Over the past few months, a lot of folks have been asking questions, extremely curious about what a collaboration between Keith Gaston and myself would look like. I'm really excited to see that so many readers are eager to dig into the pages of "Blood & Vengeance." I'm in a great mood today so I've decided to tease you with the first five chapters. Enjoy!
SWEET SASSY´S SUITE
The tiny bedroom reeked of marijuana mixed with the faint odor of the perfumes she sprayed and the incense she burned to try to mask the scent. She smoked weed way more than she ate which worked out perfectly in her profession. It was almost a job requirement that she protect her slender waistline at all times but she also needed to medicate herself to keep her mind right, just to make it through her shifts with her sanity intact. Sassy needed the stranger’s faces and male parts that she was forced to get familiar with to become a blur. That way, she could wash away the pain and stains of their touch when she showered. Otherwise, she feared that they would leave the type of scars that only she could feel and see. At the moment, she remained fairly sober because she didn’t mind the company of the guest that currently laid his head on her bed. Will Samson was special. Everyone on the street outside must have heard her moaning, despite the fact that he wasn’t even the best lover that she had been with. All the same, everything that she felt inside her body while she was with him was all real. She had seen all shapes, ages, races and sizes of men but she sexually connected with him differently than she had with anyone else. That was probably because, if her suspicions were correct, she had been his first. It turned her on and excited her to know that she had basically trained him how to please her. There was also something deeper about him, something that she couldn’t explain with words but whatever it was, she had never felt it in any other man.
The evening air was stagnant and not much breeze blew through the open window. The noisy ceiling fan really didn’t do much about the sweltering heat as it spun weakly overhead and squeaked like a distressed mouse caught on a sticky, glue trap. Her skin shined and glistened with fresh perspiration but she didn’t mind the way it made her skin glow. She was sure that her favorite lover liked it too.
Will’s nine-millimeter handgun sat in its holster, slung over the metal folding chair in the corner. In the dark, she couldn’t see his eyes clearly but she could sense him straining in the poor light to look at it. He was always wound up and paranoid, no matter how intense or satisfying the sex was. Whenever that gun wasn’t firmly in his hand or safely secured near his left armpit, a few inches from his heart, he would stare it at almost as if he expected it to grow wings and fly away.
“Who do you love, me or her?” Sassy asked, referring to the gun he kept staring at.
“Her,” Will answered dryly.
“All this ass, these tits and this pretty face but you love it and not me?”
“She’ll save my life...you’ll get me killed. One day, I’ll probably have to use her to save me from you,” he answered.
“I would never hurt you. Have you ever considered that maybe I love you?” she asked, realizing how ridiculous it was that she felt like the mistress, second place to a black, cold, metal gun.
“I doubt that.”
“You don’t love men. You don’t love me. You don’t even love yourself. You only love money...because you believe it can save you from everything you hate.”
“That’s a cruel thing to say.”
“Not cruel...honest,” he answered coldly.
“Suppose I told you that I slept with three other men today?”
“Then that’s what you did. You don’t belong to anyone, especially not me.”
He climbed out of bed and walked over to the folding chair to get dressed in the dark. He didn’t like when she started to get emotional and sentimental with him. Those moments seriously threatened to make him forget what she was and he knew that that was dangerous, for his life and his heart. Sassy leaned over and turned the black switch on the lamp on the nightstand. The room was instantly filled with a tacky, rouge glow because of the thin scarf she had thrown over the shade to soften the light.
“Why’d you turn the lights on?” he asked.
“I like looking at you,” she answered, lustfully studying his scars and tattoos.
Will looked back over his shoulder as she lay naked in the bed and wished that he had left the lights on during their high-spirited sexual romp. She really was something to behold. If her skin wasn’t marred with tacky, poorly drawn tattoos, she would have looked almost like a woman straight out of a painting, graceful, elegant and flawless. All the same, her imperfections made her desirable in a way that inspired the nastiest of thoughts in most men. He looked away from her before he was tempted to turn his short stay into an all-nighter. He had things to do and he had put them off for long enough. He really shouldn’t have kept her company for as long as he had but he believed that if he might not survive the night, he wanted to die with the recent memories of a woman’s thighs fresh on his mind. It might even have been good luck because he hadn’t been kissed by death just yet.
“You really don’t care about me do you?” she asked, pouting with her head on her white satin pillow. She saved her best white linens for his visits.
“You have a funny way of showing it,” she said, sounding as cliché as a line straight out of a romantic comedy.
“How am I supposed to show it?”
“I don’t know,” she answered then paused. “You never say sweet things or do anything nice for me.”
Fully dressed with his gun securely strapped in place, he walked over to the bed and sat down next to her. He looked into her sad eyes and carefully weighed what he would say next.
“You work in a house of lies. Men come here and spend money to feel important and the women pretend to enjoy dancing for their howling amusement, to boost these petty, unimportant men’s egos so they can stomach going home to face their small, miserable lives with their wives. Men come here to fool themselves into believing that they can afford the part of you that their hands can never touch. You will never give that to any of them. That game plays out over and over again, every night, in all of these little back rooms. This...what we’re doing...is the only real truth.”
“You’re too complicated.”
“I’m not. The truth is always simple, basic and easy. Fantasies and lies get complicated because it’s hard to keep them believable.”
He leaned close to her face in a rare tender moment and pressed his lips to her forehead. Sassy smiled and got butterflies in her tummy like a school girl anticipating her first kiss. That delicate moment didn’t last long and she felt foolish for thinking it would.
“Doesn’t that mean it’s time for you to go?” she asked as his phone began to ring in his pocket.
“In a few more minutes. I want to spend a little more time with you,” he answered and for the next ten minutes, he ran his fingers along the smooth curves of her face and played in her hair as if he was looking at her for the last time. Then, almost as if he had been coldly calculating the time that had passed with clocklike precision, he abruptly got up from her bed.
“Would you care if I got hurt or killed?” she asked.
“I would shed tears at your funeral,” he answered and Sassy couldn’t tell if he was being sincere or sarcastic.
Will counted out a thousand dollars and tossed it on the pillow where his head had rested for the two hours he had spent with her. She reached across lazily to pick up the knot of money but didn’t bother to count it.
“You left way too much,” she said as he walked to the door, certain that, as usual, he overpaid for his stay in her land of milk and honey.
“I didn’t. I left exactly what I owe you. The extra is for the information you got for me,” he answered and walked out of her room.
Becoming aware of the approaching man, the posture of the officer posted outside the interview room hardened. “Who are you,” he barked, holding up a restraining hand that left no doubt he wouldn’t allow any unauthorized personnel inside.
“Special Agent Royce,” the man answered, three-fingering his cred pack from his shirt pocket, flashing his badge and ID card.
The officer scrutinized the credentials. “DOJID? Never heard of it.”
Mechanically, Royce answered, “Department of Justice Infringement Division.” The officer’s observation hadn’t surprised him at all. He’d been getting that same reaction a lot lately. The agency was only three weeks old and he its only field agent. “It’s fairly new. Just more letters to include in the federal law enforcement alphabet soup.”
“I’m not sure I’m supposed to let you inside. Maybe I should check with one of the detectives involved with the case first,” the officer said scratching his head.
Royce read the name tag above the officer’s breast pocket and then produced some paperwork from another pocket. “Look, Northouse. This paperwork authorizes me to do whatever I like. I know this is a local case and as far as I’m concerned, it can stay that way. The suspect in the interview room may have information on a related investigation I’m working on. All I need is a few minutes with him, after that, I don’t care what happens to him.”
Northouse took the documentation, his eyes moving left and then right as he scanned every word. After several drawn out minutes, Royce wondered if he should have let the man contact the detectives. Then the officer handed back the paperwork.
“I can’t let you go in with your weapon, Fed or not,” Northouse said in a gruff voice. He pointed to a table to the right with a metal lockbox. “Place your pistol inside there.”
Royce upholstered his Glock and placed it into the containing. He noticed a thick, worn, bible beside the lockbox. “Yours?”
The officer shook his head.
“Mind if I take the good book inside with me?” Royce asked.
“Whatever,” Northouse replied, opening the door to the interview room.
Royce entered the room, the bible gripped in his fingers. Seated firmly in a chair behind a nondescript gray metal table the suspect, Reggie Dobski, eyed him with obvious resentment.
“Who the hell are you?” Dobski barked. His gaze shot down to the bible in the other man’s hand. “You some kind of preacher man, here to save my soul?” A harsh laugh followed his question.
Royce waited until the door closed behind him before he spoke. “Who I am doesn’t matter.” Glancing around the room, he sought and found the surveillance equipment. “But I am interesting in you baring your soul to me.”
Dobski craned his head around following Royce’s moving in the small room. “What the hell are you babbling about, man? And what are you doing?”
Reaching up to the camera perched in a corner; the agent disarmed the unit by pulling out the audio and video cables. When he finished, he circled around the table to stand across from the suspect. He slapped the bible down hard on the flat metal surface, his palm laid atop of it.
The man stared up at him in stunned silence, not knowing what to make of him.
“I have little time and require quite a bit of information from you Reggie. We both know you’re not going to simply answer my questions because I have a winning smile. So, I’m going to appeal to in an unexpected way…” He lifted the bible. “I’m going to do this with the word of God.”
Dobski laughed. “You’re waiting your time, Mr. No Name. There’s nothing in that book going to get me to talk.”
“I beg to differ.”
“Kiss my ass.”
Royce blew out an exhausted breath feigning disappointment. Casually lifting up the book, he rounded the table until he stood alongside Dobski. “You’re not a good man, Reggie. You’ve hurt a lot of people, said and done bad things. You’ve pretty much have broken every commandment.”
“Kiss my ass.”
“One,” Royce said, “Do not worship any other gods.” His arm came up smacking Dobski hard underneath the jaw with the bible, forcing him out of the chair like he popped a cork off a champagne bottle and onto the floor.
“You son of a bitch,” Dobski screamed, spitting blood. A tooth wiggled inside his mouth. “What’s the matter with you? You can’t hit me!”
Royce hit him again, striking him in the temple. “Do not make any idols.”
Dobski’s pain-laden shouts filled the room, becoming Royce’s universe. He got up to the seventh commandment when the suspect begged him to stop, promising to tell him anything the federal agent wanted to know.
Obtaining his information in record time, Royce sauntered to the exit. Dobski’s wails followed him as the door opened. Northouse stood in the hallway, his sidearm drawn.
“What the devil is going on in there?” the officer shouted.
“I’m done with him. He’s all yours,” Royce said nonchalantly. He tossed the bloodied bible on the table next to the lockbox. “Oh, and he’ll need some medical attention.”
Northouse scrambled inside the interview room as the federal agent collected his pistol. Royce hadn’t felt guilty about what he had done even though his assault on the suspect would most likely lead to a plea bargain deal in the Dobski’s favor. But the answered he’d drawn out of the man outweigh any of the petty crimes he committed.
Before leaving the police station, he’d make sure any record of his visit vanishes. His role in the beating of the suspect would eventually become nothing more than rumor and hearsay. Among the officers and criminals alike at the station, he’d carry an air of mystery about him and that was the way Royce liked it.
ON THE CLOCK
“Why this one all the time?” Sig asked Will as he got in the passenger seat of the car.
“I guess I like her more than the rest Sigmund,” Will answered as he put a cigarette in his mouth.
“Don’t call me that. I hate that. But seriously, why her?”
“She’s brave,” Will answered, fumbling in his pockets to find his lighter.
“Oh please. Everybody’s brave until the shit gets thick and hits the fan. Then, all bets are off and anything goes,” said Sig, using his own lighter to spark Will’s cigarette.
“She’s not afraid though…not of me…of her life…of anything. She just wants a little bit of good to balance out the bad before she’s outta here.”
“Do you really understand what she does for a living?” Sig asked.
“Of course I do,” Will answered.
“And that doesn’t bother you? Not even a little bit?”
“Why should it? It’s not like there’s a lot of virgins to be found anyway,” Will laughed. “What’s the difference between her and a woman that screws different men for free, or to keep their cell phone bills paid, or the rent paid and the lights on?”
“I’m just sayin’, you need some variety. I’ve never even seen you with any other woman, not even a different whore now and then,” Sig answered.
“I told you, I like her more than the rest.”
“Well, her lifestyle is dangerous for you and for her. Don’t get caught up. She’s not some hooker with a heart of gold. When you see a woman slow-dancing with the devil, you don’t ask to cut in,” Sig warned his cousin.
“I get it, I get it,” he answered.
“If you say so. Did she find out where he’ll be?”
“Yeah, Azul and his wife are going over to Sensualis tonight.”
“Sensualis? The sex club?”
“Yessir. Sassy overheard him trying to offer one of the other dancers wild money to join them.”
“This guy sleeps with whores and strippers but shares his wife with other men. What a perv,” Sig laughed. “Oh well, another night at the office for us. Time to clock in.”
“Let’s go,” said Will, inhaling smoke deep into his lungs.
The call arrived much sooner than Royce had expected. He thought he’d be halfway out of the city before it came, but he was hardly out of the parking lot. He let the cell phone ring another two times before answering.
“Royce. Talk to me.”
“You son of—” shouted Marcus Wainwright, Director of the Infringement Division.
“Whoa, no need for name calling,” Royce replied, as he pulled the rental into the street. “I take it this is about my questioning technique?”
“Technique? You beat the crap out of the suspect with a bible!”
“God works in mysterious ways.”
“You’re not funny, Royce! You were told to get the information discretely.”
“I didn’t have time for discrete. So I improvised with the material I had at hand. It may not have been the best plan I’ve come up with, but it did get results.”
“You have a name?” Wainwright’s voice had gone down to a more cordial tone.
“Yes, I got it somewhere between the sixth or seventh commandment.”
“Never mind, private joke. I’m going to have to stay in town for a few days to substantiate the information I’ve extracted this morning.”
“Even if what you’ve discovered pans out, it doesn’t justify what you’ve done to achieve it. You’re an enforcer of the law, and not above it, Royce.”
“I told you how I operated when you hired me. Don’t get weak in the knees, when all I’ve done was to give a man a nosebleed.”
“You did more than that, Royce. He’s being hospitalized. He’s already threatening to sue the city.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Royce said coldly. He’d find out where the police had taken the suspect and drop by his room to have a chat with him later.
“Whatever you’re thinking, don’t do it.”
“I’m thinking about stretching out across a beach blanket to bask in the sun, a drink with an umbrella in one hand, a Walter Mosley book in the other.”
“I reiterate, you’re not funny, Royce.” Wainwright’s side of the phone went dead.
“I think I’m funny,” Royce said aloud to no one.
“Sorry gentlemen, I can’t let you in tonight,” the hulking bouncer standing guard in front of the club told them. He bore a striking resemblance to the gargoyles that peered down on the streets from high up on the ledges of the building, with their stone faces permanently twisted in intimidating scowls.
“Why not?” Will asked, annoyed that this goon had put his hand aggressively on his chest to stop him from passing through the doors. He was wearing his favorite, white, button-up shirt.
“Neither one of you is with a female. I can’t let you in without at least one between the both of you. Tomorrow night is for the boy-on-boy action. Tonight is for the straight swingers,” the bouncer explained, surprisingly articulate. His brutish demeanor suggested that he would be more of a grunter or snarler. His caveman-esque brow certainly gave the impression that homo-sapien evolution had bypassed his ancestors and the hair that protruded from the unbuttoned chest area of his shirt gave validity to Sig’s theory, that he might even have been a shaved Sasquatch. His size fifteen shoes definitely would have left enormous footprints wherever he walked.
“Oh, no. We’re not like that. We’re here to meet some friends,” Sig interjected immediately in an attempt to clear up any confusion. He didn’t’ like what the bouncer was implying.
“Male or female friends?” the bouncer asked as he raised an eyebrow and eyed them disbelievingly.
“Female of course!” Sig answered.
“That’s too bad then. I guess you gentlemen are going to miss out on all the nasty fun then…because I’m STILL not letting you in tonight. Sorry.”
Will reached into his pocket and thought about how expensive this night was becoming. He began counting out money from his billfold in plain view of the bouncer’s avaricious eyes.
“Sorry, still can’t let you in,” said the bouncer as he continued to watch Will count out twenty dollar bills.
Will didn’t protest or try to reason further with him. He simply kept counting. When he got to two hundred dollars, the bouncer stopped him and took the cash cautiously. He looked both ways, up and down the street to make sure that no one else saw the exchange before he quickly pocketed the bribe. Will almost cracked a smile. He turned out to be considerably less expensive than Sassy, and Sig had called her a whore.
“Go around to the side door. Bang on the blue door and tell them that Chuckles sent you,” the bouncer told them in a heavy hushed voice that he must have thought was a whisper.
“Thanks,” said Sig in a hurry to move on.
He and Will turned from the front door of Sensualis to see about gaining access via the alternate entrance.
“By the way, if you boys are back here tomorrow, it’s my night off. I’ll be inside partying,” the bouncer called out to them as they were about to turn the corner. Will pretended not to hear him but Sig looked back nervously.
“Was he just flirting with us?” Sig asked, almost blushing.
“I suppose he was,” Will answered, amused by the look on his cousin’s face.
“Did he just proposition us too?” Sig asked.
“I suppose he did,” Will answered as he walked up to the blue door they had been sent to and banged on it twice.
“Chuckles?” said Sig. “He didn’t look like a Chuckles. He didn’t look like he was funny at all.”
“No, he did not,” Will answered as they waited for someone to open the door.
Stepping inside Sensualis was like walking into a porn shop except that all of the action was taking place live in front of their eyes. Despite the aroma of the incense and scented candles that were lit everywhere, the smell of sweat, sex and the mingling of strange bodies intertwined in all manners of intercourse could not be masked. Sig and Will witnessed every kind of sex act imaginable (And also a few that would have been hard to think up) as they searched the colorful, silk-curtained rooms for Azul. By house rules, everyone inside the sex club, even the workers, were required to wear masks without exception for obvious reasons. To comfortably act out such fantasies, many of them taboo, Club Sensualis’ clients had to maintain their anonymity and the club did everything in their power to guarantee it. Because of that, finding Azul in the mix of oily, sweaty, bodies would have been impossible if Sassy hadn’t told Will about the scar that ran across the man’s round belly like a woman’s C-section scar.
“My mask stinks,” Sig complained as he kept re-adjusting it on his face, seriously contemplating taking it off and tossing it on the ground. He had been given a Chinese monkey god mask to wear with a large, round opening cut out in the mouth area.
“Don’t take it off or they’ll have us thrown out. Remember why we’re here,” Will warned him as he pulled back a semi-transparent, rose-colored curtain to see a man engaged in a threesome with two rather large women.
“I’m not kidding. This mask really smells horrible. This thing smells like jizz,” Sig continued to whine.
“Somebody must have taken one in the face for the team while they were wearing it. We have work to do though so there’s no time to worry about that. You’re just gonna have to suck it up,” Will answered, moving on to peek into another room.
“Not funny!” grumbled Sig.
“Sorry, poor choice of words,” answered Will, his laugh muffled underneath his white mask which had been fashioned in the likeness of the Roman god Jupiter.
After more of Sig’s grumbling, the men continued to pull back curtains to search rooms. Will began to doubt the accuracy of Sassy’s information and felt foolish for placing so much stock in whispers overheard in a strip club/cathouse.
“How are we going to find him in the middle of all this?” Sig asked, strangely aroused considering what they were really there for. He had never considered himself a pervert but it was almost impossible not to get wood after all he had feasted his eyes on while peeking in rooms.
“We’ll find him. Look for the most expensive, exclusive section of this flesh-fest and I bet that’s where he’ll be,” Will answered hoping that he was right.
After five more minutes, they found a room guarded by two stone gargoyles on opposite sides of a wooden red door. Will pushed it open and stepped inside quickly with Sig right behind him.
On a round bed in the middle of the room laid a woman that could only be Azul’s wife. She was completely naked except for the intricately-designed, golden masquerade mask covering the top half of her face. She looked completely spent, spread eagle on the mattress with beads of sweat on her skin. Will didn’t miss the scar that ran down the length of Azul’s exposed pot belly. His red, silk robe was wide open as he sat there calmly in just his boxers and dress socks on a regal looking chair. If the robe wasn’t so delicately elegant, he would have resembled a lazy plumber who had just got home from a hard day’s work. His mask was fashioned after a red devil, little horns, sharp goatee and all. He stood up to greet them, not at all alarmed by the sudden appearance of these strangers who locked the door behind them after they were inside. This was not his first rodeo. He stood up to greet them, his boxer shorts so low on his hips that his grizzled pubic hairs showed.
“Welcome! Welcome friends!” Azul greeted them, clapping his hands, either out of some weird joy now that he was in the presence of fresh meat or possibly to rouse his wife who seemed to have nodded off. Even with his mask muffling the sound, his voice was more high-pitched than Will had expected coming from a man of such a gruff stature. Will and Sig did not speak but they did wave hello uncomfortably, like shy kids on the first day of class in a new school.
“I apologize for my wife’s current state. Poor thing. She’s usually more lively and fresh but I’ve just shared her vigorously with two other men before you two came in but I’m sure she still has some juice left in her. You…in the monkey mask…you look eager. Why don’t you find out if she does? Zeus, Jupiter, or whoever you’re supposed to be…come over here with me and we can watch together,” Azul slurred.
Will and Sig looked at each other and through the eyeholes in the monkey god mask, Sig’s eyes asked permission. Will shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly and silently granted it. Tentatively, Will approached Azul who was enthusiastically beckoning him to come over. Azul’s wife crawled slowly, seductively, over to Sig who stood at the edge of the bed and started opening his pants. She was fiercely friendly and high out of her mind, probably on some type of ecstasy pills. Azul firmly placed his meaty hand on Will’s shoulder. He stepped out of his boxers completely and was so excited as he watched his wife giving Sig the best oral sex he had ever had in his life that he never noticed when Will slipped the silk sash from the loops in his robe. Will tried to make eye-contact with Sig to give him fair warning about what he was about to do but, behind the painted monkey-faced mask, his cousin was lost in pleasure, focused on Azul’s wife and what she was doing with her mouth. Azul breathed heavily like a crazed bull under his mask as he took off his robe and grabbed Will by the wrist with a grip like a vice.
“Come!” Azul commanded roughly, reaching for Will’s crotch as he put one chubby knee up on the bed. He didn’t get the chance to put his other leg up.
Will wrapped the silk sash around Azul’s neck and started to choke the life out of him. Sig opened his eyes just in time to see what was happening on the other side of the mattress. He covered Azul’s wife’s ears with both hands and purposely moaned loudly so she wouldn’t hear her husband gasping for breath as he faced his imminent death by strangulation. Will wrestled Azul to the ground and planted his knee firmly in the man’s hairy back. With all of his strength, he pulled the make-shift garrote around the dying man’s throat. The heavy man struggled in vain to gain the leverage he needed to get Will off of him. He flapped around desperately on the filthy floor of the room behind the red door where countless men and women had spilled their lust. Once Azul was dead, Will nodded to Sig who then knocked Azul’s wife out cold with one punch, after she had stopped what she was doing of course. Otherwise, as a reflex, she might have clenched her teeth and castrated him.
“Help me pick this big boy up and put him on the bed next to his wife,” said Will.
“Damn, she’s sexy,” said Sig as he stared at the woman he had just sent off into slumber with a violent blow to her head. “Couldn’t you have waited until I had sex with her first?”
“If I had waited that long, I might’ve gotten molested by Mr. Touchy Feely here. Grab his legs. I’ll get his arms.”
“Do we kill her too?” Sig asked as they struggled to roll Azul’s corpse next to his unconscious wife.
“No, we don’t have to. She only knows us as Jupiter and The Monkey god. She didn’t see our faces.”
This time, Will drove the car and Sig relaxed in the passenger seat after they escaped Club Sensualis. From the corner of his eye, he saw a smug grin on Sig’s face as he struggled not to laugh about something that must have tickled him something terrible.
“What are you trying so hard not to laugh about? What’s the joke?” Will asked.
“How long do you think it’ll be before somebody goes in that room and bugger’s Azul’s dead body?” laughed Sig.
The room Royce rented was far from luxurious. Up and down the walls, cracks ran along them like exposed veins. Peeling paint hung down from the ceiling like stalactites. The room’s furniture was in short supply: A tattered couch that should have been discarded for trash rested against a far wall. A nineteen inch television, a remnant of the nineties, sat on top of a wood bureau. Bunched in a tight corner, the only amenities were a rusted microwave and dingy coffeemaker sitting above an unplugged mini-refrigerator.
He looked around the room searching for the bed and then flinched in horror when he realized the couch folded out into one. Royce considered sleeping on the floor instead, but the multicolored carpet was covered with hundreds of old cigarette burns, food stains from a time long past and smelled of hard liquor. He’d probably get drunk from the fumes alone if his head came too close to the gaudy carpeting.
Glancing out the window, he stared out into the dark parking lot at his rental vehicle. Under a flickering street lamp, the recently washed Dodge Charger stood out among the sparse number of cars. He was glad he opted for the insurance. Royce doubted the Charger would still be there in the morning. He’d paid for a bad room, in a bad neighborhood, and expected no less from the low-life criminals occupying the east side of the city.
He pushed away from the window, hoping to be proved wrong by morning. Royce liked the Charger, it was sleek, elegant, and the engine purred like a kitten. Taking his laptop and mobile hotspot out of bag, he reluctantly sat on the shabby couch. It smelled of body odor and sex. The dirty carpet was looking better and better to him. He tried not to think about it as the laptop powered on. On the dark screen, his handsome features reflected back. He needed a haircut. Royce liked the sides of his head bald and his hair low on top. He scratched at his chin playfully, letting his fingers comb against the stubble. Even his goatee looked a bit shabby.
His image disappeared as the Operating System logo took up the screen. Once the machine finished loading, he connected immediately to the secure wireless hotspot and logged onto the Infringement Division server in
. Once he had access, he immediately
tapped into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and typed in: AZUL Virginia
It was the name he’d extracted from the suspect. Royce wasn’t sure whether it was a first or last name, but felt confident he would shortly get a hit from the database search. While he waited, he thought about the other morsel of the information he’d obtained with his unorthodox interrogation--the sex shop called, Sensualis. The private club was the reason he’d rented the rundown room at the motel. Royce only had to spy out the window to see the business down the street. He’d driven by Sensualis earlier spotting a large bouncer, the size of two linebackers, outside the front entrance. He knew the type, he wouldn’t scare easily. Getting inside would take more than to simply flaunt his credentials.
Azul’s data flashed across the screen. The man’s litany of illegal activities read like a resume for a cliché gangsta from a street novel. His crimes started at the ripe age of eight and had gone well into his thirties. A lot his time had been spent behind bars until five years ago. Azul had crossed over from robbing party stores and selling crack on the streets to a more luxurious business, trafficking. It hadn’t matter to him what he moved over the border, drugs, humans and weapons. It a short time, Azul made a rep for himself and managed to stay under the radar of law enforcement. That was until now.
Royce read over the rest of the file trying to get a feel for the man. What came up without fail throughout the years was Azul’s sexual appetite. More than half his crimes had been related to sex. And he wasn’t exactly particular with whom or what he’d done the dirty deed with. Azul, opening the club Sensualis made perfect sense for a man like him.
He logged out, closed the lid of the laptop and lay it aside him on the couch. He glanced at his wristwatch. Nearly He spent more than an hour doing his research on the man. Launching himself up, Royce decided the direct approach would be the best way to introduce himself to Azul. He had never been the type to worry about obtaining warrants. Besides, all he wanted to do was talk to the man, not arrest him. Arrests were done by others. Royce’s job was to get information anyway he could. At least in his own mind, Wainwright, he was sure, had other ideas.
It took Royce no more than five minutes to walk to the club. He hadn’t wanted to risk anyone catching the license plate to his rental. He would pay the goon at the door to get inside rather than play the badass. He wanted to get inside as quietly as possible, get his answers, and then slip out. It was a good plan and wouldn’t have Wainwright climbing up his ass about it later.
Royce strode to the front entrance where a giant Neanderthal in an ill-fitting suit waited. He let the urge to say, “Me, Tarzan, you ape,” pass as quickly as it had come. The big man… perhaps ape… most likely Neanderthal, didn’t give off the vibe he’d appreciate anyone joking about his looks. Instead, Royce simply grinned up at him.
“No,” the Neanderthal barked.
“No, what?” Royce asked, losing his grin.
“No. You got cop written all over you. You’re not getting inside.” He added an explanation point to his assertion by poking his thick finger into Royce’s chest.
The move came without conscience thought as Royce grabbed the offending arm by the wrist. He whirled around, putting his back to the larger man, moved in close bring his back to the man’s upper torso. Leaning forward, catching his opponent completely by surprise, he lifted him up and over.
The Neanderthal hit the pavement with a heavy thud. Air blew out of him like a deflating tire.
Drawing his Glock, Royce pointed it down at the man’s face. “Look, pal, I’m trying to play nice here. I’m not here for trouble. I want to talk to your boss. What do you say, you want to be friends?” Royce kept his gun trained on him, waiting for the man caught his breath.
“He’s inside,” the Neanderthal finally said.
Holstering the Glock, Royce winked, whirled around and entered the club. Inside, he made a few inquiries and was led to where he could find his quarry. He knocked hard once on the door. When a woman’s scream came in answer, Royce drew his pistol again, and opened the door.
A panicked, naked, woman, stared back at him. Royce believed her to be the wife. She lay beside her murdered husband. A silk sash had been coiled tightly around Azul’s neck. Royce cursed under his breath, he’d lost the first solid lead he had on the investigation in weeks. He wondered briefly, if Azul’s murder had anything to do with his case?
Glancing at the distraught woman, he lowered his pistol, and asked, “Who did this?”
She shouted something crazy about Jupiter and a Monkey god. He looked out into the hallway. The activities in the other rooms had made them oblivious to what was going on inside this room. Royce closed the door behind him for privacy. He’d have to calm the woman first to get some straight answers. His intuition told him Azul’s death and his investigation was somehow connected. He needed to find out exactly who Jupiter and the Monkey god were.
Copyright © 2014 Keith Gaston & Keith Kareem Williams
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