Excerpt from Good To The Last Kiss
The kid knew it would be tonight. He could feel it taking over, wrestling with his numb soul – a force out of nowhere, taking him to a place he didn’t want to go.
Not a whole lot he could do about it. He knew that too. He had tried to fight it before. But this was the feeling. The beginning. He knew it. And it would only get worse.
She had already flipped most of the contents of a childproof bottle of Tylenol into the toilet during the act of getting it open. Before that she discovered the dry cleaners had failed to replace an essential clasp on her black evening dress.
Julia Bateman took a couple of deep breaths and – having convinced herself that she had brought on a period of calm – looked around her studio apartment for a couple of stray aspirins. Nothing. Calm, she went back into the bathroom. Once her feet touched the wet tile, they struck out on their own and her body slapped against the floor. She got up slowly, checking to make sure everything was still working.
Everything worked. ‘See,’ she said with a phony brightness. ‘Every fucking thing is just delightful, isn’t it?’
She couldn’t find her face in the mirror. The old apartment building had no bathroom exhausts. Steam still coated her reflection. When she took off her towel to clean the mirror it snapped the bottle of Chanel No.19, shattering it in the tub, exploding like radiation waves from the detonation of an atom bomb and sending a cloying scent into her bathroom.
She cut a finger trying to pick up the little granules of glass from the porcelain. As soon as she was convinced the visible pieces of glass were retrieved, she ran the water forcefully to draw the rest of the glass and the dregs of Chanel down the drain. Afraid the smell would hang in her small studio, she ran to the windows to open them, again to discover a small movement in the drapery across the alley.
What was it? Had there been someone there? She decided not to care. She went back to the bathroom, pulled out a tube of Ben Gay and applied it to the bristles of her toothbrush.
Inspector Vincente Gratelli was off duty, shoes off, a glass of Chianti in his hand, watching television.
He was not a pretty sight, even when he wasn’t exhausted. He looked older than his fifty-five years and no one would mistake him for a retired fashion model even if his tie were tied and his shirt buttoned, and his hair combed.
This was the only TV he allowed himself – that and 60 Minutes. The news. The national news ended. It was the local news now. The stylish mayor was talking about the murders. Gratelli switched off the set, went to the window. Darkness was overtaking the light. There was a pinkness down on the busy street. The color of the sunset, the influence of the neon. He heard a siren. It was beginning. He felt a little guilty. He should be doing something about the murders. When you know it’s going to happen again, it seemed like you ought to just keep working – all day, all night. But there was nothing to go on. Absolutely nothing. So he finally gave up. Finally took a night. He’d eat. Go to bed early. Try to get some sleep. Get some energy so he could pile back in with a fresh mind and at least a mildly cooperating body.
None of them were easy. The homicides. These were particularly nasty. Some strange twists. The girls were young, too. The way they were left – that too was strange and sad and smarmy. Wasn’t messy. Not bloody or anything. It was something more indefinable. Something less visceral, more unsettling in its sickness.