The Spider Killings (6)

Ramin knew this was the work of one man


The Spider Killings (6)
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]

Mandana. I had never believed in God or any of that bullshit that these stupid gavs, these cows, are only too happy to graze on, filling their insides, their brains, with manure, smiling stupidly until the very last second, as they are led to the slaughter house. And then, there was the rain splashing onto my windshield, the truck suddenly appearing out of the corner and heading straight towards me, my foot uselessly pressing against the brake, only to be propelled even faster and with more brutality, skidding and slipping until... BOOM! The sound of the deadly impact. It was supposed to be deadly, I am convinced of it now. I was supposed to meet death on that day and now I wish I had, though at the time, opening my eyes to see your sweet face perched over me in the hospital room, looking like some sort of divine creature rather than an ordinary nurse, I thought for the first time: There must be a God.

The opium was already starting to lift Ramin up onto a sensual, cottony cloud when he was suddenly yanked back violently to earth. Mandana’ smiling, rosy face had morphed into that of an eye-less, decaying Fati. Fati, the seventh victim. Fati, poor Fati. She was not anonymous anymore. She had been a wife, a mother. Her son, Babak, had stood there staring at Ramin with hate, telling him he was a liar, that his mother was not dead, that she was waiting for him at Kuh Sangi Park. But Fati was dead, and it was up to Ramin to find who had killed her, and the others. Some among his force were already nicknaming her murderer the Spider Killer. A fitting name. Not just because of the way he would wrap up his victims in their own chador after he had strangled them but because Ramin could feel his contempt, his lack of pity, in the way he had so casually disposed of these helpless women. They were nothings: tiny, unimportant, insects.

Despite all the damning evidence of a serial killer, Ayatollah Kazemi, Mashad’s de facto boss, was intent on burying his head in the sand and pretending these murders were not connected. The most he would grudgingly admit to in front of Ramin was that they must be copycats. His theory did not make any sense. The story had not broken out in the press yet, Kazemi himself had made sure of that. So how could there be copycats without having anything to copy?

No, Ramin knew this was the work of one man. Or rather one sick, depraved monster. And unfortunately, he had no leads at this time. He had interviewed the landlady’s husband, Hossein, and found that he had an irrefutable alibi that night, having spent the evening at his mother’s house, which had been full of guests. Next, he had searched for Jamshid, Fati’s husband, and his search had ironically ended in the police station itself. Jamshid had been picked up on the street high on opium the same night his wife had disappeared. He had spent a couple of days in a holding cell. When Ramin told a sober Jamshid about the news of his wife’s murder, the despicable man had only reacted in disgust, spitting on the ground, muttering that this was the only fitting end for a zan kharab, a rotten woman. Ramin had wanted to punch him. What had stopped him was his immense surprise at feeling angry.

For the first time in one year, Ramin had started to feel again. True, it was anger he felt, not exactly the best in the spectrum of emotions. But it was a start. For Ramin had been unable to feel anything, to care about his life and much less about his job, for a year now, ever since he had spiraled into the world of opium addiction. The shrewd investigator he had once been was gone. He had been replaced by a broken man, too busy resolutely marching down the path of self-destruction to trail criminals, a vafoor his weapon of choice instead of his gun. There was nothing he’d rather do than sit on a breezy night like this, lying down on the rooftop of his house, leaning back on his pillow propped up against the wall and drifting, drifting, drifting up into another opium dream.

On our wedding day, you wore jasmines in your hair and I twirled you around on the dance floor, my hands firmly around your tiny waist, the scent of your flowers making me dizzy, or maybe it was the wine? The guests, the band, our relatives clapping for us, they all looked like they were spinning around us on a merry go round even though we were the ones who were moving in circles. That whole happy period of time was like a big merry-go round and I thought there would never be an end to that ride. Especially when you announced to me one fateful evening that we were going to have a baby.

Even when Kazemi had given him a stern talking-to, Ramin had not felt motivated out of a sense of duty or urgency. If he had made any efforts at all, it was merely to preserve the appearance that he was taking action, that he was still in fact the police chief, so that Kazemi wouldn’t break his balls again. The seven dead women, they had meant nothing to him. He couldn’t get himself to care. Once, Ramin had been so driven. Every case was life or death. He would get his man (or his woman) no matter what. It was that type of ambition that had made him move so fast through the ranks, achieving the top law enforcement position in his city at still a young age. Now, it was too much for him to do even the bare minimum. His goal was merely to do whatever necessary to be left alone again, to be able to float up onto his cushy opium cloud, which would take him through time and space like one of those magic carpets from The Thousand and One Nights. Back into Mandana’s arms, her soft arms entwined around his body and neck, her belly hot, simmering against him with the new life inside that they had created together.

-- “Aghaye Rohani… Nemitoonin berin too… Aghaye Rohani, khahesh mikonam, narin too!”

They tried to hold me back, keep me away from you, while the so-called doctors were busy butchering you inside the operating room. You had started bleeding at eight o’clock that night and I wasn’t there for you. Busy at work, as usual. Work, work, work. The work of a police chief never ceases, does it? Prostitutes, drug addicts, run-aways, thieves, these were the scum I had given priority to while you, Mandana, my beautiful wife, lay at the foot of our bed covered in blood, holding your aching belly, knowing, feeling with your every instinct, that our son was dying inside. When they finally came out to tell me the news, I already knew that you were both gone and that I could never bear the scent of jasmines again.

The first jolt to Ramin’s conscience had happened two weeks after the discovery of Fati’s corpse. That’s when the autopsy report came back revealing to Ramin that there were in fact two victims on the night that the unfortunate woman had met her fate. Fati had been six months pregnant, a fact that was not apparent to the naked eye despite the advanced stage of her pregnancy. The report even gave the sex of the child. It had been a little boy. Ramin wondered if Fati had already named him in her head, just as Mandana and him had their own, as soon as they had realized she was pregnant. A little boy. Ramin shuddered. Where would Fati and her dead son be buried? Would they lay her to rest in a grave next to the one that had swallowed up Mandana and their dead son one year ago, so the two women could comfort each other and mourn their loss together in the hereafter?

It was after this point that Ramin had ceased to think of the women as nameless, faceless corpses, pieces of meat that should be buried away and forgotten, just like their family and friends had, if they had any. This one, Fati, had lent a name not only to herself but to all of them. They had been mothers, sisters, wives, nieces… They could have been someone’s Mandana, until circumstances beyond their control had carried them far from their dreams into a nightmare.

Ramin had started to examine the autopsy reports of the six preceding victims, intent on finding some clues, anything that would tell him more about them, and eventually about their executioner. In all the files, certain words kept coming back: Broken bones, needle marks, scars, missing teeth. The chilling part was that these injuries had dated from way before their murder. It was not the so-called Spider Killer who had been responsible for the laundry list of mistreatment and pain displayed on these pitiable, mutilated bodies. Ramin could read each woman’s life story on her body as clearly as if they had tattooed their autobiography on it. The Spider Killer had not been their first abuser but he had become their last, squeezing their last breath out with their own headscarves as easily as squashing a fly against the wall with his finger.

As Ramin stared at Mashad from the comfort of his rooftop, he felt the ghost fingers, that cold feeling against his nape that had always guided him throughout his career towards the criminal’s lair, just as surely as the scent of blood would steer a hunting dog towards his prey. He knew that a difficult journey lay ahead, not least of which because he would have to give up his vafoor, once and for all, if he wanted any chance of outsmarting his adversary. Ramin squinted his eyes as he looked upon his native city. The Spider Killer was there, a deev, a demon, living amongst the unsuspecting citizens, cloaked inside a human form, as normal and civilized looking as any next door neighbor. He had acted with impunity until now, partly through Ramin’s fault, but no more. The policeman that Ramin had been once, before the personal tragedy that had befallen him and that had catapulted him into the life of an opium addict for a year now, was back. And like before, Ramin swore to himself, he would get his man >>> Part 7
[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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