Category Archives: Murder Mystery

Trip on This: Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

Sunday night.  Trip and Mowgli have to wait until the day after viewing the pictures and discs because they needed to do some prep work.  This is not a situation that they want to walk into without carefully planning what they’re going to do.  Both recognize the volatile nature of what they’re about to do and want to try to account for all the ways things could go wrong.  Neither of them will admit to nerves, but they both know that the odds against the two of them are infinite.  The only thing on their side is that they have the element of surprise.  As long as they hadn’t known who was in charge of the whole operation, they had been at the mercy of the assholes.  Now, the worm has turn, and the hunters have become dead meat.  They work in grim silence, not wanting to jinx the expedition with needless verbiage.  Once in awhile, Mowgli would start to say something only to be cut off by a glare from Trip.  She is used to working solo, and it’s bothering her to have to rely on someone else, even if it’s Mowgli.  Finally, it’s time.

Trip plays a version of a con to find out where O’Reilly is—she has Mowgli call him on his cell phone, pretending to need a lawyer, panicked.  At first, O’Reilly doesn’t want to talk to Mowgli, but Mowgli manages to convey the urgency of his situation.  He accomplishes this by sheer volume—O’Reilly finally decides to talk to Mowgli simply because it’s the most expedient way of getting Mowgli off the phone.  After Mowgli babbles for ten minutes about some made-up legal situation, he manages to finagle where O’Reilly will be and elicits O’Reilly promise to meet Mowgli for ten minutes.  As she might have guessed, O’Reilly will be at his—and Andretti’s—favorite watering hole—Tosca’s.  It’s not Trip’s sort of place, but she’s willing to put up with it if it nets her what she wants—O’Reilly.  Of course, Mowgli gives O’Reilly a fake name and of course, Mowgli isn’t going to show up, but O’Reilly doesn’t know that.  Mowgli and Trip high-five after Mowgli hangs up the phone.

For the occasion, Trip is wearing the shortest white leather mini-skirt she has, a bright purple leather halter top that securely covers her tattoo, thigh-high leather boots the exact same shade as her top with three-inch heels and a long, white leather trench coat.  She also has on elbow-length gloves the same color as her boots and halter top.  It is a look that worked well for her when she was on the streets and by the admiring glances she’s garnering at Tosca’s, it’s still a look that works well.  She’s wearing the platinum wig, but has made up her face—read, her eyes—to look ‘extra-Oriental’ just for O’Reilly.  The only thing marring her look is the oversized plum-colored bag she’s toting, but it’s a necessity.  She is confident that she looks nothing like her normal self nor the other self that shadowed O’Reilly the other day into this very bar.  To prove her point, she smiles widely at Seamus who is working the bar and obviously doesn’t recognize her.

“Wow, aren’t you the vision now,” Seamus grins at her, discreetly checking her out.  “What’ll you be having to drink, darlin’?  First one on the house.”  Trip is at the end of the bar nearest the door whereas O’Reilly is at the far end, drinking what looks to be a martini with three olives.

“White Russian,” Trip says in a little-girl’s voice.  She bats her eyelashes at Seamus who is loving her performance.  The healthy dose of cleavage doesn’t hurt.

“Aw, darlin’, you don’t be wanting that,” Seamus cajoles her.  “How about a Irish coffee?  It’s what we’re famous for, you know.  And I, being Irish, make it the best of anyone.”

“Why not?”  Trip coos, tilting her head to the side.

“What’s a girl like you doing by your lonesome?  I’d think the boys would be busting down your door.”  Even though there are Irish coffees lined up on the bar, Seamus ignores them to make one fresh. He places it in front of Trip with a flourish.

“Sometimes, a girl just wants to be alone, you know?”  Trip says, sipping daintily from the Irish coffee.  “I love boys, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice just to be.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

They have it—the evidence needed to nail the mayor.  Sam Davies—the fucking hypocrite and so much more.  First, there’s Blanche’s final note written a few days before she died.  She finally uses his name instead of calling him ‘sweetie’, which, of course is not proof in and of itself.  She writes how if they have this letter, then she really is dead, and her lover, Davies, is the instigator behind it.  She implores the reader to ‘do the right thing’ and make sure that he’s stopped.  It seems that Blanche had an attack of conscience as she prepared to meet her maker.  The last sentences are smudged, most likely by her tears.

 

He is a monster.  I didnt want to believe it, but now I finally do. 

 

Trip and Mowgli fortify themselves before viewing the DVDs.  They know that this is the end of the line, which means that whatever they are about to see will most likely be even worse than the photos.  The sleeves are labeled ‘Wild Nights’ and are dated, ranging over the past five years.  Chances are she stole a selection of DVDs which—hopefully—indict everyone involved.  Trip and Mowgli sit and stare at the discs dumped on Trip’s bed for perhaps five minutes or longer.  Neither wants to actually play one of the damn things, but they know they are only prolonging the inevitable.  They pop the first one in and prepare to be disgusted.  Initially, it appears as a scene from some frat party with a shot of ‘the boys’ getting ready to go out on the town.  O’Reilly and Peters are starring in this one.

The DVD is more of the same depicted in the photos but worse because now there’s movement and sound.  Even though they keep the volume on low, the screams and cries fill their ears until Mowgli reflexively covers his.  He is squeamish and can’t watch some of the gorier torture, but Trip forces herself to watch every minute of the two-hour DVD, her eyes wide open.  She doesn’t flinch at the graphic images and piteous sounds, but there’s a tightness around her lips that hadn’t been there before.  After it is finished, she pops the next one in before Mowgli can protest or ask to take a break.  She wants to get the viewing done as soon as possible and even if Mowgli bails on her, she’s determined to watch every single damn DVD to see exactly what they’re up against.  She has to sit on her hands from time to time so as to not turn off the disc or at least pause it, but she makes it through the second one.  By this time, Mowgli has turn green and is only watching sporadically.

“Break time,” Mowgli says firmly as soon as disc number two, starring the editor-in-chief of the Chron and the chief of police, is over.

“One more,” Trip replies just as firmly, popping DVD number three into the machine.

“Gotcha,” Mowgli says softly as the mayor’s familiar and photogenic face fills the screen.  “It’s show time.”

After watching the third disc is finished, they do not speak.  Without a doubt, Sam Davies is the vilest man on earth, and he needs to be exterminated like the pestilence he is.  In this DVD, he does things to the eight-year old girl that no one should ever have to experience, and it seems more like a blessing than anything else when he finally kills her by strangling her with his own hands.  Yes, kills her.  Not accidentally, either, in the midst of passion, but coldly, once he has finished his fun with her body.  It is clear that she is not there voluntarily, nor does he handle her with any care.  Only after he kills her does he tenderly stroke her skin, as if to say good-bye.  There is a wrinkle in the middle of the DVD which indicates he’s watched it several times as a DVD is harder to make skip than a video—he is an even sicker man than O’Reilly.

Still not saying a word, Trip ejects the DVD and hurls it across the room.  Fortunately for both of them, the DVD doesn’t shatter.  Trip and Mowgli stare at each other, their faces bleak.  Both of them are children of the streets and have seen the horrible things that humans do to each other, but after viewing that DVD, they don’t consider Sam Davies to be a part of the same species as themselves.  He obviously doesn’t hold himself to the same standards as mere mortals as evidence by the damning disc.  Trip and Mowgli both acknowledge that they are willing to sacrifice everyone else—in other words, allow them to escape—if it means nailing Davies.  They don’t need to discuss it; they can tell by looking into each other’s eyes that it is so.  Ideally, they would love to nail every single one of the bastards pictured, but Davies is the one they’re focused on.

Still not talking, they speed through the other discs in order to determine that hizzoner is featured on more than the one—he is.  Though none of the other footage is as vivid nor as damning as the one of him committing murder.  After discovering that yes, indeed, the mayor is prominently featured on the other discs, Trip puts all the DVDs—save number three—into Mowgli’s bag.  The special disc resides in lone splendor in Trip’s bag.  Now, they have to decide what they’re going to do with the DVDs.  They talk about it, but neither has any concrete ideas.  They are demoralized by what they’ve immersed themselves in.  Mowgli rises abruptly and goes into the bathroom.  Soon, the sounds of the shower running are heard.  Trip stares out the window, though it’s too dark to see anything.  She waits patiently for Mowgli to scrub the slime off his skin which seems to take an inordinate amount of time.  Then again, he still has the sling which might be the problem.  When he returns, he still has an expression of disgust on his face.

“We have to put the DVDs somewhere for safekeeping,” Mowgli finally says.  “And the last packet of pictures.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part Three)

Chapter Thirteen (Part Three)

“Mowgli, bring the key here,” Trip orders, rising to her feet.  She brushes the dust of her jeans as she waits for her partner in crime.  Mowgli ambles over, key in hand.  When he sees the suitcase, he begins to laugh.

“Bigger than a breadbox,” he snorts, slapping his thigh.  “How the hell did it take us so long to find this thing?”  He slips the key into the lock and it turns.  He throws back the lid, and photos start tumbling out of it.  The thing is stuffed with bundles of pictures of all different sizes.  Trip picks up a bundle and glances through it.  What she sees there causes her to take a closer look.

“What the hell?”  Trip asks, bringing the pictures closer to her eyes.  Mowgli is looking at a few pictures as well, his mouth set in a harsh line.

“Let’s grab this and get out of here,” Mowgli says abruptly, throwing his pictures back into the suitcase with revulsion.  “We’ve been here long enough.”  Trip agrees and tosses in her pictures as well.  They close the suitcase and lock it before Trip stuffs the key in her bra.  Mowgli grabs the strap attached to the handle and starts wheeling the suitcase behind him.

“Hey, what’s your hurry?”  Stanley asks them as they rush by.  His brother, Thomas, has joined him while Trip and Mowgli had been excavating.  Thomas is a carbon copy of his brother except with darker hair and three inches more height.  The difference is, he doesn’t talk unless he is forced to.  He nods amicably at Trip and Mowgli then returns to whatever it is he’s doing.  “Don’t have time to chew the fat with an old friend?”

“No,” Trip says, brushing him off.  Mowgli doesn’t elaborate as he’s hot on Trip’s heels, all thoughts of giving Stanley Trip’s number vanished.  They hop in Trip’s car and zoom back to the hotel, careful not to go more than five miles over the speed limit.  It wouldn’t do to get pulled over by the cops with the suitcase full of pictures.  Neither of them say a word as Trip drives, too sickened by their discovery.

“Dump it all out,” Trip orders as soon as they return to the hotel.  She has locked the door to ensure that no one will be walking in unexpectedly on them.  “Every single last filthy picture.  The shitheads!”  Mowgli does as he’s told, spreading the pictures across both his and Trip’s beds.  Then, even though neither wants to do it, they look at the pictures.

Little girls—lots of them.  Mexican girls who can’t be more than fourteen years old, tops.  Naked, mouths parted in silent screams, squirming under the weight of full-grown men.  Girls doing things they shouldn’t even know existed, and being tortured to boot. Girls’ bodies, limp and lifeless.  Dead or unconscious is unclear, but disturbing either way.  Different places, different settings, same stories.  Trip and Mowgli flip through picture after picture, not saying a word.  There is nothing to say that won’t diminish the monstrosity of what has been done, that doesn’t pale besides the reality of evil incarnate.  There are tears running down Mowgli’s face as he looks, but look he does.  These girls deserve to have someone pay attention to their shortened lives—even if it’s only to mourn their passing.

Fortunately, the men were arrogant enough to allow their faces to be photographed except for in the snuff pictures.  Arrogant enough, or sick enough because they wanted trophies of their conquests.  There are Peters and O’Reilly and, oh, shit, the chief of police.  There is the editor-in-chief of the Chron as he holds a girl’s head to his cock.  He is grinning, mugging for the camera as if he’s going for a walk in the park instead of raping a little girl.  DiCalvo or Andretti or whatever his name is, is not pictured, so he must be the clean-up man.  He might also be the photographer. The pictures are in color, which makes the degradation even more vivid.  There is one series of stills of O’Reilly doing unspeakable things to a girl who can’t be older than ten.  Mowgli bolts to the bathroom from where retching sounds can be heard.

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part One)

Chapter Thirteen (Part One)

“Wake up, Sunshine,” Mowgli shakes me out of a deep but restless sleep.

“Huh, what?”  I mutter, burrowing my head under the pillow.  “Shouldn’t you be oblivious or something?”

“Get up,” Mowgli repeats, plucking the pillow off my head.  With a reluctant sigh, I heave my body in an upright position.  I yawn and rub the sleep from my eyes.  I am not a morning person, and I do not like talking to anyone after a job, and I’m hungry, and someone’s trying to kill me.  I do not want to get out of bed on this sunny Saturday morning.  It feels like it’s the crack of dawn, but a quick peek at my clock tells me it’s almost noon.

“You are disgustingly chipper for a man who’s been shot,” I grumble, standing and stretching.  If I were at home, I’d be sleeping in the nude but out of deference to Mowgli’s delicate sensibilities—hah—I had worn a long t-shirt to bed.

“I need help washing,” Mowgli says bluntly.

“Well, how’s a girl supposed to turn down an offer such as that?”  I raise an eyebrow and motion for him to follow me to the bathroom.  I help him out of his shirt and sling and with a washcloth, sponge him down.  The doctor says in a few days, Mowgli can go without the sling if he’s a good boy.  Knowing Mowgli as I do, he’ll be out of the sling by tomorrow.

“What about the rest of me?”  Mowgli asks.  “I’m feeling grimy.”

“Up to you,” I shrug, leaning against the counter.  “It won’t bother me any.  You ain’t got nothing I haven’t seen.”

“Oh, yeah, I do,” Mowgli banters, grinning.  Under his smile, however, is a grimace.  He’s in more pain than he cares to admit, but is too proud to say so.  I know better than to foist a pill of on him, so I hold my tongue.  “Help me out of my pants, will you?”  I undo his khakis and slide them off him until he’s standing in front of me in silk boxers.  That’s my Mowgli for you—nothing but the best for him.

“Should I?”  I gesture to his underwear, but he shakes his head.  I wash him as best I can within the limits.  “That should keep you from smelling, at least for today.”

“I’m taking a shower tomorrow by hook or by crook,” Mowgli mutters, looking with distaste at his body.

“Well, since I’m of sound body, I’m taking a shower now.”  I push him towards the door, but he resists.

“At least help me dress first,” he protests, grabbing me by the arm.  After I finish dressing him, I take my shower.  Normally, I’m in and out of the shower in seven minutes flat, but today I linger.  I figure I’ve earned an extra ten minutes, especially as it’s not on my water bill.  The hot water beats against my muscles, working much like a masseuse.  Of course, that reminds me of Evelyn Sato who I had met so briefly.  It would have been nice to receive a massage from her, but it was not meant to be.  I hope she didn’t suffer much during her death.  I lather up my hair and give it a quick wash.  One nice thing about having short hair is that it’s easy to wash.  Once I’m through pampering myself, I step out of the shower ready, if not eager, to face the day.

I go back into the room to change.  Mowgli is sitting on his bed, watching the television.  There is no ‘breaking news’ about anything concerning our case which is good news, indeed.  I relax a fraction at the absence of more trouble.  Subconsciously, I was expecting one of the girls to end up on the news, dead.  Of course, there would have to be something spectacular about a whore’s death to make the citizens of San Francisco give a damn about it, but I’m sure the assholes could trump something up if need be.  By now, it is clear to me that the boys will go to any lengths to make sure that whatever they’ve been doing is covered up.  By the same reasoning, it must be really huge if they’re desperate enough to kill three women in cold blood and to set up a fourth woman—me—at the same time.  My anger grows at the thought of how expendable women are to guys like this.  Not just women, but girls—little girls.

Thinking about little girls reminds me of my hypothesis that these boys are involved in a kiddie-porn ring.  I ask Mowgli what he thinks, but he agrees that the stakes would be too high for our boys to get their hands dirty in something like that.  As distasteful as it may be, there are many ways for rich, powerful guys to lay their hands on children that aren’t quite as risky.  When I point out that frequenting hookers is risky, too, Mowgli rightly counters that so far, it’s only O’Reilly and Peters we’ve been able to peg as visiting the girls.  As for going to a strip bar—well, there’s nothing illegal about that.  If the mayor is involved and if he is Blanche’s boyfriend, his only real slip up we’ve discovered—legally, not morally—is whatever evidence Blanche had on him.

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Trip on This: Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

“Which one of you is Lolli?”  I ask, scanning the girls clustered under the light.  It is three o’clock, and the girls are showing their wear-and-tear.  I used to hate this time of night because you’re dead tired on your feet and still have another hour or so to go.  Everything is snapping your last nerves, and if you’re on drugs, you’re aching for a hit.  Plus, the johns who use the services this late at night are usually the real fucked-up, psycho-types.  The kind who decide to off a whore just for kicks with nary a qualm about it.  This is also the time the sad sacks manage to creep out of their hidey-holes, and sometimes, I hated them worse than the psychos.  All that emotional pain rolling off their bodies.  Pathetic.

“Who wants to know?”  A hard-eyed redhead who was definitely not on the right side of twenty snaps her gum at me, her hip thrust out provocatively.  I narrow my eyes and take a step towards her.

“Aw, Trip, chill.  She’s just messing with you.”  A girl with dyed black hair whom I knew slightly turns to the redhead and retorts, “Back off, Yo-Yo.  You don’t know who you be messin’ with.  That be Trip.  Ever hear tell of her?  Story goes she took a chainsaw to some yahoo from Florida who thought he be the man.  Well, he be the eunuch after she was done with him!”  The gathering burst into appreciative guffaws at the story, but the redhead isn’t amused.

“So?  What she got to do with me?  Why she gotta be asking about Lolli?”  Yo-Yo thrusts her face into mine, baring her teeth.

“Back off, Duncan,” I hiss through my own teeth.  I’m not amused by the story, either, and the girl telling it didn’t even get it right.  “I got no beef with you, but I can sure find one in a hurry.”  Even though I don’t move a muscle, something in my eyes must warn Yo-Yo that I’m not playing because she backs off.

“I’m Lolli,” a small voice says from behind the crowd.  The girls move slightly to reveal a girl who is nothing more than a child.  She is everything M.L. says she is and more.  Her face is devoid of anything but the merest trace of makeup, and her ears are not pierced.  She is wearing tiny, cut-off overalls that barely cover her butt cheeks over a white, long-sleeve t-shirt that cuts low and is cropped just below her flat chest.  There is a mournful look in her eyes that zings straight through you.  She is the picture of innocence except for the five-inch stilettos on her feet, white of course.

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Trip on This: Chapter Eleven

 Chapter Eleven

Trip sits in her car, decked out in black.  She has come home after a long journey, her clothes signifying a return to self.  The minute she strips out of the ridiculous clothes she’s been wearing all week and slips into her black jeans, black t-shirt with long sleeves, black windbreaker, black gloves and other accoutrement, she feels alive in a way she hasn’t since the first murder occurred.  Her hair is slicked down, and she is wearing no makeup.  If she only had enough hair to pull back in a ponytail, she would be completely herself again.  As it is, she’s feeling good as she sits in the car smoking a cigarette.  She has a notebook on the seat besides her, neatly listing her points of interest.  She is on the case, even if her client is herself and she doesn’t know what she’s repossessing.  If she is to be honest, the uncertainly adds an element of spice to the job that has been missing from her last coups.  Even though the ‘Freezin’ Seamen’ case held her interest because of the sheer oddness of the contents of what she was asked to repossess, the job itself had been fairly straightforward.

Trip continues to smoke, wondering what became of Gina Lattimore, the woman who had stolen the guy’s cum and stored it in her freezer.  Trip shrugs as she dismisses the question from her mind; none of her business any more.  She has more important matters at hand which require her complete concentration.  Though every nerve in Trip’s body is screaming for her to do something, she forces herself to sit in the car and wait.  This is recon to see if there are any cops patrolling the area.  After a half hour, Trip comes to the conclusion that any patrol is sporadic enough not to be a bother.  She slips out of the car and locks it before approaching the apartment building.  As she does, she flashes back to the last time she was here, then pushes that out of her mind as well.  There’s nothing to gain by freaking herself out with memories of Angelica’s dead body.  This time, Trip is not going to be greeted by a dead body sprawled on the kitchen floor.  At least, she sincerely hopes not.

She steels her nerves and reaches for the door.  Earlier in the day, she had come to the building purporting Sto visit a friend, and despite all the shit that has happened in the building, some knob let her in.  It probably didn’t hurt that she used a high, breathy voice much like Marilyn Monroe’s without a trace of an accent.  To further help her cause, she had worn short shorts and a tight top as well as a blond wig.  She hadn’t needed the get-up as her voice was enough to get her through the door, but it never hurt to be prepared.  She had jimmied the door not to latch, and it is still that way hours later.  She looks at her watch and sees that it’s nearly one in the morning.  Time to get this show on the road.

She glances at the mailboxes to confirm Blanche’s apartment number before trotting up the stairs.  There is not much activity, but Trip still treads stealthily.  She reaches Blanche’s floor and cautiously looks around.  There is no guard or tape blocking the door, so she assumes that the cops are finished.  Even if they aren’t, it wouldn’t matter to her.  She pulls out her handy-dandy set of lock picks from her bag and is in the door in record time.  Adrenaline surges through her veins as she slips into the apartment.  She still has the juice, baby, and it feels good to get back on the horse again after being thrown off it.  She closes the door and locks it behind her.  As an afterthought, she slides a chair under the door handle—just a little protection to alert her if someone else gets the same idea.  She takes another deep breath before turning on the lights with a gloved hand.

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Trip on This: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

“What the hell is going on?”  Vandalia is seriously pissed off at the scene in front of her eyes.  Greeley is on his feet, his back to a crouching Trip who is slowly rising.  Mowgli is trailing Vandalia, but not nearly as concerned.

“She spit on me!”  Greeley says indignantly, his cheek still wet with spittle.  “She actually spit on me!”

“I was just showing him how feminine I could be,” Trip says coolly, dusting off her ass.  “Greeley and I were having a philosophical discussion as to whether or not a woman can be tough and feminine at the same time.  I was disagreeing with his point of view.”  She is openly smirking, though Greeley is deliberately not looking at her.

“Vandalia, I don’t think you should have anything further to do with that bitch,” Greeley says, his lower lip thrust out.  And they say women are the pouty ones.

“Excuse me?”  Vandalia’s eyes all but disappear.  “What did you just call her?”

“She’s a bitch!”  Greeley repeats himself, too infuriated to realize that he’s going down in flames.  Mowgli rolls his eyes, but stays to enjoy the show.  “She comes off all hard and shit, but she’s nothing but a punk underneath.  I was just telling her she can be strong and still be feminine, like you, when she got all psycho on me.”  Opie sure waxes poetic when he’s pissed.

“I told him that he needed to broaden his definition of feminine and not be so goddamn narrow-minded,” Trip says sweetly, her tone syrupy.  “Seems like Mr. Macho needs to have his ego pumped up on a minute-to-minute basis, and I failed to provide him such succor.”  Mowgli hides a smile of his own as Trip trots out the psychobabble she devoured when she used to live on the streets.  It never fails to surprise people who underestimate her that she is damn sharp.

“What the hell is she talking about?”  Greeley demands, his nose out of joint.  He looks to Vandalia for support who is less than thrilled with his Cro-Magnon behavior.

“I think we should go,” Mowgli says, finally interceding.  “Vandie, thank you very much for putting up with this miscreant.”  He busses Vandalia on the cheek.  “I definitely owe you one.”

“You owe me more than one,” Vandalia retorts, kissing Mowgli lightly on the lips.  “But I have to admit, it’s been intense.”  They embrace as Trip goes to her room to gather her stuff.  When she returns ten minutes later, the tableau is the same.  She shrugs and moves towards the door.

“Nice meeting you, Vandalia,” Trip says over her shoulder without breaking her stride.  “Wish I could say the same about your boy.”

“You ungrateful bitch,” Greeley roars, starting after Trip.  He is deterred by a large presence in front of him—Mowgli.

“Let it go, man,” Mowgli counsels, knowing it’s a lost cause.  No matter how enamored Vandalia had been by Greeley prior to now, she would have nothing further to do with him now that he’s shown his true colors.  Vandalia is a feminine woman, yes, but one with feminist sensibilities.  In other words, she doesn’t tolerate fools.  “Talk to you soon, Vandie.”

“Where’s your car?”  Trip asks Mowgli, jiggling her foot.  She’s impatient to be on the move, not wanting to present a still target.

“Took a cab,” Mowgli says as he waits for her to unlock her car.  “Thought I’d catch a ride from you.  Give us some time alone.”  Trip tosses her stuff in the back seat and slides into the driver’s seat.

“You thought I’d be out of there today,” Trip corrects him.  She starts the engine and zooms away from Vandalia’s apartment.  “Where am I going to stay?”

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Trip on This: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

I am still simmering and don’t want to even be in the same room as Greeley, let alone brainstorm with him.  Who the hell died and made him god?  How dare he intimate that I have done something to bring this upon myself.  That’s like telling a rape victim that she shouldn’t have worn that outfit or shouldn’t have been walking in that area at that particular time when the bottom line is, she shouldn’t have been raped.  I was simply trying to do my job.  Period.  What this asshole doesn’t understand is that I don’t have the same options that he has, and now that I’ve finally found something I’m good at—that doesn’t include me spreading my legs for hours on end—I’m not going to let some assholes stop me from doing it.  I will never be the president of the United States or CEO of a fucking corporation or even an executive secretary for the CEO of a fucking corporation.  I have neither the education nor the skills for such lofty jobs.  What I’m good at is repossessing possessions that shouldn’t have fallen into the wrong hands in the first place.  It’s ironic that it’s my skills as a repo man that have gotten me into this mess, but perhaps it will be the same talents that help me get out of it as well.

“We need a plan,” Vandalia says, snuggling next to Greeley.  She is idly stroking his leg which causes him to look at her as if to jump her bones right there in front of Mowgli and me.  “I’m worried about what Blanche told the assholes before they killed her.  I mean, if she told her coworker about meeting with you, then maybe she told them where you guys met.  And the coworker described us, too!”  Her eyes open wide.  “Are we going to have to go around in disguises, too?”

“No one can tell it’s you guys from Melody’s description,” I reply.  “I think she did that on purpose, by the way.  Only wants to fuck me up, not you guys.”

“I don’t know,” Vandalia says.  “It would make more sense to describe us completely to get closer to you.  I think she only really paid attention to you.”

“Shit, this is getting too complicated,” Mowgli mutters, rubbing his forehead.  He doesn’t look as fresh as he normally does, which is understandable under the circumstances.  “Why can’t we find them?”

“I wonder,” Greeley says slowly.

“What do you wonder?”  I ask sharply.  I haven’t forgiven him yet, but this isn’t the time for retribution.

“What if Andretti isn’t his real name, either?  I think we need to concentrate on O’Reilly.”

“I wonder if there’s any way of getting close to the mayor,” Vandalia adds.  “Maybe volunteering or something?  I really think he’s the key to this whole thing.  Even if he’s not the one handing out the orders, he has to be aware of what’s going on.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part Four)

Chapter Eight (Part Three)

“Shit,” I yawn as I wake up.  I had a disturbing dream that I can’t remember upon waking which has kept me from sleeping soundly.  This is so unlike me that I’m not sure what to do about it.  Realizing that there is nothing I can do about it, I drag myself out of bed, disgruntled.  I take a quick shower and dress in a flattering emerald-green top and slacks.  I can’t believe it’s only Friday, four days after my personal hell started.

“Morning, Sunshine,” Vandalia says grimly tossing the paper on the table in front of me.  The appetizing aroma of bacon and eggs is in the air causing me to salivate.

“Mowgli make it home OK?”  I had gone to bed before Mowgli left, so I wasn’t sure how late he stayed.  Or what the two of them did after I went to bed.  By the looks they were sending each other, I have a hunch that they are more than just friends.  Which leads me back to my question of what gender is Vandalia.  I shrug as I pour myself a glass of orange juice.  It’s really none of my business, and I don’t particularly care as I’m not attracted to her.  It would interest me to know if she and Mowgli are lovers or have ever been, but it is purely personal curiosity to which I don’t often give in.

“Mowgli’s still here,” Vandalia says, her tone still hard.  “He’s taking the day off.”

“Why?”  I look at her levelly, not understanding the emotion emanating from her.  She seems pissed, though not necessarily at me.

“Read the paper.”  Vandalia turns back to the stove to look after her cooking.  “He was going to go in later, but we need to call a war council.”  I pick up the paper and scan the headlines.

“Lady in White Found Slain Behind Famous Strip Club!”  I shut my eyes, knowing what is to follow.  Jesus, those assholes must have a personal hotline to the press the way they control the flow of information.  I’m sure when I open my eyes and read the article, Blanche’s name will jump right out at me.  I knew I should have gone back to the club last night; I just knew it.

“Read it!”  Vandalia barks, forcing me to open my eyes.  She is glowering at me—an irate hausfrau wrapped in a bright red muumuu.

The story is sensational, though maybe not by San Francisco’s jaded standard.  An ‘anonymous tipster’ had called the police in the wee hours of this morning after hearing noises in the same apartment building where Sylvian was killed.  The cops burst into the apartment and found—surprise, surprise—Blanche White dead on her living room floor.  Quite a coincidence that she lived in the same building in which Sylvian was found.  The police revealed that the place was in shambles and it would take them some time to discern what—if anything—had been stolen.  It is clear that Blanche White, nee Bertha Dubrowski—no wonder she changed her name—has been murdered by a single gunshot to the heart.  In case anyone’s wondering if it’s suicide, she was hog-tied at the time of her demise.  Not too easy to shoot yourself in the heart with your hands tied behind your back.  As with Sylvian and Sato, there is no evidence of sexual intercourse, but Blanche had been severely beaten and tortured before she was killed.  The cops say they have irrefutable evidence that Blanche White’s death ties in with Angelica Sylvian’s and Evelyn Sato’s, which means that folks, we have a serial killer on our hands, and it’s a female.  As I read, I’m getting more and more pissed off.  What’s clear to me is that I am an easy scapegoat for these fuckers to pin a whole plethora of murders on.  I curse DiCalvo for walking into my life, and I know that he is going to fucking pay one way or another.

‘Colleagues who talked to Ms. Dubrowski before work say she seemed nervous and upset,’ Detective Beauregard says, his face serious.  I stare at the picture of the handsome detective—six-two, dark wavy hair, blue eyes—committing his face to memory.  Another asshole to add to my list of fuckers who are out to get me.  Either this man is in the pocket of DiCalvo, or he’s being played like a mandolin.  Either way, he’s now my enemy.  I also wonder why the chief of police didn’t comment himself as is usual in a case like this.  Is it because he wants to keep his hands clean or because Beauregard has convinced him to stay out of it?  Either way, I need to find out more about the chief, too.  I need to know exactly who in the police department has it in for me.

‘She mentioned meeting with an Asian woman before coming to work,’ Melody Anderson is quoted as saying.  ‘There was an Asian woman in the audience the night before Blanche was killed.  She seemed awfully interested in Blanche.  Fixated, you know.’  I am stony-faced as I read the quotes from little Melody.  She, too, is thrust onto my list.  Melody goes on to say the Asian woman doesn’t fit the description of the suspect, but she was wearing a lot of makeup and seemed to have cut her hair short.  She goes on to describe Mowgli, Greeley, and Vandalia whom the police call ‘possible accomplices’.  Her descriptions are vague, however, and would fit half of the San Francisco population.

By the time I’m finished reading the article, I am speechless with rage.  How dare these pricks do this to me?  Not only do they kill without compunction, they don’t give a damn that they’re sending me to the chair.  Whatever body count they end up with, they best add one more if I’m caught, tried, and electrocuted for crimes I never committed.  Why the fuck me?  How did they happen to chose me?  It can’t just be because I’m Asian and because O’Reilly has a fetish for Asian women—that’s too flimsy.  When I cool down, I can see that if my being Asian is a primary concern, then it had to be me.  Let’s face it—there aren’t many female Asian repo men running around.  In fact, I can’t think of another one besides me.

“Fuckers,” I say, not realizing I’ve said it out loud.  I stop reading halfway through the article because I can’t stomach finishing it.

“We need to powwow,” Vandalia says, sliding a plate full of food in front of me.  Normally, I don’t eat breakfast, but I make an exception this time.  I’m so angry, I need something to fuel that anger.  My therapist used to tell me that I had to let go of my anger which is one reason I think therapy is a crock of shit.  Anger is a useful tool, and it’s much better than fear.  Continue Reading

Trip on This: Chapter Eight (Part Three)

Chapter Eight (Part Three)

Trip doesn’t like Blanche any better than she had the first time she laid eyes on the whore.  Blanche isn’t nearly as beautiful up close as she appears on stage because her pores are bigger, her lips are slightly too narrow, her nose a hair too long, and her eyes too close together.  Still, she struts into the place like she owns it, her ass swaying solely for Mowgli’s benefit.  She’s dressed in white jeans which are three sizes too small for her, a white tank top, and white stiletto heels.  Nothing is tackier than high heels and jeans, but somehow, Blanche carries it off.  She’s wearing enough makeup to feel right at home up on stage, and her eyes are a perfect blank.  Either she’s on something, or she’s very well trained not to give herself away.  She holds her head high, staring coldly at Trip before resting her eyes on Mowgli.  She favors him with a wide smile which shows more gum than teeth, but the smile never touches her eyes.

“Well, what can I do for you?”  Her eyes flick to Trip and back to Mowgli.  “I don’t do girls, though she can watch if she wants, I guess.”  Her tone is doubtful, but gains confidence as she flops on the couch.  “Two hundred an hour, no kinky stuff.  That’s extra.”  The straps of her tank top slide down her arms before either Mowgli or Trip can get a word in edgewise.  They both watch in amusement as Blanche wriggles her boobs for their benefit.  Obviously, Mowgli isn’t affected by the show but appreciates the effort whereas Trip doesn’t care for such artifice, her own current look notwithstanding.  “Well?”  Blanche says impatiently.  A flicker of uncertainty crosses her face as Mowgli makes no move towards her.  She flushes and pulls up the straps of her top, crossing her arms in front of her chest.  “Well?”  Her tone is belligerent to cover up her embarrassment.

“You’ve misunderstood, Ms. White,” Trip drawls, her eyes watching Blanche carefully.  “We are not in need of your…services, though we will surely pay you for your most valuable time.”  Even with the saccharine Trip ladles on her words, Blanche is quick to catch the undercurrent and flushes.

“I don’t have to take this,” she says angrily, standing up in a huff.

“Lucien Andretti,” Trip says softly.  Blanche turns as white as her name as the forbidden name is uttered.  She sways in place as her knees buckle, but she doesn’t leave.  “Caleb O’Reilly,” Trip adds, the magnolia gone from her tone.  She isn’t playing, and she wants to make sure that Blanche realizes it.  “Angelica Sylvian.”  Blanche is trembling as she listens to the names so Mowgli escorts her back to the couch where she sits down again.  Trip remains standing so she can retain the psychological advantage.

“What do you want from me?”  Blanche whispers, all traces of arrogance gone.  “I don’t have any money to pay you.”

“I don’t want your money,” Trip hisses, still using the Southern accent.  “We just need to have a little heart-to-heart you and me.  Girl talk.”  She looks at Mowgli, but he shakes his head.  As much as he loves Trip, he knows her too well to leave her alone with Blanche.

“What’s there to talk about?”  Blanche still hasn’t looked Trip in the eye, but steals a glance at Mowgli who smiles reassuringly at her.  She seems emboldened by it and straightens her spine.

“I’m going to be frank with you, Blanche,” Trip says, her tone cold.  “I know Angel is dead.  I know Andretti did it.  I know O’Reilly knows about it and is abetting, even if it’s after the fact.  What I don’t know is where you fit in.”  She stops, allowing Blanche the opportunity to talk.  Blanche, however, chooses to exercise her God-given right to remain silent.  Unfortunately for her, this is not a court of law, and Trip is no judge.  “Answer me!”  Trip’s voice lashes out, causing Blanche to flinch.

“I’m not supposed to talk about it,” Blanche says in a little girl’s voice, keeping her eyes fastened to Mowgli’s comforting face.  He sits next to her and pats her knee in an avuncular fashion.  She leans into his touch which causes him to quickly pull his hand away.  Even in her fear, she can’t help but sexualize her interactions with Mowgli.

“Tough.”  Trip’s voice is uncompromising.  “Another girl died, Blanche.  Evelyn Sato.  Ever heard of her?”  Blanche silently shakes her head, but her face grows even whiter.  “She died because she knew something about Caleb O’Reilly.  Murdered, though they tried to make it look like suicide.  She told me some things, but held back.  She would have told me eventually, but now it’s too late for her.”  Trip pauses, letting the implication dangle.

“What did she know?”  Blanche asks, nervously clutching her hands together.

“Would you like something to drink?”  Mowgli breaks in, earning a scowl from Trip.  She hates having her flow interrupted, but Mowgli is concerned about Blanche’s pallor and doesn’t want her fainting on them.

“Yes, please,” Blanche answers, trying to smile.  “Gin and tonic if you have it.  I wouldn’t mind some food, either.”  Trip refrains from rolling her eyes, but how like a whore to take what she can get even before it’s offered to her.

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