Sleight of Hand

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Authors: CJ Lyons
Tags: Suspense, Bought A
girl, Tanya Kent.  This one was African American and the youngest so far, just a toddler.  Body found in the playground at the Highland Park reservoir, just like Frantz's.  
    "You sure about the woman?" he asked Jimmy.  "She's not in her night clothes like the children are.  And crossing races, sexes and ages–not typical for a signature killer.  The long delay before the last bothers me too. What cooled him off?  Unless he was picked up for something else."
    "Your father decided on the first three based on the scenes and the autopsies.  I'm not certain about the woman.  She was the only one restrained, taken near her work, and killed right away.  He might have been wrong about her," Jimmy said this last as if it was a remote possibility.
    "She's the only one large enough to pose any threat."  Drake shuffled the photos as if they were poker cards.  Placed side by side, the children's crime scenes appeared almost identical.  An unholy flush.  He had to agree with his father, something seemed to link them, they felt like they belonged to the same actor.  "No leads?"
    "Nothing that panned out.  What'd you say we take a crack at them?"
    "I'm in."
    "All right then, grab that fancy camera of yours and let's go."  
    They spent the morning on a tour of the crime scenes.  Drake took his time.  One good thing about cold cases, no one was breathing down your neck, forcing results.
    There were three sites used to dump the four bodies.  Part of the signature, or just convenient?  The first was Adam Cleary's, age six, found dead in the lawn in front of the Phipps Conservatory. Jimmy drove, edging the unmarked white Intrepid into an empty spot between the two traffic lanes in an island of parking spaces reserved for conservatory volunteers.
    A jogger passed them on the crest of the hill opposite, following one of the many paths in Schenley park.  Two elderly women sat on one of the benches that lined the stone wall while an Asian couple maneuvered, vying for the best possible photo of the sprawling Victorian edifice of metal and glass.
    Drake had always loved the conservatory–so many colors and textures, light bending in a dozen delightful ways as it reflected through the multitude of glass panels and onto glistening leaves of plants from all over the world.  To him the Phipps was an oasis of quiet, muted footsteps, hidden alcoves revealing exotic treasures of silken orchids, tangled vines, colors that challenged his imagination.  
    His mother brought him here often, bemused by his fascination.  Drake Sr. hadn't been as impressed by his son's passion for color and texture.  He insisted on dragging Drake across the bridge to the Carnegie natural history museum with its dinosaurs.  Or better yet, to a Pirate's game where he would pin Drake between himself and the railing, positioning them to catch a fly ball.
    Jimmy slammed the car door shut and Drake blinked, remembering the crack of a bat connecting, the surge of the crowd around him, everyone scrambling for the ball hurtling in their direction.
    He stepped out of the car, crossing the street without looking, hypnotized by the memory of reaching out, almost toppling over the rail in his quest to catch the ball just as his father had taught him.  But at the last moment the missile racing directly at his face had proven too much and he had shied away.  The ball landed with a hard slap of leather against flesh in his father's outstretched hand. 
    Not even the roar of the crowd could drown out the look of disappointment as Drake Sr. dropped the ball into his son's forgotten mitt.  
    "Right here," Jimmy said, pulling him back to the present.  "These bushes and stuff weren't here back then," he added after consulting the crime scene photos.  "I didn't work it originally, your father brought me here after we partnered up.  We came back whenever things got slow and we had time to work it again, but–" He shrugged, obviously embarrassed by his and Drake Sr.'s

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