He who spares the wicked injures the good.
Seneca – ancient Roman philosopher
JUNE 13, 2011
Seneca stared out of the window of the train, calculating how fast the train was moving. It was an easy calculation to make since the telephone poles were exactly 88 feet apart. This mental activity palled after the ten seconds it took to work this out. Her dad came to mind after this; he was always good at mental math, even if he was a terrible person. This thought led her to Ned Chalmers, the man she had killed three days ago. He had been a terrible person as well.
She went through the anatomy of the kill. She had set him up, of course, because that is what she did. When Ned Chalmers followed her into an alley, she turned on him and Tased him. While he was incapacitated, Seneca bent down and whispered in his ear – something about cruelty and justice - before plunging a knife into his heart. She smiled at that memory; she always liked to see their eyes when they died. The realization that they had become a victim instead of victimizing gave Seneca an initial rush of pleasure followed by several days of inner peace.
Then the changing of the clothes. Seneca stripped down completely and washed her body with a gallon jug of water that had been conveniently placed in the alley earlier that day. She put on clean clothes and drove to a nearby lake, dropping the clothes in the water. A couple of hours later she was on a train headed to Arizona.
“Mind if I sit here? It’s just that the train is so crowded and, well, you look like the nicest one here.”
A woman stood in front of Seneca, smiling a rather nice smile and sitting down before Seneca had a chance to answer. Seneca frowned slightly but quickly erased it from her face. She had learned that regular people didn’t like it when she frowned or showed displeasure. Seneca smiled and the woman held out her hand. A greeting. Seneca shook her hand.
“The name’s Toni Chantry. Pleased to meet you,” Toni looked at Seneca expectantly. Seneca was puzzled. What did the damned woman want from her?
Her name! Of course, Seneca thought. One exchanged names.
“I’m Seneca. Like the philosopher.”
Toni smiled and settled herself in. Seneca didn’t like this.
“What do you do for a living, Seneca? Must be something good. Those clothes you’re wearing are expensive. I’d like to dress as well as you, but a cop’s salary isn’t conducive to fine attire,” Toni said.
Seneca didn’t show any surprise; she had trained herself to think like a law-abiding citizen, so she had a response for every situation.
“You look lovely, Toni. You’re in law enforcement are you?” Too eager, Seneca thought. Mistake. Act normal, you stupid woman!
“Well, I was,” Toni averted her gaze and looked out of the train window. It was dark now, so there was nothing to see except her own reflection.
“Oh?” Seneca knew that if she said little, then the other person would fill in the silence by talking. This always amused Seneca, but it also made her sad. People needed noise.
“Yeah. My problem was that I was a little too…how did they say it…aggressive in my duties. I mean, I broke a few noses and shot a couple of runners in the legs, but does that I mean I’m a bad cop?”
“No,” Seneca answered immediately, not realizing it was a rhetorical question. She was puzzled when Toni laughed out loud at her answer.
The trip to Tucson, Toni’s destination, seemed interminable to Seneca. The damned woman just kept on chattering away about stuff. Seneca tried to look interested, and she was glad that Toni didn’t require her to respond much.
Seneca waved at Toni when she got off the train. Her body relaxed when the train pulled away from the station, and she closed her eyes. Maybe she could get some sleep now. Thinking about her latest kill put her into a deep and peaceful slumber. Seneca wouldn’t wake up until the train reached El Paso.
DECEMBER 30, 2011
Seneca turned around slowly to see a woman running after her. She frowned. Why in the world…
“It’s me! Toni! From the train,” Toni took Seneca’s hand and smiled brightly. Yes, she had a terrific smile, Seneca thought. And she remembered her; a person in her position always remembered cops.
“I’m a trust fund baby,” Seneca blurted out.
Seneca looked at Toni with a seriousness that seemed out of place.
“You had asked me what I did for a living. I do nothing. My grandfather left me a trust fund, so I just travel.”
“I see. You know, I had completely forgotten about that. You have a good memory, Seneca. Say, do your friends call you Sen? I bet you have lots of friends, pretty girl like you, dressed real nice. Me, I don’t have many. And forget about any romantic relationship. You know that old thing about cops not having sustainable relationships with their wives or husbands? Well, it’s true. We get wrapped up with our work and all we see are terrible people, and, well, it preys on you, you know. And then there’s the drinking…”
Seneca wondered of Toni would ever shut up. She was treating Seneca like a…what’s the term…bosom buddy. Seneca didn’t understand normal people at the best of times, and Toni was a particular example of someone that completely mystified her.
“Can you believe it? Right there in San Francisco, where we were. They say it was a serial killing,” Toni finished.
“What?” Seneca focused on those last sentences.
“Yes. A serial killer. And then they found a man in El Paso strangled to death in his bed. He’d been drugged first. And,” Toni whispered conspiratorially, “he had had sex with a woman right before.”
“People get killed all the time. That doesn’t make them serial killings.” Seneca inspected the marquee. Her movie would start in fifteen minutes. An old Agatha Christie whodunit.
“Well, investigations into the victims turned up something interesting. All these men being killed? Convicted rapists, recently out of prison. They found eleven so far, and no idea who’s doing all this. Probabilities say a man, white, thirty to forty-five, physically fit, decent education.”
Seneca looked at Toni intently.
“Really? They think all that?”
“Most serial killers fit that profile. Makes you shudder, though, right? I mean, look around us. Lots of men here fit that profile. We could be in the presence of a serial killer and not even know it,” Toni said, but with a small degree of relish.
“I’m gonna see ‘Sad Cypress.’” Seneca said. She thought that it was the right thing to say.
“Oh? How nice. I…uh…just spotted you on the sidewalk. I didn’t come to see…”
“Wanna see it with me?” Seneca peered at Toni through her manufactured blue eyes. She actually had hazel eyes, but she wanted blue eyes, so she wore contact lenses for effect. That is, when she wasn’t on the job.
“Uh…sure,” Toni said.
“You’re a lesbian,” Seneca stated. Again, it seemed like the right thing to do. Make conversation with a person who she had to keep tabs on. Put them at ease.
Toni stopped and stared at Seneca. She cocked her head to one side, considering what to say. Seneca was forthright and a little awkward in her conversational style, but Toni liked her. And how she knew about her sexual proclivities was odd.
“Well, yes actually. But how did…”
“Dunno. Just do. Are you a cop again?”
Toni shook her head slightly at the change in subject.
“No. I’m a private detective now. That’s why I try to hide my, uh, desires. People want a tough woman to do what I do. The perception is that lesbianism doesn’t seem to fit the bill. They’re all wrong, of course. Being gay means being tough. We fight homophobia every day, and we have to…”
“I’m a lesbian too.”
Toni, stunned, started to laugh. She had no idea what was going on in Seneca’s head, but it was strangely attractive.
“Well then. Let’s go watch a murder mystery, my dear,” Toni took Seneca’s hand and they walked into the theatre. Seneca took her hand away after a few seconds. Toni understood.
MAY 27, 2012
Seneca watched Toni as she came out of the rental car agency and climbed into a car that seemed far too small for her stature. Following behind at a discreet distance (the rules: keep four vehicles between you and the person you’re following, change lanes occasionally, park two blocks past their stopping point), Seneca successfully (the rules always work) tailed Toni to a strip mall just outside the Garden District of New Orleans. She got out of her own car and followed Toni inside.
Toni was just browsing, or so it appeared. Her path through the mall seemed random. She would go to a boutique and then she had lunch. After that, she bought a coffee at Starbucks and proceeded to enter a Dillard’s. Seneca followed her into Dillard’s and started trying on dresses.
Seneca managed to bump into Toni in the bra section. Toni was appropriately amazed to find Seneca there, and Seneca also showed amazement. She had practiced this in front of her mirror for hours.
“Oh! My! God! Seneca! Well, this is…”
“I was trying on dresses. I don’t really like dresses, though. I’m here to get a rescue dog.”
Toni laughed at Seneca’s statements. For anyone else, it would be odd.
“And I’m here to catch another wayward husband in the arms of a professional sex worker,” Toni laughed.
“A hooker,” Seneca said.
“Yes, a hooker. I know, Sen. It’s a dirty business, but I make good money doing this. Would you believe, I get paid thousands of dollars for this, and I don’t get shot at, don’t have to listen to my superiors yell at me for something I did wrong, and I can turn down a case if I want to. I get to travel and eat for free on rich women’s dimes, and…well, I think I’m doing some good here. Women should be able to expect faithfulness from their husbands. The husbands certainly expect it from their wives,” Toni’s voice was tinged with bitterness at this last statement.
“Wanna get some lunch?” Seneca smiled at Toni. She hoped that Toni would just say ‘yes’ without following it up with more words.
“Sure, Sen. What do you have in mind? There’s this little Italian bistro…”
“Uh…okay…gumbo,” Toni looked around the strip mall and spotted a somewhat seedy-looking seafood place. With misgivings, they both entered and sat down. Seneca had gumbo; she figured she had better order it because she had stated that she wanted gumbo. Easy.
Toni ordered red beans and rice because it seemed like the safest thing to eat here. Both women found their food surprisingly good, and they shared a helping of bread pudding. Toni suggested they meet for dinner that night. Her treat. Rather, her employer’s treat.
Seneca spent the rest of the day killing John Mabry. Well, not the entire day. John succumbed to the combined effects of fentanyl and lack of oxygen due to the cord Seneca had wrapped around his neck. She changed her clothes and dumped the old attire in a nearby bayou. It always worked.
She would have to kill again, though. Tonight. Toni had to die.
Seneca enjoyed the meal, despite having to kill the person paying for that meal later tonight. She wondered if Toni wanted to have sex with her. She hoped so. It was always easier to kill someone after sex.
Toni took her back to her hotel room (very nice, Seneca thought. She liked the view and the warm, sultry breeze coming off of the Mississippi River.), pouring a couple of glasses of white Zinfandel for them. Seneca watched Toni closely. Toni had spiked her drink. Toni knew.
Seneca poured out her wine when Toni went to the restroom and refilled her glass. She drank it and asked for another glass of the white liquid. Toni smiled and poured out a small amount. She’s anxious to do this, Seneca thought. Well. Fine.
“Let’s have lesbian sex,” Seneca stated, peering at Toni. Maybe I should smile a little. There. But not too much. She’ll think I’m too eager. Maybe I am.
“Lesbian sex? Sen. Darling Sen. Let’s just have sex,” Toni smiled wanly. She liked this woman but this woman had to be put down. She knew too much. And the Rohypnol should knock her out soon.
Thirty minutes later, both women lay panting on the bed. Their hair was appropriately fucked up and sweat glistened off of their bodies. As if on cue, both women turned to face each other. Both had knives at each other’s throat.
To say that the tension had just ratcheted up would be something of an understatement. Both women vibrated with adrenaline, their jaws taut with the thrill and terror of facing their own mortality.
“You have to die, Sen. You know too much,” Toni said softly. Her hand shook and a trickle of blood came from Seneca’s throat. Seneca’s hand was steady, but she pressed the knife more firmly against Toni’s throat. Toni felt the blade against her skin, knowing that any more pressure there would result in bad things for her.
“You have to die, Toni. You know what I do now.” Toni sighed and put her knife down. Seneca did the same. Toni had counted on this. She smashed her forehead into Seneca’s nose. Blood spurted from Seneca’s nose and she let out a terrific, pain-filled yowl.
“It isn’t broken, Sen. I don’t want to hurt you but…”
“You know I kill people. That’s a secret,” Seneca said, dabbing her bloody nose and glaring balefully at Toni.
Toni looked at her, shocked. Even Seneca couldn’t miss the expression on her face, and this caused her some confusion. None of this made sense, and she was a woman who could make sense of almost anything.
“I don’t know anything of the sort, Sen. Don’t try to fool me. I know that you know about me. Let’s not pretend,” Toni was dressing as she spoke. Seneca thought that this was a good idea so she did the same. Toni had had the good sense to put the knives under the bed. Hard to get to if you still wanted to murder the person you had just slept with.
“I don’t…I don’t understand. It’s no big deal if you’re a lesbian. I don’t think you should want to kill me because of that.”
Toni stared at Seneca and laughed lightly.
“Not playing. We had lesbian sex…”
Toni snorted in irritation.
“Stop saying ‘lesbian sex’! Just…just say sex. Or making love,” Toni added the last part because it sounded better, even if ‘making love’ was a ridiculous term.
“We had sex and you were going to kill me. Because you knew I killed people. Right?”
“No,” Toni stated flatly.
“Then why did you want to kill me?”
Toni looked at Seneca thoughtfully. This was not going the way she thought it would go. She had never had an argument with the men she killed.
“Because…because you knew I was the one that killed the rapists.”
Seneca looked at Toni and laughed.
“Oh! That. Yeah, I knew.”
“Then…” Toni threw her hands up in frustration and confusion.
“Why should I care about that?”
Both women sat on their respective edges of the bed, keeping an eye on each other. It all made sense to both of them now, but that didn’t mean that trust had to follow.
“I kill people who abuse pets. Most are men,” Seneca said. It sounded like the thing to say.
“I see. Good for you. And, yes, men are pigs.”
“I had heterosexual sex with three of the men. To make them vulnerable. Men are always easy to kill after heterosexual…”
“Sex. Just say sex.”
“But it’s different. Don’t you see…”
Toni stood up and put her hands on her hips, eyes bright.
“What are we going to do about this? Forget the heterosexual sex and the lesbian sex, Sen. Focus on this problem.”
“I don’t see a problem. You go your way and I’ll go mine. We know each other’s secret so we are both safe.”
Toni nodded. That sounded good.
“Will we see each other again?” Toni spoke.
“For lesbian sex?” Seneca asked.
Toni couldn’t help but laugh. Seneca may be a killer, but she was beautifully transparent.
“Yes, Sen. For lesbian sex.”
Seneca stood up and walked to the door. She stepped out into the hallway before turning to Toni.
Toni nodded. Probably for the best. Avoiding each other in the future seemed the best way to have a future.
“Fine. Good-bye, Sen. Stay cool.”
Seneca looked back at Toni from down the hallway.
“It’s May in New Orleans…”
Toni slammed the door, bolting it behind her.