Category Archives: Murder Mystery

Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter six, part three

“Here you go, Apple,” Jet said, deftly transferring what appeared to be zucchini tempura onto Julia’s plate.  “Let me know when you need more, Watermelon.”  Jet called Banana any fruit other than Banana which Banana found hilarious—Julia, not so much.

“Let’s get to work!”  Banana said through a mouthful of tempura.  She pounded her fist against the table, scowling at each of us in turn.

“Banana!”  Julia said, aghast at her daughter’s behavior.  Julia was more perturbed when the rest of us burst into laughter at the sight of Banana perfectly imitating her mother when Julia got in a snit or a panic.  “What?”  Julia scowled, causing us to really laugh it up.  She and Banana were the spitting image of each other.

“Oh, Julia, if you could see your face,” Anu said, delicately brushing the corner of her eye with her fingertip.  “That is so priceless, Banana.”

“Thank you, Auntie,” Banana beamed, taking another bite of her tempura.  Now that she’d gotten what she’d wanted, she was the picture of placidness.

“You’re not saying I act like that!”  Julia said, pointing a finger at her chest.  Her perfectly proportioned face screwed itself up, looking more like Banana when the latter was having a temper tantrum.  Julia patted her blunt cut which looked strangely good on her.  “I exhibit perfect decorum no matter what the circumstances.”

“Oh please, Yamamoto,” Jet said, rolling his eyes.  “You can be so mean when things aren’t going your way.”  The rest of us nodded our heads in agreement.  “Banana is only imitating what she sees every time we come over.”

“It’s not like the rest of you are angels, either,” Julia protested, her eyes darkening.  “If I do scream like that, and I find it highly unlikely, it’s only because the rest of you are such slackers.”

“I’ll get it done by next time, honest,” Banana said, looking hangdog.  She dropped her head in mock-shame before peeking up at us, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

“Busted, Bobby!”  I crowed, clapping my hands in delight.  Bobby was always late with his reports, though he managed to meet his outside deadlines on time.  I supposed I should be thankful he kept us waiting and not the public, but it was damned frustrating.

“What, were you talking to me?”  Banana’s expression became puzzled as she looked from one to the other.  “Oh, um, ok.”

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter six, part one

I sat in the darkness, welcoming the solitude.  Matt was out with his college buddies at my insistence because I needed time alone.  When they called right after the cops left, he had been reluctant to go out because of what was happening and because it was a Sunday night.  When I impressed upon him that I really would like the place to myself, he left, albeit grudgingly.  I couldn’t help sighing with relief after he was gone.  I loved him dearly, but sometimes he was too close.  I needed time to think about all that had happened, and to decide what—if anything—I wanted to do from here.  Even though I had promised Matt that I would see this through, I was having second thoughts.  Talking to the cops had reinforced my doubts, and I tended to agree with them that this was a case best left to the professionals.

I fucking hated wasting my time, and that’s what this endeavor seemed to be to me.  Kayla wouldn’t know the truth if she fell into it or if it hit her over the head.  Every instinct she had told her to lie, manipulate and connive her way out of a situation.  I didn’t think she trusted anyone, including herself, so what motivation would she have to tell the truth?  If my mom was right and Kayla didn’t even care if she got Danny back, well, then, all bets were off.  Most mothers valued their children’s lives more than their own, but this mother seemed to be the exception.  If Kayla couldn’t be prodded by the disappearance of her son, what would yank her chain?  The only answer I could think of was endangerment to her livelihood or her freedom.

“That’s it,” I said, bolting upright.  I had enough in my hands to fry Kayla if I wanted.  I was sure the cops would be more than eager to read Kayla’s secret stash.  In fact, the interview this afternoon didn’t end on the best note because dumpy Detective Daily had been convinced I was hiding something….

“You’re a psychic,” Detective Daily repeated, the scorn evident in her voice.  They had been interrogating me for over an hour in my living room—Matt had been banished to his room—and there had been little variation in their patter.  Neither could quite believe my claims, though I told them what I’d told Kayla.  “You know what I think?”  Detective Daily asked, leaning forward until she was in my face.  She had frizzy brown hair that framed a dead-white chubby face.  Her eyes were small and hard while her lips were thin.  She had the singularly most unprepossessing face I’d ever seen in my life, and she did little to enhance it.  “I think you’re a con who preys on people involved in tragedies.  Psychic!”  She almost spat out the last word, landing spittle on my cheek.  I stared at her in distaste, wanting to tell her to polish her hard-ass act because she wasn’t impressing me.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter five, part three

I kept myself ramrod as I marched to my car because I knew better than to show fear.  Once I had driven out of eyesight of the detectives, however, I allowed my body to sag.  I cursed Kayla under her breath for running to Matt with her problems, Matt for beseeching me to help out, and me for being such a sucker than I couldn’t say no.  Everything about this case felt wrong, not to mention icky, and I wished I’d never agreed to help out in the first place.  This wasn’t like Without a Trace where the problem of a missing person was solved in an hour with everything falling into place.  No, this was like a serial that got canceled before the finale was shown.  I had a hunch that there would be many twists and turns before the truth to this sordid matter came out.

“Well?”  Matt asked the minute I walked into the apartment.  Ignoring him, I went to the kitchen to see what was in the fridge.  It was one in the afternoon, and I was starving—Matt’s pancakes notwithstanding.  There wasn’t anything appealing, so I fell back on my last resort—a frozen Healthy Choice dinner.  “What happened?”  Matt asked as I placed the tray into the microwave.  He had a look on his face that said he wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I began telling him what I’d discovered along with my little run-in with the cops.

The whole story sounded more convoluted as I told it to him than it had when Kayla had told me, but that was probably because I’d had time to let it sink in.  I was struck by the obstacles in this case, such as not knowing Alexander’s last name.  Sure, I had his number—if Kayla hadn’t been lying about that, too—but what good would that do?  All he had to do was refuse to talk to me, and there was nothing I could do to force him to do so.  I could tell him I had his stuff, but he would see through that in a minute.  I wondered if the FBI would be getting involved with the case, but I didn’t give it too much thought as there was little I could do about it.  Just as I was about to tell Matt about Digger, my cell phone rang at the same time the microwave binged.  As I answered the phone, I stirred my food before popping it back into the microwave.

“Scarlett!  How are you?”  It was my mother, of course, the only one who called me Scarlett.  Rather, she was the only person I allowed to call me Scarlett without making a big deal out of it.  “I have the feeling that something bad has happened to you.  Am I right?”  My mother had a touch of ESP herself which she attributed to being brought up in the old country.

“Not exactly,” I said hesitantly.  Matt was making faces at me, but I waved him away.  This was my mother, damn it, and she usually had good insight.  I spilled the story as concisely as I possibly could, waiting to hear her words of wisdom.

“Oh, that was the front-page story of the Strib,” was her disappointing first response.  I was about to say something acerbic when I realized that I had neglected the first rule of thumb—look it up on the internet.  I cursed my self for my stupidity and made a mental note of it.  “This is Matt’s old girlfriend, right?  The crazy one?”

“Yes, Mom.  Hold on a sec,” I said, walking into the living room.  Matt followed me, so I kept going to my bedroom.  He looked as if he were going to follow me there as well, but I shut him down with a frown.  As soon as I closed the door to my bedroom, I continued the conversation.  “She’s bad news, Mom, but I promised Matt I’d help her out.  It’s his son, too.”

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter five, part two

“I’ll see Danny room now,” I said, abruptly standing up.  Kayla got up as well, dashing her eyes with her arm.  I followed her down a hallway until we reached the very last door.

“Here it is,” she said, opening the door.  I blinked in amazement at what I saw.  There was a big-screen television as well as a DVD player and a CD player, more expensive than the ones I had.  Every toy known to kidkind seemed to be on the floor while there were very few books on the bookshelf.  Not even two rows were filled, which was sad to me as I was an avid reader.  A three-foot long stuffed pig sat in the corner of the room.  “That’s Reggie,” Kayla said, pointing at the gigantic pig which looked as if it was about to jump up and play.  “That’s Beans,” she added, pointing to another pig which was slightly smaller but just as spry.  “And that’s Corkscrew.”  Another pig.  Unlike the other two, this pig was brown with a white stomach.  “Danny liked—likes pigs.”  That was obvious as there were roughly fifty pigs in the room—made of all kinds of material—including clay, porcelain. and plastic.  I recalled the pig I saw Danny holding while in captivity, and it made sense seeing his room.  I also noted that Kayla had used the past tense when talking about Danny—not a good sign.

“I need a few minutes alone,” I said, not glancing at Kayla.  I was too busy scanning the room to pay her any attention.

“Ok,” Kayla said meekly, stepping out of the room.  Immediately, the air around me expanded so I could breathe freely again.  I looked at the pigs, wondering how a boy of two came about a pig-obsession.  Perhaps he saw Babe one too many times; it certainly wasn’t because Kayla read Charlotte’s Web to him.  The walls were a light green which gave a cozy feeling to the room.  There was a crib—what the hell was Kayla thinking leaving her boy outside alone?  He’s hardly more than a baby—certainly too young to be alone even for a few minutes.  A scene flashed before my eyes, but it went by too quickly for me to grab it.  I vaguely recalled Kayla looking at her watch, but that was it.  Wait, what was she looking at her watch for?  It happened while she was outside with Danny, right before she went back in.  Chances were, she was just checking to see how long it’d been since her last fix.  Even junkies had rules, as fucked up as those rules might be.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter five, part one

It had started three months ago when her coke supplier—who had also been a bouncer at her club—decided to move to Florida.  He was sick of the Minnesota winters and figured he could do a booming business in the tropics.  Kayla didn’t know why he thought that, but she begged him not to go.  He was the only supplier she knew of, and she didn’t want to break in another one.  Nor did she want to go outside the club as it had been convenient with her supplier at her workplace.  Her supplier wouldn’t listen, but he gave her the name of another guy who said he’d come to her place of work if she gave him a freebie.  Kayla wasn’t in any position to argue, so she agreed reluctantly.  She was smart enough to realize that dealing with a supplier she didn’t know could be dicey business, but she needed the junk.

The next day at work, a white guy who looked as if he had been a frat boy in college approached her during one of her breaks.  He was wearing a gray Armani suit and a real Rolex.  He had his Oakleys on, even though it was nearly pitch-black in the club, and he was the walking stereotype of a pimp or a dealer.  Kayla cringed at how obvious he was, but she was desperate.  She took him to one of the back tables and did a lap dance for him for free.  Once she was done, she waited for him to show the stuff.  She had made a couple hundred in tips that night, and she needed that fix like yesterday.  Instead, he pointed to her skimpy top which showed more than it covered.  It seemed as if he wanted to see her boobs.  That was usually more than Kayla gave, but Kayla did it.  The guy crooked his finger, indicating that she should lean closer.  She did, and he slowly sucked her nipple while watching her face.  She flushed as he took his time, doing it more to degrade her than because he got enjoyment out of it.  At the same time, he ran his finger under her G-string and rubbed her pussy.  She flushed, but took her medicine like a good lamb.  When the man who had yet to give her his name had his fill of fun, he leaned back in his chair.

“How much?”  He asked, eying her like she was a piece of meat.

“I got a hundred,” Kayla answered, feeling soiled.  Though she did much more with her ‘dates’, it was usually under her control.

“Here.”  The guy flipped her a small bag that contained a gram of coke and held out his hand.  Kayla handed him the hundred, tucking the bag into the pocket of her diaphanous robe.  Even though the robe was see-through for the most part, the pockets were not.  He made a shooing motion with his hand, but Kayla remained where she was.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter four, part two

When I reached my room, I reached straight for the black section of my wardrobe.  It was my favorite color, but I didn’t wear solid black often as it made me look like a New Yorker wannabe.  I pulled on a black skirt my mom had bought me in Taiwan.  It was ankle-length, but very thin.  I pulled on a matching black top, also bought in Taiwan.  It bordered on see-through, but it was cute with its scooping neck and capped sleeves.  The Taiwanese knew how to make clothing that kept you covered but also kept you cool—and they looked damn good, too.  I twisted my shoulder-length hair into a bun and rimmed my ‘good’ eyes lightly with black kohl.  I added a dark red lipstick that finished off the look.  I pulled myself to my full height of five-feet five inches and gave myself the once-over.  I grabbed a few accoutrements and stuffed them into a black bag.  I declared myself done and went into the living room where Matt was watching SportsCenter.

“Damn, you look great,” Matt said admiringly, casing me up and down.  “Do you have a broom to go with that outfit?”

“Very funny,” I said sourly, pursing my lips at him.  I was in a foul mood at the prospect of talking to Kayla, and the last thing I needed was heckling from Matt.  “I’m out of here.”

On the drive over, I plotted my plan of attack.  I knew the only way to get Kayla to break was to go on the offensive.  She was the type of woman who could thrust and parry all day long without tiring.  I would have to jolt her out of her complacency in order to get anything useful out of her.  I had a hunch that not only did she know who had taken her son, but she wasn’t all the eager to retrieve him.  That wasn’t my intuition talking—just my gut.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she wanted harm to come to Danny, but she was looking out for Number One.  She had something to fear from the people who took Danny, and she had to make sure nothing happened to her while attempting to get him back.

I muttered a curse under my breath as I was nearly sideswiped by an SUV who was too fucking cool to use his side mirrors to change lanes, or, God forbid, signal.  I blasted my horn as I wasn’t ruled by the inane concept of Minnesota Nice that dictated car horns were strictly for show.  Although lately, that was slowly changing as more cases of road rage cropped up due to the changing demographics.  The SUV driver glanced my way as I passed her, an embarrassed look on her face.  She was yapping on her cell phone, of course, which was probably another reason she was driving like shit.  Look, folks, it’s this simple.  Most of you drive for shit when you’re doing nothing but driving.  Adding a cell phone to the equation was just asking for trouble.  There ought to be a law that cell phones can only be used for emergencies while driving.  The only exception would be if the driver had a headset so she didn’t have to touch the phone.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter four, part one

“Wake up, Scar.”  I heard an annoying buzzing in my ear which I tried to block out by placing a pillow over my head.  “Come on, Scar.  Get up.”  There was shaking involved, and I was ready to seriously hurt whomever was rousing me from the land of sleep.  “Scar!  Get your ass out of bed this instant!”  Someone was shrieking at me, and I didn’t appreciate it.

“Go ‘way,” I mumbled, burrowing deeper under my sheets.  “No Scar here.  Sorry.”  The pillow was plucked from my head, and light poured into my room.  I pried one eye open and saw Matt standing by the foot of my bed, his hands on his hips.  He was only wearing a pair of shorts which was nice, but he was glaring at me, which was not.  “Too early, Matt,” I groaned, pulling the covers up again.  “Go away.”

“Scar, Kayla got a note.  It was taped to her newspaper.  She found it this morning.”  Matt pulled the covers from me and tugged on my arm.  “I have to tell you about it!  Get up!  I made pancakes.”  Pancakes!  Well, why didn’t he say so in the first place?  I loved pancakes, and Matt made the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted.  I hoped he put strawberries in them because those were my favorite.

“Hand me my robe,” I said, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.  I slept in the nude, and I wasn’t about to get out of bed in front of Matt without some kind of covering.  All right, I knew it was ridiculous because he’d seen me naked before, but it was one of my rules.  If we weren’t having sex, I wasn’t going to be naked in front of him.  He didn’t have the same compunctions, but I wasn’t worried about that.  Matt snatched my robe from the floor by the door—I shed it the second I walked into my room—and threw it at me.  I shrugged into it, trying not to display any gratuitous flesh.  Matt had a slight smirk on his face as he watched me struggle to protect my virtue.  I stuck my tongue out of him as I successfully covered myself.  When I was robed, I got out of bed and followed him into the kitchen to grab some food.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter three, part two

About a year ago, Kayla graduated from booze and an occasional pot-smoking to the harder stuff.  She had been having a harder time getting through her sets at works, so her stripper friends introduced her to meth, which they said worked wonders.  She didn’t like it much, but she liked the energy it gave her.  She tried crack, heroin, and coke in rapid succession before deciding that coke was her drug of choice when she needed a little boost.  She promised herself that it would just be an occasional thing, but she found herself increasingly agitated the days she didn’t use it.  The customers looked seedier, her self-loathing was higher, and she was about ready to jump out of her skin.  About three months ago, she started using daily along with the booze and a Valium to come down before sleeping.  Somehow, she became hooked.  Her words, not Matt’s.  As if it serendipitously happened, as if she had no hand in it.

Though she made good money stripping and modeling, it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up on her house and her habit, not to mention her son.  She had a few men friends who helped her out from time to time, but she couldn’t be obvious about it.  She wasn’t a hooker, after all.  My private guess was that she had more than a few men friends and that she was less than subtle in her requests, but I let it go.  It wasn’t relevant to Danny’s disappearance, and it would just piss off Matt if I mentioned it.  Kayla had a dealer, of course, but she wouldn’t give Matt a name no matter how much he cajoled.  She was sure that her dealer had nothing to do with it, but Matt wasn’t as sure.  Neither was I, but I let that go as well.  I didn’t want to interrupt Matt while he was in his flow, so I saved all questions and comments until after he was finished talking.

About a month ago, her money had run out.  She had been careful not to ingest more than she could afford, but there had been a few really bad weeks at work.  One of her closest girlfriends, Foxxy—not her real name, of course—had OD’d and died while another girl had been raped by one of her ‘dates’ after a show.  Matt hastened to explain that it was really rape because the trick doped her drink before having his fun with her.  Turned out the trick liked to play with his switchblade while having sex, and the girl was still in the hospital.  Most likely, she would never dance again.

Stories like these couldn’t help but affect the other girls because they were too close to home.  All of them accepted ‘dates’ after the show, and nearly ninety percent were strung out on something or the other every day.  They knew it was a dangerous job, but they had to keep that out of their mind to do what they did.  The reality knocked it home just how fragile they really were, and it didn’t help that the cops didn’t give a rat’s ass about a stripper who got raped.  As a consequence, Kayla—working name, Circe—had used more than she normally did which left her short on rent money which meant she had to use the food money for the rent.  God forbid she do without her drugs—no, she rather give up food.  I wouldn’t care so much if it was just her starving, but she was also skimping on Danny’s nourishment.  That pissed Matt off as well, and he decided that when we found Danny, he was going to sue for custody.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter two, part two

“Kayla, where the fuck are you?”  He burst into her bedroom without knocking.  Kayla was bending over something, her body hiding whatever it was.  “Fuck it, Kayla!”  Matt strode over to her and knocked her gear to the ground.

“Matt, what the fuck?  You’re wasting some good shit!  I spent three hundred dollars on that!”  Kayla scrambled to the ground, frantic to salvage her powder.  Matt grabbed her by the arm and hauled her into a standing position with her spitting invectives at him the whole way.  “I need it, Matt!  My fucking son is missing, and my nerves are all shot to hell!  Just a little snort, come on.”  Good.  She hadn’t had an opportunity to fry her brains some more—maybe we could get some sense out of her.  Matt dragged her into the living room and shoved her onto the couch.  He towered over her, terrible in his rage.  She looked at him wide-eyed, but without fear.

“How the fuck could you, Kayla?”  Matt screamed, his hands clenched in fists.  I stood right behind him, ready to tackle him if need be.  “How the fuck could you not tell me?”

“I need it, Matt,” Kayla bleated before Matt’s words sunk in to her brain.  “How could I not tell you what?”  She looked befuddled as well she should.  She probably thought her secret was safe as she was the only one who knew.  Even Bobby thought he was the father, that Danny had been born premature.  Thankfully for Kayla, Danny had been born on the small side which made it easier for Bobby to accept that he was a preemie.  Bobby still saw Danny on the weekends and supported him generously, even though he and Kayla split soon after Danny was born.

“That Danny is my fucking son.”  Matt’s face was inches away from Kayla’s so she could watch and listen as he enunciated every word.  “How could you not fucking tell me?”

“What are you talking about, Matt?”  Kayla whimpered, her eyes filling with fear.  She tried to keep a smile on her face, but she couldn’t quite do it.  “Bobby is Danny’s father.  You know that.”  She looked away at the last second, unable to hold Matt’s gaze.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter one, part two

“This is pretty close,” Matt commented casually, not at all agitated as he would be if it were the Red Sox in the same jam.  Nevertheless, he watched closely as Nathan struggled through Rodriguez’s at bat, falling behind three and one.

“Don’t worry, the Twins are going to win it.”  I said it with confidence because I knew it was true.  Sometimes, I wanted something to happen, and it did about half the time.  Other times, I just knew how something was going to happen, and it always did.

“You calling it?”  Matt asked seriously.

How fortunate was I that he didn’t make fun of my abilities.  That could have something to do with watching the BoSox’s miraculous season a few years back, and I called David Ortiz winning game four with a homerun.  Not only did I call that, I called him winning the game again the next night.  I didn’t realize it would be in the fourteenth inning, and I thought it’d be another home run, but I called it out loud.  Every time he was up, I paid closer attention to the game as did Matt who was from Boston originally and never outgrew being a member of the Red Sox Nation.  Of course, he was impossible to live with after the Red Sox finally broke the Curse, but I could understand that.  I damn near lost it myself when I got to see in person the seventh game of the first World Series the Twins won back in 1987.  Now, Matt cheered for the Twins alongside me but only when they weren’t playing the Red Sox.  Oh, and I called the Red Sox sweeping the Cardinals in the Series.  Matt was skeptical before that, but he couldn’t deny my freaky powers after he saw them in action for the duration of the magical playoffs.  I even knew the Twins would lose to the Yanks again in the first round, but it didn’t take a psychic to predict that.

“I’m calling it,” I said firmly.  “Nathan may let a base-runner or two get on, but he’ll close the deal with a strikeout.  In fact, all three outs will be via strikeouts.”  Ok, I was just showing off with the last prediction, but damned if I wasn’t right.  Nathan walked Rodriguez before striking out Abreu and Jorge to end the game.

“You are too good,” Matt said in admiration after the last out was made.  “You really should bet on some games.”  I smiled but didn’t respond.  We’d had this discussion many times before, and I didn’t feel like going through it again.  Hell, if I were that good, I’d buy a lottery ticket and be done with it.

“I’m very good,” I said, dropping my voice to husky.  It had been three months since I’d had sex, and I was PMS’ing big time.  Matt wasn’t seeing anybody, either, so there was no reason we couldn’t indulge in some sports of our own, especially as it was Saturday night—which meant no work tomorrow.

“Oh, I know you are,” Matt said, leaning towards me.  “But maybe you could refresh my memory as it’s been a long time.”  It had been half a year since we’d had sex, but I remembered how great it was as if it had been yesterday.

We met in the middle of the futon and kissed.  There was something familiar about Matt that made sex with him simultaneously exciting and comforting.  It was really too bad that we didn’t suit as a couple because he was nearly everything I wanted in a partner.  I knew he felt the same way about me, but it’s one of god’s greatest tricks to make two people just miss being the perfect match.  I slipped my hand under Matt’s shirt, marveling at his taut body.  He stilled played baseball on the weekends with some of his old teammates, and he worked out almost every day.  He was borderline body dysmorphic, but he realized the absurdity of his mindset and managed not to go completely overboard with it.  Any time he edged near insanity, I was right there to pull him back.

“Your room or mine?”  Matt breathed once we broke off the kiss.

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