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Est. Completion: 
Winter 2011


 Shutterbug                                                          Chapter One (Excerpt)

“In there,” Miller leans in close, and nods toward the living room. He stinks like a bag of dirty laundry.

 “It’s a fucking mess,” he says. “Get this. The spic shoots his wife, sticks a .38 right up in her snatch, right? And then - this is the fucked up part - then he shoots off his own dick before he sprays his brains all over the wall. Ain’t never seen nothin’ like it in the twenty I been on. I’ll tell ya, say what you want about tweakers, but fuck if they don’t keep this job exciting.” Miller’s smile fades as he pats at the pockets of his dirty trench. “Ah, Shit, I left mine in my car. You got a…?”

Before he can finish, I have a Marlboro in my hand and he smirks as he snatches it. I pretend not to notice the bulge of the cigarette pack in his shirt pocket.

“Mikelson’s on his way,” he says. “This time o’ night, he’s in the cups. You better get snappin’.”

I wade through the sea of blues gathered around the door with my Nikon raised above my head. One of the uniforms – a fat old-timer named Connelly – nods at me as I pass into the living room. “Hey Ritchie, who do you like Monday? Pats or Steelers?” he asks.

I tell him New England because I know it’s what he wants to hear, but I don’t care about the game one way or the other.

I probably won’t live to see it.

You’ll hear more about that later.

Connelly smiles and pats me on the back as I step into the brightly lit living room. Miller was right. It’s a fucking mess.

The faintly metallic odor of blood mingles with the stink of sweat, emptied bladders, and voided bowels. It wasn’t so long ago that when I walked into a job, I’d be greeted by the aroma of  $400 dollar perfumes, custom hair products, and the shine of baby oil on young female flesh.

Oh, you’ll hear more about that, too.

The woman’s slumped on the couch, knees held together by a twisted, black rhinestone thong, her high-heel clad feet resting two feet apart, ankles twisted in opposite directions. She’s naked from the waist down, with a blood-soaked white t-shirt pulled up over her head, exposing a sloppy looking dragon tattoo running down her shoulder, its tail disappearing behind a sheer black bra that’s at least a cup size too small. Her stomach is blown outward, flaps of frayed skin folding into a hollowed out cavity, with all the bits that used to reside in there splashed up against the white leather sofa.

I think of the calamari I had for supper and my stomach does the rest. A sour rush of bile burns in the back of my throat, but that’s as far as it gets. I swallow hard and the nausea settles. In the eight years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only thrown up a half-dozen times. I wish I could say I was overwhelmed by the sight of blood or the gravity of the situation, but it was nearly always due to the fact that I was reminded of something I ate.

I shot a slimy, bloated floater once that looked like a batch of oysters on the half-shell I’d eaten earlier that day.

I hadn’t puked that hard since college.

Hubby lay next to her, his black t-shirt frosted with at least two grams of meth, pants bunched around his ankles, with a crusty, powder burned crater where his gear used to be. The lower half of his head is leaning toward the wife; the upper half is doing a Jackson Pollock up the wall. I snap away as I follow the trail up to the suspended ceiling where sharp bits of glistening bone pin hairy chunks of scalp tissue into the popcorn tiles.

The poses are like someone snipped the strings on a pair of marionettes – Punch and Judy Go to Hell.

Mikelson, the M.E., charges into the room all businesslike; the familiar scent of bourbon emanating from the old man is an almost welcome respite from the smell of blood and shit. He assesses the damage with the cool detachment of an insurance adjustor, scribbling notes in his pad.

“We done here?” he asks, his withered hatchet-face twisted into a scowl.

“Yeah, almost.”

 “Well which is it? Yeah or almost?”

 "Just need a few more,” I say.

 “Well do it, then,” he slurs. “I want these slabbed before rigor sets in.”

 “You got it,” I mumble, along with a stream of whispered profanity well out of the range of his grimy, wax-coated hearing aid.

I fire off a final flurry of shots and get out of Mikelson’s way, stepping out of the stifling apartment and into the damp November night. Miller is leaning against a squad chatting up a cackling blue. He bums a smoke off of the other cop as Paddy Jacobson’s gray Crown Victoria rolls up alongside us. Jacobson rolls down the window and Miller leans in.

 “You missed a helluva show in there, Paddy,” Miller says. “HELL of a show! A fucking bloodbath!”

“You’re a morbid little freak, ain’t ya Miller,” Jacobson says.

Miller smiles and starts toward his car. “What can I say? I love my job!”

Jacobson scowls. “I hate that cocksucker,” he says. “How many smokes he bum off you tonight?”

“Just one,” I say.

 “Hope the fuck gets lung cancer,” Jacobson says. “Anyway, I’m off for the night. Wanna hit Tramp’s?”

“Ah, fuck, I dunno, Paddy. I’ve got shit to do,” I say.

“Shit to do? No, you got shit to do. Just get in, douchbag,” Jacobson says. “I wanna talk to ya’,” He slips his hand in his pocket and pulls out a thick roll of bills wrapped in a rubber band. “Besides, I’m buyin’.”

“What’d ya, hit the lottery?” I ask.

“Somethin’ like that,” he grins.

 “Oh fuck, Paddy, what’d you do?”

 “Let’s just say a dealer bought himself a stern warning tonight,” he says.

“You know what? You’re a shitty cop,” I say.

“Bah, you’re just jealous,” he says.

He’s right.

I am.

That money could keep me breathing for another week.

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