The Summer Steams, Swelters and Splits
Every summer the visible heat wriggles up from the asphalt in waves by noon. Summer in the poorest part of town consisted of sweat and stink and those cheap Walmart box fans slapping bad air from the second floor of every brick shit house on State Street. The summer steams, swelters and splits open like a ripe watermelon left out in the blazing sun.
Emma Hernandez was going to be the first of the summer's hot weather murder victims. Even though statistics show only a mild increase in the homicide rate during the hot months. The summer was still something to be reckoned with, especially if you worked in sanitation and some of the garbage collected were cadavers going ripe quickly in 90 degree weather.
Hernandez was on the bed in a motel room on the corner of Lee Avenue and Yale Street. She was face down with her mouth gagged and her hands and feet tied behind her back. There was an Ashton cigar lit in an ashtray near the foot of the bed. Every time he took a drag he'd burn her back with the red of the tip. She would try to scream into the pillow in front of her as her body twitched.
The area was disgusting and unbearable, but the motel was small and spotless. The walls were light blue. The floor carpeted and stained free. Even with the cigar smell there was a scent of rotting raspberries. Opposite the foot of the bed there was a large dresser with eight drawers and a flat screen television on top. There was a full length mirror next to the door and a lamp just two inches to the right. The overhead light above the bed was extremely bright. Emma Hernandez's naked body glistened with sweat and blood.
He put the blade of the kitchen knife in front of her. She turned away for a moment, but was drawn to her reflection. She looked at the side of the blade as if she was staring into a mirror, her eyes shiny and her breathing shallow.
He pulled the knife away and placed it by her left thigh. He pulled off his shirt and tossed it on the corner of the bed. He took two small puffs of his cigar and of course burning her twice after each pull, and placed it back in the ashtray. His pale upper body seethed with muscles, and the blue veins in his arms distended from steroids. He crouched at the side of the bed and just stared at his victim.
He had terrorizing eyes, she noticed, with small wrinkles at the corners as if he had spent a lot of summers squinting into the sun.
“You will die, and it will be very uncomfortable,” he whispered into her ear.
Emma Hernandez nodded. She seemed disoriented. There was no fear, and her manner was vague. Her eyes were wide and her pupils were so dilated that she seemed to almost have no iris. All she wanted was for him to turn up the air conditioning.
He removed the gag from her mouth, but she didn't scream. He nodded and leaned back a little.
Emma was silent for a long time, no facial expression. He watched her and couldn't understand what was going on in her head.
He untied her and put her in the small closet at the far end of the room. He closed the door, and began to strip the bed. He put the sheets and pillow cases in a neat pile beside the dresser and remade the bed with clean sheets. When he was done he went into the bathroom and took a long cold shower, and when he got out he just toweled off, put on his clothes and left three dollars on the pillow for the house maids and left.
A hellacious night it was, but there was no murder.
© 2015 Frank Atanacio
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