Warning! This is a horror/dark fiction story so may be disturbing to some. There is strong language and sexual situations.
He stood in the center of his tiny garage apartment, feeling foolish. The bunch of pink carnations he had purchased from a vendor at the corner where he had alighted from the bus hung limply from his right hand.
He had never bought flowers for a girl before.
A sudden thought crossed his mind and he smiled his clear, white smile. He had told her when he left this morning that he would not be returning until late. She would have had no way of knowing that he had been thinking of her all day, had decided as he sat in the shade of the Pollo Loco where he had gone for lunch to cut classes tonight so that he could see her sooner.
Crossing to the door behind the bathroom, he switched on the light and peered down into the garage. The Accord was parked in its narrow stall. Trotting down the narrow steps, he looked inside, puzzling over the keys still in the ignition. He got into the car and sat behind the wheel. The gas gauge and odometer readings were unchanged from the night before.
Bobby turned on the stereo radio he had saved for and installed himself. The sweet, pure voice of Gloria Estefan spilled from the six speakers, filling the garage with promises of undying love. He leaned back against the soft, embrace of the contoured seat, closing his eyes and thinking about Summer. He had never known anyone like her, never imagined that anyone so smart and pretty and self assured could simply step into his car on Sunset and change his whole life, piercing the charade of his whole dumb macho act with a single look, turning him back into the gentle, caring boy his mama had been so proud of when she was alive.
He leaned forward, resting his forehead against the cool plastic of the steering wheel, silently praying that she would come back to him.
Even though they had only spent one night together and hadn’t really done anything, the smell of her and the cool feel of her pale body pressed against his in the night were indelibly etched into his brain.
He could not imagine that she would not come back. Could not stand the thought.
Bobby sat upright in his seat. He would go upstairs and shower, washing away the grease and dirt of the garage, changing into something cool and clean.
If she had still not returned by the time he was finished, he would go out and find her. He had done it once. Why couldn’t he do it again?
“Don’t get me wrong, Junior, but I really don’t give a shit what your wife found in the library.” Frolich’s head was splitting and he was in no mood to humor the young deputy right now. He nodded impatiently at the phone, cutting off Vince’s renewed attempt to explain whatever the hell he was babbling about.
“Look,” he said wearily, “in the first place, the killer is now operating in L.A. They found another stiff up in Elysian Park this afternoon, a secretary from the Police Academy. Definitely the work of the same creep. Now the shit has hit the fan here ’cause the bastards are blaming us for letting the guy get away. Us! Can you believe that?” He snorted in disgust. “Yesterday the jerkoffs at LAPD couldn’t have given a shit less that Jack The Fucking Ripper had just waltzed into their jurisdiction. Today its our fault he got away.”
Frolich listened impatiently to the young deputy on the phone for another moment, looking up gratefully as a uniform stepped warily into the office and placed a steaming cup before him. The detective lifted the Styrofoam container and sipped, burning his lips.
“Uh huh, uh huh…. Look, Junior, I like you,” he said, meaning it. “You’re a good cop. Smart. Now why don’t you just forget about the big dogs and your wife’s theories about historical precedents or whatever and get back to your traffic patrols. We’ll handle this from here on out, okay?”
Frolich pulled a faxed report on the latest killing in L.A. to him and began reading, only half listening to Vince’s urgent torrent of words. “Yeah, sure,” he said, anxious now to get rid of the call. “Go on and check out the rest of the empty cabins up there if you want. Let me know if you find anything.”
Frolich replaced the phone on its cradle and rummaged in his top desk drawer for the little roll of flavored antacid tablets he knew was lurking among the paper clips and pencil stubs. Christ, what an unholy mess!
Annie was sitting before the fire, her notes piled on top of the briefcase beside her. They had eaten a hurried dinner while she explained what she had discovered about the rash of killings near the end of the last century. She was certain the information was somehow related to the recent killings and had urged Vince to call Frolich right away.
He had been at the counter, speaking into the phone for almost ten minutes while she went upstairs to change into her blue gown and now she was anxious to know how the diminutive homicide chief had reacted to the validation of her theory. From the scowl on Vince’s face, she could see it had not been good. “What did he say?” she prompted as he stepped back into the living room.
Vince stopped to pour himself a glass of Caymus Chablis from the carafe on the coffee table before flopping down on the sofa beside her. “Well,” he began, pausing to take a large swallow of the delicate wine, “if I leave out the four-letter words, he said I should forget about the whole thing and stick to helping little old ladies put on their snow chains.”
“What?” The indignation in Annie’s voice was barely contained. “Didn’t you tell him about the Pale Spirit killings?”
“Honey, I told him everything. Frolich thinks maybe you should put it all in your next movie.”
Annie bristled. “He said that?”
Vince shook his head wearily. “It wasn’t what he said, although that was bad enough. He just doesn’t want to be bothered. Period.”
“Annie, everybody’s on the poor guy’s ass right now. He’s just trying to do his job. He doesn’t want us involved anymore…”
“Well,” she said angrily, “we are involved. The killer came down from our mountain. He murdered two kids practically in our backyard, then stowed away in my car, then stole it and killed somebody else…. We’re very damned involved, Vince, and I cannot believe after what I learned today that this… person is not going to come back up here. He…”
“Or she,” he interjected,
“Or she,” she reluctantly allowed, “is very deliberately re-enacting an almost identical series of murders that took place right here over a hundred years ago. It simply has to be someone from this area.”
“I agree with you,” he said.
“Well than, what are we going to do about it?” she demanded.
Vince gazed into the fire. “Well, Frolich did say I could finish checking out the empty cabins tomorrow. If somebody was holing up around here, they’d be the most logical places to look. I might even find something,” he added without much conviction.
“Good,” she said, “what time are we getting started?”
“Whoa! What’s this we business?” He laughed for the first time since arriving home. “You got a frog in your pocket? This is strictly police business. You know the rules.”
She put aside her notes and snuggled up against him. “I haven’t been out on my snowmobile yet this season.” She smiled, deftly unbuttoning his shirt and slipping her hand inside.
“You know,” he grinned, “for a supposedly liberated career woman there aren’t many stereotypical sexist lows you’re not willing to stoop to in order to get your way.”
“Shut up,” she said, reaching down with her free hand to unfasten his belt, “I’m going with you anyway, so you might as well enjoy this part.” Her hand slid lower and he fell back against the sofa with a deep sigh. “My, my, deputy,” she giggled, “do you realize that this weapon is loaded?”
“Uh, yes ma’am,” he said, lowering his voice to a fair approximation of John Wayne’s famous drawl, “and ya better be real careful, ’cause it ain’t got no safety.”
“Well, we can fix that,” she said fishing a little foil package from the pocket of her robe.