By Jeff Lindsay

“Well, Dexter,” Vince said without looking up. “What brings you here?”

“I came to see how real experts operate in a totally professional atmosphere,” I said. “Have you seen any?”

“Ha-ha,” he said. It was supposed to be a laugh, but it was even phonier than his smile. “You must think you're in Boston.” He found something and held it up to the light, squinting. “Seriously, why are you here?”

“Why wouldn't I be here, Vince?” I said, pretending to sound indignant. “It's a crime scene, isn't it?”

“You do blood spatter,” he said, throwing away whatever he'd been staring at and searching for another one.

“I knew that.”

He looked at me with his biggest fake smile. “There's no blood here, Dex.”

I felt light-headed. “What does that mean?”

“There's no blood in or on or near, Dex. No blood at all. Weirdest thing you ever saw,” he said.

No blood at all.

I could hear that phrase repeat itself in my head, louder each time. No sticky, hot, messy, awful blood. No splatter. No stain.


Why hadn't I thought of that?

It felt like a missing piece to something I didn't know was incomplete.

I don't pretend to understand what it is about Dexter and blood. Just thinking of it sets my teeth on edge—and yet I have, after all, made it my career, my study, and part of my real work. Clearly some very deep things are going on, but I find it a little hard to stay interested. I am what I am, and isn't it a lovely night to dissect a child killer?

But this—

“Are you all right, Dexter?” Vince asked.

“I am fantastic,” I said. “How does he do it?”

“That depends.”

I looked at Vince. He was staring at a handful of coffee grounds, carefully pushing them around with one rubber-gloved finger.

“Depends on what, Vince?”

“On who he is and what it he's doing,” he said. “Ha-ha.”

I shook my head. “Sometimes you work too hard at being inscrutable,” I said. “How does the killer get rid of the blood?”

“Hard to say right now,” he said. “We haven't found any of it. And the body is not in real good shape, so it's going to be hard to find much.”

That didn't sound nearly as interesting. I like to leave a neat body. No fuss, no mess, no dripping blood. If the killer was just another dog tearing at a bone, this was all nothing to me.

I breathed a little easier. “Where's the body?” I asked Vince.

He jerked his head at a spot twenty feet away. “Over there,” he said. “With LaGuerta.”

“Oh, my,” I said. “Is LaGuerta handling this?”

He gave me his fake smile again. “Lucky killer.”

I looked. A small knot of people stood around a cluster of tidy trash bags. “I don't see it,” I said.

“Right there. The trash bags. Each one is a body part. He cut the victim into pieces and then wrapped up each one like it was a Christmas present. Did you ever see anything like that before?”

Of course I had. That's how I do it.