"No-one ever tell you that you shouldn't play with your food?” Jane said, displaying a perfect set of white teeth caressed in the most luscious red lips.
“You feeling okay?” She asked. “You've been a little distant these last few days, what's on your mind?”
Calvin propped himself up on the chair, pushed his cereal to the side and placed his arms on the breakfast table. Today would be the biggest day of his life to date. His mind certainly had been occupied in recent weeks but he thought he'd been hiding it well.
“Sorry baby, it's just work. The usual.”
Jane finished drying off the last of the dishes and made her way over to Calvin. She placed her arms around him and kissed his cheek.
“Whatever it is, you can tell me. You know that.”
“I know baby, it's nothing, it should be all over soon.” Cal soothed.
“Doesn't seem like nothing. You sure you don't want to talk about it?” Jane asked with heartfelt concern for her long-term boyfriend.
“Honestly it's fine. Just the Tanza case, it has this way of consuming my thoughts, but it'll be over soon, I promise.” Calvin Proctor wasn't kidding. This case had commandeered his entire career in the Australian police force to date, and at times had affected their family life together.
Jane removed her arms from Calvin and pulled out the chair next to him. She joined him at the breakfast table, placing her hands on top of his in a warm, caring embrace.
“Has there been a breakthrough?” She asked with genuine interest.
“Possibly.” Calvin sighed. “It's hard to tell what's part of his game and what isn't.”
“Whose game?” Jane asked, before adding, “oh the Tanza guy?”
“Yeah. I don't want to talk about it just now, if that's cool?”
“Um, yeah, of course. I'm sorry.” Jane said, pulling her hands apart from Calvin's.
“It's just, well I hate seeing you like this.”
“Like what?” He asked.
“Distant...cold...just...not my Calvin.”
“I'm sorry too baby, but I need to get this guy. How many more women have to pay with their lives for his warped beliefs?” He asked rhetorically.
“Cal, just take it easy okay. Remember you have a woman of your own who needs you and loves you very much.” She kissed Calvin on the lips and left the breakfast table.
“I need to go see mum for a few hours, but I'll be back for dinner.” She added.
“Gotcha.” Cal replied. “When are you leaving?”
“Right after my shower, so within the next forty minutes.”
“Okay. Make sure and say hi to her for me.”
Jane nodded. “Remember we're going to dads grave on Saturday. I've ordered the flowers, they should be here tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, and John called about an hour ago. He didn't leave any message. How is he these days?”
“John's still John, not much more to say really.”
“People deal with things in different ways Cal, keep an eye on him, make sure he's okay. I mean when does he ever call that early? He's probably on edge a lot too”
“I'm not on edge.” Cal barked back a little.
“I didn't mean it like that, I'm just saying we all have different coping mechanisms, some turn to drink, some become cold and distant, and others make 8am phone calls to their partner on their day off.”
“He's fine. I'm fine.”
“If you say so.” Jane replied cautiously. She had been in the field of forensic psychology for more than ten years and knew she had touched a nerve. She understood Cal more than anyone and in that moment realised it was best to leave him be.
“Look, I'm sorry, I know what you mean. Thanks baby. I do appreciate it” Cal said acknowledging her efforts.
“I know you do. Listen, I'm heading for my shower, make sure to give John a call okay? He needs you more than he'll ever admit to” Jane said, as she slipped off her bathrobe and walked to the bathroom.
Calvin couldn't help but admire her physique as she walked away. Her long tanned legs met with the cutest little bum. Her highly toned body danced, muscle by muscle, in the natural light that gently seeped through the small kitchen window and into the hallway area of their home.
“That's my woman.” He whispered slightly to himself.
Calvin poured his cereal into the bin and opened up the fridge. Jane always kept it well stocked in fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy snacks, and freshly squeezed apple and orange juice. It was one of those things he really loved about her, but realised he had never thanked her for.
He poured himself a half glass of orange, and slapped two slices of bread in the toaster. Resting his hands on the worktop counter, he thought about what today meant. What if it didn't go to plan? What if this was all part of the cat and mouse game that the killer had crafted?
Calvin always refused to acknowledge him by his media penned moniker, The Widower, and it wasn't until now that he realised that this was also the case during his private thoughts about him too.
The Widower was a difficult one for Calvin to figure out. His beliefs seemed to focus around the body as a temple; something that he believes is sacred and belongs to God. Every female target had the same few things in common.
All of the women had recently married before their deaths, had a child born out of wedlock, came from lower-class backgrounds, and at the time of death, had been working in retail.
All of the women were white, and in their late forties. All were religious, and none of them had ever left the country, not even on vacation. The victims had no siblings and their parents had died young. This was the best that the police had. They hadn't been able to further connect these people together.
The Widower had claimed responsibility for exactly fifteen female deaths to date, but had never revealed why. His only statement had been that this was nothing more than a continuation of gods work.
Calvin thought for a few moments about the hurt and pain caused by his career nemesis, and how it had impacted his own life. Some of the decisions he had taken had reduced him to nothing more than a stereotypical television detective.
He had neglected his soulmate during key moments in her life. He had put off having children, moved house three times in the last six years, cancelled family barbecues, and dedicated most of his time to the job.
His mind intended to ponder the many flaws of his attitude to life, and would have continued on this path for a further ten minutes if it hadn't been for the loud pop of the toaster.
He retrieved the toast and buttered it quickly, slapping on a few slices of cooked ham, before munching down on it, in a hasty mess of crumbs and saliva.
After a signature, operatic burp, reserved purely for the absence of other people; he made his way over to the phone, taking a minute or two to lift the handset from the receiver. His mind was racing at the very prospect of what today meant for him and his partner.
Was John calling to say it had fallen through? Had the killer changed the rules, or worse, changed his mind? He bargained with his chosen god before keying in John's number. It was time to find out.
“Hey hey, doctor Proctor, you get a good sleep?” Asked john.
“Sleep? I forgot what that was.” Cal joked. There was of course an element of truth in his comment. Sleep had evaded him more and more on the lead up to today.
“What time you want me to swing round to pick you up? I was thinking about half one?”
“What time is it now?”
“About ten past nine. Meetings at two o'clock.” This was something Cal did not need reminding of.
“Yeah that's fine mate.”
“You ready for this?” John asked with a deep sincerity in his voice.
“Physically yeah; mentally, I'm not so sure.”
“Look mate, just dust yourself down and think of tomorrow. In less than twenty-four hours you'll be the most famous man in Australia. The man who caught The Widower!”
“That's not what drives me to be honest. Fifteen women have died at his hands, and all of them on our watch. That is what keeps me going. That is what drives me to catch this bastard”
“Jesus Christ Cal! Lighten up mate.”
“Tell that to the victims families John. If we do pull this off today, their pain begins all over again. Just remember that.”
“I know that. I'm just trying to lighten the mood a little. You've had nine years of this asshole slipping through your fingers, and today he will be in the palm of your hand.”
“You're right.” Cal sighed. “Does anyone know about the meeting?”
“No. Well at least not from my side. You kept your shit locked down?” John asked with a slightly more serious tone.
“Yeah. We're good.” Cal replied.
“And does that include Jane?”
“Yes. I haven't told Jane about any of this. I don't know that she could take it to be honest. Remember last time?”
Calvin had come close in the past to catching the killer. An emergency call made about strange activity in an apartment block got him within fifteen minutes of finally breathing the same air as his nemesis, he just didn't know it at the time.
The block was already known to him as nothing but trouble. It was wholly occupied by addicts, thieves, junkies, and those that life had left behind. The block itself, however, was officially recognised as a rehabilitation centre run by the cities largest pharmaceutical company, Chem-Friend, to help recovering addicts go from illness to wellness independently.
Calvin had been out on the beat that night with a new recruit for the purposes of training, experience, and confidence boosting. This wasn't something he did regularly. His job had become far more political and paper based by this point, but he loved being out and about, and took every opportunity to do so.
Calvin assumed that when they reached the apartment block, the strange activity reported would be a domestic violence case, or an overdosed junkie crying out for help. What they encountered upon arrival however, was gruesome.
The freshly decapitated body parts of twenty-four year old medical student Naomi Parkins were positioned in a way that Calvin knew only too well. They were positioned the exact same way as the widower had always positioned them, in the shape of an eye.
The arms had formed an upper eyelid, the legs, a lower eyelid, and the torso would join them both down the middle, acting as the pupil. The head of the victim was placed on top of the torso to represent the iris. This was the widower's signature. He had claimed once in a package sent to Calvin, that god watched us all through oureyes, not his own, for he had none.
Calvin knew before anyone else what the victim must have endured. He had seen this exact scene twelve times previously. The victim had gone through hours of excruciating torture before being hacked up into pieces whilst still alive.
Calvin tried his best to shield the rookie from the grotesque scene that lay in front of him, but he hadn't been quick enough. The rookie pushed past him to have a look, and instantly wished she hadn't.
Calvin had called it in to the station right away and realised in that moment, that the killer had only left in the fifteen or so minutes prior to his arrival.
A lockdown of the apartment block was ordered and took place immediately, but it turned up nothing but prostitutes, squatters, and junkies; The only exception had been a peculiar old woman named Ruth Russell, who lived in the very bottom apartment.
In the days and weeks after that event, all forensic evidence had been examined, as had the very limited CCTV footage of the nearby areas, but they had turned up nothing. The apartment block had no interior or exterior cameras at all, which certainly didn't help matters.
“Are you listening?” John shouted a little louder.
“Yeah sorry. Deep in thought there. What did you say again?”
“I said she deserves to know Calvin. She really cares about you, and to be real with you, what if this doesn't all go according to plan?”
“It will.” Calvin tried to enforce.
“Look, just tell her. Honestly, she needs to know.”
“John, no offence mate, but what I share with my girlfriend is up to me. She doesn't need to know about Tanza or the meeting. Understood?”
“Alright boss, fine, whatever.” John said. He had become accustomed to the tone of voice used by Calvin when he switched to his chain of command stance.
“Alright mate. Thanks.” Cal added, this time reverting back to his normal vocal tone. A strange quiet ensued, lasting for nearly five seconds.
“Well boss, it's nearly playtime.” John said, ending the silence before it spilled over into awkwardness. Bring your game face alright? See you in a few hours”
“Indeed I will John, today we catch a killer. I'll see you soon.” Cal hung up the phone and turned around to see Jane standing right in front of him. She had come back into the kitchen to pick up her make-up bag and overheard the last of the conversation.
“Something you want to tell me Calvin?” She asked, adopting what Cal called her teacher tone, named so because he always felt like a little schoolboy when she used it. In essence, this was her chain of command tone.
“Uh, no, not really.”
“What about this meeting? What about you catching a killer? Hmm, care to share?”
“Look, baby, I'd love to but-”
“Shh.” She interrupted, placing her right index finger over Calvin's lips.
“Go get him baby.”
“I know what's going on Calvin, I'm neither deaf, nor blind. So...go get him. Nail the bastard. Do it for the victims, do it for their families, and do it for me.”
“Do it for you?” Cal asked, slightly confused.
“He's the reason I don't have a ring on my finger; the reason why I'm Miss Brand, and not Mrs Proctor. So get out there and end him.”
“I will...I promise.”
“Good.” Jane said leaning in towards Cal with the most sultry look she could muster.
“Get your dick out,” She whispered into his ear whilst grabbing between his legs.
“Let's start your day the right we shall we?”