Thursday, March 6, 2014
THE EYES HAVE IT
THE EYES HAVE IT
Tom Brooks was a reporter for the Daily Buzz. And as Tom would tell you, the word truth had no value in his line of work. He wasn’t paid to write the truth. He was paid to hunt down the truth and exploit it. And that’s how Tom saw the news. He saw it for what it really was: Mass exploitation.
On this rainy September day, Brooks’ editor had shipped him off to Braxton to interview a man named Ben Loomis. Loomis claimed to have new information on the Dwayne Urig case. Information he was more than willing to share… for a price.
And if this business had taught Tom Brooks anything, it’s that everyone has a price. The truth can bought just as easily as it can be molded or adjusted to sell a few extra copies.
His editor had sent Brooks along with a blank check, as Loomis had not bothered to list an official price. He just made it clear that he did indeed have one. But what that price was remained a mystery to the staff of the Daily Buzz.
Brooks’ editor instructed him to pay no more than twelve-hundred for whatever information Loomis was offering. But when Brooks arrived, Loomis avoided the conversation of money and shifted to something else.
He invited Brooks into the living room, which reminded him of something has grandmother threw together once Alzheimer’s set in. The plaid couch was sealed in a plastic slipcover. The wool carpet was purple and made Brooks ponder if Loomis was colorblind. So did the mustard yellow wallpaper, which proved to be an instant eyesore to Brooks. There was an antique armoire in one corner and an antique credenza in the other. Even the lamp that sat atop the credenza appeared ancient. Brooks couldn’t help but wonder if Loomis arranged this place himself. But he didn’t dare ask. He didn’t want to offend a potential news source.
The fragrance of stale cigarette smoke hung heavy in the air. The whole place reeked like the bottom of an ashtray.
“You know I was once premed?” Loomis said in a dry, raspy voice. His poor throat had been ravaged from years of smoking and health negligence. “I got booted out. Hand tremors. I don’t have that problem anymore. My hands are steady as a board. But none of that makes a difference. I’ve got the Big C.”
“The Big C?”
“Cancer. It started in my lungs. Spread through the rest of my body. It’s rotting me from the inside as we speak. That’s why you’re here. I need to clear my conscience before I’m dead and buried. I need to tell you the truth about Dwayne Urig’s murder.”
“Dwayne Urig hasn’t been declared dead yet. Just missing.”
“He’s dead. I can assure you of that.”
“How could you know for sure? Did you kill Dwayne Urig?” Brooks scoffed just at the thought of this old man harming a hair on someone’s head.
“I most certainly did not. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t dead.”
“You want me to show you the body? I can’t. But I can tell you things nobody but the local police are aware of.”
“So please tell me. That’s what I’m here for. To tell your story.”
“Save your patronizing attitude for the next schmuck. You’re here to do your job and make your bosses rich in the process. That’s all you’re here for. Now, as you’re aware of, Dwayne Urig isn’t the first resident of Braxton to be declared missing. Several residents have either vanished or died under questionable circumstances in the past six months.”
“Yes, I’m aware of this,” Brooks nodded his head.
“What you’re not aware of, because the police have been trying to keep a lid on it, is the fact that this is all the work of one person. They don’t know if it’s a man or a woman, but they’re leaning towards a man due to the vicious nature of the crimes.”
“Are you saying there’s a serial killer on the loose in Braxton?”
“That’s precisely what I’m trying to convey. And that’s how I know Dwayne Urig isn’t missing. He’s dead. Nobody goes missing for three weeks in Braxton and turns up alive. Not these days.”
“Why haven’t the police notified the press?”
“They’re trying to keep it under wraps. Plus I hear there’s some internal dissention in the department about what to call the killer. You know how all these psychos have a nickname? Half the department wants to call them the Surgeon and the other half is pushing for the Optometrist.”
“Yes, it’s a doctor who examines people’s eyes.”
“Where’d they get that name from?”
“This killer… apparently uses a scalpel to remove his victims eyeballs. Plucks them right out of the skull with the skill of a professional surgeon.”
“Again, how could you possibly know all this?”
“Get your notepad ready… A month ago, I was walking down Braxton Boulevard. It was late, after dark. If I hadn’t almost tripped over her, I might’ve never seen her. She was sprawled out on the sidewalk, eight months pregnant. I screamed for help, but it was too late. Her throat had been slashed, eyes ripped from her skull. Should I continue?”
“Yes,” Brooks said, gulping. He was parched, his throat dried up. He could feel his muscles growing tense. “Please continue.” Though he wasn’t so sure he wanted to hear the conclusion of this grim story.
“The miraculous thing was that the baby survived. The paramedics rushed her to the hospital and they performed an emergency C-section. It was a boy. They named him Ben, after me.”
“You’re shitting me,” Brooks said in disbelief.
“Damned if I am. They hooked the baby up to an incubator. Tubes and machines nourished the baby and pumped air in and out of its tiny frame. It was only four pounds and four ounces. It fit in the palm of your hand, like a miniature stuffed animal or something. I’ll tell you, it was adorable though. Precious. It had the lightest shade of blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”
Ben Loomis’ expression grew icy cold. Brooks saw the murderous glint in his eyes just a second too late.
“Powder blue eyes… just like his mother.”