Residual Effect

By Theresa C Newbill

The police cars stopped on the corner of the Boulevard St. Michel and Boulevard Montparnasse at seven o’clock on a Wednesday morning. Nearing sirens, a screech of brakes, doors slamming shut, and the springing on and off of headlights awoke the residents of the De Salles Des Armes apartment complex. Detectives Yvonne Landry and Ross Ballinger entered the carpeted foyer and crossed it to the elevators. The doors opened then closed and opened again giving off a gasoline scent and an uneasy feeling as if someone was about to get too close to that of a wild animal playing with its prey.

The detectives exited the elevator on the seventh floor. A beggar hunched in an apartment doorway was attempting to count his scattered coins as police officers remained by his side.

“Make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.” Detective Landry said, addressing a police officer.

Yvonne and Ross made their way to apartment 7C. Blood soaked track marks on the hallway carpet led the way to the images of carnage that succeeded one another. The bodies of two dogs, gutted, lay undisturbed; one in the living room and one near the bathroom. Two bodies, that of a man and that of a woman, lay in a bloody mess on the bed of the master bedroom. Their flesh had been slashed from their bodies and from the looks of the crime scene it seemed as if someone had been squeezing and kneading it into small piles. A little boy covered in blood, around the age of nine was squatting in the corner of the master bedroom’s hard wood floor. He was holding a flashlight to his right eye that he turned on and off seven times in intervals. Detective Ballinger opened his dossier, put on his glasses, and started to take notes. Detective Landry approached the little boy.

“Bonjour. Je m’appelle Yvonne.”

The little boy looked right into her eyes. There was something about his presence that was disorienting to her. He seemed to tap into her senses. As if he resented her rush of adrenalin and clumsy approach. He continued playing with the flashlight.

“Do you know what happened here?” Yvonne asked.

He put the flashlight down by his side never once losing eye contact with her. And then he grinned. Realizing the expression unnerved the good detective; he slowly picked the flashlight up, beginning the ritual again. For a moment Detective Landry felt oblivious to the patrol of traffic. Her stomach clenched with nerves.

“Who put the call in?” Detective Ballinger asked one of the police officers.

“The child did, sir. His name is Jerold Bernard.”

The policemen’s heels clicked echoingly around Yvonne and Jerold.

“Jerold, it’s ok to trust me. I’m here to help you.” Detective Landry said.

Jerold continued to grin at her then said, …

“Ruthless demons, raging storms are They. They lift their heads to evil everyday. Seven are They. Messengers of pestilence and pain are They. They’ve come to wreak destruction. Forward They go to dwell among their prey. Seven are They.”

Yvonne’s whole frame shuddered which propelled Jerold into uncontrollable giggling. Sensing Yvonne’s distress and rapid breathing, still staring into her eyes, he started mockingly breathing in chorus with her. Laughter emerged and his face contorted into an implacable look of hatred.

Detective Landry and Ballinger exchanged glances as Jerold continued…

“I want my mommy! I want my daddy! I’m scared! I’m so scared!”

An abrupt change came over him as the vulnerable child from within emerged.

“Help me! Please! Someone help! Please!” Jerold sobbed.

Detective Ballinger walked over to Jerold and held him as he motioned to one of the police officers.

“Get child psychologist Amanda Lambert on the phone.” He said.

“Yes, sir.” The officer replied.

“Poor kid is traumatized.” Ballinger said.

Detective Landry couldn’t shake the feeling that she had just been cunningly engaged.

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