Wednesday, March 16, 2011
This picture was a prompt I couldn't resist. It's from Chuck Wendig's site, Terrible Minds, and it's for this week's flash challenge. I came up with a dark little tale entitled No Sale. Please enjoy.
I walked over and put my hand on the kid’s shoulder. Funny how lately they all look like kids. I had to wonder what crossed their minds when they eyed me.
“Mike,” I said quietly so as not to frighten him. He looked like he’d already had enough of a scare to last awhile. “It’s Detective Hoover. This your first jumper? Just take a breath and try to tell me what happened.”
Officer Mike Danfield couldn’t get the image of that woman lying on the pavement out of his head. It wasn’t his first, but no jumper he’d ever seen looked like that when they landed. He stood up, took a deep breath and turned to the detective. This one should have retired long ago, he thought. God, I hope I never look that old.
“When I got here, she was already on the ground. The patrol unit over there--they were the first on the scene. Apparently, one of the hotel’s guests called because of all the racket coming from her room. You see the one at the top left? That was hers. Anyway, they said they heard thumping and screaming and glass breaking, but they had a tough time getting in. The dresser, the desk and two chairs had been shoved up against the door. So they broke it down and went in just as the lady was halfway out the window. They looked around, but there was nobody else there. Why would she do that? Barricade herself in there like that and then jump? Why would she trash the room like that first?
He bent over and began puking again, so I left him alone. He’d be okay. Eventually. Somehow, you got used to all the ugliness. I had. Of course, what does that say about me?
I saw Doc kneeling by the body, and I took a quick peek. If she was jacked up on something, he’d let me know. Kinda hope she was though. Bad way to go. Bad place too. Creepy hotel on the outskirts of town, looking like the set for Night of the Living Dead. But they did do a lot of business and no pros either. Go figure.
The guy who managed also owned the place and I headed his way to get some info. When I walked into his office, he looked like he was primed and ready for a bed in Peter Pan land. He had been crying, and his hair (what little there was of it) was straight up on his head.
“Oh my God,” he sobbed, “another one. I told her no. I told her over and over I couldn’t sell. She wouldn’t listen. She was going to spend the night and talk with me again in the morning. I tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen. Now it got her.”
Great. It. I’m due to retire next month, and this mess is supposed to be my last case. I owe Cap big for assigning me to this one.
“I’m lead Detective on this, sir, just please tell me what ‘got’ her? What is ‘it’? She was alone in that room and she jumped. We’re trying to figure out why. Who was she and what was she meeting with you about?”
“Her name was Miss Redding. She was a lawyer and her client wanted to buy my hotel. I’ve wanted to sell ever since I felt its dark presence, but it won’t let me.
First it took my wife. She hated it here and found a buyer. Before the details became clear, she barricaded herself in our room but it hung and killed her.”
Okay. ‘It’ has a dark presence. Our local loony bin needs to take a quick head count.
“How do you know she didn’t hang herself, sir, if she was unhappy here?”
“The rope looped over a high beam, her feet were ten feet off the ground and there was nothing close she could have stood on. I knew.”
Alright. I’ll give him that one.
“Then, my brother came to stay the night. He wanted us to start a business on some island and had a buyer for this place. We found him in his room in the tub with his throat ripped out.”
“Barricaded in?” I knew I’d regret asking.
“Of course. And now this woman. I told it I would stay, but it took her anyway.”
He began to cry again, so I decided to check with Doc about the autopsy. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
* * * * * * * * *
I’m all packed, the car’s gassed up and I’m going on the first real vacation I’ve ever had. Oh yeah. You probably want to know how my last case turned out. It was ruled a suicide and closed. After I left the owner, I gave Doc a call and it seems she was bruised from head to toe, inside and out, and no way the fall did all that to her. What convinced us to close the book on this one though was the other thing Doc found on one of her legs. Or didn’t find, actually. A four inch square block of flesh. Gone. Around the wound? Teeth marks. Yep. You heard me right. Big deep ones.
So I’m going to collect my pension and get as far away from this burg as I can as quickly as I can. By the way, while I’m gone, I’ll be sleeping in my car. Just in case…