The Spider Killings (2)

All seven women. All seven prostitutes.


The Spider Killings (2)
by laleh haghighi

A fictional series based on real events that happened in Iran known as the "Spider Killings". [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

The body stunk to the point that several of the police officers had turned the same greenish shade as its decomposing skin. A smell more putrid than decaying garbage, yet with an underlying sickly sweetness that reminded Ramin of rotting flowers in unchanged vase water. As he approached, he could see that flies had already made their nests into the woman’s eyes, nostrils, ears and god knows what other orifices. The insidious insects had even found their way inside the mouth, eating away at its corners as they speedily lay their eggs, so that it looked as if the corpse was beckoning Ramin with a grotesque smile.

There were no identity documents on the woman but there was no doubt as to whom she was in the eyes of the men gathered at the scene. A kamioni, a truckie, the nickname for the prostitutes who plied their trade to truck drivers on the outskirts of the city as soon as darkness fell. At least that’s what they were called unofficially. Officially, Mashad, site of Emam Reza’s shrine and one of the holiest cities in Iran, if not the world, did not have prostitutes. Officially, this woman did not exist. Her body would not be claimed by her red-faced relatives or friends, if she had any. In normal circumstances, this nameless, faceless woman would be as invisible in death as she had been in life.

But these were not normal circumstances. What had personally brought Brigadier-General Ramin Rohani, Mashad’s chief of police, to this gruesome site was the fact that this was the seventh cadaver found in the area in as many months. All seven women. All seven prostitutes. Just like her predecessors, this latest victim had been strangled with her own hejab, her headscarf, only to be then meticulously wrapped in her chador.

This was starting to become a problem. Or so had implied Ayatollah Kazemi, Mashad’s highest ranking cleric and de facto governor. Already, the rumors of a “spider killer,” whose victims were wrapped up as intricately as a fly caught in a spider web, had reached some of Mashad’s elite members. Kazemi had called Ramin into his office earlier in the week and demanded that he personally see to the “problem” before news of a deranged killer on the loose triggered panic in the general populace and turned away the millions of pilgrims who brought their spiritual and financial devotion to the holy city every year. Kazemi had conveyed a clear message to Ramin that his job would depend on it, all the while smiling at him from behind his tea service.

At the murder site, Ramin’s arrival had returned a semblance of order among the officers. Zeroing in on the one who looked the least dumb, Ramin gave quick instructions to collect evidence and transport the body back to the city. He couldn’t wait to get away from that death stench. But no matter how fast he drove, the smell followed him all the way back to the police station. Tonight, his clothes would have to be burned.

Back in his office, Ramin called in one of his senior officers, Asghar, and asked if there had been any claim of a missing woman in the past week to ten days. This was a perfunctory question. There never were, never had been any reports, not for these kinds of women. But to Ramin’s surprise, Asghar hesitantly answered:

-- “Well, Sir, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if it has anything to do with this but…”

-- “But what? Out with it!”

-- “ It’s… There was a woman who came in a few days ago. I remember because she caused a real ruckus. She was dragging some little kid with her. Dragging him by the elbow. He was almost flying, the poor kid… Anyways, she wanted us to take custody of him. She claimed that his… I beg your pardon Sir… Her exact words were that the kid’s…ummm… whore of a mother had abandoned him in her care and that she was not running a yateeman, an orphanage.”

-- “Well? What did you do?”

-- “Of course, I told her to watch her tone and words in the police station.”

Ramin sighed.

-- “ I meant, did you get her information?”

Asghar brightened.

-- “As a matter of fact, Sir, I did. I told her to get the kid’s father to come and fill out a report but she said she hadn’t seen him either in a few days. So I got her address and the parents’ information and I told her I would check on their whereabouts and come get the kid in a few days if it turned out his parents really did both skip town.”

-- “Give me the information, I will go see her personally.”

It was a hunch. As his subordinate was giving his report, Ramin had felt it. Ice cold, skeletal fingers pressing into the nape of his neck, making the hairs on that spot rise in disgust and apprehension. These hunches had come few and far between in Ramin’s long career as a police officer and he knew better than to ignore them. If he tried, the ghost fingers would just continue to torment him, under his bed covers, in his shower, behind the wheel of his car, until he gave in and followed their order.

As Ramin was leaving the station with Asghar’s hastily created file in hand, he encountered a group of young women being herded in by a couple of rookie officers. As usual, he kept his contempt hidden for these self-proclaimed do-gooders, harassing girls for bad hejab, some inane violation of the Islamic dress code. What a waste, Ramin would think, when there were serious crimes being committed under their nose.

Not that he had any sympathy for these brash young women either. As far as he was concerned, they were asking for it, with their stubborn insistence on bringing attention to themselves, whether through their two inches of make-up or their stiletto boots, whatever was the latest nuisance they had concocted. Nuisances, that’s what they were. And they sure didn’t need anyone to defend their honor. All of them with zaboon deraz, a quick tongue, and a superior attitude.

“Just listen to that one, with her filthy mouth,” Ramin thought as he brushed by one of the girls. She was so busy giving a verbal lashing to her captors that she tripped over Ramin and fell down on the floor of the police station. Unwittingly, Ramin glanced down at her. Her chador had opened, revealing a long pair of legs clad in tight blue jeans, topped with a white T-shirt that had the Coca-Cola logo displayed prominently on the chest. Despite himself, his eyes continued to travel from her body to her face and to his shock, he realized the girl had locked eyes with him.

Without missing a beat, she arched her eyebrows and asked him mockingly:

-- "Chieh, aksseh mano mikhaaye? Wanna take a picture?"

Immediately, one of the arresting officers yanked the girl off the floor with one hand and slapped her hard on the mouth with the other, while his colleague apologized profusely to his superior. But Ramin was already leaps away, content to leave the chaotic scene of shouting and beating behind him. >>> PART 3
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]


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