St. Clair Ch. 02: Witch

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This is the second of the Saint Clair series, after Soldier Girl, so you should probably read that one first. I had no idea this one would turn out like it did, so in the interest of fair warning, I will mention that this turned into a sort of rural Crime Noir tale. I typically don’t write graphic sex into this story line and that remains true here. I originally uploaded Soldier Girl for Romance, but it ended up placed in Lesbian, to keep the series together as much as possible, that is where I am placing this one. Special thanks to sbrooks103x and Crkcppr for extensive editing and beta reading it for me. Any remaining errors are entirely mine – probably added after their assistance. And thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support.

*****

WITCH

The silently screaming man stared up at her glassy eyed, unblinking. She stared down at him, idly wondering if he’d really believed that she would stop, or if he believed that someone would magically arrive to stop her.

People could be so naïve.

She held her full hands up to the cloudy sky and felt his hot blood running down her arms, cooling to only warm, turning tacky and slow as it ran down her shoulders, her collar bone and between her breasts.

She shivered in that warmth, in the anticipation. This, this feeling of power, was the best part of the ritual. She lowered her hands ever so slowly. Breathing evenly, breathing almost glacially.

Don’t rush.

Stretch this feeling out as long as possible. Her eyes flicked down to the jagged dark hole in his breast as she gently laid the oddly fragile knife on his chest then brought his still-warm heart to her mouth with both hands…

***

“I want to take TJ with me to pick up Elvis.”

Sheriff Shannon looked over at the big blonde deputy. Who tried desperately not to make eye contact while trying to hide the fact that he was shaking with suppressed laughter.

TJ watched the exchange from her desk. Already knowing where this was going.

“Swede, why do ya have to do that to Elvis?”

“Cause the little weasel is gonna run. I hate chasing his skinny ass. She blocks the back door, he can’t run.” He tried to suppress a snicker. “And it’s funny. She scares the living shit outta him.”

The snicker broke through. Shannon covered his eyes as he tried not to laugh. And failed.

TJ started to tighten her gear down. She knew Elvis, a skinny, doped out, paranoid small-time thief who brought a new meaning to the word “petty.”

Who the fuck steals post it notes?

The damn things cost fifty-nine cents a pack. Hell, judging by her time in the Army, post-it notes spawned spontaneously at times. Something, she noted suspiciously, that seemed to happen in the Sheriff’s department too.

The first time she’d met Elvis, he’d been running from Ray, the oldest deputy on the force. She’d responded to a call for assistance. Elvis had – as usual – ducked out the back door of his ratty dump of a trailer and bolted into the woods. He’d figured if he could dodge them long enough, they’d lose interest.

No matter how dedicated you are, there’s a time limit on how long you’ll chase someone in the tick-and-chigger infested woods of the Ozarks over a pack of post-it notes.

But TJ had spent her early years running in those same woods, playing, then hunting and fishing with her dad. And besides, there are a lot of different colors in the autumn woods, but chartreuse, the color of his t-shirt wasn’t normally one of them. So Elvis wasn’t hiding as well as he thought. Hell, he was visible from the trailer.

His ratcheting meth-hyped nerves had him jumping at every squirrel induced leaf rustle. So when TJ walked up the rocky, leaf-free dry creek bed behind him, he was too distracted to notice her until she addressed him.

“That’s enough, let’s just head back up now.”

And that should have been enough. Except that Elvis had shared a cell with Tammi’s ex-boyfriend Andy before he pled to assault and battery and possession with intent and headed up state.

Andy had looked like he had been hit by a car, and in classic jailhouse bullshit style, he’d described TJ as a man-hating psychopath whose sole purpose in life was to extinguish the life of every real man on earth.

Real men, like him and Elvis.

And that was before some kind of horrible Army laboratory experiment that had gone wrong, producing a crazed, unstoppable, half-human, half-machine hybrid. He claimed he’d just barely survived her maniacal onslaught before she was finally pinned down by the entire force of deputies. After she was tasered over and over. Tasered so often, Andy whispered, that he could smell her burning flesh. The sheriff was obviously being forced by the Army to cover for her so she could continue her evil mission.

And Elvis had bought the whole story.

So when he was confronted by the black-clad, eye-patch-wearing deputy, he did what Elvis usually did best. He sprinted, picking up amazing speed in just a couple steps. Making it illegal bahis all of five feet before slamming into the unyielding trunk of 150 year old white oak and knocking himself out cold.

TJ checked his vitals, and dragged him from the woods to where Ray was standing.

“Found something of yours.”

Ray stared down at Elvis.

“What’s that smell?”

TJ sniffed. A foul stench was starting to build, and the stains on Elvis’ pants were obviously expanding.

Ray looked at her. “The Beast has the full vinyl seat covers and floor lining.”

TJ stared at him. “Seriously? You’re gonna do this to me?”

“Hey, the seats in my cruiser are vinyl, but the floorboard is cloth. That smell will never come out.”

It was a very long 25 minutes back to the station. With the front windows of the crew cab F250 all the way down.

And as they were putting Elvis into the holding cell, he threw up all over TJ and Ray. TJ wasn’t sure what he’d eaten; she actually decided she really never wanted to know. Whatever it was, it was bad enough that a laughing Tammi wouldn’t let her into the cabin until she’d stripped down on the porch and rinsed off.

She almost burned the uniform and, after months, there were times when she was still sure she could detect a whiff.

The whole incident convinced Elvis that Andy had spoken God’s Truth about TJ. Before “They” shipped the poor benighted Andy off to torture him for revealing Secret Government Plans, of course.

Still. It was really funny and even before a chuckling Shannon waved her over to help Swede, TJ was on her feet, shaking her head with a rueful smile.

“I can’t believe you’re dragging me into this.”

Swede grinned “Well, TJ. You know what they say.”

His smile broadened even further.

“Shit happens.”

TJ stood easily at the bottom of the aluminum trailer stairs. If Elvis came out the back, he’d have to either go over the handrail or on down the stairs. Either way, he’d pass within arm’s reach of her.

The remains of a wind chime hung off the torn, faded green awning making soft but discordant chimes, while she listened to Swede trying to talk Elvis into coming along peacefully.

“Elvis, just come along, we have your usual cell set up. Just like home. And it’s Salisbury steak night, you love that, so if we get you processed early, it’ll be great. All the guys miss you anyway.”

“Swede, they got you buffaloed. There’s things that look human but ain’t. They in-fil-trated a monster and one of them cyber-kinetic orgasms on you guys.”

“TJ isn’t a robot, Elvis. She’s just a soldier who got injured.”

“Yeah, a cyborg feministic soldier to further that Lebanese agenda. Like Andy said.”

Despite herself, TJ couldn’t stop an amused smile. Lord knew, she should have been offended, but damn it was funny.

Elvis was almost too stupid to live. How the hell did he even remember to breathe in AND out?

“Come on Elvis, you really don’t want to do that. You know I hate to run.”

“I’m… I’m…”

“RABBIT! RABBIT!” Swede shouted the informal warning.

The back door slammed open and Elvis flashed out. He had one leg over the railing before he saw her.

And froze.

TJ almost got whiplash just watching his amazing sixty to zero stop. He stood wide-eyed as the wind chime drummed against his head.

She slowly shook her head at him, stifling her smile. “Elvis. I’m disappointed in you. Telling all my secrets like that.”

Elvis slowly pulled his leg back over the railing and turned slowly, woodenly, around to face Swede.

“I like Salisbury steak.”

TJ stayed clear as Swede walked the handcuffed little man to his cruiser, one huge gentle hand on his shoulder, guiding him.

Elvis tried to keep a least one wary – near panicky – eye on TJ as they went.

Swede put him in the back of his cruiser and looked over at her. “You want a lift back to the Beast?”

She’d parked down the road a ways so as not to panic Elvis.

“Really think that’d be a good idea? You’d have to sanitize your cruiser.”

“I suppose not. But I had to ask.”

“No problem – I’ll walk back to the Beast. Shannon asked me to loop back along Route W and check the bridge over Big Bramble. Somebody was supposedly screwing around down there. Water is really low for some reason, so he didn’t think anyone would be fishing.”

Swede looked up to the east where W crossed the creek-riddled lowland.

“Seems like we’re hearing more of those recently.”

“That’s what he said. Maybe a meth lab.”

“We’ll probably have to get out on foot and sweep that area one of these days. That’ll be a pain in the butt. If you see anything, be careful, you know how those meth labs are.”

TJ smiled wryly. “Yeah. They blow up. Got my merit badge for that already. I’ll be careful.”

She couldn’t imagine joking about that BT – Before Tammi.

“Imagine how Elvis would be if you were walking around with two “robot-legs” and illegal bahis siteleri two eye patches? Give the poor guy a nervous breakdown.”

TJ snorted. “Ass.”

Swede pulled out, heading toward the station, leaving TJ crunching along the gravel toward the Beast.

At least this time she wouldn’t be hosing out the back of the truck and buying a new nose-numbing air freshener every day. For a week.

***

“Get your loser ass out here you fucking coward!”

No answer.

Jenny staggered sideways a step and took another swig. She paused to shake the bottle at the dark windows of the house.

“You gon’ be sorry you done took up with that Skank! You think that be finer than this?”

She spread her arms out to display her bare body. Her dress was lying in a heap next to Tony’s damn near unrecognizable truck. She’d spent some time on that.

It was a work of destructive art.

Fucker. Taking up with a girl just out of school, practically a damn kid.

“You gon’ be sorry!”

She slipped back a step, wincing at her own voice. She didn’t talk like that no more… any more. Unless she was drunk, and she couldn’t be drunk. She’d only had… she squinted at the almost-empty bottle.

Well, damn.

She shook her head, trying to focus. No boyfriend… no rum. And still no reaction from the house.

No point really.

She flipped a middle finger at the house and lurched sideways. She was pretty sure this road led back to the apartment.

Pretty sure.

***

Just as TJ hit the fork to route B, Dispatch came on the radio.

“253 253 this is Dispatch”

“This is 253 go Dispatch”

“D&D on W North of 15”

“Roger D&D on W North of 15”

As TJ turned the Beast, Dispatch – Melanie – continued.

“TJ this is a Jenny call. And Swede won’t stop laughing.”

“Roger”

She paused.

“Slap him for me.”

Twelve minutes later TJ found a naked woman walking jaggedly down the shoulder of the road. Trying hard to stay on the three foot gravel shoulder between the blacktop and the grass. And not succeeding particularly well.

A slender black woman with short hair. Sure fit the description she’d been given. Add in one empty bottle of rum and no clothes and it was pretty much a lock that she’d found her quarry.

She pulled off about 30 feet in front of her and slid out, walking back to intercept the woman.

“You must be Jenny.”

“M… must I? ‘Cause I… I’d rather be someone else right now.” She gave a crooked smile.

The stench of rum made TJ’s eyes water. “I think you’ll really wish you were someone else in the morning.”

“Who would I wanna be?”

“Anybody without a hangover, probably.”

Jenny’s eyes narrowed. “You the cop that took up with Tammi? I heard ’bout that.”

TJ nodded slowly.

Jenny rambled on. “If I liked girls that way, I’d do that. Not with Tammi, ’cause she with someone, but someone. ‘Cause guys are all assholes.”

She waivered back and forth for a second, closing her eyes briefly, before continuing.

“Is that why you do it? Get with Tammi, I mean.”

TJ shook her head. “Nope, always been this way. Just being me.”

Jenny blinked. “Huh.”

She started to lean forward, then further, until it was obvious she was falling in slow motion.

TJ caught her by her arms and walked her over to the Beast, gently taking the bottle from her hands.

“Let’s get you in the truck, Jenny.”

Jenny looked doubtfully at the seat. “Tha’s pretty high Deputy.” She paused. “Deputy, deputy, deputy… that’s a neat word ‘deputy.’ Hey, what is your name anyway?”

“Deputy James, and if we become friends, you can call me TJ.”

For a minute, Jenny seemed at a loss for words, and TJ was able to get her up in the truck and wrapped in a blanket.

Getting her buckled in was like skinning a live eel, but TJ finally managed it. By the time she climbed in the driver’s seat, Jenny was out cold, so she swung past the bridge.

She glanced back at her loudly snoring passenger. Probably better to check it out in daylight, but what the hell, she was here anyway.

Nothing on the surface of the bridge so she heaved a sigh and began her long clamber down the embankment to the nearly dry riverbed, the bright moon giving her more than enough light.

Damn, it was really low – the Bramble was usually at least four feet here, and just a few weeks ago, the bridge had been completely submerged by the floods. Now it was just a bare trickle, only a couple inches at best.

Just as she stepped out onto the stream bed with that odd crunching sound that only river rock makes, she heard something overhead.

“Deputy?”

TJ strained to look up, barely making out Jenny’s head profiled against the moon. “Jenny, get back in the truck, I’ll be right back up.”

How the hell did she get the door open anyway? The back doors didn’t open from the inside.

“We gonna be canlı bahis siteleri here all night, Deputy… We’re friends right? So I can call you… TJ?”

TJ shook her head ruefully. “Sure, call me TJ. I’ll just be a minute.”

“Nope. Gon’ be here all night.”

TJ sighed. “Why is that Jenny?”

“Look…look to your left in the water, Deputy.”

A clump of grass stuck up… a crest of rocks… some trash.

TJ flicked her maglight on, the beam of brilliant light tore away shadows and darkness. Turning the trash into something else. Something all black and pale, with staring sockets, slack, torn lips.

Something… Someone. Dark and dead.

***

Unbearably bright work lights washed the landscape completely white; TJ tried to keep herself turned so she wasn’t constantly blinded. The coroner and his assistant watched over the county’s lone crime scene tech as he marked evidence, snapped pictures and, finally began placing things in bags.

TJ was glad the fumes of rum from Jenny had killed her sense of smell.

“Cody.”

Swede strained to see the body without stepping too close. No point in provoking the irritable coroner, his pale assistant or the obviously sleep deprived tech.

“Yep. I think it’s him. ”

Shannon nodded. “That looks like his old army jacket.”

“And those stupid boots that always hurt his feet.”

Shannon turned to TJ.

“Cody Macintyre. Disappeared a few months before you moved here. Low level perp, about a rung up the ladder from Elvis. Hell, they hung out together. Shake and bake meth, railroad weed, that sort of stuff. His Mom reported him missing, but we never really turned up anything. We found out he’d been talking about heading out to try his luck in the city, and that seemed to be it. Since he was 20 we didn’t pursue it anymore.”

Swede rubbed the bridge of his nose. “We’re gonna pure catch hell from his mom.”

Shannon nodded slowly. “Let me take care of that. Goes with the job. Besides you have your 72 hours off coming up starting in the morning.” He looked up. “TJ, you’d better go ahead and take Jenny back to the tank and let her dry out.”

As if on cue, Jenny’s voice drifted down from the back seat of the Beast, where TJ had finally convinced her to rest. “Deputy TJ? I feel kind of…”

A violent, wet, retching sound exploded from above.

***

By the time TJ reached the station, she’d nearly added to the stench in the Beast. Even with the training jumps she’d made from vomit-spattered aircraft while she was with the 82nd Airborne, she wasn’t fully capable of blocking out the stench of half-digested rum.

And how the hell did she manage to coat the ceiling?

Ray barely looked up as she walked Jenny wretchedly through the station. The blanket TJ’d wrapped Jenny in was outside; it was literally dripping. How could Jenny even have that much liquid in her?

“You’ll have to clean her up and process her; Kathy had to go get the mail and Melanie says she is indisposed.”

Melanie had shut the door to the radio dispatch room and TJ could see at least three scented candles already lit in the office to ward off the smell.

She continued to herd Jenny back toward the cells.

“Tell Melanie, the next time she locks herself out of her car, I’ll be ‘indisposed.’ And jailers normally don’t do mail runs at this hour.”

Ray grunted. “I already did the paperwork for you. It’s practically a form letter for her, just fill in the date, times, and arresting officer name. Any reason to actually charge her?”

“Nope, she wasn’t driving. I can tell she trashed the guy’s truck, but Shannon said the guy probably won’t press charges.”

“Yeah, she always pays for the damage when she sobers up. Everybody knows that. Hell, the body shop gives her a huge discount. Repeat business.”

TJ knew Indecent Exposure charges in Missouri were actually Sexual Misconduct – which required “knowingly” intending to alarm someone. Nobody was going to press charges on Jenny for that.

Besides, Tammi would give TJ hell if Jenny was in jail too long. And she’d be about 50th in line to do it – Jenny was the only good hairdresser in the county. TJ’d already been dialed in on Jenny’s critical role in maintaining the appearance of damn near every woman within a day’s drive.

Thank God, Jenny was coordinated enough – and experienced enough at being drunk – to shower herself, brush her teeth, and crawl into her orange jumpsuit. Somebody had even lettered it “Jenny” in ornate letters.

Once she was safely ensconced in the holding cell, TJ headed back to her desk to finish up the paperwork Ray had started.

Genevieve LeFleur? New Orleans? That explained the accent at least.

She looked further down the form.

AKA Jenny Leffler.

“Hey, Ray?”

He finished sorting some paperwork and looked at her over the glasses perched well down his nose.

“How do we identify her? She wasn’t carrying any ID.”

He smiled. “Personally identified by Deputy. Hell, she’s the only black girl in the county.”

Which wasn’t exactly true, but she was sure as hell the only black girl prone to walking around naked with a bottle of rum.

“No, I mean for warrant checks.”

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