Authors: Rudy Yuly
Crime scene cleaners book one
Copyright © 2010 Rudy Yuly / Hill Brace
”Crime Scene Cleaners” Copyright © 2001 Rudy Yuly
(® 2001 Writers Guild of America, West)
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America at Lulu
to contact the author: www.rudyyuly.com
started as an original screenplay I wrote called “Crime Scene Cleaners” way back in 2001. Although it was never sold, the screenplay got a lot of positive attention in Hollywood. It was considered by close to a dozen literary agencies and film production companies, and led to me signing with my great literary agency, Atchity Entertainment International (AEI). In 2003, Crime Scene Cleaners made the quarterfinals of the premier screenwriting competion, the Academy Awards Foundation’s Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.
At the time, the idea of centering a story around a crime scene janitor was new and different. Of course, ideas once expressed (especially expressed publicly in Hollywood) are not copyrightable and immediately enter the public domain. Which may explain why most people who have seen the film “Sunshine Cleaning” and read my work remark on an unusual number of similarities.
I can’t speak for the creators of “Sunshine Cleaning” for whom I wish nothing but the best and congratulate on their good work. But I can assure my readers that my ideas, inspiration and expression were and are entirely my own.
Ken Atchity, Chi-Li Wong, and Brenna Lui
for constant support, teaching and friendship
for lifting this story up off the daunting stack on his desk
—and being there 100 percent Samurai ever since
Julie Mooney and Andrea McKeown
for structure, focus and shine
Dr. Stephen Tobias and Tracy Glisson
the two best writers I know
Kim Enochs and Carrie Bader
for loving books and sharing invaluable insights
Melissa L. Cliver
for asking questions that change everything
for support from the start
John Elvis Newcomer Yuly
for making me proud every day
Dixie Lee Yuly
for being such a bright light
for Annie Dillard
for telling me something I could never forget
Seattle Homicide detective Lieutenant George Louis leaned into a rhododendron at the farthest edge of the backyard of the Silver house and retched. Nothing came out. He was grateful for that. Even more grateful that no one saw him do it. Despite nearly twenty-five years on the force, most of them with homicide, there were still moments that snuck up on him and smacked him upside the head.
Usually, they had something to do with kids.
Louis loped back around the front of the big hilltop Victorian as casually as possible, just in time to see the coroner’s guys wheel the bodies out the front door as three local news cameras on the periphery whirred and a few cameras flashed in the monochromatic gray spring air.
Three victims: Gary Silver, assistant district attorney, age 41; his wife, Kim Silver, former private practice attorney, full-time mom, age 33; and Lucy Silver, first-grader, age six. Proximate cause of death for all three was blunt trauma to the head or a combination of trauma, stabbing and cutting in the parents’ case. The little girl had been hit hard—really fucking hard— just once. in the forehead. Straight on and straight down. So hard it not only crushed her skull, it broke her neck.
At least it had been quick.
Louis’s partner Pinky walked solemnly out the front door and headed toward him. Her big white anti-contamination booties and middle school lunch lady head covering would have looked slightly comical anywhere else.
“If forensics says one more fucking word to me about the girl I’m going to take someone’s head off,” she said. “I fucked up, I know I fucked up, and I fucking don’t give a fuck. She was a kid, for Chrissakes. You got a smoke?”
Louis tapped out a Kool menthol.
“Oh man, what is it with you guys and menthols? That’s almost worse than nothing.”
Louis was used to that kind of talk. Despite the recent discrimination lawsuits over at the fire department, it was pretty much anything goes at SPD, at least among the detectives. And Louis was the superior, which somehow made it even more acceptable.
“Take it or leave it,” he said.
Pinky left it.
Pinky Bjorgeson was a SPD lifer, just like Louis. Most of that time, they hadn’t known each other too well. Pinky had been detailed exclusively to the Squamish River murder task force for nearly fifteen years—pretty much the only female on the case—until Seattle’s most notorious serial killer was finally brought to justice.
Nobody was particularly proud of that case, since the killer had been a serious person of interest from day one. The victims were all prostitutes, and he’d been a John for a long time. Even after repeated questioning, he somehow kept killing and killing and killing, right under their noses and right up until some very fancy forensic work, some advances with DNA that hadn’t been possible in the early eighties, had finally, undeniably tagged him as The Guy.
Louis, on the other hand, had always been with the “regular” homicide department, which in Seattle meant primarily drive-bys, some homeless stuff, and domestic violence, with the occasional headliner—like this one. After the Squamish case had closed, they’d partnered Pinky and Louis. It had been just over a year.
It wasn’t really a friendship. But it was oddly comfortable. The big black guy and the big redheaded lady. Both with a lot of seniority and a lot of experience. Neither one the type anyone on the force would go out of their way to fuck with.
Pinky had a knack for knowing when to shut up. That was something Louis appreciated. And she was generally a solid detective. Not the kind to take shortcuts.
This time, though, the big gal had fucked up. Royally. She’d been the first detective on the scene. Even stranger, she’d been the first responder, period. It was purely chance that she’d been in the neighborhood.
The little girl victim had twisted as she fell and landed on her face. For whatever reason, Pinky had turned her over on her back, arranged her sprawled out arms and legs.
When the next responders came she was sitting there, legs crossed, hands on the little girl’s chest.
It was an incredible, bordering bizarre lapse. But Louis had an idea about why she’d done it.
Pinky had once—only once—mentioned her own sister who’d been murdered when she was a kid. She’d been the about the same age as Lucy Silver. It wasn’t something they ever talked about, but it wasn’t the kind of thing you forget.
“I don’t know.” Louis said in his deep, froggy baritone. “They’ll get over it.”
“I think I’m losing my touch. Maybe I need a break.”
“You know what, Pink—it happens to all of us.”
“They’re gonna fuckin’ say it’s because I’m a woman.”
“Right. Because everyone knows you bust into tears every time you see a sick kitten.”
“Fuck you, smokey.”
“Exactly. You don’t exactly have a reputation as a softy.”
“Yeah. Well that’s done now, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, Pink, I dunno. Can we get back to work?”
Two guys from forensics walked up.
“Can we talk with you for a minute, Detective Bjorgeson?”
“Of course, Bill. Should I bend over here or wait until we get to the station?”
The other forensics guy looked askance at Louis. “Aren’t you a little close to the building to be smoking?”
Louis bit his lip and walked toward the curb. He tried not to stare, but he couldn’t help checking out the talking to Pinky was getting. They were giving her hell, no doubt—but also no doubt it was subdued and a little backhanded. Probably they didn’t know about Pinky’s little sister. But when a solid officer did something totally out of character, you generally gave them the benefit of the doubt. That was the code.
Besides, it was hard for the old school detectives to treat evidence with such precious deference. Since DNA really took off a year or two before, crime scenes were more and more the property of scientists. And although the detectives appreciated the amazing new tools as much as anyone, there was still some understandable nostalgia for the old tried and true.
Pinky sauntered over as casually as possible.
“So what do you think?” she said, wrinkling her nose. Although she was 5’9” and not slightly built, Louis still towered over her.
“Man, how can you smoke those things? Just smelling it is making me dizzy.”
“Silver was an assistant DA. Probably has plenty of enemies. You okay?”
Pinky pulled off the white Tyvek cap, and rubbed her short cropped auburn hair, shot through with a few shocking white strands. She didn’t fit into any common mold, but there was something undeniably attractive about her big sprinter’s body and palpable air of capability.
“Yeah, I’m okay. His wife used to be an attorney, too,” she said. “That could be an issue. But man, why did he have to do the girl? What do you think?”
“I think I’m going to skip lunch today,” Louis said. “I don’t like that shit any more than you do.”
“Yeah.” Pinky rubbed her neck thoughtfully. “Oh, shit,” she said. Then he looked piercingly at Louis.
“What?” Louis said.
“Listen, partner, be honest. Do you think this has anything to do with my personal life?”
“Honestly, Pink, it never crossed my mind.”
“But it would make a lot of sense.”
“Oh, fuck you, George. You don’t know shit about me. I’m sorry I told you anything.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to cover your back here.”
“Yeah, well let’s just stick to facts. This has nothing to do with that.”
“So what the fuck was up your butt, then?”
Pinky looked like she might punch Louis in the mouth for a minute. Which was slightly comical in white coveralls. But she just looked at him and gritted her teeth.
“Dunno. Maybe some time I’ll stop and think about it. Then we can sit down over a nice cup of chamomile tea and talk it over. You ever fucked up?”
“Kiss my freckled ass. Can we just get back to work? What’s your read on what went down?”
“Hammer. Or something a lot like a hammer. And then a knife. Same weapons on all three victims,” Louis drawled. “But the little girl was quick. He just hit her really damn hard. He went back to beat and slice the adults some more after they were dead. A lot more.
“He was mad at them.”
Pinky flinched. “Mad?”
“Yeah. I don’t think he expected he was going to have to do the little girl. Maybe he was hired help. I think he was mad about that. Took it out on them.”
Pinky looked thoughtful. “Pretty damn messy for a pro.”
“Thank God for small favors,” Louis said. “Forensics thinks the guy has to have left something behind.” The unspoken “despite your fuckup” hung listlessly in the air.
Pinky nodded and made a weak effort at a smile. “Every stain tells a story.”
“Nice,” Louis said, drily.
“Fingerprints, footprints, DNA. Hey, I’d settle for some hair.”
“Yeah. Too bad all we got is yours.”
“Funny. You want an arm? I could cut it off right here. But c’mon. We need a quick score here. The papers are gonna be screaming for results. Assistant DA? Queen Anne Hill? Gimme a break. Don’t these guys ever work in the ’burbs?”
Louis shrugged his shoulders and tapped out another smoke.
I gotta go back inside,” Pinky said, sounding like she’d infinitely rather brave another Kool.
She pulled her lunch-lady cap back on grimly.
Louis forced a thin half-smile. He thought he should say something. “Keep your hands to yourself” sprang to mind. But no words came. Pinky gave him an almost imperceptible nod and walked back into the house.
There was still a lot to be done at the scene, although much of the critical evidence-gathering had already been completed before the bodies were removed. A couple more days—painstaking for forensics, less so for the detectives—and they’d be finished with the place, never to return.
Detective Louis stood on the house’s big front porch, took out his cell phone, and hit a speed-dial code: J. Jones. Sparkle Cleaners.
“Hey, Joe,” he said after a moment. “There’s a job coming up I thought you should know about.”
One Week Later: Friday
Joe Jones wasn’t interested in the past. Once something was done it was done, as far as he was concerned. He didn’t remember much about much. He didn’t even try. He liked it that way. It was a rule that applied to everything, but when it came to his childhood, it was almost absolute.