The crime scene was the handiwork of hardened criminals. Shell casings covered the floor. Blood and bits of brain painted the wall. Three victims lay across a leather couch, bullet holes dotting their bodies. One of the victims lacked half of his head. The left side of his face looked like spaghetti sauce. His right eye socket smoked like over-microwaved meat.
Detective Warren Price cursed under his breath. And when a uniformed officer stepped to his side, he said, “This amount of carnage, and all I’m getting from the club crowd is ‘Man, I ain’t see nothin’!’”
“Nothing on the security cameras either.”
Price cursed again.
“The shooter must’ve come and gone out that back door from the VIP,” the officer said. “The bouncer in charge of that door, a big dude named Sampson, we can’t find him.”
Price lifted his brow. Tapped his chin a few times with his index finger as if giving that some thought. Then he said, “Judging from the splatter and the shell casings, they stood right along here. In a line. Like a firing squad.”
Price nodded. “Oh yeah! Shooters—plural. As quick as it went down, these many casings, had to be more than one shooter.” He looked around the floor. Against the wall and glass opposite the three dead guys. “Only thing I don’t get is where is their blood?”
“Yeah. ‘Cause Curly, Larry and Moe over there got off some shots. Emptied their clips.” He pointed to the casings off to the side of the couch as well the bullet holes and broken glass opposite them. “You think they dodged the bullets?”
The officer shrugged. “Either that or they were wearing body armor.”
Price scoffed. “A triple murder! A triple I’ll never solve because everyone I’ve talked to says—and I quote— “Man, I ain’t see nothin’!”
The officer laughed. “I did find a witness says she saw the whole thing go down.”
Price turned to him. Narrowed his eyes. “Well, why didn’t you say so. Lead with that next time.”
“I’ll take you to her.”
Detective Price followed the officer back through the club. Then outside to where a crowd was still watching the scene from behind the yellow police tape. Lights from the news crews brightening the dark scene at Club Pimpin,’ which was a strip joint located ten miles outside of the city. It hid at the edge of a frontage road, cloaked from the interstate by kudzu. No wonder a kill squad could make it in and out of here undetected, Price thought.
The witness waited beside a police cruiser. She wore a bright red brasserie, a black pair of lace boy shorts and nothing more. Price removed his sport coat and draped it over her shoulders.
“You dance here?” he asked her.
Her hands were shaking. Her eyes darting. Finally, she nodded and said, “I saw it happen.”
My lucky day, Price thought…or lucky night, rather. “Come with me,” he said.
He guided her to his Crown Vic and offered her a seat inside. The night air was thin and cool so she obliged, appreciating the heat that shot from the dash vents as soon as he cranked the engine.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Butterscotch.” She rolled her eyes, annoyed with herself. “Beverly. I mean Beverly.”
“Cigarette?” Price offered.
She nodded. Scissored the white stick between her quivering index and middle finger. Price had to steady her hand to light it.
He lit one for himself, placed his pack of smokes back in his cubby and asked, “So what did you see?” When she replied with a cautious glare, he added, “You have nothing to worry about, Beverly.”
“I’m not worried about anything.” Her hands trembled. “Guess I’m still a little…It went down right in front of my face.”
“Okay…okay. Just take a deep breath and walk me through what you saw.”
She took a long drag on the cigarette. Held her breath for a few seconds. Then she released a sky full of stratus clouds into the cab of the Crown Vic.
Finally, she said, “I was dancing for them. O-o-on the table. They were making it rain. Do you know what this means? Making it rain?”
“Yes. I know what it means.”
“Then these men showed up.”
Beverly’s bosom was rising and lowering at a faster and faster rate.
“How many men?”
“Four. Six…I don’t know. It happened so fast.”
“That’s okay. Did you get a good look at their faces?”
She shook her head. “They were all wearing masks.”
“Masks? Good.” It wasn’t good but Price smiled anyway. He wanted to keep Butterscotch talking. “So these men walked in and started shooting?”
“No.” Beverly looked out of the window for a few seconds. When she pulled on her cigarette and exhaled, the smoke curled back and engulfed her face. She didn’t attempt to wave it away. “The guys I was dancing for, they had guns. So they pulled them out, no questions. That’s when I ran behind the bar. If not, I’d be…you know.” She pointed toward the club. Toward three victims who would soon be leaving in black body bags.
“Okay then. What happened next?”
“Well…they started shooting at the masked men…but the bullets bounced right off of them.”
About the Author
James Fant is an award winning author who lives in Charleston, SC with his lovely wife and two hilarious children. He received a degree in biology from College of Charleston and a master’s in business administration from Charleston Southern University. His love for literature was forged by the works of Eric Jerome Dickey, Walter Mosley, and Stephen King. He also finds inspiration from screenwriters Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin and Kurt Sutter. Literarily, James has always been drawn to intelligent yet imperfect characters and he writes novels with them in mind.