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Cynique

The Only One Chapter 16

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The Only One

Chapter 16

“It’s like waitin for the other shoe to drop.” Philip Atkins was saying to his partner Brooks Jones as they rode along, on their way to their favorite greasy spoon diner for lunch, discussing the fact that the garbage dumpster serial killer hadn’t struck lately.

“Maybe he’s on a hiatus,” Brooks suggested. “Might have an engagement lined up for tomorrow night, one that shows some promise. And even if the date doesn’t cooperate, he can still get his rocks by killing her."

“Man, that’s cold,” Philip scowled.. “You sound more like a misogynistic rap fan than the - cerebral jazz devotee you call yourself!”

“I’m just trying to get inside the killer’s head, and think like he thinks,” Brooks explained, pulling into a “no parking” space.

“I can go you one better,” Philip said as they exited the car and headed for the eatery. “I hope the scum bag scores with his next date so maybe she can escape alive.”

“Can you say 'Catch 22',” Brooks chuckled, as he pushed open the restaurant door, and they barged through it.

Carole Everly stepped out of the shower, and grabbed a towel. She was running late and hoped she could make it on time to the jazz club where she was supposed to meet Albert for their date to see Esparanza Spalding.

Quickly drying herself off, she decided she would wear pants instead of a dress. No need to get too dolled up. No thong either she thought reaching in a drawer for her spanx. She’d rely on a nice colorful blouse to dress things up; might even show some cleavage. She’d have to spend a little more time on her hair, she noted, since it was starting to grow out and would require more than a few quick brush strokes.

Retrieving a pair of black slacks from her closet, she wiggled into them and zipped up. No spiked heels either, wedgies were more comfortable. Scurrying around, doing all it took to get ready, she couldn’t believe she was actually a little excited at the prospect of seeing Albert again. She just hoped she’d recognize him inasmuch as his face wasn’t exactly imprinted on her brain because he was so nondescript. But, whatever…

Finally done with hair and make-up, staring at her dresser as she got her earrings in, she began to tuck in her green and beige printed top while deciding that just a spritz of one of her flowery colognes would be adequate. Nothing provocative like the spicy or citrus scents that were wasting away in their decorative bottles.

Continuing to primp, she fastened her necklace then blew herself a kiss.You don’t know what you’re missin, Troy Briggs, she mouthed before struggling into her faux fur jacket, vowing to limit her drinks so as to eliminate any risk of having another unnerving nightmare.

Releasing a deep sigh, she grabbed her keys and headed for the door, hoping she hadn’t forgotten anything, trying very hard to not think about who she really wished she was having a night out with. But, second-best was better than - spending a dead evening at home…

Philip Atkins didn’t have much of a taste for his usual morning coffee and donut, thanks to what he had just taken in. And, as he shivered there in the freezing cold, part of a crime team waiting for the arrival of the coroner’s people, his stomach felt queasy. This was not how he wanted to start his day.

“You can’t let this shit get to you, man,” Brooks Jones stressed, noticing how upset his partner appeared. “You gotta stay detached and professional!”

Phillip shook his head and stared at the sheet-covered corpse. “I realize that,” he rasped, “but like I told you, I knew this chick! I used to go with her. I’d just seen her a few weeks ago. She was a beautiful person!”

“Brooks rubbed his hands together to warm them up. “Well, she ain’t beautiful no more so, pull yourself together,Sergeant.”

Philip stuck a cigarette in his mouth. “Easy to say. Hard to do.”

“I’m beginning to think you’re in the wrong profession,” Brooks said. “Maybe you oughta become - a marriage counselor.”

“It’s just devastating to see someone you cared about, end up like this!” Philip retorted. “She didn’t deserve to die so young and violently.”

“Who does?” Brooks asked.

Philip fell silent, watching as a suspect was being led away in handcuffs. Then he thought about how close he’d formerly been to the murdered woman, remembered how he had once fantasized about a 3-way orgy with her and Carole Everly. Still shaken, he took a long pull on his cigarette and stared into space, recalling the good times, trying not to think about how ghastly his ex-girlfriend looked after the rejected suitor had shot half her face away in a jealous rage.

“If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all,” Carole lamented, echoing her brother Bobby’s favorite phrase, as she lie there in her old bedroom at her parents’house, talking on the phone, recuperating from the minor injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

“After keeping me overnight for observation, they released me this morning,” she explained to her listener. "Unless I just want to, I should've have to take any time off from work."

“How bad is your car?” Wanda asked.

“There’s some front end damage but it could’ve been worse considering that the guy plowed right into me, claiming he must’ve hit the gas instead of the brakes.”

“Did the old fart have insurance?”

“Yes, but he needs to give up driving at his age.”

“So much for Esparanza and - Albert, huh?’

“Afraid so.I guess poor Albert thought I stood him up, but even if I hadn’t been incapacitated, would you believe that I forgot to bring my cell phone with me, and when I finally tried to call, the one number I found for him was disconnected.”

“He probably gave up and decided to just move on. How much rejection can a poor guy take?”

“I agree, since he hasn’t made any effort to contact me to see what happened. And I’m truly sorry things ended this way. But considering that both of our attempts to hook up never materialized, and how everything seems to be working against us, I’m thinking that - it just wasn’t meant to be. My subconscious was probably responsible for me leaving my cell phone behind!”

“And for putting you in the path of an 80-year-old speed demon.”

“85.”

“Well, girlfriend, I’m just glad you’re OK and I’ll be by this evening with your order of rib tips.”

“Mild sauce.”

“I know.”

After hanging up the phone, Carole laid back on her pillow, waiting for the pain pill she’d just swallowed to work, wishing there was something she could take to cure her ailing social life and - get rid of the wounded pride that wouldn’t let her forget…

…Troy Briggs felt a little leery about picking Debbie up from work because there was always a chance he’d run into somebody he’d rather not see. But with Debbie’s car in for a brake job, and him off early, how could he refuse her request.

Then, almost as if he had thought her up, looking through the windshield of his car as he waited in City Wide’s parking lot, he spotted Carole Everly coming out of the building, walking toward him. He considered hiding behind the newspaper that was laying next to him on the seat, but then decided not to. Why should he have a problem with seeing Carole? And there was always a chance that she’d save him the trouble by using this opportunity to snub him, - something he had no time to further contemplate as he watched Carole slip on a patch of ice and take a nasty fall. Looking as though she might be hurt, he hesitated then got out of the car, and made his way over to her. Grabbing her by the elbow, he helped her up.

“Are you OK?” he said as their eyes met and they stood there a moment, silently facing each other.

“Yes,” she nodded. “I think so. Thanks for coming to my rescue.”

“How could I let you struggle there on the ground?” he asked. “This ice is really treacherous and these walkways should be salted.”

“I’ll split the money with you if I decide to sue City Wide for causing me serious injury,” she joked.

“I don’t know how they could be so negligent,” he replied.

“My, isn’t this a cozy little scene?” a voice behind him said before Debbie gave him a shove and he bumped into Carole, causing her to grab his arm, as she fell again and he tumbled on top of her.

“You silly bitch!” he swore at a laughing Debbie and - bolted upright in the bed, looking around the room…

Burying his face in his hands, he gradually calmed down, and cleared the crazy thoughts that filled his head.

“Shit,” he finally muttered. That’s what he got for sleeping late!

- to be continued, as the twisted plot line straightens itself out in the final chapters...

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