WARNING: Mature Content
It was 3:45am, early Monday morning. Detective Caleb Jones unfolded himself from the seat of his 2003 Ford Taurus. He should’ve been annoyed at having to respond to the early morning call since he’d only just clocked out of the precinct at eleven. Instead, he’d seen the phone call as a reprieve. He was getting tired of fighting with Jacquee.
It took him several tries to close the car door. It was slightly off track and he had to hold it up to slam it in place. He made a mental note to get someone to look at it. Then he heard Jacquee’s strident voice in his head,
“No. What you need is a new car!”
Caleb paused for a moment to shake the residue of the night’s argument from his head. He couldn’t afford the distraction. He scanned the exterior of the Shady Rest Motel. The parking lot was full of cops. He was told this was a bad one. But a ten-year veteran of the Memphis Police Department had seen a lot of ‘bad ones’ so the dispatcher’s warning seemed unnecessary to Caleb. But when he crossed the threshold of the motel, he momentarily reconsidered.
The smell hit him first, before he even crossed the threshold. The unlikely sight of seasoned police officers, stumbling from the room, gagging, struck him next.
The room was typical of most motels. It was designed for function, not style. The floor was covered in thin industrial grade carpeting, threadbare in some places. The outer wall housed a window climate control unit, as well as darkout curtains, and there was a vanity counter at the rear. Caleb could see light streaming from a room to the right of the vanity which he presumed to be a bathroom.
The focal point of the room, however, was the bed or to be precise, above the headboard.
On the wall.
A young, naked male hung spread-eagled on the wall above the bed. His body was draped across two wooden spikes strategically placed under his armpits which seemed to bear most of his weight. Nails were inserted just above the wrist, between the two bones of the forearm as well as through his heel bone. The thick iron carpenter’s nails were visible even from Caleb’s position at the door. The guy was literally nailed to the wall.
As if that weren’t bad enough, there was a gaping hole where his genitalia should have been. The poor bastard. There was a pool of blood coagulating on the bed under his feet. Caleb’s gaze finally settled on the man’s face and his own blood seemed to congeal in his veins. A penis was protruding from the victim’s mouth. The victim was Judge Andre Pierce. This time, Caleb did turn away, to prevent his own gag reflex.
The dispatcher was right. This was bad.
“Who the fuck did they think he was? Jesus?” That was Harvey Miller stepping into the room behind Caleb. Harvey was a transplant from Brooklyn. He was not known for his sensitivity.
“C’mon, Harvey. Show a little respect.” But Caleb was grateful for the interruption. It gave his stomach a chance to settle.
After the initial shock wore off, Caleb turned his attention to the others in the room. In the corner, on the far side of the bed, sat a woman. She was crying, seemingly hysterical. She seemed unable to be respond to the female officer ‘s attempt to calm her down. The woman was wrapped in a blanket, naked underneath except for a bra and panty set. Caleb could see her blood streaked arms and legs.
Caleb had always thought of her as a plain woman. She tended to wear clothes that hid what he could see now was an amazingly lush figure. Her hair, pulled back in an umimaginative bun. And he’d never seen her in makeup or nail polish. But she wore an abundance of both now. He would never have suspected that underneath her oversize gabardine suits, he would find sexy, red lace underwear.
Courtney Bowers, with her shoulder length brown hair spread out across her shoulders was one helluva woman. She was also Judge Pierce’s law clerk. You never knew.
She caught sight of him then. She jumped up and threw herself in his arms. She sobbed wetly into his neck. The blanket had fallen away and Caleb found himself uncomfortably trying to figure the best place to put his hands.
“Caleb. Oh Caleb, it was so horrible.”
The female officer tried to pull her away from him, but Courtney tightened her arms around his neck. “He’s dead, Caleb. Andre is dead.” She announced with a fresh wave of tears.
“Courtney, honey I need you to calm down.”
But she would not be soothed. He heard the siren announce the arrival of the ambulance. It pulled into the motel lot and stopped outside the door. He gestured for Harvey and another officer to escort Courtney to the waiting ambulance.
“Ok, tell me what you know.” Caleb demanded of Officer Connie Ramirez, once the room was quiet again. “What happened here?”
“We got a call from the night manager. The neighbors were complaining about the noise. When he came to investigate, he said he pounded on the door, but there wasn’t an answer. He noticed the bad odor coming from the room so, he used his passkey to gain access to the room.”
“When he came inside, he found was the body on the wall and that one,” referring to Courtney, “in a dead sleep on the bed. No pun intended.”
“She was asleep.”
“Yeah, in fact, she was still out of it when we arrived. Officer Miller roused her.”
“What did she say happened?”
“We didn’t get much out of her but she claims she didn’t know anything.” Caleb couldn’t resist the sarcastic rise of his brow. “No, really, she says she had no idea how she got to the motel. She said she was working late with her boss, who then invited her out to dinner at the Madison Hotel. Her last memory is there having dinner with her boss.”
“She was covered in blood. Was she injured?”
“No, the blood seems to belong to the dead guy. But we won’t know for sure until CSI and the examiner confirms.”
“Ok, when the EMTs finish with her, take her down to the station. See if you can locate any family who could come and be with her. Maybe then she will be calmed and we’ll be able to get a rational explanation of what happened here.”
“You bet, boss.”
“Has anyone called the judge?”
“I believe the lieutenant spoke to him. They should be arriving any minute.”
“Why in the world would he bring his side-piece here? Surely he could afford to take her someplace better than this.”
“That’s a good question.
Caleb and Miller had stepped outside. The medical examiner had arrived and conducted a preliminary assessment. EMTs were now removing the body from the wall. CSI was setting up to begin the painstaking process of collecting evidence.
Andre Pierce was a very wealthy man. He’d recently recently elected as a criminal court judge. In addition to being partner in one of the more successful law firms in the city, he had inherited part ownership in a real estate agency with his father. He could certainly do better than the Shady Rest.
They turned as the gurney carrying the body of Andre Pierce was led out of the room. Transport had arrived to take the body to the morgue. The screaming tires of a black Cadillac pulled into the lot. The back doors were thrown open before the chauffeur could come around. A couple emerged, followed more slowly by Director James Hardaway, chief of police.
“Well, hell. This just gets better and better.” Harvey mumbled, walking away, leaving Caleb to face the grieving parents on his own.
Caleb recognized Judge Willie Pierce instantly. He had testified in the senior Pierce’s court on numerous occasions. He was one of the most respected men in the city, well-known for his no-nonsense but fair approach to the law. The judge’s wife, Eula, however was an unknown. They were married Caleb knew, a little over five years ago. It raised a bit of a scandal at the time. The judge’s first wife of 35 years had only been dead six months. Eula was in her early 40’s, young and stylish.
Director Hardaway stood a respectful distance behind them, quietly lending his support.
Judge Pierce walked to the gurney and unzipped the plastic bag that contained his only son. He touched his face, tears rolling down and lapping under his chin. He lowered his head, kissed his son’s forehead and then openly wept.
The unashamed display of grief was difficult to watch. Caleb found his attention drawn back to Eula, who had not moved from the doorway. She displayed a curious absence of emotion. She was fully dressed, as if she had been out on the town. She wore five inch stiletto heels and a short dress above knees. She was heavily made up, diamond earrings. Her attire was in direct contrast to the judge’s old pair of jeans and a casual shirt which he appeared to have donned in a hurry. The father was outwardly grieving but she appeared cold. She stood very still, unmoving, just looking, her eyes taking in every aspect of the dingy room.
The judge lifted his head and asked Caleb to explain what happened to his son. Caleb responded quietly and succinctly informed him of what they knew at that point. Before he could complete his summary, there was an interruption from Eula.
“Was he alone?”
The question seemed to come out of the blue and had a profound effect on the judge. The judge straightened and zipped the bag closed. His movements were suddenly quick and efficient. Caleb was curious about why that would be the first question.
“Eula?” the judge cautioned, a hint of warning in his tone.
“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Her voice went up an octave and she seemed on the border of hysteria. “He’s been fucking everything that moves since he was 13 years old. Either some woman did this, or her man.”
“Eula, this isn’t the time, honey.”
“He’s been fucking over people his whole life. I’m only surprised that it took this long. You know it’s true, Willie.”
“Eula.” He spoke sharply. She held his gaze for a long moment and then, “I’m going outside to smoke. I’ll be in the car.”
Judge Pierce watched her leave with an indiscernible expression. With a final glance at his son’s body and a nod at Caleb, he turned and followed his wife to the car.
““What a cluster fuck!” Caleb swore under his breath.
Okay, readers, now it’s your turn. Caleb will have his hands full with this case so he’s going to need some help. Perhaps you can assist him in his investigation. What information do you need now that could help identify the murderer, the motive and means?
Feel free to leave any comments and suggestions.
And come back next Monday, June 7 for Chapter Two.