Well before her marriage, when listening to Nick's breathing had lulled her to sleep.
She lived alone now, loved the black of night more than ever. Black was her favorite color; as a teenager she'd worn nothing but. So wasn't it odd that she'd never asked for nighttime assignments since graduating the academy?
It was adherence to duty that brought about the temporary switch.
Wayne Carlos Freshwater crawled out at night, scoring weed and crack and pills on Hollywood side streets, killing prostitutes. No way was he going to be found when the sun shone.
Over a six-month period, he'd strangled four streetgirls that Petra and Stu knew about, the last one a sixteen-year-old runaway from Idaho who he'd tossed in an alley Dumpster near Selma and Franklin. No cutting, but a pocketknife found at the scene yielded prints and led to a search for Freshwater.
Incredibly stupid, dropping the blade, but no big surprise. Freshwater's file said his IQ had been tested twice by the state: 83 and 91. Not that it had stopped him from eluding them.
Male black, thirty-six years old, five-foot-seven, 140, multiple arrests and convictions over the last twenty years, the last for an ag assault/attempted rape that sent him to Soledad for ten years - cut down, of course, to four.
The usual sullen mug shot; bored with the process.
Even when they caught him, he looked bored. No sudden moves, no attempt at escape, just standing there in a rancid hallway, pupils dilated, faking cool. But after the cuffs went on, he switched to wide-eyed surprise.
Whud I do, Officer?
The funny thing was, he looked innocent. Knowing his size, Petra had expected some Napoleon full of testosterone, but here was this dainty little twerp with a dainty little Michael Jackson voice. Neatly dressed, too. Preppy, brand-new Gap stuff, probably boosted. Later, the jailer told her Freshwater'd been wearing women's underwear under the pressed khakis.
The ten-year Soledad invitation had been for choking a sixty-year-old grandmother in Watts. Freshwater was released angrier than ever and took a week to get going again, ratcheting up the violence level.
Great system. Petra used the memory of Freshwater's moronic surprise to get herself smiling as she completed the report.
Whud I do?
You were a bad, bad boy.
Stu was still on the phone with Kathy: Home soon, honey; kiss the kids for me.
Six kids, lots of kissing. Petra had watched them line up for Stu before dinner, platinum heads, sparkling hands and nails.
It had taken her a long time to be able to look at other people's kids without thinking of her own useless ovaries.
Stu loosened his tie. She caught his eye, but he looked away. Going back on days would be good for him.
He was thirty-seven, eight years Petra's senior, looked closer to thirty, a slim, nice-looking man with wavy blond hair and gold-hazel eyes. The two of them had been quickly labeled Ken and Barbie, even though Petra had the dark tresses. Stu had a taste for expensive traditional suits, white French-cuffed shirts, braided leather suspenders, and striped silk ties, carried the most frequently oiled 9mm in the department, and a Screen Actors Guild card from doing bit parts in TV cop shows. Last year he'd made Detective-III.
Smart, ambitious, a devout Mormon; he and pretty Kathy and the half-dozen tykettes lived on a one-acre spread in La Crescenta. He'd been a great teacher for Petra - no sexism or personal garbage, a good listener. Like Petra, a work fiend, driven to achieve maximal arrests. Match made in heaven. Till a week ago. What was wrong?
Something political? The first day they partnered he informed her he was thinking about shifting to the paper track eventually, going for lieutenant.
Use of this material may be made only for the purpose of promoting Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman with no editing - except for length - or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright © 1998 by Jonathan Kellerman. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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