Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Feisty Fiction: Chapter 2
As promised, my part of the latest incarnation of Feisty Fiction is now complete.

For the first chapter, go here. You need to read that first or the below won't make sense.

Go ahead, we'll wait....

Back already? Then here goes:


Collar & Cross


Jake Cole stared at himself in the mirror of the men’s room trying to figure out if circumstances were conspiring against him. He needed a long drag. And a scotch.

He knew he was alone in the cold room. The urinals were pristine white against the institutional teal of the tiled walls. The cold was pervasive, climbing his legs after seeping into his shoes and coming at him from the wall and ceiling too.

He turned his back on the mirror, again attacking the bizarre circumstances of the day, tempted to violate the prohibition and light a smoke. He decided against it. Suddenly, a warmth flooded through him, beginning in his belly and rising and spreading throughout. “Great”, he thought to himself. “I’ve survived all the bullshit so that I could have a heart attack in a fucking bathroom a mere six steps from the morgue. That’s efficient, if a sad commentary on my miserable existence.”

“Hey, Numb Nuts, turn around.”

Jake knew that voice. He knew it as that belonging to a dead man. Now he could add auditory hallucinations to his heart attack symptoms.

“Turn around, Partner.”

Against his better judgment, Jake turned around. He was still alone, except the face that looked back at him from the mirror was not his own. It was Dave.

“Hey, buddy.” Jake had no response. He wasn’t going to start talking back to his hallucinations. “I’m not a hallucination.”

No, but you can read my mind, clearly.

“And, clearly, you are still an asshole.” Dave said from the mirror.

“Okay, I’ll play along: How ya been, Dave.”

“Got fast-tracked, so, not bad. Thanks for what you said at the service, by the way.” Dave was smiling at him in that way that had always irked him.

“So, what, you were there? Listening?”

“Not exactly…I sort of got the cliff’s notes version.”

“Right. Well, what can I do for ya, Dave?” If he was going crazy, he was going all-in.

“Listen, they’re making a huge exception here and I don’t have a lot of time. You need to stake her out. You hear me? Stake out.”

“Right. Stake out. Just ‘cause I’m a little slow, stake out who, exactly?”

“You know who. The chick with the eyes. The Chateline.”
Jake blinked, then tilted his head, grimaced, and came back to center. Stake out the weird chick, he thought.

“That’s right.” Dave nodded from the mirror.

“You bringing the coffee?” Jake asked the image.

Dave gave him that look, the one that called him a dumbshit without using any words. Partners sucked.

“Okay. I’ll stake out the weirdo, just for you. She’s hot, maybe she’s not careful with her drapes. Anything else I can do for you from this side of the mirror?”

Dave’s final words were spoken into Jake’s head without the image’s lips moving. “Yeah. Be careful and…Patrick’s okay.”

Jake felt like he’d been gut-punched. Patrick, his son. He’d never told anyone his name for his son. Patrick. He choked back an unexpected sob as the warmth left him. When he looked up, Dave was gone.

A stake out for one on a tip from a ghost? He was going to need more than a single drag and a double. He needed a whole pack and a bottle.

***
Jake walked into the holding room where Lyric Chateline had been waiting while he communed with spirits in the men’s room. She sat on the far side of the table, very composed and very still. He felt the perverse need to make enough noise to break her out of her calm.

He slid the legal envelope across the table to her and she looked up at him with her big, needy eyes, one blue, one green. “Miss Chateline, your sister’s effects have been released. If you’ll complete the form inside, the ME will release her body to whichever funeral home you designate.”

She took it all in without responding.

He walked back to the door, but stopped mid-way, having rethought it. He turned and made eye contact again. She’d been watching him walk away. “I’m very sorry for your loss.”

She looked at him quizzically, as though not sure she appreciated the sentiment. He turned and speedily exited, as though the hounds of hell were after him.

It had been a very bizarre day.

***

Billy O’Toole rubbed his still-hot cheek. The unshed tear was still bright in his eye. He couldn’t believe that Father Jimmy had slapped him. He hadn’t been any slower than normal, so why did the priest hit him? It wasn’t fair. The Father had dropped the bible, not Billy. He pulled his robe back over his head, hung it on the peg, and ran out of the church, hoping to find the others.

Father James Francis DiCarlo was also removing his uniform. He couldn’t get it off fast enough. The collar seemed to be burning him. He pulled it from his neck and removed his black shirt, unbuttoning it quickly. He also pulled off his undershirt, looking down as he did at the place on his chest that ached.

There, burned indelibly in his pale white skin was a scorching red mark in the shape of a cross. The skin was tender to his touch and burned red pain when probed. His fingers gently touched his neck and found the same pain there, fiery, hot, unrelenting. The priest’s knees buckled and he went down.

***

He sat on the couch in their apartment, surrounded by silence. The only sound to break the quiet was the steady rasping of the knife on the stone. The blade slowly quickened, sharpening to a whisper.

The steady repetitive drawing of the knife, first this way, then that, helped him to focus his mind. She was late. He already knew that she hadn’t done as she’d promised. It still wasn’t done. He would have to make her understand. He would have to hurt her this time.

He paused in his work for another pull on his bottle. The fiery liquid burned all the way down to his belly. He used to feel it more sharply, but that was fading too. Like everything else.

Everything faded.

***

Jake crouched awkwardly on the camp stool that was usually buried in the trunk of his car. A cardboard box sat beside him serving as his coffee table, his thermos full of the piping hot solution to any stakeout.

The rest of his environs left a lot to be desired. The building had been condemned, but Jake was nothing if not resourceful. His perch on the fourth floor, in the corner apartment, gave him a perfect vantage point. Lyric Chateline’s apartment was just across the street. He could see into both her bedroom and living room.

As his subject wasn’t yet home, Jake busied himself with an expert-level Sudoku puzzle. He could usually complete these handily, but found himself too distracted on this night. As he was pouring a warm-up, the lights came on in the apartment across the way.

Jake observed as the young woman put groceries away. He watched as she folded laundry. So far, just an ordinary stakeout: a complete waste of time. At 7:46 p.m., she pulled a salad out of the refrigerator and ate it standing up in the kitchen while watching some celebrity news program. “Dear God, spare me,” he thought to himself. Jake was keeping his notes scrupulously out of habit.

8:05 p.m. – undresses (no peek) and showers

8:21 p.m. – subject out of shower, in bedroom.

Giddy up! The towel hit the floor and Jake got a good view, thanks to his binocs, of a firm young body. Exhilarating as it was, it made him feel old and, if he was being honest with himself, a little dirty. Not so much that he looked away though. The perks of stakeout work were few.

Soon, the young woman was clothed again. She had turned out the lights in the bedroom and returned to the living room. After dispensing with the television by remote, she pulled her coffee table toward her and lit a candle. She got up to turn off the lights in that room, prompting Jake to switch to his other binoculars with the special night vision feature.

She sat on the couch with only the slight glow of a single candle to keep her company. Jake watched as Lyric pulled a manila envelope out of a bag on the floor. He knew that envelope, knew the contents well. Now we’re getting somewhere, he thought.

Lyric pulled a bulky object out of the envelope. The sweater. Had to be the sweater. She opened it reverently, laid it on the coffee table, then knelt on the floor. It looked to Jake, the way she dropped her head, as though she might be…praying? To a sweater? Right.

She brought her head back up and leaned over the table, blowing out the candle. Despite the darkness, there was still a glow in the room. It was faint, but clearly detectable with his binocs, and seemed to be emanating from the buttons on the sweater. Lyric stood and Jake watched as she began to remove her pants. Maybe he was in for another striptease? Not her pants, but…a belt? Jake’s phone rang and he reached for it on his makeshift table, flipping it open as he held the binoculars with one hand.

“Yeah?” he said by way of greeting.

“Detective Cole?” a female voice, a bit gravelly asked.

“Yes. Who is this?”

“Jane Emmert with the ME’s office. Sorry to disturb you, Detective. Uh, look, we have a problem and the ME told me to call you since you are the only member of PD to show an interest in this case.”

“What’s the problem?” Jake wasn’t getting a clear look at the happenings across the street. Was the belt glowing too?

“A body is missing. You were here earlier today with the next of kin. The deceased is…,” Jake heard the rustling of paper, “Pandora Chateline.”

“Does this appear to be a breach of security?” Jake was intrigued now, but it was likely some bureaucratic snafu.

“Not…exactly. Could you come down to the morgue?”

That belt was definitely glowing. Weird, but a missing body was actually worthy of an investigation while his current activities would fall under the headings of stalking, illegal, and the whim of a ghost.

“I’ll be there in about an hour.” Jake flipped the phone closed. He was reluctant to leave, but duty called.

***

He was hearing voices, his skin burned where the collar and cross had rested, and he itched. Everywhere, it was driving him mad. He rocked in his austere bed, the headboard banging rhythmically against the wall. He rocked harder, then harder still. His head beat on the wall, bangbangbang until he fell out of consciousness.

A siren marked the passing of an emergency vehicle on the street, waking him. He fought the heaviness of his lids and looked at the ceiling, one eye blue, one green.

***


There you go. I hope you enjoyed it. I'll keep you posted about where and when to find Chapters 3-5.

Labels:

posted by Phoenix | 8:33 PM


>6 Comments:

At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Christina said...

WOW!

That is awesome!

You have done a beautiful job and left me wanting more, more MORE!

Thank you, m'dear!

 
At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Dash said...

Great! This is really getting good!

 
At 8:35 AM, Anonymous amelie said...

fantastic! i'm with Chrissy; i want more!

wonderful, as always..

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger Michele said...

Absolutely fan-freakin-tastic!! *S* Great job, I can hardly wait for the next chapter; you and Christina have set the bar pretty high!

 
At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Richmond said...

Excellent reading!! Wow!! You did a fantastic job... Can't wait to see what's next!

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger Lolly said...

Enjoyed it VERY much!

 

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