L is for Love (A Serial Killer Story)

Scarlett: Part III

Scarlett had been in New Orleans for over a month and she loved every moment of it. She couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Her job was going swimmingly. The fact that she always wore gloves had never raised any suspicion. Even under her work gloves was always a pair of elbow or wrist length gloves of some sort. Bruce had only commented on it once.

“So how many pairs of them gloves do ya own?” He asked not looking up from their work.

“Only five.” She replied keeping her eyes down. She had long prepared herself for a conversation like this one.

“I like the lace ones the best.” He said. The turn in the topic shocked her but her actions never gave away clue. “Ya know, there’s loads of costume and voodoo shops around here that sell gloves. Bet ya you could find some more. Why do you wear them things all the time though?” He finally stopped working and looked at her. This she was prepared for.

“Same reason as the scar.” She quoted dropping her head further as though she were remembering some painful memory. When Bruce had questioned her about it she had concocted a tale of an abusive boyfriend in Chicago. That was why she had left. With those five simple words Scarlett was free from any further scrutiny about her face and hands. The only downside to the entire situation was that Bruce had taken to calling her “Scar” all the time. He had let it slip once and since she giggled at it, he was off the hook and the nickname stuck.

Scarlett worked from eleven in the morning until six at night Tuesday through Saturday. Mondays were usually slow and Bruce had insisted on her having a “weekend” so she didn’t argue. She had finally set up a map of places that she would frequent. When she wanted a quiet place to unwind and write or people watch for fun, she would go to the Court of Two Sisters; for groceries she went to the Quarter Grocery; for hunting she would go to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon. Her home base was Aunt Tiki’s. She was also very fond of The Herb Import Company, Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo, and Jackson Square. Scarlett kept to herself for the most part. The only people she really spoke to were the bartender at Aunt Tiki’s named Dave, a thirty-seven year old gay cynic and Flow and Audrianna, the owner of Reverend Zombies and her daughter. Other than that no one in the area seemed to notice her. She had wandered the French Quarter scouting on her “weekends” long enough. It was time to hunt. The sun was setting on Saturday night when she set foot outside the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral home. Bruce had closed up early so she had enough time after work for a nap, a shower, and a good meal before she set out for her first official night of hunting.

“OH MY GODS!” Scarlett screamed as she left her fourth bar on Bourbon Street. No one seemed to notice her frustration. She turned on St. Philip St. and made her way to Decantur where she headed straight for Aunt Tiki’s. It was late enough that that the random riff raff would have moved on to Bourbon but early enough that Scarlett could still get wasted before going home. “Some fucking night.” She said kicking a beer bottle into a fallen trashcan. A few street rats playing very expensive musical instruments looked at her in amazement, obviously amazed at the accuracy of her kick considering she was wearing knee high one inch platform combat boots with a mini skirt. She stopped and they all smiled at each other in agreement about Scarlett’s last comment. She pulled a ten out of her boot and tossed it in the open guitar case.

“Much obliged miss!” A young man playing an upright base said as he spun his instrument. He winked at her and she actually smiled. He had the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen.

“If only he were a little older” She thought as she opened the door to her final destination for the evening. She stomped into the bar and took her normal seat in the front left corner of the bar by the wall of the backwards L that made the bar. She was the only one there besides another regular at the opposite end of the bar. Scarlett didn’t know his name but they always acknowledged the other one’s presence by lifting a glass or nodding a head. He was an older man, at least fifty. He looked like an old hippie, but there was something different about this man that she couldn’t put her finger on. They had never spoken a word to each other. The bar had old metal stools with glittery red plastic cushions that made your legs stick to them if any skin came in contact with it. There was a worn fake suede couch against the wall opposite from the bar. Other than the main bar all seating was random what looked like discarded furniture. The lights were covered with green glass bowls which drowned out most of the light the bulbs inside of them emitted, however it didn’t hide the stress on Scarlett’s face.

“What is it now Aphrodite?” Dave asked in his normal sarcastic tone. Scarlett rolled her eyes at the nickname. It was worse than “Scar” but for some reason she let Dave, and only Dave, get away with calling her that. Maybe it was because he was gay, or maybe because she secretly longed to sleep with him.

Scarlet had never cared much about sexual orientation or differentials. If she was attracted to someone, she was attracted to someone. Dave was no exception, but she would take what she could get. If all he would be was one of her only “friends”, then so be it. He damn well wasn’t going to be one of her victims.

“I think I’m being stalked” She said plopping her shoulder bag on the table. “Give me a shot of Jack and a Dead Guy please.”

“What do you mean stalked?” he asked sarcastically as he began getting her drinks.

“There was this tiny little woman that I swear has been following me since I saw her at Bourbon Street Blues.” She said taking the shot straight from his hand before he could set it down.

“Slow down sweet heart.” He laughed. “What’s the big deal?”

“I hate attention!” She said scrunching her nose from the wonderful burn of whiskey.

“Sure you do Aphrodite.” Dave said popping the top off her beer. “Glass?”

“Do I ever use a glass you cynic bastard?” She sneered as she leaned over the bar to snatch the bottle out of his hand.

“Feisty are we?” He laughed at her attempt to top his sarcasm and she looked up from her bottle with a giggle. For some reason Dave was the only man who had ever made her giggle, let alone spill her thoughts.

“C’mon kiddo what’s really wrong?” Normally she would have punched anyone who called her “kiddo” in the solar plexus, but again since it was Dave, it was alright. Scarlett took three longs swigs of her beer without breathing. She finished, belched like the lady she wasn’t, and pulled out her cigarettes. Usually you couldn’t smoke in the bar but Dave didn’t care and the old hippie at the other end of the bar was already sucking on a hand rolled that was definitely not filled with tobacco. He slid her a glass with water to ash in as she took a long drag and let it out in a long sigh. “Ok. So you are serious. Let me hear it.” His full focus was on her.

“Well,” She said forcing back another burp, “There was this girl I was at the first bar I went tonight. She was glaring at me from the second I walked in. After one drink she was getting on my nerves so I left and started working my way down the other bars.” She took another drought of her drink and drag of her fag. Scarlett wasn’t the least bit afraid to talk to Dave like this. He knew exactly what she was and he actually condoned it. He had become somewhat of a mentor to her after she found out he had known all along. She suspected that the reason he was so comfortable with her was because he secretly longed to do the same, but didn’t have the guts.

“I noticed her at three of the five bars I went to tonight, always just standing, glaring at me. I wanted to rip her head off.” She finished by slamming half the rest of her beer. Dave nodded while he poured her another shot without asking. He wasn’t going to charge her for it anyhow.

“What did she look like?”

“Short. No taller than five foot two, deep brown almost black hair, deep blue eyes. I’ve never seen eyes like hers before. They were darker than the deepest sapphire and ten times as bright with skin that looks like it would turn to ash if she were caught in the sun.” Scarlett’s observational abilities were magnificent.

“Cassie.” Dave said shaking his head. “She’s a real pain in the ass.” He seemed genuinely disgusted by her name. Dave didn’t like many people but he hardly ever sounded like this. Scarlett nodded then waved her hand for him to continue as she opened her throat to the wonderful burn.

“You know her?” Scarlet said coughing a little.

“She comes in every once in a while. She’s a terrible tipper.” Even his sarcasm couldn’t hide his distaste for her. “Something is seriously wrong with that girl. I’ve seen every combination of how a man or woman can look at a man or woman and the way that she eyes men is nothing like anything I have ever seen before.”

“What do you mean?” Any information that she could get on a potential threat was greatly welcomed.

“Well, she doesn’t come in here much but I do see her around town. Particularly on Bourbon, which is odd because most locals don’t frequent themselves on Bourbon but she does.” He waved to the hippie who was leaving, “See you tomorrow Cal. Most locals avoid the tourist traps but she seems to dwell in them.” He poured them both a shot, “It’s odd, but I wouldn’t worry about it Aphy. I think I’ll close up early.” He took his shot and walked to the door. He stopped and stared across the street.

“Hey Aph,” he was frozen at the door.

“What?” Scarlett sat brooding over her drink. She was getting a little tipsy already

“You know how I just said I wouldn’t worry about Cassie? Well, I retract that statement. She’s standing across the street.”

Scarlett slammed her shot, got up calmly and walked just outside the door. There she was, just standing there on the opposite side of the road, glaring at her. Scarlett returned her stare with ten times the intensity.

“Come on Aphrodite” Dave said as he reached for her hand and pulled her back into the bar. She heard the click of the lock behind her.

“Another shot please Dave.” Cassie had moved so she could glare through the window. Dave poured them both two double shots. Scarlett knew what that look meant. Cassie was a hunter, and she had picked up the scent of another predator on her lands. From the look on Dave’s face he figured it out as well.

“Let the games begin.” He said raising his first glass.

“Cheers” She agreed bumping his glass. They drank and Scarlett looked to Cassie. She hadn’t moved a muscle. She turned back to the bar still angry at the thought of competition. It made the game harder and she hated killing a fellow black widow but she lived by Darwin’s law, survival of the fittest. Dave chocked on his second drink making her look up. He was looking out the window and laughing. Confused Scarlett spun around. A smile crept across her face as she turned back to the bar. She kicked her feet up, leaned against the wall, and picked up her drink, her smile growing to a hearty laugh. Cassie still hadn’t moved, but it had started pouring rain.

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