Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Untitled, Revision 4 Story to Date, Sherrie Wants Her Own Life

The following is an excerpt of a fictional project I'm working on.  It is extremely graphic.
His blood covered my naked body like a hot summer’s rain. His blood kind of smelled like a summer’s rain; a little on the musty side.  Everyone’s blood has their own unique scent.  I bet people think everyone’s blood smells the same, but then most people aren’t exposed to as much blood as I am.  I love the feel of blood dripping over my breasts, running in between them, down over my abdomen and in between my thighs.  I just wish it didn’t get thick so damn fast; the clots really ruin the effect.  It reminds me of my period; now that's disgusting.  I'm either going to have to keep them alive longer, or get a medical history before I kill them.  Can't keep them alive any longer, once you slice their femoral artery it goes pretty quickly.  How in the hell can I slip "Are you taking any blood thinners?" into polite conversation?  I will have to put some thought into that one. 

I loved the slippery feel of fresh blood.  My hands glide over my body so nicely in it.  I reached in between my legs, feeling for my clit. I wished I had fucked him first, because now I am going to have to satisfy myself.  My fingers ran over my hot spots in short, jerky movements.  I just wanted to get off, and it wasn't happening.  I slid over Mark's body, already getting cold.  I tripped on his size 13 shoes on my way to the bathroom, stubbing my toe on the heel.  Damn!  Usually I like a little pain, but that just pissed me off.  Size 13 was a freakin' disappointment.  He had great hands, too. His hands were so large; one of them almost covered my ass.  His cock was average, though.  Another myth dispelled. 

I turned on the bathtub faucets, gauging the temperature.  When it felt a little too warm, I got in the tub, lying on my back.  I spread my legs under the faucet, positioning myself so the water hit my clitoris just right.  Oh, that's so much better.  My fingers went deep inside me. Yes, this is working.  Images of Mark's final breaths played in my head as I came hard and fast.  I let the water run between my legs for a few more moments while the orgasm finished its final contractions.  I'm always so relaxed after I come.  A doctor prescribed Xanax for me once, saying it would help with my anxiety, but this works so much better.  I try to slice their femoral artery while I am climaxing, but I am not as proficient at it while I'm riding them.  I messed up when I tried it last.  The dude saw the blade and grabbed my arm.  He nearly overpowered me, but I was able to nail his jugular instead.  That was a messy kill.  I hate messy kills.  The look of fear and confusion in his eyes ruined it for me.  Plus, I hate disfiguring the body like that.  One clean, deep slice is my style.  I stabbed him twice before I sliced his neck.  I can still hear how he gurgled just a little while he was dying.  That was disturbing.

I switched the faucet to shower and washed up, lingering a while under the pulsating head.  I stepped out of the tub, drying off with the institutional white towel.  I dressed in a fresh set of clothing. If I was caught on camera while entering or exiting the building, I did not want to look like the same woman.  I never bothered with fingerprints; since I had never been arrested before, law enforcement didn't have a match on file anyway.  Same with DNA, I never bothered to conceal it.  If I ever got caught, I was going down, no doubt.  I wasn't careless; I took necessary precautions against it.  I used disguises, and never the same one twice.  I have never had credit in my name, and I only steal the cash from their wallets, never their credit cards.  I make them go to the ATM first, so I have cash to steal, but I never approach to machine myself.  I am careful to stay in the shadows as much as possible, and I wear large sunglasses to hide my face.  I laughed to myself a little.  I was caught on video once entering with a kill.  The press dubbed me "The Jackie O Killer" because my shades looked a lot like the ones Jackie made famous.  After I saw the headline, I found all the pictures of her I could, and I copied her clothing.  I have to admit; I loved the media attention. 

I finished dressing, taking care to pack my old clothing.  I looked around the room for anything else.  Ugh!  Mark's eyes and mouth were open.  That's offensive.  I closed his eyes, but his mouth would not stay shut.  I turned him on his side and covered his body up.  Men can be so ugly after they're dead.  I reached into his wallet, removing all his cash except for a twenty.  I always leave one bill.  I'm not sure why, except it doesn't feel right to take it all.  I took all the money from my first kill and I still feel a bit guilty about it.  Plus, it feels like a good luck charm to leave a little money.  I need a little luck, if I want to remain free.  I took his driver's license and aimed my cell at it, snapping a pic.  Police are always talking about trophies, and I guess I am pretty normal in that respect.  The pic of the license is my trophy.  I'm sure the cops are trying to figure out what mine is, since I never take anything other than money from the scene.  OK, one last look around the room.  Am I forgetting anything?  Good thing I am detail oriented, when you murder men, details count. 

I walked out of the hotel room, avoiding looking into any potential cameras.  I wasn't wearing any make-up, nothing to hide my face, so I didn't want a camera getting a shot of me.  I just looked like an average woman, calmly walking down the hall.  I exited through a side door and stepped onto the street.  The cool night air felt wonderful.  I headed down the block and crossed the street, walking to a nearby bar.  I'll sit and have a drink here while I wait for a cab.  It was very dark inside, which is why I picked it.  No one would bother me, either.  It was a little honkey tonk gay bar.  I make a habit of planning ahead; stopping in a few times before I killed so a fresh face would not draw attention.  Once the cab picked me up, I directed him to take me to another bar.  I won't drink at this one.  I walk in and right back out another exit.  Then I'll catch the city transit, using several transfers to get back home.  Tonight has been a good night.

The Morning After

I was awakened to the sound of a lawn mower ten feet from my window.  Damn, I wanted to sleep in today.  I looked outside and sure enough, it was my early bird neighbor.  What time was it?  I fumbled around for my cell, but my eyes were still a little blurry from sleeping so soundly.  I couldn't see the time.  I got up and checked my laptop.  Eight fuckingteen in the morning!  I've talked with him before about this.  Sunday mornings I want to sleep.  I see more aggressive action is required here.  But what?  It's not like I can kill him.  Daddy always said, don't shit where you eat.  Technically, that meant don't make messes where you work, but since he's my neighbor I don't want to kill where I live.  That's some shit.  Jackass!  I stumbled to the bathroom for my morning piss.  I slept so good last night, no nightmares!  I never have nightmares after I kill someone.  I think that is a bit odd.  Shouldn't I have nightmares after I kill the men?  Oh well, whatever works, right?  Too bad I can't kill every night; it's the best sleep remedy I know of.
Oh wow, the pee is burning this morning.  I really should practice safe sex.  Mark might have had something.  But condoms alter the sensation just a little, just enough.  I love the feeling of flesh.  Besides, I can't really give them an STD, now can I?  I crack myself up.  After I wipe, there is a little bit of blood on the toilet paper.  Not my period, huh.  I grabbed a hand mirror to take a look.  Note to self; clip your fingernails if you are going to fuck yourself.  I saw about a 2 inch scratch mark right inside one of my lips.  That's a relief; I won't have to make a trip to the free clinic.  Jack followed me into the bathroom, and sat patiently, staring at me while I finished up.  He has to go to the bathroom, too.  Jack is a Daneridge Harlequin Great Dane I found one night after I killed a guy about 200 miles from here.  I felt I owed him a good home since I did his owner.  It was the right thing to do, who knows what would have happened to him otherwise?  I couldn't see him ending up in some shelter just to be put to sleep.  I never saw myself as a pet owner before, but Jack has something special about him.  Everything happens for a reason; I must have been meant to kill Jack's owner so we could be pals.  It’s Kismet. 

Today is all planned out.  I'm staying in my pajamas and mapping out the location for my next kill.  I have to check my client list, to see where I'm going to be a month or so from now.  I can arrange a kill plan in as little as a week if I have to, but I like to plan ahead.  Everything has it's time and place my mother used to say.  It's critical I stay focused and organized.  That's where most serial killers screw up, they get lazy and complacent. I think its ego.  Men think they are intellectually superior, arrogant.  I never take anything for granted.  Count your blessings, grandma used to say, because you never know when they will be taken away from you.  My family gave me a lot of good advice.  Too bad they are all dead.  Oh, well, no point crying over spilled milk.  I don't think anyone in my family ever said that, but I heard it somewhere and it fits.  I let Jack out the back door.  He's a good dog; he never leaves his yard.  I flip on the television to check the news.  It's really too early for them to report on the body. I told Mark to pay for the weekend and I requested no maid service. Have to love those do not disturb signs.

I made myself an omelet and sat down to my laptop.  Mapping a kill plan certainly got a lot easier after MapQuest hit.  And with the Internet, I can scope out the bars, cabs, shopping malls and buses I will use to get back home, or to get back to my car.  When I need to be "the friendly faced regular" at the bar, I always make sure the bartender remembers me, but I'm not too memorable.  The night of the kill the police will be asking questions.  When they ask the bartender, the bartender will say, “no, nothing unusual happened here this evening, just the regular people.”  Very little or no make-up, I tip well but not too well, and conversation is light, airy.  I find something to compliment the bartender on.  I come alone and I leave alone.  Never more than two drinks.  I have a very nice system.  I should.  I have over fifteen years’ experience killing.  I've killed people over half my life.

My grandmother was my first, but she asked me to kill her so I don't know if she really counts.  Grandma was easy to kill, and she told me how to do it.  It was simple, really.  I filled her insulin syringe all the way to the top and injected her with it.  Then I did it again, just to be sure.  Everyone thought she died as a result of the cancer.  I didn't hate her like I did the others.  I loved my grandmother.  I hated to see her like that.  I was fourteen when Grandma got sick.  Her last days were filled with so much pain.  The pain medicine just cut it, pain was always there.  Worse than the pain, was her loss in dignity.  Grandma soiled herself.  She soiled herself!  Every single time she did, she would not tell me so she could be changed.  She was too embarrassed.  My poor grandma, I could always tell if she had, though, because a tear would start rolling down her face.  My grandma never asked me for anything, but she gave me everything.  I started once to tell her I didn't mind cleaning her up, but as soon as I started to talk, her face would turn red, she cried a little more and she turned her face away from me.  I never brought it up again. When Grandma needed changed, I went to work quietly.  We both pretended nothing happened.

My family was great at pretending nothing happened.  That's what we did best.  My dad was not an alcoholic;   he was a stressed out family man.  He provided for us.  We had a roof over our head and food on our table. We had to give him our support, our understanding.  He deserved that much, after all, where would we be without him?  I'm thinking we would have been a whole lot better off, but of course I wasn't allowed to say so.  My dad was cruel when he was drinking, what they call a mean drunk.  I remember watching him drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  I watched that beer closely and when it was almost empty I ran to get him another.  I wanted him to pass out because that period in the middle when he was just drunk enough not to care what he did, but not drunk enough to pass out was a living hell.  I never knew what he was going to do, or to who he was going to do it to.  I wanted him to pass out as quickly as possible. I even started to spike his beers with Grandma's pain medication to make it go faster.  After grandma died, I accidentally on purpose gave him too much.  He died and that ended my problem.  The police ruled it an accidental overdose.  I felt nothing when he died.  My mother was hysterical, on the other hand.

Mom did nothing.  She never did anything.  She acted like a frightened little mouse.  She was pathetic. I had the courage to take action.  She watched as he got drunk night after night.  She tried to get him to quit; I saw her pouring the beer down the sink and pretending there was no more.  Dad was many things, but stupid wasn't one of them.  After mom did it a couple times, he just stocked up.  We never had less than 7 full cases of beer in the house.  He drank from the time he woke up in the morning until the time he passed out at night.  I don't know how he held onto a job all of those years.  He never missed a day of work as a matter of fact.  The counselor my mother made me see after dad's death told me dad was a functional alcoholic.  That was the only thing I learned from the counselor.  Well, I learned that and I learned what it felt like to be with a woman.  Her name was Beth, and she was my first.

I heard Jack barking outside, so I went to see what the problem was.  My early bird neighbor decided to pay me a visit, and Jack did not accept the invitation.  I opened the door and called Jack in.  "He won't hurt you." I yelled.  My neighbor didn't look so sure.  "Is there something I can do for you so early on this beautiful day?" I asked with a hint of sarcasm in my voice.  He walked up to my door.  
"I don't want to bother you," he said. Then why are you?  I'm thinking.  "But I think your dog has been coming over to my yard and urinating on my roses.  I would appreciate you keeping him on a leash when he is out." He said as a matter of fact.

 "Have you seen Jack in your yard?" I inquired.

 "Well, no, but my roses are dying and it looks like a urine burn at the base of them." He replied with an air of self-importance.

"I've never seen Jack out of my yard, have you?"  My tone was getting challenging.  What a stupid little piss ant.  

 I interrupted, "Well, until you have proof Jack is responsible, I suggest you keep your suspicions to yourself."  I was tired of him.  ""And furthermore, I have asked you in the past not to mow so early in the morning and here you are out mowing before 9am.  I would think if you wanted to be a good neighbor, you would be more considerate, so I know you are not coming over here to talk to me about Jack!"  I was glaring at him.

"There is a law about keeping your dog in control and on a leash." Early bird said, as if he were the one offended.

"My dog is always in control and unless he is out of my yard, the leash law does not apply."  I said as I got right into his 3 foot personal space.  I'm thinking this guy might have to go down.  He backed up a step.

"Listen, I don't want to cause you any trouble, I just want you to keep your dog on a leash and away from my rose bushes." He said as he turned to walk away.  

"Well, I don't want to cause you any trouble, but it seems to me you are causing a lot of trouble.  I don't think you really want to get me upset at you!"   I yelled as he walked back toward his house.  Jack was sitting at attention, his teeth bared and a low growl in his throat.  He didn't like early bird, either.

"Come on Jack, let’s go inside."  Jack turned and followed me in the door.  "You know I'm going to have to do something about him, don't you?"  I asked Jack.  I could tell he was in agreement.  Owners know things like that about their animals.  Well that just spoiled my good mood.  I sat back down at my laptop, but I couldn't concentrate.  I was annoyed.  I am considering shitting where I eat, sorry dad.  The only problem with early bird was, I really did not want to fuck him.  I can't kill him without getting him hot and bothered.  The thought of him naked made me nauseous.  There has to be a better way.  There is one thing I could do that might make him wish he was dead, though.  I'm going for the rose bushes.  He loved those bushes more than he did his wife.  He entered them in all kinds of contests.  He has yet to win something, but he keeps trying. Yep, the rose bushes are going down.  I can't afford to have a neighbor calling the police on me for any reason, and I'm not putting Jack on a leash.  It’s time to look for a new place to live.
"Jack, what do you think of a new home?  Would you like a home where you can run free without any early birds nosing in on us?"  I could swear Jack nodded.  Jack is good company; he agrees with everything I say.  So it looks like I have a change of plans for the day.  I hate it when things don't go as I planned.  I really do, it’s disconcerting.  I'll have to concentrate on getting a new home, but first I need to go to Wal-Mart.  I needed bleach, and some fertilizer and I'm thinking a couple cans of sardines.  Then I will have to drive into the next town to visit the friendly neighborhood dirty book store. Yep, early bird will never know what hit him and soon, everyone will know what I think of him.

Running Errands

I have a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart.  I love the prices, and the virtual anonymity of shopping there.  I hate how they put the old people in the express lanes.  They are called express lanes for a reason.  They are not express lanes when they put old people on them.  What the hell were they thinking?  Why do they put the slowest cashiers in the express lane?  I don't have patience for things that don't make sense.  I slipped on some clothes and grabbed my shades.  Yikes!  I grabbed my Jackie O shades!  I can't wear those out in public unless I plan to kill someone.  Daydreaming about killing someone doesn't count.  I looked in my junk drawer and pulled out a set of John Lennon glasses.  Geesh! I feel like I'm dressing like someone else, just putting on a mask.  I'd better have a mask; otherwise someone might take notice of me.  This is tiresome; I just want to be myself, and I'm not sure I know who I am, even.  I haven't been myself since I killed my mother.  That's one body that'll never be found.  Killing my mother felt wrong, but it had to be done.

After dad overdosed, mom became inconsolable.  She acted like she lost something!  She even told me if I had treated him better, he never would have drank so much.  He drank because he was evil.  Maybe she didn't want to remember what he was like when he was drunk, but I couldn't forget.  He's the reason I can't sleep at night.  He's the reason for every nightmare I ever had, and he's the reason I kill.  He drank for as long as I could remember.  When I was little, I saw him hit my mom for the first time.  Of course he had been drinking.  After he hit her, he was very sorry.  He cried, begged her forgiveness and swore he would never do it again.  He lied. My dad went through this twisted cycle with my mother time and time again.  I hated him for lying, and I hated my mother for believing it.

If my mother was not available for my father, he turned his attention to me.  At first, I loved the attention my father gave me; I was daddy's little girl.  I hung on every word he said.  I adored him.  He didn't hit me; at least not at first, so it was easy for me to believe the lies he told me.  I tried so hard to earn his love.  The more beer he had, the less he loved me.  I think I was six the first time he hit me other than a swat on the rear when I was bad.  I never saw it coming; one minute I was standing by him and the next something hit me hard enough to knock me into the next room.  I couldn’t get up at first, everything was blurry and when I tried, my arms and legs wouldn’t support me.  Daddy ran over to me, crying and saying he was sorry.  I heard that before when he hit my mom.  I knew it was a lie.  Even at six, I knew it would not be the last time he would hit me.  It would be the last time he was sorry about it, though.  He never apologized to me after that day and it was the end of me thinking I was daddy’s little girl. 

But thinking about this is unpleasant and I have work to do.  I don't want to think about my father.  I killed him; he is dead, and I have a life to live.  I lose time when I think about my father too much.  I lose time more than I like, and I don't like it when I wake up afterwards and several days have passed.  I can't remember what happens when I lose time, and I don't like not living my life.  I don’t understand how I can go to sleep and wake up days later.  I still go to work and take care of my business, but I don’t remember a thing.  I worry about it.  Like my family taught me, I pretend like nothing unusual occurred.  For all I know, nothing did,

Wal-Mart was not busy.  I quickly gathered what I needed and headed into the next town.  There was a little porn shop there where I could get what I wanted.  Early bird would be sorry he ever messed with me.  My victory is hollow because early bird will never know I caused his sorrow.  I almost stopped short.  Early bird won't know I was behind it all.  Is it worth all this effort?  I don't know any other way to be.  I have to follow through, even if it means I will not have satisfaction in the end.  I have to right the wrong.  Justice must prevail.  Evil cannot go unpunished. 

I reached the porn store and went in.  I had never been in this little store before, but I think all porn stores are pretty much the same.  The air has a sleazy feel to it.  I feel like I am doing something unclean, something dirty.  I don't like it.  I don't like the feeling I get when I'm in these little shops.  I don't like the cashier, either. He has long, slightly greasy hair.  It falls in soft waves around his shoulders.  He has tattoos of nude women on both arms, and a cigarette is hanging out of his mouth.  Smokers are nasty.  Their skin turns a tannish yellow from all the tar and nicotine they bathe themselves in.  They smell like stale smoke.  It is a filthy habit and I don’t like filthy people.   He looked at me in a way that made me feel nasty.  His look made me feel unclean, dirty.  I wish I had not come here.  Keep the mission in mind, I told myself.  The cashier is a means to an end, nothing more.

"I would like one of every porn rag you carry."  I said.  This drew his attention, and he looked at me with a quizzical look.

"What does a pretty lady like you want with those magazines?"  He said as he looked at my breasts.  This is not good; I have drawn attention to myself and I have not taken any precautions against getting noticed.  Invisible, I need to stay invisible and I think this guy will remember me.  Well, maybe he will when he is jacking off in his kleenex, but you are not killing anyone, just making their life miserable.  No one will know what you have done.  That's sad, I should be recognized for my talent, but then again I don't want anyone to know I came into the dirty book store.  Ewe, this whole experience feels icky.

"None of your concern what I want with them, and by the way, my face is up here."  I said condescendingly. He was very nonchalant, as he shrugged his shoulders and grabbed a magazine from each rack.  "Just fucking do your minimum wage job and don't ask any questions."  I added with a venomous tone.  It is important to show scumbags authority. 

Another customer entered the store and looked at me.  I know what is on his mind.  Not hard to tell what they are thinking when they never look at your face.  Dirty, everything feels so dirty in here.  I feel like I need to take a shower.  The cashier glanced at the new customer as he rang up my sale.  
"Lady that will be $72.44” he said.  I pulled out some of the money Mark gave me and handed it to him.  The cashier took it and handed me back my change without any more chit chat.  I think he got the hint.  Funny how he calls me a lady after I yell at him.  Men.

I drove home deep in thought.  It was as if my car knew how to get home, because I don't remember stopping at any red lights, actually, I don't remember the drive home at all.  I didn't lose any time, just wasn't paying any attention.  I had to move again.  This time is different, though.  I am moving for Jack.  I want him to be able to run in his own yard without a nosy neighbor making trouble.  I love Jack almost as much as I loved grandma.  I miss grandma.  I miss her special chocolate chip cookies, and I miss how she brushed my hair and told me how beautiful I was.  I'm glad she died quietly, but I miss her.  Grandma was the one person in my life I could count on.  When dad would start to get really bad, I would run all the way to grandma's house to get away from him.  Grandma always made me feel loved, and special.  A tear started to roll down my cheek.  STOP IT!  There will be no crying, crying doesn't solve anything.
Jack greeted me enthusiastically when I opened the door.  This is why I love Jack so much.  He likes me just the way I am.  He greets me the same way whether I am in a good mood or pissed.  He is just happy to see me. I wonder if he ever misses his old owner like I still miss grandma?  I doubt it.  Stefan was a cold man.  I could see him kicking Jack, or being mean to him.  I would never hurt Jack.  I take really good care of him, making sure he gets the right amount of meat in his diet, walking him, caring for him after he had his surgery for a blocked intestine.  He worried me sick that night.  I lay down beside him in his bed since he was too sick to jump into mine.  I didn’t mind sleeping in a dog’s bed. I stayed with him all night, petting him, talking to him.  He would awaken now and then to see if I was still there.  I was.  I would never leave Jack when he needed me the most.  I even blew off work the next day to keep him company.  My clients were ticked, but I have my priorities in line, and Jack comes first.

I set my purchases down and curled up in my comfy chair with my laptop.  I started looking for a nice house for Jack and I to rent.  I move around too much to ever own a home, but the life insurance payouts from grandma, dad and mom made it so I would never have to work a day in my life.  Dad taught me the value of working, so I have that to thank him for.  I have an excellent work ethic.  I appreciate not having to worry about finances, though.  I could never do my community service in the shadows like I do without a strong financial backing.  My kill plan will have to be put on hold until I find a home for us, though.  Also, I have to observe early bird so I can take him down a notch or two.

The TV played in the background.  Because it is Sunday, there isn't much on but I always leave the TV on tuned to the local news stations in case there is any information about me.  I love hearing about myself on TV. I just wish people could know it is me behind killing these men.  I am doing the world a favor, taking them out.  They don't fool me; I know what kind of men they really are.  Their wives are much like my mother, oblivious to their evils.  But I am not, and I will make things right again.  I turned abruptly as I heard the newscaster announce “This morning the local police found another body of a male thought to be the latest victim in the Jackie O killings.  There are no details at this time; identification is pending until the family can be notified.  We have learned he was found in an area hotel room by the maid. Witnesses are being questioned and we will have more to report as the details become available...”

"So Nancy," the co-anchor said.  "How many victims will this make if it is determined to be the work of the Jackie O killer and not a copycat?"

 "Merv,” Nancy replied, "I have it on good authority the FBI has brought in their own crime units for this one.  Through cross regional analysis, they are able to identify similarities between crimes scenes dating back several decades.  They think the Jackie O killer has been killing far longer than originally believed.  One agent, FBI Special Agent Robert Weathers, has been tracking cold cases and trying to link them by several modalities to crimes all over the United States.  He believes she has been killing for at least the last 5 years, and he suspects much longer.  He is working closely with a criminal profiler to try to compile a suspect list.  As of this moment, there are no leads."

"Nancy, why can't they find this woman?  From what I understand, she makes no effort to hide what she is doing.  She leaves an amazing amount of evidence at the scene, it seems to me there is some shoddy police work happening here for this woman to continue killing."  Merv asked.

 "I don't know the answer to that, Merv, but in two weeks we will have a live special coverage report on Jackie O.  Maybe our investigative team can help solve this case and bring her killing spree to a halt."  Nancy replied with her nice little sound bite.

 "Well, Nancy, if the FBI is correct, wouldn't that make her the most successful serial killer of all time, in terms of victims and length of time?"  Merv asked.

"Merv, she already is the most successful female serial killer in US history.  If Special Agent Weathers is correct, she will be the most successful serial killer, surpassing Nurse Richard Angelo "The Angel of Death" who was convicted of murdering 25 patients in his care.  He pales in comparison, however to Dr. Harold Shipman or "Dr Death" who was tried for the murder of 15 people, but the final count was well over two hundred in the UK.  I don’t think Jackie O has come close to Dr. Death, but in US history, she’s number one.”  Nancy sounded like she was an authority on serial killers.

I turned the TV off.  They weren't supposed to find him until tomorrow.  I was very annoyed.   Doesn't anyone respect the Do Not Disturb sign?


I was jolted awake by the pounding of my heart and Jack licking my face.  I was drenched in sweat, and I couldn't catch my breath.  It was the devil nightmare this time.  I was around 8 years old in this one.  I was in my nightgown, ready to go to sleep.  I knelt beside my bed to say my prayers, and then I climbed in under the covers.  It was still a little light outside, but the night grey was already here.  I could hear the neighbors talking outside, and the crickets chirping.  There was a lightning bug flickering around my room.  Then the cold came.  It started in my toes, traveling up my body at lightning speed.  I was paralyzed; fear made my body turn to stone.  My heart started beating faster and faster, so I squeezed my eyes shut and started to pray. "The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lay down in green pastures; he leads me besides the shrill waters, he leads me in his wake."  I said the words faster and faster, as if my life was at stake because I thought it was.  "And though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil." Oh, God! He is at the end of my bed; the devil is at the end of my bed!  But my screams were silent.

He was a shadow blocking the last rays of light in through my window.  "The devil can't hurt children!  The devil can't hurt children! The devil can't hurt children!"  I said over and over as fast as I could.  He is moving around to the side of the bed!  Close your eyes and pray! I squeeze my eyes shut so tightly that tears are forced out the sides.  "I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil. The devil can't hurt children!  I walk through the valley of death and I will fear no evil.  The devil can't hurt children!"  Fade to black and it is almost morning.  I know I'll never get back to sleep after the nightmare.  Why did the nightmare come back so soon?  Jack nuzzles his head next to mine and lay down beside me.  Nothing can hurt me with Jack here.  Jack whimpered a little.  I stroked his head until he quieted down; Jack doesn't like it when I'm upset.

I dozed off and on until the alarm signaled it was time to start my day.  I had found a couple of nice houses to look at, but I am wondering if it is time to move to another state, even.  Work is going well here, if I moved so far away, I would have to give up the clients I worked so hard to get.  I can't believe the FBI was called in.  That changes the playing field a little.  Decisions, decisions!  I killed this last one too close to home.  I met Mark while on a client site.  He was behind me in line at McDonald's.  I usually do not mix business with pleasure, so to speak.  Daddy taught me that.  He also said “When opportunity knocks, be sure to open the door."  Mark was knocking.

Mark tapped me on the shoulder and said "Excuse me Miss, but I believe you dropped this." 
He had a ten dollar bill in his hand.  I told him it wasn't mine, but he insisted I take it anyway.  I had a feeling about him, so when he suggested we eat lunch together, I agreed.  After I placed my order, he stepped up and told the cashier we were together and he was buying.  That was rude, I thought.  I tried to protest, but the cashier followed his instructions and took his credit card as payment.  Now I couldn't finish the job, as I needed the receipt as proof of purchase.  I'm a secret shopper.  Companies hire me to go in and evaluate specific stores for specific things.  Without a receipt, I can't turn in my report.  I would have to come back to this store later.  Mark was already presumptuous and I had only known him a few minutes.  That's when I knew I would be killing him.

Lunch went as I expected, with him complimenting everything about me.  Of course he was going to tell me I'm beautiful...what else is he going to say?  "I think you are a little on the plain side, but I'd like to fuck you anyway?"  I listened to his pleasantries and responded like any school girl would, with a nod, a blush and a giggle.  At the end of the meal, he asked for my phone number.  I balked, stating safety reasons for not giving a man I barely knew my number and asked for his.  He handed me his business card.  I asked for a home phone and he gave me a line about moving.  He assured me it was fine to call his business line or the cell number on his business card.  Yep, I had him pegged for a player, and a player he was.  Married men think they are the kings of deception, but they make easy prey for a kill.

I got out of bed and headed for the shower.  It was a little on the cool side, just the way I liked it.  I let the water drip over my body while I thought about my next move.  There is really no reason why I have to go to another state just yet.  My soap smelled like jasmine.  I bought it because the aroma therapy advertisement said it had a calming influence, and I like to be calm.  I don't understand why I had a nightmare so soon after I killed Mark.  Usually they stay away for a few weeks.  I have a few weeks of peace, I sleep without terror.  The nightmares torture me.  They make it so I am afraid to go to sleep at all.  Some nights I don't fall asleep; just doze off and on throughout the night. I remain vigilant, guarded against the return of the devil, waiting for the day he climbs into bed with me.  I wake up anxious and exhausted the next day. 

I finished up in the shower and got dressed for work.  Today I had four Kohl's stores to visit.  I was to purchase a pair of shoes and a women's top at each one of them.  I had to time the sales staff for approach, and evaluate them for friendliness, along with other criteria.  Then tomorrow, I was to return the shoes, the top, or both and evaluate customer service.  Kohl's was a big account, with stores nationwide.  If I moved, then they would follow me.  I let Jack outside without a leash.  Early bird had already left to go to work so he would not be bothering me.  I kept an eye on Jack, anyway.  You never can tell about people.  Maybe Early bird would hurt Jack if I wasn't looking, maybe early bird would put out some poisoned meat, or a bowl of antifreeze.  I heard that’s how neighbors get rid of cats and dogs they don’t like.  I would never be able to prove Early bird did it, either. Well, no one will be able to pin my little tricks back on me.  Too bad I won’t be here to see Early birds’ reaction.  I watched Jack closely while he performed his morning routine.  Mrs. Early bird always left at 9:10am on the nose for her women's group.  I would be in their house at 9:11am.

Mrs. Early Bird left right on cue.  I called Jack in and slipped out my back door, pretending to look at the flowers while I meandered closer to their back door.  Just as I thought, it was unlocked.  No one locks their doors in this sleepy little town because they feel safe.  I always lock my doors.  I entered into the kitchen which was decorated in country kitsch.  Their kitchen looked exactly as I thought it would, with sky blue colors, wooden decorations with hearts carved in the middle, ducks, chicken and roosters.  Their house plan was exactly like mine, but a mirror image.  It makes it simple for me to move around.  I went into the country kitschy living room and spotted a wooden roll top desk in a corner.  That's what I need.  I rummaged around in it until I found a credit card receipt with Early Bird's name on it.  I copied the information down and replaced it exactly as I found it.  I moved quickly to their bedroom.  I ruled out the nightstand with the romance novel on it as belonging to Mrs. Early Bird and opened the drawers of the opposite one.  Nothing special in either drawer, but I had ideas.  I left the house quickly; this was all I needed for now.

I always go to the farthest site first, and work my way back.  Today that site is two hours away, giving me plenty of time to listen to the radio.  I wanted to know what is being said about me, and if there are any new leads.  I am sure they have released Mark's name by now.  I tuned the station to WZIP 92.3, the local talk show.  

"It's the Jeff and Joe in the morning show and you are right here with us, Jeff and Joe!"  I hate the Jeff and Joe show, they are too corny and campy for my taste.  "Today we are talking about the latest victim of the Jackie O killer, Mark Zalhallerway, a 42 year old man from nearby Stillwagon.  He was found by a maid at the local Motel 8, his femoral artery slashed.  The police have released footage of a female walking in his hallway near the estimated time of death, hoping someone will recognize her and call the hotline to identify who she is.    At this point, she is not a suspect, but the police want to question her to find out if she may have witnessed something.  They have released a plea to this woman to come down to the station to speak with FBI Special Agent Robert Weathers.  Jeff, I saw the footage and I couldn't see anything remarkable, could you?"

So I was caught on camera!  I'm sure I kept my head down and toward the wall!  "No, Joe, the footage is only in black and white, and it is very grainy.  I couldn't recognize my own wife on that film!  I think the police are getting desperate, this woman is out there killing men and they have very few leads.  She leaves enough evidence at the scene; I don't understand why they haven't caught her yet.  We are taking callers, our lines are open.  Tell us what's on your mind today. We have a caller from Canton; you’re on the line with Jeff and Joe."

"Yes, I am confused.  First the police say she has been killing for two years, and now the FBI say it is maybe five, could be even more, which is it?  I mean, are they just guessing?  How is a woman her size able to take down all these men without a fight?  Do they even know why she is killing these men?  Thank you."  She sounded like an older woman, probably a republican by her tone.

"Jeff, you have talked to the Agent on her case, what do they know?"

"Joe, Special Agent Weathers has been studying Jackie O for the last six months.  He came across an unsolved murder nearly five years ago they think is one of hers.  It happened in California.  Same MO, sliced the femoral artery.  He thinks she is moving around the United States whenever she gets tired of a certain area, or she feels the police may be closing in on her.  They are also thinking she may have a job which requires a great deal of travel.  Right now it is all conjecture.  They are cross matching DNA from the crime scenes to see if they are a match.  Since that discovery, Agent Weathers is investigating crimes in all fifty states with a similar MO and running that DNA profile with known Jackie O victims.  Those profiles will be ready any day now.  Agent Weathers will be holding a press conference later today to update the public on his progress.  The FBI is issuing the first ever most wanted poster without a face, just a silhouette.  They want this woman bad.  At this point, they do not know how she is targeting her victims.  Robbery is one possible motive, since money is missing from nearly every scene.  Many of the victims withdrew a large amount of money from the ATM machine in the hours before they were murdered.  But if robbery were the motive, why did she leave the credit cards, jewelry and watches the men had on them?  Very strange...also it would seem as if the victims were killed during a sexual act, it explains how she is able to get so close to them without a struggle.  By slicing the femoral artery, the victims bleed out in mere moments.  By the time the victim realizes what has happened, he is already weak and near death.  It would not take much to subdue a man with that type of an injury.  This woman is like a praying mantis, she kills during mating!  I think they gave her the wrong name!"  Jeff chuckled.  "I think it gives new meaning to the term safe sex, Joe!"  This guy is quite amused with himself.  Does he really think he is funny, who laughs at this stuff?

"Let's take another caller Jeff” said Joe.  "We have Mary Ann from Palmyra, go ahead May Ann."
"Hi guys!"  A perky little voice cooed.  "I just love your show; I listen to it every day while I'm doing my housework.  I just have one question.  Is it true all her male victims were having extra marital affairs?  Thank you."

"So Jeff is that it?  Are they dying for a little side action?"  Both men laughed boisterously.  Yeah, you guys are a laugh a minute, I thought.  Can you just get to it?  

"Seriously" Jeff replied.  "Agent Weathers did say he was looking into the private lives of the victims, and while many of the men did meet this woman while they are married, there were other victims who were single.  Maybe those victims were dying to get laid!"  More snorts and laughter, they must really think they are funny.  I turned the station to top forty.  I will be very interested in the press conference this afternoon.
I don't mind all the driving I do for my job, especially on days like this.  It's warm outside, but not supposed to get hot, and there is a nice gentle breeze swaying through the trees.  I have the windows rolled all the way down in the car; I love the way the air moves through my hair.  It reminds of the way grandma brushed it.  It makes me happy when I can remember the little things about grandma.  She has been gone just over fifteen years, and I forget more and more about her each day.  It's the little things like the air moving through my hair that keeps her memory alive for me.  I was having a hard time remembering what she looked like, so I framed my favorite picture of her and I together and set it on the coffee table where I can see her all the time.  I wonder if grandma would be proud of me.  I built my own business, and I am my own boss.  I am independent, just like she taught me.  I think she would want me to get married someday, and maybe have children.  Maybe I should try dating.  I stayed lost in bunches of mindless thought until I reached the first Kohl's department store.  


Meeting Mrs. Calderidge

After I stopped at the second Kohl's, I was close to the first house I wanted to look at.  There was something about Mrs. Calderidge I liked immediately when I spoke to her.  She was very pleasant, and had an old south feel to her voice.  I had difficulty finding the house, even with the GPS.  I passed the drive three times before I spotted it.  This is great, I thought.  It is secluded, and without any early bird nosy neighbors to bother Jack and I.  I pulled into the drive.  It was a single lane dirt road with trees and brush on either side.  You wouldn't even know it was a drive except for the two tire tracks marking the way.  I almost thought I had the wrong address, because it was a good quarter mile before it opened wide up into a brilliant pasture setting.  The drive went off to the left and up a slight incline.  The house sat atop the hill. Displayed in the front valley of the property was a nice size lake with a small row boat docked.  To the right was a very large rock, and just behind it was an outhouse!  I hope that is not what I will be expected to use!  Country living is one thing, an old southern feel is one thing, but an outhouse is quite another!  It even had the crescent moon shaped opening at the top!

The house itself was unremarkable.  White wooden siding, white-washed through many years, it was a little on the worn side even, but quaint.  I like older things.  I like when the things look older, even if it may seem shabby to some people.  I think it shows character and history.  That's how this house looked, like it had history.  I liked it.  It was two stories, and in an L-shaped design.  It was clear the two buildings were separated at one time, and the connection was built at a later date.  I'm curious to know what the inside looks like.  The location is perfect. Plenty of room for Jack to run as he pleased and it was very secluded.  I pulled up behind a small blue pick-up truck.  Before I could exit, a very petite lady was already positioned at the side of my car.  Spry little thing, I thought.

"Welcome!"  Mrs. Calderidge said brightly.  "I am so glad you could make it, after speaking to you on the phone, I very much wanted to meet you.  I have a sense about people, you know."  I smiled back at her warmly.  I genuinely liked her.  She couldn't be more than five feet tall, and maybe ninety pounds soaking wet, but she had spunk.  Her hair was wedding dress white, and styled in a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck.  Her skin was fair, like mine. She looked no more than fifty, though I'm guessing she is far older than that.  She wore a pale blue sundress with tiny cornflowers covering it.  Around her neck was a pearl cross, she had pearl earrings and a plain simple wedding band.  She wore simple white sneakers with little blue bobby socks.  You just couldn't help but like this woman.

"Hi!"  I replied just as brightly.  Funny, I wasn't in a very bright mood, but just being around this lady is contagious.  "I felt the same way when we talked, and I am pleased to find you look pretty much like I thought you would."  She was a little shorter than I thought she would be, but I didn't add that piece.  "The property looks amazing, more than I ever could have envisioned!  It is so beautiful, but I have to ask, why do you want to rent it out?"  I inquired.  “I understand the market is bad right now, but this property would surely sell quickly.”

"Well,” her expression immediately fell, and I wished I had not asked.  "My husband passed just this last year, and I would stay here until the day I died but my daughter wants me close in town with her.  She worries about me being out her so secluded at my age.  I really should sell it, but I can’t.  I have lived here my whole life; this was my parent's house and my grandparent's house and their parent’s before them but none of my children want the farm.  They are too metrosocial or something for it."  She paused as if remembering a simpler time, or maybe just longing for what used to be.  "So I moved in with my daughter, but I don't want to property to fall into disrepair.  I still hope one of the children may want to move here, maybe when they retire.  This house has too much family in it for there not to be family living in it.  And I am holding out hope one of the grandchildren may want it one day."

"I'm so sorry for your loss, how long were you married?" I was actually interested.

"Dear, we were married for sixty-two years.  I met him at fourteen, married him at sixteen.  We moved into a little cabin on the south end of the property, and then to the main house when my parents got on.  I knew I wanted to marry him the moment I laid eyes on him.  He said he felt the same about me, but when I was fourteen, he was eighteen.  He asked my parents if he could get to know me, so he came over every Friday night to visit with us until I turned fifteen. On my fifteenth birthday, we had our first date.  We married on my sixteenth birthday.  They don't make men like that these days, let me tell you.  He never had a cross word for me.  He opened doors and brought me flowers until the day he died.  Oh, but I shouldn't go on like that, you don't want to hear some old lady ramble."  She waved her tiny little hand in the air as if she was dismissing herself.

"No, I am captivated!"  I was stunned, truth be told.  Sixteen and sixty-two meant she was seventy-eight years old!  No wonder her children didn't want her out here alone.    "I can't imagine being with the same person for so long, and clearly you are still in love with him."

"When you get to be with your soul mate, even sixty-two years together is so little time.  That's what we were, soul mates.  And there isn't anything I wouldn't give to have him back for even a single day.  But I know when it is my time; we will meet up again, because soul mates are destined for each other.  We make each other whole, and one cannot be happy without the other.  That's Liam and I.  I don't spend too much time feeling sorry for myself, though I miss him something terrible.  But I'll tell you something; I can't wait to breathe my last breath here on earth so I can be with my Liam again.  I love my children, but they aren't Liam.  How about a grand tour of the house?"  She changed the subject, and though I wanted to hear more about her and Liam, I politely deferred to her.

"Honey, you aren't all by yourself, are you?  I wouldn't feel right renting to a single young woman such as you.  The world is not a safe place anymore."  She sounded concerned for me.  I haven't had anyone give a damn about me since grandma died.  I had to choke back a little sob that welled up in the back of my throat all of a sudden.  Maybe I should get a pregnancy test.  I have been way too emotional lately.  Its hormones, it has to be. 

"Oh no,” I already felt guilty for the lie I was about to tell.  My husband is serving in the military, and he is coming home in a few weeks.  I want to have everything ready for him when he does.  I think adjusting to civilian life will be hard enough, so I don't want him to have any worries.  I also have a large dog; your ad indicated a dog was OK?"  I asked, hoping to change the subject away from my fictional husband.  I was surprised at how easy it was to make up a marriage.

"Honey, you tell that man of yours Mrs. Calderidge would personally like to thank him for his service.  It is a fine sacrifice you and he are making for our country, and often it is little appreciated.  And yes, of course your dog would be welcome.  What kind do you have?"  She is just too cute, I thought!

"I have a Daneridge Harlequin Great Dane, his name is Jack and he is my best friend.  I can't imagine being all alone without my darling husband if I didn't have Jack.  But he is very docile, a baby, really.  He will protect me if he senses danger, though.  He is house trained, and I promise you he will be no problem at all."  I wanted to reassure her.  This house is spectacular!  We entered into the living area.  It had high ceilings, but not vaulted.  There was a fireplace in every room except the library and there was a wood burning stove in the corner.  There were three bedrooms and a bath on the second story, so I won't have to worry about the outhouse.  The hall connecting the two buildings led to a large country kitchen which was every bit as beautiful as the rest of the house.  There were oak cabinets all around, a large oak table in the front half, and a breakfast nook around the corner.  A large double wide black stove dominated the far corner, with a cooler room instead of a standard refrigerator.  It was too much room for just me, but I loved it just the same.  We walked through the kitchen into an expansive porch which ran the length of the two buildings.  The porch looked out into an amazing wild garden with a patio set inside a small gazebo.  This had to be paradise.

As we walked through the house, she pointed out various amenities, but I was only half listening.  I could not imagine a better place to live, and I could not believe my luck in finding it at all, much less the first place I looked.  We walked out into the back yard and around the corner.  There was a cement stairwell.  It led to an outdoor basement.  I have never seen anything like it!  The basement was used for cold storage in the winter, back before refrigerators.  It was near eighty outside; still it was cool in this room.  But the most remarkable thing about it by far was a water trough running through it on the far wall.  There was an underground spring water trough!

"Now dear, this is where your water supply comes from.  There is a generator on the other side of that wall with a pump that pumps the water to the house.  This is fresh water, pure and natural.  There are no chemicals in it, and we had it tested about a year ago.  It's the best water in the world, if you ask me.  If you don't mind, I'll be coming by about once a week to fill up some jugs for drinking.  I can't stand the city water.  It smells and tastes like a chemical treatment plant!  This water feeds the lake below, and about twenty feet or so into the west side of the forest is a stream as well.  The stream eventually meets up with Suicide Lake about five miles or so yonder way.  Oh, I guess I shouldn't say that, the proper name is Cassimere Lake but the locals call it Suicide Lake because there have been a couple of drowning’s by some poor souls in the years past.  There's a haunted ghost story to it, but I've taken up so much of your time rattling on, we'll save that for another time."

Wow, how I could sit and talk with her forever!  But she was right, I had already been here over an hour and I had two more Kohl's stores to do.  "I would like to hear it sometime, but I do have to get back to work."  I explained a little about my job while we walked back to the porch.  "I love the house, and I love everything about it."  I said, hoping I didn't sound too eager.  I really wanted this house.  We sat down in the kitchen, where she offered me a glass of water.  I readily accepted.  She was right; this water was pure and fresh.  It was cool, and I know water is supposed to be tasteless, but there was crispness to it.  It had a taste, but I couldn't identify it.  It was delicious.  "The only thing I am concerned about is mowing.  Is there a neighbor boy willing to do that for me?  I am willing to make it worth his while, just until my husband gets home and settled, of course."

"Dear, don't you worry about the mowing; it is included in the rent.  We have had the same guy doing it for the last twenty years and I wouldn't feel right about him losing that money.  I would love to have you as my tenant!  The price is agreeable to you then?  I would want first and last months’ rent in advance, and a security deposit as well.  Can you afford that dear?  You know, if you want to break up the payments until you can move in, that would be fine, too.  I have a sense about you; I think you'll be good for it."

"No, that won't be necessary.  I can have you the money tomorrow.  There are a lot of your furnishings still here, when do you suppose you could be ready for me to move in?"  I didn't tell her I don't have enough furniture to fill a house of this size.

"Oh honey!  I'm all moved out!  I took my personals with me.  The furniture here can stay, and if you don't find it to your liking, I can have it stored in the barn out back.  You could move in tomorrow if you like, nothing stopping you on my end.  Just be sure to get the utilities in your name in the next couple days, and I'm fine with you moving in right away. It will put my mind at peace, knowing someone is here, keeping the place up.  If anything and I mean anything needs repaired, you'll let me know right away, you hear?  I have a guy for that.  I want this place to be maintained.  This house has seen too much love to let it fall apart. We'd sure be pleased to have a nice couple like you and yours here.  Well, I mean I would.  Still talking like Liam's still with me."  Her voice cracked a tiny bit when she caught herself believing he was still alive.
"Mrs. Calderidge, you have made my day.  I would love to move in this weekend, if that suits you.  I can drop off your rent in town, if that is convenient, or meet you wherever you would like.  Name the place and time and I'll be there!"  I was thrilled.  I couldn't wait to live here.  I couldn't wait to show Jack our new home.  And we would not be moving in two years, either.  I wanted this to be our home for a long time.  Since I had to return the items to Kohl's tomorrow, I arranged to meet her back here at the same time.  I would have the keys to my new home tomorrow and by Saturday night I would be sleeping in my new room!  I practically floated through the rest of my day.  

I sailed through the last two Kohl's assignments, and it was not a particularly positive overall experience.  My report will have to reflect my observations.  The last store was the worst, and I might have taken offence with the sales clerk in the shoe department had I not found my new home.  I was browsing for 10 minutes before she barely acknowledged me with a "hello" but when an attractive man stepped into the area, he had her immediate attention.   Some women are so stupid.  I can cut this girl a break, though.  She appeared to be quite young.  I have a saying for girls like her, young and dumb.  They are still naive about men and older men tend to take advantage of it.  Young and dumb puts up with bullshit women their own age won't.  I am required to keep my identity an absolute secret, not creating any type of a memorable experience for the employees I am observing or I would have explained the facts of life to her.  The man walked out without a sale, and I intentionally purchased the most expensive pair of shoes I could find.  I'm returning them tomorrow, so what do I care what they cost?  I wanted to make a point, subtle though it was.

The anxiety crept back into my soul the moment I turned on my street.  When you live with it all the time, you get used to it.  But for a couple of precious hours at the farm with Mrs. Calderidge, I felt at ease for the first time I can remember in a long time.  I felt a sense of calm, a sense of peace that before today, I only felt went I sliced the artery and bathed in blood.  It was confusing.  I never knew there was another way to relieve the anxiety I feel building inside of me day by day, hour by hour, minute by awful minute.  It mounts to almost frenzied levels; until I kill and it is relieved.  When I killed grandma, I was scared and nervous.  My hands shook with the insulin needle, though I gave her insulin when she needed it before.  I knew I was doing the wrong thing for the right reason.  When I gave grandma the shot, the relief washed over her face, and traveled down her body.  I could see it as if it were something you could reach out and touch.  Grandma cried her silent tears and said "What you just did, you did for love, and don’t you ever forget that.  I love you, and I will always watch over you in spirit."  She reached for my hand, closed her eyes and went to sleep.  I felt calm and peaceful then, too.  I refused to let go of her hand until my mother pulled me away from her.  I wanted to go with grandma, and I almost gave myself some insulin, too.  Grandma's voice whispered in my ear, telling me over and over how much she loved me and though I wanted to be with her, I knew she would not approve. Grandma just died, and my family did what it did best; we pretended nothing happened.  It was as if grandma went to market, but she never came back.  It was understood that grandma not be mentioned again.  It was as if grandma never existed.

Thinking about grandma makes me feel good, warm, but not when I think about her dying.  I would cry for her if I could, but I never cry.  I almost let a tear slip today, and that freaked me out.  I never cry.  I never cry! Something about the farm, something about Mrs. Calderidge has touched me in a way I never imagined possible.  I can't explain it.  I don't understand it.  But I know I don't have time to dwell on it.  I pulled my car into the drive, eager to greet Jack.  I was also excited because Agent Weathers held his little press conference today and I taped it.  I wanted to see what he had to say.  I had so much to do!  Prepare to move, plan my farewell to early bird, and plan my next kill!  I still had to work in between all of that.  Busy, busy, busy!  Mother always said "idle hands are the devil's tools."  My hands are not going to be idle, that's for sure.

Sharon Critchfield

Jack greeted me with his usual enthusiasm.  I let him out the back door, keeping an eye on him in case Early bird was plotting revenge.  I don’t trust him.  I’ve noticed lots of “nice, good church going folk” who are nothing but sneaky hypocrites.  I’m not letting Early bird hurt Jack.  Jack didn’t take very long before he was sitting patiently at his food dish.  He is so cute when he does that!  I fed him and looked online for moving companies.  I was hoping to find one that could move my whole house on Saturday.  It only took three calls before I booked the service.  Then I called the utilities and had service turned off here on Sunday and to turn them on there on Saturday.  For the rent, I use my mother’s name, Betty Anne Critchfield.  For the utilities, I used my sister’s name, Sharon Critchfield.  I found out I had a sister quite by accident.

Ever since father died, my mother went to bed and rarely left it.  Grandma used to tell me mother was agoraphobic, and that’s why she never left the house.  Mother would not even take the trash outside.  I never saw her go sit on the porch for some fresh air.  Grandma said it was some type of mental illness, but mom would not go get treatment for it.  What do they call it when she won’t leave the bed?  She would get up to use the toilet and eat, but otherwise she stayed in bed and watched TV all the time.  I would ask her to fix supper and she told me to fix it myself.  I had to learn to do the laundry, clean the house, cook, take care of the bills and everything else at 16 years old.  I had to do all this while I attended school.  It wasn’t right.  Mothers are supposed to take care of their children, not the other way around.  I asked mother to teach me how to cook, since I had never gone near a stove before.  She told me “No one taught me how to cook and I learned.  You can teach yourself, all you have to do is read the directions on the food packages or look at a cookbook, it’s not that hard.”   I think mothers should help their children learn the things they need to do in life.  My mother was a waste of air space.  All she cared about was my father, even after the way he treated her.  I guess she only made my supper because she had to make his.  Since dad died, she doesn’t make supper any more. 

I thought life was much better without father.  I could come home and not be afraid of getting hit.  There was no one yelling at me.  I even slept most nights.  I didn’t understand why mother wasn’t happy about it.  Life should be good now.  We had enough money to get by, grandma had named me her only heir and she left a sizable estate with all of the properties she owned and the life insurance.  It was in trust until I turned 21, but the interest off the estate covered the house and utilities.  Grandma had planned well, and the attorney she hired to manage everything after she died did a good job selling off the rental units and investing the money.  My father was so greedy.  After grandma died, he kept all that interest money to himself.  I didn’t know anything about it.  I found a letter a few weeks after grandma died from the attorney handling her estate.  I confronted my father about it before he started his evening drinking after work.

It turned into a nasty argument, but I wanted to know why he was stealing my money.  He told me while I was living under his roof, nothing was mine.  I was nothing more than a stupid kid and he even owned the shit I made in the toilet because the food that made it was paid for with his money.  He paid all my expenses for the last sixteen years and if I had an income from grandma, it should be rightfully his anyway since grandma was his mother.  He was angry because grandma left him one hundred dollars in her will.  I heard him yelling at mom about that a week after grandma died, but I never heard anything about all the money she left me.  I called him a thief and he backhanded me across the mouth for being disrespectful.  My father frequently felt disrespected, but I think it was the only time my father ever hit me sober.  The force knocked me off my feet so when I fell; my head hit the corner of the coffee table.  I woke up lying next to it an hour later.  That’s when I decided to kill him.  I was done; he wasn’t going to hit me anymore.

I got up and calmly went out on the porch where he sat with his beer.  I said, “I’m sorry for being disrespectful daddy, can I get you another beer?”  He grunted and shook his head.  When I got him the beer, I spiked it with grandma’s pain medicine.  She had quite a bit left after she died.  It came in the mail automatically, and no one told the pharmacy she died.  It took over a week before I gave him almost enough to kill him.  I didn’t know how much to put in his beer to do it or I would have killed him that night.  So each night I kept putting more and more in each beer.  Finally, I got tired of the “experiment” as it turned out to be.  The last night I put so much in I thought he was dead because he didn’t appear to be breathing.  Then he grunted.  He had only passed out again.  I knew how to kill him with a boost.  I got grandma’s insulin bottle.  The autopsy reported high levels of drugs and alcohol, so it was an accidental overdose.  They never checked for insulin.

I don’t understand why my mom went to bed.  Just like grandma, though, my father died and it was like he never lived.  Mom called 911 when she found him.  They came, took dad and that was the end of that.  He was never mentioned again.  Well, almost never.  But no one was hurting us anymore, so I thought life should be good.  I didn’t understand why mom went to bed.  It seemed to be up to me to keep our lives together and that is just what I did.  I learned how to run a house while I was going to school.  I paid the bills using my mother’s checking account and signing her name.  The interest money from the attorney came the first week of the month.  It covered the house and utilities, but left nothing for food or anything else.  I found out I could collect social security because dad died and I was a minor, so I applied for that by forging mom’s name.  That helped.  Then when I was going through dad’s stuff to get rid of his things, I found a lock box.  I broke it open and there were four life insurance policies there, along with four birth certificates, and grandma’s death certificate.

There was a life insurance policy for dad for $500,000.  The accidental death clause doubled that to a million dollars!  I felt like I had found gold.  We were saved, that was enough money to pay off the house mortgage and if invested through my grandma’s attorney, provide us with a little more income.  We would not have to worry about money.  The second life insurance policy was for mom, $250,000.  Isn’t that special, I thought.  A woman’s life is not worth as much as a man’s, in my father’s eyes.  The third policy was for me, and I was worth even less.  He insured me for only $50,000, but it was a whole life policy, so I could cash it in when I turned twenty-one.  It was the fourth policy which caused me to kill my mother.  This policy had not been claimed, but it was for someone named Sharon Critchfield.

I didn’t know who she was.  I found the birth certificates, and there was one for father, mother, and myself.  There was also one for Sharon Critchfield.  Under mother’s name was my mother, and under father’s name was my father.  I had a sister!  Where was she, why hadn’t anyone told me?  I ran to my mother for an explanation.  I demanded answers.  At first, mom just stared at me.  That’s pretty much all she does except use the bathroom and eat.  But I wouldn’t let it slide.  When she wouldn’t answer, I did what dad did to get her attention; I backhanded her.  She still stared at me and whispered “She’s your older sister.”

“I KNOW THAT.”  I screamed at her.  “THERE IS NO DEATH CERTIFICATE FOR HER, WHERE IS SHE?”  I asked, still screaming.

“She’s dead.”  I could barely hear her, she whispered it so quietly.

“What do you mean, she’s dead, and why didn’t anyone tell me I had a sister?  Why aren’t there any photographs around?  What happened to her?”  I was furious. 

“Your grandma killed her and your father burned the photographs.  We never told you because you never knew her.  I was pregnant with you when she died.”  More whispering. 

I backhanded her again; this time with enough force it knocked her back.  “You are a mother fucking liar!”  I screamed at her.  “Grandma would never kill anyone!  WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SISTER?”  I was getting hysterical, and I knew it, but I had to have answers.

My mother stared at me a minute or so before answering.  “You don’t know your grandma at all.  She was not the saint you make her out to be, and I can prove it.”  She flinched.  I guess she was waiting for me to backhand her again. She stood up, wrapping her tattered bathrobe around her.  She has lost quite a bit of weight, I noticed.  I followed her silently into the basement.  Across the basement on the right was a locked door.  I had never been in it before, and I didn’t know what might be in there.   Mother went to the door and ran her hand above the door frame.  There was a key.  She opened the door and flipped the light switch. 

The light bulb barely illuminated the room.  It was dank, moist, and empty.  There wasn’t anything in it except for a tattered rug, mildewed and worn over many years.  My mother lifted the rug.  There was so much decay, here.  I started to get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  The floorboards had begun to rot, showing large gaps and crevasses.  My mother was looking at the floorboard and at the far end she found what looked to be  nothing more than a knot hole in the wood.  She put the other end of the key it in, and lifted a door in the floor.  She pulled the chain hanging from the light bulb, and light appeared beneath the door, illuminating a set of stairs.  My mother started down, but I paused, I was feeling light headed and dizzy.  I could hear my heart beating in my ears.  I was suddenly hot.  Mom paused at the bottom, turned to see if I was following.  My feet started to move, though I didn’t tell them to.

I walked down those stairs in a dreamlike state.  That’s it, I thought, this is all a dream.  I am going to wake up and this will be a bad dream.  The sub-basement was lined with empty shelves covered in a thick layer of dust.  Some of the shelves were broken, and were resting on the shelf below.  Whatever this room had been at one time, it was now the home to a large population of insect and rodent life.  Mom brushed the cobwebs away.  In the corner of the room was a small, long box.  Mother went over to it and ran her hand along it, as if caressing it.  “Come over here.”  She said firmly.

I didn’t want to; horror was crawling over my skin.  I was cold.   I was frozen.  Still, my feet betrayed me and they led me to the box.  “This is your sister.”  My mother said in a robotic tone.  She opened the box and inside was the skeletal remains of a child.  Tiny remains of what used to be my sister.  I gasped.  Mother said nothing, just stared at me with empty eyes.  I fell on my knees beside the box.  My body was on autopilot, as if I had no control of it.  My hand reached out to touch the tiny bones of my sister’s hand.  Tears started streaming down my face, grieving for a sister I had never known.  “What happened to her?” This time I was the one whispering. 

“I told you, it was your grandma who killed her.  See her skull?”  Even through the dim light, I could see her skull had been fractured, leaving an opening where it should have been solid.  “I left your sister in the care of your grandmother while I worked.  One day I came home from work and your sister was lying on the couch, motionless.  She still had precious little life in her, she was still breathing though it was faint and shallow.  I wanted to call 911, but your father said this was a family matter and we would take care of it as a family.  He said if we called 911, there would be an investigation, and we would lose custody of you as soon as you were born.  I asked what happened, but the only thing your grandma would say was that she fell.  Your grandmother had been drinking; I could smell the alcohol from where I was.  I went to the kitchen to get a cool cloth for your sister’s forehead.  That’s when I saw the cast iron skillet on the floor.  I picked it up and there were two strands of your sister’s hair on it.  I got the cloth and put it on your sister’s forehead and prayed.  Your father and grandmother were in the kitchen talking, but I stayed next to your sister, praying and talking to her until she died a couple of hours later.”

“After she drew her last breath, I laid down on the couch with her.  I don’t know how long I was there, grieving for my daughter, but after a while your father came back in the room.  He didn’t say a word to me.  He lifted up Sherrie and told me we were leaving.  He put her in the car and we went home.  He brought her to this room.  A few years later, I finally came down to see Sherrie.  She was lying in the middle of the floor, covered with salt.  I had your father make this box, her coffin.  I put Sherrie in it and cleaned up the room.  Your sister needed a proper place to rest.  She has been here ever since.  I come down here every now and then, asking for her forgiveness.  So now you know, now you know your grandma is not the wonderful person you make her out to be.”  My mother rose and went up the steps, leaving me alone.

I felt as if I was in a dream, like nothing was real.  My mind, body and soul were numb.  Yesterday I was an only child, and today I am sitting next to my sister’s coffin holding her hand.  I tried to imagine us growing up together, playing dolls, sharing secrets.  I imagined all the things we should have done as sisters, like sharing clothes, and talking about boys.  She was my big sister, so she could have taught me so many things, like how to put on make-up, how to style my hair.  I was so alone my entire childhood when I could have had a sister.  It wasn’t fair!  It wasn’t right!  I have been lied to my entire life.  They should have told me! 

My mother was still lying to me!  She had to be lying.  I never saw a drink in my grandmother’s hand.  As far as I knew, there was no alcohol in her house, either.  She was still protecting him!  Even in his death she can’t admit the truth about my father.  He was the one who killed my sister, he had to be!  Grandma never raised a hand to me, never hit me.  My father was the one who drank; he was the one who hit us!  How can she continue to pretend he was a good man?  How can she blame this on grandma?  By protecting my father after he killed my sister, she was as guilty as he was.  He would have gone to jail instead of beating us in drunken rages.  She protected him so he could beat me.  I knew what had to be done. 

I fixed my mother’s dinner as usual, except I laced it with grandma’s pain medicine.  Not enough to kill her, but enough so I could avenge the death of my sister, and make her pay for all the years my father hurt me.  I wanted her to know I was killing her.  I wanted her to feel me taking her life.  I did not want her death to be easy, like fathers’ or grandmas’ was.  I wanted her to suffer for all the years of suffering she caused me by protecting the man who killed my sister.  The nerve of her to blame it all of grandma!  And poor grandma was dead, could not even defend herself against my mother’s attack on her character!  I could feel the rage boiling inside of me.  Mother was going to pay for her sins, and I was going to serve her more than dinner.  I was serving justice.

I took my mother her food as usual.  After about twenty minutes, I went to check on her.  She was still awake, but drowsy.  Perfect, I thought.  I removed the tray from her bed.  Mom fell on her back.  I climbed in bed with my mother, noting the confusion in her eyes.  I straddled over her.  My mom looked scared, now.  Good, I thought.  I want you to be scared.  I wish I could make you scared a thousand times for every one time my father frightened me, but this will have to do. Before she could say a word, I pulled the butcher knife from behind my back and I stabbed my mother in the heart.  She grabbed the knife, so I withdrew it and stabbed her again.  She looked at me, still confused, and said “Thank you,” before she died.  Thank you?  What a strange thing to say.  Thank you?  Enraged, I stabbed her again and again; I stabbed her until I was spent of anger.   When I was done, I was covered in her blood. 

I lay down next to my mother for a very long time.  I felt peaceful, free.  I felt like the burdens of my life were gone, and I was unchained from the shackles of my life.  It’s true, what they say about blood.  I read somewhere that you are cleansed in the blood of the lamb.  My mother wasn’t a lamb in the literal sense, but she acted like one.  I felt cleansed.  In the space of a few months, my entire family was gone, but instead of grieving (except for grandma) I felt empowered.  I felt like I could live my own life the way I wanted, and in the absence of fear.  I rose like a phoenix from the blood of my mother.  I rose to live my life.

I was able to drag my mother’s body down into the sub-basement where they left my sister.  I took my sister’s coffin and put it in the third bedroom mother used as a junk room.  My sister deserved better than to spend eternity with my mother.  I went to the back porch and got the rock salt left over from last winter and poured it on my mother, just like they did my sister. It wasn’t enough, but we had several bags of salt for the water softener, so I used that.  I poured more salt on her, buying it from different stores, until she was covered, and the smell wasn’t so bad.  Then I started buying big bags of topsoil.  It took me three years of buying it in small quantities in different stores, but I finally filled in the sub-basement.  I went online and found out how to lay a cement floor, so I put cement over the opening to the sub-basement.  It was as if it never existed, just like my family taught me.  No one ever asked about my mother.  No one missed her. 

The Press Conference

Wow, I sure can get lost inside my own head.  I don’t think about Sherrie very much anymore, but I would have liked to have known her.  I am anxious to see the press release from the FBI. I fixed my dinner and went into the living room.  I poured a glass of wine and turned on the TV to watch the conference.    

“I would like to thank the members of the press who came out today, there will be no questions; I have called this conference to reassure the public we are doing everything in our power to catch this woman.”  Agent Weathers said in an authoritative tone.

I don’t think I like him very much.  I don’t like bald men at any rate, now Agent Weathers was getting on my nerves.  I wonder if I could kill him?  That would be a challenge!  I’m going to think about it a little more.  It would be interesting to kill the lead FBI investigator who thinks he knows me so well.  I wonder if he would recognize me if he saw me on the street?  They say good cops have a “gut” feeling.  Would he suspect?  How could I get close to him and not inject myself into the investigation?  Oh yeah, I could hang out at the hotel bar where he is staying.  OMG!  I am getting ahead of myself.  I have to move and take care of Early bird first.  I want to play with Weathers, but it will have to wait until next week.

“As of right now, we have positively identified eighteen male victims whose crime scenes match the Jackie O killer by cross matching DNA and fingerprints from known crime scenes.  Her fingerprints are not registered in our national data base which indicates she has never been arrested.  I am working 24/7 to identify other victims and am asking all police departments to contact me personally if they believe they have a possible unsolved crime with a male victim who has been killed with a knife.  We are looking for victim zero, her first kill.  I think there are more victims out there and we have notified police stations around the country for more information.  I am taking this case very personally.” 

Personally, huh?  He thinks he is such a hot shot, just look at him!  I’m liking him less every minute.  I don’t even like how he looks.  He shaves his head and waxes it so no one will know he is really balding.  My dad did that.  He did the comb over thing for a couple years until one day he just shaved it all off.   They are liars!  Trying to make people think they are bald by choice.   I don’t like bald men, but I do like killing bald men.  I favor them over any others.   Bald men are easier to kill, because they love the attention I give them.  I pat them on the head like a little puppy dog and they eat it up.  I pat their head out of contempt, not affection and they are too stupid to know the difference. 

“We do not have a motive for the murders, but we do not believe robbery is her intention.  She takes the money out of their wallet, but leaves other valuables.  We think the money may be a sort of trophy, but trophies are usually more personal to the victim.  We do not know how she targets her victims, the men she murders are from various races, ethnicity and economic profiles.  I have read in the press she kills only married men, this is false.  Some of the male victims were single.  We believe she may be a prostitute, because she kills them very close to having intercourse, and she has been killing across the country.   We are keeping certain details of the crime private for the time being, so if a copycat uses her methodology, we will know.” 

Murder!  Murder!  It sounds sinful and wrong when he says it.  I kill men who plague this society.  I perform a community service.  I can say murder, but he can’t!  UGH!  He is so irritating!  AND he thinks I am a prostitute?  He is so foul and insulting.  And stupid, can’t forget stupid.  He thinks he knows so much yet he calls me a prostitute?  Dumbass.  I have never sold myself for sex in my entire life.  I respect my body too much for that.  I might have led some men to believe I was a hooker, but that’s different.  I only have sex with them because I have to.  Well, sometimes because I want to.  That arrogant mother fucking son of a bitch has the nerve to tell everyone I am a common hooker, a whore!   

“Special Agent Landau Young from the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico will be joining the investigation by tomorrow.  He is the best criminal profiler in the country and was responsible for the profiles of several of the nation’s most dangerous killers, which ultimately led to their capture and conviction.  Someone knows this woman.  Once we have a psychological profile, we will call another press conference to release it to the general public.  This woman is unlike any other female serial killer in history.  She is bold, brazen in her attacks.  She kills swiftly and without mercy.  She is unafraid of being caught because of the wealth of evidence left at the crime scene and she makes no attempt to hide the body.  She wants us to know this is her work.  She wants our attention.  She has a message she is trying to tell us.  We are listening.”

There!  See how stupid he is?  He thinks I am trying to tell him something.  Arrogant prick.  I don’t have anything to say to anyone.  He thinks I want the attention.  Well, I guess I kinda do.  I am 115 pounds and I can take down men twice my size.  It was difficult at first, but I learned how to do it without drugging them with grandma’s pain medicine.  I had to, because after a while they stopped sending it so my supply was limited.  I think killing these men is something of an achievement.  And I have been doing it for a long time without getting caught.  And how dare he say I am not merciful!  Do I not kill them without suffering?  They are dead in a couple of minutes with minimal pain.  I do show them mercy!  I am not the cold hearted calloused bitch he is making me out to be!  I even tucked Mark into bed before I left!  Stupid mother fucking asshole!   Most of them die happy, too. 

“We know that she uses disguises, hair samples collected from the crimes scenes are synthetic, meaning she wears wigs.  She wears the same type of sunglasses made famous by Jackie Onassis to conceal her face.  We have a few images on camera of her, but nothing we can pinpoint except she is approximately 5’7” and slender, about 125 pounds.  Because of her disguises, that is all we have of her description.  A woman was observed leaving the motel at the most recent murder scene that fits the body type, and we are asking her to contact me personally at the hotline number flashing at the bottom of your screen and avail herself to questioning.  At this point in the investigation, she is not a suspect, but we would like to question her in detail.  She may be in possession of information to help us catch the killer, without realizing what she has seen.  Jackie O will not stop killing until she has been caught.  She is the first female serial killer to kill with criminal features generally assigned to men.  She is highly intelligent, and someone knows who this woman is.  She may be your friend, neighbor, coworker, but someone knows her.  That is all, thank you.”

The press went wild, yelling out questions, but Agent Weathers turned and walked back into the building.  I shut off the TV.  The press conference really wasn’t all that helpful to me.  So they know I wear wigs.  I don’t think that’s dangerous for me.  I am concerned about what they are not releasing to the press.  Maybe they don’t know anything else at all, maybe they are bluffing.  Should I move far away or let this die down?  Die down…..funny.  I can’t think about this right now, I have to pack.  I’ll listen to the radio while I do.  Some music will help relax me and if there is a break in the news, I will be aware of it.

I climbed the stairs to Sherrie’s room.  The way mother kept her in that dank sub-basement was grotesque.  I care for Sherrie the way she deserves to be cared for.  Sherrie has her own room, and it is brightly decorated in pinks and yellows.  I have to imagine everything about her because I don’t even have a picture to go on.  She was just a little girl.  Now, I’m the only one who knows she ever lived at all.  I bought her one of those rocking cradles to rest in, and had a carpenter custom design a lid for it.  He joked the cradle was more like a coffin when he attached it.  I told him I had a very valuable doll and I needed the cradle to have a lid for when I transported her to doll shows.  He believed me.  I had a seamstress sew a pink satin fluffy lining so Sherrie would be comfortable.  Mother just had her in the plain wooden box, in rotting clothing that was in shreds.  It wasn’t respectful. I glued some of her bones together because she almost fell apart through all the moves.  I have preserved Sherrie very carefully and treated her with the dignity she never knew while she lived.  I picked out the prettiest dress I could find and cute little socks with bows on them to dress her in.  I even ordered her a little doll wig online.  I come to see Sherrie whenever I am troubled or nervous.  It helps me to feel closer to the sister I never knew. 


I spent the rest of the evening packing.  I don’t have a lot of stuff because I move around so much.  I guess you could call me a minimalist, because I only keep what I need.  I think that was Thoreau’s deal.  Whatever, it works for me.  Goodwill gets a nice size donation every time I move, too.  I always make the donation in Sherrie’s name.  She never got the chance to do anything great in her life, but I want her memory to live on.  She deserves at least that for the life she was robbed of.  It was close to midnight when I decided it was time to go to bed.  Before I did, phase one of operation Early Bird needed to be done.   I opened up the porn rags I purchased, and pulled out the cards to order a subscription.  I carefully filled each one out in tidy blocked script and completed the order with Early Bird’s credit card number.  By the time he received the first magazine in his postal box, I would be long gone. 

I try to delay going to bed until I can’t fight it any longer.  I don’t know why I dream about the devil coming to get me; it isn’t because I kill men.  I have had this dream ever since I can remember.  I have others, too.  Beth and I talked about these dreams in my counseling sessions, but we never did figure out why I have them.  Beth was a good counselor. I liked going to see her.  That was the one thing my mother did right, she insisted I see a counselor after dad died.

I didn’t understand why I needed a counselor when my mother was the one with a mental condition.  Except for the nightmares, I was doing just fine.  My mother said she heard my screams at night and she knew why I had nightmares, but she wouldn’t tell me.  I thought that was selfish.  I begged her to tell me why I had nightmares, hoping if I knew why I had them, then maybe they would stop.  She refused.  She said “It is something you are going to have to come to terms with on your own; I can’t help you on this one.”   Funny, but I can’t remember my mother helping me with anything.  I shouldn’t have expected her to help me, she never helped me before. 

Beth tried to get me to see my mother in a kinder light.  She was like that, always trying to see the good in others.  But she didn’t know about Sherrie either.  She said my mother was caught in a cycle of abuse from my father.  My mother was a victim.  Huh!  I wasn’t buying it.  You can only be a victim if you have no other choices, and my mother had choices.  She could have left and taken me with her.  Women did it all the time.  She loved him more than she loved me.  She put him above me.  Beth was wrong about my mother.  Kind people make excuses for the weaknesses in others.  There was no excuse for my mother not leaving him, and there was no excuse for him beating us.  Beth tried to explain what agoraphobia was to me, and I tried to give my mother the benefit of the doubt about it.  I didn’t understand how someone could be so afraid of going out of the house.  Beth tried to explain my mother a hundred different ways, but in my mind it came down to one thing.  She didn’t love her own daughter enough to protect her.  I don’t care how frightened she was of leaving the house, mothers should put the needs of their children ahead of their own and most definitely ahead of their fears.       

You could say I was a victim of my father as well.  But as soon as I figured out I had choices, I took action.  Killing grandma opened my eyes to those choices.  I quit being a victim the day I killed my father.  I haven’t been a victim since.  I trusted Beth to understand why I killed my father, but she didn’t.  She refused to see me after I told her.  I was confused by the horror in her eyes as I told her how I killed my father, and how many days I waited patiently to get the right amount of morphine in his beer.  Her jaw literally dropped as I described giving him the injection of insulin that finally did kill him.  She started crying those silent tears while I told her.  She whispered “What have you done, my God, what have you done?”   

I leaned over to stroke her hair while she cried.  “I wasn’t going to allow him to hurt me anymore.”  I said.  I kissed her temple and dried her tears with my scarf.  She didn’t respond, just sat there as if she was frozen.  I continued to give her butterfly kisses all over her face while I stroked her blonde hair until she turned her face to kiss me back.    Beth was gentle in her kisses. Her tongue searched for mine with a slow longing I have never felt in a man’s kiss.  When I kissed Beth, time stood still.  Her kisses joined me with another dimension where time did not exist, only love.  I loved Beth.  She reached for my face, and she stroked her hand through my hair and down my back.  I reached for the buttons on her blouse, my lips giving her butterfly kisses down her neck as I unbuttoned each button.  Her hand slid up the back of my sweater and unsnapped my bra in a quick, seamless motion.   I tasted the salt from her tears in my kisses.

She moaned softly as my hand slid into her jeans.  She took my hand and pulled me on top of her.  We made love on the plush couch in her office, just as we had done many times before, except this was to be the last time.  I just didn’t know it yet.  Beth brought me to a strong climax; I thrust my hips against her as wave after wave of pleasure swept through my senses.  Everything became sharper, the smell of lilacs in her hair, the soft caress of her hand on my breast, the smell of peppermint on her breath and the rays of sunset as they glistened on the window, signaling the world it was almost time to greet the moon.  My breathing was sharp and ragged as the climax waned.  I moved to reciprocate the pleasure she brought to me but her body stiffened.  I hesitated; she had never stiffened up to my touch before.   “No,” she said.  “I can’t, this is wrong, we can’t do this anymore.”

“What do you mean, this is wrong?”  I asked, confused.  Beth stood up and began to get dressed.

“A counselor should never have a physical relationship with her patient; I have crossed a professional boundary and have done you more harm than good.  I never should have done this with you.  You need help!”  She tossed me my sweater; clearly this was over for her.  “I can get you the name of another counselor in our group; I have someone in mind that can help you.  You can continue to get your meds from Dr. Ziare, but you and I cannot see each other anymore.  I have no right to ask this of you, but please do not tell anyone of this side of our relationship.  They will take away my license, and I might even go to jail.”  Her face pleaded with me.  I’ve never seen her looking so distraught.

“What do you mean we cannot see each other anymore?  Beth, I love you!  You are the only person in my life who has ever loved me!  I know you love me, Beth, I know it!”  Now I was the one with tears streaming down my face.

“Honey, listen to me carefully.  What you are feeling, you think it is love, but it is not.  There is a term for it, it’s called transference.  This is my fault, I allowed this to happen when I knew better, none of this is your fault, but we have to end this!”  She said as she handed me the business card for the person she wanted me to see.  “Call this number and make an appointment.  I will give her all your records, but please go see her, you need help.”  There was finality in her voice, something I had never heard before.

“I don’t want to see someone else, I want to see you!”  I reached out to touch her face but her hand came up to block me. “Please!”  I begged.  I felt my world ripping apart, my soul was fracturing with every breath I took, every tear I cried.  Oxygen entered my lungs, yet I felt as if I was being smothered.  “I’ll tell if you stop seeing me!”  I threatened.  “I’ll tell everyone about how you seduced me, how you took advantage of me when I was your patient.”  She looked at me with concern and sadness.

“That will be your choice,” she said quietly.  “But this cannot continue.  You did nothing wrong, I did.  If you choose to tell I will accept the consequences, but I hope you will not tell anyone about us.”   She picked up her keys and said “I will drive you home, but do not call me, and if you do, I will not answer and I will not return your calls.  I will never tell anyone what you told me here today about your dad, though I probably should alert the authorities.  I won’t though; you have my word on that.  Even if you tell someone about our relationship, I will not tell anyone you killed your father, do you understand?  I will never speak of it again, as far as I’m concerned, I never heard a word you spoke today”

It was clear there was nothing I could say to change her mind.  She drove me home in silence.  I was not going to beg any further, I would not plead.  I would push her out of my head and out of my heart.  I mourned the loss of Beth, but some part of me understood.  I read about therapists and transference and she was right.  I decided she was not rejecting me; she was ending something she knew was wrong.  She did love me, but it was wrong of her to show it.  I never called her again, and I didn’t call the number on the card either.  She was wrong about one thing; I didn’t need any help, I was getting along fine just the way I was.  I decided not to tell anyone about our relationship.  I did love Beth, whether it was just transference or not, and you don’t hurt the people you love. 

Getting the Keys

I fell asleep thinking about Beth and the nightmares came anyway.  I don’t remember them always; I just know I had them.  Beth told me some of them aren’t nightmares at all, they are called night terrors.  The nights I don’t remember them are probably the night terrors.  I fight demons in my sleep.  I can’t keep a glass of water on the nightstand to quench my thirst; I have to keep a sealed bottle of water.  When I have night terrors, I knock everything off the nightstand, all my pillows wind up on the floor, my bed linen is twisted and I am sleeping in a strange position in my bed.  The Xanax was supposed to help them, but I didn’t notice a difference.  I had nightmares whether I took it or whether I didn’t.  Nothing the counselors or the psychiatrist tried took them away or made them occur less frequently.  I wish I knew why I had them so I could stop them.  I wish I could make them go away. 

Well, the damage wasn’t as bad as usual.  My drink was still on the nightstand, and so was the lamp.  I woke up with Jack lying on top of me.  He does that when I have the night terrors.  I guess he can’t wake me up like he does when I have the nightmares.  I usually awaken from a nightmare with him licking my face.  I find him on top of me after the night terrors.  He’s a good dog.  He wants to help me, and I wish he could.  I would give anything to have the night at peace. 

I jumped out of bed too quickly; I discovered a pulled muscle in my shoulder.  Lovely, I thought.  I hope I won.  Some days I awaken with a pulled muscle from sleeping with the demons in my nightmares.  I wish I knew what caused them.  Oh well, it’s nothing a hot shower won’t help. Ouch! Maybe I should take a little Tylenol, too.  I was looking forward to this afternoon when I met with Mrs. Calderidge and took possession of my new home.  I couldn’t wait for Jack to see his new place!  He would have so much room to run.  I would take him with me today if I could, but I have all the stuff I have to return to the Kohl’s stores.  It’s too warm for Jack to remain in the car while I do it.

The morning flew by!  This time I was early to meet Mrs. Calderidge, but she had already arrived.  Once again, that spry little lady was at my car door before I could get settled and out of my car.  She is amazing.  “Betty Anne!”  She said brightly!  I was taken aback for a second.  I almost forgot she was addressing me.  “How are you dear?”  She smiled warmly.

“I am fine Mrs. Calderidge, and yourself?”  I felt better just being around her.  Why couldn’t she have been my mother?

“Oh, dear, when I told my daughter about the nice young couple going to take over out here, she was quite pleased.  I think it set her mind at ease knowing I wouldn’t get it into my head to high tail it out here one day.  She worries about me, you know.  But I have a sense about you; things are as they should be.  I have the paperwork in the kitchen; do you have time to sit a spell?”  She didn’t act like the desperate lonely old ladies I knew in my neighborhood, she liked people.  She liked company and she liked to talk. 

“I have some time,” I replied.  “I have arranged for the utilities to be turned switched over here on Saturday, but I don’t know when I will make it here, since a lot depends on the movers.  The utility company told me it wouldn’t make a difference, though because since everything is already on it is just a matter of taking a final read.  That certainly makes life easier.  I have your money, plus the first six months’ rent in advance so you don’t have to worry about coming out here to collect, but you are certainly welcome here anytime.  I enjoy your company.  But my schedule varies quite a bit, so I won’t always be home when you come get your drinking water.”  I followed her into the kitchen.

“Well, dear, you seem to be quite efficient, I like people who take care of their business.  I didn’t expect you to have all your rent in advance, though.  Are you sure you won’t be putting yourself in a bind?  I don’t mind going month to month, I have all my needs met.”  Her face tightened with concern for me.

“No, actually I don’t spend a lot of money; I try to save as much as I can so I have a reserve in case something might happen, but I also lost my parents some years back and they left me pretty well off.  I’m not rich or anything, but I don’t have to worry about financial matters.”  Last thing I needed was her worried about me.  Worried people are nosy people. 

“Oh, dear, I am sorry to hear of your loss.  You are so young to have lost your parents!  Now I know we just met and all, but if you have anything you need a mother to talk to, you don’t hesitate to call me now, you hear? My daughters call me all the time to have a little girl talk, I won’t notice a bit if one more calls now and again.”  She put her tiny little hands around mine.  Her blue eyes twinkled in the sunlight, but they also conveyed truth.  This woman was the real deal.  If she said something, you could count on it. Damn it!  Here I am, choking back a tear.  I have to stop at the drug store on the way home, this has to be hormonal.  I just hope I’m not pregnant.  Something has to be causing me to feel emotion.  “You feel free to call, dear.  I won’t think I can replace your dear mother, God rest her soul, but maybe I can help in some small way.  Obviously your parents were fine people to have raised someone such as yourself.” 

I didn’t know how to respond to her.  I wanted to scream out “My mother was a fear driven coward who let my drunken father beat me his entire life and I didn’t lose them, I know right where they are!”  Instead I replied “Thank you Mrs. Calderidge, I will keep you in mind the next time I need some girl talk.  My parents were fine people, and I miss them almost every day.”  Actually, I miss them never, but I had to lie. Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, my life was nothing but one lie piled on top of another lie.  So why do I suddenly feel a pang of guilt lying to her?  It wasn’t as if she meant anything to me, was it? 

“Would you like a glass of water, dear?”  She asked as I read over the paperwork. 

“Yes, please and everything seems to be in order here, you have kept everything very simple and easy to understand on the lease.”   I replied.

“Simple is best, don’t you think?  Too many rules in society today, I believe.  So when is your fellow coming home?”  Mrs. Calderidge was asking a very normal question I had no answer to.  I’m trying to lie about an area I know nothing about, the US military.

“I’m embarrassed to say I don’t have an exact date.  He is in Special Forces and all they will tell me is sometime in next month.  I won’t know when he will be home until after he has been debriefed stateside.  I couldn’t really tell you his location, or even what he does, but his tour of duty is up and the last word I had from him was a little over a week ago.  I don’t have any way of contacting him; I just have a number to call should an emergency arise.   It’s all very strange to me, not being able to contact my own husband.  He is only allowed to Skype me at certain times, and only then if his Commanding Officers consider it safe for him to do so.  Even then, he is only permitted to talk for a few minutes at a time.  I don’t think we have been together more than a month in the entire four years we have been married!”  This is not going to work, I thought.  I can’t have someone in my life like this.  What was I thinking?  I’m not making up lies to a person I will never see again, this is an ongoing conversation!

“Dear me!  It is like you are married to a stranger, are you sure you know who is coming back to you?  War isn’t like is used to be, where men fought men.  I hear they are strapping bombs to children to infiltrate the American camps.  On the news, it said the soldiers had orders to shoot children on site!  That kind of warfare changes a person in ways one could never expect.  Dear me, I should have thought this through a little more, maybe it isn’t such a good idea for you to be all alone out here with someone just coming back from combat.”  She was working herself into a little state!

“It’s fine.”  I assured her quickly.  He is not in active combat; he has something to do with computers.  I don’t know what, be he is not one of the guys carrying guns.  He tells me all the time he hasn’t shot a bullet outside of training yet and if he has his say about it, he never will.  He fights the war in bytes, he likes to say.  But I really should get going back to work; I pulled the money out of my purse.”

“Oh, dear me!”  Mrs. Calderidge exclaimed.  “You brought cash?  Aren’t you afraid to carry all that around with you?  That is a lot of money!”

“I don’t have checks, and some banks won’t take money orders.  I pay for everything with my credit card, besides, no one knows I am carrying money, almost no one does anymore.  If it is easier, I will go straight to your bank and deposit it, the teller won’t give me your account number, and she will make out the transaction.”  I explained.  I was making her uncomfortable, and I don’t like drawing attention to myself.

“Yes, dear, I understand things are changing, but that is a lot of cash to carry around.  It would give me fits just taking it from here to my bank knowing it was in my purse!  If you don’t mind, my bank is Great Northern Savings and Loan downtown on Main Street, right across from the Piggly Wiggly.  My goodness!  Just tell them Carolyn Calderidge sent you, they know who I am.  Mercy!”  She seemed out of sorts. 

“That’s not a problem at all, Mrs. Calderidge,  in fact, that is how I will pay my rent from now on, I will let you know when I am making a deposit so you will know when to expect it.  I really should be going, though.  I have so much to do by Saturday!”  I got up from the table to leave.

“OK, dear, are you sure I’m not putting you out?  I wouldn’t feel right carrying that cash around, no how, no way!  I would be as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I would!  I don’t feel much better about you doing it, but I’ll check tomorrow to make sure you made it safely and didn’t have any problems.  Here are the keys; I labeled each one of them for the door they unlock.  Some of the doors in the house have a skeleton key, and one key fits them all.  Oh, my!”  Her brow was furrowed. 

“I am so sorry to have upset you, and I will go straight to the bank right now.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to have you as my landlord!”  I rushed to leave as she told me it wasn’t a bother at all, she just worries.  Why couldn’t she have been my mother?  Maybe things would have turned out differently for me if she had been.  Who knows what I would have become?  I doubt I would be killing people, at any rate.

The rest of the day flew by, even the attitude I got from the clerk at Kohl’s customer service counter didn’t bring me down.  I had a new home, a real home I felt good about.  The other places I lived in were just places.  This one was special, I knew it.  

The anxiety crept back in as soon as I turned the corner where I lived.  Sometimes it feels like a million bugs crawling all over my skin at the same time.  It muddles my thoughts I can’t seem to get past it.  I don’t know why I am so anxious so soon after killing, unless it has to do with the FBI involvement.  I can’t think of anything else it could be.  Jack greeted me with his usual enthusiasm and I felt instantly better.  I always do when Jack is around.  I should have gotten a dog a long time ago.  I wasn’t allowed to have pets when I was little.  I wanted a pony, like every other little girl does, but my father said no.  I brought home a kitten once and dad told me I couldn’t have it, either.  I never knew what happened to it, but it wasn’t there when I got home from school the next day.  I knew better than to ask.

Sherrie Comes Out

I went about my business, packing things for the movers.  I ordered a pizza for supper; this week was going to be all take out so I could be all packed by Saturday morning.  I had already packed Sherrie’s room; hers is always the first room I pack.  I never let the movers take Sherrie, though.  I keep her with me.  I saw the cutest thing in the jewelry department at Kohl’s today.  It’s called a baby ring and it is a tiny ring with a tiny diamond or birth stone.  I want one of those for Sherrie.  I don’t know what size to order, but I can guess and exchange it for a different size if I need to.  The thought “you know” crept into my head out of nowhere.  I know?  I know what and where did that come from?  My thoughts are funny, sometimes.  I think the weirdest things at the weirdest times for no apparent reason.  The radio was playing in the background when the six o’clock news report aired.

“And up next we have Maria with the local news in six minutes at six o’clock.”  The DJ announced, “right after this word from our sponsors.”  I was only half listening.  What is it I am supposed to know?  The thought “you know” crept back into my mind again, a little louder and a little more persistent.  I hate my thoughts.  It’s like trying to get a blind person to see a color.  I don’t know what it is I am supposed to know, but it will bug me until something else distracts me.  My head does funny things like that to me all the time.  Beth and I talked about it once, she called them intrusive thoughts.  Thoughts that won’t go away no matter what you try to do.  She said they are based in the subconscious and they have an important message to tell me.  She told me to listen to them, but I found the thoughts themselves distracting.  I couldn’t live my life if I paid attention to every stupid thought popping in my head. 

The news broadcaster didn’t have much to say until the very end.  “And finally, Special Agent Landau Young from the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit has arrived in town early this morning.  He will be working with Special FBI Agent Robert Weathers to help capture the Jackie O killer.  He is currently reviewing the evidence and working with local detectives.  The FBI will hold another press conference tomorrow afternoon with Agent Young’s psychological profile.  As news continues to break in this case, WZIP will be the first on the scene telling it like it is!  Back to you, Keith.”

The station went back to music, but I have something else to look forward to!  I have never been psychologically profiled before.  I wonder what he will have to say about me?  “You know.”  Damn, go away, will you?  Beth was right about it being an intrusive thought.  I had to think about Early Bird.  Saturday morning the Early Birds will go in search of the great deal, the great find at the yard sales.  Why anyone would want to go buy someone else’s used crap is beyond me, but it is something the Early Birds do together which will work out well for me.  I needed to get into their house Saturday before I left.  I still haven’t figured out just what message I wanted to leave, but I hope it will come to me before Saturday.  I have a few days, yet.

I had Sherrie’s room packed, and the kitchen, so I moved to the living room.  I picked up Grandma’s picture.  “You know.”  FUCK!  What is it I’m supposed to know, and if I know it, then why don’t I come right out and think it?  My mother took this picture of grandma and me making cookies.  I had cookie dough on my nose and grandma was covered in the flour I just threw at her.  It was the last time we made cookies together.  I was really happy that night.  Even when daddy drank, he never hit me if grandma was around.  He didn’t hit mom, either.  He just sat in his easy chair, drinking and staring at the TV.  I don’t even think he actually watched the shows, he just sat and stared.  He was a different man when his mother was there.  He never raised his voice at us, and he was respectful.  When grandma wasn’t there, he turned into an angry, evil man.   After grandma got so sick she had to move in with us, he didn’t care how he acted in front of grandma anymore.

I packed the picture in some bubble wrap, along with the lamps and a few books.  Living room was packed.  I managed to pack the rest of the house except for the bedroom before bedtime.  I got so busy; I forgot to make out my report for Kohl’s.  I couldn’t go to bed without making the report online and I had to drop the receipts with the contract number and specs off to get it overnighted in the morning.  This is what I do, the things I do to avoid going to bed at night.  It was almost two in the morning before I made it to bed.  I didn’t bother getting into my pajamas.  Sometimes I can trick myself into going to bed if I act like I’m just taking a nap.  No harm in taking a nap, right?  Jack jumped into bed with me and I fell asleep with his head on my shoulder.

I was little again.  I was playing in the park near my home.  Grandma was sitting on a bench talking to the other women.  A man came up to me and told me he lost his puppy.  He asked me to help him find it.  I turned to tell Grandma, but she was talking to the other women.  Grandma said it was rude to interrupt her when she was talking, and I wasn’t going to go far so I went with the man.  He was so upset he was almost crying.  I never saw a man cry before, but I would cry too if my puppy was lost.  We walked across the park to the candy store.  He said I deserved to have some candy for helping him to find his puppy, even though we didn’t find the puppy yet.  We went inside the candy store and he bought me all the candy I wanted.  He was really nice.

The next thing I knew, I was out of my body and I was like a ghost, flying around the park.  I could see the little girl me, holding hands with the puppy man and eating my candy.  We walked farther away from the park and I flew higher and higher.  It was amazing!  I didn’t know I could fly!  I flew over the park and I saw my grandma, still chatting with the ladies.  She hadn’t noticed I was gone yet.  I flew higher still.  The sun was bright and cheerful; the sky was bluer than I had ever seen it!  And still I flew higher and faster.  I didn’t know how I could fly in the air while my body was down talking to the puppy guy, but it was such a wonderful feeling I didn’t care! I could fly!  Faster and faster I flew, higher and higher I went.  All of a sudden there was a voice I heard, and the voice said “go back.” 

I didn’t understand.  It felt incredible to be here, incredible to fly and I didn’t want to go back to my little girl body.  I wanted to stay here.  The colors were more intense than I had ever seen them before and I felt a feeling of warmth, of such a powerful love.  It was nothing like I had ever felt and I wasn’t ready to leave it before I knew what it was.  The voice said simply “go back, you must go back.”  I didn’t know where the voice was coming from, but it came from above me, below me and all around me all at the same time.  It wasn’t an angry voice, or a sad voice, but it was calm, loving voice.  I tried to find the body the voice belonged to, but I didn’t see one.  I didn’t have a body up here, either.  The voice was everywhere at the same time, it was in my thoughts, in my ears and in my heart.  I thought “no!  I don’t want to go back to the little girl, I like it here!”  I didn’t have any feelings up here like I do in my body.  I wasn’t afraid, I was far, far away from grandma but I felt no loss, no fear.  I only felt calm, serene.  I wanted to stay, I wanted to keep flying.

The voice said again “go back, you must go back.”  So loving was the voice.  Who are you?  I wanted to know.  All I had to do was think something and the voice could hear me.  Who wants me to go back?  The voice repeated again “you must go back, you cannot stay here.”  I thought to the voice, I’m not going back, bad things happen to the little girl and I’m not going back.  The next thing I knew, a large invisible hand reached out to me and pushed me back into my little girl body.   WAIT!  I yelled in my thoughts, but it happened so quickly I was back in my body before I could tell the voice to wait. 

I looked at the puppy man, my fingers sticky from the candy.  He had the puppy’s leash around my neck and was dragging me away from Grandma!  The puppy man’s face was changing, and now the puppy man was in my bedroom.  The puppy man was at the end of my bed!  The puppy man must be the devil, he must be the devil!  My brain was screaming in my head, but nothing came out of my mouth but silence.  If the puppy man wasn’t the devil, then he could hurt me!  Grandma, mommy, daddy, help me!  The puppy man is coming to get me, the puppy man is here!  No one came and the puppy man got closer and closer to me.  My body was rigid as the puppy man stood beside my bed looking down on me.  I couldn’t breathe anymore; the puppy man stole my breath.  I must be dead.  I had no heartbeat, no breath, and the puppy man must have killed me.

I was awakened by Jack, covered in my own sweat.  Damn it all to hell!  She was so close this time, so close.  I try to tell her the truth in her dreams, the truth about her childhood she doesn’t want to face, but she bails on me every single time.  I thought she was going to make it through the dream.  I thought she would finally see a small part of what I try to tell her when she sleeps.  Damn it all to hell!  I didn’t want to come out, I pushed her too far.  She went into hiding.  She went into her deep sleep.  That means I have to take over for her again.  Damn it!  I looked at the clock; it was 4:44 am.  She doesn’t like to get up this early, but I am going to have to if I am going to run her life for her today.  I have to check her schedule and see what she had planned.  I keep an eye on her most of the time, but I have to sleep sometimes, too.  I know what she is planning for Early Bird, but while I am taking over, we will make a few adjustments.  I’m ditching the bleach, so I will have to run to the store.  Today is Wednesday; she wanted to check out the press conference.  I wonder if I can get her to come back before the day is over.  It will be hard, but I think I can do it.  After all, she just ran away from the dream, as far as she knows she is still asleep.

I got out of bed to look in the mirror.  I hate it when I have to be here for her.  My name is Sherrie, but they will call me by her name all day, well not her name exactly, she hasn’t used her own name in years.  Sometimes she uses mom’s name, Betty Anne, sometimes she uses mine, and yet other times she uses grandma’s name.  I can’t remember a time since she killed her (our) mother she has used her name, the name she was born with.  Oh well, I will respond to whatever name she has people calling her.  I have to pretend to be her.  Well, I can be a little bit of me.  I like the glam look while she likes the natural look.  I hope she didn’t pack my make-up, because I am going to need it if I am going to play her life today.  You sleep, my precious darling.  Sherrie is here to take care of things.  I know just what to do.

Sherrie’s Day Out

Whenever I come out, the first thing I have to do is check her schedule.  She has learned over the years to write everything down.  She is almost neurotic about it, we all are, I guess.  I am what Beth called the Keeper because I know what is going on more than anyone else.  I just don’t let the shit that happened to us when we were little bother me the way she does.  Shit happens, get over it and move on is what I say to it.  I hopped in the shower, and then got dressed and ready for my day. 

Damn it!  She packed the fucking coffee.  I’ll have to make a soda work.  I sat down at her computer to look at her schedule.  She is doing McDonald’s and Burger King today, wow, she is feeling ambitious.  Oh, they are all drive through.  But still, she has 5 of each to do.   I put on some classical music while I looked at her notes and “to do” lists.  Hmm, she doesn’t know what to call Early Bird.  Ass is short and simple.  I wrote that down next to her note.  I crossed out bleach and put fertilizer, putting too much fertilizer on the Roses will kill them as easily as bleach will and will not be as obvious.  I also wrote to fertilize all of his flowers, not just the roses.  If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, Euphonia always said.  I don’t know who in the hell Euphonia is, someone met her while I was sleeping and I found out about her later.  It’s a good saying, though.  Our family lived off of the little colloquialisms from the elders.  I also added eggs to her early bird list, and a kitten.  I think some sex toys might be nice, and some condoms to put in his night stand.  I can’t think of anything else that will bring down Early Bird a notch or two.  Maybe I could write an anonymous note to his pastor?  A confessional note!  Yes, I think it would help if the pastor knows his sins.  I started typing it right away.

Dear Michael Stone:
As my minister, I need some help and guidance but am afraid to ask you directly for it.  I have some problems and perversions I need to be forgiven for.  I have cheated on my wife Mary several times over the course of our marriage and I am thinking of cheating again with a woman who is a member here.  I don’t know what to do; I have urges I can’t control.  I look at porn every chance I get when I am near a computer, and I regularly subscribe to several pornographic magazines.  It is so bad; I am starting to have these fantasies about very young women, some women no older than 10 or 12 years old.  I realize I am too old for women that young, but I want them so bad and I think they want me, too.  They are always tempting me, flirting with me and they are so brazen!  One of the girls in our youth group said she wanted me to drive her home after a group outing one night.  Clearly, she wanted me as badly as I wanted her, but that night I could not drive her home alone, my wife was in the choir room practicing the piano.
There is more to reveal yet about the nature of my sins.  I masturbate at least three times a day, sometimes more.  I have been calling the sex lines for phone sex and I’ll masturbate with them, too.  Then I found out how to Skype on the computer.  I can’t believe how many women are willing to undress and masturbate on the Skype for me!  As soon as I found that out, I stopped calling the phone sex numbers because they charge quite a bit of money, and Skyping is free!  I have discovered I have a secret fetish for the really fat women.  Mary is the same weight she was in high school, and she just doesn’t turn me on anymore.  Mary is also very frigid and refuses to do some of the sexual things the other women will do for me.  Really young women like me to watch them get undressed on the Skype, too.  Some of them want to watch me masturbate at the same time they do!  It is so exciting!  But I don’t consider that cheating on my wife since I have never met these women and I don’t have a relationship with them outside of the internet. 
Also, I have been stealing from the collection plate at church every Sunday.  I know this is wrong, but I get such a thrill when I do it!  I have been stealing from my elderly parents, too.  I manage all of their money and being an only child I will inherit it one day anyway, so I don’t think that counts as stealing, either.  I thought I should tell you about it since it might be considered a sin.  I am struggling, Mike.  That is why I am coming to you.  I need counseling and advice.  Should I divorce Mary so I can sleep with as many women as I want?  It wouldn’t be a sin if I did it that way.  I realize I should probably step down as an elder in the church, but I never steal more than I put into the collection plate, never steal more than I tithe.  I figure that is not really stealing, then.  I don’t know, I am so confused! 
I also think I might be gay, because I have been having sexual thoughts about you, too.  I dream about you every night.  I dream we are lovers.  I know you are married, too, but it isn’t cheating if you are having sex with another man.  I don’t really think I am too gay, though.  I do like having sex with women, but I have never had sex with a man so I would like to try it.  I just don’t know how to get into the whole gay thing, what I am supposed to do to have some gay sex.  So you can see how troubled I am, and how much in need of guidance.  I have Skyped a couple of guys and we have masturbated together like I did with the guys in college, but I am longing to try the real thing.  If you are interested, let me know.  We can arrange to meet at out cabin.  That’s where I take all the women I have affairs with so Mary doesn’t find out.
I need some direction, and please keep this letter to private.  It would be very embarrassing if the details were read by anyone else, but I feel I have strayed from God’s path and want you to give me some direction.  Please call me at work to make an appointment with you, and if you want to have sex, use the code word “roses.”  That way I will know we have an understanding and will arrange our meeting at the cabin.  Thank you so much for your support.

                                                                                                Sincerely, Thomas Blakely

I put it in an envelope.  I was going to mail this one during my errands today.  She doesn’t have to know about what I did to Early Bird.  I think I’ll tape the press conference for her.  Maybe I should stay out a little longer.  Typing up this letter has brought some desires of my own into my mind.  I think a little sex is a good idea.  Unlike her, though, I don’t have to kill them when I’m done.

I like the new home she has picked out for us.  I just wish she could get her act together.  So what our childhood fucking sucked?  So what our dad was an alcoholic?  So what if our mother did nothing to help us?  So what about a lot of things.  Same things happen to people all the time all over the world and they don’t go nuts about it.  She has made up a childhood that is only partially true.  The rest is what she has filled in with fairytales.  She credits herself for killing our mother.  That wasn’t all her.  She isn’t the only one angry with her, but I know our mother better than she does.  I know our mother was every bit of a victim as we were, and I can have some compassion for her.  I was against her killing our mother but I didn’t have a say in it.  I saw how broken our mother was.  I saw our mother crying quite often.  Our mother walked around with empty eyes, like her soul had died a long time ago but her heart kept beating and her lungs kept on breathing.  She looked like the walking dead to me.  I felt sorry for her.  She got mad at our mother’s last words, but I heard them, too.  Our mother said “Thank you” because without understanding it, she put our mother out of her pain, she released our mother from her internal prison.  Though I was against killing our mother, when I saw mom wanted it, no, needed to be released from her misery, I was happy for her.  I accept she killed our mother because I believe everything happens for a reason.  Our mother is free because she killed her.

I believe the truth will set you free.  I want so badly for her to face the truth, that’s why I try to tell her in her thoughts, in her dreams.  She calls them nightmares.  She hasn’t followed a single one through to the end yet.  How can she be what she is meant to be unless she knows who she really is?  I don’t know.  I keep the knowledge.  Maybe I am too hard on her.  Maybe what is meant to be is that I keep the knowledge for the rest of her life.  After all, we get by pretty well, don’t we?  Well, I suppose killing men should be ended, and I’m really hoping once she remembers she won’t have to kill anyone anymore.  She wants to be cleansed for her sins, but the sins she wants to cleanse belong to someone else.  She wasn’t a sinful child, she was a victim.  The sins to be cleansed cannot be cleansed for those who committed them are deceased.  They will have to atone for their own sins if there is a God.  I stopped believing in God the day when we were flying to heaven, flying away from the puppy man and God told us to go back.  No, that’s not right.  God made us go back.  I am certain we met God that day, or what people call God, anyway.  I am certain that was the voice we heard, the peace and tranquility we felt.  I am sure the love I felt there was the love of God.  My problem with God is if God loved us so much, why send us back to be hurt for years to come?  It doesn’t make any sense that if God was good, why did he send us back?  God knew what he was sending us back to, and he did it anyway.

That’s when I decided if that was God, then I didn’t want any part of it.  We were safe there and he sent us back.  So you had better believe I have issues with a God like that.  I looked at the clock and discovered it was after 8:30am already!  I had to let Jack out and start my work day.  I don’t think Jack likes me as much as he likes her.  I don’t know why, but I don’t have the connection with Jack she does.  Jack tolerates me, but is not very affectionate with me like he is her.  I’m more of a cat person, anyway.  I’m going to get a kitten once we get to our new home, and I don’t care what she has to say about it. 

I will give her credit for one thing; she is very organized about her work.  She has ten drive thru stops to make, and they are equally split between breakfast and lunch.  The way she has them mapped out, and in what order she needs to hit each one is impressive.  I should be home by two in the afternoon at the latest.  I want to get an internet card for the laptop, though because it doesn’t make sense to fill out the reports at the end of the day like she does.  With a card for the laptop, I can do them as I go along, click, click, click and done!  I can get the receipts faxed; the spec sheets filled out and still have time to hit a bar for happy hour.  That is the best time to hit a bar if you just want sex because the married men stop to have a drink with their buddies before heading home to the Mrs.  No strings attached, just the way I like it.  I never bring them back here for sex, though.  I think she would freak the hell out if I did.  I make them pay for a hotel room and unlike her; I want the security cameras to see me.  In fact, I make a point of it.  That way, if she kills someone in a hotel where I have been before, our image will be on tape at a time when no one died.  She never thought of it like that, I came up with it on my own.  After all, I don’t want to go to prison any more than she does. 

Nothing unusual in any of the drive thru shopping trips except I have to visit each of them tomorrow at approximately the same times and order the exact same thing and “eat” it in the restaurant.  I have to compare the food and service from the drive thru to the dining experience.  That means I have to carry her for two days when I originally wanted her back out tonight.  But I can’t leave her to work tomorrow when she would have to compare work I completed today.  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.  In this case, the best laid plans of the Keeper.  Well, I might as well make the best use of my time out.  Waste not, want not as Grandma used to say. 

I ran on home to let Jack out, and change.  She wasn’t much of a vamp, but when I come out to play I like to vamp it up.  I started the hot rollers while I picked out a dress.  Oh my God!  Has it really been that long since I’ve been out?  I don’t have a single dress that isn’t in the very back of the closet.  She doesn’t take care of my things when I am watching!  Goddamn, mother fuck it to hell!   Is it too much to ask for a little fucking respect?”  I keep the FUCKING SECRETS!  I keep the secrets!  I do.  All I want is for care to be taken with my things when I am watching, that’s all.  I keep the secrets……if I told you what I knew, what would you FUCKING DO?  Honestly, I don’t know what she would do, and I guess that’s why I keep the secrets.  I have been trying to let her know the truth of her life bit by bit.  I do it in her dreams, in her thoughts, and by the notes I leave.   She has never heard me out.  I bear them, why can’t she?  I have compassion for our mother.  Maybe it is time I had some compassion for her.  Do I have the right to reveal the secrets to her? My job is to keep the secrets.  Who am I to be judge and jury deciding when she should know them?   I am angry with God for sending us back, but who am I to play God?  So what if my things are wrinkled in the back of the closet.  She doesn’t know I am here.  It is a simple matter, really.  I just go buy something new.  We have the money; I just won’t shop at Kohl’s.  Kohl’s is department store tacky at a high end price.   So all right, I will get my hair and make-up finished, and then it is off to the mall I go!

I love my hair.  I think it is my best feature, though I like all my features.  I think I am beautiful.  Too bad she doesn’t think so.  That’s why she dresses so plain jane all the time.  My hair is an incredible shade of red.  I remember one fall day in Ohio when I was out for a while; I don’t recall why I was out, but the trees!  I could not believe the brilliance in the trees!  Until that day, I thought trees were green, brown or twiggy.  I had never seen the display of color before.  I saw every shade of red, yellow and orange imaginable.  We went hiking at some park called The Gorge.  I remember it because it had a river running right through it, and my Grandpa was telling me the stories of the caves and the rocks we saw along the way.   She thinks Grandma was all that, but I know it was Grandpa.  Grandpa took me hiking, he took me fishing, and we went everywhere together.  She doesn’t remember Grandpa because we were only 4 when he died and he usually played with me. 

Grandpa was telling me how the Indians used part of the trail in their travels, and how the river was used to transport stuff, I remember bits and pieces.  What I remember the most was I saw the color of my hair in the leaves of the trees.  I had never seen color like my hair anywhere ever!  I picked up a leaf from the trail that matched the color of my hair the best.    Grandpa noticed and smiled.  He said “See honey bunny?  You are a natural beauty.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.  You have the proof of it there in your leaf.”  I still have the leaf hidden safely away in my secret box.  I came out for a little while when the carpenter was designing the lid for Sherrie’s (not me) coffin.  There was just one thing I needed added.  On the top of the casing, there is a design of a carved Angel reaching out her hand from heaven to bring the little child back to heaven.  I had him make the Angel’s hair thick and full like mine, except longer.   The hair of the Angel looked as if it never ended. 

Her hair flowed with such ease, he designed the hair to flow over the top of the coffin, and down over the sides.  If you touch the hand of the Angel and move it just a tiny bit to the left, the hair opens up a secret compartment.  She doesn’t know it is there, I didn’t stay out long enough for her to know she lost any time.  She thought the Angel was the carpenter’s idea and I let her think it.  It is there I hide my leaf, and anything else of value to me.  She doesn’t always pack my things when she moves, or they get otherwise lost.  What matters most is in the compartment hidden in the hair of the Angel.

I twisted bits of my hair around the hot rollers.  My hair was too thick to wrap very much, but I didn’t need a lot of curl to go a long way.  While the curlers were doing their job, make-up went on and I was done!  Everything else I needed to wear I would buy at the mall.  If I had to be out for two days, then I was going to have fun.  Being the Keeper is hard work.  I deserve a little fun now and then; after all, who am I hurting?  Of all the things this evening started in our lives, I would live to regret thinking “Who am I hurting?”  more than anything else that happened tonight.  Mother always said “If I knew then what I know now….”   But they also say “Ignorance is Bliss.”  I don’t know who they are, but I would have loved to remain a little ignorant about some things.  Right now, in this moment and time, I am happily, blissfully ignorant about the fire storm I was about to create.  Autumn Firestorm!  That is what Grandpa called the color of my leaf!  Isn’t it funny how a little thing like that, calling my hair Autumn Firestorm, took me right back to the sights and the sounds of The Gorge that day?  I wish I could be four years old just one more time. That day was one of the happiest days of my life.

I usually like shopping, but I didn’t have a lot of time to do it if I wanted to make happy hour.  The downtown Hilton has the best happy hour spread around and it attracted higher level professional men.  Additionally, if I was lucky, one of the men I would meet tonight would be from out of town.  Hotel room and out of town equals a night he won’t soon forget!  They always look so surprised when they ask me for my number and I say no.  Since I am short on time, it will have to be a little black dress with something sparkly around my neck, fingers and bracelet.  I can’t go wrong with it.  Four inch heels may be the fashion, but guys like you to be a little shorter than they are.  I wore a pair like Lady Gaga had on once and I had to call them the Percocet heels because they hurt like a living hell by the end of the evening.  And it was just a tad uncomfortable for the both of us when I had to bend over to give him his final kiss goodbye.  The Percocet heels never made it home.  I threw one out the window on highway 62 and the other one went out the window on highway 43. 

I found a nice pair of heels which were rather understated, but maybe understated heels is best for tonight.  I’ve got the glam going on up top. 

Once I walk into the room, I will pause at the entrance for just a second; just long enough for it to appear I am looking for someone, only to be visibly disappointed he isn’t here.  Guys LOVE a lonely, single, beautiful damsel in distress.  And I just love making an entrance!  I tried to look slightly uncomfortable as I strategically seated myself at the end of the bar with the most visibility, and only one empty seat beside me.  If I had a choice tonight, I wanted to see who would fight for the one seat next to me.  I ordered a club soda with lemon and before I could pay, the bartender said it was compliments of the gentleman seated directly across from me at the opposite end of the bar.  He was hot, I’ll give him that.  He is assertive and moves in quickly for what he wants.  Nice move.  I nod my head in polite thanks.  He nods his head in return, and looks away pretending to watch the football game on the widescreen.  Oh, and he plays it hot and cold.  I like it.  He can play hot and cold, I know that game well.  I have mastered it and become bored with it.  We will play cat and mouse, instead.  I just have to decide who I want to be the mouse, him or me.  There is time for the game; he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

A woman can always depend on company from the bartender.  You know what they say; a bartender gets laid more than the drummer.  It wasn’t long before I became the focal point Ame’.  “Beauty such as yours should never be left unattended.  Who is this ignorant man who cannot appreciate artistry?”  Pfffft! Really? He had a thick French accent, so I didn’t know if he was a superficial pick up cad or it was simply the vernacular he used.  Hot guy likes hot and cold, so that is how I will play with Ame’.  I gave him a flat, cynical look.

“Do women usually respond to that?”  I know pitiful insecure women do, but how do real women respond? “Actually, yes.”  Ame’ said without the accent.  He had a nice smile when he wasn’t trying to be smarmy. 

“Are you even French, is Ame’ your real name?”  I asked curious.

“Yes, and yes.  Ame’ is French for beloved.  I was born in a little village named Izieu.  Have you ever heard of it?”  He asked.  I thought I heard a bit of a challenge in his voice, like I should know of this tiny little village a world away from me. 

“No, should I have?”  I replied, already getting annoyed with him.

“Well, I haven’t met an American who has yet, but it was an important part of history during WWII, my little village has much to be proud of.”  He said with a hint of arrogance in his voice.  “I am an American citizen, but the lack of knowledge and education here never ceases to amaze me, the average American knows little of the world outside of their country.  My parents would tell me stories every night at supper, at least I thought they were stories, but they were really important world histories and culture.  A month before the war ended, a group of seven people had been hiding Jewish children from the Nazis.  If they were caught, the Nazis would kill them.  They hid forty four children in all, the youngest just five years old.  A French citizen tipped off the Gestapo who raided the village, capturing all the adults and children.  Some were taken to a German processing center and shot.  The rest were transferred to Auschwitz.  You have heard of Auschwitz, haven’t you?”  He asked.

I was already bored, I didn’t come out tonight for a history lesson.  I did want hot guy to at least think I was having an interesting time with Ame’, though.  I flipped my hair over my shoulder playfully.  “Of course.  Americans are not completely illiterate or unaware of world events.”  I was lying; I had no idea what he was talking about.  I can’t be expected to remember everything!

“Good, then you know the history there.  Anyway, all of the children died, and only one adult survived.  That survivor was my grandmother.  So you see why I am so proud of the village I was born in?”  He smiled again.

“Certainly,” I replied.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to say next.  He must be a riot at parties with stories like this one.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to respond.  Hot guy across the bar yelled “Barkeep!”

“Duty calls, beautiful lady, but have no worries, I will make sure you are not alone tonight.”  Ame’ assured me as he turned to attend to hot guy.  Great, I thought.  An evening of historical horror stories from the master himself.  What could be more entertaining?  Hot guy better be worth enduring conversation with Ame’.    He does have a great ass, I noticed as he walked away.  I could not hear the exchange between the two, but it lasted some time.  I heard Ame’ say “Yes, sir I understand and will follow instructions.”  But I could hear nothing else.  Then hot guy stood up, smiled in my direction and left!  That blows, I thought.  I never anticipated him leaving and I have no plan B.  I can’t make it to another bar before the end of happy hour.  I could go to the Holiday Inn, they usually have live entertainment.  The men I find there are also lower class, but beggars can’t be too choosy, now can they?  I simply cannot endure the evening with Ame’, and hope someone else might show up.  Even Ame’ seemed to have disappeared, I was left alone except for a few couples scattered around the bar.  Now would be a good time to leave, before Ame’ returned.  I rose and walked briskly toward the exit.

“Madame!  Wait!”  I heard Ame’ yell.  Oh, no, I thought.  I pretended not to hear him and continued toward the door.  “Madame!  Please Wait!”  Ame’ yelled again, with urgency in his voice.  The doorman stopped me at pointed back toward Ame’.  I was trapped.  I turned to face him.  “I’m so happy I caught you before you left!”  He said breathlessly.  “I have a surprise for you back inside.”

I bet you do, I thought.  He will regale me with a touching story of a Russian royal family removed from their home and executed.  The lone survivor, a princess, would turn out to be his other grandmother.  “Look Ame’, I’m not interested in your company the rest of the evening.”  I said flatly.  That ought to put an end to his attention.   

“Well, one seems to think quite highly of herself, but it is not me who has arranged for your surprised.  It was the gentleman at the end of the bar.  Follow me, please.”  Ame’ requested.  He turned without waiting for my response.  I followed his nice ass.  As soon as we entered the bar, I could see the impressive display of flowers placed where I had been seated.  I could see something else, but not what it was.  I arrived at my seat, and next to it was a bucket with a bottle of wine chilling in it.  There was a plate of fresh fruits, cheeses and breads next to the flowers.  I was speechless.  Ame’ pulled out my seat, and I sat down obediently.  “I don’t understand.”  I said.

“The gentleman was called away unexpectedly on business.  He does not believe it will require much more than an hour to resolve, an hour and a half at the most.  He would like the pleasure of your company the remainder of the evening and wishes to extend his sincere apologies for your wait.  I have been instructed to attend to your every request, your every comfort.  You have been granted unlimited privileges to shop in the promenade to occupy your time, you may order your evening meal, or we also have a more private dining room with discreet booths.  I could offer you one of those, we have high speed internet and you may borrow a computer to use.  Anything you would like for your comfort.”  Ame’ was quite the professional, without a hint of flirtatiousness in his demeanor.   I didn’t know what to think of all this.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, daddy used to say.

“I believe a booth with the computer would be satisfactory.”  I replied.  “Does this gentleman have a name?”

“Very well” he replied.  “I will have all of this sent over to you, please follow me.”  He turned to walk away, completely ignoring my question.  We walked across the bar, into the main dining area.  We walked through the dining area to the far end where there was a set of cut glass crystal doors.  He opened the door for me and we entered a much smaller dining room which had only eight booths spaced evenly, four on each side.  In the center of the room was a tiered waterfall, low lit at the base.  It was the only artificial light in the room.  Large candle sconces supplied the lighting, and in between each booth there appeared to be large detailed and intricate crystal statues.  The statues captured the candlelight, and then reflected it back in a dazzling array of subtle coloring.  The effect was stunning!  Each booth was enclosed with an ivory sheer, with tiny lines of gold thread running through it.  Even the gold thread reflected the dancing light from the candles.  I have never seen anything quite like it.  Ame’ led me to the last booth on the left.  There were other couples enjoying their meal, but when I slid into the booth, it felt like I was alone in this paradise.  In the opposite corner, a piano player, a violinist and a flutist provided light, dreamy background music.  The music was just loud enough to cover the voices of the other diners, but still was heard humbly in the background.  Ame’ reached under the table.  The top of the wooden table slid into the wall, revealing a glass table top.  A computer screen popped up from the glass, and a picture of a keyboard was under lit in the glass before it. 

“The keyboard is quite sensitive to touch, as is the screen.”  Ame’ explained.  If you would like to watch television or a movie, Netflix is available, but we ask that you use the ear buds to avoid disturbing the other diners.  Should you require the attention of staff, simply press F12 and someone will attend to you immediately.  Otherwise, staff will not disturb you.  This dining area was created with the privacy of our guests in mind.  I will bring your items from the bar, will there be anything else?”  Ame’ asked politely. 

“Yes, Ame’, you have not told me the gentleman’s name.”  I repeated.

“The gentleman would like to introduce himself properly, and asks you wait patiently for his return.  I assure you he is a fine man and you need not worry about your safety with him.”  Ame’ did not wait for my response, he turned and walked away before I could make one.  

I didn’t know what to make of all this.  I had a plan, and I had a game to play.  I don’t know the rules of this game and I didn’t like being in a game I wasn’t sure I could win.  Another attendant appeared out of nowhere with the wine.  He had the napkin draped over his arm and held the bottle for my inspection.  It was Crystal, my favorite.  I nodded my approval, and without a word the waiter deftly uncorked the champagne and poured a glass.  He paused until I tasted it and nodded my approval again.  I have never had a bad bottle of Crystal.  My fruit plate arrived and then the flowers.  I had never seen so many flowers in a vase before.  There were a dozen perfectly silky purple roses, half dozen white orchids with lavender tinge, baby’s breath and various greens.  There were some accent flowers interspersed I didn’t recognize.  This hotel loves crystal, because the vase was made of it.  I ran my finger around the ring to listen for the tone. Two iced water glasses garnished with a fresh orange slice quietly was place on the table, as were napkins.  Everything was executed in perfect form, all in silence.  The waiter watched my face carefully to see if I might speak, but he uttered not a word.  I felt as if I had walked into a fairy tale.  I knew better than to believe it, though.  In our world, Prince Charming doesn’t exist.  If he did, I wasn’t entirely sure she wouldn’t kill him.  She has trust issues. 

For a game begun as hot and cold, he was certainly hot.  He is a man who knows what he wants, and is not afraid to pursue it.  I like that.  He knows how to treat a woman and can obviously afford the finer things in life; cost is of little or no consequence.  He has certain arrogance, it remains to be seen if the arrogance is pleasant self-confidence or his way of exerting control.  This is interesting.  I can’t remember ever being interested in a man.

Old Friends

“Stormy!  How the hell are you?  How long has it been, five years?  Good to see you man!”  Agent Young said enthusiastically upon seeing his friend again.  They gave each other the “man hug” with the greeting. 

“Landau, you know I hate that nickname!  But for you, I’ll tolerate it.”  Agent Weathers replied.  “And it has been too long, I haven’t seen you since we worked the sniper case, that was a tough one to crack, but we did it!  We’ll get this bitch, too.” 

“We will, and I’ve reviewed the case files to date, have you found the first victim yet?  I need to know how she has evolved, because damn, I have never seen anything like this woman.  She didn’t start out slashing their femoral artery.  This method took years of practice.  And I hate to tell you my friend; she’s been at it longer than 5 years.”  Landau said.

“Yeah, I think so, too.  But until we can trace her back, we can’t prove it.  Besides, telling the public she has been eluding us for five years was bad enough.  What do you think will happen if we can trace her back farther?”  Stormy replied earnestly. 

“Oh hell yes!  The shit is going to hit the fan like it has never hit before.  John Q Public will not understand the various police jurisdictions have not been sharing information about their homicides.  We are just now starting to link all the localities and it will be another ten years before we have a solid information sharing computerized system in place for all police localities, even the small town shit holes.  We would not be onto her now without the ones we have in place.  She moves around frequently.  She never kills in the same jurisdiction twice.  I don’t know if she plans it or she’s just that damn lucky.  And, the older the homicide, the more likely it is buried in some storeroom box as unsolved.  Those haven’t even begun to get entered into the computer systems, yet.  They are too busy with the recent ones to worry about a cold case.  This is going to be hard to crack.  She doesn’t leave a paper trail.  Her DNA and evidence trail is magnificent, but it is also useless unless we know who she is.”  Landau sighed.  “She is going to have to make a mistake for us to catch her.  We need to draw her into the investigation.  We need a fucking break.”

“What are you thinking, Landau?”  Stormy asked with a note of curiosity.

“I think this job has stressed you out, you stone cold mother fucker!  What the hell happened to your hair?  I saw that head shining from the plane, damn man!  What have you let this job do to you?”  Landau laughed. 

“It’s not the fucking job, it’s the fucking politics within the job, and you know how it is.  Always accountable to the boss, and there is always a boss.  Always wants the case solved yesterday and everything by the book.  Landau, life isn’t written by the book.  Rules are good, but they don’t work in every situation.  Sometimes you have to get creative to solve a case, and when the case is solved I get my fucking ass reamed.  I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.  Results Robert, we want results!  I give them their fucking results and I’m the one who gets fucked.  I take it straight up the ass, too.  The slam fuck is when they take credit for solving the case and I get disciplinary action in my file.  That’s some fucking shit and that’s where I wonder why I am even doing this job.”  Agent Weathers said solemnly. 

“Damn, Stormy, I didn’t know it has gotten this bad.  This isn’t the guy we named Stormy.  You used to tear it up!  You got a Black Widow to confess using your many considerable charms.  We were after her for months, and we were getting nowhere.  You wine, dine and fuck her and she confesses right on the video camera you hid in your bedroom.  That was brilliant, man, fucking brilliant!  That was the ultimate sex tape.  I laughed my fucking ass off watching your ass blurred out in the courtroom.”  Landau said.

“Yeah, but it was the fucking her that got into my file, Landau.  It was not procedure, atypical protocol.  I’m sick of the fucking bullshit.  I just want to do my job, I want to catch the bad guy, or the bad woman we have here.  Sometimes you have to break the rules to break the case.  Some of these shithead supervisors they have now are all college educated, but they don’t know shit about what it’s like out here in the field.  They think the couple months they shadowed before they went into administration makes them experts.  The worst part is that I’m getting reamed out by snot nosed brats half my age!  The job has changed, Landau.  You don’t know.  It has taken on a PC attitude and you have to be careful you don’t say the wrong fucking word to the wrong fucking dick who has a bigger fucking title.  I’m tired, Landau.  I’m worn out and worn down by these dickheads who have taken over the department.  They may be book smart, but they are not street smart and they don’t want to hear what it’s like in the real world.  They want results and I give them results.  They shine in the glory and I get my nose put in the corner like a bad boy.  That’s some fucking shit.  Do you want to know why I am lead on this case, Landau?  Because they know we might not be able to catch her, at least not soon.  They want my face to be the one out in the public eye, so when she kills again they can cite some insufficiency on my part and take me off.  They are trying to get rid of me, of all us old time let’s get our hands dirty agents.  They don’t just want us gone; they want us to go down in shame if they can manage it.  Then they can cheat us out of our pensions and healthcare.  I’m telling you Landau, it has gotten bad.  I never thought the day would come when I didn’t want to be an Agent anymore.  I used to live and breathe the case, that’s why I was able to solve so many.  I became the case.  And I was good at it too, the best!  But I don’t know anymore, I don’t know if I have the passion for it I once did.”  Agent Weathers shook his head sadly, and looked down at the floor.

“Man, that’s fucked up.  Seriously, that’s fucked up.  I heard they burned Agent Trenton, but I couldn’t believe it.  I worked with Trenton, he was a good man, a good Agent.  And to see what some smart ass little dick has done to you really cuts me, it does.  You are Special FBI Agent Stormy fucking Weathers and you need to remember that!  We will get this bitch; I already have some ideas on how to draw her out.  I’ve seen the photos, but I’d like to visit the crime scene.  Is it still locked?”  Landau was taken aback to see the friend he once knew so beaten down.  He was going to help him solve this case and make sure it was known by all the media and press that it was Agent Robert ‘Stormy’ Weathers who was responsible for bringing this woman to justice.  He had heard what it was getting like at the bureau, and he was glad he got out when he did.  He was also glad Stormy called him in to consult with him, and was even able to pull a few favors to get reinstated as an FBI profiler. 

Visiting the Crime Scene

Landau entered the crime scene with a deep breath.  He didn't expect to find anything particularly revealing, but violence leaves its own mark in the universe.  He could almost palpate the rage this woman has inside of her.  She entices men into their most vulnerable and weakest state; during sex because that is the only time she can get close enough to them to kill them easily.  Any other way and they would put up a fight which would be a disadvantage to her. She can't take on fighting with a man, his strength alone would quickly place her in harm's way.  Her method of killing is highly evolved, precision like in its execution.  She has been at this for longer than five years, more like ten or more.  She is still attractive enough to lure an age range of men, so if she started at say, sixteen, lets put her at around 26-40 age range.  To catch this one, we need to find the first victim.  Given the time span, frequency and number of victims, Landau surmised her first victim was probably a relative, most likely her own father.  That would make the most sense, given the sexual component of the killings.  

The bed still had the blood stained sheets on it but Landau laid down in it anyway.  He wanted to see and feel what it must have been like in those final seconds of life.  He closed his eyes and allowed the crime scene to speak to him.  The coroner will tell you the dead speak through autopsy.  Landau knows they dead also speak through a restless spirit.  His grandmother taught him that.  She had "the gift."  Landau didn't inherit her "gift;" he was a man of science for the most part.  But when a spirit speaks to you, turning away from evidence you can't prove is equally as ignorant as turning away from evidence you can.  It can't be used in court, however, and it can't be mentioned in any reports.  This isn't even something you can mention to your closest colleagues.  He lie there quietly for several minutes, but felt nothing.  Suddenly, his body felt weak, drained.  Then a sense of calm swept over him, as if all his worries were lifted.  It took only a few seconds before the sensation disappeared as quickly as it came.  He remained supine a few more minutes, hoping for more but nothing came.  The muscle weakness made sense, the man exsanguinated.  The sense of calm, however did not.  In every case of violent death there is terror, fear, confusion but never calm.  Could this man have wanted death?  Is that how she picks her victims?  Interesting.  

He rose from the bed, drinking in the tainted air. The smell of blood excited him, even if it wasn't fresh.  God, how he missed being in the thick of a crime scene.   He walked around the room, not finding anything of value.  The bathroom, however was rich with afterglow.  There was an excitement, an electricity in the air.  He could feel it tingling on his skin.  Electricity shot up his spine, jolting his senses.  She is powerful.  She doesn't have a clue how powerful her life force is.  He stood in the bath tub, the last thing she did before she left.  He imagined the hot shower beating down on her upturned face, washing away the man's filth from her body.  He could envision the water mixing with the blood as it hugged the curves of her body before being washing off into the drain.  This is a part of her ritual that brings her comfort.  How long does she shower?  Is it purpose driven; to clean off her "work?" Or is it obsessive, does she shower until the water runs cold, trying to make herself clean again?  The bathroom had a damp smell, with an underlying aging mold to it.  That probably didn't mean anything, this was an old building.  As he stood in the shower, reaching for her energy, sexual desire throbbed through his veins.  It didn't happen at every crime scene, but some did cause an erection.  This one was rock hard and slightly painful.  With all the technology there is out there these days, he dared not risk masturbating here to relieve himself.  That wouldn't look good in a report, and if the forensic team came back to swab for more evidence he would not fare well if they found his semen on the scene.  Besides, there is a stunning redhead waiting back at the bar for him.  Maybe he can put his erection to better use. 

Could It Be Love?

I occupied my time surfing the net when I came across a site called Facebook.  I have known about it for years but never really had an interest in it.  After all, I'm not quite a real person now, am I?  I am just the keeper of the secrets, the ringer of truth, the glue of this fractured and splintered soul.  I alone hold all the memories for all of us, and communicate the information to the one out.  Without me, where would the others be?  I am real when I come out, but I am an impostor in her body.  I don't have a life I can call my own. What would I do with a life if I had it?  Maybe I should start creating a life for her.  She could use some friends, she's so alone.  Of course, killing people has a way of isolating you from society, but still.  Everyone needs friends, don't they? I think I'll make her a Facebook page.  I worked with determination, but was sorely disappointed as I worked through the site.  That's when I realized how alone we really were in this world.  I put in Camery High School and some friend suggestions populated. Though some of the names and faces were familiar, I didn't actually know any of them.  We haven't spoken to them since high school.  Even in high school, she barely uttered a word to anyone.  She was painfully shy and awkward.  I made her go to her high school prom.  I guess it's more accurate to say I went to the prom.  Now that I think of it, I attended nearly all of the limited social events we did go to.  A couple of the others did a few high school things, too.  One of them was an archivist for the school yearbook.  She was in the chess club.  I was immersed in creating the page when I saw him entering the dining room.

It must have been the champagne, but my heart skipped a beat the second I saw him.  I guess I didn't really believe he was coming back.  He changed clothes, dressed up for dinner.  I like that.  He made a special effort on my behalf.  He clearly wants to impress me.  I'm never impressed, but he does have my attention.  He was wearing a Samuelsohn suit. I recognized it right away because George Clooney wears him and I do love my Clooney.  This must be from the latest show; I haven't seen these out yet.  It was form fitting and the material had a subtle sheen to it.  He wore it open, and the tie matched the shirt perfectly.  So close was the match I almost didn't think he had a tie on.  What I loved the most was the shiny black patent leather dress shoes, a Rat Pack retro look.  He must have known exactly where I had been seated, he opened the door and walked with confidence toward me.  He had shoulder length ash blonde hair, the waves framing his perfectly sculpted face.  I felt a gush of fluid in my panties as I caught the scent of his cologne.  Already my cunt was getting warm, throbbing with excitement.  This was going to be a good night.  

"I am terribly sorry to keep you waiting, I trust everything was to your comfort?"  He said.  

I nodded, waiting for an introduction.  He paused at the booth and did not immediately seat himself.  

"May I sit?"  He asked politely.

"I'll consider it after I know your name."  I replied.  "But I want to thank you for the accommodations, I barely noticed time had passed." 

He nodded.  "My name is Landau Young, and yours?"  He asked.

"You can call me Sherrie,"  I said.  "That's all you need to know for now."  

"Very well, Sherrie, I consider it a privilege to be meeting you, and an honor that you waited for me after my most rude departure.  There was a business matter of an urgent nature, otherwise I would not have asked you to be at the mercy of my schedule."  He was nothing if not well-mannered.  

"Please, join me."  He didn't just sit down, he glided into the booth with an ease most men never achieve.  His movements were fluid, almost seamless.  The throbbing between my legs grew stronger as I gazed into the steel blue eyes he had.  He could be trouble.  I didn't know much about him, but I already wanted him for more than a single night.  He's probably married.  A guy that hot & rich has to be married, although George isn't. "What kind of business brings you to town?"  

"I have a rather morbid and unusual career, I wouldn't want to spoil  your appetite with the gruesome nature of my business here.  I will be in town for several weeks at the least, maybe longer depending on how certain events unfold.  I am hoping we can spend my free time together.  I would much rather talk about you."  He was avoiding talking about himself, which could indicate a wife somewhere, maybe even children.  

"I'm not all that interesting, myself," I replied.  I wasn't going to expose my life if he wasn't going to share his.  A waiter appeared out of nowhere and silently filled both our champagne glasses.  He set another in the bucket and cleared the table just long enough to close the internet and remove the wooden cover from its resting spot inside the wall.  I swear he never made a sound the whole time!  These waiters were professionals at discretion.  He never said a word before he left.  

"I don't believe that for a second.   I am a very good judge of people, I am an expert at reading them and I know you are a very complex and multifaceted woman.  I have a feeling I could spend the rest of my life getting to know you and never fully realize who are truly.  People like that are rare.  You could say that's my business, the art of reading people and situations.  For example, though you clearly have a taste for the finer things in life, everything I have done this evening has not endeared me to you.  You are cautious, not giving a stranger your last name is good practice.  The world is a dangerous place.  Your body language exudes confidence and intelligence, though I doubt you are college educated.  You are social, but you also are very comfortable with being alone.  You are aware that you are a stunning beauty, but anyone who would compliment you superficially would not stay in your space very long.  You are hidden, you reveal yourself only over time, and it would take a great effort on the part of someone for you to allow them to see you.  You are fiercely independent and would have no respect for a man who would domesticate you.  How am I doing so far?"  He had a playful smirk on his face and his eyes twinkled, knowing he was spot on.  Not arrogant, but he already knew more about me than I was comfortable with.  

"You are very good.  Are you a psychiatrist?"  I needed to get his attention elsewhere before I was analyzed.  I wouldn't like that one little bit.  Grandpa told me once the only way to truly fall in love was to know the heart as intensely as you felt the heart.  He was reading Cinderella to me.  He didn't care for Prince charming.  

Landau smiled broadly.  "I guess you could say in a way I am, except I don't have patients.  I study human behavior and I have written several books on the subject.  Droll material, really.  I wouldn't want to spoil an evening as beautiful as this with textbook details."

"You seem to take great pleasure in reading people, and I must admit, you do it well.  Let's see if I can match your insight.  Initial impression would indicate you are married, and out of town on business is your excuse to play while your forlorn wife drinks herself to death at home.  However, your gait and ring finger do not indicate a marriage.  I doubt you have children given the expensive and current trends in your clothing.  You value and respect women, yet you are hidden as well.  Unlike me, though, you have a yearning for someone to know you.  You want to share yourself with someone, the good, bad and the ugly.  It is a vulnerability you won't share with anyone.  You fear if you do, if a woman knows your secrets, she will have power over you.  Though it is intimacy you crave the most, your unwillingness to allow someone in you life who might have power over you will keep you from getting what you want the most."  I stared intently into his eyes.  He met my gaze with one as intense as his own.  I picked up my champagne glass and took a small sip, our eyes never leaving one another.  He leaned into me.  My body took over as I leaned into him, too.  Our faces were as close as they could be without actually touching.  I could feel the heat from his body wash over my face.  Desire for him rushed over my skin.  The hairs on my arms were charged with electricity.  I have never felt so intensely for anyone in my life.  

The chemistry was off the charts. Our gaze never broke and it felt as if time had ceased to pass.  I held the champagne in my mouth as our lips met.  His kiss was soft, gentle.  At least it started out that way.  We went from zero to no turning back faster than time could measure.  That must have been why the kiss lingered into the stars.  My tongue searched for his, caressing his lip before entering his mouth.  His tongue was eager, and the champagne I held in my mouth bubbled over as we shared a kiss longing with desire.  I could have taken him right there, so strong was the impulse.  I felt his hand stroking my leg and I thought I would tear off his clothes and mount him on the tabletop.  I reached under the table, taking his hand in mine, guiding it into my panties.  They were already soaked.  He didn't need any guidance, he knew exactly what to do.  His finger entered me quickly and with force.  I swear I came for a second time tonight, but he withdrew as quickly as he entered.  Our eyes never left one another.  I was startled at first, until he brought his hand out from under the table and put his finger in his mouth, tasting me.  He  closed his eyes for a moment, savoring my sexuality as if I were a fine wine he wanted to enjoy as long as he could.  I reached under the table and felt him.  There was no turning back.  

Landau took my hand, and in unison we slipped out of the booth.  He nodded to the waiter as we left the dining room. He walked with determination and purpose, not saying a word until we reached the elevator.  He turned to me while we waited, cupping the back of my neck in his hand.  He looked deeply into my eyes, still not speaking.  He kissed me on the lips with a tenderness I'm not used to.  His other hand stroked my face as the elevator opened.  Everyone got off and we entered the elevator by ourselves.  We kissed again, this time igniting the passion begun in the dining room.  I felt shivers run through my body and I reached for his tie, pulling it open in one motion.  He smiled.  I used to the tie to pull him back into me, kissing him again.  The elevator door opened, and our privacy was broken.  We stepped to the back of the elevator, his hand stroking my back.  It seemed to take forever as the elevator made several more stops and more people invaded my world before being dropped off at their destination.  Finally alone again, he spun around and held both of my hands.  His blue eyes held the depths of the oceans and I was lost in them.  He kissed my forehead, my face and my neck with butterfly kisses.  The door opened and he led me to his room. 

Once inside, he pinned me against the wall, lifting me up and against him at the same time.  He entered me with force, and I thrust against him with the same intensity. He kissed my neck and I came to him almost immediately.  That was all he needed and when he climaxed I felt the force of his ejaculation inside of me.  It was so thrilling an orgasm waved through my body so quickly I couldn't breathe. It was everything I could do not to scream out.  He held me tightly and I wrapped my legs around him as he carried me into the bedroom.  He laid me down gently as if I weighed nothing at all.  He pressed a button and some soft jazz decorated the room.  He covered my face in butterfly kisses, stopping on my neck.  His tongue licked the bottom side of my neck, sending tremors throughout my body.  He caressed my skin, undressing me as he went.  I was so relaxed I could have fallen asleep.  He was a patient and tender lover.  I returned his touches, undressing him, too.  

We made love a second time, slowly, each searching the body of the other, finishing in each other's arms. I felt at complete peace, a feeling I have never experienced before.  I felt safe in his arms, yet saddened knowing this night would be all I could have.  I needed to finish the evaluations for tomorrow and return the body to her.  I couldn't let her know him as I have; he would not live when she was done with him.  I didn't want to leave.  I savored the moment as long as I could before I rose to get dressed.  Landau was sound asleep.  I guess it's for the best, the goodbye would be awkward.  I stared down at his beautiful face, dusted in the moonlight.  My heart ached for him.  I have to leave, I know I have to leave, but I don't want to.  Never have I felt such longing for one more touch.  I bent over him and stroked his hair.  If this is love, then maybe I'm glad I'm not a real person after all.  If it hurts this bad to leave him after a few hours, imagine how it would hurt to lose him forever.  I gathered up my things, leaving the bedroom.  The flowers he sent me were in the sitting room, perfectly arranged.  I never saw the staff deliver them.   I paused at the vase, inhaling their fragrant aroma.  I picked out the prettiest ones so I could enjoy this night a while longer.  I still had her body until tomorrow night.  With that, I slipped away, away from Landau, away from love, away from a life I could never dare to dream.  

I walked through the hotel in a daze.  This wasn't right!  It didn't feel right!  I was the one who knew how to live life, she ran away from it.  If anyone deserved happiness it was me, after all I have done to protect her and the others over the years.  She kills people!  Who have I harmed?  Doesn't good triumph over evil?  Am I not good?  Even as I knew the reasons why I had to return the body to her, I couldn't help but to lament my so called life.  Life isn't always fair, and when you have only a fraction of a life it is even less so.    Worse, there was not a soul I could share my sorrows with.  I had no friends to call.  Suddenly, I felt more alone than I knew her to be when I set up her Facebook page.  By the time I reached my car, tears were streaming down my face.  I sobbed the rest of the way home.  

Landau Wakes Up Alone 

It's not over tonight, just give me one more chance to make it right.  I may not make it through the night I won't go home without you."  The alarm played Maroon Five as he struggled to come back to life.  He rolled over to find an empty bed where Sherrie should have been.  His heart sank.  He couldn't believe he had slept so soundly she just left!  A woman has never left his bed before.  Landau had his share of one night stands, but she was incredible.  He couldn't believe she just left.  Worse, all he knew about her was her first name.  Well, if he can't find her, she can't be found.  He smiled as he sat on the edge on the bed; I guess that's two women I have to find, he thought.  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a Clint Eastwood movie seemed to sum it all up.  That pretty much describes the state of life and work right now.  He has to find the Jackie O killer and find the only woman who has ever left him wanting more. 

He stretched out all the way to his toes.  Late nights are getting harder to wake up from the next day; he's not twenty anymore.  Landau let out a bear yawn and inhaled the musty smell of sex into his lungs.  A morning hard-on sprung to life as he thought about last night.  There was the hint of her perfume lingering just over the musty air.  It was a sophisticated scent with floral overtones and earthy undertones.  Complex, just like she is.  He stroked himself as he stumbled into the bathroom for a morning piss.  The $300.00 a bottle champagne he drank last night forced its way out in a steady stream to the toilet.  Morning hard-ons aren't like they used to be when he was twenty, either.  One piss and it's over.  Getting older is a bitch and then you die.  What a life, what a mother fucking life this is.  He stepped into the shower and cranked up the ice cold water.  Whoa!  That is one way to wake up and kill any thoughts about sex.  His skin bubbled up into a carpet of goosebumps, and he shivered as the beads of water hit him like tiny soft ice cubes.  It felt good, invigorating.  The cloud in his head was starting to clear and his mind came back to the work at hand. 

Landau finished with a warm shower, stepping out into the cooler air in the bathroom.  He started to dry off when he heard his phone ringing at bedside.  His heart leaped, maybe Sherrie is calling.  It was a stupid, silly thought, the thought a giddy school girl would entertain and not the thought of a world traveled, high profile criminal behavioralist.  Sherrie couldn't possibly have the number.  Still, he remained cautiously optimistic until he saw "Stormy" written across the cell.  She has gotten under Landau's skin.  Let the games begin, he thought. 

"Fuck, can't you let a guy finish his shower?"  He grumbled at Stormy.  "Jesus Christ, I haven't had my coffee yet."  Disappointment edged his tone. 

"Landau, when did you turn into a pussy?  We have work to do and no time to waste.  I've found more victims, and I worked half the night putting together a timeline of her work.  You won't fucking believe it, I'm telling you are going to be fucking blown away.  This is bigger than anything we have ever encountered before and I have it going back ten years.  Ten fucking years!  She's been killing at least ten years!"  There was an excitement in Stormy's voice Landau knew well.  This was the man he knew, the man he once respected.  He has come back to the land of the living.  Now if I can keep the political vultures from claiming the investigation as their own, there might be hope for my old friend yet, Landau thought with satisfaction. 

"All right, Stormy, hold up.  You say she's been killing for ten years?"  All the cobwebs were gone and his mind sprung into a honed clarity, focused and narrow in scope.  "Really?  Are you sure?  What do you have?"  Landau fired back.

"Landau, open your door."  Stormy said.

Landau pulled the towel around his waist and went through the sitting room.  Her flowers were still on the table.  He paused to inhale the fragrance, as if to capture the feeling of her silky skin against his body once more.  He noticed an empty spot slightly off center.  She took a couple flowers with her.  Maybe she didn't blow him off after all.  She took something to serve as a reminder of last night.  He wondered if she was thinking of him. 

"Landau!  I'm not waiting here all day, open the door!"  Stormy was getting impatient. 

"Goddamn Stormy!  I'm coming."  Landau barely unlocked the door before Stormy barreled in the room, carrying a case file box.  Stormy set it on the table, knocking the flowers off to the side.  They teetered a moment and Landau reached to steady them.  His towel fell to the floor. 

"Landau, Jesus Christ man, put some clothes on.  We sure as hell haven't grown that close.  I'm just not feeling it.  All these years I thought you were a ladies man.  I didn't know you played for the home team."  Stormy chuckled as Landau grabbed his towel, glaring back. 

"Keep talking while I get dressed, will you?"  Landau walked off into the bedroom.  He didn't want Stormy to see he was upset with him for almost knocking the flowers over.  It was the only reminder he had that Sherrie was really here last night.  He made a mental note to check with the bartender to see if Sherrie might be a regular downstairs at the bar.  If she was, he could catch up with her later. 

Stormy moved the flowers so he had room to work.  Odd, he thought.  Landau is not a flowers in the room sort of guy.  There had to be a woman in here last night, but why leave the flowers?  His friend’s behavior when he nearly knocked them over did not escape him, either.  Landau did not want them disturbed.  Whoever this woman was, she meant something to him.  They had been apart for far too long, Stormy missed his friend and felt a little disconnected he didn’t know more about what was going on in his life.  All things in time, there was a lot of work to do.  Stormy spread the case files out on the table, neatly and in chronological order.  He had worked most of the night sifting through the faxes to find the cases most likely to be the work of Jackie O.

Landau emerged from the bedroom in a custom made turtle neck with his initials embroidered in gold thread on the neck.  Even before he became a wealthy author, Landau had an exquisite sense of style and fashion.  He could make the irregular clothes from Gabriel Brothers look like they just came off the Parisian runway.  Stormy always envied that about his friend.  It didn’t matter what he wore, he always looked polished.  “Landau, this case is bigger than we could have imagined, the faxes have been coming in all night from around the country & most of them are nothing but I’ve got a few I think are worth a look at.  I still don’t think we have vic zero, but this case ten years ago shows her early work.  The mayor has approved overtime for the local blues and they are dedicating the basement of the city municipal building for our use.  A task force is being assigned and will be at our disposal by the end of the day.  She doesn’t want her police force to go unrecognized in catching the most prolific and successful serial killer in American history.”

“Stormy, damn, first things first.  What do you want for breakfast and do you still take your coffee like a girl?”  Landau grinned, but his eyes were intense.  Stormy knew that look, Landau was about to become absorbed in our killer.  

“I’m not hungry” Stormy replied.  “And yes, I still take cream and sugar with my coffee.  The stuff that passes for coffee needs to be covered in something to make it decent.” 

“Stormy, you need to eat.  When was the last time you did, and was it pizza?”  Landau knew his friend well.  He didn’t wait for an answer before he rang up room service and ordered them both a cardiac killer breakfast.  Stormy knew better than to argue.  Besides, bacon sounded really good and pizza was the last thing he ate.  Cold, day old pizza was the go to meal for a single FBI agent.  Landau hung up the phone and began looking at the crime scene files.

“Fuck!  Is this all her?”  Landau looked at the table in amazement. 

”This is just the start.  So far, I have an average of three a year with over thirty possible vics.  I don’t know how in the hell she has gotten away with it for so long, except she has never killed in the same jurisdiction twice.  This girl is smart.  She has stayed under the wire and practically invisible.  She doesn’t just kill them in hotels; she has killed them in their own homes and in their cars.  I think that’s why it wasn’t picked up until now.  Although her MO is consistent, police were hesitant to publicize the men who had families and worked them discreetly.  We need to interview the primaries in the cases to find what links the victims to one another.  She doesn’t choose her victims by race, age or marital status.  Hell, I think one of the vics was even bisexual.  We have to figure out how she picks them.”  Stormy let Landau study the pictures.  He wanted to save the best for last. 

Room service knocked loudly, interrupting the intense silence.  Landau walked to the door, case file in hand, his eyes never leaving the page.  Stormy was always fascinated how Landau functioned on auto drive.  When staff entered the room; Landau waved his hand to them to set up the trays.  When they were finished, Landau signed the receipt and gave them a generous tip.  He sat down to eat without ever looking at the food.   Stormy suddenly found he was more than a little hungry, he was ravenous.  He inhaled his food.  Landau had ordered enough food for an army, but Stormy didn’t get to eat well often so he ate every bite.  By the time he finished the last pancake, Landau was also finishing the last of the files. 

“Fuck” Landau repeated.  “Mother fuck me on a dime, this bitch is going to make our careers.  I want her Stormy and we are going to bring her down.”  Landau looked at his friend.  Stormy had a knowing grin on his face.  “What else do you know?”  Landau inquired.  “What haven’t you told me yet?”

“Well, it’s just a hunch.  Something I noticed in a case file a couple years back.  It was mentioned only in passing, really, but I thought it might mean something.”  Stormy was savoring the moment.  He wanted to see the reaction on his friend’s face. 

“Stormy, you don’t have hunches, what the fuck do you know?”  Landau saw the amusement in Stormy’s eyes.  God, it was good to see his friend back again. 

“Money isn’t the only thing she has taken from the crime scene.”  Stormy said, drawing out the moment. 

“Are you going to let me in on your secret?”  Landau’s eyes were twinkling.  Whatever this was, it was going to be good. 

“Landau, I think she took one guy’s dog.”  Stormy said quietly, with the emphasis softly on the word “dog.” 

“What?  Are you sure?  Stormy, are you SURE?”  Landau grew excited.  This brought a whole new dimension and unexpected quirk to an already unusual case.  He would have to rethink his entire profile if Stormy was right. 

“No, I’m not sure; it’s just a hunch like I said.  But I did put a blue on it to see if it has any teeth.  She killed a vic in his home.  He had a dog, which was never found, but law enforcement didn’t look for him, either.  They thought he ran away after his owner was murdered and probably picked up by the pound but no one ever followed up.  The thing is, this isn’t just any dog, it is a pure bred and not a common breed.  This dog was a Harlequin Great Dane.  It would be at least as tall as she is on its hind legs and it would probably outweigh her.  Harlequin is a specialized breed within the Great Danes.  This guy had to be special ordered & I’m betting there can’t be too many breeders in the US.  I think we have a solid lead here.”  Stormy was confident in his theory. 

“Watson, that’s fucking brilliant!”  Let’s get down to the station and get this investigation going.”  Landau said as he pulled on his suit coat.  The day just got interesting.    

Sherrie Wants Her Own Life  

I woke up in the same dress I wore the night before.  I cried myself to sleep for the first time in my life.  For the first time, I felt what it was to have a life and I liked it.  For the first time, I connected with another human being, and I liked that, too.  For the first time, I felt a loss, disquiet in my heart.  I don’t care for that as much.  I feel empty inside.  That’s ironic, with all the people that share this one body.  But I do, I feel empty.  I got up and washed the make-up off my face, not that there was much left of it.  I had a busy day today, and I had better get to it.  I don’t have the luxury of allowing myself to dream about Landau, nor do I have the luxury of being able to be sad I can’t have such a simple thing as my own life.  I have to finish the day and give her back to herself.  First, coffee, then I have to start to work. 

I couldn’t concentrate.  All I could do was think of Landau.  The look in his eyes when he was inside of me, how intense the feeling was when he took my face in his hands and it sent waves of pleasure through my body.  It rocked my soul to its core and I didn’t know I had a soul.  I could still feel his touch, his caress on my skin.  My heart ached for him.  I longed to feel the warmth of his body lying next to mine.  I wanted to feel his breath on the nape of my neck.  I swear when I was lying curled up next to him he inhaled me.  Just lying next to him in the darkness I felt his soul, our energies intertwined with one another.  It was so powerful.  I’ve never felt anything like it, not even through her.  I wonder if this is what is meant by soul mates.  When he grabbed my hand in the restaurant, I felt a synergy, a life growing inside of me.  I couldn’t contain my desire for him and I’ve never wanted a man as intensely as I wanted him.  When he entered me it was as if I felt alive for the first time in my life.  I could still feel it as if it were happening right now.  There was a rush of warmth between my legs, and I came again at the mere thought.  This can’t be good.  My skin felt the morning air tingling softly against it.  I heard the birds singing and it felt as if they were singing for me.  Surely the sun rose today just so I would see the beauty in its rays.  Every breath I took smelled fresher than I could ever remember.  It smelled like that day I spent in the Gorge with my grandfather, crisp and new.  Maybe if I allow myself to bask in the afterglow, I could get on with work and forget him.  I went over every detail of last night in my mind, every sensation, every touch.  It only made me long for him more.  I can’t get him out of my mind, out of my heart.  My heart actually hurts not being with him.  My skin yearns for the gentleness in his touch.  I breathe deeply, trying to recapture the scent of his hair.  I am lost in the memory.  I have to see him tonight.  It might be the last chance I get to see him before I return her life to her.  Her life, why can’t I have mine?  This can’t be happening.  It can’t.  Maybe if I finish work, maybe if I see him tonight, the illusion of the memory will be shattered, the dream less intoxicating.  I worked through my day quickly, stopping at the same restaurants at about the same time, this time pretending to dine in.  I filled out the reports and headed out to the mall.  I needed a new dress. 

Shopping held no pleasure for me.  It was a means to an end.  I pick out the first dress I saw and changed into it in the dressing room.  I felt nervous and shy all at the same time.  I wanted to jump out of my skin!  I had to get back to the bar to see if he would be there tonight.  I had to see him one more time.  I bought the first pair of shoes I saw and this time I didn’t bother with jewelry.  My hair would have to do, but I rarely had a bad hair day.  I felt tingly all over at the anticipation of seeing him again.  What if he didn’t show?  I couldn’t entertain that thought.  All day long I could think of nothing else but him.  I felt him beside me as I robotically performed the functions of her day.  I did her/my job, Landau was what I was doing for me.  The pain of being away from him was unbearable.  All day long there was wetness in my panties.  I changed them three times.  Oh my God, I must be insane.  My body is ripped with intensity.  I can’t stop how I am feeling.  I have to see him.  The thought never occurred to me he might not be there.  It simply wasn’t an option.  I arrived at the hotel with a sense of urgency. 

I breezed through the doorway, not taking notice of my surroundings.  My hopes were high, my resolution set.  As intensely as I felt these feelings, I knew he had to be feeling them, too.  He was with me every second throughout my day, I felt his touch, I smelled his body, and his soul wrapped mine in energy.  I couldn’t stop myself.  It didn’t make sense, these feelings were so overwhelming.  I usually am in such control of myself, I have control over the lives of all the others, I am the sensible one, the logical one and I can’t stop this storm in my body.  I rushed into the bar to see Ame and even the sight of him didn’t annoy me.  I tried to act cool and nonchalant as I walked to the same seat I held the day before.  Ame greeted me warmly. 

“I thought you would come back tonight!”  He smiled brightly.  OK, now he annoyed me.  “Did you enjoy your evening with Mr. Young last night?” 

His question threw me.  Who was Mr. Young?  Then I got it.  Mr. Young was Landau.  “Not that it’s any of your business, but yes, I did.”  I replied curtly.  I must want to see Landau really badly to put up with this smarmy guy.  I have no patience for him. 

“Very well, would you like to see him again?”  Ame inquired.  He wasn’t acting smarmy; he was actually quite the professional.  Still, what business was it of his?

“Why do you ask?” I replied.  I needed to know if Landau was coming tonight.  I better behave myself and pretend I enjoy his company. 

“Mr. Young has left specific instructions on the chance you might make an appearance tonight.  If you would like to see him again, I am to follow those instructions to the letter.  He also told me to be sure you knew that it would be his greatest desire for you to spend the evening with him.  You have made quite an impression on him.”  Ame said.

“And what are those instructions, before I would agree to another night?”  I asked my heart leaping and my breath increasing in ragged jags.  I swear I just creamed another pair of panties at the anticipation.  Yep, they were wet.  I didn’t have another pair, either.  Every sense in me was alive and electric.  My face was flushed, my pulse racing.  I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath though I knew I was breathing.  I’m sure Ame could hear my heart beating, pounding out of my chest. 

“I cannot say except I will tell you that he is to be informed immediately of your arrival, there are provisions already at your disposal and he wanted me to assure you that for tonight, you are his only priority, should you decide to grace him with your company.”  Ame said rather flatly, as if he were offended at the overture made on my behalf.  Prick, I thought.  I can see it on your face; you thought you had a chance with me until Landau came around.  So not!  I wouldn’t sleep with you with someone else’s pussy.  I’ve seen that look before, though.  He has me labeled as a gold digger because I wouldn’t lower myself to him.  He thinks I am with Landau because of what he affords to me.  Idiot, I came back because I don’t seem to have a choice.  I am caught in how he looks at me.  No amount of money and pampering could buy that look.  He looks at me as if he knows what I am feeling, as if he has known me for a lifetime.  He looks at me with a longing, a desire of the ages.  I have known him forever but spent precious few hours with him.  I glared at Ame in return.  I couldn’t hide my contempt for him, and now I knew I didn’t have to. 

“You may inform Mr. Young I am here, and that I am looking forward to his company.”  I replied with coldness I didn’t know I was capable of.  I didn’t like Ame. 

“Very well, follow me.”  Ame said, returning my contempt.  How can I say “I don’t give a fuck” and still be a lady?  I decided it couldn’t be done. 

We entered the same dining room as the night before, except there were no other diners.  The musicians were still playing, as if they had an audience.  I found this odd.  Their music rippled through my skin, lighting it up.  Ame led me to the same booth, where an arrangement of the same flowers was waiting for me.  It was déjà vu; there was a bottle of champagne and a tray of cheese and fruit.  I have to say, I was impressed at some superficial level, but I couldn’t wait until he was with me again.  The sparkling of the crystal seemed more alive, more animated than last night.  Every sense in my body, every smell I lived seemed more vivid than it was.  I felt ethereal.  I don’t know how else to say it, I felt ALIVE!  The candlelight danced a provocative flicker, and I came again.  Damn, pretty soon it was going to start dripping down my legs.  My panties were lacy, not meant to handle this level of protection.  Maybe I should have worn granny panties.  They are built to handle this amount of moisture, and then some.  Then again, I’m thinking things my granny never imagined.  Ame is so stupid, to think any of this impresses me.  It is Landau I want, not all the frivolities.  Even the music playing in the background seemed alive.  Life, that is a concept I never really considered before.  Is it possible that I live?  It was dripping down my legs as I took my seat in the booth.  Ame was silent as he opened the champagne to pour me a glass.  He left without saying a word.  I reached down in between my legs and felt the soft warmth of my desire.  I wiped it on my fingertip and brought it to my lips.  It was such a turn on, warmth flooded in between my legs.  It didn’t taste fishy, as I had read.  It was rather bland, but sweet.  It barely had an odor.  I licked it off, enjoying the sensation.  I imagined it was Landau tasting what he had brought out in me.  That brought my desire to a near frenzy.  I couldn’t imagine containing myself once he arrived. 

It was all surreal.  He had arranged everything as if it were the first time.  He clearly entertained the hope I might return, he planned for it.  I inhaled again, deeply.  I closed my eyes and lost myself in the music, in the memory of the night before.  I drank the champagne and allowed the effervescence bubble up in my veins, and light my body in tingling warmth.  I intentionally sat with my back towards the door; I didn’t want him to see the eager anticipation in my face.  It wasn’t long until he arrived. 

“Sherrie, I’m so glad you could join me.  I’ve arranged to have this dining room to ourselves tonight; the musicians are at our disposal.  The night is yours and I promise your pleasure will be my only concern.”  Landau slid into the seat across from me.  “We didn’t spend any time getting to know each other last night, and I would like to correct that.”  His cologne was intoxicating. 

“Thank you for making everything so comfortable for me.  It makes it very easy to wait on you.”  I wasn’t going to let him know I would have waited much longer in far less comfort.  He had my interest and I didn’t have a lot of time to waste.  I had to give the body back to her tonight. 

“Ah, yes” Landau replied with a twinkle in his eye.  “A true measure of a man is one who would not keep a woman waiting on his own behalf, but would wait until the end of time on hers.  In that regard, I have failed, and I do feel miserably because of it.  In my defense, however, I did not know when or even if you would make an appearance this evening.  You left me last night without knowing your last name or how to get into contact with you.” 

“I want to keep it that way, at least for now.  I don’t know any more about you than you do me.  A woman has to be careful in this world.  As you said, we didn’t spend much time last night getting to know one another, I met you in a hotel bar and all I really know is that you are here on business of a less than delicate nature.  You could be married, have a family or at the very least in a relationship.  You could be my worst nightmare in an expensive suit.  You could be a republican.”  I didn’t actually care about politics; I didn’t keep up with current events.  Hell it’s all I can do to keep up with her life, and the lives of the others.  I know how to give the illusion of a world view, though. 

Landau laughed.  “I assure you, there are far worse things than being a republican, though I would have to give it some thought.  No, I am not a republican.   I don’t consider myself a democrat, either.  I find politics droll and commerce driven, a perversion of a democratic society.   Since a democratic society is itself a myth in today’s construct, I have disavowed myself from it.  Didn’t anyone teach you there are three things you don’t discuss in polite society when you want to get to know someone?  Religion, politics and sex will kill a friendship faster than money.  So we have covered two out of three, do you want to talk religion?  I don’t believe in it.  That’s my religious theory.  There you have it, you know everything about me.  Oh, and no I’m not married, not in a relationship and have no children.  Anything else?”  He refilled my champagne and poured himself a glass as well.

“Well that should cover it; I’m ready to get married.”  I laughed.  I actually laughed!  I can’t remember the last time I did that.  God, I must be hormonal.  I spent last night crying, all day long in a flux of hormonal chaos, and now I’m laughing.  What is happening to me?  Am I acting like a normal person?  Ha, now that is rich.  Me, a person who isn’t, acting like a normal person.  

“Whoa, now not so fast. “  Landau smiled.  “What if you’re a republican, after all, you didn’t deny it.  And your religious views?  You might be a Catholic Republican, dear god save us all from them!  I’m not so easily swayed by your beauty; I need to know more about you before we marry.” 

I smiled in return.  What was this I was feeling?  Is this what they call happiness?  Could I be happy?  I couldn’t seem to stop myself from smiling.   “No, I’m not republican, nor am I Catholic.  I do not believe in religion either.  I find is serves the weak to avoid responsibility for their actions and to perpetrate the spread of mythology.  I am not married, not in a relationship & I do not have any children.  There, now can we get married, I’m kind of in a hurry, the biological clock and all.”  I actually giggled at the end of that sentence.  My lord, what the hell was wrong with me?  I need to give her the body back before I do something I might not be able to take back.  After all, in the mood I’m in, I could see a quick flight to Vegas for a quickie wedding.  I wonder how we would manage to pull that off. 

Landau raised an eyebrow with this smile.  He’s not entirely certain whether I am kidding about the marriage part or I’m one of those biological clock psycho women.   “OK, it’s agreed, we know enough about each other to get married.  Can I have a dance before we walk down the aisle?”  He stood up and extended his hand to me.  I didn’t recognize the name of the song the musicians were playing, but it was beautiful.  I put my hand in his and allowed myself to be led onto the dance floor.  I wasn’t in the mood to play any romantic mind games; I just wanted to live in the moment.  When I stood up, I felt as if I were walking on air, my feet never felt the cold hard marble floor.  He moved with incredible grace and precision, as if his body was fluid with the air.  We were on the dance floor before I realized I didn’t know how to dance.  Help!  I yelled inside my head, Lauren knew how to dance, I needed her to share the moment with me. 

“Hey,” Lauren said as she appeared.  “I’ve got this, but don’t expect me to stick around all night with you.  I’m enjoying the show from inside.  She would have a fit if she knew what you were doing with her body.  But then again, she would have a fit if she knew what any of us did with her body.” 

“Thanks Lauren, you’re a life saver.”  I replied as I let her lead the body we were now sharing.  People don’t know multiples can have more than one personality out at once.  Most of us cooperate so we all can have some fun.  Lauren controlled the movements while I kept the rest.  Our conversation took place entirely in the vacuum of our thoughts.  He danced as exceptionally as he moved, every fluid stride swept into the next.  Lauren kept time with him perfectly.  She really made me look good.  At least, I think she did.  I was lost in Landau’s eyes.  Neither of us noticed when the music had stopped.  The musicians began another song, but all of a sudden, the world ceased to exist as they played.  Landau halted as naturally as he danced and we stood still, breathless and silent in the moment.  Without a word, he took my face in his hands, leaned over and kissed me.  It was a gentle, tender, loving kiss.  It hinted at the passion of the previous night, but it was lingering, a deeper kind of kiss.  My emotions welled into it, and while time stood still, our souls connected.  I felt as if I had known him a lifetime, forever.  This is bad, really bad.  I broke away from him, stunned. 

“I’m sorry, I have to go.”  I said.  I felt like I had to get out of here, leave before I got in any deeper.  Maybe it was too late already, I didn’t know, but I knew staying any longer would make it more difficult to leave when I had to.  I rushed back to the table to get my purse.  He was right behind me.

“Sherrie, please don’t go.  You are so beautiful, I had to kiss you, I didn’t mean to offend you.”  Landau looked truly pained and confused. 

“No, Landau, it’s nothing you’ve done, I just have to go. I can’t explain it, but I have to go.”  I turned to walk out the door.  He grabbed my arm, spinning me around.

“Wait, I want to see you again.  My schedule is very busy, but I will make accommodations.  May I have your number?”  I looked into his eyes, searching for what?  He looked sincere.  I can’t give him my number, I don’t have one.  Only she does.  Also for the first time, I felt a twinge of jealously that she got to have a life and I didn’t.  I want one of my own.  It’s not fair!  

“No, you can’t have my number, but I will take yours.  I will be out of town for the next few days, but I can call you when I get back.”  It was the only explanation I had for not being able to see him while she had her body.  I’m pretty sure the truth is not an option here.  “I would like to see you again, too.”  He pulled a business card out of his inside jacket pocket and I shoved it into my purse without looking at it.  He leaned in to kiss me goodbye but I gave him the friend kiss.  I couldn’t risk allowing him to kiss me again like that, I might not ever leave.  With that, I spun around and walked out of his life.  It has to be forever, but I don’t know I can promise that.  I want a life.  I want Landau.  I want kids, a marriage, a garden.  I want everything she’ll never be able to give us. 

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