Jesus Saves

This is not about faith, though those whose lives will be recounted here should not have placed so much in finding love. It is not about belief, unless it is the belief in the illusion of safety and the unassuming character of the villain. It has nothing to do with the power of prayer, because sometimes praying won’t save you. Or about God, because He had nothing to do with the following story.

It is about a tattoo, stating those two misleading words, on a woman’s back…right above the strap of her spaghetti strap-blouse. It is about a night in paradise. Waking up to the last thing you ever see. And death by the hand of someone you thought was in love with you.

It is about illusions and reality. It is about trust and betrayal. And making choices. To be precise, it is about the woman with the tattoo…and men. Many, many men. All of which vanished.

It is safe to say that many people won’t remember the case I am about to cite, but it happened. She was known as the Jesus Saves killer. It is strange how a singular tattoo would figure into the whole nightmare, but it was a remarkable one for such a person to wear. And so prominently.

Even fewer would have given a second thought to a lone woman in a lonely hearts pub in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. Especially one that was as petite and weak looking as the one that would prove to be the one that would turn New Orleans upside down…along with the whole nation. Most would have thought her insane for being there, being a target, but not for wanting to find someone to love. But that was not why she was there.

Had the men who would cross her path known about her, or what lay in store for them, they would have steered clear. But you can’t always tell when something isn’t quite right with someone. You might be able to sense crazy in some, but not all. And this young lady, if you can truly call her that, was one who could hide crazy quite well. No one knew that she had been diagnosed as criminally insane, put on inhibitors, and summarily released from the protection of the system. In the ensuing years in between, she had quit taking the inhibitors and was now unfettered crazy in a docile wrapper.

Now, she wandered the streets of New Orleans alone and undetected. Her pale white skin marred only by a single tattoo: Jesus Saves. A relic from a bygone day when she had been considered sane and had been happy. Now, it was a reminder of when everything had fallen apart. Her relationships. Her career. Her future. Her life.

Now, she only remembered the pain. But no one knew her darkest secrets, those demons that had driven her insane. If she had allowed someone to know, maybe they could have helped her heal. But she kept her secrets well.

***

Mardi Gras. More precisely, after dark on that decadent day. She found her way to Lonely Hearts Pub, a relatively new establishment in the French Quarter. Normally, she would shy away from the bars. Too many witnesses to know who she was. But this night, as with all Mardi Gras nights, that was where all the men were.

Young, old, it didn’t matter. She wanted a man. She wanted sex. Why, she no longer could remember. It wasn’t that she enjoyed it, that had stopped long ago…the reasons now long lost in her dark confused past. She no longer knew why she needed a man. No.

She only knew that she needed a man. And sex. It was her reason for being. She was no hooker off the streets. She asked no money. She simply wanted what she lacked.

She whispered promises of a forever. Perhaps that was her draw. That and her sweet perfume. She whispered promises of a family, though it had been determined long before that she could never have children. But the men need not know that. If all else failed, she surmised that she could steal some child-or children-to raise as her own. Or adopt.

She acted as if she was one of the boys. She drank more than the men she sought out. She caroused with the best of them. She danced better than the other women. And she had been better endowed, physically.

Perhaps it was her ample breasts that lured the men. Maybe her promises. Or her perfume. Whatever it was, it was hers alone.

They could tell that she was no street walker. No drunken floozy. No mere party girl. She was all woman, and knew how to take control. She was a challenge. And so small and fragile looking.

Strangely enough, she knew which men to avoid as well. She could tell a homosexual from a straight with an almost uncanny precision. She knew the druggers as well. You know, the boys who drug women they-then-rape? She knew the violent drunks as well.

But any observant monkey could tell on most of these. At least that was her twisted view. And so she steered clear of these. Instead, she would gravitate toward the young, barely legal, college boys who were on their first outing. These were fresh, unused specimen of maleness. Naive enough to believe her whispers, horny enough to go home with her. And she loved their hormones. And their youth. Not to mention their stamina.

They could last all night. But so could she. And that was what she loved. Going all night long.

***

“Hi, Honey,” a young voice stated behind her, “Would you mind dancin’ with me?”

He sounded a bit gay, but what the hell. “Sure,” she answered, her sweet, soft alto almost purring, “Let’s go.”

“I saw ya standin’ there an’ thought ‘now there’s a woman!'” He remarked, using an obvious pickup line.

“I’m glad you think I am a woman,” she replied, seduction creeping into her voice, “maybe you and I can, uh, split later and go to my place for the rest of the evening.”

“Sure!” He exclaimed. “Uh, I mean, if you want to.”

“In a little bit, Baby,” she replied, “but first, let’s see where this is headed. Shall we?”

She knew that she already had him hook, line and sinker. Her natural knack for seduction had already reeled him in. Now, she had to make it so he was inexorably entangled in her web. A little dance, a little wiggle, a little flirt, and he would be hers…heart, mind and soul. She smiled to herself.

they must have danced for hours, her gentle rocking motion lulling her date into a false sense of security. All that time, he’d had her invite to her place on his mind. She could tell. His hands strayed over her back to her ass. Hell. His lips had sought hers twice.

And they had kissed. Yes, she had been aroused by it too. But so had he. She had felt him grow hard.

At closing time, they stepped out of the door. He led her to his car, groping her frantically. She could tell that he desired her. She wanted him too. More than he knew.

He drove, drunk and high. He was drunk on the liquor, but high on her. And she was making him even higher with everything she did. Maybe too high, too quick.

****

She couldn’t remember the night after the pub. She remembered the boy, but not what happened afterward. She blinked her eyes as she rolled off the couch. Had he put her here? She got up and went into the bedroom. Maybe he was still in there.

There were no pillows or blankets on the bed. Strange. She remembered making it yesterday morning, and it had been made last night when she left. Why did the men she picked up always seem to steal her sheets? And why was there a tiny smear of blood on the plastic covered mattress?

She shrugged. Oh well. She would just have to buy a new set. She grabbed the money from her sock drawer. At least she had enough money to last for a while.

But she still couldn’t figure out where it was all coming from. She didn’t work. Couldn’t. Her illness made that impossible.

She didn’t draw disability either. Nor did she have Medicaid. And she had no family or bank account. She used to have a roommate, but he had left. He had owned the condo they shared, but had allowed her to stay. Too bad he went away. He was fun.

She left the condo in search of a new set of blankets. She would have to clean the blood off the bed when she got home. But first, she needed something to eat. Whatever they did last night made her hungry.

She sat at the cafe she always frequented, eating crepes filled with strawberries. Her favorite.

As she sat there, she began to realize that she didn’t see the outfit she had been wearing last night either. Had he taken off with that too? Or was there something else going on? She had noticed that her clothes had begun showing up missing quite a lot recently. Why?

She waited for the waiter to bring her ticket, paid him, then got up. She had a new outfit and some bedding to buy. She made her way toward the department store she always bought replacement sheets and clothes at. She also needed some more perfume and shampoo. Maybe some soap.

She would go out again tonight and have more fun, but only after she got things all cleaned up. This time, she hoped she could find a guy who’d stick around.

***

As she shopped, she began thinking about things. It was strange, but her Condo was completely deserted. No one lived there but her. The neighbors across the hall had moved a year ago, no forwarding address. And worse, they had forgotten to inform the mailman.

The neighbors down the hall had moved three years ago, same thing. The Prachetts had moved before that, as had the other families who’d lived on the ground level. And the security guards had not been seen for some time either. Nor their families. She hoped they were all doing okay.

The other building had also systematically been abandoned, and the management had not tried in the least to replace the owners with new ones. She found that odd. Odd, indeed. Or had the condo been owned by those who’d left?

No matter. She kind of liked having the run of the condo. There were cool things in each timeshare. Furniture she could interchange with her own. And no one asking her for rent.

She shrugged. Even though these things seemed strange, they were still oddly familiar. Everyone in her life always seemed to leave. Most, under extremely mysterious circumstances and rather suddenly. No way to send their mail to them. Always leaving their stuff behind.

Then, it struck her. She hadn’t even seen the garbage man for months. Had he stopped coming? No matter. she didn’t make enough trash to warrant his services anyway.

She couldn’t cook, so she always ate out. She rarely got to stay home, so she generated very little trash. Besides. The condo was just her love nest.

She stopped thinking long enough to pick six excellent comforters, several sheet-sets, new pillows, and then headed for the clothing. She figured that she had enough to cover it all. She found several outfits she liked, all in her size, and put them in her cart. Now for the soap and other needs.

She had been lucky, when she went to go through checkout, that she actually had enough. The clerk looked at her strangely. Apparently, it seemed odd that she was here every week…and had been coming every week for the last three years. But, you could never have too much.

She made her way home with her new sheets and clothes. She would get these things home, then go in search of lunch. She was hungry again. All this made her hungry. And it made her want a man. At least if she had a man, he would go out and buy her all these things. And he could get all those funny looks. The only time she ever got away without those looks was when she went in for feminine care products. All women shopped for those from time to time. Or so she thought.

***

Detective Sherman had been investigating the disappearance of a whole neighborhood. Security officers. Garbage men. The families from the condo that sat nearly empty now. The owner, who had taken in a homeless girl. And now, a slew of men who ranged in age from 19 to 30. None were over that age.

All were either college students or cheating husbands. Only one was high profile. One of the mayor’s aids had gone missing. But there were no clues left behind. It was as if they just dropped off the face of the earth.

Yet, the girl still lived in the deserted condo. Had it been left to her? Or was there something else? Something he wasn’t seeing?

He got out of his car. He was striking in his fine tailored suit, fedora, and sunglasses. He shook off the feeling that he was being watched and headed for the door of The Lonely Hearts Pub. He was going to get to the bottom of this mystery, even if he had to die trying.

Stepping through the door, he headed for the bartender. He knocked on the counter. The bartender looked over, then walked over.

“May I help you?” He asked.

“Yes,” Sherman stated, taking a notebook, pencil, and picture out of the inner pocket of his suit coat, “have you seen this you man?”

The barkeep looked down and turned white. “Yes. He was here last night. Left with a petite young woman, wavy hair, about five-foot-two, dressed really sexy. Well mannered.”

Sherman took out a fist-full of photos. “How many of these guys have been in here?”

The barkeep looked through and sorted out about a third of the pictures and pushed them toward the Detective. “Only these. Why?”

“Can you remember if they left with the same woman?” The detective inquired.

“I can only remember these three,” the barkeep replied, “Leaving with her. the rest were here so long ago that I don’t really remember. A lot happens over the years.”

“Are you the only bartender here?” Sherman pressed.

“No,” the barkeep replied, “But I am the only one who works Mardi Gras. And these guys were here on Mardi Gras.”

The owner came out of the office and came to investigate why the detective was in his pub. “Can I help you?”

“Your bartender is doing a good job of that,” the detective replied, “but I would like to talk to the rest of your bar tending staff. That is, if you don’t mind.”

“What’s this about?” the owner inquired.

“A host of missing men and families,” the detective replied, “It may be nothing, but we had a complaint from Toulaine University on a few male students disappearing. The last was seen in this area last night during Mardi Gras. The other five were noticed during the week as we were celebrating. Maybe they got drunk and drowned in a foolish attempt to swim the lake, but I have to check it out, you know.”

The owner nodded. “OK. I will call in my serving and bar-tending staff. Feel free to ask them whatever you need. Just sit tight. I can have them here in minutes.”

“Need anything to drink?” The bartender asked.

“Sure,” Sherman replied, “Coffee. Black. No sugar.”

***

She scrubbed at the blood stain. With the bleach, it was coming out rather nicely. Still, who leaves a bed so messy? And without the covers.

She knew she would need a shower when she was done. She needed to be clean when she went out again. The Lonely Hearts Pub had been great, and she had met the guy she had brought home last night, but she needed a change. Perhaps she would go to the club a few blocks away tonight. She remembered going there with her roommate a couple of times, but didn’t remember what it had been like.

All she could remember was that the last time had been just before he had left. Something about some business. He should have been back by now. Hell. he should have been back a year ago. Where had he gone?

She didn’t have time to worry about him. Or then young man who’d been wit her last night. Had there been others? She wasn’t sure.

She liked the pursuit, though. She loved checking out the men. Deciding which were gay, which were married, which were liable to drug her, which were violent, and which were the easygoing drunks. She liked the easygoing drunks. So easy to get into bed.

Too bad they weren’t easy to keep around. Too bad they were so lousy at cleaning up their own messes. Too bad they always seemed to leave without even a thank you. She felt as if they were only using her.

Was there something about her that scared them away? Was she really that ugly? Was there something wrong with her sexually? What was it that drove men away.

The more she thought, the worse she felt. The more she wanted to get out and go to the club to forget her problems. The more she wanted to find another man. Maybe, this one would stay.

She continued to scrub at the stains. This last one was being difficult. Why couldn’t her dates ever clean up after themselves? It didn’t make sense.

It finally came up and she got up. She had noticed that the blood was not just on the bed when she started her cleanup. No, it had been everywhere. most of it had been cleaned, it seemed, but some trouble spots were still left. Men. So messy. What had happened in here?

After she rose, she went to the washer and threw the new sheets in. measuring the soap and fabric softener, she threw it in and closed the lid. setting the knob, she pushed the start button. She had a good 45 minutes. Enough time to take a shower and get ready for a night on the town.

***

Detective Sherman sat listening to the last server’s memory of some of the victims. Most, she agreed, had been drunk when they left. But not all. She let him know that she had never seen the ones that the Mardi Gras bartender had said he’d never seen. They were complete strangers.

But she had seen the college boy. He had been buzzed, but not quite drunk. At least not before the girl had met him. After that, the whiskey flowed freely…as did the cash. But the girl had paid for the majority of the drinks. When they left, he had been drunk. But she was sober. The server could not remember the girl ordering a single drink other than an orange soda.

Same with the others. Some had already been drunk, but the ones that had not when they met the same girl usually ended up getting so drunk the girl had to help them out to their cars. Where they went after that was anyone’s guess. Perhaps they barhopped?

“I will be going to other establishments,” the detective replied, “but yours was the first one on my way.”

“Just how many have disappeared?” The server asked?

“We really don’t know,” the detective replied, “Those pictures are just of the ones we know. There are many more possible cases linked to this. We just aren’t sure if they are or not.”

“Do you have any idea who?” the pub owner inquired.

“Not at the moment,” Sherman replied, shaking his head, “but we will definitely check out the girl.” His cell phone rang. pulling it from its case, he answered. “Hello, Detective Sherman.” He nodded. “OK. On my way.”

“Are we done?” One of the barkeeps asked.

“For now,” the detective replied, “If you remember anything else you think might be of use in the case, feel free to call me.” He handed them all his card.

“Sure.” came the reply.

***

Detective Sherman arrived at Lake Pontchartrain an hour after he left the pub. The team had already pulled the college boy’s car out of the lake and were searching it for clues. Opening the trunk, they were met by the sight of the body. He had been stabbed several times. Naked, whoever had killed him had not taken the time to dress him or even to position him. It was almost as if he’d been stabbed while in the act of having sex. Yet, his eyes were wide with shock. Like he’d awakened to see who his killer was and was taken aback by their appearance. Someone they considered close?

If he had been killed during sex, it had been one hell of a way to go. But who had killed him? The girl he left with? Someone else? And where, more importantly, had the murder taken place?

“Reilly,” he called, “can I speak with you a minute?”

An officer came over. “Yes, Detective Sherman?”

“I need you to go to this address,” he stated, writing the address to the condo on a piece of paper, “and question the only occupant. I believe she lives in number three.”

The officer nodded and left after taking the piece of paper. Sherman would have told him to be careful, but the officer had left before he could. He shook his head. Youngsters these days.

He turned to another officer. “Tell the crew to scour the whole lake. Maybe this is just the first piece to the puzzle and we will find more. Not sure about whether we will find any more bodies, but we might find some vehicles.”

The officer nodded and went to relay the message. Captain Marcel appeared at Sherman’s side. “What’s got you puzzled, Detective?”

“I dunno,” came the reply, “something isn’t quite right about this. No reason, no rhyme, no connections. well, except the bar, so far. But other than that, no other connection. Most vics are young. Between the ages of nineteen and thirty. All out to have a little fun. All wealthy, but not all from Nahlens. Some from the college, out revelin’ during Mardi Gras week. Others are three years old and cold cases that have the same M.O.”

“Which is?” The Captain was smiling.

“They all just disappeared into thin air,” Sherman replied, “This boy was lucky. After we get done with procedure, we can mail ‘im home to his parents. Not a good thing to have to do, but it will bring closure.”

“True,” the smile had faded from Marcel’s face, “I feel bad for the parents. No one should have to bury their own child. Not this way.”

***

Officer Reilly arrived at the condo forty-five minutes after leaving the lakeside scene. Though a relatively new building, it seemed eery. There was no noise. No movement. He entered warily.

Finding his way upstairs to number three, he knocked. “Police,” he called out, “Is anyone home?”

A young lady, no more than twenty-nine, opened the door. She was elegantly dressed as if she was getting ready to go clubbing. “Can I help you, officer?” she asked in a sweet alto voice that almost seemed to drip honey.

“Y-y-yes,” he stammered, his breath taken by her beauty, “I need to ask you a few questions.”

She regarded him. No, this one was not boyfriend material. He wasn’t quite her type. “OK,” she replied.

Reilly ran through the questions, listening to her answers intently. She was quite truthful in all her answers. She had only briefly been with any of those men. They had left her place quite suddenly, without waking her and had left the place a mess.She had not bothered looking for them, because she knew they were long gone. Possibly back to their lives elsewhere.

Reilly suddenly noticed that there was something not quite right. He couldn’t place his finger on it, but he knew it was there. Still, he was entranced by her. If he wasn’t married, hell. He would even be tempted to give her a try. But he was married, and he was faithful to his wife. this girl was off limits. No matter how alluring she was.

“T-thank you ma’am,” he replied when she was done, “I won’t bother you anymore.”

He left before he did something he would regret later. Heading back to his car, he couldn’t seem to get out of the condo building fast enough. It was as if he was being watched. Followed.

He climbed into his car and drove a safe distance away. Then, he called in to the precinct. And then to Sherman. He looked up into his rear view, expecting to see something. But there was nothing.

He headed to the precinct. Maybe he could shake this eery feeling. He could only hope.

***

She made her way to the club. That officer had been rather nice, but he had also been married. She made it a point never to get involved with married men. Too messy. Too complex.

She would find another to spend the night with. This time, she hoped that he would stay. But hope hadn’t worked for her before. Why?

She shrugged it off. No use feeling sorry for herself. She would just have to pick herself up and dust herself off. And try again.

Still, she hated feeling like she was ugly. She had been made to feel that way once before. Back when she had been…never mind. She couldn’t really remember. Maybe it wasn’t worth remembering.

Yes. That was it. It wasn’t worth remembering. She smiled. Now she felt free.

Tonight, she would dance with more than one man. Perhaps, she would feel them out to see if they had the quality she was looking for. And staying power. Couldn’t forget that.

Her mind was abuzz with activity. All this excitement was getting to be too much. And the police were looking for those poor boys! What had happened to them? And why was there always blood all over everything in her bedroom every morning? She just didn’t understand it. Nothing seemed to make sense.

Still, she could offer them nothing new except that she had been with them all. And that they had all left in a rush, never to call or come back. She hadn’t told the officer that their sudden leaving had hurt her so much that she felt like crying. Nor had she admitted that their leaving made her feel ugly. Just that they had left.

She smiled. But tonight was a different matter. She was out for fun. For dancing. For drinks. And for sex.

***

Captain Marcel arrived home at nine. He had been divorced for nearly a year, and had missed his wife every second. But he had to keep reminding himself that she was his ex-wife. No longer his wife. And her leaving had hurt him deeply.

So deeply that he had made himself a promise that he would never love again. At forty, he was getting too old-in his mind-to be chasing women. Hell. He was getting too old and tired to be doing the assignment Sherman had given him. Go to the club and observe. No drinks. No contact. No distractions.

Look for something out of place. Someone not quite acting right. Make notes. Follow.

Basic police stuff. A stake out, but not in so many words. There was a killer on the loose, and they had to catch them. But was it a man or a woman? Was it a random thing? Or was there some sort of motive?

Jean Marcel was a career officer. He had worked his way up to Captain with the express desire to make Detective. Still, he loved undercover work. Always had. He wanted to be the first undercover detective to make chief. Well, at some point. He smiled.

Maybe this was his ticket to detective. He would work it like it was, even if it wasn’t. He loved his job. He loved catching the bad guys. But it wasn’t always easy. Still, he loved the challenge.

he slipped out of his uniform and into jeans and a nice dress shirt. He had to look the part. Slipping on his dancing shoes, he headed for the door of his apartment. He was off.

slipping down the stairs to his car, he got in and drove toward the club. He hoped they could catch whoever it was. They didn’t need a long, drawn out case. He wanted a nice short one for a change. Something to make the precinct proud.

As he arrived at the club, he smiled. He would enjoy this assignment. He parked his car and went inside. Walking to the bar, he sat down and turned so he could watch the crowd.

“Gimme a soda,” he requested, “I’m on duty.”

The bartender nodded and complied. “They gotcha pullin’ duty tonight. Too bad. Lots o’ pretty women’ll be wanderin’ the floor.”

“Hey, Mac,” Marcel began,pulling a picture out of his pocket and showing it to the bartender, “ever see a woman that looks like this in here?”

“Yes,” he barkeep admitted, “A few times with a solid patron, oh, about three years ago. The last time he ever showed up was about the third time she accompanied him. he was supposed to go out of town on business, but never made it. At least that was what his business partners said. But you prolly already know about that.”

“Yeah,” Marcel remarked, “His partner called in and reported him missing. We have been looking for him ever since.”

He stopped talking when she entered. He glanced down at the photo. She was here! Why?

***

Sherman’s cell rang. He answered. “Hello?”

On the other end was one of the servers from the pub. She had suddenly remembered something odd. A tattoo on the young woman. Jesus Saves. She thought it odd, because she had not seen too many customers with such a tattoo. In fact, she couldn’t remember ever seeing any.

The oddest thing was that the woman had what the server called a strange allure. She seemed to have a strange effect on men. Made them want her. Desire her. He hung up after thanking her.

Shit. He had sent an unprepared Captain to observe. His phone rang again.

“Hello?” He answered. It was Reilly. “Yes?”

“Sir,” Reilly was saying, “There’s somethin’ not right about that girl you sent me to question. Something totally out of place.”

“What do you mean?” He was now on edge.

“Sir,” Reilly continued, “She seemed vacant when she answered my questions. Almost too innocent. Like she really didn’t remember something that had actually happened in her apartment. She claimed they left without warning. Without letting her know.”

“Reilly,” Sherman ordered, “If you are still driving, turn your car around and head to the club where Marcel is. You need to warn him.”

“Yessir!” Came the response.

“Damn!” He breathed as he hit the off button on his phone. He dialed a precinct number. “Yes. Evidence, please.”

“Evidence.”

“Yes. This is Detective Sherman.” He paused. “I need you to look up a file. One with a woman who had a tattoo. Yes. The tattoo is Jesus Saves. See if there is anything in the past, solved or cold, with that tat.”

“Yes, Detective,” came the response, “and we’ll get the information to you as soon as we can.”

***

Marcel fell quickly under her spell. He remained sober, but he had forgotten all about his assignment. She was so hypnotic. So entrancing.

He watched her move through the crowd. The bartender tapped his arm. “The lady sends you a drink.”

“I don’t drink on the job,” he halfway mumbled.

“It isn’t alcoholic, Captain,” the bartender replied, “just a simple soda.”

“Give her my thanks,” he replied, taking it.

He did not see Reilly enter the club. Or the signal the officer tried to give him. He was too deeply entranced by her. She had taken over his thoughts.

***

Reilly froze when he saw her. He hurried outside and called Sherman. “Yes. She’s here. Marcel is in distress.” His message was simple. He only hoped that Sherman would get there on time.

Sherman’s car squealed into the parking lot and he hopped out. The two officers conferred over new evidence, all on the woman inside. Evidence had called the detective back and had given him a lot. The woman in question had been the victim in a rape-murder case. She had been raped, her fiance murdered. Whoever had done it had thought she was dead as well, but she had not died.

After the trial, she was put in the psychiatric ward of the hospital and evaluated. Without healthcare insurance, she had been set free with medicine to help her. For a while, she had disappeared. But she had reemerged when the owner of the condo, the whole complex, took her in. And that was when the disappearances had begun.

Now, they had to extract their colleague, somehow. He was under her spell and they were sure they would lose him. Sherman cursed himself for setting this whole thing in motion. He had given Marcel this assignment without realizing who they were dealing with.

While they talked, Marcel exited the club with her. But they weren’t alone. There was a third. Another man. Marcel had agreed to help her get her friend to her apartment, but he was really hoping for something more. And she knew it. She could tell.

And he was single! Perhaps both men could give her what she needed. What she wanted. She smiled. She had what she came for.

***

Moments later, she showed Marcel into one of the other condos. As he waited for her, he explored his new surroundings. Suddenly, he began feeling woozy. Had he been drugged?

He laid down. He was awakened by the sudden feeling of his pants being pulled off him. Opening his eyes, he saw her as she got on top of him. He smiled. Finally. He would have a little piece of paradise. Then, he saw it.

Sherman and Reilly rushed up the stairs as fast as they could. They had to save their friend. At the very top, they heard his gun go off. Were they too late? They didn’t know.

They busted in the door to her apartment. Going from room to room, they found no sign of her or him…but they found the body of the third person. Had she talked him into shooting the poor man? Reilly inspected the body and shook his head. The man had been stabbed.

Blood had been splattered all over the bedroom. A stream of drips led from the bedroom to the hall. Following them, they came to the door down the hall. Busting it in, they found the trail leading into the bedroom. There, they found their friend…a butcher knife sticking out of his chest. Upon his chest, still holding the knife, was the young lady. Both were dead.

“Oh God,” Sherman moaned, “we were too late.”

Reilly looked over at the detective. “Better call precinct.”

Both left the room. While Sherman called precinct and waited inside, Reilly left the building and went to see if he could find any evidence on the property. Opening the dumpster, a wave so sickening hit him. He had found the other bodies. The bodies of those who had once lived in the complex.

In the months that followed, Reilly and Sherman quit the force. Neither could continue on, knowing that they had been too late to save their friend. They even went so far as to move from New Orleans to get away from the memory. But some ghosts never stop haunting those who have been affected by them. And some memories never fade.

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