Detective Maye Chronicles: Dead End

“There’s a special place in hell reserved for people who drink diet soda.” Spence kicks the empty Coke can across the cracked asphalt, slaps his overhanging gut.

Detective Maye fits his hands into a pair of too-small black latex gloves, hoping they don’t split open over his swollen arthritic knuckles. Genetics. His father’s were just as bad, had hands the size of bear paws.

Maye picks up the can with his index finger and thumb and drops it into a plastic evidence bag. “If we’re lucky, we might get the perp’s DNA on this.”

Spence shrugs. “Or just another dead end.”

Maye rolls the bag down and stuffs it under his arm. He sighs and stares up at the spray-painted street sign marking the intersection of Fifth and Washington, sectioned off by yellow caution tape. “I just don’t understand how someone can get snatched right from the bus stop in broad daylight, and nobody sees nothing.”

Spence sucks his teeth, twists his mouth and spits on the ground to the left of his shoe. “It’s Cumberland Heights.” Which is another way of saying it’s the hood. And the hood has a rule: No snitching to cops.

“But this is a twelve-year-old boy.”

“A twelve-year-old boy who probably saw something he shouldn’t have.”

Spence turns and walks back to the car, but Maye lingers in the intersection for a few more seconds, the flashing yield light hanging overhead. Someone saw something. Someone always sees something.

Like his father. Someone notices an elderly man meandering along the sidewalk with a bouquet of flowers and a “Happy Birthday” balloon. People don’t just vanish into thin air. There’s always a trail. He just needs to find that first bread crumb.

“Mind if I drive?”

Spence shakes his head, leaves the door open and circles around to the passenger side.

“We headed back to the station?”

Maye tosses the evidence bag containing the Coke can onto the seat. He puts one foot inside and drums his fingers on the seal of the door.

“My mind’s not settled yet. Let’s do one last run through the neighborhood.”

“Your call.”

Spence ducks his head inside and slams the door. Maye can tell he’s getting frustrated. They’ve been at this scene seven times in the last three days, and no one’s talked. But with a glance at his watch, he sees that it’s approaching two o’clock. School will be out soon, kids walking home from the bus stop. One of those kids was holding a secret, and if he could just get that kid alone, without the fear of being seen “snitching,” maybe he’d be more willing to spill.

—Nortina

Stockholm

Detective Maye has seen it dozens of times before. Stockholm syndrome. When the victim develops an affection for her captor.

He holds his hand out for the feral child hiding under the kitchen sink. If not for her wide marble eyes, glowing like orbs in the darkness, he would think no one is there.

He shines his flashlight inside. Compared to the photo he keeps in his chest pocket, she is unrecognizable. Gone is the fair-skinned angel with the free-flowing blond hair. Her skin is caked in dirt, hair a dingy orange collected in one unkempt knot atop her head. The t-shirt she wears barely covers her. She folds herself like an accordion amongst the kitchen chemicals, no bigger than a bottle of bleach.

Maye curls his fingers into his palm to draw her out. “Come on. He can’t hurt you anymore.” But then he wonders how many times this man has promised not to hurt her.

He stuffs his hands in his pockets, and child psychologist, Dr. Pridget, steps in front of him, opens her arms like a doting mother.

“You’re safe now.”

Maye thinks it’s working. The child emerges. All skin and bones, falling hair and ripped fabric. She shields her eyes to the flashing of CSI cameras. Pridget moves to hug her, but the girl drops her shoulder. On hands and knees, she crawls across the floor, between Maye and Pridget’s feet, exposing everything the shirt doesn’t conceal to everyone in the room.

A sickness in Maye’s gut tells him she’s used to being naked around men, she’s used to the heaviness of their hands, the tightness of their beer guts pressed hard against her fragile body.

They watch as she does what she’s had to do to survive for the last six months—curl herself underneath the sinking chest of the now dead man who killed her childhood, t-shirt soaked in both of their bloods.

Nortina


 

Fright Night Fridays:  Every Friday night, dare to venture into something spooky, something paranormal, something suspenseful, something that would surely give you a fright. Are you brave enough to stick around?

Missing Pieces

Bernita waited a week before revealing the secret. She was surprised it lasted this long, that no one thought to search her house or wander into her garage and discover the decaying stench coming from a heavy duty trash bag next to the chest freezer…

Because she couldn’t fit him inside. Because she was no butcher, and no matter how many times you salt and pepper it, or drop a bouillon cube into the boiling pot, you can’t make human flesh taste like chicken.

Detective Maye motioned for her to take a seat across from him. She was thankful to be talking to him and not the other guy, his partner, Spence. Spence had the whole bad cop routine nailed to a science. The permanent frown on his face, how he never blinked, walked with a stomp, accusation always in his voice. He was the reason she decided to come clean.

Lori had called her hysterical, said Spence was hellbent on sending her to prison for Gordon’s disappearance, pressing her to confess. After four hours in the interrogation room he had Lori convinced that she was somehow involved because of the fight she and Gordon had the night before. It was loud. Everyone could hear, even from across the street Bernita heard it, as if they were screaming in her backyard, right under her bedroom window.

Gordon had confronted Lori about the affair. Bernita and Lori had been sloppy, both assuming that Gordon wasn’t bright enough to figure them out, or that he wouldn’t be too upset if he did. Wasn’t it every man’s sexual fantasy, anyway? To have a girlfriend with a girlfriend—to screw them both.

Then again, Gordon never thought of Bernita as a girl. Not her baggy clothes, her deep voice, her cornrow braids.

“I have some information on Gordon.”

“Something you forgot to tell us yesterday?”

She’d invited Maye and Spence over after they had finished interviewing a neighbor. She wanted to be caught. She didn’t realize how hard it would be to dismember a body, get rid of the evidence.

The head went fairly easily, and she plopped it in a greased aluminum roasting pan. But sawing through raw bone with conventional kitchen knives proved fruitless. His left leg and thigh lay on a cutting board while the police stood outside on the front porch, listening to her concoct a story about Gordon’s online poker addiction, how he was strapped for cash and had people after him. They didn’t smell the hair burning in the oven because she’d forgotten to shave Gordon’s head. They didn’t notice the blood splatters on her apron after her unsuccessful attempts to hack his leg in half at the knee.

Or maybe they did notice. Maybe they were already on to her. Maybe nosy neighbor and devout Catholic, Mrs. Munson, told them about Bernita’s early morning exits from Lori’s house minutes before Gordon was due home from his graveyard shift at work. Maybe they were able to break Lori, and to remove suspicion from herself, she told them how on the night he disappeared, Bernita burst into their house, wielding a gun, threatening to kill Gordon because Lori disserved better.

The gun wasn’t loaded, and it turned out to be much easier to kill Gordon than pulling a trigger.

Gordon was allergic to nuts. His throat closed completely in three minutes flat after she gave him fries cooked in peanut oil.

Detective Maye reached for his side. Bernita fidgeted when she saw the glint of metal handcuffs.

“Why don’t we just start with where is he?”

Bernita bit her bottom lip. The cooking part came much later, when she realized she wasn’t strong enough to lift him into her trunk and discard him in the woods miles from town. Gordon was 245 pounds alive; dead and bloated, even after the excrement was discharged from his body, he weighed twice as much. She’d pulled her hamstring dragging him down the stairs into the garage, and then left him there three days while she figured out a plan B.

“Lori had nothing to do with it. She doesn’t know.”

Maye nodded, leaned back in his seat, and crossed his leg over his knee. “Why’d you do it?”

Bernita stared at the wall, sterile white like a hospital. She wondered if there was a reason behind the interrogation room’s wall color, if it affected a suspect’s mind, made it difficult for them think or say anything but the truth.

In her red t-shirt, against the white, she imagined the room bleeding.

Nortina



It is Short Story A Day May! Today’s prompt, “The Secret,” comes from Marta Pelrine-Bacon. This story was inspired by an episode of Snapped. It has a strange ending, but oddly enough, it feels complete. But that could also be because it’s nearly midnight and I’m on the verge of sleep. By the way does one of the characters sound familiar? Yes, Detective Maye is back! He didn’t make is as a main character in my A to Z novel, Lost Boy, but you might see him in a few short stories here on the blog!