Synopsis: A body is found in a high-rise apartment elevator, stabbed to death with a screwdriver. Sherman Colburn, the maintenance man for the apartments, is used to cleaning up other people’s messes, but this is a mess he’s cleaning up for himself.
Sherman Colburn watched the officers put up the crime scene tape, intermittent flashes signaling that photographs were being taken of every detail before the body was moved, and the murder scene was cleaned. Sherman had discovered the body this morning with one of the cleaning staff. He had spent the next few hours keeping the curious at bay. He rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands and scratched his close-cropped salt and pepper hair. It had been a long morning.
A young man in a gray suit was approaching, making his way through the growing jumble of spectators toward the yellow tape barrier. He reminded Sherman of Keanu Reeves in Point Break. He stopped to talk to an officer who began corralling the crowd farther away from the elevator. He ducked under the tape, heading toward Sherman, pulling out a small notepad and pen.
“Hello. I’m Detective Miller and I’m guessing you are…” the Detective looked at his well-used notepad, “…Sherman Colburn the building maintenance man?”
Sherman nodded. “I was told you needed to ask me a few questions.”
“Yes.” He glanced at the elevator. “Our crime scene unit is almost finished, and I wanted to get your input on a few things we found so far.”
“Whatever I can do to help.” Stepping cautiously, the Detective waved Sherman into the elevator and pointed up at a vent in the elevator’s ceiling.
“We discovered a small wireless camera placed there. Did you know about this?”
“I had no idea! Our tenants would be livid! They didn’t even like when we put the security cameras on each floor.” The irritation was clear in Sherman’s tone.
“We will need copies of those security videos.”
“Our security guard is already making copies.”
“Good.” The Detective continued to press Sherman. “Back to the hidden camera. Who else has access to the elevators for maintenance and the like besides you?” Sherman shifted a little away from the Detective and crossed his arms.
“Actually, I am not certified to inspect or maintain the elevators. Sid Vogelson is our elevator guy. I’ll get you his contact information.”
Detective Miller nodded, pointing at the man’s body. “Do you know the victim?”
“His name is Gerald Montgomery, apartment 15C.” Sherman’s eyes were drawn to the large screwdriver protruding from the man’s chest.
“Does this mean anything to you?” He pointed to the word RAPIST that had been written with blood on the wall.
“He did have a reputation with the ladies, but there were never any accusations that I know of.” Sherman looked like he had just eaten something horribly unpleasant.
The Detective and Sherman walked back into the hallway so the coroner could do a preliminary and remove the body.
“Can I get Mr. Vogelson’s information?”
“Let’s go to my office.”
“Lead the way.”
Sherman walked the Detective to the maintenance office, offered him a chair and retrieved Sid Vogelson’s information. A thumb drive labeled “Security Footage” sat on the desk. Sherman slid it toward the Detective who picked it up and put it in his pocket. After a few more questions, and an exchange of phone numbers, Detective Miller excused himself to leave Sherman alone.
It was late when Sherman walked through the front door of his apartment. He made his way to the desk in his living room and sat down, removing a single newspaper clipping. He read the death notice: “Millicent Marie Emerson, June 22, 2017 in Dallas, TX. Suicide by drug overdose. Survived by her father, Herman Emerson. No services planned at this time.” Sherman read the words written in red, “REVENGE FOR MILLIE! GERALD WILL PAY!” Right then his phone started to buzz and he saw the caller ID.
“Good evening, Detective.”
“Good evening, Mr. Colburn. Glad I caught you. Looks like we have the main suspect pinned down.”
“I can’t give details but wanted to let you know we don’t think the killer is still on the loose.”
“That does put me at ease, but what a shock. Thank you, Detective. Good night.”
“Good night, Mr. Colburn.”
Herman already knew who. Sid Vogelson. He was a sick man, obsessed with snuff films and voyeurism. Herman knew about the camera and Sid’s secret office in one of the buildings he worked in. He opened the bottom drawer of the desk, took out a wig, glasses, utility belt and a work shirt with “Sid” embroidered above the pocket and tossed them all in the trash can. Then he thought about the look of terror on Gerald’s face when the screwdriver plunged into his chest. The screwdriver with Sid’s prints all over it. His daughter’s rapist plead for mercy to an uncaring audience. It was easy enough to make an outfit that looked like Vogelson’s. Finding out about his sick fetish was serendipitous and made him the perfect patsy. Herman had plenty of time after dispatching Gerald to get back to Vogelson’s, stage his suicide and switch outfits. They would find his body in his perverted man cave soon enough.
This all started three years ago. A few days after Millie died, he received a letter from her in the mail. That’s how Herman found out about the rape. A man she had met at a bar slipped something in her drink and took her home. She did not remember much, but the next day someone sent a video of what she had done from a blocked number. She was too embarrassed to report anything and worried there might be more than the one video. She ended the note with an apology, “Daddy, I’m so sorry I couldn’t get over this. I hope you can forgive me.”
Herman didn’t blame her. All he felt was rage and vindication. Tonight was over three years since that horrible morning. Three years of planning, researching, and setting up the perfect way for Gerald to die. Three years as Sherman Colburn who would disappear tonight. Three years to finally get Millie’s revenge.