hear the blood bubbling on the man’s parted lips. “You should’ve left me alone,” Herb whispered. He saw the guard’s stricken gaze turn toward the sound of his voice. His legs no longer pedaled. Instead, they just made slight spastic movements. Herb placed one fist on the guard’s shoulder for support and reached for the knife. Through the handle, he could feel the blade throb, as if with its own life. With one powerful tug, he wrenched it free. The guard let out a moan so low it was barely audible. A gush of blood flowed from his mouth and then he lay still. Expressionless, Herb stared as the guard died in front of him. He felt no pity. The guard had only meant to destroy him and to possibly reap the accolades for doing so. Herb wiped the blade off on the guard’s jacket and stood up. Without looking back, he walked to his truck, got inside. The engine started. Headlights off, he turned around. When he reached the corner of Lower Water Street, he took a left and turned the lights on. The guard had changed his escape route. Herb realized someone would soon discover the body. He imagined police vehicles swarming the waterfront, the shrill cry of sirens splitting the air, the incessant blue and red strobe reflecting off the buildings. He knew that he couldn’t go back over the MacDonald Bridge. The guards at the tollbooths might remember him—a lone man who perhaps looked out-of-place, in a hurry to get somewhere at such an early morning hour. There could be no witnesses. Herb was now unsure of how to get out of Halifax. The streets and lights seemed to close in on him. A maze that both trapped and confused him. Signs had no meaning. The refuge of his farmhouse in Acresville felt like a thousand miles away. Near panic, he stopped at the curb past Historic Properties on Upper Water Street to check his map. He found a route leading into Bedford and then to the 102 Highway. By memory, he drove toward it. Blocks passed without notice. His thoughts were filled with images of the hooker drowning in the harbor and the guard twitching on the pavement. Get a grip, he told himself. That’s the key to survival. Don’t lose it. Just be cool. Up ahead, signs directed where he should go. Within minutes he skirted the Bedford Basin and left Halifax behind. On the horizon the first light of dawn touched the sky.
9 Halifax, May 9 6:18 a.m.
Can a civilized society ever exist? Allan wondered. In a job where he had seen the true detritus of man’s morality, he didn’t think it possible. There were simply too many disturbed people in the world living on the fringe of ethical judgment, poisoned by greed, hatred, and indifference. Beyond the crime scene, the early sun spread across the harbor water. The location was a paved lot that served as a convenient parking facility for customers of many waterfront merchants. On this day it was the site of mindless carnage, of man’s unbridled brutality against another. In the solitude of his car, Allan marked down his arrival time in his spiral notebook: 6:18 a.m. Only twelve minutes earlier Sergeant Malone had paged him about this homicide. Parked close enough to view the general outline of the scene, yet far enough away to not disturb it, Allan watched those already at work. He saw familiar faces of uniformed officers in the swirl of red and blue lights as they busied themselves stringing up barrier tape around the perimeter of the lot. Black on yellow repeated the words, Police Line. Do Not Cross. The Special Identification Unit van sat across the street in front of Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Two figures, sheathed in full Tyvek coveralls, pulled equipment out of the back. Several yards from the body, Sergeant Malone talked to a uniformed officer. In the sergeant’s hand, he held a clipboard. Close-by, another man watched all the activity around him with intense interest. He was heavy-set with a pushed in face. Allan noted the radio clipped to his belt, the shoulder