde picks off cars one-by-one, as if she were trained to be a professional driver on the NASCAR circuit rather than a crime scene investigator.
“There’s nothing handier than a license to speed!” she thinks to herself, enjoying one of the perks to her job.
The agent trades off between darting through traffic and watching the opposite side of the parkway, keeping an eye open for the cheesy looking billboard that’s mounted on the roof of her destination.
After passing by several over-developed strip malls, Agent Willow finally spots the giant twenty by thirty foot sign, painted in eye catching fluorescent pink. It features two larger than life silhouettes of extremely well-endowed female dancers, painted in black. Each figure is posed as if lying on their backs, their raised legs and bent bottoms framing the strip joint’s name:
The Risqué Café – Gentlemen’s Club
XXX Featuring the hottest angels on this side of heaven! XXX
“That’s just great . . . As if the perverts couldn’t find this place on their own!” the agent mumbles to herself, with a note of disgust in her voice.
The woman turns left at the next four-way intersection, and then drives halfway back up the block, eventually pulling the big white sedan into the club’s loose gravel parking lot. As Catherine does so, she quickly scans over the patron’s parked vehicles, looking for a beat-up black van without any side windows . . .
“Hmm . . . Doesn’t look like he is here today” the woman thinks to herself with dejection. “But hopefully my girl is working tonight.”
As the agent parks and climbs out of the Ford, she grabs her trusty notebook and slides it into the pocket of her brown suede sport jacket. She can already hear the heavy pulsing of a bass track coming from the dance music that’s playing inside the club.
The woman walks with purpose towards the front door of the shady establishment, only to be confronted by another painted nude silhouette, this one posed with both arms angled outward from her sides, with a pair of spread angel’s wings sprouting up from behind her. The words pained above the figure read:
“Bucks enter here,
. . . all Doe’s must take it out back.”
“Well isn’t that just cute!” the woman says out loud, wondering how she managed to forget about reading the crude comparison to a four legged wild animal, just four short days ago. The agent regretfully opens the entrance door and lets herself in, for what will hopefully be the last time.
The rapid beat of dance music reverberates throughout her body as she walks down a darkened hallway that will eventually lead her to the bar area in the back of the club. The lights are turned down low back here, with the exception of the overhead lighting that’s mounted directly above the main stage, creating a somewhat private yet ominous atmosphere. The smell of sweet perfume and stale cigarettes is prevalent . . .
Agent Willow carefully scans over the room, checking out each patron. She notices that none of these men are seated in any particular order, and most are scattered around the runway of the main stage. Each of the men’s eyes are probably burning from the dense smoke cloud that hangs in the air above them; however they don’t look like they seem to mind . . .
All eyes are fixated on a gyrating Latino dancer, now slithering in a snake like fashion down the chrome-plated pole that’s mounted at center stage. Her long sexy legs suddenly kick outward to their fullest extent, just seconds before her thong-split tush bounces off the hardwood dance floor. The woman suddenly arches into a back-flip, sending her lean body end-over-end, until coming to a complete stop and standing upright.
The exotic-looking woman saunters up to the edge of the stage and overlooks the crowd. She cracks a big smile, and then begins shaking her torso from side to side, nearly causing her enhanced breasts to gyrate clear out of her leopard print bikini top! She playfully blows a kiss to the crowd, then reaches to unclasp the front of her top, allowing both of her jugs to spring outward for her admirers to view. The dancer peels the garment off from her shoulders, and then stretches it back, as if aiming a bow and arrow. With roaring approval from her horny onlookers, the Latino slingshots the garment into the second row of tables with practiced precision!
A lucky patron catches the bikini top, immediately burying his face into one of the “D” cups, and then quickly tucks it deep into a pocket of his trench coat.
Agent Willow turns her back in disgust, trying to ignore the ongoing whistles and yells of “Take it all off!” now echoing behind her, then approaches the bar. She spots a tattooed hulk in a sleeveless Harley Davidson shirt that’s drying bar glasses and flirting with a scantily clad Mexican waitress at the far end.
The bartender adds the clean glass to a row of others on the shelf behind him, and then proceeds to wipe the sweat from his shaved head onto the same towel!
The agent makes yet another disgusted look, and then yells “Ah . . . excuse me sir; I was wondering if you could help me?”
Catherine reaches inside her suede jacket to retrieve her police badge. As she does, the front of the coat falls open, exposing her tight yellow turtleneck and the two firm globes that strain against the stretchy material.
The bartender acknowledges her presence with a nod at first, but his eyes slowly drift downward, focusing on the agent’s trim figure. The man slowly strokes his graying handlebar mustache as he continues to undress her in his mind.
Catherine points two spread fingers at the man’s leering face and says “Eyes up here, buddy!” then points back at her own two eyes. She flips her badge open with her other hand to show proper identification . . . “Get over here, so I don’t have to yell over the music!”
As the bartender approaches, the scantily clad waitress spots the badge and slowly backs away from the bar to blend in with the other waitresses that are working the room.
Agent: “I’m Catherine Willow, with C.S.I.” The agent states formally, then continues to say: “I stopped in here a couple of days ago to talk to a dancer that goes by the name of “Joy” . . . she had some information about a missing girl that also danced here.”
Bartender: “Yeah, I remember you.” The man smacks a pack of cigarettes against the opened palm of his large hand, and then digs out a smoke to light. A moment later, he takes a deep drag off the smoke, and blows a cloud towards the agent. He then continues, “You were asking about that Asian chick with the nice tush.”
Agent: “If I recall, she was Chinese and her given name was Lucy . . . I was told that she was dancing under the name of “Cookie.”
Bartender: “Yeah yeah-whatever: Filipino; Japanese; Chinese; Korean . . . They all look the same to me, honey!”
Agent Willow cringes at the rude comment, and then takes a step closer to the bar. “That’s Agent Willow, or Miss Willow, to you; but let’s get one thing perfectly clear: I’m not anybody’s honey, especially not yours!” the woman snaps back.
Bartender: “Hey, whatever floats your boat” . . . (he takes another deep drag off of his cigarette) . . . “Look lady, all I know is her tight ass brought in a lot of customers and she aint’ doin’ me a lotta’ good wherever she is now!”
Agent: “Yeah, I can tell that it’s just breaking your heart. So is Joy working tonight, or not? . . . I need to talk to her as soon as possible.”
The bartender begins to pour himself a shot of crown royal and begins laughing under his breath . . .
Agent: “What’s so funny?”
Bartender: “Well agent . . . Willow was it? I’m afraid that I have some good news for you and some bad news.”
“And what news would that be?” the agent asks; now crossing her arms over her chest with impatience.
Bartender: “That little blonde hussy hasn’t shown up for work in three days: No calls; no nothing. In fact, she skipped out of here without paying her weekly dance fee. So if you see her around, tell her she better pay up soon, or I’ll be coming around to collect . . . And that could get messy!”
Agent: “What do you mean by she just skipped out?”
Bartender: “What are you, hard of hearing, lady? Like I just said; she up and left . . . Never bothered to clean out her locker either. That’s the kind of thanks I get for giving that junkie a job!”
Agent: “Wait; you mean to tell me that she was using again? Do you know she was, for a fact?”
Bartender: “Hey, once a user, always a user…it’s something that usually comes with this line of work.”
Agent: “So your just assuming she was using? She told me that she was clean, and I even went and checked on the main database. Joy has been drug-free for eleven months and hasn’t slipped . . . Even her sponsor will back that up.”
Bartender: “Look lady, I don’t care if she was using; if she’s back in rehab or lying stiff on a slab somewhere. If she doesn’t pay up, her sweet ass won’t ever be working in here again . . . And that goes for her little “chink” friend too!”
Agent Willow holds her breath after hearing the racist remark, taking all she can do to keep from blowing her cool. She glances around the room for a moment, and then asks, “So what was supposed to be the good news?”
The bartender reaches underneath the bar, and then slides a sheet of paper and pen across to where the agent is standing. He then gives the woman a cocky looking smile . . .
As Agent Willow picks up the form, she realizes that it’s a job application!
Bartender: “I guess the good news would be that we’re now short two dancers, and from where I’m standing, you look like you got a good chance of being hired!” (The bartender starts laughing out loud, and then slams his shot of liquor down).
With a pissed-off look, Agent Willow replies: “You know, it would be a hell of a shame if I sent some customs agents down here to check over everybody’s paperwork!” (The agent nods her head in the direction of two young Mexican girls standing in the corner, now whispering to each other and avoiding direct eye contact with the agent).
Bartender: “Well, I’ll tell you what . . . If Joy stops by and pays up, I’ll be sure to tell her that you were looking for her.” The man turns his back and begins washing another glass, then adds, “In the meantime, I think you know where the door is.”
Agent Willow stands shaking her head at the audacity of the man, and then says to the air, “What a f*cking creep!” The woman quickly turns around to avoid wasting anymore time, exiting the club to continue her search elsewhere.
Moments later, the rented Crown Vic spits loose gravel into the air as it exits the parking lot, then merges in with the other moving traffic back on the parkway. As Agent Willow picks up speed, she reflects back on the recent events that eventually led up to this current act of desperation . . .
* * * * * *
Thursday, 3 am in the morning (one week ago)
Catherine is awakened from her sleep by the wail of her ringing phone. She rolls over to look at her alarm clock: “Three a.m.? . . . Are you kidding me?” The agent checks her caller I.D. and sees that her daughter’s number is registering in the box . . . Catherine manages to ask a sleepy “Hello?”
On the other end of the phone, Catherine’s only daughter, “Lindsey”, carries on in a rapid panic something about her missing roommate, who is also a fellow student at the University.
The missing friend is a Chinese girl that works as an exotic dancer in her spare time, to help pay for her costly tuition. The twenty-year-old hasn’t come home to her apartment for two nights in a row now.
Lindsey: “Mom; I’m very worried about her. Lucy is very reliable and has never missed any classes, ever! I just know in my heart that something is wrong! Can’t you . . . You know; pull some strings or something?”
Catherine: “Oh honey, you know that I don’t have any jurisdiction up there. For godsakes, you’re up in New York and I’m out here in Nevada!”
Lindsey: “Please, you have to have some kind of pull! The local police aren’t really doing anything and the State Police aren’t helping much either! I think they’re just blowing it off, just like any other missing stripper case. Please mom, you have to help her!”. . . There is a slight pause, until the girl adds “I mean what if it was me out there somewhere?”
Catherine: “Look honey, I’m a crime scene investigator. Now I’m sure that they have detectives on the case, already working as hard as they can. I honestly don’t . . .”
Agent Willow is abruptly cut off by her daughter…
Lindsey: “You don’t care about her! You never cared about me either! The only thing that ever mattered to you was your damned career, and . . .”
The agent locks up all four brakes on the Crown Vic, nearly plowing into the back of a stopped stake-bed truck . . . with her heart quickly sinking to the pit of her stomach!
“Holy shit!” the agent exclaims, now exhaling a deep breath. She looks at the passenger side floor, to find all of her files and paperwork spread about.
A few moments later, the stopped traffic begins moving again, as Catherine wonders why she can never say ‘no’ to her daughter. The time she has spent over the last week searching for leads on the missing dancer known as “Cookie”, was the last of her much-needed vacation time allowed for the remainder of the year.
“Vacation . . . Imagine that!” Catherine says in disappointment. And on top of that, her only possible witness was now missing as well . . .
“Joy . . . What a sweet kid” she thinks, as she
reflects back on the conversation that she shared with the young dancer
and the events that led up to their first meeting just a few just a few
As C.S.I. Agent Catherine Willow approaches the off ramp and exits the Vestal Parkway, she reaches around in her large purse, looking for her hand-held mobile guidance system. The woman briefly wipes the tears that are now forming in her eyes and reminds herself out loud, “Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you can’t save them all, old girl. If these women chose that kind of life, then they’ll have to face the consequences.”
As the agent cruises along, she can’t even convince herself that her last statement is true . . .
The white Ford sedan soon approaches another traffic light, and slowly come to a stop. Catherine looks over at the manila folders spread across her passenger seat and the floorboard beneath it. She quickly fingers through the mess, looking for the list of missing persons that she had printed out at the crime lab by request, just a few days before . . .
* * * * * *
Monday April 3rd, 7:05 am:
Agent Willow “clacks” her heels through the main office of a crime lab, on the top floor of a police station downtown.
Several police officers and detectives pull on their coats and hats. They guzzle down last minute cups of coffee, as they prepare to head out to their daily assignments. A few of the men turn their heads in the direction of the woman’s approaching footsteps, to watch the attractive agent walk by. A few of them even mumble obscene comments amongst themselves . . .
Catherine, feeling a sense that she has attracted some unwanted attention, steps up to the desk of a young brunette who is seated in the back corner of the office.
The homely-looking girl looks up and flashes a smile . . . “Hi there! Can I help you?”
“Hello; I’m Agent Catherine Willow, with Las Vegas C.S.I.” says the woman now flashing her badge. “I’m here to speak with the chief of detectives.”
“Ah yes, one moment please,” says the secretary, as she presses the intercom button: “Chief Austin, there is an agent here from Las Vegas that wishes to speak with you, sir?” The woman pauses for a minute, waiting for a reply . . .
The intercom beeps, then a gruff voice on the other end asks, “Who?”
“She’s with C.S.I. in Las Vegas sir” says the seated woman, now looking at the badge that the agent is holding out to her. “Her name is Catherine Willow, sir; shall I send her in?”
There is momentary silence, until the voice on the intercom replies, “Yeah fine . . . send her in.”
“The chief will see you, so go on in,” says the secretary, now pointing at an adjacent door with closed blinds.
The agent thanks the seated girl, then walks to the office door and lets herself in.
An older man with weathered looking skin and peppered black and gray hair greets the agent from behind the desk, “Well hello there, Agent Willow. I could be mistaken, but did I hear Bonnie say that you’re with the Las Vegas C.S.I.?”
Agent: “Yes chief; that would be correct.”
The man leans back in his chair and crosses his arms behind his head, as he puffs out a cloud from his lighted cigar.
Chief: “You’re a hell of a long ways from Vegas agent. What brings you up here to New York city?”
Agent: “Actually, I’m in town looking into the disappearance of a dancer that was working over at a dive called the Risqué Café. She dances under the name of Cookie.”
Chief: “Yes, I believe that was the Asian girl; she was working at the club on the weekends, and attending Beaumont University during the day, along with some of the other girls.”
“Other girls, sir?” the agent asks with a confused look.
Chief: “Yes, I’m afraid that a few of the other missing girls were attending Beaumont University as well.”
Agent: “Wait . . . so there are other girls that are also missing? Were they dancers, too?”
Chief: “Oh no, the Asian was the only dancer that we know of. The others were just normal, everyday students.”
Agent: “How many students are we talking about here?”
Chief: “Well, I’m afraid there’s been quite a few that have come up missing over time.”
Agent: “Sooo, are you looking into the possible connection of the school as a factor?”
The chief puffs another cloud into the air, then crosses his forearms onto his protruding beer belly, stating: “Look, Agent Willow; I can assure you that we have our best men on the case. In fact, the boys from the F.B.I. are involved as well. Now I realize that we haven’t found any actual bodies yet, but why would a C.S.I. agent from Nevada be all the way up here in New York, snooping around?”
Agent: “Well, to tell you the truth, I took the last of my vacation time to fly out here; out of my own pocket. The latest missing girl is actually my daughter’s roommate, and she’s pretty concerned about what happened to Lucy and for her own safety as well. The sooner we get this creep off the streets, the . . .”
“Now look, Agent Willow, the last thing I need to add to this circus is an unknown crime scene investigator running around loose out there!” the chief says, after rudely cutting the woman off in mid-sentence.
Agent: “Well, if you have any doubts about my credentials, why don’t you call up the lab in Vegas and ask for yourself!”
Catherine digs out a business card from her wallet and tosses it across the desk to the man as if she was dealing poker.
The chief shakes his head slowly, and then pulls out his cigar to tap the ashes off the end.
Agent: “Look at it this way; you’ll be gaining one more detective, for an entire week, free of charge.”
Catherine slides her hands into the front pockets of her tight pants, leaving the front of her sport jacket open to hang from the curves of her breasts. “Come on chief, I know what it’s like; I promise that I’ll stay out of everybody’s way.”
Chief Austin looks the determined woman over briefly, then replies, “Why don’t you wait outside for a minute, while I make the call.”
“Ok, that’s fair enough. But don’t think for a minute, that I’ll be leaving without an answer,” the woman says with a serious look.
As the spunky agent turns around to exit the office, the chief gets up from his chair to admire Catherine’s splendid rear view, and then slams the door behind her.
Agent Willow waits, seated just outside the office, for almost thirty minutes, before the chief re-opens the door.
“Well Agent Willow, you certainly have the credentials to back yourself up!” says the chief. He then turns to his secretary and commands: “Bonnie, please take this young lady over to the conference room. I believe Detective Procton is still in here yet . . .”
“Yes, sir!” responds the brunette, as she steps out from behind her desk.
The chief then turns and extends his hand to Agent Willow and states “You got a lotta’ moxie kid; welcome aboard!”
“Thank you, chief,” the agent says while shaking the man’s extended hand. She promises, “I’ll do my best, sir.”
The secretary then leads Agent Willow down a hallway that eventually takes them to a conference room at the far end. The brunette knocks on the door, hears the invitation to “Come on in,” then the secretary opens the door while asking “Would you like me to get you a cup of coffee or something?”
“No, but thanks anyway,” replies Catherine with a warm smile. The door slowly closes behind her, as the agent approaches a petite blonde woman, who is currently leaning over a large oval table completely covered by a large map, with various manila folders spread around its parameter. Each folder has a name printed on its upper right corner and contains various pictures, the age, and other personal information about the missing person within.
“Hi; I’m Agent Willow,” says Catherine, now extending her hand to the cute blonde detective.
The blonde woman shakes her hand in return and replies, “Yes, Chief Austin just called and filled me in on the details. I’m Detective Emily Procton and it’s a true pleasure to meet you. But please, just call me Emily,” she says, emitting a shy smile.
“Likewise, and you can call me Cathy,” the agent replies while looking around. “I originally came down here to look into the disappearance of one local dancer, but from what I heard from the chief . . . It sounds like you may have an epidemic of missing girls on your hands!”
“Yes we surely do, I’m afraid,” replies the detective, now reaching over to grab one of the stacks of folders. Emily wastes no time as she hands a pile to Agent Willow, then places her arms on her hips. “There have been almost thirty abductions over the last three decades within two adjoining counties; twenty four of them occurred within the last three years.”
“Whoa!” exclaims Agent Willow as she begins to open the first file within her hands. She is greeted by a blurry yearbook picture of a young woman with mid-neck length, dirty blonde, hair and crystal clear blue eyes . . .
Catherine begins to read aloud: “Bridget Fonda; age nineteen . . . 5 ft. 11, 117 lbs. Last seen leaving her home in a Geo Tracker with friends Beyonce’ and Maria.” The agent then looks at a highlighted notation in bright yellow; “Miss Fonda was a freshman student at Beaumont University.”
Emily: “One of the two girls that disappeared along with her also attended Beaumont. Her name is Maria Sanchez and she was also a freshman. Ms. Sanchez reportedly called in sick for work the day she disappeared.”
Agent Willow: “Hmm . . . Three young women. At that age, they could have just taken off for Cancun or even Cabo San Lucas.”
Emily: “That was over two years ago, so they would have surely run out of money by now. And there is more to this particular story,” the detective continued, grabbing two folders out of another stack and opening them in front of Cathy. “This is Kathy Lee Fonda, age fifty. She happens to be the mother of Bridget. Kathy vanished, along with her younger daughter Christie, seven months after Bridget vanished. Emily opened the second folder and reveals it to the agent.
Agent Willow: “Wow! Christie Fonda . . . age fourteen? That doesn’t fit the profile of these other women.”
Catherine studies the picture of the cute blonde girl that holds a beaming smile upon her unblemished young face.
Emily: “I have two folders over there in the pile that have the bios on two other minors that have also disappeared. They were both one grade behind Christie, and all three of them attended the same middle school.”
Emily closes the folders and places them back on the table.
“Now, the files that you have are all females that have disappeared over the last three years. They were all attending Beaumont University at the time they vanished,” explains Detective Procton.
Catherine opens another file containing the smiling face of a Mid-Eastern Indian woman with jet-black hair and piercing dark eyes, and asks, “Have you guys done a background search through the records of the male students enrolled at the college?”
Emily: “We have a crew searching through the history of both the male students as well as the faculty . . . including the maintenance workers.”
Detective Procton then motions for Agent Willow to follow her to the other side of the room. The two women come to a stop at the large chalkboard at the front of the room. A large sheet of heavy white paper covers most of the slate surface, with a schematic diagram drawn upon it. In the middle of the paper is a drawn box that says “Beaumont U”, with several branches extending out from the center. From each of those branches, a small picture of each victim has been pasted, with a small notation of how the victim was either related, or where they vanished from, and the date.
Agent Willow looks at the pictures of the beautiful young women, studying each carefully, and then following the branches with her pointed finger as if looking for a pattern.
“Alicia Jones; red hair; 6’2 . . . Wow, big girl!” says the agent, following the branch of the tree back to Beaumont.
Emily: “According to her parents, she had planned on staying on campus at the dorm for a three day weekend. She was supposed to graduate with an engineering degree in the spring.”
“And what’s the story on these two?” asks Catherine, as she points out two women that appear to be in their late forties. Another break in the pattern.
Emily: “The dark haired woman is Josephine Pitt. She’s married to the real estate magnate Stanley Pitt. It is believed that she ran off with their pool boy, and may now be living outside the US. She has her own offshore bank account, and we have been keeping a close eye on it.”
Agent Willow: “Hmm, separate bank accounts eh? Any activity there?”
Emily: “No activity at all . . . Which is odd, considering her expensive taste for the finer things in life.”
Agent Willow: “I see. And this other woman?”
Emily: “That would be Marion Cunningham; age forty six, and a married mother of two. Both her kids are out of the house. Although Marion doesn’t fit the profile of the other women due to her age, she was a member on the Beaumont school board and also worked in the admissions department.”
Agent Willow: “And where did Mrs. Cunningham disappear from?”
Emily: “Her husband said that she was going to a board meeting . . . But she never arrived.”
Agent Willow: “Was the vehicle recovered?”
Emily: “She was reportedly driving an older model Volvo station wagon, but the car was never found. In fact we have never recovered any of the vehicles, oddly enough. With exception of these victims’ cars, which were all found at the same location, on the same day.” (Emily points to another branch) . . . “These four students all attended the same high school together, and their vehicles were found in a wooded area outside of Creedmont, which is about an hour and a half east from here.”
Agent Willow traces a single branch that links one of the female high school students back to Beaumont University.
Detective Procton takes notice and says, “That’s Velma Livingston . . . Age seventeen, and a senior at Creedmont High. We were told by her parents, that she planed to attend Beaumont after graduation.”
Agent Willow: “Hmm, another connection to the University. And what about the two boys?”
Emily: “They were boyfriends of the two missing girls. Neither of them has turned up either.”
Agent Willow: “And the boys backgrounds checked out?”
Emily: “Neither had any record.”
Agent Willow: “And the vehicles that you found . . . They were thoroughly dusted for prints and DNA?”
Emily: (nodding) “C.S.I. went through all three vehicles as well as taking plaster molds from the tire tracks at the scene.”
Agent Willow: “And what did they find?”
Emily: “No prints, other than those of the victims. There was semen residue found in a Chevy Blazer, but it was matched to the owner through DNA.”
Agent Willow: “Well, you know how that goes; a bunch of horny teens, parked in the woods out in the middle of nowhere.” She pauses in thought, and then asks, “What about those tire tracks?”
Emily: “Tread pattern LT 235 75 R 15, which indicates that the vehicle used was a light truck or van. We looked at the tread patterns on the Blazer and another pickup that was found at the scene; neither matched the that pattern.”
“Ok, good work,” she complements. “And what about these two women here,” asks Catherine, pointing to two dark-haired women placed above the picture of a fire-red BMW.
Emily: “Elaine Benes worked for Stanley Pitt, as an administrative assistant. Now, as you may recall, Mr. Pitt’s wife Josephine is missing. Elaine was last seen leaving work in her BMW and was reportedly going to the Bahamas on vacation . . . But she never made it to the airport.” The detective exhales and then continues, “The other woman shown is Sidra Holland, an aerobics instructor up town. She is, reportedly, best friends with Ms. Benes. Sidra’s SUV was being repaired at a local dealership . . . she failed to return to pick the vehicle up the following Monday.”
Agent Willow: “You said, this Pitt guy had connections with Elaine and his wife is also missing . . . what’s the story there?”
Emily: “We checked his background out thoroughly, and he’s legit, as much as anyone that rich can be. He was also out of the country at the time that Elaine vanished. We checked through customs, and he was in Europe for two weeks, then flew to Rio De Janeiro, and was there for another two weeks.”
Agent Willow continues to stare at the diagram with a troubled look for several minutes, until Detective Procton breaks the silence . . .
“So . . . Have any ideas for me?” prompts the blonde detective.
“Well, some of these wouldn’t seem related,” states Catherine, now pointing at three photos of African American women pasted to another branch at the far end.
Emily: “On the contrary . . . The police questioned several prostitutes that were working in the area that night those women vanished; at least three of them recalled seeing Lakeesha Jones getting into an older model van that was black in color.” The blonde detective then points to the other two African American women and adds, “A surveillance tape confiscated from a truck stop out on Interstate 81 shows a black van gassing up at the pumps, then driving to the far end of a parking area out back. It is believed that Cherri Wilson and Latoya “Missy” Perkins were both turning tricks at the same truck stop that night.”
Detective Procton then traces her index finger over to the picture of a smiling middle-eastern girl. “Sari, who was an exchange student at Beaumont, was working at a convenience store just three miles down the Interstate from that truck stop. We have both indoor and outdoor video footage of her being carried away unconscious and being loaded into a similar van: painted black and without side windows. Unfortunately, all of the footage is grainy, and we couldn’t make out a plate number, or get a positive I.D. on the abductor.”
Agent Willow: “So we are looking for an older model black van, without side windows. Did you check through the DMV to see if anybody on campus or in the vicinity owned such a vehicle?”
Detective Procton exhales a laugh, then says, “Look Cathy, no offense; but there are currently over twenty thousand students enrolled at the college, not including faculty, so that would be quite an undertaking. Our crew is already swamped with doing background checks through the database.”
Agent Willow frowns, pulling her strawberry blonde locks up over her ear. “Yeah, I can see your point there,” she admits, now looking at an enlarged grainy-looking photo of the van, undoubtedly taken from surveillance tape footage. “But from what I can see, this van has dog dish hubcaps; a spotlight and a lack of side windows. Those are all signs that this was a utility van in a former life. Perhaps even with the police at one time.”
Emily: “Well, considering how many vans are out there being used for business purposes, or are retired from service . . . that number could be staggering!”
Agent Willow: “They could have bought it a municipal auction . . . dirt cheap, most likely.”
Emily: “That’s exactly what I was thinking. It could also be ditched and replaced with another cheap replacement.”
Agent Willow takes a few steps over and notices the photo of a young Asian girl who’s wearing glasses. Even though the photo is an apparent copy of her passport, the girl’s hair has a noticed sheen . . . Catherine begins reading aloud, “Swan Lu; 18 years of age; 5’4” 100 lbs. freshman exchange student, Beaumont University. What a cute girl.”
Emily: “Yes, she was the first Asian student to come up missing. Now, I haven’t had a chance to add the recent missing dancer to the diagram yet, but her complete file is in that stack your holding.”
Agent Willow tilts her head down, and starts flipping through the files until seeing the name: Lucy “Cookie” Chang. The agent flips open the folder, then sees various photos of the young girl clamped together with a paperclip. The first is a simple headshot of her smiling round face, dark eyes and straight, long burgundy-tinted hair. In the second photo, the girl has the same jubilant expression while doing a leg split in her cheerleading uniform on what might be her parent’s front lawn. A third photo is fairly dated, and features the girl straddling a balance beam in her younger gymnastic period.
“That’s a damned shame,” says Catherine, now sliding the paperclip back against the photos.
Emily: “Yes, I’m afraid so. My understanding was that she was studying to be a chemical engineer.”
Agent Willow: “Wait a minute . . . a chemical engineer?”
Emily: “Yes, that’s what we have listed under her curriculum.”
Agent Willow flips through the stack of folders once again, on a hunch, until she finds a folder that she glanced at a few minutes ago. Eventually she spots the name Fonda and flips that folder open. “First year Chemical Engineering student,” she reads, before closing the folder and then flips open the next in the stack. Cathy skips past the pictures of a smiling Latino woman until she comes to her Bio page: “Maria Sanchez, pursuing a chemical Engineering degree.”
Catherine turns to detective Procton and before she has a chance to speak, the petite blonde answers her question . . .
“Swan Lu was a chemical engineering student as well!” says the detective, now crossing her arms across her chest. The woman pauses in deep thought for a moment, then turns and walks to the other side of the room to sit down in front of her computer. Within minutes, she is cruising through Beaumont University’s master database.
As Agent Willow walks up behind Emily, she watches the determined detective clicking away frantically at the keyboard . . .
Emily: “According to faculty records . . . . (The detective scrolls through several screens), there are four different professors in the chemical engineering department: Adams, Claussen, Davis and Farr.
Agent Willow: “Are any of those professors listed, involved with the admissions department?”
The detective clicks away and scrolls through several more screens until she answers, “Only Professor Jack Claussen.”
Agent Willow walks back to the diagram on the opposite side of the room, and then stops to look at a picture of a rather nerdy looking girl, with thick, black framed glasses. “Velma Livingston was planning on attending Beaumont University after graduating from high school correct?”
Emily: “Hold on, that might actually take a minute!” The petite blonde fires away at the keyboard like a reporter with an overdue headline story. “It says here, Velma Livingston Bio: Advanced mathematics; database development; chemical terminology; Earth Science II; advanced biology; calculus 3; chemical engineering I & II and OH YEAH! . . . Here it is: Pursuing a chemical engineering degree. Interviewed by Jack Claussen!”
Emily looks up at Catherine with a concerned look and says “ According to the appointment log: Velma took a tour of the campus with her parents and was interviewed by Professor Claussen just two weeks before she disappeared.”
Agent Willow walks back to the seated detective with her arms crossed and a look of deep concentration expressed on her face. She plants one thigh on the edge of the computer desk, then asks, “So do you think that it’s merely a coincidence that all of these missing students just happen to be studying the same subject?”
“…Or just might happen to have the same teacher?” adds the detective without looking up from her monitor, as the glow from the monitor reflects back upon her beautiful green eyes.
“Do you think it’s enough to go on?” asks Agent Willow.
The detective breaks out of her concentration, then looks up from the screen and replies, “Well, other than placing a black van at three different locations, and the fact that most of the missing women attended the same University . . . I guess this is the only lead we have to work with.”
Agent Willow: “I think we should go and pay this Professor Claussen a visit, what do you think?”
Detective Procton flashes a perfect white smile and offers, “Well Cathy, I’ll tell you what; I’m supposed to go over and interview a stripper by the name of Joy, who worked with the missing dancer over at the “Risqué Café” this afternoon at 2:30. Why don’t you go over and see what you can find out from her. In the meantime, I’ll drive over to Beaumont University and see if I can have a talk with this Professor Claussen fellow.”
“Yeah, wonderful! I get to watch naked women sliding down poles; what a great way to spend my vacation!” complains Agent Willow, while rolling her eyes.
Detective Procton gets up from her chair and pulls her wrinkled polo shirt tightly to her athletic body. She gently places her hand on the agent’s shoulder, then says “Listen, you just go in there, ask a few questions and then get the hell outta’ there. I’m sure that with the way you look, there will be guys making all sorts of comments . . . Just try to block them out.”
“Yeah right;like you can ignore a room full of howling horn dogs!” says Willow, now taking a deep breath and exhaling.
Detective Procton gets out a little black book that’s full of notes, picks out a fluorescent pink business card and hands it to Catherine. “This is the name and address of the place.”
Emily looks around as if somebody might overhear her then offers some advice to her new partner: “Either button up your coat, or change your clothes entirely before you go over there. You will attract even more attention than you want to, dressed like that. I would also be sure to use the bathroom at your hotel before you leave. I have been in a few of those places and there’s usually white sticky stuff on the walls and floors, and believe me; it isn’t gum!”
Agent Willow cracks a crooked smile, then says “Yeah well . . . I’m sorry to say that I’m fully aware of that situation!”
* * * * * *
Monday April Third, 2:30 pm: Risqué Café Gentlemen’s Club
Agent Willow is guided down a dark and narrow hallway, somewhere behind the stage area of a seedy strip joint.
The waitress walking in front of the woman appears to be of Mexican descent and of a questionable age . . . (at least a bit young to be working in a sleazy place like this anyway).
The waitress stops, knocks on the door once, and then pushes it open. The young girl waves her arm to enter and says, “Please come.” She flashes a warm, almost innocent smile, and then bows her head with a bit of shyness. A moment later, she turns and walks back down the hallway with her hips swaying sexily from side to side beneath her scant outfit.
Agent Willow shakes her head and wonders to herself: “What on earth are you girls doing to yourselves?”
Catherine then turns and enters the cramped area of the dressing room. She notices a blonde girl applying eye-liner on a small wooden bench that is placed in front of three make-up stations. A row of dented up lockers covered with graffiti stand in the background, looking as if they were salvaged from a run-down school or failed business . . . (And most likely should have been left there). One single bathroom stall is seen in a far back corner; however its broken door leans against a wall beside it, offering no privacy whatsoever.
“I could imagine it gets pretty crowded in here on the weekend, huh?” asks the agent.
A blonde woman sitting in front of one of the mirrors begins laughing, as she attempts to hold her eyeliner steady . . .
“Yeah well, you know . . . ” the girl starts to say before pausing in mid sentence to concentrate, carefully drawing two lines on her bottom lids, then tracing two more above her gorgeous blue eyes. She finishes, blinks her eyes a few times, and then continues in her southern drawl: “I know it could be a helluva lot worse! I’ve worked at a couple places where I had to paint ma’ self up in the back of ma’ little Honda Civic, and believe me, there aint’ a lotta room in one o’ them either!”
The two women begin laughing in unison, as the dancer picks up her lipstick, rolling the tip out.
Catherine continues to smile in thought at the comment, as she pulls her badge out of her pocket to show the woman some identification.
“Hi, I’m Agent Willow . . . Crime Scene Investigation, Las Vegas Nevada” she offers, now extending her hand.
The blonde quickly looks at her badge, then shakes hands with the agent and says “Hi there! They call me Joy, believe it or not . . . Even though I end up acting like a total bitch by the end of the night!” The dancer then resumes applying her lipstick . . .
“Yeah well, I can remember those days unfortunately; guys trying to get their money’s worth . . . Always grabbing hold of a little more than they’re supposed to be,” the agent recalls with a frown.
Catherine sits down beside the dancer, causing the wooden bench to teeter dangerously!
“Whoa, careful girl . . . This rickety bench might not take the weight of both a us!” the dancer says, while snapping the cap back onto her lipstick and cracking a smile. “So, Las Vegas? . . . You’re a long way from home girl!”
Agent: “Yeah well, it’s not because I have any great love for New York, believe me.”
Catherine’s smile slowly begins to fade, as she brings up the real reason that she’s in town . . .
Agent: “So, I understand that you worked with a girl that disappeared a little over a week ago, one who dances under the name of “Cookie?”
Dancer: “Yeah . . . It’s quite a shame. She was a real sweetheart too. Her real name was Lucy.”
Agent: “So, you know her fairly well?”
Dancer: “Yeah, pretty much. She mostly worked on weekends because of school and all. Plus we always made the most money on weekends anyway.”
Joy begins to primp her straight, long blonde hair in the mirror before her, brushing her neatly cut bangs away from her eyebrows. The woman then stops brushing her hair for a moment, and begins to chuckle slightly as she remembers, “Ya know, that girl just cracks me up!”
Catherine smiles then asks, “And why is that?”
Dancer: “Well, she used to sprinkle a little bit o’ that body glitter stuff on her tushy. She used tell me that it was her little “secret” to the trade.”
Catherine rolls her eyes and responds, “Hey, whatever works, right?”
Dancer: “Hey you better believe it; them tips can make or break a girl!”
Agent: “Well, I was wondering if you could tell me any other details about her; if she was dating anybody or if she had any regular customers that might have been following her around?”
Dancer: “Lucy? Nah . . . She was pretty focused on getting through school, so she didn’t have much time for a man in her life.”
The blonde twists her torso from side-to-side, and then adjusts her boobs within her red, micro-sized bikini top. Turning to the agent beside her, she says, “You know; I really have to admire the fact that she was dancing only to pay for her tuition. I’d just love more than anything to go back n’ get my diploma.”
Agent: “You mean never finished school?”
Dancer: “Nah . . . Ya’ll know how it goes: I got married real young to this guy named Earl, livin’ in a trailer down in Carolina. Next thing ya know, I got a kid by another guy and he ends up bein’ husband number two . . . Livin’ in a trailer that was more beat up than the first one. Then, I got mixed up with drugs fer a spell . . . Spent some time in jail n’ did the rehab thang.”
Agent: “Well, unfortunately . . . I ran a ways down that road myself for a few years.”
Dancer: “You? Naw.”
Agent: “Oh yeah . . . I ran away from home and lived in the fast lane for a few years, just being young and foolish. Then after a few years, I burned out. Eventually I returned to Montana, only to find that my folks had gotten tired of waiting for me to grow up themselves.”
Dancer: “Wow . . . Just packed up n’ left ya, huh?”
Agent: “Yeah. I learned to be independent . . . Well I pretty much had to be, if I was going to survive. So . . . I decided to put the favors that the good Lord gave me to use. I danced for quite a few years and eventually socked away enough money to go back to school, and ended up studying forensics.”
Dancer: “No shit; so that’s why you’re up here, you feel some kind of connection with this Lucy girl.”
Agent: “Yeah, I guess you could say that. Plus: my daughter Lindsey was her roommate. The two of them were both going to Beaumont University, and they were splitting the rent on an off-campus apartment.”
Dancer: “Oh, no kiddin’?” The woman pauses in thought, and then says “Ya’ know, I do remember Lucy mentioning that she had a roommate.”
Agent: “So how did you end up in New York then?”
Dancer: “Well, I just couldn’t take it no more down South, so I just up n’ left.”
The blonde stands up from the wooden bench, grabs a handheld mirror, then turns around to check out the reflection of her firm ass . . . first pulling her g-string up into the crack of her butt, then plucking it outward so it barely covered each cheek.
Agent: “Well, what about your kid?”
Dancer: “Yeah, well . . . I miss my little boy everyday. But my mother-in-law has got custody of him now, and I know he’s better off with her anyway.”
Agent: “. . . And now you’re just trying to make ends meet.”
Dancer: “Exactly: just keeping food on my table and a roof over my little ole’ head.”
The girl smiles, as she pulls the side strings of her panties up high over her hips, then turns in side profile to check her look, just one last time in the mirror.
Agent: “So, are you using now?”
Dancer: “Oh hell no! I’ve been out of rehab for eleven months now and I’m still clean n’ sober!” (She smiles with pride)
Agent: “Good, that’s what I like to hear! So anyway, back to Cookie . . . Or Lucy if you’d prefer.”
Dancer: “Yeah sure. So anyway, I told the detectives pretty much everthin’ that I knew about the girl at the time. But two days ago, that same old guy that used to come in to watch Lucy, shows up . . . what did she call him? . . . Oh yeah, the perfessor.”
Agent: “A professor used to watch her dance?”
Dancer: “Yeah, she said he was a teacher at her college, so she always called him the “professor.”
Agent: “Oh really, and he came in here quite a bit?”
Dancer: “Well, once or twice a week anyway, he always left good tips too!”
Agent: “So he was a regular customer.”
Dancer: “Well, he wasn’t in here as often as some of these guys who come in every night, blowing their paychecks.”
Agent: “And did this guy ever follow her around . . . Like, outside the club?”
Dancer: “Nah, nothing like that at all. But he did pay for a couple of dances in the private room with her.” (The blonde lights up a cigarette, and blows a cloud off into the air). “I do remember the two of us laughing at some of his requests though!”
Agent: “Why is that?”
Dancer: “Well, he used to get her into the room alone, and you know how most guys are; they’d be climbing all over you, or want you rubbin’ up against them n’ stuff. But this guy was different. That old guy would have her pose for him and he would be moving her arms and legs around to the position that he liked.”
Agent: “You mean like mannequin modeling . . . like you might see kids doing in the mall from time to time?”
Dancer: “Yes, exactly! And he was real particular about it too! He didn’t want her blinkin’ or twitchin’ or anything. He said it was important to keep perfectly still or the entire effect would be ruined.”
Agent: “So, this guy was a control freak.”
Dancer: “I don’t know about all that, we both thought the guy was actually kinda’ sweet. Besides, I think Lucy sort of enjoyed it; she once told me that havin’ that old man movin’ her around like that and havin’ to keep herself still used to make her horny as hell!”
Agent: “So she liked being dominated?”
Dancer: “Nah, I think she just liked the idea of being admired like that, without any sex bein’ involved. Hell, what woman doesn’t want to be looked at an’ adored?”
Agent: “Yeah; I guess you have a good point there.”
Dancer: “Well anyway, I remember he gave Lucy his business card, and mentioned somethin’ bout doin’ some private modeling for him, but she passed on it, and eventually gave the card to me. I figured the idea sounded kinda’ bogus, so I tossed the card. But then when he stopped by the other day, he gave me the same exact card as well.”
Agent: “Do you still have it?”
Dancer: “Sure I do; someplace in this mess!”
The girl begins digging through a bunch of cosmetic stuff that’s scattered about the desk in front of her.
Dancer: “But ya know what the weirdest part was? The guy never even asked where Cookie was when he got here. I actually had to bring it up in conversation, and he didn’t seem to be surprised that she was missing. He just said somethin’ like “I’m sure she’s feeling perfectly fine.”
The dancer spots the card and hands it to Agent Willow.
Dancer: “Anyway, I thought to myself; this poor girl goes out of her way to turn the guy on, do ask he asks, so he could at least show some concern!”
The agent looks at one side of the item, which is actually just a plain business card that would be given to a future student or their parents when they were looking to get accepted into the college. But when she flips the card over, it has the professor’s personal address written on the back. It reads:
119 Pine Hollow Road
* Stop by anytime if interested!
Just then, a burly looking man with a sleeveless black shirt and tattoos enters the doorway . . .
“Hey! Joy! Get your little ass out there on stage, we got people waiting!” the man yells, causing the blonde dancer to slightly flinch!
The brooding owner then turns to look at the agent, quickly scanning her over . . . “Unless you plan on getting out there and grinding with her, I suggest you move it on along; I got bills that gotta be paid, honey!”
“Yeah right . . . It’s going to take more money to see me out there than you’ll ever have!” says the agent, with a disgusted look.
The man cocks his head back with laughter and says, “Then you better hurry up and make up your mind, cause’ we don’t have an old timer’s night, lady!”
The rude guy turns from the women and storms back down the hall. As he opens the stage door he yells back: “Joy, move your ass now!” then slams the door shut behind him.
Dancer: “Don’t pay any attention to him: he’s pretty much a certified asshole!”
Agent: “Now what would have given me that impression?”
The two women laugh in unison as they exit the small room, then walk down the dark and narrow hallway that leads to the stage door.
“So, how do I look?” asked the dancer, now flashing a wide innocent looking smile.
Agent: “Like your about to knock em’ dead, Joy.”
Dancer: “Oh please: just call me Jamie, or Miss Pressley . . . whichever. Joy is just the name that I use when I dance. Kinda for ol’ time’s sake.”
“Ok, Jamie it is!” The agent replies with a smile. Then in a more serious tone, she says, “You just be sure to take care of yourself, ok?”
Dancer: “Oh please (swipes her arm away in the air) I was raised a tomboy, and I can handle myself . . . But thanks for the concern all the same.”
The two women embrace each other, as if they’d known each other for all of their lives . . .
Before the dancer opens the door to the stage, she turns and gives her hand to Agent Willow and looks at her with sparkling blue eyes to say, “You know, I respect the fact that you took time off an’ cash money out of your own pocket to come up her and help this girl out. Lucy is a really sweet girl and she has too much going for her to be mixed up in this kind of life.”
Agent: “Yeah well . . . I think you both do!”
With that, the twenty eight year old blonde known as “Joy” steps through the door and waits behind a ratty velvet curtain for her music to begin . . .
* * * * * *
Several hours later, the two police women meet back at the police station to exchange their notes . . .
“Well, I’m glad to see that you made it back in one piece!” says Agent Willow, setting her purse down. She immediately asks, “So what did our professor have to offer?”
“Well . . . He might end up being a tough egg to crack,” answers the detective in a discouraged tone. Emily opens up her little black notebook, and then says, “He certainly didn’t deny knowing some of the girls as his students.”
“Wait . . . He didn’t think it was odd that at least five of these missing girls were in his classes?” Agent Willow asked with a tone of skepticism.
“Well look; I don’t want to push this guy or spook him off!” warns Detective Procton. “I’m going to have to approach him in a way that doesn’t make him seem guilty right off the bat!”
“That’s fine, but what did he have to say?” Catherine asks impatiently.
Emily: “I showed him a photo of the Indian girl first and he told me that he may recall having seen her walking around campus. I then got out a photo of the Asian exchange student named Swan, and he got very emotional . . . Telling me that she was one of his best students and that he had heard some rumors floating around about her having some troubles with renewing her entry visa.”
Agent Willow: “Well, I can have immigration look into that. What else did he have to say?”
Emily: “I then brought out a photo of Velma Livingston and he said that he literally interviews hundreds of students per semester and couldn’t possibly be expected to remember them all.” The detective sighed, then continued, “He did recall having Maria Sanchez and the older Fonda girl as students and even mentioned that Bridget may have even had a crush on him for a brief period.”
Agent Willow: “Well, that’s typical; a girl her age, away from home for the first time in a strange new place. Sometimes girls will pursue the father figure . . . It gives them some kind of safety net.”
Emily: “Well regardless, the professor said he never acted on it and did his best not to mislead her.”
Agent Willow: “Yeah, I’ll just bet he did.” The woman puts her hands on her hips then asks, “So, did this guy act nervous or anything?”
The detective shrugs her shoulders slightly, then answers, “No; not really. In fact I hate to admit it, but the old guy was actually pretty charming.”
Agent Willow rolls her eyes then mumbles, “Great.”
“Well, other than the fact that I felt like he was “eyeing me over” the entire time,” recollects the detective.
Emily smiles and crosses her arms, almost appearing to be in a daze, reflecting on her afternoon with the gentleman . . .
Agent Willow gets a concerned look on her face then asks “Wait a minute, don’t tell me you’re developing a crush on this guy?”
The detective replies with: “Ewww! Catherine, Jack Claussen is almost twice my age; come on!”
Agent Willow gives the detective a look that says she’s not convinced.
Emily: “No, seriously! . . . I’m just saying that the professor is a very charming man. The guy has this way of letting you know that he thinks you’re special, without having to actually come right out and say it.”
“Sure, I just bet he does,” says Catherine Willow flatly. The agent crosses her arms over her chest, then tells her partner the bad news: “Well, I talked to this dancer named Jamie . . . Joy is actually just her dance name, but anyhow, she told me about a little fetish that your charming professor has.”
“That guy has a fetish?” the detective prompts her with a confused look. “Do tell!”
Agent Willow: “Well, your “Mr. Charming” started coming down to the strip club on a regular basis, once he found out that this Lucy girl was dancing there in her spare time.”
The detective shrugs her shoulders and says, “Well, the man is single and he has never been married. He probably was just looking for some company. The fact that one of his students worked there may be purely coincidental.”
Agent Willow gives her partner a dirty look, as if she seriously doubts it.
“Ok, I’m sorry!” Emily apologizes. “Please continue.”
Agent Willow: “Anyway, he apparently used to pay for private dances, and only requested this “Cookie” girl. Now the dancer that I talked to told me this guy wasn’t really interested in your typical lap dance.”
Emily: “Alright, so what was he into?”
Agent Willow takes a deep breath, and then tries her best to explain: “The guy used to pay her to stand perfectly still while he posed her.”
“I don’t get it,” says Detective Procton with a confused expression on her face. “What?”
Agent Willow: “Ok listen: you know how clothing stores at the mall will sometimes have living models pose like mannequins in their windows? . . . There will typically be a bunch of people standing outside, trying to make the models laugh or just lose their concentration.”
Emily: “Sure. I remember going Christmas shopping down in Manhattan one year, and Macy’s had a bunch of them posed in their window and by the escalators. It’s called freeze modeling.”
Agent Willow: “That’s exactly what I‘m talking about! Anyway, it sounds like our professor gets off on that sort of thing.”
The petite detective crosses her arms over her chest, and begins pacing back and forth in front of her partner. After a brief moment of silence, she speaks up concluding, “So the professor is into objectification.”
Agent Willow: “I’m not so sure that I follow you.”
Detective Procton pulls her long blonde hair up over her ear, and then begins her explanation. “This guy is turned on by the idea of reducing an animated woman into an inanimate object. In a suspended state, her physical beauty, sexuality, even her personal freedom is there at his disposal. The woman is reduced to functioning only as an exhibit, serving as a symbol, a reminder of what she once was. Now lifeless and inert, her physical beauty is sustained indefinitely for his viewing pleasure and can be admired at anytime he chooses.”
“Sort of like if he was to pass a beautiful stranger on the street; he seeks to relive that brief moment with the woman again and again,” adds Agent Willow.
Detective Procton answers: “Oh absolutely. The female now becomes an “object” or even a “muse” if you will, allowing her captor a certain level of voyeuristic spectatorship.”
Agent Willow shakes her head, and then says, “No wonder why artists used to sculpt statues in tribute to the most beautiful women!”
Emily: “Yeah, it’s pretty much the same idea. If I recall, the term is called being a statuephile.”
“You’re kidding me . . . a statuefile? Now that’s a term that I haven’t heard of before!” says Agent Willow with a surprised look.
“Oh yes!” states the detective. “In fact, it’s actually listed in one of my profiling manuals.”
Agent Willow makes an odd look at her partner, then digs the little black book from out of her purse that she has been taking notes in. She flips open the cover, sliding a plain white business card out to hand to the detective. As she gives her the card, she states, “I’m not exactly sure how this little card fits in with all of this, but the professor gave it to Lucy. He also gave a card to the dancer that I talked with this afternoon . . .”
Emily looks at the card, and then observes, “This is just a card that would be given to a student that was looking to get accepted.”
“Yes, I realize that, but turn it over,” suggests the agent.
Detective Procton flips the card, and then reads the hand-written printing out loud:
119 Pine Hollow Road
* Stop by anytime if interested!
The detective looks up with a confused look and asks, “So what is this all about?”
Agent Willow: “Apparently, you buddy the charming professor, approached Lucy about doing some modeling work “off the clock” so-to-speak.”
Emily: “So did she take him up on the offer?”
Agent Willow: “Well, from what Jamie told me, Lucy wasn’t up for the idea. She then gave the card to Jamie, thinking that she might need the extra money. Then a few days ago, this same guy stopped at the club and handed Jamie the same card.”
Detective Procton begins pacing back and forth at the front of the room. She runs her fingers through her long, whitish blonde hair, letting it fall off the back of her shoulders and then stops abruptly . . . “So, did this dancer say what the professor wanted her to pose for?”
Catherine Willow shrugs her shoulders and only offers, “Maybe this guy does sculpture work in his spare time; who knows?”
Detective Procton begins to pace back and forth once again, and then suggests, “Well, so what if we send this Jamie girl in as bait?”
Agent Willow: “Hmm, you mean just to see if he bites?”
Emily: “Sure; it would be just like a prostitution sting!”
Agent Willow: “Naw . . . I think I know this Jamie girl pretty well. She’s willing to co-operate, but I don’t see her as being the type to just sit there and patiently pose for somebody.”
Emily: “Well you could at least ask her if she’d be willing to do it. If not her, then one of us could try it . . .”
Agent Willow: “Ah, hey; I’m pretty confident in my body, but that might be pushing it . . . I mean, maybe when I was younger.” Catherine pauses in silence for a moment then asks, “Besides, where would we put the wire?”
Emily cracks a smile at the thought, but then quickly loses it when she says, “Well unfortunately, I don’t think we have enough for a formal search warrant; what we really need to do is get a look inside this guy’s house.”
Agent Willow slowly walks across the room then comes to a stop in front of the large schematic victim tree that’s mounted on the wall . . .
“All of these missing people and all we have to work with is a lousy business card . . . Unbelievable!” says Catherine.
“And don’t forget about those three cars that the police found out on state lands!” adds Detective Procton, now walking over to the side of her partner.
Agent Willow: “Yeah well, those didn’t do us much good.”
The detective gently rubs Catherine’s shoulder then assures, “Just give me a chance to get this guy to open up to me. Sooner or later, he’s bound to slip up, just like they all do.”
“Yeah well, I don’t know if this Lucy girl can afford to wait that long!” replies Agent Willow with a tone of deep concern . . .
* * * * * *
Thursday April 6th, 3:48 pm (present day)
Agent Willow takes turns between looking at her GPS navigator and keeping her eyes out for oncoming traffic. The sudden ring tone of her cell phone overtakes the constant drone of the car’s engine. Catherine quickly grabs the phone and flips the cover open with her right hand, as her left cuts the steering wheel hard . . . Causing her tires to squeal as they turn onto Pine Hollow Road . . .
“Hello there!” yells Agent Willow, now trying to correct her oversteer and nearly taking out a mailbox!
“Hi Catherine, it’s Detective Procton,” says a familiar feminine voice on the other end of the line.
“Yes Emily; how did you make out?” asks Agent Willow, now watching house numbers on both sides of the road.
“I should arrive on campus in about five minutes,” says the detective, now looking at her watch. “Where are you?”
“I’m just going for a ride up Pine Hollow Road,” replies Catherine, as she passes a house bearing the number sixty on the mailbox.
Emily: “What the hell are you doing over there? I thought you wanted to talk to this guy in person? He’s at the university right now…”
“Yeah well, you meet one creep . . . then you’ve met them all!” replies Catherine. Then her voice takes on a more serious tone. “Listen, I just left the strip club a little over an hour ago, and the owner told me that Jamie hasn’t been to work in the last few days.”
Emily: “So did you get an address of where she was living?”
Agent Willow: “Already ahead of you. I stopped and pulled the address from the DMV. When I finally found the apartment complex, her car wasn’t there. I ended up getting the onsite property manager to open the place up, and everything looked to be in place at her place with no sign of a struggle. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Jamie either, or her Honda Civic for that matter!”
The agent continues to watch the numbers of the houses, as number seventy eight flashes by.
Emily: “Hmm, maybe she felt homesick.”
Agent Willow: “I seriously doubt it from what she told me.”
Emily: “Well anyway, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be snooping around the guy’s house without a warrant. And I definitely don’t want you going over there without me. Besides, if Chief Austin knew you were out there, he’d send you packing back to L.V.!”
Agent Willow: “Oh, relax honey! I just want to see what kind of house this guy lives in.”
Emily: “Well just remember: there are a lot of people that have invested a lot of time into this case, so don’t blow it!”
Agent Willow: “Yeah I know, and I promise that I’ll be careful. I just wish I could be there when you whip out that business card, so I could see the look on his face!”
Emily: “I’m being serious Catherine; don’t go poking around over there. Remember: this guy is still innocent at this point.”
Agent Willow: “Well, if anybody asks, tell them that I was going to apply for a modeling job!”
The woman begins laughing and quickly flips her razor phone closed, before her partner gets a chance to reply. She looks up just in time to see house number 112 pass by on her left . . .
On the other end of the line, Emily gives up and shuts
the cover of her phone as well. A moment later, she drives past a green
road sign that reads:
EXIT 2 MILES
Agent Catherine Willow begins to slow the speed of her rented sedan, as she comes to a small grouping of houses on the right side of the road . . .
“One sixteen . . . One seventeen . . . One eighteen . . . (she comes upon a heavily wooded area that continues for an eighth of a mile) Well what the hell?” says the agent out loud, as she continues to stare through the trees. The woman speeds up the car, until the wooded lot on her right fades off further from the roadside, until it stops abruptly.
A very well kept brick faced house comes into Catherine’s view. Several perfectly trimmed hedges line the front of the house, with sporadic flowers planted here and there. A thick, six-foot wall of hedges hide what appears to be a large in-ground pool out back.
Catherine brings the rented sedan to a stop, and then waits in her car at the edge of the concrete driveway, trying to decide on her next move . . .
Tilting her rearview mirror downward, Agent Willow reaches into her purse and digs out her lipstick. Catherine spreads on an even layer of bright red lipstick, then primps her strawberry blonde locks . . . Winking at her reflection once seeing the results. She shifts the car back into drive and pulls onto the clean white concrete driveway and comes to a stop a good ten feet away from the garage door. The agent shifts into park, pulls the keys from the ignition, then leans forward to pull her sport jacket off of her shoulders. Tossing the coat onto the passenger seat, Catherine slips a fresh stick of gum into her mouth and quickly exits the car . . .
As the thirty-eight year old approaches the front door of the home, she tucks her yellow turtleneck tightly into her black Levi jeans, so that it clings snug to her curvaceous body . . . The cool afternoon breeze causes two small impressions to form on her nipples! The investigator quickly scans over the impressive landscaping before stepping onto the porch.
“Well, what else are you going to do when you’re almost sixty, and still single?” the woman thinks to herself. Catherine quickly pushes the doorbell, before she gives herself a chance to change her mind . . .
“Bing-Bong-Bing-Bong . . .
As Catherine hears the doorbell play out its programmed ditty, her heartbeat begins to pick up a little in pace. She recites in her mind, exactly what she’s going to say to the old man, when he opens the door . . . “Well if he answers the door!” she thinks to herself.
The agent looks up the driveway, and for the first time, realizes just how quiet this neighborhood is.
After a moment, the woman presses the doorbell a second time . . .
“Bing-Bong-Bing-Bong . . .
The agent braces her hands on her hips, hoping that the owner won’t be there to answer the door. After a few seconds, she leans towards the door to look if she can see through the patterns in the glass window that’s mounted in the door . . . but it does no good.
“Well that’s truly a shame” the Agent Willow says out loud, as she quickly turns around and heads back to her car. She opens the driver’s door and grabs her jacket from the front seat, pulling it back on. Catherine also grabs her cell phone, and flips the cover open. The agent scrolls through the menu and selects “Vibration mode on” to disable her normal ring tone, (just in case!)
Agent Willow pulls the keys from the ignition, slams the car door, then walks a few feet ahead of the rented Ford and squats down to study the concrete surface beneath her. . .
“Hmm, no oil spots here,” the woman thinks to herself, as she turns her head from side to side. “…And I mean none what-so-ever! I guess that would be strike one against the beat-up black van theory . . .”
The agent approaches the large two-bay garage doors in front of her and notices that the outbuilding has no windows. She grabs the door handle and jiggles it in her hand, but finds it locked.
“Catherine, you dummy . . . what would be the chances of a house like this not having an electric garage door opener?”
The thirty eight year old agent chuckles to herself as she steps across the white concrete onto the perfect green lawn that surrounds her. Looking downward, she notices a perfectly dug one by three inch deep separation line that divides the grass lawn, from the driveway. In fact (she scans the front lawn) . . . Everything in the yard: from the flowerbed island in the center of the lawn; too the black plastic edgings holding in the red bark chips beneath the perfectly trimmed shrubs . . . All had a perfectly dug moat surrounding them!
“Wow, this guy is a total perfectionist!” thinks Catherine to herself, as she walks down the slight banking that leads to the back yard. The woman reaches the two chain link gates and slowly pulls the latch in the middle upwards.
“Hmm, even the gate lever is oiled . . . No squeaks!” says the impressed agent.
Catherine proceeds, stepping through the opened gate, then out towards the large in ground pool. She notices a curly slide mounted in the concrete directly across from her, on the opposite side of the pool. At the far end, a diving board is mounted above the concrete, and sits idle. The inside of the pool, like everything else . . . is kept in immaculate condition.
“Now how often does a guy that is his age actually use this stuff?” asks the agent, as she approaches a small storage shed that is designed to resemble a tiki bar. The woman peeks inside momentarily, and then concludes: “Yep, nothing in there but pool stuff.”
The agent scans over the backyard, noticing tinted windows on an enclosed porch to her left, and a small two-story barn out past the pool and beyond the wall of hedges to the right. “I guess I could check those out,” thinks the agent to herself, as she starts to walk toward the glass enclosed patio, which also appears to serve as a rear entrance to the basement of the house. Catherine jiggles this handle as well, but finds that it’s also locked.
The agent mumbles, “Nobody’s luck is that good.” She then scans the wall of hedges looking for an opening . . . But fails to see one.
“I can’t believe this is the only entrance to the outer backyard,” thinks Catherine to herself, as she squeezes her ass between the brick of the house and the galvanized pole at the end of the chain link fence. As she pulls herself through to the other side, she looks back at the narrow opening and thinks, “I’d like to see the old man pull that one off!”
Catherine walks around the wall of hedges that hide the pool and notices an area of overgrown weeds and small trees to the left. As she steps over broken tree limbs and walks through the weeds, she comes across a large briar bush. The agent notices what she thinks is a pink ribbon used as a boundary marker hanging from a thorn on the bush. However, a closer look reveals that it’s actually a piece of torn clothing. Catherine carefully pulls the material away from the thorns on the bush and then turns it over for a closer inspection . . .
The tag on the back of the faded pink material reads:
From the Kate Smith Collection
“Well now, what the hell would that be doing back here?” asks Agent Willow out loud. The woman cracks a slight smile, as she puts her first new clue in the front pocket of her tight black jeans.
Agent Willow scans over the area that she’s standing in, looking for any other items, then notices an object shining beneath the overgrowth of weeds and pine branches about five feet away. Stepping closer, the agent recognizes the outline of what could be a rusty door, also partially hidden beneath the pine branches. Catherine bends down and starts pulling the tree limbs off to the side and surprisingly, two metal doors soon come to view.
She stands upright, and then calculates the distance of the rusty old doors, to the back of the house.
“It must be a bomb shelter,” thinks the agent to herself, as she squats back down to inspect the lock. The woman holds the master lock in her palm, noticing that it’s fairly new, due to the reflection of the chrome plating and lack of rust stains from the older steel doors.
“He must been hiding something in there and it must have been recently!” thinks the agent to herself.
Catherine drops the lock and it “clunks” against the doors. She turns around and starts walking towards the storage barn in the back corner of the yard. The woman cups her hand above her eyes and presses her face against the window. Although the interior of the barn is fairly dark, she can see a large light gray object inside. At first, she thinks it’s just sheetrock stacked up and leaning against some sawhorses. But once her vision adjusts to the darkness, she notices what appear to be a turn signal marker, a rear bumper and an exhaust pipe sticking out just below it. Turning her head at a different angle, she looks at the length of the vehicle in profile, and notices that it appears to be a van!
“Hmm, I wonder if that’s a fresh coat of primer gray?” thinks the agent, as she digs into her jacket and pulls out her wallet. Flipping it open, she removes a Visa card . . . Then wedges the flexible plastic inside the door jam where the lock is and patiently works it back and forth. After several attempts, the door makes a tell-tale “click” noise and slowly swings open.
Catherine chuckles to herself, remembering how the credit card trick got her into her first apartment after locking her keys inside . . . “Several times in fact!”
The agent steps inside, quickly glancing around, noticing several tools hanging from the walls of the barn . . .
“Let’s see what we’ve got here: a shovel; several rakes; a rolled up garden hose, and hedge clippers of course,” the agent says quietly, as if someone might hear her. She also sees a stack of tires that are stored in one corner, with a pair of jumper cables hanging from a hook above; . . . A wood saw ; heavy duty bolt cutters; a pair of . . . “Hey wait a minute, bolt cutters! Now those should come in handy!” thinks the woman, as she runs her hand across one of the wooden handles. The agent pauses in thought momentarily, and then turns to face the vehicle that is directly beside where she is standing.
Agent Willow carefully inspects the primer gray paint, looking for any signs of black paint chips. She notices several dents and dings that form shadows beneath the dull painted surface . . .
“Hmm, . . . must have been in too much of a hurry to bother doing any body work from the looks of it,” the agent thinks to herself, as she runs her fingers across some gray overspray that covers a yellow side marker on the front fender. She also notices the empty mounting holes from where the van’s emblems used to be.
On a hunch, Agent Willow reaches for the passenger side door handle and pulls it upward. To the woman’s surprise, the door creaks open!
The agent examines the inside lip of the doorsill and sees exactly what she hoped for; the inside of the van, including the doors and the roof are painted utility white at the factory. However the fresh gray primer was sprayed from the outside and it failed to cover the black paint inside the door jams, from a previous paint job!
Catherine quickly cracks a smile, and then shuts the door. The agent walks around to the back of the van and swings both cargo doors open, only to see more black paint in these door jambs as well. Agent Willow climbs inside and rummages through some old cardboard boxes containing used text books, then slides several of them off to the side. She then lifts up a pile of greasy old rags, only to find a bright pink brassiere trimmed with delicate lace. The woman flips the undergarment over, and then looks at the tag to read:
“I wonder who was wearing this?” the agent asks herself out loud . . .
The investigator moves towards the rear doors, then sits down and slides her tush across the floor to get back out. Catherine then folds the bra into a square and plants clue number two safely inside her coat pocket.
Walking over to the corner of the garage, Agent Willow grabs the bolt cutters from the hook on the wall, and then exits the garage. As Catherine makes her way back to where the bomb shelter doors were, she quickly checks her wristwatch . . .
“Geeez . . . I hope this guy has a meeting after school tonight!” thinks the agent, as she quickly picks up the pace.
Catherine reaches the bomb shelter and goes right to work: first squatting down, then making several poor attempts to cut the lock off with just the strength of her arms. She struggles with the cutters, until she decides that she just doesn’t have enough upper body strength to get the job done. The agent then spreads her knees and places the handles of the bolt cutters between her thighs. Catherine squeezes the handles, as if using a “thigh master” with all of her might. The agent’s legs begin to tremble, as the pressure of the handles press into her thighs . . . she soon begins to moan in pain, until suddenly the lock snaps beneath her, sending the determined woman tumbling off to the side and landing in the overgrowth of weeds!
“Damn!” she exclaims, as the investigator picks herself back up off the ground and brushes her clothing off.
“I guess all of these years of exercising finally paid off! Says the agent out loud, now catching her breath. As Catherine takes the broken lock out from the hoop, she guesses that pulling her body up poles by using her legs when she was dancing, might have had something to do with it as well!
Agent Willow pulls each door up and lets them fall back against the ground, then attempts to look inside. The woman was expecting to see a stairway, but instead notices a ramp leading down into the darkness . . .
“Well that’s odd!” thinks the agent to herself. “What would you possibly take into a bomb shelter that would be so heavy that you couldn’t carry it in yourself?”
Catherine stares into the darkness below her, then decides she better head back to the car to grab a flashlight . . .
In a fast paced walk, the agent makes her way across the concrete patio and passes by a garage door at the lower back corner of the house. The woman stops abruptly, and then takes a few steps backward to peak through the door’s dusty windows. Shielding the sun once again with her hand, the agent smudges her nose against the glass to see what’s inside . . .
The garage stall is deep enough to hold two cars parked end-to-end, as Catherine notices the two cars already stored inside. The nearest one is a white Honda Civic and the second appears to be a mid-sized luxury sports car . . . Possibly foreign, and definitely red in color. The car also sports a tinted sunroof, which for some unexplained reason, has been left in the open position.
The agent recalls seeing something about the red car, or one similar to it, but doesn’t remember where it was, or why she should recognize it. She quickly proceeds on her way to the front of the house . . .
Catherine’s high-heeled boots “clack” against the surface of the driveway at a fast pace, as she makes her way to the trunk of the rental car. She opens the deck lid, pushing away an empty suitcase off to the side; then pulls a black gym bag out from beneath the speaker panel of the car. The agent pulls the zipper fully open and removes a .45 caliber handgun from the bag. She quickly tucks the pistol down into the front waistband of her jeans, and then reaches back into the bag to retrieve her back-up weapon. She removes the small derringer and its holster, then bends over to pull up her pant leg. The agent quickly straps the weapon around her ankle, and then with some difficulty, manages to pull the tight denim back down over the object to hide it from view.
Agent Willow straightens her back, double checking her equipment . . .
“Ok, lets see here: two loaded weapons; my cell phone; a small hand held flashlight (she flicks the switch to make sure it works), and a need to know!” says the agent, now slamming the trunk lid shut.
Catherine quickly makes her way back around to the rear of the house, until she is eventually confronted by the galvanized fence post once again. The agent attempts to squeeze through the narrow opening once again, first removing her .45 from her waistband, and then pressing her crotch tight to the metal pole. As she does, her denim Levis make a noticed scratching noise as her butt drags across the rough brick (much like course sandpaper being rubbed against rusty old steel).
Once she breaks free, the agent looks back at the narrow opening and mumbles to the pole sarcastically, “I hope it was as good for you as it was for me!”
As Agent Willow steps back through the overgrowth near the bomb shelter, her cell phone begins to frantically vibrate inside her coat pocket. The investigator quickly pulls the phone out and flips it open to hear Detective Procton’s voice on the other end . . .
“Hello Catherine, its Emily. Listen: I just left the University, and unfortunately, I didn’t get to talk to the professor.”
Agent Willow: “Why, what the hell happened?”
Emily: “Well, according to the woman in the office, the professor doesn’t have any courses scheduled on Thursday afternoons!”
Agent Willow: “He doesn’t? . . . Well, that’s just great!” Catherine begins looking around the backyard, and then asks, “So what does he do on Thursday afternoons?”
Emily: “Well, the secretary told me that he usually goes golfing.”
Agent Willow: “Well unfortunately, that doesn’t help me any. How long does he stay at the golf course?”
Emily: “Why would that matter to you?”
Agent Willow: “Because I just happen to be standing in the guy’s backyard, staring down into a hidden bomb shelter that I just cut a padlock off from!”
“Please tell me you didn’t,” says the detective, now rolling her eyes. “What’s wrong with you? You know you can’t do anything without a warrant, you’re going to compromise the entire investigation!”
Agent Willow: “I’m sorry Emily, but I don’t have the time to wait for a warrant. I found the van parked in a storage barn out behind his house. He must have painted it gray, thinking the authorities were onto him. But I opened the doors, and saw black paint overspray in the door jambs. I also found a lacy pink bra in the back on the floor, try explaining that one!”
Emily: “Look, I understand that you’re determined to nail this guy, but all of the evidence that you find without a proper warrant will end up being tossed out!”
Emily’s warnings fall on deaf ears as Agent Willow continues, “When I was walking through the overgrowth near the house, I found a piece of faded pink fabric stuck to a thorn bush and it had a tag on the back. The tag had a Kate Smith size medium printed on it! And there’s more, Emily. I’m standing here looking down into the bomb shelter and it has a ramp going down into it, instead of stairs. Now what would somebody need to take down there that would be so heavy that they needed a ramp?”
Emily: “I see your point. Now if you have the bra and the material from the thorn bush, we can get DNA from those back at the lab, but . . .”
Catherine cuts off her partner in mid sentence, and continues: “I also saw two cars parked behind the house in a garage. I think one was a sporty looking, foreign luxury car. It was either a Mercedes or BMW with a sunroof, and red in color. I can’t help but think that I may have seen a picture of it on your chart.”
There is a moment of dead silence on the other end of the phone. Then Detective Procton breaks the suspense and says, “Elaine Benes was driving a red BMW that was equipped with a sunroof, the day that she disappeared!”
Agent Willow: “See I’m telling you . . . This has to be the guy!”
Emily: “Ok ok; you said there were two cars parked in the garage . . .”
Agent Willow: “Yeah, parked one in front of the other. The car nearest to the door was a white Honda Civic.”
Emily: “Didn’t you mention something about that dancer you talked to driving a Honda Civic?”
Agent Willow falls silent in thought, until a horrible feeling overcomes her: “Oh, my God; you’re right! Jamie joked about having to get dressed and applying her make-up in her Honda Civic.”
Emily: “Catherine, I don’t have a good feeling about all of this, I think you better get out of there!”
“No, I’m definitely going down in there. This shelter might somehow lead me into the house and who knows what I might find at the other end in there!” the agent says defiantly.
Detective Emily Procton pleads with her partner, “Well then, at least wait for me to get there! I’m only about thirty minutes away . . .”
“Sorry kid, but I just can’t wait that long,” answers Agent Willow, as she flips the cover closed on the voice that’s yelling on the other end. The woman forces the cell phone down into the right rear pocket of her tight denim jeans, then takes out her flashlight and turns it on.
Catherine steps down into the bomb shelter and manages to walk in for about the first five feet. She looks around feeling brave, as the beam bathes the smooth gray walls of the concrete with light. The agent reminds herself “It’s only a basement!” before she continues on, following the ray of light into the darkness that lay ahead.
At first, the agent was expecting the concrete shelter to be stale and mildewy. However, the air held a certain sweetness, as if it had been chemically treated . . .
“Reminds me of that sterile smell from inside a hospital!” the woman thinks to herself, while making a sour look.
As Catherine continued forward, her hard-heeled boots kicked up dust particles . . . giving the beam from her flashlight an eerie glow.
A moment later, the woman notices a wall several feet ahead of her.
“Are you kidding? . . . Don’t tell me that I went through all of this trouble for nothing!” she thinks to herself, suddenly discouraged.
Agent Willow swings the flashlight to her right, and then swings it back to her left side, where she sees a door that’s covered with rivets along the edges and made of heavy gauge steel. A large iron bar runs across the center of the door to prevent it from being forced open from the opposite side.
Catherine sets her flashlight down on the concrete below her, then squats down and pushes up from underneath the bar, using the strength in her legs. After several attempts, the determined woman forces the bar to swing high enough, that its sheer weight causes it to pivot on its axis and fall backwards in the opposite direction. The iron bar makes a loud “clanking” sound as it falls back against the steel door, causing the noise to echo throughout the hollow chamber behind her.
“Careful girl, you don’t need to invite any unwanted attention!” the agent warns herself.
Agent Willow pushes back on the heavy door, causing it to slowly creak open, giving her access to the vault behind it. She steps through the wide doorframe and shines her flashlight around the new opening. Catherine takes two steps ahead and suddenly walks into something that hangs from the ceiling in the darkness in front of her!
“HOLY SHIT!” exclaims the agent, as she ducks down and almost loses her balance. She quickly waves the flashlight upward, only to embarrass herself by seeing a dangling pull cord for the light fixture above her, swaying back and forth.
Catherine exhales, and then stands upward to pull on the cord.
The light flashes lazily several times, before it finally illuminates to life. The bluish haze suddenly overtakes the area that she’s standing in. Unfortunately, the bulb isn’t very bright and all it manages to do is cast a long shapely shadow of the woman across the floor.
Catherine steps out from underneath the hazy blue light, and then continues into the darkness . . .
As the agent moves through the room, she illuminates where the corners of the floor and walls of the vault meet, then notices something odd. The woman squats down, and then aims the light beam across the floor, which she notices is covered by plush red carpeting and highly polished marble tiles. Catherine aims the flashlight through both ends of the vault and sees that the same combination of materials runs the full length of the hallway.
By now, her eyes have come into focus and she can see some faintly lit track lights that are mounted every five feet. These are seen mounted flush in the ceiling above, as well as six inches up from the floor and centered into the walls on either side of her. Neatly painted gold moldings separate the deep maroon painted walls from the floor treatments below.
“What in the hell is this place?” whispers the agent to herself in wonder, as she aims the beam towards the darkened maroon walls ahead of her. The beam of light reflects off of several shiny surfaces, causing it to bounce back at her eyes. The surfaces appear to be large glass windows that are mounted twelve inches above floor level.
“This wing appears to be some sort of private museum!” thinks the woman to herself as she approaches the first of what appear to be several viewing panels that are mounted into the walls.
Agent Willow aims her flashlight directly through the glass with curiosity. As the light penetrates the darkness of the booth, its haunting contents are revealed . . .
“Oh Jesus!” the agent gasped, recoiling in horror. “Oh god no!”
Within the dark confinement of the booth in front of her, stands the partially illuminated body of a young woman!
Catherine clutches a hand to her chest in shock, and then takes a long, deep breath. Stepping forward, she nervously leans in closer to the panel to get a better look . . .
As far as she could tell, the investigator was looking at some sort of wax figure, judging by the way the rays of light reflected off of the slight sheen on the exposed parts of the statue’s body. Whoever the figure was modeled after must have been fairly young; Catherine was sure that she looked no older than twenty . . . Regardless, the agent felt that the realism was truly unsettling.
Now trembling, Agent Willow focuses the flashlight onto the figure’s face.
The female statue stood straight upright, with her eyes closed and her head tilted to the side at an angle . . . almost as if she had fallen asleep while standing there. She had a cute face with rosy cheeks, and her expression looks relaxed: as if she was at peace or experiencing some sort of dreamy contentment. The chestnut brown wig on her head was cut in a “Dorothy Hamel” style and even the looks of the figure itself held some physical resemblance to the seventies Olympic skating star.
Still in shock from the unexpected sight, Agent Willow scanned the flashlight down over the figure’s athletic body, still repulsed by the realism of the detailing.
The figure was dressed in a white satin corset that was cinched tight at her waist. The support straps that connected to the bustier separated her breasts and even lifted them higher than they normally would be. Two more support straps extended out from beneath the sheer skirting that fluffed out from around her waistline, then clipped to a pair of white thigh-high stockings. On her feet were a pair of white, closed-tip high heels with little bowties, which housed a pair of shapely legs.
“That satin corset she’s wearing clings to her curves a little too well!” thinks the agent, as she allows the ray of light to wander past the statue’s narrow waist and flattened tummy. The light soon focuses upon a white satin G-string with delicate flower patterns on its front panel . . . (a patch of brown pubic hair forms a small bump in the sheer material).
The flashlight lingers there for a moment . . .
“I doubt that Madame Tussaud would go through that much trouble!” the agent thinks to herself, in reference to the detailed anatomy.
Agent Willow turns around in the darkness and steps toward the viewing panel that’s directly across the isle. The beam from her light intrudes another booth, partially illuminating another figure that’s dressed in some type of latex body suit. As Catherine waves the ray across the woman’s smooth body, the light plays off of the shiny red “rubber like” surface. The latex looks so constricting that it almost seems to mold the figure’s body, rather than the outfit conforming to the shape of the woman.
Catherine notices that this figure is slightly out of shape, (despite her restrictive attire), in comparison to the lean, perfectly shaped bodies of most store window mannequins. The fact that her creator chose to mold this woman’s body to appear average, or less than perfect, only added more of a sense of realism to the viewer.
What wasn’t realistic was the cheesy looking “tunnel to hell” that served as a backdrop to the piece. Consisting of painted papier-mâché, plaster and Styrofoam, the set reminded Catherine of various haunted house midway attractions that she had experienced at the county fair as a teenager.
“The entire idea must have been tongue-in-cheek,” thinks the agent to herself as she directs the light from the background, back to the glistening figure. It is only then, that Catherine notices the cute pointed tail extending from the female’s backside, as well as one not-so-subtle detail; the deep camel toe imprint in her groin area.
“Now that must be comfortable,” mumbles the investigator sarcastically.
Agent Willow shines the light upward to illuminate the serious expression on the figure’s face, and quickly notices the two red horns protruding from her burgundy colored pageboy styled hair.
Then there were the unavoidable horn rimmed glasses of course, which almost ruined the somewhat erotic display entirely!
“Horn rimmed glasses on a mannequin?” questions Catherine, “Now that’s rather odd!”
But then again, there was nothing normal about the creepiness that surrounded her like a cold fog. . .
Agent Willow exhales a deep breath, as she slowly takes a few steps to the right, and then notices an engraved plaque that’s mounted just below the next viewing panel. In the middle of the plaque and surrounded by elaborate scrollwork are the words:
~ “A” Model Student ~
The extruded letters and scrollwork are painted in gold to match the moldings in the vault, and to offset the plaque’s deep maroon color.
The agent aims the ray from her flashlight upwards to investigate the booth’s content, and unexpectedly lets out an audible “gasp” from her throat! The woman instantly takes a step backward and cups her mouth in horror, as a somewhat familiar face stares back at her from within the darkness . . .
Agent Willow quickly recognizes the figure as one of the missing college students, whose name is Swan! As the woman illuminates the effigy of the Asian exchange student, she can’t help but stare with curious fascination . . .
“My god . . . It looks exactly like her!” thinks the agent in silent amazement.
The Swan figure stands at attention, awash in the eerie dim light, but surrounded by a background of darkness. Dressed in a pressed white dress shirt; a black tie; a short plaid skirt and knee-high stockings, the girl’s appearance is surely handsome. There was even a silky sheen reflecting off of her long black hair, much like that seen on many supermodels in shampoo commercials.
The girl’s twinkling dark eyes, hauntingly staring forward from beneath her small and delicate wire rimmed glasses . . . as if to ignore the agent that was standing on the opposite side of the glass.
“This is just way too creepy! I mean, an established professor; in a respected position such as his, making . . . Well, whatever the hell these things are: dolls . . . or wax effigies of his female students? Just how thoroughly sick do you have to be?” the woman asks herself out loud in disgust.
The agent shines her light over to the plaque beneath the next window and reads the title . . .
~ “Hooters girl” ~
“Well of course we would have one of those now, wouldn’t we?” thinks the agent to herself sarcastically. As she illuminates the booth above, Catherine recognizes yet another one of the missing students.
This figure appears to be Latino and is dressed accordingly for the plaque that is placed on the outside wall below her. She stands stock still, and is posed with a serving tray held upward in one hand, with her other arm resting on her out-turned hip.
“I would guess that you’re supposed to be Maria?” asks the agent, remembering her suntanned smiling face from the wall of missing persons back at the police station. As the investigator’s beam of light finds the woman’s familiar face, her expression now looks somewhat baffled, with her mouth closed and her big dark eyes rolling back into their lids. Catherine concludes that if she were living, she might possibly ask why she was here . . .
“If only I could get inside one of these things to get a closer look at them!” Agent Willow whispers to herself, as she focuses her flashlight on where the glass panel meets the painted wooden moldings surrounding it. She pokes her nails along the top of the molding and glass momentarily, and then runs her fingertips along the bottom edge of the molding.
Assuming that the glass panel is sealed, the agent aims her flashlight further ahead into the darkness and immediately notices a second riveted steel door, but this one has a sliver of light escaping from around its edges. Catherine quickly approaches the door, passing several more viewing panels on her way. She searches around the framework that holds the door, looking for a latch. After failing to find one, the agent shines her light on a track that’s mounted on the floor, and an identical track that’s mounted above her.
“This sucker is so heavy, it must have to be rolled like a barn door!” says the agent under her breath, as she presses against the object with both hands, and then her shoulder. However, the door refuses to budge.
Catherine says “Shit!” in a lowered voice, “There has got to be an access panel for the booths somewhere around here!”
Agent Willow turns around and aims the flashlight into the dark towards where she originally came from. As she walks back through the darkness, her light glints off of every pair of eyes, which seem to stare back at her from behind the glass panels on each side of the vault. The woman gets the chills and picks up the pace as she sees the hazy blue light hanging overhead, just a few feet away. However, once she reaches the poorly lit area, she notices the silhouettes of two figures that stand perfectly still inside two alcoves in the hallway beyond!
Catherine stops in her tracks and took several deep breaths, as she shone her light over the immobile forms.
“I don’t know if I’m ready for this one!” the agent cautions herself, now swallowing deep.
Agent Willow shines her light on the figure to the right briefly, then to the left, and finally straight ahead, noticing that the hallway is much narrower here. The small ray of light illuminates two different females standing on either side of the agent; each dressed identically in sheer white togas with red sashes tied tightly around their waists. Both figures stand facing each other, positioned just outside an alcove that was carved from a plaster wall behind them. The figures each held a tarnished antique candelabra, raised at chest level, as if to offer guidance through the narrow hallway that they occupied, as well as into the room beyond.
Catherine turns to the woman on the right, who was thin and leggy. She had an exotic looking face and is possibly Greek or Italian. The woman’s jet-black hair was slick and pulled tight to her scalp, ending in a knotted bun in the back. She stares glassily forward, as if in a standoff with the other statue posed directly across the isle.
The agent immediately waves a hand in front of the figure’s face, then chuckles slightly to herself at the hope of ever getting a reaction. (The Italian girl doesn’t even flinch, of course).
Swallowing hard, Agent Willow slowly stretched a shaky hand out to touch the woman’s cheek. Catherine’s fingertips gently touch the figure’s cold skin, causing her to quickly jerk her hand back as if getting a brief electric shock.
“Oh Jesus! She whispers at first. Catherine then squeezes the woman’s wrist just above her hand which feels cold and stiff . . . Of course there would be no pulse.
The agent was prepared for that one, but still felt deeply repulsed by the creepiness of the vault and its chilling contents.
Catherine leaned in close to the Italian girl’s face and immediately notices that sweet sterile smell once again. She also noticed that beneath the sheen-like coating on her skin, there were actually pores! The agent also noticed the woman’s eyes had intricate blood vessels running through the whites of her eyes . . .
“Those must be glass, they just have to be!” the agent assures herself.
Catherine brushes her hand down over the shoulder of the figure, then rubs her fingertips together: they did not have the slippery feeling that one would have after touching wax. The agent reaches around and pokes the tip of her finger into the figure’s arm . . . the skin surprisingly indents from the agent’s forceful touch!
Catherine’s heart sinks, as she steps back slowly away from the staring woman with revulsion. The agent clumsily bumps into the figure behind her, causing the second statue to wobble in place momentarily . . .
“Oh gosh! I’m so sorry . . .” Catherine says out of habit, quickly reaching out and grabbing the figure’s arms to stabilize her . . . before realizing that the girl statue most likely didn’t notice.
Agent Willow shone her flashlight over the figure. The small ray of light illuminates the woman’s most prominent features, which were partially hidden beneath her sheer toga (namely her full breasts, and the sharp curve of her hips). The investigator studies the mid-eastern looking woman in silence for a moment, as the woman’s dark piercing eyes stare directly through her. Catherine quickly notices that this figure, much like the last one, possesses incredibly realistic detailing, as well as the same sweet, almost sickening smell.
“I remember you!” whispers the agent softly, now rubbing a ribbony lock of the girl’s black hair in between her fingers. “You were the exchange student that was abducted from the gas station!”
The figure continues to stare forward in silence, withholding an answer without much of a choice.
Agent willow reaches for the girl’s chin, pressing it downward in an attempt to look inside her mouth. With some minor effort, the Indian girl’s jaw slightly opens to reveal her fine white teeth and a hidden tongue!
A hideous feeling begins to swirl inside Catherine’s stomach, as she pokes her index finger into the figure’s mouth. Her finger rubs against the row of teeth, and a familiar squeaking noise soon emits from inside!
The agent swallows hard once again, as she fights off the taste of vomit in her mouth for the first time since she snuck in here . . .
Agent Willow glances downward at two brown nipples that poke joyfully at the thin sheer material that contains them. Catherine reaches out and grips the girl’s breasts with both of her hands, lifting them upwards: they slightly give, but quickly bounce back stiffly in place as soon as they are released!
“This is totally f*cked up!” The agent states out loud. “These are no mannequins, and they surely aren’t made of wax!”
It is then, that Catherine thinks back to a comment that Detective Procton made back at the station: “. . . an animated woman, reduced to functioning only as an exhibit. Now lifeless and inert, her beauty is sustained indefinitely for his viewing pleasure.”
“But how would I have ever known, that such a far-fetched statement could be so true?” Catherine asks herself.
The agent squats down for one last test . . .
Catherine sets her flashlight at the statue’s sandaled feet. Reaching out into the darkness, she grasps the thin sheer material in one hand, and lifts the bottom hem of the toga upward to get access to the motionless Indian girl’s undercarriage. With her free hand, the agent brushes the backs of her fingers against the figure’s “bristle like” pubic hair . . .
The woman concludes: “Yep, that’s real pubic hair alright.”
Agent Willow exhales a deep breath, and then runs her middle finger down through the rubber-like folds covering the statue’s labia . . . which parts with ease.
“I don’t need daylight to tell me what that is . . .” whispers the agent.
Catherine swallows deep once again, then makes a throat clearing noise, as she considers the unimaginable: she slowly presses her middle finger against the figure’s vagina, and with some careful manipulation . . . The paralyzed girl gradually accepts the intrusion! The agent’s finger accidentally slips all the way in, until it feels the cold muscle tissue pressing back against her from deep inside!
“Holy shit! . . . That twisted f*ck!” the disturbed woman yells out, as she quickly pulls her finger back out and drops the hem in the darkness.
Agent Willow grabs her flashlight and jolts back upward in shocking dismay . . . “She’s real . . . In fact they all must be real!”
Catherine quickly backs away from the Indian girl in fright, as the figure continues to stare through her complacently, despite having her mouth left open and the fact that she had just been invaded by another woman’s finger!
Agent Willow’s pulse quickened in the darkness, with the dual sensations of anger and sadness. Both were feelings that she felt whenever she was confronted by a new victim at a crime scene; particularly a victim that’s so young, so beautiful and with so much more ahead of her.
But only now, standing in the middle of the sickness and perversion that surrounds her, could Agent Willow truly understand this dastardly fellow’s intentions. Catherine envisions the professor slowly walking through the vault, looking over his frozen collection of women, now provocatively posed with a glazed looks in their eyes, as they silently let Claussen make love to each and every one of them through the glass.
A chill runs up the back of the agent’s spine from just the thought of it . . .
Suddenly, Agent Willow hears a familiar metal-on-metal clanking noise off to her far left, at the opposite end of the vault. She pauses in motion for a moment, until she hears the heavy steel entrance door being rolled open on its tracks. The agent quickly turns the flashlight off and crouches clumsily against the wall behind one of the figures.
As the brief light from beyond the opening door works its way up the isle, Agent Willow peeks out around the Italian girl’s enamel-coated thigh to notice a darkened figure now standing in the doorway.
The stranger breaks the eerie silence of the room as he begins to whistle a tune that’s familiar to the agent as “Sleepwalk” by Santo and Johnny.
Without warning, Catherine hears the clicking sound of several toggle switches, which immediately begin to turn on the round overhead lights within the ceiling. As each light illuminates in succession, the agent’s heart begins to beat faster and faster!
The figure’s dress shoes clacked and scuffed casually across the floor, until all at once . . . The whistling and movement stopped.
Agent Willow cautiously looks down the hall, to see the man staring at one of his victims rather casually, with both hands placed in the pockets of his golf slacks. From her crouched position, she turns her head to look in the opposite direction. Now that the vault is illuminated, Catherine sees that the walkway goes back as deeply as the wing that she just came from.
“Christ, just how big is this place?” the agent wonders, as she quickly scans over the spacious area that she was crouching next to.
The “show room” was handsomely decorated with various pieces of art and was painted in the same colors as the hallway that led up to it. There was an elaborate chandelier hanging in the center of the room, with an expensive Persian rug squared up directly underneath it.
Off in the far corner of the room, a giant Plexiglas cubicle stands, containing several pieces of bedroom furniture. For all intents and purposes, the display looks much like something that one would see in an upscale furniture store. And from the looks of the feminine décor, it appears to be a girl’s room.
“I don’t even want to think of what that freak does in there!” thinks the agent in silence.
Then of course, there were the dozen or more victims on display as well. Some in sexy free standing poses by themselves; a few others displayed in a group. Back in the corner and just a few feet away from the Plexiglas cubicle, a few select others were standing stiff and upright behind several full length glass panels that were mounted flush within the wall . . .
Catherine notices that one of those figures was noticeably older: possibly around fifty. However, the other five were considerably younger in age, including three girls that looked to be barely in their teens, judging by their height and developing bodies . . . All of these victims appeared to be dressed in nothing more than their sleepwear.
“That dirty bastard has no boundaries!” thinks the agent to herself as she reaches down to her waistline and rests her opened hand on the handle of her .45 caliber handgun.
The stranger’s footsteps begin to advance once again . . .
Agent Willow begins to breathe deeper, as her pulse picks up the pace even more . . .
“You’re the one with the loaded gun, don’t be such a coward!” the agent assures herself in silence. As the footsteps reach within a few feet of her crouched body, she notices a ringing sensation within her ears as the suspense builds!
Two highly polished black wing tipped shoes step directly in front of the woman, but they point in the opposite direction away from her. Catherine cautiously arches her back, eventually standing completely upright, and then slowly draws her weapon from inside the waistband of her jeans.
Across the isle, the old man slowly presses the jaw of the Indian woman closed, as the agent raises her weapon behind him . . .
“Step away from the girl and place your hands on your head where I can see them, dirt bag!” commands the agent with authority.
But to Catherine’s surprise, the old-timer doesn’t even flinch at her sudden outburst. Instead, the guy turns around and greets the woman with a friendly smile. For some odd reason, he has a pair of goggles hanging from around his neck, and some old antique looking camera hanging off of his shoulder by a strap, and gripped in his hand.
“Well, well; You must be Agent . . . Willow was it? I’ve heard so much about you darling and it’s truly a pleasure to finally meet you in person!” states the professor rather excitedly, as he extends his free hand in a polite greeting!
“Don’t even think about patronizing me!” yells the agent, as she looks out over the barrel of her gun. “I’m not some impressionable school girl who’s yearning for your approval,” assures Catherine. The woman glances around at the viewing panels briefly then continues, “And after what I have just seen, your luck has just officially run out!”
“Now, don’t be foolish Catherine. I have been doing this for almost three decades now and my luck has surely not run out . . . Hell, just the fact that you are standing right here in front of me proves that!” says Claussen, who appears quite calm, considering the situation that he’s found himself in.
“Wait a minute, how in the hell do you even know my name?” asks the surprised agent.
“Well let’s see; your partner . . . Detective Procton was it? . . . Quite an attractive young lady if I do say so! Anyway, she paid me a visit earlier this week and seemed to be asking an awful lot of questions (Claussen rolls his eyes) . . . And of course there was that blonde bimbo named Joy asking me the same questions as well. Both of them told me that there was a female investigator from Vegas in town that was looking into the disappearance of a local dancer.”
“Wait a minute; you have seen Joy?”
Claussen: “Oh yes, quite recently in fact. She’s been feeling a bit . . . Well, how should I put it? At ease, I suppose.”
Agent Willow raises the weapon a bit higher, and then threatens: “So help me God, if you so much as laid a finger on that girl, I’ll . . .”
Ah-ah-ah!” Claussen warns, after cutting the agent off in mid-sentence. “If you shoot me, you may never find either of the girls. Now I can assure you that both Lucy and Joy are perfectly fine. In fact, you can see for yourself if you’d like.”
Catherine swallows hard, and then gives the professor a confused look as she asks, “Right now?”
“Yes indeed” answers the professor, as he waves his arm in a sweeping motion. “Please, come this way, my dear.”
The agent nods her head with apprehension. With her weapon still aimed at the man, she begins to walk backwards slowly and with caution.
Claussen remains calm and almost seems to be secretly enjoying the moment, caught up in the cat and mouse mind-game that he’s playing with the agent. The professor looks over the woman’s attire as she slowly back steps and can only imagine the trim body that she possesses underneath her black sport jacket.
Claussen: “You know Catherine; you don’t look like a crime scene investigator. I was picturing you to be more rugged . . . Almost butch, like a Cagney or Lacey type.”
Agent Willow: “Don’t worry about what I look like! All you need to know is that I have taken plenty of dirt bags that were twice your size down to the ground!”
“Yes, so I’m sure,” admits Claussen, still sizing the agent up. “You’re a very determined woman and I’m sure that’s what has made you as good at your chosen profession as you are. In fact, I’m very impressed that you managed to find your way in here!”
Agent Willow: “Yeah well, you just better start thinking about what you’re going to say to the families of all of these women when you’re facing them in the courtroom. I’m sure that they will have some difficulty understanding why you “pickled” their loved ones away, just to keep them as your frozen playthings to be displayed in their own glass coffins!”
Claussen: “Yes, I’m quite sure they wouldn’t understand. But I don’t really appreciate the way that you make everything sound so morbid. I have given these women something more than mere life; I have given them life eternal!”
Agent Willow: “Hopefully, you’ll be going to the chair!”
“Yes well, in order for any of this evidence to be used in court, you would have needed a search warrant, which of course, you fail to possess!” Claussen says with a sinister grin. “I would surely hope that an seasoned investigator with your credentials would know at least that much.”
Agent Willow: “Yeah, well don’t you worry; I’m sure my partner will be more than happy to print one up for you!”
Claussen: “When I saw your car parked in the driveway, I called my secretary on a hunch. Sharon told me that a woman named Emily had stopped by just a few minutes prior to speak with me. I kind of figured that one of you would show up and start snooping around prematurely, based on your determined natures. Unfortunately for you, that determination may have cost you a legitimate investigation!”
Irked by the cocky nature of the old man’s comments, the irritated investigator commands, “Just shut your damn mouth and show me where the girls are!”
Agent Willow continues to back step, while keeping her weapon trained on the man in front of her. Over his shoulder in the background, she notices a tall woman with tanned skin and fiery red hair, standing stiffly in her booth. The figure is dressed in a red satin teddy with garters and red stockings. She has her arm lifted and hand raised in front of her, with her index finger motioning to come hither. As the pair passes by, the redhead continues to stare outward, waiting to entice whoever the next passerby may be . . .
“How could you do this to them, anyway? . . . Especially those really young girls that I saw over there in the upright storage cabinets?” asks Agent Willow in accusatory fashion. “You know, they have a term for people like you . . .”
The agent’s description is cut off abruptly by the old man, as he raises his voice and says, “I can assure you that there was nothing sexual going on with them. However, I do recognize a certain level of innocent beauty that they possess, and I think I managed to preserve and display that beauty in the best of taste. Now I will admit to having to undress them for the initial preservation process as well as having to redress them from time to time for display purposes, but that was solely done with artistic license in mind.”
There is a slight pause after the professor’s explanation, before he decides to add, “and I’m sure that they have fully enjoyed their newfound state of personal awareness.” (The old man winks his eye in dastardly fashion).
“Artistic license? Is that what you call it?” yells the agent with a glare in her eyes . . . “You sick F*ck! I should blast you full of holes right now!”
Claussen: “Yes, I’m sure you would like to. However, I know that your dedication and sense of professionalism would never allow you to act out in such a lawless way.”
The professor comes to a stop, and then nods his head in the direction of a viewing panel that’s mounted to a wall on the left, just over Catherine’s shoulder. The plaque beneath the viewing panel read:
~ Hardonum Gratis ~
Agent Willow keeps her firearm raised and aimed at the man, as she turns her head to glance at the booth’s contents . . .
Inside the booth, an exotic dancer of Asian lineage shows off her skills, as she playfully leans over a seated businessman to provide an eternal lap dance. The stripper’s long black silky hair cascades down between her shoulder blades as she plants her raised knee at the edge of her patron’s chair. A tiger-striped G-string adorned with dollar bills creeps its way up into the dancer’s perfectly formed backside; the firm curvaceous rump is bent over just inches away from the viewing panel, for the gratification of her viewers!
The professor has taken special care to add a sense of realism to this display, despite the limited area that he has to work with inside the booth. Adding small details such as a neon light that features the silhouette of a woman that’s seated in a martini glass on the wall; a small hardwood dance floor that is raised up behind the figures and serves as the backdrop to the piece; red overhead lighting that creates a sexy, yet sleazy atmosphere; and of course there was the rotating mirror ball that’s mounted to the ceiling of the room reflecting brilliant points of light that move over the figures’ still bodies. All of these details surely give the viewer a sense that they are actually standing inside some seedy gentlemen’s club!
As Catherine absorbs the scene before her, the professor speaks out from beside the woman . . .
“Lucy, or “Cookie” as you may know her, was an excellent subject to work with. She certainly possessed the physical as well as the inner beauty that I long to capture in my work. (Starts winding up his camera) The most difficult part was coating her in enamel and then applying the body glitter to her little behind while it was still tacky. I then sprayed an additional light coat on just to insure that the glitter would always stay intact.”
Startled at the comment, Agent Willow glances at the dancer’s tush to find that it did indeed sparkle under the booth’s theatrical lighting!
Claussen continues: “The unfortunate fellow seated beneath her was selling insurance in the neighborhood door to door. I didn’t need any insurance, but I was looking for a patron for this display. I guess he has a more permanent position now, and the fringe benefits aren’t all that bad, as you can see! Or, should I say, fringed benefits?”
“So . . . this is what you did with her?” the agent asks in shocking dismay as she now recognizes the missing Asian girl, her daughter’s missing roommate, in side profile.
Claussen: “But of course! Would you rather see her up there dancing for those animals every night?”
“What? Are you totally out of your mind? Do you have any sense of remorse for what you have done here?” questions the appalled agent, still gazing at the horrific sight before her.
Claussen: “Well, at least Lucy deserved a position in my prized collection, which is more than I can say for that blonde hussy standing in the booth that’s next to hers! The only reason I went back for her was to cover my tracks!”
Agent Willow glances wide eyed at the professor after hearing his last statement, then slowly begins to back away from him with her gun still raised. Now feeling more dreadful than ever, Catherine reluctantly peers into the next viewing panel . . .
The agent quickly gasps in shock with a look of abject terror at the first sight of Jamie, turned into a display figure! This same woman shared a conversation with Catherine just four short days ago, but now stood hopelessly processed and posed, like so many others before her.
Agent Willow feels her stomach start to roll and she unexpectedly throws up a little bit in her mouth!
“You sick f*cking bastard!” she yells, as her eyes begin to well up with tears. “She’s . . . she’s dead isn’t she? . . . Dead just like all of the others!”
“No Agent Willow, you have it all wrong. Joy is in fact undead. She’s been treated with a special serum that will preserve her beauty forever!” assures the professor with a sense of pride.
“No, that can’t be! I’ve touched them: they feel cold and stiff and they even have a certain smell to them!” says the agent, tears running down her cheeks.
Claussen: “Yes, I’m afraid the chemical smell is a bit of a minor side effect from the embalming agent. But it isn’t all that unpleasant and you do get used to it with time.”
Catherine keeps her weapon trained on the dirty old man, as she sadly looks in at the vivacious plucky girl that she knew only briefly.
As if mocking a Victoria’s Secret advert, Jamie (or Joy, as some knew her as) stands straight with two glorious feathered angel’s wings expanding out from behind her. The wingspan ends evenly with the outside edges of the woman’s shoulders. A simple halo hangs just above Jamie’s blonde hair, most likely supported from her head by a small, unseen piece of thin steel wire. Her head is down-turned, as if she was reveling at the beauty of her own naked breasts. Both of her arms are posed at downward angles, with both palms opened and splayed towards the viewing panel. A pair of white hip-hugger panties with ruffled lace around the thighs, offer this fallen angel her only source of privacy.
The three walls that surround the angelic beauty are painted sky blue in color, with several impressionistic clouds (that look undoubtedly like they were painted with a generic stencil), adorning their surfaces. Giant foot-high piles of cotton cover the floor of the booth, to make the figure look as if she were standing on a cloud!
It wasn’t so much the sight of the girl’s half naked body, or its lack of movement that disturbed the seasoned investigator. It was more likely the fake looking sheen of the girl’s taut skin, combined with the simple idea that this streetwise stripper had somehow been transformed into something so beautiful, so innocent and so vulnerable, that gave Catherine the goose bumps . . .
Caught up in the moment, Agent Willow fails to see professor Claussen pulling up his goggles and getting his camera aimed and ready for the unsuspecting woman.
Then at the last second, Catherine notices the professor’s movement out of the corner of her eye; she suddenly turns her head and cocks the hammer back on her weapon!
The agent yells out: “Drop the damned camera!”
Suddenly, Catherine’s world turns instantly to bright blue! For the first minute or so, Agent Willow is only vaguely aware of who, or for that matter where, she is . . .
As she quickly attempts to retrace her previous actions of the last few minutes in her bedazzled mind, the paralyzed woman can barely recall ordering somebody to drop something . . .
“Drop . . . Drop the . . . Dropping . . . Drop the camera . . . Wait, drop the camera?” the woman wonders in confusion.
The agent can barely make out a shadow of somebody moving about in front of her, yet the vision is far too unclear to make out any detail . . .and the sound in her ears is muffled, as if she were submerged in a swimming pool! She soon feels a distant ringing sound that vibrates in waves and pulsates within her body . . . However, at this point the woman can’t tell if the ringing sensation is in her ears, or if it’s coming from the back of her ass . . . and she could hardly care less!
Meanwhile . . .
Professor Claussen had already set his special camera carefully on the floor, just before the cell phone had started ringing from somewhere on the static woman’s body.
Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt!
The old man eagerly grabs the front of the woman’s black suede sport coat, yanking it wide open. Claussen spends a brief moment just relishing the sight of her clothed body, knowing that in a few hours, he will be able to feast his eyes on every part of her . . . only naked.
Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt!
“Well I could just imagine who that’s going to be,” says the professor, now reaching into the pockets of the woman’s coat, finding nothing but a lacey, pink brassiere. “Hey, where have I seen that before?” he says, tossing the undergarment to the floor.
Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt!
Claussen pulls the back hem upward on the agent’s coat, and begins to pat his hands around Catherine’s firm backside . . .
Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt . . . Blibbitt!
“I can just imagine what kind of sensation that phone must be giving you right now, darling!” says the professor with a grin. Claussen forces two fingers down into her tight back pocket and slides the phone up and outward. He quickly flips the phone’s cover open to check the caller’s I.D.
The professor chuckles to himself, then asks his frozen victim, “It’s Emily Procton, darling; would you like me to take the call for you?”
Catherine just stares forward from the abyss, still holding her firearm raised in front of her, with her perfect breasts thrust outward.
Claussen waits briefly for a reply that never comes, and then says “No? . . . Well maybe I had better check your messages just in case.”
The professor proceeds to press through a series of buttons, until he finds access to Catherine’s messages, then clicks open her latest voice mail.
Emily’s voice: “Catherine, it’s me. I hope everything’s all right, since you didn’t answer. If you need help, don’t be afraid to call for back-up. Otherwise, I should be there any minute, as I just turned onto Pine Hollow Road . . . Watch your back ok? I’ll see you soon!”
“And so we shall!” agrees Claussen, with a sinister smile.
Jack flips the phone shut, and then slips it into his own pocket for proper disposal at a later time . . .
“Well Catherine, it looks like your partner is going to be here soon, so I’d better get you out of sight for the time being, states Claussen. “Now, I would normally save this part of the process for later,” warns the professor, now withdrawing a long hypodermic needle from his back pocket. He pulls the protective cap off of the end of the needle, and squirts the excess solution off into the air. “ . . . But, considering the fact that you’re quite a formidable opponent, along with the fact that Emily will be here any minute, I just can’t afford to take any chances.”
Claussen lifts the back hem of Catherine’s jacket once more and pokes the needle into her behind! The professor pushes down on the plunger, forcing the fluorescent light green serum into her bloodstream.
“There we go, Agent Willow, all done,” says the professor, now replacing the protective cover over the needle and slipping it into the woman’s coat pocket. “Now I believe you’ll find this experience quite pleasurable,” says the old man, now running his fingers through the woman’s strawberry blonde hair.
During this entire period, the agent notices a slightly cool tingling sensation creeping throughout her entire body on some distant, almost subconscious level. Within seconds, the rewarding sensation grows and Catherine begins to yield to its seductively overpowering force . . .
Professor Claussen reaches down and places his hands around each hip, offering embracement for the reaction that is about to take place.
“Just let it take you over, my dear; I’ll be there with you,” assures the old man.
What had started as a minor twitch between her legs suddenly turns into a rhythmic spasm of her anus and pussy in unison! Catherine’s butt cheeks suddenly clench together beneath the tight denim material of her jeans, as her eyes grow open just a little bit wider. . .
“Oh, oh, oh . . . Oh my god!” screams the agent in silence, as she sinks into the most incredible orgasm she has ever had.
On the outside, Claussen peers over the woman’s shoulder, and looks at her pretty face in side profile; her blue eyes slightly flutter, then suddenly opened wide with her pupils dilating to their fullest. The professor steadies the woman in place as he feels the woman’s hips begin to buck upward uncontrollably, causing her body to slightly sway from side to side from the repercussion . . . All signs that her ultimate orgasm was well underway.
“That’s it darling, let it out . . . I still have you.” Claussen whispers in the agent’s ear.
Even with her ass and pussy convulsing repeatedly, Catherine somehow manages to notice the pressing feeling of the single middle seam that runs down over her backside, in-between her legs, and then up over her crotch. She never thought that a single strip of denim could ever feel so good, as her pussy melts against the constricting material. It’s an involuntary reaction that Catherine is willing to accept!
Before the agent gets a chance to recede from the first wave of pleasure, a second round begins to pulsate throughout her body. Oddly, as stimulated as the woman was, she couldn’t help but notice the sudden darkness that was overshadowing her already limited vision. Within seconds, the brave investigator would simply surrender . . . sinking into a state of limbo forever.
On the outside, Professor Claussen listens for the tell-tale “gasp” as the lovely agent’s last breath escapes, and her hips slowly grind to a halt.
Catherine stands stiff, with her weapon still raised and pointed at the wall in front of her. Her body still tremors from the faint after shocks, which will soon end as well.
The professor reaches his leathery hand down between her legs, feeling the noticeably damp spot beneath her zipper, and then cracks a smile.
“It works every time!” says the old man, as he rubs the hardness of his own crotch . . .
The professor reaches under the agent’s armpits and clasps his hands together just below the woman’s breasts. As the professor leans the woman back against his chest, the weight of her perfectly formed tits falls upon his hands, causing him to lose a little bit in his boxers!
Professor Claussen proceeds to drag the woman back down the hallway towards his lab, as the heels of her boots scrape across the floor in frozen protest. Catherine’s strawberry blonde hair tickles his chin and nose, as he notices a strong scent of apples . . . Most likely from the type of shampoo that she used that morning.
As the pair pass by several more lighted enclosures,
they are greeted by the blank stares of Claussen’s previous victims,
who wait proudly in silent resignation, as if knowing that Agent
Catherine Willow would soon be joining them . . .
...To Be Continued in: Eternal Prom Night (Part 1)