Paint By Numbers Killer

“Another one,” Detective Hank Langdon said.

His partner, Detective Hen Ball, took in a steadying breath. There had been the elderly man found garroted in a tub of milk in the white tiled changing room at Maxim Gym. Eight days later, a teenage couple were reported missing. Their bodies were found blue and bloated inside an abandoned blue spray painted garage.

It was at the blue murders that Ball and Langdon were assigned and the two disparate crimes were linked. After their successful work on the West River Rapist task force, captain Echevarria thought they were wonderkins. Surveying the blood splattered crimson velvet wallpaper, Ball didn’t feel like any kind of crime genius.

“So we have Ida Picasso known around the neighborhood as Peanut. She has priors from back in the day but nothing recent. She runs the dry cleaners on Flower St,” Sgt. Nick Richards said reading from his notes.

The beat cop’s words drifted away as Ball took in the elaborate staging of the corpse. Red satin sheets and copious mounds of rose petals decorated the bed the victims was posed on. The middle aged mother looked peaceful except for vicious stab wound to her side. The setting was lush, overwhelming, and bone chilling.

Ball touched the motel’s walls. Red paint had been added to the wall paper to cover any torn or discolored sections.

“This psycho brought in paint. He’s communicating with us. The victimology is all over the place. It’s the room that drives him,” Ball mused outloud.

“But what is the unsub trying to tell us? The significance of the colors. White means purity,” Langdon said.

“Or death!” Richards said.

“I know blue is sadness,” Ball said.

“Or royalty! Blue ribbon blueblood,” richards said while ticking suggestions off on his fingertips. “Blue moon, boy in blue, blue paint special.”

Ball and Langdon rolled their eyes at the helpful sergeant. Ball rubbed the red paint on her fingers. This monster took his time

“Blueberry Hill stop with the blue already Gainsborough,” Langdon said.

“Wasn’t the first victim named Gainsborough? He was a painter right like Picasso. Could the victims have a link? Shit and the two kids murdered were O’Keefe and Bonnard. I know Georgia O’keefe but was there a famous Bonnard artist?”

“Late Surrealist, yeah. What does it mean?” Richards looked up fromhis phone.

“It means he considers himself an artist. These rooms are his masterpieces and the people are mere ingredients. Signatures maybe,” Langdon said.

“It means the killer is organized not frenzied. He spends hours no days selecting his targets. He is smart. Looks normal. He is able to manipulate normal people to take them to a secondary location. It means this insub will be very hard to find,” Ball said standing up too quickly.

She needed air, wanted to rip open the window and scream at the reporters already gathering outside. This wasn’t a true crime podcast or a clever serial killer movie. Real people were gone here. “

Langdon snapped his fingers. Ball realized she had been talking out loud.

“God idea Hen. We need to discombobulate this bastard. He sees himself as an artist. We will give a press release criticizing the scenes. He’s serious let’s Make him a joke. Make him make a mistake,” Langdon said slapping her back.

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