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9 Days - A Detective Story

Updated: May 15

My wife has been encouraging me to write a complete story ever since she found out that I used to write for fun. However, every time she asks, it feels like work and drains the fun from it. But then, an idea came from a joke we shared. While listening to "Love and Hate" by Brian Blade (featuring an array of musical geniuses), my wife remarked that it sounded like the soundtrack to an old noir detective movie. We started imagining the plot of a detective story about a character named Morty, who was obsessed with catching a killer, and the consequences of his obsession. He lost his family because his wife took the kids and moved in with her sister, the chief took him off the case, and even the bartender who frequently served him whiskey warned, "Go home, Morty. I think you've had enough." We laughed at the clichés, but then she suggested, "You should write that, baby." This time, I agreed. It was cliché, but it felt like the beginning of something great.


Using our morning banter as inspiration, I came up with a few lines that might catch your interest. Welcome to 9 Days, a detective story.

 

Chapter 1: Scotch and Tips

9 Days, a detective story

The ceiling fan hummed as it spun, creating a gentle breeze, though it wasn't nearly enough to cool the oppressive heat. It was June 30, 1999, and New York City was enduring one of its hottest summers on record, with consecutive heat waves causing chaos and record-breaking temperatures. The dim ceiling light barely illuminated the room, highlighting the spread of documents, case files, and photographs scattered across the oak table. Shadows on the wall occasionally danced as cars passed by outside. It was a quiet night, but Detective Julius Kincade's mind was anything but.

He scrutinized the black-and-white photographs pinned to the wall. It had to be the butcher, he thought as he stood to get a closer look. He plucked a four-by-six photograph from the wall and examined it for what felt like the hundredth time. He'd lost count of how often he'd studied it, but he knew there was something he was missing, something he was determined to find. He tossed the photograph onto the pile of case files on the rickety old table and sat back down.

A cigarette burned slowly among the many butts crushed into a brown glass ashtray. His .22 caliber revolver rested in its holster near a half-empty glass of Whyte & Mackay Scotch whisky. Kincade noticed the empty bottle and finished what was left in his glass. He grabbed his cigarette pack and realized it was empty, cursing under his breath. He stood, tossed the empty pack onto the table, and grabbed his gun, wallet, and keys. "Time to re-up," he muttered to himself, heading out the door. The door slammed shut behind him, leaving the apartment quiet and the wall of evidence waiting for his return.

It was 12:38 AM, and Kincade knew that no liquor store would be open at this hour, so he headed to Emeralds, a bar owned by a retired detective named Samuel "Sam" Bishop. After his wife died of breast cancer, Sam bought the place to keep busy while his kids were in college. The bar was named after his late wife's eye color, emerald green.

When Kincade walked into Emeralds, a small bell jingled. The bar was a classic cop hangout, with pictures of detectives and police memorabilia adorning the walls. Sam greeted him with a smile as he dried a glass. "Kincade! Right on time," he said.

Kincade took a seat at the bar, looking around. It wasn't particularly crowded, but there were more people than usual, including a group of off-duty cops chatting loudly at a table in the back. "Am I? What am I right on time for?" he asked.

Sam poured a glass of Whyte & Mackay and leaned in, his voice low. "You're working that Full Moon Strangler case, right?" Kincade frowned at the mention of the name, but he nodded. "Yeah, why? You got something for me?" Sam shrugged. "I think I might."

"Well, spit it out, Sam," Kincade said, leaning in. Sam told his story about a guy who came into the bar, dressed too sharply for a place like Emeralds, and ordered a Caipirinha—a drink Sam didn't even know how to make. The man tried to hit on a young woman with brown hair and green eyes, but she rebuffed him. The man left a few minutes after the woman did.

Kincade's mind raced as he asked Sam if the man had any distinguishing marks. Sam mentioned a scar or a birthmark above his right eye. When Kincade confirmed that the woman was one of their victims, Sam was certain. "I could never forget a face like hers, Julius," he said.

Kincade swore under his breath. He needed a cigarette, but his pack was empty. He asked Sam for one, but Sam had quit smoking. Kincade grumbled and asked for another drink instead. As Sam refilled his glass, a familiar voice spoke softly in his ear. "I hope you like Newports." It was Emily Harper, a relentless journalist from the New York Post who had a knack for getting under Kincade's skin.

Kincade reluctantly accepted the cigarette from Emily, though he made it clear he didn't owe her anything. As he headed toward the door to smoke, Emily followed him. "What are you doing here, Ms. Harper?" he asked.

Emily replied with a laugh, "A cop bar after hours works better than a police scanner. Nothing more enlightening to my investigation than a drunk cop."

Kincade took a drag of the cigarette, then sighed deeply. Emily's persistence grated on him, but she was good at her job. She could extract information from anyone without them realizing it. "You know, you're going to get yourself hurt if you keep digging," he warned her.

Emily brushed off his warning. "I'm a big girl, detective. I can take care of myself," she said, lighting her own cigarette.

Kincade took a final drag before flicking the cigarette into the street. "Keep your distance, Ms. Harper. It's for your own good." He turned to re-enter the bar, leaving Emily outside. She knew better than to push him further tonight, but she wasn't done with her investigation.

Later that night, Emily walked her usual route home from Emeralds. She held her pepper spray tightly in her pocket, her senses on high alert. Despite her familiarity with the streets, she felt uneasy, as if someone was watching her. A cat screeched and a trash can toppled, startling her. She stopped and turned around, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. "Get it together, Em," she told herself, quickening her pace. 

Just as she approached a dark alley, a man grabbed her, injecting her with something. He covered her mouth to stifle her scream and dragged her into the shadows. In an instant, Emily Harper disappeared into the darkness, leaving the street eerily quiet.

When Emily awoke, she was in her apartment, wearing a satin nightgown typically reserved for special occasions. The window was open, letting in a cool breeze. She felt a sharp pain in her body, especially around her neck, confirming her worst fear: she had been kidnapped and likely attacked. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she struggled to call for help. She finally reached out to Detective Elena Ramirez, her closest friend and the only person she trusted in her time of need. 


---


Ramirez awoke to her digital clock's alarm at 4 AM. She groggily slapped the snooze button, but it didn't turn off. After a few more tries, she got out of bed, yawning and stretching. She lived in a luxurious condo gifted by her father for becoming a detective. Despite her privileged upbringing, Ramirez was a straightforward detective who followed the facts, despising any form of dishonesty. She began her daily routine, but it was interrupted by a phone call at 5:16 AM. It was unusual for her to receive calls instead of pages.

"Ramirez," she answered sternly.

On the other end of the line, Emily was crying, struggling to speak. She'd been drugged, raped, and suspected the Full Moon Strangler was responsible. Ramirez's heart sank. The Full Moon Strangler had struck again, and this time, it was personal.

“I’m on my way.”


To Be Continued...

 

Thanks for tuning in. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter and can already see where I'm going to take the next. While you wait here's a sneak peak at next week saga of 9 Days:


Ramirez felt her blood run cold. “Emily said she blacked out, but this doesn't look like a simple abduction. This was planned.” Kincade nodded, deep in thought. “The Full Moon Strangler is known for his precision. This isn't just a random attack. He's sending a message.” “What kind of message?” Ramirez asked, trying to keep her composure. Kincade crouched down to examine the scuff mark more closely. “He's playing with us, showing us he's in control. If he's taken an interest in Emily, it means she's either a target or knows something crucial.” Ramirez felt a surge of anger. “We need to keep her safe. I won’t let this psycho get away with this.”



See you next week.
9 Days - A Detective Story

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