I showed up with the dog anyway.
“I thought we talked about that,” he said.
“We did. I’ll leave her out here.”
“What's with the dog. You’re always with the dog.”
“She beats a lot of other company I could keep.”
“No lie. Come on in.”
I tied her leash to the rail, scratched her chin, and went inside.
The house was old fashioned even to my eye, though I'm at least thirty years older than Cecil and pretty much define old fashioned.
His house is one of the few ranches in the neighborhood, built in the early ‘60s on a filler lot. What made it seem old was not the architecture but how it was decorated. The pictures were all faux paintings with gaudy frames in bronze and silver. A short shag carpet in some sort of paregoric green covered the floors, except the kitchen and bathroom, which were linoleum. The couch and lounge in the livingroom were covered in plastic. Like bubblewrap. My grandparents covered their furniture this way. The bubblewrap squeaked to sit on it.
“What’ve you got?” I asked.
“I’m doing fine, thanks. How are you?”
He looked at me like I was some clueless kid.
“You invited me over,” I said. “It’s two hours past my bedtime. I’m not here for beer and chips. I’m glad you’re fine. I’m glad you asked me over. I live alone. I’m out of practice with niceties.”
“That’s OK. I’m tired myself. It’s just some news. In both cases the body was moved. Killed one place, dumped another.”
“I could have told you that.”
“I know. That’s not the news. The news is it looks like each body was carried to its respective place in the same container, a rug. They were each rolled in the same rug.”
“How do you know that?”
“Fibers. There aren’t many, but they come from the same wool and they’re dyed the same. I don’t know how they know, but they think they know.”
He was talking about the forensic technicians at the department. They were always they.
“It’s enough,” he said, “to make the cases related.”
“I thought they were.”
“I know you did. That’s why I'm telling you.”
“Oh, and there’s something else. Neither woman had been, you know, assaulted. These weren't sex crimes.”
“At least not sex in the way you’re thinking of it.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I’m just interested in how you guys know these things.”
“In my experience, women killed and dumped like this tend to be prostitutes. They’re the most vulnerable. These women weren’t prostitutes. Least not in any obvious way. Makes you wonder.”
“What they were doing that put them in the way of this maniac.”