The Detective sat down heavily opposite the suspect.

“We know you did it, we have a witness who saw you throw the knife into the reservoir,” said the Detective. “Why did you do it?”

“Toss the knife into the reservoir? Because it’s dangerous and I thought it was a good idea.”

The Detective frowned. “No, kill Joe Markham.”

The suspect scratched an eyebrow. 

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“You killed Joe Markham in the alley next to the Western Auto store last night.”

The suspect smiled. “Ah, then I assume this fellow Markham was stabbed. Whoever he was.”

The smile seemed to infuriate the Detective.

“Don’t play stupid with me, dammit,” he snarled. “It was probably a drug deal gone bad. We know you did it.”

Now the suspect smiled wider. “Wow, I love it when you stupid macho cops come into interrogation banging your dick on the table. Time for me to stop toying with you. You’re in a lot of trouble, Bubba. You’re interrogating a suspect without notifying him of his right to have an attorney present.”

The Detective lurched forward in his chair and clenched his teeth.

“Fuck you, I’ll do that I want to. So you’re lawyering up now, huh?” said the Detective. “It’s your word against mine.” 

“Not really,” said the suspect with a sardonic chuckle. “I’m an officer of the court. I’m an attorney.”

He reached across the table and handed the Detective his card. “Don’t let the shabby clothes fool you,” he said. “I was afraid I’d get mud on my good clothes when I went to the lake.”

Hr stood up.  “Are you charging me? Otherwise, I plan to go my office and start working on my complaint and lawsuit against you. Good luck in your next career.”

The Detective stood up aggressively as a Police Captain walked in.

“Sit down, Montenegro,” he barked. “That won’t be necessary, Mister Lisanti. Detective Montenegro was about to apologize to you.”

The Detective stood up. “Robert Lisanti? THE Robert Lisanti?”

“Yes, THE Robert Lisanti,” said the attorney as he walked past the detective. “Didn’t you even ask for the name of the suspect you were about to assault? I guess we’ve never met in court.” 

He turned to face the Detective, looking at the Captain. “That’s because I don’t work pissant cases like drug dealers stabbed to death in alleys by their clients.”

“I’m, I’m, I’m…” the Detective stammered.

“My time is too valuable to wait here while you try to gather your dim wits,” said Lisanti as he turned to walk out.

The Captain pointed to the Detective. “Sit down there until I come back, and don’t move.”

The Captain followed the attorney out. “I’m sorry about all this.”

“He’s got too little brains, and too much testosterone,” said Lisanti.  

He turned to face the Captain. “This is the reason why good defense lawyers are in such demand –detectives who are lazy and don’t want to do a real investigation, and then browbeat suspects into confessing, instead of seeing that justice is served.”

“Well, you roughly match the description of the suspect, and someone saw you toss a knife in the reservoir,” said the Captain. “And by the way, why did you toss a knife into the reservoir?”

“I didn’t want anyone to ever find it, even accidentally,” said Lisanti. “It’s dangerous.”

“Most knives are,’ said the Captain. “You have to admit, it’s a little odd. What’s so dangerous about that knife?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” said Lisanti.

“Oh. Come on now. I’ve been in police work for over 20 years. Try me.”

Lisanti looked the Captain in the eye. 

“It’s cursed.”

“You really don’t believe that, do you? Cursed how?”

“Oh, that’s the part you really wouldn’t believe,’ said Lisanti. “I’m not sure I believe it myself. But I decided to dispose of it, just to be safe.”

“How did you acquire a cursed knife, anyhow?”

Lisanti sighed. “It’s the proverbial long story.”

“Listen, it’s lunchtime, let’s go to Tony’s for some refreshments,” said the Captain. “I’ll buy.”

“You’re just trying to placate me because of your out-of-control detective,” said Lisanti.

“I’ll take care of him later. Let’s just say I’m engaging in a little community outreach,” said the Captain. “Besides, this may be an interesting story.”

“Oh, it is,” said Lisanti, “Trust me, it is.”

#

The waitress smiled at the pair.

“Captain Dolgen and Mister Lisanti,” she said. “How nice to see the both of you. What can I get you?”

“A Sea Breeze,” said Lisanti.

“Scotch on the rocks,” said Dolgen.

The waitress scribbled on her pad and left.

“Have you ever had the fried calamari here?” asked Lisanti.

“Yes, it’s terrible,” laughed Dolgen. “Tastes like stale rubber bands.”

“Good,” said Lisanti. “I was going to warn you.”

Dolgen leaned forward. “So tell me about this knife? What makes it so dangerous? Who cursed it?”

He cocked his head. “And where did you get it?”

Lisanti took a deep breath. “I recently represented in probate the estate of a British national who passed away in Houston,” he said. “Elizabeth Goodking. She was 98, with no children or family. She left most of her estate to charity.”

“I represented her husband in some oil and gas leases many years ago, but he passed away in 1998. I didn’t know her very well. She left a bit of a legal surprise for me.”

“In her will?”

“Yes. I thought it unusual that there was a secret codicil in the will, regarding the disposition of one item in her estate,” he continued. “And the item rested in a safety deposit box in a London bank.”

“That’s strange,” said Dolgen.

“Yes, that’s what I thought, especially since she hadn’t lived in the U.K. since 1948. She met and married an American petroleum engineer in Rhodesia is 1950, and in the 1960s she took a job at Texaco. They’d lived in Texas ever since.”

“Her father had been a prominent British politician and attorney, John Thomas “J.T.” Kingston. He served as a member of the British cabinet in the 1920s,” he continued. “Her grandfather was an investigator at Scotland Yard in the 1880s.”

“I traveled to London, and after presenting my credentials, gained access to the safety deposit box,” he said. “It was empty except for a tattered journal book, and wrapped in a chamois cloth, the fiercest most intimidating knife I had ever seen. It looked like something a Bedouin tribal chief would carry. The blade was almost a foot long, and slightly curved, sharpened on one side and rounded on the other. The blade was not flat. It looked like a cross between a Bowie knife and vampire’s stake. I’d never seen a knife quite like that before.”

“Damn, that does sound dangerous,’ said Dolgen.

“The handle and the bolster–the part of the knife where it joins the handle–were made of beaten gold inlaid with silver. The scabbard was also covered in beaten silver I beaten; it was slightly curved, too, and looked like it might be ivory underneath. It looked like it could be an elephant’s tusk.”

“What were you supposed to do with it?”

“That was bizarre, too. I was supposed to drop it in the middle of the Atlantic,” said Lisanti. “She instructed that, because the knife was cursed, destroying it would possibly allow the evil to migrate. She wanted to be lost where no one could ever find it again.”

“Did she ever say why?” asked Dolgen.

“Apparently J.T. Kingston had been a renowned amateur archeologist. He knew Lord Carnavon, the Brit who financed the expedition that found King Tut’s tomb. The journal in the box was his.”

The waitress walked up to the table.

“Here you go gentlemen,” she said as she set the drinks down. “Let me know when you are ready to order.”

Dolgen nodded at her. “We will.” 

He turned to Lisanti. “So what did the old boy say about the knife?”

“Kingston wrote that while in Egypt he’d been approached by a man who claimed to be descended from the priests of the Temple of Solomon, and who wanted to buy the knife from him,” said Lisanti. “The damn thing was, he had no idea how he knew he had the knife. It had been left to him by his father. It was still back in England.”

“The Egyptian was named Muktar Al-Faq. He said the knife had been used in the temple of Solomon for ritual animal sacrifices thousand of years ago, but was scattered when the temple was destroyed. It was then found and held by a secret group for centuries until it was lost during Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt over a century earlier.”

 “Kingston had inherited the knife from his father, the Scotland Yard detective,” said Lisanti. “He didn’t even know how the Egyptian knew he had it, but he did. That piqued his interest as to how his father had acquired the knife.”

“He didn’t already know?” asked Dolgen.

“No, apparently not, the knife had been in a box left to him by his father, with no comments or instructions. When he returned to England and found the knife again, he saw it was wrapped up in pages out of a logbook. It wasn’t until he read the pages he began to realize the possible significance of the knife,” said Lisanti.

“Which was?’ asked Dolgen.

“The pages had been torn from a police logbook,” said Lisanti. “As he read them, he realized there were police notes on the Whitechapel Murders from over 30 years before.”

“Shit, the Jack the Ripper Case!”

“Exactly.  There was no direct reference in the logbook pages to the knife, but Kingston assumed his father had found the killer’s knife–and hidden it, for some reason.”

“Al-Faq showed up in England later, still trying to get the knife. Kingston still wouldn’t let him have it, so Al-Faq in desperation told him, like Paul Harvey used to say, ‘The Rest of the Story’.”

“Which was?”

“OK, here’s where it gets mythological. The knife had been held for centuries by a secret guild of assassins. Anyone who wielded it killed with demonic ferocity and no hesitation or mercy,” said Lisanti. “Al-Faq said it was incredibly old, the first lethal weapon, as it were, used in the first murder.”

Dolgen looked at Lisanti with a blank expression. “I don’t get it.”

“The Egyptian said it the knife was passed down from Cain–as in Cain and Abel in the Bible” said Lisanti. “Solomon had acquired it, and to contain its evil  kept it at the temple where the priests used it for their sacrifices. It had been Abel’s knife, when he sacrificed to God. It’s in Genesis. ‘The day came when Cain brought a gift of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. But Abel brought a gift of the first-born of his flocks and of the fat parts. The Lord showed favor to Abel and his gift.’”

Lisanti nodded to Dolgen. “What followed was the first murder in history. The knife was handed down from Cain until Solomon put it in the temple, at least until the Romans tore it down. Then the assassins stole it and held it all those years.”

“Did Kingston believe the Egyptian’s story?”

“He didn’t until Al-Faq hinted that falling into the hands of amateurs resulted in senseless deaths, like those committed by The Ripper. The assassins, on the other hand, were professionals,” said Lisanti. “Kingston realized his father recognized the knife for what it was, and instead of turning it in as evidence, hid it away so it wouldn’t hurt more people. At least that’s the story he wrote in his journal entries.”

Lisanti took a last sip of his drink.

“Kingston obviously didn’t give the knife up to the Egyptian, because he passed it along to his daughter,” he said. “Since she didn’t have any descendants, she left it to me to dispose of.”

“You carried it back with you from the U.K.?”

“Are you kidding? Taking that thing in my luggage?” said Lisanti. “I had it shipped. It arrived two days ago. And I was planning to rent a boat and drop it in the Atlantic, as instructed.”

“What changed your mind?” asked Dolgen.

“Early this morning my dog starting barking –a very defensive bark. I woke up, and took a look outside,” said Lisanti. “There was a car parked across the street, with a pair of men inside, smoking. I could see the glow of their cigarettes. I assumed they were ‘casing’ me. I turned on my porch light and caught a glimpse of the driver before he put the car in gear and sped off.”

He shoved his glass aside. “He definitely looked Middle Eastern–Egyptian, perhaps? Because of the time difference, the bank in England where I picked up the knife was already open. I called and asked if anyone has inquired about the safety deposit box. As a matter of fact, someone had.”

He sat back in the chair. “So I realized someone had been watching the bank and knew I had retrieved the safety deposit box. I decided the knife wasn’t worth the danger to me, so I threw on some old clothes and drove out to the reservoir. It was just getting light when I threw it in. Just enough light, I suppose, so that someone saw me. And reported what they saw.”

“Craziest story I ever heard,” said Dolgen. “But once we have the knife in hand, we’ll be able to confirm it wasn’t the weapon used in the Markham stabbing.”

“Can’t you leave it on the bottom of the lake? Where no one can mess with it?”

“Not at this point, but as soon as we get it and check it out, I’ll call you and you can have it back it,” said Dolgen.

“If that’s what has to be done. As soon as I get it, I’ll hire a plane and fly out over the Atlantic,’ said Lisanti. “In the meantime, can you post a watch at my house?”

“Sounds like a good idea,” said Dolgen.

The waitress walked up. “Would you gentlemen like something to eat? Perhaps an appetizer. We have a lunch special on calamari today.”

Lisanti shook his head. 

“No thanks,” said Dolgen.

#

Lisanti walked into the Captain’s office.

“I got over here as fast as I could,” he said. “I was in court when I got your text.”

“No problem, the knife is in the evidence locker,” said Dolgen.  “You were right, it’s a mean-looking mofo.”

“How long have you had it?” asked Lisanti.

“Three days,” said Dolgen. “But I didn’t know that. When it was found, they notified Detective Montenegro, since he was the one originally assigned to the case.”

“That idiot with an attitude who gave me a hard time when they brought me in? I still have half a mind…”

“Don’t worry about him. He’s resigned rather than face the music,” said Dolgen. “That’s why I didn’t know about the knife already being here. They notified Montenegro about it and sent it to forensics, but he wasn’t at his desk any more to get the memo. Just this morning someone asked me if I wanted the forensics report myself, since they realized Montenegro was gone.”

“Good ol’ bureaucratic ineptitude,” said Lisanti.

“Tell me about it,” said Dolgen. He stood up. “Let’s go get that knife.”

They walked through the police station.

“We brought in the guy yesterday who knifed Markham, ” said Dolgen. “One of his chums rolled on him. It was a drug deal gone bad. And he still had the knife–a Desperado Butterfly. Absolutely nothing like that ancient artifact you drowned.”

Dolgen pointed to a clean desk.

“Looks like Montenegro cleared out,” he said. “His stuff’s gone.”

A nearby officer spoke up. “Yeah, he picked up all his stuff and hauled it off a couple of hours ago.”

“That’s funny, I never saw him come in or out,” said Dolgen.

“He came in the back, and went out the side door,’ said the officer. “After swinging by the evidence locker.”

Lisanti looked at Dolgen, who raised an eyebrow. They quickly picked up the pace and went to the Evidence Room.

A clerk appeared at the window. 

“I need that big old knife that was taken from the bottom of the Maurer Reservoir,” said Dolgen.

“Detective Montenegro picked it up two hours ago,” said the clerk.

“Damn, why did you give it to him?” snapped Dolgen.

“It was listed as evidence on a case of his,” said the clerk.

“Shit,” snapped Dolgen.

“You need to update your records more frequently,” said Lisanti.

“We’ll find him,’ said Dolgen.

“I sure hope so,” said Lisanti.

“Is something wrong?” asked the clerk.

“Did he say anything while he was here?” asked Dolgen.

“Well, as a matter of fact he did say something strange,” said the clerk. “He opened the box and took a look inside, and then as he was leaving he muttered ‘Fucking thing cost me my job. Nice souvenir.’”

Dolgen jerked a thumb in the air. “Let’s get back to my office, we need to find him.”

“Fast,” said Lisanti.

As they walked into the Captain’s office, they saw a man in a white jacket with a clipboard sitting there.

“Randy, what are you doing here?” Dolgen turned to Lisanti. “Bob, this is Randy Walters. He runs the forensics lab.”

“I got back an analysis of the composition of that of that old knife that arrived three days ago,’ said Walters. “It took 48 hours, but I can’t believe the results.”

“Well, the hilt and handle are made of gold and silver,” said Dolgen. “What’s strange about that?”

“Yeah, but I quickly realized the blade wasn’t metal,’ said Walters. “Not dense enough. I thought it might be porcelain, but I couldn’t tell. So I took a tiny core sample. While I was at it, I also cored the scabbard. I was also curious about its composition.”

“So what was it made of?” asked Lisanti.

“Beneath all the lacquer and shellac, and accumulated blood–lots and lots of blood, the thing’s been refinished over layers of blood—it’s organic.”

“It’s made of bone?” asked Dolgen.

“Oh no, not bone. It took me all morning, but I finally found a match. Thank goodness for the Internet,” said Walters. “I needed a paleontologist to identify it.”

He looked at the two men. “Beneath everything, it’s a canine tooth. The canine tooth of a saber-toothed tiger.”

“Somebody made a knife from a fossil,” said Dolgen. “Is that such a big deal?”

“It’s not a fossil. It’s a real canine from a smilodon. Carbon dating says it’s at least 70,000 years old,” said Walters. “Where in hell did this knife come from?”

“It’s in the Bible,’ Lisanti hissed. 

“We have to find Montenegro,” said Dolgen, as he turned towards the door.

“Stop, there’s more,” said Walters. “I also got an analysis of the scabbard.”

“Is it made from a saber toothed tiger tusk, too?

“No.”

“That’s good,” said Dolgen. “Now if you will excuse me…”

“It’s the tusk of a mammoth,” said Walters. “Again, where did this come from?”

“Like I said, it’s in the Bible,” said Lisanti. “Genesis Chapter Four, Verse Eight.”

He looked at Dolgen, whose eyes grew wider and wider.

“I think you need to catch a serial killer,’ he said, “that’s about to happen.”

 

-The End-

 

*******

Photo by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

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