Careful little eyes an a.., p.9
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       Careful little eyes: An addictive, horrifying serial killer thriller (7th Street Crew Book 4), p.9

           Willow Rose
 
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  “No? What old story?”

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  July 2016

  “The Axeman of New Orleans was a serial killer who was active in and around the town from nineteen eighteen till nineteen, so almost a hundred years ago. The victims were usually attacked with an axe, hence the name, or a straight razor. Nothing was ever removed from the victim’s homes, so they knew it wasn’t a robbery. For some time, they believed the killings were racial, since many of the victims were American-Italian. Some even believed it was mafia related.”

  “But it wasn’t?” I ask.

  “They don’t know. The crime spree stopped as mysteriously as it began. They never caught the guy. Some experts have talked about it being sexual, since in some of the cases it was only the woman who was killed and the male only when trying to prevent the killer from killing the female. This is the second time he has struck in New Orleans this time around. In both cases, the males survived. Last time was sometime in April, according to the media. The guy there lost an ear, but otherwise was left unharmed. The woman was killed in her sleep in the same way the Axeman did a hundred years ago. Head split open.”

  “So, we have a copycat killer,” I say.

  “Must be,” Chloe says. “But the locals don’t seem to believe that. I just read in one of the local newspapers that some people believe it is the same guy. Back then it was believed in some circles that he was a ghost or an evil spirit, that he couldn’t be caught or killed, and now they believe he is back.”

  I scoff. “That’s ridiculous.”

  “Sure, but it’s bound to create some panic around town. I heard that people are checking out of your hotel and leaving town. You and Joey might end up being the only ones there.”

  “Well, I have thought about moving somewhere else, but mostly because I don’t like the thought of someone being killed right down the hallway. What if the killer is still here?”

  “Can’t blame you,” Chloe says. “Well, Mom’s awake. I have to feed her. Talk to you later, hero.”

  I laugh at her last remark and hang up, then grab my laptop and open it. I go to my blog and read the thousands of comments from my followers. They are so sweet and I tear up a little. I have the best fans in the world. Of course, there are also a few vicious ones, you know, haters are gonna hate, but I ignore them. Well, almost all of them. I read one that asks how on earth I could go into a strange hotel room in the middle of the night. How did I know I hadn’t killed them myself?

  I decide I don’t need to read anymore, then go to my Facebook profile that is linked to my blog and read the thousands of comments and messages. Basically, I have been called a hero for saving this guy’s life in the middle of the night. They all say that if I hadn’t been there, he would have bled to death.

  It makes me feel a little better about myself. But only a little. I am still angry with myself for treating Joey like trash.

  You should make it up to him somehow.

  I grab my phone and call him. He doesn’t pick up. Of course he doesn’t. He is still mad at me. I need to give him time. I sigh and put the phone away just as an email arrives and the notification pops up on my display. The subject makes me open it immediately. It says:

  LETTER FROM THE AXEMAN

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  July 2005

  One night, John doesn’t come home at all. As usual, Robyn cooks for herself and Suzy and they eat together in their big dining room. Suzy tells stories from her day at school and from the place she lives.

  “Last night I didn’t fall asleep till one o’clock,” she says with a grin. “Because the couple was fighting next door. Then the guy got really mad and threw a TV out through the window and then he started to hit his girlfriend; you know how some boyfriends get. Probably just drank too much.”

  Robyn had heard the commotion coming from across the street the night before and looked out to see the police car arrive. It wasn’t unusual. But she didn’t like that Suzy had to live in that place where stuff like that took place. It was no place for a little girl.

  “So, does your mother have a boyfriend?” she asks, clearing her throat.

  “Not right now,” Suzy says. “We left Dave at the last place we lived. He was with us for five months, but then my mom had enough of him.” Suzy scoffs and continues to eat.

  “Did he beat her too?” Robyn asks, wondering if she is overstepping any of the boundaries that John had warned her about. “Yeah. All of her boyfriends do. Not like Brady, though. He was not the one before Dave, but the one before him. He was a real asshole.” Suzy realizes she cursed and clasps her mouth. “Pardon my French.”

  Robyn smiles and decides to ignore it. Considering where the girl comes from, she doesn’t curse much, which is nice.

  “Did any of them ever beat you?” Robyn asks.

  Suzy nods her head. “Brady did. Sometimes, but not much. It’s okay.”

  Robyn drops her fork on her plate. Suzy looks up, startled. “It’s not okay, Suzy,” she says, clenching her fist in the tablecloth. “It’s never okay for anyone to beat you. Do you hear me? If it ever happens again, you come to me, you promise?”

  Suzy bites her lip, then nods her head. “Sure.”

  Robyn takes in a deep breath. The stories the girl has told her over the past months make her want to shake the mother, want to scream to her face that her girl is being highly neglected, that she needs to take better care of her, but she knows it won’t help anything. Not with people like that. The more she knows about Suzy, the more she realizes that her mother obviously doesn’t care much about her. Robyn often wonders where she goes at night when leaving the girl home alone. Suzy has told her she comes home just before midnight, and often Suzy doesn’t go to bed till then, and that makes her so tired in the morning she often doesn’t make it to school.

  She’s probably out drinking. Or doing drugs. Useless piece of…

  Robyn sighs and looks at Suzy. “Remember. It’s never okay to hit a defenseless child. Never.”

  “Okay.”

  Suzy continues to eat, shoveling down the veal like she is afraid Robyn might change her mind and take it away from her. Robyn can’t stop looking at her. She is so pretty and has such a good heart. It’s just so unfortunate that she’ll grow up to be just like her mother.

  She kind of looks a little like she could be my daughter, doesn’t she?

  Robyn likes the thought.

  Suzy helps her clean up and they sing together and tell stories all night long, and Robyn doesn’t even realize it’s past ten o’clock and John hasn’t come home yet. She walks Suzy back to her place, and makes sure she is inside and safe before she walks back and looks at her watch.

  That’s odd. John is never this late. Maybe something has come up. Yes, that’s probably it. Something has come up at the office. Probably important.

  But when the bed is still empty the next morning, Robyn realizes something is really wrong. She tries to call him, but he doesn’t pick up. As she grabs her purse to go see if he is still in the office, a moving truck rolls up in front of her house. A man comes to her door and shows her a piece of paper.

  “We were told to get these things.”

  Robyn looks at the list. “But…but those are all John’s clothes and things. I don’t understand…is he moving out?”

  He packs the list away and three other guys come up behind him. “We’re just here to do the job we were paid for, ma’am. Now, if you’ll excuse us.”

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  July 2016

  Her lips are soft against his. Her moaning close to his ear arouses him. Joey kisses her gently, then bites her lip, while moaning.

  He’s with the bartender. After five—or was it six—of her Belgian beers, the flirting turned serious, and he realized she was hitting on him. She slipped him a small note telling him to meet her in the men’s room. At first, he thought she had to be joking, but then decided he couldn’t just ignore it. Besides, he was drunk by now and liked th
e girl.

  You have nothing to lose. It’s not like Mary wants you. Go be with some girl, she said. She practically asked you to do it.

  Joey was surprised to actually find the woman in the men’s room, in one of the stalls, and soon after she was all over him. This is an expensive hotel and not the kind of place where the bartender usually ends up screwing the customers.

  “Pull down your pants,” she whispers.

  He does as she tells him, praising the fact that this is a nice hotel and the stalls are closed rooms with thick doors you can lock. The bartender takes him in her mouth. Joey moans in pleasure. It has been a long time since a woman wanted to do that. Mary never did…Jackie either.

  “Oh my…”

  He looks down at the woman. She looks up and their eyes lock. He moans as she continues, then pulls away. “Pretend I am her,” she says and rubs him.

  “Excuse me?”

  “Pretend I am that woman you were moping about earlier, in the bar. Pretend I am her.”

  Joey feels a little uncomfortable all of a sudden. He had told her the story in the bar. Not the parts about Salter, but just about how he had cheated—because he was lonely—and then later how she never trusted him again and thought he had been with Jackie while they were back together, which he never was. And now how she seems to hate him.

  The bartender rubs him hard and he finds it hard to control himself.

  “W-w-why?”

  “Isn’t that what you want? Her?” she whispers.

  “N-no. Or I mean…I don’t know.”

  Talking about Mary suddenly makes him feel bad. Now he can’t stop thinking about her. Joey closes his eyes and tries to remove her from his inner eyes. He thinks about the woman with him and seeing her naked and her touching him…and then then…what is Mary doing? Is she sad? Probably upset because I left, right? I should go to her. I really should…stop! She is the one who yelled, she’s the one who told you to go find some woman…you don’t owe her anything…what if she is crying? She is going through a hard time. I am not making it easier on her…stop!

  “Stop!”

  The bartender stops and pulls away. “What?”

  “Stop it,” Joey says and pushes her away. “I am so, so sorry. I can’t do this. I really can’t.”

  The bartender starts to laugh. Joey realizes he doesn’t even remember her name. She told him in the bar, but he can’t—for the life of him—recall what it was.

  This is not me. This is not who I am!

  “I’m sorry,” he says.

  She gets up, leans over, and kisses his lips. “Don’t be,” she whispers. “I get it. You love your wife. You should go to her. Go.”

  “Are you sure you’re all right?” he asks. “I don’t do this type of stuff usually. I’m so sorry. I really messed it all up. This is not who I normally am.”

  She nods, then winks. “I’m fine. I’ll find some other idiot customer to fool around with. Now go!”

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  July 2016

  “Mary!”

  I turn to face Joey as he storms into the hotel room. He takes one look at my face and realizes I am freaking out.

  “What’s going on?” he asks.

  “Where have you been?” I say, sounding angrier than I want to. I bite my lip, annoyed with myself because I had planned to be nicer to him if—when—he came back. But the past minutes have been quite terrifying for me, and I can’t control it. Joey can see it on my face and approaches me.

  “Mary? Is it something with Salter? Has something happened?”

  I shake my head. “No. No. It has nothing to do with Salter.”

  “Then what is it? What’s going on?” he asks.

  I point at the computer screen. “This. I received this a few minutes ago, and now I don’t know what to do.”

  “What is it?”

  “Read it. Maybe you’ll know what to do,” I say.

  Joey sits down at the desk and looks at the screen. “Start with the place and date,” I say and point.

  “Hell. July eighteenth two thousand and sixteen?” he reads out loud, then looks up at me.

  I nod, biting my fingernail. “Uh-huh, go on.”

  “Esteemed Mortal?”

  “That’s what he calls me, yes, go on.”

  “They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am who you so foolishly call The Axeman.” Joey stops. He looks up at me again.

  “I know, right?” I say. “This is the guy who killed that couple down the hallway last night. Continue.”

  Joey turns and reads on: “I have come back to kill. Your town has once again awakened my wrath. I have already taken with me two. When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know who they shall be. I shall leave no clue except the blood from my victims and their brains that have besmeared my axe. I will take their souls with me below to keep me company. You might think of me as a mere murderer, a horrible killer, which I am, but I am not ordinary. I am not of this world. I could do much worse if I wanted to. I could pay a visit to your town every night. At will, I could slay thousands of your best citizens.”

  Joey stops again and our eyes meet. “What the heck is this?”

  “Read on,” I urge him.

  “But it’s ridiculous,” he says.

  “The next paragraph is what we need to focus on,” I say. “That’s when it gets real nasty.”

  “Okay,” Joey says and turns to look at the screen again. He starts to read: “Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) tonight, I will pass over New Orleans again. I will take with me a victim. Maybe more than one. It is all up to you. As I did the last time I was here, almost a hundred years ago in earthly time, I will spare every person in whose home jazz music flows at the time I will pass through town. Anyone who doesn’t, will get the axe. Now, I am hoping that you will publish this; I have been and will always be the worst spirit that ever existed.”

  “And then it is signed The Axeman,” I say.

  Joey stares at me. I take in a deep breath.

  “This is insane. What should we do?”

  I shrug. “I don’t know. He obviously wants us to publish it, or me, on the blog, but should I? Won’t it just create panic? I don’t like doing what he tells me to.”

  “On the other hand, people need to know so they can play the music,” Joey says. “What kind of a weird demand is that anyway?”

  I shrug again. “I don’t know.” I grab my phone. “I’m calling the police.”

  Chapter Thirty-Seven

  July 2016

  “Ignore it.”

  The words come from some communications assistant at the New Orleans Police Department. I have been transferred so many times I haven’t been able to keep track of it, but they keep sending me to the communications department, because I am a member of the media. Now I have tried to explain to this guy what the letter contains, but he doesn’t seem to fully understand. I have discussed it with him for at least ten minutes, and he even asked his superior about it, on my request, but still they keep telling me the same thing.

  “Excuse me?” I ask. “How can you tell me to ignore a letter from a murderer stating he will kill tonight at a quarter past midnight?”

  “That is our policy on this matter. Our director says the most important part is that you don’t publish the letter. Don’t give the killer what he wants. It will do no one any good if you do.”

  “But…but…he specifically tells us when he will strike, and people should know,” I say.

  “Yes, you told me that, but he doesn’t say where or mention names or clues of any victims, and therefore it won’t help if people know. It will only create panic. Besides, we have no way of knowing if the letter is even from him or some other person trying to prank the media. But I will have you send the email to our department and I will make sure a detective on the
axe murderer case takes a look at it, okay? We do take it seriously; it’s just that over the years we have received many letters from people claiming to be the famous axe murderer. It is never really him. Most people just copy the old original letter from the Internet and send it to us.”

  “But…but…he says if they play jazz music, they will be spared,” I say.

  “And so he did in nineteen eighteen as well, and so many have written the same since. We can’t have people playing jazz music in their houses every day year round, now can we?”

  “I…I guess not. But I really believe this is a serious letter. I mean with the killing last night and everything.”

  “That has driven out hundreds of lunatics claiming to be the demonic Axeman, he says. “I myself have dealt with forty-six calls from people claiming to be him alone today, so it is safe to say the city is going crazy over this and, if you don’t mind, I am quite busy taking care of it. So, please just send me the email and I will have someone take a look at it, along with all the other letters. And, whatever you do, please, just please don’t publish it. Good day, ma’am.”

  The man hangs up and I look at Joey, completely dumbfounded.

  “What the heck happened?” he asks.

  “They say they get so many letters like this all the time and people calling in claiming to be the axe murderer. They think it is a hoax.”

  Joey scoffs. “How can they say that?”

  “Apparently, there is a real letter, from a hundred years ago, that The Axeman wrote and this guy said people just copy that and send it to the police station or the media from time to time as a prank or something like that.”

  “But…how can they not take this seriously?” Joey asks. He can tell I am sad and grabs me in a hug. I notice he smells differently.

 
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