Read When She Was Bad: A Thriller Online

Authors: Jonathan Nasaw

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Espionage, #American Mystery & Suspense Fiction, #Government investigators, #General, #Fiction, #Suspense, #Thriller, #Thrillers, #Serial murderers, #Multiple personality, #Espionage

When She Was Bad: A Thriller

BOOK: When She Was Bad: A Thriller
12.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Also by Jonathan Nasaw

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1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2007 by Jonathan Nasaw

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Atria Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Nasaw, Jonathan Lewis, 1947–
     When she was bad / by Jonathan Nasaw.
         p. cm.
    1. Serial murderers—Fiction. 2. Multiple personality—Patients—Fiction. 3. Government investigators—Fiction. I. Title.
     PS3564.A74W54    2007
     813'.54—dc22          2007004400

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-4628-3
ISBN-10: 1-4165-4628-6

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For Lizzie




“Are you sure you’re going to be all right now?”

“I’ll be fine, Grandma.”

“I hate to go off and leave you.”

Lily rolls her eyes. “Grandma, I’m seventeen years old, I can take care of myself for two days.”

“Of course you can, dear. It’s just…“No need to complete the sentence—they both know how it ends.

“Dody, she’ll be
chimes in Lily’s grandfather. “Now can we
get this show on the road—I want to be off the highway before dark.” His night vision isn’t what it used to be—but then, as he’s fond of saying, what is?

In the circular driveway at the bottom of the wide marble steps waits a gleaming black Mercedes SUV loaded with enough provisions to have seen Napoleon’s army safely home from Moscow. Dark-haired, dark-eyed Lily hugs her roly-poly grandmother, who smells like stale baby powder. When her grandfather stoops to give Lily a peck on the cheek, the overpowering scent of his aftershave brings tears to her eyes—apparently his sense of smell ain’t what it used to be, either.

Lily waves from the top of the steps until the SUV is out of sight, then heads back inside the two-story, Mission-style Pebble Beach mansion where she’s lived with her grandparents since she was almost five. To celebrate being alone, she sneaks up to her grandmother’s bedroom, steals a cigarette from the pack of Dorals Grandma hides in a bureau drawer, and smokes it out on the balcony, waving it around languidly, wrist bent like some old movie actress.

But the reality of being home alone never lives up to the expectation for long. After a few puffs the cigarette tastes hot and stale, and when she stubs it out and goes back inside, the mansion is so empty and echoey that she can hear the tick-tock of the grandfather clock down in the parlor from her second-floor bedroom.

Flopping onto her bed, Lily switches on the television and clicks through the channels. MTV is showing one of its beach parties, college kids dancing on the sand, the boys in their baggy shorts and scraggly wanna-be goatees, the heavy-breasted girls in skimpy bikinis that barely cover their nipples. Lily is both disturbed and fascinated by the overt sexuality. Scaredy cat, she chides herself—don’t you even
a normal life someday?

Just to see what it would feel like, she strips down to her bra and panties, tries on a few moves in front of the floor-length mirror mounted on the closet door. Oh yeah, she thinks happily, blushing like a pomegranate at sunset, I could do this.

But after only a few seconds of modest abandon, an image from Lily’s past fills her mind. Strong, sharp-scented male hands, large enough to palm her head like a softball, pry her jaws apart; an impossibly swollen, purple-headed penis forces itself into her mouth, choking her; a flashbulb explodes into white glare.

She reels away from the mirror, fighting for breath as if she were still that baby, and sits on the edge of the bed, head between her knees, breathing iiiin and ouuut, niiice and caaalm. A commercial for acne cream is playing; she feels around for the remote and blindly switches off the television, then guides herself through an exercise she’s learned from her psychiatrist, Dr. Irene Cogan.
was then,
—she raises her head, glances around the familiar bedroom—is now.
was a memory,
is the reality. You’re
that helpless baby anymore—no one can touch you without your consent.

And gradually the panic subsides. Lily turns on the bedroom light, slips on a bathrobe and a pair of slippers, and is halfway down the wide, curving staircase when the phone starts ringing. She charges back up the stairs, throws herself across the bed, fumbles the receiver off the hook just before the downstairs answering machine kicks in. “Hello?”

“Is this the home of…Lyman and Dorothy DeVries?”

“Who’s calling, please?” Lily is well-versed in telephone safety.

“This is Sergeant Mapes, California Highway Patrol.”

Everything’s gone quiet, like just before an earthquake. “Yes, this is the DeVries residence.”

“Who am I speaking to?”

“This is Lily. Lily DeVries—I’m their granddaughter. Is something wrong?”

“Is there an adult around I can speak to?”

“Yes—me.” It isn’t the first time Lily has been mistaken for a child over the phone. “Has something happened to them?”

“There’s been an accident. A bad one.” A pause. “A
bad one.” Another pause, as if he wanted Lily to ask him a question. She couldn’t think of one, though—all she could think of was how tired she had suddenly become. “I’m sorry to have to be the one to break the news, Miss DeVries. From what we’ve been able to ascertain, your grandfather seems to have lost control of the vehicle on Highway One, a few miles south of Big Sur. It went through the guardrail, over the cliff, and landed on the rocks sixty feet below. Both bodies were still in the car. If it’s any comfort, they were almost certainly killed outright.”

Lily had to put the receiver under her pillow to muffle the squeaky, unintelligible sounds coming out of it. Too tired, she thought, rolling onto her stomach and closing her eyes—I’m too tired to deal with this.


Lilah comes awake. Her mind is blank at first—no recollection of having gone to sleep, no memories from the preceding day.

This is how it’s always been for Lilah, living as she does in a more or less permanent present. No immediate past, no long-term future, just an ongoing
the by-product not of meditation, but of an imperious, bonobo-like sexuality that informs Lilah’s every thought and action from the moment she wakes up to the moment she retreats back into the darkness of her mind.

The first thing she does upon awakening is ground herself by rubbing the pad of her right thumb against the pads of the first two fingers of her right hand, as though she were trying to roll a little dough into a tiny ball. She hears a buzzing sound, feels around under the pillow, finds the telephone handset, and replaces it in the cradle. Immediately, it begins to ring; she lifts the receiver and slams it down again, then unplugs the phone from the jack in the wall, strips off her nightgown, and pads naked into the bathroom.

After a steaming hot shower with the spray set on needle-fine, Lilah rubs herself dry with fluffy towels until her creamy skin is pink and tingly from head to toe. She shaves her legs, paints her finger-and toenails, trims her dark pubic hair to the shape of a heart while waiting for her nails to dry, anoints her body with moisturizing lotion, and finishes off with a dusting of lilac-scented body talc.

As often happens, when Lilah returns from the bathroom she can’t find a thing to wear. The drawers and closets are filled with T-shirts, jeans, sweaters, and oversize sweatshirts, but nothing suitable for the Saturday evening Lilah has in mind. It’s almost as if somebody keeps throwing her good stuff out and replacing it with more modest wear.

Eventually she finds her streetwalker outfit—thong, hot pants, midriff-bearing tube top, and of course her red fuck-me pumps with the three-inch stiletto heels—crumpled into a hatbox in the far corner of the closet. It occurs to her she may have stashed it there herself a few days or weeks ago—if so, the event is lost in the cement sea of her memory.

After dressing, Lilah steps out onto the fan-shaped bedroom balcony, with its low curved parapet and potted cacti in terra-cotta urns. Below her, the wooded hills of Pebble Beach fall steeply toward a dark slice of ocean, barely visible through the trees. It’s a cold summer night on the central coast. Cutting wind, no stars. She shivers, glances down at her body. Through the formfitting top, she can see her wide round aureolae have gone all pebbly and her nipples are making little thimble-shaped bumps against the Lycra. Gonna freeze them titties off, girl, she warns herself, turning back into the bedroom and closing the French doors behind her.

Lilah rummages through the walk-in closet until she finds a long Mexican sweater she can belt around her for warmth, or open when it comes time to flash the goodies. Leaving the previously pin-neat bedroom strewn with discarded clothes and towels, she clatters down the wide stone staircase carrying her beaded handbag.

The huge kitchen is immaculate. From the stand-alone, double-doored freezer Lilah selects a so-called gourmet TV dinner at random, nukes it, scarfs it down at the kitchen table while watching a Mexican game show on the maid’s little countertop TV. Lilah doesn’t speak much Spanish, but she loves the overheated atmosphere of the Mexican shows, the garish colors, the exaggerated sexuality, the blowsy women with their wobbly Charo boobs overflowing spangled halter tops, the smolderingly handsome Latin boy toys in tight trousers with the crotches stuffed to bulging and pirate shirts open halfway to the navel.

The telephone directory is on the counter under the wall phone. Lilah opens it to the yellow pages, calls a taxi, then waits for it out on the veranda, which is tiled and stepped like the balcony, but with even larger succulents in even larger terra-cotta urns.

Twenty minutes later, a yellow cab pulls into the circular driveway. The driver hurries around to open the rear door as Lilah descends the wide marble steps. She knows without looking that he’s giving her the once-over, so she lets the sweater fall open as she brushes past him and slides into the backseat.

The horny bastard doesn’t know where to look first. When he closes the door behind her, Lilah notices a gold wedding band on his hairy ring finger. He may fuck his wife tonight, she tells herself, but he’ll be thinking about me.

“Where to?” he inquires, when he’s behind the wheel again.

“Just take me to Seaside—I’ll tell you where to drop me when we get there.”

“Seaside?” He does a double take into the mirror—that’s a mostly black town, definitely the wrong side of the tracks.

“Yeah, Seaside—you got a problem with that?”

“Not me.” He drops the flag to start the meter; the tires crunch gravel as the cab circles the driveway, then turns onto Paso Condor Way. Lilah catches the driver’s eyes glancing at her in the rearview mirror. With a sly grin she tugs her tube top out and down, reaching underneath to heft her boobs, as if adjusting the cups of the bra she isn’t wearing. The taxi veers dangerously across the winding road.


Seaside is booming on Saturday night. Drunks and music overflow from the clubs and bars out onto the sidewalks. Lilah’s taxi cruises slowly up the street, bringing the hos sashaying to the edge of the curb; they turn away in disgust at the sight of the tarted-up white girl in the backseat.

But Lilah knows better than to stake out a position on an occupied block—she waits in the warm cab until she sees a sistah in an outfit similar to hers, only vinyl, climbing into the front seat of a beige Camry. Even if it’s only for a hummer, the girl won’t be back for at least fifteen minutes, which is usually long enough for Lilah to attract a john. (One will be plenty—Lilah’s only here for the sheer gutter thrill of it; afterward she intends to head for an upscale pickup joint in Carmel to find herself a one-night stand.)

“Lemme out here.”


“Yeah, here—is there a fucking echo or something?”

Lilah tips the cabbie better than he deserves out of the clutch of bills in her little beaded handbag. There’s a dire wind whipping down the sidewalk; she pulls her sweater tighter and flattens herself against a mural of a blues band painted in black silhouette on the wall of a beer joint.

The strains of “Sweet Home Chicago” waft out through double doors with small, diamond-shaped windows. Lilah is seriously thinking about heading inside to check out the band when a big old Harley comes belching up the street and pulls over to the curb directly in front of her. Chopped and stretched, black leather seat studded with rivets, fringed leather saddlebags.

Lilah clomps across the sidewalk for a closer look at the chopper. “Nice bike,” she calls over the pulsing beat of the engine. “How about a ride?”

The driver flips up the face-plate of his helmet. White guy, bearded, good-looking. “I got a lifelong rule—I don’t pay for pussy.”

“That’s okay, I don’t sell it,” says Lilah.

He looks her up and down. “Could have fooled me.”

“I just did. How about that ride?”

He twists around, opens a saddlebag, hands Lilah one of those Nazi-looking helmets, the kind that always reminds her of the head of a circumcised penis. Lilah pulls it on, tightens the strap, grabs the guy’s shoulder for support, and throws a leg over the long, narrow leather seat. Feeling the thrumming of the engine between her legs, she presses herself up against the back of his black leather jacket. “What’re you waiting for?” she yells. “Let’s get this fucking show on the fucking road.”


Lilith is born (not literally, of course, though there is certainly enough blood and pain for a birthing) a few days later in a reeking tent just outside Sturgis, South Dakota. The sound in her ears is an undifferentiated roar as she comes awake; at first she sees the world in poorly defined patches of light and shade, as newborn infants are said to do.

For a moment she hovers between two worlds, two states of being. But as the second world comes into focus, the roar resolving itself into component parts (rough male voices, the rumble of motorcycle engines) and the light and shade taking on color and form (a bobbing black shadow becomes a man lying on top of her; that dark, distant sky turns into the ceiling of a huge khaki tent), her memory of the world from which she has been summoned recedes like the last dream before waking.

All this in the time it takes to draw a breath, then the realization dawns: gang bang. Good old-fashioned, one-percenter-style gang bang, and she’s the guest of honor. In addition to the biker on top of her, there are a dozen or so others standing around in a circle cheering him on; some have their cocks out, idly jerking off while they wait their turns. Everything smells of leather and sweat and grease and come.

BOOK: When She Was Bad: A Thriller
12.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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