Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Cutie-Pie Murders blog post #354

Courtesy of StockFreeImages
Since my sixth BJ Vinson murder mystery is put to bed and scheduled for release by Dreamspinner Press on November 19, I figured it was time to begin the next novel. So I want to show you my opening efforts and ask you to let me know if it stirs any interest. I’m soliciting comments, people.



          The young man strutted up East Central, aware of—but not reacting to—the admiring looks thrown his way. After eighteen years of being first cute, then handsome, and finally sexy, he was accustomed to more than his share of attention. The street address he was looking for should be one of those new apartments in the next block. Cool. Fancy apartments meant money.
          He paused at the big brass double doors, scanned the communications panel, and with a heart playing pitter-patter in his chest, pushed the proper red button. After a moment, a pleasant baritone reverberated through the speaker.
          “Hi, this is—”
          A buzzer interrupted him as the interesting voice caressed his eardrums. “Fourth floor. Door’s open. I’m getting in the shower but won’t be a minute. Go down the hall to the bedroom on your right and make yourself comfortable.”
          Excited by the timbre of that voice, he couldn’t resist. “How comfortable?”
          “As comfortable as you want to be. I’ll look forward to learning your definition of the term.”
          Smiling, the youth pushed through a heavy door into the vacant lobby and called up the elevator. His date was a man. This was only his third call. The first had been an attractive lady a bit older than he liked. The second was a good-looking middle-aged man who’d kept himself fit. In all honesty, he enjoyed the second date more. Now another man. And wow! If the dude matched the voice on the intercom, it was full speed ahead.
          As promised, the door to 4201 stood slightly ajar. He eased into the vestibule and looked around. Nice. How long before he’d be able to afford a place like this? Probably about a bazillion years. He paused to take in the rich furniture in the living area and inhale the faint sensual scent of lavender hanging in the air before turning right and heading for the big bedroom at the end of the hall. From somewhere, he heard a shower shut off. How much time did he have before his client showed? He closed the bedroom door, wanting his client to open it and get a sudden, stunning glimpse of what he was buying.
          Standing beside the king-sized bed, he ran a hand over the satiny yellow and cinnamon spread… or was this a duvet? Whatever, it felt nice against his fingertips. He eased off his loafers while debating over how comfortable to get. He’d heard some people liked to undress you, but maybe he should go all the way and display what he had to offer. And without being smug about it, that was considerable.
          He shrugged out of his slipover shirt, careful not to muss his hair. After hesitating briefly, he slipped out of his trousers and lay back on the bed. A second later, he kicked off his briefs and lay naked except for his socks, Plumping a pillow, he looked down his torso to admire his abs and six-pack. How would he look to the guy who was coming through the door any minute now? He nodded to himself. Probably pretty good. Everybody said he had the face of a beautiful girl, but his body was all man.
          When the door opened, he threw up his hands and shouted, “Surprise!”
          The fine baritone sent shivers of anticipation down his back. “Surprise, indeed! Aren’t you a cutie pie!”

Chapter 1

          New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, Thursday, March 8, 2012

          I stepped through the prison’s full-body X-ray security system and addressed a corrections officer. “B. J. Vinson for Inmate José Zapata, Number 79805. His attorney arranged my appointment.”
          The officer scanned a list of names on a clipboard and made a check mark. “Yessir, I’ll have him brought up.” He nodded to a man standing nearby. “This officer will take you to the interview room. He’ll remain with you at all times.”
          I grinned. “Not my first time at bat. I know the rules.” I took another look at the man’s ID badge. “Simmons. Weren’t you with APD a few years back?” I referred to the Albuquerque Police Department where I served for ten years before getting myself shot in the right thigh and receiving a medical discharge.
          “Yessir, it’s Detective Vinson, isn’t it?”
          “Not since 2005.”
          The man loosened up a little. “I remember you getting plugged while you and the commander were apprehending a murder suspect.”
          “Gene Enriquez wasn’t a commander then. He was a lowly detective just like me. And now you know why he’s in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division and I’m not.”
          Simmons laughed. “Yeah, he let you take the bullet instead of him.”
          “Got it… the first time around.”
          My escort, a young corrections officer named Pierce, and I reached the start interview room a few minutes before Zapata arrived.
          The former bigwig in the now-defunct South Valley gang called the Santos Morenos—the Brown Saints—arrived in restraints and with his own escort, as was required for Level VI prisoners. This man played a prominent role in the case file I'd labeled The Zozobra Incident. José Zapata had kidnapped Paul Barton--the human being I treasured most on this earth--and attempted to kill him before I literally dropped from the heavens and put a bullet in Zapata's guts and killed Puerco Arrular, the gang;s leader, before they could accomplish that deed. Now Zapata looked more like a sick old man than the forty-four-year-old thug I knew him to be. My bullet apparently hadn’t digested too well.
          “Vinson,” he said in a gravelly voice stronger than I expected, given his appearance.
          “Zancon.” I addressed him by his nickname out of habit. He earned the moniker by virtue of his long legs and lanky frame.
          We settled at a bolted down metal table with Pierce taking up a position behind the inmate.
          “Thanks for coming,” Zancon rumbled.
          “Surprised to get a call. Even more surprised it came from Brookings Ingles. Didn’t know you went for the most expensive defense attorney in the state.” Brookie Ingles was long rumored to be a lawyer for the mob.
          Zancon waved an emaciated arm. “Not my trial shyster. I was a cooked goose there. But he takes care of things a man can’t take care of hisself. You know, when he's locked up like this.” He leveled black eyes that looked to be filmed over with something… exhaustion, disease, hopelessness? “I got a brother with some coins, and he helps me out with that.”
          The arched eyebrow the guard couldn’t see told me Zancon had managed to hide some of his loot. The brother was merely managing the inmate’s assets.
          “Juan’s got a problem. Hell, I’ve got a problem. Whole family has. But I figure you owe me, so I’m the dude putting the question to you.”
          “I owe you nothing, Zancon. Juan… that’s your brother?”
          The inmate nodded.
          "If he has a legitimate problem, I’ll listen to what he has to say.”
          Zancon flushed before relaxing and spreading his hands over the table. “Fair enough. Everbody was shooting at everybody that night, but I’m the one who can’t eat or take a crap like everbody else because of the lead poisoning you give me.”
          “Now that’s out of the way, what’s your brother’s problem?”
          “Some son-of-a*bitch offed his boy. And I want him to pay.”
          I leaned back in the uncomfortable chair and sighed. “A gang killing?”
          He shook his head. “Naw. Kid wasn’t into gangs. My bro ain’t either. Stayed righteous while I was outlawing.”
          “So what happened?”
          Zancon looked uncomfortable. “Juan’ll give you the details. He’s waiting for your call.”
          My antenna went up. “Look, if you’re not straight with me, then I can’t—”
          “I’m telling it like it is. No gang stuff. Mateo wasn’t in no gang.”
          “Mateo. That’s your nephew?”
          He nodded and suddenly seemed tired. “Yeah. Mostly went by Matt.”
          “How old was he?”
          “Eighteen. Wasn’t but eighteen.”
          “Give me some details.”
          I got the warning look again. “Okay," I said, at least tell me where he was killed.”
          “Albuquerque,” he answered.
          It was my turn to spread hands over the table. “Hell, you don’t need me. ADP will take care of it.”
          Zancon gave a sour smile. “Yeah, right. They’ll see what you seen. Another gang member offed. Good riddance.”
          “That’s not the way things work, and you know it. They’ll give it their best shot.”
          He leaned forward and tapped the table with a long fingernail. “Maybe so. But you’ll be another set of eyes and ears. I know you, Vinson. You’re a damned good detective. And I want you to finish him. You know, like with Puerco.”
          Now it was clear why Zancon wanted me on the case. Zancon didn’t want APD to find the killer. He was offering to hire me to settle up with the murderer. Why did these guys always judge others by their own lights?

As I said, I’m soliciting comments, so let me have it.

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See you next week.


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