He That Knocketh

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 01, 2018

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Submitted: January 01, 2018

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A feral cat screeches, and I can no longer handle the stabbing, spring-infested bed that holds me and Lucy Lips. I roll over and out, leaving the latest midnight mistress to bounce in time with the flow of my regret. The lasting aroma of her pineapple perfume still hangs in the air as I watch her breathe in our lingering musk. I cannot help but notice the simple beauty of her limp body. The curve of her hips connect a highway of winding roads, from the crown of her ocean-blue hair to the nuggets of her toes, back up to that mysterious tunnel I so vigorously traversed hours ago. Another moment of weakness in a time when weakness could be my undoing.

A wise man once said—or perhaps I read it somewhere—that what we do in the shadow of what we think is hidden away from the world, is the very thing that all can see when seeing is all you can do. Lucy Lips over there lies motionless in that very shadow, and my fuckin’ wallet lies as empty as the void left by our love-making. Love-making. Shit, it was fucking and that’s it. Hollow, and expensive. Cutty didn’t mind one bit, raking me over the coals for “a night with his blushing new bangerang!”

I need coffee, and some fresh air.

As I throw on the clothes from the previous day, I cannot recall the last time I showered. The Rabbit Killer case has spun out of control, leaving me chasing shadows. It’s all gotten away from me. Shit. Is that rancid ass smell coming from me? No. The window is open. Has to be the city. The alley. The bum-fuckers and night crawlers all doing the midnight shuffle. Maybe I’ll take a quick wipe down. Nah, fuck it. Where’s my hat?

I make my way to the door and find old Gertie still hanging on the rack in her sexy one piece, right where I left her. That old .45 is the Bonnie to my Clyde. Thank god for her. Hookers come and go. Cases go unsolved. People stay missing. Jobs fall through. Gertie always delivers. Her smooth, silver body is like ecstasy you can bottle, fondle and believe. She knows me, knows all my secrets. She knows who I am on the inside, those primal guts and blood and mess. She knows the real Roland Bachman. To hold her is divine. When the moment occurs that she is needed, I know just how she likes it. Right there, in between her handle and barrel—two glorious legs of exquisite workmanship—that’s the spot. Never pull, she doesn’t like it rough. Just squeeze. When I squeeze, she screams. Symphonic. That’s the spot, baby! she says. Boom. Ecstasy. Lucy Lips, she wasn’t bad. I gave her everything I had and then some. She didn’t scream like Gertie though. No one does. And with Gertie, it’s less work.

It is two in the morning when I make my way out into the world and away from the staleness of my flat on the corner of 42nd and Jackson. I leave my last hundo on the bedside table before making my exit. Like draining the levee. Just take it and go darlin’. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon. Maybe I should put her on retainer. Cutty would love that.

Don’t be jealous Gertie, she’ll never be you.

The cool, early morning air is a relief. The dark shroud of the city covers me like a blanket I have missed. Everybody has their place here, one of the many truths I’ve learned, and one of the only truths allowed to roam these unforgivable streets. As a beat cop trudging the roads of the Lower End, I saw far too much go unanswered. The walkers and takers and the boys in blue who fire with their dicks before firing their side arms. They do not see the Truth gnawing at the door, begging to break through, crying out in sweet, sweet agony. Truth, he is watching. A skeleton, a closeted counterweight pleading for clarity, for reconciliation. The truth is…

…this city is ashamed.

The walk down 42nd is quiet this morning. No, not quiet. Silent. I hate silence. It’s worse than danger. 42nd is home to the vilest of sinners. No matter what time of day, this street—with its alleyways like veins where violence and death shoot up at any given moment—42nd is always busy, bustling, hustling. Yes, 42nd is home to the vilest of sinners, and this morning it is silent.

***

“Chester Dobbs! Oh, excuse me, Lieutenant Dobbs now. Nice to see you.”

“Bachman. Can’t say the same.”

“Sheesh, whatever happened to that cheery disposition you used to have? Only partner I ever had that would smile every time he made an arrest.”

“Y’ should know, optimism only follows da’ righteous, right?”

“Or does it?”

“I s’pose I should ask how the street slummin’s been goin’. Haven’t seen any of your perps as o’ late. Or ever. How do ya even stay in business?”

“Don’t worry about me, I have my ways. You just focus on your own job lieutenant. That Rabbit Killer of yours is still out there after all. I can’t do all the work myself. But enough of that. So tell me, what the hell am I doing here?”

The rotund lieutenant led Roland to an observation room with a two-way mirror that looked into a smaller interrogation room, where a man sat chained to a table. Lieutenant Dobbs opened a case file and proceeded to read.

“Male, six feet two inches, ‘bout thirty to thirty-five years of age, Caucasian. Hasn’t said a word since he got ‘ere.”

“So?”

“Well, actually he did say one thing, after we put ‘m in the room. Couple o’ beat cops brought ‘m in about a half hour ago. Found ‘m in the alley on 44th, mutterin’ he knew who done it, who killed that woman from earlier this morning. Ambulance just brought ‘er body in not too long ago. As for this fucker, they brought ‘em in, cuffed ‘em to the table…and then for some reason he asked for you.”

“Why would he ask for me?

“Hell if I know. You tell me.”

“I don’t know this guy.”

“But ‘e seems t’ know you.”

“What about a background check? You find anything on him?”

“The only thing on his person when they brought ‘em in was a crumpled up piece o’ paper that said ‘I am Kelvin Fray and I have a secret.’ We ran his name through the system but came up empty. Nuttin’. No fingerprints, den’al records, no ID in the database, no local family or ties. The guy is a homeless ghost, a fuckin’ shadow for all we know.”

“Kelvin Fray, huh. And he asked for me?”

“Yeah. That’s it. All’s he said was ‘I’ll only speak with Roland Bachman, the Private Eye.’ Hence the call.”

“So, what am I supposed to do?”

“The hell if I know, Bachman! Buy ‘em dinner! Take ‘em dancin’! Fuck ‘em in the ass! Take your pick!”

“Shit, Dobbs!”

“Look, they found this guy at the scene of a crime, with no blood on his person, no murder weapon, nuttin’. Only that note an’ an apparent connection with you. Suspicious as hell if ya ask me. I’m half tempted t’ throw your ass in one of these rooms too!”

“Kiss my ass, I don’t know this guy!”

“Just go in. Sit down. See whatcha get out of ‘m. Maybe he knows somethin’ ‘bout the murder, or the string o’ murders. Maybe he’s the Rabbit Killer. Maybe he knows the Rabbit Killer. Maybe he’s Santa Claus for fuck sake. Just no funny business, ya hear? You packin’?”

Roland brushed his hand across his hip, tapping Gertie gently through his coat before swinging both arms up, clasping his hands together. “Nope. I’m not a cop anymore, remember?”

“Alright, look. Now normally I wouldn’t have time to entertain usin’ the likes o’ you in a situation like this, but I’ve got no other options other th’n settin’ ‘em free. Just go in an’ see whatcha can do.”

Roland made his way to the door of the interrogation room and his hand paused briefly as it hovered over the knob. After a few big breaths to clear his head, he opened the door with a squeal and shut it behind him, the click of the lock confirming a horrid fact that immediately popped into the back of his mind: he no longer had control over this room. If he wanted out, someone would have to let him out.

“Mr. Bachman, so kind of you to join me.”

Roland crept slowly to the metal chair that sat across from a greasy Kelvin Fray. Skeletal wrists sat peacefully within a pair of cuffs, its chain linked through the mounted bar on the edge of a worn and tarnished table.

Kelvin was motionless. His stalky frame sat before Roland with perfect posture. Roland winced at the bones and skin sitting in that chair as he slowly made his way towards the table, wondering if the man before him even had a shadow, or if he ever found himself fluttering away in a gust of wind. Like the moon in a lonely sky, Kelvin’s sunken face within the pale light of the eight-by-eight room featured deep, shadowed valleys under his cheekbones that funneled towards a sharp chin which had not seen the crisp light of a blade in days. A stained white t-shirt hung off of Kelvin’s shoulders like a ship’s sail that had lost the will to billow.

“Please,” the off-putting, velvet voice from the shackled man beckoned. “Please, Mr. Bachman, have a seat.”

Roland did as directed and pulled his seat up to the table, struggling to maintain eye contact with the yellow bulbs of the gaunt figure before him. He shook it off as if dismissing a fly and decided to dive right in.

“They tell me you’ve been pretty quiet since they brought you in, Kelvin is it? I wonder why—”

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but I haven’t got all day and there’s a pressing matter at hand that we need to discuss. So, if you’ll just forgive my waning desire to indulge in your pleasantries as an attempt to offset my thought process—I pray that maybe we can get through our time together here in a relatively effective and productive manner. I have other people to see.”

Taken back, Roland cranked his dropped jaw shut and began to formulate his retort. Nothing came to mind, which had suddenly become a murky bog. So, after combing a hand through his head of gray, he maintained his training of old, trying to keep a step or two ahead, trying to stay in control of the room.

“Other people to see, huh? I doubt you’ll be leaving this room any time soon. What were you doing in the alley way on 44th at three-thirty this morning?”

“That is not what we need to discuss. I just said—”

“A woman was killed there earlier this morning. The cops that brought you in said that you were mumbling something about her killer, that you knew who it was.”

“Irrelevant.”

“She was a prostitute. Who killed her?”

“Irrelevant.”

“I think it’s quite relevant.”

“Then you’re a complete and utter fool, Mr. Bachman.”

Roland peered into the yellows of Kelvin’s eyes as if to find some sense of footing or pulse on the matter, but ultimately it was like trying to walk on melted butter. The lack of sleep and absence of coffee was beginning to take hold as Roland massaged the bridge of his nose, a failed attempt at releasing some tension.

“For a private investigator you seem to be missing the key element of any who attempt your profession. That’s not surprising given your less-than-stellar track record. It is not that which is seen, Mr. Bachman, which you must concern yourself with. It is within the unseen that you will find the answers. The woman does not matter. Her killer does not matter. The police who found her do not matter.”

“Cut the bullshit, I’m not—”

Seeing! That’s right! You are not seeing!”

“What am I not seeing?”

“Why, it’s simple.” Kelvin attempted a smile, creasing the shallow skin of his lips as they drew back like curtains; grungy little white tombstones in pink soil showing their best face. “The simplicity of the human creature is one that is underestimated by the likes of politicians, clergymen, business owners, doctors, and the everyman like yourself. You’re aware of this, yes?  Irrelevant acts beget irrelevant acts because the human race, at this day, is irrelevant. Why? Because they have forgotten. The simplicity of the human creature is carnal, Mr. Bachman. You cannot deny it. You cannot control it. You can either accept it, or be succumbed by it.”

A simmering pain began to form behind Roland’s brow. The pale off-white interrogation room suddenly began to feel small, tight. The haunting grin of the man in front of him began to scratch and claw at his nerves. Was it the distracting, otherworldly nature of such a foul grin that bothered him? Or was it because—no it couldn’t be. But it was. Why? Why is that grin, that face, those words so, so…familiar?

“Hmmm, I sense you either disagree or desire to end this conversation, but know this, Mr. Private Investigator. Ending this conversation now would be highly detrimental to your existence.”

Kelvin was right, Roland wanted this to end, and he was just at the point to do so before the threat of his supposed demise garbled out of Kelvin’s mouth.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean exactly what I said. There is a reason why it is you sitting there in that chair and I sitting here, shackled like a dog. The time has come, Mr. Bachman. The time has come for you to see.”

***

Walking in this city really makes a man think. Nobody ever does that any more. Think. Ponder. Ask themselves if the choices they make on a day to day basis were the right ones.

Thank god. If they did, I’d be out of a job.

I tread pass the laundromat on 42nd and Winter Street, the one plastered with fliers of missing persons. This latest murder spree has been one for the ages: ten victims, maybe more, in three months. I’ve been tracking this fool from the get-go but he’s a slippery son of a bitch. His victims, mostly women but some men, all have one thing in common: they’re young and they’re attractive.

Beauty has got to be the most mysterious of concepts. It is hopeful yet baseless, captivating but never-lasting. Most people find beauty in something they look at, grope, smell, steal, fuck, become tangibly entangled. I was no different as a younger man. There is a confidence behind beauty, a solid surface in which the crumbling walls of fleeting desires can build and rebuild. You see, the beautiful don’t have to believe. They just…wake up.

Damn, this city use to be beautiful once. You wouldn’t know it now. Every brick, every window, every stairwell, concrete and tile, all have a story to tell that would much rather stay hidden in shadow. And the people, well…the Lower End can speak for most.

I cut down Winter Street towards 44th, with perfect timing it would seem. The shadows of the morning keep dancing under moonlight as the chill of an alleyway chorus kicks in. It starts out small, a mere hum. Then a crash, and some screaming. My pulse quickens, and I suddenly feel more alive, more aware. I gently graze my beloved Gertie, making sure she is as awake as I am. Silly really, she’s always ready. And wanting. Eventually, as I make my way onto 44th, that chorus strikes a curdling crescendo, then silence. A crimson current suddenly appears in the gutter.

Coffee will have to wait.

I stoop down to test the gutter’s flow for what I assume is blood, rubbing the liquid between thumb and finger. It’s thick enough to be. I remember a time when the sight of blood in a gutter used to make me sick. When I first struck out on my own, I took a case involving missing twins. The mother came to me bawling her face off, which I suppose is a natural reaction when your children go missing. After initial investigations, I was confident that they had just run off with some friends. But low and behold, it was a gutter full of running red at one in the morning that lead me to a back alley on the west side of Meeker Street, and two mangled bodies that could have easily been mistaken for thrown-out chuck roast. As I stood there staring at the heaps of meat in plaid shorts and button up shirts, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the thin river of blood running away from its hosts to the gutter, even while hurling my guts out. It was thick, like oil—it had been some time since these poor unfortunate souls found themselves in this predicament, giving the blood time to thicken. The slow-moving red in the midst of the flowing clear of the gutter’s river has become a staple in this city.

Long story short, this was blood for sure.

My gutter walk eventually brings me to the alley on 44th. I had figured as much. Local lowlifes tend to call this alley Caesar’s Palace. No slot machines, but people gamble with their lives taking this backstreet. It’s convenient because it cuts through the poorest part of the Low End and dumps you out near the business district. It’s also eight blocks long and has plenty of opportunity to devour whomever it wants, and a fickle eater she is not.

I approach the passageway entrance and slow my roll. The familiar flicker of blue and red dancing on the dampened walls means I’m not the first to the scene. Damn. Fuck it, maybe I’ll just let the boys in blue handle this one. The noodle shop on the corner’s got coffee right?

But it’s going to bug the hell out of me if I don’t know what’s around that corner. I give Gertie a reassuring tap letting her know she is safe on my hip and that she should be on guard. I long for her touch, but now is not the time.  

***

“Is there any way I can get a coffee in here?” Roland asked the omniscient two-way window of the interrogation room.

“I implore you to seek reason in my words, Mr. Bachman. You of all people should know the importance of…clarity.”

“Did you or did you not kill the woman in the alleyway?” Roland asked for what felt like the tenth time, a monotonous robotic line that printed out of his mouth, unassisted by any thought or desire for an answer.

“No. If you must know, I did not kill the woman in the alley.”

“Then what were you doing there at the scene when the cops showed up?”

“Waiting.”

“Waiting for wh—”

“Why did you become a Private Investigator?”

Roland pushed his chair away from the table, its feet scraping along the tile floor in agonizing yelps. Standing up, he removed his long coat and draped it over the chair. Kelvin shifted his gaze from Roland to Gertie who, now visible and uncovered by the jacket, seemed an awful and inviting presence.

“Why me? Why me?”

“Mr. Bachman, please. Why did you become a Private Investigator? It wasn’t for the pay, I’m almost positive of that. Unless you count your many nightly romps as adequate payment for work unfinished,” Kelvin crooned with a slight, venomous tone dripping off of the last word.

“Shut up, asshole. Unless you’ve got something pertinent to say—”

“Was it because you wanted to help people? Because according to your track record that wouldn’t be the case either. Seventeen years spent out from behind the badge and not a single case completed. Hell of a trail of bodies though, am I right? Why is that?”

Roland walked to the farthest point in the room he could get from Kelvin and leaned his back against the wall. His gaze fixed on the man at the table.

“You were a police officer once. What made you quit? Was it the long hours? The hounding police chief? Or was it your affinity for getting your gun off—”

“Shut up.”

“This is childish Mr. Bachman. If you would just—”

“How do you know so much about me, and yet this entire police force knows nothing about you?”

Kelvin smiled once again, an act Roland had begun to despise more than just being in the room.

“Would it be alright if I were to confess something to you?”

“By all fuckin’ means, go right ahead.”

“I have a secret.”

“Yeah, you’re little note specified that, so?”

“It’s your secret, too.”

“Bullshit.”

“No, I am afraid not. Tell me. Why is it, do you think, that you venture out night after night, attempting to solve cases where the people involved are all beyond reproach; where the only way to solve the case was to never even start it; where the comforting warmth of a woman’s body is nothing more to you than an evening piss or a cup of coffee?”

Roland’s heart began to race, for why he did not know. The piercing bulbs of the florescent light in that small interrogation room began to sear into his temples. How much more of this he could take was the only question he sought any answer. He turned towards the two-way mirror and gave it a pound.

“Okay Dobbs, I think I’ve had enough—!”

“Don’t turn to them! They can’t—”

“I don’t understand what it is you want from me! I’m sick of these mind games you’re trying to play. I’m done!”

“Alright. I’ll tell you.”

“Get on with it then!”

“It’s quite simple, really. Allow me to ask one final question before doing so.”

“Thank god.”

“…Who is Lucy Lips?”

***

As I approach the passage, it hits me, and my stomach drops. I stay within the shadows as I make my way towards the scene. A patrol car practically wedged into the alley shines towards a body bordered by a stream of yellow warnings.

I know exactly what is on the other side of the caution tape, because I can smell it.

Pineapples.

It hits me like a hard right hook from two-time world champ Mugsy “Bugsy” Vohn. BLAM-O! Right in the kissah! Sure, there was the usual alley way stench, but the pineapples cut through all of that. Cut right through the shit. Right through the filth and the muck and the truth of what this city is: a fraud.

Fuckin’ pineapples.

Officer Hodges is the only one on the scene as I stroll out from the shadow of the alley. Fat bastard has the whole place lit up with his patrol car halfway down the alley way. How the hell did he even get out of the car? I’m kinda pissed I missed that. I hate it when I can’t scope out a crime scene first. Especially now.

I was barely gone, maybe an hour? Hour and a half? She was out like a light when I left, so it can’t be Lucy. Can it?

Fuckin’ pineapples! Play it cool.

“Whatta we got?”

“Shit, what the hell are you doing here Bachman? This is a—“

“Fuckin’ mess, I can see that.”

“Just stay behind the yellow line ass wipe, unless you wanna I should deck ya one.”

“Save those pudgy lil sausage fingers for pluggin’ your mistress, Hodges. No need to damages ‘em on this handsome mug.”

“Fuck you, asshole. This is real cop work I’m doin’ here, not some pay-by-the-hour bullshit you slum with.”

“Well, not all of us can be the city’s finest, Hodges. I’ll take the slummin’ over free donuts any day.”

“Everybody knows you’re a hack, Bachman.”

“Oh yeah? What if I told you I’m about to catch the Rabbit Killer, you overgrown piece of cattle shit.”

“Not before you shoot him in the fa—”

“Watch yourself Hodges!”

“Fuck off, asshole! I got shit to do here.”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing? That’s a dead body, not a hunk of ribeye.”

“If you don’t get the hell outta here, I’m gonna arrest your ass so fast you won’t know what hit you! Quit meddling with my investigation!”

“Investigation? You’re a beat cop, fatso, not a detective!”

“I swear to heaven almighty I’m gonna—!”

“Do you smell that?”

“Smell what? Piss? Shit? Your dumb ass?”

“Hodges, for a man of your stature, who clearly knows his way around Mama Belle’s Buffet, I would think your sense of smell would be keener than that.”

“Look, I’m not gonna to tell you—”

“Pineapples. Do you smell pineapples? Or is it just me?”

Hodges’ beady little eyes turn inward as if to ask his nose Well? Do ya? as his quarter-sized nostrils billow in and out.

“You know what? I do!”

Shit. So it’s not my imagination. “Nice Hodges, you can smell! Your victim is probably wearing some sort of pineapple scented perfume, I suppose.”

“Or maybe there’s some thrown-out pineapples in the dumpster. Ever think of that, hot shot? Great P.I?.-work, ya dumb ass. It could be anything. What would make you think it was perfume anyway?” He looks towards the body behind the tape then back to me. “Do you know this woman, Bachman?”

I fucked her. “No, of course not.” Twice. “I was just thinking since she’s clearly all dressed up—” just a few hours ago, “maybe that could be the source of the smell. Pineapple’s a pretty foreign aroma for an alley like this.”

“Listen, I’ve got the coroner comin’ and I don’t want you near this scene when they get here. If you don’t leave, I’ll throw you in the back of my car so fast you’ll be seein’ dancin’ pineapples for days.”

“Alright, alright. I just wanted to look around that’s all. Don’t get your panties in a wad.”

“Man, between you and that homeless perv from earlier, the Lower End’s got an issue with dead-hooker-lovers or somethin’. I really think—”

“What homeless perv?”

“Some homeless feller was sittin’ by the body, all mumblin’ to himself. Scary lookin’ fucker. Back-up came and picked him up a few minutes ago. Left me here to meet the coroner—shit there they are now. You stay put, Bachman!”

Hodges bumbles past me to meet the coroner and the paramedics, who unlike Hodges, apparently lacks the skills to maneuver their vehicle down the alleyway. With a quick slip, I glide under the tape and approach the body.

Female.

Five foot four inches.

Hair like the Pacific, lips like cotton candy, and a rack that just doesn’t forgive.

And let’s not forget, pineapples.

Her right foot is missing. Cut clean through the bone. It was him.

He struck again and I just missed him.

***

Kelvin Fray never moved a muscle during the entire interrogation. He just sat there, a statue with roving eyes and a smile that would come and go as it pleased. Roland began to wonder how it was that he ended up in this room, or why it was that he was targeted for such a discussion. He also wondered at great length if Cutty would cut him off now that his bangarang Lucy was dead, or if he’d get a discount for solving her murder, or why it was the Rabbit Killer liked 44th so much, or if Kelvin was in fact the Rabbit Killer, or why Dobbs hadn’t stopped this interrogation when clearly there was no reason to continue it. There was no indication that they were even being observed anymore, at least that was Roland’s gut feeling. As he glared towards the glass, Roland felt a hollow nothingness reverberating back to him.

Just Roland and Kelvin, together in a floating box amongst the cosmos, destined to sink into oblivion without an answer as to what was happening.

“Lucy Lips was a prostitute,” Roland finally stammered. “She was a prostitute, and a damn good one.”

“She was more than that, don’t you think?”

“No, that’s exactly what she was.”

“Please don’t insult my intelligence. I have a clear line of sight for these things. We have been here for quite some time now and I know when you are lying, especially to yourself.”

Roland had no patience left; it had melted away in a simmering pool of regret for agreeing to this situation. The interrogation door locked from the outside, so getting out on his own was impossible, which he knew going in. Rapping on the two-way mirror would only make him angrier, while also leaving him with sore fists. He placed a hand on the smooth shaft of Gertie’s handle, caressing it ever so gently as he sat there, slumped in a heap on his chair.

“I ask you again. Who is Lucy Lips?”

“I’ve been on the case of the Rabbit Killer for months now. I’ve followed lead after lead but with no results. He’s always one step ahead. I’m a tortoise chasing a hare. You know why they call him the Rabbit Killer? He removes a foot from each of his victims, usually the right foot. Clean cut, minimal carnage, lots of blood. The feet are never found; the thought is he keeps them. It’s his calling card, his good luck charm. Lucky rabbit’s foot, you know?”

“Go on,” Kelvin urged, his eyes fixed on Roland.

“Last night I had one too many drinks after chasing down a dead-end lead—some low-level coke pusher who I thought had seen ole Rabbit and knew where to find him. He didn’t know shit, of course. He was just hopped up, and when I called him on his shit he pulled a knife on me—” Roland paused a moment.

“Go on,” Kelvin crooned.

“He pulled a knife on me,” Roland said, rubbing a hand through his hair, “and I shot him in the head.

“Why not arrest him?”

Roland’s hand began to tremble as it rested on Gertie’s handle.

“I’m not a cop anymore. He pulled a knife. He was a dead end. So, I needed some company. Lucy was it. She was great. Now she’s dead, too.”

“Did you see her body?”

“Briefly.”

“And?”

“Her foot was missing.” Roland’s face dropped into the hand not occupied by Gertie’s presence. “I didn’t have much time before that fat fucker Hodges came bumbling back, so I took as many mental pictures as I could and started down the alleyway. Only, Hodges called me back, said he got a call from the station that some loony they picked up earlier on site was asking for me. Now here I am.”

“Yes, and here we are!” Kelvin’s cryptic smile returned once more, only this time with a saccharine charm Roland hadn’t seen before. His stomach churned just looking at it. “Mr. Bachman, I must say, we have come quite the distance this morning haven’t we!”

“I think that—”

“Hopefully you see now.”

“See?”

“You just keep failing left and right.”

Roland furled his brow. His hand, rested on Gertie’s hind quarters, twitched unexpectedly. “Excuse me?”

“At every turn you fail to see the irrelevance of your troubles. Time after time you seek to better a world that seems to reside just fine within the niche it’s made for itself, only to fall into the snares you so desperately feel should dissipate. Quite hypocritical if you ask me.”

Roland’s gaze moved to a more inquisitive state as he shifted ever so slightly in his chair.

“The lens in which you view your world is skewed by the fact that you cannot serve the purpose you set out to serve. You cannot solve a case. You cannot save a life. You drink till your heart’s content, you sleep with the lowest of lows in order to gain a sense of the highest of highs. And yet, above all else, you maintain the notion that you can do any good in a system that is programed against you, while you yourself fall victim to that program. The evidence of that lies there beneath your trembling hand.”

Roland’s grip tightened around Gertie. The bubbling pulse rising through his body threatened to spill out onto the floor and melt through the tile. Kelvin’s frame, beaming from head to toe, maintained its statuesque state.

“Do you feel it? That gnawing, scratching, and wailing at the door? That skeletal grasp that shuns deceit? That is why we are here, you and I. That is Truth, Mr. Bachman. And I come knocking. Tell me…how badly do you want to shoot me right now?”

Roland quickly rose to his feet. Gertie, fully enveloped in the warmth of his hand, slipped out of her one-piece, presenting herself in glorious fashion.

“Shut up!”

Roland’s trigger finger slid in between Gertie’s barrel and handle, gently and lovingly. He barely rests his finger on her spot. Such a tease. Yes baby, that’s it!

“You are a failure, Mr. Bachman.”

“Shut up!”

“You could not serve and protect the innocent.”

“Don’t you say another word!”

“You have not accepted your carnality.”

Roland shoots a quick glance towards the window. “Anybody there?!”

“You walk out every night hating this city because deep down—”

“Lieutenant!”

“Deep down you know the Truth.”

“Shut up!”

“Deep down…you are ashamed. You are a fraud. And that is why you will never catch

your killer.”

“You’re probably him aren’t you?! You sick, fuckin’—!”

“I am not the killer here. It is you who have failed, again and again and again—”

“Shut up! Just shut the fuck up!”

“…again and again and again and again and…”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

“Roland…Will you open and let me in?”

Gertie’s barrel touches flesh as a shimmer of anticipation raced through the connection she has with her lover.

“Will you accept the tru—?”

Roland squeezed and Gertie cried out in a flash of lurid pleasure. Crimson spray plastered the wall in an explosion of pure energy and matter. Memories, desires, and dreams found themselves no longer housed, but dripping down the back of a chair, puddled on the tile floor, and webbed across the ceiling.

***

They do not see the Truth gnawing at the door, begging to break through, crying out in sweet, sweet agony. Truth, he is watching. A skeleton, a closeted counterweight pleading for clarity, for reconciliation. The truth is…

…this city is ashamed.

***

Hearing the blast, Dobbs, who had stepped away to fetch Roland some coffee, runs faster than he had in years to the interrogation room. As he reaches the observation chamber he stops dead in his tracks, allowing the steaming cup of brew to slip out of his hand and crash onto the floor. He activates the locking mechanism that had kept the interrogation room cut off from the world, draws his side arm, and makes his way towards the bloody mess.

Kicking in the door, he bumbles inside behind the barrel of his Glock 22. The metallic smell of hot blood and the sour odor of sweat swamped the box of a room. Searching around for a brief moment before quickly holstering his weapon, the lieutenant makes his way over and checks the pulse of the body slumped in the chair, trying not to stare at the gaping hole in the side of its head. Two more uniforms come rushing in and the lieutenant removes his confused and disgusted expression in lieu of a stern, authoritative one.

“Get someone in here to clean this shit up.”

The two uniforms hastily file out in pursuit of their lieutenant’s command. Dobbs turns and stares at the limp body on the chair. Like a ragdoll, it splayed. A gaping, meaty hole in the side of its head dripped down to the floor, puddling near the hand that still held an old .45.

“Lieutenant Dobbs. Thank you for your hastiness.”

“What the fuck happened here?”

Kelvin Fray remained stationed in his cemented pose, a sprinkle of crimson across his face.

“What you do in the shadow of what you think is hidden away from the world, is the very thing that all can see when seeing is all you can do.”

“What the hell are you talking about, Fray?”

“Mr. Bachman. He was finally able to see.” 

 

 


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