August 7, 1974
"Hey, you're coming, aren't you?"
My friend had sandy colored hair and dark brown eyes. He was small for his age, which sometimes made me feel sorry for him. In response to my question, he hit me on the shoulder. "Duh, man. I wouldn't miss your birthday. My mom would kill me." Together we laughed and rode our bikes to our neighboring houses. "I'll catch up with you. But I will be there. I just have to change into clean clothes. Won't Ruth be there?" I rolled my eyes, knowing he had a crush on one of my sisters.
In my bedroom, I changed quickly into a clean shirt and ducked under my bed for my favorite pants. I smelled them. The smelled clean to me. I put them on hoping Aunt Sylvia won't notice the grass stains on the knees. I went to the bathroom, only to find the door closed. One of the girls must be in there. I could have gone downstairs to the kitchen sink to wash up. Instead, I knocked.
"Hey, who's in there? I need to go."
I heard a couple of giggles. Well, crap. I thought to myself. Sounds like the twins are in there. "Cecilia, Lucille. Hey, come on. Let me in." More giggles. "Please?" I knocked on the door. Somebody knocked back and giggled. I sighed. There was no way of getting in. I was starting to get excited. Downstairs, I glanced at the clock. It read 3:30. At four I will have my first official birthday party. Dad had received a promotion at work a couple of months ago and was excited to tell me to plan for a party. Thirty minutes! I wished Liam would hurry up and get here.
"Well, if it isn't the birthday boy!"
Her hair is long and blonde, and she's so tall. "Hey A -uh, Sylvia." She insists on not calling her Aunt, although she is -was- mom's sister.
"I just know your momma is watching you from heaven and is so proud of you. Happy Birthday, Sam." She hugged me tightly and I followed her into the kitchen.
"The twins have taken the bathroom hostage," I told her. "May I use the sink in here to wash up?"
"Sure, no problem, dear."
It didn't take long for people to start showing up. My five sisters were all dolled up in dresses. The oldest is Ruth, who is seven. A lot of people think she is older than me. Hannah is six. The twins Cecilia and Lucille are five, and the baby is Natalie, who is three. Anyway, people showed up one after another. Liam and some other kids from school came. A lot of my cousins came. My Uncle Manny started the grill. My dad got home half an hour late. Bar-B-Que smelled up the whole neighborhood. We all ate and played games. My sisters torment me the whole time, as usual. So Liam and I chased them around the yard.
Finally, it was time to open the presents. I went for the one Liam had brought. I could tell by the wrapping by what it was. I tore it open. "A basketball! Cool! Thanks, Liam. Now I won't have to borrow yours all the time." Everybody laughed. I got a few other neat and fun things. Then dad brought out the big present. He went to his truck and came back with three packages. I was so excited. I never had this much before. He handed me the first one. Opening it, I saw it was a book. I looked up at him with questioning eyes. "A book?"
"Yeah," he said. "Open it up. Take a look." I did as I was told. It read Property of Abagail Louise O'Malley. "It's Moby Dick. Your mom's copy. It was her favorite book. I thought you'd enjoy it." I was totally moved. Right there in front of all my friends and family, I was about to cry. I just kept looking at the flowing script of my mother's handwriting. "Okay, son. Now here's your real presents!" Dad put the other two packages in front of me. Although nothing will ever top the book, I had to fake my excitement.
"A fishing pole! Oh! And a tackle box! Wow!" I opened the tackle box and looked in it; all the neat compartments were filled with plastic bait, hooks, and other fishing paraphernalia.
After we filled our bellies with more food and cake, everybody went home. Liam and his mom stayed behind to help clean up. "So, what did your Aunt Sylvia get you?" he asked. He knows she's not one of my favorite people and enjoys teasing me.
I poked him in the side. "Some school clothes and shoes. And a new backpack."
"Well, that was nice."
I rolled my eyes. "Whatever. It's dad's money. She don't work."
"Yeah, but she picked it out, didn't she?"
I was about to answer with another snide remark when his mom called to him. "Liam, it's time. Come on."
"Hey." I pulled on his arm as he began to follow his mom. "Meet me at the tree at ten, okay?"
Maybe Liam was right. Aunt Sylvia isn't all that bad. She really is a nice lady. She cooks and keeps the house clean, and she is good with the girls. The only real problem I have with her is the fact that I think she's trying to take mom's place. She was sleeping in the same bed as dad only a few months after mom's car accident.
Just before ten, I checked out the house. All the girls were passed out. Ruth and Hannah in one room, and the twins in the room with Natalie. A house full of girls. Aunt Sylvia was asleep in dad's bed. Dad looked like a comatose victim in his chair, a pint of whiskey empty in his lap. I went to the cabinets just next to the fridge. I grabbed a bottle of Tequila. Liam's favorite.
It was a good fifty yards to the big oak tree in our backyard. I could see Liam sitting up against it, already waiting for me. I jogged to him and put the bottle down in his lap.
"You're the birthday boy. You get to go first." I did the honors and opened it up. I took a big drink. It burned going down and it made me gasp.
"Okay," I said. "Truth? The truth is: the best present was the book. From my dad. Although the basketball comes pretty close."
Liam took a swig and handed it back to me. "Truth? The truth is, I almost cried with you."
We sat in silence as we passed the bottle back and forth. Finally, Liam asked me, "Was it really your mom's?"
"Yeah, she wrote her name in it. Abagail Louise O'Malley. It was hers before she married my dad. I recognized her handwriting."
"What's the name of her book?"
I took another drink from the bottle. "Moby Dick."
Liam giggled. "You're ten years old and you just got a book about a dick?" He giggled some more. I passed the bottle to him and sighed. I swear he can be so immature.
"No, you dip. I think it's about a guy who goes hunting for whales. He calls the whale Moby Dick."
"Oh, like fishing. That sounds cool."
I could barely hear the sounds of the night. My head began to swim. The tequila was stronger than I thought it would be. "Shh!" I said suddenly. Something was coming from behind us -from my house.
"Boy! What the shit are you doing out here?" It was my dad. Liam got up and ran off, leaving the open bottle of tequila to empty into the oak tree's roots. Before I could even get up, dad hit me in my back and I was lying in the grass. My face hit against the tree. He picked me up and held me by the throat. I could barely breathe. "You drinking out here, boy?" I could smell the whiskey on his breath.
I knew to answer him fast and honest. "Y -yessir." My own voice was raspy. He punched me in the face hard. "Now get inside! Now!" I ran as fast as I could to the house. My heart was racing, my face hurt, and my throat was sore. I was ten years old and my dad hit me for the very first time in one of his drunken rages.
Tuesday, September 12, 2000
Sarrah Taylor realized a little too late that she was not home alone. Now, she lay in her bed, arms out, as if she were crucified. Her light blue eyes did not shine anymore. There was blood in her hair that was once dark blonde. She had died instantly from the cut across her throat. There was no blanket to shield her nakedness from the audience of people studying her and the violent crime scene. To cover her could taint any evidence from the victim's body.
Lieutenant Detective Samuel Kelley stood over her body, trying to take in the scene. He had been called in to this case. The Crime Scene Lieutenant Detective Louis Daughenbaugh was on vacation, and their other detective, Sergeant Debra Semien, was injured in a boating accident over the weekend. Kelley could never look into a victim's open, dead eyes. To do that would make him become personally involved. His own eyes were a greenish-gray, and his right one occasionally twitched from too much coffee and cigarettes. His did that this particular morning. He walked to Taylor's bathroom. On her mirror was a note written in her own red lipstick. I'm sorry but I have to go Love Matt it read. It was being dusted for prints. Men were all over the girl, combing for any type of evidence. Kelley found her address book. With his gloved hands, he opened it and thumbed through it. Before bagging it for evidence, he jotted down a few of the numbers and names that could be helpful. Tampon wrappers indicated that she was menstruating recently. Her apartment was tidy, only a few things out of place. In a bathroom drawer there was a stash of twenty-dollar bills and bite size Snickers bars.
Matthew Broussard was being questioned left and right, and was becoming agitated. He was already running late for work. "Yes, I wrote the note on her mirror last night." More questions. "I came back to get the rest of my clothes and found her this way." He didn't want to call a lawyer. "I don't need a lawyer because I'm innocent. I haven't done anything wrong."
By the end of the day, Sarrah Taylor's body was put in a black bag. A neighbor had come forward to say he witnessed Matthew come in only several minutes before the police arrived. The time of death was some time between midnight and two in the morning, a time which Matthew had an alibi. "I was bumping a couple of girls at my place. Here's their phone number, look them up."
Kelley sighed heavily as the people were milling out. It had been a long day. He knew where Broussard worked, so he would pay him a visit for lunch tomorrow. As he walked back outside, he lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Pushing only half the smoke from his lungs back into the warm air, a white sedan pulled up to the apartment.
Out stepped a tall man. Close to six feet and five inches, Dale Smithe was thin as well, making him look close to awkward. "Hey, Kel, you know those things are gonna kill you one of these days!"
Kelley smiled wryly at his friend's joke. "What's up, Smiley?" Smithe laughed at the silly nickname given to him by Kelley.
The two good friends shook hands, Smithe's hand being much longer. "Well, you-know-who had paged me during a very important interview. He wants me to do a profile of our man. So, you want to fill me in?"
Kelley talked quickly. "Well, the boyfriend broke up with the victim by writing a message in lipstick on her mirror. He has an alibi."
Smithe raised an eyebrow. "Tell me about the victim."
Kelley looked through his notes. "Her name, Sarrah Taylor. Her age is twenty-three. About five feet eight, and maybe a hundred thirty five to -forty pounds. Blonde hair, blue eyes. She was found in a crucifix position. Cut in the throat. Signs of rape. But," Kelley's eyes narrowed. "This one is different."
Kelley looked around and lowered his voice. "Well, not much has been done yet, really. We'd have to get back with forensics on it, but there's something funny about the rape. Shit!" Sam Kelley had obviously forgotten about the burning cigarette in his hand. He threw the butt in the street, putting it out with the heel of his shoe. "Well, we'll find out more once the autopsy is done and forensics gets back to us. Her backdoor was obviously tampered with. Looks like he used a screwdriver to get in."
"When will the autopsy be done?"
Kelley rolled his eyes. "Looks like sometime late tomorrow. They're still working on the Fontenot guy that was shot and burned." He lit another cigarette. "It looks like a sadistic rape to me, but I still need your expertise."
Smithe was deep in thought for a moment. "Forced entry, so it definitely wasn't the boyfriend. He had a key to get in, most likely, and wouldn't have thought to go in any different. She most likely didn't know what was coming." Smithe motioned to his car. "I'm gonna go find Captain Rogue and take notes. You know how he is. Coming?"
"Well, I'm leaving, but tell Captain to kiss and lick it where the sun don't shine."
Kelley got into his truck and turned the ignition. There was that turning feeling in the pit of his stomach. There's something definitely unusual about this case, he thought to himself. He wasn't sure what was so unusual, but his stomach never lied to him. It was the kind of brutality that showed signs of a serial killer. His cell phone rang and prompted him out of his musings.
"Hey, Sam. Where are you at?" Natalie Kelley sure knew when to call at the strangest and inconvenient times.
"Hey, baby sister. I'm on the road right now." At that, he put his truck in drive and pulled away from the apartment with yellow tape wrapped around it. "What do you need?"
"Well, did you hear? A girl was murdered last night! I just heard it on the news."
News travels fast. Kelley wondered who helped it travel. Damn leaks, he thought to himself. "Yeah, I know. I just left from there. Pretty nasty. But you know I can't go into details."
It sounded as if Natalie gasped. "Oh, my God. You're on the case? Wonderful! Just what you need to, uh, well you know."
He heaved a big enough sigh for his sister to hear. "Yeah, well Rhonda always said I should keep myself busy; it keeps my head out of my ass."
He could hear Natalie giggle on her end of the line. "Anyway, Sam, if you're not doing anything tonight-"
"I have a meeting I need to go to, but I can be there afterward. Is nine-thirty okay?"
"Sounds good, big brother. You don't mind?
Actually spending the evening to baby-sit his almost-thirty-year old sister wasn't on his list of top ten things to do. Nevertheless, he said, "I don't mind. Later, girl."
He pushed the off button on the phone and tossed it onto the seat. He was certainly glad he'd be working on the case with Smithe. The two have always been good friends, since when? Since the fall of 1982. Has it been that long? Sure is funny how some things can change and you can still keep at least one friend.
In the fall of 1982, Kelley was literally bumped into by Smithe in the halls of McNeese State University. Both were on the way to the same psychology class. Kelley was amused with his new friend's sense of humor. He had recently moved down from Mansfield and didn't know much of anyone. Kelley had finished the class and decided to join the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office. After a good several years on the force, Kelley took his courses in detective work. He has worked his way up the ladder, slowly but surely.
After a full day, Kelley pulled into a half-empty parking lot. Checking his watch, he realized it was only 7:30. Where had the day gone, Kelley asked himself. He stepped out of his truck and locked it.
"Hey, Sam. Haven't seen ya in a couple of weeks. Where have you been?"
The lady had dark red hair and friendly brown eyes. "Oh, Rhonda, I haven't been doing a whole lot really." As Kelley talked the two friends joined arms and walked into the building together. "Just mostly hanging out, eating junk food. I went back to work this week. Looks like I'll be busy for a little while. How about you, my good friend?"
Rhonda laughed. "Oh, you know me, gossiping too much, shopping too much. Same old crap." Her red lips curled into a big smile and she gave a hearty laugh.
Kelley had to laugh with her. They entered the large room and sat next to each other. He saw several familiar faces and even more unfamiliar faces. By eight o'clock, the chairperson began the meeting with a moment of silence. Kelley bowed his head and said a silent prayer. Thank you, God, for today, for yesterday, and for what tomorrow may bring. "This is a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are glad you are all here, especially newcomers."
Kelley mostly wanted to listen tonight, but his mind seemed to travel elsewhere. Why had Sarrah Taylor been laid down in a crucifix position? Had someone thought she had sinned, or was it to mock her? He was certain Broussard, the boyfriend, didn't do this. He didn't seem to have the wits to commit such a crime and keep from being hysterical. She seemed to have no family. Her parents, as told by Broussard, disowned her, and she had no siblings. Tomorrow, he thought, I'll have to go to her work and talk to her other friends.
"Sam. Would you like to share with us tonight?" Nervously, he looked around. He usually liked the smaller meetings. He still had difficulty talking in front of large groups. What was the topic? Next to him, he heard Rhonda mumble something about gratitude. Gratitude? That was easy. He cleared his throat. "Sure. I'm Sam and I'm an alcoholic." A chorus of "Hi, Sam" followed.
"Well, I'm grateful that I didn't drink today, and that I didn't think about having a drink today." He stopped for a brief moment, not sure of what else to say. "I'm a lucky man. I'm lucky to have friends in these rooms. I have a job every day that occupies a lot of my time and thoughts. And I'm grateful that I have a Higher Power who helps me." Sam slightly blushed. "That's it." He said more than he wanted to. Rhonda patted him on his back and smiled.
Even if he were drunk, he would know the two could never be more than friends. Their interests went two separate ways. And he felt too comfortable with her. Like he would feel with a sister.
He had to admit his marriage with Rebecca was over. It was over almost a year ago, legally. And, even then, it was over before that. He wondered if it would ever happen for him. He always liked the fact that he was a romantic. Obviously women now days don't go for the romantic type. At least, not around in this area.
The meeting was dismissed at nine. Kelley drove down Ryan Street, looking for supper. Nothing seemed to appeal to him, so he got on the interstate and drove into Westlake. On the ten-minute drive, he thought about the day he had hit bottom.
It was nearly eleven months ago. His marriage was definitely buried and he felt utter remorse as he nursed a pint of Crown Royal. He loved Rebecca with all his heart and she tore his heart into a hundred pieces. Even his tears tasted like Crown Royal. Sitting on the steps of the Sea Wall, he wanted to jump into the water and drown. Before he even thought about standing up he heard a car slow down, and then stop. A door creaked open, then shut.
"Hello down there," called a woman's voice. "Are you okay?"
He could barely move, but called out in slurred words, "Rebecca. Baa-aaby? Is th-tha-aat y-you?"
"No, I'm not Rebecca. Rhonda. That's my name and I was wonderin' if I could get drunk with you." For some reason, the words she spoke sobered him up for a moment. Instead of drinking, she listened to his story about the divorce with his wife. She listened until the sun came up behind them.
"Tell you what," Rhonda had said. "Meet me here at seven-thirty tonight. If you really want help, I'll help, but you've got to be here. And don't be late."
Turning on Natalie's street, Kelley's stomach growled. She better have something edible in there, he thought to himself.
"The call was placed at oh-eight forty-two. First on the scene, Deputy Traci Seele and her partner Deputy Wayne Landry arrived at oh-eight fifty-seven. According to my notes given by Chris Rogue, Seele knocked on the door as Landry walked around back to secure the place. Matthew Broussard answered the door after about a minute and let Seele in. She had been told that his girlfriend Sarrah Taylor was hurt and needed help." Dale Smithe stopped for a moment to take a sip of his coffee. The recorder was held in his hand, as he paced back and forth in his home office. "Why Broussard couldn't dial nine-one-one instead of a seven-digit number to the Sheriff's office is beyond me. Seele checked the apartment and found Taylor on the bed. She felt for a pulse and found nothing. She ordered Broussard out of the room and she picked up her radio to call in for the homicide."
He stopped the recorder as he heard a light knock on the door. "Come in."
A seven- year old boy, who resembled his father, poked his head in and said quietly "Mama says to tell you supper is ready."
"Tell her I'll be there in just a minute, please."
"Okay, Daddy." The boy exited as quietly as he had come in.
Smithe sat down at his desk. In front of him was the case file. "Looks like we have a white male. Twenty to thirty years of age. Probably lives alone, or with a parent. He will definitely do this again. I think he maybe stalks the victim and waits until he knows she is asleep"
Natalie Kelley stood in front of the full-length mirror and admired herself. She was short, only five foot three, but had a strong build. Her red bra and panties looked good against her tanned complexion. And it brought out the emerald green in her eyes. Pulling her black hair into a ponytail, she stepped away from the mirror. She took off the bra and panties. Her pajama pants and shirt were on the floor, as usual.
At twenty-nine years old, Natalie was still single with no children. She kept most of her time working out, going out, and keeping a job at the Dollar Store. Her brother Sam was the only sibling that kept in touch with her, besides the once a year birthday cards, usually a month early, or a month late. She never knew their mother. Abigail Kelley was involved in a fatal car accident only three months after she was born. She was raised by her Aunt Sylvia, Abigail's elder sister. Sam must have been only six or seven at the time, with four sisters between them: Ruth, Hannah, and the twins Cecilia and Lucille. And next month would mark the five years on their father's death.
Along with her brother and sisters, Natalie grew up in Mansfield, Louisiana. A small town about 30 miles south of Shreveport. She graduated in her class with a 3.2 average in 1988. Being bored in the small town, she decided to fall in her brother's footsteps into Lake Charles. And that was where her adventure seemed to begin.
Natalie was losing one job after another, partying all night and sleeping most of the day. Bumming rides from "friends" and passing out at who-ever's house where the most recent party was. After a year, she found a job in Westlake, just on the other side of the bridge. Still bumming rides from whomever. As soon as she had enough money, she was able to get a small apartment, only blocks away from where she worked. The walking to and from did something to Natalie. Her scrawny legs were getting thicker, her bony arms stronger. She liked the physique. For a year she put money back and finally had enough to buy a used car. Eventually she got into a habit. Jogging first thing in the morning. It allowed her to begin her days feeling good about herself. Tuesdays were usually a long day for her. She got up for her routine jogging, had to shower and quickly get ready for work. The delivery truck comes in by 8 a.m., and the store opens up for 9, so she usually needs to be there by 7:00 to get her opening paperwork done. By four o'clock, Karla, the other manager, comes in to relieve her. Tuesdays were also grocery day. Stock up for the week. By five-thirty, Natalie is done with her day and is ready to relax. But not today. She had called Sam around six-thirty, just after hearing the news on the radio and she knew she couldn't relax without talking to Sam.
Promptly at nine-thirty, Kelley knocked on his sister's apartment door. He was wearing his trademark clothes. Khaki pants and a dark green plaid shirt, with his Doc Marten boots. At thirty-six, his hair was already salt and peppered; dark brown with streaks of gray and white. It made him look older than he actually was, but it looked good on him.
"How did the meeting go?"
He closed the door behind him. "Oh, the usual. Drunk-a-loges, people praising God. That kind of stuff." The two smiled at their joke. Natalie had gone with him to a couple of meetings last year-has it been almost a year?-and she found it amusing and informative at the same time. It made her look into her own life, her own drinking habits. She was not alcoholic, but knew she didn't want to become one. She still drank, but not nearly as much as she used to.
"It was a pretty good meeting, though." Sam walked straight into her small kitchen. "You got some food? I haven't eaten today, and I'm absolutely starved."
"Help yourself. I just went to the store today, as a matter of fact. I have stuff to make a sandwich, frozen dinners with all the good fatty stuff in it, canned food with lots of preservatives in it. Take your pick."
He opened the refrigerator and began to dig. "So, how did your day go, lil' sis?"
"It went okay. Look, there's the tomatoes." She opened the bottom drawer. Kelley had out the mayonnaise, deli ham, and cheese. "I almost had to fire one today. Showed up an hour late and he didn't even give me an excuse. Just waltzed on in, put on his damn apron and went right to work."
Natalie watched him make two large sandwiches. He looked up at her. "You want one?"
"Uh, no. I'm okay. Damn, you must be hungry." She stood on her tip toes and reached in her pantry. "Look, here's some chips. Reduced fat. What do you want to drink?"
"Was that iced tea in there?"
"Yep. One glass of iced tea coming up." She pulled out the pitcher and grabbed two glasses from the cabinet. "So, tell me about your day." She poured the drinks and they sat on the couch in the living room.
"Well, I can't go into very much, you know that." He took a big bite of a sandwich and chewed on it, obviously thinking of what he could tell her. "A girl was found in her apartment by her boyfriend. I mostly spent the day there, watching them collect fingerprints, evidence, and I had to spend my afternoon questioning neighbors and friends. Didn't really get anywhere." He took another bite, looking disappointed. Natalie decided to change the subject. But wasn't sure to what. She didn't want to ask about Rebecca. She knew he was still pretty sore from what happened last month.
As if he could read her thoughts, Kelley said, "Yes, I miss Marla. But there's not much I can to about it. Not until next month. Rebecca just hauled ass with her, the bitch, and she knows I won't be able to do anything about it. She's my daughter, too. And I think she forgets that sometimes."
Rebecca Kelley was his ex-wife. Just last month, she took their five-year old daughter to live with her parents in Houston. According to the judge's ruling, he had to have Alcoholics Anonymous papers signed for one full year before they could have joint custody. October 15th would mark that day. Rebecca had still let him see Marla every other weekend, that is, until she decided to pull this crap.
"Well," Natalie said. "Maybe this case will help keep your mind busy."
"Yea. I can't stay too late. I've got to get up early. I was up to my neck in paperwork yesterday and didn't get much done. Plus, I imagine Captain Rogue wants to go over the new case with me. I haven't even been able to talk to him yet."
Sam finished his sandwiches and washed it down with the cold iced tea.
"Don't worry about the dishes. I'll get to them later."
Sam stayed for another half hour, mostly bullshitting, and got up to go. "Call me this weekend. Maybe we could do something."
"Yea, right. I know you better. You're on a case now, bro. You'll be too busy. Plus, I'm supposed to go to Baton Rouge for the weekend. They have another art festival." Natalie gave her brother a big hug. "Thanks for coming by."
"Yea, no problem. Thanks for supper." It was almost eleven o'clock when Sam Kelley left his sister's apartment.
"No, Mama. I can't"
"Yes you can. Now do as I say."
I tried to kill you, but you ran. I have not found you yet. Oh, but I will. This girl will have to do for now. I cut her throat and made her bleed. I promise, Mama. I didn't have sex with her. She's now dead because of you. Because you are still alive. Pretty soon, I'll need another girl. If I don't find you first, that is.