|Setting sun, Silverado Trail, Napa Valley, California.|
I'll be posting more in the New Year as well. Hoping to be reacquainted with y'all and make up for the promises I haven't been that good at keeping. Life, ya know?
Here's a taste. This is the second chapter, a new addition from the previous drafts. It introduces the main character.
Please take note (this is not directed at my friends who I love and trust but anyone else who stumbles on this): This is copyrighted material. All rights are reserved to the author. Which is me. You must have permission to reprint or share this material anywhere on the Internets or anywhere else virtually, actually or ... well, don't steal my shit, okay? Thank you!
Christmas Eve, 2011
Santa Monica, California
There had been worse crime scenes, but this would be the one nobody would forget.
It was so bizarre, the unis who found the body thought it was faked, like a film crew set up a scene for a movie and then everybody got called away suddenly. And took all their equipment with them. And left the star actress playing dead on a faux polar bear skin rug next to a sliding glass door, in the big room of a rich guy’s house that hung off a cliff over Pacific Coast Highway and had a multi-million-dollar ocean view that would look really cool in 3-D Technicolor.
Only the body, like the rug, was real and when Perc and his partner walked in past the fancy chrome kitchen and into the largest living room they had ever seen, where the floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree looked like a model for a Norman Rockwell painting, they understood what the unis and CSI techs had been buzzing about outside. No further explanation was needed.
The white polar bear rug was still white. There was no blood. Not a drop anywhere.
Perc had been a step in front of Frank and saw it first but it was Frank who broke the silence. “What the fuck,” he said it like a statement. He’d been pulling on his latex gloves and he stopped with the right one on only halfway, the tips of the fingers drooped like a cow’s udder. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
Perc saw it and wanted to say he saw it, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t move. An old, old bad feeling had suddenly, without hint or warning, bubbled up in his stomach and brought back a terror he had long ago convinced himself he had conquered. He knew Frank was talking to him, could feel his eyes on him, could imagine the look in those eyes, the virtual switch in his brain that went from “what the fuck is wrong with this crime scene” to “what the fuck is wrong with my partner,” but he was frozen in place. All he knew was that he was standing in a room with a dead woman who he would later learn had been stabbed 29 times right where she was found and the only red in the room was the leaves of the Poinsettia on the coffee table. No blood. Not even inside her.
Even the coroner wouldn’t be able to explain how he had drained less than a tablespoon out of the body when in the most horrific case of blood loss he’d seen had netted at least three pints.
There were many explanations for what they saw with their own eyes and what the crime scene techs would later confirm, chiefly that the killer or killers had covered the floor, rugs, couch, even the walls and ceiling with such precision it was as if the entire room had been redone exactly as it was before. Until they found who did it, and up to this point it remained unsolved, there would only be speculations and guesses and what ifs.
Even among cops, though, talk about the big cold cases gets played eventually, the conversations turning to other mysteries. Like how homicide Detective Percival Baldwin, one of the city’s best cops and a son of a cop himself, had a secret – a near-debilitating fear of blood. And how walking into a crime scene devoid of any blood at all had set off a phobia he’d kept hidden for more than two decades from everyone who knew him.