Monday, April 27, 2015

Chapter Thirteen : Airplane

The last few days had been a blur for Jericho. It had taken a couple of days for the police to clear Jericho to leave the country, but not before a tense interview with Scotland Yard. Jericho’s alibi was unshakable, but law enforcement was more interested in Zeke’s past, if he had any enemies, etc. The issue was compounded for Jericho, because he could only think of one possible motivation for Zeke’s death – their current case.

That’s insane. I’m chasing the chimera of a charlatan for a lot of money. There just isn’t anything there – certainly not anything worth killing over.

For a moment, an image of Mr. Dursley flashed into Jericho’s mind, snarling, “There’s no such thing as magic!”

But people really do believe in Magick. I wonder if they believe in it strongly enough to kill.

In the end, Jericho had mentioned that he was working with Zeke on historical research, but left out any reference to their odd “key” theory, or anything that might indicate they were involved with anything of value. It was just too absurd to be taken seriously.

As soon as he was cleared to leave, Jericho scheduled a flight to Houston, and now he found himself on an American airplane piloted by an American company. Jericho hated flying with American companies. The Middle-Eastern flights were the best, especially Etihad and Emirates. On those flights he was served halal lamb and rice, with wine from an actual glass bottle. British Airways was almost as good. Even their brief, coach-class flights included a lemon-scented steamed towel, and coffee in a real cup and saucer. When he boarded this flight there was already one passenger trying to stuff what looked like a body bag into the upper compartment. Unable to close the compartment, the man shrugged and slouched to his seat. Two minutes later a middle-aged flight attendant with a blouse slightly too tight around her middle stumped down the aisle. “Whoever’s bag that is, you gotta move it!” She grunted. “I’m coming back in five, and if its still there I have to check it.”

Ah yes, good old American customer service. And legroom, for that matter. Jericho supposed it didn’t matter. He had calculated that the restroom occupancy to passenger ratio was specifically calculated to get each passenger to spend at least 30% of the flight standing in line. At least he didn’t have to worry about deep-vein thrombosis. As he stood there, idly thumbing through his phone, his mind kept worrying the events immediately following Zeke’s death.

Upon the realization that Zeke was dead, Jericho had immediately slipped into detective mode without even thinking about it. He dialed 999, and then began taking inventory of the scene without disturbing any evidence. Zeke’s belongings were spread out as if he had been in the middle of working. His posture indicated that he had been sitting upright when killed, but had not looked around. Had the murderer been in the room already? There was no exit wound – the kill had been professionally executed with a small caliber weapon, probably a .22 or .25. Given that the .22 caliber is the most easily accessible in Great Britain, Jericho decided that was probably it. He couldn’t get a trajectory, but he could get a general direction. The killer had been in the flat, in the area of the sofa. There was no place to hide. Jericho’s stomach churned as the thought came back. He had seen death before – the worst kind of death while in the Army; even the death of friends – but he had never become comfortable with it. He heard a flush and the line inched forward. Only thirteen people to go.

Jericho had glanced at his watch, guessing he had maybe four more minutes before the police arrived. Perhaps it was a burglary? He scanned Zeke’s equipment, and his hackles went up. Zeke’s iPad was missing. He glanced frantically around the flat, careful not to touch anything, but there could be no doubt. It wasn’t in the flat. That didn’t mean it had been taken, but it didn’t mean it hadn’t been, either. But why would anyone want his iPad? Unless they were onto something very, very serious with this whole key investigation.

Bullshit. There is no way.

Jericho had moved closer, and examined the wound. There were burn marks around the hole, indicating Zeke was killed at close range, execution style. But it was something else that grabbed Jericho’s attention. Just below the hairline, positioned so that with normal posture Zeke’s hair would cover it up was a small, faded tattoo.

It was a small triangle, enclosing the Hebrew letter shin.

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