Category Archives: Vices

Stuck in L

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The-letter-the-alphabet-22187428-2560-2560

 

My love life has been surrounded by women whose names started with the letter L. Yes, there have been other alphabetical choices, but L’s seem to prevail. There’s been Lynette, Leslie, Laura, Lucy, Lisa, Lori, Lindsey, Linda, and even a Lola. I know I’m a man; Lola wasn’t. Boy, she wasn’t. I’m sure there were a few others who I’ve simply forgotten, but in the end, I’ve had my fair share of L. No matter. None of them ever prepared me for Lili. I can’t even begin…well, not true. How do I skirt around a cliche? My life has never been the same since I met Lili.

I was on my bike, a Yamaha YZF-R6 that I called Yaz, going home after an uninspired date. Not an L, that I know. It was two in the morning, and the Merritt Parkway was almost car free. I was going fast, keeping an eye out for speed traps; I knew where most of them were, traveling this road so often in my life. It was cop free that night. Connecticut sleeps, unlike New York. I revved Yaz up to the century mark. We whizzed along the road, passing trees and the few cars on the parkway. This more than made up for a so so date.

Until I noticed headlights in my mirror that were getting closer. Thinking COP, I slowed down, knowing it would not be enough to avoid a ticket. But, no flashing lights. No megaphone voice telling me to pull over. The lights were catching up to me, low to the ground, and then it passed me on the left. As it pulled ahead I noticed a very quick two blinks of the brake lights. The car sped ahead, slowed a bit, two quick bursts of brake lights, then speeding on. I took the hint.

We played taking lead, overpowering the other, back and forth, for miles. The car was in the lead when a new light appeared, the right blinker. The last gas station/rest area was coming up, the one that’s just before the NYS border. I clutched and braked Yaz down and followed the car to the parking area.

It pulled into the spot furthest away from the station/mini mart. I parked right next to the car I’d been having fun with, giving out a little happy gasp as I took my helmet off. Didn’t need one in CT, but I was heading to NY. The car was gorgeous: a bright yellow Lotus Evora 400. A car I’ve been drooling over. Well, one of them. We were at too high a speed for me to notice anything really more than the color, but now…

But now the driver door opened. The gasp I had for the car was amplified by the woman that stepped out. Long black hair ran down and over her shoulders was the first thing I noticed. Then the smile. It radiated a lot of things; well, in my mind, and other parts, it did. She was wearing sunglasses (2:00 am, remember) that only accented how beautiful she was, eyes or not. Black buttoned down shirt was equally unbuttoned as buttoned, and painted on looking black jeans. Boots. Goth to the extreme, but she wore it better than well.

She leaned against her car and beckoned me over. Beckoned. I’d never been beckoned like this before. We exchanged names, admired each other’s driving, me admiring a whole lot more. Lili? I’m not a mind reader, but if you judge by where we went from there, she was doing the same. Talking turned to kissing, kissing turned to other things. We were both sweaty and smiling when Lili got a serious angry face going.

“Davey, this has been lovely, but you need to get out of here. Now.”

Rude shock, but there was something in her voice that was more urgent than anything else. I backed away, adjusting my clothing, trying to adjust the very mixed feelings I was having.

“Now, Davey. Now!”

Helmet in hand, I watched her as she opened her car door. That was as far as she got before a really terrifying animal growl sounded. That was followed by the biggest, meanest looking dog I’d ever seen. Then, another one. They came out of the wooded area behind the station and lopped rather quickly towards us. I wasn’t watching Lili at the moment as one of those things came towards me.

It leapt over the Lili’s car and came right at me. Only thing I could think of was hitting it in the head with my helmet. A quick not-even-a-yelp came out, and then a very angry snarl was directed at me as it landed behind me. I was at a loss as to what to do. Bike was off and cold, I had no weapons beyond my helmet. I turned slightly to see what was happening with Lili.

What was more surprising? These two beasts coming at us, or seeing Lili holding off the one, her hands on both parts of its jaws, pulling them further and further apart. Just as I heard a squeal coming from her beast, mine decided I was game, fair or not.

The blow to my back knocked me down and almost out. I rolled over onto my back and shoved my helmet into it’s maw as it came for my face. Believe me, having a death grip on that helmet saved my lift. Jamming the piece further into the mutts’ mouth, I did the only thing I could think of: try to Mountain it.

Just saw the episode of Game of Thrones where the Mountain killed his opponent by squeezing a guys head real hard, pushing his thumbs into the eyes. Gore and victory ensured on the show, so…why not? Reaching up while the thing continued to chomp down on my helmet, I started to push as hard as I could once I had my hands in the right position.

It wasn’t easy, by no stretch of the imagination. I was hurting the thing, but I wasn’t winning. Victory was definitely not ensured. I head the helmet crack, gave a big prayer, dug in harder…and then poof.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Except, Lili was standing over me, holding a very wicked looking knife like thing that glittered. She held out her hand and helped me up. Lili gave me a once over, running her hands over me, kinda like she had before the attack, but in no way sensual. I felt OK after that, but also weak once the adrenaline rush wore off. I was just about to ask her what was going on, when another growly voice sounded, this one not from an animal.

“Mother, congratulations.” Which did not sound congratulatory in the least.

“Buzz off, B,” Lili said, still checking me out. “I’m very, very sick and tired of this game you insist on playing”

“It’s not a game, Mother, and you know that. One day, and soon, you will pay for your insults.”

Lili just smiled, waved her hand in the air above her floating hair. Yes, floating hair. No wind. Floating. But it fell down, cascading over her shoulders again. I could sense that whatever had been there wasn’t here now.

Before I could ask any “What? Huh? Who? What?”, Lili put her hand on my chest and closed her eyes. I felt a bit of a tremble inside, something clicked, and, well, things were different.

Lili got into her Lotus; I got onto my Yamaha. She pulled out of the lot, and I followed her. As I continue to do.

This was how I met and became involved with Lili.

Lilith.

Mother of Demons.

***********************

Author’s Note:

So, hi. A to Z Blog challenge is over two weeks ago. I needed a bit of a mental break. I kept getting messages to write more, continue more Rovas & Berrak, but…not right now.

I plan to do a bit more with Lili and Davey. Let me know what you think

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X-Folders (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

**To read the first parts of this story line: Venus Ascending and Witch’s Moon

X folders

“X-Folders”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Bullets slammed into the living room through glass, plaster, and brick. Everyone hit the floor after the window shattered. Rovas rolled across the floor towards the front door of the apartment. Gil and Berrak dragged Tina as fast as they could to the side kitchen. Tina was bleeding and unconscious. Rovas counted ten shots in all.

The noise from the street returned, horns honking and people screaming. Rovas lifted his head slightly, wincing when he saw Gil trying to staunch the blood flow from Tina’s side. Berrak was on her knees, looking for, and finding, clean towels.

“Berrak, stay down!,” he whispered across the room. “Are either of you hit?” After they both shook their heads, he dug his cell out and was calling 911.

“Tell them to hurry. I think she’s going into shock.”

Berrak reached up and pulled the table cloth off the table, sending utensils and napkins all over the place. She did her best to wrap her niece up while Gil continued applying pressure. Rovas finished with the call just about the same time he heard police sirens coming up the street and stopping before the building. No other shots had been fired.

“Gil. Ten rounds, piercing the brick wall. M82?”

Sweat was leaking down his head. He raised a hand to wipe it away from his eyes, leaving a trail of blood across his brow. It took a moment for him to answer. “That would be my guess. It makes sense. Used by a lot of police, now; Military sniper made easy.”

Rovas crawled over to the window after he unlocked the door. Berrak told him to stay down as well, but…easier said than done. He raised a piece of curtain up using a couch pillow he grabbed. No bullet chased it down. He was just inching up to look out when the police arrived, followed by paramedics. Traffic going in and out of the apartment was hectic until the inspecting detectives showed up and took over.

Tina was rushed to the hospital while Rovas, Berrak, and Gil gave their statements. None of them were hurt beyond scratches from flying masonry and glass, which were treated there. Rovas had a gash over his left eye that was bandaged. Gil was fussed over due to all the blood on him, but they let him be once it was determined it all came from another source. All three were expected at the ER for a thorough exam.

Berrak left for the hospital, more to be with her niece, once she assured Rovas she was all right and that he wasn’t hurt more than he’d admit. She gave him a long hug and then left with a one of the police men; Rovas had insisted. He looked out the window while listening to Gil’s account of what happened. He only put his full attention back to the investigators once he noticed Berrak getting into a squad car.

Bullets were being dug out of the walls and flooring. “Looks like a .50 caliber. Lab will tell us definitely.” The lead detective, Miles, was looking at what was left of the bullet. He placed it the evidence bag and took off his gloves. “So, neither of you saw who did this. Nor did your wife, I know.” He took them out onto the landing and down the stairs. When they got to the street, he kept the two of them to the side, away from prying ears. A crowd had formed and was sticking around. Press was only just arriving.

“We canvassed the area. No casings on the roof across the street where it looks like the shots came from. Prints a plenty; again, lab work. There is one thing: does a fairly tall blond male, Caucasian, ring any bells? Most everyone was running to the building after the shots stopped. He was noticed by a few running away, up the street.” He pointed north. “A car almost hit a couple of teens coming this way.”

“Peters!” both Rovas and Gil said at the same time. They looked at each other. Rovas explained the connection. While the detective made his notes, Gil was doing his best to look around the area. He didn’t see anyone that even came close to looking like Peters.

Eventually they were allowed to leave, exchanging contact information so that all parties could be in the loop. Getting in the car, Rovas was silent as they headed to the hospital to check on Tina and Berrak. He startled Gil when he hit the door with his fist.

“Dammit. I should not be doing this. Those case folders, Gil. Tina would still be hiding, safe. You wouldn’t have gotten shot. Berrak wouldn’t be risking her life…”

“Yes, we’d all be better off. You know as well as I, though, that was not going to happen. Think of the Palmont children, if nothing else. They are free right now because of your tenacity.”

“Tenacity. You’ve hung around me too much, Gil. Better you should spend more time on Jill, enjoying your life outside of…all this.” Rovas put his head back on the head rest and closed his eyes.

“Inspector…Zarian…this is my life, as it is yours. Nothing I’d want to do to change it. I thought I’ve shown that over the years.”

“Yes, you have.”

“Good. As to Jill, her passion for what she does equals my own. So far, what we have is good enough, happy enough. Let’s please leave it.” Gil smiled. “I get that enough of that from your wife.” Gil briefly looked over, noticing that Rovas’ left eyebrow was quirked upwards and a slight smile played across his face.

***

Once home, Berrak collapsed next to Zarian on the couch, cuddling up and drawing her legs up after kicking off her shoes. Tina’s blood pressure had been horribly low, and there was fear of sepsis from a nick to her bowels. She was under operation for close to four hours. The surgeon’s prognosis was what she was hoping for: a good chance she’d survive, the next 24 hours would tell. Berrak wondered why it was always 24 hours on TV. She was exhausted and found it somewhat humorous.

Zarian had his arm around her tightly. It felt too good to tell him to be more gentle. They both had been holding on through the day, most of it separately. This was right, for the two of them.

“Berrak, tomorrow, all my efforts go into finding John Peters. This has to end. I will not wait around for him to strike again. I will not.”

“I know,” she said, sitting up. “I know. If Tina dies…”

“We can’t go there. Right now, we can’t. Look at me,” he asked. “I love you. I can not bare the thought of you getting hurt again due to this…well, job. Duty. Career. I can’t. I’m asking you to stay home, under protective care.” He glanced outside, looking at the police cruiser parked in front of the house. He knew there was a patrol behind as well.

“Zarian,” she kissed him fully. “I will see this through, with you, with Gil.” He started to shake his head and open his mouth. Berrak put her hand on his chest. He looked her in the eyes.

“This isn’t open for argument, is it,” he said with a sigh.

She shook her head, then took his hand. “Let’s go to bed, Zarian.” She got up, still holding his hand.

“I’m too wound up to sleep.”

“So am I,” she answered, pulling him along with her.

“Oh,” was all he said as they went upstairs.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. As this has progressed, it’s become something more for me. I wasn’t planning to do such a connected story line, but it’s the way it has worded out for me. I hope you’ve been enjoying this, mistakes and all.

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1300 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Venus Ascending (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Venus

“Venus Ascending”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Facing truths can be difficult; no matter how hard we try to push some away, the dark ones are sometimes the hardest to contain. Coming from the hospital, after Zarian called to set up the meeting, the ride over was tense. It remained that way even entering the apartment. Berrak, with Zarian by her side, sat facing her niece, Kristina. Her eyes were glistening from the held in tears. Kristina was leaning back as far as she could.

“So, you’re my aunt. Huh. Can’t say it’s nice to really meet you.”

“Kristina!” Rovas growled.

“Tina. Tina, not Kristina. Kristina is then.”

“Tina,” Berrak said, “I’m sure this isn’t easy for you. I only just found out about you; believe me, this is just unsettling for me as well. I am so angry at my brother for hiding you from me, us.”

“I’m not too fond of ‘dad’ myself. Only good thing out of all this was ‘Uncle’ Zarian here.” She half smiled a nod his way.

Berrak turned and looked at her husband at the use of his nickname. He shrugged. “She called me that after I told her my name, our connection. Not my doing.”

“It’s more natural. The ‘K’ is kinda harsh sounding.” She pointed to herself. “So, no more ‘Kris’, less harsh me. No more ‘Kha”, and the Inspector becomes…”

“Less harsh and easier to relate to,” Berrak nodded. “I’ve called him Zarian ever since our first date.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over all three of them. Berrak looked around the tiny apartment. Kristina…Tina, she would have to remember…had simply decorated in various shades of blue and white. It was calming, she thought.

Tina picked up her soda pop bottle, took a swig, and looked directly at Berrak. “OK; we’re here. You met me. What do you really want?”

Berrak was at first taken aback by her niece’s hostility, but that morphed into her own anger. She looked at Rovas. “I’d like a few moments alone with Tina, Zarian. Please.”

Rovas looked at both women: defiance radiating from one, the other determination. He got up from the table. “I’ll…take a look around outside. Make sure no one followed us.” He bent over, kissed Berrak’s cheek, and then patted Kristina on the shoulder as he made his way to the apartment door. It quietly snicked closed behind him.

“He’s a good man,” Tina said, anger abated. “I really haven’t met many good men, before. I’m…sorry.”

“Yes, he is a good man. A very good man. And, it’s all right. This is all so out of nowhere. All I really want is to get to know you. You’re family.” She stopped and tilted her head. “You do look like him a little. Your father, I mean. Nose area, eyes. Berk was stupid, what he did. He just…”

“Made a mistake?” Tina’s defiance was back up.

“No. You are not a mistake. He was a bit too self centered. As much as he wanted to protect his wife from any pain, from what Zarian told me, Berk was protecting himself much, much more. He was like that as a child. I had hoped that had changed when he got older. He cared about appearances.”

Tina nodded, turning away when some tears started to fall.

Berrak reached across and took Tina’s left hand in her right. Tina squeezed Berrak’s hand, closing her eyes, her head downcast.  Khazarian called, telling Berrak he’d be in the coffee shop across the street. The two women talked, getting to know each other, breaking through barriers on one side while a bond was beginning to form for both.

Through Zarian help, and Gil’s, Tina managed to stay clean. She attended meetings, finished her GRE’s, and had been admitted to a community college. Sadly, her mother passed away a year ago. This brought a new set of tears-on both sides-as Tina related her teenage years, problems with her mother, barely acknowledging her father the few times he reached out to her.

This brought them to her drug use and turn to prostitution. Tina had little to say, except that she owed Lilly a debt for taking her off the streets. Tears flowed again, and Berrak sensed, in Tina’s reluctance to continue, that there was something more to be gleamed.

She got up and walked to the other side of the table, sitting next to Tina. She pulled her close; Tina’s head rested on her shoulder, which was getting slightly soggy.

“Tina, do you remember anything about that night?” she asked, as gently as she could.

Picking her head up and wiping away the tears with her left hand, she shook her head no. Yet, Berrak felt Tina’s whole body shaking.

“Tina, something has been bothering me. If the other girls and the madame were protecting you from this…deviant…When Zarian and Gil removed you from the house, they also moved the tea service to the kitchen. So many things they did wrong by the law, for you.

The thing is, the tea service was also checked by the crime team. It had been wiped clean like the others, except for unknown prints: yours, I assume. If the others hid him from you, why was your tea service devoid of other prints?”

Tina started another flow of tears, bringing her legs up under her chin, her forehead on her knees. “I, I…couldn’t…I couldn’t tell…please. Stop. Please.” They both sat quietly, Berrak continuing to hold onto her niece.

“What couldn’t you tell? Your mother?” Tina shook her head. Berrak held back her own shudder. “Zarian?”

Tina nodded.

Berrak got up and walked to the window that was facing the street. She took out her cell phone.

“Zarian, come up…now. Yes, it’s important. I think our Tina has something she’d like to tell us.”

She watched as he came out of the coffee shop and walked across the road. Once he entered the building, she turned around and faced Tina. Her eyes were wide, swollen but dry. She blinked a few times, and looked up at Berrak.

“I saw the man who killed the others. I saw the man who was going to kill me.”

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. As this has progressed, it’s become something more for me. I wasn’t planning to do such a connected story line, but it’s the way it has worded out for me. I hope you’ve been enjoying this, mistakes and all.

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1300 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Tea and Soliciting (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

**To read the first parts of this story line: Red Canvas and Still Life in Scarlet

“Tea and Soliciting”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The trip to the abandoned brothel was not an easy one for any in the car. Rovas was driving, his eyes focused on the road ahead, with only glimpses given to the rear and side windows. Berrak had her arms folded across her chest. Gil, in the back, wished he was anyplace else.

Gil was intently staring out the side window when Berrak finally broke the silence with a deep sigh.

“You could have told me…the two of you.” She stared directly at Rovas. “I am your wife, Zarian, not a stranger or an acquaintance you have to keep secrets from.”

“I know.”

“You know, yet I’m just finding out my late brother had an illegitimate daughter, that I have a blood relation niece? You know?”

Rovas sighed as deeply as Berrak had. “I told you: your brother begged me not to tell you. He had kept tabs on Kristina through her mother, his…dalliance.  You and Eva were as close as sisters-in-law could be; Berk was deeply ashamed for what he did. He did not want you to think less of your big brother.

He came to me when Kristina went missing. Her mother knew of our family relationship; she pleaded with him to contact me. Kristina was gone for almost two full weeks by that point. Berk had a recent photo of her. I know you know the time frame. Both you and Eva were concerned about Berk’s distraction and angry outbursts. It would have ruined his marriage. He truly loved Eva.”

Berrak turned her head away, looking out the front window. “So you found her in a whore house.” She shifted around, so she could see both Zarian and Gil. “I couldn’t take anymore in the house. I needed to get out, to do something. Tell me the rest.” She paused. “Please.”

“Gil and I found Kristina in the attic bedroom, tied up like the other two girls and unconscious. She was alive: the killer hadn’t gotten to her yet. The coroner found GHB in all three of the victims. The madame, Lilly, had the least amount, which is most likely how she was able to make the 911 call. There was a tea service in each of the rooms; a main batch was still in the kitchen.”

“It tested positive for Liquid Ecstasy. It’s odorless but slightly salty. Enough sugar will cover that, and there was plenty of sugar in the tea mixture,” Gil added. “We think the killer bolted, not knowing how much information Lily had given to the 911 dispatcher. She probably would have been next, then Kristina.”

“And what of Kristina?”

“I had memorized the picture of the girl and had been looking for her, when I could, for a little over a year,” Rovas continued. “Berk was sick with worry. I had nothing to go on. When we came across her in the bedroom, I knew. My shock was pretty evident to Gil. I knew what I had to do.” He looked at Berrak. “I had to tell Gil. I was torn: duty versus familial oath.

Gil reluctantly agreed with me. We carried her downstairs and out the back, laying her out on a blanket in the back yard for a moment. Gil stayed with her. I went to talk to the officer for a moment, again stressing no one enter until the crime team arrived. I was moving my car, I told him, so that there would be easier access for the ME and crew. Gil and I took Kristina out to the car, cracked a window open a bit, and laid her out on the back seat.”

Rovas made a turn off the main road into a loosely packed residential area. The houses were old but well kept, for the most part. He made a left turn and pulled up in front of a two storied, a corner lot. The For Sale sign in the front yard looked old.

Gil got out of the car and opened the passenger door for Berrak. “It’s no wonder that the house is for sale. Who would want to live in a house with three murders?” she asked.

“And was a whore house,” Gil shook his head. Rovas had turned off the car and came to stand with them on the sidewalk.

“Berk was both ecstatic and upset. He was thrilled we found Kristina, but not where she was found, nor the realization of why she was there. Berk knew there had been some drug troubles, but not how much. The mother kept that news private until…Kristina was hooking to supply her habit, no pimp. Lily somehow found her-Kristina still hasn’t told me how-and offered her a safe place.”

“Where is she, then? What did you two do with her?” Tears had been floating down her cheeks. Berrak dabbed them away with a hand.

“She is with her mother in hiding. The killer was a John, but she had been told to stay in the attic that night by one of the other girls. The man had rough tastes, and the others were protective of Kristina due to her age and what she was like. The way Kristina talked, the others treated her like big sisters, and Lily had helped wean her off the more dangerous drugs she was doing when she ran away.”

Gil looked up at the top of the house as they all walked up the front path. “She didn’t get a look at him; didn’t know his name. Any fingerprints that we found came from the women in the house and a variety of different men, some who came up blank when we looked. The tea kettle and materials in the kitchen and the bedrooms: all were wiped clean. Only the fingerprints of the victims were there.”

Rovas had the lockbox code he had gotten from the realtor when the house went up for sale the first time. It hadn’t been changed. It unlocked and he opened the door for Berrak and Gil to enter. He followed and closed it.

None of them noticed the car that had been following them the entire way from the Rovas home. The man behind the wheel stared at the house, looked at their car, and then drove around the corner and down the block.

John Peters drove on. His boy was waiting.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Still Life in Scarlet (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

A woman looks at Bosch's painting "Tryptich of the Last Judgement" in Vienna

Foto: Reuters/HERWIG PRAMMER Hieronymus Boschs “Weltgerichtstryptichon” in der Wiener Akademie der Bildenden

“Still Life in Scarlet”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros met Rovas at a diner they liked, The Blue Line. It was far enough from the Rovas household for Khazarian to relax a bit. The tension in the booth they shared was palpable. Claire, their usual waitress, didn’t linger at the table; she dropped their dishes off and scooted away.

“…I know, Gil. I know,” Rovas continued after she left. “I wasn’t thinking, and that upsets me to no ends. What upsets me more is the what Berrak will think if…when she knows the whole story.”

Gil did not wonder at all if Berrak would find out. He was impressed with Berrak’s line of reasoning; he doubted they would have had the closures they pulled off if not for her help. So, he didn’t answer, only taking a bite out of his apple pie, following it with his coffee.

Rovas sat looking out the diner window at the cars passing by. He took a sip from his coffee and made a grimace. “I wish Berrak could teach people how to make a proper cup of coffee. Lord knows, she’s tried with me.”

They both smiled; Rovas’ own attempts at coffee making fell far below the standards of Berrak’s brewing skills.

“Come over after you get off work. We’ll plug in all the details. Berrak and I already have a beginning plan.”

Gil nodded his head. Rovas turned his attention to his slice of pie. They cleaned their plates in silence, paid their bill, and left. When Claire went to bus the table she saw that both cups of coffee were barely touched.

*****

Hours after Gil arrived at the Rovas house, the three were huddled in the study, examining the details on the whiteboard and bulletin boards. Berrak and Gil were still making notes with followup questioning, routes they felt they should follow. Rovas was mentally making his own notes.

“Here’s what we know. Three years ago, on May 4th, a 911 call was received. The caller, who was later identified as Lilly Landers, a known madame with a record, stated that a murder had been committed and that she felt she was next. Just as she gave out the address the call abruptly ended, with her calls of help. Three of them, and then the line went…I hate to say it, but it went dead.

Gil and I were not the first to respond; a squad car was closer to the house. When we arrived, the coppery smell of blood was prevalent. All the windows had been closed. It was a cool night for May. The officer who got there directed us inside and upstairs. He stressed he did not touch anything. Rovas told the officer to stay outside and  to secure the perimeter.

At the top of the landing we found the body of Ms. Landers. Blood had dripped down onto the steps. She had been stabbed in the back three times. Beyond the body were three rooms, all the doors closed. We checked all three bedrooms, and in two were the corpses of two other women, who also had priors for prostitution, tied up on the beds. Except for a tube running down the arm of one of the women, there were no other visible signs of cause of death. No strangulation marks. No knife wounds.

The ME arrived, muttering out loud…”

“A lot,” Gil added.

“Yes, a lot. He didn’t want to commit to anything definite then and there. After he got them back to the lab and examined them, he was bursting for us to come down so he could deliver the results.”

Gil broke in: “He said they were bleed almost completely dry. Exsangal….”

“Exsanguination, Gil,” she patted his hand. “Not a pretty way to go. Two young girls drained of blood. I remember the headlines of the ‘Vampire Killer’, but I know you had more details that weren’t discussed with the press.”

“We couldn’t give it all away, in the hopes of catching the person who did this. We didn’t want false leads, so we held a few things back.”

“SOP, Zarian?” She smiled.

He nodded.

“And you’re sure this was a brothel?”

Gil nodded. “There were the usual items. Tons of condoms, lingerie, leather, sex toys, lubricants. It was obvious at first, and the rest came when we found Landers’ books. No names of clients or the girls. Just initials.”

They were all quiet for a moment, looking at the wall of information of their private notes. Berrak broke the silence.

“There was a fourth bedroom made up in the attic?” She didn’t look at her husband or Gil, concentrating on the the photos and captions on the white board. Rovas seemed to lose a little color. “It looks lived in, done up like the other rooms.” She looked from the pictures to the notes to her husband and Gil. She thought she had never seen more guilt on two men’s faces. Rovas asked her to sit down.

“What aren’t you telling me Zarian? Gil?”Berrak said as she sat.

They both looked at each other. Gil raised his hands, palms up, and shrugged both shoulders. He and Rovas sighed at the same time.

“Berrak…there was a fourth girl.”

“But, there’s been no mention in any of these papers. Nothing in the news. What? How? I…I don’t understand. A fourth. That room has been bothering me all day.”

Rovas sighed once again. He knelt down and took both of her hands.

“I have to tell you about Kristina…”

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Janes’s Addictive (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Janes

“Jane’s Addictive”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

“So, seven years ago a call went into 911. A woman saying she found five dead people. She gave the address: a house in the suburbs, the bodies were in the basement. The call came from that house. She hung up without giving her name. When the first police arrived, the only thing greeting them were the dead. I was called in-I doubt you remember this, but it was one of those middle of the night calls I got far too often.” Rovas looked at his wife, knowing the answer, but, still.

“No, I don’t.”

“There were no stab wounds, no gun shots, no strangulation marks. Each victim-three young men, two women-were in various positions on the floor in a not quite semi-circle. They were dressed. Around and on them were ashes. It was later determined they had been smoking marijuana, but it had something extra in it: a very high grade pure heroin was mixed in. An ‘A-Bomb’ or “Atom Bomb, in street slang.”

“Either one not bad enough for them?,” Berrak asked.

“That’s the thing. Everyone we spoke to said that all five eschewed the use of harder drugs. They saw the marijuana as nothing more dangerous than liquor. Funny thing, this was a meditation group, something they began in college. We even found their dealer…well, he came forward, actually, at a friend’s urging. He swore he never sold anything but pot. Investigations could not find anything to the contrary. He did some time, but not for murder in any degree.”

Berrak had picked up the file and was studying it, finding the points that Khazarian mentioned. The points he glossed over weren’t worth bringing up, she agreed, as she read them. “Good people, never hurt anyone, against hard drugs, never a problem…Zarian, interview after interview, they all say the same things.”

“Yes, even the dealer”

“So, the woman who called?”

“No trace. There majority of the fingerprints in the basement were of the five. There were assorted others: the parents who owned the house, who had been away for the weekend that it occurred. Some neighbors, other family members. We interviewed them all. Most of the women whose traces we found had solid alibis; the few who didn’t were investigated seemed to have no grudge with anyone who died. No skeletons in the closets that we could find. No motive.”

“Motive. So, Zarian, you think this was murder?”

“Yes. Call it a policeman’s gut instincts, but I feel this was more than buying a bad dose. If it had been on the streets, we would have had more deaths coming in, We didn’t.”

Rovas moved his chair to Berrak’s side. The two of them poured over the information they had in the files. After going over the information, and one or the other throwing out ideas to the other, Berrak got up to chart the information they had on the white board that they had brought in on the “Old Lace” case.

It soon filled up, spilling over to the nearest bulletin board. The pictures of the five dead were at the top: Rebecka Larsen, Robert Larsen, Michelle DeBois, Ernesto “Ernie” Perez, and Edward White. Below and to the side were lists of relatives, friends, the dealer, and any and all information the two of them agreed was relevant.

 

Rovas got up and stared at the board. He studied each area, went over the details methodically, looking for connections he might have missed seven years ago. Berrak joined him, starting at the other end from her husband. They met in the middle, Berrak passing in front of Khazarian. He grabbed her around her waist, leaning in to nuzzle her neck.

She lightly smacked his hands, smiling at the boards, which immediately took her out of the contact. “Zarian, this is not the place. These people…they don’t have any chance for any happiness anymore. Haven’t had, in a long time.” She pivoted around, gave him a kiss, and slithered out of his embrace.

Rovas smiled, continuing on his inspection.

Finally, they returned to their chairs. Berrak took a pad of paper and began to write down a list.

Rovas tried to look over her shoulder. Before he could ask, Berrak said: “This is a list of the women who did no have an alibi at the time of the murders. Yes, I think so as well.” she said. “After dinner, I think some computer time can hopefully give us some current information.”

“And tomorrow,” Rovas added, “we’ll hopefully find them and have a word. I’ll see if Gil will be available.”

“Good.”

“Yes, good.”
*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Gables Conceal (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**Please read Delicate Decisions and Easy Pickings and Frayed Knot before reading this chapter

**To start from the beginning, go to From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Gables

“Gables Conceal”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Darkness does not have to wait for the sun to set. There are too many examples of atrocities we, humans, have done and continue to do unto others. Something beautiful can mask wickedness. It does not have to be outwardly frightening to house evil.

Judge Ackerman had owed Inspector Rovas a large favor. A case involving some questionable people, drugs, and his daughter seemed to leave his daughter unmentioned went put into the data base. Rovas knew he was bending the rules: breaking rules, more like it. But, the girl was on the outside looking in. She just got caught with her head through the window. She’s remained scandal  clean since then.

Feeling uncomfortable, the judge was reluctant to issue a warrant to search the house and property of John Peters. Speaking to Gil, but Rovas knew it was directed to him: “You know these photos will not be admissible if this goes to trial. We don’t know if those children were or were not the Palmont children. You have suspicions, most likely accurate, but there is no physical proof.”

Berrak had been fuming already, wishing they had charged in to get the children earlier. Rovas took a firm stance against that, and Gil halfheartedly agreed. Now, in front of a waffling judge, she was ready to scream. Rovas felt this and tried to cut it off, for their sake. He knew the judge would react like this.  They had no other legal choice, even if the true legality was on the razor’s edge. He did not want to go to any length that could potentially set free Peters, if he was as guilty as Rovas believed.

“The boy and girl appear to be the right age for the middle and youngest Palmont child. There are similarities in their hair coloring and contours of their faces, adding in these five years since they were last photographed. I believe that these are those children, and that…man, are the ones we’ve sought. There is no record of either child in any form. They are not registered in any of the local schools under the name Peters. None that fit their descriptors. This is not pure conjecture.” Rovas leaned forward in his chair towards the judge. “If we don’t find a reason to get into that house, I can’t see how we will find anything out-right or wrong.”

Berrak spoke up, having calmed down enough, for her. “Judge Ackerman, I am not one for breaking the law, but if this man is the one who took the Palmont children, and these are at least two of them, we owe it to them and their parents to rescue them and return them home.” Pausing, looking to see if the Judge was leaning towards their arguments-he wasn’t-she gave them all a way to end this quagmire. “I did forget to mention to you, and I see Khazarian and the good Sargent Detective Katsaros forgot as well,” chagrined looks from the two compelled her to continue, “…that while we were strolling along that day we heard some awful noise from the vicinity of that house. The Sargent Detective told us to stay on the sidewalk while he investigated. No one came to the door when he called out, so he went around to the back of the property where he again heard that noise. Again, no one answered his knocks. I’m surprised the neighbors have not complained about that noise, if it’s repeated frequently.”

“Mrs. Rovas…

“Berrak, please.”

“Hmph…Berrak, what, in your estimate, made this horrible ruckus?”

“Well, it sounded like children being very, very upset. More scared, really.”

Berrak had been fuming already, wishing they had charged in to get the children yesterday. Rovas took a firm stance against that, and Gil halfheartedly agreed. They knew.

“Hmph…extreme noise.” He shook his head. “Children not attending school.  Potential child endangerment.” The judge finished and signed the warrant. “Here. Sargent Detective?”

“Sir.”

“By the book, Gil. By. The. Book. If this is what you think it is, I want no mistakes.”

Rovas and Gil both said “Neither do we” at the same time. Berrak gave a half smile.

“Let’s get to it, then,” she said.

***********

John Peters was reluctant to let them in, even after Gil presented him with the search warrant. He introduced the Rovas’ as consultants to the police. It was Rovas belief that no one would question anything like that, after all the police procedural shows on television. He was right. Peters didn’t even seem to blink an eye at them. He was more fixated on the Sargent Detective. Gil and Rovas led the way into the house. Berrak fell in behind Peters, observing every detail of the man as she could.

“He is certainly tall and blond,” she thought.” Standing in the front room, while Gil and Rovas took in the details of the room,  she took in the details of his features. She noticed his large forehead, deep set eyes, hawk nose, and thin mouth. A chin that was barely noticeable. A few drops of sweat beaded his brow. As Gil questioned Peters about the house and it’s contents, she noticed that Peters put his hands behind his back. Moving slightly, she saw that Peters was clenching his hands. Very tightly.

They explored the front room, the hall closet, and then went down to the basement. With nothing out of the ordinary, they ignored Peters attempts to get them to leave, that there was nothing they would find, that he would call a lawyer. Gil pointed at the warrant each time. “Take it up with the judge,” he said, hoping he was throwing said judge under a bus.

From the basement, the next space they went to, with some overt reluctance from Peters, was the kitchen in the back of the house. The three of them stopped just past the doorway and stared. Rovas walked over to the back door, leading out to the back yard. Berrak, as with the rest of the search, stayed back by the kitchen entrance. All three looked up at the rope, hanging from what looked like a library rolling ladder rack that extended around the entire room.

“What do you make of this, Mr. Peters?” Rovas asked. “What could this possibly be for, in a kitchen, of all places. You are certainly tall enough to reach the top of the cabinets. And this,” he pointed towards the rope, “has very little to do with reaching any heights outside of a gymnasium.”

Gil had gone to knee and was examining the rope coiled around the floor. “Inspector,” he said, wincing at the mistake. “Mr. Rovas, there appears to be droplets along the tail end of this rope, knots and all. Dark, dry.” Gil rose. “This looks like old blood, Mr. Peters. Care to explain all this?”

Before Berrak could react, Peters spun and tried to get by her, getting tangled instead. His right arm wrapped around her neck, cutting off some of her air flow.

“You. Will. NOT. Hurt. My. Wife!” Rovas was livid.

“I’m leaving. Now. She will get hurt if you come after us.”

In the time the two spoke, Berrak shook off the shock of the attack. She brought her low right heel down on Peters’ foot as hard as she could. His arm loosened enough for her to squat down and elbow him in the groin, and then move away. Rovas pounced. By the time Gil was able to put him in cuffs, Peters face was more than a bit bloodied.

Gil called for a wagon to pick him up, dancing around anything non-legitimate. Rovas and Berrak continued their search to the second floor. They noticed the four doors. Three led to bedrooms. Inside the third they found the boy, tied tightly to the bed in the room. The knots were expertly done and it took Berrak quite a bit to undo them. Rovas, meanwhile, had called down to Gil to get an ambulance as well.

The boy would not answer any questions. He just kept staring out of the window.

Softly, Berrak said: “Gerald. I think your name is Gerald. You have two sisters, Janice and April. We think April is here. Where are your sisters?” His eyes quickly went to the door of the room, then back to the window. His face betrayed nothing.

“Zarian, I think…”

“Up to the attic,” he finished.

With the boy in hand, they went to the last door. It led, as he thought, to the attic. As they climbed up, the boy began to squirm and make small noises. They had turned on the light switch at the bottom of the steps,. Berrak had wished they hadn’t when she reached the landing.

The same tracks-two sets-ran along the attic room, supported by the beams. Instead of rope, here were metal chains. At the base of the chains, wound around them and padlocked, were two girls, naked. Both were filthy and undernourished. Both looked up at them, but there was little response. Neither tried to cover themselves.

“Are you Janice?” Rovas asked of the oldest looking girl. She stared at him, fear exuding from her.

“Janice. April.” cried Berrak.

The younger girl looked at her, nodded, and started to cry.

As Rovas went to find down to the bedroom to get something to cover the girls, he called the Sargent Detective as he headed back upstairs with some sheets.  “Gil. We found all three children. Alive, yes. We will need more ambulances…and a bolt cutter.”

He clicked the phone off. Berrak was holding Gerald’s hand-Rovas was positive this was Gerald Palmont, that the girls were Janice and April.  He placed  the sheets around the girls, as Berrak silently cried.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

From the case files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

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walkinginthedark

Darkness suited ex-Inspector Khazarian Rovas. He liked the quiet it normally brought, a certain breeze that drifted through most nights except for the height of the summer months. Then he was usually drenched, having trouble breathing during the ofttimes stiffing still air. Early spring, now, and the insufferable weather was still to come. Tonight, he could enjoy sitting by his open window, lights off, breathing the coolness in, and allowing his out breath fog up the lowest corner of the window pane. Waiting.

But for the wishes of his wife, Berrak, Rovas would still be on the job. He never thought he would retire, that one way or the other the job would be where he would part this life. Berrak thought differently, and although she never demanded, he saw the clarity of her spoken thoughts. He loved her, she him, and it was that love that carried him to hand in his resignation. Forty-four years, the ups and downs of any job, acknowledgments and failures, all reduced to farewell handshakes, some drinks, rehashing of spectacular cases-solved or unsolved-and the drive home, with the few personal items from his desk in the boot.

It was the rehashing of cases that brought Rovas to his study, to his window, at 4:10 in the morning. Eight days had passed, but those memories of cases that were not, to him, satisfactorily closed, haunted his waking hours. He thought of the cases, twenty six in all, that still niggled at the back of his mind. He owed Berrak time that she was excluded from during his career, and he vowed to himself he would do his best to give her what she needed from him.

But those cases…those cases…

Outside his window Khazarian Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking, back to Rovas, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon. Ruminating, Rovas had not noticed the man until now. He had no idea where he came from, just observing this figure in darkness fading smaller and further away, until only a haze of an outline was visible. In a blink, the walking man was gone.

Rovas got up from his chair, turning it around to face his desk. Turning on the table lamb, he stared down at the pile of folders on the right side of his desk. Twenty six folders.

Sitting, he took the top file, placed it in front of him, opened it, and began to review this troublesome case file.

*************************************************************

Hi everyone. I’m sure you’ve noticed I have been away for quite awhile on any regular basis. Things happened in my life that took me out of the mood. I’m trying to see what I can do to mend that break within me.

I just rejoined the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Lots of positive things changed for me with the first one I was part of in 2011. Sadly, that did not last the lifetime I had hoped it would be. In either case, I am back.

“The case files of Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Twenty six case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve from this list of cold cases. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

 So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on April 1, 2016. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Chromatic Labyrinth

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Piano-Wallpaper-music-24173621-1280-800Carlo, Prince and Count, imagined his wife in bed with another man. Not just any man, but his friend, the Duke of Andria.  Carlo noticed the Duke’s eyes always found the figure of Donna Maria more than pleasing. He noticed this look too often from the Duke, and he felt that the looks were too often returned . While Donna Maria protested her innocence, Carlo knew, in his heart, that she had already betrayed him…and would continue, this most vile of betrayals.

Unless…

These thoughts assailed Carlo as he pushed himself to compose. Music was his life-he knew that-but it, too, betrayed him.  His madrigals were politely received in court but ultimately…they were misunderstood by most and dismissed, mostly behind his back, but oh, how gossip reaches even the most closed off of ears!

He locked himself in his music room, the only living space he would occupy until he had finished this composition. Receiving food intermittently from his servant,  barely touching any of it, Carlo would not lie down to sleep, only dozing at his piano.  Nothing came out of his demand on the keys, tinkering, chords splitting into discordance instead of magnificence. Four days, and his mind wandered away from the task he set for himself.

Exhausted and light headed, it was on the latter part of the fourth day (although that was later told to him, as time had lost all meaning to him inside his cell) that the visions came. Donna Maria, nude, appeared to him. He stared across the room where she stood, and all his feelings for her rose to a grand level: lust, hatred, love, agony, pain, ecstasy…and rage. Word-paintings came to him. She sprawled, ever  so close, just beyond his reach. He used the keys of his instrument as knives, slashing down, sliding, pounding down until his fingers nails cracked and broke, leaving droplets of red on the ivory.

During all this, Donna Maria cavorted around the piano. She laughed in his face, touching herself, gliding across the room, behind him, leaping over or crawling under his piano. She would reach out to him, then pull away, her long black hair fanning out over the keyboard where he would try to grab a hold, only to have it whisked away. She twirled, and he played, and lost himself in his fury.

Every path he took drew him in deeper. He would sidle into a melody that would change, taking him in a new direction: most of them ending in a frustrating blockage, where he would only be able to retrace what he did, and go another way. And another. And another. Lost, in a place where meter and structure had no more sense, no meaning, and left him more desperate with each stroke of the keys.

Carlo was later told he unbarred the lock on his room and flung himself into the main foyer. Glassy eyed, he stalked past his ever waiting servant. Down the hall he  went, banging open the door to the armory, coming out with a saber in one hand and a gun in the other. The servant tried to talk to his master but was gutted, as witnessed by one of the maids who had come out to the main hall at the noise being made.

Cowering behind one of the marble columns, the maid heard her master rush up the stairs, a door bang open, and then another series of bangs as the gun went off, and screams from her mistress. She recounted that she heard sharp swishing noises, too many to count, her mistress’s cries loud and piercing, then fading, and then nothing.

Someone had summoned the constables, and the Sargent Major, known to all as a stable and strong man, could not report what he witnessed without feeling ill for quite awhile. Yes, he had seen battlefields, but the frenzy of the Count was like unto a butcher’s den. The Countess Donna Maria, and the Duke of Andria…

Carlo, Prince and Count, would stand trial for what he had done, but, in the end, he was freed. Money and ranking took care of that. He exiled himself from the city, trying to leave blood feuds and vendettas behind him. He withdrew more into his music, more into himself, and while he was lost in a complex labyrinth of creative madness, he composed.

And Donna Maria…she twirled around him for a very, very long time.

Papers of Pain

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Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.