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)