Mardi Gras marked the one-year anniversary of the case. It had been exactly one year that the last murder had taken place. Michael hoped that the murderer would remain out of circulation. Indefinitely.
He knew all too well that the murderer would not do so, but it didn’t hurt anything to wish they would. If this new year went by without a resurface, he would be surprised. He had gone over every clue, but found nothing to point to anyone. Not one victim had anything in common. Nothing, that is, except having picked up the same psychotic woman.
The same person had written all the notes. All the confessions. The only real connection was among the first victims. They had all taken the same woman home. Jane Doe. But now, she was married to Morgan Le Grue and he was still alive.
But the murders had stopped as soon as she had become involved with Morgan. Well, almost. one or two had happened shortly after, but none after their wedding. That was odd.
He looked up. Had she been their killer? Or was this all just simple coincidence? Had she been right about being followed? Or had she been covering?
He looked over at Justin. “I need the picture of our Jane Doe and her tattoo.”
Justin looked at him. “What you t’inkin’?”
Michael smiled. “It may be nothing. Really. Just a hunch.”
Justin nodded and got up. “I hope you onto somet’in’, Mike. We need a break in dis case.”
Michael nodded. “I agree. This case has gone on long enough.” He looked around. “If you see Reilly and Danforth, tell ’em we are holding a meeting on this.”
Justin nodded and began toward the elevator. Michael watched him go. The Cajun had rebounded well, unless it was all an act. He had taken his children back, moving them into the apartment they now shared in the French Quarter.
Justin was a good man. And a good father. He made sure his children had need of nothing. Michael sometimes envied him. No matter how busy he was, he always took the time to be dad to them. Michael found it hard to multitask like that. He either had to be dad or be the detective. He couldn’t be both.
That was why he left “work” at work. He wanted his home-time to be family time. His work-time was when he was at work only. Though he was always on call, he rarely got calls after the night shift went on.
Reilly and Danforth appeared, pulled up a couple of chairs, and sat down. Reilly smiled. “You wanted to see us?”
“Yes,” Michael replied, “But we will wait for Justin to get back. He went to get something for me.”
Morgan’d had a special Mardi Gras celebration planned for Misty. They were not going to stay in the States. No, he was taking her to Rio to enjoy Carnival. He had planned it all year last year. He tried to make every day like a birthday, since she had no idea when her real birthday was. They had a date that she had picked for her ID, but she wasn’t sure that it was right.
And he had not pressed the issue. It was enough that he had found the woman of his dreams. And she loved him as much as he loved her. He knew she did. And it made him feel like a king.
He had made sure to reserve the finest room in the best hotel. He had reservations at the finest restaurant in Rio. A reserved spot in the crowd during the parade. Only the best would do for his beloved Misty.
Tonight, they would fly to their destination. Tomorrow, they would enjoy a day of festivities and a meal that would stay with Misty forever. This would be one event she would never forget. He smiled.
He wanted to help her live every day as if it were her last. To its fullest. The way it had been meant to be lived. One day at a time.
“Tomorrow is Mardi Gras,” Michael began, “This case started on a Mardi Gras. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the pause we have been enjoying. Justin went to the file and pulled the pictures of our Jane Doe. I wanted them for a reason.”
“And that would be?” Danforth inquired.
“Call it a hunch,” Michael continued, “but I want to begin circulating to the clubs and pubs. We will do so over the next year to begin our push to put this behind us. But we aren’t going to put the case ahead of any other. we will do it when we have nothing else to do. I am wondering if we approached this case wrong at the very beginning.”
“In what way?” Reilly injected.
“We have been approaching this as if we don’t know who we are looking for,” Michael replied, “But maybe we do.”
“What you mean, Boss-man?” Justin asked.
“I mean,” He continued in reply, “we have a common denominator in at least the first few deaths. You got the proof from the file.”
“You mus’ be talkin’ ’bout dese pictures,” the Cajun placed the pictures from the file on the desk.
“Yes,” Michael smiled grimly, “and I am not entirely sure that I am right, but it is a start. Over this year, we will be going to one pub or club at a time. We will show these pictures and ask one question.”
Justin produced the pictures of the victims. “Make dat mo’ dan one question. We need t’ask if she was seen wit’ any o’ dese men.”
“The only two we know, for sure,” Michael agreed, “That she was with were Nelson and Dominic. The others are mere conjecture. And I doubt the rich men and staff of the condo will be positively ID’d by the pubs or clubs. most would not want to be seen with anyone but their newest mistress. But the younger and most eligible of the victims will have frequented at least one.”