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The Passionate Crimes: State Lines

Part 5

February 19th, 1955

State Lines

Damon’s wife had taken the car, so I had been forced to dig out my old refurbished army bike with the sidecar. It was painfully cold to drive, the bitterly cold air stinging my face as we rode up Route 78 towards the Rodeo. It was being held just across the state line, which wasn’t too far away. Just far enough to make me regret never having bought a car.

It was getting good and dark by the time we pulled up to the abandoned airfield the event was being staged at. As we bumped down the pitted road that lead to the place, we could see all the headlights lighting up the night sky like a small city from a mile away. You could even hear the scream of those big hot rod engines over the rumble of my bike.

We had to park in a nearby field, but soon enough we had paid our money and were inside the Rodeo. It was a riot of color and sound, almost as different from the gray city I called home as night is from day. There were endless numbers of drag races down the length of the long runways of the air field, seemingly starting every couple of minutes. There were carnival type booths, with games for lovers and kids, and even a stage had been erected in the doorway of one of the old hangars.

It was overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes it felt strangely like home. It was frenetic, alive, pulsing with a beat unlike anything I had felt before. It was like rock-n-roll made flesh.

“Joe?!” came a cry from behind me.

I turned, and there was Christina.

She ran over to me, catching me in a huge hug. “I can’t believe you came all this way to see us play!”

I had no idea what she was talking about, but was not about to reveal that. “Eh, you know how it is,” I muttered into the top of her head.

She released me. “I had thought you were mad at me. And I don’t know, maybe you were. When I didn’t see you, and you didn’t call…”

I’d like to come off a little sincere, but I couldn’t find the words right then. A kiss explains it all somehow.

She pulls back, a deep smile on her face. “Well hey, we have to finish setting up. But thanks again for coming. It means a lot.”

Did I feel a little guilty? I did. But not enough to let guilt ruin a good thing.

Beside me Damon laughed. “Some guys have all the luck.”

I gave a little smirk, and carried off down the row of games. There was the scent of something good smelling in the air, and my stomach grumbled. “Let’s track down some food, and then settle down for some real detective work, eh?”

Damon was ignoring me though, a troubled look on his face. I followed his gaze. There, hung on the side of a large tent was a banner. On it was a flame painted hot rod, so realistic it looked like it might drive right over us at any moment. Across the top it read:

“For the First Time in Four Years, the Return of the V8 Death Car!”

Damon had a grim look on his face. “Back for the first time in four years? Like, since the last time the Strangler struck?”

I saw the faces of all those dead girls. I felt as though I had their blood on my hands, like the memoirs of final stands. If I had just been a little better, they might be alive today.

Looking at the banner, I knew a chance for redemption was at hand.

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Camp NaNoWriMo is Coming…

So, while I have somewhat soured on NaNoWriMo (as a personal matter, it’s just served its purpose with me), Camp NaNoWriMo and I are still tight. This coming April I will be diving in again, setting a personal goal of 25k words. This should allow me to finish up Blightborn, and maybe even allow me to tackle a little Marsh goodness, depending on how much I write before the 1st.

How about you? Are you going to be doing Camp NaNo this year? If so, what goal are you setting? Have you done it in the past? How was it for you, compared to regular NaNoWriMo?

M3: Shake, Rattle, & Roll for Hannah Home

Friday March 23rd you should bring your ass down to Bomber’s Pub! The Montgomery Plug Uglies are throwing a little bash that night to benefit the Hannah Home charity. If rocking out for a good cause wasn’t incentive enough, its also a chance to dress up in your 50’s finest! Plus I will be there, which is really all the reason you would ever need to be at a place. Come bask in my humility.

The club will be collecting any new or gently used clothes, shoes, or belts you would like to donate. If you cannot make it Friday, they will also be on hand at the Scene Saturday, so you can make your donation then as well. Entertainment is being provided by local favs the Rachel Wilson Band, and the always amazing Living Deads. So get dressed up and come out and party with us for a great cause!

The Passionate Crimes: Get Broke Quick

Part 4

February 19th, 1955

Get Broke Quick

It was cold enough that I could see my breath. A cold front had moved in overnight, and it made me wish for a warmer coat. My trenchcoat has seen better days. The Lucky Strike I was puffing on did little to actually warm me, but it was nice to pretend that it kept my hand at least a little warmer.

I had another hangover, and this one without the benefit of Nana’s spaghetti to help ease the pain. It left me feeling mean. The bitter cold wasn’t helping.

Damon finally pulled up in his squad car. I didn’t ask how he managed to shake his new partner, instead just started walking up the street towards the mechanics shop. Damon had to run to catch up with me, and his heavy breathing revealed the scent of alcohol. He was drinking on the job again.

“I didn’t sacrifice my job for yours, just so you could drink it away,” I wanted to say. Instead I kept my mouth shut.

Eric Frank was a hot rod mechanic who we had liked for the murders those years ago. The two of us were actually giving him a talking to when the shootout with the other lead suspect fired off. Damon and me, we always figured he had stopped ‘cause the City had gone with a scapegoat. Now that it had started back, he was back to suspect number one.

Damon was telling me about how he was trying to get the Chief to reopen the case, and how politics was throwing a wrench in the system. I mostly tuned him out. Our current mayor had got his seat by bringing the Stilton Strangler to justice. There was no way it was getting reopened.

The shop was a small two bar garage with a small office to one side. Both bays were closed against the cold, so we made our way to the office. Inside nothing much had changed since we were last there. The only difference I noticed in fact was the girl behind the desk. She had on a lot of make up, too much, especially around the eye. I suspected it was hiding a bruise.

“Looking for Mr. Frank, he in?” Damon asked, flashing his badge.

Her eyes widened. “He’s back in the junkyard officers,” she said, pointing towards a back door.

We marched right on out back without more than a muttered thanks to the woman.

The junkyard was a maze of ruin. Cars filled our vision, each flawed in some terrible way. We fit right in. Damon led the way, giving a veneer of propriety to this whole affair. I just needed him to hold it together long enough for us to find a little proof on this guy.

We rounded a row of cars and then there he was. He was a big man, heavily muscled, with a head shaved bald. He was up to his elbows in an engine, working a large wrench to try and pull something out.

“Hello again Mr. Frank,” Damon said.

Frank noticed us for the first time, and his eyes narrowed. “The hell are you two doing here?”

Damon stepped forward, his hands in the pockets of his long coat. “How about you let us ask the questions. Like this one: where were you three nights ago at about ten o’clock?”

I liked to ease into things a bit more, but Damon always went right for the throat.

“It’s none of your business where I was,” the man said. He held the large wrench in his hand ominously.

Damon stepped a little closer. “See, I think it is. Another girl, she’s gone missing. Junk yard like this…lots of places to hide a body.”

The man snarled. “I was with my mistress.”

Damon laughed. “Of course you were. No way she would lie to cover for you.”

Something triggered in Frank’s mind. I could see it happen, the man just snapped. With a yell he threw himself at Damon, swinging the wrench.

Damon is a big guy too though. He just hides it well under that coat of his. Three rapid fire punches had Eric laid out on the ground. The man was sobbing pitifully, blood streaming from his nose.

It was disgusting.

“Go to my house,” the man was choking out around his sobs. “You’ll see, my wife, she’s gone. She…she…she caught us. That night. Walked right in on us.”

Damon took a step back, looking over to me.

“She the girl working the desk?” I asked, squatting down beside him.

He looked up at me and nodded.

I reached down and pressed my thumb against his broken nose. When the scream stopped, I looked him dead in the eye. “If I ever come back and see her with a bruise, you better move by God.”

I rose to my feet and walked away. It’s strange how trying to do the right thing can leave you feeling dirty.

Damon matched my pace. “Well assuming we believe him, which I do, there goes our only suspect,” he said nodding over his shoulder at still prone man.

We were passing through the office now, when something caught my eye. A flyer. I ripped it off the wall, then showed handed it over to my old partner. He looked, then his eyes widened. ‘Son of a bitch…do you think?”

I nodded. Taking the flyer back from him, I read it again.

“The 6th Annual Great Hot Rod Rodeo! All this month!”

M3: Nasty Fest

March 31st at the VFW in Daleville the Plug Uglies are throwing their yearly celebration of the life of Allen Nasty. An 8 band music fest featuring bands from across the southeast its always a good time. This year we have:

Abusements, Stuck in Place, BPM, The McRyatts, Arsonwave, Nik Flagstar and his Dirty Mangy Dogs, X-Ray Vision, and Pink for President. Tickets are only 15 bucks, and all the proceeds either go directly to the bands, or to the family of Allen Nasty. All are welcome, and we hope to see you out there!

 

Show Your Friends Love

I am blessed to be surrounded by creative go-getter type people. So I thought I would take some time to share a few with you, in hopes you will go support them as you support me.

The Rushmore Podcast

My friend Pepper and his buddy Thomas have a fun podcast in which they choose a topic and give their top four, and debate whose is better. My favorite so far has been the ‘overrated musicians’ episode, even though both were repeatedly wrong.

Here is their twitter, which has any relevant links you’d need: @therushmorepod

Socks of the Darned from The Island of Lost Soles

My buddy Henri makes the coolest sock art pieces, and felt patches. I sport this badass cthulhu patch he made on my kutte. The bulk of what he makes though are these really rad sock monsters.

Have a facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/sockmonsterman/

Homayed by Amanda

My friend Amanda May (get the name now?) makes these killer signs and such. They are perfect to spruce up your home, and when I went to her wedding, she’d crafted all the killer signs and such herself.

Here you go: https://www.facebook.com/HomayedbyAmanda/

Speak Better Spanish

Do you need to learn Spanish, or step up your already current ability? Check out my girl Hannah’s’ service. She also does virtual personal assisting, so be sure to hit her up for that as well if you need that type of service (lets be real, we all need that).

https://www.facebook.com/speakbetterspanish/

Free Spirit Buttons

Seen my fancy Tales by Bob buttons? Well I got them made by these awesome folks! Delivery was super quick, and the price was great. Also, the couple that runs it are some of the best folks you could hope to know.

Hit them up here: https://www.facebook.com/freespiritbuttons/

Apothecary’s Daughter

Lastly, lets talk about Apothecary’s Daughter. Handmade soaps, bath bombs, beard oils, you name it. Rachel is the bee’s knees, and her stuff it top notch. Why support some mega-corp with probably toxic crap when you could get quality smells from a quality person?

Get your goods here: https://www.facebook.com/apothecarysdaughter/

The Passionate Crimes: Uh Oh

Part 3

February 18th, 1955

Uh Oh

I woke up the next morning, my head pounding. At some point I had decided to tie one on it seemed, though my memory was hazy. I was at my place though, so I hadn’t wandered to Christina’s in my misery. If there was a right word for hiding pain, then by God it was my name. She would likely be pissed about me dipping out without speaking to her last night. Rightly so I supposed.

I hadn’t made it to the bed, so I climbed off the couch and started making myself a cup of coffee. I cursed my idiocy, and as my salvation brewed, I walked over to the window. I raised the blind, which proved to be a terrible idea. The light hit my eyes, sending daggers through my brain.

Shaking my slowly to try and ease the pain I made my way to the phone. It was too late for breakfast, so I called up Miss Adams and asked her to meet me at this little diner I liked for lunch in an hour. I spent the time in between trying piece myself back into something that looked halfway human.

-_-_-

Nana’s was this little Italian eatery that love, and it’s there that I met Miss Adams. I was already through half a plate of the old woman’s signature spaghetti when my employer stepped in. She sat down across from me, and politely waved away the waiter.

She didn’t take the news well of my suspicions.

“The police, they caught that man though!” she said. Her voice was frantic, on the verge of panic. She wasn’t speaking loud, but the tone of her voice was drawing eyes to our table.

I set my fork down and took her hand in mine. I hoped it would calm her somewhat. “I was one of the men who worked that case. There was as shootout with a suspect, and the man was killed. We were never able to confirm though that it was him. But when the murders stopped the higher ups, they declared it case closed. My partner and I though, our gut told us different. Just no one wanted to listen.”

Her eyes buried into mine. “If you couldn’t catch him when you were a cop, how can you now?”

It was a fair question. It still stung like hell though. “My old partner is on the force still. He’s working it from that side. Me, I can play a little outside the rules if need be.” I paused. She didn’t need reasons, she needed reassurance. “Look, I’ll find her. I will.”

She looked away first. I didn’t know if that was a good thing, or bad.

-_-_-

I blew a kiss to Mrs. Pesta as a thank you. The grey haired librarian just laughed, and went back to her filing. In my hands I held a thick stack of newspapers, going back over a month. They were all from the three rags that operated in the City, and with a thump I set them down on a table and began looking.

A few hours later, I had four possible leads on missing women. A quick call to Delmont helped me narrow it down to two.

_-_-_

My first stop had been a waste of time. A grimy little bungalow on the edge of town. It was clear the woman had cut and run from her deadbeat husband. My guess was he filed the report so he wouldn’t look like as big a piece of crap as he really was. Most men, their pride won’t let them own the fact that it’s their fault a woman leaves them.

I never had that problem. I always knew it was me.

I was walking up towards the ratty little tenement where the other girl had lived with her mother. The street was desolate, with bits of trash edging around the corners. It felt…right. I walked out into the street.

There were skid marks. The same wide tires.

I didn’t even stop walking, went back to my office and called Damon. “You guys had any Jane Does come in in the past week?”

“I figured you would be asking, based on your call earlier. Not in our precinct, but the 4th, they got a girl on ice they couldn’t ID. Cause of death it says here is asphyxiation.”

I sighed. Your demons always come back.

“I got a name for you.”