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Read the first chapter The of Eyes of the Chameleon

Chapter 1

Detective-Sergeant Cassius Toledo peered into the storage unit quizzically. Three a.m. on a Sunday morning. Fog rolling in from the bay toward the marina and an address in the wrong part of Berkeley.

It was all he needed.

Toledo took a step closer – nostrils picking up the distinctive smell of putrefaction. But the sweet nausea didn’t last long. He was too used to it by now. Too many bodies. Too many three a.m’s.

The storage unit was empty. He squinted a little and rubbed the stubble sprouting just under his mouth. Prematurely graying, curly hair with ice-blue eyes and a stare that showed that lying would be useless, insulting his intelligence worse.

But this was doing neither. It was mystifying. Berkeley PD – an organization as out of place in that city as a Catholic nun in a brothel – had received the call at about midnight. An anonymous call about a body in a unit. Or there might be a body in a unit – the sleepy dispatcher hadn’t been sure which.

Toledo took another step, completely into the unit now. Average height, average weight, he patted his still reasonably taught belly for a moment and frowned.

Yes, the corpse smell was there all right. But something else too. He looked down at the floor, noticing even in the drab grays of the early hours the tell-tale splotches of blood. It was not the spatter of a violent blow, but rather the little puddle – now dried – of blood that had seeped slowly from a still body. Not much, he thought as he squatted to look closer, perhaps only what comes from the general relaxation of orifices that occurs after death.

Anal or oral? A closer sniff. He couldn’t really tell.

Suddenly he became aware that someone was looking at him. Toledo turned quickly and stood up, only to find the empty row of units when he looked outside. But the impression had been unmistakable – someone had been looking at him. In fact, someone still was. But where?

A scratch of the stubble again and something caught his attention in the corner of the unit.

An eye.

“I’ll be damned.” He said, his voice sounding as a dead echo in the cheap metal of the space.

“Someone is looking at me.”

He went inside and squatted again, looking intently at the eye. The eye – like one of those people in a painting whose gaze follows you around a room – seemed to be still looking at him even when he was right above it. Human? Yes. Although some pig eyes could look very similar. But there was something human about this blue-grey eye that peered sightlessly up at him.

Something pitiful. Surprised even. Toledo had an almost irresistible urge to pick up the eye – but knew that too would have to wait for the lab.

He was smiling at the eye slightly when he saw – too late – the shadow cross the still glistening cornea of the eye and felt the sharp blow to the back of the head.

Toledo down for the count again, he thought as he slipped into unconsciousness.

 

 

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