47 Shotgun shack

“Something’s wrong,” Michel said. “My hairs are wiggling, they won’t lie flat.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jesse said. They’d just pulled up to the house in their brand-new used truck.  Jesse parked it close to his apartment at night, like half the tradespeople in Burnaby.

“They tell me things,” Michel said.  “But sometimes they whisper to themselves and sometimes they yell.”

“What do they say about Kima?” Jesse asked, amused. He wasn’t concerned about something being wrong. He was never concerned about anything when he was with Michel. It was, now that they had a working understanding, very relaxing. Afterward, he realized that relaxing around Michel was a mistake — and that it was no longer possible to pretend he didn’t need treatment for his PTSD.

“I think they like her even better than I do!” Michel said enthusiastically. “But there’s still something wrong,” he added. “There’s smoke that isn’t a house fire.”

Jesse got out of the truck and banged on the door.  It was a small, elderly, overgrown house in that strange part of Burnaby between Marine Drive and Marine Way.

There was a loud scraping noise, a thump, and then he heard heavy footsteps on the way to the door.

An intense looking man opened the door.  He saw Jesse, and the moving truck beyond him, and slammed it closed again.

Heart pounding, Jesse yelled through the door, “Where’s Melissa!?”

His chin out like Mussolini, Michel abruptly appeared beside him on the front step.

“We could call the cops,” Michel said. “But that’s never any fun. Give me a second.” Then he grabbed Jesse and threw him to one side, since whoever was on the other side of the door was about to discharge a shotgun through it. The buckshot tinkled harmlessly to the concrete, from where it had struck Michel. Jesse, deafened, didn’t notice at first that he’d been grazed. It was no worse than a bad cat scratch, but it was the first time he’d ever been shot.

Michel, enjoying himself, said, “Calice, what a welcome!” and vanished. Jesse meantime stood to one side at the bottom of the steps while Michel effected ingress by shoving his hand through the hole in the door and snapping the locks open. He then leaned on the door and as it opened said, “Nope nope nope you don’t get to reload.  Get one that takes more rounds next time! I don’t think you heard my young friend. Where’s Melissa?”

There was a squawk, but no words.

“Please don’t kill him,” Jesse called, chiding. “He can’t talk if he can’t breathe.”

He approached the door and saw Michel restraining the man from behind, one enormous hand over most of his face.

Squatting, he said, “I’m Jesse, and this is Michel.  Michel used to kill people for a living.” This, to encourage the man not to squirm too much. Michel dropped his hand so their unpleasant new acquaintance could talk.

“He’s too late,” the man rasped. “I could have used him, but the bitch is already dead.” Unseen by the man, Michel dropped his jaw about a meter, and then closed it up again.

Jesse, panic-stricken, tore through the house, upstairs and down, but apart from the torn-apart and spilled cardboard boxes, and a tiny amount of bloodsmear from what looked like a hurried shower, there was no sign of her.

“Trunk,” Michel said, and tossed Jesse the man’s keys.

He got out his Maglite® and, after apologizing to every atheist who ever lived, asked Cernunnos for strength. As if in response, a lilac bush shed some water on him.

He realized he’d tracked through her blood on the way to the door and his mouth filled with saliva.  He could smell the blood now in the damp, chilly air.  He paused and tried to control his breathing and nausea. George could probably smell it half a mile away, and Michel must have known before he even got out of the truck. There was blood, smeared and sticky, all over the bumper and trunk, and a small pool of it where it looked like someone had set down a body.

Jesse started to shake. Part of him wanted to flee, but the other part, the part that Raven said was the best part of him, opened the trunk in hope she hadn’t lost too much blood.

Melissa Rodrigues’ sightless eyes looked back. The shotgun blast that killed her had destroyed her neck and some of her chin. Likely she had died more or less instantly.

Jesse gently closed the trunk without securing the catch and called 911.  He moved away from the car and composed himself so he could be as useful as possible.

“Hi. My name’s Jesse Silver. I’m at the end of 14th Ave southwest of Willard in the flats,” Jesse said, when the operator answered. “A woman named Melissa Rodrigues has been murdered here. I’m really sorry, I walked through the crime scene without knowing.”

“Are you safe?”

“The man we think did it is in the house, being sat on by my friend, so unless he has any friends showing up — ” And here Jesse paused.  If you’ve just murdered somebody in the middle of the night you don’t open the door unless you’re expecting someone.  He looked up the street, but saw neither movement nor light. “Yeah, I think so for the time being,” he added.