1. Hardboiled Blues

Pasta noir downtown

The downtown night air was crisp and cool with the slight aroma of misery. He never thought that his life would turn out the way it did. The wife, the kid, the pride- all lost along the way. They were lost somewhere in the belly of the big, bad city, where they would never again age, remaining forever young, beautiful and full of grace. He still saw them in everything and everyone.  A Homicide Investigator's life is never something called happily ever after. Everyday Detective Chris Priest woke up, looked up and asked why the fuck he was still around to do it all over again. It was his punishment, you see. His penance was waking up without them, still trying to make a dent of difference in this city on fire.

Staring out his window, he poured a quarter glass of Jim Beam and asked himself in the famous words of The Clash: Should I stay, or should I Rock the Kasbah? The familiar metallic taste of the colt 45 made things real at that moment. It was fear that kept him from biting the bullet. Yet, it was also his lack of fear that kept him afloat another day. It kept him doing what he did best, the only thing he cared about anymore. Fear was for the enemy, fear and bullets.

What little faith he had left hung on like a loose string. One would think Chris would have completely and utterly lost his essence, his humanity… all in a brilliant flash of ‘Fuck You’ dished out by fate. Much had occurred in his life since he swore in and began serving as a rookie Sheriff’s Deputy in Lytle Texas 17 years ago. However, in the midst of all the glory, the coolness and the climbing, Chris had his number 1 with a bullet, Abby. She was firecrackers on the 4th. They drank out of the same bottle, never pulling any punches. They spent their days loving, laughing, living, fucking.

It was February. The view from Chris’s downtown window was covered in white, a rarity. The last time it really snowed in San Antonio was back in 1985 when he was 10 years old. He recalled that day with a warm fuzzy feeling. He and his best friend were pulled out of school together so that they may go home and enjoy playing in the snow, where they would build snowmen and partake in the clichéd snowball fight with their parents. It would be one of the best days of his existence. He liked to go there often when life chewed him up and spit him out. He wished they were by his side now. They would all enjoy the day off and play just as he did so long ago.

“Walk it the fuck off!” Chris murmured to himself as he closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, opening his eyes as he exhaled. It wasn’t exactly prime conditions for crime fighting in the city today. However, if he spent another moment alone in that bottle of Jim Beam, he might actually choose to “Rock the Kasbah” this day. He abandoned his quarter glass of J.B. and thought, “It will still be here when I get back. Let’s get into fucking character.”

Chris locked his apartment door. Not that he had much to steal, but it was better than coming home to an already near-empty apartment. Worst case scenario, some scumbag would find all his booze and clean him out. That would be the icing on the chocolate cake. Booze kept him alive these days. It saved his soul. In this city, you can never lose that spark.

As he locked his door, he eyeballed the hallway on the right to see if anyone was coming or going. The air was stagnant and ever ominous. Mrs. Bonner, an old broad wasting away from loneliness, was slowly walking towards the stairs, taking her morning walk as she did most mornings. Chris imagined her as the kind of woman expecting some special letter from a special someone that never arrived. He knew everybody had a story (and skeletons).  He imagined her once a young beautiful dame, in love with a man and mother to two or three children. He knew he’d walk past her and she’d greet him, friendly as always, and begin the chit-chat. Most of the lost souls here preferred ignoring her. She reminded them of their own mortality. All the other ghosts of the Camino Real Apartment building were stewing in their own misery and preferred to do so alone. Someday, they will have that void to fill too, the hesitation of the young with so much wasted life. They'd walk right past them like they’re invisible, looking straight ahead, trying to avoid the simplicity of conversation, busy living (or not living). Too busy for an old ghost. Times sure have changed.

Detective Priest

“Good morning Chris. Going out in this mess?” she asked casually. 

“Good morning Mrs. Bonner. Bad guys don’t take the day off, neither can I,” he said with a smile. He figured the least he could do was take a minute or three to indulge her. He understood what it was to be all alone in this world and recognized that big emptiness within her. They were kindred spirits in sorrow. At some point, everybody hurts. Mrs. Bonner visibly brightened up.

“Ha! You’re a comedian. Well, it hasn’t snowed here in about 30 years! Do you remember that?” she asked Chris.

“Yes, I do. That was a really good day for me. Played in the snow all day with my best friend. And you? What were you doing that day?” He asked with a reminiscing smile.

She looked away from him for a moment down the hallway. “My husband left me for some hussy that day. That was not a good day for me Chris,”  she recalled, looking down at the floor, eyes slightly blue.

“But, the asshole married her and she left him two years later… took him for everything he had!” she admitted with a big smile. Chris laughed and held up his hand for a high five.  Mrs. Bonner laughed as she high-fived him back.

“You have a good day Mrs. Bonner!” he called out as he walked away.

“Please, Chris, Mrs. Bonner was my Mother. Call me Delia,” she answered.
Johnny cash-delia's gone

Johnny cash-delia's gone

“Hm… That’s the name of my favorite Johnny Cash song,” he smiled, looking back. With that he made his way downstairs.  Delia was beaming.Chris felt that warm, fuzzy feeling again he hadn’t felt in so long. It was good to feel something again, even if for just a brief moment.

Chris opened the door to the ancient apartment building. The cold punched him in the eyes as he let out a loud “Fuck!!” His cell phone chimed, a text message from Michael Rodriguez, his partner (or his Goddamn babysitter as he referred to Michael after the Captain partnered them up). Michael was alright though. He just reminded Chris a little too much of his former self.

Michael: 11651 Alamo Lane, King William District. Already here. Not pretty.

Chris: Cold enough for you? On my way Sunshine.

He placed his phone back into his pocket. He looked around at the mean streets of this cruel city; she was all covered in white. His gaze found his own car parked along the curb, a 1987 Camaro, black paint chipping away- His black sunshine. Chris bought the car from his aunt when her son died of a heroin overdose. While his family was still alive, Chris put time and money into her. He hoped his Son, Connor, would one day be proud to drive her around town - driving around the dames, living the good life of a teenage boy coming into his prime.  Connor would help his Dad with minor repairs and modifications on the Camaro from time to time. She was their special project. It was the only time they had anymore, usually on the weekends. However, a detective is always on call. He kept Miss Sunshine because she reminded him of the happy times with his Son. Connor was only 13 when he departed from this world.

The Camaro was Chris’s only baby now. He walked over and brushed off some of Mother Nature’s blow only to find most of the car was covered in ice. He would need to let her warm up for a while.

2. Lemon Man

The King William District was a historical neighborhood.  It had all the charm of L.A.’s Mulholland Drive at sunset.  Chris walked up to the beautiful Victorian home nestled deep within the cozy well-to-do suburb.  The scene was taped off.  C.S.I. was in & out of the home.  He made his way to a large, covered wooden porch.  The outside stucco walls were covered in thick green vine; dormant, snow-covered  Boughganvillia vines surrounded the outside property line.  The lot in general was immaculate.  Someone put a lot of love and money into its overall look and upkeep.

Chris carefully walked up the steps and under the yellow tape to meet with Michael at the door.

“Hey! Good morning, old man!” Michael commented upon seeing Chris make his way carefully up the steps.

“Good morning, young padawan,” Chris responded to Michael, who was 10 years his Jr.

Chris was a mess but Michael thought the sun shined out of his ass, though he’d never admit it.  He’d rather bust Chris’s balls.  He learned a few things from his mentor over the past 2 years - things that have saved his skin more than once.

Michael smirked at Chris and began with the run down.  “The medical examiner is inside.  We got a one Max Von Drack, Caucasian male, age 68.  His throat was slashed, his eyes gouged out and placed into his mouth.  It appears it was done while he was still alive.  He, uh… bit down on them.  The vic' was also clenching a lemon his right hand.  He squeezed the shit out of it too. “

Chris, being the smartass he was, couldn’t resist. “You don’t think he was making lemonade, do you, Detective?”

“Really?  That’s just wrong, man,” Michael said with his eyebrows raised. “Anyway, he also has something carved into his left arm, a link to a website.  I took a pic and already checked it out.  It’s a link to a horror fiction website called Scarypasta.” 

“'Scarypasta'?! What in the fuck is that?” Chris asked with an expression like he just smelled something rotten.

Michael raised his eyebrows “Yeeeah…  It’s a horror fiction website where writers post all kinds of short horror stories.  It has quite the cult following apparently.  The link is to a story called 'A Tale of Him Holding a Lemon'.”

Chris laughed. “Are you fuckin’ for real?”  He shook his head and looked Michael right in the eye. “Well, take me to the stiff.”

The S.A.P.D. Detectives made their way inside the lovely home, which would likely sell fast on the market regardless of the crime.  The hallway led to a large living room, finished in a nice oak.  Dark, polished wooden floors, bookcases and a china cabinet rested against the old walls.  On a large, blood-soaked Persian rug lay a man in a blood-covered yellow sweater vest, white dress shirt underneath and black slacks.  His shoes had been removed.  He had a grey mustache and wavy hair.  He looked to be small in stature, about 5 foot 6.  His eye sockets were empty and bloody.  Blood covered the areas of his mouth and neck.  The long cut on his throat was apparent.  His left shirt sleeve had been rolled up and the link to the story was indeed carved into his forearm.  The wounds on his arm had begun to dry and scab over, making the carvings even more visible.   What kind of monster would do this to an old man?

“This city and it’s fucking scumbags… always on duty.  Doesn’t look like the work of a button man or a burglar; Looks personal.  Anything taken?” Chris asked.

“No.  It appears that the killer or killers wanted the attention to be focused on the killing,“ Michael replied.

“Do you think there was more than one killer?” Chris asked over his shoulder.

“Not sure.  We got C.S.I. running tests.  He hasn’t been dead too long.  Livor mortis is set in.”

“Next of kin?  Someone has to pay for his burial,” Chris asked.

“None yet.  By the looks of things it doesn’t seem like he had any kids, if you know what I mean.” Michael pointed at a framed picture on a bookshelf of Mr. Von Drack kissing another older man.

“He was a daisy.  OK, let’s get the patrols interviewing neighbors. Michael, take this photo and make your way around the gay bars tonight,”  Chris ordered.

“Ah, shit!!” Michael protested.

Chris looked at Michael and smiled. “Hey, grunts do the legwork… you know this. sonny-boy!  Besides, the daisy in the photo is our prime suspect at this point.”

Chris located Mr. Von Drack’s cell phone and did a search.

“OK, I’ll start looking for next of kin.”

3. Murder, Breakfast of Champions

“It’s been 3 hours…. I’m hungry.  Breakfast, I’m buying,” Michael offered.

“Yes, you are.  I bought last time.” Chris patted Michael on the arm.

“I had a cup of coffee!  That was all!”  Michael shook his head in disbelief.

“Hey, the system works.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it...” Chris placed his hand on Michael’s back, leading him toward the front door.

Chris looked around at the C.S.I. and beat cops and said loudly, “Carry on, my wayward sons!”

The hash house was cheap, dirty and nearly empty due to the snow.  The stereotypical retired guy was there sipping coffee, reading the newspaper, and loitering.  It had all the charm of a funeral home.  The air was so thick you could cut it with a machete. 

Although Chris was depressed in general since the loss of Abby & Connor, he still had a good appetite and the metabolism of a 15 year old.  He wolfed down a Grand slam with scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes, with a glass of orange juice.  He was on his second glass while Michael worked on his coffee and a ham & cheese omelet.  It was warm inside the joint and the staff liked having the cops around since the sheer number of daily crazies was something to take note of.

“So whoever killed poor Mr. Von Drack, cool name by the way, wanted us to find this story… uh, scarypasta?” Chris asked.  Michael nodded his head.

“Have you read any of this story yet?” Chris asked before gulping down some O.J.

“No, not yet.  I figured I’d do that at the station or at home.  It looked pretty long.  The guy who wrote it, Andrei Borislava, lives in Detroit and is originally from Bulgaria.  He’s here on a student visa,” Michael informed Chris.

“Well, let’s read it and give him a call.  I’ll leave the tip,” said Chris. “Hey, how’s Carol & the kids?” he asked as he reached into his wallet and pulled out a 5 dollar bill.

Michael sat up from the booth and put on his beige trench coat. “They’re good.  Mickey started crawling yesterday and Eva loves Kindergarten.  Carol is good,” he nodded.

“That’s good.  Hey, you spend as much time as you can with those little rug rats!  They grow up fast,“ Chris said as he placed the open 5 under his glass. “Hey, uh, why don’t you go home at lunch and spend it with Carol.  I’ll go back to the station and read the story.  Just text me the link.  I’ll fill you in on the cliff notes later.” Chris insisted.

“Yeah, OK.  Thanks, man.” Michael thanked Chris’s kind gesture. 

He felt pity for Chris.  Everybody did.  Every day they saw every form of violence under the sun: Shootings, stabbings, suicides, strangulations, decapitations, rape.  Yet, other cops couldn’t imagine, didn’t want to imagine, losing their families to the darkness of the streets.  Chris Priest had been that cop who had the big prize.  Then in a brilliant flash, he lost what was most important.  The spark, the fire, that which kept him from losing his marbles after seeing all of the ugly that he had seen, his saving grace.

Chris sat in front of the dinosaur of a computer monitor, curiosity peaked.  He shared a dark, damp office with Michael towards the back of the station.  It was out of the way, just perfect for Chris.  The door was closed.  He didn’t want any interruptions.   The time was now 1:49pm.  Looking at the text message from Michael, he typed in the link.  It took him to the Scarypasta website.  A black background appeared with the title "A Tale of Him Holding a Lemon" in white letters.  He began to read; he was captivated from the start.  Every word, every sentence pulled him in.  This story was on par with Stephen King’s work.  An hour had passed into the story when Chris received a text from Michael.

Michael: Calling it a day.  At the Hospital.  Eva had an asthma flare up.  Talk later or tomorrow.

Chris: Ok buddy.  Do what you need to do.  Von Drack ain’t going anywhere.  Catch you on the flip.

Michael: Thanks

With that, Chris resumed the story with all the intrigue of a child.  It told of the writer’s horrifying experience of a creepy Cheshire Cat-like smiling man who appeared throughout his life holding up and offering him a lemon.  He never said a word, just held a once brilliant yellow lemon, now rotting with the years.  It was the same lemon every time.  Upon each encounter, the author manages to get away.  He traces this man throughout his family history and, after a visit, finds the same man appeared to his Grandmother. 

The pattern continued throughout his life growing up in Bulgaria until he moved abroad to study in the U.S., which is where he is now.  Before he knew it, Chris had finished the story, highly entertained and completely oblivious to the time.  It was now 5:04pm.  Only then did he realize how full his bladder was.  After reading the entire story and all of the comments turning up no solid leads, he came to the conclusion that the killer or killers bumped off poor old Mr. Von Drack to re-create the ending of this story…  but why?  He would start with the scribbler.

“Hey, Mary.  How’s it going, dear?  I’m fine, just burnin’ the midnight oil.  Listen, I have a lead I want to contact but need a trace.  He’s a Bulgarian national living in Detroit on a student visa.  His name is Andrei Borislava.  Right. That’s Andrei, A-N-D-R-E-I, Borislava like it sounds B-O-R-I-S-L-A-V-A.  Yeah.  How soon can you have it?  Yeah?  Good.  Thanks, sweetheart.  You’re a doll.  I’ll be waiting in my office.”

Michael wiped away the dream dust from his eyes.  All he wanted was just a few more hours sleep but knew that if Chris could manage to wake up every day and pull himself up out of his stupor, so could he.  At least he still had his spark, his reason for it all.  In the Mexican culture, family is everything.  He turned his head to his right side where his wife Carol was sleeping in peacefully, gracefully.  The way the light hit her face and shined off her hair was poetry.  He was dizzy with this dame.  He turned toward her and kissed her on the forehead, placing his left hand on her hair, caressing the wavy black locks. 

He turned back and reached over, picking up his cell from the nightstand to check the time.  7:24am. He unlocked the screen and began to text Chris.

Michael: Good Morning.  Breakfast?  You’re buying.

Chris: Sure.  Usual spot. 8:30. I’ll be the dapper one in the leather jacket.

Michael: You mean the leather mini skirt right?

Chris: Nice comeback.  I got intel on the Von Drack case.  Catch you on the flip side amigo.

Michael opened the glass door of the hash house and walked through.  It looked like a retirement home dining room.   He was greeted by the hostess, a smiling kitten.  Young, cute, full of life.  She was hitting on all eight.

“Good morning, sir.  Just one?” she asked as she reached for a menu and pre-rolled silverware under the podium.

“No, Ma’am.  I’m meeting my buddy.  Over there, the gentleman in the cheap leather jacket.” Michael motioned in Chris’s direction.  Chris gave a confirming wave and nod to the hostess.

“Yessir, right this way,” she invited with a giggle.  Michael followed her to the booth where Chris had just started on his Nutella crepes and scrambled eggs with a side of ham.

“Well, well. The Sundance Kid rides again,” Chris greeted Michael while working diligently on his crepes.

“Good morning, Ole’ Man River,” Michael shot back.

“Your server will be right over to take your order, sir,” the hostess interrupted before taking her leave.

“Thank you, dear,” said Chris.

Chris Priest

Detective Chris Priest

Chris looked up at Michael and asked, “How’s Eva?”

Michael looked at Chris. “She’s doing better today, gave us quite the scare.”

“Yeah, glad to hear it.  Listen, don’t feel bad but I took over for you last night.  I tracked down and spoke to Borislava.  Read the story too.  It was good,” Chris explained. “He had an alibi.  He’s in Detroit.  He seemed horrified that somebody would have linked his pasta and use his…”

“Wait, what? His PASTA?!?” Michael interrupted as he gave Chris his full attention.

“Yeah, that’s how they refer to the stories... What?  Don’t give me any grief, they’re good.  I liked them,” Chris said as he looked Michael in the eye before taking another bite of his ham.

“Anyway, he wanted to take the story down and I told him to leave it up.  It may draw the killer out again and we might be able to track his I.P. address.  I also took Von Drack’s photo around the fairy clubs after I spoke to Borislava.”

Michael began to laugh.  “You actually went to a gay bar?  So, did you get lucky?”

Chris now had an annoyed look on his face. “If you mean did I I.D. the Nancy-boy kissing Von Drack, then yes I did, Watson.  Several people confirmed his identity and current whereabouts,” Chris retorted.

“No shit! Who is he?” Michael was intrigued.

“He is one Johnny Aguilar, 54, a retired U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant and recently deceased.  Eight months ago.  Heart attack,”  Chris answered.  He was now halfway finished with his breakfast.

Just then a tall, wiry man wearing glasses approached the table to take Michael’s order. “Good morning, sir; my name is Abel.  I’ll be taking care of you today.  What can I get you to drink?”

“Yes.  Coffee.  Black.  And I’ll have the oatmeal with mixed fruit.” Michael replied.

The waiter repeated Michael’s order and disappeared into the kitchen.

“So, the autopsy results won’t be in for 72 hours.  Our only lead now is going back to the station and researching the Scarypasta website.  See if the killer has posted anything new on there, bragging or whatever,” Chris suggested before gulping down the rest of his tall glass of orange juice.

“Yeah, sounds like a plan man.  So, how did it go at the gay bars?  Anyone try picking you up?”

4. Old Wounds Run Deep

The lousy old office was cold and reeked of sorrow.  It was always so goddamn dark, even with a light on.  It had been 4 hours since Chris introduced Michael to the world of Scarypasta.  They read a few stories, trying to become better acquainted with the subject matter and its scribblers. Most of the scribblers seemed to be young, creative people who just wanted the world to catch a glimpse into their souls.  Slowly but surely, Michael was becoming a fan.  Chris was already familiar with the main characters from the most popular stories.  He played narrated Scarypastas on YouTube for Michael and they went that route for a while in order to allow their eyes to rest.

“Connor would have loved this stuff,” Chris said with a slight smile, recalling how Connor loved horror movies and writing short stories.  Chris enjoyed reading his stories.  He wondered for a moment if his son had indeed discovered the world of Scarypasta at some point.

Michael looked up at Chris for moment, ready to listen, like a good friend.  He didn’t quite know what to say.  He couldn’t imagine the pain Chris felt.  He had experienced the worst pain a person can feel.  Yet, here he was still fighting crime, catching criminals of the worst kind: murderers, rapists, child killers.  Each scumbag he took off the streets was like a fix, just enough to get him through another few days.  Like a junkie and their heroin.

Criminals were everywhere.  Throw a rock into a room and you’d likely hit more than a few.  No doubt this city was going to hell in a hand basket.  That’s why you needed family (if you had them), your own personal Jesus.  Chris lost his to this cruel city 2 years ago.

They searched for anything new posted in the hours since Mr. Von Drack’s death.  All they needed was a clue, something, anything to go on.  Their search turned up empty.

Chris searched for one more story.  He typed in "Satanists".  A title popped up, "Summer in Texas" written by SarahMetalMassacre.  He felt something stir inside.  He began to read the story.  Ten minutes into the story, it hit him like a kick in the nuts. “Son of a Bitch…”

“What? Find something?” Michael looked up from his computer screen.

“Yeah…. This story I’m reading.  It’s called “Summer in Texas”.  It’s written by someone from my old days in Lytle when I was with the Sheriff’s department,” Chris explained.

Michael was now intrigued.  “No shit!”

Chris began to explain. “Yeah, about 15 years ago I had been a deputy for about 2 years.  It was right before Abby & me were married.”

“Yeah that’s right...  What was his name? Allen…” Michael interrupted.

“Yeah, Bobby Allen,” Chris answered.

“Is he still around?” Michael asked.

“Yes, he still lives in Lytle.  He retired after a heart attack." 

"It’s a wonder he didn’t go too when Abby and Connor passed,”  Michael said, staring at the wall. “You ever go and see him?” Michael began to pry.

“No, I haven’t been back since the funeral.  He calls once in a while to check in on me.  He invites me out but…. Look, let’s get back to the story.  You’re raising my Irish here, Mikey!” Chris was now clearly annoyed.

Michael smiled and nodded apologizing. “Sorry man.  Go on.”

“As I was saying, 15 years ago we get a report from two local kids, Joey Maher and Jason Pruitt.  They were just kids, 12 or 13.  A new family had moved into an old abandoned house up on East Prairie Street.  Everyone called it Deadman’s curve due to the high number of automobile fatalities over the years.  It lead up to a large hill where the family in question moved.  They had this Daughter, 12 years old, and from the get go there was something off about them.  They dressed in raggedy old clothes that looked straight from the turn of the century.  The boys came to the station one day claiming that they had made friends with the girl, and that morning she had bruises all over her arms.  They asked us to check it out. 

"Well, after heading up there, we questioned them.  Asked if we could see their daughter.  They claimed they had no daughter, just an infant son who died shortly after birth.  We asked to search the premises.  They refused without a warrant.  When we went back to inform the boys, they said that the girl… Sarah claimed she had a older brother named uh… Jimmy Lee that lived there with them.  That’s the name the couple gave for the deceased infant.  We went for the warrant immediately.  Meanwhile, one of the boys had developed some sort of romantic relationship with Sarah.  Joey, I think it was, the chubby one.  They had taken it upon themselves to try and rescue her. 

"Their plan was simple.  One hid behind the trash cans while the other threw rocks at the window and shouted from the driveway.  As the couple went outside to confront and give chase, the one hiding (Joey) would go in and rescue Sarah.  It didn’t quite pan out that way.  We got there just in the nick.  They were chasing the boys down the driveway, butcher knives in hand.  We told them to stop…When they refused, we shot them dead then and there.  I went inside to check on Sarah. 

"She had been hogtied and gagged, laying on a black tarp.  The parents had dug up a corpse from the cemetery and sat it in a chair.  A Satanic Bible was on the sofa.  The parents had belonged to some backwoods Satanic cult in Travis County and had fled after some trouble there.  They were planning to sacrifice the girl.  Turned out, after an investigation, they had kidnapped her as a baby and murdered her birth parents and raised her.  She got treatment, adjusted, was introduced into society.  And now, apparently writing.  And from what I’ve read, she’s quite good at it, too.  She is one of the most popular writers on  All of her stories are narrated on YouTube.  Small world, huh?”

“Wow, man!  Small world indeed, “Michael responded with a surprised look.  He thought for a moment then looked up at Chris. “Hey!  Do you know if she’s local now?  Maybe she can give some insight on finding the killer.  Like a consultant,” he suggested.

Chris stared at Michael for a moment then looked off to the right. “I don’t know.  But that’s a damn good idea!  Glad I thought of it!”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Michael asked with the excitement of a child.

“I think she goes by another name now.  I can’t remember what, though.  Dammit!  My father-in-law would know.  She moved back a little while after that.  Lived with a foster family who eventually adopted her.  We were gone by then.   We got married and I got the job with S.A.P.D.  Guess I’ll call him up.  Here, why don’t you get familiar with it while I call Bobby,” Chris said hesitantly, not wanting to face the ghosts of the past. 

Bobby Allen was the one person Chris couldn’t face.  He was more than ashamed.  Chris wasn’t worthy of facing his mentor.  He gave her away at their wedding.  He trusted Chris with his daughter's life and he failed him.  Now he was minus a daughter and grandson.   He knew Bobby was hurting.  He looked up to the ceiling and shook his head saying “You’re killing me softly here…” 

Michael took the hint and stood up from his chair. “I’m gonna go to the can, grab some coffee.  You want anything?”

Chris searched through his address book on his cell and briefly looked up at Michael. “No thanks, I’m good.”

With that, Michael took his leave and closed the office door behind him.  It was the courteous thing to do and Michael was raised right.  He thought for a moment about how difficult this call would be for his partner and friend.  Chris was damaged but still a good friend and a good cop. 

He knew that Chris has his demons to chase.  It was likely a chase that would never end - not until somebody popped him and stopped him in his tracks, or unless he offed himself.  He would likely feel the same way if he were in his shoes, but who knows, right?  It was Mike Tyson that said, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.”

Bobby: Hello?

Chris: ……. Hello, Bobby.

Bobby: Chris?  Is that you, son?

Chris: Yeah, it’s me.  Been a while, I know.

Bobby:  Yes, sir, it sure has.  How are ya, kid?

Chris: Eh, I’m getting’ by.  Still fighting the good fight you know?  And you?

Bobby: Well, I’m doing OK.  Just trying to keep busy around here.  Mona always has something for me to do.

Chris (laughs): That’s good.

Bobby: Now, Chris, is this a social call? You coming out to Lytle?  Mona would be real glad to see you, son.  So would I.

Chris: I’d like that Bobby.  But, uh... Listen, uh, you remember  Sarah Cambell?

Bobby: Sarah... Yeah.  I do.  She goes by the name Chloe Marx now.  The Marxes adopted her.  Lives in downtown San Antonio last I heard.  Why? What’s going on?”

Chris: It’s a long story.  I’m trying to locate her.  I’m thinking I can use her as a consultant in a case I’m working on.  So far, no real leads in the case.

Bobby: Huh, well, she visits her folks from time to time.  Haven’t seen her in a while, though.  Last I heard, she was writing.  I must say, you got my curiosity peaked now.

Chris: No kidding.  Well, it’s a homicide done in a ritualistic manor.  The vic had a web address carved into his forearm.  It’s to a horror fiction website where writers post their stories.  The killer recreated a popular story from the site when he murdered the vic.  Funny thing about it is, in researching various stories on the website for any leads, I came across a story written by a Sarahmetalmassacre, a story that tells of her case.  Written in the third-person.  She even has us in it.  Names slightly altered, of course.  But it’s us, Bobby.  It has to be her.  You said she’s a writer?  Well, there you go.

Bobby: Well I’ll be damned.  I think I’d like to take a look for myself.   What website is this?


Bobby: What?! Hehe.  Scary…Pasta dot com?  What’s the name of the story?

Chris: "Summer in Texas"

Bobby: I’m writin’ it down.  Summer… in…Texas.  Scary…Pasta…dot…com.  O.k.  Thanks.  And hey, Chris, I meant it when I said we’d love to see you.  You’re our family.  Open invitation.

Chris: Thanks, Bobby. I just might take you up on that.  It’s real good to talk to you again.  Thanks again for your help.

Bobby: Anytime, Kid.

Chris: Take care. Bye

Bobby: We’ll see ya, son.

Michael opened the office after a nice long break.  Chris greeted him as he opened the door with, “OK, got it.  The name she goes by now is Chloe Marx.  She lives here in San Antonio, downtown of all places.”

Michael looked at Chris and nodded his head. “Well, that’s a start.  Let’s check it out.”

“Already did the background check on her.  She lives a few blocks away from me on South Flores.  That old building that’s supposed to be really haunted,” said Chris.  He now showed a glimpse of that old spark, just for a second.

“Every building in downtown San Antonio is haunted!  You ever been on one of those Ghost Tours? They are actually pretty fun,” Michael said, remembering how much he and Carol and the kids enjoyed it when they went.

“Yeah, once. When Connor was 11.  He liked all that stuff,” Chris answered, trying his best to not go to that dark place.  That was private; he did that shit alone, with a bottle and a .45.

Michael stared at him, regretting his question.  He broke through the awkwardness with, “Yeah well, no time like the present right? Whose car we taking?”

Chris quickly snapped out of his stupor and smirked at Michael, saying, “Miss Sunshine, my friend.  Miss Black Mothafuckin’ Sunshine.”

With that, the storm was calm for the moment and all was well again.

The snow was making a comeback all around San Antonio.  The darkened downtown streets were near empty.  The whole city acted like it was Armageddon outside every time there was the slightest sign of a freeze, much less snow.  Miss Sunshine’s roar echoed throughout every block she passed. 

Chris used to treat her with kindness and respect.  Now, he liked to take chances with her.  Sometimes, he actually raced some of the street punks with their Hondas and Mitsubishis.  It was all for the thrill.  He liked feeling something again, something other than the constant pain that resided within his soul.

As they turned onto South Flores, the street was illuminated by old rustic street lamps.  Down a dark alleyway, a fire glowed from an old oil drum, warming a band of the city’s lost children.  Chris slowed the Camaro to a stop at the alleyway.  The group of transients looked up and recognized Detective Priest’s car.  Chris was a softy at heart, especially when it came to the homeless. 

He and his mother were homeless for a very short time when he was 9 years old.  It was only for 5 nights but he would never forget what it felt like.  He remembered his Mother trying to beg for change in order to get Chris something to eat for the day.  During that time and the time afterward, they were like gypsies, moving from place to place.  They had left Chris’s grandparents' house in Arkansas and had finally settled in the city of San Antonio.

Michael motioned to the group to come to the car.  The group of four (three older men and one maybe around 30) walked over to Miss Sunshine with their hands in their pockets.  Michael rolled down the window manually.

“Evening, fellas,” Chris leaned in and addressed them.

“Hey, Chris.  What are you doing out here on this cold-ass night man?” asked one of the older men.

“Workin’.  Hey, have you tried the shelters around here? It’s gonna be too damn cold to sleep out here.”

One of the other older men spoke up. “Yessir.  But they’re all full up.  No more room.”

“That’s a shame,” said Chris.  “If you want, I can call a unit to come pick you up, let you stay in the tank for the night.  Leave first thing tomorrow at 6am.  Just to get out of the cold guys… it’s snowing.”

The first older man spoke up, saying, “Nah, man.  Thanks.  We’ll be OK.  We got the fire there,” as he motioned to the glowing oil drum down the dark alley.

Chris asked Michael, “Hey, man, would you reach behind my seat, grab that bottle back there for me?”

Michael fished around for the mystery bottle behind Chris’s seat, pulling out a purple suede bag with an unopened bottle of Crown Royal within…the good stuff.  He presented it and looked at Chris with a questioning nod.  Chris nodded back, confirming the gift to the four men.  Michael handed it to them carefully. 

The youngest man accepted it with gratitude. “Thanks guys!” he said with a smile full of rotten teeth and presented the bottle to his buddies.

The third older man reached out and said, “Why don’t you let me hold onto that… keep it safe.”

The young man complied.

Michael laughed, while Chris added, “Treat her right fellas.  Stay warm!”

“Yeah, thanks Chris!” They waved good bye as they made their way back to the warmth of the fire.

“Take care, detectives!” one of the men shouted out.

Michael looked at Chris, shaking his head.

Chris looked back and asked him, half expecting a smart-ass answer, “What?”

“Got anything for me back there?” Michael playfully asked.

“No, there ain’t nothing back there for you… that stuff’s for people like me, like those guys.  You still have too much to lose.”

5. Old Ghosts

The ancient apartment building was somehow still standing after about one hundred years, though it was mainly preserved for its historical value.  The rent was high but it was definitely worth it to those who preferred to live in such a lovely building.  The apartments were large, roofs high; all the hardware such as wall lights, chandeliers, and wooden floors were mostly original or at least updated in the 40s or 50s.  It had all the turn-of-the-century charm you would expect for two grand a month. 

Artists, retirees, young professionals with a flair for the dramatic… everyone who resided here had style and a certain coolness.  It was a young artisan’s dream to live in downtown San Antonio in a well-kept one-hundred-plus-year-old building.  It had a certain energy to it.  You could almost see the old spirits walking around, standing in doorways, on stairs. They were watching you, curious, envious of you and your years ahead. 

The energy was strong. There was no denying it, cop or not.  All of downtown San Antonio had the same energy everywhere you went.  The best time to see it all up close, to walk the streets, was at night.  There’s just something magical about it all, despite the darkness everywhere.

Chris opened the entrance door and was greeted by the warm glow of dim, soft-lit wall lanterns and a rustic staircase just ahead on the right.  The manager’s office and apartment were on the first floor.  The resident apartments began on the second floor. 

The place was old like Chris’s building, yet it all seemed happier than the riff-raff where he lived.  His place housed many who were near the end of their rope.  Chris expected the cast of Cats to come waltzing out in feather boas, prancing around.  Michael looked around, admiring all the classic, mostly original aspects of the building.  Even a couple of straight cops could appreciate the aesthetic value of the place.

“What apartment number, again?” Michael asked, looking at Chris, who was standing at his right.

“402,” Chris answered as he stepped onto the elegant staircase.  A loud squeak echoed throughout the building, alerting all tenants that they had visitors on the premises.  If you were a resident, you knew the silent spot on the first stair near the railing.  Otherwise, it acted as the communal doorbell.

“This is gotta be weird for you, just a little, right?” Michael asked Chris as they walked up the squeaky stairs.

“Yeah, maybe a little.  But think of how she’ll react when she finds out who I am.  Talk about old ghosts,” Chris said as he cleared the first staircase. 

Michael imagined what Chloe Marx looked like.  He tried to picture her in that house and Chris as a young deputy walking in, pistol drawn to rescue her.  He wondered if she would remember Chris.  He probably looked a lot different now. He was older, worn, torn, rode hard and put away wet.  Tragedy adds a few years to your looks.  Chris was barely 40 but looked 45. 

He didn’t want to worry about combing his hair anymore, so he used a #1 setting on his clippers when he buzzed his own hair every week.  Short but stylish, like Tyler Durdan or Beckham, but darker.  Chris always had stubble or a light beard.  The wrinkles around the corners of his eyes indicated that he was once a happy man, when he still had that spark.  The softer wrinkles in between his eyes on his forehead indicated his sadness in recent years.  He was still considered attractive, in a rugged sort of way.

Michael on the other hand was always dressed to the nines.  Short perfect hair, clean shaven, handsome, suit and tie, polished dress shoes, size 10.5.  Michael stood 5 foot 9, while Chris was much taller.  They were quite the odd couple when out and about.  Regardless, they somehow clicked.

“You know, I’m actually a bit nervous for you, man.  This is kind of exciting.  Like those reunion shows.  Too bad there’s not a camera crew here to film this,” Michael said with a slight laugh.

Chris nodded his head as he continued to walk up the second flight of stairs leading up to the third floor. “He’s here all week, folks.”

Michael laughed.

“Almost there, old man!”

“Old?  I’ll show you old,” Michael said as he began to run up the last flight of stairs leading up to the fourth floor.  Michael tried to catch up but Chris, being taller, took longer strides, skipping a few steps in between.  Michael’s laughter echoed through the building.  A few tenants on the 4th floor poked their heads out to see what the ruckus was about.  Chris called out, reassuring them. “Don’t worry, police,” he said trying to keep his laugh inside.

Michael finally caught up with him on the fourth floor.  The tenants returned to their apartments.

“You OK?” asked Chris.

“Yeah.  I’m fine,” said Michael panting lightly.

“Catch your breath and get into character.  We don’t want her answering the door to a guy panting like a pervert,” Chris told Michael.

Michael catching his breath, looked up at Chris laughing. “Fuck you, dude.” 

Chris laughed at his comeback. He nodded his head to the first door on the right. “402.  That’s her.  Let’s get into character,” he said as he lightly backhanded Michael’s shoulder and took a few steps over to the old door. 

Michael followed.  They looked at each other trying not to laugh and trying really hard to get into cop mode. “You gonna do the honors?” Michael asked. 

Chris knocked on the door with a loud “Police” knock.  They both held their hands clasped in front of them, listening for movement within.  The tiny light in the peephole went dark for a few seconds.  Upon seeing this, they reached for their badges and Chris spoke up in his cop voice. “Ma'am, San Antonio Police Department.  I’m Detective Priest and this is Detective Rodriguez.  We’d like a moment of your time.”

“Regarding?”  a young woman’s voice asked from behind the door.

“Ma'am, are you Chloe Marx?  Who goes by the screen name Sarahmetalmassacre on Scarypasta dot com?” Chris asked. 

She didn’t answer.  The sound of the chain lock unhinging from the door followed.  The other two locks unlocked as Chris and Michael looked at each other again, ready for anything.  A young attractive blonde-haired woman opened the door.  She was wearing a Queen t-shirt and maroon sweatpants.  She was pretty but looked like she could handle herself if push came to shove. “Yeah.  That’s me.  What’s this about?” she questioned, not recognizing Chris.

“Ms. Marx, we’re currently working a case that has a connection to the website  We think you may be of some assistance,” Chris answered.

Chloe strained one eye, focusing on Chris. “I know you from somewhere!”

Chris looked at Michael, who was now trying to hide his smile.  Turning back at Chloe he said, “Yes, you do.  From Lytle.  I was the much younger deputy at the time who assisted in your… rescue.”

Pasta noir chloe

Chloe Marx

Chloe’s eyes widened with a look of shock. “Oh my God.  I knew it!”

There was an uncomfortable silence between them.   Michael broke the ice “Ms. Marx, may we come in and discuss this in private?”

Chloe snapped out of it, looking at Michael. “Sure, come in.”

She opened the door fully ajar and stood against the wall, clearing the way for the detectives.  Suddenly recalling she had a few clothes laying around, she said, “Sorry for the mess!  The maid has the day off.”

“Oh, don’t even worry about it.  You should see my place!” Chris said, helping her save face.  They made their way into the living room and waited for Chloe to invite them to sit down.

“Have a seat, guys.  Can I get you anything?” she asked, trying to play the good hostess.

“No thanks.  We’re good,” Chris answered as he and Michael sat down on the brown leather sofa.

“Wow!  You have to forgive me for my reaction, Detective. It’s just that…Well, it’s strange seeing you again.  I mean, you obviously know who I am and have read my story?” she asked Chris.

“Yes, we have,” he replied.

“I’m not in trouble for writing it, am I? I mean, I changed the names of everyone involved.” Chloe was apprehensive.

Michael answered before Chris could open his mouth “No, not at all.  Like he said earlier, we are working on a case that’s related to “

“What does this have to do with me?” Chloe asked them.

“The reason why we’re here, re-hashing old memories, is because there was a murder a few days ago in the King William District.  It’s been on the news.  Male, age 68, murdered in his living room?” Chris asked, inquiring if she knew about it yet.

Chloe, now with a suspicious look, said, “Yeah… “

“Well, what we didn’t release to the public is that the victim's eyes were removed, placed into his mouth.  His throat was slashed and he was holding a lemon.  And a link to Scarypasta dot com was carved into his forearm.  It was to 'The Story of Him Holding a Lemon',”  Chris explained.

“Wow! That’s crazy! You don’t think I had something to do with it do you?” Chloe asked with a concerned look.

“No… we need assistance from someone local who knows this Scarypasta world.  A consultant, if you will.  You will get paid for your time.  We can get a court order excusing you from work.  It’s your chance to use your expertise to help catch a killer.” Chris made an attempt at sweetening the deal and appealing to her pride.

“What do you say? Will you help us?” Michael asked.

Chloe thought for a moment, staring at the wall behind them. “It’s kinda funny, you know?  I wanted to try my hand at writing.  I recounted my life with those two psychos and typed it out for the world to see.  Now…. a ghost from the past comes back into my life asking for my help… the very one who untied me all those years ago.  It’s like I’m always meant to be connected to certain people, you know?  I can’t seem to escape the past.”

Michael and Chris looked at each other once again.  At that moment, Chris’s cell phone rang.  It was dispatch.  Patrol unit responded to a 911 call.  It was another homicide.  The victim had a web link carved into her forearm.  Looks like it might be a second murder, which could make it the work of a serial killer.  Since there was the discovery of the web link mutilation, they were asked to report to the scene.  The medical examiner and photographers were already on-scene.  C.S.I. was in route.   Chris filled them in on the findings and the fact that it was likely connected to their case.

“Chloe, I know it’s strange.  You and I meeting again like this, all these years later.  But there’s a killer out there and you can help stop him.  Innocent people are getting hurt because of this guy.  C’mon, please, help us,” Chris pleaded with Chloe one last time before they had to leave.  

Chloe was still indecisive.  The chance to work with the police, the chance to catch a killer, might make a great story.  Besides that, this man had once saved her life.  She knew it was the right thing to do.  She owed him.  Still, she was hesitant to get involved.  She felt like she was put on the spot.  Her life was simple - write, go to work, come home, write some more.  She wanted to keep her simple, boring life.  Her days of excitement and partying and drama were behind her.  She couldn’t make a decision now.  She needed time to think about it.

“I can’t decide this right now!  I mean this is big!  I’m not qualified to catch a serial killer!” she said, trying to convince herself she wasn’t right for the job.

“OK.  Sorry to have inconvenienced you in any way.  Stay warm.  Here is my card.  Call me if you change your mind.  Have a good night, Sarah,” Chris called her by the name she went by so many years ago when he saved her life.  He was laying on the guilt something thick.   

Michael opened the door and waited for Chris to follow. “Chris, we gotta go man!  She’s not gonna help us.  This was just a big waste of time,” he said, shaking his head.  

Chris turned around and made his way towards the door, disappointed.  As he exited the door, Michael gave one final look of disappointment to Chloe before following Chris.  He didn’t even have to speak.  His look said, “Shame on you.  You ungrateful little shit.”  Chloe shut the door behind them slowly. 

Michael spoke a few comforting words to Chris. “Sorry man.  You tried.”  No chick flick moments for them.  Chloe’s help could have been tremendous.  She could have provided them with some great insight on the killer’s methods, his reasoning, his way of thinking.  Together, they could have even predicted his next move.  Maybe even stopped him from taking another life.  Now there’s been another needless death.  This city was definitely going to hell in a handbasket.

“I tried.  Some people are just born victims, I guess.  Oh well, fuck it,” Chris said. “We got shit to do.”

Chris and Michael made their way back down the stairs, walking the whole way down, one floor at a time.  This time there would be no race to the finish.  The dead weren’t going anywhere. 

“Don’t know about you, Mikey, but at the end of the night, I’m getting good and drunk,” Chris said as they neared the first floor, side by side.

“I don’t know. Maybe after we leave the crime scene that may not be a bad idea.  Been a while,” Michael said as they walked to the main door.  Chris opened the door to a freezing arctic blast of snowy wind.  He squinted his eyes as it stung his face.

“God...damn!!!” Chris shouted as he looked back to see Michael squinting as well.  Michael closed the door to the warmth of the lobby.

“Why do we have to work on a night like this?” Michael shouted.

“For the free coffee and donuts,” Chris joked.  They both walked, hands in their pockets, headed towards Miss Sunshine, whom they parked curbside in front of the apartment building.  Michael waited at the passenger side for Chris who was walking over to the driver side.

“Cold enough for you, Broheme?” Chris asked Michael, as he prolonged unlocking the car doors.

“Chris! Unlock the fucking door man!  I’m freezing my nuts off here!” Michael yelled at Chris.

“You know, I remember the winter of 85’, it snowed that day too.  I was….” Chris said with a smirk, prolonging even further.

“Come on Man!” Michael yelled.

The sound of the car doors unlocking echoed and Michael took his hands out of his pockets and quickly opened the door and entered the Camaro.  He slammed the door and put on his seat belt.  Chris followed suit, laughing.

“Sorry, buddy.  Just had to lighten the mood a little,” Chris explained his actions.

Michael looked at him and said, “You asshole.” 

Chris laughed a hearty laugh again. “I can always count on you for a laugh, little buddy.”

Chris fit the key into the ignition and started her up.  He always let her warm up in the winter.  Chris looked out of the driver’s side window and stared for a moment.  Michael stared out of the passenger side.

“Hey, you wanna grab some coffee first?” Chris asked Michael, trying to get back on his good side.

“Yeah, sure.  But let’s go to Starbucks.  I want one of those Mint-Mocha latte’s.” He accepted Chris’s subtle apology.

“Yeah, guess I could go for one of those pumpkin-spice coffees.  I won’t call it a fuckin’ Latte though,” Chris said with a slight laugh.

“Hey! Wait! I’ll help you! Wait up, guys!” Chloe yelled as she opened the apartment door and waved at them.  They both stared at her.  She was wearing a black hooded parka, jeans and brown Uggs. She closed the door behind her and tried to run down the steps carefully while holding onto the railing.

“I’ll be damned.  Guess she couldn’t stay away,” Chris said arrogantly, smiling.  As Chloe made her way over to the Camaro, Michael opened the door and exited, standing up behind the car door.

“Are you sure you want to get involved?  It won’t be pretty,” Michael warned her one last time. 

No turning back now.  It was do or die.  She would never get another chance like this again and she knew it.

“I’m sure!” she yelled.

Michael stepped out of the way and opened the door, pulling his seat forward so she could climb in the back.  “Get in, we gotta go!”

Chloe climbed her way to the back seat behind Michael.  It was cramped.  If you have ever been in the back of a Camaro, you get it.  “I wanna help,” she told Chris as she settled in.  Michael sat back down in the car and slammed the heavy door.

Chris was glad.  With Chloe’s help, this investigation will likely be a bit easier now. “OK.  You stay with us, don’t speak unless spoken to and don’t touch anything.  If we find something of significance, we’ll tell you,” he explained.

“Shut up and stay out of the way.  But stay with you guys.  Got it,” Chloe assured them.

“Get it. Got it. Good!  Let’s go,” said Michael, eager to get to the crime scene, forgetting about Starbucks.

With that, they departed for the crime scene at the edge of downtown.  This time, on the poor side of the tracks.  It wasn’t too far from Chloe’s elegant abode.

“So, Chloe, what do you do for a living nowadays? I mean... hard to make a living as a writer.” Chris made small talk with Chloe to calm her nerves.

“I work in mortgage fulfillment.  I help people trying to get a home loan.  Nothing to write home about.  It pays well.  But as you may know by now, writing is my true passion now.  I never knew I’d be good at it.  It’s actually pretty easy for me,”  she said, finally relaxing in the backseat.

“That’s good.  Never had the patience for writing myself.  We write a lot of reports.  They have to be perfect for the D.A.,  when they’re used in court.  A lot of editing, descriptive details.  I do enough of that shit already,” Chris said, trying to justify why he never got around to writing.

“But you see, that’s precisely what you are doing… you are writing.  I mean, with all that you’ve seen, you could write several novels.  Just take bits and pieces from cases and jumble it all together.  Boom! You have the makings of a novel.  You should try it sometime.  I’m sure it could also be therapeutic for one who’s seen what you have.” Chloe went on about writing, trying to convince Chris he had everything he needed to write.

“How about you? I heard you married Sheriff Allen’s daughter” Chloe asked, shifting the focus on Chris.  Chris was silent as he drove slowly through the snow.  He looked at her in the rear-view mirror.  Michael looked at Chris, unsure of what was going to be said next.  Unsure if he should say anything.

Chris took a deep breath and exhaled.  “Yeah, we got married.  We even had a son,” Chris answered Chloe, looking ahead at the road.

“Oh, sorry.  You guys divorced?” Chloe asked, sensing some sort of underlining issue there, unaware of the awful truth.

“Something like that,” Chris answered her, still keeping his focus on the road.

Michael looked out the window, biting his tongue.  He knew Chris could handle it though.

“Sorry,” Chloe said in a hushed tone as she looked away from Chris and looked out of her window at the snow and the warm, glowing street lights.  The memories from so long ago came flooding back.  She was so young and naïve.  She had been taught that the world was an evil place.  Those scumbags were now in the ground somewhere, but their ghosts seemed to haunt her still. 

She recalled suffering many cruel and unusual punishments at the hands of the fiends posing as her parents.  In time, she became numb to it all.  The only time she ever felt anything was the rare occasion she got to see much, less talk to, other people.  Those two crazy kids, Joey and Jason, had changed that for her, though.  They had been her only real friends up to that point.  She still kept in touch with Jason but that’s another story.

The car was silent, except for the reports on the police radio.  Chloe thought it was cool to listen to.  Upon studying Chris, he had indeed aged.  He was still good-looking but he was no longer that fresh-faced, young, twenty-something-year-old.  Life had caught up to him.  She looked down at the empty seat on her left.  There was an empty bottle of Jim Beam whiskey lying all alone, used up, dried up;  a temporary vice to kill the pain.  In that instant, she felt sorry for him.  Just like everyone else.  She realized now that his domestic life was likely a big part of the reason for his downward spiral.

“So he’s an alcoholic. Looks like his troubles run deeper than I thought!” she said inside her head.

Upon studying Michael, she noticed a wedding ring.  Michael was obviously younger and cute, likely a family man.  Wife, a few kids, the whole white picket fence American dream.  He was clean-cut, well dressed and seemed more… put together than Chris, who was likely his mentor.

“So we got the older, hard-edged, experienced, tortured, brooding Detective and the young, modern, progressive, less experienced, trying to make a name for himself, who will likely become Chief one day detective.  How cliché is that?” Chloe thought.

“So, you guys been working together long?” she asked.

“Too long if you ask me,” Michael answered before Chris could speak a single word.  He turned to Chris and looked at him with a slight smirk.

Chris turned and looked right back at Michael with that same expression. “Well, I’ve been babysitting Ole’ Mijo here for about 2 years now.  And he loves every minute of it.”

The rapport between them made Chloe smile.  She was seeing a side of the police she had never seen before.  She could tell there was a respect between them.  They may joke around and act like they can’t stand each other but you knew it was just an act.  It’s how they were.  They were more like siblings.  Chloe remembered Chris as that young deputy and The Sheriff, his mentor.  She thought about how life really does move on, even after you die.  Life and people will always move on. 

“So, Chloe, can you recall what Chris here looked like as a young buck?  I’ll bet he had more hair then?  Was he always this ugly?” Michael asked her as he looked over at Chris. 

“He’s not ugly!  He’s handsome.  And yeah, he had a little more hair then.  He looked happier though,” Chloe said, looking at Michael.  Chris shot Michael a “There you go!” look.

“And you Chloe, you’ve grown up to be quite the looker yourself,” Chris repaid the compliment to Chloe.  She really was beautiful.  She just didn’t doll herself up like all the hoochies out there.  His eyes caught a glimpse at Chloe’s in the rear-view mirror.  He quickly looked away, remembering his dead wife and son.

“This is kinda funny,” Chloe said.

“What's kinda funny?” Michael asked.

Chloe explained the reason for her amusement.  “Well, the fact that we’re headed to a crime scene, a murder at that.  And you guys are joking around like it’s nothing.  I guess I figured you guys would be all serious and brooding, preparing yourselves mentally for it or something.”

The detectives looked at each other. 

Chris attempted to rationalize. “You have to have a sense of humor in our line of work.  All the ugliness we see, you’d go crazy if you didn’t.  You know you’ve been on the job too long when you’re standing in front of a house still on fire and one of you asks, 'Anyone bring marshmallows?'”

The snow continued to fall.  Chris was beginning to wonder if reaching out to Chloe was a mistake.  She was an old ghost from his past and he had enough of those already.  Certainly she could be of some help on the case.  Or, was it something more which compelled him to enlist her help?  They were now turning right on North St. Mary’s street, a block which housed not so well-to-do working class families.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church rested at the end of the block.  It served as a beacon of hope for those lost souls working themselves to death in this snowy city on fire.  Houses were close together like any downtown street.  Apartment buildings, much like the Camino Real Apartments where Chris drank his demons away and slept most of the time.  Living room windows were glowing; some still had their Christmas lights up on the outside eves.  There were more clunkers than new cars nestled curbside on both sides of the street.  Each and every one was covered in ice and snow. 

In this neighborhood, everyone looked out for each other.  If they needed help, neighbors were there to help.  There was a sense of community on this block, unlike many of the other surrounding blocks.  Really, it all depends on the caliber of people you have around you.  The gangs and other scumbags tend to stay away from North St. Mary’s.

Tonight though, the first sight you would see were police lights, ambulance, photographers and other officials littering the city block.  The entire neighborhood was out in front of Mrs. Vera Lopez’s house. They were concerned that one of their own had perhaps fallen victim to a horrible crime, the very thing they tried so hard to prevent in their neighborhood.

Mrs. Vera Lopez was a widow, drawing on her late husband’s social security.  She had 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.  She was home-bound due to a number of medical conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and emphysema. She needed oxygen and a smorgasbord of pills to survive daily.  She was always friendly to everyone in the neighborhood and never had anything bad to say about anybody.

Chris had placed his red flashing light on his dashboard and pressed the single siren button, catching the attention of everyone.  People began to clear the way for the black muscle car.  Chris would need to find a spot somewhere down the street to park Miss Sunshine.  A uniformed officer waved them down in front of Mrs. Lopez’s house.  The front of the house was taped off and the medical examiner was standing in the doorway, looking at everything yet seeing nothing.  What had he seen to put him in such a state?   Michael rolled down the window to greet the officer curbside.  They would have to shout a little over the loud engine of the Camaro.

“How’s it going, Ray?” Michael asked his buddy from when he was on the beat.

“Mike.  Chris.  It’s going.” Ray shook his head.  His face told of how sick and disappointed in humanity he was at the moment.  They both understood that look, that feeling.  It’s why they did what they did.

“You can park over there by the church, fellas,” Ray said as he pointed down the street.

Michael looked at him and said “Thanks Ray”.  He rolled up the window as Chris began moving the car forward slowly again.

“I can’t believe she’s gone!  I just don’t get it.  She never hurt anybody.  She was so nice,” said a woman in a white parka, speaking to a woman standing next to her in a purple wool coat.  They both were sniffling and wiping their tears.  Obviously, they knew Mrs. Lopez.

“How can something like this happen here?!” a man a few groups away asked his buddy.

“It’s a damn shame!” his friend answered. Both men had their hands in their pockets.  Other conversations about how awful this is, and how nice Mrs. Lopez had been, blended together in a mix of conversations.

Chris found an open area in front of the Church and parked, leaving the police light flashing on the dash. He turned off the engine and turned back to address Chloe. “OK, remember what I said.  Be quiet, stay close but don’t get in the way…”

“And don’t touch anything,” Chloe finished his sentence, confirming her understanding.

Michael turned back and said, “Relax. Just stay close.”

They all made their way out of the warmth of the car and into the cold, freezing night air, walking on the snow-covered sidewalk towards Mrs. Lopez’s house.  The crunch of their shoes breaking through the newly fallen snow was amusing to Chloe, as she had never seen snow in person prior to this year.  She kept this thought to herself now.  She wanted to look like one of them: cool, calm, collect.  Chris led the way as Michael tried to keep up.  Chloe walked steadily behind Michael, observing the chaos. 

She tried to soak it all in so that she could recall it later when she wrote about it.  The flashing red and blue lights took her back to that night so long ago.  She had let all that go, however. Maybe it was the emotions… like electricity in the air.  Or the fact that she was about to see a dead body.  She noticed the look of shock on the medical examiner's pale face as he stared out from the porch.  Maybe the body was torn to shreds or something worse.

The three of them entered the front yard and made their way up the short sidewalk.

Chris’s eyes met with the medical examiner.  He continued up to the porch where Tony stood.

“Tony.  You OK, buddy?” Chris asked as he neared closer.

“No, I’m not Chris.  The... uh, vic is someone I know.  Vera Lopez, 75, widowed.  She... uh… was stabbed and her eyes removed and placed into her mouth.  She has what looked like a web address carved into her left forearm, like Von Drack.  Chris, she was my Mother's best friend.  I knew this woman most of my life.  She was like an aunt to me,” Tony said shaking his head, sniffling and wiping the tears away from his eyes.  “I’m just glad my mother isn’t around for me to have to tell her the bad news.”

Chris pulled out his pocketbook and pen, clicking it, and asked Tony, “Do you know of any reason why anybody would want to do this to her?”

Tony Shook his head. “No, she didn’t have enemies.  She was just a kind, sweet old lady.”

“Do you know if she had any contract work done recently? Or had any visitors around lately?” Chris asked.

Tony shook his head, still trying to wrap his head around it all. “No, I don’t know… both questions, no.”

Chris looked at Michael, putting away his pocketbook and pen. “I’m sorry for your loss buddy,” Chris consoled him, slowly patting him on the shoulder.

Tony looked up at Chris dead square and in the eye. “Just find who did this, Chris!  Please!”

Chris nodded and said, “We’re gonna… go ahead and go in now.”

Tony nodded his head, as if giving permission like a relative would.  Chris walked up the steps.  Michael patted Tony on the arm as he followed Chris.  Chloe gave Tony a sympathetic half smile and followed Michael into the house.

As the trio entered the small house, there was chaos.  C.S.I. was around taking pictures and collecting samples, and uniformed officers were posted near the entrance and around the house.  The living room was ahead on the right.  Mrs. Lopez was in her bedroom on the left, lying on her queen size bed.  As they carefully walked past the officers and C.S.I. people, the first thing they saw was a message. Written out on the right-side wall in blood, it read, “Now You Sleep!”  Chloe’s eyes fixed on the message.  She instantly knew what this was.

They walked past the blood-riddled wall and saw Mrs. Lopez lying on her bed in a blood-soaked robe.  Holes in her gown from the stabbing were concentrated around her chest.  Defensive wounds covered her hands.  Blood surrounded her empty eye sockets.  Her mouth was slightly open, exposing her eyes inside.  She had not bit down on her eyes as they were placed into her mouth postmortem.  Her left robe sleeve was neatly rolled up, exposing the web link carved into her forearm.  Chloe’s eyes widened as she covered her mouth, trying not to scream.  She spoke a muffled, “Oh my God!” and closed her eyes, looking away.  She ran outside to vomit.  Chris and Michael looked at each other.  Michael immediately took two pictures of her arm while Chris looked around the room and studied Mrs. Lopez’s lifeless corpse. 

“Go check on her and bring her back in when she’s ready.  She’s a consultant on the case,” Chris ordered the uniformed female officer guarding the body. 

“Yes, sir,” she said before walking out of the room.

Chris and Michael stood over Mrs. Lopez. “I count ten stab wounds to the heart area.  Throat wasn’t slashed this time.  Nothing taken.  No signs of forced entry.  I wonder if she knew him.  But why take out her eyes again and place them in her mouth?” Chris stated.

Michael shook his head. “Damn shame Tony had to see her like this.”  He looked at Chris and closed his eyes, immediately realizing his folly.  Chris had to identify Abby and Connor.  “I’m sorry, man.”

Chris’s face had grown long as he stared away into his memories. “It's OK.  Let’s work on getting Chloe back in here.”

Chloe walked back in to the room slowly with the female officer ahead of her.  Chloe was cringing, trying not to look at Mrs. Lopez.  Chris turned to her and asked, “You OK?”

“I’ll be OK,” she answered, trying to get ahold of herself. 

Chris pointed to the message on the wall and asked, “'Now you sleep.' Do you know this?”

Chloe nodded her head, saying, “Yes.  It’s from a pasta called ‘Bob the Murderer’.  Uh…. the story goes that Bob was a teenager, around 17 or 18.  He was just a normal kid when he was forced to defend himself and his sister from some punks trying to kill them.  He was doused with liquor and set on fire, burning his face and all of his hair off.  He was in the hospital for a while and when he was released, he went crazy and killed his whole family.  He then went around killing people he randomly chose.  Just before stabbing them with a butcher knife, he would say 'Now you sleep' in sort of an insane, angry voice.”

“Yeah, I remember reading the title ‘Bob the Murderer’ on the site but never got around to actually reading it.  In the story, are the victims always stabbed?” Chris questioned her.

“Yes,” Chloe nodded.  “Wait! How many times was she stabbed?”

“Ten times. Why?  Does that mean something?” Michael asked.

Chloe seemed excited that she knew the answer. “Well, yeah! In the story, Bob had a set number of victims he planned on killing before he was done.  He usually left the number at the crime scene.  Sometimes he would stab the person the same amount of times as the number of victims that were left.  Always in the heart and chest.”

“Why ten?” Michael asked Chris as they stared at Mrs. Lopez, trying to make sense of it.

“Hell, ten is pretty high.  This marks number two.  He is definitely just getting started!”

Chris looked at Michael and said “OK. Go ask Tony if she had any next of kin.  We got a hell of lot of people to question.  You take the left side of here, I’ll take the right side.  Chloe, you come with me.  Mikey, call me if something turns up.” 

“I’m on it,” Michael said as he walked out of the bedroom.

With that, they made their way out of the house and parted ways to question the neighbors.

From the crowded street, the killer observed the symphony he created, blending in with the crowd.  He saw Michael, Chris and Chloe enter and exit the house.  Now he knew who was hunting him.  The big guy, who seemed to be in charge, was intense looking and focused.  The younger, smaller guy looked intelligent and had movie star looks.  The woman seemed new to the game, a rookie, although she was a knockout.  He looked around once more, soaking in the aftermath, the excitement, the cold night air and the fear put into the hearts and minds of everybody around him.  He had bested this tightly knit block and their neighborhood watch program.  Nobody even suspected him.  He was just another curious face in the crowd.  His work here was done.  He crossed the street and blended in with the shadows, disappearing into the night, beaming and aroused.  He was God.

6. Fortune Cookie Wisdom

“Well, that was interesting!” said Chloe as she, Chris and Michael settled into Miss Sunshine and out of the cold.

“Interesting?! Well, don’t gloat just yet! We still haven’t caught the killer!  So far, we haven’t narrowed down just who the killer is! There was no useable DNA at either scene!  And we have no way of knowing who the 3rd victim will be!  We got fuck-all!” Chris raised his voice in frustration, looking ahead at the next block. 

Chloe didn’t open her mouth again and regretted doing so in the first place.  Michael looked back at Chloe who was sitting quietly in the back seat looking at him.  Michael raised his eyebrow as if saying, “Sorry.”

Chris looked in the rear-view mirror at Chloe, regretting his outburst. “Chloe, I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK,” she replied.  Just then, loud growling noises echoed from her now empty stomach.  Michael laughed and looked at Chris.

“You hungry?  I know I am,” Chris asked.

“I’m hungry!  How about you Chloe?  You hungry?” Michael asked.

She looked at both of them, eyebrows raised and asked, “How could you want to eat after seeing…. that?!?” She nodded her head back in the direction of the crime scene.

Chris answered, looking at Michael. “Because we’re hungry. How’s Chinese sound?”

“Ling Wah’s?” Michael asked.

“Oh, I love Ling Wah’s!!” Chloe butted in.

“I thought you weren’t hungry,” said Michael.

“No, I asked, 'How could you want to eat after seeing that'.  I didn’t say I wasn’t hungry.  Can’t you hear the whale mating call going on inside my stomach at the moment?” she asked.

Chris smiled and looked back at her. “Yeah, I think Mrs. Lopez even heard that!” 

Chloe smirked and looked out of the window as Chris and Michael began to laugh. “Fine.  Let’s go,” Chloe said, still a little embarrassed.

Ling Wah’s was an old Chinese restaurant that had been in the same location downtown on the corner of Navarro street and Broadway since the 1930s.  It was a landmark spot in the tourist trap of old downtown San Antonio.  The building itself was nearly one hundred years old but renovated every ten years or so to keep the look fresh while still keeping the old look that attracted so many visitors. 

On the front doors were large, gold plated dragons.  In the lobby was a man-made pond filled with colorful koi fish.  You had to cross a small wooden bridge in order to reach the doors to the actual restaurant ahead.  Inside, the crown molding was antique gold dragons, the walls were adorned with ancient Chinese scrolls and paintings, and the smell of various meats and veggies cooking with exotic sauces filled the entire building. 

Each room had a red Chinese style archway and Chinese opera music echoed throughout the two story building.  Large golden coins with red and gold tassels hung from long-poled ceiling fans.  Along the second floor balcony were two seat tables for couples.  Groups of 3 or more sat downstairs or in the extra rooms.  Autographed celebrity photos were displayed on the walls, surrounded in white Christmas lights.  With parties of 6 or more, you get free egg rolls with the meal.

Everybody was engaged in their own private conversations.  Many were loud so Chris, Michael and Chloe were okay with discussing the details of the case while stuffing their faces with the bold, colorful flavors of Ling Wah’s amazing cuisine.  The energy throughout Ling Wah’s was electric.  You felt re-energized, refocused and refreshed once you were inside.  Call it Good Feng Shui or what have you but there was no denying the amazing energy.

The trio may have been in dark places in the voids of their own minds but once they began to soak in the atmosphere and eat, their spirits were magically rejuvenated.  They dined at a round table on dishes of moo goo gai pan, sesame chicken and lemon chicken with fried rice, lo mein and egg rolls.  Everyone took a little from each dish, sampling all the flavors of this award-winning restaurant.

Chris worked on wrapping a bite of lo mein around his chopsticks, saying, “The way I figure it, is that the killer must be somebody who is physically weak and lacks self-confidence.  I mean, so far he’s chosen victims who were one, elderly and two, weaker than him.  He chooses vics weaker than him, people who can’t fight back like, say, a 30 year old.  He must either be small, short, skinny, a wimpy guy.  Someone who was likely bullied a lot themselves, somebody weak.  And  according to C.S.I., he uses a small knife for the cutting and a spoon to scoop out the eyes.”

“I don’t think he sees himself as weak anymore,” Michael said as he took a bite out of a crunchy, oily egg roll. “Mm… Damn!!  This is fuckin’ good!” he said while chewing the egg roll.  Chloe and Michael just looked at him.

Chloe sipped her tea and continued on to her lemon chicken. “And he’s likely pretty young.  Most Scarypasta writers are in their teens and twenties.  Very few are older than thirty.  He’s probably some uber-fan nerd who has the social skills of Bigfoot.  I think he might be one of these people who write pastas that are constantly rejected once he posts them up on the site.  You’d be surprised at how many disgruntled writers there are on there.”

Michael took a break from moo goo gai pan and said, “So, maybe he has a blog.  But how do we narrow it down?  I mean, aren’t there thousands of users on there?”

Chloe was nearly done with her plate. “Yes, but I know most of the admins who run the site.  Many of them do edits most of the time and are in charge of quality control and look for red flags, like things not safe for work or incriminating.  I’ll contact one of my buddies tonight and ask them if they’ve noticed any blogs that are really weird or seem out of the ordinary.  Like someone ranting about something odd.  Maybe he can help,” she suggested.

By now everyone was just about finished with their tasty late dinner.  The waitress placed the check and fortune cookies on the table in front of Chris.  Chris gave each of them a cookie and they all began to unwrap them, eager to crack open and read what advice they had been given.  Chloe laughed as she read hers first.  Michael raised an eyebrow to his.  Chris cracked his open, revealing the small slip of white paper that read, “Always a valley before a hill”.  He ate the first half of the cookie and placed the fortune inside his pocket.

With a smile on her face, Chloe attempted to keep the fun energy going just a few more minutes before the night ended.  She spoke up, “Hey, have you guys ever heard where you can add the phrase ‘in bed’ after reading your fortune out loud?”

Chris replied, “Yeah, haven’t heard that in a while.”

“OK, I’ll start,” Michael said “Every exit is an entrance to new experiences…In bed.”

Everybody busted out laughing.

Chloe read her fortune out loud. “Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded…In bed” Everybody laughed once again.

“What about you, Chris?  What did you get?” Chloe asked.

Chris reached into his pocket for the little paper slip.  He pulled it from his jeans pocket and held it up, reading out loud, “Always a valley before a hill...”

“In bed!!” Michael and Chloe said in unison.

Michael smiled and added, “Mine wasn’t as funny as yours.” He reached for his leather wallet, pulling out a credit card and placing it on the check tray, and tucked his fortune inside one of the slots containing several other saved fortunes.

The plan was set. Chloe would reach out to her admin friend and await an answer.  Michael would go home and take a plate of sweet and sour pork with steamed rice and wontons to Carol, and Chris would go back home to his Jim Beam and lonely apartment where maybe he would get a some sleep.  They would reconvene at Chloe’s apartment at 8:00am.  Since Chris paid for this meal, Michael would bring tacos for breakfast.  Chloe left a $10 tip to the waitress. She thought it was only fair.

As they opened the last set of golden doors, they stepped into the freezing late night air.  With full stomachs, they all felt rejuvenated and happy after such a fine meal. Even Chris.  He almost hated to have to part ways for the night.  It was good feeling something like his old self, even if it was for less than an hour.  Maybe there was still some little ray of hope for him.  He didn’t have many friends anymore.  Not that no-one liked him; it was his choice to suffer in silence.

The three of them made their way side by side to the parking lot which was now full to capacity.  As he went to unlock his door, Chris noticed some sort of ticket under the driver’s side wiper blade.  Michael peeked over to see what Chris was looking at.

“What? What’s wrong?” Chloe asked as she waited for Chris to unlock the doors.

Chris pulled up the wiper blade and picked up the ticket.  It was a dine-in receipt for Ling Wah’s.

“There’s something written on the back,” Michael pointed out.

Chris turned the ticket over and read out loud. “'Keep your friends close.  Keep your enemies closer…. in bed.  2 down.  8 more to go'  Shit!! He was fucking here, listening to our conversation inside!!” he shouted, hitting the roof of his car.

“He followed us from the goddamn crime scene!  Motherfucker was watching us the whole time!” Michael said with a shocked expression.

“Oh my god!” Chloe added as she felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Chris knew the game was on.  The killer was letting them know he can roam amongst them virtually undetected whenever he wanted.  It also meant he had an advantage over them.  The element of surprise.  You have that, you have the greatest advantage.  Chris, being the dead man he saw himself as, was less concerned for his own safety and more concerned for his partner and Chloe.  Michael had a family to worry about and Chloe lived alone.  That’s right… Michael…

“Call Carol right now make sure they’re okay!!” Chris ordered as he finally unlocked the doors and they all quickly entered the Camaro.  Michael dialed Carol’s cell number as Chris started up Miss Sunshine.  The loud screeching sound of the Camaro tires peeling out echoed through the streets of downtown.

Michael finally picked connected with Carol.  The kids were asleep and she had just dozed off watching t.v in the living room.  She was still a bit groggy but okay.

“Keep her on the phone, Mikey!” Chris said with a hurried tone as he sped through downtown with his red police flasher on top of his car and sirens blaring.  He drove well beyond the speed limit trying to reach Michael’s house as fast as he possibly could. 

Michael continued to speak to Carol. “Honey, listen, I need you to do something for me.  Go upstairs and check on the kids and make sure they’re OK.  I’ll tell you when we get there.  Me and Chris are on our way there now.  I know you’re scared.  Just… will you go and let me know how they are?!  Thank you, honey.  I’m gonna stay on the phone with you the whole time.”

Everyone nearly held their breath awaiting an answer feom Carol.  Although they were going fast, time seemed to slow down in that moment.

“They’re good?! Oh thank God!!” Michael said as he and everyone else exhaled with relief.

“We’re just around the corner, honey.  Stay with them.  I’ll stay on the line.  Don’t hang up ‘til We get there, okay!?”

The Camaro slowed down in front of Michael’s house.  A typical house for a downtown city block.  Michael was already getting out even before Chris came to a complete stop.  He ran up to the door and unlocked it.  He placed his keys into his coat pocket, drew his service pistol and entered the house.

Chris exited the car, saying to Chloe, “Stay in the car. Lock the doors.”

Chloe nodded saying, “Okay.”

Chris ran up the steps, drawing his Colt 45.

“I’m right behind you Mikey! I’m coming in!” he called out to Michael.

“Roger!” Michael called out as he ran up the stairs to the bedroom where Carol and his children waited.

“Let them be okay,” Chris thought to himself over and over as he cleared each room on the bottom floor.

“All clear downstairs!  How are you Carol?!  Everybody good up there?!” Chris called out, looking upstairs from the bottom of the staircase.


“Mikey?! Carol?! I said are you OK?!?” he shouted louder.


Just then, he made his way upstairs, pistol drawn, facing the floor.  Michael made his way out of the bedroom saying “We’re okay Chris!  We’re OK, man!”

“Goddammit!” he said under his breath momentarily closing his eyes in relief.  Carol came to the doorway of Eva’s bedroom holding Mickey.  Chris holstered his 45.  Carol asked them, “OK.  Now what the fuck is going on?!  Chris, will you tell me since he’s being a drama queen?”

After what seemed like a good half hour had passed, Chloe felt the urge to use the bathroom.  She pulled out Chris’s card and dialed his cell.  She told him of her little dilemma.  Michael gives her the OK to come on inside and use their bathroom.  Chris walks outside to escort her.

“Is that her?” Carol asked Michael as she and Chris walk in together.  He led her into the downstairs half-bathroom.

“Yeah, her name is Chloe Marx.  He saved her from a Satanic ritual sacrifice when she was a kid,” Michael explained.

“Damn!  That’s crazy,” Carol said, wide-eyed. “Don’t you think she looks a little bit like Abby?” she leaned in and whispered to Michael.

7. You Get Me Closer to God

The time was now 7:50 am.  Chris was waiting in his car parked alongside the curb in front of Chloe’s apartment building.  As he sipped his hot coffee, he observed the morning rush of civilians starting their day, walking down the sidewalk on their way to work or wherever they were going.  He knew that any one of them could be the killer.

About this time, Michael pulled up in his 2012 Charger.  He still had two more years left to pay on it.  It wasn’t as cool as Miss Sunshine but he liked it just the same.  Michael parked across the street from Chris.  He got out with a white paper bag full of tacos from Benjamin's, a popular spot for tacos downtown.  He walked across the street to Chris exiting his car.

“Whats up, Brosephine?” he asked Chris in his usual playful manner.

“Blood pressure,” Chris answered.

“Yeah, that was funny the first hundred times you said it,” Michael shot back.  "You been up yet?” he asked.

“No.  How’s everybody?” Chris asked before handing Michael a coffee he picked up from a gas station before arriving.

“They’re all good. Hey, thanks for having my back last night man,” answered Michael.

Chris nodded, peered into the bag and asked, “So, what’d you get?”

“Three bacon & bean, 3 sausage & egg, 3 chorizo & egg and hot sauce,” Michael called out.  It was a cold morning so he was eager to get inside.

“After last night, I’ll bet you gave the wife your own brand of chorizo!” Chris said returning Michael’s playful comment from earlier.

“Shhh… you know it, brutha!” Michael went along with the flow.  They both had a good laugh then made their way upstairs to Chloe’s apartment.

Chris sipped his coffee once more and walked up the staircase ahead of Michael.  He held open the door and said, “Lead the way, Watson.”

The floor creaked, alerting the tenants that there were visitors coming up.  As they made their way up the stairs, Chris thought about how Michael might actually make it to Chief someday.  He knew they wanted to pair him with an experienced investigator so that he could “earn his stripes” so to speak.  Of course, this would be long after Chris was retired.  Or in a grave.  Michael knocked, not using the standard police knock that Chris used yesterday.

As Chloe opened the door, a gust of warm air, rock music and freshly brewed coffee hit Michael and Chris, further awakening their senses.  Chloe had on a black Motley Crue ‘Shout at the Devil’ pentagram t-shirt and hip-hugger jeans, which was ironic since she was once almost sacrificed to Satan.  She wore a chain bracelet and tiger’s eye Chan Lu beads on her left wrists, and her fingernails were painted red.  Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail.  Her favorite album of all time was playing in the background; Motley Crue’s Too Fast For Love.
Mötley Crüe - Live Wire

Mötley Crüe - Live Wire

Motley Crue in 1982

She greeted them with a quick, “Good morning, guys.  Come on in.”

Immediately upon walking in, Chris pointed to the stereo and exclaimed, “Best album ever made!”

“Heck, yeah!  A man who knows his music, I see.  Good wake-up music!” Chloe said.  Michael wasn’t as familiar with 80s hair bands as they were, but he had to admit the sounds of the at-the-time young, coked-up, fresh and full of energy glam-metal band were invigorating.

Chloe walked back over to her laptop on the dining room table, where she had been at most of the night, with the exception of 2 hours of much needed sleep.

“Okay, guys, I think we hit pay dirt!” she said with excitement, looking at her computer.

“Really?!” Chris asked as he played air guitar to track number 1: "Live Wire" (the album was on repeat).  Michael looked at him with his eyebrows raised, shaking his head.  Still, it was amusing to see his hard-edged partner behave like this.

“Yeah.  OK, here’s what I got.” Chloe pointed the stereo remote, turning down the volume. “Last night, I contacted my buddy.  He said that he did notice a very strange blog - posted a few hours ago in fact.  He sent me the link.  It’s a letter for us.  I wanted to call you both earlier when it came in but I figured after everything, it was best if I just waited ‘til you got here.  Besides, I just got this message about 2 hours ago.  It was posted by a user who goes by Necro1990.  Here, it says

‘Hello detectives.  Obviously, you are good at what you do since you are reading this.  This means that you may actually get close to catching me one day.  But you won’t.  When I first saw you last night walking out of her house, I knew it was going to be fun.  Then, when I overheard you discussing your theories on me at that delicious Chinese place , well that was very amusing as well.  Did you like the fortune I left you?  That saying, it’s true you know.  One should keep their enemies closer.  I intend on doing this.  I’ll be seeing you very soon.  You won’t recognize me.  Expect to hear about # 3 very soon.  She is just waiting to be discovered.  It will be quite the surprise to you.  Oh, don’t worry.  It’s not the young detective’s wife.  She’s safe for now.  Killing her (as fun as it might be) is not my intention.  It was exciting watching the panic on his face as he ran inside his house last night, fearing the worst.  The older detective, the one in charge, lives in such a dark, lonely place.  It’s a wonder you can find the strength to wake up every morning and do what you do.  You must be fighting some demons of your own.  As for the lady detective.  A lovely creature indeed.  It was nice meeting you.  I look forward to our game of cat and mouse.’”

“Son of a Bitch!!” Michael shouted as he turned away, holding his hands on his waist.

Chris nodded his head. “This fucker thinks this is a game.  Well, was the guy able to retrieve an email or I.P. address, a name, anything?”

“Well, that’s the weird thing.  It traces an I.P. address back to Canada to a guy named Jean-Pierre De la Fitte.  But he could have rerouted the I.P. address to throw us off.  I mean, what is the probability that he took a vacation to San Antonio, just to kill 10 people, then go back home to Canada... eh?” Chloe said, looking up at Chris.

Michael called Carol on her cell.  He didn’t want to alarm her, so he calmed himself down before dialing and walked into the kitchen. He played it like he was just calling to say, “Hello, I love you and have a good day, honey.”  Chris stared at the black screen with its white letters and pondered for a moment the killer's whereabouts.  Was the killer able to reroute his I.P. to Canada?  He was growing more frustrated.  By now, the CD had finished playing and it was silent in Chloe’s apartment except for Michael’s low conversation.

After a moment, Chloe got up from her seat and walked over to her sofa and sat down, unlocking her cell phone and checking emails and social media.  She just needed a moment to herself.  About this time, Michael came from the kitchen with a look of relief. 

Chris looked at him and said, “They’re OK, buddy.  Look, if you want, go ahead and request for a patrol unit to stand guard while you’re not home.  I’ll call it in for her too.  Nice work, kiddo.” He addressed both Michael and Chloe.

Chloe walked back over to the dining table, peeked in the paper bag, smiled and said, “Nice! Tacos from Benjamin’s.”

Twenty minutes later, they were finishing up their breakfast tacos and coffee when Chris received a call from Chief Mills.

Chris: Good morning, Sir.

Mills: Morning, Chris.  Rodriquez with you?

Chris: Yes, sir, he is.

Mills: Put me on speaker.  I need you both to hear this.

Chris: Okay, sir, you’re on speaker. Rodriguez is here, sir. So is our consultant, Chloe Marx.

Mills: Good morning, Rodriguez.  Good morning, Ms. Marx.  Mike, your family doing OK after last night?

Michael: Good morning, sir.  Yes, they’re fine.

Chloe: Good morning, sir.

Mills: Okay, let’s cut to the chase.  Ten minutes ago, we got an anonymous tip stating that there’s been a murder at 5719 East Houston street.  Chris, we realize that’s your apartment building.

Chris: Oh no…who is it, Sir?

Mills: Chris, It’s your neighbor, Delia Bonner.  Her death has to be connected to your case. She had a web link carved into her left forearm and her eyes removed and placed into her mouth, like the other vics.

Chris: …………… We’re on our way, sir.  And one more thing, sir.  I’d like a uniform on watch for Ms. Marx’s building and for Mike’s house if you can spare them please.

Mills: You got it.  And, hey, Chris…

Chris: Yes, sir?

Mills: Stay safe out there.

Chris: We will, Sir. Thank you.

Chris's heart sank into his stomach upon learning of Delia’s death.  He placed his cell into his jeans' back pocket and walked over to the bathroom, saying, “I’ll gonna make a head call if that’s alright.”

“Yeah, of course,” Chloe said, knowing he just needed a moment to let it soak in and to collect his thoughts. 

Chris shut the door hard behind him. Michael walked over to the sofa and sat down with a similar sinking feeling.  It was a growing, nagging fear inside that ate at him from the stomach up.  He could feel it swimming around in there, tugging at his soul.  It felt like something was going to happen to Carol and his children.  He wanted to be there at home to protect them but he also needed to stop this man from hurting anyone else. 

When you’re in a fight, you don’t worry about the punches and kicks flying at you.  You don’t take out the hand or foot; you take out the brain.  That’s the real threat.  He needed to take this guy down.  He had faced real danger before, but never so close to home where what he holds so dear and precious was in danger.  He had seen true horror before - wives, mothers and their children murdered, raped - and now he was determined to stop this thing posing as a human being.

Chloe sat next to Michael, leaned in and asked him, “Hey, so what’s the story on Chris and his wife?  I could sense he wasn’t telling me something painful.  What happened?”

“That’s not my place to say.  I’m not so sure he would want me to tell you.  All I can say is that she’s dead.  His son too,” Michael said quietly.

Chloe’s eyebrows raised in towards the center of her face as she said, “Oh my God.  That’s so sad, that’s terrible!”

“Yeah, it is.  But I never said anything.  Got it?” Michael said, looking intently at Chloe.

“Of course,” Chloe said as she arose from the sofa and walked over to her black parka hanging by the door.  She removed it from the coat rack on the wall, pulling it on one arm at a time.

Inside the bathroom, Chris splashed his face with extra cold water flowing from the freezing pipes.  He looked in the mirror and thought about the last conversation he and Delia had.  She was just a lonely old woman, in search of a little company.  She never hurt anyone.  He prepared himself mentally for what he was about to see at the crime scene.  Images of Delia lying on the floor, eye sockets empty, mouth full of blood and white, oozing eyeball innards.  He told himself, “You can do this Chris.  Walk it the fuck off!”

Outside, Michael and Chloe were checking their social media accounts on their phones and waiting for Chris to come out.  The sound of the toilet flushing echoed from the bathroom, as did the sound of water from the sink as he washed his hands.  That was their cue to put away their phones and stand up, ready to go. 

Chris opened the door and walked over to where they stood. “You ready?” he asked.

“Yeah. I already texted Carol and let her know about the uniform on their way, for my piece of mind,” Michael said.

“Chloe, go ahead and bring your laptop.  We may need your help with some things.  This piece of shit knows where I live.  Probably knows where we all live by now,” Chris said.

She then nodded and walked over to the dining room table. She wrapped up the laptop cord, closed the computer, and put them away in a black case with a handle. “Okay, ready,” she said, walking towards the door.  With that, they all made their way outside into the freezing morning air.  Chloe rode with Chris and Michael crossed the street to his Charger.  They were off to Chris’s building.

The ride in Chris’s car was mostly quiet.  Chloe wanted to talk, to ask him questions.  However, it was obvious Chris didn’t want to talk at the moment, so she just looked out of the passenger side window at the chaos of the city streets.  Downtown San Antonio was a beautiful city in the winter.  Chris was focused ahead on the road and on what they were about to discover.  Then, out of nowhere, he said, “I met Vince Neil once when me and the wife were in Vegas one weekend. 

He was walking in the lobby of the Palazzo with an entourage of fake-breasted blondes and brunettes.   Motley Crue had just finished a tour and he was there for R & R.  My wife noticed him right away and pointed him out.  I didn’t want to bother him but we caught his attention anyway.  My Abby was a looker, so he smiled at us.  Abby just grabbed my hand and there we were, introducing ourselves to Vince Neil from Motley Crue.  We talked for about 5 minutes, then his limo arrived outside to pick them up.  He was really cool.”

“That’s so rad!” Chloe smiled and said wide-eyed. 

Chris smiled and said, “You know, I don’t think he realizes the impact they made on the world.  I think he did it all just to have fun.  For the remainder of his life, he will be greeted by uberfans everywhere he goes. Until the day he dies.  They all will.”

Chloe looked away at the city streets, snow melted now. The mood had lightened a bit in the car.  In Michaels car, he listened to Godsmack’s "Whatever".  Although he tapped his thumbs to the beat of the drum on the steering wheel, his mind kept going back to Carol and the kids.  At least there was a unit on the way.  He hadn’t been to Chris’s place too often.  Maybe 2 or 3 times in the last 2 years or so.  It was dark, sad and depressing.  The air was thick with despair.  Not just in his apartment, in the whole building. 

It was as if it carried this emotion of misery and attracted people who were marinating in their own sorrow.  He wondered if it had called out to Chris after he sold his old house.  He probably had too many painful memories living there.  Probably couldn’t sleep.  In all likelihood, knowing Chris, he decided to start anew by selling the house and moving downtown, in the thick of it all.  In the middle of the chaos that was this beautiful city.

8. Cool Hand Chloe

Once again, there was a crowd gathered outside the dreary apartment building.  Upon entering, Chris, Michael and Chloe were greeted by a uniformed officer watching the front door in the hallway.  Residents were actually standing out in the hallways, likely the first time there had ever been so many out all at once.  Sure, in a place like this there was the occasional suicide.  That was to be expected.  Some residents liked to speculate who the next one would be.  Many thought it would be the sad detective with the dead wife and son.  They didn’t expect that old lady upstairs across from him to ever be murdered.  This was indeed a shock to the low-down community.  Chris led the way as Michael and Chloe followed up the stairs.

“Charming,” Chloe whispered to Michael, who acted like he didn’t hear the rude comment.  Chris heard her but said nothing.  On the way up, they saw looks of concern of the faces of residents, most of whom were pale white.  It was obvious that they didn’t get much sun.  Most of these people were recluses.  This was considered a social gathering.  As they arrived at Delia’s apartment they were met with another uniformed officer.  They all looked at each other and nodded.  They readied themselves for another ugly scene.  They had to duck under the yellow crime scene tape to enter.

The flashing lights of photos being snapped brightened up the room every few seconds.  C.S.I. was walking around taking samples, dusting for prints.  The medical examiner, a different guy this time, was waiting for the detectives to arrive so he could officially pronounce Mrs. Bonner as dead and he could finally leave.  Mrs. Bonner’s apartment looked like the typical elderly Grandmother apartment.  There were old paintings and photos on the walls.  Knick-knacks sat on tables.  Antique wall hangings such as tin owls, copper flowers, mirrors were strategically placed to fill large wall spaces.  Cheap rugs were on the floor in every room.  Mrs. Bonner’s old white cat, Gabriel, was hiding under the bed.

When Chris walked through the living room, he saw that the bathroom was the location of Delia’s body.  As he kept walking, time seemed to slow down.  He didn’t want to have to see her there lying on the floor - bloody, lifeless, eye sockets empty.  It’s one thing to see dead bodies as part of your job.  You tend to get used to it.  However, when it’s someone you know, there is this sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach.  Like rocks weighing you down.

They weren’t particularly close; however, she was a cool old lady.  She didn’t deserve a fate like this.  Chris took his last step up to the bathroom door where C.S.I. personnel looked at him and walked out of the bathroom to allow them to work.  There on the floor was Delia, in the same state as the others.  Eye sockets empty and bloody.  Eyeballs placed into her mouth.  Only this time, there were claw marks around her eye socket going down her face and neck. The left sleeve of her robe was rolled up to the elbow, exposing the expected web link carved by a small knife.  A message was written on the mirror in blood.

“Last night was fun.  Thanks for the memories.”

Chris looked at her with remorse and regret and said, “I’m sorry, old girl.  Sleep with angels.”

Michael walked in, following Chris.  Chloe stayed just outside of the bathroom.  Upon seeing the victim's lifeless, mutilated body, and message written on the mirror, she once again felt sick to her stomach.  She knew she couldn’t look like a squirelly amateur, so she managed to keep her 2 breakfast tacos and coffee down. “Just breathe,” she thought to herself.

She noticed the scratches on Delia’s face.  She put 2 & 2 together. “Bloody Mary!” she blurted out.

Chris and Michael both looked at her knowingly.  Even they had heard of Bloody Mary.  Chris pulled his cell out of his back pocket and snapped a photo of the web address on Delia’s forearm.  As he held it up to Chloe, she typed the link into her phone and pressed enter.   After 5 seconds, it popped up.

“Yep! Bloody Mary,” she said holding her cell up so Chris and Michael could see it.  They leaned in, confirming.

Chris looked at Michael, saying, “That’s 3 murders in 3 days and we’re no closer to catching this guy.  He’s just fucking with us…. Dangling his ass right in front of the lion with no teeth.  Something’s gotta give.”

Just then, a C.S.I. investigator shouted, “Hey, I got the cat!  He was hiding under the bed!”

Upon hearing this, the trio looked up momentarily but then looked away knowing that a cat cannot speak or testify in court. “What a shame, you know the cat saw it.  Too bad we don’t have the technology to read their minds,” Chloe said.

Michael looked at her and said, “You know how many homicides we come across where there’s a cat or a dog or a damn parrot?  A lot!”

The C.S.I. investigator then called out, “Hey, the cat has blood under its claws!”

Chris and Michael looked at each other with smirks on their faces.  Chloe and Michael quickly walked out of the bathroom, Chloe first.  Chris followed after them.

“Take a sample and I.D. it!  We might actually have this fucker!” Michael said with some fire back in his voice.

Chris showed a bit of that spark again.  His gait straightened, his spirits raised.  He took control of the scene. “Collect as much of it as you can and take it back to the lab.  Mikey, call the coroner and have them to pick up Mrs. Bonner.  I’m paying for the burial.  No next of kin. “

“Awe, that’s sweet of you!” Chloe said in a girly sing-song tone. 

“Yeah, that’s gonna take some time, Detective.  We got cases backed up ahead of you.  Maybe we can have something for you by tomorrow morning.  I’ll see what I can do.  No promises,” said the investigator holding the cat.

Chris held his hands on his waist in frustration but knew that’s how standard protocol went.  He walked up to the investigator, leaned in and said, “Alright.  But keep in mind that this guy is a serial killer and has killed 3 innocent people in the last 3 days.  He needs to be off the streets!  So the department and old people everywhere will thank you if you can get some results… ASAP!”

The investigator, who was visibly shaken, said to Chris “Okay.  We’ll get it done.  We’ll call you in the morning with the results.”

Chris nodded his head and said in his sarcastic tone, “Thank you, Sir.”

Once the blood samples and all evidence was collected, and resident statements collected, the coroner arrived to the scene two hours later to take Mrs. Bonner to the city morgue.  Now that C.S.I. was leaving back to the lab, the trio could leave once the crime scene was secured.  Half an hour later, they were able to leave.  Four hours had passed since arriving.  Now all they could do was wait for the blood results.

“Hey, you live here right,” Chloe asked Chris.

“Yeah, so?” he answered.

“So, can we see your place?” she asked him.

Chris looked up at Michael as if to ask him if he put her up to it. “Hey, don’t look at me dude!” he said, slightly raising up his hands at his sides.

Chris looked back at Chloe and said “Chloe, listen, this is where the road ends for you.”

“What?!  No!  Why?!” she demanded to know.

“Chloe, we’ve dragged you pretty far down the rabbit hole on this case.  You’ve had to see things nobody should have to see.  Besides, you’ve seen enough ugly in your life.  Thank you so much for your help.  I’m gonna go ahead and take you home now,” Chris told her.

“No, no! Uh-uh!  You can’t just expect me to go home, never hear from you guys again and never know if the killer is still out there!” she raised her voice.

“You can say no, no, no all you want, Ms. Winehouse!  It’s done!  Besides, when the lab results come back, we got him!” Chris said.

“Yeah, but what if the blood isn’t the killer's?  What if it belongs to Mrs. Bonner?  Did you ever consider that? Then you’d be no closer to catching him!  Michael, say something!!  Don’t let me go out like that!” she pleaded.

Michael just looked at her with a look of guilt. “He’s the boss.  Sorry, dear.”

Chloe looked back at Chris and shouted, “This is bullshit!!” and stormed off outside to the cold afternoon air.  She was so angry, she decided to walk home from there, computer in-hand.

Inside, Michael and Chris were debating over keeping her around.

“Look, Michael, I don’t want to see her get hurt.  Why can’t you understand that?” Chris asked Michael, standing in the lobby of the apartment building.

“I know you don’t.  Look, man, we were the ones who came to her for help.  We drug up all those old memories that she probably spent years trying to move past and here we were, asking her for help.  On top of that, the cop that saved her was now asking her to return the favor!  All she’s asking for is to stay on till we catch the guy!  Why can’t you see that?” Michael argued. “We’ll protect her.  Give her this.  Besides, I really wanna read this pasta when it’s done!” he said with a smile.

Chris smiled and nodded. “Yeah, it would make a pretty cool story.  I wonder who would play me in the movie, though?”

“My money’s on Adam Sandler,” Michael said.  They both busted out laughing. “Or maybe Ron Pearlman, Old man river!”

After a good laugh (just what they needed to break through the air of dread) Chris said, “Let’s go tell her.”

They opened the door and expected to find Chloe standing somewhere nearby, pouting.  They spotted her walking way down the block, carrying her laptop case.  She walked like she was still pretty pissed off.  The detectives both laughed at the sight.  They began to run down the street laughing and shouting out loud, “Chloe!!  Hey!!  Chloe, You can stay!!  Chloe!”

Chloe heard them from so far away. She stopped and turned around with an angry look on her face.  She crossed her arms, still holding the laptop, not moving from her spot.  She expected them to go to her.  Their run slowed into a jog, then a fast walk until they caught up to where she stood.

Panting, Chris said, “You can stay on... til we catch him.”

“Yeah… I don’t want to have to chase you down again,” Michael said, trying to pull in enough air to catch a full breath.

“You know, you guys are really out of shape,” Chloe said, arms still folded, clutching her computer “OK, but I have a few conditions.  One, I get to ride along with you, Chris, until the case is closed.  Two, I get to write about this case.  Of course I’ll change the names around.  It will be loosely based off the real case.  Three, the department buys my meals until the case is over.”

Chris looked at her, finally catching his breath “Anything else?”

“No, that's it.” She said playing her hand.

Chris and Michael looked at each other.   Chris looked back at her and said, “OK.  Deal.”

He extended his hand out to Chloe.  She shook it and smiled, trying to keep cool.  She then shook Michael’s hand as he said, “Well played, Cool Hand Luke!”

“Come on, let’s go do lunch”, Chris said as he turned around and began walking back to his car.

9. Catch You on the Flipside

After a fine lunch of Chick Fil’a, the trio headed back to the station to lay out all the facts and present their findings to the Chief.  Chloe waited in their office while Chris and Michael met with the chief.  She looked around the office, exploring the desks, drawers and walls of the dreary office.  There were certificates on the walls. On the desks were loose pens and notepads containing doodle scribbles and various case notes.  On Michael’s desk, there were family photos.  Some were of his mother and step-dad. Some were of his brothers.  Then there was the photo of his wife and children.  It was in a nice picture frame, placed just under the desk lamp just so that it would shine bright whenever the light bounced off it.

On Chris’s desk, there was no framed family photo; it was an indication of his inability to face the past and move on.  When she looked in his desk drawer she found a half-empty bottle of Crown Royal whiskey.  He liked the shorter Crown Royal bottle. It was a better fit into his desk drawer, unlike the longer bottles of Jack and Jim Beam.  She wasn’t sure why but she wanted to be the person to help Chris to face the past and move on.  He was a decent man and deserved to be happy.  But first, she would have to get him to open up to her about what really happened to them.  What if they became involved?  Was she ready to take on another guy with a tortured soul?  That kind seemed to be her specialty.  Was it really worth it?

She thought, “No, not this time around, Chloe.  Fuck that!”

She was bored enough to bring out her smartphone and check her social media, emails and of course the Scarypasta website.  She searched for any new blog posts from Necro1990.  She did a quick search to see if he had written any pastas.  Nothing, just one blog post introducing himself 2 years ago, a few comments on various pastas.  She did a search of her own pastas and found that he had indeed commented on "Summer in Texas" and "Ole’ Broken Bones Pete".  They were simple, harmless comments such as “Nice pasta!” and “I loved this!” Nothing to go gaga over.  The thought crossed her mind, “Does he really know who I am?”  She was a little creeped out to say the least.  She could have walked right past him a thousand times and would have never noticed. 

An hour had passed before Chris and Michael left the chief’s office, satisfied that they had the full backing from the chief to pursue the suspect once his identity was revealed.

Michael said to Chris as they walked, “Well, now all we do is wait.”

“You should go home, get some rest, play with your kids… and Carol,” Chris said playfully.  Michael laughed, looking down for a moment. “I wonder how our little Motley Smurf is doing,” Chris asked. 

Just then, Chris and Michael returned to the office where Chloe was sitting back in Chris’s chair, feet on his desk, hands behind her head.  She was a little annoyed that she had to wait there for over an hour. She was bored, but she was still feeling good about being able to stay on for the remainder of the case.

Chloe looked at the pair as they walked in and asked, “Where all da white bitches at?!”

The idea of going to dinner altogether was discussed, but ultimately Michael decided he would go home and finally get some rest and get some alone time with Carol and the kids.  He missed Carol in that special way a Husband misses his Wife when he’s missing home.  It was getting later in the day and he would need his rest just in case.  As they made their way through the police station doors, they ended up in the parking garage adjacent to the station.  They had parked near each other.

Chris looked at Michael as he walked past him to his Charger. “Alright buddy-boy.  Get some rest.  We’ll catch you on the flipside.”

“Okay, man.  See you.  Goodnight, Chloe,” Michael said, a bit fatigued.

“Goodnight, Michael, see you tomorrow.” She went in to hug Michael and whispered, “Thanks, dude.”  She realized he was the reason Chris had changed his mind about allowing her to stay on for the remainder.

Michael smiled and nodded his head.

As everyone walked over to their chariots, Chris looked at Michael and said, “Hey, Mikey, stay gold, pony boy.”

Michael smiled, saying, “Later, Brosephine.”

Daylight was fading and the dark of night was creeping in.  The air was brisk and windy, it was a great night for a bowl of hot Minestrone soup and warm breadsticks.  Chris and Chloe had decided in the car to have dinner at a well-known Italian chain restaurant. Well, Chloe chose it.  Chris just went with the flow.  It had been awhile since he dined there.  He liked their ‘Journey of Italy’ dish.  It was $20 now, compared to $17 when he last ordered it.  It was Abby’s favorite too.  Connor loved the toasted ravioli. 

They were seated in a booth on the right side of the restaurant.  The walls were beautifully stained in yellow color wash over texture.  Glamorous black and white photos were framed in black wooden frames.  Colorful plates were hanging up on the walls.  The lights were dimmed and a glass with a tea light flickered nicely on each table.  Two crystal wine glasses sat near the edge of the table, begging to be used.  Chris liked the Rosatto. 

They both had ordered the Journey of Italy.  Chris thought it funny and almost commented on how his late Wife always ordered the same thing.  He thought it best to keep that one to himself.  He even thought for just a moment in the dim lighting, Chloe looked like his Abby.  He thought it best to keep that tidbit to himself as well.  He didn’t want to see her that way. He still remembered her as that scared little kid bound and gagged that he saved all those years ago.  She was off-limits in his book.  He might be a son of a bitch, but he wasn’t a fucking son of a bitch.

Chloe had decided early that evening he was off-limits too.  She didn’t need any more complications in her life.  He was a handsome older man but he came with too much baggage.  They sat across from each other in the booth, dining and talking about some of the residents and old stomping grounds back in Lytle.  They laughed or smiled most of the time.  Chloe said that the old Robinson place was still standing at that old dirt lot, hidden away amongst the trees and brush. 

She mentioned that she still kept in contact with Jason and how they had once been an item.  Chris told her that he had not been back to Lytle since his family's death, and how he had spoken to his father-in-law recently, and how he might go back to visit.  Sometimes he missed Lytle and its simplicity.  The subject of the case came up.

“So, are you writing anything now?” Chris asked as he used a knife and fork to cut his chicken Parmesan.

“Yeah, it’s a story called 'If That Dress Could Talk'.  It’s about the lady in the red dress legend about downtown,” Chloe said, working on a bite of lasagna.

Chris raised his eyebrows, saying, “Cool!  So, when you write about all this, are you going to be kind when you write about me?”

Chloe looked at him and smiled, nodding. “Yeah.  In fact, I’m considering making you the main character.  Think I might like to try writing it with just a hint of the old detective noir stories.”

“Hey, that’s an idea.  But how can you write it from my perspective?  Do you feel you know me well enough to do that?  I mean, at this point you’d just be writing your version of me,” Chris said, just before placing a bite of breaded chicken into his mouth.

“Honestly, I didn’t think you’d care one way or the other,” said Chloe.

She had a point.  If Chris had heard this prior to these strange events, he wouldn’t have given a fiddler’s fart.  However, now that he was a semi-fan of Scarypasta he would actually read it himself.  He didn’t say this to Chloe.

“Hey, write whatever you want.  I’m just saying, be kind to me.  If you’re going to write about me, and the world is gonna read it, paint me to be a decent guy.  Michael, on the other hand, give him big ears, cross eyes and bad breath,” he said.

Chloe began to laugh and kicked him under the table saying, “You’re mean!  Michael’s a good guy, too.”

“Yeah, he is.  I love that little bastard.  He reminds me of myself when I was that age.   I was a different person then.  It seems like a lifetime ago!” Chris said looking off somewhere, shaking his head. “Enough of the memory lane shit.  Man, 7:36.  I better take you home so you can rest,” he said, looking at his phone for the time.

Just then their server brought the check to the table with 4 of those little chocolate mints.  Chris paid with his credit card.  The department would reimburse him as long as he saved the receipts.  He wrote in a 6 dollar tip.  The service was decent.  Chris’s cell phone chimed.  It was a text from Michael.

Chloe asked, “Is that Michael?  Tell him he missed out!”

“Son of a bitch!  Yeah, it’s Michael. There’s been another murder.  We gotta go.”

Michael: Hey.  There’s been another murder.  912 Joe Newton Street.  Bring Chloe.

Chris:  Damn.  Another one on the same day?  Ok leaving from dinner.  Be there soon.  You been home yet?

Michael:  Yeah.  Just got the call a few minutes ago at home.

Chris:  Ok.  What a day huh?

Michael:  Yeah no shit!

Michael and Chloe walked out of the restaurant and to Miss Sunshine in the parking lot.  Ten seconds later, they were en-route to the address Michael had messaged Chris.  Chris knew that Michael didn’t want to be there.  He wanted to be at home with his family.  He placed the flashing red police light on top of his roof and turned on the siren and hauled ass to the crime scene. 

It was 912 Joe Newton, near the old abandoned Buttercrust bakery.  He remembered briefly the school field trips every year touring the bakery.  At the end of the tour, every kid got a slice of bread with butter, a pencil and a ruler.  He always enjoyed that field trip.  Now it was just an old creepy-looking building.

They pulled around corners, tires squealing on the city streets.  Once they arrived at the old bakery, something was odd.  There were no C.S.I. vans, no patrol units, no crowd.  Just Michael’s Charger parked on the side of the building.

“What in the fuck?” Chris said looking at the Charger and around the building. “I’m calling Michael.”

He dialed Michael’s cell.  Fear began to rise in Chloe’s belly.  As Chris waited for Michael to pick up, he saw movement in the 2nd floor window at the front of the building.  It was slight and he couldn’t tell who it was but there was no mistaking it.  Three rings in and no answer.

“Come on, Mikey!” Chris said, looking up at the window where he saw movement.

“He’s not answering?!” Chloe asked, now very concerned.

Five rings in and Chris said, “No.  I’m gonna call Carol.  In the text he said that he had been home when he got the call.”

Carol: Hello, Chris?  Is Michael with you?

Chris: No. He just texted me.  Was he there at home earlier?

Carol: No, he hasn’t been home since this morning.  Why?

Chris: Okay, dear.  I see his car here now.  I’m gonna go meet up with him.

Carol: Okay.  Hey, tell him to call me as soon as he gets a chance!  He was supposed to be here an hour ago.  He just keeps texting me.

Chris: What’s he saying?

Carol: Uh, that’s kinda private, Chris.

Chris: Let me know if he contacts you again.

Carol: Why? Chris, is something wrong?!

Chris: No.  He asked me to meet him at the old Buttercrust bakery.  He said there was another murder.

Carol: Dammit!  Guess it’s gonna be another long night.

Chris: Yeah, sorry about that.

Carol: It comes with the job!  Just tell him to call me.  Look out for him.

Chris: I will. Talk to you later, Carol.

Carol: OK. Bye.

Chris didn’t want to upset Carol but he knew what this meant.  Something was definitely wrong inside.

Chloe was now visibly shaken and worried. “Something is wrong, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” said Chris.  He knew he was about to walk into something bad.  Maybe this was his time.  If it was, he would welcome it.  He knew there were likely two scenarios inside that old bakery.  Either way, it wasn’t going to end well.  He reached into the glove box for a small LED flashlight.

“I want you to stay here and lock the doors.  I’m gonna leave you the keys.  If I’m not back in 15 minutes, drive to the station and give them my card.  Ask to speak to Chief Mills.  Now, they’ll likely have to wake him up but you tell them I sent you.  If anyone but me comes to the window, take off to the station!  Got it?" Chris said to Chloe.

Chloe was shivering, trying not to cry. She knew Chris was depending on her.  “OK.  Please be careful!!” she said with a broken voice.  She knew there was real danger present and something bad was about to happen.  She and Chris shared similar thoughts at that moment, only he was better at pushing his fear down where it couldn’t reach back up and pull him down into the depths.  Fear was for the enemy.  Fear and bullets.

In the depths of Chris’s mind, he knew that he would one day be here, Michael either in mortal danger or betraying him.  After the death of his family, not much surprised him anymore.  He liked the saying, “Expect anything from anyone; even Satan was once an angel.” 

He walked across the street to the empty building, drawing his 45 once he arrived at the side door near where Michael’s Charger was parked.  He checked the door handle and found it to be dark and unlocked inside.  There was no noise, no light (except from the moonlight and man-made nighttime lights shining through the windows).  He reached into his left leather coat pocket for his flashlight and turned it on, holding it in the standard handgun over flashlight cross position. 

As he stepped into dark, ominous room, he pointed his hands ahead, then right, then left behind the door.  He looked and listened for any indication of movement.  He neared the second doorway leading into a large, open, main room.  He stayed near the walls as he couldn’t see much except for what little bit his flashlight revealed.  Mostly chairs, desks, a few large line machines that had not been turned on in many years. 

He knew that if you wanted to effectively sneak up on someone, you had to step when they stepped, mirroring their walk.  It was also important not to stare at them.  People can sometimes sense when they’re being stared at.  As he recalled this fact, he quickly turned and faced behind him.

He felt a very strong impact across the side of his head then everything went black.  Chris was out.

10.  Abby & Connor

Two and a half years ago, Chris was happy.  He was a husband in love and a proud father.  He had a beautiful family.  Abby was the love of his life.  He still found her stunning after 13 years of marriage.  His son, Connor, was a very handsome boy, tall for his age and intelligent.  His teachers praised him for being an excellent writer (although he overlooked a lot of spelling mistakes).

One night, when Chris was at a crime scene, Abby & Connor were downtown at the River Center Mall, a popular tourist trap on San Antonio’s Famous Riverwalk.  They liked to see all the sights downtown at night.  It was best when they were all together.  As they wrapped up the evening and were walking back to their SUV in the parking garage, two thugs approached them with automatic pistols drawn.

Thug #1 said, “We want the keys and the purse now!”

Connor immediately attempted to step in between the thug and his mother.  Thug #2 immediately pointed his silver 9mm at Abby.  He knew this would get his attention and would likely stop him from doing anything else foolish.

Thug #1 also pointed his pistol at Abby who was now crying and pleading with the thugs not to hurt them.

Connor said, “My Dad’s a cop!  Leave us alone!”  His father had taught him how to fight.  He had practiced disarming a handgun hundreds of times.  He was confident he could do it.  However, there were two guns aimed at his Mother’s head.  This he had not practiced, nor could Chris had prepared him for this particular scenario.  He was helpless.

“Mom, give them the keys and purse and they’ll leave,” Connor said in as calm as a tone he could muster.  Thug #2 walked over and turned the gun on Connor so that Abby would comply, while Thug #1 still pointed his gun at Abby.

She gave the car keys to thug #1 slowly.  He grabbed them out of her hand.  He then pulled the purse away from her hand.

“Thanks, bitch! Now you stay put!” Thug #1 told Abby as he began to walk towards his partner.

Thug #2 pulled his pistol away from Connor, pushing him over towards his mother.

The first thug unlocked the SUV and they both got in.  As it started up, thug #1, who was driving rolled down his window as he backed out.  But before shifting into drive, he said “Hey, you said your dad’s a cop?  What’s his name?”

“I’m not telling you!” Connor said loudly.

The driver then pointed his gun at Abby and told him “You better tell me or I’ll shoot ya mamma!”

Connor was hesitant but wasn’t going to let them shoot his Mother. “Chris Priest!”

The driver had a surprised look on his face, then turned to his partner and said “Hey! This da wife & kid of that detective Priest, da one who testified against Tiny in court!”

He turned back to Connor and Abby and yelled, “Yo! My brother is on death row cause yo bitch-ass Daddy testified against him in court!!”

“We’re sorry!! Please don’t kill us!!” Abby managed to get out despite the fact she was now crying heavily.

The thug looked at her and said, “Not as sorry as he gonna be,” and fired two shots into Abby’s torso.

Connor yelled and went down to aid his mother who had fallen in front of him.  As he looked up at the shooter he focused on him with nothing but anger and hatred in his eyes.  As he began to rise up to rush in at the car, the driver fired two more shots and hit Connor in the neck and forehead, dropping him instantly.

Abby screamed out Connor’s name with what little life she had left and the thugs shifted into drive and sped away, fleeing the parking garage.  In her final moments, Abby sobbed as she pulled her dying body towards Connor’s lifeless body.  When the police found them, Abby was lying next to Connor, with her left arm around him and her lips red from kissing his face, which was covered in blood.

This is when Chris’s world had ended, when he lost that spark.  The SUV was recovered 3 days later on the day of the funeral.  It had been recovered in the bust of a local chop shop.  It was swept for DNA.  Nothing was found.

Chief Mills sent Chris home on paid leave.  He told Chris to take as much time as he needed.  His job would be waiting for him when he got back.  Chris spent the first two months becoming familiar with his new friends, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, guilt and Crown Royal.  Every day the feeling in his gut worsened, dragging him down.  He wanted to die, to join them, but he still had something to do first.  The hope of tracking down these… things was his only reason for sticking around.  Anyone who has ever fallen in deep with the companion alcohol knows how difficult she/he is to leave.  It was in the third month that Chief Mills had begun to really worry about Chris.  Two months he could understand.  But three and no word from Chris…He decided to go and check in on him.

When he arrived at Chris’s house, the yard needed cutting and the trees needed trimming.  It just didn’t have the same life it once did.  Mills knew the old trick of placing your hand on the front door to tell the energy in the home and of its inhabitants.  As he placed his right hand on the door, Mills heard a thump and what sounded like someone struggling inside. 

Banging on the door, he shouted, “Chris!! It’s Chief Mills!! Open up!!”

Nothing followed.  He banged again on the door as the struggling sounds grew louder. “Chris! I’m coming in!”  He then reared back and sent his right foot into the door handle, opening the locked door.  Inside, Chris was struggling with a noose around his neck.  He was hanging from the high support beam which was 11 feet off the ground.  Chris had tried to kill himself and the Chief had gotten there just in time to do something.

Chris’s eyes met with the chief's for just a split second when Mills pulled out his pocket knife, flipped it open and swiped at the rope with one good swipe.  Since the rope was thick, it took him climbing up on the small step ladder and sawing at the rope to cut Chris down.  When he finally hit the floor, Mills kicked aside the step ladder and kneeled down to Chris shouting, “Chris! Chris!”

He loosened the noose from around Chris’s neck and threw it aside.  Chris’s color began to return as he lay there gasping for breath, holding his neck.  Mills just sat there next to him catching his breath with Chris.

“Priest…What in the fuck were you thinking?” Mills asked him with an angry tone.  Chris, still trying to catch his breath, couldn’t answer just yet.  He reached over, pulling Chris up by the back of the arms and said, “Come on.  Let’s sit you up.”

The chief had convinced Chris to check into a rehab facility for 1 month.  He would appoint someone from the department to handle Chris’s finances that he had fallen behind on, and to hire a team of maids to clean the house as well as a landscaping service to take care of his yard.  When Chris returned a month later, focused on doing his job, everything was taken care of. 

His yard was in great shape, his house was clean, his clothes washed and ironed, his bills all caught up on.  When Mills contacted Abby’s family, he learned of the Sheriff's heart attack and was now recovering.  He didn’t bother asking them to help Chris.  Chris was one of them…he was a San Antonio Police Detective.  He was family and this family took care of their own.

Chris returned to work shortly after leaving the rehab facility.  He was determined to stay on the force, at least long enough to do what he had sworn an oath to do; find the scumbags who murdered his wife and Son, arrest them and make sure they suffer behind bars until the day they die.  Death by Chris’s hand was too easy.  They must suffer to their last breath.  Chris could make that happen.  What he would do after they were caught and prosecuted was uncertain.  He still drank but confined it to the privacy of his own home. 

Knowing full well he couldn’t stay in that house anymore, he sold it and moved downtown to the Camino Real apartment building we have come to know and cringe at upon hearing about.  There are no solid leads in the case.  The Security footage of the incident was blurry and likely could not be used in court.  As of now, the suspects have yet to be identified.

11. Crescendo

The piercing noise of the police sirens arriving awoke Chris who was now in complete darkness.  His 45 was not  in his hand and neither was the small mag light.  He tried to use the technique of looking around an object in the dark to see it.  Still his eyes could not adjust to see.  His vision was blurred.  Then he remembered Michael.

He called out loudly in a deep, broken voice, “Michael!  Where are you, Mikey?!”


As he listened for any sign of life, the door from which he entered was pushed opened to the police shouting “S.A.P.D.!!”

“I’m here!” Chris shouted from the floor deciding it was best he stay put so he doesn’t get shot.

“Detective Chris Priest, is that you?!?” an officer shouted in the dark as the rooms were cleared by the other responding officers.

“Yes! It’s me guys, over here!” he answered.

“Chris! It’s me, Davidson!”

“Davidson, over here man,” Chris said feeling weak.

About 8 flashlights moved in the dark towards him like a theatre spotlight.  On the stage now was Chris whose hands and clothes were now bloodstained, which was revealed to him and everyone else in the light.  Chris jumped back in horror as he called out, “Mike!! Find Mike Rodriguez!!!”

“Uhhgggg!!! Shit!!!” one cop shouted.  Two more flashlights moved over to where that came from.

“Davidson!!!  What is it?!?” Chris yelled.

“Oh my God…” Davidson said just loud enough for Chris to hear.

In the spotlight was Michael’s headless body lying on the hard ground.  Blood-covered trench coat, service pistol missing.  He had the killer's calling card on his left forearm.  It was a web link to a pasta written by the killer.  It was called “”.  Michael’s car was also missing from outside where it was parked earlier.

“Oh, God, Michael!!!”Chris yelled as he broke down, sobbing as he rushed over on his hands and knees to where Michael lay lifeless.  The response unit immediately pointed their guns and flashlights at Chris, yelling, “Chris, down on the ground, now!” Three beefy cops rushed over to him, placing his hands behind his back, cuffing him.

Michael’s cell began to ring.  Everyone was quiet.  Davidson walked over to Michael’s corpse and fished into his coat pocket, pulling out his cell phone.

“Unknown number,” he said.  He decided to answer it on speaker.

Davidson:  Hello?

SPK:  Detective Priest, please.

Davidson:  Who the fuck is this?  Why are you calling detective Rodriquez’s phone?

SPK:  Put Priest on the Phone!

Chris:  You mother fucker, you’re dead!!!!

SPK:  (laughs).  Wrong detective!  I’ve never felt more alive!

Chris:  I’m gonna find you! 

SPK:  No you won’t.  Not unless I want you to.  You’re all like worms on a big hook, just waiting to be eaten.

Chris:  You sick son of a bitch!  Why Michael?  Why not me? 

SPK:  Because I want to watch you suffer.  Because I want you weak when I come for you.

Chris:  You’re a fucking coward!!  Face me like a man, you fuckin’ pussy!!

SPK:  Oh, what, and end the fun already?  You and I will meet soon.  First, I have a few things to do.

Chris: You are so dead you piece of shit!

SPK:  Goodbye, Detective.  See you soon.

“Uncuff him,” Davidson ordered the other officers. “I’m sorry, Chris.  You know as well as I do it was standard protocol.”

“Yeah, whatever.  Just send a unit over to Michael’s place.  Someone has to tell Carol.  And Chloe Marx stays with me until this fucker is caught!” Chris ordered.

Just then, Chief Mills made his way inside the building, making his way to the scene.

“Oh, my God.  Somebody cover him up!” he shouted to the responders. 

Chris met him halfway saying “Chief, We need to put Mike’s family in protective custody.  Ms. Marx should stay with me.”

“Now Chris, We’ll take care of Rodriguez’s family.  But Ms. Marx needs to be in protective custody as well,” Mills said, trying to talk some sense into Chris.

Chris shook his head, disagreeing. “Sir, with all due respect, she can still help me catch him.”

“You want me to allow Ms. Marx to remain with you, in your custody, while you go on a revenge spree?!  I just heard about the call between you and the killer.  At least in protective custody, we can keep her out of harm’s way while we catch him,” Mills said, hoping Chris will see the logic.

Chris looked around at everybody, then at Michael, shaking his head. “He even took his head!  How are we going to tell Carol that a serial Killer decapitated her husband and left with his head?!?”

“Chris, she’s coming with us.  That’s just how it is, son” Mills said.

Chris was angry but respected the chief’s order.  He knew he could see things with a clear head. 

“Priest, there’s something else.  DNA results came back from the lab less than an hour ago.  We know who he is…We got ‘em,” Mills said with a satisfied look. “We know exactly who he is.  We got a last minute warrant from the D.A. It just came in.  SWAT is geared up and in route.  Now, are you okay?  Do you need to go to the hospital?" he asked.

“No, Sir!  I’m fine,” Chris answered immediately.

“That’s what I thought.  You ride with me.  We’ll worry about your car later.”

Chris looked over at Michael and asked the Chief, “Sir, give me a second to say goodbye to him.”

Mills nodded his head. “Sure, I’ll be waiting by the door.”

Chris walked back over to his partner and kneeled down next to him and said, “I’m sorry Michael.  I’ll look after Carol and the kids.  We’re gonna get him.  I promise.  I love you my friend.”

With that, Chris stood up and made his way over to the chief. “Somebody give Priest a gun,” he ordered.  Davidson walked up to them and handed Chris his sidearm, handle first.

“Thanks man, I’ll get this back to you later,” Chris thanked him.

Davidson nodded and said, “Just get the son of a bitch!”

Chief Mills and Michael raced through the downtown streets, making the chief’s Mercedes engine work overtime.  The sound of police sirens echoed in the night as flashing red and blue lights reflected off old buildings and the wet city streets.

Chris stared out of the front windshield and asked the chief, “So, who is he?”

Mills, focusing on driving answered, “His name is Fredrick Hazen.  Thirty-four years old, recently divorced, no kids.  He works as a computer programmer for ACS.”

“That explains how he was able to reroute the I.P. address to Canada,” Chris said, shaking his head as he turned toward the passenger window.  Mills just nodded.

“Tell me something, Chris.  Why do you think he’s singled you out to screw with?” Mills asked.

Chris thought about it for a moment. “I think it’s a power thing.  Mike and I had this theory that the killer was somebody weak, mentally or physically.  He was probably some kind of nerd, someone of high intellect but lacked the physical prowess to be intimidating.  Likely why he went after the elderly.  I’m guessing he hid in Michael’s car and held him at gunpoint. 

There’s no way he would have survived a fight with Michael, so he shot him first, likely from a distance too great for Michael to disarm him.  I think he saw me and thought that if he could break me mentally, he might have an easier time breaking me physically.  You know, sort of the David and Goliath complex.  This would be a confidence booster for him.”

Chief Mills looked at Chris for a moment, then back to the road. “Yeah, well, the boys in lockup are gonna break him physically and mentally!”

Chris nodded, knowing this fact.  It brought a slight smirk to his face for just a moment.  As much as he wanted to see him dead, by his own hand at that, he knew Hazen would likely suffer once he was in county jail before being sentenced to death row where he would be in isolation.  Hell, maybe he would still kill him anyway.

As they arrived at the apartment building where Hazen lived, SWAT was everywhere.  Snipers were on the roof of the building across the street, and every entrance and exit of the building was covered.  The squad leader, Brian Menendez, had already ordered the evacuation of all the residents of the building while covering the door and windows of Hazen’s apartment, preventing his escape.  The building was empty now except for Hazen’s apartment, which was now surrounded by heavily armed cops in black armor.  Now, all that was left was the go ahead order from the Chief.

When Chief Mills and Chris arrived, they parked across the street, where all of the buildings residents waited outside in the cold, damp night air.  Menendez approached Mills for a briefing. “Sir, the building has been swept except for Hazen’s place.  I have a team up there awaiting orders.  We’re ready on your command.”

Mills asked Menendez, “Do we know if he’s even in there?” 

“No, sir, we haven’t checked as of yet,” he answered.

Mills looked over at Chris, who was still blood-stained and eager to get this monster.  Mills looked back at Menendez, nodding. “OK, let’s get this son of a bitch.”

“Roger that, Sir.  And Chris, I’m sorry about Mike.” He patted Chris on the shoulder.

All Chris could manage to do was nod and say, “Yeah.”

Menendez pressed the talk button on his radio “Okay, men, Chief says go.”

“Roger that, Sir,” the team leader responded, looking at the armored men behind him.

“OK, you heard him.  We go in on my count.  On 1, ready… 3…2……..1.”

Outside, the air was tense.  Everyone was on edge, anxious for what would transpire in mere seconds.  A swat member holding a battering ram reared back and breached the door wide open. 

Just then, a loud, fiery explosion rocked the apartment building, shattering windows and killing all of the swat officers inside.  Glass flew in every direction, hitting everyone in proximity of the blast.  Screams from the street echoed in the cold night air as chaos reared its ugly head.  Hazen had booby-trapped his apartment.  He was expecting them to find out his identity when that cat clawed him.  Others would have taken the cat anyway.  Deep down thought, he wanted the public to know just who he was.  He wanted all those bullies over the course of his life to shudder with fear when they saw his picture and heard his name on the news.

12. Sympathy for the Devil

All of you know me.  And I know all of you.  I’m that kid that was bullied by the stronger kids in school.  Last picked for team sports, never had the nerve to ask a girl out then.  What girlfriends (and Wife) I did have as an adult were all lying, cheating whores.  I was always the underdog.  However, God decided to bestow upon me the gift of intellect, not confidence.  This was something I would need to learn on my own.  As of late, I have.

Who really misses the elderly anyway?  They are a burden to society.  They serve no purpose except to remind us of our own mortality.  The lesson here is to enjoy your life while you’re still young, before you end up a sad, old, wrinkled-up, lonely mess who everybody wants to ignore.  If you don’t die young, this will be your fate.  Who really wants to live forever anyway?

Too many of my kind have been humiliated, broken and driven to suicide throughout history.  All because we didn’t have athletic ability, charm, good looks, or were just different.  And what has society always done to those who are different?  They ridicule them, they berate them, they chastise them, and banish them.  Our lives are a living hell in comparison to the rest of the “normal” people. 

I believe there is something extraordinary about us.  If we could just tap into that hidden part of ourselves, we could overcome all the stereotypes, the bulling, the making to feel like something less than human.

I can tell those 3 detectives have never had to experience this.  The big, intense one, Detective Chris Priest is part of the problem.  It’s obvious he was a bully, a master of humiliating people like me.  I now have him at my mercy.  I’ve killed his neighbor.  I’ve killed his partner, another douchebag.  His head will make a nice gift to his wife.  I’ll mail it in the morning.  Just as I’ll mail Detective Priest the head of somebody else close to him.

If I do not complete my opus, my message will still live on.  “Don’t bully those who are different than you.  We have had enough!  We should all get along live together in harmony and love.”  So you see, I’m not doing this because I’m evil.  I’m doing this in the spirit of love and peace.  Surely, you can relate.

Upon being treated at the scene for minor cuts, Chief Mills and Chris left to the old Buttercrust bakery to drop Chris off.  The Coroner already transported Michael’s body to the morgue and the rest of the investigators were getting ready to leave.  They had all gotten wind of the explosion minutes earlier and would make their way to the scene for assistance upon leaving.  Chris would not.

“Now, are you sure you’re OK to drive?” Mills asked Chris from his car.  Chris was now barely standing in front of his window, weak, dehydrated, exhausted mentally and physically from the day.  And you thought your day was bad.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Chris managed to say.

“Chris, go home and sleep.  You’ve had a long day, son.  I’ll come by in the morning on my way to the station,” Mills reassured him. 

“OK.  Goodnight, Sir,” Chris said as he tapped the top of Mill’s car, sending him off.

As exhausted as he was, Chris would not go home and rest. He wasn’t sure where to start his search for Hazen.  He could be anywhere.  He made a promise to himself and to Abby and Connor that hunting down and killing Fredrick Hazen would be his final act on this earth.  Then, he would join them in the hereafter.  First, he would call Chloe one last time, just to say goodbye.

Chloe:  Hello, Chris?!?

Chris:  Hey! How are you?

Chloe:  Shit, Chris!  I’ve been just out of my mind!.... (sobs) I can’t believe Michael's gone.  I’ve been so worried about you.

Chris:  Yeah, don’t worry about me dear… I’m tough.  Are they treating you well where you’re at?

Chloe:  Yeah, they cool.  This sucks, though, not being there in the middle of the action.  Hey, where are you right now?

Chris:  Sitting in my car, getting ready to go home.  Gonna get drunk and get some sleep. (Chloe laughs and sniffles in the background) Listen, I want you to do me a huge favor.  Write a story about me.  So I can live on forever, in a Scarypasta (laughs)

Chloe:  Yeah, what would you like me to call it?

Chris:  I’m sure you’ll think something really cool.  Promise me you’ll do it.

Chloe:  Okay, I promise!  Chris…

Chris:  Yeah?

Chloe:  ….Nothing…. just get some rest.

Chris: I will.  You too.  Goodnight Chloe Marx.

Chloe:  Uh, OK. Goodnight, Chris Priest.

Chris placed his phone on the passenger seat and started up Miss Sunshine.  He realized he would need a real gun.  He pulled the gearshift into overdrive and raced home to retrieve his own guns, two agency issued .40 caliber semi-automatic glocks he referred to as Thing 1 and Thing 2.

As he drove past all the old downtown buildings, he imagined his family waiting for him… Graceful, eager to finally be reunited with him.

“Almost there guys, just one last thing to do, then I’m coming home,” he said as Miss Sunshine’s engine roared.  He was really burning the midnight oil tonight.  He was 0 for 12 with the fallen swat officers now part of the body count.  On a night like tonight, what else is there to do?  He would grab his guns, then search at Chloe’s place, Michael’s place, his place and Hazen’s place.  He would wait for Hazen to rear his head.  Today was the day Chris would send him to Hell in a hand basket.  He was also looking forward to the afterlife with them.  What little spark was left, was just enough to carry out this one last act of good.

Click, click… “Hello Detective.  Good to finally meet you,” Hazen said with a smile as he pressed Chris’s .45 to the back of Chris’s head.

“Motherfucker” Chris said in a calm but angry tone. “I ought to reach back there and take that gun and shove it up your ass you piece of shit!!!”

Hazen smiled and said, “Try it.  Are you quick enough?  Do you think you can pull your hands off the wheel, reach back behind your head and grab the .45, redirect it and manage to pull it free from my hands all before I squeeze the trigger?  If so, then you must have been dropped on your head as a baby.

Chris now angrily looked into the rearview saying, “Fuck you!!  You know you killed 7 swat officers back there?  You’re a goddamn coward!  Yeah, sneaking into people’s cars, waiting for them to get in and drive.  I know that’s how you got Michael.  You pussy!!”

Hazen was now getting agitated at Chris’s words. “Coward? Pussy?  Bitch, I’m a fucking hero!!”

“Yeah, keep telling yourself that you pathetic little boy,” Chris shouted. “Oh what? Am I raising up your Irish there, Freddy?  You getting a little miffed, you little bitch?!”

Hazen was now pulled in by Chris’s taunting, angry, no longer in control. “Listen, we’ll see how tough you are when I gut your little friend Chloe Marx and Mikey’s Wife and kids!!  Was it Carol, Eva and Mickey?”

“Not today, you Mother fucker” Chris said with intent as he accelerated at a high rate of speed.  His speed grew faster and faster as he reached an alley way.  Hazen grew nervous as Chris turned down the alley, accelerating. “Stop the car or I’ll shoot!” he yelled.

Miss Sunshine was now going 60 miles an hour and moving closer and closer to the brick wall at the end of the alley.

Chris was now smiling and focused straight ahead. “Shoot, you’re dead either way!  I have on my seat belt, bitch!”

Hazen was now screaming and covering his eyes. “No!!!!!  Please!!!!!”

Chris was now smiling and laughing. “This is for Michael!”


The impact sent Fredrick Hazen through Miss Sunshine’s windshield and head first into the brick wall.  His head popped like a balloon.  Most of his bones were also broken in the impact.  He would just be a lump of flesh lying on the hood of a badass muscle car down an alleyway.  Chris on the other hand was wearing his seatbelt.  Though he was still breathing, he had internal bleeding, broken bones in his arms and legs, not to mention a broken collar bone and several ribs.  As he sat there clinging to life, he remembered the promise he made to Abby and Connor.  He smiled and asked himself in the famous words of the Clash,

“Should I stay, or should I rock the Kasbah?"

Fade to fucking black.

Written by Blacknumber1
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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