BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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Two detectives stood together in the misty night and watched Nenge walking towards them from a half block away, stepping through puddles as though their existence were irrelevant. One nudged the other and grunted – they didn’t particularly like Nenge; they were sure she didn’t much like them either. In truth she rarely considered them and considered their deductive skills even less, but that wasn’t it. Mainly they didn’t like her because 1) she was she, 2) she wouldn’t flirt, 3) she treated them like putzes who wanted her to flirt, 4) she got away with crap they couldn’t. “Look at her,” one said to the other. “Bet she’s still tanked.”
So the other replied, “Probably just got to bed when they called her.”
“Why isn’t she the one on the desk this time of night. It’s her case and every one of these things has been discovered about now.”
“Yeah, Captain loves the little bitch for some reason.”
A little pause. “I still think Captain is really her bitch.”
Nenge, of course, saw them as she approached and thought, ‘ah, shit,’ as she did, not feeling the abuse. Her head was still pounding – the vodka shot after the phone call woke her hadn’t helped settle that down. She’d hoped she could just nod to them without eye contact and slide past, but, no, the one detective piped up and said, snide, “You sober about now, Nenge?” not really stating it as a question.
“I dunno, Waddle, you toilet trained yet?”
The one detective grimaced, “Damn it, Nenge, it’s Wendell!”
“Sure thing, Waddle. Nice to see the cleanup crew here,” meaning them. “Where we at tonight?”
“Down the alley, asshole. Screw you, Nenge!”
“You know you’re not my type, Waddle.”
He shouted something else at her, but she was far enough past not to bother hearing it (he’d shouted, ‘what’s that, breathing?’). She turned around the trash bins to the crime scene, roped off with yellow tape. Captain was already there; would’ve been nice to know that. He nodded. She nodded. Photographer was going over the crime scene, flash unit freezing the ugliness in their 5 a.m. faces. She said to him, “Witnesses?”
He said, “Just the homeless woman over there. Claims she didn’t see nothin’, but she was supposedly sleeping between those crates. She’s the one sitting on the ground with the officer standing next to her.”
She surveyed the scene. The victim was scrawled against the dark brick building; not posed, just dumped. Her face had been mutilated postmortem with a four-prong garden trowel, removing her left eye in the process (thought: what does the killer do with the left eyes?) just as the others had been. She’d apparently been completely drained of blood prior to the act, causing her skin to seem unnaturally whiteish-blue. Just as the others had been. And above her body on the dark bricks of the building was scratched five large, thick hashmarks in chalk. (Thought: haven’t all the victims been found against dark brick buildings? Check that.). Five hashmarks. She was the fifth victim.
Captain took a metal flask from his breast pocket; took a swig. Offered it to her. She took it. Bourbon, but cheap stuff, not that either of them had tasted much of the better. He said, “That’s not going on top of much else, is it.”
“Relatively speaking, no, not much.”
“I’m guessing from the way you look you got in late.”
“Following a lead,” she told him, and wasn’t lying. She’d been with the older guy at the diner around the corner from the alley where number four was found last week. He might have seen someone – something – emerging from that alley shortly before the body was found. Something small, and dark, and … weird.
“Anything there?” Captain asked.
“Hard to tell; old guy is down to his few remaining marbles. Seems to spend most of the time at the diner, surviving on coffee. That said,” she added, “I don’t think we’re looking for a dude.”
Captain asked, “Based on something the old guy said?”
She said, “More based on a hunch of what the old guy thinks he saw.” She held up the flask, said, “Lemme borrow this a minute.”
He said, “Don’t lose it.”
She stepped to the homeless woman, nodded to the officer, who got the message and stepped away. She knelt down next to her. “I’m Nenge,” she told her. “You okay?”
The woman nodded quickly. Large, frightened eyes. Twitchy.
“They tell me you were sleeping right over there.”
Nodded again. Nenge held the flask to her. She grabbed quickly for it with both hands, but Nenge held tight. “Don’t tell me you didn’t see anything.”
The woman shook her head. Pulled at the flask.
“No, don’t tell me that.”
For a moment they were locked, eyes as tight as their fists clutched rigidly together on the flask. She whispered, terror struck, “an angel.”
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.