30 December 2009

Saturday: Part Four

"Amber." He almost made me feel like an asshole. Almost. His eyes told me I was being a jerk, that Mike really was worried.

I reached up and put my palm on his cheek, "I wasn't going to keep the fax. I won't go looking for Mr. Scarey, okay?" I dropped my hand and started to walk toward the kitchen to get Mike something warm and caffeinated to drink when he grabbed my wrist.

"I can't stay, not today. The blizzard is supposed to get worse. I'm going to take the fax and go. And you are going to drop this."

I stared at him, choosing my words carefully. I knew what I should say but if he was just taking my work and going? Yeah, I was a little miffed at the guy. To say the least.

I drove steel spikes full of malice into him with my eyes. I knew I had no leg to stand on, I also knew noone in Great Falls, judges anyway, would side against either of us over a teeney little fax. I glared at Detective Timothy and said the most venomous words I could at that moment, "Mike, you are a big jerk. You really believe I'll just drop this? I figured that this guy I got the fax from knows a lot more in the conclusion department than he's lettin' on. And h-"

"Damnit, Amber, enough!" He shook as he yelled, his eyes having then lost the worry. He was Detective Michael Timothy at that moment. Crap. He's really mad. "This bullshit ain't happenin! You aren't a detective! You're a fucking slut lawyer!"

I didn't even think. I balled up my fist and punched him square in the chest. I heard the hot air escape all at once.

"Slut?! What the fuck, Mike? What the hell's gotten into you? Slut?" It hurt and pissed me off all at the same time (anger is always another emotion). He was supposed to be the "nice guy".

"I can arrest you. Obstruction," he glanced at the fax mess, "interception, assault. On. A. Fucking. Cop!"

A snicker escaped. Again with inappropriate laughter. I put my finger in his chest, pushing him towards the couch.

"You verbally assaulted me! I'll get your fax together and you can get the hell out! Hart will just send me another copy anyway."

Jerk. I thought as I gathered the fax into a folder. I'll just ask someone else to get me a copy or maybe, if he wasn't too pissed, maybe Hart would get me another copy. I heard the familiar beep-beep of a cell being dialed. I stood and looked to Mike who was sneering bitterly.

"This is Detective Timothy. I know you're out of the office for the weekend, Ralph, but I need you to call me the moment you get this message. It's in regard to one of your attorneys Amber Wright. Seems Ms. Wright is taking it upon herself to tamper with evidence, have a personal fax meant for me sent to her fax, assault me -"

I couldn't believe what he was doing! Mike was calling a Senior Associate, a partner, and tattling like a two year old! He left his number and urged my boss to call him immediately.

Shoving the fax at him, I turned him towards the door. The familiar sting of tears promised to cascade and I didn't want him to see. Even if they were tears of I-hate-you-Detective-Jerkoff-Timothy!

"You need to go! First you call me a slut out of random, then you call my boss? What are you? 2?"

I grabbed the door handle, twisted and yanked all at once. At the same time I was opening the door, I was trying to push Mike out of it. He did a hop stumble onto the porch.

"Wait. I need to apologize." The back of his head was close enough I could headbutt the big jerk if it weren't for neighbors.

"I'm sorry I called you a slut. That was anger and jealousy. Nothing to do with this." He held up the file. "I heard about you and James."

He turned to face me. His eyes clouding over, he looked truly repentent. Good. His hand clung to the jam.

"I suggest you move your hand if you want to keep your fingers. You're getting snow in my house."

"I'm not apologizing for calling Ralph though. That's for your own good. I've seen all the bodies. You don't know what this is. Please. For your own safety, just be an attorney til this all goes away."

"You're still getting snow in my house. Let go of the door or I'll slam your fingers in it. You have five seconds. 1."

Mike let go and I slammed the door. Thud! I listened to see if I could hear him leave over the bellow of the wind. I heard the engine, he sat there warming his vehicle for a good five minutes as I stood with my arms crossed over my chest, my back to the door waiting. Finally I heard him go.

21 December 2009

Saturday: Part Three

My fingers drummed out the questions as my mind asked them. I checked my email. There was a message from my biker friend:

Hey, Babe,
Nothing here. Family's accounted for.
Try getting ahold of me one of these days for some fun.

I shivered at the last sentence, maybe.

So the bad guys weren't involved; I knew, of course, by then they wouldn't be. Well. Then. Ten or more decades of mutilations, multiple puncture wounds, rips and tears that mimicked animal attacks, lack of social, no. Lack of family ties for the victims. Except one. One girl didn't fit. Hart's.

I dug her case out. She'd gone missing for almost a week before they found her broken body in a park. Like everyone else, she was left in plain sight. I stared at the photos from her crime scene. I looked at the girl, left in a pile, her eyes staring. Geez! Effin gruesome! I looked at how her body was left. In a pile. There were three trees in the photos. Giant pines, like sentinels guarding her until she was taken home. Her face started taking on a familiarity from looking at her for so long.

The sound of someone trying to break down my door startled me. Shit. Mike. Had to be. Only cops knocked like that. Well, no point in ignoring him, he'd just keep beating the hell out of my door.

"Who is it?" I tried to sound chipper and inquisitive, rather than annoyed and resolved.

"Who the hell do you think it is? You have something that belongs to me!"

Somebody was really grouchy! I tried not to smile as I opened the door to find a very cold, very snow covered, very p.o'ed Detective Michael Timothy. He glowered at me and I just grinned as I opened the door and stepped aside.

"Wow, Mike, you came in a blizzard just to see me? How flattering!"

Mike's eyes glared into my soul. For a cop he could be scary as hell. Poor bad guys. I tried not to giggle. Giggling at the wrong time was a particular tic I hated.

"Why did you hijack the fax intended for me? I could arrest you."

"No you can't. I accidentally gave the wrong fax number! I was in such a state yesterday," I batted my eyelashes. Mike continued to look like Death in a Badge, "you know from standing in brains, I just grabbed the fax and came home."

My stomach did a couple of somersaults. Easy, tummy, no brains today. Another giggle escaped.

"Where's the fax, Amber? I want it right now!" He looked around and when he spotted the pictures and cases strewn all over he turned back to me with acid in his eyes. "This is not vandals or simple robberies, Amber, this is murder! This isn't a game, this isn't a fucking hobby!"

Mike had ahold of my arms, his cold fingers digging into my skin. The look in his eyes was something more than anger then, he looked scared or worried. Anger is always caused by another emotion and Mike was in pain. Damnit.

"You see the files," I shrugged out of his grip, "get a grip. Sit down. Have some coffee. I might even tell you what I've figured out."

11 December 2009

Saturday: Part Two

Saturday brought a day of rest. That's what I believed. Honestly.

When I woke up, the blizzard said, "Good morning! If you had nuts, I'd freeze them off!"

I looked out my kitchen window wondering how in the hell the forecaster missed a blizzard. My coffee was warm in my cupped hands, so when I contemplated shoveling later, I hoped it didn't stop snowing for a very long time. I mean, hello, cold out! Montana could have some ruthless weather!

Though I didn't want to go out, my paper was still outside. I snagged the paper from the Trib box; I probably looked odd running out in my flannel pj bottoms, boots untied and overcoat. Didn't care. Weather like that always reminded me I needed to move the paper box closer to the house. Doubt the neighbors could see me anyway for all the blowing snow.

The front page was covered with the story from the parking garage:
Local Businessman Brutally Slain
read the headline. Brutally? Was there a word worse than 'brutally'? I continued reading: 'Local entrepeneur, Kirby Johnson, was found murdered Friday morning in the parking garage on the corner of 4th St and 1st Ave N. Detective Michael Timothy wouldn't give any details except that the horrific murder seemed to fit the pattern of the other three victims. Another officer on scene was quoted as saying, "This is total chaos and carnage. I can't believe someone could do this to someone else. If we don't get a lead soon, well, I don't know what'll happen. This is scary."

I'm not sure which officer got quoted but for his sake I hope Mike didn't either. The article continued on with warnings not to go alone, tell people where you planned to be, etc. Same warnings as for weather watches mostly. Except the extra blanket and food people were normally cautioned to bring.

I got another cup of coffee, turned my laptop on, grabbed my forest Hart sent and started reading through the fax again looking for thoughts and clues rather than just scanning over the information. Everything Hart told me was in the pages. The lack of ties to people, the atrocity in the dismemberment and the pattern of coming on abruptly and ending just as quickly. As I read through the extensive file, dredging through terrifying horrific photos I wondered at what type of copycats we were dealing with. I said we because like I mentioned before, mysteries were a hobby, sometimes dangerous, but usually nothing I couldn't handle.

The wind beat and howled against the house as the snow continued to pile in giant drifts outside. The radio made it clear that all roads were shut down except for emergency only. Darkened, freezing skies and bitter winds pushed the temperature well below zero and I turned the heat up, wondering if I ought to start a fire in the basement furnace as well.

My house was one of the first in Great Falls. Moved from its original location to the lot it stood on in the early 20's. It consisted of a partially finished basement; a small kitchen (as was the fashion of the time), dining room, den/office, and living room were on the main floor. A miniature bathroom and two bedrooms, as well as a makeshift gym room on made up the second floor. All in all it was a well built, older home. Though with its age and my lack of time to add new amenities, I tended to worry about heat. Unlike my neighbors, though, I had an advantage...the basement woodstove which, when lit, could keep the main floor toasty and if need be I'd just sleep on the sofa.

When I was reading through the fifth homicide in about the twentieth case in the file I noticed that all of the bodies had a mark on their torso above the navel. It matched none of the multitude of puncture wounds found on the dismembered parts. The mark tended to be two inches long, made by a blade rather than the ice pick type wounds everywhere else. The earliest cases didn't note too well so I didn't catch it right away. Some of the tears looked as if an animal were involved also. I learned that once in a while the police would make an arrest but the murders would continue or start up again if they'd stopped and the suspect would have to be released. To me that showed two things: the culprits weren't afraid of getting caught and they didn't want anyone else getting credit for their "work". Really sick and egotistical.

I tried to avoid the photographs of the bodies as much as I could but I still needed to see positions and placement of the bodies. The victims all stared back, the ones that still had eyes or whose skulls weren't crushed, they stared in post mortem terror. I knew, without a doubt, that these people would haunt my nightmares for a very long time.

I started wondering, though, how Hart put it all together. Other than the wounds, the tears and the dismemberment, how did he piece it together? The murders took place all over the country, some in Canada and Mexico also.

07 December 2009

Saturday: Part One

The news Friday night reminded me of how horrific Friday morning was. Detectives (Mike Timothy) were perplexed by the body's "placement" but due to other evidence were sure the death was related to the other three.

I listened to the news and sifted through the information Hart sent. Mike had already left about a dozen messages but luckily didn't show up. The case files showed patterns of homicides involving what Hart dubbed The Unwanted. All people that lived alone, no relatives really to speak of except the case Hart started with and random sprinklings throughout the century plus of brutal killings.

My nightmares were a stage of blood and darkness; the players included the Southern Belle, brain guy, arguing voices (intent on divulging information to A Descendent or leaving man to his demise. I blamed this on the heartburn), crying and a lot of sighs. May have been my own exasperation with Belle and the crying.

28 November 2009

Ch.1: Friday: Part Two

After my meeting with some very perturbed upper management, I made it home, driving the whole way in my bare feet of course. I once heard that driving barefoot was illegal, didn't know for sure. Wonder if I could get out of the ticket if I explained to the cop I accidentally stood in someone's brain matter and threw the shoes away. I had to pull over and catch my breath. I was dizzy and on the verge of hoarking all over again.

Once home, my truck all locked away nice and safe in the garage, I sank into the sofa, my body and mind trying to let go of all I'd seen. Mike said the murder was consistent with the other three, but the dumping wasn't. I tried to erase the picture permanently scorched into my memory, I tried to convince it to wash itself away but without any luck.

My living room was silent. Like I like it. No sounds except for what was happening beyond my walls and my breathing; there was nothing to accost my hearing and make me jump. I began to relax further into the couch, letting my thoughts wander which I never should have done, no matter how tiring it was to block out the earlier event. I fought with my subconscious and I lost. I fell asleep with a waking nightmare in my mind.

*beep* *beep*
A car alarm being set. Breathing. Heavy breathing.

"What the hell?!"

Someone didn't sound too happy. I got closer, I felt really dizzy, nauseatingly dizzy. I didn't feel like I belonged there at all. I felt so out of place, I didn't even feel like myself. I reached down to touch my arm and it tingled, reverberated. What the holy hell? I held my hands up so I could see them and they were shimmery, they didn't look right. My examination of my situation was interrupted.

The man's car wasn't starting. I heard the door open and slam shut. The hood was popped open. I got closer, "Do you need some help?"

He didn't seem to hear me.

"Hey, guy! Everything ok? You need a jump?"

He pulled out a handful of wires. They looked like a rat made a meal of them.

"This is just effin great!" He slammed the hood and punched it. Why did guys always overreact to cars? Was it in their DNA? Since early man. A horsey got a limp and it got an uppercut?

"Howdy, mister, looks like you're havin a bad day. Whatcha got there?" She smelled different. She really wreaked. Her eyes flashed a brilliant red in place of the blue and her pupils were gone. That was so not right.

"Sir, she's ... there's something not right with her!"

He ignored me and laughed sheepishly, running his free hand through his hair. His hair. Oh shit! His hair!

My phone is ringing! I needed to tell the man to run, albeit from a happy lil southern belle, but he needs to run and my phone is ringing.

My phone was actually ringing outside the messed up dream. Shit. Mike. Obviously calling to discuss the fax. I send the call to my voicemail and sigh. He'd probably show up. The time on my cell says eight. Eight? PM? Crap.

I made my coffee, turned the television on and flipped through all hundred plus channels. Nothing. So, radio it was. At least until ten. That gave me time to check email, maybe find something that resembled food and start reading the entire forest that Detective Hart sent me. Well, he sent Mike and I accidentally may have given the wrong fax. Ohh! I should remember that for later I thought.

24 November 2009

Ch.1: Friday: Part One

Dammit. Why had I condemned myself by staying up so late? I heard the alarm go off but it didn't register until it had already been going off for over twenty minutes. My body and my brain were taking turns scolding me with various headaches and soreness as I forced myself to get moving. Have you ever noticed the later you are the slower you seem to move? I think I was in over slow motion. At least I was dressed without incident. My hose went on without putting my big toe through them and I didn't trip when I put my heels on. Yay me.

Remembering my promise to Tif to drive to work, I sighed to myself, as I walked to my garage to get my truck. The morning air was warm for Montana in the fall which only made my driving all the more horrible. These kind of days could disappear at any time and I had sold my soul to a worry wart. I was not pleased with my decision and reminded myself not to answer the phone next time there was a rash of unsolved homicides in Great Falls. Especially when the next day was turning out to be gorgeous.

I hit the coffee shop on First and was happy to see that I wasn't going to be increasing my tardiness by getting the first of many quad mochas that I knew I would need throughout what I knew was going to be a long day. There was a Trib opened to a mid-section on the murders. I snagged the paper and rushed off to the office hoping my fax would be there rather than a detective on a warpath. Hopefully he could wait to his little appearance until the afternoon, even better would be if I were gone for the day.

My Chevy is an '82 Chevy Stepside, decked out in navy blue with chrome trim. She is my pride and joy, something I earned when I graduated from law school and moved home to practice. Parking my baby in one of the parking garages took a lot of guts, almost worth the parking ticket not to leave her all alone and unattended. More than once I had to take the Chevy to Kyle, a local body repairman, to get the scratches buffed or sanded out, so much so that he had my color in stock. I drove up to the sixth story of the garage and shut her off; I stepped slowly out of my girl, turning her alarm on before begrudgingly leaving her to the elements and fate. So what, I love my truck.

Unfortunately the elevator in the ramp was out so I had to take six stories of stairs to the street level and then walk another block or so to get to Katter & Assoc. The time I thought I'd made up was quickly turning back into late. The stairs were packed with people. The closer I got to the bottom, the more the throng grew until I realized the mob on street level were policemen and E.M.T.'s. And in front of them, legs. The elevator was parked on top of the legs; good reason for it to be out.

Taking in the multitude of faces I finally located the one face I knew was going to be severely pissed later in the day. Now, though, I wanted to know whose legs and why the witch theme from Wizard of Oz was playing in my head. I wish this kind of crap wouldn't happen to me. And I was sure as hell no one could read my mind or they'd think I was the biggest bitch ever.

"Mike!" I smiled my most dazzling smile and inched closer to him, raising my hand just in case he hadn't seen me. "Mike! What's going on?"

Detective Timothy's gray eyes looked coldly over at me as his brow knit together before he realized it was his future imaginary wife. His face changed into a more relaxed expression as he cut me off. Just in time. He yelled for me to stop and not move. I looked down. Shit.

I was standing in the middle of what appeared to be goo. Gray goo. And the smell of sewer and rust. Oh shit! Shit! I looked at my shoes. Crap! No way I was standing in someone's brain. Oops. Here comes the coffee. And I ran, not an easy task in high heels, to the door to let my mocha come back.

"Hey, you okay?" Mike's hand was on my shoulder, probably not sure how to handle a girl in this situation.

"I was just standing in somebody's memories, Mike, how the hell do you think I feel? Back up. I need a Mentos or three."

Mike handed me a pack of gum.


"Sorry, Amber, just the gum."

"Who is that?"

"We aren't sure yet but from what we can make out, it looks like the others. We can't get the elevator to move. The metal is twisted in the bottom and the brakes look warped or something. Not something I usually see."

"How often do you see four murders here?"

"I guess things just aren't normal all over. How you feelin? Can you make it by yourself to your office?"

"I think I'll go pick up a few things and call it a day." The few things being the fax meant for Mike. I took my pretty, black heels off and tossed them in the trash. I couldn't stand to wander around in someone else's thoughts all day. And with that I ran back to the door and lost what was left in my stomach. Strike 2 for the chic.

"Gum?" I said holding out my hand. "Got any water?"

"Dorsey. Bring me a bottle of water for Amber."

The uniform brought me a bottle of cold water out of the pop machine on the other side of the mess.

"Thank you. I'd look at you but I'm not doin do hot. Sorry."

"That's ok, ma'am. You shouldn't be here." He kind of glanced sideways at Mike and turned back toward back to his job holding off the crowd of onlookers.

"Mike, I don't know how well I can handle this, but I saw legs sticking from under the elevator. How did what I was stepping in end up opposite?"

"That's not something I can really discuss."

"Oh, whatever, you've already told me a lot more than you should have probably so let me know this too."

"I don't know if you really want to know."

"Mike." I wanted to know for the sake of the fax and to know how the mess ended up this end of the legs.

"We think he was decapitated, the head dropped of the fifth, his body dropped down the shaft after some more cutting and the elevator sent down on top of the chaos of what was left of the guy. We're not even sure the elevator could get that kind of speed to cause the kind of damage that is done to the elevator. But we know what we see."

"Who the hell can do something this sick?" It was a question more to myself than the stumped investigator. "Mike, I need to go."

"I'll call you later and check on you. Make sure you don't go into shock."

I blinked at him and wandered off to walk the three blocks on the cold cement. I was glad he didn't offer me a ride. I might have gotten sick all over again.

When I got to the office, the fax was already piling up near my desk. And that was a lot of paper. I filled the personal fax and slumped down into my chair to wait for the documents to finish. While that was printing I may as well explain that I was taking the day off and why. Did I mention the brain part? Yes. My bosses needed to know why one of their attorneys was taking off due to a murder victim she didn't even know.

22 November 2009

Chapter One: Part Three

Before I knew it there were two things I'd found. The first being I was up way past my bedtime thanks to Tiffany's introducing me to the triple murder mystery. I looked over at the wall clock to find it was 4 in the morning and I had to be up at 6. That meant two things of course. One: that I would get to suck down loads of quad mocha breves and two: my concentration ability would be nil. Obsolete.

The second "thing" that I'd found in my all-nighter was that there were strings of the same such murders happening all over this side of the Mississippi. One detective in Arizona also pointed out that even though it was some kind of serial killing that came and went, the murders seemed to have come and gone over the last 100 or more years. Nice. Copycats, literally, from hell. There was also a detective handling cold cases in Nevada that was overjoyed in a sad sort of way to find out that he had a lead here. Meaning the murderer from a case in the 80's he had just reopened had a resounding flag in the Great Falls deaths.

Detective Hart in Arizona was an old school cop, retired, doing the occasional PI gig. Hart retired in 2006 when he was 50. Kind of young but the pension was good and the blood pressure wasn't. At times, I hated that people just told me randomness out of the blue. He asked if he could message me via MSN. So we talked for an hour and a half.

In the two hour MSN session I heard about his daughter joining the force, his wife being perfection and his drinking habit that he battled. I also learned from Det. Hart that these murders he'd looked into, that resembled the latest in Great Falls, usually involved the same facts (lending to the serial killer or killers theory). Single males and females both. No families. Some homeless, most just hermits with no friends or family to miss them. Neighbors didn't even know them.

The same over and over for more than a hundred years, in different states for about five months then nothing for a five or more years. The bodies were all mutilated. Some people looked at as the aliens dissecting the people; Hart and I agreed that aliens just probed people and dissected the cows.There was the usual of the government doing experiments and covering it up with the mutilations. The police from Washington to Texas had everything from secret satanic societies to a Hills Have Eyes type family that travelled.Much like a freaky circus where the clowns ate the spectators. Hart was a bounty of information.

RetDetHart: Miss Wright, you need to know that this won't last much longer and no one will be caught. And you should stay out of the investigation.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: I'll take that into consideration, detective, but I doubt anyone will know beyond us on the forum. No worries.

RetDetHart: There aren't always just the good guys on the forums, darlin. There are some not so good guys hangin around there.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: I know.

RetDetHart: Lately I've gotten some pretty cryptic shit in my inbox from those not so good guys. Warnings to let these cases die.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: How long have you been snooping in these cases?

RetDetHart: Since '92. I'm in for the long haul. I made promises.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: To who? You said most of these people didn't have any social links of any type.

RetDetHart: I said most. Not all. The third one down here was a girl in her teens. She wasn't real pretty, didn't have any friends to speak of but she had a mother.

LawLuvn_Harley_Babe: I'm sorry. How's the mother now?

RetDetHart: Disappeared about five years after her daughter's death. She packed up and left. Neighbors didn't even know she left.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: Probably heartbroken over her daughter's death and when no one was brought up on charges, couldn't take the pain and took off. I could speculate all night but I would never be able to pinpoint what parents think when they lose a child.

RetDetHart: No. We couldn't. Miss Wright, I can send the information I have to your local PD as a favor to you but you need to let the law handle it.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: I am the law. Sort of. Come on, Detective, I can take care of myself. Besides, I don't fit. I have a life.

I paused in the conversation there. I had a life in more than one way. I was alive.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: Sorry, I wasn't thinking.

RetDetHart: Who do I send this to?

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: Detective Mike Timothy the fax is: 406-555-8383 You want his email or his direct number?

RetDetHart: Probably the direct number. So he doesn't get a pile of papers that he has no idea what he's looking at other than a pile of headache. lol

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: lol True. Mike would definitely not be too happy with that. His number is: 406-555-1181 ext 131. He works from 7am to when he decides to go home. I've given him some information here and there when I visit the forums. He doesn't have a whole lot of time to be surfin the net.

RetDetHart: Oh I remember what it was like. I'm not that out of touch with the long hours and the dinners away from home. You going to take my advice and just go to work and stay safe?

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: I said I'll take that into consideration. Detective, has there ever been a decent lead in this freakish mess? How many files will Mike be getting?

RetDetHart: All of them. From as far back as I could go. I think the first one was in 1891. There are over 200 cases. I stopped counting at 220. I've just kept compiling, collecting and reading.

Over 220 cases, unsolved, serial killer type murders for over a hundred years. Unbelievable. I wondered how pissed Detective Timothy and Detective Hart would be when they found out the fax was going to my office? Guess I'd find out later.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: It was nice to meet you. Terrible circumstances, but still, I hope we can talk in the future. Maybe in happier times. =)

RetDetHart: Me too. You better be getting to bed young lady.

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: Hey now, I'm not that much younger than you. lol Night, Hart.

RetDetHart: Night, Wright. lol Great I'm a poet and I didn't even know it. lol

Lawluvn_Harley_Babe: Ha ha.

I closed the chat window and shut down for what was left of the night. I stared at the page in front of me. Over a hundred years of mutilations and no one had put it together besides Detective Hart and now a detective in Nevada. I think he said by Reno somewhere. I'd given him Mike's actual fax. Of course, I hoped that Hart would fax the papers then call for Mike or Mike wouldn't answer his desk phone. Maybe Hart wouldn't wonder why I didn't give him the cell.

Detective Mike Timothy and I went to high school together. He was on the Track and Field team, I wasn't. We barely noticed each other in the halls even, that is, until I graduated from law school and moved home. I went to one of Tiffany's dinners and that's where Mike and I were formally introduced for the first time in almost twenty years. He was one of the types (not sure what the type is exactly) that just let me have his life history. Glad it wasn't boring.

He told me how he decided to be a cop and his dad was not happy that he didn't want to take over the construction company which was the family business. Montana has a lot of blue collar family businesses that were passed down to the sons or daughters to carry on more than the family name. Proud families. I can imagine how pissed his dad must have been. As the night progressed, Mike's drinking did too. Pretty soon he was trying to talk me into coming back and checking out his cuffs at his house. I opted to drop him off. Nice guy, just not my type of nice guy. That and he was way too drunk to stand up. Now him and I are just friends with him staring now and then or being bitchy when I can't go bowling.

I did a few more searches and ended up leaving a message for an ex one night friend at the Dark Knights website. Gotta love the 21st century. Even motorcycle clubs had a WWW. I asked James if he'd heard anything about some debts needing to be paid. He knew I wouldn't say anything because for one he never gave me more than a hypothetical and two this was the first time there were dead people involved. Usually the guilty bill evader just got his ass handed to him and he paid up. This bloody mess didn't even fit that MO.

That's when I looked up and saw the clock glaringly showing me how bad I'd screwed up. I shut the computer off, turned on the nightlight in the bathroom and padded off for an hour, maybe I'd luck out and get an hour and a half, nap. I was looking forward to my fax. Not so much the ass-reaming from Mike, but he'd live another day to love me. Unrequited love. Ew. Maybe I could set him up with that weird secretary at work. My thoughts seemed to jumble the more tired I became. When I finally passed out, I knew the next day, after my slight joke of a nap, would be the least fun I'd had in a long time but it was Friday. Which meant I could cuddle up on the sofa on Saturday, watch some movies and read through files I had no intention of handing over to Mile until I was through with them while I slept now and then. That's what I get for doing my own thinking. Saturday was going to turn out worse than Friday's hell.

19 November 2009

Chapter One: Part Two

My house was of course dark itself when I got there. The porch light that should have given me light to at least find the keyhole was burned out a long time ago. I really needed to replace it I reminded myself as I finally fumbled the key enough to get the door to open.

My heels came off and landed next to the door on the little carpet reserved for my small collection of shoes. My black work shoes (heels), my black motorcycle boots, one pair of white tennis shoes, and one pair of brown causals all in neat disarray as usual. The stereo came on as I began opening the mail that was scattered on the floor under the mail slot. It felt good to have my feet on the cool of my wooden floor after a day of pinched confinement in the torturous shoes. My cell rang.


"You home, Amber?"

"Mhm. Just walked in. What's up?" Tif was so good at getting me when I was just walking in the door. I sometimes wondered if she was psychic or tracking my GPS.

"You have got to checkout the news on channel 8! Bizarre and kinda creepy. Right up your alley."

"Tif, I just walked in the door, we both know how much I love tv, just let me get comfy. Is the story on the net?"

"I dunno." Go, Tif, go. Away. Please.

"What's the gist? Can you tell me that while I make a pot of coffee?" I am one of those people blessed with the ability to sleep after ten cups of caffeine which is great since I am a coffee aholic. I belong in some kind of Twelve Step for coffee and Diet Coke.

"There have been three murders in the last two days. Two single guys living in the brick building on 3rd and one homeless guy. If that isn't freaky enough the police can't figure out where the murders are originating and the bodies are just mutilated, like cut up in pieces and shredded. All three have been found by the tracks."

"Channel 8 showed all of that or, I mean, they discussed all of that on air?"

"Well, yeah, the cops are just as wigged out by it as the rest of us I guess. They're asking for information and all that. The Crimestoppers number is up, of course, and the direct detective line."

"Gross." I was looking at the clumpy liquid creamer that I had forgotten on the counter earlier in the morning. Usually it could be left out but I guess the house must have warmed more than normal. Shit. I hoped there was some of the powdered stuff left. Tiffany was rambling on with the information on the homicides, information that meant not a whole lot after the bomb of the perversions the bodies were left in and where.

"I know, right! Gross!"

"No, uh, I meant the creamer. It's all soured. But, yeah, I suppose the murders are gross too. Odd for Great Falls. And I walked home tonight after dark." I was thinking more aloud than conversing. "I oughta drive tomorrow. I hate paying for parking." I really hate paying for parking. A couple of big garage lots, one just down from Katter and Assoc, where I work, but still, paying for parking? Ick.

"You walked home? Amber! You promised you'd call next time you stayed late and didn't drive. You're gonna get hurt one of these days. You're lucky the murders are all guys."

"Bet they don't think that."

"Amber, whatever. Just drive. At least until this is done with."

"Mhm." Where the hell did I hide that creamer? My coffee was almost done. I popped a burrito in the microwave and started the hunt for the creamer again.

"Amber! Promise me! And mean it this time!"

"Cross my heart and all that. Geesh. Cops drive by all the time. But to make you happy, I'll drive. Alright?"

Tiffany sat silent on the end of the line, her swallowing while she thought was clear.

Tiffany and I had been friends since high school. She was the nice one. I was the weird, loud one. She liked the football boys, I liked the scary, bad men on Harleys. Everyone figured I'd get knocked-up before I got out of school, but I knew what a condom was. So I didn't have any little bambinos, or any little bugs either. Tiffany never judged any of my bad habits and I ignored her good girl persona.

Tiffany was the type of girl that never colored her perfect white hair. She wore very little make-up and dressed in cardigans and jeans. Or sweaters and skirts. I was the type of girl that tried all the hair colors before blue hair was popular. I wore blue or dark berry colored lipsticks, heavy eyeliner, tight jeans, and I would never put a dress or skirt on. As if.

When I went on to become a lawyer and minor in psychology I thought most everyone we knew was having ten heart attacks. Tif? Well, she got an Associate's in paralegal, got married before her two years was up and she's balanced between housewife to an airman that still isn't sure what to think of me and part-time work for the county. I still have my affinity for Harleys (I own a nice hog that always gets the looks with my long legs wrapped around my beast) and bad, scary men. I just don't advertise the last part as much but I'm sure it doesn't go unnoticed.

"Amber." Tif's voice was almost a whisper.

"Yeah, babe?"

Aha! Score! Creamer!

"Promise me and mean it. Please." She sounded so small and her words were barely audible. "This is bad stuff this time."

"I told you I would, Tiffers, and I will drive at least until all this is over with."

"Drive the truck."

"Okay. Truck it is."

"You're not indestructible, Amber, you know that. Mace isn't always going to hold an attacker off." But I'm sure the purple .380 or the small taser in my purse would. I got a concealed permit, the gun and the taser after a particularly ugly break-up with one of my bad boys. He threatened to cut my head off and mount it after I told him I wasn't ready to settle down so I did the only intelligent thing a girl can do. I got a restraining order and a gun. Fair is fair. I didn't mind evening the playing field a little. The taser and the mace were just icing on the self-defense cake.

"Tiffy, I promised you I'd take the truck. I know I'm no super woman. At least that you know of." My coffee was done, the burrito was getting cold and hard on the ends. Ugh. I shouldn't have teased her and prolonged the chat. I should've just agreed and dealt with the rest of the bull later. Three men were dead. It was probably meth related anyway and probably wouldn't have any more dead people either. The mutilations were just a message for the other screw-offs to pay their bills. No worries for me.

"Alright, I'm gonna let you go. I'll call you tomorrow." She sounded as if she wasn't sure I was being straight with her but her voice also held concession. Good. I love Tif but it was late and I was hungry. Hunger and sleepiness tend to make me a little difficult and a lot bitchy.

"Tell Mark I said hi okay. And don't worry so much. It's probably just a couple of meth debts. But I will drive and I'll drive the truck and I'll call you every ten minutes until I get home, okay, mom?"

"Not funny, Amber. Check out the story. See what you get off it. G'night."

"Night, babe."

She hung up. I poured a cup of coffee, tossed the now crusty burrito and grabbed a granola bar. Damnit. I was hungry. Oh well. My feast would be crunchy and quick, caffeinated and warm.

My favorite blue, cut-off sweat shorts, lighter blue comfy tee and Internet til I was ready to pass out. I wanted to know if Tiffany had failed to mention anything pertinent about the case. I pulled my butt length red and white highlight mixed hair in a funky bun on the back of my head, threw the headphones on, turned up Three Days Grace: Pain to ear-blowing and let the search begin.

I sighed. I was too nosey for my own good sometimes. I'd check out what the GFPD had on the news sites and then look for cases resembling this one in general other places. I had some unique hobbies that involved my passion for the law and the psychology behind it all. I belonged to quite a few forums made up of lawyer types like myself, police officers, FBI agents, cold case detectives and PI's. There was always an abundance of information on the web, the bad news was sifting the bullshit from the facts.

(critiques accepted and appreciated ... good and bad)

Chapter One: Part One

Ignoring everything my parents attempted to instill in me when I was a girl, I left my office late in the evening. Alone. I usually left much sooner, just after six, but I had articles to cite and a case to prepare. Sure it was pretty dumb not to call for a cab but it was a calm, cool Montana night. It was Great Falls and the police patrolled Central Avenue fairly regularly, so even though I was walking alone in the dark, I didn't feel any danger.

The traffic lights blinked their yellow and red luminosity, the street lights glowed softly guiding my footfalls past seventh street to turn towards the south-side and home. I felt the eyes of a homeless man, crouched away from the breeze, watching me as I waited for a truck to pass through the intersection. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye as he continued in his immobile, wind-protected position, staring at me through empty eyes. The truck bounced by, driving into the distance. I rubbed my gloved hands together as I crossed the now empty street and turned to look at my companion in the tattoo shop doorway. He was gone. Hopefully to a much warmer shelter. 

The further into the neighborhood area I ventured, the denser the trees became, cutting the light to pinprick beams, causing my feet to move just a bit quicker towards home. Apartment buildings turned into houses as my office turned into a memory. A dog barked and I jumped. 

"Guess this will teach me to procrastinate. Who needs overtime if I have to walk home in the dark? Shit. Who needs to walk home in the dark?" I scolded myself outloud for having stayed so late. I felt the plastic of the cell through my gloves and sighed audibly. I felt as if the dog that tried to give me a heart attack was watching me, waiting to eat me. Thank God it was just a lab. Labs don't eat people. 

Scarecrows and witches lined the windows of the sleeping houses. Here and there a television glared with the announcement of an insomniac. Gates on chain-link fences squeaked in the breeze. Leaves rustled and drifted to the ground in front of me. Nothing like a nice, scary walk to remind me to leave when the rest of the world went home.

(critiques accepted)