Please find below an except of Inside Out (a Novella) by Tiffany Christina Lewis
© Tiffany Christina Lewis 2014
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The man stood up from his squatting position on the floor and wiped his head with his forearm. Blood smeared across grotesquely. The big man, breathing heavily, held his hands on his hips effeminately. He smiled as he looked down at his work.
“All done,” he said, dusting his hands together.The motion was futile. He could not remove the blood from his hands just by brushing them against each other. He was a creature of habit, so the hand motion served as more of a finishing statement. He didn’t intend to literally clean his hands. He had done this motion so many times, after his work, that it was just… a thing. Besides, his right hand was cut, so without some first aid, the bleeding would continue.
“Gotta go,Bob,” he said. The man began to gather his tools. A small saw, hammer, and chef knife were first into the bag. Then he untied Bob’s wrists’, wound up the bloody rope, and put it into the bag. Next was the vial of tranquilizer and needle. He grabbed a plastic bag filled with his trophy and tucked it into the side pocket of his bag. Lastly, the man grabbed his extra-large flashlight and turned it off. He slipped it into the bag and moved to the doorway. He looked back at the dead, bloody pile of human flesh, muscle, and bones. The man smiled and tipped an imaginary hat.
“Thanks for a good time.” He left the room, closing the door behind him.
Michael Taylor stood outside the abandoned house.This Friday afternoon the Oakland, California sun was being lazy, letting the clouds win their daily battle, overcasting the sky. It was an even 66 degrees that day in May, which lent well to standing outside for hours. The police officers swarmed like bees on a tulip – in and out of the house, up and down the driveway. Michael just did what he knew best – observe. While everyone else frantically tried to gather things, Michael learned through observation. There was not much evidence to gather outside, but Michael could see the bloody footprints. He wondered who would be brazen enough to leave the house and get into their car without cleaning themselves up first. The killer, as usual, had gone unnoticed. Only the stench of death drew attention. The neighbors called it in that morning and this was body number six.
Michael had been thinking about those footprints for six weeks. Every time he arrived at the scene of another murder, he saw those footprints. He sighed and went under the police tape, grabbing the first officer in his path.
“This is what we’re used to, yes?” he asked.
“So get everyone out of here. I need CSI and you, that’s it.” Michael ordered as he walked away and entered the house.
Michael was mysterious to everyone at the precinct. He was stoic at best and preferred to work alone, so no one knew much about him. He was the best detective on the force, proving himself with a long list of quickly and accurately solved cases and everyone wanted to be around him, but he was very guarded. As the old adage goes, women wanted to be with him and men wanted to be him. Michael was tall and handsome, well built, smart, and determined. His caramel brown skin was flawless. He had copper eyes shaped like half-moons and thick lips. He wore his facial hair in a goatee and mustache and kept his hair cut low and conservative with occasional waves.
Michael preferred to wear a button up dress shirt with a tie and slacks every day. He only wore a jacket on extremely cold occasions and his slacks were always black. Unlike his counterparts who stuck with the usual white shirt and dark tie, Michael was more daring in his shirt and tie selection. His shirts ran the range from blue to black, shades of red, and even purple. Those who thought he was a straight shooter were often thrown for a loop when he pulled out his pink shirts. Michael was feeling green that day, with a black tie, his favorite black slacks, and matching shoes.
The officer cleared the scene and entered the house after making a call for CSI. He caught up with Michael. “DetectiveTaylor, are you sure you want me? I’ve never helped before. Are you sure you don’t want to ask Officer Jamison?”
“Did the other officers try to make you think they were special? I pick the first officer I see. That’s you. Now get ready to write. Is CSI on the way?”
“Excellent. What’s your name?”
Michael led Officer Watterson through the house.Using his nose as a guide, he found the body in the back. The rotting flesh waiting for them was no surprise to Michael. He quickly entered the room and approached the body. Officer Watterson peeked into the door, and when he saw the mound of flesh he stopped short and gagged.
“Here’s a mask.” Michael pulled the mouth and nose masks from his pants pocket. He handed one to Officer Watterson and then put one on himself. The smell was overwhelming without something covering their noses. They could still smell the odor of death, but it was bearable with the mask.
Officer Watterson entered and began taking notes.
The dead body was in many pieces and stacked up like a mountain of red and white slaughter house trash. Bones and human muscle were the only things recognizable. Skin had been turned inside out so without moving some body parts, you couldn’t tell the ethnicity of the victim. Officer Watterson spotted the skull, or was it a patella? He decided not to write anything specific on that note. He just described what he knew he was looking at.
“Everything is the same here. Pile of flesh, footprints leading out of the room, nothing else.” Michael stopped short.“Wait, I’ve got hair. That’s new.” Michael slipped on some gloves.
Officer Watterson gasped. “Something new?”
“Yeah, we’ve never seen any left-over hair.Scalping is usually the first thing done. He takes the teeth too. I wonder what it means that he left this.” Michael squatted down to the floor and picked up the hair. He looked at it, closely. “This could be the killers, but I doubt it.There would have had to be a fight, but he always uses tranquilizers.” Michael sighed and put the hair down. “At least we can quickly ID this victim, compared to the others.”
The CSI team entered the room.
“Same old, same old, huh?” one of the masked men said.
“Yeah. Except there is some left-over hair. Tag and bag, you know the drill. Watterson?” Michael stood up, “Is the coroner coming?”
“Okay, let’s search for evidence, even though I don’t think we’ll find anything. Watterson, look around upstairs and gather anything you find valuable.”
Michael walked all four walls of the room. There was nothing but blood splatter on the floor and up the walls. Michael stopped and looked at each drop of blood briefly. When he got near the door his game of duck duck goose gave up a runner. Every drop of blood was dark brown and dry, dark brown and dry, dark brown and dry, until… red. There was a drop of blood near the door that was not as oxidized as the other drops.
“Wh-who’s in here?” Michael shouted over his shoulder.
“Jones, Crantz, and Mercado,” one of the men said.
“Mercado, I will bet you a hundred dollars that this is my killers’ blood.”
Juan Mercado almost broke into a sprint. He bumped into Michael and looked over his shoulder.
“Oh shit.” Juan ran back to his case and grabbed a handful of swabs and collection tubes. He quickly returned to the door and took two swabs of the blood. When he stood Michael grabbed him by the shoulder.
“Take one more. Get it all.”
Juan did as he was told and when he came up for air he started to laugh. “Oh my God. This is it!”
“Don’t get too excited. Just get these items to the lab, now.”
Michael continued to check the bottom floor of the house for evidence. He met Officer Watterson at the foot of the stairs and let him know about the blood.
“That’s great! Hopefully we can finally nail this bastard.”
“Don’t get excited, we’ll have to get a DNA match in order for it to mean anything. Just get a report written and get it on my desk. I’ll let you know how it goes with the blood.” Michael headed towards the front door.
“Okay, but come on Detective Taylor, this is good news.” Officer Watterson said to Michael’s back.
Michael stopped and looked at the officer. He smiled. “Yeah, good news.”
Michael entered his Crown Victoria and drove back to the station. He wanted to finish his report early. He had someplace to be that night. He zoomed through traffic and parked in his favorite spot on the street. His unmarked vehicle was black and he had no problem entering the precinct from the front door.
Michael made his way to his desk, nodding his greeting to each person who acknowledged him. When he sat down he was immediately interrupted.
“New evidence!!” a woman bellowed.
“Yes.” Michael said without looking up. “Exciting.”
“Doesn’t sound like you think so.” The heavy set woman stood next to Michaels’ chair and put her hands on her hips.
“I just don’t think the killer is that careless. After six weeks of chasing, why would he just leave his blood?” Michael wondered, looking up at the detective.
“Well honey, I hope he was careless. You need it.” She smiled and turned to leave. “The lieutenant is ordering dinner. You want something?”
“No, I’m leaving as soon as I’m done with this report.”
“Yes, it’s Friday. Michael never sticks around onFriday’s,” she said, teasing. She bounced to the next occupied cubicle and promptly started up a new conversation with her fellow detective.
Michael smiled and jumped in to his report. He had to be done by 7:30 p.m. or he might miss the show.
Michael finished his report later than he intended but made up for lost time by driving like a maniac. In order to make it to the show he would need to cross the Bay Bridge. He navigated towards San Francisco, expertly weaving in and out of traffic. On occasion he would have to use his siren to get around not only old ladies driving Buicks, but young men driving Buicks as well.
He pulled up in front of AJ’s and parked in the red zone. He jumped out and ran into the club. One of the bouncers outside the club yelled after him but another bouncer stopped him short.
“That’s the PD. He’ll take care of it after the show.”
Michael breezed past the lovely cashier and sat down in the front row. He slumped down in the cushy lounge seat. He was still in his work clothes, gun holstered at his side. The dark room reeked of testosterone and sex. The neon lights shined on Michael, giving his stone expression a surreal space aged look. That was the idea. The clubs theme was space. AJ’s Space Club. Pure curiosity brought people into the club. The women made them stay.
AJ’s was a strip club and the trip was out of this world for the clients who visited. Men and women alike who went there said they had the most ethereal feeling when they left. The hospitality, the sexuality, the lights and the alcohol left everyone on cloud nine. No wonderMichael came back every week.
It may have also been his favorite girl who brought him back. Candy. Her show was every Friday at 8:30 pm. Michael had been front and center for almost four months. His rage was palpable any night she wasn’t there without letting him know. He wasn’t interested in anyone else.
Candy was his stress relief. Her private dances were like a sauna. He always left feeling like Jell-O and he slept like a baby.Candy was all he needed after a long day of work.
Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” came on as Candy was introduced by the DJ and she came out on stage dressed to kill. Or undressed to kill. Michael scooted his chair closer to the stage and leaned forward. Candy was in all pink, showing more than eighty percent of her skin. The outfit looked more like a bathing suit than a costume. The designer of the outfit did their best to create dark pink spots that resembled craters but the triangles of fabric were too small to tell.
Candy’s high heels were six inches and her black hair was curly all over. Her hair and numerous body parts bounced as she danced for the crowd. She spotted Michael amidst the sea of customers and smiled at him. He returned her smile with a big, white, genuinely happy grin of his own. Michael was her most loyal customer. Candy did her due diligence and danced around the stage, showing the other patrons attention. Candy climbed the pole and leaned back, touching the floor with her hands, while her legs clung to the pole. She released her legs, did a handstand, and landed in a split. Candy bounced her basketball round butt and the crowd came to fever pitch.
Candy returned her attention to Michael. She crawled over to the edge of the stage and touched Michael under his chin as she hypnotized him. He stared deeply into her big bright brown eyes. She untied her top and bared her grapefruit sized breast for him, and the crowd, but Michael kept his eyes locked with hers. Money began to accumulate on stage.
Candy continued and finished her topless performance. She collected her money and gave Michael a wink as she left the stage. He stood up quickly and headed towards the back hallway. Security let him through and he traveled towards the room Candy used for her private dances.When he got to the end of the hall where her door was, another man was there.He stopped short and then coolly walked over.
“What’s up man?” the stranger said to him.
“You here to see Candy?” Michael asked.
“Yeah, I been trying to see her every Friday night for a month, but every time I come, you here, hogging her.”
“Well it’ll be a repeat. Get outta here.”
“No, sir. I paid already.”
“I’ll double it. Get outta here.” Michael pulled a hundred dollar bill out of his wallet.
“No, man. I wanna see Candy.”
Michael put his hand on his pistol. “Candy dances on Saturday too. Why don’t you come back tomorrow?”
“Fuck you man! I know you’re a cop! I ain’t scared of you.” The man puffed out his chest.
“I will make your life hell, sir, if you don’t go now.”
“Hey!” Candy spoke up, having overheard the conversation in the hall. She stood in the doorway, wearing something more celestial with the rings of Saturn orbiting her full hips, attached to her thong, and planet shaped pasties covering her breasts. “What the hell?”
“Your favorite guy won’t let me have my time! I’m gonna call the PD on your ass.” The man pointed his finger close to Michael’s face.
“If you touch me you will be sleeping in jail tonight.”
“Hey! Michael.” Candy said, gently touching his forearm. “This gentleman paid.” She paused, “You know it’s hands off.”
“I said I would double his money.”
“I want the time!” the man yelled
“Relax, sir, you’ll get it. Come on in.” Candy said.
“Candy.” Michael said through clenched teeth.
Candy walked over to Michael and put her arms around his neck. Her chocolate skin melted onto him. She hugged him close to her and whispered in his ear. “I missed you this week.”
Michael softened but kept his hands to himself. “I missed you too, that’s why I wanna be with you.”
“You will be, just let me do my job before I get in trouble.” She gently kissed his cheek. “It’s only twenty minutes, yes?”
“Have a drink.” Candy released him and entered her room. She closed the door gently.
Michael slammed his fist into his open-palm and snarled. He turned quickly and went to the bar. He ordered two shots of Patron and killed them both as soon as they arrived. Michael couldn’t help but think about Candy with that strange man. Her soft lips near that mans ear. Her smile as she observed his excitement. Michael was undone.
“You aiight Detective?” the bartender asked.Everyone knew Michael was a cop. Even though he didn’t intentionally try to draw attention to himself, he always had his gun and badge when he went to the club. He was friendly and his money was good, so most everyone liked him.
“Yeah. Is Jason here?”
“Yep. You want me to call him for you?”
The bartender called the owner down and he greeted Michael warmly. “What’s up man, I hear you didn’t pay.” Jason, also known as AJ, spoke with a smile. He was a big Caucasian male with a bald head and a long beard.
“Yeah, I was running late. I’m mad man. Somebody got my spot.”
“Somebody went in to see Candy before you?”
“Yeah. I don’t think that’s happened since I’ve become a customer here.”
Jason laughed. “Times change.” When he noticed that Michael wasn’t very amused he added, “Drinks on me, free admission.”
“No, it’s okay, I just lost my cool.”
“No, take it. You’re always a great customer.”
“Yes. Your money is no good at the door or bar tonight.”
“My lap dance isn’t included?” Michael asked with a smirk.
Jason chuckled. “As long as you two hang out, no. I appreciate you though.”
“Aiight man. Thanks.” Michael took his seat back at the bar and ordered another shot.
Thirty minutes and 15 shots later when he was well beyond his limit, Candy came over and fetched him.
“Hey! I thought you’d be out there!” she rubbed his back.
“Help me.” Michael slipped off his stool onto wobbly legs and Candy helped him back to her room. Fluorescent and white lights dimly lit the room. A white leather love seat was placed against the wall.Across from that was a vanity with a big mirror and a bench. The rest of the space was occupied by a small dance floor and dance pole. Michael plopped down onto the loveseat and sighed deeply before asking, “Did that asshole touch you?”
“No, honey. It’s hands off.” She replied. Candy looked at herself briefly in the vanity before she turned to Michael. “You’re so drunk I don’t know if I even want to touch you.”
“Don’t say that baby.”
Candy laughed and crossed the small dance floor. She sat with Michael on the loveseat. “How come you never visit me on any other day?”
“I can’t afford it.”
Candy laughed. “That’s your fault.”
“I know. I don’t make enough money.”
“No silly,” Candy laughed, “you stay too long.”
“No, no, no, I couldn’t stay long enough.” Michael kept his hands on his knees.
Candy put her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder. “How was your day?”
“Great! There was another killing.”
“That’s not great.”
“Well, we found some new evidence. Some of the killers’ blood. I think it’s the killers’ blood. It’s exciting, everyone says.”Michael smiled.
Candy couldn’t help but smile back. Michael looked at her and touched her face.
“No touching Michael.”
“I can’t help it. You’re so beautiful.”
“Thank you, honey.” Candy paused briefly and then cleared her throat. “Michael, how come you don’t wanna see me, outside the club?”
Michael didn’t know what to say so he just started talking, “I like it like this. This is nice. You look so sexy and stuff. I don’t think I’ll have enough time to see you outside the club. I’m busy at work, you have school,”
“You’re addicted to work. That’s a behavioral addiction.”
“I’m not, I just,”
“Okay, okay, that’s enough bullshit.” Candy stood up and went back to the vanity. She flipped the white lights off with a switch to the right of her mirror.
“I, I can’t formulate my thoughts right now, I’m drunk.”
“That’s the truth serum honey. You mean what you say.” She slowly approached him.
“No, I love you. I love to see you, all the time, and I just don’t think it would work out.”
Candy straddled Michael.
“I just don’t think you would like me outside of the club.”
“Why not?” Candy laughed.
“I’m boring, and super busy.” Michael looked at her with heavy eyelids.
Candy slowly began to grind on Michael’s lap. “Maybe I want to be boring with you sometimes.”
“No, you’re so exciting.”
“You don’t know me like that, Michael. You know me, but only here. I’m exciting to you because of this. I’m boring outside of here.” She leaned in and kissed Michaels’ forehead. “Let me get you a cab.”
“No, I don’t wanna leave.”
“You’re too drunk for me to enjoy this, and your phone is chirping like crazy.”
“Oh shit.” Michael hadn’t noticed the sound of the phone in his daze. He looked at the caller ID. It was the coroner. Candy left his lap and turned the lights back on. Michael flinched at the brightness in the room as he quickly checked his voicemail. Lucky for him the coroner said the autopsy wouldn’t be done until tomorrow. Michael let his head lean back onto the wall. When he looked up again Candy was hanging up her cell phone.
“I got your cab coming.”
“No.” Michael rubbed his forehead.
“You should rest. You’ve got work tomorrow with this case heating up.” Candy helped Michael up and walked him out of the club to the curb. They stood and waited for his cab. When Michael wobbled, Candy stood him upright.
“I wanna spend some time with you.” Michael said as he held her.
She steadied herself as she slipped a piece of paper in his pocket. “Your cab is here.” The cab pulled up and Candy helped him into it.
“Where too?” the cabbie asked.
“Uh, Lake Merritt,” Michael sputtered.
“How much?” Candy asked.
“Forty bucks or so.”
“Here’s sixty. Keep the change.” She kissed Michael on the forehead and said goodbye. He waved as the cab pulled away.
The bouncer laughed as Candy watched the cab leave.
“Your man is hopeless.”
Candy flipped off the bouncer and walked into the club.
“Any time, sweetie,” he said as he licked his lips.