“Wake up, Rayne.” I am being shaken, and it’s not a pleasant sensation.
“Go ‘way,” I croak, vainly attempting to elude the hands that are shaking me.
“It’s almost noon,” the voice persists. “Get up!” I open one eye to a concerned Paris. “Saturday. March,” he adds. This has been our ritual for the past few months, ever since I’ve been attacked by two murderers in two separate cases. Every time I awake, I need to be told the time, the day, and the month. After the first case, Paris would have to awake me from nightmares as I was screaming and thrashing. Following the second case, I merely oversleep—no dreams. I’m lethargic, however, no matter how much sleep I get. Frankly, I prefer the nightmares to this sluggish state.
“I have to go to the gym in half an hour.” Paris is a personal trainer as well as a part-time model. He doesn’t do much of the latter as he’s more focused on taking care of me, his time at the gym, and his relationship with Lyle, his boyfriend. “You should come work out.” I used to work out daily before the first attack. Ever since, I haven’t worked out hardly at all. Paris is trying to ease me back into it, claiming it’ll help my soul as well as my body. Even the name, ‘N Sound Shape on Valencia is meant to be soothing, though I find it more irritating than anything else.
“I’ll try,” I say lamely. We both know I won’t go, but we keep up the pretense.
I look at Paris with real fondness. He has been my best friend since our sophomore year in high school in Oakland when he chanced upon me cowering away from a group of black girls who were intent on beating me up. One of them claimed I stole her man, which was a laugh. I was virgin with men until college when Paris helped rid me of that burden. We’ve slept together a few times since then, but we’ve both realized that we make much better friends than lovers. He’s seen me through hard times such as my father dying in a horrible car crash our sophomore year in college as well as the recent spate of murders. In turn, I’ve helped him deal with his mother who is highly religious and disapproves of his ‘lifestyle’ as she phrases it, the death of his lover from AIDS, his recent discovery that he was adopted, and the more recent death of his baby sister.
“I’ll have brunch made by the time you get up.” Paris gives me a look, then disappears, not quite closing the door behind him. I sigh and sit up—no use trying to go back to sleep. My stuffed pig, Wilfred, whom I’ve had since I was ten—a birthday present from my parents—who has the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen is lying next to me. I use him in times of distress, though he usually sits on my bookshelf. I kiss him on his snout and set him back on the bookshelf. I get out of bed and stretch. I am wearing sweats, though I prefer to sleep in the nude. Ever since I’ve been embroiled in two murder cases, I’ve slept in sweats. I’m hoping to go back to nude one day.
After my daily ablutions, I stare hard in the mirror. For some reason, the aftermath of the second murder case hasn’t been as traumatic as the first, but I still don’t look as good as I normally do. My ear-length black hair has regained its luster, but my eyes are guarded. My lips rarely curve into a smile these days, not without extreme provocation. I have kept the twenty pounds off that I lost during the trauma of dealing with the first murder case, and lost five more after the latest one. The first ten pounds were fine to lose—the last fifteen make me look anorexic. I still am having trouble eating, as most of what I ingest seems to want to go out the same way it goes in. I was making headway before the climax of the last murder case, but I’m back to square one. I have various scars on my body as reminders that it’s not a good idea to get involved with killers. Only my tattoos—a yin-yang on my right breast and an ankh on my ass—as well as my navel piercing make me happy. They have remained intact. I idly consider adding another tattoo—perhaps a phoenix rising from the ashes.
After I solved the first case—mainly by the killer trying to kill me—I became somewhat of a local celebrity. During the investigation, I had dreamt of seeing my face on television, of seeing my name in the papers. The publicity I garnered after the first case made me rethink my priorities in a hurry. After the second one, I began to positively loathe the media. They hounded me at home, at my job, when I went to the store, and any other time they could find me. Half the stories were speculations about my possible involvement in the killings with the police covering up my role. For what purpose, I don’t know, but the media doesn’t always make sense. The other half of the stories hailed me as the ‘Charlie Chan for the new millennium’, gushing about my talent for detection. Puff pieces.