Old School Gumshoe


“Ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine…” 

What did it mean? It was the only thing of substance recovered from the crime scene. This and the bloody remnants of a violent scuffle…but no body. From the width and span of the blood trail that ended at the curb, Sean figured it was a large, heavy person, likely moved from the scene in a vehicle…a van, with easy access to the edge of the sidewalk.

Sean had seen this before. A post-it note and a trail of blood. Attempts were made to identify the victims based on missing persons’ reports and DNA tests, but no matches had been found.

Back at the precinct Sean added the note to the evidence board in his office. He was old school. The younger detectives used computer programs to solve their cases, but Sean liked to see it on the wall, full size. 

This was the third victim in as many weeks. Three cryptic messages. Three trails of blood. The crime scenes were all west of the River, but the locations seemed random.

Sean scanned the messages again.

“Bridges take you here to there…water takes you everywhere.” The first note was found behind the textile warehouse at the edge of town; no bridges or water nearby.

The second message read, “Musical notes melodic and sweet…quench the thirst of savage beasts…” Again the crime scene didn’t have any link to music or…

“Wait! Of course! I can’t believe I didn’t see it before now!” The second scene was located at the dock, a block from the old stone bridge. And this last crime scene was in the alley behind the strip club on Broad Street.

Sean repeated the third message, “ticks and tocks of essential time…ticks and tocks…essential time…clocks, something to do with clocks.” There was a clock tower in the square and another huge clock at the First National Bank. But the second part…sink the spirits lower than wine…a bar? There were no bars near either clock. “Think Sean…sinks the spirits…lower than wine…ticks and tocks…essential time…sinks…spirits…lower…” Sean’s eyes widened, “The clock tower at Shady Grove Cemetery! If this guy tries again, this has to be where he’ll strike!”

Sean enlisted a team of officers to monitor the cemetery. Three nights passed. Nothing. 

On the fourth night, a grey van pulled into the entrance. When it stopped 100 feet from the clock tower, Sean and his team wasted no time moving in. As the driver opened the side door of the van, a woman with hands bound and head covered by a dark pillow case tumbled out. He shoved her toward the clock tower alcove. 

Within seconds the officers had overtaken the killer, disarming him just as he raised a knife to deliver the first blow.

Sean didn’t need a computer to help solve this or any other case. He was old school.

kat ~ 15 January 2016

(498 Words)

A short story for RonovanWrites Friday Fiction Challenge. This week’s challenge: Write a story using the line, “Ticks and tocks of essential time, sink the spirits lower than wine…”  somewhere in the story.  500 words or less. If you would like to read other stories or write your own, click HERE for the link.


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