“This way Lieutenant,” Officer Simon says and points to the western entrance escalator to the underground.
Lt. Emily Cochran flusters, “I know where.”
“The Chief told me to hustle.” Simon interrupts her. “You too, Mr. Bardo.” Simon hurries them down the escalator, walking down on the left side, passing several tourists who are standing and riding it down.
“What are the footsteps for?” Seven asks. The escalators have two sets of shoe prints painted in goldenrod on each moving step.
Officer Simon turns his head back as he walks and talks over the Lieutenant, “I think it’s a new program to educate the public about escalator protocol.” He turns back to step off and points at the shoe prints. “The two prints together on the right mean to stand, while the prints on the left, set apart, mean to walk.”
“Oh, I see.” Seven confirms as he steps off. He looks back as Cochran seizes the lead and heads to the BART down escalators.
“NO, mum. Not that way. Follow me, please.” Officer Simon points toward a corner in front of them.
Emily turns back to Simon and squints as her eyes adjust to the fluorescent lighting. She can make out a crack in the wall that appears to be a hidden doorway. It is a maintenance access point. A BART employee stands at the entrance pulls the door fully inward as the three approach it.
“Catwalk,” the worker keys and squawks into a handheld radio. “10-4.” He picks up dinged metal flashlight with a 6-inch lens and hands it to Simon.
The three enter onto a narrow platform and start down a single-file catwalk next to a concrete wall. They stop on another narrow platform. They can here voices below amid the light-rail trains; a vacuum creates a breeze each time a train stops or starts. It blows up and out when a train enters the station, and pulls the air down when a train leaves. It is dark except for single low light, LED fixture at the middle of each stairway and on each platform.
“Careful. It takes a few minutes for you eyes to adjust.” Simon instructs them. He pauses, and then when he can see, continues the descent. Seven reaches in his coat pocket for his phone.
“No photos, sir.” The Bart employee is following them down; he places a gloved hand on Seven’s shoulder.
Seven stops and turns, “This is too cool. I’d never known this existed.”
“It’s for security, sir. Let’s keep moving.” The employee touches Seven’s back with a single finger.
“Of course, sorry.” Seven continues his descent.
The party stops on the next platform, “through that door, please.” The Bart employee says.
Officer Simon clicks the thumb handle on the door and pulls with all his might. The air in the access way is flowing down into the tunnel; a train is leaving the platform.
“Count to 10,” the worker instructs him, “the vacuum will equalize and you can open the door.”
Simon counts in his head, and pulls. The door opens with minimal effort into a ten by ten room. Seven squints, as the room is well lit. He looks around to see a narrow steel bookshelf in the middle of the right wall with several manuals, bond maps, lunch size paper sacks and thermoses on it. A steel desk with two metal office chairs is on the wall opposite the entry door. In the corner, between the desk and the shelf is a 2/3’s empty water cooler. In the left closest corner is another door. As his pupils constrict, he can make out many grease handprints around the second door and on various walls. Above the desk is a cork message board. Seven recognizes a couple of the faces in the room; they are SF, Chief of Police, the head of BART security, and the BART spokesman. Also, there are two BART officers, another SF detective, and a man in a black suit; perhaps he is a federal? With the addition of the three, the room is full. Officer Simon sets the flashlight on the desk.
The second door opens, “I’m finished here,” exclaims Dr. Stathis Caracass, the medical examiner. His assistant Melvin Sombers follows him, carrying a large plastic case. “When can we get the body?” Dr. Caracass asks.
“About 15-30 minutes,” Chief Li says to him.
“We’re going to take a break topside. I need a smoke.” Caracass says and motions toward the door. “My assistant will return with a gurney.” He opens the entrance door, and the BART employee is still waiting. He follows the men upstairs.
Chief Li turns to Lieutenant Cochran and grimaces as he gives her a 180-degree look; her blouse is soiled and wrinkled. “I don’t know if you have met the new Chief of Detectives, Lieutenant Inspector Randal Cummings?” Cummings extends his hand to Cochran and she steps to the center of the room to shake it. He wears blue cotton blazer, chinos, a malachite bolo tie, and black, square-toe, caiman boots. She shakes his hand, smiles cordially, but stairs too long at the bolo tie. It is a semi-round, 2″, green malachite stone with the natural image of a sunset formed in the grain.
“It’s something I found in Santa Fe,” Chief of D’s says.
“Oh, yes, very nice.” Cochran withdraws her hand.
“He will be taking lead on this case in liaison with BART.” The Chief states. “This is Mr. Seven Boodoo.”
“Bardo,” Seven speaks up and puts out his hand to shake. “Seven Bardo.” The Chief of Detectives does not return the gesture.
“We were discussing him earlier,” The Chief adds and hands an evidence bag to Cummings. He waves the bag at Cochran and Seven, “yes, I understand sir.”
Chief Li, the head of BART, and Mr. Black Suit head for the door. Chief Li turns to Cochran and says, “check out the body and scene, then release it to the coroner.” Officer Simon is staring at the bulletin board. Li grabs his elbow, “Simon stay with the Lieutenant. You’ll be working with them as a gopher assistant.” He looks directly into Seven’s eyes, but doesn’t say anything to him. He turns to Cummings “talk to me at the ranch before you leave today.”
“Yes Chief,” Lt. Cochran says.
“Yes, sir.” Simon adds. He turns and smiles at Cochran and Seven.
“I’ll be right behind you, sir.” Cummings says. As the Chief’s party exits. He turns to Seven and Cochran. “Is this yours?” He shoves the evidence bag into Seven’s face.
Seven reaches up for the bag to keep Cummings from hitting him in the face. He looks intently at three items: one is a Californian driver’s license, and the others are business cards, one is half the size of a regular card. He turns the bag over, twisting it, but Cummings does not release it.
“Yes. I believe it is my business card.” Seven shakes his head. He turns to the driver’s license photo. “She looks familiar.”
The other business card is from a professional psychic. It has the image of a tarot card on one side, but is upside down. Seven studies the graphic for a moment before releasing the bag.
Cummings hands the bag to Cochran. “Keep hold of this and check it into evidence when you are finished here.” He says.
“Was there a purse?” Cochran asks, as he turns to leave.
“Yes. I’ll leave it on your desk.” He turns around, before the open door. “I gave you what is relevant.” He leaves the room.
Cochran looks into the bag, flips it over in her hands, and confirms it is Seven’s card. She doesn’t recognize the owner of the license, but studies the tarot graphic and its information. She hands it to Officer Simon, “hold on to this for me until we go upstairs.”
“Are you ready, mum?” One of the BART officers picks up the flashlight and walks toward the tunnel door.
“Yes.” She says. “And, STOP fucking calling me Mom. I am not your wet nurse or your mother.”
“Sorry,” he responds. “We’ll have to be quick, Lieutenant.” The officer flips on the flashlight and opens the door. “We can’t hold the trains long.”
The other BART officer cues his radio. “Hold inbound at Station P for 20 minutes.”
Cochran and Simon follow the officer into the tunnel. Seven attempts to join them, but is stopped.
“Sorry, sir, not you.” The other officer grabs Seven’s arm. “Officials only. It’s dangerous and we wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”
“Watch yourself,” the flashlight officer shines it at the rails. “Footing down here can be tricky.”
The three make their way west to a small alcove on the right side of the tunnel. The BART officer shines the light on a mound covered with a blue, plastic tarp, which is weighted on three sides with bricks. Officer Simon leans down and removes two bricks closet to the tracks. The light catches a pink, leather pump that is stretched and scuffed from wear. It is unclasped. The light follows a freshly shaved leg with one, round, skin colored bandage on the calf, about two-thirds the way up to the back of the knee. The yellow and white flowers on a blue cotton sundress flap up as an outbound train stops at the station, and reveals tattered black bike shorts.
“Where’s the other leg,” Officer Simon breaks the reverence of the moment.
“Don’t worry it’s there.” The BART policeman answers and shines the light to the right of the alcove.
The left leg is bent under the body and a foot pokes out from behind the victim’s jean coat on the top of the shoulder. The shoe is missing.
“Oh my god, ” Officer Simon turns and steps a few feet back towards the door. He covers his hand with his mouth, but can’t contain his lunch. He bends over and vomits on the side of the track.
“This is Ms. Susan Presdale, I presume.” Lt. Cochran says. “Don’t get your uniform or shoes. I don’t want to smell that on the way back to headquarters.
The BART officer positions the light on the victim’s head. “She’s so young.”
Her long blonde hair blows up in the air, as the outbound train leaves the station.
“We can’t stay long, Lieutenant.” The officer says to Cochran.
“Have we found the train?” Cochran asks.
“No, mum.” The BART policeman answers her. “We’ll probably find it tomorrow.”
“So tell me, what happens when this happens?”
“Well,” he pauses, “the driver may not know if he has hit some one. It depends on if he hears or sees them, or not.”
“If they hit the window?”
“Yes.” He answers.
“How do we know she wasn’t a jumper?” Cochran quizzes the officer.
“The placement of the torso, Lieutenant.” He says and breathes in quickly. “There is no grease on her front. Jumpers are usually face first.”
“Relax, officer, I just wanted to here you say it.” She adds. “Any witnesses?”
“None have come forward, Lieutenant.” He answers, “but we have cameras on all the platforms.”
“How do I see the tape?” She inquires as she continues to inspect the body.
She steps around to the front of the body. The torso is facing up and the head is turned too far to the right. Her arms are stack on top of each other in front of the face with open palms facing in opposite directions. The victim is not holding anything. Cochran leans down to observer the victims face. The eyes are open and facing forward. The mouth is open, forming the perfect oval of a last gasp. A trickle of blood dried at the left corner.
“It will be at our offices in Oakland. It’ll take some time to find it.” He answers.
“I am sure you know this is a top priority.” She looks to his face for a moment, then turns the victims head towards him. “Is it me, or does she look like she is shocked?” Cochran asks.
“I would be.” The BART officer adds.
“Her eyes look as if she’s hurt. Betrayal is just forming in the corners.”
“I don’t know, mum. Someone betrayed her in big way.” He says, shaking his head.
“She knew.” Lieutenant Inspector Cochran puzzles. “She knew her killer.”