February’s Story Circle was kicked off by the talented and lovely Eden Baylee! In addition to writing seriously gorgeous erotica, here Eden turns her pen to thrillers. She passed the story to author John Dolan, whose musings you can find on his blog, Galericulate.
Now the story is in the capable hands of author Billy Ray Chitwood. Billy Ray is an Appalachian boy who found his way to the Sea of Cortez. He’s also incredibly kind and supportive of his fellow authors! You can find Billy Ray’s fictional memoir, The Cracked Mirror, Reflections of an Appalachian Son, at Amazon, in addition to “Mama’s Madness” and “Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story.”
If you missed the beginning, start with Part I, first, part two will link from there.
The Candlestick Killer, Part Three:
None were visibly present in this lower Manhattan bar of zombie-like misbegottens but a swarm of flies or cockroaches would have been right at home. The scarred table in the corner of the large square room had a wall light that flickered and gave an eerie cast to the already dimly-lit room. The sordid place reminded me of dark and shadowy scenes from a Robert Rodriguez film. At this late hour there were still a few resident zombies on bar stools and at other worn tables.
At the bar Manfred waited, smiling, watching me, while the bald slob of a bartender mixed my vodka tonic and poured a generous serving of well Scotch into a highball glass for my newly acquired boyfriend… The harassed waitress who had taken our drink order was no where in sight. These few moments gave me time to consider a new line of work and a long soap-sudsy bath.
When Manfred Bauer (God! this genteel name, this man!) placed the drinks on the table and sat, his eyes and confident smile never left me. “I’m sorry, Joy, to make you wait. It appears our waitress has suddenly left the premises. Baldy the bar man says it happens frequently.” His smile still in place, he paused, drank, gave me a curious look with those blue eyes that were somehow conflicting pools, an odd magnetic mix of charm, evil, and sadness. “Tell me, Joy, you dress like a girl of the streets, sexy and slut-like, but I have the distinct feeling you don’t belong here… where do you belong?”
“Stop undressing me with your eyes, Manfred. Everyone has to be somewhere. Tonight, I’m here, and I belong wherever the hell I wish to present myself.” I took a sip of my vodka tonic, measured its taste, decided there was no alien blend, and took a larger swig. He couldn’t possible read my inside trembling, but his eyes touched a nerve within me and made my focus more difficult.
“Aah, a lady confident within herself! I’m not easily fooled, Joy. Why, indeed, are you sitting here with me at this hour in time?”
“There’s something about your brutish style and ugly looks that intrigue me, Manfred. What is it that you do for a living here in the lower east side?” I tried to hold it but involuntarily did a dry swallow before the drink glass reached my lips. I hoped my inceptive fear was not showing. Those eyes! Those damned eyes!
What a snake-charming creep, this perp! His orbs took me to an unwholesome place that frightened me more than I thought it possible. There was something else in those remarkably pale blue eyes that I could not define, an aura of malevolence that sought to bring me to it. My mind was being tested big time. Could I handle this? Could all my training get me through these last moments? I could only hope that the ‘wire button’ was doing its job, that my comrades at NYPD were ready to join the party when the time came, when we were sure this person was the candlestick killer. In my mind there was no doubt. In some exclusive way, as I sat across from this obnoxious and odorous man, there came a certainty that he was the killer. Further, another certainty came loud and clear: he wanted not only to have me sexually in the most awful ways but he wanted to kill me. All this I felt in those light-flickering moments.
“I do whatever I want, pure Joy! There is enough money, enough sex, and enough activity within the underbelly of the lower east side that keeps me active and alive … for a while longer.” His last three words fell softly like an afterthought not to be clearly heard. As he spoke he arranged his chair and guided his left hand under the table to gently rest upon my thigh. His devilish eyes betrayed him for a moment, and, without my protest, he removed his hand. I caught something in his pitted face, just not sure what the hell it was.
“‘For a while longer,’ you said? Is there a special meaning to that statement, Manfred?”
“Why not? Why not tell you? It doesn’t matter to me and it won’t matter to you. I’m to die shortly, pure Joy. A rare and fatal disease, I’m told. What you need to know is that I accept and embrace that knowledge. It is not knowledge that will upset our little world and I’m simply living out some final dreams and illusions. What say we get out of here, my lovely and sexy pure Joy.”
“Stop calling me, ‘pure Joy,’ and leave off with the ‘my,’ Manfred. You’re dying?”
His smile was locked into place and his eyes were doing a Hallmark number on me.
“Everyone dies at some point, Joy… You notice I’ve honored your request. Now, can we get out of here? Where do you live?” He pushed back his chair, stood, and put on his bulky winter coat.
“Whoa, el tigre, not so fast! Let me finish my vodka tonic.” I gulped down my drink. “What? We’ve known each other, twenty-thirty minutes?”
“Time is a relative thing, Joy. For me, it’s now or never.” His eyes did their last combo of devilry and wistfulness. “Where do you live?”
“Uptown!” I said.
I rose. I knew what it was that had brought me to this bar and part one of the mission was successful. There were the final dreaded and hoped-for moments ahead, but I had gotten the first part of the job done. Now, there was within me an odd deja vu feeling, a medley of sensations that played to my cop-side and to my woman-side. Not only was some of that mix beguiling, it was also a betrayal of self.
As he awaited my coat donning, he said: “So, you were just slumming, pure Joy?”
“Yes, occasionally I get the hankering to see multiple sides of the Big Apple. We’re all animals, you know?” I walked alongside Manfred out the bar door.
“Oh, indeed, I do. Are you driving or cabbing?”
“I’m parked a few cars up the curb.”
He was quiet as I started the car’s engine and pulled away from the curb.
He played ‘rub the thigh’ during the ride and kept his smile esoterically baffling. I tried slapping his paw away, but he kept up his game. Actually, the gentleness of his touch and the sensate stir it caused surprised, titillated, and annoyed me. I managed to check the rear view mirror occasionally but could not be sure that the few trailing cars far behind me included my unmarked back-up. There was not a lot of traffic, and we chatted, strangely like a romantic couple on their way for a sexual encounter. What bothered me was that I could feel the anticipatory urges. What the hell was up with that?
“What motivates you, Joy?” he asked, feigning perhaps an honest and sincere question. Damn, the question had a mysterious sadness to it. He removed his hand from my thigh and stroked my black smooth tresses.
“I motivate me, Manfred. I participate in life, in living, and, for the most part, I enjoy people and sharing…”
He abruptly removed his hand from my hair as though surprised by his own fondling action.
“Is this all just an animal instinct for you, Joy?” He asked in a surprisingly weak voice.
He caught me off guard with this near normal conversation. I needed to keep it real! I had to keep my focus. “What the hell else could it be, Manfred? You have your moments but you’re not the most appealing of the ape class! You do have an odd animal attraction. That, I can’t deny… What? You for sure can’t be expecting more than that after this rapid romance? I mean, hey, I’m sad, sorry you’re dying, and I feel like helping you realize some of those sexual illusions, but that’s it, pal.”
I glanced over at him. His face still held that unnerving smile on the lips. The lights of neon night produced a shiny side-view watery glaze to his eyes. For brief seconds, I damned near felt sorry for Manfred Bauer. He didn’t drug me, but what the hell was this wacko using on me? Was he using some weird mojo, voodoo black magic stuff on me? There was a lot going on in this new tech savvy world of ours, and I was not privy to all of it. Damn, maybe he did put some tasteless something in my vodka tonic…
“It was just a trick question, pure Joy. That’s ‘for sure’ all that it was.” His voice had regained its edge of hardness. He stared straight ahead with the pasted smile. It was as though he had reached a final determination on the outcome of this night. There was a sense that he knew all the steps that were to follow our drive to uptown Manhattan.
Despite all my investigative training, all the years of experience and heightened awareness in tough undercover situations, there was something palpable and very scary happening inside of me. A degree of fear always accompanied these operations, but the frenzied feeling that came to me now was beyond any I had ever known. Manfred Bauer had done a job on my emotional wiring, and I felt myself losing control.
We arrived at the recently rented NYPD apartment twenty minutes later.