Praise | Book Description

On Sale Now!

Pre-order now at:
Barnes & | | Book | Books A

Part One
Black Friday

Friday, September 9, 1988. 3:30 A.M.
Sands Motel, Austin, Texas

Mice and roaches bustled around her on the rug. She couldn't make out if they were real or not but she noticed a man bouncing up and down on her, all sweat and moans and after-shave. Hmm.

Her eyes lit up a vision, a distant memory of a little girl—her—and a littler boy, giggling in a wading pool. A black charm on a string hangs around the girl's neck. She cradles the boy in her arms as the camera snaps and her vision flashes white.

- - -

Outside in the dark, Armand Tejani waited under a palm tree, tapping his eelskin shoes and wiping his heavy palms on his soggy black lapels.
"Come on, man! " he whispered. "How long can this take?" He rubbed his nostrils, hopped on one foot, eyed the numberless motel room door. Sands Motel, a little bit of Vegas splash right here in South Austin. Whores and junkies didn't amount to much of a tourist attraction-vacationers from Elgin and Abilene abandoned the rotting building years ago to the vermin, mold, drunks and, just now, to a faceless john and one very special girl.

The door finally inched open, the john, his cartoon-broad forehead and narrow chin peeking out, blinking like a freckled mole, a rich, crazy cokehead in a chalk blue seersucker suit. The john closed the door behind him and scampered down a dark side street, clenching and grinding his teeth and checking his fly.

Tejani broke for the door. Finish this one clean, baby, this is the easy part. Too easy, for thirty big ones. That's what tipped him off. There was more to be made, lots more. They were paying too well for part one; they'd pay wicked for part two, the part they didn't know about yet. He'd walk off with a fortune, blow town on a blast of 'caine, Vegas—New York, anywhere but Atlanta. Maybe clean up for a while, get some sleep. He hugged the door: silence. Then he turned the knob and slipped inside.

The room stank gag-level Winos, probably, used the toilet after the plumbing got shut off. A streetlamp shining through the bare window caught a wood roach the size of a woman's thumb tearing across a gray stucco wall. On a light square of carpet where a bed once stood, the nude girl lay, idly sucking some charm on a string around her neck. Her face showed only a trace of what Tejani saw in the photo: icy blue eyes, blue-black hair, skin like polished gold. Now her skin hung loose on her like someone else's clothes, her black hair twisted against her head and neck, her eyes stared dim and she stank like rotten meat. If he asked her name, she wouldn't understand the question. No trouble tonight. That seersucker john paid her in heroin.

Her glassy gaze finally landed on Tejani. When he snapped off his belt knife, she watched the blade glimmering under the lamppost light. The string around her neck broke, and she choked for a second on the loose charm before she swallowed it hard, the string still tangled around her finger.

Tejani gently lifted the matted black hair away from her neck with the blade and she leaned her head back. The sight warmed him so much that he stroked her head. He sheathed the knife and instead took the heavy plastic garbage bag from his jacket pocket, pulled it over her head and squeezed it tight around her throat.

First the bag rose and fell with her breath. She struggled feebly and grabbed at her face. Tejani climbed on top of her to pin her arms and legs down as he wrapped the bag tighter around her neck, his pelvis pressed against hers. She kicked out and shook. He felt himself growing hard as her body rose and fell.

Atlanta Federal Prison. 1986. Four crackers hold Tejani down on the toilet floor: A fifth on his back burns Tejani's neck with a cigarette, yelling, "You sent me up for nothin'—for NOTHIN'!" and finally pulls Tejani's pants down and rips into him, growling, "Welcome to the Joint, cop!"

Tejani shook with terror as the stick of a girl writhed under his powerful trunk. He squeezed the bag tighter, forcing the images from his brain when she jolted for the last time, and he came hard against her as her muscles relaxed and she lay still.

Now he'd done what he was paid for. Little bitch, he thought, as he wrapped the plastic around her limp body. Little nobody. You're worth more dead than you were alive.


© Michael Simon. All rights reserved. Site designed by Kevin Che.