Where The Devil Won't Go: A Lucas Peyroux Novel (7 page)

BOOK: Where The Devil Won't Go: A Lucas Peyroux Novel
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Chapter 10

Cozy sucked in a breath from her Civic’s
open window while admiring the decaying architecture of a city that had been
built in the middle of nowhere. She learned in school that it had been the only
major port city in the 1700’s. Why hadn’t it ever grown into a major metropolis
like New York or Chicago? It had to be the fault of Southern politicians. She
quickly returned to the curb in front of Haley’s apartment.

Lucas had been kind, but she could smell
bullshit a mile away and knew he was going to wait for her to leave. Moments
later, she skirted through the gate and up the scary steps to contemplate her
sister’s total and utter violation. New Orleans had chewed her up and spit her
out, right into the Mississippi.

When she was ten years old, she had
wandered into the kitchen at three in the morning to get a cup of water, only
to find her father sitting at the table in the dark with his hands around a
tall bottle as if having a conversation with it. His shiny eyes had turned to
her and he said, “I love your sister. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she had squeaked. In that moment,
getting a glass of water suddenly lost all importance. She turned right around
and went back to bed. Just minutes later, she heard Haley’s door open and she
prayed that her sister wasn’t going into the kitchen. She’d been too naive to
realize her sister had probably never left the room.

She picked up the cheap plastic phone,
still connected to the landline. “Hello, Momma? I’m in New Orleans at Haley’s
apartment.”

She rolled her eyes and tapped her foot
as Momma lectured about responsibility, carelessness and lack of respect. She
held the phone away from her ear. “Momma… Momma… Don’t be mad. No, do
not
send Ash.”

The discussion was one-sided as Cozy
tried to spew halting syllables and broken half-words while her momma was in a
state. In the end, she promised to return first thing in the morning, hung up
and then fell into the lumpy, purple sofa.

Not having eaten since the grits at
breakfast, she found a stack of fast food menus and ordered a pizza. She then
grabbed several trash bags to begin separating the trash from what she might
keep and what might offer a clue as to why her sister died. Haley had to have
made friends. If only she could find the name of one.

One bag ended up stuffed with tacky clothes
Cozy would never wear, and she finally stopped when her fingers shook too much
to continue. She splashed cold water on her face in the bathroom and swallowed
an Ibuprofen tablet from the medicine cabinet. An abrupt buzz from the intercom
made her to jump.

She cautiously approached to press the
speaker button. “Yes?”

“Papa John’s.”

“Upstairs. Apartment B.” She held the
button for a few seconds to let him in the gate.

Footsteps echoed through the hall and she
cracked the door a bit to make sure it was the delivery guy. The money-pizza
exchange with the dumpy, middle-aged woman went quickly and she settled back on
the couch, taking a few bites out of a slice while checking her surroundings
again.

The cracked plaster walls were void of
pictures or art, unless discolored patches that resembled images such as the
Shroud Of Turin could be considered art. Haley hadn’t settled in to make this a
home, yet. That was why she didn’t decorate or have personal touches around the
place. Cozy stretched and attempted to hold down the rest of her slice of
pizza. She didn’t want to live or have children or grow old without Haley. It
was an empty feeling to only have one thing to live for, to avenge her sister’s
death.

What
the hell, Haley? What the hell
?

A rapping on the door forced her head
jerk up. “Yo, Haley.
You in there?
I saw your light
on.” He sounded like the black men in rap songs. How’d he get in without
buzzing, unless he knew the code?

Cozy put her eye to the peephole. Sure
enough, a short, skinny black guy with a Saints cap was on the other side. She
spoke through an eighth inch of seam. “Haley isn’t here. Who are you?”

He looked confused. “Who you? Haley on
vacation or sumptin’?”

“She’s not here.”

He wiped at his lips and tried to look
through his side of the peephole. “Listen, here.
Me and her
– we friends.
I ain’t seen her in a while.”

Cozy opened the door as far as the chain
would allow. “What’s your name?”

The black man checked her up and down.
“You her friend?”

“Her sister.”

A gold tooth appeared in a smile. “You
don’t look much like her, but you got that same crazy-ass accent.”

“Name?”

“Titus.”

Must be the guy Lucas had said came by a
few times. “You her drug daddy?”

“Drug daddy?” He mused. “What, ‘cause I’m
black?”

“I ain’t a racist, but I ain’t stupid,
either.” Cozy dipped her head. “Haley’s dead.”

“Dead? Get the fuck. What happened?”

“I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Listen here. I
ain’t
her drug daddy. I get her shit. She
pay
with green.
That’s it.”

Cozy zeroed in on the chains around his
neck. One of them was Haley’s alligator pendant. “Can I ask you a couple of
questions?”

“You inviting me in?”

Cozy hesitated, needing to make a quick
decision about her safety. But, why would he be looking for Haley if he had
killed her? “Awright. C’mon.” Cozy closed the door, and then swung it open
after the chain dropped.

Titus instantly dipped his shoulder as he
strutted inside. “Shit, you got balls. A white girl inviting a nigga’ like me
in. I guess all you Cajun bitches crazy.”

“You saying Haley
was
crazy?” Cozy noticed the butt of a gun sticking out of the back of his
waistband.

“Nah, figger of speech. Serious shit,
Haley was awright with me.”

Titus walked straight to the couch and
sat as if that was his normal spot. He threw his Adidas covered feet onto the
coffee table and watched as Cozy took a position on the armrest.

“You fine, girl.”

“You ever do anything else besides get
her drugs?”

Titus seemed taken aback, as if no one
ever questioned him before. “We ever do it? Yeah, I got in it.”

Her throat constricted. “Are you a pimp,
too?”

He laughed. “Pimp? Yo, I guess I gots a
few girls. Haley wasn’t one of them, you hear me? Not that I didn’t try. She
was spoken for.”

“Spoken for? Haley was a prostitute?”

“She was no busted corner ho’ if that
makes you feel better. She too fine to get fucked up on the curb, you get me? I
set her up in the bigs. I gets me a finder’s fee when I bring in the phat
ho’s.” His attention turned to her chest. “Crackers with money got with your
sister by appointment, like some Uptown escort bitch.”

“Yeah, Titus, that makes me
feel
better.”

“I ain’t nothin’ if not real.”

“Who was her manager?”

“Now, what the fuck you want to know that
for?” He leaned forward, exposing his weapon.

“How’d you get her alligator pendant?”
She pointed.

He fingered it. “I helped her with some
fast cash a long time ago.”

“Or maybe you took it after you killed
her.”

His amusement waned. “Sounds like you
investigatin’ shorty’s murder.”

“She’s my sister. If you didn’t kill her,
then give up her pimp.”

Titus mildly chuckled and fell back into
the couch. His eyes molested her again. “Now, I can’t give that info away for
free.”

“So predictable. Is that what it’s going
to take?”

“Listen here. If I’m going to take that
kind of heat, there’s a price.”

Cozy sized him up. He was small, maybe
140 pounds, but cute in a boy-band kind of way. He probably grew up in the
projects having to establish his street-cred every day, which would make him
cocky and aggressive. Should she go down this road? It was possible that the
name of Haley’s pimp was written somewhere in the apartment, but not likely.
She doubted that Haley would admit to prostitution.

“I just found out my sister is dead and
you want me to fuck you?”

“I like that. You fuck me. That’s rich,
girl.”

She smirked back at him. “I ain’t nothin’
if not real.”

Titus tilted his head with a grin. “A
man’s gotta take it where he can gets it. We each want something here.”

“What you got on you?”

“On me? Gun? Drugs? Dick? Can you be more
specific?”

“Weed, Titus. What say you and me relax a
little?”

“That’s good. I don’t do anything
stronger than weed. See these teeth?”

“Braces?”

“Damn, right… My clean eyeballs… My
liver, although you can’t see that… I’m not messing with this pretty package.
I’d be happy to smoke what Haley liked if you get me a beer out the fridge.”

“She’s got Coors Light.”

“Now, we’re talking. I gots some powerful
weed that’ll knock you on your ass.”

“Good, I’m going to need it.”

She walked on stiff legs to the
refrigerator and pulled out two Coors Lights. Not even one day in New Orleans
and she was already in over her head. Cozy stared him down as her feet slid
forward, the bottlenecks numbing her fingers. Handing him the beer might as
well be signing a contract. She braced herself to do the unimaginable. But,
Haley deserved to be avenged.

“She was one of Molly’s girls,” Titus
said as she took the beer.

Cozy grabbed a pen and wrote it down real
quick. “Molly. Where can I find her?”

He laughed while drinking. “Oh, she’s
around the Quarter.”

“I’m surprised you told me before we do
it. What if I back out?”

He put the empty beer down and exposed
his gums in a wide, gummy smile. “Oh, ain’t
no
backing
out now.”

#

Cozy had talked Titus into having a
second beer, but that empty bottle now sat next to the first one on the cheap
coffee table next to his gun. His hands made a show of grabbing at his belt
buckle, which flopped to his hips once undone. “Get yourself undressed, girl.”

“I don’t feel that good. That
pizza…”

“Power through it.” Titus stood and let
his jeans drop. His shirt came off, revealing ribs and stringy muscle under
several dark tats.

She shifted her weight while undoing her shorts.
Her skin felt dirty just standing that close to him. Her stomach flopped and she
fell onto the sofa with her arms around her torso. “Seriously. I think I’m
going to be sick.”

“Fuck you are.” Titus
back-handed
her and she almost flipped over the arm of the couch. “The time is now, bitch.”

Cozy appeared frightened on the outside,
but Titus would never know the rage she felt on the inside. She shook the pain
away to formulate a plan. She pushed down her shorts as Titus allowed his
underwear to fall, his large dick wagging like an elephant’s trunk. She felt
the blood run down her chin as Titus came near.

 

Chapter 12

Cozy stirred to the smell of stale beer
and weed. Her nose sucked in air through a sour-smelling pillow while one arm
hung off the side of the bed. Her other hand scratched at the panties riding up
her ass, a reminder of the night before.

The advancing drug dealer invaded her
memory and she pushed it away like an evil daydream.
Shit
. She lifted her head with a moan, releasing a pulse of blood
to her brain that almost rendered her unconscious. However, she had to piss.

Blood tinted the majority of her body,
with streaks staining the sheets. She wiped away drool residue and looked at
the nightstand where she left the note. The paper next to the alarm clock gave
the promise of a trail to follow. She reached out, unlocking stiff joints and
stretching tight muscles. She read the note softly while rubbing her eyes.
“Molly.”

Titus hadn’t clarified, saying that she’d
have to ask around on Bourbon Street and that way he wouldn’t get any heat.
Little did he expect that retribution from the higher-ups would never
transpire.
Haley’s alligator pendant sat near the lamp. She
kissed it and then secured it around her neck.

Her eyes snapped to the bathroom door as
last night’s events clicked, making her stomach knot again. She balanced her
weight onto each foot and stepped onto the chilly tiled floor, but only glanced
at the tub. Just a few hours ago she had stood nearly paralyzed on that cold
floor as Titus’ blood dripped to her toes. That same blood now dried to her
skin.

She
looked at the horror again. Titus sprawled in the crimson-stained tub with the
knife planted deep, sticking out of his chest like a vampire stake. Her body
went numb and her eyes rolled back, but she fought away the lightheaded feeling
of faintness.

The sight immediately brought back that
afternoon with her father, when she had basked in the relief his death had
brought. She remembered fragments of sitting on the bed next to her father with
her legs crossed, watching his blood glimmer as it stopped pulsing out onto the
mattress, his surprised expression frozen in death. She could still see Haley
cowering in a ball after having scurried from her bed where the beating had
started. Her balance faltered and her knees gave out. She fell next to the toilet
in a fit of hyperventilation, calming herself with the thought of preventing
her own rape.

Oh,
Titus… Titus… Titus
.

She closed her eyes to force out the
tears.
Get the crying over with
, she
thought with an almost detached clarity. She turned onto her butt in order to
ease her pounding headache. Clear thinking would be critical now.
Clear thinking. Breathe. Think. Breathe
.
There was a dead drug dealer in the tub.

“Gut you like an alligator. I warned you,
didn’t I?”
Alligator – drug dealing
pimp, not so different. If either one gets a hold of you, you’re fucked
.

Saliva buckshot from
her mouth in a full sob.
She put her head between her knees for ten minutes. At least she had enough of
her senses to push his legs, and his blood-soaked pants gathered at the ankles,
the rest of the way into the tub. She imagined mounting Titus’ head above the
apartment door.

She used the toilet to pull herself upright
and opened the medicine cabinet for more ibuprofen, downing three capsules with
a cupped hand of water. She had taken a human life… Again. But, he was a bad
man, a rapist. Titus contributed to Haley’s demise and got what he deserved. A
towel saturated from the faucet did a fine job of cleaning the blood off her
skin. But that was just the start.

A drug dealer like Titus would need to
carry cash. Cozy pulled at the right pocket of his jeans as his body lay
contorted in the tub. His shocked face seemed to be made of wax. She slid her
fingers deep within the tacky wetness when a loud ring tone from his pants sent
her reeling backwards. Some rap song echoed in the tub until cutting off a few
seconds later.

“Jesus Christ.” She held her heart as she
approached the tub again. Her face grimaced as her hand quickly slid into the
pocket and pulled out his phone. It needed a code for entry. She smashed it on
the sink, and then pulled out the battery and memory card for good measure. Closing
her eyes, she entered the other pocket and discovered a huge wad of twenties,
mostly unaffected by the hemorrhaging.

She left the bathroom to find a pen and
paper and scribbled a list.

Bleach,
plastic wrap, scouring pads, gloves, duck tape
.

BOOK: Where The Devil Won't Go: A Lucas Peyroux Novel
6.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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