EIGHTEEN: Hell’s Kitchen – Midtown, 1941
Detective Broome sifted through the smoky rubble. Already, whatever evidence might have been recovered would probably be nothing more than ash anyway. Still, he kept digging. Buster Broome had lived in the same apartment for five years now, ever since he got his badge. He felt like he’d been after Kaspar Delancey since day one, which was not so far from the truth. The two men shared a symbiotic relationship by that point: with one predicting the other’s move and vice versa, but neither could ever finish it. The closest Broome had come was that night at the Flatiron Building. But he didn’t have the guts then.
Every time he passed the Flatiron at the corner of 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue he couldn’t help but recall moments from his youth. With his friends, chewing bubble gum and waiting for girls’ skirts to blow up from the draft of the underground trains. That was the windiest corner in the entire city. Usually, the boys were chased away by the officers and their clubs, but every once in a while they’d be lucky enough to see what they had waited so patiently for. Every little detail seemed so simple back then. At times, this case had been no less fun; the prospect of catching Kaspar Delancey with his skirt over his head was thrilling. Broome knew it would be unavoidable, even if some of the other guys in the precinct had begun to doubt it months ago.
“Well?” Oster dropped his hand onto Broome’s shoulder. “What have we got here?”
“It’s as done as it’s going to get,” Broome mumbled with a hidden delight. He made sure to keep his foot exactly where it was so as not to draw attention to where he stood.
“But is this our man?”
“Ours? Oster, you know this one’s mine.”
“Don’t be such a romantic. This is the worst serial killer New York has ever seen. There’s no way you’re doing this alone, Broome.”
Detective Broome had yet to point out that the scorched building was actually his own. And he didn’t plan on mentioning that this was far more complicated than a simple cat-and-mouse relationship. It had never been that simple. And even when the inevitable day would come when he would catch Kaspar Delancey, he knew the two of them would still never be free of one another. It went much further than the cop-and-robber mentality. It was vengeance, pure and simple.
“Right, Oster. You got it.”
Sergeant Oster covered his face; the smoke was becoming too much to bear. He made his way back out towards 11th Avenue where the sporadic red and blue lights lapped the wet brick walls. He stepped carefully over whatever charred evidence might have still been left to investigate. As soon as he was gone, Broome kicked the blackened mirror away from under his foot. He bent down and picked up the small, metallic egg that he hoped Oster wouldn’t see. He examined it closely; the unmistakable key design on the side of the egg was definitely the piece of evidence Broome had been hoping for, and the inscription only made it that much more palpable. Kaspar Delancey was a fool if he thought this was over.