Scarlette Gunn Series


Here's the first chapter of "The Baltimore Butcher."  I hope you like it!

 Chapter 1


           My name is Scarlette Gunn and I’m a homicide detective with the Baltimore PD.  I don’t have any friends; the closest I have is my partner, Joey Michaels.  My father, William Gunn, was my best friend until he was killed five years ago.  I followed in his footsteps when I became a homicide detective.  He was working on a case and was shot.  He got the bastard before he died.  My dad, fighting to his last breath to protect people.  He was the good guy, the hero.  My hero.  No one really knows what happened that night.  It became a cold case after a yearlong investigation.  Why?  Someone was that guy’s boss.  My father was getting close to something, but no one knows what that was.  I got my hands on a copy of the case file.  When I have free time I go over it.  There is something that I’m missing, or there’s information out there that wasn’t included.  Either way, I will find out who was responsible for this.

Then there's my mom.  We talk once a week, nothing more.  I don’t tell her much about my life since it usually turns into her nagging me about working too much and having no friends.    Then she throws in complaints about me needing to find a husband.  She keeps trying to fix me up with her “ideal” man.  The last one was an insurance salesman.  I think he spent most of the night trying to sell me car insurance.  Why the hell do I let her set me up?  Oh, that’s right; she won’t shut up if I don’t agree.  She’s always been like this, but it’s gotten worse since dad died.  I don’t know if he was a buffer or if she doesn’t like seeing me alone, but I wish she would stop.  I visit her during the holidays and when I feel like punishing myself.  You would think I hate my mom, but I do love her.  She’s just overprotective and well, I guess you can’t blame her.

           She got stuck with me and my brother Jack.  He’s the lucky one.  She leaves him alone.  She lets him call her instead of leaving the fifty messages she leaves me and he isn’t forced into meals with her.  He is a fucking spoiled mama’s boy.  He and I are enemies, mortal enemies who love each other.  Really, it isn’t that bad, but we do fight a lot.  I guess it fits in with him being a lawyer.  He, of course, had to pick criminal law.  I put them in jail and he gets them out.  I think he did it because Dad and I had a special bond and he wanted to get back at us.  Rooting for the other team is something that would piss us off.  I’ve put a lot of thought into this, in case you couldn’t tell.  I just can’t imagine someone wanting to set free the criminals we put behind bars.

           Mom still thinks we’ll grow out of it, but I’m almost thirty and he’s a few years older, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  He was born to argue and I just have permanent PMS.  I think he resents the time Dad spent with me.  He wanted that and I took it away.  I was Daddy’s little girl and I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.  Dad tried.  He took Jack to the shooting range, he took him camping, but they were too different.  Jack was more like Mom.  He’s emotional.  He has his beliefs and he’ll fight for them.  Mom believes I need someone in my life and she’s going to be fighting for that until I give in or she dies.  Jack also cries when he gets upset.  Mom has always done that.  He also cries at sad movies.  You will never catch me doing that.  I was like dad, I love shooting, and the ride-a-longs were a blast.  I became a cop after all.  I also have the right and wrong mentality.  There is no in between.  There is only black and white, right and wrong.  Dad was the one who taught me that and I’ve lived it ever since.

           Me well, excluding my work, I’m boring.  I read mystery books, but I can always figure out who the bad guy is about halfway through it.  Ruins the mystery, don’t you think?  I know, I’m good, really, really, good.  I also play some Sudoku and watch old movies.  The only movie I have in color is Gone with the Wind.  See, boring.  I’ll tell you a secret though, I love to cook and I rock.  Like five star chef rock.  One more thing about me, I’m a basketball freak.  I know, a lot of people are into the whole football thing, but the games are long and it’s stop, start, stop, start.  Basketball is fast paced and it keeps you on your toes.

           Joey, he’s my basketball buddy, and my partner.  Police partner, not the new way of saying fuck buddy or something.  Joey and I actually use to date when we were in college.  Everything was going well until we decided to move in together.  I was fine living with him, but he didn’t want to move further from campus and I didn’t want to move my things.  I liked my stuff where it was.  It took me a long time to find the perfect place for them.  I didn’t want to go through that again.  That’s why I still have the same apartment.

           Joey became my partner when everyone else refused to work with me.  He wanted a promotion and I needed a partner.  What happened to my other partners?  Well, my first partner talked too much.  I told her to shut the fuck up and she requested a transfer.  My second was always hungry and wanted to eat in my car.  I told her no, then she got mustard on my seat and she was done with.  She had to get the most disgusting condiment in my car that also happened to be bright yellow.  I screamed and she cried.  One of the most interesting was the one who smoked in my car.  I asked him not to and he continued to do it, so I pushed him out.  I wasn’t going that fast, only about twenty and he only got a few scratches.  It served him right for smoking in my car and not wearing a seatbelt.  I got a nice two week suspension and he got a new partner.  Joey and I have been partners for about a year and we haven’t had any problems.  Probably because he drives, it’s safer that way.  I can’t push the driver out.

           I also can’t risk making Joey mad because he knows how to get back at me.  Sarah, his daughter, she’s an angel.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she sprouted wings.  I don’t know how she does it, but there is no way for someone to not like her.  Trust me, I tried.  I don’t like kids, but she pushes hard with her cuteness.  She can make you smile by saying something about how it was day, then it was night because a storm came, then it was day again.  How could someone not think that was cute?

           I don’t know how she’s survived with her mother, but she’s, well, an angel.  No other words describe her.  Her mother, Amy, and Joey are in the middle of a divorce.  Joey walked in on Amy while she was in bed with another woman.  She tried to get him to join in, but he declined.  I don’t blame him.  I think she was trying to make it as if she was fulfilling some fantasy.  Joey isn’t into that and neither am I.  The stupid bitch.  Cheating is cheating, even if it’s with the same sex.  Some men would think it’s a great thing to see, but Joey’s different.  He’s always been respectful and devoted to whomever he’s been with.  And I can tell you from experience, he’s not lacking in any way when it comes to the bedroom, if anyone was interested.

           Amy doesn’t like me.  She hates that I spend time with Sarah.  She thinks I’m a bad influence.  Joey thinks it has something to do with me calling her a bitch, but if the shoe fits, then shove it up your ass.  When Joey was still with Amy I played nice.  I wouldn’t talk to her, that’s the best I could do.  There’s no reason to hide what I feel, but I didn’t need to be a bitch.  Okay, I am one, but she is Sarah’s mother.  I didn’t need to make things worse for her or Joey.

           “Bad boys, bad boys…Whatcha gonna do, whatch gonna do…When they come for you…Bad boys,” I heard coming from my nightstand and lean over to answer my cell.

           “This better be good,” I said into the phone.  I might be a cop and I might be the best, but you don’t bother me when I’m sleeping unless it’s important.  I like my sleep.

            “It’s bad.  I’ll be there in ten with coffee,” Joey said.

           I grunted into the phone and closed it.  I lay back in bed for a minute and closed my eyes.  I was having a really good dream.  I was little and my dad had taken me to the shooting range.  I was so excited.  It was my first time going.  I had never even held a gun before.  I was ten.  He told me I wasn’t allowed to touch a gun until then.  My tenth birthday was the day before.

           We put on our hearing protection and goggles.  I stood in front of the target, the bust of a man.  He spent a few minutes going over how to use a gun again.  “Letty, make sure you hold the gun with two hands and interlock your fingers to make sure you have a good grip.  When you hold it also make sure your finger is on the outside of the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire,” he said as he showed me how to do it for what felt like the hundredth time.  I think I’d heard it so many times I could repeat it back to him word for word.

           He handed me the heavy gun.  It was beautiful.  The rubber grip felt like heaven.  My hands were a little too small for it, but it felt right to hold.  It felt like it was built for my hands.  It had to be Dad’s 38 Special.  His standard issue 357 Magnum was too big for me at that age.

           I just held the gun for a minute, relishing the feel of it.  I had been dreaming of firing a gun for so long.  I wanted to make the moment last.  I closed my eyes when I knew Dad wasn’t looking so I could feel the gun in my hands.  The weight of it and how good it felt in my hands, how it seemed to be molded just for me.

           I held the gun up and lined the crosshair with the rear sight.  My feet were spread shoulder width and my arms straight out.  I was ready to fire.  I saw Dad nod his head out of the corner of my eye.  I remember him saying never look away from your target so I wanted to make sure he knew that I remembered that.  My finger was squeezing the trigger, then the phone rang and woke me up.

           I opened my eyes and looked at the clock.  4:42.  It’s too fucking early.  Don’t murderers ever sleep in?  I guess I should get up.  I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the door to unlock it.  Well, at least I don’t have to wait for the coffee pot.  I can’t function without my coffee.

           I went back into my room and straight for the closet.  I refuse to wear the standard police dress code of dress clothes.  What time is it now?  4:44.  I pull out a nice looking pair of jeans and a button down shirt.  Hey, they’re lucky to get that much out of me.  I did learn, however, to not wear white shirts.  Last time I wore one I got whistled at, he got knocked-out, and I got written-up.  So, no more white shirts.  Today I’m going for crimson, my favorite color.  No, it’s not because it’s the same color as blood.  I just think it’s a pretty color.

           Now, time to make myself look pretty.  It isn’t a hard task, but I did need some makeup.  I added a little black eye liner to bring out the emerald in my eyes and mascara to bring out my long lashes.  Some bronze lip gloss finished off the look.  Since there was no time for a shower, my black hair went into a pony tail.

           I looked under my bed and pulled out my brown boots.  I'm not a shoe fanatic or anything, but I love my boots.  I have two pairs of dress shoes for the rare times I wear skirts or dresses, a pair of sneakers, and five pairs of boots.  None have the really high heels.  I’m tall so I don’t need the height, but have you ever tried running in heals?  I can’t do it.  I'll be on my ass before I get very far.  Boots are wonderful things.  They support your ankles and are easy to run in.  The heel can also be a good weapon.  It adds just a little more of a punch than flats.

           I shrug into my holster and check my gun.  It’s a Glock 17C.  I love this gun.  Not only is it beautiful, but mine has night sight on it, it has finger grips so it feels like it was molded to my hand, and Dad gave it to me when I graduated from the academy.  I slipped my extra clip into my holster and clipped my badge onto my belt.  Contrary to popular belief, we don’t use our guns that much, but you never know when you’ll need one so it’s always a good thing to be prepared, Murphy’s Law and everything.

           I looked at my watch, 4:50.  Ready to go and two minutes to spare.  That’s really good for me.  I’m never on time.  I run on Scarlette time, or that’s what Joey says.  I don’t care who’s waiting for me or how long something takes if I want something done, it’s getting done.  I can have a meeting with the president, but if I’m in the middle of cooking something, then the president can wait for me.  Not that the Secret Service would ever let me close to the president.  I might offend him with my winning personality.

           I heard two quick knocks before my door opened.  I don’t even know why he bothers knocking.  Who the fuck else would be here before five in the morning?  I took one look at him and said, “So how’s Jack?”  Judging by what he’s wearing he was out with my brother.  With the dress shoes, clubbing shirt, and spiked hair, they were definitely out on the town.

           “Do you really want to know?”  Joey knows me so well.  Why would I really want to know about my brother?  Oh, right, I like to hear how much of an idiot he is.

           “Okay, how was the club?”  Jack doesn’t have the best of luck with women, but Joey is determined to get him laid.  I think he’s going to fail, but if he wants to help, who am I to stop him.  Plus I get to hear the stories of his failure.

           I took the coffee he hands me and he says, “He’s getting better.  He got a dance in before she slapped him.”

           “And how did he get slapped?”  I asked after taking a sip of coffee.  Yum.  Nothing better than coffee and hearing about your brother’s humiliation.

           “I think he was trying to give her a compliment.  From what it sounded like to me he kind of called her a trashy whore,” he said trying to suppress a laugh.

            There were no words.

           “He was telling her she had a great figure and huge boobs and barely there skirt.  She didn’t like it and got him really good.  I think he still has a red mark on his face in the shape of her hand.  I have to say though; she did look like a trashy whore.”

            “Wow,” was all I could say to that.  My brother, the ladies man.

           “Come on, we better go before we miss the body.”  He was being a gentleman opening the door for me.  That isn’t like him.  He was trying to butter me up for something.  “You should call him.  He actually just won a big case.”

            And there it is.  “Tell him congrats for me,” I said as I walked down the hall to the elevator.

            “I think you should tell him yourself.”

           “I don’t.  Now tell me about the body.”  I hate talking about my brother.  I know, contradiction, I did ask, but I just like hearing the humiliating things.  I don’t want to know that he just got a criminal off.  That’s just a slap in the face to the police who worked their butts off on that case.

           Jack and Joey are friends.  They met while Joey and I were dating.  They just hit it off and are still friends.  I’m glad Jack has a friend; just don’t tell anyone I said that.

           “You two are going to have to start getting along sometime.  I have a feeling it might be your mom’s dying wish.  I know it’s mine.”

           Seriously?  How stupid is it that?  His dying wish?  I understand Mom, but Joey?  Maybe he’s tired of being caught in the middle of it.  Who knows what Jack has said about me?  So because of that I glared at him.  He knew that look.  It was the “shut the fuck up or you’ll regret it” look.

           “Fine,” he said sternly.  He took a deep breath.  “All I know right now is that it’s in the Sapphire Hotel’s parking garage.  The only witness is the one who found the body.”

           “Okay,” I said stepping out of the elevator.  I looked out the window of the lobby and saw black.  I knew it was still dark, but still, leaving for work when it’s still dark outside always makes things worse.  I was already in a bad mood and now the sun isn’t even up yet.  It always makes the crime scene worse than it really is because of all the lights around it.  It also means a very long day.




           We stepped out into the cool fall night and walked to Joey’s Mustang GT.  It’s fast.  That’s one of the reasons I let him drive.  It’s great in a chase, which we have yet to experience.  It’s a 2009 five-speed 4.6 Liter.  For those of you who don’t speak car that means it’s really fast.  I don’t speak car, just so you know, but Joey was so excited about it that he had to tell me about twenty times.

           We were silent on the fifteen minute ride to the hotel.  Joey has learned not to talk to me when I don’t want him to.  Dating him has had its perks.  I didn’t have to train him.  It was a relief when they told me who my partner was.  Do you have any idea how much of a pain in the ass it is to not only train someone how to do things your way, but also train them to not talk to me, smoke in my car, or eat in my car? 

I didn’t trust any of them enough to drive so that’s why we always took my car.  Joey has always been a good driver.  It took us a while before I would ride in a car with him when we were dating, but eventually I gave in and wasn’t tempted to take the wheel from him because he couldn’t drive in a straight line or because he was drifting into another lane.

           The only thing about Joey is that he knew too much about me, like my brother.  If he were to talk to me right now it would be about my brother and that is one subject I never want to talk about.  He thinks Jack and I should be close since we’re siblings.  What’s the big deal if I don’t like him?  I love my brother, but that doesn’t mean I have to like him.  I’m pretty sure he feels the same about me.  I also think if anyone asked us, we would both deny it.  I know I would.  Deep down I’ve admitted it to myself, that’s all that counts.

           We pulled into the Sapphire Hotel and saw a lot of police cars.  There was a cluster of uniforms outside.  Normally if that would happen they were all talking, but there was silence.  Some were staring blankly ahead; others were looking at the ground.  One thing they all had in common is that they looked like they were going to be sick.  It must be really bad. 

Living in Baltimore, homicide is something that happens a lot, but a lot of people think it’s a bad city.  What do you think would happen when you get that many people living in a city?  There a lot of people who live in this city so there’s going to be more crime than a city with half the people.  There are some places that are run down and ugly, but there are also beautiful places here, just like any other city.

The ME was pulling his bag out of his truck as we walked to the parking garage.  “Have you seen it yet?” Joey asked him.

“No, but word on the street is that it’s pretty gruesome.”  He looked scared.  It’s never a good sign when someone who looks at dead bodies for a living was afraid to see one.

“That’s what I thought.  It’s too quiet.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it like this before,” Joey said.

A uniform lifted the tape and Joey said thanks.  He’s the polite one.  I would have just kept walking.  I guess it has something to do with him being a nice person.  I wouldn’t know what that’s like.

As we walked through the parking garage we could see the red and blue from the sirens cascaded across the walls.  It felt like it was leading up to something.  I’ve never had this feeling before and I’ve been looking at dead bodies for a while.  I even saw a few with my dad, don’t tell anyone.  I wasn’t supposed to, but I snuck out of the car.  But something about this one was different.  I didn’t think it was the standard murder.

The red and blue began fading into the white lights of the parking garage the further into it we went.  You could feel the fear surrounding the scene.  As Joey said, it’s quiet.  Normally you hear people talking and joking.  I know it sounds horrible to say people are joking when someone has been murdered, but when you look at a few murder victim a week, you get over that.  For some it’s a coping mechanism, for others, they just don’t care.

I unconsciously slowed down.  There was something on the ground.  It was a pile of some kind, but my brain couldn’t process what it was.  I saw that it was dark red, but that’s all you could get until you got closer.  There was the familiar sent of blood, defecation, and something different, yet familiar, but out of place.  Raw beef?

I looked at the ground and saw droplets of blood, like someone had a bucket and something was stuck in it so they shook it out.  I got a pair of gloves from Joey.  I never carry them on me.  Why should I when I have him?  It was time to look at…whatever it is.  Squatting down, I finally saw something that resembled a human, a finger.  As I looked closer I saw a foot, then a hand with no fingers, then a torso, and finally a face.  I reached over and moved some of the blood soaked hair.  I think it was blond, but it looked pink.

I leaned back when I saw the victim staring straight ahead.  It looked like the eyes were boring into me, pleading for help.  Those eyes will haunt me for the rest of my life.  They were and ice blue that was glazed over.  You could see the terror she experience, her eye brows drawn in fear.  I couldn’t even imagine what she experienced.  There was something else that was odd, the eyes were dilated, whether from fear or something else I didn’t know.

I looked at the neck where it was removed from the body.  The edges were jagged.  It was like someone started to chop, but had to keep hacking at it until it was severed.  Fuck, this psycho wanted to make sure our victim was dead. 

I looked at the piece next to the head, lying against the hair.  It was a finger.  I picked it up to look at where it was removed.  It was a clean cut, like it had been chopped off.

I had to get away.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.  Nothing this…disgusting.  If I ever see anything like this again it’ll be too soon.  The thing is that this wouldn’t be the last.  I knew it.  Something in my gut told me there were going to be more.  I really hoped I was wrong.  The only problem is that I never was.

I walked past Joey and leaned against a post.  It was far enough away that I won’t be able to make out what each piece was.  I didn’t want to look weak.  I closed my eyes for a minute just trying to get that image out of my head when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I didn’t like being touched, so when I looked up at the officer he took his hand back quickly.  I can do a really good evil eye.  “I’m sorry Detective Gunn.  The security guard who found the,” he hesitated with a look of dread, “body, is in the office.  I thought you might want to talk to her.”

“Thank you Lopez.”  I stood up, straightened my clothes and took a deep breath.  “Where’s the security office?”

He pointed behind me, “It’s over there.”  I looked behind me and saw the door that said security.  It figures it would pretty much be in front of me.

I took another deep breath and walked toward it.  Joey fell in beside me walking close but not touching.  I think it got to him too.  I reached up and patted his back, trying to comfort him.  He knew I wouldn’t hug.  I don’t touch people easily.

If you want more of "The Baltimore Butcher" you can get it here!


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