Writer’s Digest – Photo Contest – My Submission
The below is my entry for the Writer’s Digest “Your Story 63” Contest.
Mike’s Bikes & Repair Shop
Detective Highland Green switched back and forth between the last two photos on the victim’s phone. The first image, a selfie, showed Michele Sanders, bike helmut secured, trail behind her, and a blinding smile on her unlined face. The next photo, the only known photo of the suspected serial killer, was shot by Michele; her final act before dying.
Detective Claudia O’Hare banged into Highland’s office and dropped a single page on his desk. “Initial arrest report. It’ll be complete when you get off your ass. He’s been sitting in Interrogation for over an hour.”
“So sad for him. ” Highland’s tone showed little concern.
She peered over his shoulder. “You’re still staring at that thing?”
“Yeah, I know.” He set down the phone and skimmed the arrest report.
O’Hare grabbed the phone, focusing on the last image. “It’s so blurry. Did you notice this – here?” She traced a circle with her finger around the left leg of the person in the photo.
“Is it up? I can’t tell for sure.” Highland said.
“It’s definitely up, look at the color difference between the right and left side.” O’Hare gave him back the phone and plopped into one of the empty chairs. “You have that look you get. What is it?”
Highland eyed the photo again before speaking. “You know, Samantha – the first vic – she was running that morning but she also bikes. I remember her husband mentioned that she’d gone running that day because her bike was in the shop, something about gears needing to be fixed. He kept blaming himself, he was supposed to pick it up for her the night before but got out of work too late. He kept saying that if only she’d been on her bike she might have gotten away.” He opened his desk drawer and hauled out several hefty files, all victims of the same killer.
O’Hare’s green eyes bulged at the over-flowing folders, “You know, they have these new-fangled things called computers, right?”
Highland ignored her and unbound the files, flipping through the pages until he found what he was looking for.
“Look.” He pointed at a statement in Robin Rosen’s file. It was from her roommate: “She left at six a.m. She had a triathlon scheduled for next month and she’s been getting in as many miles as she could every morning. She was so excited to get out there today, she hasn’t ridden in over a week.”
“I’ve read that before, nothing new there.”
“What if the bikes are the key? We had theorized that he chose Munn Park because it means something to him but Munn Park has the toughest bike paths in the city. All of these women are serious athletes. Why hadn’t Robbin ridden in over a week if she has a triathlon next month? What if her bike was in the shop – like Samantha’s? And look at this, here.”
Highland handed O’Hare a photo he had withdrawn from the first victim’s file. It was a picture of Samantha Sorenson on her bike, taken a month before the murder.
“What am I looking at?” O’Hare asked.
“Look at the sticker on the bike and then look at the keychain in Michele’s photo.”
O’Hare looked back and forth between the two pictures. “Does the sticker say Mike’s Bikes? I can tell they are both blue and round but I can’t really say for certain what that is on Michele’s keychain.”
“Yeah, but I saw those keys at the scene and the logos match. They knew him, that’s how he got them to stop and talk to him.”
Highland turned the arrest report back to her and pointed at a box on the form titled Employer. It was filled in: Mike’s Bikes & Repair Shop.
O’Hare let out a low whistle.”There it is. You’ve got him.”
“I think we got him when we found him standing over Janie Smith’s body with a knife in his hand.”
“Highland, you’ve been busting your ass on these cases for months. We all have. There’s no way you could have known.”
He gathered the files together and stood. “Time to talk.”
They walked down the hall to Interrogation and stood outside watching the 5’7, muddy-eyed man on the other side of the glass.
Claudia spoke first, “You look like a dog with a bone.”
Highland smiled, his stubbly face crinkling. “Did you see his pant leg is up?” He walked into Interrogation, not looking back.
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