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Ecdysis


A rain-slicked night, and another murder.

The yellow crime-scene tape stretched all around the Third Street Laundromat. Black-and-white police cars, their blue lights strobing off the wet pavement, blocked the intersections to the north and south.

It was a good thing, Detective Lieutenant Paran reflected, that fingerprints weren't the only way to ID a Jane Doe. This killing made the fourth in the string, all with the same MO. The body tonight also made the second one this month. Could mean the psycho was getting itchy. Or maybe not. Not if the killer was following a lunar pattern like the profile suggested. Two full moons this month, and tonight—behind the rain and clouds—tonight was one of them.

A flashbulb exploded inside the Laundromat: the police photographer, getting the evidence shots.

Paran stopped at the door to light a cigar and anchor it between his teeth. Lots of the detectives in Homicide smoked them—they covered up some of the other smells. He waited until the stogie was burning evenly, its blue-white smoke forming a pale nimbus around his head. Then he pulled out a stubby pencil and a flip-up notebook and walked on into the Laundromat.

One of the big driers was still tumbling. Paran grabbed a uniformed officer by one arm and pulled him aside. "Watch that machine," he said, pointing. "Don't let anyone touch it. When it stops running, write down the exact time. Then tell me. Got it?"

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