Today's story is posted with permission from author, Jason Foux.
Violence and language warnings (sailors take lessons from Mills)
It was raining balls when he called; raining like the opening scene in a gumshoe movie. Fitting analogy, I suppose, considering what I do for a living. The water crashed against my windows in waves, the sound creating its own thunder in my skull. That’s what I get for spending the night romancing a bottle of scotch. It’s how I get to sleep each night and it’s hell to pay when morning comes around, but it sure as shit beats the alternative.
My apartment is a three-story red block near downtown Lake Charles and this particular morning all three floors were dancing a jig. I crossed the room on hands and knees, the only safe mode of locomotion when the world is twisting around, and knocked the phone off the desk with a clumsy hand. The sound of the base hitting the floor was like a gunshot in my splitting skull, but at least it was no longer ringing. Honestly, I was surprised the thing still worked. Not because of the beating it had received over the years, it was old-school, heavy, and rugged. Like me. No. I was surprised because I’d neglected to pay the bill. And by neglected, I mean I spent my last check on past-due rent and booze.
“Are you awake?” The voice boomed and I jerked the receiver away from my head. With pain that intense, you expect there to be blood or something. At least a visible mark. It was Detective Crane. Of course it was. Who the hell else would it be? The chief didn’t talk to me, the old bag hated me, and my landlord just banged on the door until I crawled across the room and opened it. And since I’d been spending all my money on scotch, I could no longer afford the twenty bucks per month it cost to put an ad in the classifieds. Besides, clients weren’t worth my time.
“Fuck-nuggets!” I moaned. “Jesus, Crane, use your inside voice. Yes, I’m awake. Now. Thanks for that.”
“I have a case I’d like to show you,” he said, marginally softer than before, which meant his voice only sounded like a jackhammer when he spoke. I rolled onto my back, ignoring the cold, wet stain on my shirt and lay still on the questionable carpet, trying to clear my head while holding the phone a safe distance from my ear.
“When can you bring it over?” I whispered.
Tomorrow would be ideal. Next year would be even better.
“I’m parked across the street,” he replied. “Get dressed.”
“Shit. Bring it up. I’ll take a look when you get here.”
The walk to the door was a long one, and by walk, I mean crawl. It was one bitch of a morning, and bright as hell despite the rain. Or was that just my hangover? My palms were sticky from whatever was on my carpet and by the time I’d climbed onto the couch, fallen off, and succeeded on my second attempt, Crane was pushing through the door.
“You have vomit on your shirt,” he said.
I glanced down. He was right.
“I still smell better than you,” I replied.
I sniffed. I was wrong.
He was wearing a gray shirt and blue tie under a city coat that had caught most of the rain and was now depositing it on my floor. Perhaps if he dripped a few more gallons my carpet would be clean. No. Scratch that. I’m not that optimistic.
He’d lost more hair than I had, but I was catching up. In his left hand he held a manila envelop. It must have been in his coat because it wasn’t wet. In his right hand was a tall, dark bottle. He followed my eyes, then shook his head.
“Christ, Jericho, you need to clean yourself up.” He moved across the room to my desk, a massive, wooden affair that held empty glasses and full bottles and unloaded his meager burden.
“It’s your own fault for coming this early.“
He examined one of the full, open bottles, then shook his head in disgust. I didn’t blame him.
“It’s two-thirty,” he replied. “Jesus, have you looked at yourself lately?”
“I try not to,” I replied. It was the truth. I didn’t like seeing my reflection, not these days. Not since…
“She called again. Last week. I…” but I didn’t let him finish.
“Your case,” I interrupted. Last thing I wanted to talk about was Grace and her concerns. “Someone’s dead? I assume because you’re a homicide dick and you’re here asking for a favor.” I stressed the word dick but he didn’t react.
“A girl disappeared from her home last week. No sign of forced entry, but her abductor left a piece of origami on her bed. Three days later a couple joggers found her in a shallow grave. Their dog sniffed her out. We learned a lot about his methods, but nothing about the killer himself. This morning another girl was reported missing. The same origami was found in her apartment.”
Great. A serial murderer. And the second victim might still be alive.
“Is there any connection between the two girls?” I knew he had already run that road, but I had to ask. The cop in me wanted to cover all the bases even though the cop in me had died long ago.
“So far, only their appearance. Attractive girls, blond hair, blue eyes, athletic. First vic played recreational softball. Second girl is a cheerleader.”
He shook his head.
Arena what? Like Thunderdome football?
“She worked as a receptionist for a local contractor. They have different friends, hangouts, jobs, backgrounds. If there’s a connection I haven’t found it yet, and not for lack of trying.”
That’s why he was here. No leads and the possibility that the girl was still breathing.
“Two aryan lookers got grabbed by the same serial killer. Any sign of sexual abuse?”
He shrugged. “What do you think?”
“I think I’m going to vomit again,” I replied.
“Didn’t know you were so moved.”
I rolled my eyes, something I instantly regretted. “My only concern is getting drunk again before my hangover takes a turn for the worse.” I looked around for a bottle that didn’t contain piss but couldn’t immediately spot one. “I suppose you want me to…” I trailed off.
Crane found the bottle of aspirin in one of my top drawers and tossed it onto the couch beside me. “I want you to work your magic.”
“Can I get drunk first?” I picked up the aspirin and fought with the childproof cap.
“Does that help you?”
I glanced up at him. “The aspirin?”
“Being drunk,” he clarified. “Does being drunk help with your gift?”
I shrugged. “Never tried it sober.” And that was the truth. I discovered it drunk and used it drunk. I guess to try it sober I’d have to first get sober and that idea didn’t sit well with me.
I popped a few aspirin and hoped they’d work sooner rather than later.
Crane sniffed an empty glass, decided it was cleanish, and opened the bottle of scotch. He offered me the glass but I shook my head.
“I have to piss first.”
He glanced down at the crotch of my pants and arched an eyebrow. “I think you’re a little late.”
“I meant to say ‘again’.”
Another shake of his head.
After struggling to my feet, I crossed the room on shaky legs, bracing myself on Crane, the desk, the wall, a hatrack that somehow got way over near the kitchen, and stumbled into the bathroom.
“Are you going to at least close the door?” Adrian Crane asked.
“That would require turning around,” I shouted over my shoulder while unzipping my pants and aimed for the shower. “And I’m too dizzy to do that just now.” The toilet was far too small a target for someone in my condition and I know my limits. I’m not the type of slob to just piss on the floor. I’m a different class of slob.
Have you ever had to piss so bad that when you finally let got the relief was almost orgasmic? Yeah, this was one of those times. I almost had a religious experience.
Finally, Crane shouted through the door. “How soon can you give me something?”
I leaned against the wall, sighing in relief. “I can give you a gallon of cheap beer right now. The shower doesn’t seem to be draining.”
There was no response, so I zipped up and returned to the living room. I felt a little more sober than when I’d excused myself, and moved to the desk. The bottle was there and I’m not one to keep a drink waiting. I immediately noticed two things. First, I couldn’t pronounce the name on the bottle in my current state. Second, according to the label the scotch had been aged twenty-five years. The good detective might have paid more for that bottle than I owed on my phone bill. Never mind. That was impossible. Even this bottle couldn’t cost that much.
I made a mental note to pay my bills.
“You shouldn’t have,” I said, raising the glass he’d filled.
“Only the best for someone who was once a friend,” Crane replied.
Once. Now that stung. But really he shouldn’t have. This was good scotch and I wasn’t going to enjoy a single drop. I threw back the first glass, firing two drams down the hole like a single shot and was already reloading when the burn hit. Well, I attempted to refill the glass but my aim was a little off and Crane took the bottle from me and did the work. Honestly, I seriously doubt I could have accidentally spilled a single drop inside the glass. Down it went. Part of me wished I could have been a little sober when I downed that first gulp. It probably tasted pretty damn good. But piss on being sober. Sobering up would mean that I’d have to remember, and that was an idea I wasn’t keen about.
“Next time bring the cheap shit for work,” I said after clearing my throat. “Save the good stuff for when we can sip.”
I shook my head and immediately noticed I couldn’t feel my cheeks.
“Get out,” I said to Crane. He knew the drill. I couldn't do my thing with someone watching. Curious bastard. I raised my hands to my face to feel my cheeks, just to be sure they were still there. I didn't think they had been cut off while I was passed out, but one can never be too sure. Weird shit happens to drunk people.
I couldn't feel my hands either, but they were still attached. I took another swallow, this one straight from the bottle, and leaned back in my chair. The day was starting out bitch-tastic and I couldn't wait to see what kind of leads I could produce for the good detective. I fumbled around for one of the pens and tried it out.
Like so much in my life, it didn't work.
I tossed it aside and found one that did and pressed the tip to the center of a legal pad, or at least as close to center as a drunk bastard can get. Then I closed my eyes. Being piss-brained helped me to shut out the world. After just a few short seconds, or maybe thirty minutes, my rat hole apartment sounded like the ocean when my head is under the water. I half expected to be unable to breathe, but my state of mind wouldn't allow me to spend much thought on the subject.
I couldn't feel my hand moving, possibly because it was numb, but I knew that it was. Information was coming to me, jumbled like my broken sentences when I'm properly sloshed, and it flowed through my hand like piss through my jeans.
Something I couldn’t see was written down on a different part of the page, then something was sketched rapidly. The information was sputtering now, like those last yellow trickles of piss that end up down the front of my pants and then there was nothing. Darkness. The kind of black that threatens to eat me when night comes and I’m still sober and…
The apartment was spinning around me, my wide desk tilting and leaning despite my feeble efforts to steady it. Numbers swam across the page swirling in my distorted vision and there was something else but I couldn’t make it out.
I tried to dial Crane’s number but failed. He’d apparently replaced the phone, but having it in reach on my disk didn’t really help. Don’t they make phones for drunk people? One where the numbers are damned big and in a straightish line across my desk. It took me four tries to dial his number and by the time he answered I was properly pissed.
“Do you have something?” he asked me.
“A shit-awesome headache,” I answered, trying to keep from falling from my chair. Like so many other things in life, I failed at that, also.
“What the hell was that?” Detective Crane screamed over the phone in response to the receiver bouncing across the floor. The phone fell a couple feet from my head, but with a little crawling and groaning I was able to recover it.
“My chair was built crooked,” I said. “I have something for you.”
There was silence.
“Well, spit it out.”
Damn. Now I had to get up.
It was a long way back up to my desk, but I triumphed over gravity and reached my legal pad despite the will of the gods. I had drawn lots of vertical lines that looked to support a few horizontal lines. I knew what it was, but the damned scotch had stolen my words away from me.
“It’s a bridge,” I said with some uncertainty. “I think. Or an overpass. Maybe a dock.”
“Is that it?” I could hear the disappointment in his voice, but whether it was for my lack of useful information or what finding the girl under an overpass meant, I couldn’t tell.
“Don’t give birth just yet,” I screamed into the phone, immediately regretting my raised voice as it shot pain through my skull. Shot? Don’t mind if I do. I took another straight from the bottle and concentrated on the legal pad.
“There’s a number. It’s long and I don’t know what it means. It’s one… two… three… shit. It’s a bunch of digits long. I can’t count that high right now. 3-0-1-1-7-6-0-9-3-1-6-3-6-3.” I read off the number as best I could, then read it again more slowly in case I missed something or inserted letters or animals or some other nonsense.
“What about a horse?” Crane asked.
Horse? I stared down at the legal pad. There was the bridge, the numbers, some spilled scotch. Maybe the horse was hiding beneath the scotch.
I slurped it up. Nope.
“There’s no horse.”
“You said ‘6-3-6-3 horse’.”
Oh. “I said I needed to piss like a horse. That’s it. The bridge and the numbers.”
“Thanks, Jericho. I’ll bring you a check tomorrow.”
Leaning back in my chair I stopped everything; stopped the whole world, and took another drink.
Remember when I said that I wasn't the kind of slob that pissed on the floor? Remember when I said I was a different class of slob? That statement might not have been entirely accurate.
I made a mental note to clean my chair and the floor beneath it and then I went to the bathroom to sleep in the shower.
* * *
I spent most of the afternoon, or perhaps the following afternoon, cleaning myself up and sweating out a hangover. I'd messed up my apartment more than usual and it took some industrial strength cleaner to get the vomit and piss out of the carpet. By the time I finished the chore, those stains looked like all the other. Perhaps if I threw up a few more times my entire floor would be one, uniform color. I decided this was not as good an idea as it sounded, but I never write off anything altogether. I opened some windows to let the smog in and the fumes out, and as they traded places I wasn't sure which was which or which was worse.
My hangover withered down to a dull headache with a dry mouth for a companion. I decided to wet my lips with a splash of scotch only to find that someone had already finished the bottle. Damn. I always drink too much when I’m drunk and now that I was going to be sober I really wished I had more to drink. I sniffed the sweet aroma of scotch from the mouth of the bottle and took pride for draining it dry in a single night. I like to think I finish what I start.
I had a case to work and like it or not, I needed to be sober for it. Or at least sober-ish.
I took another look at the fourteen digit number and tried to make some sense of it. Carefully, not like the nearly illegible chicken scratch I'd written earlier, I copied the number onto the next sheet in my legal pad. I'd drawn shit-tons of pictures during my sessions and even written a few short words or numbers. Most were significant, but never had I written something so long or with as much determination. I'd pushed so hard that the numbers were easily visible several pages into the pad. These numbers had importance and I needed to find their significance.
I tried grouping the numbers into pairs and looked them over again. 30-11-76-09-31-63-63. If it weren't for the matching pair at the end, I would have purchased a lottery ticket with those numbers. But my luck isn't that good. Perhaps they were phone numbers. I dialed the first seven numbers and waited for an answer. 301-1760 asked for me to dial an area code before the number. I tried 931-6363 and got the same result. I decided they weren't phone numbers since they weren't local and the killer was. But what else could they mean?
Quickly, I dialed Crane's number but got his wormy new partner, Murphy, instead.
“Put Crane on the phone,” I ordered.
“Who is this?” Murphy asked.
I ground my teeth in disgust. I would have kicked his ass up around his shoulders had I been in the same room with him. There was a muffled voice and then Detective Crane's voice came on.
“Jericho?” He asked.
“How'd you know it was me?” I asked him.
He chuckled. “You called my direct line and started shouting. Who else would it be?”
“Oh,” I replied. “Makes sense. Tell me, where did you find the girl?”
“Which one?” Crane asked. “The first, second, or the third?”
“There's a third?”
“Yeah,” he answered. “Just reported. Don't know if she's our next victim, but I'm looking into it. We found the second yesterday. I tried to call you, but there was no answer. I guess you finished the bottle.”
Damn. I had slept an entire day.
“Where did you find her?”
“Right where you told us to look,” Crane replied. He sounded a little too pleased with himself. “She was under the I-210 bridge on the Lake Charles side.”
“Listen,” I said. “I have an idea about those numbers.”
“Coordinates,” he interrupted me. “30°11.760 North by 93°16.363 West. We thought they might be coordinates, so we looked them up. Turns out they were at the foot of the bridge. I drove out there with a GPS unit. Five minutes later I was calling forensics. Your numbers put us ten feet from her body.”
I tried not to sound surprised, but in all my years of doing this I'd never come up with anything so precise. Not even close. I could tell you it was a bridge or an overpass, but I couldn't tell you which one. I could get you a partial name, but telling you if it was the name of a perp, a victim, a witness or a road was something I was rarely able to do. Suddenly my vague clues were no longer vague. This had never happened before and the change both frightened and excited me.
“I've already talked to Chuck,” Crane began. “You're coming in on this one.”
“No,” I objected, but I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on. This was Crane's case, they all were, and if I wanted any money, I had to work with him.
“You put us there, Jericho,” he said. “You put me right on top of that grave with your first session. You're coming in on this case. You're solving this one.” I knew what he was doing, what he was trying to do. He wanted me back in the game, clear-headed and working again so I’d be caught up in the chase and forget to drink. I could have hugged him for that. And I could have punched him in the balls for that.
I sighed and hung up the phone. I had to shower and get some clean clothes on before catching the bus down to the station.
Crane had my money waiting for me at the station. After finding the body, he felt it best to pay me in cash instead of mailing a check. I flipped open the envelope and counted it. There was enough to catch up on my bills and get me through the next month or so, as long as I didn't get drunk more than a few times a week, which I might be able to manage. I didn't even get a chance to settle in at his desk, as we left upon my arrival. We took his personal car, a dark green sedan, and hurried away from the station.
“Where are we going?” I asked, popping an aspirin and taking a swallow from my gallon of sweet tea that I carried with me on days when I'm not drinking.
“Check on the third girl,” he replied. “We're going to find out if she fits the profile. If so, you'll be drunk again soon.”
“When?” I asked.
“As soon as I can buy another bottle of Scotch,” he barked. Crane was more agitated than I was and I had a hangover.
“No,” I said. “When was she taken?”
My question must have caught the good detective off guard because he turned completely to face me. Luckily we were waiting for a red light to change.
“I knew there was a speck of humanity left in there,” Crane said.
I shook my head. “Just trying to get my next payday,” I replied. “When was she taken?”
“She didn’t go home last night,” he replied. “Her parents just reported it a few hours ago.”
“How long does he keep them alive?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
“Twelve to twenty-four hours,” Crane replied.
I shook my head. “We have a snowball's chance.” I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed for her or for us. My emotions aren’t exactly intact when I’m drunk or hung over, which is sort of the point.
“I know,” he said. “Don't remind me.”
“Where’s your partner? Murphy?”
Crane turned off the main drag and cut through some side streets and residential roads, avoiding the college traffic. “He’s running down some leads in the system. Pulling jackets on registered sex offenders, mostly.”
“You think he’ll find anything?” I wasn’t too sure about Murphy, but Crane had spoken highly of him before.
“If anyone can,” he said, letting the ending hang unsaid.
I only nodded.
Ten minutes later we arrived at the house. It was an unimpressive brick home, identical to the other twenty on the street with a high entryway, manicured lawn, and bay windows to one side of the door, garage on the other side. Crane rang the doorbell and I was already tired of being a cop again. I wanted a drink. Something stronger than tea. Something that could frighten away the memories that lurked at the edge of awareness, waiting for the appropriate moment to emerge and make themselves known.
The door swung open and the teary-eyed mother glanced at each of us in turn before settling on Crane who stood nearer the door.
“Yes?” She asked, and I could see the uncertainty and fear. She guessed he was a cop, and was worried what he might say next. Worried he might already have news of her daughter.
“I’m Detective Crane,” he said, showing his badge. “This is my associate who is consulting on your daughter’s case, Mr. Mills. I have a few question for you, if we could come inside.”
“Oh,” she said, obviously relieved. “Please do.” She backed into the house and stepped aside. The cool air was a welcome relief from the Louisiana heat and I was wishing I hadn’t left my gallon of tea in the car.
“Would you like something to drink?” She offered.
“No,” Crane answered quickly, knowing full well that I would take advantage of the opportunity to get a free anything. He walked with the mother toward the living room and while they both sat I made my way over to the fire place to examine the photos lining the mantle. He began with the usual, asking about when she last saw her daughter, friends she might be staying with, the name of her daughter’s boyfriend and all that crap. I ignored the story and instead looked over the photos, picking up one of the framed pictures and stared at the girl’s piercing blue eyes. Her hair was brown in that photo, not blond. But she was a hell of a nice piece of ass. I would hit that in a heartbeat, assuming she still had one.
Brown. Maybe she was just lost, not taken. Hung over at a friend’s house or curled up next to some jock from college. Or perhaps our guy was branching out, trying out a new color.
“Did she dye her hair?” I asked, interrupting her answer to Crane’s latest question.
“Excuse me?” The mother asked.
“Did your daughter dye her hair?” I presented the photograph. “Her hair is brown in this picture. Is it blond now?”
She looked confused, but answered the question. “Yes,” she replied. “She dyed it a few weeks ago.”
I tossed the photo to Crane. He caught it and gave it a quick glance, then looked up at me. It was her and we both knew it. She was victim number three. I turned from them and made my way into the kitchen.
“I'll have that drink now, Mrs. Ellender,” I called out while pulling the refrigerator door open. I grabbed a wine cooler from the shelf and twisted off the cap. I chugged the contents in a few quick swallows, freezing my brain in the process.
“What is he doing?” She shouted. “What’s he doing in my kitchen?”
“I need something stronger,” I said and Crane knew exactly what I intended to do.
“We can't do this here,” he said, trying to keep Mrs. Ellender out of the room without blocking the door.
“Do what here?” She asked, but Crane ignored her. “Is he even a cop?”
“This is not the time or the place,” he said.
“Twelve to twenty-four hours, Crane. We’re out of time so this is the place. Now get me something stronger,” I ordered, stripping the cap from a second wine cooler.
Crane shook his head and turned to Mrs. Ellender. “Do you have any whiskey? Scotch? Rum? Anything?”
“My husband has some rum in the cabinet,” she replied and Crane quickly fetched the bottle. “What's going on? I want this man out of my house, right now!”
“We have reason to believe that your daughter has been abducted and my partner here is going to find out where she is but we have to hurry,” he said. “He can do this trick with his mind where he puts the pieces together but he needs silence and alcohol. I can’t explain it but you have to trust me. Your daughter’s life may be in danger and he can help.”
The first splashes washed down my throat, coarse and sweet and warm. It was cheap shit, probably from a gas station, the kind of rum bums and hobos drink when they can panhandle a few bucks. I didn’t like rum, but if I drank the stuff, this would probably be the brand for me. I took a seat at the table and continued to work on the bottle while Crane flipped his notebook open to a blank page and handed me a pen.
“We need to go back into the living room,” he said to her as he led her from the kitchen. “Do you have a computer? I need to use the internet.”
I waited. I had enough alcohol to get me properly hammered but it wasn't in my blood yet. I'd heard about a trick that frat boys use to get drunk in a hurry, but I wasn't that desperate. Not yet. More than likely this girl was cold, but there was a chance we could get to the grave before it was contaminated by people or animals. That could give us the clues we needed to find this bastard. Part of me, some small piece, said that there was still time. She wasn’t in the ground yet. She was in a closet or a spare room, bound and gagged and hurt but alive. Still alive.
Another part of me whispered “her hope lies in an old drunk,” and that was the part I reached out to.
The buzz was coming, that euphoria that heralds the approach of blissful drunkenness. A few more minutes and I could begin. I cleared my head and picked up the pen, letting it hover over the center of the page. Slowly, the world faded away and the muffled noises of the house were gone. I couldn't feel my hand move, nor could I see it, but I knew it was happening. I could feel the flow of information coursing through my mind. It was the same as every other time. Knowledge was coming from somewhere else, from that dark corner of my brain, and I was the receiver. My mind was the antenna that caught the stray signals and somehow filtered out all the useless crap.
My eyes cracked open and I looked down at the page as the table swayed in my vision. I struggled to make out the picture, but in my state it was difficult. I could, however, see the numbers clearly. 3-0-1-4-3-3-5-9-3-1-4-6-1-5. If they were coordinates, it would be 30°14.335 North by 93°14.615 West.
“Crane,” I called out, hoping he could hear me. A second later he came rushing into the room. He snatched up the notebook and looked at the picture I had drawn and the numbers written beneath it. Then he was gone. I tried to follow, but only made it as far as the living room before I realized I couldn't walk much farther. I collapsed onto the carpet and listened to him clicking away at the computer in the next room. His fingers fluttered over the keys, punching in the coordinates I had given him. A minute later he was on the phone with Murphy.
“I need a boat on Prien Lake right away. Get him near the I-10 boat launch and take anyone in that area into custody. As soon as he's on the water, call me back. And get him to that location fast.” With that, Adrian Crane hung up the phone and returned to the living room. “Let's go, Mills.”
“Can I drive?” I asked. I think I was joking.
“Where is my daughter?” Mrs. Ellender asked.
I almost told her she was dead, but Crane answered first. Damn delayed reaction time.
“We'll call you as soon as we know something, Mrs. Ellender,” he replied. “Now stay here and wait for us.”
Crane led me out and a moment later we were headed across town.
“Where is she?” I asked.
“Your coordinates were on the lake,” he replied. “A few hundred yards northwest of the boat launch by the I-10 bridge. It looks like it's right at the water's edge.”
I nodded my head. “That's what those lines were,” I said, recalling the tall, thin lines I had drawn. “It's the tall grass that's out there.”
“That's what I was thinking,” Crane replied.
And that's when I said something I did not expect. I didn't say it because I was thinking it or because I saw an image in my head. I didn't remember seeing an image when I was in my trance. I never saw images. But for some reason I said “she's in the boat.”
“What?” Crane asked. “What boat?”
“I don't know,” I replied and I really didn't know. The statement came as much of a surprise to me as it had to him. “I'm just drunk.”
But part of me wondered, would we find a boat when we reached that location?
We arrived at the boat launch about ten minutes later and a sizable police force was already on scene. Crane's partner, Murphy, was ready to greet us when we arrived. From my understanding, Murphy wasn't a detective yet. He was just a beat cop that wanted to learn the ropes. Crane had been through more than a few partners since I left the force and Murphy was just the latest in a line of people not good enough to replace me.
“Detective Crane,” Murphy called out when we were just climbing out of the car. “They found her.”
“Where was she?” Crane asked.
“Right where you said, sir,” he replied. “At the edge of the water is an old boat that got beached after the hurricane. It was never moved. She was in there.”
Crane turned toward me and halfway smiled. “She's in the boat,” he said to me, repeating my own words. I nodded. More and more about this case and my gift were surprising me and I didn't like it one bit. I needed another drink.
“Where is forensics?” Detective Crane asked.
“On their way,” Murphy replied.
I waited by the car while Crane went out to the wreck to look at the scene. I turned away from the crowd of cops and unzipped my pants. Partially concealed by Crane's car, I began pissing in the parking lot.
“Sir,” Murphy called out from behind me. “You're pissing in a public boat launch,” he said.
“That's blocked off by cops,” I added. “It's not like there's kids around.”
I heard him sigh. “How do you do it?” He asked.
“Easy,” I began. “I hold it in one hand, brace myself with the other, and strain. With any luck I remember to unzip my pants first.”
“I meant, how do you find out where the victims are?”
“Oh,” I said. “There's a magic eight ball in the glove box that's actually magic.” I finished up and managed to zip my pants without catching anything vital in there and then sat on the hood.
“I see your reputation is accurate,” Murphy stated plainly.
“What reputation is that?” I asked.
“That you're an asshole,” he replied.
I froze, remaining perfectly still for a second, then burped. “Nope,” I said. “I'm much bigger than they say.” With that, I laid back on the hood of the car and took a nap.
I awoke when Crane returned from his examination of the scene and felt more worn out than when I’d laid back. Apparently sleeping on the hood of a car doesn’t grant one much real rest.
“Anything?” I asked, but could tell by his expression that he hadn’t found much more than the body.
“Sir,” Murphy said, producing a slim folder and handing it to Crane.
Crane took it, flipped it open, and glanced at the contents.
“Alfred Miles,” he mumbled to himself, reading from whatever documents populated the manilla folder. “Rape, kidnapping, resisting arrest, what am I looking at here? You think this perv is our guy? We have a hundred of these degenerates in the city.”
“Last page,” Murphy prompted. “Look at the contents of his cell, what he left behind after being released.”
Weary from the long day, Crane flipped to the back. Several sheets fluttered from the folder, landing near his feet. His lips moved as he read, then his eyes widened.
“What?” I asked.
“A dozen swans,” Crane replied. “A dozen origami swans.”
“He was released two months ago,” Murphy offered. “Both the girls he abducted were blue-eyed blonds and the second told police that he threatened to, and I quote, ‘strangle her and bury her in the woods’.”
“You had this before you came here?” Crane snapped.
“Well,” Murphy began.
“Shit!” Crane barked. “Mills, get in the car. Murphy, follow me. And next time you have a lead like this, don’t wait for a lull in the conversation to speak up. Shit!”
Seconds later we were speeding from the boat launch toward east Lake Charles.
“Can you believe that kid?” Crane growled, guiding the sedan through the crooked downtown streets and blasting through red lights.
Murphy had undoubtedly cracked the case with his research, but I had a feeling Alfred Miles wouldn’t be at his place right now.
“Would you mind dropping me off?”
Crane turned to look at me. The apartment was two blocks up and one over, hardly a detour.
“You don’t believe he’s there, do you?”
I shook my head and regretted it. The rum agreed with me less than Murphy did.
Two intersections up Crane flicked on his left turn signal and made the single block detour to my apartment. I exited, taking the tea with me.
“Keep me posted,” I said and caught the look of concern on his face.
“Are you going up to nurse a bottle?”
I shook my head. “I don’t have one.”
It was a lie. I always have one more bottle.
* * *
The next two days passed without event. Alfred Miles was nowhere to be found, but no more blonds with big knockers had been abducted. For me it was a waiting game. With no victim to concentrate on, I couldn't call to mind the coordinates. Perhaps I could located Miles himself, but if he was in the wind, and his sudden disappearance certainly gave the impression that he was, then I’d probably just find all the places he’d been to before ducking out and running off to hide elsewhere. Besides, using my gift disturbed me. I don’t know why, but it does. So I waited. And by 'waited' I mean that I drank.
There are things in life that are best left forgotten. Some people cherish wonderful memories of their children from when they were not yet grown or their beautiful wife sleeping in the next room. Some think about their first car. Most people are blessed with nice memories. Others, like myself, have the other kind of memories; the kind that jerk you from your sleep in the middle of the night and rip screams from your quivering lips. We have the memories that leave marks on your wrist or make you fearful about owning a gun because you know you'll likely use it on yourself. Those are the memories I have, and they aren't much different from the memories of happy people. I just know that my wife isn't in the next room and my child will not grow up. And so I drink.
Alcohol dulls the mind, wipes it clean, and prevents those memories from surfacing.
I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t drink because I need the booze, even though I’m well aware of my addiction. I drink because I’m weak.
While drinking, perhaps out of a recently acquired habit or necessity, I picked up a pen and held it to paper. I'm not sure if I passed out or blacked out, or if there's really much of a difference for me, but I woke up some hours later with my head planted firmly on my desk and hurting something fierce.
I sat up and reached for the source of the pain, which turned out to be my ink pen, stuck to my forehead. After peeling it away, I massaged the indention it left in my face and looked around. It was dim outside, maybe morning, and every part of my body was cramped. I sat back in my chair and noticed the sheet of paper for the first time. Written across the page were fourteen more numbers. I don't recall trying to View, but I don't recall much of what goes on after I start drinking and that's mostly the point.
“Crane,” I called out before realizing that I hadn't yet dialed the phone. I quickly corrected that mistake and called his office. A moment later I had him.
“Have anymore broads gone missing?” I asked.
“No,” Crane answered. “Why?”
“Have you found Alfred yet?”
“No. Get to the point.”
I smiled. “I found something. Coordinates. Maybe his next date or maybe the man himself.”
“Mills, that's great,” Crane replied. “I have a pen.” I rubbed my forehead. So do I.
“30°17.411 North by 93°18.851 West. It came to me just now.” I waited, listening as Crane typed on the computer.
“Jericho,” he began. “It's another boat launch. I'll pick you up in five. Be outside.” With that, Detective Crane hung up.
I rode in the back seat while Murphy, Crane's bitch of a partner, sat shotgun. Damn kid doesn't know how to respect his superiors. I guess he felt that since he supplied the perp’s name he was worthy of the front seat. Bitch.
We left Lake Charles and exited in Westlake, just across the bridge where we found the last girl's body. From there, Crane took a few back roads until we reached a small boat launch on the Houston River north of Brimstone. There were a few trucks in the parking lot, all with boat trailers, and Crane hurriedly copied down the license plate numbers. Once finished, we followed the GPS that Crane brought along.
The area stunk of rotten fish, much like the dumpster behind my shit-hole apartment. Too many shit-tards dump their crawfish and shrimp and crabs in there after their parties because they don't want them stinking up their dumpsters for the next week. Now, out in the middle of nowhere, the whole place smelled like low tide and asshole.
Shielding my eyes from the sun, Murphy and I followed Crane as he walked under the small bridge and along a path that led into the swampy woods. We walked parallel to the muddy river, stepping over rotting fish heads and discarded tires. After a few minutes, we came to the place.
Crane's GPS led us directly to an empty, freshly dug grave. A mound of dirt had recently been piled to one side. The mud smelled awful. Dense palmettos and tall grass blocked the view of the grave from the river and the trail had died several yards back. If some hottie had been raped and killed, her body could have sat here for weeks before anyone wandered around and found the site accidentally, assuming they found it at all.
“What is Alfred’s shoe size?” Crane asked, examining the freshly turned earth.
“Ten, I believe,” Murphy supplied.
We now had our first real evidence in the case, but no Alfred Miles to match the prints to. And since there wasn’t a body in the grave, at best we could pin him for digging a hole in the woods. Crane hurried us back to the parking lot where we returned to the car and waited for the forensic team to arrive. He radioed for a stakeout, and wanted forensics to take a cast of the foot prints and then leave the area undisturbed. The killer had made that grave recently and planned to use it soon. The next victim might be currently in his sights. If he took another girl, her body would likely be dumped there in the early hours of the morning and that might be the only chance to catch him. Alfred Miles might not come out of hiding for anything else.
On the way back to Lake Charles, Crane checked with Missing Persons and still no one had been reported missing. If the killer was going to stick to the pattern he would need to pick up a looker in the next few hours. At best, we would catch him when he went to dump a naked body and I knew that wasn't good enough; not for Crane, and maybe not even for me.
I told Crane to drop me off at my apartment on his way back to the station. I told him I wasn't feeling very well. I have no problem lying to the only person who might consider himself something resembling a friend of mine. He would do the same for me. Besides, it's not like I was any help at the police station. There were too many people there who knew me and too few that liked me.
I made my way up the stairs and over to my desk. Something was wrong with all of this; the case, my gift, the accuracy of the information and how easily it came. I had to find an answer to some of my questions and to do that, I needed to think creatively.
After filling a glass with ice and scotch, I began pacing around my living room. I popped a cigar in my mouth, lit the end, and took a long, slow, deliberate drag. The room moved around me as I drifted aimlessly about. The first time I used my gift to find the victim, I knew she was dead. Detective Crane had told me as much. I was looking for anything that could lead him to her. Somehow, my mind had picked up the coordinates of her grave. The second time was essentially the same thing. By the time frame, we knew she was dead, but there was a chance the killer was still in the area. We didn't have any leads, but we at least found the victim's corpse.
Then the whole mess went to shit. My formula went right down the drain. There was no asking of a question and then searching for the answer through remote viewing. I just got drunk and when I woke up, there was the next victim.
I turned, puffed on my cigar, and flicked the ashes on the desk. After another sip of scotch, I started pacing again. No, that's not where the next victim was, because there wasn't a next victim yet. The girl might not be dead. She might not have been abducted. Hell, the bastard might not have even selected one.
But that grave was where the next victim would eventually be. And that's when it hit me. After finding two graves, I realized that the third time I wasn't looking for a victim, I was looking for a grave. I wasn't really thinking about it the third time, but before I started in on that bottle, I was sure that the next thing I found would be another grave and that's what I got.
Dumbass. Had I searched for the next victim, we would have driven to some girl’s house and found her alive. Confused at why a bunch of cops were descending upon her house, but alive. We could have staked the place out and waited for Mr. Miles to arrive and attempt the abduction.
Hell, I could have hid in her bed and waited for the prick to come sneaking into the room.
I gulped down the rest of the glass and flung the ice cubes across the room. After topping off the glass again, I took a seat and started drinking. The victim wasn't chosen yet, or at least wasn't abducted yet. I could find her before she was killed as long as I was looking for her and not her future grave. Miles was in the wind. But the next victim was probably at home. I could locate that home and we could beat Miles there.
I tossed back the glass, swallowing the cheap scotch like a sip of water and reached for my pen. I'd been pacing and drinking enough to get me from recently sobered to lightly buzzed. Now, I could feel my drunk coming on and I needed to be ready the minute my mind could make the connections.
Shutting my eyes, the world faded away and the sounds of the street went quiet. I concentrated on the next victim, the person that grave digger intended to kill, and let my mind wander without me. I needed numbers or a name. I needed something definite and accurate. I needed details. And I needed them now.
Like a radio flipping through the stations, my mind scrolled through stray brain waves, making all the right connections and filtering out all the wrong information until finally my eyes flicked open and I saw the numbers I so desperately needed written across the page.
I dialed Crane's number as best I could and waited for an answer. After several rings, a woman's voice came on the line.
“This is Jericho Mills,” I said loudly, hurting my own head as I shouted. “I need to talk to Detective Crane. It's urgent.”
“Mills?” She asked. “I’m hanging up now.”
“Wait!” Damn colleagues. She remembered me. “I’m working with Crane on a case. I have information.”
“He's not at his desk right now,” she replied, exasperated.
“What about Murphy?” I asked. “Where's that little worm?”
“He's not here either,” she said. “Is there something I can help you with?” She asked, more out of duty than cooperation.
“No,” I replied, then instantly regretted it. “Yes. I need you to look up a set of coordinates for me and tell me where it is. It's a matter of life and death.”
“Don’t call me that.”
There was a pause. “Alright, go ahead.”
“30°14.611 North by 93°12.563 West. I need to know where that is.”
I waited impatiently, listening as she struggled to operate the computer and searched through three different websites while mumbling like a fuck-tard to herself. Finally she got back on the line.
“It's at the corner of Lawrence Street and Kirkman in Downtown Lake Charles. The address is 811 Lawrence Street,” she said, but I was already talking.
“Find Crane and tell him to call me immediately,” I shouted, ignoring my spinning head. “Tell him to get his ass to my apartment. Tell him I know where to find the next victim.”
“Sure,” she said. “Oh, Officer Murphy just walked in. Would you like to talk to ‘that little worm’?”
A moment later, Murphy's voice was on the phone.
“Murphy, it's Mills,” I said.
“Look Mills, I’m about to run down a lead on Miles so make this quick. What do you need?” Murphy asked, about as glad to hear my voice as that cow who had answered the phone had been.
“I need to get in touch with Crane,” I replied. “I know the location of the next victim. I know where the killer is going next.”
“We already have the grave staked out,” he said, the lack of interest evident in his voice.
“No, goddamnit. Not the grave. I know who he is going to kill next. The person is still alive.” There was a pause. I had his attention now.
“Who?” Murphy asked. “Where?”
Now it was my turn to pause. “He's coming here. He's coming to kill me.”
“Are you sure?” He asked.
“Yes, now where the hell is Crane?”
Murphy sighed. “I have him on hold. I was talking to him on my cell when I came in. We'll be there in ten minutes. Just sit tight.”
“Hurry up,” I said and hung up the phone. I needed to sober up, and fast, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. I'd drank enough to View, so I was going to be drunk a while still. If not sober, I needed to at least think clearly for a moment. I sat in my chair and evaluated the situation.
The killer was going to do me in sometime tonight because he obviously knew that I was onto him. But what he didn't know was that I was expecting him. I quickly looked around for anything I could use as a weapon. My pistol, an old piece of crap revolver, was in hock at a pawn shop a few blocks away. I had the money to get it, but the shop was closed and I didn't dare leave my apartment now that my name was on Alfred Miles’ shit list. I was weaponless, but at least help would be here in a few minutes. As long as I could keep him out until Crane and Murphy arrived, I would be alright.
Then a thought occurred to me. How did he know where to find me? How did Miles even know who I was? He could have gotten Adrian Crane’s name from any of the local papers. But I wasn’t mentioned. I was strictly off the books, paid in cash and kept in the closet like the dark secret I was. Hell, Chuck didn’t even want me lingering at the station.
So how the hell did Alfred find me? Was he watching when we visited the Ellender house?
My eyes widened. He had followed us from the boat launch where we found her body. That’s how he knew where to find me and how he knew that we were onto him. He’d watched the search from a distance, identified Crane as the man in charge, and then followed when we left. He saw when Crane dropped me off in front of my apartment and then Alfred followed long enough to determine Crane was heading for his place in East Lake Charles.
Alfred Miles couldn’t go after a cop, but he could rough up a consultant, bleed a little information, and then put a bullet in his head. I was about to be interrogated by a serial rapist.
But after kidnapping and interrogating me, he’d have to bury me. That’s when he dug the grave. Now everything was set. All he needed was his talker. And his talker had no weapon.
I realized then that I hadn’t looked at the folder. I didn’t even know what Alfred Miles looked like. Shit. Drunks get themselves into all kinds of interesting situations.
The minutes crawled as I watched the clock. The time wasn't right, as I'd never reset it after changing the batteries, but at least I could count down the minutes until the cavalry arrived. I still had five minutes to go, but already there was a car coming down the street. Too many street lights had been busted out by delinquents for me to get a clear look, but the fact that it was cruising just above idle speeds with its lights off gave me a good idea who it was. I watched from the corner of my window as the vehicle ground to a halt. I'll claim that I left my light on so that the killer would think that I was taking it easy, but in reality I was too drunk to realize I should have turned it off. Either way it didn't matter. As soon as the car stopped, my phone rang. I snatched it up as fast as my delayed reflexes would allow and answered it.
“Mills,” Crane's voice called out casually. “I have some ideas on the case and I want to run them by you. Are you going to be home for a while?” He asked.
“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Didn't Murphy tell you?” I called out.
“Tell me what?” Crane asked.
I glanced out the window and saw Murphy step from the car and walk across the street toward my building.
“Crane, were you on the phone with Murphy about five minutes ago?” I asked desperately.
“Yeah,” Crane replied. “He called me and said that he wanted to be the guy to relieve the officers at the stakeout later. I gave him the approval.”
“He didn't say anything about me?” I asked. I could hear Murphy walking up the stairs. Each step squeaked under his feet.
“No,” he replied. “Why?”
“Get your ass over here, Crane,” I said. “Make it snappy.”
“What’s going on?” Crane asked.
“I’m the next victim,” I blurted. I realized then that despite my drunken state, my logic had been spot on. The killer had followed Crane and I to my apartment and then to Alfred’s place. I was just wrong about it being Alfred. “He’s inside the building.” With that, I slammed the phone down and swallowed hard.
Now it made sense. My brain caught stray signals bouncing from one mind to another like radio waves hitting a relay station. Usually it has to find details by searching through information filtered through dozens or even hundreds of reflected and refracted waves but this time the source was so close. The details were right there in Murphy's mind and they were bouncing to me through Detective Crane. The path was so direct and short that everything that came through was precise and relevant. That's why Murphy wanted to relieve the stakeout. If they left, he could dump my body wherever he wanted and he would have an alibi. He would have been there when the cops left and there when others returned to relieve him. And during the time of my murder his story would check out. If he kept close to Crane during the next few hours after his stakeout, his story would be airtight. But they wouldn't even be looking for him. He'd never be a suspect. He'd been killing and raping girls without leaving so much as a hair at the scenes.
And they would still be chasing after Alfred Miles, the perfect patsy. My guess was that Murphy had been behind the sudden disappearance of Alfred, possibly even before he took the first girl. I wondered if the origami was a hobby Alfred actually practiced and Murphy planted the swans to implicated him or if Murphy had typed that prison report himself and slipped it into the file.
Perhaps I’d ask him.
He knocked on the door.
I opened the door and looked at my killer. His face seemed different from before, lacking his fake, wormy smile. He had something planned for me, but I didn't know what. Luckily, I didn't rely on my quick thinking. I had a plan. Sort of.
“Hey,” I said quickly. “Glad you found Crane. He just called and said he's on his way here.”
I studied his face as I said this, but his expression remained blank. No reaction. He didn’t even look perturbed. He looked cold. He looked dead.
“Oh,” Murphy replied. “Great.” Still no expression.
“We need to go to the grave,” I said. “There's something I want to check out. We can call him from the road and tell him to meet us there.”
“What do you need there?” Murphy asked.
“I'll explain on the way,” I said quickly. “Let's go.” I stepped forward, though the door and turned. Hoping that Murphy wouldn't take the opportunity to shoot me in the back, I pulled the door almost closed before reaching in and grabbing my nearly empty bottle of scotch from the small table beneath the light switch.
“Drink?” I asked as I started toward the stairs.
“No,” he replied in mock disgust.
Good. So far, it was all going according to plan. Let him think I’m getting into his car voluntarily. That’s much easier than dragging a drunk.
As we neared the stairs, I slowed and motioned casually for him to go first as I took a swig from the bottle. Murphy, still unaware that I knew his motives, stepped past me. As his feet touched down on the first step I thought, what if I’m wrong? What if he’s not the killer?
Fuck it. He’s a worm.
I swung the bottle hard, a sickening thud echoing from the back of his head. His knees buckled, his legs gave out, but he caught himself on the shaky handrail and arrested his fall. So I pushed the sonofabitch with my other hand and he tumbled forward, bouncing down the stairs to the landing, arms and legs flopping as his head knocked every damn step on the way down.
Drunk and unsteady, I hurried down to him and pulled his pistol from his shoulder holster. I tucked it into my pants and checked his ankle where I found a smaller, backup pistol. After pocketing that one, I dug for his keys and rushed outside.
Crossing the street, I reached his car and popped the trunk. Please let me be right. If not, he’s going to be so fucking pissed at me. Inside I saw a large, blue tarp, a pair of boots and a shovel. Figures. Just then, headlights rounded the corner and Crane's car squealed to a halt a few feet from me.
“Are you alright?” He shouted.
“Yeah,” I replied before turning to see Murphy rising to his feet. I stared at him through the open door and for a second our eyes met. Though disoriented and wounded, I still recognized the eyes of a predator. He turned and bolted up the stairs on wobbly legs.
Crane stepped from his car and approached.
“Where's Murphy?” He asked.
I pointed to my building. “He's trying to get away.” Then I motioned to the open trunk. Crane's eyes widened. “I told him on the phone to call you because I got a new set of coordinates. The killer was coming to me. He said that he had you on the other line, but he never told you. There's the boots that made the prints at the grave.”
“Shit! We have to hurry,” Crane said, rushing forward, but even in my inebriated state I was quick enough to grab his sleeve.
“We'll catch him around the back,” I said. “There's no hurry.”
Crane broke into a run and a second later the sound of crashing metal broke the night. Crane stopped for a second and then continued. Then we heard the scream.
I walked forward casually, knowing that Murphy wasn't going anywhere in his condition. The fire escape outside my window was the most dangerous thing in my entire neighborhood and I almost pity that bastard for trying to descend it. No I don't.
After a serious blow to the head with a still-in-tact bottle of scotch, an express trip down a steep flight of stairs and a fall from a fire escape with a metal ladder landing on him, Murphy was in no condition to escape. He suffered a severe concussion that I'm willing to take credit for, a broken collar bone, a broken leg and his arm was bent in quite an amusing direction. It seriously looked comical.
* * *
“What are you doing?” Detective Crane asked as he walked into my office, which was also my slightly cleaner than normal living room. I sat behind my desk, not quite drunk yet but giving serious thought to traveling in that direction.
“It's important research,” I said with a matter-of-fact tone. I poured a splash of scotch over the ice in my glass and raised it to eye level. “I'm trying to determine which will run out faster, the ice in my glass or the scotch in my bottle.” I took a sip and set the glass aside. It had been two days since the killer had snapped all his pieces outside the window that was to my back and Crane had taken all the credit for apprehending the scum bag. He would have shared the glory with me, but I chose not to be in the spotlight. Our arrangement was complicated and he had to lie quite a bit to keep the details of how he received his information off the books. Chuck knew I consulted, but he didn’t know I got piss-faced drunk and scribbled coordinates on a notepad. He didn’t know remote viewing was involved, if that’s what it was. If I was ever brought in to testify, I wouldn't be sober enough to remember the story correctly.
“Thanks,” he said.
“For what?” I asked. “Defending myself.”
“You saved some lives, Mills. Murphy was too smart to get caught anytime soon. There's a dozen girls who would have been raped and killed if it weren't for you.”
“I'll keep that in mind,” I replied, but I was already trying to forget what he said. “Any word on Alfred Miles?”
Crane rubbed his chin, something he did when he was displeased. “Yeah,” he replied. “We found him. His car had been driven down a boat ramp into the Sabine river. He was inside the trunk. I’m still waiting on the report, but it appeared he’d been alive when the trunk filled with water. Murphy gave us the location, but that’s all he would say.”
“Killed before the girls?” I asked.
“I see you got your gun back,” he said, nodding to the revolver on my desk.
“Just in case your next partner is anything like your last,” I said.
He nodded. “That's what I came by to talk to you about.”
I smirked. “Want me to interview your next recruit and let you know if he's a serial killer?” I took another sip.
“Not exactly,” he replied. “I think you should come back.”
I stared at him. “Come back where?” I asked.
“To work,” he said. “To the force.”
“Chuck hates me,” I said.
“The captain always hated you,” Crane barked back. “You don't care about the captain.”
“The rest of the force hates me,” I said.
Crane shook his head. “You won't work because to do that you'd have to be sober,” he said in his most self-righteous voice.
“Damn right,” I replied.
“And if you were sober,” he began but I cut him off.
“Don't go there,” I ordered. “You weren't there,” I said as tears stung my eyes. I took another drink, bigger than the last, and finished the glass. “You didn't see it so don't go there.”
“Later,” I replied, more venom in my voice than I intended, but not as much as I should have used. “You got there later. You saw after. You didn’t…” I trailed out, unable to continued.
Crane rose from his seat and started toward the door. “I don't know how many cases I can throw your way. There's not many that require your talent so it's difficult to bring you work,” he said. “You'll have to sober up and get a job eventually. When that day comes, let me know. I can pull some strings and get you back on.”
With that, Crane left me to my bottle.
Perhaps one day I'll sober up and return to work. Perhaps one day I'll be strong enough to face those memories that keep me awake when the night is empty and my mind is full. But as long as I can work a few sporadic cases, enough to keep the air conditioner running during these muggy summers, and enough to keep my glass wet, then I won't sober up. I won't think about the past and I won't think about the laughter and the fun. I won't think about the joy and I certainly won't think about those screams. I'll just take another drink. And another and another. I’ll drink until I can rest.
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!