Number Thirteen
by Faye Sizemore
forum: Number Thirteen
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Number Thirteen


       Detective Andrew McCauley reached across his sleeping wife and fumbled with the ringing telephone. Sleepily, he mumbled, "McCauley residence" into the receiver.

       "McCauley, get down here. We got something really weird. I have a man confessing to murder and you just got to see this! 113 Jefferson Drive. Hurry!" The telephone hung up in his ear, making him wince.

       Damn, it was 7:00 AM and he had pulled late duty and gone to bed at 5:00 AM, only two hours ago. No rest for the wicked or the righteous either, for that matter. His wife Anne Marie clutched her pillow and rolled over.

       Pulling on the clothes that he had hurriedly thrown off earlier, to save time, he grabbed his keys and headed downstairs to his car. When he returned home, Beth was going to give him hell when she saw him wearing the day before's clothes. She had said that he was starting to look as though he and TV's Columbo shared a wardrobe. Grinning sleepily, he started his beat-up Mustang and headed for Jefferson Drive.

       The address was easy to find. There were four police cruisers parked in front of a house cordoned off with yellow police tape, with the coroner's vehicle in attendance. He saw a figure hurrying to meet him.

       “Jake, What’s goin' on?" he asked as the man appeared at the driver's window. His co-worker was visibly shaken.

       “We got us a sight here, Mac," Jake answered. "There’s a suspect in the back of my patrol car. He’s a neighbor of the man who lives in this house." He pointed across the street. "He lives over there at 115. He calls the station and says he has killed his neighbor, a Mr. Beltazar. He says he 'll wait here for us. Well, he did, and get this, he says he drove a stake through the man's heart while he was sleeping, just after sunrise this morning." Jake took a deep breath and continued on. "He says he had to kill his neighbor because he knew that he was a vampire."

       McCauley was wide awake now. At least more awake than he had been. “What?" he spoke in amazement. "That's his story?" He sighed at the thought of what the mental condition of the murderer must be. He must be planning on pleading insanity as a cover.

       “Take him on in, Jake. I'll be down to talk to him after he calls his lawyer and I tie up the loose ends here." With that, he got out of his car and ducked under the yellow tape and headed for the front door of number 113.

       The officer stationed at the door beckoned him inside and pointed the way to where a group stood on the other end of the huge dayroom.

       There was a musty moldy smell inside the house and sheets covered most of the furniture. Heavy dark drapes hung unopened at the floor to ceiling windows. This room, evidently, wasn't one that Mr. Baltazar had used often.

       McCauley could see that the furniture that wasn't covered was old dark carved wood from a bygone era… a treasure trove of antiques. The coroner stood with his back facing McCauley, turned from his work only when spoken to.

       “What do we have here, Tom? Is it cut and dried?" McCauley grinned at his friend. His grim was erased by the strange look on the man's face.

       “Dried, aw right, Mac, real dry." He stood aside, bringing to view what the small group of men had been blocking from view.

       It was a coffin! “I’ll be damned," McCauley thought to himself as it came into range of his inquiring gaze.

       At first glance, it was hard to distinguish just what was inside. Moving closer, Mac saw that there was indeed, a state, through "something". The "something" looked like the 2000-year-old mummies that were kept under glass in the museums. This had to be the work of a very a sick prankster!

       “It was claimed this man was killed tonight. I'd say that's a gross exaggeration, more like one hundred years ago, tonight."

       “Sheesh, he's wearing the exact same suit that I am," the corner said, looking down at his own clothes. “Someone snatched him from a grave and dressed him in a new suit. Their taste is as lousy as my wife's."

       “I have no ID on this body as yet, and it will be awhile. This man was not killed here tonight. He has been long dead. What we do have is the theft and abuse of a long deceased person. I'll need help with this one, so it will be awhile." He turned to instruct the attendants who were looking askance for help in removing the body.

       After one last look, Mac said, "I am going in to headquarters to question our so-called 'killer'. He has answers that we need. Keep me posted, Tom."

       It was surely going to be an interesting interview... a body fresh from the graveyard with a stake in the heart…

       In the outer room at headquarters, there was a hush as McCauley walked in. They all looked as though they had been in a serious heated discussion that had been dropped abruptly.

       “I need paperwork," Mac said as he headed toward where his suspect was sitting with head held high and a satisfied look on his face. The man was easily seventy-five years old and looked to be of European decent.

       The detective sitting with the suspect twirled his pen steadily in his left hand as he told McCauley that this was Mr. Smith and he had given a complete confession.

       “Smith, huh? He doesn t look like a Smith," McCauley answered, eyeing the elderly man. Reaching for the said confession, he began to read.

       When he was done reading, he looked directly at the gentleman in custody. "This won't wash... No way. We already know that body has been dead for years. Why don't you just tell me where you got it and why you did what you did this morning?"

       “That is the truth." The man spoke with a slight accent and looked directly at Mac. "It does not matter whether I am believed or not. I had to do what I did. There was no other way."

       Mac leaned forward. "Then tell me why you look so different than most Americans, but you say your name is Smith and you speak broken English."

       Mr. Smith answered in a somewhat tired voice, “I change it when I come to this country. Is much easier to remember and pronounce. I am from Rumania. My father brought all us here when I was small child. We leave my village. People were killed. We buried them. Soon they returned. They returned... Do you understand ? They returned!

       "Baltazar was my neighbor there in my small village. He was buried... Buried! Later he came at night and stood outside our door and pleaded to be let in. My father told me to never forget the face outside the door and I never did.

       "My parents sold everything and we came here, to America, away from the trouble in my village.“ The man was really going on with this façade of lies and getting wilder every minute.

       Mac tried another question. "So... you knew he was a vampire and you drove a stake into his heart?"

       “Yes." It was a simple, plain reply. Mac relaxed against the back of the worn desk chair and thought to himself, 'What is this man's point in pulling such a crazy stunt? Did he himself really believe that he had killed a vampire, or was this dementia setting in, possibly?'

       McCauley couldn't wait to see where this body had been taken from, and surely this frail old man hadn't dug him up or removed him from a crypt without someone's help.

       In a few hours there would be some answers to where this body had come from and the identity of the mummy-like corpse. Meanwhile, some coffee would be good.

       “Mr. Smith, I find your story most incredible. Why don't you think about it for a minute and I'll be right back." Halfway to the coffee pot, he stopped and surveyed the room. Was there even one soul in this room that would believe for a minute even part of this old man's story? Nope, especially not himself…

       Best thing was the psychiatric ward for the old gent. That just left the matter of apprehending his accomplice, the one who must have dug up and carried the ancient body to number 113 Jefferson Drive... maybe even perpetrated this whole weird thing.

       His inquiries had found no evidence of any local cemeteries being disturbed and the word was out to the rest of the state to be checked. It might take some time.

       There was no family with the name Baltazar anywhere in the city. The records showed that there was no power utilities registered at 113 Jefferson. It was not rented and no one lived there according to the bank that owned the property.

       Mac turned in his paperwork and with a wink to his co-workers headed for the door and the coroner’s office. It might be that Tom had some answers.

       He found Tom sitting with his glasses on the end of his nose and a doughnut in one hand and coffee in the other. Mac grinned at him. "You look like a cop," he said.

       “It might be an easier job. I’m getting too old for this kinda stuff. I sent some stuff out for tests. Near as I can see, this Mr. Baltazar of ours died over sixty to one hundred years ago, but get this: his suit is only two years old."

       Mac sighed. "You mean someone dug him up and then redressed him?" The implications rising in this case were becoming more insane all the time. “What about the coffin? Does it have a funeral parlor stamp on it?

       “It looks like a real antique to me, Mac, foreign craftsmanship, but someone else will have to determine that. That’s not in my line. There’s not much to go on until the tests are back." Tom swirled his coffee before looking up. "I don’t know what to tell you. It’s pretty far-fetched and further than a normal person would ever go for a joke or hoax or whatever it is that’s being pulled here."

       He looked straight at McCauley. “There is something about this that makes me uncomfortable. No one is reporting a crypt or grave broken into and the only things I know that belong in this century are the suit this John Doe is wearing and a piece of broken shovel handle."

       “I can have the suit and shovel handle traced, Tom, as well as fingerprinted... and speaking of suits, I have the afternoon off. We have a funeral to attend. One of our neighbors died a few days ago, old Liz Kendle. The wife and I need to go pay our respects this afternoon. The wife has known her almost all her life. The guys at the office are on this and they’ll keep me updated, as I know you will. Something will break soon. I know that old Romanian gentleman isn’t alone in this. See you later." Picking up Tom’s last doughnut, Mac headed for the door, and home.

       Mac always thought how peculiar it was that everyone always said how good the deceased looked. Hell, Ms. Kendle definitely didn’t look good. She looked dead. Her white hair and waxen face, what with the make up that the undertaker had applied, seemed to Mac to accent the fact even more. No, she sure didn’t look good…

       The funeral seemed to go on forever and Mac awoke with his wife’s elbow in his ribs and a threatening look on her face. He hadn’t meant any disrespect by falling asleep. Running on just two hour's sleep, he was dead tired.

       The service at the cemetery was quicker, and soon they were on their way home. Mac’s wife drove, out of the goodness of her heart. Anne Marie drove the twelve miles back to their home while Mac napped beside her in the front seat, a little bit of drool dribbling on his chin.

       Pulling in their drive, Anne Marie glanced across the street at the soon to be empty home of her old neighbor. A spray of yellow flowers adorned the big oak front door. ‘Ms. Kendle would have liked that,' she thought.

       Shaking Mac awake, she smiled as his startled snore cut suddenly short. "Come on, dear! We are finally home and you can hit the hay for a good night’s sleep at last."

       Mac showered quickly and was in bed asleep long before Anne Marie came upstairs. His rest was disturbed by strange dreams of mummy-like bodies peering at him and calling his name... "Mr. McCauley... Mr. McCauley..."

       He jerked awake hearing his name still being called. "Andrew... Mr.McCauley... Andrew. I have something to tell you. Open the door, dear Andrew... Please….Let me in..." It was a woman’s voice.

       The voice was coming from the front steps just below the bedroom window. Anne Marie slept on as Mac got out of bed and went across the darkened room to where the open window was.

       Leaning out, he looked below and was about to call out to whoever it was when the sight of the form on his steps sent a warning flash to his sleepy mind.. It was Liz Hendle! Liz Hendle whom he had seen dead in her casket... Liz Hendle whom he had stood and watched, as just a few hours ago, she was lowered into her grave!

       This is not a continuation of his nightmares. Damn, he wished it was. He knew that he was wide awake and that their newly dead neighbor was actually standing in the dim streetlights on their front steps begging to be let in.

       McCauley heard, in his mind, the words of the old man at the police station. “We buried them. Soon they returned... They returned... Do you understand? They returned!"


copyright 2006 Faye Sizemore.

Faye Sizemore:
I am an imaginative grandmother, loose with pen in hand, who just loves a mystery from the unknown.