This is my psychiatrist's couch. Take from it what you will.
But do leave a note.
I still am a late middle aged former government worker killing time.
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The wail of the ambulance carrying the Mother was fading as
Murray pulled up. Parking behind the line of cruisers, he surveyed the scene. Madonna
and child, Murray thought as the paramedics worked on the little girl. Her
torn, puffy face reminded him of a discarded cabbage patch doll, patched with
gauze and tape. A scarlet stain was oozing from a scrape on her arm. A cervical
collar no bigger than a large washer was placed around her neck, then they loaded
her up in cheery yellow ambulance.
“Where’s she going?”
“Scottish Rite. Hope traffic is light. She’s stable right
now, but that could change.”
How about the Mother?
“She went to Grady. Pretty bad head injury, but she was
coming to when we loaded her.”
With that, the door slammed shut.Several uniformed officers
herded the crowd to the side so they could get through.
One of the relatives took him aside and in broken English asked
if they would be alright. There was nothing to say. It certainly didn’t look
good. With a few words, he assured the man he would find out something. Picking
through the discarded clothes scattered like leaves across the lot, he could
help to wonder what is it about the Graves that provokes tragedy? Some curse on
the land from when the Cherokee were run out? Is that why that bastard Allen
The next few minutes were a blur of uniforms and note taking.
Slowly, the story started taking shape. The woman was coming down the hill from
the laundry room with her daughter on her hip, when a beige car came speeding
down the hill, clipping them with the driver’s side fender. All the witnesses
said the car kept going until it parked down at the end of the complex. The
driver exited the car, looked back and then took off through the one of the
buildings. A group of men tried chasing him, but he disappeared back behind the
Jackson signaled him down to where the Corolla was parked.
He took his time, scanning the adjacent buildings for activity. Windows as
blank as paper stared back at him, there secrets seemingly safe. If Allen was
here, he was laying low.
As he approached, Jackson, joined by Captain Hudgins, shook hands
as if it they had not seen each other in years. Old crime scene habits die
hard. Looking down at his notebook, Murray spoke.
“So, the car showing us anything?”
“Not a lot, yet.” Hudgins reached over to flick a leaf off
the damaged fender. “We do know it is Allen’s. He didn’t bother changing the
“I don’t think he cares anymore if we know. So where do you
think he went?”
Jackson spoke up. “One of the witnesses said he ran into the
building on the left and exited out the back. We went ahead did a quick sweep of
the units and came up empty. Knowing him, he’s probably around. Want to bring
“They are en-route.” Hudgins said as lit a cigarette. “They’re
bringing their best handler. We’ll start here and circle around the back of
“Today is the Fourth, right?” Murray asked
“Yeah, what about it?”
“It's the fourth case in this place in two months. We’re
bringing forth our best men on the Fourth, for the fourth.”
The men broke out laughing. It was the comedy relief they
“Your woman keep you up last night?” Jackson asked after he
caught his breath.
With a wink, Murray said. “Let’s just say she was playing my song
and leave it at that.”
He then got serious.
“He’s watching us. I can feel it.”
“Hey, Lieutenant!” One of the Crime Scene Techs shouted from
the rear of the car. “Got something you need to look at.”
The parking lot had turned into a macabre fiesta. Dia De Muerta on a bright spring day. Sirens mixed with mournful Latin songs echoing everywhere. Blue and red strobe lights contrasted with the
yellow crime scene tape cordoning off the area where the bodies were. Only, there was no dancing and no masks,just a multitude spoken prayers for the fallen. They rose like eagles as the
ambulances left with the victims. Soon, shouts of blood lust and revenge rung out in
several languages, reverberating off the dirty brick walls.
Sitting on an
overturned paint bucket, the small, dejected man watched in the shadows of
the empty apartment. The Psychic’s vision was coming true. Mother had reached
down from the sky and put that fucking little bitch in front of his car. Sarah
pulled away at the last moment, just like in his nightmares. Jeremy can’t be
successful, Mother’s voice boomed in his head. He isn’t worthy of anything. A
total failure,stuck in the middle without any plans. A stray thought came to him. They
think I’m a boy. Spittingon the bare wooden floor, he shouted: "Guess what? I am a man." He came back into
Looking back out of the broken window, the tableau was still
what he had imagined. Cops looking around where the bodies lay, doing the crime
scene dog and pony show. One group, led by Murray, was interviewing brown
people with interpreters. The conversations seemed to last only a couple of
minutes before the next one was called up. A couple of people were escorted to
patrol cars and were taken away.
Jackson was down
the hill, directing some uniformed cops at the Toyota, taking pictures and
marking off distances with a wheel. Others brushed the car with something and
used tape to lift off whatever it was. Neither group seemed to be in a hurry.
From the outside it looked like just another investigation.
Murray closed his notebook and strolled down the hill where
the car was parked. An impromptu status meeting, Jeremy guessed. The
conversation appeared to be very even, when all of sudden smiles broke out. Were
they laughing? Probably sharing some joke about me and what an idiot I am. Everyone
was completely oblivious to the situation. If things were completely right, pigs
would be flying right now.
But the bomb wasn’t there.
It was in his lap, armed with the detonator in his hand.
A Suit he began pointing at the rear window and
shouted something. Everyone backed away quickly. They probably found the dummy bomb
he used for practice. The discovery seemed to have quite an effect. Like a
swarm of well disciplined bees, the cops swept a large circle from around the
car and began herding people up the hill toward the entrance of the complex. The
shouts rung in his ears: “Vamos! Yo qué
As the ragtag flock marched up the hill, a baleful
grin came over his face. Chaos. If nothing else, he did achieve that.
Jeremy turns into the complex and slides down the hill unnoticed.
Beige exterior blending into the background, the car looks better than those it
passes. But that detail never matters. It is mission go and he is outside
himself. Roasted pulled pig all over the ground. Glorious, Glorious it will be.
Slowly, he directs the car across the rubble. The stars are perfectly aligned.
He can feel it. They way he has it set up, not even the Behavioral Assessment unit
working together would figure this out. It will be a banging good show.
A stray daffodil struggled in the cracked pavement, shining in
rebellion to despair. Filtered sunlight glinted off cracked panes, the decaying
brick buildings showing the ghosts of the past. A petite woman negotiates her
way across the lot, laundry on hip, and a small girl attached to the other. Another
day spent in their field of diamonds. Simple errands accomplished without the
fear of assault. Such a luxury compared
to the villages they came from.
He hears a thud, then a scream. It
seems to be coming from within his head. Shaking it off, he drives on to the
back of the complex. When he was here earlier in the week, he noticed his old
apartment was vacant. The back bedroom would be the perfect place to conduct
the party. His own DJ stand, so to speak. A single parallel space lay open
between his building and the next one. Perfect. It will give him full view.
Dancing behind the wheel, he slides the car into place.
As he exits the car, he wonders if it is too early. Nah. There
should be plenty of time to prepare. Walking up to the breezeway of his old
building, he glances around to see if there are any neighbors in the halls. The
smell of peppers and onion from someone’s breakfast fill his nose. The oompah
of a Tejano song blasted from the
apartment on the left.He strolled back
to the car.
Scanning the parking lot, he sees a crowd gathered near the
place where the car shook. Women were wailing in grief. It was then he noticed two
dark figures curled up on the pavement. The scene could have been a model for a
painting, “Mother and Child in Repose” or “Rubies on the Ground”, if it were
not for the puddle forming around their shells,. In reality, it looked more
like “Humpty Dumpty on the Ground”.Their great fall looked permanent.
One of the crowd started pointing toward where he was. Oh,
shit. It’s going off wrong. In the background of his mind, he could hear Morgan
from Criminal Minds shouting at him: “Come on Genius, do
something genius like”. He grabs the duct
taped package from the back seat and disappears into the breezeway of the building closest to him.
Cutting left as he exited the building, he starts working his way towards the front of the complex. Everything was
going wrong and he was going to be the prey, rather than the predator. He passed building after building, until he realized
he was about even with where the child was laying. The building had the windows on had been boarded up and abandoned. Maybe he
could hide here.
Looking through the hall, it appeared the crowd had doubled and they were still looking at
the Toyota. If he was quiet, he might be able to come up the stairs without
being noticed. Approaching the entrance, he heard pounding on the stairs. So
much for it being abandoned. A group was on its way to check on the commotion. He
ducked into the bushes on the side to wait them out. As soon as they cleared
the other side, he quickly made his way up.
Stairs went three at a time as he ascended. When he got to
the top floor, there was a door ajar in the apartment overlooking the parking
lot. It also appeared to be empty, so he closed the door and bolted it.There was now a crowd looking at the Toyota.
Oh, the cops are going to come, but not the way he had planned it.
It had all been under control. How could he screw up like
Sinking to the floor, the crystal tears of failure began.
Blue eyes obscured by the wrinkles of the night stared back
from the mirror. The morning ablutions still had to be done, whether he wanted
to or not. Soundlessly, the razor slid down the cheek and along the jaw line
and returned. No stubble, no hangover. Some idiot in the Army told him that. A
clean shave erased all of the sins of the night. Yeah, Murray, keep fooling
yourself. You ain’t getting any younger.
Looking up, he saw her face in the
mirror. She came up from behind and held him.
“You were up all night, you know that?” Kissing the freshly
shaven skin, she savored the mix of mint, booze and man. Ashamed, he turned
away. He had let her down again. How does she put up with me?
Forcing him around to face her, she threaded her arms under
his. The remains of her Chanel began to seep in. In spite of himself, he was
“Walter, you need to take a break.” Taking the towel from
the rack, she slowly dried the craggy face.
“But the Paloma
Throwing the cloth over his head, she turned back toward the
“Tell Cap to handle it.”
“You know I can’t. It’s all over the media. Besides, that
isn’t what’s bugging me.”
Gently, she turned back. “I figured that, all the more
reason to get away.”
Carol knew he was hurting and scared. Most cops were.She
drew her hands lightly his graying chest and he began to relax. Leaning against
him, the kisses began along his collarbone and down his sternum.
“You know I don’t like it when you stay up all night
“I know. Sometimes…”
She put a finger to his lips.
“Sssshhh…Baby, I know. Let Mama take care of it for you.”
They slowly waltzed across the room, rhythm in their heads
keeping time with their bodies. The nightgown rose while the boxers sank. She
continued kissing him down the center of his body. He responded by picking her
up like a baby.They sat on the bed, him
rocking her and tickling between the small breasts. Laughing, she began to coo
at her big Daddy, directing where she needed him. She return the touches in kind.
A married couple in their own teenage world, there was no rush.
Turning and laying her across the bed, he began kissing the
inside of her knee. Murmuring her approval, she ran her fingers through the
thinning hair and shifted slightly. The hate, evil and temptation he had seen
in the last 48 hours was a faded memory. Paloma
can wait. Allen can wait. It could all wait. Only she mattered now. He began to move
towards the healing target.
The cell phone chirped.
“Damn it.” He started to reach for it.
“Don’t answer it.”
Pulling him up even, they sunk into a deep kiss as she lightly
touched what she wanted. Moving into position their sights locked on each other,
they pushed and joined. She pressed hard against him as they held still.
“Carol, I love you.”
“I love you, too, Baby. Mama's here for you.” She stroked him gently.
The phone chirped again. Staring at it, they began to move
in rebellion. This was their moment. Too many had been sacrificed over the years,
for work, for children, for others. It was their time, now. Feeling the rough skin of his face excited
her. It didn’t matter how many times she saw him. She wanted all of him.And, blessedly, he wanted her just as much.
Their speed began to pick up.
Reaching behind her leg, he traced along the base of her
vulva. The reaction was immediate.
Carol arched her back and screamed. Tightly holding on, they
fell into the oblivion they had sought. Nothing at mattered anymore, but them
and they were healed once more.
The phone chirped one more time.
Wearily, he reached
down and picked it up. His eyes flew open.