Alexi placed the handwritten notes in front of her on the table.
“A dancer, twenty-five years old, murdered in Brooklyn, Brownsville. Seems like a cultic ritual. I just adore the subject, John. What do you say?”
She looked up at the trainer. John remained unmoved. He did not even look at the notes.
“No way in hell. Stay the fuck out of there, Alexi.”
“I’m good. You know that.”
“Yeah, you’re fairly good. But you know Brooklyn. You know about the gangs. No place for a woman. I’m not being sexist, it’s the truth. And, see, you did your best, you worked hard, but honestly, two years of practice? I’ve been training since twenty years and wouldn’t do that. People in Brooklyn don’t like strangers asking around about murders. A story isn’t worth getting yourself killed for it.”
Alexi stood up, holding his gaze.
“I’ll give it a go anyway.”
The trainer shook his head.
“I know your reactions. You’re unstable. When attacked, you’ll get angry or panicked. Never good. You’d better stay out of trouble.”
Alexi had been going on with her trainings for over two years. She was a crime writer who got her stories from real life, and she often went to see crime scenes. She has always been interested in self-defense. She had been carrying a butterfly knife for many years, the small weapon had saved her life more than once. Four years ago, she had bought an Intratec TEC-DC9, a semi-automatic handgun with a magazine of fifty rounds. She had been practicing target shooting every week at an indoor range.
Two years ago, she had decided to take up martial arts. She wanted to play it safe, so she trained in Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Wing Chun, and kick boxing. She preferred Krav Maga. This was what she practiced most often. She was sure she could stand her ground in a street fight against multiple attackers or weapon assaults.
Alexi was impressed. The interior of the large Victorian mansion on the Prospect Park South was spacious and opulent, with soft oriental rugs and expensive furniture.
The owner of the place glared down at her. They were standing next to the door, he obviously did not want to invite her any further. Tom Johnson was a big African American man, handsome, at least six feet tall, and he would have looked good had he not been so overweight. From the police news she had already learned that he was the boyfriend of the murdered girl, Jordyn Brown, and he was a drug dealer. It paid off.
“So? What do you want to know?” he asked her.
“Is this were she lived?” she asked, using her calmest, most reassuring voice.
“Yeah. So what? I won’t answer no questions. I never harmed her, get it?”
“I know, and –“
“The hell you do! I was actually crying when I heard she died. They want to blame it on me. Yeah, a few years ago I did stupid things. I’ve spent months in prison. Came out on bail. I don’t sell drugs anymore. I’ve got a restaurant on 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge.” There was hatred in his eyes. “You’re no cop. No cop is stupid enough to come here alone. So? Y ou assume I’m a thug from the hood, grew up in a rathole? No way. My mama was a schoolteacher. I was an A student in high school and wanted to be an rpg developer, screw it. Now?” he gestured wildly, throwing his hands in the air, his dark eyes glowing. “I live in fear. One day they’ll get me, either the cops or the thugs. I’ve had enough. I’m out, see? I didn’t kill her. Don’t poke around. People who done her… it wasn’t me, mind ya… won’t like you doing this. Get the hell out of here!”
“Mr. Johnson, I’m just doing my job, and . . .”
He grabbed her by the shoulder to pin her against the wall. She punched the inner side of his elbow, right at the crook, hitting the joint. The force of the sudden blow caught him off guard. He let go of her. She slipped out of his grasp. Within a second, she produced her key ring from her pocket, along with her Kubotan, ready to strike with it.
He shook his head and grinned.
“A journalist, eh? Just leave and don’t come back. It’d be a pity if you get yourself whacked. If you weren’t a cop, I’d have thoughts about you.”
The girl, Jordyn Brown, was murdered in a heinous way. She was stabbed twenty-two times. Her stomach was slashed, she was practically eviscerated. Her eyelids and earlobes were cut off – according to the medical examiner, Jordyn was still alive when it happened. She was gagged with duct tape, so she was unable to scream and had difficulties with breathing. Yet it took about thirty endless minutes for her to die. There were strange symbols at the crime scene, written with Jordyn’s blood.
Alexi read every article she could find about the case. It turned out Jordyn left school at the age of sixteen. She worked as a stripper to support herself, and she often had elderly boyfriends. She looked great. She was short, round, with a lovely heart-shaped face and a wonderful afro. She wore very stylish, sexy clothes that accentuated her figure.
Alexi could not track down her family members. Jordyn’s mother had abandoned her when she was ten. According to friends and fellow strippers, Jordyn was a cheerful girl, but she was jealous and violent, she often threatened and bullied others. Her boyfriend Tom also had enemies.
Alexi found Jordyn’s public profile on a social network site. She saw several messages sent by a girl called Kenley Walker. Alexi had another look at the crime news articles. Two of them mentioned a friend named Kenley.
She sent a message to Kenley Walker. She found a phone number on Kenley’s public profile, but it was invalid. She checked out Kenley’s photos. She was a good-looking black girl, slimmer than Jordyn, her long hair was chemically straightened.
Days went by. Alexi could not hear anything from Kenley. She, at last, wrote messages to some of Kenley’s friends whom she found on her public profile. Three of them have responded within a day, saying they have not seen her lately. As if Kenley Walker disappeared.
Alexi was impatient and irritable. Her story stalled. It could have been a great story. She loved the occultist ritual part. That was her all-time favourite subject. And now she needed to give up on the whole plot.
One afternoon she received a phone call from an unidentified number.
“Hello?” an unknown female voice said. “I’m Kenley Walker. Could we meet?”
She winced when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around. She saw someone walking toward her. It was a young woman with long blond hair. It took a few seconds until she realized it was Kenley, with blonde extensions and bright make-up.
The girl smiled at her. Alexi greeted her with a nod.
“Nice to meet you,” Kenley said.
“I thought you’d vanished,” Alexi said.
Kenley’s mouth twitched.
“They killed her. They could get me, too.”
“Who are they?”
“If only I knew.”
“If you are so afraid, why did you want to meet here?”
“I wanted to show you something. Lately Jordyn started doing this Satanic stuff.”
“Did you know about it?”
“No . . . I mean, I did, but not in details. She just showed some . . . some sick stuff.”
“What?” Alexi leaned closer to her.
“I . . . I show you. Will you come in? It’s in there.”
They started walking toward the abandoned house. Alexi was excited. Adrenalin rushed through her veins. She was not sure what they would find inside, but she knew what had happened on the second floor hardly two weeks ago. Probably the gore was still there. Policemen did not have to clean up after a murder – once they collected DNA samples and proof, they would leave everything behind.*
“Listen . . .” Alexi whispered.
“Somebody is in the other room.”
“Hey, stop it! You creep me out.” Kenley laughed, her voice sounded hollow.
Now the footsteps were closer. Another moment, and the door opened with a creaking sound.
A well-built, young white man stood in front of them. Alexi has already seen him somewhere. On the profiles of Kenley and Jordyn. It was Kenley’s boyfriend. He had a knife in his right hand.
Alexi’s hand was shaking. Her muscles strained and screamed, her lungs burned. She fought to push down the man’s hand, to deter the blade from her stomach. Somehow she managed to pull down his hand. She kicked his knee as hard as she could. He fell to the ground.
Kenley grabbed her shoulders. Alexi gave a blow into her throat, and got away from her. She ran out of the room, and raced toward the end of the hallway, toward the stairs. She took a flight of stairs, then another one, only to find that the heavy steel entrance door was locked. She was trapped. She tugged at the bars, shaking and rattling them, to no avail. The solid structure did not move. Cold fear crept into her chest, numbing her, losing precious moments. Then somehow she flashed on the broken windows. All of them were missing. She could easily get out through them.
She heard a noise behind her. The man was walking down the stairs, his knife still in hand.
Alexi lifted both her arms in front of her face, her fingers curled slightly, ready to grab him if needed.
He came closer. He was only a few feet away from her. She tried to block his way to get any closer. She watched his hands – when he attacked, she side-stepped to avoid the swishing blade, and struck out at the forearm. He stabbed again, she drew back in a second, she kept in motion, still aware of the man’s hand and the blade. At last she could grab the knife hand, pushing it downward. The blade came down, dangerously close to her abdomen. With one hand, Alexi pushed down the knife arm, while she attacked it with her free hand, blow after blow. The man let go of the knife. Alexi kicked his groin. He was gasping for air. Alexi rushed toward the nearest window and clambered through it. She jumped off of the seven feet high window-sill, landing safely on her feet.
Police officers learned that Kenley Walker was jealous of her friend Jordyn, a successful dancer and the girlfriend of a wealthy drug dealer. Kenley talked her boyfriend into murdering her. Kenley, on the other hand, claimed that she and Jordyn were lovers, and her boyfriend murdered her, being jealous. Both suspects were talking about a third person who was there in the abandoned Brooklyn house, an unknown white woman in her early thirties. Policemen never believed them.
Alexi, at last, had her story of jealousy and occultist rituals. It was a big hit with her readers.