The Eastbank Killer – A Serial Novella
Attorney Donna Bosque finds her life turned upside down when an attractive associate at her firm becomes convinced the Eastbank Killer, who has been terrifying Portland, is directly linked to their law firm.
Donna glanced at Merington. They were both naked. The bedroom smelled of their warm bodies, their intimacy, their sleep. The knock came again.
“Police.” There was a tension in the voice that was not accusation.
“I’ll get it,” Merington said.
She threw on a heavy silk robe.
As soon as she left the room, Donna rose quickly and dressed. From the entrance of the flat, she heard Merington’s voice and then a woman’s voice and then a man’s.
“Are you Astrid Merington?” the woman asked.
“Do you work with Jerry Pesher and Donna Bosque?” the man asked.
“When did you last see Donna Bosque?”
Donna stepped out of the bedroom. She had regained her suit, but there was no question where she had just been. Her disheveled hair told the whole story.
Only it didn’t.
“This is Donna Bosque,” Merington said.
“Thank God,” the male officer said. He touched the radio on his shoulder. “We have Donna Bosque. She’s okay.”
The female officer looked at her partner. Her face echoed his relief.
Merington invited them in. The officers introduced themselves, then asked a series of questions that felt perfunctory compared to the question of their presence. Finally, the man cleared his throat.
“We’re here because Jerry Pesher was arrested last night.”
“Arrested?” Donna asked.
“He was at your house,” the officer said, almost apologetically. “Neighbors reported a suspicious car in your driveway. They said…” He hesitated. “They said you never had visitors. Lights were on in the house. The door hadn’t been forced. It looked all right except the neighbors were so adamant. We got two separate calls from two different households. They said, no one ever visited you.”
Donna felt exposed: a woman so lonely a man in her house was cause for concern. Merington placed a hand on her back.
“We rang the bell, but no one came to the door. We saw someone upstairs. It didn’t add up. We went in, and Mr. Pesher was in the house. He said he hadn’t heard the door. He said he was a friend, and he was worried that you hadn’t come home. But he couldn’t tell us anything about you. Did you have a boyfriend? Did you have relatives in the city?”
“And he didn’t have a key,” the woman added. “Someone had forced the basement door.”
“So we brought him in and got a warrant for his car.” The man shook his head. “Accelerant. PVC. Latex gloves. Building supplies. Tranquilizers. He’s the Eastbank Killer. There is no other explanation. He’d come for you.”
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Donna and Merington agreed to go to the station and record their statements. Once Merington revealed her theories about the Eastbank Killer and their law firm, the detectives at the station had a thousand questions for her.
It was late afternoon when they finally stepped outside. The rain had cleared, and the sky was a pale winter blue.
Donna felt a strange mix of terror and giddiness. It was like a near miss in fast traffic. The moment was gone before she realized it had occurred, but she kept rolling it over in her mind. If she hadn’t fled the law firm… If she hadn’t remembered where Merington lived… If Merington hadn’t seduced her… If she hadn’t said yes…
As they walked from the station, Merington slipped her hand through Donna’s.
“Shall we get something to eat?” Merington asked.
“Yes.” Donna glanced at her, her eyes following the contours of Merington’s cheeks, her nose, her lips cocked in a quizzical smile.
“What?” Merington asked.
“For saving my life,” Donna said matter-of-factly.
She did not elaborate. She did not speak the thought that had been playing in her mind all afternoon: that Merington had saved her twice over. Merington had saved her from Jerry Pesher, but she had also saved her from being the woman whose neighbors called the police when it appeared she had a friend, a woman who watched her dreams fade from the vantage of an after-hours law office.
As it was, the sky was dry. The air was crisp. Tomorrow the headlines would celebrate the arrest, each one proclaiming, in its own lurid way, “you’re safe now!” And Donna Bosque was going out to dinner with her lover, knowing that whatever food she ate that night would taste better than any she had ever had before.
Next: “On Writing the Serial Novel” Feb. 6, 2013.
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