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Reading The Flap

A woman sits at a bar sipping some kind of pink drink. She is alone and of above average looks. A man walks up and sits on the stool next to her.

MAN:              Hi.

WOMAN:       [disinterested] Hello.

MAN:             I’m Brad.

WOMAN:       Hello Brad.

MAN:             Generally speaking, this is the part where you tell me your name.

WOMAN:       Yes. Generally speaking you’re right.

MAN:             But you’re not going to tell me your name.

WOMAN:       You’re a quick learner.

MAN:             I am, that’s true. Can I buy you a drink?

WOMAN:       No thank you.

MAN:             OK, to bad.

WOMAN:       Yeah, for you.

MAN:             Hmm, OK.

WOMAN:       OK. [pause] Wait! OK?

MAN:             OK.

WOMAN:       OK as in OK it’s too bad for you, or OK as in OK, it’s too bad for ME, but you’re going to let me think it’s too bad for you?

MAN:             Is there a difference?

WOMAN:       Yes!

MAN:             There’s a difference between the OKs?

WOMAN:       Yes! Yes, there’s a difference between the OKs. OK, like, it’s too bad for you means I shot you down and you are a little hurt, but you’re willing to accept it because, presumably, you get shot down a lot. OK as in OK too bad for me means that you don’t really care that I shot you down because either you weren’t really that interested in me, or that you think I really do want you to buy me a drink and I’m just playing hard to get.

MAN:             And which OK is the right one?

WOMAN:       The first one. The FIRST OK.

MAN:             The first OK.

WOMAN:       Yes.

MAN:             So what you’re saying is that it’s good that I said OK, but only if it’s because you are clearly out of my league and I should feel stupid for even asking to buy you a drink.

WOMAN:       Yes.

MAN:             OK.

WOMAN:       NO! I mean, no. Look, I don’t want you to feel stupid. I just…

MAN:             Yes you do.

WOMAN:       What?

MAN:             Yes you do. Yes you do want me to feel stupid.

WOMAN:       No, I don’t. I just…

MAN:             Yes you do. Look, I’m not saying you’re a bad person.

WOMAN:       It sure sounds like you are.

MAN:             No, I’m simply acknowledging your motives. And you, I think, are starting to feel guilty, because now that you’ve said it out loud, you think your motives sound mean.

WOMAN:       But…

MAN:             But they’re not.

WOMAN:       They aren’t!

MAN:             No, they’re not.

WOMAN:       OK!

MAN:             They’re stupid.

WOMAN:       Then we agree.

MAN:             OK.

WOMAN:       WAIT!!

MAN:             Yeah?

WOMAN:       Stupid?

MAN:             Yeah, stupid.

WOMAN:       Now you’re saying I’m stupid?

MAN:             No.

WOMAN:       Yes! You just said I’m stupid!

MAN:             No, I said your motives are stupid.

WOMAN:       My motives?

MAN:             Yes.

WOMAN:       But not me?

MAN:             Right.

WOMAN:       Ya know…

MAN:             Are you single?

WOMAN:       Yes, well…

MAN:             Do you WANT to be single?

WOMAN:       Yes!

MAN:             OK.

WOMAN:       Well…

MAN:             [sigh]

WOMAN:       I don’t want to be single, but I don’t mind it. I don’t NEED a man.

MAN:             Sure. [not being condescending, but agreeing with her]

WOMAN:       I don’t! I’d LIKE a boyfriend, but not just any guy. Not just some random…

MAN:             Guy that would try and pick you up in a bar.

WOMAN:       EXACTLY!!!

MAN:             You want a nice guy.

WOMAN:       Yes!!!

MAN:             Because you’re a nice girl.

WOMAN:       I am!

MAN:             OK

WOMAN:       OK…Wait…

MAN:             Look, I just offered to buy you a drink. I didn’t ask you to meet me down the street at the Zwieback Motel.

WOMAN:       The “Zwieback Motel”?

MAN:             Yeah, the Zwieback Motel, people don’t usually sleep there too well.

WOMAN:       Look…

MAN:             You want a nice guy, and you’re pretty sure any guy that would try and buy you a drink in a bar ISN’T a nice guy.

WOMAN:       Well…

MAN:             Despite the fact that you consider yourself to be a nice girl, and yet, here you sit.

WOMAN:       I am a nice girl!!!!

MAN:             I’m sure you are. That’s why I offered to buy you a drink.

WOMAN:       EXACTLY!! So you could get me drunk!!

MAN:             You get drunk off of one drink?

WOMAN:       No, but…

MAN:             Because if you do, then you could really be a catch. A nice girl AND a cheap date.

WOMAN:       No, I don’t get drunk off of one drink but…

MAN:             Do you read?

WOMAN:       What?!

MAN:             Do you read…Books?

WOMAN:       Now you’re asking if I can read?

MAN:             No, I’m not asking if you can read, I’m asking if you do read. Do you read? Are you a reader? Do you enjoy the company of a good book?

WOMAN:       Yes.

MAN:             You read?

WOMAN:       Yes, I read. I like to read. In fact, I love to read. I read all the time. I have a Gold Card for the local library. I like to read!!

MAN:             What?

WOMAN:       What do I read?

MAN:             What do you read?

WOMAN:       Mostly books.

MAN:             What books?

WOMAN:       [pretty irritated at this point] What books? What books do I read? What, you want titles?

MAN:             What kind of books? Specific authors? Genres? What kind of books do you read?

WOMAN:       All kinds!

MAN:             How do you pick?

WOMAN:       The books?

MAN:             Yes nameless woman who loves to read, and frequents bars, but doesn’t drink. How do you pick the books you read? You walk into the library with your gold card and stand in front of aisles of shelves with thousands of books, how do you decide which book to take home and read?

WOMAN:       I’m confused. Weren’t we talking about me shooting you down for a drink, which by the way, I do drink. You said I didn’t drink, but I do. I do drink, I just didn’t want a drink bought by you!

MAN:             How do you pick the books?

WOMAN:       Because, if I let you buy me a drink, then you think that I somehow owe you something.

MAN:             Do you throw a dart? Do you blindfold yourself and play pin the tail on the book you want?

WOMAN:       You think that if you buy me a drink, then we are on a date and you are entitled to some kind of end of date prize, like my phone number, or a kiss or more likely you think that I will get naked for you and…

MAN:             Or do you…

WOMAN:       I read the flap! OK?! I open the cover and read the inside flap! Jesus, what is wrong with you?! How does anyone pick a book? I read the fucking flap!

MAN:             You read the flap?

WOMAN:       Yes! There are all the books, so I pick a few, open the cover and spend a few minutes reading the description on the inside flap and decide whether I want to put the time into reading the whole book.

MAN:             You read the flap.

WOMAN:       [sigh] Yes, I read the flap.

MAN:             OK.

WOMAN:       OK. Why do you care?

MAN:             Really?

WOMAN:       Really, really!

MAN:             Well then… I don’t. I really don’t care. You have made it clear that you are not at all interested in having a drink with me. But since I am an altruistic kind of guy, I will tell you this for your future reference. When a guy asks to buy you a drink, it doesn’t mean he is trying to get you drunk and it doesn’t mean he even wants to go out with you. It means he wants to read your flap.

WOMAN:       EXCUSE ME?!

MAN:             There are lots of beautiful women in this bar. You are not the only one! So when I asked to buy you a drink it’s the same as reading the flap on a book. It takes five or ten minutes to have the drink, during which time, generally, people talk to each other. They find out a little about the other person. They get the basic jist of each other’s story and decided whether they want to “keep reading”. It doesn’t hurt either person to have a ten minute conversation and see if that person is someone they just might like to get to know better. So when a guy asks to buy you a drink and you, as you say, “shoot him down” out of some petty spiteful sense of superiority all you are really saying to him is, “no I’m the type of girl who judges a book by it’s cover and have no interest in reading the flap to see if it’s even a story worth starting.” So when I said OK, of your two OKs, I meant the second one. OK?

WOMAN:       [visibly shaken] OK.

MAN:             OK. [stands to leave]

WOMAN:       Brad…

MAN:             Yes?

WOMAN:       Hi, I’m Susan. [pause] Can I buy you a drink?

MAN:             No, thank you. I wasn’t crazy about your flap.

WOMAN:       [sad] OK.

The End

#NaNoWriMo Bonus Scene!

The powder blue steel door slammed shut with a hollow clang that echoed through the small cinder block room. Weather Rose sat up at attention at the small stainless steel table that was situated in the center of the room. Both her hands lay flat on the table in front of her, handcuffed together with the chain running through a small metal loop that was welded to the table.

She looked to the right and inspected herself in the wall to wall mirror adjacent to where she sat. She was wearing orange police issued cotton pants, and shirt, and disposable paper underwear as the police had confiscated her clothes as evidence.

Her face was bruised and still spattered with blood that had dried to a rusty brown color and was flaking off in places. Her hair was clumped together and she had deep purple bags under her eyes. She had a lump on the side of her forehead that had swelled to the size of a small egg. She looked like shit. She felt like shit, but mostly, she was in some deep shit.

The metal door swung open violently, bouncing off the wall behind it. Two tall men in plain, and slightly wrinkled, suits walked into the room. One of them came right at her. He was confident and acted in quick sharp movements. He grabbed the seat across from her and pulled it out from the table while simultaneously spinning it around and sitting down on it backwards with the back between his legs.

The other moved more slowly. Not quite lazily, but deliberately. He slinked along the perimeter of the room until he was against the mirror, then he leaned casually against the wall gazing at her with a curious expression. The three of them, Weather and the two suits stared at each other in silence and the heavy powder blue door clicked shut.

The situation was curious. She was terrified and confused. Normally in this kind of situation she would call the police, but that option was clearly off the table. She felt frantic and off balance and probably seemed a little crazy, but she was determined not to turn into a sniffling idiot, so she took a deep breath and tried to buckle down mentally.

She was under arrest for murdering a Federal law enforcement official and sitting in a city precinct jail, presumably waiting for the F.B.I. to arrive. There were two Chicago PD detectives with her, but they ultimately were just babysitting her until the Feds got there. There wasn’t much point in trying to convince them of her innocence since it wasn’t going to be their case anyway. They seemed to have the same opinion because their questioning was hardly what she would call rigorous. One of them, the one in the chair, was asking her questions in a bored monotonous tone. The other one was recording her answers in a small black notebook with a dull pencil.

“Ms. Rose, what were you doing at Special Council Grayson’s personal residence?”

Weather tried to lean back in her chair, but the chain between her wrists caught on the loop and tugged on her shoulders uncomfortably. She leaned forward and rested on her elbows. She gave a long questioning look at the detectives, let out an exasperated sigh and began picking at her fingernails silently.

“Ms. Rose, how did you know Mr. Grayson?”

Weather dug a small piece of dirt out from under one of her french manicured nails and wiped it on the table in front of her.

“Ms. Rose, were you having a sexual relationship with Mr. Grayson?”

This elicited a slight head cock from Weather, then she began working on the next nail.

“Ms. Rose, at the crime scene you said you were there to see someone named Gavin. Ms. Rose, who is Gavin?”

Weather stopped her nail cleaning and looked up at the detective. She didn’t remember mentioning Gavin, but she had to admit that the events in the apartment were pretty blurred and she couldn’t remember everything she had shouted at them through the mattress. She supposed she could have said something, but clearly nothing they found useful or this questioning would be very different.

She sipped the air through pursed lips, paused and gave a long exhale before returning to grooming her nails. The detective with the notebook scribbled something in shorthand, then set the pencil behind his ear.

“Ms. Rose,” the detective in the chair continued, “did you kill U.S. Attorney and Special Council Brandon Grayson?”

Weather wiped another piece of debris on the table.

#NaNoWriMo2017 Preface and Scene 1

Murder Ballad

Preface

It was five o’clock in the evening and already the hazy October sun hung low in the sky behind her. It’s death rattle sent beams of purple light through the corridors of streets between the gray grid of skyscrapers and washed the rough surface of Lake Michigan in a thick haze of melancholy.

She was naked, standing two hundred and fifty feet off the pavement behind a sheet of glass that stretched from her bare toes to well over her head. It was warm and cozy in here and she felt more at home than she had in years. Of course, she wasn’t at home. She wasn’t anywhere near home. The home she was in belonged to her… her what? They had never put a name on it. Boyfriend sounded childish. She was not a child, and neither was he. She turned the idea over in her head for a while then let it drift away.

He was still in the bed floating halfway between sleep and consciousness and mumbling incoherently to himself. She stared at him smiling, feeling something she never expected. She walked over and sat on the bed gazing at him wondering how long this feeling could last.

She lifted a soft pack of cigarettes off the night stand and tapped one out of the torn foil on top. It was slightly crooked and she straightened it out a bit before resting it gently between her lips. She spun the wheel on a small pink Bic lighter and brought the tiny flame to he face. She took two short puffs, then one nice long drag.

She liked to smoke, and she didn’t feel bad about it in the least. The rest of the world had turned against her on this, but she was unapologetic. She like the sinewy taste, the tight gripping feeling in her chest, and yes, even the dirty oily smell of it. She loved that first long drag pulled between the teeth and held just a little extra in the lungs. She loved letting it go and watching that purple smoke cut through the air and fill the room in a dense haze. She loved smoking, and more than that, she loved smoking after sex.

She loved him too. That was the reason for her unrest now. He was hovering lazily in a place of comfortable twilight, but she was wide awake and her mind was running a mile a minute. She had just realized that she loved this man, and she was on the endorphin high of that epiphany.

She hadn’t told him yet of course. She hadn’t even said it out loud to herself, but she was sure he felt it too. The way they had been just now, the way they fit together, it had never been like that before. Not ever. Not with anyone, except maybe, well it didn’t matter now. Finally nothing mattered except him and her.

She put out the cigarette and climbed on top of him, straddling his waist and running her fingers through his hair. She leaned down and bit his earlobe playfully, then kissed his mouth.

“Mm, you smell like smoke,” he said.

“I know,” she said softly.

“Are you heading out?” he asked.

“No,” she said.

He opened his eyes and stretched. he looked at his wristwatch still strapped on his arm and sighed.

“Okay,” he said.

She smiled warmly at him.

“We should get married,” she said.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

It was the sounds that woke her. Knocking first, then pounding and shouting. They pulled her out of a dreamless sleep like a bolt of lightning waking Frankenstein’s Monster. She sat bolt upright and air crashed into her lungs like waves on a rocky shore. She was lost, confused, and panicky for understanding. She was alone, her head throbbing and her body ached like she had gone ten rounds with a Mack truck.

Where was she? The room was small, but surprisingly opulent. Expensive looking furniture in deep leathers and woods. It was warm with delicious savory aromas in the air. The lighting was low, almost romantic and there was the soft crackle of a fire somewhere in another room. All this, yet she was on the floor.

She focused on her breathing, slowing it down, calming her heart rate and gaining some control of her senses. She touched her face and found it tender and sore. Her hands, too, were bruised on the knuckles and-

Her breath stopped.

Her hands were smeared with blood.

Blood, fresh and red on her fingers and palms. On her wrists too, and up onto-

Her arms. They had blood on them, and they were bare. She looked down. Her chest her whole body. She had no clothes on. She was naked and she was covered in blood.

She stood like a jackknife to unsteady legs and found herself standing in a smear of sticky crimson fluid. In front of it, pressed perfectly into the white carpet were a path of tiny red footprints.

Again there was the pounding, muffled and distant, and the voices shouting words she couldn’t understand. She scanned the space trying to find something to grasp hold of, some small detail to remind her where she was and why. She looked for her clothes, but didn’t see them anywhere. The only thing she could see was the red footprints leading directly to where she had just woken up.

She looked to the left and gazed out a huge floor to ceiling window with a perfect view of the city skyline reflected off the choppy waters of Lake Michigan. The voices continued, the pounding too, but they seemed foggy and dreamlike and her attention was drawn back to the footprints. The bloody footprints in the pristine white carpet leading right to her, covered in blood herself. She couldn’t help it, she had to follow them.

As she walked her sore bare feet left a perfectly matching set of stamps in the ground, each growing lighter and pinker step by step. She walked through a doorway into what was clearly the bedroom and choked on her own breath. She fell to her knees and caught the corner of the bed with her arms. She gripped it desperately trying to make her body breathe again as she stared at the wide ugly splatter of thick dripping blood on the virgin wall of the bedroom.

She hung there, gripping the sheets of the bed, feeling herself beginning to lose her grip on reality. She stared at the wall feeling the water fill her eyes and her muscles letting go of the bed. She felt herself break and the tears came crashing out of her eyes like from breaking levees. She fell to her hand and sobbed, panting and choking and trying not to let herself pass out. She felt her stomach turning over and fought the urge to vomit.

She closed her eyes and gulped down the warm pleasantly scented air and tried to bring herself back to center. Each breath seemed like and eternity and when she felt as though she may have lived her whole life over again, there on her hands and knees in a place she didn’t know, she gritted her teeth and opened her eyes again. In front of her, just inches away, lay a small black gun.

She’d seen guns before. On TV and in movies, but never in person, and never this close. She didn’t know why, and in retrospect it would seem obviously foolish, but she reached out and picked it up. It was heavier than she expected, and cold. It felt hard and solid in her hand. She wrapped her fingers tight around the grip and trigger and looked at it in her hand.

The next crash was different. It was louder and closer and broke through the dense fog of her trauma. It was the sound of an explosion. Not a bomb, but an object. A table crashing or… a door. The voices were louder too, inside the apartment now, just a room away. They were curt and authoritative, and they were moving. They were calling out, moving room to room, shouting for someone. They were calling a name, a name she remembered.

“Mr. Grayson?” they shouted.

She found her breath. Her heart slowed down. The fog in her mind cleared and the night came back to her. She knew where she was, and she knew she was in trouble. She stood up, still gripping the pistol uncousiously.

“Hello? Mr. Grayson? Are you here?”

Her mind went into a frenzied panic mode. Mr. Grayson. She had come to see Grayson. She had come to see-

“Ma’am!”

She spun.

In the doorway stood a uniformed police officer with his gun drawn and pointed at her chest.

“Put the gun down ma’am.”

She stared at him without understanding.

“Lady, drop the gun,” a new voice said and a second officer came through the door.

“What?” she said.

“Drop the fucking gun lady!”

A third officer appeared behind the first two and she lifted her eyes to meet his. As she did the first cop charged her and tackled her hard onto the bed. The gun dropped to the floor with a mechanical thud and there were sounds of the other officers entering the room.

“What’s your name lady?” came from the cop on top of her as he turned her over on her chest and pulled her hands behind her. “Whos blood is that? Where is Grason?”

She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. Most of all, she couldn’t speak. She laid there, under the officer as he wratcheted steel bracelets around her wrists and tried to understand what was going on.

“I found him,” one voice said.

“And?”

“He’s dead,” came back in a flat, matter of fact tone. “GSW to the head.”

“Lady, what’s your fucking name?”

She started to cry again. She was wailing silently, dry heaving into the mattress. She felt her head get light and the room start to spin.

“Goddammit lady, what’s yo-”

“I found a purse!”

“Lady, is this yours? Lady? Hey, we’re going to search your purse now, okay?”

She heard the sound of the contents of her purse being dumped on the bed next to her.

“Gotta wallet.”

“Any I.D.?”

“Hold on, yeah. Here it is. I.D. says her name is Rose. Weather Rose.”

“Ms. Rose,” came from the man on top of her. You are under arrest for the murder of U.S. Attorney Brandon Grayson. You have the right to remain-”

Everything went black.

Stretching – Sometimes you need a little warm up before you really start lifting

    I sat drinking the fiery brown water in front of me, staring into the cold grey eyes of the man as he spoke.
    “You understand?” he asked.
    I swallowed.
    “You understand?” he repeated in emphasis.
    I nodded.
    “I need to hear you say it.” he said.
    I glared at him, hard eyed and stone faced.  He was asking me to do something which tore at the very fabric of my being and set my conscious ablaze.
    “You need to say it out loud.”
    “I understand,” I growled.
    “Don’t go getting any grandiose ideas in that big brain of yours. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you’re smarter than us. You’re thinking that you can figure a way out of this. I’m telling you now, you may be smarter, but we have a lot less moral compunction about the value of life. You could probably think your way out of this in the short term, but the suffering that would come out of it; you wouldn’t want to live with that.”
    I nodded.
    “Now I need to know, do you understand what you are supposed to do?”
    “Yes,” I said.
    “And do you understand what is going to happen if you don’t do it?”
    “Yes,” I said.
    “And do you understand that failing at this assignment is the same as choosing not to do it. We don’t accept excuses. It’s either done, or it’s not done, there’s no points for effort.”
    “I understand,” I said.
    He studied me for some time.
    “Good,” he said.
    I just stared at him with dispassionate rage.
    He looked at his watch.
    “You’d better get going. You’ve got twenty-three hours forty-one minutes before you need to have your ass back in that seat, and when it is your son had better be dead.”
    I took a breath through my mouth.
    “Mr. Rittikar-“
    “Jason, don’t talk anymore. I’m telling you for your own good. Stand up, walk out the door, go kill your fucking son. Saying more words is only going to make things worse, ya know, down the road.”
    I gazed at him, then nodded.
    “Good, now get outa here. I don’t wanna see your face again for-” he looked at his watch again, “-twenty-three hours thirty-eight minutes.”
    I slid my chair out and stood up. Suddenly the busy vibrancy of the restaurant faded into my attention and I felt fear for the first time.
    “It’s been nice talking to you Jason, come back again soon.”

#BishopChurch No.8

    I know the river seems like the place to dump a body.  It’s what you see in the pictures and it’s got a certain romance to it, I suppose, if that’s how you’re heart works.  The truth is, it’s awful.  Bodies float, and trying to weight them down in deep water is a hopeless task.  However you try, the weight will separate quickly and then your corpse is like a damn airline seat cushion.  Also, rivers have current which makes floaty things move around.  Invariably the body will wash up on shore, dry out in the sun and perfectly preserve all that beautiful evidence.  You’ll be in cuffs in less than a week.
    No, what you want is a lonely place with shallow standing water.  Something knee deep in a place where people don’t come to picnic.  I had a place I’d used before, not recently mind you.  That’s the other thing, you can’t be dropping bodies in the same place week after week.  Really, you shouldn’t be dropping bodies anywhere week after week.  If you have a scheduled body disposal day it’s probably time to spend a few hours reevaluating your life.  That said, I try not to be too judgy, I mean, I had two rotters in my trunk at one time, so I wasn’t generally on the solidest moral ground to begin with.
    Anyway, I had a spot near J. Percey Priest Dam.  It’s about a mile from the Tennessee Women’s Prison, which, unsurprisingly is how I found the location in the first place.  I got a lot of exes living in that joint, so I’m out this way from time to time.  I have, what you might call, questionable taste in women.  I guess I’d call it that too, but I swear it’s not intentional.  They all seem so normal at the start.  I’m just putting that out there now because, well, let’s face it; you don’t need a black belt in cliche to see where this shit is going.
    So yeah, large rocky banks, shallow still water, and generally unattended.  The bodies would be found eventually, but in my experience it would take a few weeks, or possibly even months.  That’s what you want.  You want the body all the way under water, face down, in the mud.  Eyes and mouth open if you can.  You want entry points is what you want.  In these situations bugs and small fish are your best friends.
    When I got there there was a car leaving, but whoever it was didn’t seem to take any notice of me.  I parked and sat in my car for a while, probably twenty minutes, just to make sure the place stayed empty.  It was a beautiful night, not a cloud in the sky and far enough from downtown to let you see the stars.  I got out and stood a few yards from the engine and listened.  The place was empty.  Only the sound of the water moving through the dam could be heard.
    I got back in and rolled the car as close as I could to the water and popped the trunk.  I pulled out the bodies, then dragged them one at a time down to the water.  You want exposure so they needed to be unwrapped.  I unrolled the two goons and carried the crumpled shower curtains back to the car and stuffed them in the trunk.
    I spaced the bodies about fifty feet apart in the water and piled some of the large stones from the banks on top of them for weight and cover.  Once the physical labor was done I sat on the rocks next to the water for a bit to catch my breath.  I looked down and saw blood on my white button down shirt.
    “Fuck,” I whispered.
    I pulled the shirt and tie off and walked back to my car.  I popped the trunk again and stuffed them in with the curtains then shut it up and drove away.  I stopped at a bar on the way into town and threw the shower curtains and the shirt and tie into their dumpster out back then wound my way back to my place.
    Still no heat scoping out the place, which I actually found odd.  Surely the fed would be seen as missing by now, and while I doubted that his associates would have any reason to suspect him dead, I also figured that they knew where he’d been and if he wasn’t checking in they’d be checking up.  Still, I had nothing to complain about if they weren’t, so I stuck my car in the alley, threw on the boot, and headed up to catch whatever sleep I could before I had to be out in the working man’s world.

 

#BishopChurch No.7

    The door closed and I very nearly squealed.  It had been forever since I’d had this much cash all at once.  I’m not kidding, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I’d had more than a hundred dollars in hand, all at once.  Now, counting the cash Devon had given me for the whiskey and the shower curtains I had almost three hundred clams and they were already on fire, burning a hole in my pocket.
    I also had a case, so that meant I should probably get some sleep.  With real work to do I would want to try and be out of bed before noon tomorrow and it was starting to get late now.  Plus, I still had these bodies to take care of.
    I stuck a hundred dollar bill in an envelope and scribbled my name and apartment number on it and stuck it to the wall next to the door.  A hundred dollars should almost catch me up on my back rent and at the very least postpone my eviction for a couple weeks.  The rest of the cash I folded and stuck in my pants.
    Then I turned my attention to the chore I’d been putting off all day.  I opened the shower curtains and laid the first one out on the floor.  I rolled the first guy off the rug and positioned him square in the center of the plastic sheet.  The curtain was too short to fit the guy without his feet hanging out, so I had to get a little creative.  I spun the guy on the diagonal, which was easier than you would expect now that he was on a brand new sheet of slippery plastic.  Once positioned, I folded the short corners over his face and feet and one of the long corners over his body.  Then I just rolled him up like a giant dead goon burrito.
    The second guy was even easier now that I had my technique down.  I lined them up next to each other and inspected my work.  It was good, not great, but it was dark out and people didn’t tend to hang out in the alleys at night in this part of town.  I had forgotten the twine to keep them wrapped up but I had some duct tape wrapped around the drain pipe of my kitchen sink to fix a small, quarter sized hole that had rusted through a few months back, so I pulled about a six foot length off of that and split it in two.  I taped the outside corners of the curtains and picked up one of the bodies to make sure it held.
    I dragged the wrapped corpses, one at a time, out into the hall then down to the back door and out onto the back stairs.  I wasn’t about to carry them down two flights of stairs, so I just heaved them up over the rail and dropped them onto the pavement.  The good thing about them having been dead most of the day already was that they didn’t really bleed when their heads cracked on the asphalt.
    I popped the trunk on my cruiser and dumped the bodies in then slammed it shut.  I went back up to my apartment, took a swig of bourbon from the plastic bottle and grabbed the envelope from the wall.  I locked up and made my way back down to my car, removed the boot, turned the engine over and drove off to find a good place to dump the bodies.

#BishopChurch No.6

     “So which one was it?” he said.
     I cocked my head and squinted at him.
     “Following her.  Which of these guys was following Penny around?”
     “Oh,” I said and took a swig of bourbon. “That one.”
     I nodded at the body closest to us.
     “The other one’s a Fed,” I said.
     “What?” Devon shouted. “A, a, a Fed?! You killed a fucking Federal Agent?”
     Again he tried to jump up, but, the foot, so, he was back in his seat just as quickly.
     “Hush,” I whisper shouted.  “Keep your voice down.  No.  Of course I didn’t kill him.”
     Devon took a deep breath and seemed to calm down a bit.
     “Oh, okay, well then, who did?”
     “Well,” I said, “Yeah, okay, I killed him, but in my defense, I didn’t know he was a fed at the time.”
     This didn’t seem to asway his feeling on the matter.
     “Jesus, well, why did you kill them?”
     “Well, come on, I mean, they did try to kill me first,” I said gesturing to the bodies.  “I was just standing here minding my own business, trying to make so goddamn scrambled eggs for breakfast.  I mean, I made coffee and everything.  Real coffee too, not just Kahlua heated up.”
     “So why were they trying to kill you?” he asked, clearly trying to find the end of this loop.
     “I don’t know,” I said.
     “Well, what did Penny say?”
     “Nothing!”
     Silence for a moment, then astonishment.
     “Nothing?”
     “Nope.”
     “Jesus Christ!”
     “I know,” I said.
     “Well, you were out all day, what did you find out?” he asked genuinely.
     “Discount store has shower curtains for nine dollars.”
     He kind of dropped his jaw at that.
     “What the hell Church?! You’re an investigator.”
     “No sir, I told you very clearly, I’m a helper.”
     “But you’re helping Penny!” he said assertively.
     “No.”
     “You said she came here to hire you!”
     “Right,” I agreed.
     “So you’re working for her.”
     “No, I’m not.  She didn’t hire me?”
     He looked baffled.
     “Why not?” he asked.
     “Because I already killed the guy.” I said growing exasperated with the conversation.
     He groaned.
     “Well, then that probably wasn’t the best business decision, was it?”
     He was being condescending now and I wasn’t in the mood seeing as how I still had two dead bodies to get rid of that night and he was still drinking up all my whiskey.
     “Obviously I didn’t know who he was when I killed him,” I said.
     “Oh, so good judgement all over the place in here then.”
     I refilled my glass and sat silently; drinking and smoking.
     “So, you don’t even care who he is then?” Devon asked finally.
     I sighed and looked at the body.
     “No, not for free I don’t.”
     He rolled this around for a bit, then he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a long billfold and opened it.
     “How much was the whiskey?” he asked.
     “The whiskey?” I repeated.
     “That I drank.  How much was it?”
     I rolled my eyes up pretending to do math in my head and came back.
     “The bottle was fifteen dollars,” I said, exaggerating a little.
     He coughed and smacked his lips looking disgusted.  He reached in and pulled out some bills.  He paid me for the whiskey, and the curtains too.
     “I don’t suppose you wanna help me get ‘em wrapped up and outa here?” I said.
     He rolled his eyes and stood up slowly and carefully, then straightened his tie.
     “How much to figure it out?” he asked.
     It took me a minute to understand.
     “The guy?” I asked.
     He nodded.
     I shrugged.
     “Fifty dollars a day,” I said halfway between a question and a statement.
     He seemed to be mulling it over, looking around my place then scoping me out.
     “Uh, plus expenses, obviously,” I added.
     “Are you considering bourbon an expense?” he said sarcastically.
     “Do I look like I work sober?” I said very seriously.
     There was a long pause while he stared at me, then he opened back up his wallet and pulled out more cash.
     “Two hundred fifty dollars, that’s a week’s advance.  Have something by then or you’re fired.”
     “You really care that much?” I asked.
     “She’s my girl.” He said, and walked out the door.