Winter Valentine........Part 3
'Never take people at face value lad.. there's always something hid under the surface'.
Just another one of Big Jeff's nuggets of wisdom. Turns out he was very right about this one - especially when it came to Christie. I can't really lie here in this alley and blame her for what has happened to me. I knew the risks. I made my choices. And if it hadn't have been for her information I wouldn't have gotten as close to finding out who the mysterious 'Doctor' really was.
About two months ago I had been up to my eyes in it concerning a story about a famous pop princess and her estranged footballer husband. For some strange reason my readers seemed to want more and more details about what they were up to and the whacky relationship they shared. Three years had passed since she had left the relative security of a fairly successful girl band to try and forge a solo career when the golden boy of English football caught her eye. A whirlwind tacky wedding swiftly followed, accompanied by various money spinning magazine deals which adequately filled the couples already overflowing coffers. Then disaster struck as both began to seek their sexual urges elsewhere - disaster for some, yes, but for a roving reporter like myself this was manna from heaven. I remember punching the air in glee that glorious day when one of my contacts phoned me and revealed that she had just snapped a picture on her mobile of the countrys favourite football maestro on the receiving end of a frankly vigorous blow job in the gents toilet of a famous nightclub...from none other than one of his own team-mates. Recriminations flew back and forward between the two culminating in an equally tacky divorce. I began an sustained expose of the couples tit-for-tat escapades and circulation for the paper gradually grew. I revealed the shocking acts of base carnality that had been previously hidden behind the couples public outward façade - each act more craven and bizarre than the last.
I had been just settling down to put the finishing touches to the latest chapter in their sordid saga - this time involving the pop princess herself, an extremely sadistic poncho-wearing midget, the hugest Vaseline smeared double-ender to be seen this side of the Atlantic...and three Shetland ponies (Im a sucker for the cutesy animal sideline!) - when I heard the call on my police scanner about the first body.
After shouting to Jeff that I would check this out and be back later that afternoon, I caught a cab down to the old docks. The usually punctual crowd of rubbernecked vultures hadnt arrived yet to 'Hmmm' and 'Hawww' over the police presence (thank you again scanner!), so, after slipping the young impressionable constable on duty a quick fifty, I had just enough time to nip under the cordon, take a quick look at the body and fire off a few, shall we say, necessary snaps. The smell was the first thing to hit me. The body had been covered by an old piece of black frayed tarpaulin and as I carefully lifted one corner I had no idea at all of the frenzied destruction that I was about to witness. Hey, I've seen my share of dead bodies in my time. Ive been to numerous wakes and looked on with others at the still peaceful remains in their loved ones front rooms or back bedrooms awaiting their last trip to the church/chapel and then on to their final resting places. With this body I remember the bile rising in my throat almost immediately as the rancid aroma of decaying flesh assaulted my nose and my eyes failing to relay to my brain the desiccated scene unfolded before them.
She was a young girl, probably nineteen or twenty. I vividly remember the look of abject terror etched on her wide open lifeless eyes, the numerous shallow cuts and bruises pock marking her naked form, her right arm folded at an unnatural angle below her, the ragged bite marks gouged on her left cheek, breasts and right inner thigh, chipped fingernails and toenails (two missing incidentally) almost childishly painted in a glaring neon green, and the awful gaping cavern in her chest. After finally dragging my eyes away from the sorry mess I have hazy memories of staggering backwards to a railing and losing my breakfast into the murky waters below. I looked out on the docklands focusing on a solitary seagull dive-bombing the water and rising triumphantly into the air with its discarded beer can prize and wondered what kind of insane madman could do such terrible acts to another human being. I was resolved to launch a campaign against this bastard, to use all of my honed instincts and contacts to find him.
Then went back, lifted the tarp and took a few photos.
The story ran the next day and my photo of her cold staring eyes made the front page. As London braced itself against the onset of winter and the terror caused by this first horrendous murder, the public turned against the authorities and their apparent ineffectual ineptness in finding a viable suspect and the fact that the killer was allowed to strike twice more within the space of three weeks. Two more young women turned up found abused, broken and, again, both missing their hearts. I came up with the 'Doctor Valentine' moniker for the monster after learning from a 'pal' at the morgue that, despite the shocking state of the victims injuries, the missing organs had been removed with almost surgical precision. The story began to take over my every waking hour and I began to cast my net, as it were, ever wider, contacting every available source for the smallest snippet of information. This was to bring me to my chance encounter with my gorgeous American stripper - a meeting which at this time I was unaware would blow the whole case wide open......