Mad, page 1
Copyright 2016 Renée Miller
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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For Kennedy, a huge source of inspiration (thanks for “Andy”) and my favorite whackadoodle.
Table of Contents
OTHER BOOKS BY RENEE MILLER
AND COMING SOON...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’ve always hated the word preface. Sounds like breakfast, but without the sausage and pancakes. Instead of non-breakfasting preface, let’s go with warning.
I’ve been reading Renee Miller’s novels in various stages of The Process for years, but none created simultaneous glee and fear the way MAD did when I first heard about it.
“I’ve got this idea,” she said. “This guy, okay? He’s going to be obsessed with broccoli. And this girl? She bites her fingers off. Oh! And there has to be a nympho.”
I did say this was a warning.
You would think with a title like Mad, you would know what you’re getting into. Like the bulk of Miller’s novels, there’s profanity, sex, more profanity, and sick humor… but beneath all of it, you’ll find something you weren’t necessarily expecting. Miller breaks apart the human condition and spreads all that we think we’re hiding on an autopsy slab, only to hand the reader a scalpel.
Broccoli obsession and finger biting abound, but lingering at the corners of these insane conditions are disturbing revelations best left in the notebooks of professionals.
She’ll say she didn’t do it on purpose, that all she wanted to do was make us laugh.
The bitch wanted to teach us something. Luckily, by The End, we’re likely to forgive her.
The room smelled of charred flesh and mothballs. It reminded Milo of the summers his parents forced him to spend with his grandparents. Nana liked to poison rodents and Pop barbequed every single day. Well, he reasoned, it wasn’t quite the same since his grandfather never served people for dinner. He wasn’t as certain some of Nana’s dead rodents didn’t make it to the table, though.
Human flesh had a distinct odor when one set fire to it. He’d often heard it described as sickeningly sweet, but that wasn’t an accurate description. Its smell made him think of burned beef re-fried in fermented pork fat. Could pork fat actually ferment? It didn’t matter. Something in the odor of burned flesh made him think of fermentation. If you get close enough to it, you walk away with the lingering odor of liver and something metallic clinging to your nostrils. It wasn’t something a man was likely to forget. Just in case, Milo’s line of work was a constant reminder of the smell.
He shook his head and focused on the crispy corpse on the floor. The scene didn’t add up. He crouched to gently lift the shoulder. Barbequed on both sides, but no damage to the carpet. While the ugly brown fibers were stained with blood, there were no burn marks. He laid the shoulder down and then paced the motel room, his shoes covered by paper booties, hands protected by gloves. He eyed the bed, the dresser, the floor. Nothing other than the body had a single burn.
He opened his notebook, fished a pen out of his pocket and scribbled “body dump” followed by three question marks.
“Sheeeiiit,” Jones said and then whistled. “Anyone else suddenly craving ribs?”
So much for a clean investigation. He had hoped he’d get at least an hour with the scene before his idiot partner showed up. He hated Jones. It wasn’t fair to be stuck with the sausage-smelling motherfucker. Jones was younger, but his scruffy face and greasy hair made him seem much older. Add to that the alcohol seeping from his pores, and his penchant for onions—he shuddered—and one wanted to stay as far away from him as possible. The little shit-eater always bragged about how much “ass” he got. A mug like that, he was either lying, or paying for it. Hookers ought to charge him triple. Stinking waste of time.
Lou would never have shackled him with a partner. Lou understood his need for solitude. This new captain…
He turned to the sound of clunky boots on the worn carpet.
“Set himself on fire,” a uniformed officer said. A gloved hand then pointed at the lighter in the corpse’s hand. “Found a gas can in the bathroom.”
He turned. The asshole’s face was inches from his. “Jesus, where did you come from?”
“I’ve been here the whole time,” the ginger-haired officer said and then smiled.
Sure, he looked friendly, but Milo knew if he looked into those blue eyes long enough, the fucker would have his soul. He looked away.
Get it together, Milo.
He cleared his throat and then tapped the notebook with his pen. One… two… three… slowly he calmed. He wouldn’t think about the ginger-haired freak. Focus on the case.
“So you’re telling me you think the guy managed to burn only himself?”
“Looks like it. Stranger things have happened.”
“And why is the gas can in the bathroom? If he doused himself, I don’t see why he’d take the time to put the can in a different room.”
“There’s nothing else indicating this wasn’t suicide,” the officer said. “Maybe he doused himself in the bathroom so the carpet wouldn’t go up. Then walked out here and lit the match.”
“Only someone very stupid would believe any of that. How did you get your badge? Cereal box?”
“Why would anyone go to the trouble of setting up something so elaborate and not take the credit?”
Jones walked around the corpse, contaminating the scene with his cheap leather shoes. Everyone knew you didn’t just walk onto a crime scene in your street shoes.
“Where are your booties?”
“They’ve already processed it. Loosen the sphincter for once in your life.”
“It’s still a crime scene.”
“Fuck off,” Jones said. He drew a pencil from his pocket, bent over the corpse and poked at the mid-section.
He watched, horrified. “What the Christ are you doing?”
His partner kept poking until a square piece of charred something fell off the body. “Collecting evidence, dick-smack.”
The uniform, who thankfully wore booties and gloves, picked up the square.
“Give it to forensics,” Milo said. He kept his gaze on the wallet, resisting the overwhelming urge to look into the officer’s eyes. Fucking ginger fuckers.
Jones sighed. “Open it.”<
“Don’t open it,” Milo said.
The officer stared. “It’s a wallet, Detective Smalls. It’s not going to tell us what happened, but it could give us a name.”
He relaxed a little. A wallet probably wouldn’t contain much valuable evidence. However, it appeared to be melted closed. If they opened it, the identification might get damaged. “Forensics can open it later.”
Jones took the wallet from the uniform’s hands.
Milo suppressed a shriek. Jones wasn’t even wearing gloves. Did he comprehend the amount of bodily fluids, the melted flesh, that wallet could have on it? Did he not think that maybe the perp touched the wallet as he moved the body? No.
The asshole pried it open, flipped through the insides, which were surprisingly unharmed, and smiled. “Peter Swanson.”
“You just ruined anything we might’ve pulled from that. Fucking moron.”
“You’re welcome, Detective Smalls.”
“What for?” He scribbled the name in his notebook. “You want a fucking cookie for breaking the rules of investigating a homicide?”
“I got a name, didn’t I?”
He shook his head. “Let’s get back to the station. Find out where this guy lives and wait for the coroner’s report.”
“Death by fire. Seems pretty simple.”
“Maybe he was dead before someone burned him.” Milo knew he worked with idiots, but it always irritated him when they reminded him of the fact. “Could be a gunshot wound, trauma to the head, or even water in the lungs.”
“This was clearly a suicide.”
“Are you retarded?”
“That word is offensive.”
“Because you’re a retard, I know. Is that how you got this job? Affirmative action or whatever?”
“Affirmative action isn’t about that.”
“Are you sure?”
“I know what affirmative action is.”
“I don’t think you know anything.”
“This is why no one likes you,” Jones said. “You’re a prick.”
He walked to the door. “Better than a retard.”
Milo tapped his pen, counting off as he did so. He stopped after twelve taps. Two full months and not a single lead on Pyro-Pete. Sure, they’d found a few interesting facts, but nothing to determine how Pete died or why. The guy was a known nut-case. Set fire to several buildings, a dog, and even tried to torch his boss. Spent a few months in jail before he was diagnosed with some psychiatric shit. It would make sense that the diagnosis would be followed by some form of treatment. Problem was he couldn’t seem to track down the doctor’s name.
“Still crying over the pyro case?” Jones stood over his desk.
Milo looked up. Jones shoved a jelly donut in his mouth. He watched as the jam squirted out the sides, and then stuck to the sides of his lips. One particularly large gob dribbled onto his chin. Rage ignited in his chest. He tapped his pen; one... two… three… four. He promised Captain Cunt he’d keep his cool. Five… six…
“Want some?” Jones offered the donut.
“Oh right, donuts make you angry.” He shoved the rest of the donut in his mouth and then wiped the powder from his fingers onto his pants. “Head case.”
He took a deep breath and released it slowly. Jones sat in the chair next to him. He propped a leg on the corner of the desk, and Milo noticed a stain on his sock. Spaghetti sauce? He couldn’t imagine how one got spaghetti sauce on his socks. Milo smelled sausage again… and was that gin? Fuck, the man reeked of body odor and a miasma of unpleasantness.
“Do you ever relax?” Jones asked.
“Do you ever shower?”
“When I need to.”
“I’ve read articles that say it’s bad for your skin to shower every day.”
“It’s bad for everyone else if you don’t.”
Jones shrugged. “If you don’t like it, then do something about it.” He lowered his leg and then leaned forward, his foul mouth a few inches from Milo’s head. “I dare you.”
“Fine. I will.”
He stood, walked around Jones, and then marched toward the stairs that led to the Captain’s office. He ignored the inquisitive glances from the other detectives. It was no secret he freaked people out. Lou said it was jealousy. He was inclined to agree.
At the top of the stairs, he turned right, and then walked to the end of the long hallway. He pushed in the double set of doors marked “Captain Maines”, and stopped in front of Joy’s desk. Where was Joy?
He looked around the room.
“She’s on lunch,” Captain Cunt’s voice startled him.
He turned. She leaned against the door to her private office.
“I can’t work with him,” he said.
“Jones. He stinks and he’s stupid.”
“You have to. Everyone has a partner. It’s policy.”
“Lou never made me take on a partner.”
“I’m not Lou.”
“Tell me about it.”
“He’s young. A little patience wouldn’t hurt. I put him with you, because I know you can teach him to be a good detective.” Cunt smoothed a reddish-blonde curl behind her ear.
She wore diamond studs in her ears. Earrings made him queasy. Why would anyone poke holes into a perfectly fine piece of flesh? The body had enough holes as it was.
“At least make him take a shower,” he said. “Do you know what it’s like riding with him?”
“You’ll have to find a way to cope,” she said. “I can’t force a grown man to shower.”
Cope. Ha! Even if he got Jones to cuddle up to a bar of soap, his smell wouldn’t end there. A steady diet of donuts, pork rinds and tacos made his asshole into a stink machine. He had tried to cope by slipping some crushed Beano in Jones’ morning coffee, but even industrial strength gas pills did nothing to contain the man’s bum-trumpet.
“Find a way to work with him,” Captain Cunt was saying.
“That’s it? You’re not going to help a guy out at all?”
She nodded. “You’re not a child and I’m not your nanny. If you think Jones smells, then figure out how to work with him. He’s going to be your partner for a long time.”
He pressed his lips together, took three breaths, and then smiled. “Fine.”
“I don’t like that look.”
“I don’t like you, but here we are.”
“Don’t do anything you’ll regret.”
“I don’t believe in regret.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll deal with Jones.”
“Killing a cop is a serious offense.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not a lunatic.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “The jury’s still out on that.”
Milo dealt with Jones for another long, hellish month. He was proud of his self-control. While he wanted to shoot the asshole in the face, he kept his gun holstered.
He may have just reached the limit of his tolerance, though. He stared at the body on the floor and counted slowly, taking a breath and releasing it as he did so. As Jones farted for the bazillionth time that morning, he wondered how much more of Jones’ nastiness he could take.
The current crime scene was a shit show from the second they arrived on the scene. Animal control had just left, a dead snake in their little sack. Several uniforms danced around, worried about potential live snakes hiding wherever snakes hid. He sighed. They were contaminating everything. The animal control guys said it was highly unlikely they’d get bit. The snakes, if there were any hanging around, were probably hiding and wouldn’t come out with all this racket.
Jones stood over the naked body of the victim. “She was fucking hot. Such a waste.”
“The woman was ass-raped with a snake,” he said. “Christ, asshole, show some respect.”
Jones scratched his he
“No one raped her,” Jones said.
“Are you kidding me? She had a snake in her asshole.”
“Look at this place.” Jones waved his arms. “Whips, chains, you name a tool of sexual deviancy and it’s probably here. There’s a fucking cage of gerbils in the living room. I doubt she kept them for pets.”
“What would she have done with them?”
Jones raised an eyebrow and pointed to his crotch.
“That’s an urban legend. People don’t do that in real life.”
“Christ, you’re such a virgin.”
“I’m not.” he squinted. “You’re serious?”
“Yes. People put all kinds of things in their body. Whatever you think might fit up there, I’m willing to bet someone’s tried it.”
“It’s supposed to feel good.”
“Fuck.” He eyed the victim’s body. Her lips were blue, eyes bulging. “Why would someone do that? You’re lying.” He had to be lying. No one would stick a live animal in their… Milo gagged on the vomit that rose in his throat.
Jones chuckled. “When I get home, I’ll email you some links. You’ll see.”
“No. I’ll pass.”
“I called in her name and address.” Jones took a notebook from his pocket. He removed a small, chewed up pencil from the spiral binding and then opened the book. “She was a hooker. Had a few arrests for solicitation. Pretty sure we’ll find a list of clients somewhere around here, and when we do, I bet there’s a snake lover in the bunch. This is a sex thing gone wrong. Nothing else. I guess she could’ve just been playing around for shits and giggles. Still, just an accident.”
“Why would someone play with a venomous snake?”
“Maybe she didn’t know it was venomous.”
He shook his head. If she was into risky sex as a profession, she’d have done her research. No way would a “professional” girl go out and buy a snake without asking if it was venomous. This was the third murder that didn’t add up and he was getting antsy. Milo solved every case he’d ever investigated. Not once did he have no idea what happened or why. Now he had three he couldn’t crack.