Deleting....adding....editing, yucky yuck yuck! Editing sucks, straight up suckage. But the truth is, the first draft always sucks. Hell, the second draft sucks. So I keep going till I think it is close to acceptable. There will surely be change in the final outcome....
I should also take this moment to mention that -for those of you paying attention- that I don't intend to share all chapters in their entirety. What's the fun in that?? Of course, as usual, comments, sharing, following is gladly welcomed. [also, it should be noted that insertion points or tabs are impossible on blogger....so they are in my book but not on my blog. I'm sure that none of you really care, but thought I would point it out. It's a writing thing/hangup.]
Chapter 2....work. A well ordered madness.
“It was a hot afternoon and I can still remember the smell of honeysuckle all along the street. How can I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?” - Billy Wilder
Hunched over a dull pain seeped through my ligaments and joints. That morning movements with gentle refrain kept those dull aches from striking sharply and jolting what little nerves remained. I crouched desperately jerking frayed shoestrings through eyelets of my boot, -Fingers nervously trembling, I could barely master a simple task.- Tightening strings into a zig zagged constricting noose of sorts, my toes grew cold from lack blood. Undoubtedly, brewing in the foreground were colossal “tales of martyrdom”. I scrambled to avoid another physical attack or unwelcome assault on my ears.
Jesus Christ stop shaking – just let me stop shaking... I need to get the fuck out of here, away from him...
I moved swiftly, the soles of my feet numb and tingling, makeup half assed, I was in a secret race, to the finish line that was my front door. I knew the few moments I had were rapidly dissipating before he resurfaced. As I clenched my foot into one rugged leather boot an intoxicating earthy smell of leather wafted toward my face; my senses reeled with a strange combination of anxiety and excitement.
-I was winning my secret race. His keyboard clicking...adequately distracted. Almost there.-
With a marked sense of urgency and heart pounding so hard I could feel blood pulsing in the tips of my fingers and the temples of my head, I made it to the street. -Victory you are mine! Canned applause and laughter echoes in my head-
A dreaded hail from my front door, his desperate shrill voice went through me like teeth dragging through cotton pile, “Mira, wait I want to talk to you more! Mira, what the fuck? You are just going to go to work like this? Can't we talk?”
I didn't answer, I hastened my footsteps praying I wasn't chased down by a madman in a housecoat. No fucking thanks, dickhead... I'd rather eat a steaming pile of shit.
I never turned around, I was certain he retreated to his trusty email bunker. Where the allure of electronic dissension called his name. Rest assured a nasty email would populate my inbox with due haste. -Delete.-
My boots pounded on the sidewalk which resulted in an army of pins and needles infiltrating my feet to the brim of my boots. The warm glow of the sun emanated a balmy hue in the wake of an early morning shower. The tangerine sun cut across the horizon melting on the streets like a smooth orange butter funneling through its cracks and corners. An occasional cool fall breeze rushed through my thin cotton shirt; despite the warmth of the sun, the bracing cool would quickly remind you of where you were. -Time for that fall jacket, which I had put off until that day-
New England lends itself to a unique climate, with some beautiful landscape to admire. Yet the intermittent cool breeze alluded to an anticipated transformation, a bittersweet yet welcomed change. When a kaleidoscopic canvas of foliage envelopes the trees -Change can be a good thing – That morning, I took in the refreshing fall air as it swept over my face, feeling the sting of it bite my lungs. With the warmth of the sun on my face, I tried to embrace the day with renewed hope.
Though hope is a sentiment that is hard to embrace under these circumstances, I had to force horrible images from my mind and focus on my workday ahead. Some unfortunate folks of the working world live amongst the monotonous hum of cubicle hell five days a week. I was lucky to find work I that doesn't suck you into a vortex of endless emails and useless meetings. I am a police officer for the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Among my myriad of titles, Police Officer Mira Chiatti is one of my proudest; mommy being at the top of my list. Wife soon to be scratched off. Thank fucking God.
In Boston, there is just enough grit to make it interesting but not too much slum to make it unbearable. Well, at least I thought so and even though crime was on the rise. A tad bit naïve, yes... I still wore the horn-rimmed rose tinted glasses. I still saw the city where I grew up. Unfortunately, my job required interaction with scumbags more often than not. But then there were always good people, thank God for good people. Life would be a lot harder if there were a scant supply of these folk.
I took the good with the bad, and if I could help one person a day, then I felt alright at the end of the day; dispelling the poison in intermittent doses. Like one unrelenting liver after a weekend bender. Honestly, work helped me forget the bullshit going on at home. It's cliché but it worked, so I didn't fix it.
We lived on the North End of Boston, reminiscent of our hailed European roots, a mosaic of cobblestones and brick buildings loom over the narrow streets. Brick buildings that have the stature of a feeble woman, seemingly eager to topple on the random passerby. If you were to stand close enough, you could swear they'd whisper an endearing tale in your ear. The streets were steeped in history that felt familiar and safe. Since my childhood, corner stores were run by the same familiar faces who would greet you by name. Waiters in your favorite restaurant remembered the wine you preferred with your marsala. All these blessed traits served as a reminder that you were, in fact, home.
My morning routine was a walk to Quincy Market where outdoor vendors sold coffee and pastry treats. James was my favorite vendor, and he made one mean cup of joe.
Along with James' charming Irish brogue, he always served up the most welcomed compliments any woman could appreciate. Mark Twain once said that he could live for two weeks on a good compliment. As it happens, if compliments had caloric value, James would have rendered me a rather large woman by now. For that wonderful trait I adored him, he was an older man in his seventies - if I had to guess-. The hard lines on his face told the story of a hard life. If you had time to lend an ear, he would eagerly share a story or two about his wife, Elise, or the grandkids armed with a wallet chock-full of pictures; he was a delightful little pit stop every morning.
After my brief interlude in fairy tale land, population James and I, I would make my way to “the T”. It was there I would catch a train that eventually dumped me onto Tremont Street. The day would start with a morning debriefing with Captain Jack Brewster. Everyday at 0800 hours Captain Brewster held a meeting at police headquarters. As expected, the meeting would consist of what had occurred the night prior and any ongoing issues of concern.
Generally speaking the Captain would have my undivided attention. However, on this day I found myself struggling to focus on anything but the pulsating pain now infiltrating my face. A daunting heavy pain filled my head. It felt like a mixture of hangover and sinus pressure. Although, I am nearly certain it was facial swelling due to being smashed in the face.
Unfortunately these days, more often than not, my random daydreams of freedom would interrupt an otherwise perfect work week. Today I arrived as usual, on time, my uniform neatly pressed, hair tightly coiffed in a bun. The only additional contribution, one muffled complexion with heaps of makeup and powder; add in a few ibuprofen for good measure.
Officer Jason Maldonado, my partner, sat in a chair with an attached desk welded to its legs, his body overwhelming its frame; his bulky thighs spilling from its sides. He sat squarely facing the podium in the center of the room. He looked up and shot me that flirty smile he perfected after years of seasoned practice. -He looked good today, very good in fact, of course there weren't many days he looked bad. Actually there were none at all.- I made my way over to to the seat next to Jay and sat waiting for his daily social updates before the Captain showed up.
Jason quipped, “Mira, hey you ready for another day in paradise?”I answered him with as much enthusiasm I could muster, “Yes, as always, of course.”I thought to myself, Just let me look at you, you don't have to talk much - in fact, don't talk at all, please. That day I was just in need of some goodies for my ailing spirit, not a lot of chit chat. Oddly he always seemed to chat more than I had.
Jason is that protein drinking meathead type you see at your neighborhood gym. But had the most inviting pillowy pecks, with hearty biceps of yumminess. Admittedly, he made me shamelessly drool. But sadly, beneath the shiny surface is one dopey Italian. You just had to love him and his jovial demeanor, or at least I did. Honestly, I just loved to look at him.
Jay has a wonderful glow of Sicilian olive toned skin, a wide nubian-like nose and thick back hair, perfectly cut to match the lines of his face. His eyes, a deep brown, and a hard jawline gave him that “appeal” most men dearly covet. Clearly, good genetics were in this man's corner. Although I was wildly attracted to him -as most women were-, I never revealed even a scintilla of interest. Per usual, I did as my father taught me -you never shit where you eat-.
Work was priority, not some scandalous affair that I would have loved to entertain, but my better judgment got the best of me. Rats...Life was far too complicated to put that in the mix.
Then I noticed Jay studying my face as he leaned toward me brushing back a wispy crop of bangs that dangled over the left side of my face and said, “What the fuck happened to your face?”
I quickly replied that I had tripped on the steps leading to my house and simply couldn't block my fall quick enough. - Note to self: buy more cover up.- Neither he nor anyone else at work knew of my problems at home. It was better that way. Especially now, with what I have planned.
Jason replied with a certain sense of levity along with a subtle hue and intimation of concern, “Oh shit, you gotta be careful. You need to keep that face lookin' pretty.”
I tried to keep it light and replied, “Ya ya ya, I know. I tried putting a bunch of cover up on it, but nothing gets by you. You are just sharp as a tack there buddy.”
Jay then started in with his morning “stories” before our daily meeting, “So remember that girl, Robyn, I told you about?”
I answered, “Yeah.”
He continued, “Well, I was out with her last night and I swear to God this girl would not stop talking about her damn cats. It was a little freaky. It went from her cats to her grandmother and then to her nieces. I spent two hours looking at pictures on her iphone. It was ridiculous! Seriously, this girl had one smoking hot tight little package but I don't see myself calling her again. She already texted me like three times since I dropped her off last night. Maybe I should just tell her? Or you know, she should get the hint, right? I mean if I just don't call her back? Right?”
I replied, “You know, I don't know, sometimes honesty is the best policy but sometimes it can bring the psycho out of the best of em'. You know?”
With a perplexed look on his pudgy face he nodded in acknowledgment, all while sorting it out in his big melon head. Knowing Jay, he is such a softie, he may give her a second chance. He was a strange hybrid of sorts, not betraying his ethnicity, he had a pinch of misogyny when it came to his attitude toward women. Honestly, it seemed engrained, somewhat pitiful; almost like he didn't know any better. I could never imagine him hurting a woman, he was just a little rough around the edges. Ok, maybe a lot rough around the edges but a good guy, or so I thought.
The truth of the matter is, I wanted to give him an entirely different response when he asked me about Robyn. He had been trying to get a date with this girl at his gym for months now, and then he finally does and he is not going to call her back because she showed him some pictures on her phone? What a crock of shit! Maybe texting him three times since last night was a bit much. It's funny how men in their twenties can be so fickle at times. -Stop being such an asshole, Jay. Hell, it will catch up with him in time, a little humble pie never hurt no one.-
What I really wanted to tell him was, “You ever think she really likes you and she wants to share pictures of the animals and people she loves? Look at this as an endearing quality rather than a burdensome one? Stop being such a dick and open up a little bit too. I mean how would you prefer she act, ditzy and aloof?”
If I had to venture a guess he was trying to act “cool”. But of course I didn't offer such sage advise, instead I offered a brief piece of shit answer. You can't offer “Dear Abby” type advise in this neck of the woods. There is no prancing around these parts like a princess. You would lose respect in a millisecond and become either a joke or the station's fun pump. Either way it's a lose lose situation and I preferred to be respected as an equal; so I put on a more manly front. You have to. Women who don't, just never last here.
Truth is, on the outside I'm as girly as they come. I love your standard issue, “girly stuff”: pedicures, pretty little strappy sun dresses, prolonged excessive gossip, and I'm a sucker for romantic comedies that make grown men cringe.
As Captain Brewster dramatically burst through the door its metallic slam clanged as he blasted his bassy voice through the room, “Ok folks, let's cut the small talk here. Let's get with the program.”
Making his way across the room to a small wooden podium situated on a shifty metal desk, he demanded our attention with a bang of his beefy fist on its shallow surface. I liked him, he was always good to me and understood what it was like to be a single mom. I say single mom because although I was married, I lived my life as though I were raising the children alone. I preferred it that way, since it was only a matter of time before I actually was a "single mom".
Throughout my relationship with Alex, I was the only true caretaker in our “arrangement”. I was a mother of two when we met, and he vehemently insisted that he “loved them as his own”. Truth is he only loved them when it was convenient, much like an odd trophy of sorts. Occasional bragging rights would bolster his image as the ideal stepfather. But once the applause died, there was nothing. Among fellow churchgoers, he would swirl their already scoured brains into a frothy lather with his accounts of devoted parenting. Such Sunday semantics required knee high boots propped on pews, because the bullshit would flow up to your chin.
His profound allegiance to my children waned when the reality of a dreaded sniffle or sour stomach turned the children's world upside down and I could not excuse myself from work; Alex would then liken himself to a daycare professional. Capitalizing on the unfortunate luck of these children he claimed to “dearly love”, he would quickly offer an explanation that he saved me money in childcare and now he “deserved” a new trinket, a lobster dinner, or a bag of weed. I didn't care that he smoked in excess. Getting high, smokin' weed... I just figured it would increase the chance that he dumped that mini bike he called a motorcycle. Bring.it.on.
The sentiment which seemed to dominate our marriage was one of resentment with his varied domestic roles; random psychotic outbursts would relay his emasculated esteem. This was the battle that raged in his sick little head. On nights I came home late from work, often times he would lie in wait with his wannabe bike rumbling between his stalky thighs. He would lookout just minutes before I was expected to arrive, and as I walked toward our house he would startle me as he shot out like a rocket...revving his popcorn machine as he sped off. Another one of his pathetic attempts to feel in control, exerting a pitiful punishment of sorts; yet dangling on the edge of insanity.
Without disclosing all of my sordid details, it goes without saying at times the Captain knew when I just had to leave. Usually I was calm and even keeled under pressure, but when it came to my children I am nearly certain I wore eminent panic on my face. He could see that I'm sure, as a father himself. There was protocol that had to be maintained and I understood, but the Captain Brewster was always cool and I think he knew what was going on at home with me... deep down, but never said a word. In my book, the Captain gets two brightly beaming gold stars. Although at times, he had the stereotypical tough demeanor, yet another standard issue police protocol.
After an exasperated sigh and a quick pause to sip coffee from one seasoned coffee stained mug, the Captain started with his daily routine, “Ok, Benoit and Coppola you are going to be on the South End today, and everyone remember to reference the bench warrant list. There is a bunch of em' after last week, for some ungodly reason. Just be on the lookout for these runners, folks. Oh and another burglary last night, actually a couple on Comm. Ave. Luckily, no one was harmed and the residents slept through the commotion, but it appears that it may be the same suspect since the homes that were broken into were literally right next door to one another. There have been incident reports filled out by the reporting officers, please look at them, everyone! I want Maldonado and Chiatti to go down there today and take witness statements from surrounding residents. If they aren't home, figure it out. Make a phone call or two.”
Suddenly a shuffle in the room produced one perpetually tardy, Officer Sean Brewster. Sean was proof that the heart of nepotism steadily pumps well nourished blood through the core of the working world. Undoubtedly, he will need to RSVP for his own funeral when that lamentable time should finally come. As the Captain's nephew, he knew he could never be fired...If it weren't for the inner workings of nepotism he would be a well appointed fry cook at McDonalds; showing those egg mcmuffins whose boss.
The Captain's bravado hail resonated off the walls of the cramped concrete room, “Hey! What the Fuck, Brewster! I told you about this! Get the Fuck out! Take the day off!”
Of course, we all knew this was for show. Sean would gladly take the day off, he had what most would describe as “infinite job security”. Another banner day for Brewster...sitting at home, watching cable and drinking beer. We all wondered if he was paid for these days off, but no one had the balls to ask. It had become a funny kind of pathetic joke amongst the group and now no one wanted to work with him. It didn't really matter, it would usually give us something to banter about for days.
Visibly flustered with disappointment, the Captain continued, “Anyway, Adams and McManus you are going to be doing separate traffic details in Government Center. Apparently, the city thinks it's a good time to be doing road construction for the morning commute; so you are both there. I know it sucks but hey, there's a Starbucks down the road. Knock yourselves out.”
As he continued to spout the minutia of the day's itinerary, I sat entranced as I glanced out the window. The wind whipped red and gold leaves onto its moist surface. I would count the seconds till droplets of moisture released random debris from it's grasp. Strings of water, slowly dripped onto a brick ledge where the ugly pigeons flocked. I looked down pretending to scribble details in a mini spiral bound notebook I kept in my breast pocket. Even if I didn't have anything to write, I would pretend. More often than not, instructions were fairly straight forward, but for the occasional lunkhead that would screw it up.
After our daily debriefing, Jay and I head out. We made a brief stop for his morning Burger King “crossaintwich”. These days he's crazy about those lil' critters – with a sausage and hash brown-. You would never know by looking at him, his workouts were certainly not in vain.
With his stodgy greased up fingers plummeting into a spotty oil stained bag, he masticated his goodies in a few swift, yet ample bites as we made our to Comm. Ave. When we finally arrived where the burglaries occurred, we half expected no one to answer our knocks, and as expected, no one did. This was no surprise. These well appointed brownstone don't pay for themselves. The people who live here work hard to keep and maintain them, and it is not a little known fact. Otherwise there wouldn't be half as many “visitors” bearing crowbars, hammers and blunt like objects to harness their finely honed trade of larceny.
Residents who live in Back Bay usually came from money and are seasoned Boston natives. They remember a city that was safe and clean, hailing from a time when unlocked doors were homegrown staple. Unfortunately, many still live under this misguided impression. As it goes, it's hard to cope with such a downturn when you are accustomed to peace and quiet. For these residents, learning appropriate home security measures seemed futile, despite the numerous break-ins reported. As expected, for the wannabe criminals of Boston.... it became a goldmine.
We approached a few nearby homes and knocked on their doors and rang buzzers. Often times a large group of college students would rent and share space in this part of town, being nicely situated to schools, Landsdown Street, and Cambridge -the perfect recipe for the utopia that is college -. It was easy to catch college students at home during the day. Obtaining a lucid statement about what had occurred the night prior, well that is another story altogether.
We pushed a few buttons at the fourth brownstone we came to, which produced a recently awakened Ms. Cindy Ackley. Her voice crackled over the monitor with an intonation of sleep in her unfamiliar voice. “Umm, hello? Who is it?”
Jay answers, “It's the Boston PD, we have a few questions for you, if you have a minute.”
A slight pause lasting a few seconds ensued, she then questioned back, “What's going on? Why do you need to ask me questions?”
I finally chimed in, “Ma'am, we don't want to take up much of your time, there have been a string of burglaries next door to your residence and we are looking to see if there were any eye witnesses nearby.”
The very next sound we heard, a buzz followed by a click of the door. We entered the building and made our way to apartment B2.
Cindy quickly greeted us after the she hastily disengaged the latch on the door, “Hi, come on in. Sorry, I just woke up and the place is a mess, but sit down and make yourselves comfortable.”
We sat on a rather bohemian type couch that melded to the floor like one giant blob of bean bag mess. It was actually amusing as Jay and I sat with our knees practically up to our ears. Looking at my partner sit on this “chair”, I fought hard to resist the urge to chuckle. In fact, the entire apartment was a bohemian mess of Ikea type furniture, neat with no sign of little hands or feet to occupy its walls. Clearly, the home of a single girl.
Without delay Jay smiles laying on the charm, “Don't worry about it Miss, we don't want to take up much of your time we only have a few questions if you could help us out.”
Cindy is a pretty frail brunette girl with thin arms, a large round face with almond shaped eyes. She was wearing baggie short shorts on her underweight frame and a shirt that seductively exposed her right shoulder down to her elbow. With soft graceful features and delicate lines that traced down to the contours of her prominently displayed clavicle bone. She smiled and seemed to look down into herself. An outward exchange of flirtatious glances consumed the next few moments as I sat in uncomfortable silence.
Then she nods and says, “Sure, well the truth is I did see something. I was up late working on my thesis for my psychology class and I heard a commotion outside. I was sitting next to my window on my laptop and I saw two men, but I wasn't sure what was going on so I didn't think much of it. I was curious if they were visitors or not, but they seemed to be kind of slinking around. You know what I mean? Anyway, I was planning on calling the police today to see if someone called about any intruders. Truth is I didn't want to call if I wasn't sure. Sorry, plus I was really busy with my paper, I feel like kind of an asshole now that I didn't call. ”
-Yeah well, she got the asshole part right.-
I was mildly annoyed with the constant flirting between her and Jay. But I was happy that we found Cindy so early on in our shift. As she spouted details of what she had seen, Jay scribbled them on a victim witness statement which she later signed. She even saw the van they hopped into and jotted down the license plate number for our records, and although the streets were dimly lit, she was able to provide a fairly accurate description of the suspects. We got lucky. Needless to say, later we were able to utilize her for a lineup to identify the suspects.
Armed with what we had discovered, we were ecstatic that we didn't have to consume the rest of our week finding leads on these string of burlglaries. Thankfully, we had hit the mother load with Cindy. As the saying goes, “everything happens for a reason”. Indeed it had; with our respective agendas cleared we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ronald Steenley. Tomorrow we would meet for the first time as he had a strange preoccupation with beating his wife, a month from now we meet again...for his murder.