Naked Jarod

 

home / season five / episode eighteen / act II

   

Day 3 -- Wednesday
Socorro, New Mexico
Anderson-Dean University Campus

Today’s class was similar to the previous one. Jarod entered the room and assumed his pose for the day’s lesson, except today, Kristine Richards had invited a second model, a woman; a very lovely woman. Ms. Richards had informed Jarod of the schedule for the day’s lesson - a study in embrace - but Jarod was still a little nervous. Jarod felt his heart racing, but not about being naked in front of the class.

He calmed his nerves and curled his arms around the slender woman, her legs curled under her, her head on his shoulder. Soft, golden hair cascaded along her back, the ends tickling his skin. The embrace was soft, her breasts against his chest; flesh against flesh, comfortable. To complete the pose, he bent his head, gently, to her shoulder.

* * * * * * * * *

Craig Van Allen studied his drawing. Something was missing. He pondered the couple in the center of the room, comparing the models to his canvas. The man’s face was giving him problems; he just could not capture something he knew was there, just beneath the surface. Perhaps the man was hiding something. Craig scratched a few more lines to the face, then began shading other aspects of the image. It was coming to life, the bodies holding a piece of reality, almost like a photograph, but the man’s face was still a mystery. Craig shook his head and put down his drawing implements when the professor announced the end of class. The face would just have to remain a mystery.

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod was tying his robe and chatting with his partner for the day, whose name he learned was Amy, when Ms. Richards approached. “Wonderful class today. Thank you very much.” A wide, bright smile lit her face.

“It was an excellent class,” Amy responded. “And, if you’ll excuse me, I have one of my own to attend. It was lovely working with you, Jarod.”

“Thank you. I enjoyed working with you also.” They shook hands and Amy took her leave. “Kristine,” Jarod began, and continued when he had her attention again, “I was wondering if you had heard anything else about the murders.”

Ms. Richards shook her head. “No, sorry. Nothing.” She paused a moment, then continued, “Have the police found anything?”

“Nothing of any significance. How did you know I spoke with the police?”

“A couple students saw you yesterday. People talk. The campus is really a small world.”

“So, I’ve noticed. Thank you.” Jarod secured his robe and exited the classroom to change his clothes.

* * * * * * * * *

“Hey, Jarod, wanna go to lunch?” Lea asked him as he stepped from his dressing room, rolling the sleeves of his white, button-down.

“Sure.” He looked up from his sleeve and noticed another student.

“Oh, Jarod Calder, this is my friend, Craig Van Allen.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Van Allen.” Jarod shook the man’s hand.

“Same here, Mr. Calder.”

“Please, call me Jarod.”

“Sure. And I’m Craig.” He turned to Lea. “So, what’s for lunch?”

“I think pizza, but you can get a salad, Craig.”

“Great. Let’s go.” Craig motioned for Lea to precede him.

* * * * * * * * *

Lunch conversation covered various points of art. Jarod’s questions and comments focused mainly on the Renaissance and Mannerist periods. He was interested in Lea and Craig’s opinions regarding nudity in art.

“The human body has been the subject of art for years. Both clothed and nude. This air of modesty imposed on us, at least at the level it is in the U.S., is a modern concept. Of course, by modern, I mean the last four- or five- hundred years.” Craig took a sip from his water bottle.

“Exactly. Modesty has been prevalent for years, but even the Olympics were originally exercised in the nude,” Lea expressed, placing her fork beside her plate.

“All right, so explain something for me.” Jarod watched the two art students’ intent gazes. “Nudity in still art is generally accepted, but requires a strict rating in movies?”

“Sort of. But not all still art. Playboy magazine is not necessarily considered art, though producing those photographs is a form of art, it’s considered pornography,” Lea responded.

“Well, as much as I am enjoying this discussion on the history of modesty, I have a class across campus in fifteen minutes.” Craig rose from the table.

“It was nice meeting you, Craig.”

“You too, Jarod.” Craig dumped his trash and left the cafeteria.

“I need to get to class also.” Lea collected her books and supplies, trying to balance everything before she attempted to pick up her tray.

“I’ll get that,” Jarod offered, collecting both trays.

“Thank you.”

Trays returned, Jarod offered to walk Lea to her next class. During the walk, Lea told Jarod about the day she found the body.

“I was looking for a good place to stop and draw. Just walking around the campus. All the art students do that. I was walking and glanced through the trees and saw the body. It really scared me.”

Jarod saw her visibly shiver, her dark eyes withdraw. He spoke to comfort her; “It’s not something people are usually accustomed to.” He put a gentle arm around her shoulders.

“She was just laying there with a scarf around her neck and nothing else.” Lea’s solemn voice was barely audible. She stopped walking at the bottom of the Hall stairs and lowered her head. “Jarod, I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this. I haven’t told anyone but the police. Not even Craig, and he’s my best friend.”

“Sometimes talking to someone you don’t know well is easier.”

“Thank you, Jarod.”

He nodded.

“I really need to go to class now. Maybe we can meet later and talk?”

“Sure.” He watched her as she walked into the building.

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod's Apartment
Socorro, New Mexico
Wednesday Afternoon

“This is Sydney,” came the accented voice through the receiver.

“Why is nakedness bad?” Jarod asked, keying up a DSA.

“It’s a question of modesty, Jarod.”

“It is permitted in art, but not everyday life? Why Sydney?” The DSA, dated 10/25, showed Jarod, age twelve, sitting at a table in a simulation lab in deep concentration over several graphics and diagrams.

“Nudity in our everyday lives is permitted within specific parameters. In one’s home, where no one can see, nudity is allowable. But open, public display is frowned upon by the general population.”

“There are laws against *public display,* Sydney.” The young boy on the DSA glanced up, first, at the DSA recorders in the corners to his right and behind him, then at the large Plexiglas walls surrounding him. He pushed his shoes off with his feet, still concentrating on his graphics and diagrams.

“To protect people, Jarod. Why this sudden interest?”

“It’s not sudden, Sydney. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and now I want to know why I was punished for wanting to know my body. It is *my* body, after all.” Jarod watched the DSA screen, the younger version of himself removed his shirt and tossed it into the air; it landed softly atop the far DSA recorder, covering the lens.

“The Centre didn’t feel it was a good idea to let you wander around naked.” There was no immediate response from Jarod. Sydney remembered something; "Jarod, what happened to you that time I found you in your room?"

"Nothing, compared to the next time."

"What next time?"

Jarod was silent.

The DSA continued; the young boy on the screen pushed his chair back from the table. He stepped into the corner, beneath the uncovered DSA recorder. Moments later, the boy emerged, all his clothing removed, and stepped to the Plexiglas wall that would serve as his mirror. He stood before the wall and focused his eyes on the faint, distorted image. Tilting his head to one side, he turned, trying to study all angles of his body.

Jarod came out of his reverie and spoke, “Sydney, they locked me in a dark room for three days, naked and cold and hungry. The fourth day, I was given a scalding shower. And you did nothing!” Jarod was seething, ready to explode.

A long silence stretched between them.

Jarod took a deep breath and waited. The silence continued.

"Sydney?" Jarod prompted, annoyed

Gathering himself after this revelation, Sydney responded, “Believe me, Jarod, I was unaware any of this had happened."

Jarod said nothing. Sydney and his convenient "I was unaware" speeches.

"I was in Detroit for a convention. Had I known, I would have done anything in my power to stop it.”

“But why, Sydney? Why such a strong sense of modesty? The human body is beautiful and should not be required to be concealed.”

“That decision was not up to me. I did what I was told.”

“Good bye, Sydney.” Jarod ended the call and ejected the DSA, hurling it across the room, watching it slam into the door, but not break. He reclined in his chair, allowing all negative thoughts to fall from his mind, and scratched his goateed chin as the sunlight warmed his bare skin.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Wednesday Afternoon

Broots stopped Sydney in the hall on his way to the elevator. “Have you seen Sam?”

“I think he’s in Miss Parker’s office,” Sydney replied.

“Thanks.”

“Broots.” Sydney waited for the man’s attention. “Do you have something on Miss Parker?”

“Come on.” Broots motioned for Sydney to follow him onto the elevator. He was silent during the ride and walk to Miss Parker’s office. He pushed the door open; peering around it, verifying Sam was present. “Sam, I think I might have something for you.”

Sam waved the gentlemen in, then scruffed his hair, rubbed his eyes, and focused on the computer screen again.

“Well, I can’t tell you where she is; I’ve tried her cell phone several times with no response; but I might be able to tell you when she left.” Broots flipped open the file folder in his hand and noticed the *urgent* package still under Sam’s expert care. He began to wonder what could be so important.

“Fine,” Sam stated plainly.

“All right. We know she wasn’t here yesterday, Tuesday, and I found out that she left the Centre early the day before, Monday, some time around two-thirty, according to Rudy, you know, the guy with the twitch in his left eye, who works the mail route near the front entrance?”

“Broots, today please?” Sam said, nearly pleading for the tech’s dissertation to end.

“Right. Sorry. Well, Rudy said he saw her at the door around two-thirty and she was gone about five minutes later, but she hadn’t passed him to go back to her office, so she must’ve left the building.”

“Do you know where she went?”

“Well, no. But, I found this,” Broots leaned over and tapped several keys, retrieving a memo.

Sam moved toward the monitor, reading the memo, Sydney next to him. “This was sent to Miss Parker?” The significance of the memo was not apparent.

“Yes. From her father.”

“So, what happened in the meeting?” Sydney asked.

“I wasn’t there.” Broots’ eyes widened and he shook his head.

Sydney nodded. “No, Broots. I know you were not at the meeting. Did you find anything about it?”

Enthusiastically, Broots flipped open the folder in his hands. “I did find this.” He slid several sheets of paper onto the desk for Sam and Sydney.

Nodding, Sam scanned the pages. “So, Mr. Parker told her to take a vacation.”

“No. Well, I mean, that’s what it says in the file, but that’s not really what he told her.” Broots leaned closer to the sweeper and whispered, “See, Miss Parker’s been working on a side project and I don't think her father's too happy about it."

Sam blinked once, slowly, and turned his head. “Are you saying she’s been sent away to be killed?” Sam’s voice was as low as the tech’s.

Broots shook his head. “No. I don’t think so. Probably more as a warning, but I don’t know where.”

“Keep searching.” Sam handed the pages from the file back to Broots and returned to the computer search he had been conducting.

Broots nodded and left the office with Sydney.

* * * * * * * * *

Local Police Station
Socorro, New Mexico
Wednesday Early Evening

“So, you’ve gone over the information we’ve released and your conclusions are the same as ours?” Nieuwendyk asked.

“Unfortunately you haven’t released enough information for this to be easy.” Jarod stacked some pages and pushed them aside.

Nieuwendyk smiled. “We try.”

“Okay, can we talk hypotheticals?”

“Sure.” Nieuwendyk sat across the table from Jarod, rolling his pen around his fingers.

“All right. So, let’s say none of the victims were raped, but all were found naked except for the scarf around their necks.” Jarod took a breath. “Beyond the bodies and the scarves, there is little evidence at the scenes. We determine death is by strangulation. Now, we need a motive.”

“Right, but you know I can’t tell you anything.”

“I know. So, a list of possible motives. Since all the victims are similar in appearance and stature, the killer may have been abused or felt wronged by someone who looked like these victims; there could be a common thread between the victims that draws the killer; the killer could be mimicking a similar occurrence from TV or the news.”

Nieuwendyk nodded. “All possibilities. All under consideration, but that’s standard procedure.”

“Right. But suppose a telling piece of evidence is discovered that proves one of the victims was killed by a different person than the others?”

“Then you have either a copycat or a very strong coincidence.” Nieuwendyk looked up, serious faced, at his partner who had approached the table.

“Let’s go, J.T. Another body found on campus.”

“What?”

“Yep. Come on.” Sydor turned, stopped at the sound of Jarod’s voice. “No way is the kid coming along,” Sydor spoke past Jarod, directly to his partner.

“Daniel, he’s okay. And he’s not a kid. He needs a ride back to campus anyway. He’s not going to hurt anything.”

Jarod was impressed, and grateful for Nieuwendyk’s pleading his case. He needed to see this crime scene, needed more information if the potential serial killer was striking again.

“Fine. Bring him along. But he stays out of the way.” Sydor conceded and rushed through the station door.

* * * * * * * * *

Socorro, New Mexico
Anderson-Dean University Campus
Wednesday Evening

A small group had gathered at the scene. Several officers were stretching yellow, *crime scene* tape around the area, their vehicles flashing red and blue.

Detectives Sydor and Nieuwendyk ducked under the plastic barrier, but a uniformed officer instructed Jarod to stay behind the tape. He obeyed, watching the detectives work the scene. The body had been covered and photographs were being taken.

* * * * * * * * *

Huddled beside a police officer, Lea wrapped her arms around herself. She had called the police and given her preliminary statement. Now, she just wanted to go home.

She glanced around the scene and spotted him. Weaving through the crowd, she made her way to him. “Oh, Jarod. Why me?” She wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Lea, what happened?” Jarod put his arms around her shoulders, comforting her.

“I was on my way to a friend’s apartment and I found…” Lea glanced to the body, “…her.” Her voice caught in her throat.

“It’s all right. You’ll go down to the station, give your official statement, then go home…”

“Come with me. Please?” The pleading and fear in her eyes was too much to ignore.

Jarod nodded and walked her to the vehicle of Detectives Sydor and Nieuwendyk to wait.

* * * * * * * * *

Local Police Station
Socorro, New Mexico
Wednesday Night

“Can I go now?” Lea asked, choking back a sob.

“Sure. We’ll let you know if we need anything more,” Sydor responded.

“Thank you, detectives.” Jarod put an arm around Lea, leading her to the door.

“Thank you, Jarod.” Nieuwendyk waved as they left. He turned back to his partner.

“What is going on here, Daniel?”

An inquisitive stare was the only response from his partner.

“Come on. Four bodies. Same M.O. We’ve got to find this guy before more women are killed.”

“Isn’t that what we’re doing? Examining the evidence and investigating until we have enough to arrest a suspect?”

“But four women are dead. How many more have to die? How many more parents have to lose children, before we arrest someone?”

“We could arrest you,” Sydor snapped.

“I’m going for a walk.” Nieuwendyk left the precinct. What the hell was wrong with his partner? He pushed it aside as stress over the case and entered the coffee shop on the corner.

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod's Apartment
Socorro, New Mexico
Wednesday Night

“Thanks for letting me stay here tonight, Jarod. I really didn’t want to be alone.”

“I understand. Finding a corpse is a very traumatic event.” Jarod drew a blanket and pillow from a closet and placed them on the couch.

“Yeah. And finding two bodies in about a week, is even more so.”

“I can imagine,” Jarod empathized. “The bed’s yours. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Thanks.”

“You hungry?”

“Starved.”

“Hmmm. I have Jell-O and ice cream.”

“Got a phone? We can order a pizza.”

Jarod pointed to the phone on the wall. He opened the refrigerator and found two sodas while she was making the call. “Here you go.” He handed one to Lea.

“Thanks. Pizza should be here in about thirty minutes.”

* * * * * * * * *

Day 4 -- Thursday
Socorro, New Mexico
Anderson-Dean University Campus

Why had she been sent on this particular assignment? Locating a missing operative could have been assigned to anyone, but it had been given to her. She had been pulled from the search for Jarod, specifically for this new project.

Miss Parker glanced around the open area before her. Several hundred students milled about, going and coming, to and from class and other activities. How was she to find a Centre operative in this crowd? She did not even know who she was looking for, or what the person looked like.

Numerous students whispered as they walked past her, giving her strange looks. What was their problem? Did she have a tree growing out of her head or something? Whatever. She walked the campus; talking to those who would speak to her; asking if they had seen anyone unusual. The responses she gained were less than helpful.

* * * * * * * * *

What was she doing here? Had he left enough clues behind to be followed? However, she was alone, no entourage of sweepers or other Centre personnel, so she may be on her own errand.

Jarod retreated from the window and slid from the classroom to exit by the rear of the building, avoiding Miss Parker’s entrance by the front. Cautiously, he moved, taking a longer, less visible route around the campus. He stopped, leaning against a large shade tree, watching the building Miss Parker had entered -- Bouck Hall.

Watching, studying, he noticed she seemed frustrated, almost saddened and confused. She was not grilling the people she met, actually, she seemed to be avoiding them. Someone had sent her here on an errand, but not to find him.

Sighing, he pushed from the tree and approached Miss Parker.

“What are you doing here? Are you following me?” she snapped, arms crossed over her chest.

“No, Miss Parker. I’m not following you. But I may be able to help you.”

“I don’t think so, Jarod. I’m here to do a job, and," a smile crossed her lips, "as a bonus, I get to take you back to the Centre.” She loosely latched onto his arm.

He laughed and pulled himself free easily. Then his demeanor changed, from playful to serious. “Miss Parker, I can’t leave yet. Four women are dead.” He held the four photographs out for her to see.

Miss Parker looked at the photographs, then turned away.

“Are you really looking?” He pushed the photographs closer to her. “Have you noticed the resemblance? All of these people are giving you strange looks because you resemble the victims.”

“You’ve got to be kid….” She looked at the photographs again. “Jarod, what is going on here?”

“I don’t know. That’s what I’m working on. Now, why are you here?”

Miss Parker exhaled sharply, shaking her head.

“Miss Parker, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me why you’re here.”

“I never asked for your help.”

“No, but I can help you. Miss Parker, this will be easier if we cooperate.”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Miss Parker whispered, barely audible. “I was sent here, by my father, to find an operative who has been missing for two weeks.”

“I haven’t seen anyone.” Her reaction to his response was not positive. “I’m sorry, Miss Parker, but we can figure this out. Together.”

“Fine. How?” She turned away from him.

“I don’t know,” he sighed.

“Some help you are,” she snapped, turning on her heel, expecting him to have disappeared, but she came face-to-face with him, nearly stumbling into him. Strong arms caught her off-balance body.

Jarod, satisfied she was stable on her feet, said, “Miss Parker, I can help you.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. “Jarod, have all the crime scenes been searched?”

“Yes.”

Opening her eyes, she looked directly into his. “No, I mean swept.”

“Only the third one.”

“You were there?”

“Yes.”

“Great. Now what?”

“We visit the fourth site.”

“Okay. When?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Why tomorrow?”

“My afternoon is currently occupied.” He glanced around the campus, watching the students mingle. “I’ll call you tomorrow morning. After class.” Jarod walked away with a smile on his face, leaving Miss Parker beside the wide set of stairs leading into Bouck Hall.

* * * * * * * * *

Local Police Station
Socorro, New Mexico
Lab of the Medical Examiner
Thursday Afternoon

His two favorite detectives entered his arena. “Welcome, welcome. What can I get for you this afternoon detectives?”

“Yeah, Rick. What do you have on our latest victim?” Sydor asked, crossing his arms over his chest, leaning against a wall.

“Same as the last three you brought me.” Rick rolled his chair from the cold, metal table to his desk, pulling rubber gloves off as he coasted. A manila file sailed across the room, landing in the hands of Nieuwendyk. “Naked. No signs of sexual assault. Red scarf around the neck.”

“Are we looking at a serial killer here?” Sydor asked.

“That’s your department, gentlemen, but it looks that way to me.” Rick rolled back to his slab. “Anything else you need?” He snapped a new pair rubber gloves into place.

“Any signs of struggle?”

Rick shook his head. “Nothing I could find, Daniel. No material under the fingernails, no overt bruising on the arms. No needle marks, signs of poison. Nothing. Whoever did this knew exactly what they were doing.”

Sydor nodded. “Thanks, Rick.”

“This for us?” Nieuwendyk asked, indicating the file he had been tossed.

“Yep. Good luck.”

“Thanks, Rick,” Nieuwendyk responded. The two detectives left the lab of the medical examiner. They stepped onto the elevator and Sydor pressed the button for the appropriate floor.

“So, Daniel, any ideas on suspects?”

“That kid. He was hanging around one of the crime scenes the other day.”

“What? Serial killers don’t usually return to the scene.”

“Look, we’re gonna pick him up and we’re gonna talk to him.”

“Just because he was hanging around the scene?”

“Maybe he saw something. We’re not arresting him, just questioning. Let’s go.” Sydor stepped off the elevator, stalked through the maze of desks to the door.

Nieuwendyk tossed the file on his desk and followed his partner.

* * * * * * * * *

Apartment Building
Socorro, New Mexico
Thursday Evening

“J.T., what’s going on?” Jarod asked Nieuwendyk. He had seen the two detectives pull up in front of the apartment building where he was staying.

“We need to talk to Craig Van Allen. Have you seen him?”

“Not today. Why do you need to talk to him?”

Nieuwendyk was ready to respond, but his partner stepped between he and Jarod. “Jarod, this is a police investigation, and you are not a part of it.”

“Come on, Daniel. He’s not hurting anybody.”

“Look, J.T., we have work to do and don’t need anyone getting in our way. Come on, we need to talk to Mr. Van Allen.” Sydor walked away and entered the building.

Nieuwendyk sighed heavily. “He suspects Van Allen.” He entered the building behind his partner. He knew giving Jarod information was against procedure, but his instinct told him this time was different.

Craig Van Allen? Why did Sydor suspect him? Jarod understood the serial killer angle; the victims had been murdered in the same manner, but how had Sydor made any connections?

On to Act III

 
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