“Tell me more about this woman?”
“She bakes cookies for you if you feed her cat.”
I tried to comprehend what he was saying. “So if you feed these cats she gives you cookies?”
“Not these cats, just her cat.”
“Which one is her cat?”
Kevin looked confused again. “I don’t know.”
“How do you know which one to feed then?”
“I’ll show you.”
The sweet smell hit me again. This time I could figure out the scent, it was the smell of baking cookies. Something wasn’t right. Kevin moved up the rickety stairs and quickly rounded a corner. I followed after him, being careful to not fall through the steps.
The air was dusty. I could see the tiny motes of light drifting through the air. I made it to the top of the stairs.
“Watch out for that hole.” Kevin pointed to a hole in the floor where the boards had rotten. There was graffiti on the walls but there was something odd about it. Most of it was incomplete. At the end of the hall, green spray paint said “Mart.” That’s it, “Mart.” Kevin walked up to one of the doorways.
The room was littered with open tuna cans and cat food tins. In the middle was a young man lay on the ground. I rushed over to him, kicking cans away as I moved through the room. The floor crunched under my weight in a few places. I felt for a pulse but he was already cold, possibly dead for some time. The murder weapon, a carving knife was still in him but he had been stabbed four times.
When I pulled up, I was tense and agitated but I realized that I lost my sense of urgency when I arrived. Now it returned. “Dispatch, this is Evans. Confirmed, one deceased male approximate age twelve to fourteen years old.”
“Understood. Your backup is almost there.”
I would have to secure the site for the detectives to investigate. When I turned around, Kevin was gone and Ron was standing in the doorway.
“Dude, are you okay?”
“Ron, I didn’t hear you coming up.”
“I don’t know how, I’ve been shouting to you for ten minutes. I thought you were dead. God, how can you stand the smell of the cat piss?” Ron held his sleeve over his nose, he put his pistol back into his holster.
“Did you see that kid leave?”
Ron looked around. “No, I didn’t see a kid.”
“How did he get past you? It’s okay, I got his address.” I stood up, being careful on the dry rotted floorboards.
“Are you okay? You weren’t answering your radio.” Ron said.
“I just talked to the dispatcher.”
“That was fifteen minutes ago. You called in, I arrived and started radioing you and shouting.” Ron said.
I tried to tell if he was just messing with me but he seemed more interested in covering his nose. All I smelled was the sweet scent of cookies baking. Was I okay? Was there some kind of gas leak? “Maybe we should wait outside?”
Ron and I stepped back outside and waited. The detectives and paramedics arrived and recovered the body. They were able to identify the victim. The name they got back was Kevin Jacob, age fourteen. Ron remembered busting him for vandalism a year ago. He described an out of shape kid that seemed smart but was moving in the wrong direction. The fourteen year old was taller and leaner than the Kevin he remembered.
I went to the address, 544, that I had been given. I should have known the number. It was the address of the drug house I helped shut down. How could I have not recognized that address?
A few days came and went. The investigation was ongoing, but the coroner said the wounds appeared self inflicted.
I drove by the cat house and tried to ignore the strange experience I had. The most bizarre thing was that I could smell cookies each time I drove by, even with my windows up.
By the third day, I couldn’t let it go. I held the can of tuna in my hand as I looked at the cat house. I could smell the cookies. The whole house smelled like my grandmother’s kitchen.
I walked up the rickety stairs and around the hole in the floor. The pull tab on the tuna can peeled the can open, placing it on the floor of the old bedroom.
The sound of an elderly voice, humming a tune filtered up from the kitchen below.
“The cookies are done, come and have some.” The voice was familiar.
I made my way down the stairs. My foot went through the third step.
“Be careful dear.” came my grandmother’s voice.
The kitchen wasn’t like the rest of the crumbling house. It was old, but clean, just like my grandmother’s kitchen.
“Thank you for feeding my kitty. I can’t get up the stairs anymore.” my grandmother said.