The following poem was written by a victim of abuse shortly after her escape from abuse. It is printed here by her permission. She is a wonderful angel who has been scarred severely. Not simple wounds that heal with time, but numbing pains which tear deep into the depths of her very soul. Part of her will never recover. I only hope and pray that there is enough left in her to one day find happiness. For now, she is free, getting help, and no longer being abused. She still lives with fear.

In the midst of my heartache,
All is well.
I am enveloped in a storm raging round about me;
I should be swept away by the whirlwinds of sadness,
Yet, here I stand!
The cold, bitter bite of self hatred,
Long would have been my demise,
Yet, here I stand!
The deafening thunder bolts of abuse,
Not knowing when they would strike,
Should have brought me to my knees,
Yet, here I stand!
The torrential demoralizing words pelting down on me,
That would burn deeper than any lightning,
Yet, here I stand! The storm is not within me anymore.
I am not the weak vessel perceived by the storm.
I realize now, that I am standing.
Thank God that I can stand!
I pray to God that I may learn to walk!


His anger burned within him. It swelled up from the very depths of his soul and emerged with a vengeance in need of retaliation and satisfaction. She was his target. He looked at her. He loved her. He loved her deeply. He owned her. He owned her completely. He despised her. He hated her. He admired her. He needed her and yet he could not stand her. Vengeance was on his mind. She makes him suffer and so she deserves to suffer with him.
He climbed into he bed and forced himself upon her. She screamed out but was stifled by his hand choking her throat. She tried to breath, but his grip closed tighter. Finally he released her and she grasp for breath. He pushed her off the bed and looked at the sobbing mass. He spit on her, but she did not react. He ripped off the remnants of her already torn nightgown and noticed blood on the fabric. Blood streamed down her leg. He looked at himself and saw blood on his leg and on his manhood and realized he had taken her during her period.
“You useless bitch.” he shouted. He always shouted. He did not know how to talk to her.
He threw on his robe and grabbed her by her arm. He dragged out of the room and pushed her down the stairs. She lay whimpering on the landing, alive and apparently unbroken. He rushed down and pulled her out of the house and into the garage. It was dark. No one would see. He picked up a jerry can of gasoline and started to pour it over her.
She screamed loudly, “No! Don’t!” which only solicited a violent backhand across her face. She continued to plea for mercy but only with tears and whimpers. He stood back and held a lighter before her.
He laughed and grinned menacingly, “I am the man. I am in charge. I am right and you are wrong. Get it?”
She continue to whimper, holding back the tears and fighting. She didn’t know why but she must have deserved this. He said so, so it must be true. He walked out and returned to the house, turning off the lights, leaving her sitting naked on the cold concrete, in the darkness, drenched in gasoline. She tried to understand what it was that she had done wrong, but couldn’t figure it out. She knew she had done something wrong. Why else would he beat her so? She would figure it out and then they would be happy. She managed to stand up and walk to the house. The door was locked so she returned to the garage and cuddled in a corner amongst some boxes in an effort to keep warm. “Why God? Why?”

Chapter One

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
Danielle had been at her wit's end for some time. She had no one to whom she could turn nor any place to where she could go. She only knew that she needed out and she needed help in getting there. Danielle had always prided herself as a survivor and felt she could accomplish anything she set her mind to, however, after analyzing the possible solutions, she quickly came to realize that leaving Donald would require more work than she could accomplish purely on her own.
She had called the Woman's Abuse Shelter hotline. The number had been displayed for several months on the back rest of a bus stop bench advertisement outside their apartment. She had seen the sign almost everyday and yet, until recently, it had not occurred to her to make the call. It was equally amazing that the sign had not registered to Donald as a warning that help was available to the victimized. At least, if he had read it, it had not had any affect on him. As sure as the sign continued to proclaim help for the abused, so continued the certainty that Donald would abuse again. She was sure he had not noticed the ad, however, she was equally sure, that if he had seen it, he would only see it as another meddling social group getting involved in an area that disrupted the sanctity of marriage. He firmly believed that a wife was the husband’s property and he was the supreme ruler over his domain. Danielle was equally confident that if the sign ever did register to him, that he would promptly beat her for no other reason other than his need to reaffirm his male dominance in their home.
The abuse shelter was very friendly but their resolve was very firm. Their first response was to have her move out and then go to the police. They assured her safety by offering her to stay in a safe house and emphasizing that the police would quickly get a restraining order against Donald to prevent him from seeing her. She wondered how many severe cases of abuse they actually handled. Their solution might work well for someone who lost his temper and lashed out irrationally on a rare occasion, however, a cold calculating abuser would not be deterred by a simple court order. Donald would stalk her, find her, and punish her. He would also lash out at the shelter and police, seeking out revenge against them for their part in taking away his property.
Danielle almost laughed out loud at their proposal. They certainly did not know him as she did. They did not know what he was capable of doing nor what he would actually do. She was not sure of how far he would go, however, after 14 years of abuse, she was well aware of how dangerous he could be and she knew without hesitation that she would never be safe from him unless he was locked up and even then, only if he was locked up for a long time. She knew a safe house would not stop him, everyone in the neighborhood knew where the woman’s shelter was, and, for Donald, a restraining order would not be worth the value of the paper upon which it was written. She had analyzed this completely. She would only feel safe if and when Donald was locked up in jail and she had moved out of town, far out of town.
She was not surprised by their proposal, in fact, she had anticipated it. It was a necessary step to fulfill her needs and reach her goal. They offered her the opportunity to see a counselor, to which she readily agreed. This worked very well with her plan. The shelter provided one for free whom she could see according to her schedule when Donald was out trucking. Among other trades, Donald drove long-haul across the country and would be gone up to a week at a time, but she still had to be careful. He had his friends, more appropriately, his spies, and they would keep tabs on her while he was gone. She certainly could not afford the consequences if he found out she was seeing an abuse counselor.
Danielle had driven to the mall from where she took a twenty minute bus ride to Nancy Richards' office. She could have taken the bus direct from the apartment, but it would be too hard for her to explain why she took a bus when she had a car to drive. She also did not want to have her vehicle seen outside Richard’s office so she chose to park at the mall. It was easy to explain being seen at the mall. Who would question that? Maybe she was over-reacting, but her paranoia had kept her alive so far and she didn't want to take any further chances. Donald didn't need an excuse to beat her, but something like this was a guarantee for severe pain. Donald always seemed to know exactly where the line was. He had usually been able to keep her out of the hospital and on those few occasions when it was necessary, he had a ready excuse which prevented police intervention.
Danielle arrived ten minutes early. Although the service was provided for free, she had been advised by the shelter to arrive early to complete the associated paper work. She had only spoken to the shelter over the phone. They had arranged for her to complete the forms at the counselor’s office as she had made it quite clear that she had no intention of going near the abuse shelter.
The clerk was a pleasant lady in her mid-forties. She was a very plump woman but dressed accordingly. Danielle appreciated her appearance. The clerk wore loose but neat clothing which complemented her rather than detract. She bore herself in such a manner that her personal beauty was not lost in her obesity. Her round face was brightened by very rosy cheeks and an infectious smile. She supplied Danielle with a clip board and directed her to a seat where she could complete the questionnaire.
Danielle smiled as she accepted the board. She felt a bit underdressed for the occasion. She was simply attired in blue jeans and a Led Zeppelin Tee-shirt. Danielle had the figure to pull off the look. At five foot seven and one hundred and fifty-five pounds she was a striking figure. She exercised regularly so was very physically fit. Although the health charts decreed she should weigh less, her physical conditioning dictated that less would be unhealthy for her. She looked at the clerk and made a mental physical comparison. She smiled again and sat down.
She quickly completed the forms and returned them to the clerk. She leafed through a copy of Cosmopolitan. She knew she was attractive yet she was still dismayed at the unrealistic depictions the magazine made for woman, and all for the purpose of tantalizing and pleasing some silly man who couldn’t appreciate the work and effort made to look that way. Danielle knew she would only confuse Donald had she dressed up for him. He would probably think she was cheating on him and then he would beat her to keep her in line.
The phone rang.
The clerk picked it up and only said, “Yes?” After a short pause, she replied, “Okay.” She returned the phone to its cradle and looked up at Danielle and smiled, “Ms. Richards will see you now.”
A door opened and there stood Ms. Richards. Ms. Nancy Richards. She looked like a grade school teacher. Five-foot six, slim one hundred and twenty pounds in a pale dress with matching cardigan sweater which would have been fashionable for every kindergarten teacher over any of the past five decades. Her sandy brown hair was cropped an inch above her shoulders and neatly framed her face which only perpetuated the anachronistic look. Nancy welcomed Danielle and directed her to a love seat while she sat in her own office chair.
Nancy seemed pleasant enough. She was about the same age as Danielle, maybe even a year or two older, however, Danielle could not help herself from feeling that Nancy had not quite endured the same hardship she had over her thirty-two years of living. Did she bear the same physical and emotional scars of abuse? Had she felt the blows? Had she cowered under verbal assault? Had she worn sunglasses and makeup to hide her bruises? How could she help without experiencing the pain? What would she know of the hardship of enduring abuse as she sat there quaintly in her pretty knit dress pretending to be concerned?
Nancy was first to break the ice with the compulsory preliminaries and introduction and continued, “I want to congratulate you for taking such a big step by coming here today. The shelter provided me with only a brief synopsis.” Nancy had a single-paged, typed report in front of her, to which she was referring, “It indicates here merely that you are a victim of spousal abuse. I have no other details.”
Nancy paused and looked up at Danielle to solicit a response. When none came forward, she continued, “Perhaps you can begin by telling me about yourself.”
“What can I say?” Danielle hesitated but only briefly. She had built walls around herself and had been waiting for years to release her burdens and vent. Once she recognized the opportunity, the floodgates opened, “I have lived a horrible life. Orphaned at nine, left home at sixteen, married at eighteen, and pretty well lived in pain and abuse the whole bloody time.”
Nancy’s eyes opened wide with dismay. They bantered back and forth about where to begin and how to proceed. Nancy felt the problems went deeper than the current home abuse and felt they should first delve into Danielle’s past. Danielle was content with this decision. She wanted to develop a long-term rapport with Nancy in order to fulfill her needs and she was not ready to go into the realms of Donald’s abuse.
They spent a lot of time just chatting until Danielle started getting impatient and blurted out, “My parents died in a car crash when I was nine.”
Nancy was caught off guard but before she could remark, Danielle continued, “We were on our way back from a company picnic. My father had too much to drink, as usual, which precipitated an argument on the ride home. He started speeding which frightened my mother. When she started to scream from fear, he smiled and went even faster. He lost it in a curve and started to spin out of control and skidded off the road. We rolled over a few times and landed facing backwards in the ditch. Fortunately we came to rest on the wheels and not upside down. I had been in the back with my seatbelt on. By the time I settled down, everything was quiet. I couldn’t see my parents anywhere. I tried but I couldn’t undo my seatbelt, so all I could do was sit and cry.”
“That’s awful!” Nancy exclaimed, “You poor child.”
Danielle continued without reacting to Nancy’s comment, “A man and a lady came by and helped me out. They took me back to the road until the ambulance came. I never saw my parents again but found out that neither had seatbelts on and had both been ejected. Both had died before the ambulance ever arrived.”
Nancy had difficulty in separating her personal feelings from her clients’ anguish and was obviously affected by Danielle’s story. She tried to regain her professional decorum and posed a standard canned question, “How does that make you feel now?”
Danielle had little use nor respect for the whole touchy-feely question. Instead of providing a direct answer she chose to reveal as little emotion as possible and spoke rather matter-of-factly, “My father had been abusive towards my mother. They always fought and my father always drank.”
“They shouted a lot?” asked Nancy.
“No they fought!” Danielle sat up animated in her armchair. Her fists were raised in a mock fighting stance, “They physically and sometimes, brutally fought. My father would hit and kick and mother would defend herself. She would usually throw things and that would be my father’s signal to stop fighting and start drinking.”
Danielle looked up at Nancy and added, “And no, they did not hit me. I got to see it, I got to hear it, but they kept it between themselves...ultimately, it was their undoing.”
“I notice you refer to your parents as mother and father,” Nancy observed.
“I only had a mother and mom and dad. It takes more than biology to make a mom and dad, if that’s what you’re getting at?”
“I see.” Nancy was busy trying to make notes while trying to maintain eye contact with Danielle. Another canned question, “And how does that make you feel?”
Danielle sat upright her seat, obviously upset. “Look,” came her frank challenge, “I’ve got a lot of garbage behind me and a lot of baggage with me. Let me just tell you my story and we can get into the touchy feely stuff later. Okay?”
“Okay” was Nancy’s simple response. Having been duly chastised she offered Danielle the opportunity to continue, “Well then, what happened after the accident?
“I went to live with my aunt. My father’s sister. Mom was an only am I. Things went well for a few years until Marie met George. Marie is my aunt. George had been previously divorced and from what I gathered it had been very bitter. He had two children but rarely got to see them, so George was really excited when Marie got pregnant. They had a baby boy, George Jr., in March and then got married in May the same year. I was twelve at the time and things still went well.”
“Oh that’s good” Nancy interjected.
Danielle gave a harsh gaze to Nancy and sternly stated, “My story.”
“Sorry,” came Nancy’s humble apology.
Danielle continued, “All went well for a while.”
Nancy simply exclaimed, “Oh?” and Danielle proceeded.
“It started subtly at first. I started looking after G Jr., that’s what I called him, just babysitting for an hour or two, but then George insisted that Marie go to work. I started looking after G Jr. even more and by the time I hit fourteen, they pulled me out of school and I became their full-time maid, cook, and nanny.”
“That’s horrible!” was Nancy’s uncontrollable reaction.
“Horrible?” Danielle was getting very agitated. “I was miserable! I had no friends, no free time, no life. I didn’t have time to watch TV. I felt like friggin’ Cinderella without the fairy Godmother.”
Danielle paused and covered her mouth. She had been getting fairly animated and was embarrassed by her own emotions. “Sorry, I don’t usually use expletives.”
“Well, you didn’t actually swear.” Nancy pointed out.
“Maybe not, but I came close.” Danielle grinned as she regained her composure.
“Well, we won’t worry too much about that, will we?” Nancy looked at her watch and added, “We’re just about out of time, so let’s stop here. I certainly think we should meet again. Same time next week?”
Danielle had already stood up and was putting on her coat, “I’ll call you when I know when I can get free.” Danielle smiled and added, “Thank you very much, that felt good. It was good start.”
“Yes, I do believe so.”
Before Nancy could even get up, Danielle turned, opened the door and was off with a quick, “Bye!” as she exited through the doorway.
Nancy merely reclined in her chair. The hour had gone by very quickly but she found herself totally exhausted from it. She was very thankful to have an hour break before her next appointment. Danielle would be a considerable challenge for her.

Chapter Two

Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.
Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

Chrissy quickly dressed herself while Ess showered. Ess was not his real name. She did not know his real name. She only knew that his name had the three initials “SSS” and consequently called himself Ess or actually Ess Cubed as his personal licence plate declared. She secreted the fifty dollar tip he gave her. Fifty bucks for five minutes of play and less than thirty seconds of real work. She almost felt guilty and silently joked to herself about giving him change. But what the heck, business was business and she needed the money. She was lucky to get any money out of him at all. He obviously seemed satisfied enough to keep returning. He never complained and she did her best to make him feel comfortable and feel good about himself. She did not think much about him, however, it was her job and she was good at what she did.
She glanced at the full length mirror which covered the face of the sliding closet door. She was pleased with what she saw. She was tall and slim. She worked out regularly to keep her figure trim. Generous dosages of peroxide, hair colour, and a well proportioned supply of silicon had made her transformation complete. Her desire had been to pursue a career in acting but when she realized the competition was too fierce, she underwent the changes to attract attention. Unfortunately for her, tall buxom blonds were all too common and she was not able to get any further than bedroom offers from questionable agents. She had taken a couple of offers. The first one had taken her for dinner before play, while the second took her in his office. He simply threw a hundred dollar bill her way and suggested she consider a different line of work. Frustrated and down of her luck, she complied in hopes of raising enough money to return to school. She wasn't proud of her method, but she had resolve and justified the long term gain made up for the short term pain. That was three years ago and she was not any closer to her goal, but she was stubborn and determined to do it on her own. She would not admit that she had not made any progress over the past few years. The potential was there, however, there always seemed to be something else which got in her way and prevented her from progressing.
She continued to look at herself in the mirror. At twenty-six, she was middle-age for her profession. Her five foot eight inch, one hundred and twenty-five pound frame was very attractive. Her height made her too short for modeling, yet most men found her too tall for dating. Many preferred the petite woman. She was strict about her diet and kept herself in very good shape. Two artificial double-Ds offset her height disadvantage and guaranteed her a steady flow of eager customers.
As she lingered in front of her reflection she vainly wondered if Ess slept with the other girls in the block as often as he did with her. There were four of them on the floor. The set up was simple. Ess, who lived in the upstairs loft, rented the furnished apartments to his girls. Twice a month he collected ‘rent’. The girls arranged their own hours, their own customers, and their own prices. Ess did throw some references their way, but only on the rare occasion. He felt the girls worked better and complained less when he stayed out of their business. The girls met together regularly for drinks and relaxation, however, they rarely spoke about clients, never about money, and always bitched and complained about Ess. Chris’ curiosity ate away at her and her brain played circle games which only infuriated her. At first she would imagine that Ess only slept with her, which flattered her because she was the best and most attractive, but then her brain would betray her and make her believe that Ess only slept with her because the others stood up for themselves and would not permit it. What if he did sleep with all the girls? Did they all get the same tip? The brain could be such a horrible thing when allowed to wander and speculate on meaningless things. She gave her head a purposeful shake as though trying to clear out cobwebs. Her thoughts then returned to Ess and the brief liaison they had just shared and she simply thanked God the Ess only collected twice a month.
Ess came out of the bathroom and looked at Chrissy in the mirror, "Jeez girl. Don't you ever get enough of looking at yourself? You're always looking at the damned mirror."
"You seemed to like the view about five minutes ago," said Chrissy with a smirk.
"Screw you!" He said angrily. He did not know how to take sarcasm. He had been blessed as a child with a short temper and never learned how to control it.
Chrissy had known him long enough to realize he was in one of his moods and that it would not take much to set him off on a tantrum, however, her mouth often worked faster than did her brain and she could not resist the retort, "You just did!"
A subsequent series of expletives from Ess signaled Chrissy into mothering mode, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you." Chrissy could never get over the fact that so many men were nice and nurturing before sex and such assholes afterwards. She understood it but it still upset her. In Ess’ case, he was never nurturing. He was always an asshole. She could pacify herself by realizing that he was the boss and as long as he did not hurt her, he could say whatever he damned well pleased.
He vented another series of colorful complaints which was followed by the appropriate pacification from Chrissy. Ess was only five foot seven and carried his two hundred and five pound weight mostly in a very prominent rotund beer-belly. He felt he was prematurely balding for a man of thirty five years of age, all of which, consequently, attributed to his fragile ego and low self-esteem. He readily used power, threats, and rage to boost his male superiority. He had felt threatened by Chrissy and resorted to a verbal onslaught to allow her to remember the hierarchy which existed between them. She, of course, acquiesced to his rantings and ravings and went into submission, profusely apologizing while acknowledging his dominance. Having re-established his manly supremacy, he simply kissed her on the cheek with a, “That’s my girl.” and left without another word.
“Asshole!” She was not sure if she said it or thought it, but either way Ess did not react which was very good for her. She could plainly see he was still upset, although she could not fully understand why. She despised his condescension and appreciated his attitude even less. Still, there was something endearing about him at times. Maybe, she just felt sorry for him. She did not know why. She had long ago stopped trying to comprehend men. She figured if they had it all together, they would not be seeing her for fulfillment. She laughed to herself. Men were always complaining about how hard it was to understand women yet men were no easier. In fact, they were probably more difficult to understand. At least we talk about our problems, she thought.
Chrissy stripped down the sheets, set new ones, and generally tidied up the bedroom where she had just been with Ess. The apartment had two bedrooms. One was hers and the other was for clients. Her bedroom was almost double the size of the other and included a private four piece bathroom. The other bathroom was adjacent the to client room and only had a toilet sink and shower. Only once had she used that bathroom. She once had a client who was so smelly, so repugnant, that she could not bring herself to wash in her own private bath but rather used the client shower to literally scrub away the filth which seemed to linger and not go away. She recalls even having thrown away the bedding. This had obviously been at the start of her stay at the apartment and she had since learned that her clientele was adequate that she could afford to be picky. Needless to say, he was not a return customer.
The client room was fairly Spartan. A double bed, a night stand, a floor lamp a clothes rack. A few cheap prints on the two walls and one large mirror on third beside the door. Against the fourth wall rested the headboard above which was a window which was never open and always had the blinds drawn shut.
She made it a point to keep the client room and bath separate from the rest of her apartment. This way she was able to maintain a safe haven for herself. She went into the client room as little as possible, only for work or to clean. And she was meticulous with her cleaning. She realized it was probably to overcompensate for her chosen profession, still, it made her feel better about herself which was most important to her.
Having cleaned and prepped everything to her satisfaction, she prepared herself a cup of Earl Grey tea. Although the apartment came mostly furnished, she had acquired an old tea set from a local antique shop in the neighborhood. The Royal Dalton set was white with gold trim adorned with simple red rose and pale green leaves. Although originally a larger set, she had managed to get four complete cups and saucers, with the matching tea pot. Unfortunately for her there were no other matching pieces and the set had long been discontinued. She was content with what she had acquired and she used the set regularly. It was another source of refuge for her. The tea had become part of her daily routine. It made her feel like a proper lady.
She sat down and sipped her tea. She had a full half hour before her next appointment. From the moment Ess had entered the door to the moment he left had been less than fifteen minutes, and that included a shower. She had at least that to be thankful for. Ess did not take up much of her time and did little to disrupt her schedule. He always called ahead and collected when she did not have clients booked. The arrangement had been worked out long ago. Ess had found her from a newspaper add in the personals section. She had been working out of her apartment but the area was very questionable. She had been beaten by a couple overzealous clients who felt they were entitled to do what they would with her because they had paid for it.
Ess offered her a nicer apartment, better clients, and most importantly, protection. At first, she did not like the idea of working for someone. She liked the thought of being able to choose her clients, when, where, and how much. The reality was that her clients dictated most of that for her and she consequently agreed to Ess’ arrangement. As it turned out, she actually had more freedom working for Ess than she had on her own. Still, this was not something she wanted to do forever. She once again promised herself this was only for the short term.
She leaned forward, placed her elbows on the table and cradled the tea cup in both hands. She thought once more about Ess and felt sorry for him. She reflected on his weaknesses as a man, as an individual, as a human being and, in spite of her revulsion for him, she felt pity. Her could not help her mind from wandering. She remembered their intimate interlude and snickered to herself. Maybe she was a hooker, but, damn, was he ever pathetic.
A knock from the apartment door startled her. She had plenty of time before her next client, besides, they had ground floor security door. Only the four girls could buzz someone in and as far as she knew, apart from the girls, only Ess had a key. She doubted that it was Ess. He had already collected and he barely had it in him for one episode. She knew he could not manage a second interlude. She doubted it was one of the other girls. They had just been together a couple of days ago and they usually called each other rather than risk interrupting a client.
“Must be Ess,” she deduced quietly to herself and then she spoke louder as she stood up and walked to the door, “What did you forget now? I have better things to do with my day, you know.”

Chapter Three

The killing was the best part. It was the dying I couldn’t take.
Craig Volk: Northern Exposure, A-Hunting We Will Go, 1991

Nick and Lydia walked up to the young uniformed officer guarding the door to the apartment. The young man was well attired in his uniform and his six foot two, chiseled gave him the appearance of a poster model for a police recruiting pamphlet. Lydia guessed him to be around twenty-five years of age. She smiled approvingly. Nick only noticed the spit polished ankle boots and thought to himself, “Rookie.”
Nick flashed his badge and asked, “Well, what do we have here?” Nick already had an assessment of the situation having been briefed by dispatch on the drive over, however, the question served both as an icebreaker and a re-evaluation of the situation. It was not uncommon for the story to change somewhat as it went from first report, to dispatch, to officer, and further down the line. If left on its own long enough without clarification a simple phone complaint of young boys throwing rocks in a sand lot could reach the media as a gangland multiple murder over millions of dollars of stolen diamonds. For this reason, Nick went by the facts. Double and triple checked the facts. Rumors and suppositions made for good stories, but facts made solid court cases, and that was about what Nick was most concerned.
The attending officer was obviously fairly young and was being very diligent in recording everything in his notebook. He had been tasked with scene security and was determined to do everything by the book and do it correctly. He hardly looked up from his notebook when he asked, “Name?”
“Nick Mozel. Mike, Oscar, Zulu, Echo, Lima.” replied Nick. It still seemed natural for Nick to use the phonetic alphabet when spelling names even though he had not been on the beat for over fifteen years. Old habits were hard to break. The alphabet was used for clarity and was especially important in the days of crackling two-way radios. The system was good, it was clear, it was concise, and so it continued on.
The young officer wrote without looking up. He may have even been confused had Nick not spelled out his name phonetically. Without saying a word, he raised his eyes from his notebook and looked at Lydia.
“Busby, Lydia Busby. Bravo, Uniform, Sierra, Bravo, Yankee.” said Lydia.
“Lima, India, or Lima Yankee?”
“Lima, Yankee,” answered Lydia. She had found over the years that people often wanted to spell her last name with a ‘Z’ instead of an ‘S’, but this was the first time she recalled anyone questioning the spelling of her first name. A first for everything, she thought.
The officer closed his notebook and apologized, “Sorry guys, procedure.”
“No, that’s good,” said Nick. “Better to follow procedure than be complacent and screw up a court case.”
Mozel and Busby had been partners for the past three years. Nick had been on homicide for twelve years and Lydia joined him after his previous partner retired. The two worked very well together. They each had different strengths and weaknesses and they respected each other’s differences which only added to the success of their partnership.
“So, Williams, what do we have?” asked Lydia while reading the officer’s name from his lapel tag.
“Young female Caucasian, appears to be a single knife cut to the throat.” replied Officer Williams.
“What’s been disturbed?” asked Busby.
“Nothing much.” Williams reopened his notebook and reviewed his notes. “A john came to the apartment and found the door slightly ajar. He said he opened the door and saw the victim laying in a pool of blood. He claims he didn’t enter. He closed the door and called us from his cell phone. He waited around until we arrived. Officer Bryce and myself were first on-scene. Tom entered, checked for vitals, and left. Nothing else has been touched. Tom took the john downtown for a statement and I was left here to guard the door. You two are the first to arrive since then. The Medical Examiner has been notified as has Crime Scene Investigation.”
“Good stuff,” said Nick, “Keep up the good work.”
“I’m amazed the john stuck around,” noted Busby, “Most would have taken off.”
“He thought about it,” offered Williams, “but he’s got priors and he figured it was better to be open on this one rather than have us find his prints later on.”
“Every once in a while they come up with an intelligent thought, hey Putz.” quipped Mozel sarcastically as he entered the room.
Lydia simply retorted, “Moron.” and followed him in.
It is unclear of how and when in started, but with names as Busby and Mozel, the two had respectively been calling each other Putz and Moron for years. At thirty-two, Lydia could hardly be called a grumpy old man, however, the forty-eight year old Nick Mozel, with twenty-eight years of service, and a crusty and abrasive demeanor, more than adequately fit the bill of the characters about whom the Grumpy Old Men movies were made.
The two stood in the doorway and scanned the apartment. Immediately their eyes were drawn to the woman laying face down in a pool of blood. A cut mark was clearly evident at the edge of her neck. The extent of the cut was hidden beneath her, however, a large amount of blood had congealed around her neck. The two did not proceed any further. There was no need. Forensics preferred to investigate an undisturbed scene so to enter now may only jeopardize the investigation. This was not a smoking gun homicide and it would take investigative techniques and team work to solve this case.
“Look at her abdomen,” Mozel directed.
“More blood,” noted Busby.
“Mmmm,” mumbled Mozel.
“Another stab wound?” guessed Busby.
“Looks like.” Mozel postulated further, “Probably got stabbed in the stomach, followed by the fatal slash to the throat. Can’t tell much more without examining the body. CSI can tell us more once they get here.”
Nick turned to the officer at the door, “Do you know who’s coming from CSI?”
Williams referred to his notebook once again, “Hudson, Frank Hudson.”
“Good, very good!” Nick said approvingly.
“Are you sure she was a hooker?” asked Busby.
“The john was clear about that,” answered Williams. “He was so paranoid about getting accused that he was open about everything. Tom couldn’t hardly get him to shut up. Apparently all the tenants on this floor are hookers.”
Nick looked around. Four doors. Four apartments. Four hookers? Williams was guarding the last door furthest from the stairwell. The suspect would have had to have walked the length of the hallway. There could not have been too much noise as none of the other tenants had said anything, or else, they assumed any noise was worked related. They would definitely have to be questioned.
Nick and a pensive look about him. Williams looked at him and then at Lydia. She just shook her head signaling him not to interrupt. Nick got that way when he was thinking and Lydia knew better than to disturb Nick when he had a thought going.
Finally he broke his silence. “The door.”
“What about it?” asked Lydia.
“The front door had a piece of wood holding it open when we got here.”
“Officer Bryce put it there to make it easier for us to go in and out,” answered Williams apologetically. He was not sure if that had been a good move or not, so was hesitant about his answer. “The door was locked. Tom found a piece of two by four by the garbage bin and used it to keep the door from locking.”
“So the door was locked when you arrived.”
“Well, sort of. Calvin Smythe, the john, was at the door waiting for us. He let us in. So, yeah, I guess the door was locked.”
“So, who let him in?” questioned Nick.
Both Williams and Busby looked at each other without saying anything.
Nick continued, “Who let, what did you call him? Smythe. Who let Smythe in?”
“How so?” asked Lydia.
“Well, if he didn’t kill her, who opened the security door. The door is electronically locked and unless you are buzzed in or have a key, you aren’t getting in.”
“Could have been one of the other girls,” offered Williams.
“Doubt it,” Nick countered. “They would not be letting in another girl’s customer. I can see this is going to be like most of our cases.”
Lydia piped in quickly as would a young school girl trying to give the right answer to her teacher, “More questions, fewer answers.”
They both turned back to the apartment door and peered in from the entrance. This time it was Busby’s turn to go into a trance.
“What?” asked Mozel, “Something wrong?”
“Look at the apartment,” replied Busby. “It’s clean, almost sterile. Does this look like a hooker’s apartment to you?”
“I can honestly say I don’t know what a hooker’s apartment is supposed to look like,” quipped Mozel.
“Good answer Moron!” said Lydia with a smile.
Mozel scanned the apartment. Lydia was right. The room was clean and tidy. Everything seemed to be in perfect order. The only thing out of place was a tea cup in a saucer on the corner of the kitchen table. Around the table were four chairs. Three were tucked neatly under the table while the forth was pushed back slightly away from the tea cup.
Williams had glanced in too and offered, “Do you think the killer cleaned up after the murder?”
Busby and Mozel looked at each other in disbelief. Mozel just glanced about not bothering to respond but Lydia, remembering that she too was once a recruit, replied, “The killer would not clean up an apartment and leave the body behind. The victim would be the first thing to be cleaned up.”
Lydia had enough experience that she naturally referred to a victim as a ‘thing’. The first step in self preservation was to depersonalize the victim.
Mozel continued his visual assessment, “No signs of struggle. She must have known the assailant, or at least expected him.”
“She’s fully clothed,” added Busby, “No way to tell at this time if she was killed before or after a trick.”
“She’s smack in the middle of the room,” noted Mozel. “I’m guessing by the way she’s oriented that he had just come in the door. They were probably facing each other in the center of the room when she got stabbed.”
“I have to agree with you there,” said Busby.
From behind came a loud boisterous remark, “Putz and Moron, Super sleuths!”
Turning around, Mozel replied with a, “Hi Frank,” while Busby’s greeting was even shorter with a simple, “Frank.”
Humor was a police officer’s greatest tool in combating work stress and Frank Hudson was as jovial as they came, “How’s my favorite Evidence Eradication Team?” Frank was referring to the unfortunate habit of many officer’s zealously entering a crime scene and contaminating evidence before a forensic investigator had a chance survey the site.
Williams defended himself, “We followed procedure, sir. The scene’s intact.”
Mozel calmed Williams, “Take it easy, he’s just pulling your leg. You done good Batman.”
“Don’t worry about Frank,” said Busby, “You’ll get used to him.” Noting William’s pallor as he gazed once again at the poor woman lying in the middle of the floor, she added, “And you’ll get used to this too.”
“I hope not.” Hudson for a moment was quite serious. “You should never get used to this. If you ever do....retire. At that point you’ve seen enough.”
There was short briefing between the group and then Mozel and Busby left. Williams remained to guard the door, while Frank proceeded with the laborious task of photographing, mapping, and gathering evidence for subsequent analysis.
Frank was right. You should never get used to this. You could hide it, suppress it, but never get used to it. Frank chose to bury it. It occasionally concerned him that one day it may come back to haunt him, however, for now, he had a job to do, so he took a deep breath and proceeded.
He was very particular about his work and very diligent in his process. Frank took more time than most of the other forensic investigators on the unit, however, he was thorough and dependable. He had a very good reputation in court and was classified as Forensic Expert. There were few lawyers in the district who dared dispute Frank’s testimony.
Frank labored on in silence. Williams looked in from time to time but never spoke a word and dared not interrupt. Frank would take a several hours before the victim would be ready to be turned over to the Coroner’s Office for their phase of the investigation.

Chapter Four

To use fear as the friend it is, we must retrain and reprogram ourselves...We must persistently and convincingly tell ourselves that the fear is here--with its gift of energy and heightened awareness--so we can do our best and learn the most in the new situation.
Peter McWilliams, Life 101

Danielle nervously fidgeted with her keys. She had gotten behind schedule and she hoped she had arrived home before Donald had. She first unlocked the deadbolt. That was a good sign. She then managed the doorlock and cautiously opened the door.
“Hello, anybody home?” she called guardedly.
When no answer came, she let out a sigh of relief and stepped in. She put down her purse and stooped over to untie her shoes. She had prematurely allowed herself to relax and was caught off guard when both of Donny’s hands pushed against her shoulders. She fell over backwards with her butt slamming against the still open door. The door slammed shut and Danielle slid down to the floor.
“Where the hell have you been?” challenged Donald. His face was red and his eyes were bulging.
“I just went to the mall,” Danielle lied. She didn’t dare move, afraid of another onslaught.
“What for?” Donald was a master of verbal abuse. Although he only stood five feet seven inches tall, his two hundred and five pound frame towered over Danielle as she cowered on the floor before him.
“I didn’t buy anything,” protested Danielle in defense of herself. “I was just feeling a bit claustrophobic and needed to get out. I wasn’t gone very long.”
“Who were you with?”
“No one. I just decided to go at the last moment.” Danielle slowly started to stand up, keeping her eyes focused on Donald’s hands. She knew better than to look at his eyes. That would be correctly interpreted as a challenge and although, at five-seven she was not much smaller than Donald, at a hundred and fifty five pounds she was certainly no challenge for Donald. Even if all things were equal, size-wise, she knew her strength would never be a fair match against his rage.
Finally standing, Danielle added, “I didn’t think it would be a problem. I got everything done here. The place is clean and the laundry’s done.”
“Yeah well, where’s my supper?” Donald was losing momentum. It was taking too much effort to continue any further argument. Donald had a vein on his forehead which was always engorged when he became agitated or enraged. Danielle noticed it had subsided and began to relax again. She correctly assumed that he had been waiting for her for some time and had pre-meditated exactly what he was going to do and say once she arrived.. He had proven his superiority and re-established his male dominance. Once he completed what he had set out to do, he was at a lost as to how to proceed further
“I’ll get to it right away,” apologized Danielle.
“And none of that instant crap,” Donald demanded.
Danielle asked even though she had already decided on their meal, “Spaghetti okay?” She knew he did not care but the offer would help solidify his status in the home.
“Fine.” Donald agreed, but added, “Just don’t put too much of that spicy shit in it.”
The threat had subsided and Danielle could look forward to a relatively quiet evening as long as nothing unusual happened to set Donald off. Had she arrived a few minutes before him, she would have had supper cooking on the stove and there would not have been any need for confrontation.
Danielle went to the kitchen while Donald retreated to the living room. He parked himself on the couch and flicked through the channels on the television. He finally settled on a rerun of the Simpsons and zoned out.
“Thank God for TV,” she thought. For a while she would be safe.
The separation between the living room and the kitchen was merely a countertop. This kitchen, dining area, and living room where really just one big room. There was a short hall off the kitchen area which led to the bedroom and the bathroom. It was not much but it had been their home for the past four years. The longest they had ever lived in one spot.
She set the water on the stove to cook the pasta and started to prepare the sauce. Donald did not care much and probably could not tell the difference, however, Danielle enjoyed making her sauce from scratch. She found the process relaxing and she enjoyed the meal better than settling with processed food. Donald’s comment about instant food was redundant since the only time he had instant food at home was when he cooked something for himself. Those occasions were very rare and then were usually limited to micro waved pizza pops or burritos. If it could not go straight from the freezer to the microwave to his stomach, he could not cook it nor would he even try.
Danielle announced supper would be ready in half and hour. Donald merely grunted. She looked at him in frustration as he gazed at the fifty-two inch screen before him. The set was obviously his choice. Danielle had little use for television and resolved to herself that should she ever be freed from her situation, she would refrain from purchasing a television for herself.
She was very thankful that they did not have any children. Although she would loved to have had children of her own, she was fearful at what kind of influence Donald would have been and even more fearful at what he would have done to them. What a waste of skin he was. She glanced up at the antics of Homer Simpson and could not help but compare the similarities between Donald and Homer. She easily decided to herself that Homer was the better choice between the two.