“I grew up with a crazy over protective mother, always talking about him.” Bobby squinted up at the sun that peaked over the top of the buildings. “It’s like a mystery hanging over everything, and I never even met him. But it still bothers me that I don’t know what happened to him.”
“You’re looking for Jane’s killer because you can’t find Jacob Wetterling?” I asked.
“My mom always talked about how she didn’t know how his mother went on, how she could survive without knowing what happened to her son,” he said. “And Jane’s not missing, and she wasn’t your kid, but I know you need to know what happened. I wanna know, and she wasn’t my best friend.”
“I don’t know if she was really even my best friend anymore.” I exhaled and stared down the street, to where her body had been found.
“Well, since I’m now your de facto best friend, I have to help you with this.”
“How are you my best friend?” I raised an eyebrow.
“You can’t count your boyfriend or your brother, or your boyfriend’s brothers, so it has to be me.” Bobby grinned at me. “I’m your new best friend.”
“What about Leif? Or Olivia?” I asked.
“Leif’s not your friend.” He shook his head and furrowed his brow. “I’m not sure what he is, but he’s not your friend. And Olivia’s your trainer. She’s like a boss. Doesn’t count.”
“There sure are a lot of stipulations that constitute who can or can’t be a best friend.”
“I didn’t make the rules,” he shrugged. “But as your best friend, it’s my civic duty to help you with this.”
“And you think looking at this will help?” I asked.
“I do,” Bobby nodded. “Come on.”
“Alright.” I took a deep breath and walked with him, moving in closer to him. “So, how does your crazy protective mom feel about you living here? Do you ever even go home?
“Um… she doesn’t feel anything about it,” Bobby said. “She died of cancer when I was 12. And I don’t go home very much. My brother lives in Oregon now.”
“Oh. I’m sorry,” I said, feeling stupid that I didn’t know that.
“It’s okay.” He shrugged. “I mean, it’s not. But it was a long time ago. So…”
We reached the spot, and we both just stopped. People were already making big arcs around the place where Jane had been dumped, so they didn’t mind that we just stood there. A fresh bit of police tape flapped in the wind, but the rest had been cut down.
I expected to feel worse when I got here, considering the built up nausea I had walking up to it. Once here, seeing it up close, I only felt that strange blankness inside me. Like my emotions just shut off completely.
Six inches of snow had been dumped on us the day before, and the ensuing cleanup had scooped most traces that would be left. But I could still see faint stains where her blood had been, especially in the cracks.
I crouched down, and I could still smell her. Very faintly, underneath the scent of snow, salt, exhaust, and all the people around. If I hadn’t known Jane, I probably wouldn’t be able to smell her at all. I breathed in deep, as if I would learn something new.
I reached out to touch the darkest part of the stain. As soon as I touched it, an electric shock shot through my fingertips, and I yanked my hand back.
“Are you okay?” Bobby asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I shook it off and stood back up. “Do you see that?”
“Her blood.” I pointed to it. I hadn’t seen any at the other crime scenes, and I wasn’t sure if it was because I was tuned into Jane.
“Yeah,” he nodded. “It’s faint. But I see it.”
“Did you see any at the other spots?”
“No.” His forehead crinkled as he thought about it. “No, I didn’t see anything.”
“That doesn’t really mean anything, I guess,” I said. “They did happen a long time ago. The first one was before Christmas.”
I looked over at the building V was in. It looked so ordinary, like all the other buildings around it. Nobody would ever guess it housed hundreds of vampires every night in its basement.
“But I don’t remember seeing that much blood in the other crime scene photos,” Bobby said. “Maybe they had less to clean up.”
“Did you see real crime scene pictures? Or just the ones they let them post in the paper and stuff?” I asked. “I mean, they have to keep out the truly gruesome ones.”
“You can find anything on the internet.” He waved off my doubt. “I’ve seen some brutal ones.”
“You’re a twisted guy, you know that?”
“It was research!” Bobby looked defensive for a moment before moving on. “Anyway, the point is, maybe Jane had a little more overkill, so there was more blood.”
“I don’t wanna think about that,” I grimaced.
“Sorry. But I’m just saying that when things have overkill, it usually means its personal,” Bobby said.
“Lots of people were pissed at Jane,” I sighed. He had a point, but I felt too agitated to think. I kept my eyes on the club, but I could see her blood stains out of the corner of my eye. “Look, can we walk and talk?”
“Uh, yeah, sure thing.”
“The sun is bothering me,” I lied.
The sun had started shining over the buildings, but it hadn’t bothered me yet. I walked across the street, more towards V, so I’d be in the shadows again.
“So, what do you think?” Bobby hurried to keep up with me. He slipped on snow again, and I caught him, but this time I made sure to do it more slowly, like a human would.
“I don’t know what to think,” I admitted.
We reached the alley by V, and I glanced at it out of habit. But I saw something that made my heart skip a beat, and I stopped.
“What?” Bobby asked.
“Oh no. Please tell me it’s not another one,” I whispered under my breath.
In a snow pile pushed up to the building, I could see long blond hair. A long coat lay next to it, covering the shape of a body. The entrance to V was kinda hidden in the alley, so it wouldn’t be as out in the open as the others had been, but it appeared to be a body discarded near the door.
“What?” Bobby repeated.
“Stay behind me,” I commanded.