I was about to go back into the station to start a fire about how they had woken me from my dream and there was no one here but I thought better of that. So I just stood there thinking of what to do, when the young man I had walked past earlier walked up to me.
“Good evening Dear sir, I know who you are,
And I was sent here to fetch you via car…”
My hand went up on its own tired accord stopping him mid-sentence. My patience had worn out and I just wanted out of here.
From Mega we were supposed to go straight to the Armor. He drove until he got to the cross-junction that pointed left to Kass, right to Aja quarry and straight to Passoh. Then he stopped in the middle of the deserted road.
He must have seen the alarm on my face but for some reason he thought pulling over – which he did next – might erase my fears.
“Is not one ordeal enough for tonight?
To what end is this serial fright?
I have been cheated, robbed without a fight,
And of my composure, this is the height.
He smiled disarmingly and replied,
“Calm down Dear Sir, think no worse of me.
Your very ordeal has turned you a celebrity.
24 lines make up the speech heard by victims
Prey of the killer known to the Cross as ‘Hymn’.
On each victim they found a note,
All bloody, Saying ‘24’ and a line in quote.
The Cross have found 12 lines of the ‘24’
But only I know their verses four after four.
They investigate and just like before…
They are as close to Hymn as a roof to a door.
With your help I might end this,
And know unparalleled bliss.
I was relieved to know he was not another stick-up but still puzzled that he was asking about the poem of a killer. Enlightened, I decided to play his game. I decided to find out first what exactly he knew. So I said,
“When misfortune is celebrated…
It leaves the safe less elated.
We spoke in volume and at length
…until both time and distance were spent.
He spoke no real song or poem
…But smiled politely, quite the Peach.
I told the law of all he said
I’ll need more sign of what you’ve prayed.”
His smiled faltered but didn’t fade completely. He seemed to be suspicious of what I had just said. He sat silent for a moment – somewhat reluctantly – considering what to do. Now curious, I pressed,
“I hardly even know your name
And yet a pawn I aid your game.
If both our shoes were just exchanged
Would not your countenance have changed?”
At this, he – still reluctantly – produced a piece of crumbled, half folded paper. He passed it to me,
“My name is Jesse since you ask,
Ferrying guests is my task.
Behold the poem that is The Mask.
That you recall is all I ask.”
I took the piece and unfolded it. It read,
‘My anger mounted, I sought release
But flings were pain and just a tease
They spread flirtation like disease
I poured my rage on men like these.
I am a Leopard, this road my cage
And yes I find forgiveness very strange
Their suits litter my bushy stage
I end all those who swagger my range
I am the death you’ve dodged today
So throw your valuables my way
To spare the good another day
And take them safe from Harm’s way.’
I have heard this before, I thought. Then I remembered where, when, how and why he said it. I read it all over again with a chill strolling down my entire skeleton. I realized Jesse had turned some of the lines into the wrong sequence.
Did that really matter?
The message was still quite clear; flirts were his prey, I guess. That’s why he let me go.
I looked at Jesse and he stared back expectantly, questioning with his eyes. ‘Should I really tell this kid the rest of the poem? After he had told me he got this part of the poem from cadavers?
My mind frantically searched for a way out. Maybe I should give him just one more stanza so I wouldn’t have to face his disappointed face. What harm could that do? I thought.
So I mentally picked the stanza most suitable for Jesse’s obsession and wrote it – with a pen Jesse provided eagerly – under the stanzas he’d written.
“I am reluctant and not quite eager
So I will make with you a wager
Be quick! Flee my perimeter
And may GOD see your life longer.”
He read it hungrily and I told him that was all I remembered. He seemed pleased and he said,
“Your aid is well appreciated
A notch my searched is elevated
And now I will reveal too
…who has sent Jesse to you?
The founder of the Shiny Armor
He asked your presence’s pleasure.
As Dew is yet to return,
He asks a speaking turn.
I nodded and he started the car and drove left, heading for Kass.
We talked a little more on the way. I found out that though he had gotten 12 lines of ‘24’ after 15 deaths, Hymn the Leopard had killed 26 people, so far. GOD must really be with you, he said.
He was happy to have four more lines; with no added and he felt sure he would soon ‘understand’ Hymn.
Who does that?