January 2, 2022

The Water-Shaped Bullet

Chief Bibiana Solís was officially concerned.

For one, while Daos sat at his workstation, seemingly lost in his own thoughts, she was getting a briefing from his partner, who on all accounts was a young, inexperienced rookie and sorely lacking in paranormal knowledge.

"So...Hyun-jun Im is actually a demon posing as human?" she asked for the third or fourth time.

"That's right," Dominador Ona nodded avidly, grateful to be able to answer a question.

"And his kind of demon make deals with people in power?"

"Correct again."

"And instead of cozying up to, say, the Mayor of Dallas or Houston, he's spending all hours of the day in the middle of nowhere, with Antonello Gomez."

"You're on fire, Chief."

"Mm-hm," Bibiana mused, eyes rolling over to where Daos sat, staring at his computer screen which wasn't even on.  "And he's doing this...why?"

Dominador visibly winced.  "Daos isn't sure yet, but he has a friend who brings him books, and she thinks it has something to do with the fact we lifted the curse of Naberius which in turn drew more beings like Hyun-jun."

"Naberius?" Bibiana raised an eyebrow.  "The demon who was both protecting and punishing the people of this town?"

Dominador winced again.  "Well, technically, it was the people of this town who were actually --"

"Daos!"  Her voice rang out with such volume and power that it shook the whole precinct.  "Get over here.  I've got a case for you two."


"Whyyyyyy am I not surprised to see you here?" Trish Flores folded her arms across her chest, standing smugly in the center of her tiny office.  "Let me guess: the Chief assigned you to the case involving the Domarad building?"

Daos knew there was no point in hiding anything from Trish anymore.  "Yes," he replied.  "And I already know you spent all morning researching the history of that building."

She snorted.  "Don't remind me.  Dani kept nagging me about my coffee intake."

Dominador piped up.  "The Chief says the Domarad has been abandoned since the Eighties."

"That's right," Trish nodded.  "The city finally acquired the funding to purchase it with the intent to bulldoze it and the surrounding abandoned buildings in order to build the new high school."  She gave both detectives a meaningful look.  "Yeah, I noticed that when a building burns in this town, they don't build it back up in the same place as before.  Weird, huh?"

Dominador successfully resisted the urge to wince.

Meanwhile, Daos's brow furrowed.  "Correct me if I'm wrong, but 'Domarad' is a Slavic name.  They get a lot of Eastern Europeans here in Soleado Valle?"

"No, just the one," Trish snickered.  She rounded her desk to open a file and lay out some black and white photos.  "Sobena Domarad, 24-year-old mistress to Mayor Enrique Garza in 1982.  He met her on a cruise."  She rolled her eyes.  "The scandal rocked the town.  Apparently, he didn't even bother hiding the affair.  He set her up in a posh high-rise which he later bought and named the Domarad.  He publicly wined and dined her, spoiling her all over town.  Supposedly the two of them would order a bottle of Chateau Blanc and dance every Friday night at the Gato Negro."

Dominador blinked, appalled.  "He didn't have a wife or anything who objected?"

"Garza was one of the richer Mayors in this town's history," Trish smirked.  "He came from old money and he had a lot of connections on both sides of the law.  His wife Catalina was pretty much helpless to do anything about it.  Though...when Sobena was found murdered in her apartment, Catalina Garza was at the very top of the list of suspects."

"This picture," Daos murmured, pointing at an old image of the Domarad.  "What are these workers doing in the back?"

"Garza was building his girlfriend a reservoir," Trish snorted.  "See, he felt she needed an artificial lake to add to the view from her penthouse suite.  He actually planned to call it Lake Sobena."

"When was Sobena murdered?" Dominador asked, whipping out his trusty pen and pad.

"The next year, in 1983," Trish shrugged.

Daos scratched his head.  "A bunch of workers died this morning while on a construction job - how is this my jurisdiction?  As I understand it, nobody was murdered."

Trish gave him a look.  "After Sobena died, Garza resigned from being Mayor as he was overcome by grief.  He packed his bags and family, and permanently left town.  City Hall burned - as you already know - and the new Mayor sought brownie points from the public by putting an end to all work on the Domarad.  In fact, he drained the reservoir on the grounds that it was a massive waste of water in the desert, and then shut off all water to the building.  With a high profile murder case going, the tenants couldn't move out fast enough.  It's not like anyone objected."

Daos shook his head, weary and irritable.  "I...I'm still not seeing how --"

"Damn it, Daos; did they even give you a case file?" Trish exclaimed, throwing her hands up.  "What's wrong with you today?  How can you not see what the big deal is?  Do you even know how these workers died?"

"They drowned," Dominador said grimly.  Apparently he'd read the case file.  "At least that's what the coroner determined.  The workers were on the 8th floor when the whole building allegedly flooded, even though the plumbing's been off for decades, and they all drowned."

Trish nodded.  "And when their superiors arrived later, there wasn't a single drop of water to be found."

Next: Rusalka

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