OK one more “Stabitha” chapter!

I haven’t managed a lot of words on it this week but, after a long fugue state, all the pieces are picking themselves up and moving into place, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s done by the end of April…

CHAPTER FIVE

“What a martyr, our Miss Charlotte,” I said after Miss Slade exited the classroom. We had a list of the school’s employees, and it would be a long morning, going through them.

Carrie nodded. “Wouldn’t even buy a pair of decent shoes with all that free money. And from what I saw in her closet, honey she needed ‘em.”

“You know what this means, right?”

“Yeah, pressure will be on to clear this one in a hurry.”

“You do the money. I’ll do the… No wait, you do the computer forensics for the kink shit, I’ll do the money.”

“I always have to do the kink shit,” she groaned.

“It’s tough being an expert, Mistress Carrie.”

She sighed. “Fuck you, Brian.”

 

It was dull work, interviewing the dead teacher’s coworkers. Give me a sinner over a saint anytime. All we heard over and over was how much she loved the kids, blah blah.

“Well, she didn’t have any enemies here, I guess,” Carrie said ruefully. “We’ll have to look further afield.”

“Unless it was one of the kindergarteners.”

Carrie nodded. “Wonder which one of the little tots came after her, secretly sharpening the construction paper scissors, hiding his prints by coating his fingers with that white sticky goop, what was it.”

“Paste.”

“What kind of paste?”

“I don’t know, kiddie paste. Something the stupid ones can eat and not die, like Play-Doh.”

Carrie frowned. “He called her at home on his Fisher-Price phone, rode his Big Wheel over to her house…”

“…and took his terrible revenge for the time out she gave him after he threw a marble at Billy during recess.”

I noticed the horrified look on someone wandering past the open door of the classroom, a parent from the look of it.

“Move along, ma’am,” Carrie said coolly. “Police business.”

The poor woman practically ran away.

I pointed at a cage on the sill. “We’ll need to take some DNA from the class gerbil.”

“You think the gerbil did it?”

“It’s always the gerbil.”

 

We exited the school and threaded our way through the screaming children flooding out at the end of the day, all their pent up, sugared up fidgeting finally given free rein.

I should note, however much you see Carrie keeping up with my morbid sense of humor at the blithe expense of the victim, it’s her defense mechanism. Her own appetite for, her flair for cruelty, makes her unflappable in the face of my unfeigned amusement at death.

But she’s one of the ones who care. Who take it home, who can’t sleep thinking about it. She’s going to remember the school teacher’s name (Charlotte something, right?), her face, keep a picture of her on her desk.

She knows about me. Okay, not that I’m a killer, but that I’m not normal. It’s kind of a running joke.

One day, we were parked in a No Parking zone on 14th Street, eating our lunches. Suddenly she said, “I’m going to poke you with a pin.” And she did.

“Ow.”

“I’m going to poke you again.” She hesitated a second, then did it. Or tried, because I put up a hand to block her.

“See, she said. “You’re not really a psychopath. I read The Psychopath Test and it said you wouldn’t be afraid of feeling the pain, even if I warned you. Normal people break out in a sweat, their pulse goes up, but psychos stay calm. You weren’t calm, you resisted.”

“I’m not afraid, it just hurts.”

“Exactly. You remembered the pain and avoided it.”

I knew what she was talking about, an old test where they hooked you up to an EEG, and a sweat monitor, and a painful shock machine, then warn you you’re going to get it, and get it again.

Now, most people steel themselves in anticipation of the painful shock they’ve been warned about, especially the second time around, but not my type. We don’t even break a sweat. Because, they deduce, we’re so flat affect that we don’t care. Our amygdalas are broken. We can’t remember.

But. What the test didn’t account for was that they were telling my type, “You are in this chair and you are powerless and you’re about to be hurt.”

Well, that’s old news from the good old days, and we know how to shut down in the face of that.

Tell me I’m about to be hurt and I’ll go numb. It’s not a measure of insanity, of apathy in the face of pain.

It’s the opposite. It’s a survival technique. Like leaving your body when D.O.D. enters it. Tell me I’m about to be hurt, and I’ll be gone when you get there.

So I can’t remember it. Because it didn’t happen to me.

But however much she suspects me of doing… things, being a murder cop has taught her that lots of people “have it coming.” I don’t know what’s in her past, some kind of bad behavior, emotional if not physical abuse. It didn’t violentize her, but was one of the “could have beens.”

She’ll never come right out and ask. She knows that not every sperm is sacred. That sometimes the Tree of Life needs pruning just like any other.

They say psychopaths can’t make friends, can’t form emotional connections. You’re the expert! Who am I to argue?

What I do know is that Carrie is my foil, my ally, smart enough to keep up with me, cold enough to play along.

I can tell you one thing – if she wasn’t my partner, I’d be so fucking bored in this job I’d probably kill twice as many people, just to break the monotony.

 

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