I keep having false starts with the next Sam Wolf Novel. The first one obviously being The Snow White Murders. Here’s another try. It’s not edited at all, don’t see a point in doing that until the first draft is complete. But here’s a peek at what I got right now.
Lorenzo Marker walked through the dark alley that connected Hickory Drive and Marlow Avenue. It was a dark, narrow passage between two buildings that smelled of stale urine and wet garbage.
It had been raining off and on all day, but the smells never really left downtown Richmond. They were just part of the ambiance. Lorenzo could barely smell it after three months of living in his complex. It had just become another background detail that gave the area its charm.
He lived in the apartment complex on Hickory, where the two main entrances to the apartment were the fire escape and the side door. He sometimes took the fire escape for a slightly more pleasant view of the city. He could see the ballpark down the road if he stopped at his exit door.
Sometimes he would stand there and just look up at the stars. The only people who noticed him were the homeless people who came to the alleyway to drop their pants and leave presents for the garbage men to clean up.
He took the stairs this time and, after going up three flights in his old apartment building, had seen better days. The door at the top of the stairs was unlocked. He paused for a moment and wondered if he had forgotten to lock his door on his way out.
He could have sworn that he locked it. He thought back for a few seconds trying to retrace his steps that morning, but nothing came. It was just a blur, really. Nothing remarkable happened that day. He just did his usual routine. Get up, shower, grab a pop tart, and out the door he went to work to be on the assembly line at 7AM.
He opened the door and walked in. A single bulb hung from the center of a dusty ceiling fan above his head. There were two dirty windows and white walls that were freshly painted before he moved in 3 months ago.
An old tube television sat on one side table with a stack of newspapers beside it. He rarely looked at the papers. They came to his door from the previous tenants’ subscription, and he simply used them as decoration.
On the other end stood a chair covered in dust. He didn’t have much furniture. Not that he couldn’t afford it. There was plenty of perfectly good stuff being given away on Craigslist in the city, but he didn’t want to have to be the one to drag a 3 cushion couch up 3 flights of stairs so 0 other people would sit on it.
He rarely had guests and no roommates to speak of. He had moved to get away from having roommates. He was tired of cleaning up after their trash and messes that attracted ants. He couldn’t even buy cookies anymore out of fear that those damned ants would just come and swarm them. They had done it before.
He looked around the apartment and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Just a clutter of boxes that were never unpacked, dirty clothes that needed to be washed for over a week, and a couple of playboy magazines that he kept by his bedside.
He lit a cigarette and exhaled deeply. He hadn’t had a chance to smoke all day. They used to let you smoke on the job, but that was until the city came in and banned indoor smoking entirely.
He knew his landlord didn’t care if he smoked in the apartment anyway. It was a dump in the worst part of the city, to begin with. He was happy to have a tenant who would pay the rent and not burn the place down.
He went to the bathroom with the cigarette in his mouth and stripped. He had just finished a 12-hour shift and let the water run for a bit before plugging the tub. It took a while for the water to heat up on his floor.
He tossed his cigarette in the toilet, and once the tub was full, he laid down in it and let out a deep sigh. The warm water felt incredible on his achy bones, and he closed his eyes, letting all his troubles leave him.
He had grabbed his phone and turned on the Joe Rogan podcast which had been his favorite for quite some time. He especially liked the topics about the music industry. He knew that the industry was untrustworthy and was more of a hindrance than an ally in late 2022, but he still enjoyed listening to the tales of rock stars and rappers from days gone by.
He enjoyed hearing their horror stories about being on the road and label screwjobs. He made mental notes of all of them. He wouldn’t fail like they did for some contract that screwed him royally. Not a chance.
He slipped deeper into the tub, and after a few minutes, he started to hear a faint noise from his living room. He opened his eyes and looked outside. He saw nothing, but he heard a faint tapping in the distance. Tap. Tap. Tap.
He thought it was probably some rat. The place had rats climbing in the walls, and he had to get used to it. He heard them squeaking and dying inside the walls as they were trapped by the new insolation. They had nowhere to go, so they suffocated and died drowning in fiberglass foam.
The tapping became louder, and he heard scratching along the floor. It must have been a cat. Alley cats were not an uncommon site in his apartment complex. He had one that he was quite fond of that came by often, named Charlie. He was a white and gray cat who often joined him for dinner. He would eat a bowl of ramen, and Charlie would have a bowl of milk.
“Charlie! I hear ya out there. I forgot to get milk. I’ll get you some tomorrow.”
The scratching from the other room continued growing louder and louder.
“Charlie. You better not get some girl cat knocked up. She might come for you for child support, ya know? Amanda has my ass all kinds of fucked up right now.”
The noise grew louder. It was too close. Too loud to be a cat. It was more like footsteps now. He took the rag off his face and then.. darkness.
“What the fuck?” Lorenzo said.
The pain in his eyes was immense. He scrambled and struggled in the tub. He grabbed his face and felt what felt like gloves there burying it’s leather into his eye sockets.
He screamed and flailed in the tub until he heard another sound. A much louder sound. It was like a canon going off and he felt a harsh pain coming from his chest. He took a breath in but only blood came back. He was drowning in his own blood from a gunshot wound to the chest.
His hearing became more distant, and the pain slowly faded away. His last word was “God…” he didn’t have enough time or life left in him to ask for forgiveness. He never even saw it coming.