Chapter 2: I Hope They Serve Whiskey in Hell
Cool sea air was wafting listlessly into the small police office in Forks, Washington. The station was old and worn down and only a few officers sat among the ugly metal desks. The beat cops were out on their shifts and only Winston and Duponte were on the floor at the moment as the captain and their sergeant were working away in their offices. Winston was drinking his morning coffee when his desktop phone rang.
“This is Winston” he said flatly
“Mr. Winston, I need you to come down to the Veridian Tides right now. An employee found a gun in the dumpster out back.” Monroe said from the other side.
“Well shit. Alright, I’m on my way.” Winston replied excitedly, hanging up the phone. He scrambled to grab his badge and his gun from the desk drawer and then turned to Duponte
“We found a gun at the crime scene. I’m going to go check it out with Monroe. You cool to stay here and keep running the fingerprints?” Winston asked on his way out
“Roger dodger.” Duponte called in response with a bright smile and a thumbs up.
Every case needs that big break, the break that leads you on the trail to putting the perpetrator behind bars. But, as Odysseus or any other tragic hero will tell you, the hero’s journey is never that simple, if it was, there wouldn’t be a mystery. Every cop would love to catch every criminal red handed, but every cop also knows it’s never that easy.
“Well sir, I was just smoking a cigarette before my lunch time set started, and I saw it sitting underneath the dumpster. I knew not to touch it because I watch a lot of those true crime documentaries.” The singer said giving a statement. She had a very raspy, vintage quality to her voice and spoke in an innocent, slightly ditzy tone.
“You did good kid. Now, I just need your name for my statement and you can get back to playing.” Winston said, waiting to scribble it down on a notepad
“My name’s Red sir.” The girl replied
“Herring?” Winston said with a smirk that drew nothing but a blank stare from the singer “Sorry, just a detective joke.”
“Well, my name isn’t really Red, it’s a nickname that everyone calls me because of my hair color. I don’t think it fits me at all though.”
“So, what’s your real name then?” Wade said a bit impatiently
“Ok, thank you… Scarlett. You can go now.” Winston said, dismissing her and immediately turning away and rubbing the bridge of his nose and his eyes.
“I hope you had fun with that statement.” Monroe laughed
“It wasn’t that bad. What, you think she’s stupid because of the whole innocent red head act?” Winston said
“I ain’t saying she’s stupid but… She couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.” Monroe replied
Monroe’s cell phone rang and she answered it “This is Agent Monroe… Yep. That’s great. Alright, we’re coming back to the station right now.” She hung up and slid the phone back into her pocket.
“Duponte ran the serial number on the gun for me, and she has some information on our victim. Let’s get going.”
It was midday and the office was still mostly empty. The sea of metal desks served as nothing but a backdrop for some truly boring standard police work. Higgs was sitting at his desk working on documenting some traffic fines, and one officer was putting some evidence into the evidence locker. The photographer was uploading photos of various crime scenes to his computer and the database. The once cool breeze coming from the window now gave way to stale air from the office vents.
“So, I ran that serial number you gave me for the firearm,” Duponte started. She was sitting at her desk eating an apple, feet up and pointing at her brightly lit computer screen.
“Gun is registered to an Alexander Dos Santos.”
“Great, let’s get this guy down here and question him.” Monroe replied
“There’s only one problem with that. Dos Santos has been serving a life sentence in San Quinten for sex trafficking and homicide since 2015.” Duponte answered
“Well fuck me. That’s another dead lead.” Winston swore under his breath, angrily shoving his hands on his hips.
One of the other officers brought Monroe a cup of piping hot coffee from the break room. She nodded in approval and took a sip from the top. Winston took a medium sized flask out of his jacket pocket and topped his own cup of coffee off with some whiskey from it.
“I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those days,” Winston said. “You want some?”
Monroe took the flask and topped off her coffee too.
“Luckily for you guys, I had just felt a huge… flow of spiritual energy while I was running the gun…”
Monroe poured out her cup of coffee into the trash can behind her and started drinking straight from the flask.
“It turns out that our vic’s name is actually Audrey Ross, and she was kidnapped when she was in high school and forced into a sex trafficking ring, this was back in 2011. The man who was arrested in her case? Dos Santos.” Emelia added
“Well that still doesn’t help us with anything.” Monroe said coldly
“If you’ll stop being grumpy for a second… There’s more,” Emelia started “One of the girls who was also involved in the sex trafficking ring went to the same high school as Audrey Ross, and, she has been arrested twice for prostitution in the last 3 years. She currently works at a nightclub called Mistikq”
“Alright Duponte, you’re with me to go check out this lead. Winston, stay here and get the ballistics on the firearm, I want to know if that gun matches the shell casing we found at the crime scene.” Monroe said, walking towards the door.
“Will do Ma’am.” Winston said tipping his hat as his partner and Monroe left the station.
Duponte and Monroe were silent in the car on the way to the club. There was a slightly uneasy atmosphere in the air. As the buildings and houses flew by, finally Duponte broke the hush.
“You know that gun isn’t going to match right?” Duponte said
“And how the hell do you know?” Monroe retorted dismissively “It’s the same caliber as the casing at the scene.”
“I could feel the… Energy around it. It didn’t feel like the gun that was used in our murder. But it is going to be a part of this case… I felt that too.” Duponte answered
“Oh, you felt its energy. That’s just wonderful.” Monroe mocked as they pulled up to a stop light.
“You shouldn’t be dismissive of everything you can’t see Monroe.”
“I’m sorry that I deal in facts and logic and not this voodoo bullshit. You’d be better off to cut that shit out. It can lead to affirmation bias and effect your judgement in the case.”
“Every single partner I’ve ever worked with says the same thing, yet here I am with an excellent conviction rate.” Duponte jabbed back.
Monroe turned the car onto a dirt road that lead to the club. It was late in the day now and the sun was beginning to set, illuminating the rectangular building in pink and orange light. The sign that read “Mistikq” was written in cyan neon. As they entered the bar, it was mostly empty and servers were preparing for the night. There was no dance floor, instead, there were statues with name plates and paintings on wooden stands. It retained the atmosphere of a nightclub, but none of the essential features. There was a woman dressed in a long white robe, with metal bars that held together two crossed pieces of wood over her head. There were small strings attached to the wood making her appear like a puppet.
“I’m agent Monroe and I work with the FBI, and this is Detective Duponte with Island County Homicide. Is Ashlee here, we need to ask her a few questions.” Monroe said as the two brandished their badges.
The woman stood blank faced at them.
“Excuse me, I need to talk to Ashlee if she’s here.” Monroe repeated.
From behind them, a man appeared and said in a very thick Swedish accent “You know, Ingiärd can’t talk to you right? She’s being used as a puppet and silenced by the oppression of the patriarchy.” He had a very droning and monotone voice. He was dressed in a red Victorian 3-piece suit with a papal 3-tiered crown. He wore a rubber mask of an older balding man with a thin moustache. Just as with Monroe, his blue eyes darted back and forth unnaturally behind the eye holes of the mask. He sauntered with a pewter walking stick with a crane on top of it.
“My god, your outfit!” he exclaimed “I absolutely love it, it’s so… Avant garde!” he said excitedly, pointing his cane from Monroe’s mask down to her shoes.
“You can call me Sven” he replied
“Mr. Sven, we need to talk to Ashlee, is she working tonight?” Monroe continued
“she’s with a client right now, I’ll have her talk to you when she’s finished.”
“I’m sorry, a client?” Duponte inquired
“Yes, we have a performance aspect to our club.” Sven answered
“So, you’re a strip club?” Duponte replied
“We’re not a strip club, we’re an erotic performance art house.” Ingiärd reacted suddenly, breaking her silence. She spoke in the exact same tone as Sven
“Do they perform lap dances?” Monroe responded
“That is part of the performance, yes”
“Then it’s a strip club. Also, I thought you were being silenced by the patriarchy.” Monroe replied snidely
From behind a black curtain, an attractive black-haired woman appeared alongside a middle-aged man. He waved goodbye and she blew him a kiss. She was wearing a black feathered dress with a black leather plague doctor’s mask which she took off when she turned to address the detectives
“This is Monroe and Duponte, they work with the police, they have a few questions to ask you.” Sven announced
“Ok, right this way.” She said, leading the pair of officers to the middle of the showroom.
“Sorry, there’s only space for 2 of us in the room.” She said to Duponte. Emelia nodded and waited as she took Monroe behind the curtain. There was a small room and a projector set up to cast light onto a screen. The dancer stood in front of Monroe with her hand out. Monroe stared back at her.
“I don’t answer questions for free.” Ashlee prodded
“Fine.” Monroe said reaching into her pocket to pull out her leather wallet. She dropped a 20-dollar bill into the dancer’s hand. There was a small leather bench like couch in the room and Ashlee directed Monroe to sit down. She pulled the mask back on then stood in front of the projector. She danced around in front of the screen, causing the light from the projector to catch the way her body flowed as she danced.
“We’re investigating the case of Audrey Ross’s murder. You were involved in the same sex trafficking ring as her, correct?” Monroe asked as Ashlee continued to dance.
“Yes. We never actually met or saw each other, but when that bastard Alex finally got caught and we were freed, I… I saw her at the court trial.”
“She testified against him, correct?”
“Yes. He kept us in his basement and I think there was another house. I don’t know for sure. We were blindfolded and taken to people’s houses and forced to have sex with them, while either Alex or one of his accomplices sat outside the house. They always had guns so if we tried to do anything, they’d shoot us.”
The dancer finally took off the mask and moved toward Monroe.
“I’m guessing you don’t want the erotic part of the show, right?” She said
“I paid for the whole show, so give me the whole show.” Monroe answered
Ashlee sat on Monroe’s lap and started to remove one of her gloves.
“Don’t do that. I’m fine how I am t…thank you…” Monroe said nervously, jerking her hands away.
“So anyway, these accomplices, do you know the names of any of them?”
“Just one. He wasn’t an accomplice per sey, but he was part of it all somehow, maybe with finding the girls or something. He went to jail too, but I heard he got far less time because he ratted out most of the people involved in the operation. His name was Stuart something. Sorry, I don’t really remember much. I try to keep my mind off of it as much as possible.” She was grinding her body on Monroe’s thighs and now had her arms wrapped around her neck.
“Anything else I need to know?” Monroe asked
“Let me just tell you, they didn’t get everyone involved in this thing. Not even close. And it runs pretty deep in this town, tons of people are still recovering from it.” Ashlee answered. She rubbed her hands down the side of Monroe’s mask where her cheek would be then stood up.
“Well, thank you for your time Ashlee. If you have anything else, just call the station.”
Monroe got up and walked out to meet Duponte.
“Did you enjoy the erotic performance?” Duponte teased
“I’m not sure how they managed to be even more pretentious, but they even had a projector in there.” Monroe replied
“You should ask Sven out, you two are a match made in heaven.” Duponte joked
“He’s really not my type.” Monroe responded.
As the pair got back into the patrol car, Duponte started up conversation again.
“Do you think we can stop at this sandwich place I like? It’s on the way back and I’m absolutely starving.” Duponte said
“Fine.” Monroe answered as she pulled out of the gravel lot.
There was a cool sea breeze threatening to blow the napkins away from the hood of the patrol car as Monroe and Duponte leaned against it to eat their sandwiches. Duponte put her cup on top of them to pin them down and prevent them from blowing away. Monroe unwrapped her sandwich, turkey on marble rye while Duponte quickly dug into her own. The restaurant was located in a small lot that overlooked the sound. The floodlights of the police cruiser were illuminating some boats still coming in for the night to the safety of the dark harbor. Monroe carefully lifted her mask so she could taste her sandwich.
“How is it?” Duponte commented
“Really good.” Monroe replied
“It’s a bit hidden and I don’t think they’d pass a health inspection, but they do make a great sandwich.”
“The best places are always like that,” Monroe added “Used to be this place I found when I worked homicide in Baton Rouge, I’m pretty sure it was previously a dentist’s office, but they had the best seafood gumbo you’d ever tasted in your life.”
The two sat quietly eating their food until Monroe pulled out the flask of whiskey she had kept in her jacket pocket. She took a long pull from it.
Duponte’s cell phone started to ring. She answered it. “This is Duponte… Oh hey Wade.”
“Put it on speaker.” Monroe asked and Duponte obliged.
“Hey, so I just got the ballistics test back from that gun we found. It doesn’t match the casing we discovered at the scene. I swear this case just keeps getting worse and worse for us.” Winston said
“Can you run a check in the database for a man named Stuart, I don’t know the last name, but he was arrested in conjunction with the Dos Santos sex trafficking ring.” Monroe called to the phone which was placed between the two.
“Sure thing. You guys coming back to the station?” Winston asked
“Yeah, we just stopped to grab a bite to eat, we’ll be there soon.” Duponte said, then hung up.
Monroe took another pull from the flask then offered it to Duponte. She took it and drank some.
“So, tell me, how the hell did you really know the gun wouldn’t match?” Monroe asked incredulously
“I told you, the gun didn’t put off the vibe of the one used in the killing.” Duponte repeated
“What does that mean? The vibe? Cut the bullshit, I mean how did you know?” Monroe said angrily
“I told you. I get these… Premonitions, either visions of something that will happen in the future, or these strong feelings of spiritual energy… I don’t know how to describe it. Sometimes when I touch something, it’s like I can feel everything it’s experienced somehow.” She explained
She handed the flask back to Monroe who took another large swig.
“So, what vibe do you get off me?” Monroe asked
“You’re afraid of being seen because of… Because of something that happened in your past. You were ridiculed because of who you choose to be. It’s not a fear of being seen so much as it is a fear of people knowing who you really are.” Duponte answered
“Keeping it vague. Nice job.” Monroe remarked, handing the flask back to her opposite.
“Anyway, let’s stop talking about my powers. What do you like to do for fun? Like what’s your hobby?” Duponte asked
“You’re the paranormal detective, guess.” Monroe snorted
“You collect stamps.”
“… Ok, seriously? This is starting to freak me out” Monroe said astonished
“You give off the energy of somebody who collects stamps.” Duponte answered simply, taking a sip of alcohol.
“Is that supposed to be an insult?”
“Stamp collecting is cool. I mean there’s a lot of history there.” Duponte replied taking a final sip and handing it back. She was staring off into the harbor as the sun had finally completely set.
“Well I also listen to jazz music.” Monroe continued, taking the flask back.
“I never really got jazz music.” Duponte pondered, picking up a rock from the ground and tossing it into the water with a plunk.
“I really enjoy it because jazz is like a murder investigation. It’s constantly changing and you have to go with the flow. It’s formless. Sometimes you have to think about it a lot before you really get to see the big picture, and if you don’t get it at first, it means you just need to give it time until you truly solve it.” Monroe took another hearty drink of the liquor.
“That’s a nice analogy, but I don’t want my leisure activities to remind me of work.” Duponte snarked
“Well, some of us have to keep our heads buried in our work or otherwise we start thinking too much.”
“So, you’re a workaholic then?”
“I’m not a workaholic, I’m a nihilist.” Monroe corrected her. She went to hand the flask back to Duponte but Emelia turned it down
“I can’t drink too much. My father always told me whiskey was the devil.” She said
“Well if whiskey is the devil, then I hope they serve whiskey in hell.”
Monroe sat on her bed, the TV flashing with another black and white western. She stared out her window which over looked a lake. She could see the sparsely populated streets of the local town on the other side. There was hardly a car moving; the sleepy rural city had begun to rest for the night. She held the phone to her ear with a gloved hand and dialed the same number.
“Hello.” The girl’s voice said over the other line.
“You’re calling late again? Did you need to talk?”
“Not particularly. I just wanted to hear your voice.” Monroe replied
“Oh, well in that case I hope you had a good day.”
“I guess I did. Better than yesterday.”
“I’m happy that you’re doing better today. Have you made an improved effort to connect with your colleagues like I suggested?”
“You’re playing therapist again.” Monroe scolded her
“It’s ok. While you have your therapist glasses on, I hope you don’t mind me asking… Do you think I fear people knowing who I really am?” Holly asked
“I think that’s part of it. I also think you use your fear as a crutch so you have an excuse for staying distant from people.” The girl replied
Monroe thought for a moment then said “I just wish more people were like you. You make me feel comfortable being who I am.”
“Well that is my job after all. Now you still have a murderer to catch, so get some rest.”
Monroe’s hand lingered on the phone on the receiver for just a moment before she let go. She then proceeded to finally take off her mask for the day.