Dark Flowers

 

Prologue

Wednesday, January 19, 1966 5:45 PM (San Francisco)

 

Carlton Weiss reached the abandoned junkyard's padlocked gate an hour early.

It was dusk and the ocean wind was cuttingly cold. He took shelter kneeling in the deep shadows cast by a small mountain of artistically-piled wrecked cars, almost invisible with a clear view of all the approach routes.

His old U.S. Navy-issue Colt .45 automatic was heavy in its shoulder holster. He took the gun out of his coat and cocked it. Carefully resting the pistol on his knee, he waited, trembling with excitement, as well as from the cold. At long last, this might finally be it.

His informant was 10 minutes late. The man wore a broad-brimmed hat and a heavy coat. Carlton clicked the .45's safety off as the figure with the shadowed face bent over and relocked the gate.

"Don't worry Carl." He stepped into the bright ring of light cast by a mercury vapor lamp on a tall pole and removed his hat to show his face. "It's just me."

Carlton rose from his hiding place. "Do you have it?"

"Yeah. Photos and diary pages. Evidence the cops can't ignore." The informant put his hat back on, casting his face into shadow.

"Good." Carlton lowered his gun and stepped into the bright ring of light.

The man pulled a snub-nosed .38 from his coat pocket and shot Carlton in the chest. The .45 clattered to the ground as he fell limply backwards. The killer smiled coldly as he stood over Carlton and fired again.

 

Friday, July 8, 1966 11:30 PM

 

Ella Jackson didn't get many good-paying tricks. She looked at the handsome young driver sitting beside her. He turned his head and smiled.

She smiled back. She didn't get many good-looking men, either. Or whole nights in a real bed, instead of a quickie in the back seat of a car or a motel that rented rooms by the hour.

The job was a little kinky, but Ella now had five $10 bills in her purse, enough to live on for two weeks, and to buy an extra nickel bag.

They pulled into the garage and got out. The driver unlocked a door in the wall. It opened into darkness. "Go on," he said. "The light switches are right inside the door."

Ella stepped into the dark room, found the switches, and flipped them. The lights came on and she froze, staring at the bench. It was scary, with shackles fastened to its frame.

She turned and saw the noose. A rough hand closed over her mouth before she could scream.

 

Saturday, July 9, 1966 4:40 AM

 

Colin Leary had been a beat cop for almost 20 years. He shivered in the Tenderloin's pre-dawn cold as he walked down Jones Street, shining his flashlight into the dark places along his route.

There was a shape in the empty lot between two buildings. As he approached, he saw it was a naked young black woman, spread-eagled on the ground, lying on her shredded clothes. Her bulging eyes stared sightlessly up at the dark sky. Thick bruises circled her neck.

"Oh Lord." Colin crossed himself. "Another one."

He took off his coat and placed it over her face. It wasn't long enough to cover her properly. That bothered him.

Colin left her and rushed to the phone box on the next corner to call the station.

 

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Copyright © 2018 by Ken James