Post Three - Denial
WARNING: Graphic Content
Jaymee Nichols had some attitude, Nick Samuels thought as he watched the petite woman stand defiantly against his Impala, arms crossed and lower lip jutting out.
His mother had always warned him a pouty lower lip made a great place for a bird’s toilet. Somehow he didn’t think Jaymee would appreciate that nugget of wisdom.
“The prophet?” She said. “That’s biblical.” A sour expression twisted her pretty face and darkness clouded her eyes. “What’s the good book got to do with this fucking mess?”
“You’ve got quite a mouth on you,” Nick said.
She flushed. “Only when I’m nervous.”
“Nothing to be nervous about. I know you’ve had a terrible experience and just want to get away from the scene.”
“Can’t go too far.” She pointed to the east. “My trailer’s just over there.”
Jaymee’s trailer looked more like the old too shed his father had torn down when the roof caved in. Dingy white on top and ugly, disco-gold on the bottom, the trailer looked like it had been sitting in the lot since the seventies. Two cracked concrete steps led to the front door, and wilted petunias clung to life in their dilapidated wooden box beneath a small window. Although the grass sported patched of brown, her lot appeared tidy. Jaymee’s place was four-star quality compared to most of her neighbors.
Nick wanted to ask her what a girl like her was doing in a place like this. He’d been an agent for ten years. Experience and instinct told him Jaymee was no working girl, no druggie or petty criminal. She was a decent person stuck in a bad situation—one that had gotten much worse today.
“Who’s the prophet?” She pushed her dark blonde hair out of her face. Jaymee couldn’t be more than twenty-five. Her skin still had the fresh glow of youth. The fine lines and wrinkles hadn’t yet surfaced.
“A serial killer we’ve been tracking the last few months,” Nick answered. “He started in downtown Minneapolis. Killed a prostitute and left her in a dumpster. Same M.O as the scumbag who killed your friend. Same signature.”
“What’s the difference?”
“M.O. is how they do it. A perp will change it if necessary. A signature is part of their ritual. The killer is driven by an inner need to complete the task. He can’t enjoy the experience if he doesn’t.”
“So what’s this douchebag’s signature?”
“He’s got two. One’s the reason for the nickname. You can think the Star-Tribune for that. He leaves a proverb with every body.”
“I suppose he’s doing God’s work,” Jaymee snapped. “Typical upstanding churchgoer.”
Nick wondered what made her detest the church, but kept his thoughts to himself.
“Maybe,” Nick conceded. “He’s organized, methodic. Leaves very little trace evidence.”
“What’s the second signature?”
The mark of sick individual, Nick thought. “That’s confidential. It’s one detail we’re keeping out of the press, but I’m told it’s visible at this crime scene.”
Jaymee winced at the words and sagged back against the Impala. Her small shoulders slumped, her mask of bravado slipped. “I always knew Crystal was headed for disaster.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Nick said. “What can you tell me about her?”
“She was wild. Drank too much, smoked too much. And I’m not talking about cigarettes. She was also a good friend and a shoulder to cry on.” She pursed her lips as she clung to her emotions.
“You said she wasn’t a hooker. Where did she get her clients from? The strip club?”
“Did she ever go down to the Cities to earn some extra cash?”
“I have no idea,” Jaymee said. “There were times she’d be gone a few days, and I’d look after Mutt, her dog. She never said where she was going, and I never asked. Guess I didn’t want to know.”
“Interesting,” Nick said.
Jaymee’s blue eyes flashed to his. “Why?”
“I’m trying to figure out why our serial killer traveled four hours north of his hunting grounds. I’ve got four other victims in Hennepin County. Every one met the same fate as Crystal. Every one was a known prostitute.”
“Crystal wasn’t hooking.” Jaymee’s voice jumped half an octave. “She had a specific clientele of guys she trusted. That’s it.”
Nick knew he had to tread carefully. He needed Jaymee to trust him. “I’m just trying to figure out what brought him here. You said yourself she left for days at a time and you had no idea what she was doing.”
He waited a few seconds to let the words sink in. “Is it impossible she went down to the city for work?”
“If by work you mean walking the streets, then yes, it’s Goddamned impossible.”
“Because she wasn’t stupid,” Jaymee gritted out. “She knew how to work smart.”
“She also had a drug habit,” Nick said softly. “Coke or meth?”
Jaymee flinched. “Meth. Coke was too expensive.”
“Meth’s not cheap either. It also messes with your head, makes you lose control and make bad decisions.”
Jaymee looked down at the ground, digging the toe of her canvas sneakers into the dirt. His words made sense, Nick thought. She just didn’t want to accept them.
“No,” she finally said. “Not Crystal.”
Her jaw was set, her gaze defiant. She’d made up her mind.
“All right,” Nick said. “Can you think of any time she was afraid? Worried she might have a stalker? A guy at the club who got too handsy?”
Jaymee shook her head. “No. She never complained. Life was all good and all about the next high.”
Nick couldn’t understand why Jaymee didn’t believe Crystal would hook in the Cities. The girl had a serious drug habit and little fear. The combination didn’t make a cautious person.
Adams waddled toward them, sweating through his polyester shirt. His round belly suffered from serious dunlap disease, hanging so low over his belt Nick wondered how he could see to fasten it.
“Samuels,” Adams huffed. “Something you need to see.”
“I need to go home,” Jaymee said. “Please.”
“Go,” Nick said. “But expect to hear from me soon.”
She waved him off, moving across the lots with her arms clenched tightly around her waist and her shoulders hunched.
With a sigh, Nick headed for Crystal’s trailer. What fresh hell awaited him today?
The Prophet Post 1
The Prophet Post 2