Read Grave Situation Online

Authors: Alex MacLean

Tags: #crime, #murder, #mystery, #addiction, #police procedural, #serial killer, #forensics, #detective, #csi, #twist ending, #traumatic stress

Grave Situation (4 page)

“Well, hello there,” he

The young woman leaned inside to
say something to the driver and closed the door. Seconds later, she
stepped back from the curb, fixing her mini-skirt. As the BMW sped
off, he could’ve sworn the woman flipped the finger at


He now glanced at the dash clock
again. Four o’clock sharp.

Time to move.

He put the binoculars inside the
duffel bag again. After he placed the bag on the floor, he cranked
the ignition and the engine kicked to life. Headlights touched the
pavement in front of him. His hand moved to the gearshift and
suddenly stopped there.

On Barrington came the rumble of
car exhaust. As he looked for the source of the interruption, he
saw a white car, pockmarked with rust spots, drive by. It pulled to
the curb in front of the hooker.

With his jaw clenched tight, he
stared. Anger-fueled frustration pounded in his temples as he
realized the wasted hours he spent driving around and then sitting
like an idiot.

He slammed a fist hard against the
steering wheel. “Damn it.”


Halifax, May 9

4:01 a.m.


With caution, the hooker regarded
the car as it stopped in front of her. Its tinted glass made it
hard to see inside. The rumble of exhaust seemed to work right
through her.

Instinctively, she dipped a hand
into her purse. The canister of pepper spray that she touched gave
her a sense of reassurance.

When the passenger window lowered,
a young man with lank, black hair peered out at her. He was maybe
twenty years old. His face was long and angular, pale and wasted.
His eyes were glassy.

The woman took a step back when she
sniffed the pungent scent of hashish spilling out of the car. All
at once the young man’s face suddenly disappeared before her,
transforming into the haggard face of her younger sister, Cathy.
Images shot across the hooker’s mind—Cathy slumped unconscious over
a toilet, a syringe hanging from the crook of her arm; the wail of
sirens; the EHS paramedics rushing her out on a stretcher; Cathy
lying in a hospital bed, feeble, shaking, tubes in her body; then
later, Cathy’s ravaged eyes staring up, her palsied fingertips on
her older sister’s arm as she struggled to speak.

“I’ll never do
drugs again.

The hooker winced.

If only I could
believe that
, she

The slurred voice of the young man
cut through her thoughts. “Hey, baby. How much?”

The woman blinked. She noticed a
twenty-dollar bill in the man’s hand. Since her job was fraught
with danger, she always made a point of examining the occupants of
any vehicle before getting in. She bent over and looked at the
driver. Another young man with short brown hair. He sat forward
with a fixed, aimless gaze to his eyes. A shadowy figure moved in
the backseat, the silhouette of a hash pipe to the person’s lips.
Whether the figure was male or female, she couldn’t tell and it
didn’t matter.

There was no way she would get into
this car.

“Move along, boys,” she

“Oh, c’mon baby,” whined the young
man. “Come a little closer.” He flicked his tongue in the air. “I
want to taste you.”

She flushed. Her fingers curled
around the canister of pepper spray. Ignoring him, she looked down
Barrington Street toward the lights of the city’s core.

“I have money.” The man waved the
twenty. “How much for a blowjob? Are you worth it?”

From the backseat, she heard
laughter. Another male, she realized at that point. Her face
tightened with anger. In one fluid motion, she brought out the
canister of pepper spray and aimed it at the young man, her finger
ready on the actuator. She willed her hand not to shake.

“I said move along,” she

The young man snapped his head
back, his eyes wide.

“Take it easy.” He raised his
hands, as if in mock surrender. “We’ll leave. No harm

the woman repeated.

“Fuck this,” the driver

With a squeal of tires, the car
sped away. The hooker expelled a sigh. Watching the taillights, she
put the canister of pepper spray back inside her purse.


She lit another cigarette to calm
her nerves.

Headlights flashed on the street.
She turned her head to see another vehicle approaching.

A pickup this time.


Smoking, the hooker watched it stop
at the curb three feet from her. She saw a man inside reach across
the seat for the window crank. Then she heard a voice, soft and
warm, say, “Hello there.”

She flipped the cigarette to the
sidewalk. Its tip glowed orange on the cement. Gingerly, she took a
step forward, one hand on the door, the other on her purse. She
bent, examining the man inside with a contemptuous

“Looking for something?” she


Halifax, May 9

4:03 a.m.


He stared into the hooker’s face
and immediately became allured by her ocean blue eyes.

Perfect. Those are just

“I’m just looking for some
company,” he answered finally.

The hooker looked around, darting
glances here and there. “You a cop?”

In spite of himself, he smiled.
“No. Not at all.”

Every so often, a car would pass.
He remained vigilant of the police. Being picked up soliciting a
prostitute was the last thing he needed. He drew himself up behind
the steering wheel. He touched his forehead and his fingers came
away wet.

“It’s a little late for company.”
The hooker glanced at her watch. “My office hours are almost

He inhaled, sensing her reluctance
to get in. Somehow he had to persuade her that it was safe. He
watched the fidgety movements of her fingers grazing the zipper of
her purse.

“I won’t take much time,” he said,

The hooker gave him a faint smirk
and when she spoke, her voice dripped sarcasm. “Most men

“If you’re not interested,” he
reached for the gear shift, a ploy he hoped would work, “I can take
my business elsewhere.”

At once, the hooker leaned in
through the open window.

“What are you looking for?” she
asked, her tone softened. “A blow? A lay? I can give you an hour if
you want, but that’s it.”

A sudden wave of relief washed over
him. Smiling, he casually petted the empty space beside

“C’mon inside,” he

A flip of the handle and the
passenger door opened. He could feel a breath of cool air spill
into the cab, carrying the scent of the hooker’s perfume, faintly
citrus. She climbed onto the seat. Swinging one leg inside, her
foot stubbed the duffel bag and glass clinked inside.

Her lips parted and she looked down
at the bag. He tensed. Completely still, his gaze followed hers. A
rivulet of sweat rolled down the side of his face. The door was
still open, one leg out. If he grabbed for her, she could escape or
scream for help.

When at last she turned to him, he
fought to remain calm.

“What’s in the bag? You work

“No.” A convulsive swallow. “Just
work stuff. I’ll put it in back.”

He picked up the duffel bag and
stepped outside with it. After checking the street in both
directions, he put the bag in a storage box mounted behind the rear
window of the truck. For a moment, he paused. Through the window,
he watched the hooker pull in her other leg, reach out and shut the
door. The dome light went dark.

Standing there, he made himself
imagine what had to be done.

He took one long breath and
muttered a prayer for the resolve to see this through. Then, after
steeling himself, he slid in behind the wheel.

“We should go somewhere no one can
see us,” the hooker told him as he closed the door. “I know a

Silent, he nodded his

“But before we go anywhere.” The
woman touched his shoulder. “There’s the question of my

He looked at her. “How

She gave him a
curious expression. “You’re new to this

He felt his chest constrict. He saw
the woman searching his eyes. Almost shyly, he turned away. When he
spoke, his voice was quiet.

“I am. I’ve never tried this sex
for money thing before.”

“Then why are you here? Troubles
in paradise?”

Briefly, he hesitated as his mind
scrambled to come up with answers. At last he said, “Yes. It’s my
girlfriend. We have been going together for nearly a year now.
Don’t get me wrong, our relationship is great, except for the sex.”
He faced her now, wondering if she was buying into his lie. “She
just can’t get into it.”

“She’s frigid?”

“Like an icebox. Maybe it’s my
performance. Maybe her strict upbringing has a lot to do with it.
Her parents are deeply religious.”

A car drove past, headlights
streaming through a sleeping city. Together, they watched it

The hooker spoke first. “If you
came to me looking for pointers, I can help you with your
performance. If your girlfriend is game, I could even help her
out.” She winked and her tone became a bit playful. “I have no
problem with other women.”

He stared back at
her with a kind of fascination.

Another wink, a pucker of her lips,
answered him.

It was funny, he thought. Two
different people, submerged in separate lives, all of a sudden
connected. It would be almost a shame to kill this

“How’d you ever end up doing this
type of work?” he asked.

“What are you, a priest? Do you
want me to profess my sins?”

“Stupid question, huh?”

The hooker smiled a little. “I love
the sex.”

He raised his

She laughed
aloud, tossing her head. “No, not really. To tell you the truth, it
bores the shit out of me. I meet some
people in this business.
Some real losers. Lucky for me, most of them come pretty quickly. I
do this for the money, honey. Speaking of which.” She held out her
palm, tone impatient now. “What is it
want? To talk? To fuck? Either
way, I get paid. Understand?”

Abruptly, his eyes

Sharp-mouthed bitch.

He saw her other hand on the door
handle. She was going to bail soon, he realized. He knew he
couldn’t let her do that. Not being this close. Tugging his wallet
from a back pocket, he opened it, and then paused.

“I never did get your fees,” he

“Depends what you want. It’s forty
a blow. Sixty a lay. Or one-twenty an hour.”

The clock in the dash read 4:16. An
hour should be more than enough time. He thumbed through some bills
and handed the woman six twenties.

“I’ll have an hour,” he

He felt the bills being slipped
from his fingers.

“Generous,” the hooker remarked,

She stuffed the money into her
purse. Then she told him to drive.

Down the street a few late-night
stragglers wandered the sidewalks. A small coterie of teenagers
hung around a pimped-out car parked at the curb. Some of them
glanced his way. Eyes averted, he continued to roll down
Barrington. He saw a bearded man in an overcoat leaning against the
side of a building with his arms folded and his head down as if
asleep. Further along, a young man in a hooded sweatshirt and faded
jeans rummaged through a garbage can. By his side sat a cart half
full of his night’s yields

He passed the Old Burying Ground
and then the stone facade of Government House.

“Take a right up here on Salter,”
the hooker told him, pointing.

The street itself was deserted, no
one in sight. They coasted downhill toward the waterfront. At the
corner of Salter and Lower Water Street, the hooker told him to
take another right. Slowly, they passed the Brewery

“See that parking lot across the
street,” the hooker said.

He looked. “Yes.”

“Turn in there.”

As he did, he saw the lot was
empty. He drove to the far end and parked before shutting off the
engine. He flipped the key to auxiliary so the radio would still

Beyond the windshield lay the
glittering water of the Halifax Harbor. He peered out at a buoy
rocking with the waves. Off to his left was a tugboat wharf. Two
tugs were neatly moored at the dock.

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