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Most of the apartment is picture perfect with trendy Formica, wood, and paints straight out of a Better Living magazine. My work section — which takes up almost half of the studio - is an artistic mess filled with oil paints, canvases, wood, easels, and piles of sketchpads. I stomp over the hardwood floor and sit next to Corey.

My body aches too much to sleep and invisible sticks hold my eyes open. We sit, breathe, and listen to the hot water gurgle through the radiator pipes. Corey turns to me, one leg under his butt. Ever go out with a rent boy? I smile. Well, let me tell you, girl. We were having a good time over at the Glowing Chair on Christopher and guess what happened? No, his phone rings. He checks the number and actually answers the phone like one of those Wall Street subway goons. The boy is actually talking to a client and setting up a date…for, like, that moment.

So I confront him about it and he asks me if I would mind that he met up with some married guy for an hour so he can do business and meet me right back here. Corey glares at me like I want to bang him on the couch. I told him to fuck off. I got standards now. I should have called you. I kiss his cheek.

I kiss him good night and walk down the hall under the loft to my bedroom. Closing the door, I take off my jacket and clothes.

A Black Deeper Than Death - Miki Radicci #1

Standing in my underwear, I inspect the wounds. Purple lines criss-cross my palms and belly where the knife stabbed in my vision. I poke at them and spark tender pain. From previous experiences I have learned that bruising is as far as the damage goes. One time when an upstairs neighbor was kicking the shit out of his girlfriend, Grandpa was worried that I might have some internal damage to my stomach or ribs.

The doctors found nothing beyond foot shaped bruises. I gave him some story about being mugged. I plop into bed under the constellations I painted on the ceiling last year and then close my eyes. All I can see is the shadowed killer swinging that knife and feel the blade slicing through my organs. The clock reads just after 3 AM. The harsh buzz of the alarm startles me out of a deep sleep. I moan and roll onto my back. The clock reads AM. I slam my hand down on the button and the alarm stops. I try to keep my eyes closed, hoping to go back to sleep, but they just shoot open like those old window shades from cartoons.

Mustering all my strength I manage to get out of bed. After using the bathroom, I stumble down the hall and into the kitchen. Corey saws planks of wood for my canvas, acting the good assistant. His gesso-stained sweatshirt is already covered with saw-dust. He turns back to his frame and starts nailing the pieces together. Grandpa just grunts, scrunches his face, and leaves it at that. In a way I only have my mother to blame. She used to do the same thing when I was smaller. I always suspected she was a nudist at heart and managed to keep the bare minimum for my sake.

Maybe I am too. I pour myself some coffee and sit on a stool at the kitchen island. The morning paper is spread out, already inspected by Grandpa before he left for work driving a city bus. I spot a story about the murder of Katherine Moore on page two. The chick is a pretty, dirty blond girl posing with her chin on her shoulder.

Based on the bland blue background, the image could be a school photo or something done in a department store. The article builds her up as the next greatest living human being and savior to the economy. And stupid me thinks her death is tragic just because she was a human. I check the rest of the paper and make sure no one ran any of those pictures from last night.

Corey and I scream out. He drops his hammer and sucks on his thumb. I shake my hand, trying to throw off the throbbing just under the fingernail. I keep my mouth shut and wait for the pain to subside. After Corey leaves for school, I sit alone with my blank canvas.

M.E. Purfield

I want to start working on the sketches from my pads, but another image keeps pushing in my mind. Grabbing a pencil and bypassing the early draft stage, I step up to the 4X5 foot white space and clear my brain. Pencil to the gesso, my hand glides across the rough surface. It was a dark alley. But I reveal the bowler, the overcoat with the collar up, and the hand holding the knife, just about ready to stab me in the stomach.

I walk to the stereo, pop in a Bowery Electric CD, and return to the canvas. My conscious focuses on the drawing while my subconscious absorbs the eclectic music and drum machine beats. I hold the memory, the moment in my mind, trying to make it clearer. And then I see it. Yes, right there behind the killer, just over his shoulder.

I start to sketch the wrinkled face, the angry eyes, the flared nostrils, and the pointed ears. Sometimes I would see it in odd and inhuman places like open cabinets or windows five stories above the ground. Maybe I do. But I doubt the face has anything to do with that. Anyway, I make myself another cup of coffee and sit in an office chair in front of the canvas.

Another part of my process is to relax and let the details float to the top of my brain. For as long as it takes. And it does. It has six legs, three on each side. The tapered side has three sticks, one in the center, and two on either side that curve out. I hate when this happens. The mailman? I sigh and buzz him in. Shit, I should have told him to meet later. I wait by the door and spot Detective Sampson walking down the hall. He wears the same suit I saw him in last. His face droops down and his eyes look sunken. The poor guy was probably up all night. A little Lolita action would be fun.

I close the door and cross my arms. I thought I was cleared as a suspect. Sampson wanders to my work area. He stops at my latest project and tilts his head to the side. Did I interrupt you working? I stand next to him, mentally willing him to stop looking at my unfinished work. Sampson turns and smiles. First off. He offers my butterfly knife. I see no reason to keep it. I flip the knife around like an experienced ninja and open the blade. I cross my arms and give him the hard eyes. You have a killer to catch. I shrug and act mute. Not even Corey, Grandpa, Uncle Tony, or my parents have seen them or even know about the face.

I guess I came for some answers. My question is how did a young woman who was blocks away from a murder and has not even inspected the body know in such great detail how the victim was killed? Sort of like telepathy. Last thing I need are asshole reporters giving me shit about it. He just watches me and waits for me to say more.

Then I experience them. Like there was this one time we had this couple living above us, and the guy was always beating the woman. That was so not a good time. I had pains in my arms and bruises broke out around my stomach and back. It took a long time for you guys to finally arrest him. That bitch was crazy, though. You know the story: Girl loves the guy so much she thinks one day he will stop kicking her ass and change. Shit like that. The victim walked down that alley, probably because she knew her killer.

When your lawyer mentioned her name to you back at the station, you had no idea who she was either. So yes. I do believe you until there is evidence to think otherwise. I thought maybe there was something you can tell me. A clue, a lead, something that we missed. So far we have no suspects. This girl was a good kid with a bright future. She partied like any other college kid, but kept clean and functional; never came to class drunk. She had a boyfriend, but the relationship was still new and he has an alibi for last night. No one has a bad word to say about her. If this keeps up, the killer is going to get away.

Forget it. It was not fun being stabbed in the stomach. Then I will lock this away until I die and some curator finds it and shows it to the world. Done, he hands me a business card from out of his pocket. Detective Sampson shows himself out. I sit back into my office chair and stare at the canvas. I try to relax, breathe deep, and stretch my muscles. Nothing floats out to my brain. I throw the pencil across the room and stomp off to my bedroom. I slip on my Docs and jacket and leave the apartment. Maybe some icy winter air will clear my head.

I pay for the bottle of whisky and the Indian man behind the counter of the bodega slips it into a brown paper bag. I study his face for a trace of fear or suspicion; for any sign that he knows my ID is fake. His expression is so blank. My IDs are pristine. Uncle Tony is a great teacher, and I am a great student. Outside, I slip the buds back into my ears and press play on the MP3 player in my leather jacket pocket.

I rush past the basketball courts and the skate park. But the skaters are something to worry about. I am so not in the mood to experience a busted arm or a crack on the head. I wish I could just hang out and watch the boys skate; some of them are pretty cute. I turn onto Pier 25 and walk through the playground. A few parents and nannies supervise bundled up toddles on the jungle gyms. A couple of old men, probably homeless from the looks of their black stained jackets, sit on the benches. I stop at a bench farther down to avoid any misery that they have in them.

I daze off at the Jersey City business district as the boats and ferries trek back and forth across the Hudson. I sip the whisky and ignore the dirty looks people give me for drinking in a park. I mentally curse at myself and threaten that I will throw my bottle into the river if I think of the murder one more time.

I should just get on with my life. I close my eyes, sip more whisky, and feel the calming effects as it mixes with my antidepressants. I will be so ready to work when I get home. I put the music on pause and pull the cell out of my pocket. The number reads unlisted. I should let it go to voice mail, but sometimes Sharon comes up as unlisted. I press the button and bring the phone to my head. I disconnect the call and go to tuck it back into my pocket when the phone vibrates again.

The same unlisted number pops up. I should just let it go to voice mail. I scan the park as my heart pounds in my chest. Kids scream, parents and nannies shout concerns, and the homeless men doze. As far as I can tell, no one is on their cell.

Heart-Shaped Box - A Novel

But I know you. I know exactly what you are, you little whore. Giggle again. Or maybe from that little bum boy you live with. I close the phone and sprint off the bench, leaving the whisky to empty on the concrete. I pump my legs faster than my heart. I weave through the busy streets of yuppies getting off work and people moving in and out of tiny entrances to street stores. By the time I reach my building on West Street, tears stream down my eyes and my lungs burn.

I manage to get the key into the front door and take the stairs up two at a time to the third floor. I run down the hall and enter the apartment. I stop in my tracks and face my possible reality, one that would have me suffer the deaths of the two most important people in my life. Grandpa stands at the stove, frying sausages and boiling sauce. He wears his wife beater T-shirt that shows off the dark hair on his shoulders and his gray work pants.

He sniffs. He sighs, defeated. Up until recently he learned that the only person who can make me stop is myself. I take off my jacket and sit on the bed. Grandpa and Corey are alive, but the killer knows a lot about my life. They know how to make me suffer. The cell phone vibrates in my pocket. I pick it up and the screen tells me I have a message.

I dial into voicemail and play the single message on it. I close the phone and realize that forgetting this murder is going to be a lot harder than I thought. Detectives Sampson and Hersh sit on the other side of the table with the two-way mirror at their backs. I tell them about the killer calling me at the park and then play the message. I can read the boredom on his condescending face. Sampson leans forward and places his steady palms down on the table.

Your name was not mentioned to the press as a witness or a suspect. But there were people taking pictures that night, or maybe they saw me and recognized me. I feel my face redden with anger. Hersh stands up. Huh, little girl? Has there been a physical threat on your life?

I shake my head. No way. What if your grandfather talked to them and told them about what happened to you. Maybe they still have a lot of unresolved anger and want to scare you. They love to con people and be sneaky about it. They pride themselves on the game. Something like this is way too loud for them.

You sure have an interesting family, Ms. Is it just you or do you have any siblings? Just the gentle gurgle of hot water running through the radiator pipes and the wet scratching of my brush moving over the canvas breaks the silence. I add color to my portrait of the killer, working my way to the edges and revealing more of the shadowed evil face in the background.

I try to conjure a strong image in my head so that my hand can translate the shade and texture perfectly. I want the shapes on the wrist to come out the way I saw them, not as I think they should be. Is the object that shade of black, or more of a darker gray? I hear shuffling slippers from behind and turn to Corey. He stops at my side and scratches his bare stomach under his bony chest.

In his other hand he holds a glass of water. I tell him about the phone call at the park, the threats, and what the police are doing. When I finish, I place the palette and brush down. I take the glass and sip it anyway. Not you or grandpa. Or I can try to find him. The alley was dark. Oh, my God. I grin and swirl the paint on the palette.

He hates them with a passion, probably more than he hates me for being gay. After dinner, Corey and I take a cab down there to check it out. I figure this would be the best place to do that rather than at the funeral. I would probably soak up every negative emotion from family and friends. I gasp. Although there are a lot of sad and weepy faces I find that I can handle the sorrow, thanks to the extra Xanax I took before leaving. Corey and I wander through the mixed crowd of pre-yuppies, socialites, and ghetto poseurs. This is exactly what I hate about this school.

If I wanted to hang around fake people, I can just go to one of my own openings. At least I can make money doing that instead of wasting it on tuition.

Miki Radicci Series (Books 2,3, & 4) | D&R - Kültür, Sanat ve Eğlence Dünyası

We walk over to the George Washington statue where pictures cover a large bulletin board. From the table next to it, a black girl with a fur-lined collar coat smiles sadly and hands us two white candles.

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I grin a thanks and then check out the pictures. Based on the pictures, you would think that Katherine Moore never had a bad day in her life. Smiles, smiles, and more smiles. Even the boys and girls she poses with smile. And not one picture is embarrassing, catching her drunk or making a funny, or with red eye, or in bed with a frat boy or animal. Can someone be remembered so perfectly? Did she not piss off one person?

Since most of the pictures are with guys, surely some girl must have hated her. At least enough to kill her. Based on the way the Latino boy is dressed in tight, tapered jeans, green snug sweater and gray blazer, he is either gay or a metrosexual.

Either way, Corey should be okay. I doubt anyone would bash here. I wander around with my candle and eavesdrop on the stories about Katherine; some end with laughs, some with tears. A few times I catch my hand reaching for the pill bottle in my jacket pocket. Bad hand, I scold myself. I make my way back to the homemade picture memorial and notice the mourners observing two girls.

The white girl has dreaded purple hair and wears a green dress with yellow leggings and a snakeskin leather jacket. Both girls are pierced: eyebrows, lips, and probably their tongues and nether region. No, they do not appear like the types that would know Katherine. The poor girl was stabbed with a huge knife. I share smiles with them: three girls finally comfortable in an uncomfortable setting. Fanny stares at me. Are you Cherry Bleed?

She thought I would be interested in it. God, what was the name she said she used? Devlin pays too well for me to quit the site over a stupid superstition. Present company excluded. We smile at each other. Where you girls slum these days? You should check it out. I wave and smile at the girls as they walk off. I wander the crowded park and search for Corey.

She looks a lot like Katherine Moore. She must be her mother. I gasp and release a sob. I rush away from her, trying to get as much distance as I can. Tears blind me and my lungs hitch as I fight the loss breaking my heart. I must look so normal with this crowd. Everyone clears a path, making no effort to stop me or offer comfort. Through the tears I make out a handsome face with a beautiful pair of lips that form southern-accented words.

Chris stands straight with his hand in his pockets. A white shirt, a dark suit jacket, and a Jerry Garcia tie peek out at the V of the closed black wool overcoat. He appears so business and preppy, which brings out his super cute baby face features. And my God, those lips. I wonder if I could get away with kissing them right here on the sidewalk. Maybe as a grief stricken friend that could use some comfort? He smiles and shakes his head.

From Mississippi. And from your sexy accent I can say the same about you. Many people confuse the New Jersey accent with the New York accent. Unlike Fanny and Liz I have to be more careful here. And who am I to ruin his good girl memories of her. Going to be the next Donald Trump or Bloomberg? My mother is rich.

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If I finish my education as other people planned it for me, then I can be rich too, but with a greater burden. Where do you go to school? Chris smiles, stretching those sexy lips. I watch him blend into the crowd and wonder if Chris is really a nut job. Be a shame if he is. Corey and I order drinks at the Barrel Bar and grab a seat at the dark back corner. I love how quiet it is here. Working class men and women sit around drinking beer, hanging out, and in control of their emotions.

I fill him in on what I found out from Liz and Fanny. They do have good X there, though. You think this Fanny girl might have something to do with it? I compare the image of the killer with Fanny and then shake my head. She may have some ill feelings towards her, but I doubt it would go that deep. After two drinks, we make our way home. Corey plants himself on the couch. Before I head for my bedroom, I doublecheck the locks on the door and windows.

I take off my jacket, throw it on the bed, and turn on my desktop computer. As it boots up, I take out my mini sketchpad and open to the page with the names on it. Many hits come up. I click on redvelvetpocket. They wrap their arms around each other while blood drips from their mouths and look right at the screen. Guys can be so weird sometimes. Last thing I need is a bunch of porn sites spamming me after joining this one. Fuck it. A rate that makes me feel less annoyed than paying the monthly fee of 40 bucks.

I check out the types of girls that they have. I sigh and dread the fact that I might have to brows all these categories to find her. I then scroll down and find a tiny search window. Thank you, Jesus! I type in a search for Betty Blue Blood and hit enter. The main picture is of a pale girl with heavy black eye make-up and straight, dirty blond hair. She wears a ripped black slip and her legs are scratched up as if a cactus man in the desert attacked her. I check out her photo links. They seem to be divided by either solo pictures of her posing, showing the viewer the barest of private parts or full on nudity with another guy or girl in sexual positions.

She has to be faking it and he has to be photoshopped. Having enough of Katherine Moore and her extra curricular activity, I go back to the main menu and do another search. I notice that she shares many features with Katherine. Both have long, straight, dirty blond hair, skinny waists, small breasts, and long, narrow noses. Even their goth style is the same, favoring Elizabethan Vamp. Back at the main menu, I scroll down to the bottom to find the tiniest of hyperlinks.

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