I have been in a very bad way lately. Writers block, to the extreme. I know. Thankfully Collins seems to always have some wicked poems up her sleeve to keep you entertained. I decided to just write today. See what came to my mind. Dust out the cobwebs if you will. This is what tumbled out. I hope you enjoy. (Warning, this one contains some material that might make some uncomfortable.)
The number keeps increasing. Not even at a slow pace, at a rate so alarming I’m worried if I don’t hold on I’ll be taken out to sea and left to drown.
Hell, I was already there.
I hadn’t eaten all day, I spent the last of the grocery money on rent so I wouldn’t be homeless. Sacrifices and all that.
The lights were blinding as I made my way on stage, pushing my worries aside. Burying myself into my persona. I was no longer Evie Sharp. I was now Tiffany Crystal. I know, not the most unique stripper name, but I had to come up with something and fast and it was the cheapest name I could come up with.
The deep bass shakes the stage, my six inch clear heels taking the brunt of it. I run my hand up the smooth metal, wrapping my wrist around it and taking a jump to get myself up. I can hear the men screaming, hollering for me to take it off. But that isn’t how it works. I control what happens up here. This is my space. My way to a better life. They can’t take that away from me. They’ll get what they want as soon as I’m ready to give it to them. Not a moment sooner.
My long electric blue hair floats around me as I make a spin, pushing my chest onto the warm pole. The music infecting me as I slowly remove my crystal bra. Letting it slip down my arms as I bare myself to the faceless men in the crowd. I try not to think about it. If they want to admire what I have, and are willing to pay for it…I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not a prude.
I find myself on the chipped wood floor, working my way to the edge, rolling my neck, my hair covering my eyes which I peer through. Careful not to catch the eye of anyone. That’s my one rule. No eye contact. I know it bugs them, but they can have the image of my body. Not my soul. Never that.
I bring myself up to my knees, my head falling behind me, my hand falling to my small panties, playing with the edge but never dipping any lower.
“Come on, Tiff! Take it all off, hunny!”
I want to laugh at this guy, I recognize him, he’s a regular. The typical strip club guy. Old, balding, a pouchy stomach. I indulge him though, slowly slipping them down my legs til they are around my ankles. I gracefully stand up, turning my back to the crown and removing the rest of the material as I go.
I close my eyes at this part. I bend down, grabbing my ankles as the crowd goes wild. I shake, I shimmy, I dance my ass off, almost literally. I can hear the money hitting the stage. Each dollar adding up to another day I can survive without starving.
When the song comes to an end I immediately grab my bag, pulling out my skimpy night gown and pulling it over my head. Pulling my blue hair into a high knot on my head and grabbing the arm of Pete, our security guard who leads me down the steps and into the back room.
The girls congratulate me on a good show, I nod, but say nothing. I never do. They aren’t catty bitches like people would expect, they are extremely nice girls. Some have been doing this as a career for many years. You would never guess their age though.
I pull off my wig, revealing my short auburn hair. My eyelashes are next, throwing them in the trash. I grab a makeup wipe from my bag, wiping away the layers and layers of mask. My freckles come into view. Once I’m done I take a moment to look at myself. The real me. Evie Sharp. Twenty-two year old single mother extraordinaire. I push all my things into my bag and make my way to the managers office to grab my money for the night.
Tony, the night manager is sitting at his desk, a cigarette between his fingers as he clicks away at his computer.
He must sense me because his eyes snap up to mine. He smirks, a hint of his gold tooth peeking out. Tony isn’t too much of a sleaze but I still like to keep my distance.
“Evie.” He uses my real name, it makes me cringe. If I could stay in my costume all night I would so these people would never see the real me.
“I’m here for my cash out.”
“Sure, sure. Take a seat.” He gestures towards his disgusting chairs in front of his crappy desk.
“I’m okay, I have to get going.”
He eyes me. I know he’s been trying to make a play for me for awhile. Although he’s never acted too vulgar about it.
“Here you go.” He says as he grabs an envelope handing it to me.
I take the cash and wave at him slightly before quickly rushing out the door, through the crowd who don’t recognize me and outside into the fresh air.
I release a deep breath and turn my head to the sky, soaking in the sight of the stars. Wishing upon anyone I can to get me out this goddamn mess.
I called a cab earlier to pick me up in five minutes so I take a minute to check my phone for any updates from my sitter.
“Lyric is fine. In bed. See you soon.” the text from Marcy, my best friend and babysitter says. I smile, thinking about my little girl tucked into bed.
Just then the cab pulls up, I don’t glance back at the club. I’ll be back here in a two days, but until then. Tiffany Crystal is dead to me.
I doubt the reason the chief’s called me into his office is to award me a gold star for effort. I sink into the worn upholstered chair in front of his desk as he slams the door shut. He rounds his desk, unbuttoning his suit jacket and setting in over his chair back. I watch as he rolls his sleeves up one by one before settling his eyes on me.
“How are things going with your case, Paul?”
The chief’s eyebrow twitches. “Is that why I haven’t gotten an update in two weeks?”
I twiddle my thumbs in my lap. The chief hates fidgeting, so I continue. “Jacob hasn’t made any movement in the last while. We’re sort of playing the waiting game now.”
I glance at the chief’s desk. It’s pretty bare, with a folder, some papers and pens. A single photo of his daughter graduating rests in a plain wood frame in the corner. No photos of his wife.
“A waiting game?” The chief scoffs. “Sounds to me like you’re being lazy. I gave you this assignment to get your blood pumping, to reignite your passion for police work. You don’t get paid to sit around, inhaling donuts and watching your waistline grow.”
I resent his comment. I’ve been watching my weight. In fact I’ve lost two pounds. I shift forward in my chair, resting my elbows on my knees. “I told you about what happened at the coffee shop. Since then he’s been quiet. I planned on—“
“Planned on wasting precious time? My god, the quality of our force has fallen steeply since my day.” The chief pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales slowly. He plucks up the folder from his desk and opens it, flipping through the pages inside. “You seem to have a lead right under your nose. The girl from the sexual assault case. Haven’t you thought to interview her yet?” he asks, an edge of irritation to his voice.
I force a grin. “I was getting to it. Why is it such a big deal to check this out now?”
“Because there’s been another disappearance. A couple of days ago Vincent Harbringer went missing. He’s in his late fifties and his family hasn’t seen him since he went out for a walk.” The chief’s mouth draws into a line. “Harbringer has several counts of sexual assault under his belt.”
“It sounds to be like you believe this Jacob kid is guilty. Isn’t that jumping the gun?”
“He’s the only lead we’ve got right now. So while we’re in here talking about this, Harbringer’s probably rotting in some alley and his killer is free to kill again. So what I’m asking is for you to get your ass out of my chair and into your cruiser.”
I stand from “the chief’s chair.” I hate his hard ass cop attitude. It’s not 1980 anymore. And if all the hard work he did is what led to his receding hairline, I don’t want any part of it. I force a smile to appease his pompous ego and exit the room.
Kevin saunters down the hallway, a cup of coffee in his hand. He grins when he sees me. “Did the chief rip you a new one?”
“Jesus Kev, don’t get me started. I’m on my way to question a magical lead right now. Chief’s orders.”
“Tough break. Hey,” he says, brightening up, “You still coming out for bowling tomorrow night?”
“Wouldn’t miss it. I could use a few beers and laughs. A night away from the old ball and chain wouldn’t hurt either.”
Kevin chuckles and sips his coffee. “I hear ya. Listen, I gotta get back to work, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Take it easy.”
After I talk to Kevin I head down to the second floor of the precinct to grab my jacket and badge, then out to my cruiser to pay the lead a visit.
It’s sad, but a great gift to me, that the well of depraved sick bastards never seems to dry up. Especially now, when I really need to use my blades.
My feet ache to take me through the moist mulch of the forest.
My hands are tingling, wanting to bury another grave.
Angel shut the door in my face, tears in her eyes. But I’ve kept true to my word, I haven’t left her.
I follow her as she goes to work.
I watch her as she tries to have a social life with her waste of space friends.
I dream of her as she undresses at night.
She just doesn’t know it. Not yet, she isn’t ready. But she will be. I can tell she has become more vigilante, looking out her windows more often. Checking her phone on a routine schedule. She’ll never see me though, not until I want to be seen.
Just like with Vincent Harbringer here. I scroll through the information I’ve found on him. Blinking to focus my eyes in the pitch black.
Age, fifty eight.
Seven counts of molestation on under aged girls. Registered sex offender. Three counts of breaking his conditions.
The next victim. My next victim.
I spend the next few hours switching between the research on Vinny and the rest trying to keep my fingers from clicking the live feed of Angel’s house.
It’s going to be a wonderful day.
So with Unit 17 making its way closer to publishing, we thought we’d share the preface of the book with you all. If you have a chance, let us know what you think in the comments. It’d be much appreciated!
I blink. “I’m sorry?”
The Director is watching the scientists go. He must have dismissed them while I wasn’t paying attention. “What did you think about the demonstration?”
“Oh. Um, it was interesting. I’m not sure why I needed to be here though.”
“A valid question,” Wolfgang chuckles, tilting his head. “I wanted to observe your reaction, along with hers.”
I ask curiously, “What was that going to show you?”
“Much. Tell me, Theo, do you care for Ms. Morris?” His eyes remain glued to my face. I feel like a specimen under a magnifying glass.
“I saw her around school,” I shrug. “I like her about as much as I liked any of my other classmates.”
Wolfgang nods to himself and strides a few feet away, his hands clasped behind his back. He stops. “I am under the assumption that she cares for you.”
“Why does it matter if she likes me or not?” I ask innocently.
“It makes all the difference in the world, at least that’s my theory.”