The Bukowski Agency - Kill the Father - Excerpt
The Killer's Angel

a novel by Sandrone Dazieri

EXCERPT

1.

At twenty to midnight on October the tenth, the high-speed train from Milan pulled into platform seven at the Termini railway station in Rome, emitting jets of steam from its hydraulic brakes. It was a Thursday and the few passengers disembarking had tired faces and very little luggage: they were nearly all commuters returning home on the last train. Forming a column along the platform, they slowly made their way through the newly installed security turnstiles, presided over by even more tired railway staff, which led to the central corridor where a small electric police vehicle was moving slowly with two officers on board. It was cold for that time of year and beneath the huge cement roof, groups of tramps and Syrian refugees were sleeping on sheets of cardboard in sleeping bags distributed by the Red Cross. All the shops were closed, their shutters defaced by obscenities and graffiti.

The passengers reached the main hall, passed the large, cube-shaped bookshop with feebly lit windows that blurred all the volumes on display into a single splodge of pale yellow, then split into two groups. The first left the station by the main entrance to queue for one of the rare taxis that circulate at that time of night. The others made their way down the steps leading to the underground station, keeping their hands firmly on their wallets as they walked along the dark, urine impregnated tunnels.

Meanwhile on platform seven, normal procedures were underway so the train could be moved to the depot ready for a new journey the following morning. A sleepy conductor made his way along the entire length of the train to ensure no passengers had fallen asleep or forgotten their luggage on board, as often happened at night time. He didn’t come across anyone but, as he approached the Executive carriage, he noticed that the communicating door was still locked.

Executive class is reserved for passengers willing to spend. A ticket is about double the cost of a first class fare and includes the privilege of being served by a dedicated steward, the right to a ready-meal courtesy of a famous TV chef, and the comfort of travelling in real leather reclinable seating.

To prevent intrusions from the other carriages – and to avoid disturbing VIP actors or singers travelling on courtesy tickets – the compartment is only unlocked by the steward on arrival at a station or in case of necessity. Without pondering too much on this anomaly, the conductor used his octagonal key to release the electronic lock, causing the frosted glass door to slide open with a hiss of compressed air. At the sight meeting his eyes, the conductor tried to scream.

He was unable to.

It took about twenty minutes before anyone noticed his absence. And, as it later emerged, this was to be the only stroke of luck in the entire affair.

2.

Colomba Caselli, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Major Crimes Unit – the one that everyone, except police officers, refer to as Homicides – arrived at the Termini railway station in an official car at ten to one. Her chosen driver was agent Massimo Alberti, twenty-seven years old with light coloured hair and the kind of freckly face that remains boyish even as an old man.

Colomba, on the other hand, was technically thirty-three but appeared older with those green eyes of hers that changed colour according to the light and her mood. Her dark hair was tightly tied back at the nape of her neck, making her cheekbones even more striking and oriental looking; she was wearing a leather jacket and biker boots. She was the authority on call at the time and had been summoned to duty just as she was getting into bed with a book she wanted to finish. In an understandably bad mood, she thrust her ID under the nose of the four Transport Police agents who were waiting next to the train buffers on platform 7 and who did not know her. They were young and gaunt looking, they were all smoking. An ambulance was waiting behind the turnstiles with flashing lights.

The highest in rank held out a freezing hand to shake hers. “Ma’am...” He was pallid and kept biting his bright pink lips.

“Which carriage?” asked Colomba.

“The first.”

Colomba tried to peer through the windows but the lights were off and she couldn’t make anything out.

“Have any of you been in?”

“Just me,” said the same Transport Police agent. “But I stopped in the corridor when I saw the conductor. I felt sick.”

Colomba pointed to the ambulance. “Good, saved you making a mess. Have the paramedics been in?”

“I told them not to.”

“Because…”

“Can’t you hear them, Ma’am?” said the agent, almost in a whisper. “Can’t you hear them?”

“What?”

The agent pointed to his ear. “Listen.”

Colomba was about to tell him to get lost, then she realised that strange bleeping noises were coming from the unlit carriage. No, not bleeps but the sound of several mobile phones ringing out in unison. Colomba felt a twinge in the back of her neck.

“Is there any way of turning the lights on?” she asked.

The agent shook his head. “The emergency batteries have run out. We would have to call in a driver to restart the engine.”

“Better not.” Colomba nodded to Alberti. “Give me the torch”.

He did as he was told. “Would you like me to come with you?”

“No, wait here.”

With a Maglite flashlight on in her left hand and her right one touching the holster on her belt, Colomba climbed up the carriage’s two metal steps and stopped in the corridor between the first and second coach. Curled up on the floor, his head almost touching his knees, was the body of the conductor who, less than an hour earlier, had been looking forward to getting home and into the arms of his wife. A spray of bright red blood had spurted out of his mouth staining the prickly non-slip mat and the expression on his face was of extreme suffering. Colomba touched his neck to check for a pulse: all she felt was slimy flesh getting colder and stiffer.

Colomba shifted her gaze outside to curb her retching. At the end of the platform, Alberti was speaking to their Transport Police colleagues. He seemed as calm as she was tense. Meanwhile, the sound of mobile phones ringing and pinging continued from inside the Executive carriage. At least half a dozen of them. They stopped and started abruptly. People were trying in vain to get through to friends or family. They tried again and again.

Colomba did not want to find out why. She didn’t want to look. Until she shone her torch into the carriage, nothing of what she was imagining would become reality. She could delete it from her mind like a bad dream and already have forgotten it while retreating down the steps to call HQ and ask them to send someone else.

But she was kidding herself. As if motivated by a mind of its own, her gaze was already sliding along the walls of the shadowy carriage, past the emergency brake signs in four different languages, across the unlit lights on the control switchboard hidden behind the panel and the spring-hinged bin cover, until it finally rested on the darkness behind the frosted glass door interrupted only by the disturbing greenish glow of mobile phone displays. Biting her lips Colomba pointed the torch inside the carriage allowing the beam of light to reveal what she had already imagined, even before seeing the corpse sprawled out on the mat.

The Executive passengers were all dead.

 

 

 

Back to top