Steve Grogan is an ongoing contributor to Writer to Writers. He has published several short stories on the site, which can be found on the main page under the heading “Steve Grogan’s Fiction.” He has had several poems and short stories published over the years, some of which are available on Amazon. (See the announcement at the end of this post.)
He is the writer and creator of the ongoing, zombie, post-apocalyptic, Romero-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons webcomic REDemption. Alternatively, Steve describes the comic by saying, “It is to zombie fiction what KILL BILL was to kung fu movies: everything I love about the genre housed under one roof and mixed with my voice.”
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This novel was originally written in 2008, and in journal format. It was shelved for many years until I received the inspiration on how to rewrite a certain segment of the tale. Rather than chapters, each segment of the story begins with a date. (The only exception to this would be the prologue.) Also, I decided to leave the dates as I originally wrote them almost 10 years ago. Why? Author’s choice. 🙂 Enjoy the show!
From the moment they took the young man into custody, Detectives Dale Witkins and Charles Nubis knew he was the type who despised authority. After thirteen years on the force, one developed a sixth sense for these things.
It seemed like the detectives came across punks like this more often these days: know-it-all pains in the ass that enjoyed pushing your buttons with countless wisecracks, declaring their First Amendment rights and calling you a Nazi if you told them their options were to shut up or spend a night in an eight by ten cell.
Both Dale and his partner had to summon up all their willpower to keep from slugging the smug bastard. And they would do their best to fight their lower animal instincts. Especially this time. Because the blood-spattered scene they’d whisked the young man away from had been something so bizarre that it exceeded even their comprehension. They didn’t want to run the risk of some lawyer snatching the kid away and spewing the words “police brutality” before they got to the bottom of what had happened in that young man’s home.
They wanted to understand. Needed to. That was their job.
They’d been in the dull gray interrogation room for over an hour now. Even though smoking indoors had been banned years ago, the scent of cigarettes still lingered in the air, mingled with the aroma of burnt coffee and sweat. This collection of odors was embedded itself in every surface in the room.
“How long are you going to ask me the same damn questions?” the young man asked.
“That all depends,” Dale said. “When are you going to start telling the truth?”
Even as the words left Dale’s mouth, he knew they were useless. The kid had been telling the truth. Dale and Charles had grilled him over and over. Not a single detail of his story had changed. That was another thing you learned on the force: liars can never keep their stories straight. Sometimes you might get a skilled one who could keep up appearances for an hour or two, but in the end, they all screwed themselves over.
This kid was the exception. Either he was the world’s greatest liar, or he was describing exactly what happened in his apartment.
But how? How could his story be true?
Charles rushed over to the young man so fast that Dale was certain a punch was finally on its way. To his relief, Charles did nothing more than get in the kid’s face.
“Listen, you little bastard, we’re trying to help you help yourself,” Charles said.
“You’re doing a real bang-up job, detective. Were you a high school guidance counselor before you became a cop?” the young man asked.
Charles drew back an open hand, but Dale grabbed his partner by the wrist.
“Charlie, keep your cool. You know better,” Dale said.
With a grunt of frustration, Charles stormed out of the room.
“Your partner is tense,” the young man said. “He’s going to give himself a heart attack.”
The young man laughed as if he had just cracked the world’s funniest joke. It was an eerie, hollow noise. Dale couldn’t figure out exactly what emotion was buried in that sound, but it certainly wasn’t joy or amusement. Rather than try to figure it out, he took a seat across from the young man and stared at him silently. Normally a perpetrator couldn’t withstand the iron gaze of Dale Witkins, but this boy didn’t react with a flinch or even a bat of an eye.
“That kinda goes with the job, especially when he meets someone like you who enjoys pushing his buttons for the hell of it,” Dale replied.
“You can’t let yourself be affected by what other people say. There are some sick bastards out there who like to do nothing but push your buttons all day long,” the young man said. “Some people get twisted pleasure out of making others miserable. It’s the only thing that makes them feel alive.”
Dale looked at the boy again and thought of that old cliché: “The eyes are the windows to a person’s soul.” If that were true, then this young man had the shades drawn. The detective couldn’t get a read on this kid to save his life.
“You’re pretty sharp for a kid your age,” Dale said. “I’ll give you that.”
“Gee thanks, Detective Witkins! Can I put a gold star next to my name on the bulletin board?”
With a sigh Dale said, “Why are you acting this way? You called us, remember? It’s not like we had to track you down.”
“What’s your point?” the young man asked.
“If you turned yourself in, then it seems weird to me that you would act like such a smartass and antagonize us,” Dale explained.
Because I hate your partner. He’s a bully. As for you, it’s because you’re making me tell the same damn story repeatedly. I just don’t know what to do to make you believe me, and it’s frustrating” the young man said.
“Kid, I know you are no dummy. I know you’re aware how unbelievable your story is,” Dale countered. “That woman was ripped apart! The only thing I can imagine doing that damage would be a chainsaw, and we didn’t find one anywhere in or around your apartment, so I have two questions for you: how did you get rid of it, and why bother ditching the murder weapon when you called 911 to confess what you’d done?”
The young man shook his head. “You cops are all the same. If the answer you get doesn’t make sense to you, then the perp must be lying.”
Dale laughed. “You haven’t offered much evidence to support your story, kid.”
“I told you that’s because I can’t control this thing,” the young man said.
Dale was about to reply when there was a knock at the door. With a brief “excuse me” he got up and stepped into the hallway. Outside the room was one of the officers who had been at the young man’s apartment. He held a single-subject notebook.
“You might want to look at this,” the officer said, handing the notebook over.
Thumbing randomly through the pages, Dale said, “No offense, officer, but I don’t have time to read this right now. What’s so important about it?”
Without a word, the officer took the notebook back and flipped through it, pointing out certain passages. Dale read them over, his jaw dropping lower as his disbelief grew. What was contained in those pages followed the confession the young man had been repeating for the past hour. This still didn’t mean his story was true, but Dale had reached a stalemate in his interview. There had to be some way to make the young man give up some new information, and this notebook would open that door for him.
Dale thanked the officer for the notebook and went back into the room with the item hidden behind his back. The young man looked at the detective to see his face was covered by a wide grin. It was a gesture that said, “I know something you don’t.” To Dale’s delight, he saw something enter the young man’s face that hadn’t been there before: a look of concern.
But the bastard was too stubborn to let it show in his voice. Sounding as cocky as ever, he said, “So what now? Start from the top again?”
Dale shrugged and said, “Sure. Why not?”
“Boy, you sure do like beating a dead horse,” the young man sighed. “I went downtown to look for a prostitute…”
“No,” Dale interrupted, “let’s start earlier than that.”
A puzzled look took hold of the young man’s face. To explain himself, Dale tossed the notebook on the table. His prisoner went pale. The young man shot Dale a look that said, “You got me, you bastard.”
Then, with a deep breath, the young man’s story finally began.
If you like what you have read and would like to purchase this serialized novel as one complete PDF, then please send $3.50 to Steve via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, don’t forget to check out his other writing at the following links below:
Author: Redemption Comics
Steve Grogan was born in the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. He has written in a variety of formats (novels, short stories, poems, screen and stage plays, blogs/articles) and genres (horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, drama).
Steve is also a father, a boyfriend, a musician, a fitness fanatic, and a martial artist. He has been studying Wing Chun Kung Fu since 1995, and he maintains a blog/YouTube channel that describe his training habits, epiphanies, and advancement. It also candidly discusses his stumbling blocks, such as his struggle with nutrition and mental health issues.
He is no relation to the New England Patriots quarterback from the 1980’s.