Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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“I wrote this true tale especially for you as a bedtime story, Retches Estral,” I said. “I will read it to you and trust it will help you fall into everlasting sleep as I come to the end.”
But that statement came later in the story. Let me begin at the beginning. My name is Larry Michaels. I’m thirty-three and a detective with the Springfield Police Department. In my spare time, I’m a writer. My wife, Esther, was twenty-six when she was killed by an unknown murderer. That’s a picture of her on the cover of this story. I loved her very much. It required a lot of convincing on my part before I was able to get the case assigned to me.
There wasn’t much to go on. It happened in July several years ago. I was on a muggings case. Esther had just come home from her job at the hospital where she worked as a Nurse’s Aide. We were able to narrow down the time she was killed as having been between four and five in the evening. We lived in the country. No one had seen or heard anything that would help in the investigation.
There was very little forensic evidence. The first responders from the Police Department were able to collect a DNA sample, but this was never matched to anyone in the National DNA Databank. There was some skin tissue under Esther’s fingertips. Its DNA was the same as the sample we had already collected. We were able to conclude that only one individual had committed the crime. She had been strangled. I won’t go into the details since I can’t bear to put them down on paper. She had fought fiercely for her life!
There were no tire tracks, no bloodstains, nothing except what I’ve just mentioned. Due to the strength that had obviously been used in committing the murder, it was deduced that the crime had been committed by a male.
At the time of the murder, I had been with the police department ten years and had arrested several thousand individuals, drug dealers, prostitutes, murderers, and many more. I knew it would be a difficult task to study the records of all the individuals I had arrested. Nevertheless, it was a required effort in my attempt to find a clue as to who had ended the life of this woman whom I dearly loved.
Several months passed, and I was making no headway. The case was rapidly turning cold despite my efforts to keep it in the active file. It came as a surprise one day when the chief showed me a letter that had been received. The writing on the envelope and the message inside consisted of words and letters cut out of newspapers. It was a taunting rant which read as follows:
Stupid Cops, I love seeing you jackasses struggling with the Michaels case. This all goes to prove what imbeciles the police are in this funky town. I can smell the odor miles away. I’d like to wish you goofballs success, but that would be brainless on my part. This is the last time I’ll write you. But keep in mind, I’ll be watching, and laughing every day.
The message was signed Retches Estral.
I did all possible to see if I could find a record of anyone with that name, but had no luck. I looked at the definitions of the words, retches and estral to see if the meanings would yield any clue. To retch means to make a sound as if one is preparing to vomit. Possibly, I thought, the murderer may have meant wretches, which refers to miserable individuals. The word estral is a variation of estrous which has a sexual connotation concerning the fertility cycle of a female. Although I turned these meanings around, upside down, and inside out, they surrendered nothing.
The case became cold, and I was removed from having any responsibility with it. However, I could not let go. I had a duty to Esther to find out who had murdered her, and also to bring that person to justice. I was not going to give up until I had either died, or found out who had murdered my wife.
One day I was giving a talk at the local high school on the theme, “Bring your kids to work.” At the conclusion of my presentation, a young lad, of perhaps eleven, came to me saying he wanted to be a cop. I was pleased, but told him that, with this occupation, there are times of frustration. I wrote the word, estral, on the blackboard.
“Look,” I said. “This word might be a clue in a murder case, but if it is, I can’t figure it out. This bothers me a great deal!”
“Oh,” he replied, “that’s an anagram for the word, alerts!”
“It’s an Anna for what?” I asked.
“Anagram,” he said. “An example is my name. My name is Steven, which uses the same letters as the word events! I’m good with anagrams. If you give me a word, I may be able to tell you other words that use the same letters!”
“Oh,” I exclaimed. “So the words, estral and alerts use the same letters!”
“Exactly!” he said. “The word, estral is also an anagram of alters, salter, slater, and staler!”
“Wonderful,” I fairly shouted, “and slater, with a capital S, could be a last name, Slater.”
“Of course,” responded the young genius.
“You are good at this, Steven!” I said. “Tell me, what about retchers? Is that an anna whachum y’call it?”
“Yes,” he said, “for Chester.”
“Chester”, I whooped. “Chester Slater, alias Retchers Estral.” The name sounded vaguely familiar. I nearly forgot to thank the boy as I dashed out the door and to my car.
At the station I found the police had a record of a Mr. Chester Slater. A miserable miscreant, he had been in and out of jail several times, never committing a more serious crime than stealing an apple from a street vendor. Somehow, though, I felt sure this was the man who had murdered my wife. He was arrested and put on trial for murder.
The DNA found at the scene proved the State’s case. Slater was found guilty and sentenced to death by lethal injection.
It required a number of years before all Slater’s appeals had been exhausted. A date was finally fixed for his execution. I asked special permission to sit at his gurney’s side while he was being injected with death drugs. No one objected and I was granted the privilege.
As Slater lay on the gurney, I said to him, “I wrote this true tale especially for you as a bedtime story. I will read it to you, Retches Estral, aka Chester Slater, and trust my story will help you fall into everlasting sleep as I come to the end.”
He glared at me but did not respond.
I read the story that you have just read to this creep. He was frozen with fear as the tubes were inserted into his body and the fluids began to flow. I spoke softly with my mouth close to his ear as the operations were being carried out. I wanted the story to end at the precise moment he took his last breath. My wish was granted. The killer coughed once, then left this world, a pathetic example of the worst kind of wretched animal this world could ever bring into existence.