Callie left Dr. Visner’s office in a whirlwind of emotions. The psychotherapist gave her continuing jolts of attraction and repulsion. It wasn’t so much his physical resemblance to Mort as it was the seeming similarity in their personalities.
Visner seems so kind and empathetic, just as my stepfather used to be, she thought. Is this just going to be another charm offensive, as it had been with Mort–whom I can barely still call my stepfather–he who charmed his way into bed with me? The disappearance of Daddy, my real daddy, from my life, after his and Mom’s divorce, had been a throbbing pain in my heart, which got worse when he died a year later in that car accident. Mort then came along and filled in the void…among other voids.
Callie could also feel Kluh’s lust for Visner, a lust that was being incorporated with Callie’s feelings, and confusing her. She and the demoness felt like spiritual Siamese twins, as it were, with the conjoining growing more and more absolute all the time. It was getting more and more difficult to know where Callie ended and Kluh began.
I want Dr. Visner, Callie thought and she walked down the sidewalk in the direction of The Gold Star, but will he betray me as Mort did?
Detectives Surian and Thurston were on the streets of downtown Toronto, questioning people who’d seen or heard anything connected with Wayne’s murder. They were following up questioning from the local police, looking for further links with the killing of Mort Brahms in Hamilton.
Sometimes, they spoke with people whom the Toronto police had already questioned. At other times, as they walked down the streets and talked about the case with those they were questioning in the neighbourhoods, other people oddly began presenting themselves to the pair, as if eavesdroppers to the conversation.
A homeless man told them he saw a “hairy humanoid” racing by the alley where he was sitting and drinking at about 2:00 in the morning. He said ‘she’ had a curvaceous female figure, “with big tits,” but all covered in dark hair. She let out a growl that startled him, then he saw her run by.
Other people spoke of “grunts and growls” several blocks down the road from the alley at about 2:05 to 2:10, suggesting the direction the beast was going in. At about 2:30, someone was looking out of her third floor window and thought she saw a hairy figure flying in an arc across the street in a huge jump, then landing on the sidewalk at a corner; it then turned left. The woman’s apartment was on a road intersecting with the previous road with the alley, suggesting that the beast was moving in a zig-zagging, diagonal direction.
Surian and Thurston went with that hunch, finding others who’d “heard a few growls” around 2:40 to 3:00, in areas of the neighbourhood still suggesting a diagonal direction. The last person to have heard growls or grunts was around 3:10, still in the same general direction.
“I can’t believe the luck we’re getting in finding people who know of the beast,” Thurston said.
The detectives continued following the direction of their hunch, and though there were no more sightings or any hearing of the beast, they started noticing long, brown hairs lying on sidewalks, some wrapped around trees–that is, after the wind blew them there–and some on lawns; and with more and more hairs found clumped together in tufts, until finally they reached the alley with the boxes and garbage bag piles where Callie had woken up nude.
“The end of the line, damn it,” Surian said, studying the largest of the cluster of hairs.
“Where could it–she, I guess–have gone?” Thurston asked.
“She?” a man behind them said, startling them.
“Who are you?” Surian asked.
“Oh, uh, I cook in a café just a block down the road,” the man said. “Sorry if I startled you. I don’t normally walk up to strangers and chat with ’em, but I couldn’t help noticing you asking where ‘she’ went. Just around 11:00 or so this morning, I saw a ‘she’ right here where you’re standing–dirty and smelly, but also naked and beautiful.”
“We’re looking for a hairy female animal,” Thurston said.
“But with a curvy body, sharp claws, and big tits,” Surian said. “Remember what the drunk said, Andy?”
“This naked woman was curvy, with big tits,” the man said. “I got lucky with her during my lunch break–oh, sorry, ma’am, for the locker-room talk.”
“That’s OK,” Surian said. “Actually, this is helpful.” She took out a photo of Sandra Brahms. “Did she look at all like this girl?” The photo was a full body shot of a chubby, seventeen-year-old brunette.
“Um, no, she didn’t look anything like that,” he said.
“Not even her face?” Thurston asked.
“No, not at all. Sorry.”
“I guess them both being here was a coincidence,” Surian said with a frown.
“The woman said she worked at a strip joint, The Gold Star,” the man said. “It’s just a few blocks from here.”
“Wait a minute,” Thurston said. “Wayne was last seen leaving The Gold Star with a stripper, a curvaceous one with big tits, according to a witness who spoke to one of the Toronto cops.”
“What colour was her hair, this woman you were with?” Surian asked.
“Blonde,” he said. “Dirty and messy when I found ‘er, but blonde.”
“The witness who saw Wayne leave with the stripper said she had bright red hair,” Thurston said.
“Sure, but I think we should go over to this ‘Gold Star’ peeler joint,” Surian said.
“What are we supposed to make of this?” Thurston asked. “Am I supposed to believe there’s a stripper werewolf, or something, killing men she fucks?”
“Killing men?” the man asked with a shudder.
“No, of course not,” she said. “But both men died with their dicks hanging out their unzipped pants, the gossip around the Brahms family’s neighbourhood involved suspicions about Mort’s relationship with his daughter, who’s still nowhere to be found, and this here is the best lead we’ve got. What’s your name, sir?”
“Stan,” he said.
“Take us to The Gold Star, Stan,” she said with a smile. The three of them started off on their way there.
Thurston said to Surian, “As hot as the girls are in this strip joint, I promise I’ll always like you better, Agnes, my cutie.”
“Oh, shut up, Andy,” she said with a smirk.
I don’t know what possessed me to come out here to this alley again, Stan thought.
I do, Kluh thought, her spirit monitoring all the action.