Reality hit when Sean arrived back in Dublin. With the task force now more or less defunct, nobody of importance was interested in what he has to say. There had been no further murders in quite some time and despite the pleas of the victims’ families, other priorities had taken precedence, such as trying to infiltrate criminal gangs and dissident republican groupings.
The only other Gardai that took what he thought seriously were Laura and Jack during their daily coffee break. Sean wondered whether he would be taken more seriously if he was still able to walk. It was always nagging at him at the back of his mind.
Sean had other troubles though and, in many ways, The Ripper was now a nice distraction. Billy had become a permanent thorn on his side. Unfortunately, Sean had little leave remaining and couldn’t escape to another country again.
Using a wheelchair also made him particularly easy to corner. It was impossible for him to walk quickly away or take a side street. Sean wished he could just shoot him but that wasn’t an option, at least for now.
So instead Sean found himself feeding Billy information. He could no longer sneakily look at the physical folders but the folders on the Garda intranet system were a totally different matter. Due to his work on “The Ripper”, he had been given the maximum-security clearance. Almost certainly it should have been revoked but he just failed to notify his IT section and nobody seemed to notice.
BIlly was becoming a big-time boss on the back of the information Sean was supplying him. Suspicions in the station were growing that something wasn’t quite right especially after two drug busts went awry and an informer went “missing”.
Sean knew that things were now getting way out of hand but he couldn’t bring himself to confess his wrongdoings. It just wouldn’t happen. The more interactions he had with Billy the more despicable he found him to be. There was no moral compass or anything that would even remotely be considered a redeemable trait. It was also clear that he had a long-running vendetta against the Gardai and took pleasure in making Sean squirm.
The only light at the end of the tunnel was Aimee who was now staying most nights at his house. Each night, the dinner would be ready when he arrived home and then they would spend their evenings wrapped together on the sofa. The only night it differed was when training for wheelchair basketball beckoned.
Still, even Aimee could not stop the sleepless nights that were now plaguing him. It was a manifestation of the feeling of dread he felt throughout the day but he couldn’t admit that to her. Instead, he blamed it fictional tablets that he was supposed to be taking, although he wasn’t quite sure if she believed him.
The nightmare was always the same. His colleagues and the community at large had discovered what he had been up to. Their disgust was evident in their eyes. Sean tried to explain in vain that it wasn’t his fault, however erroneously but nobody said anything to him. It’s the shunning that terrified him. A world where nobody would have anything to do with him again.
One night was particularly bad, he woke up in a panic sweating, with what feels like a heavy weight on his chest, Aimee’s concerned eyes looking down wondering if he would survive the night. Just like every other night he shrugs off her concerns and tells her to go back asleep.
Previously, he too would quickly go back to sleep but not tonight, no matter how much he tossed and turned. Feelings of his imminent demise would not diffuse and there was nothing he could do about it. Instead, he just waited for the alarm clock to go off that would signal it was time to get up till it finally did.
The dark, dreary morning was the perfect match for his somber mood. He was beginning to think there was little point in carrying on but found the courage from somewhere to get into his car and drive to the station.
Most days he would turn on the radio to find out what was the news of the day but this time, he just couldn’t be bothered. There was never anything of interest on it anyway, he would think to himself. Just the same tired nonsense about house prices and the weather; little else seemed to matter to Irish people.
In fact, he didn’t talk to anybody on entering the station either – just went straight to his desk to begin the daily drudgery of data entry.
It was with somewhat of a fright when Garda Mulhern burst into his office.
“What are ya doing here? The meeting is about to start!” she exclaimed in a panicked voice.
She knew by the blank stare that she received in response that he had no idea what she was on about.
“Did you check your emails, listen to the news, anything?? What world do you live in? I know about the meeting and I’m not even on the bloody taskforce.”
Nothing more needed to be said, The Ripper was back. Sean immediately followed her to the meeting room. On the way, she explained that the victims were very well known this time: they were a TD and his wife.
Sean couldn’t believe that the one morning something like this happened, was the same morning he didn’t turn on the radio. He quickly followed Laura to the lift so they could go up to the top floor where the meeting was being held. All along she reiterated that he must mention his theory about The Ripper being from England, especially since he had now mentioned so many times during tea break. He assured her that he would. With that she opened the door and in he went.
The meeting had already started, Superintendent DeRossa was at the front presiding over it. The mood was somber. There was nowhere for Sean to park so he was forced to go conspicuously to the front. He expected a warm glance in his direction but none was forthcoming. Instead, it felt frosty, so different from the past. For over an hour they reviewed the previous murders assiduously before finally getting to the latest ones.
There was still only preliminary information available. The bodies were found in the couples’ holiday home just outside Donegal Town. Once more, there was no sign of forced entry. But this time things didn’t seem to have gone quite so well for the attacker. It appears that the couple put up a serious fight for their lives – perhaps because of previous media attention, they knew what awaited them if they didn’t.
It appeared that both died from multiple stab wounds and it looked like the wife may have been raped quite some time after she had died. This time the Gardai were confident that at least some of the blood at the scene was from the attacker so they were hopeful of finally getting DNA evidence. This would prove crucial to any future prosecution.
The victims were a well-known, TD from County Meath, and her husband. They were the parents of a five-year-old girl and a ten-year-old boy, who were being looked after by their grandmother at the time. At this point, it was unknown if they were specifically targeted or simply unfortunate to be chosen at random. She was similar to previous female victims, being of a slender build, quite attractive and in her early thirties.
The mood at the meeting remained downcast throughout with not a word being said out of turn. Eventually, the Superintendent asked the room if there were any questions. Sean knew that Laura would never forgive him if he didn’t speak now, so that’s what he did.
“Actually Sir, I was wondering if I could officially contact the Met in England about a potential connection…”
The Superintendent stopped him before he could finish.
“Yes, I read your correspondences. At this stage we need to try everything so fire ahead,” he said matter-of-factly.
Not quite the ringing endorsement Sean had expected but it would have to do. The Superintendent may have been sour due to the recent murders and being under a lot of pressure, he thought to himself.
With that, the meeting was over and everyone filed back to their desks or wherever they had to go. For Sean that meant going back down the lift and straight on the phone to England; he had made sure to keep Jim’s number.
As he rang, he quickly browsed through his emails, but there was nothing about the meeting. For some reason, he had not even been invited. Just as well Laura had accidentally coerced him into going uninvited.
At least Jim was happy to hear from him. Even he had heard about the latest murder. The fact a politician was involved had rocketed up the publicity.
“Great to hear from you Sean! I was just thinking about you when I heard about the politician being murdered. In truth, I had expected to hear from you some time ago.”
Sean explained that it had taken some time to get the required authorization and gave him the details of what he knew about the latest killings. Jim was intrigued and said that he would forward all the information he had about the Reading Rapist.
Finally, Sean felt that he was making some sort of process. But the hard part of definitely linking the rapist to the murderer was still to be done. Jim emailed him everything later that day.
The Reading Rapist was everything that Jim had said he was and more. At his peak, he was insatiably carrying out multiple attacks within a week. It was not just the extreme violence that marked him out but also the callousness. As Jim had said, he would cruelly tell his victims during the rape that he would always watch over them and then ring his them months later to remind them, groaning down the phone line.
It was all about power and exerting continuing control over his victims. This was something he had in common with “The Ripper” but had it grown or evolved to him becoming a killer and if so, were they the one and the same or was there a further madman on the loose?
A clear sign that they were indeed one and the same perpetrator would be if genital hair had been removed from the latest female victim. Sean immediately started typing up an email to the Superintendent requesting permission to contact the State Pathologist.
All too soon, it came to time for Sean to go home. Well, it was that or get locked in for the night. It did cross his mind but he thought the better of it; it would not look good if he was disheveled at work the following day.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” Aimee said jokingly but with a touch of scorn.
She knew there was only one person that could keep her beloved away from her and that person was a faceless monster, at least for now. Often, she wished that she just had a normal boring boyfriend but there was little point in trying to change him. Instead, she knew he would be galvanized once she heard about the murders earlier in the day.
The dinner was long gone cold but that bothered Sean little as he excitedly told Aimee about the latest developments while he ate.
“He’s struck again. He’s not going to stop killing till we stop him. Why is it so hard for those idiots to understand?”
Indeed, she was somewhat interested, at least at first. But after a while, the grizzly details of the murders became too much; that was when she enticed him to her bed to make use of his renewed vigor.
The Superintendent confirmed that Sean could contact the State Pathologist the following morning and he quickly phoned him to tell him what to look for based on cases from the Reading Rapist.
Then the anxious wait to hear back began. Either fame if there was a link between the two ghastly characters or infamy if it was not as someone who peddled a preposterous theory to his colleagues.
In vain, he tried to concentrate on some of his other work. Instead, he found himself staring blankly at the screen thinking of little else. Every minute, then hour, was counted as he waited for the pathologist to get back to him.
Then midway through the afternoon, the phone rang in his small office. Sean suddenly felt nervous. Unfortunately, it was a short conversation and not the news that Sean wanted to hear. No pubic hair had been removed from the female victim’s vagina. His heart sank; no link was established. All that time and energy was spent for nothing. Worse still, all of the blood was from the victims.
He sank into the back of his wheelchair and stared at the white ceiling. Perhaps he had become overly invested in the investigation. Then Laura popped her head around the door wondering if there had been any update.
The last thing Sean wanted to do was talk to someone but he tried to put up a brave face on it. She could tell how disappointed he was that there was no link and told him that you just never know when a new clue might appear. He nodded in agreement, even if he didn’t think it at the time.
Little did he know then, but a few hours later things were to get much worse. As Sean was leaving out the back of the Garda Station, there was Billy waiting by his car, covertly holding up a newspaper over his face, presumably so he couldn’t be identified by any of the surveillance cameras.
Sean’s heart thumped knowing that he was in all sorts of danger.
“Eh what the fuck are you doing here?” he said angrily, but quietly all the same.
“I’ve been looking for you and I don’t like having to look for people,” he replied.
It was true, Sean had been ignoring his calls for him and the occasional note left at his house for weeks, blindly hoping that Billy would just go away. Alas, he was not to have such luck.
“You work for me pig, don’t ever forget that. Now I have a little mission for you, cripple. Meet me at the Kindergarten 3 pm Thursday or you’ll live to regret it,” he said sternly before walking slowly away.
Sean became teary-eyed; the realization that he would never be done with Billy was now really hitting him. Maybe he should just turn his wheelchair around and hand himself in, telling his colleagues everything. No, things had just gone too far for that; he pulled himself together and got into the car.