3.1 Three Stripes of Exposition

by Matt P.

“I didn’t know Border had seen any of the Three Stripes killings.” Walter said. It was closer to four than three, and it had taken them that long to get back to the station house. They were once again in the Marshal’s office, all five of them now—Alexander, Andre, Leah, Morgan, and himself. With everyone a little shaky from the shooting, Alexander had surreptitiously pulled a bottle of bourbon out of his desk and poured into plastic water cups for everyone. He’d teased Andre about being old enough to drink even though he clearly was, with an old familiar and familial feel to the teasing. They’d sipped the whiskey—Bulleit 10 year—in silence for a few minutes until Walter had broken the silence with his statement.

Alexander sighed. “Not just any of them, the first of them. The most of them.” He said it plainly, like it was common fact, but Walter boggled.

“The first of them?” He asked the quiet room. Each of them looked somber and shaken but neither surprised not like they wanted to contradict. Each of their faces told a slightly different story. Andre was angry, like his home was under attack. Leah was sorrowful, etched with an unspoken burden of not being able to help put a stop to it and protect the people she was sworn to. Morgan looked…remote, almost affronted, as if it was an attack to her dignity. And the Marshal looked…weary. “If thats true why hadn’t I heard about it? Why hasn’t the FBI turned this place upside down?”

Alexander traded a glance with Leah, which was curious, before he shrugged. “We’re a small town, Walter. I know, I know,” he waved a hand at Walter’s raised eyebrow, “not as small as we like to think. We got a few agents but when bodies showed up in Seattle and D.C. they decided we were a fluke, and the real hotspots were elsewhere.” He snorted. “Some cities hate it when the Feds roll in to town. I’ve had to beg for every goddamn G-Man I’ve ever had come look at a case.”

Walter continued to look baffled for a few moments, before he shook his head. He didn’t know what to say, and Andre ventured into the pause. “You’ll understand once you’ve been here a while, Walter.” He said with a sigh. “Weird stuff happens in Border. We have more disappearances than any city in the west per capita, and we have more unsolved murders than Denver or Kansas City.”

“Per capita?” Walter asked, and Andre shook his head gravely.

“Total.” Andre answered simply, prompting Walter to just about fall out of his chair. The rest of the room very casually finished their whiskey and set the cups down.

“Welcome to the Border, Walter.” Alexander said, rising with a grim little smile. “Unsolved murder capital of the Midwest, home of the Three Stripes killers, and weird shit capital of the U.S.A.” He said, pouring himself another drink. “Go home; its a lot to think about. I’ll see you tomorrow; and good work today.”