Downfall VIII: Anonymous (#Fiction Friday)

This is part 8 of the Downfall Series.  To read the rest of the instalments, please click HERE.  To read from the first episode, please click HERE.

Thank you for reading, and your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Stepping into the captain’s office my headache is nearly tripled in force as the onslaught of incense and oils the man has gathered wash over me like a tidal wave.  He is trying new relaxation techniques and has even gotten into Feng Shui.  I guess being the compact man that he is, an Asian wife made sense, but his dedication to going the whole nine is a bit much.  He has wall scrolls, banzai trees, and those guardian lions.  The problem for me is he has no idea that nearly every piece of his collection comes from a different Asian country.  The least he could do is pick one and stick to it instead of creating a salad bar of Far East culture. 

That, and it really does smell like shit.

“Good morning, captain,” I say, stepping across the office and taking a seat next to the coroner.  Continue reading

Downfall VII: Holier Than Thou (#Fiction Friday)


A Lake Without Water

“How does one quantify a life?”

A crowd of black clad mourners stands in the pouring rain, taking in the words of the soaking priest with blank expressions.  The rheumy eyed man drones on, the lower half of his cassock clinging to his body and water hammering his umbrella, drowning out his words.  That the woman had been murdered in the rain and was now about to be buried in the same circumstances escaped no one present, least of all the man delivering her eulogy.

God works in mysterious ways.   

“In second Corinthians four, verses seventeen and eighteen, the scripture tells us not to focus on the struggles of the flesh, “for light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

“And so we entrust our sister’s body to the earth, not in sadness, but in joy.  For we here gathered understand and believe wholeheartedly that the world to which she will now be commended, the unseen world for which all true believers are bound, is eternal.  It is a place of peace and rest.  A place where she may lay her many labours aside and rejoice in the glory of the Lord!” 

Scanning the crowd, the father’s face begins to constrict.  He is met with indifference and boredom.  They no more believe in the salvation of God than magic or fairy tales, these servants of gold and earthly riches.  They stand before this grave a mockery, spitting in the face of the Almighty.

Their fallen companion was no better.  She had been baptised in his church many years ago but had not attended in nearly 10 years.  The moment the choice had become hers she ceased to turn up.  Only on holidays where the rest of the family came together did she deem God worthy of her time.  She had chosen the rewards of the flesh and now she would lie with the maggots.  Opening his pale hands to them and narrowing his eyes he continues, struggling to contain the true words he wished to unleash upon these charlatans.

Lukewarm.  You are all lukewarm and will be spewed from the mouth of the Saviour.  Spewed like the self-serving sycophants you are.  Filth. 

“As for ourselves, we must take comfort in first Thessalonians four, verses seventeen and eighteen, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 

The hymn was sung after and the burial ceremony began.  The priest stood with his bony hands clasped before him, starting at the gathered crowd from his pale, hallowed face, and wondering if they had caught the subtle message he sent in his last words.  He highly doubted it.  Sinners that they were they could not raise themselves up from the filth long enough to understand the true magnificence of God.  This lot was the very reason he had had to struggle so mightily to build his church.  The congregation had money enough to go around, and yet the tithes had always come back short of expectation.  Why?  Because tangible sin is so much more enjoyable than the intangible promise of salvation. 

A slow smile spread from his lips and his gray eyes narrowed. 

Great shall be my reward.  I cannot say the same for the likes of you. 

The crowd began to disburse and the priest stood long, allowing the taint of vanity and selfishness to wash away before he could perform his final duty.  He would need one final conversation with the woman before he could be satisfied that the work of his station had been fulfilled.  When the last of the attendees were out of sight he began.

“Alone now, I shall take your final confession,” he began in a voice laced with hate.  “As you are unable to give it of your own accord I shall have to make assumptions as to what you may have said. 

“Forgive me father, for I have abandoned the Lord and made my own self master.  Pride and greed are my sins and I have revelled in them like a pig in shit.  I have spat on your name and sought my own rewards here on earth, caring nothing for the heavenly riches I should have striven for whole heartedly.  I shared the temple you created of my flesh with any man willing to worship it and I disregarded almost every commandment you laid forth, casting off the burden of righteous living and choosing instead the path of least resistance and greatest worldly pleasure.” 

The priest took a deep breath and his lip began to twitch into a snarl.  The next part he could not twist or allow to be tainted.  It would make him as guilty as she and he would not allow her sins to drag him into hell.  He would see the face of God, even if this selfish whore would not.

“You are forgiven, child.  Now go with God.” 

The priest’s tongue felt heavy and he licked at the roof of his mouth as if the words he had spoken were distasteful to him.  Staring down at the woman’s grave he found himself filled with rage and hate.  It was people like her who had forced him to do the things he had done.  Her sins had brought him down.  If she had given as she should have, none of it would have happened. 

Lost in thought, the priest never heard the man approaching from the rear.  He registered a sudden swift whooshing sound and then the world exploded in a firework of pain and colour.  He fell to his knees in the sloppy mud, felt the back of his skull cracking open like an egg shell, and his brain began misfiring hundreds of millions of last second messages.  He needed to know that he was in pain, that his head had been caved in from behind, and that several pieces of skull bone had pierced his brain.  He needed to know he was dying there in the mud. 

Only God knows if he understood. 

A man clad in all black stepped around the priest, a piece of carbon steel piping in his gloved hand.  He carried a black umbrella in the other hand and he stared down at the dying priest in disgust.

“Sanctimonious falsifier.  You cast your eyes down upon others, but it will be you who stands first in line for the great lake.” 

The priest’s mouth hung slack and his eyes glassed over.  Drool began to run down his chin and onto the soaking ground as the man with the umbrella leaned in closer. 

“You are not forgiven, wolf.  Now go to hell.” 

The priest breathed his last breath, collapsing face first into the mud and the muck.  The man with the umbrella tossed the steel pipe down on top of the fallen priest before disappearing into the gathering storm, whistling the tune to A Lake Without Water as he went.

To the loyal readers of this series, welcome back and sorry for the delay.  Life, as they say, got in the way.  I also had a mighty struggle over who my black clad friend would kill next.  It took me a while to be satisfied with the target and now I am.  Thoroughly.

Update on scheduling:

Downfall is one of two series I am developing on this site and a new episode will be released every other Friday on what will now be entitled, “Fiction Friday.”  Posts on Fridays will alternate between Downfall and Othersiders from now on.

Next Friday (February 12th) will be the next episode of Othersiders.  The next instalment of Downfall, in which our faithful friend the detective finally finds a large clue that will help to unravel the true motive of our umbrella buddy, will be released on the 19th of February.  

Thank you so much for reading and, as always, I appreciate your feedback and support! 

Downfall VI: Insomniac


Image courtesy of:

What is it about dead whores that always reminds me of circus clowns? 

Is it the way their faces, ravaged by drugs and mascara, always seem somehow comical in their extremity?  Or is it just that the profession is so similar that my mind is putting the two together on it’s own?  After all, what is whoring other than parading around in a painted mask hoping for cash and a few smiles? 

This woman died happy though, which is more than the killer did for the last two.  Maybe she made him smile too.

Probably not, but she’s dead.  Let her dream. 

“If you want dead crack whores, I know at least ten more sitting in the morgue we can go poke.  Seriously, why the fuck are we out here?” 

“For a man who desires to do my job you should focus a bit more on your own before you open your mouth,” I tell the coroner.

“What the fuck does that mean?”  He hurls his cigarette against the wall, balls his huge hands into fists, and looms over me. 

Oh my stars and garters, I have angered him.

“It means, my dear doctor, that this woman was not a crack user.  Crack cocaine is smoked.  This woman was a needle user and, unless I am mistaken, more prone to the heroin crowd.” 

The coroner is shaking his head.  What difference does it make, right?  One drug or the other still makes for a dead whore and he doesn’t give the first goddamn.

I do.  The devil is in the details. 

“The point, detective, is why do we give a shit about this piece of human trash.” 

I have to bite my tongue.  I shouldn’t answer this question, it isn’t worth it.  So of course I will.   

“Because, you monument to hubris, none of the other women in your morgue were killed by our umbrella toting friend.” 

Three witnesses reported seeing a man in a dark suit approach the woman and pass her something.  She took it, injected it, and passed out.  She hadn’t moved since.  The woman was about to be passed over when I heard about it because who cares?  She was a prostitute, a drug addict, and generally seen in the same light as the coroner was now viewing her.  It also didn’t help that the testimonies of other drug addicts and street people were taken with less than a grain of salt. 

“If he did kill this bitch then good on him.  He did us all a favour.  Maybe we should start calling him the garbage man because he’s getting rid of our trash for us.” 

When dealing with bigots one must draw a line.  The more I address this neanderthal the more he will vomit his stupidity on me, and I like this suit. 

Why did he kill this woman?  What was special about her?  How did she stand out?  There could have been anywhere from five to ten just like her standing within a stones thrown when he killed her.  Why this one? 

Damn this guy.  He has to be saying something, so what is it?  Why be so cryptic.  If you have a message, out with it already you asshole. 

“Detective, can I speak with you a moment?” 

My headache has taken on a new aspect.  That spot right behind my left eye begins to throb and I feel my eye twitch.  Would that I could have gotten through this whole day without having to deal with the captain I might have lasted long enough to down something heavy and brownish to kill it, but alas my luck is not so hot these days.  Here we go again. 

“Yes, captain, what is it?”

“What are we looking into this woman for?  I don’t see the need for this many hands just to clean up a street walker.” 

At least he is addressing her with more political correctness.  Being the police chief means being schooled in the university of pretty mouth, and his is top notch.  I am sure this woman would have appreciated the hell out of him.

I stand up, fingers rubbing my temples, eyes shut tight and I can feel it growing.  This killer is getting in my head and it hurts like nothing I have ever felt.

“Another late night, detective?  Are you even sober enough to be out here?”

I have to laugh at this.  The assumption that I am an alcoholic is cliche to the point of being moronic.

“I have a headache.  That has nothing to do with drinking, it has to do with not sleeping.”

“The job is getting to you.  Maybe you need a vacation.”

I laugh again.  This is turning into a veritable tennis match of stereotypes.

“I don’t sleep because I am an insomniac.  I am not an insomniac because I do this job, I do this job because I am an insomniac.”

His one brow raises and he leans his head to the side, putting his hands on his hips.

“My mamma always told me, ‘son, know what you’re good at and use it.’  Only thing I’m good at is living without sleep and being able to look any horrible thing in the eye knowing it couldn’t possibly lead to nightmares.  You have to sleep to have nightmares.”

I pause and he sighs, shaking his head as he does so. 

“So here I am, not giving a shit if my life makes sense to you.” 

“This is a dead end,” he cuts in.  “The woman doesn’t fit the M.O.”

“For once, we agree.  She didn’t stand out like the others.  That does’t mean he didn’t kill her, it means the M.O. wasn’t correct.” 

He’s giving me the jaw. 

“Look, serial killers can usually be broken into two main types: the ones with a manic obsession who kill a specific type of victim in order to fill a need, and the ones who kill to send a message.  This man is the second type.  He’s sending us a message and we have to figure out what that is.”

“You said the message was about standing out and that appears to be wrong.  So what is the message now?”

I honestly don’t know the answer to that anymore.  That is why my head wants to explode.  It is so full of all the different things these murders could possibly be saying and I can’t sort them out or shut them up. 

“What I know is this: he planned this.  The others weren’t planned, or did not bear the appearance of being planned, but this woman’s death was.  Or perhaps it was simply a plan to kill the first drug addict he came upon, but he knew her drug of choice and brought it along with him.  He knew he was going to kill a drug user and he was prepared.  That means he could have known he was going to kill the others as well and is a master of making it look unplanned.”

The captain is looking as if he just opened his organic frozen yogurt to find that some plebeian has replaced it with pedestrian ice cream.

  “This is both bad and good.  It is bad because we were initially on the wrong track, but it’s good because that means these three victims have a stalker and possibly a connection we missed.  He’s given us another piece of the puzzle and we have to see how these three fit together.” 

“So a street walker, a day trader, and a high end fashion designer are all connected?” 

“It’s a mad world, captain.”

I turn from him and start walking toward the other end of the street, the sun assaulting my face.  The part I left out was that it had been a month since this woman had been killed, according to the coroner, and the killer hadn’t made a move since.  We found her on a nice sunny day because her death hadn’t lead us to her when the rain had been falling.  It’s rained a few times between then and now.  Either the killer has more presents out there waiting for us to find or he was waiting for us to find this one before moving on. 

My mind is telling me its the latter.  He’s watching.  He wants us to appreciate his work and understand.  He can’t move on until we find his little present, like a cat who shits in the living room. 

Well, we found it.  Now I have to check the weather report and see how long I have until he drops another pile for me to appreciate.

Downfall V: Super Heroin

Have to stay awake. 

Eyelids heavy like lead and my bones hurt.  Are they shrinking or growing?  I can’t tell but I’m going to keep scratching until I get them out.  Who the hell needs bones anyway?  Visions of super heroine-ism flash through my tired mind and I love it.  I’m smiling.  I think I’m smiling.  I think I shit myself as well.  That can be the only explanation for that smell.  I did it or the man next to me did it.  My bowels feel heavy and my mouth feels like a salt lick.  If I’m not the one who shit themselves than I am certainly the one responsible for the vomit on the sidewalk.  One way or another, something that was in me came back out and it smells like hell.    

God damn this itch. 

The rain is pissing down.  It’s been raining like this on and off for weeks now.  They say it’s good.  The earth needs water.  When you live in God’s ass crack you don’t care what the scenery is like as long as he wipes every now and then.  He doesn’t.  God is a hands off type.  Real hippy, that rat bastard. 

I’m sorry Lord.

There’s a man looking at me.  He’s thinking about it.  He wants it and I’ll give it to him.  I’m a swallower, sir, step right this way.  Or is it the vomit he’s looking at.  I feel sick.  I need to throw up.  Didn’t I do that already?  No, no, no.  That wasn’t me.  That was Bobby Brown Bag on my right.  He did that.  Vomiting is for supermodels and that is definitely not me.  I am not a runway broad.  I am the back alley bitch all the way.  And, yes, I do that too. 

Need to get up and move.

How can I be this hot?  It’s raining.  I shouldn’t be sweating.  This ain’t Florida.  Dammit all.  Damn this ran and damn this city.  Damn this life.  Right, that part we already had covered.  Shit.  I think I did it again. 

Please, I am begging.

The man’s back.  He’s coming closer.  I need to wipe my mouth, present a pleasant shopping experience for the customer.  He’s crouching down in front of me.  Jesus, the man is black.  His whole essence is black.  Shiny black shoes, black suit pants worth more than my life, black suit jacket, black shirt, black tie, black bowler hat, black gloves, black umbrella.  Wait.  Umbrella.  Something about that is ringing a bell.  I can’t remember.  I’m looking at his face though.  God, he’s beautiful.

Black eyes like death. 

He’s holding something out.  What the hell is that?  I can’t see with all this rain.  I have to sit up.  Oh, God.  Please.  Please tell me it’s what I think it is.  Please tell me this isn’t a dream.  I haven’t even had to prove my skills at the flute yet and he’s giving it to me.  He knows.  I’ve been so low for so long and he’s giving me  the elevator.  The key to the skyrocket.  The booster pack.  The Icarus Wings.  Oh, I’m gonna fly.  I can already feel the warm, happy centre of everything good. 

“For me?” 

I sound like a two dollar tramp.  I don’t even cost a quarter.  Where did I get such a fancy tongue?  He’s nodding so it must be for me.  I’ve never tied off faster.  The booster hits and we have ignition.  Ground control, kick the tires and light the fires, mama is coming home.  I can feel it coming, the heat.  The blanket of love and joy that I’ve been craving for days.  Sitting here in my own piss and shit I dream of all the places I will go when the love finally embraces me again.  I am going to be a super heroine.  Heroine.  I like that word.  I don’t need the ‘e’ though.  You can keep that.  No charge, baby, no charge.  Here we go.

Her heart slowed.  Her heart stopped. 

The man with the black umbrella picked up the syringe and placed it slowly into his pocket.  He leaned closer to the dead woman and whispered in her ear. 

“If you beckon death by spitting in the face of life it is only a matter of time before it finds you.  Wander, o soul, in the pit of damnation and writhe in suffering for a life wasted.  To hell with you.” 

The man with the black umbrella stood and walked away.  Not a single soul noticed the woman had died. She remained there, unmolested, for a month. 

Downfall I: The Umbrella Man

A tall, lean woman stepped from the train gazelle like with her blonde hair trailing behind her.  Heads turned like falling dominoes as they watched her move fluidly amongst the crowd, a soft skinned spectre smelling faintly of vanilla.  She had a date and she was late.  The woman was obsessive about punctuality and abhorred the state in which she now found herself.  How had this happened? 

The crowd came to a bottleneck, forcing her to slow, and she pushed a stray hair behind an ear and brought her long, slender arm up to look at her watch.


There was nothing to do but accept that she would arrive less than ten minutes early.  This was unacceptable.  Her attire was immaculate, purchased at all the most well known designer stores and her body she kept with equal care.  Her skin was moisturised, her hair meticulously washed and conditioned.  Even her scent was perfectly researched so as to perfectly accent her natural aroma.  She spent an hour a day doing vigorous exercise and ate only all natural foods.  Her body was a temple and it was cared for and accessorised as such. 

The crowd began to pour from the building and she was released into the night only to be approached with a new horror.  It was raining and she had no umbrella.  This was the second thing this evening she had not thought of or planned for.  Her brows knit in frustration and disbelief.  She must have checked the weather report before leaving her office.  This was a detail a woman of her organisation would never overlook. 

Exasperation began to overwhelm her when a man emerged from the crowd like a dark god stepping out from the mist.  A man in black with eyes like a dragon and a knowing smile.  He saw her plight and had come to rescue her, umbrella in hand. 

If pressed to answer she could not have said what it was about him that caused her to completely lose track of all the things she had been thinking and feeling but she had.  He was stark and real unlike any man she had ever seen in her life.  He took her hand and led her into the night. 

“I have a date.”

He only smiled and she followed.  They stepped from the train station into the darkness, the rain pelting down.  It was a hot, summer rain at the end of a long day. 

The stranger led the woman into the heart of the storm and her mind began to fight back.  It was the time that did it.  She could not be made to be any more late than she already was.  She reached up to dislodge herself from his lead and he spun her into his arms.  She pushed back halfheartedly, anticipating his lips and the heat they would bring.  Her feelings were all wrong.  What was happening to her? 

When she came face to face with the stranger her eyes locked with a darkness she could not comprehend. 

This was no gentleman. 

This man was death. 

She realised it a moment too late and the piercing pain in her back just below the shoulder blade told her there was nothing left to fight.  He kissed her, long and deep, and she felt her life leaking from her in a torrent. 

“Why?”  The words tumbled from her trembling lips as her heart betrayed her, pumping faster and faster, speeding her to the end.

“For the same reason any man destroys a beautiful thing, to ensure that it is his and his alone for all time.  It was the only way to truly have you.” 

She slipped from his arms to collapse into the dark street.  The rain began to wash away her perfectly painted mask, all the time and care amounting to nothing in the last moments.  Not a single eye turned to see what had become of the creature only moments ago they could not pry their eyes from.  Her life flowed into the night and the man with the umbrella strode away.  The darkness enveloping him as completely as it had produced him and her last fleeting thought was of how terribly late she would be now.