Flash: Gas Station Killer 3 – It’s a gas

Photo by Justin Chrn on Unsplash

Damn, this one was pretty in the I worked all night and found a dead body kind-of way. Cleary, the coffee grabbed this morning before driving to the site wasn’t enough. Josh shook his head to clear it. Add getting laid to the list of things which needed doing soon.

“It’s a gas station on the West side. You’re lucky to have a body,” she snarked back. Her voice carried an accent from a little further upstate, more suburbia.

Most people wouldn’t hear it, but the detective made a study to pick it out. Either the gas station attendant was sliding down the social strata, or she was running from her rightful white privilege class for some reason. The way she dared his eyes had his gut saying number two. People didn’t meet cops eyes unless they wanted to fight something, and had the power to back it. This woman didn’t think her white privilege was anything less than pristine card to be played whenever needed.

She waved to the cracked door where McCarthy stood watch. “Do you have everything you need? Shift switch happens in about an hour, and I need to get things ready.”

“We could use better lighting. Maybe the new bulbs for the light above the door.” Josh watched her brown eyes. The irises had blasted wide when first seeing him but were contracting now. Fear, lust, anger? Which emotion played against the dark circles under her eyes? Not fear. He licked his lips.

The witness nodded. “Can’t do the light bulbs; those are special orders, but I got something. Give me a minute.” She walked around the building to the berm near the roadway. Curious, he followed.

In the false dawn light, a deflated wavy guy lay in a collapsed pile. She started unplugging the unlit spotlight aimed at him. That should work.

“Boss doesn’t like running the thing after one, not cost effective. Dayshift turns Dancer on at six.” The witness tugged to spotlight hard to get it moving over the grass.

Josh reached down to the top handle, lifting it. “Let me.”

After blowing her hair out of her eyes, she muttered under her breath while following him. “I really hate how strong guys are. Just isn’t fair.”

At the back of the building, he aimed the light at the door, then held out the plug which the witness plugged in behind a vending machine. The light brightened the area beyond daylight.

“Thanks, Miss…” the detective said while standing.

“Miller.” She gestured at where her name was attached to her shirt. “Call me Brooke.”

“Miss Miller, please don’t leave before I have a chance to talk to you.”

“Look, I can’t stay long. I got another job after this one.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Sure you will.” The witness shook her head while walking to the glass doors to go inside the store.

Joshua pushed her from his mind for the moment. Time to look at the body.

The bathroom door handle didn’t turn in his hand. Taking a closer look, he saw it had been busted at some point. A screwdriver or something jammed in. It didn’t look new, but he would need crime scene to take pictures just in case. Opening up the door, he got the full impact.

No one had dignity on the crapper, and someone made very sure this woman would be immortalized in this position. A growl slipped out from between his gritted teeth.

Young. Early twenties. Autopsy always runs a rape kit, but with her genitals exposed like that, triply so. Cute kid. No scars. Healthy looking with a bit of pudge. A butterfly tattoo on her ankle peeking above the blue lace underwear. Another ink, this one a Pokémon he thought, on her shoulder under the tank top strap. Someone trying to collect them all?

The wrist slits wouldn’t have done much damage, but the two big gashes down either arm would have hit arteries and veins. Did she bleed out here or elsewhere? The toilet’s red water said at least some of the blood fell here.

“Crime unit is here,” reported McCarthy behind him.

Time to turn it over to the evidence experts.

Walking over to where the team were snapping on their blue gloves, Joshua closed on the lead. Poveda knelt beside her kit, her dreads tucked into a wrap. Looking up at his six-foot-four frame which had gotten him through college on a basketball scholarship, she asked, “Another one?”

“Fourth one, second in the city. Fucker is playing with us.”

“Every two months like clockwork. Think the chief is going to call in a profiler or the FBI serial unit?”

“Considering he is up for reelection in November, depends on which he thinks will get him the most votes.” The detective looked east toward the pinkening horizon, considering. “For now, he dropped it into my lap.”

“Damn bastard was never a good cop.”

“All cops are bastards.” Josh’s lip curled up in a half smile.

“But not all bastards are good cops.” Poveda stood. “We got to break the cycle.”

They bumped fits without bumping, keeping her gloves pristine. “Do your magic, mama, I got a witness to question.”

(words 868, first published 11/13/2023)

Gas Station Killer Series

  1. Bathroom Break (appears in blog at 2/7/2021)
  2. Station Attendant (appear in blog at 2/14/2021)
  3. It’s a Gas (appear in blog 4/11/2021)