Getting back into production mode. Winter sucks, amiright? When this book makes me Ian Fleming rich, I’m spending all of winter on a Caribbean island.
And I think it might, as do some other people. This is the first book I’ve actually “workshopped,” my contribution to the novel writing class I’ve been teaching, that’s dovetailed into a novel writing group. I’m getting lots of great feedback, so I know it’s going to be a strong story.
Here’s what the first two chapters look like now.
It doesn’t bother me, the sight of this young woman’s corpse. It was a messy death, blood everywhere, a nice juicy artery slit open while she was still chock full of fluid and very much alive. There’ll be plenty of work for ServPro in this apartment! The bed’s a total loss, and the area rugs, and I bet the walls are going to need more than just repainting.
It’s a horrifying scene, no doubt. But it’s just a dead body. And so its motionless tragic tableau fails to move me.
It got to a lot of the patrol cops, I could tell, and the EMS folks. It angered them, the permanently inert form of this twentysomething kindergarten teacher, a “citizen,” one of the good guys. Someone they’d have asked out on a date, if only they could have screwed up the courage before someone else had, and killed her.
“The door was locked when her friend came over to check on her,” my partner Carrie said. “No sign of forced entry. No broken vases or overturned tables.”
“She let her attacker in, or came home with them.”
I put on gloves and examined the wide abrasions on her wrists. “Bondage wrist cuffs, from the look of it. Tsk tsk, letting strangers tie you up is never a good idea. You never do that, do you?”
“With strangers? I use Academy training cuffs. Same weight and feel as the real thing, only with a knob you can turn to open them. No key to lose, or withhold.”
“So sensible.” I sniffed the wrists for any trace scent. “I don’t smell leather.”
“Could be neoprene,” Carrie suggested. “It’s more practical, and cheaper.”
“Aren’t you the expert. Go on.”
She shrugged. “If you’re seriously into this shit, you invest. Now, Mr. S Leather or Fort Troff, the better gay bondage equipment websites, you can get neoprene cuffs fairly cheap, and they’re easier to clean. The leather restraints, you’re going over a hundred bucks, so if we find leather on her skin, we’re looking for someone who takes his perversions seriously.”
“This is why I keep you around.”
The body’s fingernails were clean, unbroken, no sign of skin or blood beneath them. She hadn’t fought when he’d tied her up (sexist of me, I realize, assuming it was a he). All the same, I put paper bags over her hands to preserve any evidence.
I spoke in a low tone, so only Carrie could hear me.
“What do you think? A pretty young thing, bored with all the ‘nice guys’ who asked her out, who nodded approvingly at her career choice. Nice guys who worked nice jobs and wanted a nice house in the suburbs some day.”
“She was looking for something darker.”
“Yeah. Something to think about when the day got to be too much for her, the cacophony of dirty awful children who can, alas, no longer be corporally punished into silence. All day the good people of Manhattan would smile at her as she shepherded her charges on field trips, ruining the Natural History Museum for the rest of us. But behind that smile, she’d go to the ‘special place’ in her head where she could think about The Bad Man, who’d tie her up and slap her around and call her a dirty slut. A dream of a night of pain and humiliation, so far from her ordinary sunny day full of laughing children that it was all that kept her from pushing the screeching little monsters into the traffic on Central Park West.”
“Remind me not to let you go on one of those Meet a Policeman days in the schools. Someone might not emerge alive.”
Homicide cops are notoriously dark humored individuals. To cope with the job, pick either religion, or terrible jokes.
I got up and sighed. “Who was first on scene?”
I looked at her but she had her poker face on. “And how’s that going?”
“I think the question you’re asking me is, how did he secure the scene, the answer to which is, very well indeed, because he’s in love with me and terrified of you.”
“He couldn’t be sure we’d catch the case. I think Adam’s just very good at his job.”
It was a rare compliment from me. You’d be astonished how many cops fuck shit up at a crime scene – not intentionally, just, you know, blundering through, or letting the neighbors or family or whoever burst in and pollute the scene.
Adam reminded me of myself as a young patrolman. By the book in a good way, checking for vitals, calling for EMS discreetly (always someone listening to the police bands for excitement), establishing the perimeter, taking as many cell phone photos as he could before anyone else got there and messed shit up, taking a detailed statement from the co-worker who found her body, herding curious neighbors back into their apartments. Solid police work on patrol was still the fast track to making detective.
I looked out the window to see what he was up to and smiled. Hard to believe Carrie took such a big tall hunk of man, put a rubber tail in his ass, and forced him to drink from a dog bowl.
He was establishing an extra crime scene perimeter now, such a smart boy. The press, especially the New York tabloids, would be all over this, a veritable Mr. Goodbar with a pretty young schoolteacher hacked to bits after kinky sex stuff!
And that meant the imminent presence of all the Ringwraiths who gathered around such events – someone from the Mayor’s office, the Commissioner’s, the local councilman, all mugging for the camera and assuring the city that justice would be served for Charlotte Lane, this pretty, innocent girl.
That fake perimeter, well outside the bounds of potential evidence, keeps ‘em from being able to fuck up the crime scene, but, for appearances’ sake, makes them look like they’re “on the scene,” answering questions from within the magic circle of the Insiders.
Did you really think that was just some TV shit? Nope! Even the author of the murder cop’s bible, Practical Homicide Investigation, stresses the importance of this extra perimeter to keep time servers and politicians and appointees from fucking up the scene.
And let’s be honest, all of this is happening out there for one reason: she’s a good looking middle class white lady.
I hate that “pretty girl” shit, you know? Cops will talk about the victim that really stuck with them, and if it’s not a kid, it’s the “beautiful young woman” who got killed by her boyfriend or professor or random predator. As if the fact of her good looks made her more worthy of their diligence than if she’d been some poor fat girl.
And my god, murder media is a multibillion dollar industry that relies on “beautiful young women” being killed at a regular pace to keep up ratings. If only ugly people got killed, they’d go out of business.
In my defense, I never kill beautiful young women. Or ugly ones, either. I don’t kill them when they’re young. No, only those who’ve had decades to get set in their ways, committed to their awful selfishness, and proven over and over what mean old bitches they are. But enough about me!
No? More? Oh, I guess I let the cat out of the bag early on about that killing thing, didn’t I? Okay, let’s do this.
Well, hello there. I’m Brian O’Connor. I’m a NYPD homicide detective, and I’m very good at my job. And I’m a serial killer. I’m good at that job, too. I suppose that’s more of a mission, really. A calling. Catching murderers is fun, but it’s not my passion, you know? And you gotta follow your dream.
I am a psychopath, say it loud and say it proud. I’ve got a 32 out of 40 possible points on the Hare psychopath checklist. But really, the test is flawed.
I missed four points because I’m not “promiscuous” and because I haven’t had “multiple short-term relationships.” The test assumes you’d want either of those, and, well, D.O.D. made sure that would never happen. But more about him later.
I missed another two because they’re related to recidivism and I’ve never been arrested, which I think is a flaw in the test, because getting re-arrested doesn’t mean you’re a psychopath, it just means you’re dumb enough to get busted again.
And I missed two more because I’m not “criminally versatile.” There’s only one kind of crime I commit.
It takes a score of 30 out of 40 points to qualify, and it bothers me sometimes that I just barely pass the test.
But you see, being a psychopath is why I’m so very good at this job.
Nothing upsets me. No murder case ever “gets to me,” so I can work one indefinitely. Other cops, when they catch the dark shit, the senseless murder of an honor student or an old pensioner (or a pretty schoolteacher), it makes them crazy when they can’t solve it. They feel all burdened and shit. They can’t sleep, they’re consumed with guilt because they can’t close it, they drink, they fight with their wives, they eat their guns.
Not me! Cold cases, lost causes, dead kids, pretty girls, I take ‘em all. For me, a good murder is a challenge. Other than a major robbery, it’s the one crime people will really think out. You rob a liquor store, what do you do, maybe concoct an alibi. You get busted with drugs, “That dope isn’t mine.” Lame, right? But most people at least try to cover their tracks when they kill someone.
And I have a very high clearance rate. Why, I might have even put more murderers behind bars than I’ve… well, we’ll talk about that later.
I really shouldn’t be telling you all this yet. I want you to like me.
It’s what we do, you know, charm you, make you laugh, convince you to keep listening, keep believing what we tell you. Making a first impression so good that you’ll convince yourself that the second impression was a “bad day,” and the third was “not like him at all,” and so on until look at you, feeling trapped in a relationship you never should have started.
But I’m a cop who solves murders. So I’m one of the good guys, right?
And even if I kill people, they must have had it coming, right? Some righteous Dexter shit, only killing the bad guys, a Robin Hood stabbing the rich to save the poor?
Of course I only kill bad people. Because every murderer believes that those he killed deserved it, that they had it coming.
You might not agree, when I start to tell you more. Once I’ve made you like me. Once it’s too late for you to turn back, to change your mind.
Just kidding! It’s never too late to turn back, to change your mind. But people don’t. I bet you won’t either.