Nor iron bars a cage, p.9
Nor Iron Bars a Cage...., p.9Randall Garrett / Science Fiction
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This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction May 1962. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.
NOR IRON BARS A CAGE....
Iron bars do not confine a Man--only his body. There are more subtle, and more confining bindings, however....
JONATHAN BLAKE MACKENZIE
ILLUSTRATED BY SCHOENHERR
* * * * *
Her red-blond hair was stained and discolored when they found her inthe sewer, and her lungs were choked with muck because her killerhadn't bothered to see whether she was really dead when he dumped herbody into the manhole, so she had breathed the stuff in with her lastgasping breaths. Her face was bruised, covered with great blotches,and three of her ribs had been broken. Her thighs and abdomen had beenbruised and lacerated.
If she had lived for three more days, Angela Frances Donahue wouldhave reached her seventh birthday.
I didn't see her until she was brought to the morgue. My phone chimed,and when I thumbed it on, the face of Inspector Kleek, of HomicideSouth, came on the screen. His heavy eyelids always hang at half mast,giving him a sleepy, bored look and the rest of his fleshy face sagsin the same general pattern. "Roy," he said as soon as he could see myface on his own screen, "we just found the little Donahue girl. Themeat wagon's taking her down to the morgue now. You want to come downhere and look over the scene, or you want to go to the morgue? Itlooks like it's one of your special cases, but we won't know for sureuntil Doc Prouty does the post on her."
I took a firm grip on my temper. I should have been notified as soonas Homicide had been; I should have been there with the HomicideSquad. But I knew that if I said anything, Kleek would just say,"Hell, Roy, they don't notify me until there's suspicion of homicide,and you don't get a call until there's suspicion that it might be thework of a degenerate. That's the way the system works. You know that,Roy." And rather than hear that song-and-dance again, I gave myselfthirty seconds to think.
"I'll meet you at the morgue," I said. "Your men can get the wholestory at the scene without my help."
That mollified him, and it showed a little on his face. "O.K., Roy,see you there." And he cut off.
I punched savagely at the numbered buttons on the phone to get anintercommunication hookup with Dr. Barton Brownlee's office, on thethird floor of the same building as my own office. His face, when itcame on, was a calming contrast to Kleek's.
He's nearly ten years younger than I am, not yet thirty-five, and hishandsome, thoughtful face and dark, slightly wavy hair always make methink of somebody like St. Edward Pusey or maybe Albert Einstein. Notthat he looks like either one of them, or even that he looks saintly,but he does look like a man who has the courage of his convictionsand is calmly, quietly, but forcefully ready to shove what he knows tobe the truth down everybody else's throat if that becomes necessary.Or maybe I am just reading into his face what I know to be true aboutthe man himself.
"Brownie," I said, "they've found the Donahue girl. Taking her down tothe morgue now. Want to come along?"
"I don't think so," he said without hesitation. "I'll get all theinformation I need from the photos and the reports. The man I do wantto see is the killer; I need more data, Roy--always more data. Themore my boys and I know about these zanies, the more effectively wecan deal with them."
"I know. O.K.; I've got to run." I cut off, grabbed my hat, and headedout to fulfill my part of the bargain Brownlee and I had once made."You find 'em," he'd once said, "and I'll fix 'em." So far, thatbargain had paid off.
* * * * *
I got to the morgue a few minutes after the body was brought in. Theman at the front desk looked up at me as I walked in and gave me abored smile. "Evening, Inspector. The Donahue kid's in the clean-uproom." Then he went back to his paper work.
The lab technicians were standing around watching while the morgueattendant sluiced the muck off the corpse with a hose, watching to seeif anything showed up in the gooey filth. Inspector Kleek stood toone side. All he said was, "Hi, Roy."
The morgue attendant lifted up one small arm with a gloved hand andplayed the hose over the thin biceps. "Good thing the rigor mortis hasgone off," he said, "these stiffs are hell to handle when they'restiff." It was an old joke, but everybody grinned out of habit.
The clear water from the hose flowed over the skin and turned agrayish brown as it ran down to the bottom of the shallow, waist-highstainless-steel trough in which the body was lying.
One of the lab techs stepped over and began going through the longhair very carefully, and Doc Prouty, the Medical Examiner, begancleaning out the mouth and nose and eyes and ears with careful hands.
I turned to Kleek. "You sure it's the Donahue girl?"
He sighed and looked away from the small dead thing on the cleaningtable. "Who else could it be? She was found only three blocks from theDonahue home. No other female child reported missing in that area. Wehaven't checked the prints yet, but you can bet they'll tally with herschool record."
I had to agree. "What about the time of death?"
"Doc Prouty figures forty-eight to sixty hours ago."
"I'll be able to give you a better figure after the post," the MedicalExaminer said without looking up from his work.
A tall, big-nosed man in plain-clothes suddenly turned away from thescene on the table, his mouth moving queerly, his eyes hard. After amoment, his lips relaxed. Still staring at the wall, he said: "I guessthe case is out of Federal jurisdiction, then. We'll co-operate, asusual, of course." He looked at me. "Could I talk to you outside,Inspector Royall?"
I looked at Kleek. "O.K., Sam?" I didn't have to have his O.K.; it wasjust professional courtesy. He knew I'd tell him whatever it was thatthe FBI man had to say, and we both knew why the Federal agent wantedto leave.
Sam Kleek nodded. "Sure. I'll keep an eye out here."
* * * * *
The FBI man followed me into the outer room.
"Do you figure this as a sex-degenerate case, Inspector?" he asked.
"Looks like it. You saw the bruises. Dr. Prouty will be able to tellus for sure after the post mortem."
He shook his head as if to clear it of a bad memory. "You New Yorkpolice can sure be cold-blooded at times."
The thing that was bothering him, as Kleek and I both knew, was thatthe FBI agent hadn't been exposed to this sort of thing often enough.They deal with the kind of crimes that actually don't involve thecallous murder of children very often. Even the murder of adultsdoesn't normally come under the aegis of the FBI.
"We're not cold blooded," I said. "Not by inclination, I mean. But aman gets that way--he has to get that way--after he's seen enough ofthis sort of thing. You either get yourself an emotional callous oryou get deathly sick from the repetition--and then you have to get outof the job."
"Yeah," he said. "Sure." He quit rubbing his chin with a knuckle,looked at me, and said: "What I wanted to say is that there's noevidence that she was taken across a state line. Whoever sent thatransom note to the Donahue parents was trying to throw us off thetrack."
"Looks like it. Look at the time-table. The note was sent _after_ thegirl was murdered, but _before_ the information hit the papers or thenewscasts. The killer wanted us to think it was a ransom kidnaping. Itisn't likely that the note was sent by a crank. A crank wouldn't haveknown the girl was missing at all at the time the note was sent."
"That's the way it seems to me," he agreed. The color was coming backinto his face. "But why would he want to make it look like a kidnapinginstead of ... of what it was? The penalty's the same for both."
My grin had anger, pity, and disgust for the killer in it--plus acertain amount of satisfaction. Some day, I'd like to see my face in amirror when I feel like that.
"He was hoping the body wouldn't be found until it was too late for usto know that it was a rape killing. And that means that he knew thathe would be on our list if we did find out that it was rape.Otherwise, he wouldn't have bothered. If
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