Conceding to Kismet

 Warning: These writings contain adult language and adult themes.  If you are at all offended by four letter words, the real or any aspect of black womanhood, this is not for you!

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In Vacuo

Chapter 1

 

            Who the hell was calling her at this hour?

            She knew it could not be Grady.  They had split weeks ago.  She had believed him when he said he would never speak to her again.  She counted on it.

            She checked the caller ID before the cell finally went to voicemail.

            “Oh for fuck’s sake!” she said sleepily. He would call back.  Ross always called right back.  She answered three seconds into her Pink Floyd ringtone.

            “Dom,” Ross said.

            Dominique sat up in the bed and turned on the Victorian lamp sitting on her nightstand.

            “Ross, this had better be horrendous,” she said grouchily.

            “Single mother and her four children.”

            “Oh dear God.  Where is it this time?”

            City of Jackson, Tennessee.”

            Tennessee?”

            “Yeah, not Mississippi.”

            “When does my flight leave?”

            “You got three and a half hours.  Logan’s coming by to get you.”

            She hung up the phone and looked at the time.  It was not even 2:30 yet.  She stretched and yawned as she stood.  She had already showered earlier that night as she always did, but maybe the hot water would help wake her.  If not the water then maybe the scent of cranberry vanilla would do the trick.

            Dominique felt somewhat renewed.  At least she could keep her eyes opened.  She checked the Weather Channel to decide what to pack for a stay in late April West Tennessee.   She could get away with short sleeves, but she knew she would need a light jacket just in case.  Even the lightest chill left her in discomfort.

            She packed a small bag then set it by the door.  She programmed her DVR to record a couple of movies she had planned to watch.  She pondered whether she should risk having a cup of tea, knowing it would not take long for it to catch up with her.  She decided to risk it and brewed herself some lemon honey tea.  That preemptive strike usually settled her stomach before it could be churned.

            She pulled her light brown shoulder-length hair into a ponytail.  She always did that whenever she straightened it.  Otherwise it formed a fluffy cloud around her head.  It was way too early to put in her contacts so she pushed her brown-framed glasses from the tip of her aquiline nose.  She sometimes wore lipstick, but this morning she would stick to the plain moisturizer.

            She had just gotten on her shoes when Logan arrived.  He always took her bag and held doors open for her.  He was something of a chatterbox.

            “Dominique,” he said in his French-Canadian chirp.  “I’m glad to see you so alert so early.  Ross said this was a particularly bad one.”

            “I was called out of my bed at 2:30 this morning,” she said as she settled into the car.  “I’m expecting this one to be most fucked up.”

            “Such a lady,” Logan clucked.

            The Viking was what Dominique called Logan.  His straw-colored hair washed out his blue eyes.  Not that it mattered much because usually all the attention went to his large bulbous nose.  When they first met, Logan made a point of chastising her proclivity toward profanity.  She calmly explained, “As my girl Jill Scott says, people say a lady shouldn’t swear, but sometimes shit’s real.  It doesn’t get any realer than this job.”  Logan no longer chastised her but still felt inclined to mutter his disapproval under his breath.

            Dominique silently bid farewell to her blissful solitude for the next few days – or weeks.  Logan chatted about his latest “honey” and his plans with her for the next few days if the relationship lasted that long.  In his mid-40s, Logan still fancied himself a ladies’ man and never stayed too long with one woman.  Dominique supposed the accent was enough to keep gullible women interested.

            They reached the small airfield then passed the quick security check.  Ross Chambers had come to meet her in person before they got to the scene.  This could not be in any way good.  He was waiting with his right hand Stephanie.  Dominique felt that as young as she was, Stephanie was remarkably efficient.  Once she was settled, Stephanie handed her the dossier and asked her if she wanted anything to eat or drink.  Ross signaled to Logan that they were all set to take off.

            “We believe this is the third killing of one individual,” Ross said as Dominique opened the folder.  “This is the only one within the Jackson city limits.  The two others occurred in surrounding cities Brownsville and Milan.”

            Milan,” Dominique corrected.  “Long i.”

            “Sure.  Anyway, the connection among them is still unclear, but we’re treating them like serial murders.  In all the cases, the victims were tortured, beaten with blunt objects and/or cut up while they were still alive.  That’s the only consistent factor.  There seems to be no other discernible M.O.  The victims vary in age, race, gender but all were in the lower socioeconomic class.”

            “The most helpless and least likely to warrant a thorough investigation.”

            “Perhaps.  Whoever it is must know the area pretty well.  He can blend in since he’s managed to not even leave a trace to his identity.”

            “Are you assuming it’s a he?”

            “No, not really.  Must we go through this again?”

            “You’re creating a picture in your head already, Ross.  If you get too attached to it, you could miss something.”

            “Usually your little reminders in diversity are quite useful, but you and I know serial killers usually look more like me than you.”

            “True but you never know these days.”

            By now, Ross knew better than to argue with Dominique.  Despite the fact that she tended to avoid human contact as much as possible, she had a smart and strong will.  Ross never argued with a woman with that type of personality.  It was usually better to let her have her own way.  She would eventually do what she wanted anyway.

            Dominique took a deep breath and opened the file.  The latest victim was a rather young woman, too young to be a mother of four in her opinion.  Cassie Downs was her name.  She was 32 years old.  Her children were Celia, Darnell, Leslie and Charles.  The youngest one had been only four.  The oldest 12.  Something told Dominique that Cassie was either widowed or divorced.  Her money was on widowed.

            Cassie had long, dark hair that covered her eyebrows and hung well past her shoulders.  She was probably quite pretty if you could see underneath it.  Her 12-year-old daughter Celia was almost a replica of her mother and nearly as tall.  Where her mother had brown eyes, hers were hazel.  Nine-year-old Darnell also shared a striking resemblance to his mother as did seven-year-old Leslie.  Little Charles was developing a similar face but still had the most distinctive characteristics.

            They looked typical enough.  The children looked happy and Cassie looked complete.  She worked full time and a neighbor had helped her out with the children.  She managed to make Christmas nice and memorable for her kids giving them everything she could afford and sometimes a little of what she could not.  Dominique knew that type of mother well.  Statements taken from loved ones, friends and neighbors concurred she had no enemies and an overall sweet disposition. She had had no boyfriends since her husband died shortly before Charlie’s birth.  No one could think of any reason anyone would want to commit such an atrocious act against her family.

            Dominique flipped through the family snapshots.  She stopped when she knew she had reached the end of the nice and fuzzy stuff.  She took a deep breath and began studying the crime scene photos.  She had seen some horrible stuff, but these were a nightmare beyond belief.  The blood spatter looked like something out of a horror film; it was unreal.  She studied the victims’ faces, the positions of their bodies and any distinguished marks.

            She could hear no sound.  Only the thumping of her heart.  She was in Cassie Downs’ house.  The children ran and played while Cassie tried to prepare lunch.  Celia tried to help.  She mirrored her mother’s actions as they chopped vegetables and gathered their herbs.  She slowly walked through the house taking in the whole scenario.  She left the kitchen and walked toward the living room.  Darnell and Leslie ran passed her.  She kept walking toward little Charlie who sat on the floor in front of the television preoccupied with a toy.  He looked up at her when she was just a few short feet away from him.  His smile did not waiver even as she raised the large hunting knife that suddenly appeared in her hand.

            Dominique gasped desperately trying to breathe.  She opened her eyes and looked at Ross and Stephanie as they gaped back at her.

            “Excuse me,” she said breathlessly.  She fiddled with her seatbelt until it gave and headed for the small lavatory.  She continued taking deep breaths after she had locked the door behind her.  She could not decide what the hell she had just seen.  The visions were never as vivid on other cases though they continued to grow stronger over time.  The connection was very strong this time.  She was actually in his place.  He had been in that house prior to the murder.

            Her stomach churned although it was empty.  She tried to hold it back, but the yellow bile forced its way up her throat and she heaved it into the small sink.  Dominique hated vomiting.  Her throat burned and t took her forever to stop the convulsions in her stomach.  She rinsed her mouth and splashed a little water on her face for good measure.  She dried her face and breathed deeply a few times before heading back to her seat.  Stephanie had a warm mug of green tea waiting for her.

            “So the victims don’t seem to have anything in common, but there must be something to make you think their murders are linked?”

            “The first victim was an elderly black man named Earl Reeves, resident of Milan.  There’s evidence he was tortured before and while he was being cut to pieces.  The second victims were a middle-aged couple named James and Charlene Waters of Brownsville.  Their arms were found still linked – detached from their bodies.

            “White?”

            “Why is that important?”

            “You pointed out that Mr. Reeves was black.”

            “Yes, they were white,” Ross answered with some exasperation.  “Now with Mrs. Downs and her family, white, we have eight victims all tortured and cut to pieces.  All of their parts were recovered, so our killer doesn’t seem to be collecting trophies, which of course throws us on the motive other than some sick, sadistic pleasure.”

            Dominique nodded.  She looked outside and watched the clouds roll by.  Times like this, she could forget about the evil she found all around her.  The people on the ground were little more than ants marching through their mundane and meaningless lives.  She could forget for a while that jobs like hers were necessary.

 

© 2010 Conceding to Kismet for Inda Lauryn

 

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