Christmas Chaos

by Pailin Jay

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Damn the New England Weather

Niko

I was lost in thought as my feet slipped on the black ice.

Trying to reach out to grab something, I soon realized the air was not going to save me as my ass hit the ground with a loud thump.

Son of a bitch! One of these damn days I can move to warmer climates and never see this shitty snow ever again. I said to no one in particular. Downtown Plymouth was deserted as it should be this time of year. Of course they’re all probably shopping in Boston and getting ready for another crappy Christmas season. Bah Frigging Humbug.

I slid a few times trying to get back up on my feet.

Just as I stopped the Iceman Shuffle, my cell phone rang. I pulled it out of my pocket and the damn thing slid out of my grip even with the lovely text-friendly gloves and landed on the ice. The screen had cracked, but still, I removed the glove and swiped the answer button only to feel the glass slide into my finger. God damn it! This is starting out to be a great season. I carefully placed the phone up to my ear so it didn’t cause even more damage. I’d be damned if I had to walk around with a Band-Aid on my ear. “Hello,” I grumbled into the phone wondering who had the audacity to interrupt me on my day off. “Is this Niko Cameron?” The voice boomed on the other end.

“Yes, how can I help you?” I stuck my bleeding thumb in my mouth and waited for a reply.

“This is Agent Petty with the FBI. We have an active crime scene, and they suggested you as the photographer. How soon can you get here?” he asked as if I was going to jump up and run there.

“Where are you?”

“Kingston Mass. We’re behind the Kingston House of Pizza on Main Street. Do you know where that is?”

I was shocked that they had called me for my local area. I knew they had another photographer in the vicinity and I had always hoped for jobs closer to home. I thought for a minute “I know where it is. I’m on Water Street right now in Downtown Plymouth, so I can be there in about 15 minutes.” Luckily for me, I carried my supplies needed for the job in my car – always prepared.

“See you in fifteen then, and drive safely. Some of the roads are crappy, but if you stick to Route 3A, you should be fine.” He abruptly hung up.

“Typical FBI fashion; they ask, we jump.” I mumbled, and carefully made my way back to my car, which, lucky for me wasn’t far. Rubbing my sore ass and still sucking a bleeding thumb, I cursed New England Weather.

I was almost there by the time ‘Betty’ decided to warm up. “Thank you, sweet Betty, for lasting another winter in the frozen Tundra.” I patted her dashboard. It was a classic 1989, third generation Honda Accord that belonged to my adopted parents when they were still alive, and I couldn’t bring myself to part with it. During the last couple of months I had repaired her with Duct Tape and Twist Ties. Gingerly stepping out of the car so I didn’t end up ass over teakettle again, I grabbed my equipment from the back seat and made my way to where all the activity was.

At the side of the building, a small crowd had gathered. I grabbed my FBI ID so the authorities wouldn’t confuse me with the press, and quickstepped through the crowd towards the scene.

“Mr. Cameron!” Someone yelled from a distance.

I struggled to look over the heads of all the EMS providers on scene and I was by no means a short man. A tall man dressed in black, which looked to be an Armani Suit, approached, and my FBI-Dar went off.

“So typical, all that’s missing is the sunglasses,” I mumbled.

“The victim is around back near the dumpster. Follow me.” He turned and walked away.

So much for small talk. Time to pay the rent. I hope it’s not a horrific scene.

I could deal with many things and often put on a brave face. But, it was after the job that it always hit me. Spent many a night leaning over the toilet losing stomach contents. Sometimes I had nightmares. It was probably a sign to get out of the business, but I wasn’t financially ready to start my own photography business. I would have to suck it up and hope that it wouldn’t cause irreversible damage. Besides, I liked to know I had a little part in helping victims get the justice they deserve.

I wasn’t prepared for what faced me.

A man about my age, mid-twenties, lay nude on the ground, his face stuffed into a trash bag. Blood everywhere. I could smell it, and taste it, and knew it would be that way for days. The police and FBI had already cordoned off the crime scene area. I set up my tripod and hand-held camera. I used the stationary camera to shoot all the area views to not miss a thing. I put plastic booties over my shoes and prayed they wouldn’t make me lose my tread and fall. On closer inspection, I could see the blood coming from the victim’s anal cavity and cringed. Damn! Please don’t tell me this is another hate crime. I tuned that thought out and asked the officers to move the body so I could take frontal as well as side views.

“Make sure you shoot every part of the body or else we’ll have all the fags far and wide, riding our asses about not doing our jobs.”

I swallowed rage.

Mr. Man in Black, or whatever the hell his name was, not only insulted the poor victim, but also me with his anti-gay remarks. I continued to snap the pictures, trying to ignore the comments he spewed to everyone who would listen. My heart went out to the victim, thinking about the torture he went through before dying. Afterwards, I nodded towards the officers waiting to cover the body, even though the medical examiner had not arrived.

I loaded the equipment carefully into Betty and took one last look around.  And that’s when I saw him.

A man sat on the curb cradling his head in his hands. His shoulders trembled uncontrollably. I noticed he wore scrubs but no coat. I grabbed an extra jacket from Betty’s trunk and approached him.

“You look like you could use this.” I held out my jacket and he looked up. The most gorgeous hazel eyes I had ever seen gazed up at me.

“Thank you.” His voice trembled with emotion.

 

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