|A KILLER AMONGST USBuy your copy at:
Taunted as an old maid, Amanda desperately wants a husband…
Lovely Amanda Renee Larson meets and falls in love with Detective Joseph Fabrizio. She becomes involved in the investigation of his wife’s murder. Obsessed with finding her killer, Fabrizio refuses to commit to Amanda, thus, sending her on the rebound into the arms of Gary Pacini, an up and coming pillar of the community. Unwittingly, she steps into a horror story of life-threatening events that offer a direct link to Fabrizio’s wife’s killer.
“Give me two black to go.” Detective Joseph “Joe” Fabrizio called to the waitress behind the counter in a small all-night diner not far from his NYPD precinct. He laid a couple of dollars and some change on the counter and watched a tired over-weight middle aged woman pour coffee from the carafe into a Styrofoam cup. Some guy was banging his cup on the counter, demanding a refill. She looked at him peevishly, spun about and filled his cup, sloshing it over the rim, then retraced her steps to the second Styrofoam cup and started to fill it. At the same time, Joe’s partner, Bart Finley, burst through the door and called, “Come on, Joe. We’ve got a 911.”
Forgetting the coffee, Joe ran behind Bart to the car.
“What’s up?” He jumped into the passenger seat slamming the door behind him.
“There’s been a killing,” Finley said, backing out, changing gears, and taking off with squealing tires and burning rubber.
“Hell, man, we’re off duty. Where’s the location?” Joe asked, glancing at his partner’s profile, pumping up with adrenaline, as he always did when they headed toward a crime scene.
“4230 Millport Street,” Bart Finley told him.
“Millport Street? You sure?” Fabrizio asked, his eyes clouding with misgivings. “Hell, that’s my apartment building.”
“Yeah, I know, man,” Bart said, glancing at Joe meekly.
“Jesus! Get me there fast, Bart!” Joe gasped, his blood heating up and his heart throbbing in his chest so loud it sounded like drumbeats. His teeth pressed together leaving his jaw muscles tense and hard. His hand was against the dash. His outstretched arm supported him as he leaned forward staring through the windshield. Fear grabbed his heart and squeezed like a vice. He felt suspended in a timeless moment, mentally coaxing the car to move faster.
Turning on the siren and the strobe light, Bart pressed his foot on the accelerator and sped dangerously down busy streets, passing anything in the car’s path.
Joe and his partner were the first ones on the scene.
Joe was like a ticking bomb. He jumped from the car while it was still moving and raced to the entryway that led to his ground floor apartment shared with his wife and young daughter.
The iron-grill gate at the entry of the building was locked. He pressed his apartment buzzer, hoping and praying Mary would buzz him in. He could feel his heart pounding as he waited. Sweat broke out on his forehead. He reminded himself that the killing could have occurred in any apartment in the building. It didn’t have to be his apartment.
The gate remained locked. Fear tingled up his spine. He prayed Mary was just asleep and didn’t hear the buzzer.
He snatched a ring of keys from his pocket, his hands shaking so bad he fumbled until he found the right one and shoved it in the lock. The lock clicked open and he rushed inside.
“Take it easy, man,” Finley said from behind him. “The call could have been for any of these apartments.”
“She didn’t answer the buzzer,” Joe replied, not even realizing he had spoken. His mindset was keyed to his apartment and Mary and Susie.
Something was wrong! Joseph Fabrizio sensed it the minute he opened the door.
The sky had darkened out the moon and stars with black ominous clouds threatening a stormy downpour. Loud rumbling thunder rolled across the sky while streaks of lightning slashed the heavens like an angry warrior clearing a path with his sword.
Staggering into the apartment, after capping off the day at his favorite bar with buddies from their NYPD precinct, he had a flickering wish that he’d drunk down the Styrofoam cup of steaming black coffee to clear his head.
A strange feeling persisted.
Nothing appeared any different than it was any other day when he arrived home inebriated after a day of work that ended with a good old boy gathering at the bar. The living room was tidy, everything in its place except a few toys his four year old daughter left on the couch. Yet, he felt it. It was too quiet. Not even a creak or sound stirred anywhere inside or in the apartments on his floor or above.
Guilt, he supposed, knowing how his wife hated his nightly social gatherings with his beer-drinking co-workers.
He passed through the living room to the kitchen, eyes keen on everything now as he studied the interior of his home. His wife was an excellent housekeeper. She took her homemaker job seriously, dusting polishing, decorating, painting the walls when they started to peel, scraping up the glued-down linoleum on the kitchen floor so the two of them could lay vinyl tile in its place. Staying busy was her way of putting meaning into her life by making things nice for her family.
The countertop was clear, not a knife, fork or anything left out of place. He knew the supper he missed was now stored in the refrigerator. He pulled the refrigerator door open, almost reaching for a beer; a habit frequented nightly when he staggered home from the bar where he and his buddies ended each day. At the same time his belly growled to let him know he hadn’t eaten since noon.
“Everything looks okay to me,” Finley said, traipsing along behind Joe.
Joe barely heard him, intent on the strong feeling consuming him. The eerie sense of another presence having been in his home was palpable, almost as though some unknown person watched him.
A clap of thunder broke the silence and the thought came to him that God was angry—perhaps his wife was too because he’d spent another night drinking and raising hell with his buddies from the precinct instead of coming home to enjoy the dinner she cooked.
He headed back through the living room and down the hallway toward the bedrooms.
He slowly opened his and Mary’s bedroom door an inch at a time, hoping the squeaky hinge wouldn’t wake his wife. A strange odor hit his nostrils.
With fear riding up and down his spine, he touched the light switch. Light flooded the room.
Shock hit Joe’s nervous system like a giant club. Behind him Finley’s breath faltered on the words, “Oh my God!”
Joe’s knees weakened.
One glance toward the bed and a spell of nausea hit him. He sped to the bathroom, emptying his internal drunk tank into the toilet, heaving until nothing was left. He took a second to splash water on his face, toweling it dry before making a reluctant return back into the bedroom.
He wasn’t new to this sort of crime scene. He had seen it many times before, but at no time had he ever considered it might one day be his own wife lying in the gore of violently imposed death.
Blood and tissue saturated the bed where she lay. It was scattered on the bed linens, the headboard and on the wall behind the bed.
His wife’s face was gone, it now perforated with buckshot from a shotgun—likely a sawed-off one easier to carry and hide.
Standing there unable to move, unable to think, he couldn’t do anything except gaze down at his dead wife.
Pressure boiled up in his chest, moving up to his throat, erupting into a horrified “Noooooooooooo” without sound as he stared in frozen shock.
Sirens in the distance edged closer and grew louder.
He had no idea how long he stood there before life started slowly seeping back into his body and mind. Voices from the hallway entered his thoughts, and he knew other police personnel were now on the scene.
He vaguely remembered Finley grabbing him by the arm at some point, and trying to steer him from his wife’s death room. He refused and Finley went out to meet other law enforcement officers who showed up.
He became aware of the smell of blood that was so strong it gagged him again and he rushed to the bathroom only to heave drily over the toilet bowl. Rushing back to the bed now, he wanted another moment with his wife before his house became a bedlam of activity with dozens of police personnel tromping through it. He gazed at Mary’s violated body that looked like a riddled and frayed practice target at a firing range. She had thrown her left hand in front of her face at the last moment before the shotgun trigger was pulled and it was a bloody pulp on a stump.
He spotted something shiny on the inside of the bed frame between it and the mattress. Bending for a better look, he saw a small medallion lodged there. He grabbed a little ring box off the dresser and lifting the medallion by its broken chain, placed it in the box. He studied it, knowing it hadn’t belonged to Mary. On the front was a strange insignia containing a cross with two swords diagonally crisscrossed over it, and on the backside were the initials K.G.
He closed the jewelry box and pocketed it.
Standing over his wife in a silent moment of remembering all they had shared, tears filled his eyes before grief digressed to boiling anger at the animal who took her life.
Heat throbbed in his temples and rage rose like mercury in a thermometer.
In a hoarse voice desperate with promise, he cried out, “I’m going to get him, Mary. I’m going to get the sorry son of a bitch that did this and I won’t let anyone stand in my way. I’ll get him. I promise you.”
The voices, now congregated just outside the bedroom door, brought him out of his deep concentration. Then it struck him. Susie. His little four-year-old girl. His heart raced and pounded like a drum as he raced sightlessly past the men at the door and up the hallway to Susie’s room. A frightening image formed in his mind of what he was apt to find.
A year and a half later
He was sitting back there again in the darkened area beneath the balcony like a shadow figure that came and went at will without any inclination to become acquainted with anyone. He slipped through the door each time, purposely showing up after the choir members assembled, easing into the seat he favored; at first, once a week, finally graduating to twice a week after learning the days that choir practice was held.
Amanda Renee Larson couldn’t help being curious. Who was he? She wondered. Why was he so mysterious, always leaving the church as unobtrusively as he did when he entered. His presence seemed innocent enough, probably someone who enjoyed listening to the hymnals; however, a couple of the choir members admitted he made them feel uneasy…