Downfall VIII: Anonymous (#Fiction Friday)

This is part 8 of the Downfall Series.  To read the rest of the instalments, please click HERE.  To read from the first episode, please click HERE.

Thank you for reading, and your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Stepping into the captain’s office my headache is nearly tripled in force as the onslaught of incense and oils the man has gathered wash over me like a tidal wave.  He is trying new relaxation techniques and has even gotten into Feng Shui.  I guess being the compact man that he is, an Asian wife made sense, but his dedication to going the whole nine is a bit much.  He has wall scrolls, banzai trees, and those guardian lions.  The problem for me is he has no idea that nearly every piece of his collection comes from a different Asian country.  The least he could do is pick one and stick to it instead of creating a salad bar of Far East culture. 

That, and it really does smell like shit.

“Good morning, captain,” I say, stepping across the office and taking a seat next to the coroner.  Continue reading

Downfall VII: Holier Than Thou (#Fiction Friday)


A Lake Without Water

“How does one quantify a life?”

A crowd of black clad mourners stands in the pouring rain, taking in the words of the soaking priest with blank expressions.  The rheumy eyed man drones on, the lower half of his cassock clinging to his body and water hammering his umbrella, drowning out his words.  That the woman had been murdered in the rain and was now about to be buried in the same circumstances escaped no one present, least of all the man delivering her eulogy.

God works in mysterious ways.   

“In second Corinthians four, verses seventeen and eighteen, the scripture tells us not to focus on the struggles of the flesh, “for light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

“And so we entrust our sister’s body to the earth, not in sadness, but in joy.  For we here gathered understand and believe wholeheartedly that the world to which she will now be commended, the unseen world for which all true believers are bound, is eternal.  It is a place of peace and rest.  A place where she may lay her many labours aside and rejoice in the glory of the Lord!” 

Scanning the crowd, the father’s face begins to constrict.  He is met with indifference and boredom.  They no more believe in the salvation of God than magic or fairy tales, these servants of gold and earthly riches.  They stand before this grave a mockery, spitting in the face of the Almighty.

Their fallen companion was no better.  She had been baptised in his church many years ago but had not attended in nearly 10 years.  The moment the choice had become hers she ceased to turn up.  Only on holidays where the rest of the family came together did she deem God worthy of her time.  She had chosen the rewards of the flesh and now she would lie with the maggots.  Opening his pale hands to them and narrowing his eyes he continues, struggling to contain the true words he wished to unleash upon these charlatans.

Lukewarm.  You are all lukewarm and will be spewed from the mouth of the Saviour.  Spewed like the self-serving sycophants you are.  Filth. 

“As for ourselves, we must take comfort in first Thessalonians four, verses seventeen and eighteen, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 

The hymn was sung after and the burial ceremony began.  The priest stood with his bony hands clasped before him, starting at the gathered crowd from his pale, hallowed face, and wondering if they had caught the subtle message he sent in his last words.  He highly doubted it.  Sinners that they were they could not raise themselves up from the filth long enough to understand the true magnificence of God.  This lot was the very reason he had had to struggle so mightily to build his church.  The congregation had money enough to go around, and yet the tithes had always come back short of expectation.  Why?  Because tangible sin is so much more enjoyable than the intangible promise of salvation. 

A slow smile spread from his lips and his gray eyes narrowed. 

Great shall be my reward.  I cannot say the same for the likes of you. 

The crowd began to disburse and the priest stood long, allowing the taint of vanity and selfishness to wash away before he could perform his final duty.  He would need one final conversation with the woman before he could be satisfied that the work of his station had been fulfilled.  When the last of the attendees were out of sight he began.

“Alone now, I shall take your final confession,” he began in a voice laced with hate.  “As you are unable to give it of your own accord I shall have to make assumptions as to what you may have said. 

“Forgive me father, for I have abandoned the Lord and made my own self master.  Pride and greed are my sins and I have revelled in them like a pig in shit.  I have spat on your name and sought my own rewards here on earth, caring nothing for the heavenly riches I should have striven for whole heartedly.  I shared the temple you created of my flesh with any man willing to worship it and I disregarded almost every commandment you laid forth, casting off the burden of righteous living and choosing instead the path of least resistance and greatest worldly pleasure.” 

The priest took a deep breath and his lip began to twitch into a snarl.  The next part he could not twist or allow to be tainted.  It would make him as guilty as she and he would not allow her sins to drag him into hell.  He would see the face of God, even if this selfish whore would not.

“You are forgiven, child.  Now go with God.” 

The priest’s tongue felt heavy and he licked at the roof of his mouth as if the words he had spoken were distasteful to him.  Staring down at the woman’s grave he found himself filled with rage and hate.  It was people like her who had forced him to do the things he had done.  Her sins had brought him down.  If she had given as she should have, none of it would have happened. 

Lost in thought, the priest never heard the man approaching from the rear.  He registered a sudden swift whooshing sound and then the world exploded in a firework of pain and colour.  He fell to his knees in the sloppy mud, felt the back of his skull cracking open like an egg shell, and his brain began misfiring hundreds of millions of last second messages.  He needed to know that he was in pain, that his head had been caved in from behind, and that several pieces of skull bone had pierced his brain.  He needed to know he was dying there in the mud. 

Only God knows if he understood. 

A man clad in all black stepped around the priest, a piece of carbon steel piping in his gloved hand.  He carried a black umbrella in the other hand and he stared down at the dying priest in disgust.

“Sanctimonious falsifier.  You cast your eyes down upon others, but it will be you who stands first in line for the great lake.” 

The priest’s mouth hung slack and his eyes glassed over.  Drool began to run down his chin and onto the soaking ground as the man with the umbrella leaned in closer. 

“You are not forgiven, wolf.  Now go to hell.” 

The priest breathed his last breath, collapsing face first into the mud and the muck.  The man with the umbrella tossed the steel pipe down on top of the fallen priest before disappearing into the gathering storm, whistling the tune to A Lake Without Water as he went.

To the loyal readers of this series, welcome back and sorry for the delay.  Life, as they say, got in the way.  I also had a mighty struggle over who my black clad friend would kill next.  It took me a while to be satisfied with the target and now I am.  Thoroughly.

Update on scheduling:

Downfall is one of two series I am developing on this site and a new episode will be released every other Friday on what will now be entitled, “Fiction Friday.”  Posts on Fridays will alternate between Downfall and Othersiders from now on.

Next Friday (February 12th) will be the next episode of Othersiders.  The next instalment of Downfall, in which our faithful friend the detective finally finds a large clue that will help to unravel the true motive of our umbrella buddy, will be released on the 19th of February.  

Thank you so much for reading and, as always, I appreciate your feedback and support! 

Downfall VI: Insomniac


Image courtesy of:

What is it about dead whores that always reminds me of circus clowns? 

Is it the way their faces, ravaged by drugs and mascara, always seem somehow comical in their extremity?  Or is it just that the profession is so similar that my mind is putting the two together on it’s own?  After all, what is whoring other than parading around in a painted mask hoping for cash and a few smiles? 

This woman died happy though, which is more than the killer did for the last two.  Maybe she made him smile too.

Probably not, but she’s dead.  Let her dream. 

“If you want dead crack whores, I know at least ten more sitting in the morgue we can go poke.  Seriously, why the fuck are we out here?” 

“For a man who desires to do my job you should focus a bit more on your own before you open your mouth,” I tell the coroner.

“What the fuck does that mean?”  He hurls his cigarette against the wall, balls his huge hands into fists, and looms over me. 

Oh my stars and garters, I have angered him.

“It means, my dear doctor, that this woman was not a crack user.  Crack cocaine is smoked.  This woman was a needle user and, unless I am mistaken, more prone to the heroin crowd.” 

The coroner is shaking his head.  What difference does it make, right?  One drug or the other still makes for a dead whore and he doesn’t give the first goddamn.

I do.  The devil is in the details. 

“The point, detective, is why do we give a shit about this piece of human trash.” 

I have to bite my tongue.  I shouldn’t answer this question, it isn’t worth it.  So of course I will.   

“Because, you monument to hubris, none of the other women in your morgue were killed by our umbrella toting friend.” 

Three witnesses reported seeing a man in a dark suit approach the woman and pass her something.  She took it, injected it, and passed out.  She hadn’t moved since.  The woman was about to be passed over when I heard about it because who cares?  She was a prostitute, a drug addict, and generally seen in the same light as the coroner was now viewing her.  It also didn’t help that the testimonies of other drug addicts and street people were taken with less than a grain of salt. 

“If he did kill this bitch then good on him.  He did us all a favour.  Maybe we should start calling him the garbage man because he’s getting rid of our trash for us.” 

When dealing with bigots one must draw a line.  The more I address this neanderthal the more he will vomit his stupidity on me, and I like this suit. 

Why did he kill this woman?  What was special about her?  How did she stand out?  There could have been anywhere from five to ten just like her standing within a stones thrown when he killed her.  Why this one? 

Damn this guy.  He has to be saying something, so what is it?  Why be so cryptic.  If you have a message, out with it already you asshole. 

“Detective, can I speak with you a moment?” 

My headache has taken on a new aspect.  That spot right behind my left eye begins to throb and I feel my eye twitch.  Would that I could have gotten through this whole day without having to deal with the captain I might have lasted long enough to down something heavy and brownish to kill it, but alas my luck is not so hot these days.  Here we go again. 

“Yes, captain, what is it?”

“What are we looking into this woman for?  I don’t see the need for this many hands just to clean up a street walker.” 

At least he is addressing her with more political correctness.  Being the police chief means being schooled in the university of pretty mouth, and his is top notch.  I am sure this woman would have appreciated the hell out of him.

I stand up, fingers rubbing my temples, eyes shut tight and I can feel it growing.  This killer is getting in my head and it hurts like nothing I have ever felt.

“Another late night, detective?  Are you even sober enough to be out here?”

I have to laugh at this.  The assumption that I am an alcoholic is cliche to the point of being moronic.

“I have a headache.  That has nothing to do with drinking, it has to do with not sleeping.”

“The job is getting to you.  Maybe you need a vacation.”

I laugh again.  This is turning into a veritable tennis match of stereotypes.

“I don’t sleep because I am an insomniac.  I am not an insomniac because I do this job, I do this job because I am an insomniac.”

His one brow raises and he leans his head to the side, putting his hands on his hips.

“My mamma always told me, ‘son, know what you’re good at and use it.’  Only thing I’m good at is living without sleep and being able to look any horrible thing in the eye knowing it couldn’t possibly lead to nightmares.  You have to sleep to have nightmares.”

I pause and he sighs, shaking his head as he does so. 

“So here I am, not giving a shit if my life makes sense to you.” 

“This is a dead end,” he cuts in.  “The woman doesn’t fit the M.O.”

“For once, we agree.  She didn’t stand out like the others.  That does’t mean he didn’t kill her, it means the M.O. wasn’t correct.” 

He’s giving me the jaw. 

“Look, serial killers can usually be broken into two main types: the ones with a manic obsession who kill a specific type of victim in order to fill a need, and the ones who kill to send a message.  This man is the second type.  He’s sending us a message and we have to figure out what that is.”

“You said the message was about standing out and that appears to be wrong.  So what is the message now?”

I honestly don’t know the answer to that anymore.  That is why my head wants to explode.  It is so full of all the different things these murders could possibly be saying and I can’t sort them out or shut them up. 

“What I know is this: he planned this.  The others weren’t planned, or did not bear the appearance of being planned, but this woman’s death was.  Or perhaps it was simply a plan to kill the first drug addict he came upon, but he knew her drug of choice and brought it along with him.  He knew he was going to kill a drug user and he was prepared.  That means he could have known he was going to kill the others as well and is a master of making it look unplanned.”

The captain is looking as if he just opened his organic frozen yogurt to find that some plebeian has replaced it with pedestrian ice cream.

  “This is both bad and good.  It is bad because we were initially on the wrong track, but it’s good because that means these three victims have a stalker and possibly a connection we missed.  He’s given us another piece of the puzzle and we have to see how these three fit together.” 

“So a street walker, a day trader, and a high end fashion designer are all connected?” 

“It’s a mad world, captain.”

I turn from him and start walking toward the other end of the street, the sun assaulting my face.  The part I left out was that it had been a month since this woman had been killed, according to the coroner, and the killer hadn’t made a move since.  We found her on a nice sunny day because her death hadn’t lead us to her when the rain had been falling.  It’s rained a few times between then and now.  Either the killer has more presents out there waiting for us to find or he was waiting for us to find this one before moving on. 

My mind is telling me its the latter.  He’s watching.  He wants us to appreciate his work and understand.  He can’t move on until we find his little present, like a cat who shits in the living room. 

Well, we found it.  Now I have to check the weather report and see how long I have until he drops another pile for me to appreciate.

Downfall V: Super Heroin

Have to stay awake. 

Eyelids heavy like lead and my bones hurt.  Are they shrinking or growing?  I can’t tell but I’m going to keep scratching until I get them out.  Who the hell needs bones anyway?  Visions of super heroine-ism flash through my tired mind and I love it.  I’m smiling.  I think I’m smiling.  I think I shit myself as well.  That can be the only explanation for that smell.  I did it or the man next to me did it.  My bowels feel heavy and my mouth feels like a salt lick.  If I’m not the one who shit themselves than I am certainly the one responsible for the vomit on the sidewalk.  One way or another, something that was in me came back out and it smells like hell.    

God damn this itch. 

The rain is pissing down.  It’s been raining like this on and off for weeks now.  They say it’s good.  The earth needs water.  When you live in God’s ass crack you don’t care what the scenery is like as long as he wipes every now and then.  He doesn’t.  God is a hands off type.  Real hippy, that rat bastard. 

I’m sorry Lord.

There’s a man looking at me.  He’s thinking about it.  He wants it and I’ll give it to him.  I’m a swallower, sir, step right this way.  Or is it the vomit he’s looking at.  I feel sick.  I need to throw up.  Didn’t I do that already?  No, no, no.  That wasn’t me.  That was Bobby Brown Bag on my right.  He did that.  Vomiting is for supermodels and that is definitely not me.  I am not a runway broad.  I am the back alley bitch all the way.  And, yes, I do that too. 

Need to get up and move.

How can I be this hot?  It’s raining.  I shouldn’t be sweating.  This ain’t Florida.  Dammit all.  Damn this ran and damn this city.  Damn this life.  Right, that part we already had covered.  Shit.  I think I did it again. 

Please, I am begging.

The man’s back.  He’s coming closer.  I need to wipe my mouth, present a pleasant shopping experience for the customer.  He’s crouching down in front of me.  Jesus, the man is black.  His whole essence is black.  Shiny black shoes, black suit pants worth more than my life, black suit jacket, black shirt, black tie, black bowler hat, black gloves, black umbrella.  Wait.  Umbrella.  Something about that is ringing a bell.  I can’t remember.  I’m looking at his face though.  God, he’s beautiful.

Black eyes like death. 

He’s holding something out.  What the hell is that?  I can’t see with all this rain.  I have to sit up.  Oh, God.  Please.  Please tell me it’s what I think it is.  Please tell me this isn’t a dream.  I haven’t even had to prove my skills at the flute yet and he’s giving it to me.  He knows.  I’ve been so low for so long and he’s giving me  the elevator.  The key to the skyrocket.  The booster pack.  The Icarus Wings.  Oh, I’m gonna fly.  I can already feel the warm, happy centre of everything good. 

“For me?” 

I sound like a two dollar tramp.  I don’t even cost a quarter.  Where did I get such a fancy tongue?  He’s nodding so it must be for me.  I’ve never tied off faster.  The booster hits and we have ignition.  Ground control, kick the tires and light the fires, mama is coming home.  I can feel it coming, the heat.  The blanket of love and joy that I’ve been craving for days.  Sitting here in my own piss and shit I dream of all the places I will go when the love finally embraces me again.  I am going to be a super heroine.  Heroine.  I like that word.  I don’t need the ‘e’ though.  You can keep that.  No charge, baby, no charge.  Here we go.

Her heart slowed.  Her heart stopped. 

The man with the black umbrella picked up the syringe and placed it slowly into his pocket.  He leaned closer to the dead woman and whispered in her ear. 

“If you beckon death by spitting in the face of life it is only a matter of time before it finds you.  Wander, o soul, in the pit of damnation and writhe in suffering for a life wasted.  To hell with you.” 

The man with the black umbrella stood and walked away.  Not a single soul noticed the woman had died. She remained there, unmolested, for a month. 

Downfall IV: The Seeker

Another dark day, another rainstorm, and another murder.  If this guy doesn’t learn to appreciate warm, sunny weather soon I am going to be spending a lot of time wringing out my socks.  Visions of wet dog syndrome dance in my head.

The last victim was an abstraction that I was forced to construct with only half of the materials present.  That meant shading in whole sections blind and gods know if I was even close.  The physical evidence was absolute zero.  The weapon used was unidentifiable as it failed to register in the database.  It was a stabbing weapon with several unique characteristics but we would need him to keep using it to get a better idea of what it is.  Unfortunately he has decided he likes pushing people as well so no luck on comparing the weapon with the next victim.

“Detective!”  The voice booms out over the sound of the pounding rain and what little focus I had on the current stream of thought is scattered to the wind.  I turn to find the chief of police, one Gregory MacGregor, storming in my direction.  Chief MacGregor is five feet three inches tall, thin and wiry like an acrobat with the attitude of a short man who has been treated like someone’s pet for most of his life.  Being put into a position of power almost naturally made him run wild from the power.

“I hear you are claiming this murder had something to do with the stabbing that occurred several weeks back.”

“I did and it does.”

He is waiting for me to elaborate but I don’t have the time to indulge him right now.   I need to see what this killer saw.  I need to understand why he pushed this man into the street.  The woman he killed because she stood out.  How did this man stand out?  Why risk killing this man in the midst of a crowd?

“The M.O. is completely different, the sex of the victim is different, the location and time of day is different.  What could possibly lead you to believe that these two murders have anything to do with each other?”

He’s looking at me.  Damn.  He was just asking me something and I didn’t hear a word of it.  For the life of me I can’t understand why people promote someone to a position and then insist on constantly questioning their ability to do said job.  The whole idea of a supervisor is completely superfluous the vast majority of the time.  The only thing they accomplish is slowing down the supervised with their idiotic questions.

“I am waiting for an answer.”

“That’s interesting.”

“What is?” he barks.

“That you are waiting for an answer.  I am waiting for silence so I can concentrate.  Looks like we are both going to have to grapple with our personal disappointments.”

He is giving me his jaw flex.  This is his power move.  Lacking muscle in his actual frame the only muscle he can flex that a person would visually notice any change in rests in his jaw.  So he is giving me his best chest thump.  I guess I have to stop what I am doing and play with him before he threatens to take his ball and go home.

“I wonder if you have taken a moment to speak with the eyewitnesses.”

“I have not.”

“I gather as much as that may have answered your question and saved me the trouble.  How about you do that now and then we’ll both be satisfied.”

“Why should I ask them when I have my very own source of answers right here in front of me and this person is paid to answer every single question I might have, however inconvenient.”

I love a short man who likes to swing dick.  It gets me all hot in the nether regions.  At least it would if men got me hot in the nether regions.  I guess that means it’s just another pointless exercise in the long list of mundane things I have to deal with to remain employed.

“Over thirty eyewitnesses and they all tell a similar story.  The victim was in a hurry and pushed his way to the front of the crowd.  He was waiting for the light like anyone else when a man dressed in black with a black umbrella either bumped, nudged, shoved or collided with him depending on the animation of the story.  In the chaos everyone lost track of the man in black and it wasn’t until several moments later that anyone even gave the man a second thought.  By that time he was long gone.  Disappeared into the rain just like the last time.”

Captain MacGregor is thinking.  He scratches his baby soft chin and furrows his brow.  These are the telltale signs of the captain in deep thought.

“Similar attire doesn’t mean it’s the same killer.  The method is still different as is the victim.  What do these victims have in common?  Not to mention the first victim was killed in relative isolation.  This man was killed in broad daylight.”

Oh the absolute absurdity.

“I assume by, ‘broad daylight,’ you are meaning to say that he killed this second victim right in front of a mass of witnesses.  As to that it still amounted to the same.  Not a single witness could tell us more than the last set could.  A tall, dark male character in a dark suit.  The suit could be black, or dark blue, or brown.  He was wearing some kind of hat.  He is also carrying a dark umbrella.  How many businessmen in this city fit that description?  We would need to arrest half the city to start our interrogations.  Would you like to apply for the court order or shall I?”

The captain is not amused.  He opens his mouth to begin berating my stupidity again when one of the patrolmen approaches with a woman in an ostentatious scarf and makeup tracked all over her face.

“Detective, I am sorry to interrupt but I think you might want to hear what this woman has to say.”

I look at her and immediately think psychic.  This looks like more of a waste of my time than the captain.  At least it will be a change of pace from the annoying conversation I have been trapped in for the last several minutes.

“Yes, Miss.  Do you have information relevant to our investigation?”

The fortune teller eyes me like she sees something she likes.  I am wondering if I have sucker written on my forehead.

“I don’t know if it’s relevant or not but I was serving that man coffee right before he died.”

“Oh?”  I say.  So fucking what I think.

“He was a serious asshole.”

“Most men in suits are.  What makes this man an exceptional asshole?”

The girl is caught off guard by my lack of tact.  She is not the first nor will she be the last.

“I don’t know how to quantify his asshole-ness for you but when he was kicked out of the coffee shop the whole crowd gave him a standing ovation.”

I stand corrected.  This oddly dressed wreck of a girl just gave me the very thing I was looking for.  I underestimated her because of her eccentric style.  I let the captain get in my head and it almost cost me.  I need to drink less and meditate more.

“Was he the reason your makeup ran?”

She clenches her jaw and I think that her and the captain should go out for coffee after this and share workout routines for their angry face.


That’s all I am going to get for asking the insensitive question she just wanted me to intuit without verbalising.

“That’s the connection.”  The captain looks confused and the girl looks indifferent.  “This killer kills people who stand out.  He killed the first woman because she was beautiful.  She stood out for her beauty.  He killed this man because he was a jerk.  He stood out for being an asshole.”

I give them a moment to digest this before going on.  “The rain also connects them.  This guy knows that the rain makes gathering evidence twice as complicated.  He is using it to make finding him that much more difficult.  That and he isn’t planning these things.  He has no connection to his victims for more than the two or three minutes before the impulse to kill them strikes him.  That means we are dealing with a killer that is prepared at any moment to murder and he is smart enough to get away with it in such an impulsive way.”

A long silence draws out and I know that this monster is going to haunt me for months.  Perhaps years.  Most likely the rest of my life.  Or maybe I’ll get lucky and stand out for the wrong reason on a rainy day and this will become someone else’s problem.

“So we have a killer that is killing with efficiency in a pattern that we can understand but in no way predict?  You want me to go to the chief of police with this?  To the mayor?  What are we going to tell the citizens when the panic ensues?”

“Welcome to the big city.  Population… something minus one.”

He glares at me.  He wants a better answer.

“I would tell them they have nothing to worry about.  The only people this killer is after are the ones that stand out.  For the first time in history it will pay to be totally and completely ordinary.  Be kind, but not too kind.  Be pretty, but not stunning.  Don’t be too fat, or too skinny.  Don’t walk too fast or too slow.  Do everything just enough and you’ll be just fine.”

I smile thinking of how impossible it will be for the vast majority of humanity to stay out of this killer’s way.

“Tell them all to just be mediocre and we’ll never find another dead body.”

The captain is still glaring at me.

“Or just tell everyone they have to buy bright colored umbrellas.”

The captain’s face takes on an introspective look and I am in sudden, desperate need of a drink.

Downfall III: Pusher

“No, goddamit, this isn’t correct.”

Belligerence before 7 o’clock in the morning should be a crime.  The money lender in the overpriced power suit does not share this sentiment however and the pay-by-the-hour aspiring painter/actress/writer is brought to tears for misunderstanding what money buys one beyond the material, it affords one the right to belittle and berate all those of a station deemed only as, ‘below.’   She shall now pay for her crimes in tears.

“I am so sorry sir.  I prepared the order as it was given to me.”

Honest though this answer may be it will not avail her.

“So you’re telling me that the incompetent one is that bitch over there?  The one that took the order?  She fucked it up first and now you are just the bearer of bad news?  Is that the story?”

He is shouting with such vehemence that the veins in his temple throb like a woofer.  The song might have been, “Another one bites the dust.”

“I don’t care which one of you cunts was the originator of this mess I just want to know what you are going to do to make it right?”

The girl is timid.  She has learned by now that speaking will only incite him to further anger.  She has tried unsuccessfully now three times to derail him with kindness and honesty only to fuel the fire.  At a loss for what avenue to pursue next her hesitance only brings about the next volley before she can make a choice.

“It’s beyond me how such a simple fucking job could be so easy to fuck up.  I mean, for chrissake, this is fucking coffee.  Is it really that hard to understand?”

The girl stares back, still searching.  Her limp blonde hair hangs from her like her now beaten spirit.  Her whimsical attire has lost its flair and the playful makeup running down her face has transformed her into a kind of drunken circus clown, one who has been wandering the streets giving out hand jobs after the last show went south.

“It isn’t that, I just…”

The stammering definitely does not help.

“Do you know what this costs me, you ignorant bitch?”

She opened her mouth to speak but he was not actually looking for her to answer.

“It costs me time.  Do you know what my time is worth?  Ten minutes in my life could mean the difference between hundreds and hundreds of thousands.  I could have bought a small fucking country in the time it took you to stick your head up your ass and fuck up a drink order.  I could have purchased your entire backwater family and sold them into prostitution in Thailand and then bought fucking Thailand with the profit by now.  But no.  I have to stand here and get a stupid look from a cunt wearing a hippie bandana with yin yang tattoos who doesn’t realise that the worst thing about the drug addled sixties was that every last one of those hippie fuckers were dirt fucking poor.

“Oh yeah,” he gesticulates like the enormous raging hard on that he is, “free love and drugs.  That’s the ticket.  Then maybe you’ll write a screenplay and tell everyone about your feelings and it will sell a million copies and you can buy fucking flowers with it you dopey bitch.  Sounds like a real winner.”

The girl is crying uncontrollably now.  The tears that fall are not from the pain of being exposed but of being so woefully misunderstood.  They were the tears of bearing labels that were not hers to bear.  The scarf was her mothers and the tattoo was not a ying yang.  It was a picture of two intertwined women that represented the love of her life.  What did that matter to this man though?

“I’ve got some advice for you,”  he whispers.  “You want to sell that screenplay?  Write that book?  Be in the big film?  The place to start is right here.”  The man places his hand on his crotch.  “Sucking my dick would finally give you a story to tell that someone might want to listen to it, mind you up the word count on the details of my cock and tone down the bits about your second hand ass.”

“Sir,” in steps the manager.  It took him this long because his spine was left somewhere in the stock room and he needed his balls to find it and those were also MIA.  “We are going to have to ask you to leave this establishment.  You are not welcome here anymore.”

Tough words.  If only he had managed to say them whist standing in front of the girl, rather than behind her.  A full five feet behind her.

The man in the suit laughs.  Expulsion at this point is the perfect finale to his tirade.  It could not have fit his agenda more perfectly.

“You want me to leave?  Fine.  I’ll leave.  You just wait till I get back to my office and light this shit hole up on social media.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Tumblr.  Instagram.  Your ass is about to be mud.  You have no idea who you are fucking with.”

The girl mumbles something under her breath.  She is attacking back but the fear gets the better of her.  She cannot fling her arrows as straight and true as this man.  She simply lacks the hate that he is capable of.

“What was that you dike bitch?”

That last one does it.  Attacking her mother pushed her further than she had ever been pushed.  Mocking the tattoo brought her to the line.  The last insult finished it for her.

“I said I am surprised that someone who claims that their time is so valuable would waste it playing around on sites like those.  Aren’t you afraid someone will buy up Thailand while you are updating your statuses?”

The entire coffee house erupts in applause and the man claps along.  His hubris is bulletproof. He strides out through a rain of jeering patrons into a torrential downpour.  He grabs an umbrella from the rack near the door, not one belonging to him but that is irrelevant, and strides out into the city streets.  He is thinking of nothing but what the rest of the day will hold for him.  The applause got him going and the fight in that girl’s eyes when she finally got the nerve up to say something.  He liked that.  It got him hard.  He would have to find out where that little hippie lives and pay her a visit.

He steps up to a crowded intersection and the light is red.  He pushes his way to the front and glares at the light.

Damn lights in this city are never ending. 

He looks down the street and sees a delivery truck speeding toward the intersection. Just then he feels someone nudge into him.  The last thing he remembers in life is a soft voice whispering into his ear.

“Rudeness is an intolerable defect.”

As the throng of people scream, panic ensues.  Several people would recall later to the police seeing a man in black with a dark umbrella turning from the scene just as the man fell before the speeding truck.

Not a soul could remember a thing about his face.  The only thing they seemed to recall was the umbrella.

Downfall II: Gumshoe

Rain.  I hate the goddamn rain.

The dead woman I don’t mind so much.

Murder with so little flair is passé.  If it weren’t for how beautiful this woman had been no one would have given a second thought to her being stabbed in the street.  But with the obvious expense she had gone to to do herself up it warranted all the big guns.  Sirens, cameras, tape and media.  Let the circus begin.

Does that make me the ringleader or the clown?  Perhaps I can be that lout with the whip trying to tame the lion.  Or maybe I am the lion.  With the way my head feels now it would make sense.

“Christ man, what a waste.  Why kill this girl?”

The forensics team has arrived and they feel the need to add irrelevant blather to my list of problems.

“For all the same reasons that any human kills another human.”

Cue the dumfounded look of a scientist who only understands test tubes, slides and DNA.  These people understand humans on a molecular level, all the little bits and pieces that actually make them substantial in a physical way.  They understand the crude matter.  Forensics people spend their lives studying humans, not human nature.  Motive is something they will never get.

Turning to the collector of all those little pieces that amount to the truth of humanity in a court of law I can’t help but feel exhausted.  It is my job to understand the reason and their job to understand the method but like all humans these too desire to be the thing they are not.

“Money, love, rage, jealousy, fear, loneliness, impotence, hate, lust…”  I look into the blank face and know that the truth is not getting through. “None of these are the reason this woman is dead though.”

I walk away knowing this case will come to nothing.  This woman is dead and I will never find the killer.

“So what is the reason?”

He just had to ask.

Feeling the rain hot on my face I know the answer to that question without a second’s hesitation.  It has been staring me in the face from the first moment I laid eyes on the body.  This wasn’t a crime of passion.  This wasn’t even planned.  This was a crime of circumstance.  It was totally spontaneous.  She was killed for standing out at exactly the wrong moment in exactly the wrong place.

“He killed her because she was remarkable and because he could.”



Downfall I: The Umbrella Man

A tall, lean woman stepped from the train gazelle like with her blonde hair trailing behind her.  Heads turned like falling dominoes as they watched her move fluidly amongst the crowd, a soft skinned spectre smelling faintly of vanilla.  She had a date and she was late.  The woman was obsessive about punctuality and abhorred the state in which she now found herself.  How had this happened? 

The crowd came to a bottleneck, forcing her to slow, and she pushed a stray hair behind an ear and brought her long, slender arm up to look at her watch.


There was nothing to do but accept that she would arrive less than ten minutes early.  This was unacceptable.  Her attire was immaculate, purchased at all the most well known designer stores and her body she kept with equal care.  Her skin was moisturised, her hair meticulously washed and conditioned.  Even her scent was perfectly researched so as to perfectly accent her natural aroma.  She spent an hour a day doing vigorous exercise and ate only all natural foods.  Her body was a temple and it was cared for and accessorised as such. 

The crowd began to pour from the building and she was released into the night only to be approached with a new horror.  It was raining and she had no umbrella.  This was the second thing this evening she had not thought of or planned for.  Her brows knit in frustration and disbelief.  She must have checked the weather report before leaving her office.  This was a detail a woman of her organisation would never overlook. 

Exasperation began to overwhelm her when a man emerged from the crowd like a dark god stepping out from the mist.  A man in black with eyes like a dragon and a knowing smile.  He saw her plight and had come to rescue her, umbrella in hand. 

If pressed to answer she could not have said what it was about him that caused her to completely lose track of all the things she had been thinking and feeling but she had.  He was stark and real unlike any man she had ever seen in her life.  He took her hand and led her into the night. 

“I have a date.”

He only smiled and she followed.  They stepped from the train station into the darkness, the rain pelting down.  It was a hot, summer rain at the end of a long day. 

The stranger led the woman into the heart of the storm and her mind began to fight back.  It was the time that did it.  She could not be made to be any more late than she already was.  She reached up to dislodge herself from his lead and he spun her into his arms.  She pushed back halfheartedly, anticipating his lips and the heat they would bring.  Her feelings were all wrong.  What was happening to her? 

When she came face to face with the stranger her eyes locked with a darkness she could not comprehend. 

This was no gentleman. 

This man was death. 

She realised it a moment too late and the piercing pain in her back just below the shoulder blade told her there was nothing left to fight.  He kissed her, long and deep, and she felt her life leaking from her in a torrent. 

“Why?”  The words tumbled from her trembling lips as her heart betrayed her, pumping faster and faster, speeding her to the end.

“For the same reason any man destroys a beautiful thing, to ensure that it is his and his alone for all time.  It was the only way to truly have you.” 

She slipped from his arms to collapse into the dark street.  The rain began to wash away her perfectly painted mask, all the time and care amounting to nothing in the last moments.  Not a single eye turned to see what had become of the creature only moments ago they could not pry their eyes from.  Her life flowed into the night and the man with the umbrella strode away.  The darkness enveloping him as completely as it had produced him and her last fleeting thought was of how terribly late she would be now.