Friday, March 11, 2011
A little something I'm working on
I’m off to spend a week NYC today and probably won’t blog again until I get back. I’ve started a long story I hope to submit for one of the Halloween anthologies. For a change, I began at the beginning.
I cut the opening section by about 1/3 to use as my contribution this week to the GayFlashFiction group. (The prompt was “Forensic Evidence”.) I’m posting it here, too, so you’ll have a bit of a foretaste. It’s far from polished and is bound to go through several revisions before I’m done with it, but let me know whether you think the idea is worth pursuing.
After the sex I took a shower and went back to my cubicle to cool off, maybe have a short nap. I was awakened by a soft knocking on the door. I opened it a crack and saw one of the bath attendants. He looked nervous.
“Did I oversleep?” I asked. “Are my eight hours up?”
“No. You have to come with me.”
“Where to? Why?”
“To the lounge. I’m not allowed to tell.”
“What time is it?”
“Going on three. No, come as you are. Just wrap a towel around your waist take your key. Nothing else.”
“Am I in some kind of trouble?”
“I don’t think so, not you personally. Unless we all are. I don’t know.”
We had to pass the lockers on our way to the lounge. The night manager was there with his set of keys. He’d opened one of the lockers. Two cops had dumped its contents on the floor and were sorting through it item by item, examining everything, writing it all down.
“What’s going on?”
“A search. They’re going through everything, first the lockers, then the cubicles. That’s why you had to leave your stuff behind.”
“Can’t tell you. There are cops posted at the front door and the emergency exit, and God knows how many more in the street. You can’t get away; you’ll have to play along.”
“Why would I try to get away? Can we go by the toilets so I can take a leak first?”
He nodded. That gave me a chance to pump him for more information, not that it was forthcoming. “Play along with what?” I asked.
“Answer a few questions. Then you can go home. They promise you’ll remain anonymous if you’re not involved.”
“Involved in what? Questions about what? I suppose you’re not allowed to say.”
He shook his head.
They’d posted a cop in the lounge doorway to make sure nobody tried to leave, but he kept his distance. Another attendant stood behind the bar with free coffee for everyone. There were about fifteen of us so far, each with just a towel around his waist. The attendant left to rouse the next guy. He’d been instructed to fetch us one at a time. When he’d brought in the last of us, we numbered a little over two dozen. Some of us sat apart from the others, looking terrified and not saying a word, probably the men with a wife and kids at home, or with jobs or reputations to protect. Others whispered excitedly together. A small handful were leafing through a magazine or watching the TV, pretending they weren’t concerned. No one seemed in the mood to indulge in a little groping, not that anyone dared with a cop standing right there. This was a private club, but we were in an open space, and they could book us for public indecency.
The wait was excruciating. After half an hour the manager came to the lounge with three plain clothes detectives. One of us had the nerve to ask what was taking so long.
“We can’t start questioning you till we finish the search. That means your cars, too. You can speed things up if you give us your plate numbers and the model of your vehicle and tell us where you’re parked. Anyone come by bus?”
They must have run our licenses already. You had to leave them at the desk when you signed in, and most men checked their keys as well.
He went on: “We have to spray everything down with luminol, too. That takes time.”
“What’s luminol?” someone asked.
I knew from watching CSI. “That stuff that makes blood glow in the dark.”
The detective read out some half-dozen names. “You guys can go now. We won’t be needing your testimony. An officer will escort you to pick up your belongings. It’ll go quickly now,” he went on. “We’ve set aside three cubicles to question you one on one.”
As soon as he left someone asked, “How come they get to go?”
“They all got here after ten,” the manager said.
“Didn’t you understand?” the cop barked at him. “You give out no information.”
The manager clammed up; we couldn’t get anything out of him. Three men were called for questioning, then after ten or fifteen minutes a detective would show up and call another name. Those who left didn’t come back. We asked about that and were told that after they’d been questioned, they took their things and went out by the emergency exit. It sounded likely enough.
Meanwhile the rumors were flying. Something had happened before ten o’clock; they were looking for blood. The consensus was that an attendant had opened a cubicle and found the occupant dead, his throat slit.
“Why ten o’clock?” someone asked.
“Rigor mortis must have set in,” another explained. “It starts about three hours after death. And I’m guessing the blood was still wet, not just damp.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I work at the hospital. As an orderly.”
A third man joined in. “Why wasn’t there a scream? I didn’t hear anything.”
“Not if the victim didn’t it coming,” the orderly began. “Like if he was lying on his stomach and the slasher was fucking him and cut right through his windpipe—”
The manager quickly hushed them, but their grim expressions of his staff confirmed what had been said. Several men shuddered and one began sniveling. Guys who bottom face down, I thought. You can imagine what we looked like, all of us, waiting our turn with a detective—nervous, despondent, avoiding eye contact, trying not to freak out.