The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts who go to rehab only to have one of them start murdering the others. The novel is set to release in Fall 2016.
Reader discretion is advised. Some of this content may be profane and not appropriate for readers under the age if 18.
Detective Marcus Patrick was famous in the police department for his keen eye for details. The other detectives often marveled at his ability to see something they all missed. Even as a beat cop he had helped solve major cases with just a throw-away comment that made sense. His astute observations combined with his people skills (he could befriend just about anyone from any walk of life) earned him an early promotion at age 28 to detective. Not many guys on the force got promoted so young. Of course, this caused jealousy and some of his peers were known for harassing him, especially since he was so good looking that every woman in the precinct talked about wanting to fuck him.
Marcus though was a quintessential good guy – a true white knight the women would say. He loved old-fashioned courtship. It was part of the fun of dating so he thought. He didn’t sleep with women unless he felt love or something as close to love as it would ever get. He would be the first to admit he had gotten distracted by lust a few times. But Marcus was the type of guy to arrive on the woman’s doorstep with fresh-cut flowers (usually the girl’s favorite flowers) in hand and a gentlemanly hug reserved for the opening and maybe a kiss at the closing. He opened all doors for his woman, always pulled out the chair at dinner, and never would he be caught dead wearing a hat at the table. His old-fashioned manners came across well to most women, but some younger women found it boring. A few dates with young women whose sole desire was sex ended with their disappointment and his annoyance. Soon he quit dating anyone under the age of 30.
Marcus wanted a family, and he hoped his “one” would come along sooner than later. When he saw the beautiful Merry come in the room, he felt immediately attracted to her. She had thick golden hair and those intense green eyes and elegant features. She was poised, but also very aloof. He was certain she had something bothering her inside that was deeply painful. After all he didn’t have winning people skills because he didn’t have an innate understanding of human nature. He could clearly see Merry was somehow wounded. Her pain was like an imperceptible darkness that surrounded her outer beauty. Not that she came across negative. She just had a shield up.
Marcus understood women like Merry. Bad childhoods, hurtful lovers, and abusive betrayals usually gouged their souls with difficult feelings and a truckload of baggage they carried around with them like an anchor around their necks. He always seemed to attract the needy ones – the ones who needed fixing. Then again maybe Marcus was the one who needed fixing.
Marcus’ life had been peppered with the painful debris of an abusive father, Lewis who constantly told his son he was nothing to him. Well, it was obvious why. Marcus wasn’t his biological son. Both of his parents were African-American, and Marcus’ beautiful honey-colored skin and searing green eyes told the truth. His mother Anna had an affair with his father’s former accountant. She had been responsible for the bookkeeping on their small deli in South Portland. Every year she and Jeb Lee, the accountant who hailed from Alabama, would do the taxes. It was plainly obvious upon Marcus’ birth that ole Jeb did a little more than just taxes with his mother.
Lewis and Anna stayed together for the sake of their three children (Marcus’ two other brothers), but their relationship was never the same. In between indifference and tolerance was bickering and anger that permeated their house like a thick fog of negativity. Marcus was the living reminder of his mother’s infidelity. This fact made him an easy target of scorn and resentment by his father. Lewis’ coping method soon became drunken benders, late nights with his buddies, gambling at the local Indian casino, and a bevy of mistresses all designed to get back at his mother. By this time though Anna didn’t care. She just wanted her kids fed and clothed and to be left alone at night to take hot baths and read torrid romance novels. Whether Lewis came home on time, late or not at all meant nothing to her. And then one day when Marcus’ other brothers had left for college, his father quit coming home.
Right after Lewis disappeared, Marcus decided to track down Jeb Lee, who still did the neighborhood accounting, and confronted him. Jeb though just chuckled and mocked Marcus as he admitted Marcus also had three other half-sisters wandering the city, too. Marcus was disgusted by his sleazy father and never saw him again. So now Marcus was pretty much a loner in search of a wife to make a family of his own. So far, though, he hadn’t met anyone special, but he kept trying. He knew he could be a better husband and father than his own.
As Marcus had entered the rehab center after the call came in, he looked around. It was an impressive joint all right. Tall vaulted ceilings made of redwood with a burnt image of Mt. Hood in the center like the Sistine Chapel. Gorgeous beams were woven together to hold up the building. It was all centered around each floor much like a courtyard. Standing at the base, you could look up at the floors that had hallways going off to different wings in every direction, north, south, east and west. Marcus marveled at the perfect architecture, the natural beauty, rustic blend of woods, leather furniture, and textured fabrics on the chairs and window coverings. He couldn’t believe this was a rehab center for a bunch of low-life addicts who hurt other people and themselves to wind up in what amounted to Hotel Paradise.
His partner Vincent stood by his side as they walked in. He was the one to make the first sarcastic remark.
“Good living for a bunch of scumbags. What’s a guy got to get high on to wind up in this ‘Shangri-la-tee-da’.”
Vincent was gay, and the only time it came out was when he said shit like he just made up. He kept it to himself. A gay cop was a most unwelcome thing on the force; but with recent anti-discriminatory laws, the big brass had nothing to say about it. Only the other cops made homophobic slurs and gestures. Marcus though admired Vincent’s ability to shrug it off. He even had some good comebacks once in a while.
“Hey faggot,” Carl the front-desk cop would say.
“Hey Carly,” would reply Vincent.
Overall, Marcus liked Vincent. He was one of the laidback good guys who didn’t take the job too seriously. He came, he went, and he didn’t complain in-between. Most of the time he had something positive to say, but as evidenced by the comment, he also could be full of shit, too. At least that is how Marcus thought about it.
Once Merry led them up to the crime scene, they immediately went into official mode. The forensics expert had already arrived and were collecting evidence and taking pictures. The body had been roped off with yellow crime-scene tape. Marcus made note how carefully the team acted to not contaminate the evidence, which would be much appreciated later during the trial. You would be surprised how many forensics team had learned their lesson the hard way what with the famous OJ fiasco in California and a few stupid moves over the years in which Captain Hardy lambasted their stupidity. The Multnomah County Police Department was in charge of this one since it was outside of Portland City limits. They were renown for their impeccable forensics work, so Marcus felt comfortable they would be getting excellent information from the scene.
He and Vincent stayed outside of the tape while the team did their work. They observed the body laying face down like the assemblyman had fallen forward off the elevator.
“Holy shit!” Vincent suddenly exclaimed. “Is that the fucked-up assemblyman from Cali? You know the one who stole money and banged up whores?”
Captain Hardy who had just arrived from downstairs caught the tail end of the comment. “You betcha,” he was originally from Canada where he had been a Canadian Mountie – even wore the red uniform once to a Halloween party.
Both detectives turned around surprised to see the captain at a crime scene. Captain Hardy rarely gave crime scenes face time except to observe photos on the whiteboard mostly out of curiosity. They both stood erect in respect of their superior.
“Sir?” asked Marcus with a frown.
“Aye, got a call bout some politician fella found dead,” said the Captain as he eyed the hallways that were decorated with various Ansel Adams’ classic black-and-white photos. “‘When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.’”
Both detectives frowned at this sudden outburst of what sounded like poetry from their captain’s mouth.
“Ansel Adams, aye,” said Captain Hardy to clear up the looks on their faces. “Great photographer and environmentalist in his day.”
“Oh,” nodded Marcus while Vincent still looked bemused.
“Looks like we got one dead politico,” said the Captain in his usual eloquent manner. “There will be plenty of heat on this one fellas. Better be clean, aye.”
“Of course,” replied Vincent.
Captain Hardy went over to have a word with the head of Forensics Tom Smoke. They often called him “Smokey the Bear” just to mess with him.
“What ya be thinkin’ there Smokey Joe?” the captain changed it up today.
Marcus and Vincent both turned to hear.
“Looks pretty darn harsh. Multiple stab wounds in the gut, and a good severed throat,” he motioned from ear-to-ear to show the amount of cutting done. “Someone sure didn’t like this guy. Probably just bled to death,” observed Tom.
“Yeah, I see that there, aye. Too bad for the ole guy. Must’a hurt pretty bad. Sure not a pleasant way to go there,” he said looking at the smeared blood on the back of the elevator.
Listening to the Captain talk was like watching the classic movie Fargo and hearing Marge Gundersen speak. The boys often chuckled about it, but only behind his back. Overall, they respected the guy and didn’t want to make him feel self-conscious.
Later when they assembled downstairs and spoke to Merry and her staff, the boys decided to take a walk around the grounds. Now alone and slowly inspecting everything, they relaxed. It was stressful to have the captain on site. While he would never embarrass anyone publicly, any screws up would be addressed in his office at the station house. No one wanted to sit and listen to “Marge” ream them out while the giant head of an elk stared down at them with vacant eyes. Captain Hardy was a hunter, and it was widely known that his private den at home was overflowing with “dead things”. One might find it slightly morbid if the captain wasn’t such an affable guy.
“This place is one piece of fabulous,” commented Vincent. “Who wouldn’t want to come here. Take a few months vacation.”
“Yeah, sometimes I think the system is slightly fucked up. We work in a wood-paneled ‘cave’ with metal desks and ancient wooden chairs, and these guys get to luxuriate in a resort.”
Vincent shook his head, “Man that shit ain’t right.”
“Yeah, well brother what is?”
Marcus stood back and stared at the building. It looked pretty locked up at the moment. He knew the patients got outside time so coming and going would be pretty easy for their murderer – that is, if he or she wasn’t already a “resident”.
“Got to tell you something,” said Marcus. “My gut reads it ain’t no stranger or outsider that took down our guy. You put what? Nine addicts and nut cases in one joint what do you think that adds up to?”
“A dead dude on the 5th floor.”
“That’s what I’m thinking. We should focus on the ‘guests’ first.”
“Sounds about right to me,” concurred Vincent.
Both men headed back to the facility, but stopped and looked up. A light rain began to drizzle from the sky and a sudden wind blew in from the north.
“Dam that shit’s cold,” commented Vincent.
“Does it snow out here?”
“Not often,” a voice came from the now-open door – it was Merry welcoming them back in.
“Yeah, good. I don’t got no chains for the vehicle,” said Vincent.
“You don’t have any,” corrected Merry.
Marcus laughed and pushed his partner’s shoulder. “Moron.”
“Oh fuck you.”
Merry shook her head. “Gentlemen we don’t use that kind of language here.”
“Oh, sorry ma’am,” apologized Vincent.
Just as Marcus walked in the door, he noticed that Merry was staring at him. “Good,” he thought. Maybe he would get more than just another murder case out of this one.